Eisenhardt, Thomas Break Meet Records, Curtis Sweeps Distance, Davis Drops Jaws At MS State

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The FLYRA middle school track meet falls on the weekend after the high school state meet. It's sometimes looked at as an afterthought but the marks set down by middle schoolers on Saturday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, should make middle school state a forethought as opposed to an afterthought. 2004 Olympic medalist Moushaumi Robinson graced the stadium on Saturday and backed that notion up with these words.

"It's exciting to me, as a coach, to see this many young people excited about the sport," Robinson said. "It's these grassroots programs that make track and field what it is today."

Robinson is also a high school coach at First Academy in Orlando. The meet incorporates elementary schools and grade-school aged athletes as well as middle schoolers.

One name in particular, high school athletes had better take notice of is current eighth-grader Tamari Davis. Davis runs for Empire Athletics Club right now but next year she'll be at Gainesville High School and sprinters might want to take note of two numbers, 11.34 and 23.32. Those were Davis' times as she won both the 100m and 200m events on Saturday. Now, there was a heavy wind factor, blowing right down the main straightaway aiding times and making both of the meet records Davis set down ineligible but when Davis steps onto the high school scene, she's going to storm onto the high school scene.

"I was ready to go in and get a great time today," Davis said. "It's my last middle school track meet and I enjoy going against other great girls."

Two meet records in the field events did stick. 

First, it was Monte Verde Academy eighth-grader Kai Eisenhardt in the pole vault. Eisenhardt is fresh off competing in the high school meet where she cleared 11-0 and wound up taking fourth in Class 2A. On Saturday, against other middle school athletes, she did even better. Eisenhardt cleared a meet record 11-2 on her third try to win her second straight FLYRA state title. 

In the triple jump, Running for Christ Club's Tyra Thomas broke the meet record by a half an inch. Thomas was only in her second competition in triple jump and hit a 34-9 on her final attempt.

"My mom wants me to get in as many events as possible," Thomas said. "It's fun, I enjoy it a lot."

Thomas has hurdled since the age of six, so she's no stranger to track and field but her newly-discovered prowess in the triple jump is something to watch out for as she will head to Auburndale High School next fall. 

In the distance events, no athlete was more dominant than Mount Dora eighth-grader Mitchell Curtis. Curtis got his big day started early in the 3000m race, where he won it in 9:26.30. Curtis was third in Class A at the high school state meet in the 3200m a week ago. After not medaling in 2016 and running just a 10:12, Curtis has really turned the corner in 2017. He followed that 3000m up with a 4:17.83 to win the 1500m. Unattached athlete Austin Montini hung with him and finished second in 4:18.74 but Curtis cut down the meet record from 2015 with his time. To end the day, Curtis won the 800m in style with a personal record 2:06.43.

"When cross country season came this year, we finally had a full team to work together with," Curtis said. "Having teammates with me, helps me train harder."

Curtis also mentioned working out with his older brother Gabe and how it's motivated him.

The Lauderdale Lakes Club gobbled up most of the hurdle titles, although not without a fight. Alexis Glasco won the 100m hurdles but only by the narrowest of margins. Both Glasco and Running for Christ's Thomas were in a dead heat all the way up to the finish line. Glasco's 14.30 and Thomas' 14.34 both would have broken the meet record of 15.04 but the wind factor was too strong. The top three girls, that included unattached Paris Baker all came in under 15 seconds. 

"I ran a 14 last week where I've been running in the 15s all year," Glasco said. "I had a good idea I was going to do it today."

Lauderdale Lakes teammate Jerry Philippe was roaring down the track with the wind pushing him but his 13.94 was staggeringly fast, even with a +4.3 wind factor. 

"I thought my time was going to be like a 14.01 but then I heard everyone cheering and I thought I had beaten the record."

Philippe did but with that much of a wind factor, the time won't stick. Still, it takes nothing away from Philippe's performance. 

Glasco came back for the 200m hurdles and ran a 26.27, which would have destroyed the meet record by two seconds but again, the wind factor was too heavy. The wind was not an aide on the turn of the 200 hurdles as it sheared across the last hurdle on the turn. Two runners fell on those hurdles during the event.

