Interview with Montverde Academy head track coach Gerald Phiri as his squad prepares for their next big meet matching up with another 2A powerhouse in Bolles at the Bolles Bulldog Classic this Friday and two weeks off their impressive team showing at Louie Bing Classic. A two-time Olympian (2012 & 2016) for his birth country of Zambia, Phiri took over as head coach this year at the school after being an assistant in prior years including coaching Weston Baptiste to being one of the nation's fastest and a state title last spring in the 400, while also coaching club and professional athletes in Clermont as his own athletics career winded down.
The boarding school that also competes in the FHSAA 2A classification for track has seen an infusion of talent transferring in this year whether it has been from athletes coming to the United States from Caribbean islands with limited meet and competition opportunities or athletes from states north of Florida on the East Coast who had stricter covid mandates limiting sporting events.
All of the athletes seem to be thriving and excelling at the new school, environment and coaching under the direction of Gerald Phiri. Remarkably four of his athletes are currently ranked #1 in the country between Micayah Holland in the girls 100 meter dash at 11.64, Javonya Valcourt in the girls 400 meter dash at 54.30, Michelle Smith in the girls 300 meter hurdles at 41.86, and Zyaire Nuriddin in the boys 400 meter dash at 46.73.
The program is already quickly showing itself as one of the state and nation's elite. They will get more opportunities to measure up against the country's best twice this month when they travel to the New Balance Nationals in New York and adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia. The team has competed and traveled to 3 indoor meets already in 2022 and after a successful South Florida trip two weeks ago to Louie Bing, now heads north to Jacksonville for Bolles Bulldog Classic this weekend.