Don Hall Track blazes

Stratton repeats 9:06 in Gainesville

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 4/6/22

ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High track coach Don Hall would have been smiling ear to ear from Heaven above with the return of superb track action at the Don Hall Memorial Track Invitational held Friday …

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Don Hall Track blazes

Stratton repeats 9:06 in Gainesville


ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High track coach Don Hall would have been smiling ear to ear from Heaven above with the return of superb track action at the Don Hall Memorial Track Invitational held Friday on the Orange Park campus.

In the final count, Fleming Island’s boys team whisked away at 92-87 title from Mandarin High with Orange Park third at 74 while Oakleaf dominate the girls side of things with a 142.33-94.83 title over Fleming Island with Mandarin third at 82. Fleming Island’s boys 800 contingency; Danny Sakowski (2:00.92), Roman Mollicone (2:02.36), Luke Melson (2:02.70) and John Keester IV (2:04.68) snatched the team title with finishers at 1-2-3-5 in the event for 28 team points.

Hall, an iconic coach for Clay County track athletes for decades, liked a lot of shoulder-to-shoulder action and was a master of the throws and Friday, his track hosted a bucket load of competition in nearly every event.

In the throwing and jumping events, Hall, a master’s level discus and shotput athlete even into his later years, got an Orange Park triple jump champion in basketball ace and state qualifier last year Josiah Sabino, who won in 43 feet, five inches in a close battle with Jevon Andrew-Brown of Tohopekaliga who was just seven inches away.

In the throws, Middleburg High’s Wyatt Underwood dominated the discus with a 145’-11” toss with Keystone Heights rival Caleb Moncrief just behind with a 134’=0” toss.

Both discus athletes were doing double duty for the day with the Pepsi Relays in the morning seeing Moncrief take the county title with a sixth place in Gainesville, 141’-5”, with Underwood finishing 12th at 135’-1” before both drove back to Orange Park to compete in the Don Hall.

Also in Gainesville, Underwood finished 19th in the shot put at 45’-6.25”.

Back in Orange Park, Moncrief took third in the shotput with a 44’-5.25” toss behind winner Jordan Mitchell of Oakleaf who putted 48’1.75” with Middleburg’s Tanner Peery second at 44’-8”.

In the girls throws, Clay High’s Annalee Harbison, a member of the Blue Devils’ state champion weightlifting team, hoisted her way to a 126’-11” winning toss over Middleburg’s Madison Underwood by over eight feet.

In the jumps, the girls long jump came down to an inch between winner Olivia Gaines of Ridgeview and Fiona Whitfield of Clay, 16’-8” to 16’-7.25”, with Oakleaf’s Nya Russell just four inches from the top at 16’-4.5”. The top five girls; Orange Park’s Eris Lester and Oakleaf’s Madison Linscomb at fourth and fifth were all over 16 feet and within seven inches from top to bottom in one of the closest events of the day.

Oakleaf’s Arianna Eason, the recent Bob Hayes Invite triple jump champion, dominated her event with a 38’-5” leap over Gaines’ 36’-.25” runner-up spot.

Whitfield excelled on the track later with second place in 12.70 seconds in the 100 meters with Russell fourth.

On the track, where Oakleaf girls sprinting has been at high octane all season, wins from Keira Smalls in the 100 hurdles, a double from distance ace Sierra Barrera in the 1600 and 800 and a second/third-place finish in the 200 from freshman Kaymin Sales and Nya Russell with Eason sixth racking up team points quickly for the Lady Knights.

Oakleaf got a second double in the 300 hurdles with Kayla Havens and Smalls going 3-4 for 11 points with Katelyn Mariki just a second off the mark at seventh to add two more points.

Fleming Island’s Brenden Cook won the boys 110 hurdles in 15.51 just ahead of Palatka’s Johnathan Givens at 15.65.

In the boys sprints, Lawrence Thomas, Orange Park, took third in the 200 with teammate Jermel Brown at 22.83 in a race that saw eight sprinters finish in less than a second from first to eighth; winner Jalen Lewis of Mandarin at 22.26, Ridgeview’s Jerry Vil eighth at 22.94.

In the distance races, in the 1600, St. Johns Country Day School’s Graham Myers took charge early and held off Bob Hayes 3200 champion John Keester IV for a three second win, 4:30.64-4:33.73, with fast-improving Logan Moore of Middleburg third at 4:37.22 on the hot, steamy track. Moore would later win the 3200 in 10:15.98 over Fleming Island’s Jacob Campbell, 10:20.51.

Myers also got double the fun on his Saturday with a seventh-place finish at the Pepsi Relays 3200 in 9:33.82 with teammate Matthew Stratton blasting his second 9:06 split; 9:06.93, in two weekends of fast running for the Pepsi Relay win. Stratton did not compete at Don Hall (Grad Bash?).

Stratton, the Class 1A cross country champion, got to watch Oak Hall rival Caden Montini post a 4:13.85 in the 1600 as a prelude to the upcoming district, region clashes with Stratton.

In pole vault, Middleburg’s Chris Gray won a 10’-4” jump off with Oakleaf’s Joel Wallace-vera.

In the relays, Oakleaf’s girls won the 4 x 100 over Mandarin; 48.48-49.87 while, for the boys, Orange Park won over Gainesville, 42.67-43.19.

Also at the Pepsi Relays, Ridgeview had state high jumper Zoe Whaley, who finished ninth at 4’-11.75”, high jumper T’Vario Willis, ninth at 5’-11.5” and triple jumper Nappoleon Cion, 14th at 42’-2.25”.

Next up is the Clay County Championships held April 7 at Orange Park High School. April 6, Orange Park will host the NEFAC Junior High Track Championships.


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