High school track: Mandarin, Nease, Bartram Trail, Creekside win titles – The Florida Times-Union

High school track: Mandarin, Nease, Bartram Trail, Creekside win titles  The Florida Times-Union

A historic breakthrough in Mandarin orange and green.

The fastest high school hurdle time for 2022 — not just in Florida, but in America.

A finishing flourish for a St. Johns County distance runner to cement his place in the books as a Northeast Florida track legend.

For Mandarin, for Nease and for a host of other schools across the First Coast, Saturday brought breakthrough marks and celebrations at the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A track and field championships at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville.

In all, nine Jacksonville-area runners, throwers and jumpers came home with championship trophies on a day to rank among the most decorated in the Jacksonville area’s track and field history.

Here’s how a memorable day unfolded:

1A recap:Matthew Stratton of St. Johns Country Day wins distance title

2A recap:Bolles on top as Candelino, Curtis, Rohan lead Bulldogs to girls track repeat

3A recap:Gold for Raines’ Robinson, Ponte Vedra’s Lebowitz


Winning Ways

In three years of track, Cyrus Ways had won almost everything — district and regional titles, assorted indoor and outdoor competitions outside the high school season — except the FHSAA state championship.

The Nease senior made up for past frustration with a meet to remember.

Ways began in the boys 110-meter hurdles, running 13.53 — a time that not only left him half a second ahead of Lake Mary runner-up Markel Jones, but propelled him to No. 3 in the MileSplit national list.

Two hours later, he acquired a new title: National No. 1.

Ways rocketed to victory in the 300 hurdles in a blistering 36.26, a winning margin of a second and a quarter, and more than half a second off Ways’ previous best. That surpassed the nation-leading 36.27 set in March by Chris Brinkley of Fort Bend Marshall (Texas) at the Victor Lopez Classic in Houston.


Harrison goes out on top

Before he makes the cross-country trip to begin his college track career at Oregon, Harrison added one more trophy to his Sunshine State collection.

The Nease senior, racing the 800 as his sole individual event, dominated once again to cross the line in 1:48.62. Harrison stands second in the national MileSplit ranking at the distance, behind only Cade Flatt of Marshall County (Ky.).

Harrison, who won back-to-back-to-back cross country championships, now owns a trio of individual FHSAA track titles after winning the 1,600 and 3,200 in 2021.

Nease ultimately placed third in the boys team standings with 39 points, with help from points in other events like Matt Ryan’s fourth in the 3,200. Field event superpower Niceville won the overall boys championship, followed by Miami Columbus. 

Kelly, Peterson lead Mandarin surge

As of the morning of May 14, 2022, Mandarin held a grand total of zero Florida High School Athletic Association girls track titles in 31 years of competition.

Da’Moni Kelly and Terren Peterson just rewrote the history books.

Kelly, ranked sixth in the nation and the state leader in the shot put for almost the entire year, left little doubt. The Florida signee threw 45 feet, 1/4 inch on her first attempt — already a distance sufficient to win — and 45 feet, 11 3/4 inches on her third to take first place by more than a foot ahead of Niceville’s Megan Hague. She also finished fifth in the discus.

Then, later in the evening, it was Peterson’s turn. The senior chopped more than eight-tenths of a second off her previous personal best in the 400, accelerating clear of the field to victory in 54.51.

Together with other scoring performances, including Peterson’s fourth in the 200, Annie Loehle’s fourth in the 3,200, Aliyah Robertson’s fifth in the shot put and a relay fourth in the 4×800, Mandarin tallied 43 points, equal with second-place George Jenkins and behind only Niceville in the girls team standings. The Mustangs easily surpassed their previous best state finish, a ninth place in 2003.

First Coast Varsity Weekly:Mandarin on the charge toward FHSAA track and field finals

Gateway champs:Raines boys, Mandarin girls repeat Gateway Conference track and field championships

Golden day for St. Johns schools

From St. Johns County’s west to the northeast, Saturday was trophy day in Gainesville.

Nease freshman Alexandra Bohanon started the championship parade in the girls javelin, recording a distance of 131 feet, 2 inches that beat out her mark from regionals by more than 10 feet. 

Creekside ran 7:46.86 to capture first place in the first boys event on the track, the 4×800 relay, then added another near the night’s end when Christian Miller won the boys 200 in 20.82. The sophomore, who earlier finished fourth in the 100 but had never broken 21 seconds in 200-meter competition, edged Amari Turner of Sanford Seminole by two hundredths of a second. 

Bartram Trail also topped the standings in the boys pole vault, where Sam Martins cleared 14 feet, 3 1/4 inches to conclude his senior year with a championship. Martins’ title was the first boys event victory for the Bears since the Nick Uruburu-led team that went back-to-back for team championships in 2012 and 2013. Neighboring rivals Bartram Trail and Creekside tied for fifth in boys points with 31 each.

In addition to the nine event winners, multiple athletes from the First Coast mounted the higher steps on the podium.

Also finishing high in the standings were Oakleaf senior Arianna Eason, second in the girls triple jump; Bartram Trail’s Elo Modozie, who combined a second in the boys triple jump with a fourth in the long jump; and Creekside’s Sydney Campbell, third in the 400 and fourth in the 100.

Sandalwood also picked up a pair of top-three finishers as Brittney Jennings came in third in the girls 100 hurdles and David Terry placed third in the boys 400.

Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.