The 2017-2018 school year has provided some great highlights in both cross country and track across the Sunshine State. In the coming weeks many of our seniors will head out to start their college careers both athletically and academically. We wanted to salute them one more time in this special feature and say thank you for your support over the years.
What was your most memorable race/moment?
My most memorable race moment would be the final lap of my 800 at regionals this year. Being in about eighth place, I was not exactly in a position to advance, and with 250 meters left, I kicked into third place, advancing to the state meet for the first time my senior year. I also set a new personal best, breaking the two-minute mark for the first time as well.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
As a team, our greatest distance competition had come from Steinbrenner and Plant in our district and big regional competition through Newsome, Sarasota, and George Jenkins.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment would be placing ninth at states as a team in cross country, successfully making it to the state meet for the first time on the boy's side of our program since 2008, also being the highest finish for our boy's team in Wharton history.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
Not much. Be it cliché, there isn't much I would change as a whole. One thing that I wish I could have back however, was a shot at a state medal in the 800. Having finally made it to states my senior year, I was not seeded in a medal position. Again, on the final lap I made my way into sixth place and with about 40 meters left in the race, I lost balance and fell in the middle of the track. I still have those 'what if' moments where I don't fall and I have a state medal. Despite this, I would not take back a thing about my running career, and every mistake carries lessons to be learned.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Pain is a big one. Running a good time versus a great time requires training, however, running a race is painful and no matter what, it's going to hurt a lot. That is something that I feel is extremely hard to grasp as a beginning runner.
What will you miss the most?
First and foremost, I'll miss my teammates and the running culture at Wharton. I'll miss those morning runs before the sun comes up, out in the middle of nowhere, just so we could get hill work in. I'll miss the team Cracker Barrel breakfasts that we'd head to afterwards. I'll also miss my coach. I have watched Lojacono build up this program from the ground up since the summer before my freshman year when I first showed up to cross country practice. Wharton has and is still growing a legacy of great runners and I'm excited for their future.
What advice you would give to younger athletes?
Be passionate about what you do. I don't recommend playing a sport if it is because you want to put it on your college application or your mom is on you about being more active. Sports are built around heart and passion Being passionate about what you do will not only drive you to achieve more but will push you that much harder to train yourself to succeed.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
As I briefly touched on earlier, not only has my coach pushed me to become the best person both on and off the track but has developed me as a person and is truly an inspiration for me to achieve my goals. From giving me rides my freshman year, to allowing me to use his classroom as an escape from the school day, my coach has been there every step of the way and I cannot thank him enough.
What are your college plans?
I will be attending the University of Florida to pursue engineering.
Who would you like to say thank you to?
I would like to thank my coach, my teammates, my parents, Wharton High School, and the custodian that always opened coaches room for us.