Youth athletes shine at Jimmy Carnes track meet


Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 12:14 a.m.

Youth was well served on the opening day of the third annual Jimmy Carnes Indoor Track and Field Meet held at the O'Connell Center and hosted by the Gainesville Sports Commission. More than 900 athletes ranging in age from 5 to 18 took part in the age group competition of the two-day event Saturday.

The meet, named in honor of legendary former Florida Gator head coach (1975-86) Jimmy Carnes continues today with the open and collegiate competition, as well as a new twist to this year's event — a “Rising Stars” competition comprised of Saturday's top young performers.

One local athlete who certainly looked like a rising star was 11-year-old Nadiria Evans of Gainesville, who claimed a pair of victories by coming from behind on the last lap of each race to win the mile run (5:49.33) and the 800 meters (2:39.53) in her age group (11-12).

“At first I was really scared because I had to run against a lot of older kids,” said Evans, who said she has been running track since she was four. “But after I started running, I felt really confident in myself and knew I could win.”

Gainesville's Desmond Davis also was a double-winner, claiming the 9-10 boys 55-meter dash (8.01) and 200 meters (29.16). Other area winners (all from Gainesville unless otherwise indicated) included Tiana Sheffield from Bradford Middle School (13-14 girls 55-meter hurdles,10.18), Llyas Balakishiyeva (9-10 boys mile, 5:54.33), Gelela Cooley (17-19 girls 400 meters, 58.91), Christopher King (11-12 boys shot put, 7.93 meters), Michaela Cromarty (girls 6-and-under 200 meters, 56.59) and Ocala's Bejai Fray (13-14 girls 200, 26.47).

Local athletes garnering second-place finishes on the girls' side were Cromarty (6-and-under, 55m), Tamari Davis (7-8, 55m), and Payton Ashe (13-14, 400m), while boys taking home silver medals included Michael Tillman from Buchholz (15-16, 55m), Dennis McGee (15-16, shot put) and Willie McKnight (9-10, 200m). Area girls who claimed bronze medals were GHS teammates Cooley (17-19, 200m) and Marla Collins (17-19, 400m), while third-place boys finishers included Kobe McKnight (7-8, 400m), Willie McKnight (9-10, 55m) and Kenric Young (13-14, 200m).

But the day was not just about medals. No one personified that better than 7-year-old Isabella McKee of Gainesville, who placed fourth in the 400, fifth in the 55 and sixth in the 200 and wore an ear-to-ear smile every time she competed.

“It was good. I liked it,” she said. “I was really excited.”

The Gainesville Striders have comfortable leads in both the girls and boys team competitions going into today with 139 and 151.5 points, respectively. In the 4x400 relay event that ended Saturday's portion, they picked up a win in the boys 11-12 division and added runnerup finishes in both the boys 9-10 and 17-19 groups while adding a pair of third-place girls finishes (13-14 and 17-19).

Today's competition begins at 9 a.m.

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