Athlete of the year: Devon Jerothe, River Ridge, Sr.
Why we picked him: After finishing fourth at state in the pole vault last year, Jerothe dominated the event this season, winning conference, district and region titles. But the performance that put him over the top was at the Class 3A state meet at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where he came from behind to win what had been an elusive title with a leap of 14 feet. Jerothe was the only competitor in 3A to clear that mark and was the only boys athlete from the North Suncoast to win a state title this season.
Most impressive accomplishment: Because of wind and heavy rain, the pole vault event was delayed twice during the state meet. In warmups, Jerothe landed awkwardly in the pit and felt something pop in his elbow, but it turned out to be just a sprain. Then Jerothe missed his two attempts at 13 feet and was down to his final jump before being eliminated. Jerothe needed his final attempt to clear the next height, too. But he continued to survive and watched as the rest of competitors continued to be eliminated until he was the only one left.
Did you know? Jerothe comes from a family of vaulters. His father, Russell, vaulted in high school and is now a coach. Devon’s older brother, Ryan, is an All-American vaulter at Nova Southeastern. And Devon’s younger brother, Garrett, vaults for the Knights and finished 10th at state.
What’s next: Jerothe plans to attend West Florida, but will be unable to continue vaulting because the school does not have a track program. He still is trying to see if he can land a track scholarship elsewhere.
Coach of the year
Craig Moore, Land O’Lakes: Blessed with numbers other teams could only imagine, Moore put all the pieces in the right places as the Gators overwhelmed the competition, winning conference and district titles by whopping margins and finishing third overall at the region meet.
High jump, Bobby Harris, Springstead, Sr.: Defending state champion finished fifth in the high jump (6-4) at the Class 3A state meet.
Pole vault, Brian Swanson, Ridgewood, Jr.: Finished eighth at the Class 2A state meet with mark of 13 feet.
Long jump, Thomas Kernan, Ridgewood, Sr.: Took third at the region meet and was the North Suncoast’s lone state qualifier in the event.
Triple jump, Stefan Zepata, Land O’Lakes, Sr.: Leaped 44-7 to take third at the Class 3A state meet.
Discus, Chris Branfield, Ridgewood, Sr.: Took eighth at the Class 3A state meet with a throw of 145-11.
Shot put, Chris Branfield, Ridgewood, Sr.: Placed 10th at the 3A meet with a mark of 46-9.75.
100, Jordan Roberts, Zephyrhills, Sr.: SAC and district champion in the event.
200, Mosi Davis, Sunlake, Sr.: SAC and district champion in the event.
400, Jordan Burkes, Nature Coast, Sr.: District runnerup had North Suncoast’s fastest time (52.88) in the postseason.
800, James Harkless, Nature Coast, Sr.: The North Suncoast’s only state qualifier in the event.
1,600, Tyler Stahl, Land O’Lakes, Sr.: Finished ninth at the 3A state meet in 4:21.48.
3,200, Jake Poore, Land O’Lakes, Sr.: Took sixth at the 3A state meet in 9:18.68.
110 hurdles, Jamaree Ried, Anclote, Sr.: Took eighth at the 2A state meet in 15.26.
300 hurdles, Jamaree Ried, Anclote, Sr.: Finished 11th at state in 40.14.
4x100, Land O’Lakes (Javin Tandy, Rashawn Kindel, Deionte Strozier, Isaac Cabrera): State qualifiers also were SAC and district champions.
4x400, Fivay (Christian Coleman, Zachary Daniels, Robert Brown, Michael Ferlita): SAC champs also finished as district runners-up.
4x800, Land O’Lakes (Jake Poore, Andrew Dowler, James Clarke, Ethan Weilant): State qualifiers were the best on the North Suncoast all season.
High jump: Brent Dawson, Jr., Zephyrhills
Pole vault: Garrett Jerothe, So., River Ridge
Long jump: Deionte Strozier, Land O’Lakes, Sr.
Triple jump: Thomas Kernan, Ridgewood, Sr.
Discus: Jacob Tinch, Weeki Wachee, So.
Shot put: Thomas Kernan, Ridgewood, Sr.
100: Dean Simon, Hudson, So.
400: Jordan Roberts, Zephyrhills, Sr.
800: Troy Shea, Mitchell, Sr.
1,600: Jake Poore, Land O’Lakes, Sr.
3,200: Tyler Stahl, Land O’Lakes, Sr.
