Friday, April 13, 2018

Middle school track comes to Leon High for the Lion Invitational

In Tallahassee, Florida, you can see championship-level track and field at either Florida State University or Florida A & M University. Each of Tallahassee's high schools also field athletes who compete at a high level. But on Thursday, 12 April 2018, track and field in Tallahassee belonged to the middle schools. On that evening, middle school athletes from the Leon County Schools came to the Leon High for the fourth meet of their track season--the Lion Invitational.

Maya Tang
Maya Tang

The first event was the girls' 1600. Right after the start, Maya Tang of Deerlake was setting the pace for the field. Stella Lewis of Swift Creek moved into second behind Tang during the third lap, and Lewis was still just a couple of steps behind Tang with 200 meters to go. But Tang widened that gap on the way to the finish line, winning the race in 6:02.65. Lewis took second in 6:07.23 while A'zion Jackson of Raa was third in 6:08.25 and Leah Kiros of Deerlake placed fourth in 6:10.63.


It was Tang's first win in the 1600 this season. In the boys' 1600, though, Wyatt Townsend of Deerlake had already won twice in two outings. At Leon he looked like he was ready to make it three, taking the lead during the first lap of the race. Patrick Koon of Fairview followed him closely, with Ben Kirbo of Montford right behind. Townsend started to pull away during the third lap, though, and the fourth lap was more of the same. Townsend won the race in 5:03.97, his best 1600 mark so far that season. Koon was second in 5:11.90 and Kirbo was third in 5:13.92.

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

Cecilia Dixon of Swift Creek had finished third in the girls' 100-meter hurdles at the Lincoln Middle School Invitational, but followed that up with a win in the event at the Rickards Middle School meet a week later. She added a second win in the hurdles at Leon, running 17.82. Angel Roberts of Raa was second in 18.05, and Makayla Caldwell took third for Fairview in 18.13.


In the boys' 100-meter hurdles, Ivan Donaldson of Fairview ran a season-best time of 14.77 to get his second win in the event this season. Perry Fisher of Swift Creek ran 15.19 for second, and Sebris Safford of Nims was third in 15.21.


Nia Smilien of Cobb posted a season-best 13.09 to win the girls' 100-meter dash. Deerlake's Anala Anderson, who had finished ahead of Similien in the event at the Lincoln Invitational, was second in 13.15. Darrah Jones of Fariview ran 13.31 for third.


In the boys' race, Jalen Oliver of Swift Creek got his second 100-meter dash win in two tries, running 11.84. That was in section four; two sections earlier Kajuan Banks of Raa had run 12.13--a mark that earned him second place. Makale Shuler of Cobb ran 12.20 in section four, taking third.


The girls' 400 followed the boys' 100. Madison McNeil of Deerlake won the one-lap event for the first-time this season, running 64.28--faster than she had gone at either the Lincoln or the Rickards meet. Javionah Bolden of Nims was second in 64.93, and Lauren Wilkey of Montford was third in 65.22.


Kaseem Washington of Cobb won the boys' 400 by going 52.67--faster than any other athlete had in that event so far this season. It was Washington's first win in the 400 during the 2018 season. Trey Daniels of Montford took second in 54.14 and Jaden Bates of Fairview was third in 54.19.


The Raa girls added ten more points to their team's score in the next event, the girls' 4 x 100-meter relay. Raa won the event in 52.24, with Cobb taking second in 52.71. The Fairview girls were third in 54.43. Notably, the Raa "B" team placed sixth, finishing faster than four schools' "A" squads.


Nims won the boys' 4 x 100-meter relay, edging runner-up Cobb 52.24 to 52.71. The Fairview boys took third with a 54.43. It was the third straight win in the relay for Nims, whose only loss in the event came in the Leon County Schools Middle School Relays at Chiles High back on 22 March 2018.

