Athlete of the year: Ahmad Middleton, Dunedin, Sr.
Why we picked him: With former Lakewood star Tim Holmes now at Baylor, Middleton took over as the county’s best hurdler. He dominated in both the 100 meters and hurdles, winning at nearly every major meet during the regular season. At the Class 2A state meet at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Middleton won the 300 hurdles in 37.12 seconds, a time that at one point ranked as the second fastest in Florida and seventh fastest in the state. That’s not all. After winning his state title, Middleton took third in the long jump with a leap of 22-0.5.
Most impressive accomplishment: Middleton also was favored to win the 110 hurdles, but stumbled during the district meet and was unable to place in the top four to advance to regionals. That setback allowed him to concentrate on the 300 hurdles for state and dominate despite having to deal with persistent rain throughout the day. Once he crossed the finish, Middleton flashed a smile that stretched from ear-to-ear for a state title he could finally embrace.
Did you know? Middleton said he has no plans to cut his hair after winning state. “I had so much good luck that day, I don’t want it to end. I might get it trimmed just a little at some point but I’m not going to cut it low,” he said.
What’s next: Middleton plans to enroll at Arkansas Pine-Bluff and will likely land a scholarship to run track there next season.
Coach of the year
Eileen Givens, Countryside: Legendary coach ended two-year retirement and led Cougars to team titles at nearly every regular-season meet, including the Ed Wells Invitational, West Coast Invitational, Richard Allen Relays and conference meet. Countryside continued its run in the postseason with a district title and a second-place finish at regionals.
High jump, Deterio Petite, Largo, Jr.: Took eighth at 3A state meet with leap of 6 feet, 2 inches.
Pole vault, Carson Waters, Osceola, Sr.: Liberty recruit dominated the event locally and took fifth at 3A state meet by clearing 13-0.
Long jump, Darius Lacy, Northeast, Sr.: Consistently ranked behind Middleton in event all season.
Triple jump, Micah Forbes, Boca Ciega, Jr.: State qualifier was the county’s top performer in the postseason.
Discus, Chris Olson, Canterbury, Sr.: The Florida recruit took third at the Class A state meet with a throw of 143-11.
100, George Campbell, East Lake, Jr.: Football star placed fifth at 4A state meet in 10.79.
200, Damien Daniels, Gibbs, Sr.: Steadily improved, culminating with seventh-place finish at 2A meet in 21.93.
400, Michael Rusnak, St. Petersburg Catholic, Sr.: Continued school’s strong tradition in event by taking third at Class A meet in 49.73.
800, Chris Robin, Calvary Christian, Jr.: Took fifth at Class A state meet in 1:58.01.
1,600, Andrew Llewellyn, Countryside, Sr.: Conference, district champion also was a state qualifier.
3,200, Andrew Llewellyn, Countryside, Sr: State runnerup ran event in personal-record 9:22.27.
110 hurdles, Chigozie Atavwigho, East Lake, Jr.: Placed seventh at 4A state meet in 15.25.
300 hurdles, Chigozie Atavwigho, East Lake, Jr.: County’s most consistent performer in the event after Middleton..
4x100, St. Petersburg (Lionel Hart, Darius Miller, Jon’Ta Edwards, Dawwon Conyers): Placed eighth at 4A state meet in 43.50.
4x400, Countryside (Alex Adolphson, Ryan Bennett, Nicholas Sprague, Mekhi Reynolds): State qualifiers had best times during the postseason.
4x800, Countryside (Billy Fitch, Jordan Santa-Maria, Robert Davis, Andrew Llewellyn): Finished sixth at 4A state meet in 8:01.93.
High jump: Tristen Malfe, Admiral Farragut, Sr.
Pole vault: Ayden Marrullier, Osceola, Jr.
Long jump: Diquan Walker, Clearwater Central Catholic, Sr.
Triple jump: Jaquez President, Gibbs, Sr.
Discus: Steven Borelli, Palm Harbor University, Sr.
Shot put: Giovanni Negron, Countryside, Sr.
100: Jahaven Haye, Lakewood, Jr.
200: Jaquez President, Gibbs, Sr.
400: Robert Davis, Countryside, Jr.
800: Devontae Persha, Lakewood, Sr.
1,600: Luke Peterson, Shorecrest, So.
3,200: Patrick McNamara, Admiral Farragut, Jr.
110 hurdles: Stephen Bridges, Lakewood, Sr.
300 hurdles: Miles Price, Northeast, Sr.
