Normally, putting together the Pinellas County track athletes of the year is a simple process. A boy and a girl are selected.
But this season was not normal, thanks to some extraordinary boys.
Gibbs’ Trayvon Bromell and the Lakewood trio of Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin and Tim “TJ” Holmes did not just win their respective events: they ranked among the nation’s best.
Bromell was a sprinter extraordinaire. At the Class 3A region meet, he recorded the fastest non-wind-aided time in the nation in the 100 meters (10.14 seconds). At the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet, he blazed past the field to win in 20.86 seconds, a time that currently stands as the seventh-fastest non-wind-aided time in the nation. Bromell went on to win his first state titles at the 3A meet, overcoming strong winds and rain to take first in the 100 (10.45) and ran the anchor leg in a furious rally on the winning 4x100 relay (42.26). He also was second in the 200 (21.41).
The Griffin twins were dominant in the field events, each leapfrogging the other for supremacy in the long and triple jumps. Shaquem won the Class 2A state title in the long jump (23-5) and was second in the triple jump (49-3). Shaquill won the triple jump (49-10). The two also teamed on the 4x100 and 4x400 teams that produced eye-popping numbers. The 4x400 relay won the Florida Relays with the fastest time in the nation this season (3:13.32). At state, they helped the Spartans finish second in the 4x100 (41.01) and third in the 4x400 (3:17.84).
Holmes’ specialty is the hurdles. He won a state title in the 300 hurdles (37.98) and placed second in the 110 hurdles (14.18). And he ran anchor leg on the 4x400 relay.
More importantly, the Griffin twins and Holmes played pivotal roles in the Spartans winning the Class 2A state team title — the first time for a county boys team in 43 years.
So how do you pick a boys athlete of the year among those four?
Easy. You select all of them.
The girls choice became easy. Boca Ciega triple jumper Chaise Cook-Martin won district and region titles then separated herself from the pack. She overcame the elements at a rainy and windy 3A state meet to win the title, leaping 38 feet, 4 inches. That put an end to years of frustration in her signature event.
Boys Athletes of the Year
Trayvon Bromell, Sr., Gibbs
State titles: 100 meters (10.14), 4x100 relay (42.26), College: Baylor (track)
Shaquem Griffin, Sr., Lakewood
State title: Long jump (23-5), College: UCF (football)
Shaquill Griffin, Sr., Lakewood
State title: Triple jump (49-10), College: UCF (football)
Tim Holmes, Sr., Lakewood
State title: 300 hurdles (37.98), College: Baylor (track)
High jump, Ben Kieler, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: District and region champ was fourth at state in 6 feet, 2 inches.
Pole vault, Cayman Ellis, Sr., St. Petersburg: District and region champ won state title at 14-6.
Long jump, Ahmad Middleton, Jr., Dunedin: Came on at end of the season to finish sixth at state in 22-10½.
Triple jump, Artavis Scott, Jr., East Lake: Eighth at state in 44-4¼.
Discus, Chris Olson, Jr., Canterbury: Finished fifth at state in 144-5.
Shot put, Jeremy Kerr, Sr., St. Petersburg: County’s most consistent thrower took fifth at state in 49-10.
100, Napoleon Maxwell, Jr., Admiral Farragut: District and region champ was third at state in 10.87.
200, Deandre Boykins, Sr., Lakewood: Breakthrough performance at state with fifth-place finish in 21.69.
400, Michael Rusnak, Jr., St. Petersburg Catholic: District, region champion was state runnerup in 49.62.
110 hurdles, Ahmad Middleton, Jr., Dunedin: Seventh at state in 14.82.
300 hurdles, Ahmad Middleton, Jr., Dunedin: Fifth at state in 39.79.
4x100, Gibbs (Emmanuel Stewart, Trayvon Bromell, Jaquez President, Damien Daniels): District and region champs rallied to win state title in 42.26.
4x400, Lakewood (Devontae Persha, Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem Griffin, Tim Holmes): Had nation’s best time (3:13.32) and finished third at state in 3:17.84.
