Athlete of the year
Jack Guyton, Jr., Plant
Why we picked him: No other boys runner in Tampa Bay this track season was able to win two gold medals at state, as the Panther pulled off the 1,600- and 3,200-meter double at the Class 4A meet in Jacksonville. Guyton was a dominant force in his events this season. In the 1,600, he was especially strong, beating the nearest county competitor by eight seconds at the county meet, 14 seconds at the district meet and 11 seconds at the region meet. In his state championship win, he won by five seconds, running a career-best 4:11.56. Not bad for a guy who began the year with one goal: to run the 1,600 under 4:20. He did that at the USF/Steinbrenner meet, and changed his goal to 4:15. When he ran a 4:16 at regionals, he changed his goal one last time -- win the 1,600 at state. Coming back an hour later to win the 3,200 was icing on the cake. "I did not even imagine winning both at the beginning of the season," he said.
Proudest accomplishment: "When I started this season, I did not imagine winning in both events," Guyton said. At regionals, Guyton lost to Sickles' James Zentmeyer in the 3,200, casting some doubt, but came back the next week to beat him, and everyone else, at state, catching the leader with his tremendous kick. "I was about 40 meters behind," he said. "I wasn't thinking I was going to win. I thought, "second-place is pretty cool"....but then I realized I could catch him."
Future plans: Guyton will do what all distance runners do in the offseason -- run and log miles. He'll also fish and play Frisbee with friends.
DId you know? Guyton became only the second Hillsborough County runner to win gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the same state meet, joining Berkeley Prep's Rolf Steier, who did it in 2000 and 2001.
Coach of the year
Kevin Sharpe, Newsome: His team surprised everyone by winning the county meet, which carried over to an impressive district title for the Wolves, who scored nine points at state.
Discus Brad Smith, Sr., Gaither: Threw 159-7 at state to finish fourth; in better conditions, he threw 166-2 the week before at regionals.
Shot put Byron Cowart, Jr., Armwood: Won district and had a Tampa Bay-best toss of 55-2.5 to win regionals before taking eighth at state.
High jump, triple jump Dwayne Lawson, Jr., Hillsborough: Had the best high jump in the county with a 6-6 and won county, district and region titles, and kept the triple jump state title in Terrier hands with a winning leap of 47-6.75.
Long jump Deiondre Porter, Sr., Jefferson: Didn't win county, but saved his best for last, sweeping the postseason and jumping 23-6 at state to finish second.
Pole vault Nick Catchur, Sr., Jesuit: Didn't defend his state title (finished fourth), but there was no doubting who the best in the county was this season.
110, 300 hurdles Samson Moore, Jr. Gaither: Swept both hurdles at district and region meets; sixth at state in the 300.
100, 200 Shug Rhynes, Sr., Middleton: Swept both events at districts and regionals; biggest track surprise of season won regional in blistering career-best 10.37 and took third at state in 10.65.
400 Todd Jackson, Sr., Newsome: Closed out career with third-place finish at state in 48.03 to go with county championship.
800 Kevin Heron, Sr., Bloomingdale: Battled teammate Matt Butler, with three of their last four races decided by fewer than 1.5 seconds. Heron edged him 1:56-1:59 at state.
1,600 Jack Rogers, Jr., Robinson: One of the best 1,600 (and 800) runners in Tampa Bay, advancing to state in both events.
3,200 James Zentmeyer, Jr., Sickles: Beat Athlete of the year Jack Guyton at regionals in the 3,200, an event he often won by wide margins.
4x100 King (Javonte Brice, Emerson Tyler, Darian Wright, Dionte Poole Jr.): Swept through county, district and region meets, and closed out season sixth at state in 42.64.
4x400 Riverview (Kendall Carolina, Maraice Poole, Justin Coffie, Robert Cottrell): Ran a season-best 3:23 at regionals, and finished 12th at state a week later.
4x800 Bloomingdale (Andrew LeBlanc, John Bryant, Matt Butler, Kevin Heron): County champs ran a season-best 7:54.07 to take bronze at state meet.
