FSU Relays: Baton Drops, Photo Finishes, and Motivation

"It's a battle against yourself; a way to measure self improvement," Cody Skarupa from Niceville High School commented about running. Battles were fought over the past 2 days, some won, some lost. The 2010 FSU Relays brought out the best in many athletes; new records were set, bodies pushed to their physical limits. The Fort Walton Beach 4x800 meter relay team knows about pushing the limits and breaking records. Another school record was broken after today's event, however, it wasn't without challenge. Assistant coach, Jeff Fields commented, "they took me from my worst moment, to my best moment." Chris Douglas ran the 1st 800 in the middle of the pack. Just after passing the baton to Jake Dearmon, the baton was knocked out of Jake's hand as a competitor passed by him.  "I learned what not to do. Don't drop the baton."  Jake quickly recovered and managed to move his team up in position. The baton was then passed on to Matt Bevil who is well known for his ability to run from the back of the back and take the lead. "We've seen what Matt can do," Luc stated.  Luc Lawrence was passed the baton for the final 800 and crossed the finish line in first place giving the team a time of 7:57.06. The girls winning 4x800 team from Bishop Kenny was no less impressive.  Sarah Davis, Jamie Heekin, Alison Spiegel and Elizabeth Tucker finished nearly 10 seconds ahead of the other teams with a finish time of 9:31.02.

Some of the best in the state made a showing for the weekend's events including Matt Mizereck (Leon High School), who recently signed on with the University of Florida. The invitational 3200 meter had the spectators on their feet as he and Colin Barker from Bishop Kenny fought each other back and forth for the win. Matt gave one final surge and pushed himself over the finish in 1st with a time of 9:02.87. Colin was less than a second behind Matt with a time of 9:03.03. Matt also ran an impressive 1600 Invitational time of 4:16.6 on Saturday. It was a nail biter of a race as Erick Montoya (4:17.72) of Estero, who will also attend Florida next year, was right on Matt's heels. They switched places back and forth between first and second throughout the race. Matt made the final push to get past Erick and take the win.

Pablo Alvarez from Belen Jesuit  increased his ranking in the 300 meter hurdles. Now ranked 3rd in the nation, Pablo ran a 37.36 time. It was a photo finish. The top 4 to cross the line were all within 1 second of each other. Brix Gomez, also of Belen Jesuit finished in 37.84 for 2nd place. Brandon Liles from Pensacola Washington (38.22) in 3rd and Cody Skarupa of Niceville (38.69) in 4th were no less impressive. It was a true fight to the finish.

What goes through an athlete's mind and they are pushing themselves, fighting for the top? "In a short race, you don't have time to think about anything, you just do it," Cody Skarupa commented after the 300 meter hurdles. "In a longer race, like the 3200, I think about strategy, when to surge and when to pass."  Samantha Zimmerman who ran the 800 meter dash and Abby McCool who ran the 400 meter and 800 meter (800m 2:28), both of Niceville High School  stated they really like running; they like the competition and it keeps them in shape.

The field events also had their share of battles. Karissa Bertling, Ridgewood High School, participated unattached in the High Jump. With her left leg wrapped because of shin splints, Karissa pushed through that pain to take 4th place with a height of 5'1". "My coach told me I need to slow down so I can get higher." Karissa has been participating in high jump since middle school and is currently a Junior in high school. Janeel Tyrell of Fort Lauderdale had the winning jump with a height of 5'2". Kayla Parker, Port Saint Joe, was also on top of her game. She took the winning long jump with a distance of 18'9". Kayla also won the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.23.

The boys discuss event showed some outstanding talent.  Charlie Tidwell of Niceville who has the state's top throw at 169 feet, competed strongly against  Devin Screen of Godby. "I have a lot of respect for Devin Screen," Charlie said of his competition.  Devin had the winning throw in Saturday's competition with 168'2". Charile Tidwell took second with 167'11". Charlie had a repeat performance in the boys shot put throwing a 51'7" giving him second place. William Stargell from Chiles placed first, throwing a distance of 53'10". Why do throwers pick these sports? The answers were as varied as the participants, but a couple really stood out. Charlie Tidwell stated, "If I fail, it's on me, not on anyone else."  Morgan McLaughlin (Discus 104'11", Shot Put 30'3") of Fort Walton commented, "Anyone can do it. It doesn't matter what size or shape you are."

The events ended with yet another stellar performance by the Fort Walton Beach 4x400 meter relay team.  Fort Walton started in 3rd with Stephen Haye running the first 400. Luc Lawrence and Kevin Bryant quickly inched their way up into the lead before passing the baton to Matt Bevil. Matt had a strong fight ahead of him as Pat Olschlager from Lincoln High School was right there in the lead next to Matt. One final surge and Matt gained enough momentum to fly right by Pat barely a second ahead. Fort Walton finished in 3:17.15. Lincoln High was second finishing in 3:18.02. Where else can you find excitement like that!

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