Storm chasers

P.K. Yonge's Valerie Flournoy, left, sprints to the finish of the 100-meter dash during Thursday's Alachua County Track and Field Meet at Percy Beard Track. At right, Oak Hall's Ryan Harris wins the 1600-meter run in easy fashion on the wet track.

JIM MATTHEWS/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 1:10 a.m.
With 50 meters to go in the 200-meter dash Thursday, Ernell Cook Jr. of Gainesville High was looking at the only back he had seen all day and it belonged to Hurricane teammate Quan Monds.
Cook, who earlier posted a 2005 high school state best time in the 100-meter dash with a mark of 10.62, hit the afterburners around the final bend and edged Monds by a stride to capture first place in the 200-meter dash with a personal best time of 21.72.
"I caught you," said an exhausted Cook as he and Monds hugged just after the finish line. "I wasn't going to give up."
Cook, a senior, also ran the anchor leg of Gainesville's winning 4x100 relay team and earned a second-place finish in the high jump.
"He (Monds) blew me out in the Bob Hayes Invitational (in Jacksonville earlier this year)," Cook said, who has interest from FAMU. "He got ahead and I told myself that I was not losing even though I wish my teammates the best."
La'Jarvis Cook, Ernell's cousin, finished third in the 200 meters and posted a personal best time of 21.96.
Despite inclement weather that delayed the event and a sloshy running surface, several athletes posted stellar performances at the Alachua Country Track and Field Championships at Percy Beard Track on the University of Florida campus. The event was still going on at presstime.
P.K. Yonge sprinter Valerie Flournoy ran a state best time in the 100-meter hurdles with a mark of 14.13, breaking her personal best of 14.18. The junior also dominated the 100-meter dash, equaling the 10th best time in the state with 12.23.
"I did as I expected and came out and ran fast again even though it was wet," said Flournoy, who is the defending Class 1A state champion in both the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles. "The hurdles are going to be there regardless of the weather, so the conditions do not matter."
Flournoy was the most dominant competitor at the meet and separated herself from the rest of the field in each event in which she competed.
"She means business," said first year P.K. Yonge coach Gretchen Meyer. "She is a seasoned athlete and is ready to go at all times."
Oak Hall's Kittery Neale once again had a strong outing, winning the discus for the second consecutive year, while finishing second in the shot put.
"I really wanted to get some more throws in, but some things got cut short because of the weather," said Neale, whose Eagles are two-time (2003, 2004) defending state champions in 1A. "We have had a nice time out here through it all."
Cook, Flournoy and Neale are all veterans and accustomed to winning in big-time meets, but Oak Hall freshman Ryan Harris made an early claim to area fame by winning the mile run with a time of 4:29.05, a personal record.
"It was a tough race with serious competition," Harris said. "I stayed behind the guys from P.K. Yonge and Buchholz and sprinted by them the last 300 meters."
The Boys from Buchholz captured the overall team championship with a total tally of 190.50 points, and were followed by Gainesville (146.50), Eastside (84), P.K Yonge (83.50), Santa Fe (50), Hawthorne (29.50) and Oak Hall (25). The Bobcats won the 800 meter relay and 4x100 relay team events and were led individually by Adam Rogers, who won the 300 hurdles, Jermaine Davis in the 110 high hurdles and Austin Hawthorne, who finished second in the 400 meter dash to Monds.
Gainesville High's girls edged the Buchholz girls 152.50 to 146.50 and did it in team fashion, winning the 4x400 and 4x100 meter relay events. Oak Hall (130.50) placed third, followed by P.K. Yonge (105), Eastside (72), Hawthorne (19), and Santa Fe (18.50) Hurricane Janae Todd was the top individual runner for the Gainesville, winning the 400 meter dash, while earning a second place finish in the 800 meter run.

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