4x100: Lakewood (Donterio Fowler, Donte Jones, Quin’Tavius Mitchell, Jahaven Haye)
4x400: Gibbs (Craig Watts, Damien Daniels, Jaquez President, Dorian Watson)
4x800: Indian Rocks Christian (Michael Cavonis, Zach Trador, Drew Street, Sam Weller)
Admiral Farragut: Anthony Evans (100), Nick James (pole vault), Napoleon Maxwell (100), 4x100; Boca Ciega: Kenyatta Anderson (high jump), Christopher Lampley (400), Victor Thompson (triple jump); Calvary Christian: Mitchell Pantelides (1,600), Jeremy Wood (110 hurdles), 4x100, 4x800; Clearwater Central Catholic: CJ Cotman (100, 200), 4x100, 4x400; Countryside: Ryan Bennett (800), Billy Fitch (800, 1,600), Jordan Santa-Maria (800), Kevontre Whetzel (300 hurdles), 4x400 relay; Dixie Hollins: Tyrie Adams (high jump); Gibbs: Damien Daniels (110 hurdles), Maurice Hall (100, 200), Jaquez President (100, 400); Indian Rocks Christian: Michael Cavonis (400), Damian King (100, 200), Brian Sackett Jr. (300 hurdles), Josh Sackett (pole vault), Sam Weller (high jump), 4x100, 4x400; Lakewood: Jahaven Haye (200), Donte Jones (300 hurdles), 4x800; Largo: 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay; Northeast: Richard Lacagnina (400), Darius Lacy (long jump), Miles Price (300 hurdles), 4x800; Northside Christian: Jeff Goodwin (triple jump), Jordan Hoff (pole vault), Ben Knox (110, 300 hurdles); Osceola: Stephen Bingham (pole vault), Abimael Jimenez (1,600), Darien Hooker (discus, shot put), Hunter McCann (3,200); Palm Harbor University: Cameron Cleland (discus, shot put); Pinellas Park: James Hoile (pole vault), 4x100 relay; St. Petersburg: Davon Conyers (long jump), Demarkus Glover (triple jump), Elliot Traxler (800, 1,600); St. Petersburg Catholic: Adrian Snead (300 hurdles), 4x400; Shorecrest: 4x400.
Athlete of the year: Brittany McGee, Admiral Farragut, Jr.
Why we picked her: For the past two seasons, McGee has been a fixture at the state track meet, placing in the top eight in the long jump and the 100 and 300 hurdles. But she had never won a state title in her top three events. That changed at the Class A state meet this year. McGee won the 100 hurdles in 14.83 seconds, becoming the first girls athlete at Admiral Farragut to win a state title in any sport. She added more gold in the 300 hurdles, winning the event in 46.44. She also placed third in the long jump (18-3.25). That helped the Blue Jackets finish fourth overall, the highest finish in school history and best among any county team at state this season.
Most impressive accomplishment: In the 300 hurdles, McGee stumbled out of the blocks and twisted her ankle. She grimaced through the pain, building a sizable lead that gave her enough of a cushion to hold on to win. After crossing the finish, McGee collapsed to the ground and was helped off the track by other hurdlers before having her ankle heavily taped by trainers.
Did you know? McGee’s twin brother, Dontae, transferred to Brandon last year and ran in the 3A meet this season. He placed seventh in the 110 hurdles.
What’s next: McGee’s ultimate goal is to become a heptathlete in college. She was a national champion in the heptathlon last season. After taking some time off to recover from her sprained ankle, McGee is back training as she tries to defend her heptathlon title at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at North Carolina A&T on Friday-Sunday.
Coach of the year
Britt Taylor, East Lake: He led the Eagles to their first conference title, second straight district crown and a top-10 finish in the region meet.
High jump, Jeanna Cube, Osceola, Sr.: Tied for seventh at the 3A state meet by clearing 5 feet.
Long jump, Katie Barnett, Shorecrest, Fr.: Took fourth at Class A state meet with mark of 18-2.25.
Triple jump, Daisha Brown, Largo, Sr.: Finished seventh at the 3A state meet with leap of 36-1.25
Discus, Ashaunti Brown, Admiral Farragut, So.: State runnerup had a personal-best throw of 117-1 at the Class A meet.
Shot put, Ashaunti Brown, Admiral Farragut, So.: Placed third at the Class A meet with throw of 35-2.25.
100, Assata Trader, Shorecrest, Sr.: Defending state champion beat rival Deterrica Simpkins two out of three times in postseason.