Discus: Jamari Johnson, Jr., Seffner Christian
Shot put: Jack Taylor, Sr., Jesuit
High jump: Chamir Dixon, Sr., Leto
Long jump: James Hambrick, Jr., East Bay
Triple jump: Marc McCoy, Jr., Spoto
Pole vault: David Kornitzer, Jr., Newsome
110 hurdles: Dontae McGee, Jr., Brandon
300 hurdles: Jordan Greene, Jr., Armwood
100: Kevin Merrell, Sr., Steinbrenner
200: T.J. Harrell, Sr., Tampa Catholic
400: Nathan Nammour, Sr., Tampa Catholic
800: Oscar Skjaerpe, Sr., Tampa Prep
1,600: John Bryant, Sr., Bloomingdale
3,200: Carlos Andino, Sr., Plant
4x100: Newsome (Cameron Woods, Todd Jackson, Bruce Anderson, Aaron Wade)
4x400: Tampa Prep (Tyler Lawrence, Oscar Skjaerpe, Blake Dorman, Qaseem Wajd)
4x800: Durant (Duncan Fisher, Daniel Butler, Haftom Fliegelman, Jake Brownfield)
Alonso: Brandon Robinson (long jump); Armwood: Jordan Griffin (shot put) , 4x400; Berkeley Prep: Ben Root (discus); Blake: Jermal Wiley (400); Bloomingdale: Ryan Voyles (long, triple jump), Matt Butler (800); Cambridge Christian: Josh Wolcott (triple jump); Carrollwood Day: Elias Earley (100, 200); Durant: Jevonte Reaves (discus); East Bay: Ryan Rannie (400), James Hambrick (200); Hillsborough: 4x800; Jefferson: Juwuan Brown (shot put), Deiondre Porter (200), Jeremiah Baltrip (triple jump); Jesuit: Vincent Jackson (shot put), Dante Newberg (hurdles, high jump), Jack Taylor (discus), Sammi Abboud (pole vault), Clarence Williams (400), Jack Hughes (pole vault), 4x400; Leto: Rodney Jackson (100); Middleton: Daniel Dean (1600, 3200); Plant: Carlos Andino (1600); Plant City: Montel McBride (shot put); Riverview: Jaylin Vereen (shot put); Seffner Christian: Jamari Johnson (shot put), Robbie Shell (long jump); Spoto: James Betha (long jump); Steinbrenner: Jacob Goncalves (high jump), Cody Burgess (hurdles); Strawberry Crest: Chauncey Thomas (triple jump); Tampa Bay Tech: Malik Wright (100, 200); Tampa Catholic: Jacob Rios (shot put, discus), TJ Harrell (200), 4x400; Tampa Prep: 4x800 relay, Qaseem Wajd (800); Wharton: Allan Robinson (100, 200).
Athlete of the Year
Janae Caldwell, So., Spoto
Why we picked her: Caldwell may have been the county's best 200 runner this season, winning the county, district and region meets in that event, while finishing fourth at state. But the 400 was Caldwell's signature event, and there was no one better as she raced to the gold at the Class 3A state meet. It was a particularly satisfying win for Caldwell, who ran a career-best time last year and finished second in the event. This time, she was in control throughout, winning the first state championship of any sort for Spoto. Caldwell is a rarity these days, a pure track athlete who has been competing since she was 7. And while she could run any sprint she wanted and probably add a couple of jumping events, too, Caldwell has settled on the 400 for the same reason many avoid it. "It's a very brutal event," the sophomore said of the one-lap all-out sprint. "Not everyone can do it." And no one did it better this year.
Proudest accomplishment: Caldwell decided last year she wanted to win a gold medal in the 400 and set out to do so with tougher workouts and a healthier diet. She ran a career-best 55.50 this year and is only getting faster.
Future plans: Caldwell is going to stretch herself out and run cross country in the fall and begins training next week. There is little reason to doubt she'll find the same success in the woods as she did on the track. And Caldwell has her eyes on another gold medal, in the 200. Her goal is to make a serious run at pulling off the 200-400 double by her senior season.
DId you know? Janae is Caldwell's middle name. The only person who calls her Eriqa anymore? Grandma.
Coach of the year
Anthony Traina, Wharton: With a wealth a young freshman talent, Traina helped steer the Wildcats to district and region titles over rival Steinbrenner, and his squad scored 10 points at state.
Discus Ashley Wilson, Sr., Freedom: Won county title and took third at state with a toss of 126-8 feet.
Shot put Addi Harden, Sr., Berkeley Prep: Double qualifier at state in discus as well, her fourth-place finish in the shot was the best for Tampa Bay competitors.
High jump Anna Peyton Malizia, Jr., Plant: Jumped 5-0 at county meet for third and was 10th at state, but best jump was 5-4 at regionals.
