Oakleaf shines at Bob Hayes; Keester defends title

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/23/22

JACKSONVILLE - Oakleaf High School continued their rise in the Florida track ranks with a strong showing at the Bob Hayes Invitational, including a triple jump title to Arianna Eason, plus a preview …

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Oakleaf shines at Bob Hayes; Keester defends title


JACKSONVILLE - Oakleaf High School continued their rise in the Florida track ranks with a strong showing at the Bob Hayes Invitational, including a triple jump title to Arianna Eason, plus a preview of what’s to come with Oakleaf Junior High showing off a bit of national prowess by taking the middle school team title the day before the high school power festival on Sat., March 19.
For Oakleaf Junior High coach Merlin Smith, the director of the age group Kings Track Club in the Oakleaf area and the coach at Oakleaf Junior High, to see his former athletes excelling at the highest level at the biggest track weekend in America is a shot in the arm for his reputation as the “sprint meister” of Clay County.
“We just get fast kids to come out for the junior high team and then keep them busy over the summer with the Kings Track Club,” said Smith, going into his eight year. “The bottom line is they have to love the track to keep grinding like they do.”
As well as a strong showing by the junior high team with a two-time hurdles champion; Nethan Verger, the 4 x 100 girls sprint squad (four titles in five years at the Bob Hayes and a top USA ranking this year (Timia Lawson, Rayna Lawson, Aaliyah Cameron and Shelby Gaines) and the 800 meter girls champion, Dylan Fogle.
Jeniyah Robinson, in the 100 hurdles, won her event and is ranked fifth in Florida for the upcoming state middle school championships to be held May 21 at the IMG Academy. Rayna Lawson won the Bob Hayes 100 meters title in one of the most exciting events at the prestigious festival.
“She got out real well and always has a great start,” said Smith. “We are working on her top end speed. Once she gets out, they won’t catch her.”
For the high schoolers, Eason, a senior at Oakleaf High School and an FHSAA state meet athlete last year, her triple jump title follows a list of jumper powerhouses out of Oakleaf; including twice state champion Melvin Briley, long jump champion Loren Johnson, both middle school standouts under Smith. Eason only needed her first jump at 37’-5” to secure the title as she was needed to run in the 4 x 100 meters at the same time and no jumper eclipsed her mark.
“Both won middle school state titles as well as the high school,” said Smith, who has former Raines track standout Sherronda Harris and long-time jump guru John Carter on his staff. “Freshman Madison Linscomb (at Oakleaf High) set the Florida middle school state meet record in the event last year.” Linscomb finished 14th on the day with a 34 foot leap.
In the distance races, Fleming Island High sophomore John Keester IV, doubled his trophy count at Bob Hayes by defending his 3200 title with a 9:52.81 split ahead of Bartram Trail’s Jemesu Picone at 9:53.51 on a blustery, backstretch windy day. Both runners suffered through eight trips into the wind with Keester seeded at 9:31 and Picone seeded at 9:42.
In the traditionally-acclaimed Lewis Islip Invitational 1600, Oakleaf High’s Sierra Barrera closed down with a strong final lap to take third in 5:27.03 behind American Heritage leader Ashley Fitzgerald’s winning 5:12.54 split. Fitzgerald was the Class 3A cross country runnerup.

More Results
Boys 4 x 800: FIHS 8th 8:37.56

Girls 4 x 800: FIHS 6th 10:21.35
Girls Discus: OHS Adrionna Coleman 5th 111’-3”; MHS Madison Underwood 6th 107’
Boys High Jump: FIHS Antoine Sandy 3rd 6’-2”
Girls 4 x 100: OHS 3rd 50.12 (Nya Russell, Kaymin Sales, Vivica Fitzgerald, Arianna Eason): OPHS 7th 52.00
Boys 4 x 100: OPHS 11th 44.07; FIHS 12th 44.07
Boys Discus: MHS Wyatt Underwood 5th 139’-10”; KHHS Caleb Moncrief 6th 138’-8”
Girls High Jump: OHS Sydney Brown 2nd 5’-2”; FIHS Gabrielle Flores 4th 5’-1”; OPHS Samantha Mitchell 4th 5’-1”
Boys Pole Vault: OHS Joel Wallace-vera 5th 10’-11”
Boys Triple Jump: OPHS Josiah Sabino 2nd 45’-1”
Boys 1600: MHS Logan Moore 7th 4:54.62
Lewis Islip Invite 1600 Girls: OHS Sierra Barrera 3rd 5:27.03; SJCDS Rebecca Stratton 10th 5:34.06
Lewis Islip Invite 1600 Boys: FIHS Dan Sakowski 13th 4:48.31
Girls 800: OHS Sierra Barrera 4th 2:23.11
Boys 800: FIHS Alex Bendig 2nd 2:00.09
Girls 3200: FIHS Katie Thompson 6th 12:29.26
Boys 3200: FIHS John Keester IV 1st 9:52.81; MHS Logan Moore 8th 10:44.58
Girls 4 x 400: OHS 16th 4:21.77
Boys 4 x 400: OPHS 8th 3:31.48 (Nolan Chambers, Winston Cassan, Jermel Brown, Chris Arias)

Bob Hayes Middle School results
Boys 100: OJHS Trace Burney 7th 12.42; OJHS Ryan Mangome 8th 12.50; OJHS Jordin Price 9th 12.56
Girls 100: OJHS Rayna Lawson 1st 12.91; OJHS Shelby Gaines 5th 13.33
Boys 100 Hurdles: OJHS Nethan Verger 1st 14.50; OJHS Jayven Moreno 2nd 16.06; OJHS Desmond Carson 3rd 16.85
Girls 100 Hurdles: OJHS Jeniyah Robinson 2nd 18.00
Girls 400: OJHS Skylar Smith 4th 1:04.03; OJHS Kyanni Ledgister 5th 1:05.28; OJHS Angel Rogers 7th 1:07.38
Boys 400: OJHS Patrick Waters 8th 1:00.12; OJHS Emmett Egger 10th 1:00.51
Boys 800: OJHS Grant Keppel 4th 2:27.53
Girls 800: OJHS Dylan Fogle 1st 2:36.58; OJHS Lailah Evans 3rd 2:43.86; OJHS Malia Mazerac 5th 2:48.16
Boys 1600: OJHS Grant Keppel 2nd 5:16.24
Girls 1600: OJHS Malia Mazerac 3rd 6:07.41
Boys 4 x 100: OJHS 2nd 46.87
Girls 4 x 100: OJHS 1st 52.14 (Timia McMillan, Rayna Lawson, Aaliyah Cameron, Shelby Gaines)
Boys 4 x 200: OJHS 5th 1:50.18
Girls 4 x 200: OJHS 2nd 1:58.97
Boys Long Jump: OJHS Jordin Price 2nd 19”-6”; OJHS Nethan Verger 3rd 18’-8”
Girls Long Jump: OJHS Brooke Linscomb 4th 13’-9”; OJHS Shelby Gaines 5th 13’-6”; OJHS Sa’Jada Cumberbatch 6th 12’07”.

Results: Run Matanzas Invitational
March 19 at Matanzas HS
Boys 200: SJCDS Stanley Cowherd 4th 23.69
Boys 400: SJCDs Stanley Cowherd 1st 52.46
Boys 800: SJCDS Matthew Stratton 2nd 2:00.89; SJCDS Graham Myers 9th 2:07.64
Boys 1600: SJCDS Graham Myers 1st 4:54.71; SJCDS Richard Nichols 3rd 4:56.78
Boys 4 x 800: SJCDS 1st 8:38.39


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