Kayla Parker and Port St. Joe
What can you say about Kayla Parker more than has already been said? Tonight she again swept her four events for a perfect 40 points: long jump, 100 Hurdles, 100 Dash, and 200 Dash. This is the second time she's pulled off this feat in three years--last year she missed it by one place in one event--and she now has the second most career state championships of any Florida track & field athlete in history!
Photo by Jeff Adams/flrunners.com
The trickiest part of the quadruple is pulling off the 100 Hurdles and 100 Meter races, which are back to back. With ten minutes to spare though, she was able to regroup and win in 12.23 just after her 14.27 high hurdles race. Her other wins were a 19-5.5 long jump and a 25.13 200 meter race (that she won by over a second). Here is a video interview with Kayla after her wins.
With the help of Parker's 40 points, she and her teammates at Port St. Joe scored more points than I remember seeing any team score at the state meet in a long time. Their state championship title was earned with 94.5 points spread out across the field, sprints, and hurdle events. Holy Trinity was their closest rival coming in second with 61 points.
Besides Parker, Mariah Johnson scored 24 points (300H, 100H, TJ), Naomi Warren scored 2 (400), Fanequa Larry came in with 8 (200, TJ), Ashleigh Lewis scored 8 (PV), and Megan Walker earned 4.5 in the PV. The Tiger Sharks (one of the coolest mascot names around by the way!) capped off the night with 10 points in the 4x400. All-in-all a great showing and great team effort!
Maclay Boys Surprise Champions
While the Port St. Joe girls did everything to prove the virtual meet predictions are dead on, the Maclay boys reminded us why you still have to run the race. Despite being pretty much counted out before the race--most (including the computer generated results) considered it a three way battle between Trinity Prep, Mount Dora Bible, and Holy Trinity--the team pulled together and decided it was not over until it's over.
Droze told me in a post-race interview that he told the team that "(the virtual meet is) not the real meet... it's what might happen. And we decided we didn't want to go with what might happen, we wanted to go with what could happen if they all ran to capacity."
And they definitely did that. Lee Williams and his 34 points certainly did not hurt any. The sophomore finished second in the 200, third in the long jump, and took home golds in the 100 and triple jump. Many other Marauders contributed to the victory, including Patrick Swain. Many expected him to challenge for victories in the distance events, but with a bad bout of illness this week there were doubts he would even be able to compete. Swain fought through the problems and contributed a vital 12 points that the team desperately needed to seal the deal.
Emanual Kent Jumps for Joy
There's something special when you get reminded about the joy of the sport. And that's what Emanual Kent did for me last night. You get caught up in the competition or hitting certain times or the hype and it's easy to forget that it's supposed to be fun.
Kent, a junior from Upperroom Christian, did not go into the race pegging himself with a real shot to win the Boys 3200 Meter race. After all, last season he finished in eight place and his 10:05 time from region put him far off the radar from the likes of Patrick Swain, Griffin Jaworski, and Joey Castagnaro who had gone about 30 seconds faster earlier in the year. But a few laps into the race and Kent found himself in a place he did not expect: FIRST!
He was dominating the race, and not just leading the pack. There was Kent and then there was.... wait a few seconds.... a few more... and then there was the pack. At the mile mark he had a half a straight lead, but given that at 4:55 Kent was not exactly blowing the doors off the pace he kept on! And he maintained his pace and his lead the entire race.
Kent crossed the line with a huge smile on his face, leaping for joy, and with a shiny new 11 second PR to go with his shiny new gold medal. After the meet, I did a video interview with Kent and he told me he was just focused on running his race and still seemed a bit in shock. Maybe it's sunk in by now: CONGRATS, CHAMP!
More Meet Highlights
Kathryn and Erika Fluehr continued to do what they have done all year--both track and cross country--and that is finishing 1-2 in every single race against Floridians. They have not finished out of that order in Florida during their entire junior season. Tonight Kathryn took the wins with times of 4:53.83 and 10:25.48, while twin sister Erika finished in 4:55.77 for the 1600 and a 10:29.09 3200 PR. Erika told me after the race that she was not content with her PR effort.... she really wanted to hit her goal of 10:24 tonight, but I think even more she was ready to beat Kathryn! I wonder who wins the family game night game of Scrabble?
