Before the West Florida High boys track and field team kicked off the season, FlRunners.com ranked the squad No. 1 in the state.
While the team has thrived all season long, so has its competition.
“It’s gotten a lot more competitive in the last couple of weeks though,” said Jeff Oliver, Jaguars coach. “We’re definitely finishing an uphill battle.
“The last virtual ranking had us ranked 10th, which was a shock to me. We know if we have a good meet, anything can happen.”
Now, the Jaguars put their season on the line as athletes on the boys and girls teams compete in the Class 2A state meet today at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Hoping to improve upon its best finish in program history — fourth place in 2014 — the boys squad will compete in five different events, highlighted by defending 2A discus champion Dane Stolsig.
“Going into Friday, he does have the best discus throw in the state in 2A (170 feet 7.5),” said Oliver. “That event has been solid for him.
“You have to have a lot of speed and agility, and that’s what Dane is. He’s very good at the javelin too, and those are very fit guys. That’s what he’s become.”
For the girls, the 4×800 team will represent the Jaguars while teammate Monica Duckworth competes in the discus.
Duckworth, in her first year as a discus thrower, has come out of nowhere in recent weeks — first by winning the District 1-2A title and then by finishing as runner up at the region meet.
“We knew she could do it,” Oliver said. “She’s throwing 110 in practice so she has regularly thrown well better than she has at competition.
“It’s her first year doing the event, which is amazing. I think she could medal — Every single person going to state on our team, I think we can medal in every event we’re in.”
PCA, Jay look for big finish in 1A meet
Athletes from Jay, Central and Pensacola Christian Academy round out Friday’s events in the State 1A track and field meet, also hosted at the University of North Florida.
On the girls side of competition, PCA’s Caisea Phillips looks to improve on her fifth-place finish in the pole vault last season while teammate Heidi Andrews will attempt to top her seventh-place finish in the discus.
For the boys, PCA’s Aaron Fulfer returns to compete in the triple jump jump event after a fourth-place finish at state in 2013.
The Jay Royals are also looking to put some numbers on the board as Micah Kemp — 2014-15 Pensacola News Journal Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year — competes in the 1600 meter event.
Joining Kemp at state, teammate Victor Mishoe is set to compete in the 300 hurdles while also doing time on the 4×100 team.
3A athletes put seasons on the line Saturday
After 2A and 1A athletes wrap up on Friday, 3A teams join the fray on Saturday at the University of North Florida.
With five local schools represented on the girls side and seven on the boys side, the Panhandle will be well-represented as teams compete for state honors.
As a team, Pine Forest is the program to watch on the girls side as the Eagles field 11 athletes across seven events — including sophomore Michaela Thompson in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
Pensacola High looks to make a splash as well as freshman Malianna White competes in the high jump, looking to bounce back from her runner-up finish at the region meet while also competing in the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
Gulf Breeze’s Jesse Droogsma, competing in the discus, is another name to follow as the senior looks to improve upon her sixth-place finish last season.
For the boys, Tate and Milton boast the largest number of local competitors with the Aggies fielding four athletes in four different events and the Panthers sending two athletes to compete in three different events — including Dominique Craig in the 110 and 300 hurdles.
For Tate, Reggie Payne will compete in the high jump while Alonte Thompson tackles the shot put, Quintin McGhee the long jump and Devonte Simmons the 110 hurdles.
State track and field participants
Discus — Heidi Andrews, Pensacola Christian, 112-1.
Pole Vault — Caisea Phillips, Pensacola Christian, 10-7.
High jump — Emily Frary, Pensacola Christian, 4-10.
4X800 relay — Jay High School (Ana-Grace Smith, Jenna Thornton, Savannah Brown, Jessica Thornton), 10:16.94.
100 — Brittney Amey, Central, 12.96.
Shot put — Tucker Harrington, Jay, 44-5.5.
Triple jump — Aaron Fulfer, Pensacola Christian, 42-0.5.
Pole Vault — Trenton Porter, Pensacola Christian, 11-6.
4X800 relay — Pensacola Christian (Tyler Riles, Daniel Posey, Michael Frank, Timothy Stewart), 9:00.56.
4X100 relay — Jay (Brandon Freeman, Victor Mishoe, Joseph Cook, Braden Cross), 44.32.
300H — Victor Mishoe, Jay, 42.03.
1600 — Micah Kemp, Jay, 4:34.54.
Discus — Monica Duckworth, West Florida, 105-6.
4X800 relay — West Florida (Lynn Arthur, Raleigh Nesbitt, Zharia James, Charlene Sanchez), 10:00.11.
Shot put — Dane Stolsig, West Florida, 51-5.75.
Discus — Dane Stolsig, West Florida, 158-2.
Pole Vault — Lucas Breidenbaugh, West Florida, 13-0.
4X800 relay — West Florida (Javen Jackson, Matthew Jones, Myles Green, Michael Johnson), 8:09.26.
400 — Damond Johnson, West Florida, 49.48
Discus — Jesse Droogsma, Gulf Breeze, 125-10; Alexis Lucas, Pine Forest, 124-0; Kaleah Strawder, Pine Forest, 122-6.
Triple jump — Nykeria Lee, Pine Forest, 35-10.25.
Pole vault — Lakeyah Blackmon, Pine Forest, 9-6; Kassie Oldham, Gulf Breeze, 9-6.
Shot put — D’Erica Goldsmith, Escambia, 37-9.75; Jaci Floyd, Milton, 37-5.25.
High jump — Malainna White, PHS, 5-4.
100H — Michaela Thompson, Pine Forest, 15.72.
4×100 relay — Pensacola High (Malainna White, Tia Johnson, Cierra Smith, Tishuana Walker), 47.88; Pine Forest (Lanasha Gould, Ceana Gray, Shaniya Sanders, Yeisha Taylor), 48.93.
300H — Michaela Thompson, Pine Forest, 46.12; Sophia Madison, Washington, 46.13.
800 — Aaleiya Knight, Pine Forest, 2:23.04.
4×400 relay — Pensacola High (Brianna Hamilton, Malainna White, Tia Johnson, Loren Moorer), 3:56.24.
High Jump — Cal Dermody, Gulf Breeze, 6-6; Reggie Payne Tate, 6-4.
Shot put — Alonte Thompson, Tate, 48-8.75.
Long jump — Quintin McGhee, Tate, 22-7.75.
Triple jump — Ethyn Periman, Milton, 44-5.5; Daveyon Finkley, Pine Forest, 43-3.
Pole vault — Charles Orth, Navarre, 13-0.
Discus — Chris Clark, Pace, 164-2.
110H — Dominique Craig, Milton, 14.10; Devonte Simmons, Tate, 14.56.
100 — Juwan Smith, PHS, 10.71.
300H — Dominique Craig, Milton, 38.29.