Pinellas Athlete of the Year: James Thorpe, Sr., Indian Rocks Christian
Why we picked him: A lineman in football, Thorpe became adept at throwing the shot put and discus, so much that he set school records in both events. This season he had more lofty goals. He wanted to win state titles. Thorpe accomplished that at the Class A state meet, taking first in the shot with a throw of 16.73 meters (54 feet, 10.75 inches). His throw of 17.42 meters at the region meet ranks third overall in the state. That's not all. Thorpe was the state runnerup in the discus with a mark of 46.75 meters (153.04 feet).
Memorable moment: Without hesitation, Thorpe says his state title in the shot put. In March, Thorpe started working with Mark Dvornik, a television executive who was the former president and general manager of WFLA Ch. 8. Dvornik watched track practice during filming breaks of a scene for an upcoming movie and offered to help Thorpe. Dvornik was a state champion in Hawaii and has been nationally ranked in the shot put and discus at the masters level. "When Coach Dvornik came into my life, the very first practice he told me I would be a state champion. At first it sounded silly but after all the hard work and time spent it was well worth it all," Thorpe said.
Did you know? Thorpe lived in Southern California until the sixth grade. He played baseball, football and lacrosse. It wasn't until two years ago that he started participating in track.
What's next: Thorpe will play football at Lawrence Technological University, an NAIA school in Michigan. The school does not have a track team, but Thorpe said he will compete in the shot put and discus as an individual.
Charlie Kaijo | Times
Hillsborough Athlete of the Year: Duran Bell, Sr., Hillsborough
Why we picked him: Bell was a workhorse, competing in relays and the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at almost every meet, including the Class 3A state meet. In the 400, he was nothing short of spectacular, running the second-fastest 400 ever recorded by a Hillsborough County prep athlete. In blustery conditions in the 400 state final, Bell finished in 46.41 seconds, just .21 seconds behind the county record set by Freedom's Calvin Smith in 2006. Bell, however, did not take the 400 state title, finishing second to Miami Norland's Tyrese Cooper, who won in 45.51 seconds and earlier this season set the nation's fastest time in 45.38 seconds. Bell also ran against Cooper at state in the 100 and the 200. Running into a stiff headwind, Bell finished the 100 in seventh (11.04) and took third in the 200 in 21.67.
Memorable moment: Breaking the Hillsborough High school record in the state final 400. Shomari McKenzie previously held the mark at 46.60 seconds in the late 1990s.
Did you know? Bell is not only fast, but exceptionally strong, especially for his body weight (around 180 pounds). In the bench press, Bell has a max of 300 pounds, and in the squat he pushes up more than 400 pounds, but has never attempted a maximum weight.
What's next: Bell will be a running back for USF football, and his plans to run track in college remain a question mark. "I wasn't planning on running track in college but now I'm thinking more about it," he said. "I think running track helps you in many ways, but I also want to focus on football. I have some time to think about it. I'll just have to see how it goes."
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
North Suncoast Athlete of the Year: Owen Clanahan, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin
Why we picked him: A former state champion in the 300 hurdles, Owen Clanahan decided to focus on the sprints to finish his high school career. He became the only bay area boys athlete to win multiple state titles in individual events this season. Clanahan took first in the 100 meters (11.03 seconds) and 200 (21.96). He won by comfortable margins.
Memorable moment: No one was more surprised at the two sprinting titles than Clanahan. He said he scoured the rankings all season and noticed others in his classification that were ahead of him. At the region meet, Clanahan was second in both events. He made his biggest leap in the 100, where he shaved 0.29 seconds off his fifth-place finish in the prelims.
Did you know? Clanahan said he is more of a student than an athlete. He took mostly honors and advanced placement courses and finished with a 4.2 weighted grade-point average to rank in the top 10 of his graduating class. He also scored a 31 on the ACT.
What's next: Clanahan said he is attending Florida State as a student and will start taking summer classes in Tallahassee in two weeks. His track career is over. "It's nice to finish on top," he said.