That Girls 1600 Meter race won by the Fluehrs was probably the most anticipated race of the night with five girls believed to be able to dip under the 5-minute mark. In the end it was four with the Fluehr twins 1-2, followed by Jana Stolting (4:58.02), Emily Edwards (4:59.15), Stefanie Kurgatt (5:04.13) and Camille Jackson (5:06.58).
Though Stefanie Kurgatt did not join the Sub-5 Club tonight, she did come back later in the night to take the tape in the Girls 800. The freshman from Maclay won by a healthy four and a half second margin over Emily Edwards in 2:14.99 to 2:19.33. Interestingly the top four in this race were all freshman and 8th graders. Edwards is an eight grader, who will be competing in next week's middle school state championship in Melbourne, and Mallory While (2:21.58) and Camille Jackson (2:21.70) are both freshmen.
Kurgatt's teammate, Jana Stolting, could be seeing red after having to look at the backs of the Fluehr sisters for a total of 12 laps this evening--finishing in third place to them both times. But she was all smiles in the interview, delighting over the fact that she has been able to meet her goals this year of conquering both the 5 minute mile and the 11 minute 2 mile marks. She accomplished both rather easily, going under the 5 minute mark (4:58.02) for the second time and going under 11 (10:44.38) for seemingly the um-teenth time now. Congrats to Jana on a great high school career and we wish her good luck at the University of San Francisco!
Ansley Gebben of First Academy had a good night also, winning another state title in the 300 Hurdles with a new personal best time of 43.59. That puts her at 5th in the state rankings. Gebben, who has compted in everything from the hurdles to the 100 to the 800 to the jumps and discus this year, also finished fifth in the 100 Hurdles in 15.14.
One spot ahead of her in the high hurdles, was Lindsey Enders of Holy Trinity. Besides the fact that her mom was on our photo coverage team tonight, Enders helped lead Holy Trinity's 4x100 team to the victory and earned gold in the pole vault. After clearing 12-0, having already secured the win and since she cleared 12-6 earlier in the year, she had them raise the bar to 12-10 (the state meet record). She made a couple of really solid attempts at the height but just missed putting her name in the books. She's only a junior and next year is hoping to pull off the rare double-gold combination of the vault and the hurdles!
I was glad to see Justin Osking pull off his shot put win with a 55-5 toss. He was the favorite in the discus, but could not land a legal throw unfortunately and didn't move on. Next year he'll be favored to double.
And finally, though I wasn't there for the race, it's always interesting to see these 4x800 teams at state! So often, they don't really put it together at a meet during the season (don't need to) and so you don't really know what to expect. Going in the stats for these (both boys and girls teams) didn't look overly exiting, but they really stepped it up. Trinity Prep's boys went about 10 seconds faster than they had all year to win it in 8:06. But it was the girls race that was really great!
I think the top seed going in was Community School (could be wrong) with something like a 9:47. Four teams blew way by that number tonight and it ended up being a great one! Maclay came through for the school record of 9:27.01 and the victory. They were anchored by Stefanie Kurgat, who would of course later come back to win the open 800 and Jana Stolting had a leg also. Calvary Christian out of Ft. Lauderdale, who is frankly basically unknown (not anymore), beat out perennial distance powerhouses Holy Trinity and Community School of Naples. They were all about a second from each other in 9:33.79, 9:34.14, and 9:34.92. Calvary is young too with an eighth grader, a freshman and two sophomores.
Nancy "Nano" Anderson of Benjamin also managed to defend her state championship in the high jump. The senior cleared 5-6 for the first time in her career to end with a high note and a new PR!
We have race videos from most of the finals races, video interviews, complete results, etc. now posted. There will be thousands of photos uploaded in two or three albums that will be uploading starting Saturday morning. Look for that and more on the 1A Meet Page.
NOW BRING ON THE 2A!!!!