CLEARWATER — After finishing sixth at last year’s Class A state meet, it appeared Calvary Christian’s track team would take a while to get back to that level, especially after graduating three seniors who scored a significant amount of points.
The Warriors also lost coach Greg Thiel, who left in March to take over the track program at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C.
“I’m sure a lot of people wrote us off at the beginning of the season with what we had coming back,” first-year coach Rollin Mohler said.
But Mohler knew better.
He had an influx of talented freshmen who filled the holes in the lineup, so much that the Warriors have a shot at a top-three finish at Friday’s Class A state meet.
The biggest addition among the freshmen is distance specialist Hannah Brookover, who is seeded fourth in the 1,600 with a time of 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
A soccer player for 11 years, Brookover decided to try cross country and track this season at the urging of her mother, Tricia Brookover, a former track star at Florida.
“Hannah was really green starting out, and we modified her training because she was still involved with soccer,” Tricia Brookover said. “She decided to focus on track this spring and put soccer on the back burner. And she’s done better than anyone could have ever expected.”
Now, Hannah considers distance running her primary sport.
“It’s hard to say soccer is my second favorite because I spent so much time playing it, but I really like running,” Hannah said.
The holdovers from last year’s team also are doing well. The 4x100 relay team of Jess Stewart, Keely Durbak, Christine Marino and Kasey Howard returned intact and has the second seed (49.82) going into the state meet.
The 4x400 team of Emily Curran, Howard, Marino and Callie Scull also is seeded second (4:04).
The boys have state contenders as well. Chris Robin’s time of 1:58 in the 800 is among the top four in A.
“It’s a good group and they’re all young,” Mohler said. “It looks good for the future.”
Where: University of North Florida, Jacksonville
When: Friday (Class A) and Saturday (2A)
Admission: $9 per meet. Parking is $8.
Schedule: 1 p.m. — Field events and 4x800 relay; 4 p.m. — running event preliminaries; 6:30 p.m. — running event finals
Class A girls to watch
Brittany McGee, Admiral Farragut: The sophomore is seeded first in the 100 hurdles (14.53 seconds) and third in the 300 hurdles (44.89) and long jump (18-½).
Class A boys to watch
Connor Cureton, St. Petersburg Catholic: The senior was Class A leader in the 800 during the regular season, and his seed time of 1:58 is among the top four.
Ben Kieler, Clearwater Central Catholic: The senior has the third-best mark in the high jump (6-5) heading into the state meet.
Chris Olson, Canterbury: The junior is tied with Seffner Christian’s Seth Lewis for the top seed in the discus (155-10).
Class 2A boys to watch
Tim Holmes, Lakewood: The senior is seeded second in the 110 hurdles (14.17) and first in the 300 hurdles (38.01). He also runs anchor leg on the 4x400 team that is seeded second with time of 3:19.
Shaquem Griffin, Lakewood: The senior is seeded in both long jump (23-1) and triple jump (48-4½) and runs legs on the third-seeded 4x100 (42.02) and 4x400 teams.
Shaquill Griffin, Lakewood: The senior teams with twin brother Shaquem to score big in the field events with the top seed in the triple jump (49-½) and fourth seed in the long jump (22-11). He also runs on both relays.