Friday, April 5, 2019

Trojan Invitational fires the starting gun on Leon County Schools' 2019 middle school track season

In Tallahassee, Florida there were 50 runners on the starting line of Lincoln High School's Jimmy Everett Track on Thursday evening, 4 April 2019. It was a crowd more suited to a road race or a cross-country event. Neverthless, it was the open 1600 at the Trojan Invitational, the first event of the first meet of Leon County Schools' middle school track season. And when the starting gun went off, the season was under way.

2019 Trojan Invitational Middle School Track & Field Meet
Open 1600-Meter Run

The first scored event of the season, though, was the next race on the track, the girls' 1600. Deerlake eighth-grader Maya Tang shot out into the lead as soon as that 1600 started. Tang had finished fourth in the race in 2018, but since then she had gone on to win three of the six middle school girls' cross-country races on the Leon County Schools' 2018 schedule. Clearly, she had improved, and that improvement was evident on the Jimmy Everett Track as she led the 1600 from start to finish, winning in 5:48.5--almost half a minute faster than the 6:15.08 she had run at the Trojan Invitational the previous year. Stella Lewis, a Swift Creek eighth-grader, took second in 6:03.5. A'zion Jackson of Raa was third in 6:15.7.

Maya Tang
Maya Tang

Wyatt Townsend took the lead in the boys' 1600 early on the second lap, about 500 meters into the race. A Deerlake eighth-grader, Townsend was coming off an undefeated 2018 cross-country season, which he had capped by winning the Florida Youth Running Association's middle school cross-country state championship. Townsend was also the 2018 Leon County Schools' champion in the boys' 1600. It showed. No one was close to him as he circled the track four times in 5:01.0, winning his first race of the season. Fairview seventh-grader Patrick Koon came from behind on the homestretch to grab second from Swift Creek eighth-grader Connor Edwards, both runners clocked in 5:10.1.

Wyatt Townsend
Wyatt Townsend

After the 1600, attention moved to the front straightaway and the girls' 100-meter hurdles. Running in the third section, Fairview eighth-grader Alexandria Kennedy won the race in 16.0. Cecilia Dixon, a Swift Creek seventh-grader, ran 16.5 for second. Another Fairview athlete, eighth-grader Makayla Caldwell, took third in 17.4.

2019 Trojan Invitational Middle School Track Meet
Girls' 100-meter hurdles

Le'kely Manna of Nims, an eighth-grader, was seeded in the second of three sections of the boys' 100-meter hurdles. In defiance of seeding, Manna won the race, running 14.4. Also seeded into section two, Swift Creek's Juvon Pettway took second with a 14.5. Racing in section three, Fairview seventh-grader Ranceeson Grace ran 15.7 for third.

The hurdles were cleared from the track, leaving the front straightaway unobstructed for the girls' 100-meter dash. Raa seventh-grader Danae Baker, the 2018 LCS champion in the event, ran 12.9 for the win. Montford eighth-grader Naudia Williams, running in section four with Baker, was second in 13.0. Two Fairview athletes tied for third, each running 13.5--Lauren Pye in section three and Darrah Jones in section four.

Zhantavious Mills of Cobb went 11.8 in section two of the boys' 100-meters, winning the race when no one in the subsequent sections could beat his time. Marquez Bostoc came closest; the Griffin sprinter ran 12.0 in section three to take second. Five athletes went 12.1, tying for third--Ka'Hime Harris of Raa, Centel Deshazer of Cobb, Travis Mosley of Swift Creek, Daviyon Thomas of Fairview, and Raylen Wilson of Swift Creek.

Channey Richardson of Cobb had run 68.37 in the girl's 400 at the 2018 Trojan Invitational. A year later, she improved that mark to 62.8 and won the event. Mariona Heartsfield ran 64.7 to take second for Montford. Alima Hemenway of Swift Creek went 64.8 for third.

In the boys' 400 meters, Ja'Marie Clemons of Cobb went 54.8 in section two. But in section four, another Cobb athlete, Malek Jackson, also ran 54,8, tying Clemons for first. Kenneth Jenkins of Raa had third place all to himself, running 55.5 in section one.

In the girls' 4 x 100-meter relay, the Cobb girls posted a 53.2 in section two of the race, leading the event. But in section three, a quartet of Raa girls went 52.8, getting the win. Cobb's effort was still good for second, while the Fairview girls took third with a 55.3.

There were three sections of the boys' 4 x 100-meter relay, and the winning mark came out of section three--the 46.7 scored by the Nims "A" team. The Cobb boys went 47.5 in the same section, taking second. Raa's boys placed third with a 48.2 from section one.