4x800, St. Petersburg Catholic (Adrian Snead, Pat Artise, Michael Rusnak, Connor Cureton): District and region champs were state runnerup in 8:13.87.
800, Connor Cureton, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: Capped off dominant postseason by winning state title in 1:56.12.
1600, Paul McKenna, Sr., Countryside: Conference and district champion was county’s best in the regular season.
3200, Paul McKenna, Sr., Countryside: Won conference, district and region titles and finished fourth at state in 9:36.31.
High jump: Darnell Lovett, Sr., Countryside; pole vault: Carson Waters, Jr., Osceola; long jump: Artavis Scott, Jr., East Lake; triple jump: Jaquez President, Jr., Gibbs; discus: Jeremy Kerr, Sr., St. Petersburg; shot put: Derek Doss, Sr., Largo; 100: Jalin Hubbard, Sr., Northeast; 200: Maurice Hall, Jr., Gibbs; 400: Maurice Hall, Jr., Gibbs; 110 hurdles: Damien Daniels, Jr., Gibbs; 300 hurdles: Ah’jhzae Berry, Sr., Gibbs; 4x100: Lakewood (Jahaven Haye, Shaquem Griffin, Shaquill Griffin, Lidell Gordon Jr.); 4x400: Countryside (Jordan Santa-Maria, Ryan Bennett, Billy Fitch, Robert Davis); 4x800: Countryside (Billy Fitch, Ryan Bennett, Paul McKenna, Andrew Lleywellyn); 800: Chris Robin, So., Calvary Christian; 1600: Andrew Lleywellyn, Jr., Countryside; 3200: Sam Chandler, Sr., St. Petersburg
Admiral Farragut: Nima Beheshti, Patrick McNamara, Brad Hyman-Muhammad, Adam Samee; Boca Ciega: Damarius Brinson; Calvary Christian: John Ainlay, Derek Barnes, Mitchell Pantelides, Chris Robin, Jeremy Wood; Clearwater: Joel Tunceren; Clearwater Central Catholic: John Kieler, Saul Ramirez; Countryside: Luke Dalton, Robert Davis; Indian Rocks Christian: Michael Cavonis, Josh Sackett, Trevor Quandt; Keswick Christian: Jacob Endrulat, Steven Hedger; Lakewood: Lidell Golden Jr.; Largo: Curtis Reed; Northeast: Steven Rudderham; Northside Christian: Joe Chapman, Jeff Goodwin, Ben Knox, Jon Scott, Sekayi Singletary; Osceola: Ayden Marrullier; Pinellas Park: John Hunter; Seminole: Iain Marsh, Sam Weller; Shorecrest: Patrick Ayer, Luke Peterson; St. Petersburg Catholic: Logan Bonfield, Nick Muth, Filip Vucemilovic
Coach of the Year
Anthony Snead, Lakewood: Blessed with one of the most talented track teams ever assembled, Snead put the pieces together to help the Spartans win every major meet this season and capture the county’s first boys team title in 43 years.
Athlete of the Year: Chaise Cook-Martin, Sr., Boca Ciega
State title: Triple jump (38-4), College: George Mason (track)
High jump, Jeanna Cube, Jr., Osceola: County and 3A-10 district champion was also a state qualifier.
Pole vault, Jennifer Kistemaker, So., Osceola: County, district and region champ was also fourth at state, clearing 9-6.
Long jump, Brittany McGee, So., Admiral Farragut: District and region champ was fourth at Class A state meet in 18-4.
Triple jump, Daisha Brown, Jr., Largo: Runnerup to Cook-Martin at districts; sixth at 3A meet (35-9 1/2).
Discus, Jasmine Laska, Sr., Pinellas Park: County and district champion was sixth at 4A meet (110-10).
Shot put, Jasmine Laska, Sr., Pinellas Park: County and district champion was also a state qualifier.
100, Assata Trader, Jr., Shorecrest: District champion was a surprise Class A gold medalist in 12:12.
