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 …
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.
Boys 4 x 800: FIHS 8th 8:37.56
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here