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Myers, Barrera still running hot

MHS Underwood: 2nd Discus

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/30/23

TALLAHASSEE - Fleming Island High distance runner Graham Myers; after a school record in the mile last week, doubled down for double the distance and bashed down the Fleming Island record in the 3200 …

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Myers, Barrera still running hot

MHS Underwood: 2nd Discus


TALLAHASSEE - Fleming Island High distance runner Graham Myers; after a school record in the mile last week, doubled down for double the distance and bashed down the Fleming Island record in the 3200 (2 miles) with a third place finish at the FSU Relays Elite Mile race in Tallahassee on Fri., March 24.

For Myers, the competition was familiar in Tallahassee, with defending cross country state champion Patrick Koon, of Leon High, taking the victory in a super quick eight minutes, 52.60 seconds with Belen Jesuit’s Joshua Ruiz the runnerup in 9:03.43 and Myers just a hair behind Ruiz at 9:03.45.

“Graham likes to run up front and is not afraid to lead races of this caliber,” said Fleming Island distance coach Dave Allen. “Those three guys were the 1-2-3 of the Class 3A state championship race in November. Graham wants, and I think, will catch the Ruiz kid soon, but Koon is the real deal and way stronger than everyone else in the state.”

At the 2022 Class 3A championships, Koon won in 14:56.70 with Ruiz at 15:37.30 and Myers third at 15:42.10.

Koon, twice the cross country state champion, led a group of five elite races in the invitational 3200 through a 65 second fast first quarter en route to Koon, Ruiz and Myers breaking away to just three runners under 4:30 at the one mile point with Koon three seconds ahead of the duo.

Koon kept the pressure up front with back to back 67 seconds laps before cruising in at 65 for the win. Ruiz and Myers duked it out over the last lap with Ruiz edging Myers with a 1:00.29 to Myer’s 1:00.51. “In the next four weeks, we will work to get Graham to use his great kick at the end tactically,” said Allen, noting Myers ran a 1600 record 4:18 last week, but got outkicked by Mandarin’s Gavin Nelson at the UNF River City Classic. “He’s got the foundation to do it.”

In the 1600, with won by Alex Leath of Alabama’s Vestavia Hills High in 4;09.57, Myers was 14th in 4:23.21 wiht Ruiz seventh at 4:19.83 and Mandarin’s Nelson sixth at 4:17.98. Fleming Island junior John Keester IV was 18th in 4:25.13.

“John is getting more confident after his win at the 3200 at UNF,” said Allen. “Our distance group is getting stronger each day.”

In the 800, with Leath winning his second event in 1:50.63, Fleming Island got a strong 1:56.99 from junior Roman Mollicone for 18th place.

“He’s a free-wheeler out there that is just now understanding how to run these track events,” said Allen, noting Mollicone’s 4:39.28 in the 1600. “He could be down in the low 1:50s by season’s end, he’s that strong.”

In the sprints, former Doctor’s Inlet Elementary School track standout Kavon Miller, now a senior football star heading to Princeton University, was fifth in the 100 in 10.59 and fourth in the 200 in 21.52.

Also in Tallahassee, Oakleaf High senior Sierra Barrera, who also set her record in the mile at the UNF River City Classic last week, smashed that record with a three seond improvement in her race to the tune of 5:15.17 versus her 5:18 at UNF. Barrera’s effort got a 16th place in the uber-race with Brooke Hooper of Pine Crest crushing the event with a 5:05.60 in front by four seconds over Spruce Creek’s Olivia Niewald at 5:09.06.

Barrera did finish ahead of Bolles Class 2A cross country state champion Jillian Candelino in the race with Hooper an eighth place finisher in the 2A cross country race. Barrera also ran a 2:18.78 for 14th in the 800.

In the open 1600, Fleming Island’s duo of Katie Thompson and Brooke Reynolds were eighth and 11th in 5:23.30 and 5:26.70.

In the discus, Middleburg High’s Wyatt Underwood exploded in his best meet of the season with a second place 163’-2” toss that was second to Nathan Lebowitz of Ponte Vedra’s 170’-7” winning toss.

In the girls discus, the local trio of Annalee Harbison, Madison Underwood and Kenya Tinajero; representing Clay and Middleburg, finished fifth, seventh and 12th with Harbison tossing a 125’-1’ distance. Lauren Thomas of St. Thomas Aquinas won at 140’-8”. Tinajero was fourth in shot put wiht Harbison sixth for Clay.

In other events, Orange Park’s boys 4 x 400 relay was 15th in 3:31.46 with winner Hoover High (AL) at 3:17.84 with Flagler Palm Coast and Choctawhatchee second and third.

Fleming Island’s Brenden Cook was 17th in the 110 high hurdlers in 15.34 with Orange Park freshman Nethan Verger 20th in 15.60.

Fleming Island junior high jumper Gabrielle Flores, winner at the Bob Hayes Memorial last week, finsihed sixth at 5’-1.25”.

In triple jump, Fleming Island freshman Mikayla Simmons was third at 38’-8.25” behind Chelsi Williams of George Jenkins at 40’-7.75.”