HARMONY — Central senior Raqurra Ishmar has accomplished quite a bit during her prep track and field career.
A year ago at the region tournament, Ishmar won the shot put and placed second in the discus. She continued her domination in the throws this season, earning gold medals in both events at last week’s district meet.
Yet, Ishmar wasn’t satisfied. She knew there was room for improvement, so a day before Thursday’s Class 3A, Region 2 meet at Harmony High, the Bears’ track star tinkered with her technique under the guidance of former Central track coach Kevin Ballard.
The move, unusual so close to a major competition, paid off.
Ishmar topped the leaderboard in both events, setting a personal record in the shot put and dominating the competition in the discus for one of the most gratifying performances of her athletic career.
“I’m a visual learner, so whatever you show me, I can learn,” Ishmar said. “We messed with my technique (Wednesday). Ballard showed me, told me what I was doing wrong.”
In the shot put, Ishmar recorded a distance of 45 feet, 1 inch, shattering her own personal mark by 2 feet, 5 inches.
“I released higher than I usually do,” she said. “… I used to come out of my glide too early, so I came out later and released higher.”
In the discus, Ishmar won with a throw of 120 feet, 10 inches, which was 10 feet, 2 inches better than second-place Kendall Pollock of Harmony (110-8). Ishmar also qualified for state in the long jump after coming in fourth with a leap of 17 feet, 2 inches.
Ishmar said her best chance of a gold medal at next weekend’s state meet is in the shot put, where she was second in Class 3A a year ago.
“I was in super depressed mode when I got second last year at states,” she said. “But 45 feet? I love it. I love shot now.”
Also earning double gold at Thursday’s region meet, which was delayed an hour and half by strong thunderstorms, was Mitchell’s Kelli Williams, who won the 800 meters and the 1,600 at regionals for the second year in a row. Williams edged Springstead’s Mikayla Bogulski in the 800 by a little more than two seconds. Williams ran 2:21.22; Bogulski was right behind in 2:23.75.
In the 1,600, Williams crossed in 5:07.84, nearly eight seconds ahead of the field.
Central’s Tikiera Relaford won the high jump after clearing 5 feet, 4 inches. Tony Perez of Ridgewood was first in the triple jump after with a school-record effort of 45 feet, 1 inch.
Wiregrass Ranch’s Alex Kazanski, last year’s Class 2A state champ in the pole vault, will get the chance to defend his title. Kazanski jumped 14 feet, 6 inches to place first at regionals, beating out Ryan Jerothe (14 feet) of Mitchell. The Bulls also took the 4x400 meter relay title after Marissa Tomei, Kayla Deloach, Kelsey Sturman and Makayla Strickland combined to go 4:04.80 in the final.
In the team competition, Wiregrass Ranch had the best finish among North Suncoast teams. The Bulls’ boys team tied Lake Weir for third place with 50 points. The girls were also third after accumulating 45 points.
Edgewater was the boys team champion with 67 points; Bellview took the girls team title with 72.66 points.