Long jump, triple jump Lynette Robertson, Sr., Alonso: Won county and district championships in both events, and a region title in the long jump; qualified for state in both.
Pole vault Nicole Carroll, So., Tampa Catholic: Now 2-for-2 at state after winning another Class 2A gold with a clutch 12-foot vault.
100 hurdles Maia Carter, Sr., Riverview: County champ in the 100 and second in the 300; 15.02 in the 100 was good enough for sixth at state.
300 hurdles Anel Smith, Sr., Freedom: County champion won in a career-best 45.29, and followed that up with district and region championships.
100, 200 Deja Rodgers, Sr., Middleton: Electrifying sprinter won the county championship in the 100, ran a career-best 11.94 at regionals and was fifth at state; added seventh in the 200.
400 Savyon Toombs, Fr., Chamberlain: Another of the county's young talents, will be Caldwell's toughest competition next two seasons; exceptional in the 100 and 200 as well.
800 Rachel Cazares, Sr., Gaither: Third-place finish at state in 2:15.61; also won USF/Steinbrenner Invite this season
1,600 Bryanna Rivers, Fr., Wharton: Splashy debut for the rookie, dominated her event and took eighth at state in 5:14.83.
3,200 Bailey Sullivan, Sr., Plant: Won county meet by 15 seconds, and shaved 19 seconds off that time with a 11:15.12 at state for fifth place.
4x100 Jefferson (LaKirah Davis, Keziah Walker, Tanelia Walton, Donviyah Brooks): County, district and region champs; had a season-best time of 48.18.
4x400 Wharton (Jasmine Robinson, Avonti Holt, Searra Woods, Amanda Lewis): Season-long battle with Alonso and Steinbrenner culminated at state with Wildcats finishing ninth, Warriors 10th.
4x800 Wharton (Mariah Henderson, Jasmine Robinson, Bryanna Rivers, Searra Woods): Ran a 9:34.35 to finish fourth at state meet.
Discus: Ty'china Bush, Jr., Plant City
Shot put: Alise Davis, Fr., Tampa Catholic
High jump: Mercedes Innocent, Sr., Sickles
Pole vault: Loren Scherschel, Sr., Steinbrenner
100 hurdles: Aria Tate, Fr., Wharton
300 hurdles, triple jump: Daneesha Davidson, Fr., Wharton
100, long jump: Jada Roberson, Jr., Hillsborough
200: J'Nai Taylor, Fr., Riverview
400: Madison Cox, Sr., Cambridge Christian
800: Bryanna Rivers, Fr., Wharton
1,600: Lindsay Shealey, Sr., Armwood
3,200: Anna Montgomery, Sr., Plant
4x100: Riverview (J'Nai Taylor, Kaylx Woodborn, Cassidy Howard, Kierra Haywood)
4x400: Alonso (Tia Steward, Savannah Torres, Megan Wetzel, Holliston Wagner)
4x800: Steinbrenner (Samyah Maddox, Tiyera Joseph, Emily Petrus, Alexandra Sikoryak)
Academy of the Holy Names: Jazymne McCloud (triple jump, hurdles), Gillian Anthony (100, 400), Claire Snyder (1600, 3,200), 4x800, Colleen Doherty (1,600), Siobhan Lynch (hurdles), Natalie Hahn (800), Becca Patterson (200); Armwood: KiKi Newsome (shot put); Berkeley Prep: Addi Harden (discus), Vicky Lozano (triple jump), Amanda Dumar (pole vault), Nicole Stambo (pole vault), 4x400; Bloomingdale: Theadra Turaga (discus); Brandon: Nina Ochoa (3,200); Cambridge Christian: Madison Cox (200); Chamberlain: Maggie Parrish (3,200), Savyon Toombs (200); Freedom: Bianca Igwe (shot put); Hillsborough: Jada Roberson (long jump), Faith Brown (400); Chloe Jones (shot put), Aejona Chambers (shot put); Jefferson: Erika Jerone (400); King: ChaNita Foster (high jump); Plant: Rachel Goding (pole vault), Anna Montgomery (1,600), Bailey Sullivan (1,600); Plant City: Ty'china Bush (shot put); Riverview: 4x400; Robinson: Emily Vaughan (pole vault); Spoto: 4x400; Steinbrenner: Taylor Hotchkiss (hurdles), Nicole Dorsey (long jump), Emily Petrus (800), 4x400; Tampa Catholic: Betia Washington (200, 400), Alise Davis (discus); Wharton: Bryanna Rivers (800).