Area track athletes find some success in rain-soaked pre-state meet
BRADENTON — With IMG Academy hosting the 2016 state track meet, it was fitting that IMG’s first ever pre-state meet would endure a lot of rain. The 2015 state meet was clear of bad weather, standing in contrast to the monsoon-like conditions at the 2014 and 2013 meets.
Still, there were several memorable performances Saturday from Tampa Bay athletes. Starting off the day and in the last bit of decent weather, the Newsome girls 4x800-meter relay took team took third place with their season best of 10:03.03. Newsome sophomore Maria Somrah, who contributed on the 4x800, also took fourth in the 800 (2:32.95), albeit with a diminished field. Teammate Carmen Massiah-Heywood came through for third-place finish in the open 400 (1:03.66).
The 400 was a particularly strong event for local athletes as Spoto’s Janae Caldwell dominated, finishing in 56.88. That’s off her 55.27 personal record from the Lake Brantley Invite from February, but it was also more than four seconds ahead of the field.
“Obviously the weather is a factor but I always try to do my best; the conditions are the same for everyone,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell is no stranger to branching out into other events to strengthen her 400 race. She’s run cross country for Spoto and this season started competing in the 100, a race she’d only competed in for the third time at the Spoto Invitational. There she bested Lakewood Ranch’s Sophia Falco with a personal-record 12.14. Falco, one of the top sprinters in the state, has an 11.75 from the 2015 state meet. Caldwell was not going to give her the win, especially not at a home meet.
“I’m not going to let someone come to my school and win; it doesn’t matter who I’m running against or which event,” Caldwell said.
Not to be outdone, Sickles’ Andrew Vendrone won the boys 400 in 50.11. Vendrone got a stout challenge from Tallahassee Chiles’ Jordan Roberts over the last 200 meters, and Roberts caught him on the final turn but Vendrone accelerated for the win.
“It’s hard not to run fast once you start racing,” Vendrone said. “I think I’m going to run the race as a workout but I end up racing because I can’t control it.”
Vendrone recently accepted a scholarship offer from Embry-Riddle.
The 1,600 pitted two of the area’s best runners against each other: Seffner Christian’s Noah Perkins and Hernando’s Trevor Foley. Off the starting line it was Perkins and Foley in first and second. Coming in for the end of the first lap, Perkins moved into the lead and Foley tried to move into second, but got caught up in another runner’s legs and took a shot to one of his own legs.
Perkins began to separate into the second and third laps, and Foley dropped back into fifth. Into the final lap, Perkins turned it up one more notch and separated even farther from the pack. Foley held in fifth until close to the finish when the injury to his leg became apparent. Foley got into eighth-place but collapsed across the line. Perkins came in at 4:20.42, more than four seconds ahead of the field and setting a personal record.
“It’s all work for next week at FSU (Relays) where some of the top guys in the state will be,” Perkins said. “I wanted to work that last lap because I want to be able to close faster.”
Wharton’s Bryanna Rivers took second behind Chiles’ Alexandra Wallace in the girls 1,600. Rivers didn’t run her signature 800, and the showdown with defending state champ Sinclaire Johnson will have to hold for another day. Mitchell’s Austin Koos was seventh in the boys 800 (2:03.47).
Land O’Lakes’ Alexis Harris took fourth in girls discus (101-3.5). Male teammate Rashawn Kindell placed sixth in the 100 (11.48), where Osceola’s Jha’Mhyll Banks was seventh 100 (11.49).
Osceola’s Emma Grantges was sixth in the 3,200 (11:52.52). Teammate Kiara Morrisey, a freshman, was sixth in both the 100 (17.67) and 300 hurdles (52.92). Mitchell’s Nurah Koney-Laryea was fifth in the 300 hurdles, and Osceola’s Alexis Ambrosia seventh in the 100 hurdles (18.04).
Boys and girls high jump, triple jump and long jump were all cancelled and the team scores were not a viable representation as many teams left during the second weather delay. Chiles was awarded both boys and girls team titles.