110 hurdles: Jamel Clark, Land O’Lakes, Sr.
300 hurdles: Devonte Luis, Anclote, Sr.
4x100: Nature Coast (Jordan Burkes, Jalen McFarland, Brian Haygood, DeShawn Smith)
4x400: Anclote (Jamaree Ried, Devonte Luis, Darius Brown, Trent Crawford)
4x800: Springstead (James Amodie, Jeffrey Amodie, Jai Jackson, Joshua Page)
Anclote: Darius Brown (110 hurdles), Andrew Janus (high jump), Devonte Luis (long jump, triple jump), Jonte Scott (high jump); Bishop McLaughlin: Will Beatty (shot put); Central: Austin Gray (3,200); Fivay: Zachary Daniels (300 hurdles), Michael Ferlita (400); Gulf: Wesley Best (1600); Hernando: Connor Foradas (shot put), 4x800; Hudson: Robert McCarty (discus); Land O’Lakes: Jamel Clark (400), Andy Dowler (800), Tumba Kanyinda (400), Ian Mini (pole vault), Dylan Mohamed (200), Travis Nichols (3200), Shaheed Salmon (discus), Deionte Strozier (triple jump), Ethan Weilant (discus, 800), 4x400; Mitchell: 4x800; Nature Coast: James Harkless (1,600), Brian Haygood (triple jump), Austin Mulyck (3,200), DeShawn Smith (long jump, 100), 4x800 rlay; Pasco: Dominick Graham (100), Kevin Hernandez (800), 4x100, 4x400; Ridgewood: Cameron Coleman (high jump), Peter Cabrera (300 hurdles), Darnell Lindsey (200); River Ridge: Jason Dovydaitis (800); Springstead: Tyler Mahla (triple jump, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), 4x400; Sunlake: Stephen Brown (1,600, 3,200), Mosi Davis (100), Donte Johnson (long jump, 100), 4x100; Wesley Chapel: Joseph Edwards (200), Jacob Lehman (1,600), Jamil Santiago (high jump), James Valentine (200), Mailyke Williams (110, 300 hurdles), 4x100, 4x400; Weeki Wachee: Marcus Jones (hurdles); Wiregrass Ranch: Jaye Miner (shot put), Jordan Mutcherson (shot put), Leon Tilman (100), 4x100, 4x800.
Athlete of the year: Alfreda Steele, Pasco, So.
Why we picked her: Steele established herself as one of the state’s premier sprinting specialists after placing third at state in the 100 meters as a freshman last season. She made even bigger strides this season, placing in the top two in both the 100 and 200 at nearly every major meet. But it was the Class 2A state meet where she really shined. Steele won the 200 (24.05 seconds), was the runnerup in the 100 (11.99) and long jump (18-3.75), and anchored the Pirates’ 4x100 relay team to a seventh-place finish (50.88). She accounted for 28 of Pasco’s 30 points, which helped the team place seventh overall. The state title in the 200 was Steele’s first at the high school level and she was only one of four North Suncoast female athletes to win a state title this season. What set Steele apart was how well she did in a multitude of events.
Most impressive accomplishment: Steele’s best event was the 100, but she did not have enough to catch defending state champion Deanna Hill of Lake Highland Prep. In the 200, she zeroed in on Hill, her biggest nemesis. This time, Steele held her off to win with a time that was a personal best.
Did you know? Steele became the first female athlete from Pasco to win a state title in track and field.
What’s next: Steele will continue to run in the offseason to prepare for her junior season.
Coach of the year
Rock Ridgeway, Land O’Lakes: He won his conference title as the Gators’ coach and guided the team to a district title and a second-place finish at the region meet.
High jump, Desiree’ Nathe, Bishop McLaughlin, Sr.: Won the Class A state title by clearing 5 feet, 2 inches; Hurricanes’ first state champ in any sport.
Long jump, Wilena Little, Springstead, Sr: Finished second at the 3A meet with a mark of 18-1.25.
Triple jump, Kassidy Wallace, Land O’Lakes, Sr.: Placed 10th at the 3A state meet with leap of 34-10.50.
Discus, Lanashia Pope, Pasco, So.: Took sixth at 2A state meet with throw of 107-2.
Shot put (adaptive), Scarlett Lawhorne, Zephyrhills, Sr.: State champion won the 3A event with a toss of 12-7.5.
100, Alicia Gentz, Nature Coast, Sr.: Placed sixth at 2A meet in 12.60.
