Florida Relays plays host to top track talent


Gainesville's Tony James (pictured right) will try to get into the preliminaries for the boys' 100 meters at the Florida Relays, where Orlando's Levonte Whitfield (pictured left) will also compete.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:31 p.m.

Some of the country's top track and field athletes from high school and college will gather at Percy Beard Track beginning today for the 69th Florida Relays.

Among the high school entries are the nation's No. 2 boys sprinter in Levonte Whitfield of Orlando Jones (10.15 in 100 meters), the nation's top 1,600-meter boys runner in Andres Arroyo of Orlando Colonial (4:04.45), the top triple jumper for boys in Jeremiah Green of Hillsborough and the nation's No. 2 100-meter girls hurdler in Ebony Morrison of Miami Killian.

On the collegiate level, Jonathan Smith of Georgia, who has the fifth fastest 100 (10.20), is in the field as well as UF's 110 men's hurdler Eddie Lovett (13.47), who ranks No. 2 in the nation, and triple jumper Omar Craddock, who has a nation's best leap of 53-11.

But today, high schools open action at 5 p.m. with the boys shot put. There will be 16 events in all, including preliminary heats in boys and girls 100 meters and the hurdles (100 for girls, 110 for boys). The Florida Relays run three days, opening at 10 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

Gainesville High coach Rod McNealy is hoping to get elite sprinter Tony James, who missed some meets because of a hamstring strain, into today's 100 preliminaires.

“He has been rehabbing it since the Bob Hayes Invitational,” McNeal said. “He is excited about the opportunity because it is a very good field.”

The Hurricanes, whose boys finished third at last year's Class 3A state meet, will be well represented at this prestigious event.

“We really want to reach some personal bests in some of our individual events, especially our distance events,” McNealy said. “Tomorrow is a big day for them. Annie Cooper is someone I am looking forward to seeing because she will be running only her second time in the 800. She had been slowed by an injury. This is going to give us a good glance of how we fare getting ready for state.”

Oak Hall, which has the top distance runners in the area for girls, will have seventh-grader Grace Blair running in the 800 tonight. A year ago, as only a sixth grader, Blair finished fourth at 1A state.

The event will include eighth-grader Daesha Rogers of Plantation American Heritage, who ranks seventh in the nation in the 800 with a time of 2:13.29.

Junior Brittney Olinger and eighth-grader Lauren Perry of Oak Hall will compete in the 3200, also scheduled for tonight. They are ranked as the top two runners in this event in the area, and will compete against two elite runners in Bryce Seymour of Oviedo Hagerty and Nikita Shah of Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch.

“We don't talk too much about times, this is just a great opportunity to run against some of the best competition in the state,” said Eagles coach Edwin McTureous. “We are looking to fine-tune some things as we get ready for the postseason.”

Oak Hall will host the District 5-1A meet a week from today.

Two former Buchholz standouts will be competing in the college portion of the competition Friday. Marquis Noble, a sophomore at North Carolina A&T who captured the Class 4A state title in the long jump in 2010, is scheduled to jump at 3 p.m. Chris Godwin, a freshman at Florida State who placed second at the 4A cross country state meet in the 5K in 2011, will run the event unattached Friday night, scheduled for 9:30.

AREA ENTRIES FOR FLORIDA RELAYS

Bradford

Girls: Discus - Samantha Cook; Shot put - Samantha Cook

Buchholz

Girls: 100 - Kiana Davis, Kylla Williams; 100 hurdles - Kadeejah Danzy; 800 - Brielle Leclear; Triple jump - Kiana Davis; 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; 4x400 relay; 4x800 relay

Boys: 100 - Kevin Jenkins, Mike Tillman; 110 hurdles - Naquan Howard; 800 - Brian Fisher, Purnell Jones; 3200 - John Doughterty, Andrew Monteau; Long jump - Mike Tillman; Triple jump - Sean Dudley; 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; 4x400 relay; 4x800 relay

Fort White

Girls: 1600 - Cheyenne Hodges, Sheridan Placensia; 100 - Sitia Martinez; 800 - Cheyenne Hodges, Sheridan Placensia

Gainesville

Girls: 1600 - Devon Myers, Delaney Sagul; 100 - Nia Flagg; 100 hurdles - Crystal Williams; 800 - Annie Cooper, Sara Uman; 3200 - Aylena Carlson, Lenae Ryan; Long jump - Payton Ashe, Adanna Thompson, Kylla Williams; Distance medley relay; 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; 4x400 relay; 4x800 relay

Boys: 1600 - Semen Zhdanov; 100 - Chris Thompson, Kenric Young; 110 hurdles - Quennon Ewing, Ladale Thomas; 800 - Rashaard Brown, Will Turner; 3200 - Andrew Ward, Semen Zhdanov; Long jump - Chris Thompson, Ralph Webb; Distance medley relay; 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; 4x400 relay; 4x800 relay

Newberry

Girls: 800 - Mariah Sapp; 3200 - Shelby Chatfield, Maggie Rice; 4x400 relay; 4x800 relay

Boys: 100 - Tray Presley; 4x100 relay; 4x400

Oak Hall

Girls: 800 - Grace Blair; 3200 - Brittney Olinger, Lauren Perry; Distance medley relay

Boys: 800 - Zackery Beauchamp; 3200 - Austin Perry

P.K. Yonge

Girls: 3200 - Laksmi Aroyo, Caroline Perry

Boys: 1600 - Joseph Janson, Garrett Westlake;100 - Anthony Andrews; 800 - Joseph Janson, Matt VanArnam; 3200 - Gabriel Pelegrina, Nicolas Pelegrina

Santa Fe

Boys: 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; Shot put - Damian Johnson; Triple jump - Darrell Powell

Girls: 4x100 relay

Suwannee

Girls: 100 - Daycia Bandy; 100 hurdles - Logan Boss; High jump - Logan Boss

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