200, Deterrica Simpkins, Jr., Pinellas Park: County and district champion was 11th at 4A meet (25.85).
400, Jerosan Fletcher, Jr., Gibbs: Region champ ran under 59 seconds at 3A state meet.
100 hurdles, Brittany McGee, So., Admiral Farragut: District and region champ was also state runnerup in 15:31.
300 hurdles, Kelly Shanahan, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: District champ was fourth at state in 46.12.
4x100, Calvary Christian (Christine Marino, Keely Durbak, Kasey Howard, Jess Stewart): District and region champs were fourth at state in 50.11.
4x400, Calvary Christian (Emily Curran, Kasey Howard, Christine Marino, Carrie Scull): District and region champs were third at state in 4:04.44.
4x800, Shorecrest (Olivia Rovin, Alice Darrow, Savannah Broome, Peninah Benjamin): District champs were 12th at state in 10:31.35.
800, Hannah Palm, Sr., Keswick Christian: Eighth at Class A state meet in 2:25.28.
1600, Hannah Brookover, Fr., Calvary Christian: District and region champ was fourth at state in 5:16.15.
3200, Alex Eaton, Jr., Shorecrest: District champion placed fifth at Class A meet in 11:21.29.
High jump: Brittany McGee, So., Admiral Farragut; pole vault: Rachel Kistemaker, Sr., Indian Rocks Christian; long jump: Jeanna Cube, Jr., Osceola; triple jump: Victoria Jackson, Sr., Countryside; discus: Sara Karuli, Jr., Palm Harbor University; shot put: Alliyah Edwards, So., Pinellas Park; 100: Deterrica Simpkins, Jr., Pinellas Park; 200: Erika Allen, Sr., Lakewood; 400: Emily Curran, Fr., Calvary Christian; 100 hurdles: Olivia Bush, Sr., Seminole; 300 hurdles: Brittany McGee, So., Admiral Farragut; 4x100: St. Petersburg (Jaque Fields, Shantel Bentley, Rayven Kirkland, Aleah Black); 4x400: Indian Rocks Christian (Alex Buchanan, Stephanie Pattison, Rachel Kistemaker, Bobbi Labrant); 4x800: Shorecrest (Olivia Rovin, Alice Darrow, Savannah Broome, Peninah Benjamin); 800: Amanda Spring, Sr., Northeast; 1600: Amanda Spring, Sr., Northeast; 3200: Saphara Harrell, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
Admiral Farragut: Ashaunti Brown; Calvary Christian: Callie Scull, Becca Stewart, Serena Szarejko; Canterbury: Katie Barnett; Clearwater: Erin Avers, Keyaira Herring; Clearwater Central Catholic: Hayley Moyer; Countryside: Naomi Bellamy, Jenna Luther, Mary Margaret Mason, Aliyah Mims, Emma Robinson; East Lake: Erica Lersch, Cienna Nichols; Gibbs: Tysheria Adams, Ariel Cardine; Indian Rocks Christian: Sarah Carr, Autumn Frost, Hannah Hewell, Hayley Morten, Anjalina Verma; Keswick Christian: Alyssa Bowman, Eloise Palm; Lakewood: Melissa Dones, Ashlee Funderburk, Sharell Keys; Largo: Marina Levine; Northeast: Grace Hoilett; Northside Christian: Kayla Church, Kelsi Sheldon, Deandra Tsaffaras; Osceola: Sarah Devoe, Christina Tournant; Palm Harbor University: Ashley Milleman, Brianna Paczynski; Pinellas Park: Brittany Galan; Seminole: Olivia Bush, Jasmine Whitney; St. Petersburg Catholic: Kylie Eaton, Fallon Fratone, Haley Martinez, Ashley Mevoli
Coach of the Year
Britt Taylor, East Lake: Building a team with depth in the sprints and hurdles, Taylor helped the Eagles make a remarkable turnaround. After finishing last at districts two years ago, East Lake won the school’s first Class 4A, District 5 title this season.