Speed on display at Carnes meet


Published: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 6:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 6:27 p.m.

The O'Connell Center will be brimming with athleticism this weekend when the 6th Annual Jimmy Carnes Indoor Track and Field Meet gets underway Saturday.

A record number of more than 1,000 athletes are registered to compete in the Youth Invitational (19-and-under) division, which has the vast majority of its competitions Saturday, while more than 700 more are entered in Sunday's Open/College Invitational division.

Among the top athletes expected to compete Saturday include senior Levonte Whitfield of Orlando Jones, the 2012 Adidas Dream 100-meter dash winner and reigning state Class 2A 100-meter champion, as well as senior Trayvon Bromell (St. Petersburg Gibbs) and juniors Kendall Williams (Jacksonville Stanton Prep, 2012 Class 3A state 100 champ), Tony James (Gainesville) and Dionte Jonas (Bradford) on the boys' side.

Senior Kali Davis-White of Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, juniors Deanna Hill (Lake Highland Prep) and Deja Parrish (American Heritage) and sophomores Teahna Daniels (Orlando Dr. Phillips) and Erin Ford (Royal Palm Beach) lead a strong list of entrees for the girls.

“We're going to have a live screen up for (Saturday's) competition and it's also going to be streamed live on the Internet (distancepreps.com),” meet director Larry Holsey said. “We've encouraged all the local kids to come out.”

While most of the Youth Invitational events will take place Saturday, two — the 55-meter hurdles for ages 13-19 and the mile run for ages 15-19 — will take place Sunday.

“This gives those athletes a chance to perform in front of college coaches,” Holsey said.

The meet, sponsored by the Gainesville Sports Committee, honors Carnes, the former University of Florida track and field coach who led the UF men's program for 12 years (1965-76) and was the head coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's team as well as an assistant with the 1976 U.S. men.

A native of Eatonton, Ga., Carnes is regarded as one of the pioneers of the sport.

He founded the Florida Track Club (1965) as well as the Sunshine State Games (1980), served as chairman of the Governor's Council on Sports and Physical Fitness and served as chairman of the track division of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in 1977.

In addition, he served as the first president of The Athletics Congress/USA (now known as USA Track & Field, or USTAF) from 1980-84 and was inducted into the USTAF Hall of Fame in 2008.

Carnes died at his Gainesville home in March of 2011 at the age of 76 following a 3 1/2-year battle with cancer.

With so much talent under one roof, records are expected to fall.

“This is our sixth year, and we're happy to be having the meet and honoring a gentleman who was a legend not only in the community, but throughout the nation in track and field,” said Holsey, a former Gainesville High School coach who is the executive director of the Gainesville Striders Track Club.

“Last year, (current FSU freshman) Marvin Bracy set a national record here (6.08, 55-meter dash), and we have a history of having some fast races.”

Past participants include 2012 Olympic bronze medalists Kellie Wells (100-meter high hurdles) and Justin Gatlin (100 meters) as well as David Oliver, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist (110-meter high hurdles) and 2012 World Indoor Champion (60-meter high hurdles).

Saturday's events run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., while Sunday's competition is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gate 1 will open at 9 a.m. Saturday for fans and spectators. Admission is $5 and parking is free.

Live results can be found throughout the weekend at www.halfmiletiming.com.

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