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The public schools in Pinellas County are not exactly bursting out of the block to start the track season. Gone are the 2011 athletes of the year, Countryside’s Ricy Brown and Lakewood’s Kala Funderburk, both of whom graduated. Other top stars graduated and plenty of others are concentrating on other sports.
Though the exodus has stripped most teams of their depth, there still is plenty of talent with several returning state place-winners.
The only returning state champion is Admiral Farragut’s Rayshawn Jenkins, who took first in the 110 hurdles. He also was a state champion in the 300 hurdles in 2010.
The private schools have teams stocked with talent, particularly Northside Christian’s girls, who return five athletes who placed at state last year.
Boys to watch
Ryan Green, St. Petersburg Catholic: Three-sport star should qualify for state in multiple events, most notably the 100 and 200 meters.
Shaquem Griffin, Lakewood: Dominant in the field events, Griffin took fifth at state in the triple jump last year with a leap of 45 feet, 7 1/2 inches.
Jalin Hubbard, Northeast: The county’s top returning sprinter, Hubbard was a state qualifier and first-team, all-county in the 100 and 200 last season.
Jacob Hudak, Seminole: With teammate Chase Sutton graduating, Hudak assumes role as top distance runner, much like he did in cross country.
David Jones, St. Petersburg: The three-sport star will return to track once the basketball season ends and concentrate on the 200 as well as the relays.
Rayshawn Jenkins, Admiral Farragut: The defending state champion in the 110 hurdles will also try for titles in the long and triple jumps.
Matthew Montenari, Northside Christian: Though still sidelined with a bruised knee, he will be a factor in the middle distances after finishing second at state in the 800.
Mario Ojeda, Northside Christian: Joins Montenari for solid tandem in distance races and the two make up half of a dominant 4x800 relay.
Jeremi Powell, Pinellas Park: Football standout and Florida recruit qualified for events at state last year and will be strongest in the triple jump and high jump.
Girls to watch
Daisha Brown, Largo: County’s top jumper was state qualifier in the long jump and can be used in a variety of events.
Chaise Cook-Martin, Boca Ciega: State qualifier in the 100 hurdles and triple jump who should place high in both events.
Alex Eaton, St. Petersburg: She will challenge Northside’s Katelyn Greenleaf and Osceola’s Alexis Irwin as the top distance runner in the county and be a strong anchor in 4x800 relay.
Victoria Goodwin, Northside Christian: County’s top hurdler took fourth in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the 100 hurdles at state last season.
Katelyn Greenleaf, Northside Christian: Alabama recruit placed fourth in 800 at state and had county’s top time in the 3200.
Sharell Keys, Lakewood: County’s top sprinter took sixth at state in the 100 and was a state qualifier in the 200.
Alexis Irwin, Osceola: Strong distance runner who placed seventh at state in 1600 also is leader of a deep team that can contend for conference title.
Asia Olds, Northside Christian: Versatile athlete placed ninth at state in the long jump and is among the county’s best in the 100 and 200.
Logan Thiel, Calvary Christian: Came on this offseason and ran the 400 at an indoor meet in 1 minute. She also is strong in 300 hurdles.
For the fans
Regular season: Last week was the start of regular-season meets in Class A and 2A. This week regular-season meets began in 3A and 4A. The regular season ends April 7 for Class A-2A and April 14 for 3A-4A.
Postseason: The district meets for Class A-2A are April 9-14. The district meets for 3A-4A are April 16-21. The top four in each event at districts advance to regionals, which will be April 18-20 for A-2A and April 25-27 for 3A-4A. The top four in each event at regionals advance to state, which is April 27 (A), April 28 (2A), May 4 (3A) and May 5 (4A) at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.