200, Ashley Gentz, Nature Coast, So.: Took eighth at state in 25.58.
400, Hallie Grimes, Land O’Lakes, Sr.: Finished third at 3A state meet in 56.08.
800, Erin Blackwell, Springstead, Jr.: Placed sixth at 3A state meet in 2:18.75.
1,600, Emily Kerns, Mitchell, Jr.: Took seventh at 3A state meet in 5:13.42.
3,200, Emily Kerns, Mitchell, Jr.: Finished 11th at 3A state meet in 11:43.
100 hurdles, Madelyn Nurge, Anclote, Jr.: State qualifier also was SAC and district champion.
300 hurdles, Jasha Patrick, Hernando, Jr.: Finished sixth at 2A state meet in 46.52.
4x100, Pasco (Abigail Smith, Lezareia Gilbert, Richonda Samuel, Alfreda Steele): Took seventh at 2A state meet in 50.88.
4x400, Nature Coast (Ashley Gentz, Eboni Johnson, Nilsa-Marie Rodriguez, Crystal Burchhardt): Placed eighth at 2A state meet in 4:03.74.
High jump: Emily Gauvey, Anclote, So.
Pole vault: Casey Chitty, Wiregrass Ranch, Jr.
Long jump: Kassidy Wallace, Land O’Lakes, Sr.
Triple jump: Victoria Cannata, Land O’Lakes, So.
Discus: Lauren Plaugher, Hernando, Jr.
Shot put: Rita Jarque, Nature Coast, Jr.
100: Kara Young, Zephyrhills, Sr.
200: Wilena Little, Springstead, Sr.
400: Ty’Rhonza Harris, Springstead, Sr.
800: Brianna Horn, Nature Coast, Sr.
1,600: Elise Cedre, Wiregrass Ranch, Sr.
3,200: Kerry Reilly, Wiregrass Ranch, Fr.
100 hurdles: Bronte Cameron, Nature Coast, Jr.
300 hurdles: Emily Gauvey, Anclote, So.
4x100: Zephyrhills (Tyrhonda Mathis, Aaliyah McKenzie, Mya Neal, Kara Young)
4x400: Land O’Lakes (Christa Haran, Lindsey Weilant, Makenzie Fish, Hallie Grimes)
4x800: Land O’Lakes (Cheyenne Heron, Lindsey Weilant, Christa Haran, Chloe Phaup)
Anclote: Emily Gauvey (100), Johnetta Swinton (discus), 4x100, 4x800; Bishop McLaughlin: Rachel Verscharen (discus, shot put); Fivay: Rachael Bradley (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Amber Malas (high jump), Leah Neck (300 hurdles), 4x400; Gulf: Jaylin Banks (400), Jasmine Jackson (discus), Kayla Kavinski (long jump); Hernando: Jasha Patrick (triple jump, 100 hurdles); Hudson: Ashley Dugan (long jump); Land O’Lakes: Victoria Cannata (high jump), Makenzie Fish (400), Hallie Grimes (long jump), Jhade Hayes (shot put, discus), Kelsey McKee (shot put), Colleen Mitchell (pole vault), Lacy Nasello long jump), Kassidy Wallace (100 hurdles), Alyssa Woodard (100), 4x100; Mitchell: Alani Alexander (discus), Taylor Anderson (100), Alina Merceron (high jump), Ansley Phillion (pole vault, high jump), 4x800; Nature Coast: Kaylee Arvay (3,200), Crystal Burchhardt (1,600), Bronte Cameron (300 hurdles), Alicia Gentz (200), Ashley Gentz (100), Eboni Johnson (400), Alexa Lacy (3,200), Nilsa-Marie Rodriguez (100), Zavana Schmidt (high jump), 4x100; Pasco: Lezareia Gilbert (high jump), Brianca Roberts (triple jump); Ridgewood: Michelle Gorski (100 hurdles), Kimberly Mendoza (400), Samantha Williams (shot put); River Ridge: Darien Davis (100, 200), Baylee Lewandowski (200), 4x100; Springstead: 4x400, 4x800; Sunlake: Katelyn Ortiz (300 hurdles); Wesley Chapel: Amber Maxwell (3,200), 4x100; Wiregrass Ranch: Madison Conway (800), Trakyra Kidd (400), Kerry Reilly (1,600), Alyssa Woodard (100), 4x100, 4x400, 4x800; Zephyrhills: Aaliyah McKenzie (triple jump)