ATHLETES OF THE WEEK

Multi-talented athlete wins Fort White's first track title


Fort White's A.J. Legree, left, leaps for a ball in a game against Columbia in 2010. Legree won a state track and field title for the Indians on Saturday.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer/File
Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 11:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 11:48 p.m.

An athlete who does it all doesn't get much time to celebrate.

A.J. Legree captured Fort White's first Class 2A state track and field title on Saturday in dramatic fashion, winning the high jump with a personal-best leap of 6 feet, 10 inches. Today, he's back on the field for spring football practice.

The junior starts at cornerback and wide receiver for the Indians, plays basketball, made weightlifting's postseason and tried to qualify for the track finals in three other events.

With just the high jump to worry about at the state meet, Legree told coach Demetric Jackson, “I feel like I can fly today.”

Legree was the first to clear 6-10, topping his personal record by an inch. He could have gone higher, according to Jackson, who said the leap “wasn't even close.”

“The way the crowd responded, that motivated him and put a little fright in the other guys,” Jackson said. “Nobody has ever heard of Fort White. Who is this guy? For A.J. to come out and do 6-10, it surprised them.”

The last two jumpers missed 6-10 on their first attempts, securing the title for Legree.

“Seeing him on the podium with the medal around his neck, my heart was just racing,” Jackson said. “The young man has worked extremely hard.”

Legree, who has a 3.9 GPA, already has a scholarship offer from the University of South Florida and has seen interest from Georgia Tech, Louisville and Florida State.

“He's a ‘yes sir, no sir' kind of kid,” Jackson said. “His grades and his character are just as good as his athletic ability. He can walk into someone's school with a gold medal, but he can also walk in with 3.9 GPA.”

Baseball

A.J. SMITH, MELODY CHRISTIAN: In the District 3-1A championship, the junior tossed a no-hitter against Mandarin Christian, striking out 10 in the 2-0 win.

Softball

HOLLIANNE DOHRN, COLUMBIA: The freshman helped lead the Tigers to the Class 5A, Region 1 finals by going 4-for-7 with two RBI.

Honorable mention

Baseball

BRENT SLAUGHTER, CHIEFLAND: The senior went 3-for-3, including a three-run home run, to lead the Indians to a District 5-2A championship.

COLE WHARTON, MELODY CHRISTIAN:The senior shut out Jacksonville Eagle's View on three hits, three walks and four strikeouts in the first game of the District 3-1A tournament.

GARRETT MCKINNEY, OAK HALL: In the District 4-1A semifinals, the junior struck out five in five innings, giving up two hits. At the plate, he went 3-for-4 with 4 runs and 3 RBI.

Track & Field

BRITTANY OLLINGER, OAK HALL: The star freshman turned in a personal-best time of 11:10 in the 3200, the third-fastest time in Alachua County high school history. She finished fourth in the Class 1A state finals on Friday at Showalter Stadium in Winter Park.

CECIL ROLLE, BUCHHOLZ: The senior qualified for state with a personal-record 48.64 seconds in the 400 meter dash.

CHANTIA TAYLOR, BUCHHOLZ: With personal bests in the long jump (18 feet, 1 inch) and triple jump (36 feet, 5.5 inches), the senior qualified for this Saturday's Class 4A state finals.

DARRELL POWELL, SANTA FE: A leap of 45 feet, 9.75 inches sent the sophomore to a fourth-place finish at Saturday's 2A state finals. It was a personal best and set a new school record.

DENNIS MCGEE, GAINESVILLE: The only Hurricane to win a Class 3A, Region 1 title, the junior hurled the shot put 50 feet, 2.75 inches.

KADEIDRA JACKSON, GAINESVILLE: With three events, the junior will have plenty of chances to earn a title at this Friday's Class 3A state meet. She qualified for the finals in the 100- and 200-meter dash, as well as the 4x400 relay.

MICHAEL TILLMAN, BUCHHOLZ: The sophomore turned in a personal-best leap of 23 feet, 11 inches to win the Class 4A, Region 1 long jump title. He also runs the lead leg of the Bobcats 4x100 relay team that qualified for state with a time of 41.98 seconds.

OAK HALL 4x800 RELAY TEAM: Juniors Emily VanGelder and Jennifer Lundgren, sixth-grader Lauren Perry and Ollinger combined to finish in 9:54, the fastest time among Alachua County schools. They finished in sixth place at the Class 1A state meet.

TRAVIS SMITH, OAK HALL: With a shot put throw of 46 feet, 5 inches, the senior grabbed a fourth-place medal at the Class 1A state finals in his first year of throwing.

Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.

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