At last season’s Class 3A FHSAA Finals Fort Myers junior Emily Edwards qualified in just one event, the 4×800-relay, where her team made the podium with a sixth-place finish.
A lot has changed in a year.
She enters today’s Class 3A FHSAA Finals at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville with the fastest time in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs.
“I’ve just been working hard and I realized I needed to start fresh this year,” Edwards said. “I just wanted to work my way up and not worry about what was going on in the past.”
Edwards 1,600-meter time (4:53.91) is the fastest in the state of Florida and the 18th fastest in the country. Her 800-meter time (2:12.68) is the second fastest in the state but the two races are 52 minutes apart, with the four-lap 1,600 occurring first. It will be interesting to see how her body holds up after running the 800, 1600 and 3200 at last week’s Region 3A-3 meet. If it does she is fully capable of winning both events.
“That would be really exciting,” Edwards said of completing the middle distance double. “That would be the ultimate goal, so we’ll see how that happens.”
Naples senior Danielle Avery has run 2:12.84 in the 800-meter, Avery and Edwards will be close throughout the race and Avery has the luxury of not running the 1600-meter. Lakewood Ranch’s Kristin Zarella won the 800-meter Region 3A-3 title in 2:14.06.
Estero’s girls 4×800 relay finished as runner-up at last year’s state meet falling to Lakewood Ranch by four seconds.
The Wildcats lost one relay leg from that team and Lakewood Ranch standout senior and Alabama signee Olivia Ortiz has run in just three races this spring. Ortiz suffered a broken leg in the 3200-meter run at last season’s state meet and Lakewood Ranch was unable to qualify for the state finals.
Estero’s relay has the fastest time (9:24.50) in their class, the 26th fastest in the country and third fastest in the state, according to Dyestat.com. The Wildcats are the favorite to win the state title but Bartram Trail has run 9:27.00 and should challenge Estero up front.
Ole Miss-commit Kacy Smith is the lone senior on this year’s relay composed of freshman Daly Cline, sophomore Megan Slater and junior Kacy Slater.
Smith will also be competing in the 1,600-meter run against Edwards. Fellow Ole Miss-commit Katy G. Solis is the Region 3A-3 champ at 3,200-meters and has the third fastest time (10:55.17) in the class behind Wiregrass Ranch’s Nikita Shah (10:48.10) and Chiles Rachel Givens (10:44.66).
On the boys side, East Lee senior Sheldon Fleming has a strong shot at winning the state discus title. Fleming threw a personal best 177-01 at the Region 3A-3 meet for the second longest throw in the state.
Gulf Breeze senior Austin Droogsma has the furthest toss in the state at 191-05, thrown at the Region 3A-1 meet. This will be the best competition Fleming, who is headed to Eastern Kentucky to play football in the fall, has faced.
Island Coast senior T.J. Johnson has the 13th fastest time in the nation in the 100-meter dash at 10.40. But three of the 12 times faster than him belong to St. Petersburg Gibbs’ Trayvon Bromell (10.14, 10.34) and Stanton’s Kendal Williams (10.18).
Johnson will have to run a nearly perfect race to finish in the top three but the Arizona football commit has been at his best late in the season.