"That second-to-last hurdle, I almost fell on," Glasco said.

Philippe didn't quite sweep the hurdles. He took second in the 200m hurdles to Cyrus Ways of St. Johns Striders. Ways ran a 25.20 to Philippe's 25.67. Ways actually got tangled up in a three way tie in high jump with Zayne Palomino and Kevon Watts. All three jumpers cleared 6-0 but none cleared 6-2. Palomino won it based on clearing 6-0 on his first attempt. Watts and Ways tied for second. 

In the boys sprints, Micanopy Middle eighth-grader Kesean Brown won the 100m in 10.64, just three-hundredths of a second off Tyrese Cooper's 10.61 from 2015 but with the heavy wind at his back, a meet record still would not have counted. 

"10.95 was my best time coming in and I knew I had to run against the guy next to me with an 11.09," Brown said. "When I heard the crowd get loud, I knew I had something."

Brown didn't pull the sprinting sweep much due to the fact that the boys 200m was blazing fast. Galen Johnson, Aaron Bell and Brown all went low 22s. Johnson won it with a 22.06, Bell was second at 22.11 and Brown took third at 22.14. Bell won the 400m in 50.83. 

Unattached seventh grader Akari Isaac won the girls shot with a personal record 43-2, just four inches off the meet record.

"I was the youngest one out there," Isaac said. "It made me more confident to see that I could throw better than some of those girls that were older than me."

Male pole vaulter Kennan Milford had to make some adjustments to conquer the middle school state title in Saturday. Milford broke his thumb a month ago and has not been able to lift his pole for the approach. To adapt, he learned a sliding pole approach to take the pressure off his thumb. It worked. Milford cleared 11-6 with a wind blowing him across the standards.

"The wind was pushing you pretty hard," Milford said. "I knew it was going to be windy today but all the vaulters have to deal with it and I definitely did pretty good in spite of the conditions."

Eighth-grader Keleigh Scallon nearly cracked five minutes winning the 1500m in 5:00.74. Scallon made her move on the turn to slide past Layne Rivera (5:02.32). Ani Veltcheva won the girls 3000m to start the day in 10:35.90. Capping the distance events was pint-sized sixth-grader Cha'iel Johnson. Johnson raced out to the lead on the opening lap only to get a chase from a much taller Ar'Briel Scott.

"It's a little intimidating running against much taller girls, knowing those longer legs are behind me," Johnson said. "I felt like I had to go out hard and try to break the record."

Johnson fought off Scott and nearly had the meet record of 2:16.82 with her first place run of 2:17.84. Johnson also took seventh in the 400m. Running for Christ's Saniyah Tillman could not be moved off of that title as she ran a 55.78 in an ultra-fast event where the top five girls were all under 57 seconds. 

Tallahassee Zoom's Curtis Williams went 20-6 to win boys long jump. Runners Express' Eddiyah Frye won girls long jump at 18-3, just an inch off the meet record. Nims Middle's X'Zavion Michael won boys shot at 46-4.75. Unattached athlete Ahmari Avin won boys disc at 145-4.5. Anaya Holloway won girls disc at 116-8.5. Male triple jumper Kennedy Sauder won with a 41-3. 

Indian Trails Middle won the girls 4x800m in 10:16.87. Miami Gardens Xpress won the boys 4x800m in 9:07.03. In the 4x100m, West Pembroke Pines won it in 49.54, dangerously close to the 48.56 meet record. Matthew Gilbert Middle won the boys 4x100m in 44.95. To cap the evening, Each One Teach One Elite girls pulled it off with a 4:00.36. Miami Gardens Xpress boys won the 4x400m going out in 3:42.59.


Team wise on the girls side, Running for Christ won the club title with 64 to Lauderdale Lakes' 52. In girls middle school, Fairview won with 63 to Monteverde Academy's 47. Over on the boys side, Olympia Track Club topped Miami Elite 77-65 and Florida High just edged out Lauderdale Lakes for the middle school title 58-57. 

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