Octavio Jones | Times
Coach of the year: Vern Kinsey, Indian Rocks Christian
Kinsey guided the Golden Eagles to a district title, a region runnerup finish and a fourth-place finish at the Class A state meet, the highest among any bay area boys teams this season.
High jump: Patrick Jolly, Jr., Newsome: Fourth at 4A state meet at 1.92 meters (6 feet, 3.5 inches).
Pole vault: Carter Palasti, Sr., Gaither: State champion at the 3A meet with a vault of 4.68 meters (15.4 feet).
Long jump: Deandre Hollins, Jr., Jefferson: Fifth in state in 2A and had top mark in area of 7.14 meters (23.4 feet) earlier in season.
Triple jump: Tamel McCall, Jr., Riverview: Seventh at 4A meet and top mark in area at 14.1 meters (46.2 feet).
Discus: Bethal Miles, So., Northeast: Fifth at 3A meet with a throw of 49.23 meters (161.5 feet)
Shot put: Zackary Carpenter, Sr., Zephyrhills: Fourth at 2A meet with throw of 16.7 meters (54.9 feet).
100: Lateef Birks Jr., Jr., Riverview: Eighth at 4A meet in 11.07 seconds and had area's top time (10.44) earlier this season.
200: Lateef Birks Jr., Jr., Riverview: Hillsborough County champ battled strong head wind to finish sixth at 4A meet in 22.35 seconds.
400: AJ Hampton, Jr., Wharton: Fourth at 4A meet and won region meet with area's second best time of 48.98 seconds.
800: Dalton Morley, Sr., Leto: Third at 3A meet with area's top time of one minute, 53.81 seconds.
1,600: Sean Heera, Sr., Clearwater: Third at 3A meet with area's top time (4:18.78) at region meet.
3,200: Trevor Foley, Jr., Citrus Park Christian: Ran the 11th-best time in the state at the FSU relays (9:23.99).
110 hurdles: Tyler Rhodes, Jr., Northside Christian: The Class A runnerup finished with a time of 14.76.
300 hurdles: Charlie Thomas, Sr., Hillsborough: Third at 3A meet in 37.83 and had area's best time in prelims (37.18).
4x100 relay: Hillsborough (Clarence Williams, DreQuan McCullough, Tyrese Spain, Ivan Amedes): Hillsborough County champions had area's best time of 42.17 and took 10th at 3A meet.
4x400 relay: Hillsborough (Reggie James, Charlie Thomas, Byron Allen, Duran Bell): Region champions with a time (3:18.11) that ranked 15th overall in the state.
4x800 relay: Hillsborough (Byron Allen, Charlie Thomas, Adrian Arano, Reggie James): Sixth at 3A meet and had eighth-fastest time in state (7:59.15) at regionals.
