WESLEY CHAPEL — Chances are, Wesley Chapel speedster Ravin Gilbert will not soon forget her performance at last week’s Class 2A, Region 3 meet at Titusville’s Astronaut High.
Gilbert, a junior, sprinted to gold-medal finishes in the 100 and 200 meters to qualify individually for states for the first time in her prep career.
Gilbert’s first-place time in the 200 (24.86) shattered the Wesley Chapel school record of 25.46 set by Jasmine Pleasant. In the 100, Gilbert was only nine-hundredths of a second (12.07) off the school mark established by Jasmine Cabrera (11.98).
“I feel like I worked hard for that day and all my training finally paid off,” Gilbert said.
With the Class 2A state track and field meet on Saturday at Showalter Field in Winter Park, Gilbert is peaking at the appropriate time. Both of her times at regionals were personal records.
“I had never hit 24 (seconds) in the 200 until regionals,” she said. “My fastest prior to that was 25.49, which I set at USF/Steinbrenner (Invitational).”
Gilbert’s record-setting day was due, in part, to the increased competition level at the meet. With so many fast runners competing, Gilbert had no choice but to run faster and keep up or risk falling behind.
“I have the mentality that I don’t want to get left by a long distance,” Gilbert said. “My mentality is to keep up with the pack. …I try to run with the other runners, but then, of course, I try to run a step ahead of them.”
At states, Gilbert will be gunning for Lake Wales’ Octavious Freeman, who ranks first in the 100 (11.41) and the 200 (23.33). Gilbert is seeded seventh for the 100 and sixth for the 200.
Despite her underdog status, Gilbert is looking forward to another jump in competition. If regionals can bring out her best, how much faster can she run at states?
“I’m so excited, I just wonder how I’m going to do, how I’m going to perform,” Gilbert said. “Running against Octavious Freeman, that’s exciting. I just want to see how I’m going to perform against her. Everybody’s trying to beat the best or come close to the best. I know that she’s the fastest, I know she races against the fastest and I know she can beat some of the boys.”
Gilbert made her first state appearance last season as a member of the Wildcats’ 4x100 relay team. That group placed 12th in the preliminary heat and failed to make the finals.
Gilbert, though, is a stronger runner than the one who appeared in Winter Park a year ago. She spent a portion of her practice sessions this season running against the Wildcats’ boys sprinters. And the experience she gained from last season has improved other aspects of her running as well.
“She’s gotten so much stronger with her starts and in the middle of races,” Wesley Chapel track coach Brian Colding said. “She’s just a much more polished runner this year.”
Gilbert is realistic about her prospects Saturday. While she doesn’t expect to overtake Freeman in both events, Gilbert said she’d like to reach the podium stand twice.
“I want to be at 11.7 in the 100 and 24.4 in the 200,” she said. “My goal is to be fourth place and above but, really, just try to go out there and do my best.”
When: Class A, Friday, 1 p.m.; Class 2A, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park
Admission: $8 per meet. Parking is $5.
North Suncoast contenders
Hunter Joyer, Wesley Chapel (shot put): The Wildcats senior is the North Suncoast’s best bet to come home with a state title. Joyer, a Florida football commit, is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A after reaching a personal best 62 feet, 4 inches in the shot at regionals. Joyer is looking not only to repeat in the shot put — he won gold in 2010 as a junior at Tampa Catholic — but challenge for the state record of 65 feet, 8.25 inches set by Charlotte’s Wes Stockbarger in 2004.
Janarion Grant, Pasco (long jump): Grant, who doubles as a game-breaking wide receiver on the football team, jumped 23 feet, 5.75 inches at regionals, a personal record. The sophomore is the second seed and only a half-inch off the top mark of 23 feet, 6.25 inches recorded by Satellite’s J.T. Washington.
Anthony Plourde, Pasco (3,200): Plourde is no stranger to success on the state level. The senior qualified for the state cross country meet in the fall and placed 35th at Little Everglades Ranch. On Saturday, he’ll try to prove he’s just as capable on a rubberized track surface. Plourde won silver at regionals in a personal-best nine minutes, 41 seconds. He’ll have some ground to make up for gold at state, however. Top-ranked Trent Craig of Cypress Lake qualified with a time more than six seconds faster (9:34.99).
Victoria Harris, Bishop McLaughlin (shot put, discus): A two-event qualifier, Harris’ best chance of making the podium comes in the discus, where her throw of 119 feet, 5 inches at regionals has her ranked fifth in Class A. Last year, Harris placed seventh in the state after reaching 111-6. Harris will also compete in the shot put and is seeded 13th with a distance of 33-3.5.
Others in the mix
Quentin Adams, Hernando (100): Sophomore crossed the finish in 11.21 seconds to win bronze at regionals and is ranked 15th.
Argishti Gazari, Anclote (3,200): Will push Pasco’s Plourde to give the North Suncoast a pair of hopefuls in the distance event. Ranked fourth with a time of 9:48.11.
Desiree Nathe, Pasco (high jump): Was third at regionals after clearing 5 feet and is ranked 14th for state meet.
Pasco 4x100 (David Emmanuel, Janarion Grant, Hakeeme Ishmar and Clifford Phillips): Speedsters just made it into the state field as the 16th-ranked team at 43.46 seconds. The quartet earned a fifth-place finish at regionals.
Evan Barhonovich, Bishop McLaughlin (discus): Seeded 14th after tossing 130 feet, 5 inches and coming in third at regionals.