Parker Matherne
Parker Matherne

Parker Matherne of Cobb had doubled a week earlier, winning both the girls' 1600 and the girls' 800 at the Rickards meet. At Leon, though, Matherne was just running the 800. She covered the two laps in 2:37.21, getting her fourth win of the season and her second in the 800. Swift Creek's Alima Hemenway, who had won the girls' 800 at the Lincoln meet, edged Ella Grace Hodges of Montford for second, 2:44.62 to 2:45.26.


After winning the 1600, Wyatt Townsend returned to the track in the boys' 800. Townsend hung back while two Fairview runners set the early pace. But Kaseem Washington of Cobb was also playing a waiting game. With less than 300 meters to go both runners were ready to make their move, and Washington had the better move. Washington blazed the final 200 meters, moving from well back in the pack to first, then opening a huge gap on the field. He won the race in 2:13.47, with Townsend taking second in 2:19.37 and Rhyder Poppel of Montford third in 2:20.05. Even more impressive--it was Washington's first time running the 800 this season.

Kaseem Washington
Kaseem Washington

After winning the girls' 100 Cobb's Nia Similien got her second track win of the day in the girls' 200, running 27.08. Lanayjah Kelly of Raa took second in 27.19, and Anala Anderson of Deerlake was third in 27.39.


Kevin Baker of Nims only ran one event at Leon, the boys' 200, He made that single appearance on the track count, winning the race in 24.16. Daniel Williams of Fairview was second in 24.43, and Makale Shuler of Cobb ran 24.55 for third.


Running events concluded with the 4 x 400 meter relay. Fairview had won the girls' relay at the LCS Middle School Relays and again at the Lincoln meet, but slipped to fifth at Rickards. The Fairview girls returned to winning at Leon, taking first in 4:33.03. Deerlake had won at Rickards; at Leon they were a close second in 4:34.43. The Cobb girls were third in 4:37.38.


Montford won the boys' 4 x 400-meter relay for the first time this season, carrying the baton four times around the track in 3:50.02. Cobb edged the Swift Creek boys for second, 3:51.62 to 3:51.84.


While competition sizzled on the track, things were no less hot in the field events. Gabria Cottrell of Raa won the girls' high jump, clearing the bar at 1.47 meters. Deerlake athletes Raina Crawford and Olivia Carter tied for second, each going 1.37 meters.


After his second place finish in the 100-meter hurdles, Swift Creek's Perry Fisher won the boys' high jump with a leap of 1.72 meters. Cade Latasiewicz of Deerlake was second at 1.68 meters, and Swift Creek's Jalen Oliver was third at 1.52 meters.


Alexandria Kennedy of Fairview won the girls' long jump for the third time in three weeks, this time with a leap of 4.79 meters. Dyani Steward of Cobb leaped 4.48 meters for second. Anala Anderson of Deerlake placed third at 4.43 meters.


Before the meet at Leon, Kenneth Jenkins hadn't won the boys' long jump this season. But before competing at Leon, Jenkins hadn't gone 5.61 meters. That's how far the Raa athlete leaped to take first in the Lion Invitational boys' long jump. Makale Shuler of Cobb was second at 5.56 meters, and Jacquez Dickey of Deerlake was third at 5.41 meters.


In the girls' shot put, Asanti Stewart sent the metal ball flying for 10.67 meters to win the event for the third time in three outings this season. Megan Henry of Cobb was second with a mark of 9.91 meters, and Aziza Davis of Deerlake was third at 9.33 meters.


Preston Loggins of Nims was also a shot put victor for the third time in three weeks, winning the boys' event at Leon with a mark of 13.29 meters. Jacquez Dickey was second at 12.19 meters, and Akari David of Fairview sent the shot 1.67 meters to take third.


In the team scoring, the Deerlake girls finished on top for the third week in a row, this time scoring 93 points, their season high. The Cobb girls scored 77-1/2 points to place second in the nine-team field. Swift Creek was third with 60-1/2 points.


The boys' team title was decided by less than a point, with Cobb narrowly outscoring Swift Creek, 70-1/4 to 70. Deerlake wasn't much further back, taking third with 68-1/2 points.


The Leon County Schools' middle school track season concludes on Thursday, 19 April 2018, with the LCS Middle School Championship at Godby High School.


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