High jump: Justas Schillinger, Sr., Jesuit; Pole vault: Stone Baker, Jr., River Ridge; Long jump: Deon Morgan, Sr., Armwood; Triple jump: Ken Montgomery, Jr., Hillsborough; Discus: Kyle Manuel, Jr., Springstead; Shot put: Keyon Jenkins, Sr., Admiral Farragut; 100: Ahmarean Brown, So., Tampa Catholic; 200: Antonio Barnes, Jr., Spoto; 400: Cameron Woods, Sr., Newsome; 800: Sean Heera, Sr., Clearwater; 1,600: Mason Young, Sr., Steinbrenner; 3,200: James Hasell, Jr., East Lake; 110 hurdles: Charlie Thomas, Sr., Hillsborough; 300 hurdles: Dwayne Godwin, Jr., Jefferson; 4x100 relay: Zephyrhills Christian (Javan Smith, Dominic Moss, Calvin Samuel, Evan Miller); 4x400 relay: Wharton (AJ Hampton, Dennarius Murphy, Eric Jurgensmeyer, Ryan Russell); 4x800 relay: Steinbrenner (Mason Young, Colton Heath, Jackson Miller, Marcus Quinones)
High jump: Sam Thompson, Sr., Boca Ciega; Pole vault: Tucker Brace, Jr., Land O'Lakes; Long jump: Deon Morgan, Sr., Armwood; Triple jump: Royal Doolittle, Sr., Jesuit; Discus: Zackary Carpenter, Sr., Zephyrhills; Shot put: Zach Teate, Sr., Plant; 100: Jerome Ford, Jr., Armwood; 200: Patrick Jolly, Jr., Newsome; 400: Reggie James, Jr., Hillsborough; 800: James Hasell, Jr., East Lake; 1,600: Trevor Foley, Jr., Citrus Park Christian; 3,200: Sean Heera, Sr., Clearwater; 110 hurdles: Brandon Schultz, Sr., Ridgewood; 300 hurdles: Trey Jackson, Sr., Gaither; 4x100 relay: Jefferson (Dwayne Godwin, Deandre Hollins, Niko Duffey, Dontavious Smith); 4x400 relay: Newsome (Michael Fuller, Patrick Jolly, Seth Meadows, Cameron Woods); 4x800 relay: East Lake (James Hasell, Rohan Kahli, Juan Herrera, Matthew Wyers)
Admiral Farragut: Winston Dessesow (triple jump), Alex Oi (400), Ashton Taylor (shot put); Bell Creek: Fernando Palacios (3,200); Berkeley Prep: Markus Bynum (pole vault), Avery Heyck (pole vault), Leo Ochoa (1,600; 3,200), Gregory Moore (discus), 4x800; Bishop McLaughlin: Michael Keough (400); Blake: Omar Austin (400); Bloomingdale: Kenron Demeritte (long jump); Calvary Christian: 4x400; Cambridge Christian: Kyle Back (discus, shot put); Canterbury: IyRese Scott (long jump, 100); Clearwater: Zach Hauschild (discus); Countryside: Rohan Kaushal (pole vault), Nicholas Roberts (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Wesley Rose (triple jump); Dunedin: Jyren Francis (long jump), Victor Martinez (long jump); Freedom: Keonterris Betties (100); Gibbs: Jabari Reed-Diop (300 hurdles); Hernando: Isaac Fields (300 hurdles), 4x400; Hillsborough: Junior Charley (high jump), Ken Montgomery (long jump), Brandon Rivera (discus), Tyrese Spain (triple jump), Moses Wells (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Indian Rocks Christian: Timothy Cline (800), Solomon Weller (400), 4x100, 4x400, 4x800; Jefferson: Dwayne Godwin (100); Jesuit: Jack Henry Nouss (pole vault), Sean Hughes (pole vault), Aidan Swanson (high jump); Keswick Christian: Ryan Sparklin (pole vault); Lakewood: Mohammed Haitham (800), 4x400; Land O'Lakes: Ross Shirmohammad (400), Alex Normandia (1,600); Leto: Elijah Lewis (high jump); Middleton: Neville Salmon (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Mitchell: William Dorkowski (pole vault); Newsome: Will Proctor (300 hurdles); Northside Christian: Tyler Rhodes (300 hurdles), 4x400, 4x800; Pinellas Park: Jalen Ware (100); Plant City: Corey King (long jump); Ridgewood: Brandon Schultz (300 hurdles); Riverview: Javon Livingston (shot put), Reed Service (long jump); Spoto: Derrick Curtis (high jump), Elijah Stokes (200), Ty Thurman (discus); Steinbrenner: Mason Young (800); St. Petersburg: 4x100; Tampa Catholic: Zac Couture (discus), 4x100; Tampa Bay HEAT: Timothy Lambeth (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Wesley Chapel: Dominic Moreno (1,600); Weeki Wachee: Diante Thomas (triple jump); Wharton: Nehemiah Rivers (3,200); Wiregrass Ranch: Vashaun Williams (long jump), Payton Wilson (pole vault); Zephyrhills: Catrell Strong (long jump)