Alima Hemenway had been third in the girls' one-lap race, but the Swift Creek eighth-grader had better results in the two-lap event. Hemenway won the Trojan Invitational girls' 800 meters for the second year in a row, running 2:39.7--about five seconds faster than her winning time in 2018. Fairview eighth-grader Maddison Green edged Mariona Heartsfield of Montford for second, 2:41.5 to 2:41.7.

Coming back after winning the boys' 1600, Wyatt Townsend lined up with the entries in the boys' 800. Townsend had won both races at the 2018 Trojan Invitational, and he already had half that double in his pocket at the 2019 meet. But Justin Greenwood, a Fairview seventh-grader, crushed the field, taking first in 2:10.9. Keveon Ruffin of Nims was runner-up in 2:11.8, and Corey Stavres of Swift Creek third in 2:15.4. Townsend finished fourth in 2:19.6.

Mariah Lofton of Raa had the fastest time in section one of the girls' 200-meters, 28.2. Gabria Cottrell of Raa bettered that time in section two, running 28.1. But the winning time came out of section four, where Cobb seventh-grader Dyani Steward went 27.9. Cottrell placed second and Lofton placed third.

In the boys' 200-meter dash, the top three times all came from section four. Rico Watkins of Fairview posted the winning mark, 23.5. Malek Jackson of Cobb was second in 23.7. Juvon Pettway of Swift Creek took third with a 24.3.

Running events concluded with the 4 x 400-meter relay. Fairview won the girls' 4 x 400 for the third year in a row, posting a 4:31.5--faster than their winning mark in either 2017 or 2018. The Raa girls were second in 4:34.7, and Swift Creek was third at 4:41.7.

Like the Fairview girls, the Swift Creek boys had won the 4 x 400 at the 2018 Trojan Invitational. And like the Fairview girls, the Swift Creek boys were first again in 2019. The Wolves carried the baton four times around the track in a winning 3:49.2, even faster than the 3:52.05 their team had posted the previous year. The Fairview boys were second in 4:00.4, and Nims took third in 4:02.7.

Athletics is track and field, and while the runs, sprints, and relays were taking place on the track, jumps and throws were being contested in the field. Nehemiah Jenkins of Nims and Maryam Parishani of Griffin tied for first in the girls' high jump, each posting a vertical leap of 1.45 meters. In a three-way tie for third, Taliyah Miller of Nims, Leah Holman of Deerlake, and Gabria Cottrell of Raa each cleared 1.37 meters.

Ja'Marie Clemons of Cobb was the clear winner of the boys' high jump, clearing the bar at 1.52 meters. After Clemons, though, there was a seven-way tie for second (which make you wonder if the officials knew the rules for ties in the jumps). Sharing second at 1.37 meters were Ashton Gainer of Montford, Juvon Pettway of Swift Creek, Alec Neal of Montford, Kyan Singleton of Deerlake, Ryan Poage of Deerlake, Dentarius Johnson of Montford, and Raylen Wilson of Swift Creek.

Alexandria Kennedy, who won the girls' 100-meter hurdles for Fairview, also won the girls' long jump for the Falcons, leaping 4.85 meters. Danae Baker of Raa, winner of the girls' 100, took second in the long jump at 4.75 meters. Ausunti Herring of Deerlake jumped 4.54 meters for third.

Keyon Brown of Fairview had been fourth in the boys' 400 with a 56.9. Le'kel Manna of Nims had won the boys' 100-meter hurdles. They shared first in the boys' long jump, each posting a mark of 5.55 meters. Zanario Travis of Nims placed third with a leap of 5.49 meters.

Jade Dubose had scored in both the girls' shot and the girls' 100-meter hurdles at the 2018 Trojan Invitational. At the 2019 Invitational, the Nims eighth-grader had been sixth in the hurdles, but she won the shot, hurling the round weight 9.69 meters. Raven Hall of Deerlake had the second-best mark of 9.45 meters, and Cinnae Howard of Nims placed third at 8.94 meters.

Nims went one-two in the boys' shot put, with Jordan Clark first at 13.23 meters and David Laws second at 11.74 meters. Kamari Strong of Fairview was third with a toss of 11.47 meters.

After all the events were over and the points had been tallied, Raa had won the girls' team competition, first of eight teams with 88-1/2 points. The Fairview girls were second with 72 points and Deerlake third with 63 points. The boys' team standings were much closer, with Fairview prevailing over Nims for the win, 81-1/3 to 79. Cobb was a close third in the nine-team field with 73-5/6 points.

Leon County Schools' 2019 middle school track season continues on Thursday, 11 April 2019, with the Raider Invitational at Rickards High School. The third meet is the Lion Invitational at Leon High School on Thursday, 18 April 2019, followed by the Championship Meet at Godby High on Thursday, 25 April 2019. Each meet starts at 5:30 PM ET.


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