Preview of top high school performers at the Seminole InvitationalBy Gary Droze
The Seminole Invitational April 9-10 will give high school track fans a solid idea of what to expect from their favorite stars at this year’s State Championships, as the Seminole Meet closes out the regular season for many area teams. Local track & field athletes should be approaching peak form by mid-April, so the prospects for witnessing numerous personal bests at the Mike Long Track are quite good.
Many Chiles High School athletes expect to improve on their personal bests, including Karla Savery and Alex Miletich. Savery’s 11-2 pole vault last year topped the Big Bend, while Miletich’s 4:17 1600 meters and 9:23 3200 meters from last season make him a two-event threat for winning at major meets such as the Seminole Invite.
Lincoln High School typically produces a few standouts each season. Among their top athletes this year are Antwaun Moore, who leads the Trojans in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 relay. Kyra Mobley shows the most range of Lincoln’s girls, with scoring ability in events from the 400 meters to the mile.
Godby generally relies on a team approach at big meets, entering scorers in as many events as possible. This year’s scorers should include Shayla Jones, whose 34-0 shot put as a freshman at last year’s regionals bodes well for her throwing future. Just as impressive is jumper Ellis Gaulden. Already over 23 feet in the long jump and 6-10 in the high jump this season, he is potentially a dual titlist at the Seminole Invitational.
Rickards High School boasts an army of serious sprinters on the girls’ side. Simone Clarke looks to lead the charge, with winning capabilities in the hurdles, flat events, and long jump. Senior Traevon Williams is the lone returnee from last year’s state-qualifying boys’ 4×400 and 4×800 teams.
Knowledgeable track & field followers agree that strong shot putters can be the most reliable source of points for a school. Thus, Leon Trinston Nelson, a senior approaching 50 feet in his heaves, is a good bet to help nudge up Leon’s team standing. Recent results indicate that Ashley Wilson is leading Leon’s leapers, with successful outings lately in the long and triple jumps.
North Florida Christian is another school whose athletes remind spectators that the sport is not called merely track. The Eagles boast two standout field event performers in Marcus Sims (over 144 feet in the discus, and the upper 40’s in the shot) and triple jump sensation Mishelle Jenije.
Jenije should see action in the sand at Mike Long Track against Florida High’s Kayla Parker, who splits her time between 36 foot-plus triple jumping and sub-15 second 100 meter hurdle races. Parker also finds time to lend a hand in the short relays. Trent Harrigan stands the best chance to represent Florida High’s boys, as he continues to move up in the 400 meters.
Maclay School’s mostly younger squad does include a few big meet veterans. Defending state champion pole vaulter Lori Bowen currently leads the area at 11-4, while mile relay anchor Michael Camarda is closing in on 49 seconds for 400 meters.
While East Gadsden High is the newest school in the area, some of the Jaguars are already performing like old pros. Xavier Jackson is consistently placing in the long and high jumps, and adding value to his team in the 100 and 200 meters. Teammate Dominique Perry holds down a key spot on the girls’ 4×100, while adding depth as the school’s top hurdler.
FAMU High is in a rebuilding year, as longtime coach Harry Jacobs has departed, and now lends his talents to assisting the Jefferson County program, closer to his home. Nonetheless, the Rattlers hope to build on last year’s successes in the hurdles and relays. This year’s team should be motivated by the 2003 State Meet performances of Jasmyne Lynn and Laurie Madison, both of whom contributed over hurdles and on the flats.