200, Deterrica Simpkins, Northside Christian, Sr.: Finished third at Class A state meet in 24.87.
400, Jerosan Fletcher, Gibbs, Sr.: Took fourth at 2A state meet in 57.96.
800, Erin Avers, Clearwater, Jr.: Placed fifth at the 3A state meet in 2:17.44
1,600, Alex Eaton, Shorecrest, Sr.: Georgia recruit was fifth at Class A meet in 5:15.74.
3,200, Alex Eaton, Shorecrest, Sr.: County’s top runner in the event throughout the season.
100 hurdles, Olivia Welsh, Dunedin, So.: In debut season, she took sixth in 2A state meet in 14.96.
300 hurdles, Katie Barnett, Shorecrest, Fr.: County’s top newcomer placed fourth at Class A state meet in 47.66.
4x100, Calvary Christian (Jess Stewart, Keely Durbak, Emily Curran, Serena Szarejko): Quartet finished third at Class A state meet in 50.69.
4x400, Indian Rocks Christian (Alex Buchanan, Bobbi LaBrant, Mia Gillespie, Alexis Gates): Sixth-place finish in Class A was highest for a county team at state.
4x800, East Lake (Jennifer Lima, Erica Lersch, Sabrina Siegel, Julia Siegel): Conference and district champions had county’s top times.
High jump: Zarria Hollis, St. Petersburg, So.
Pole vault: Bobbi LaBrant, Indian Rocks Christian, Jr.
Long jump: Jerosan Fletcher, Gibbs, Sr.
Triple jump: Katie Barnett, Shorecrest, Fr.
Discus: Sara Karuli, Palm Harbor University, Sr.
Shot put: Sara Karuli, Palm Harbor University, Sr.
100: Deterrica Simpkins, Northside Christian, Sr.
200: Assata Trader, Shorecrest, Sr.
400: Alex Buchanan, Indian Rocks Christian, Sr.
800: Bobbi LaBrant, Indian Rocks Christian, Jr.
1,600: Hannah Brookover, Calvary Christian, So.
3,200: Sophia Vesely, Shorecrest, 6th
100 hurdles: Jeanna Cube, Osceola, Sr.
300 hurdles: Jacoya Byrd, Boca Ciega, Fr.
4x100: Shorecrest (Katie Barnett, Assata Trader, Caroline Gibbons, Nicole Levine)
4x400: Northside Christian (Anjalina Verma, Kara Eckstein, Deandra Tsaffaras, Deterrica Simpkins)
4x800: Shorecrest (Alex Eaton, Rachel Knauf, Olivia Rovin, Sophia Vesely)
Boca Ciega: Jacoya Byrd (100 hurdles), Toni Canfall (200), Rickeshia Kelty (discus, shot put), 4x100; Calvary Christian: Keely Durbak (100), Jessica Stewart (triple jump), 4x800 relay; Clearwater Central Catholic: MariaJo Amundaray (400), Hayley Moyer (200, 400); Countryside: Mary Margaret Mason (pole vault); Dunedin: Olivia Welsh (pole vault); East Lake: Alivia Abraham (100 hurdles), Jennifer Lima (800), Cienna Nichols (long jump, 200, 400), Julia Siegel (3,200), Sabrina Siegel (800, 1,600), Erica Lersch (1,600), Ramiah Vickers (triple jump), Christelle Wagner (300 hurdles), 4x100, 4x400; Gibbs: Tysheira Adams (100, 200), Jerosan Fletcher (100, 200), 4x100; Indian Rocks Christian: Autumn Frost (shot put); Keswick Christian: Eloise Palm (pole vault); Lakewood: Ke’Ara Clayton (triple jump); Largo: Daisha Brown (long jump); Northeast: Hayley Brahm (discus, 800), Caroline Condon (3,200), Jade Copeland (100), 4x400, Sarafina Wilson (high jump), 4x800; Northside Christian: Morgan Brown (pole vault), Kelly Kellogg (pole vault), Deandra Tsaffaras (100 hurdles); Osceola: Jeanna Cube (300 hurdles), 4x400; Palm Harbor University: 4x800; Pinellas Park: Kihla Holloway (discus), Alliyah Edwards (shot put); Seminole: Olivia Suski (1,600); St. Petersburg: Megan Fitzgerald (3,200), Zarria Hollis (400), 4x100; St. Petersburg Catholic: Brooke Coughlin (high jump); Shorecrest: Olivia Rovin (800).