Other Sports News


Jay Wallace,


July 8, 2010 will go down in sports annals as the day one unnamed NBA megastar used a one hour prime-time television special to announce which team would get the privilege of paying him an 8 figure annual salary. (He would later be hailed for his magnanimity in not demanding more than the other two superstars on that team).

Meanwhile, the only basketball in evidence at Summer Track week 6 was a portable hoop near the high jump pit that a cluster of boys were launching two rubber kick balls into. Nobody seemed to care that they were missing the historic TV event. Any sports talk centered on things like fall marathons, the Tour de France and how the oppressive heat (little “h”) was going to affect our 3200 meter event later.

The Quad-C group was not here this week but there were still enough kids to separate the 100 meter dashes into 2 sides of the track. Tom Perkins, Perry Shaw and Bill Lott started this practice a couple years back to save a little time and it has worked well. Thanks to the growing popularity of summer track meets, there are so many heats of the 100 that – if they weren’t separated – the distance events wouldn’t start until after 10 p.m. I watched the group of youngsters in the “backstretch races,” noting facial expressions as they passed by. There was plenty of grit and determination, but I enjoyed the smiles most. Several leaders would look across the lanes at their nearest competitors and – instead of fear or clenched jaws – a broad grin would reflect off both their faces. It’s contagious. Parents strategically placed themselves at good camera angles to capture the action. It is great to see kids having fun in this great sport and also that the parents are discovering it as an alternative to sedentary activities like television and electronic games.

Eventually the shadows lengthened and we moved on to the 800 meter, where 11 year old Caroline Willis ran a barefoot 3:10 and a teenage boy in cargo shorts stepped in to run a 2:29 without breaking a sweat before returning to his cell phone. After that, the summer GP feature 3200 meter race was at hand. The sun had almost set when the women’s race started but the heat and humidity still were handicaps. A group from Oak Hall High in Gainesville had been training here this week and decided to have a little time trial in the 3200. Brittney Olinger (6th place state class 1A 3200 as an 8th grader this spring) wore shades on her way to a cool 12:38. She will be leading her team this fall and, based on how effortless that 3200 looked, should be a strong competitor in the cross country season. Kirsten Baggett once again led the Gulf Winds contingent across the line in 14:22 with Lisa Cox second in 15:24. Julie Harris followed close behind Lisa in 15:45. Christina Greene ran 16:19 and Alexandra Wallace successfully battled her inner demon the side stitch by starting easy and running progressively faster laps to finish 5th in 16:31. In the men’s division, we welcomed back summer track regular Robert Morris who missed a few weeks due to some world travels. He proved he can still move those 78 year old legs pretty fast as he finished strong. In other highlights, David Knauf came in with a goal of 12 minutes after doing interval work two days before; he accomplished that and more with an 11:41 despite the conditions. Kyle Harris put on a pacing clinic with a near flawless 82 seconds per lap to finish in 10:59. Brothers Chase (11:44) and Caleb (13:25) made it four Harris finishers for the day.

I am sure there were high fives and handshakes aplenty at several swanky South Beach bars and restaurants that Thursday night. Other high fives and handshakes were occurring simultaneously here at Maclay as friends and fellow competitors congratulated each other on goals met and tough weather conditions conquered. Now you tell me which is a better sports story.