BRADENTON – Oakleaf High triple jumper Melvin Briley blasted a winning effort on his first shot at the Class 4A gold medal to lead the Knights’ boys track team to a best-ever ninth place …
BRADENTON – Oakleaf High triple jumper Melvin Briley blasted a winning effort on his first shot at the Class 4A gold medal to lead the Knights’ boys track team to a best-ever ninth place finish at the FHSAA track and field championships held May 6-7 in Bradenton.
“He’s an ideal athlete that fits perfect in the exactness of the triple jump,” said Oakleaf High jump coach John Carter. “He is calm, dedicated and doesn’t let his surroundings bother him.”
Middleburg High sprinter and jumper Marcus Floyd also took a medal in the Class 3A triple with a second place silver while St. Johns Country Day School freshman hurdler Courtney Sage won bronze in the Class 1A 300 hurdles. Oakleaf High senior Anthony Norris took third in the Class 4A long jump to add his name to top three finishers from Clay County.
In the windy, rainy conditions of the two-day championship event, Briley, who bested his region-winning 48 foot, 11 inch leap with a 49’-7” state title jump, was Clay County’s lone gold medalist in a weekend of near-misses.
Briley, a junior, blasted his first jump then struggled to get back on track after a near-disaster second jump of 40’-6”.
“He was trying too hard and we had to adjust for the wind and rain,” said Carter. “We try not to change too much from practice to the meet and this was the state meet. We just adjusted his run to the pit for the wind.”
Briley adjusted and hit a 47’-2” jump on his third jump and a 47’-1” on his final jump. Kani Falconer, a senior at Miami Killian, finished behind Briley at 48 feet with third and fourth both in the low 47-foot range.
“That first jump was as good a first jump as we could expect down there,” said Carter. “He got that out of the way and put the pressure on the other jumpers.”
In the Class 3A triple jump, Middleburg High sophomore Marcus Floyd finished second with a 45’-11.75” with Sebastian Ridge junior Queshun Watson’s winning jump of 47’-11.25”.
Floyd also advanced from regions in the 100 and 200 events where he finished eighth in the 100 and 11th in the 200.
Floyd’s teammate, junior Kaley Petrosky finished fourth in the high jump at 5’-3.75’ with 5’-5.75” winning the event. Petrosky won her district with a 5’-5” high jump.
“I don’t worry about her as far as the nervousness of the meet because she is so cool out there,” said Middleburg coach April Martin, who credited her husband Craig, the Middleburg head track coach, with teaching her the intricacies of jump coaching to pass on to Petrosky and sophomore Bryce Quiett, who, though nearly breaking the Middleburg school record of 6’-8” with a region winning 6’-7.5” jump, fell way short at 6’-2” to finish sixth.
“Bryce and Marcus are very young and will only get better at the big meets with more experience. A lot goes on at the state meet that doesn’t necessarily happen during the regular season and even districts.”
In Class 4A, Oakleaf High senior Anthony Norris, who advanced from regions in the high jump and the long jump, finished third in the long jump at 22’-5.75” and sixth in the high jump at 6’-3.5” where six high jumpers tied at 6’-3.5” but Norris was sixth on misses. Norris passed until the fifth round of jumps at 6’-3.5”, but missed on the first two jumps.
In the long jump, Norris, who best the Oakleaf High school record twice through districts and regions, hit his best jump on his first jump then fouled twice to end up short of the winning 23’-8.75” jump. Norris finished second in the 4A region meet with a 23’-75” jump. In the region high jump, Norris was third at 6’-4.75”.
In Class 1A, Sage had the second fastest split in her 300 meter hurdles with Providence’s pair of Kendal Johnson and Elizabeth Crosby, who finished 1-2 in the region 1-1A final ahead of Sage, behind her.
In the final, Sage held off Crosby a second time, but Johnson edged Sage for second by just .21 with a 45.52 split to Sage’s 45.73. Sage, who ran a season-best of 45.20 in the prelims in a runaway heat first place finish to break a long-standing record by Nikki Aiosa, improved both times from a third place region split of 48.49 in the final and 47.87 in the region preliminaries. Sage also advanced from regions in the 100 hurdles but did not finish in the state prelims.
“Courtney was injured on Monday in a mishap on the track at practice and did not practice on a hurdle until the warmups for the 300,” said St. Johns coach Jay Birmingham. “We decided at breakfast on Friday that her injury, a hamstring, may not hold up in the 100 hurdles so we chose to go for just the 300 hurdles. She ran magnificent in both the prelims and finals to come home with the bronze.”
Other state meet performances included, in Class 4A, in the 3200, Fleming Island High junior teammates Andrew Miller and Evan Fuller finished fourth and 10th overall with winner Isaias De La Puente being disqualified for a lane violation at the start giving Miller, who clocked in at 9:37.28, and Fuller, who clocked a 9:53.73, one place up the final finish ranks.
In the Class 4A 800, Fleming Island High senior Cameron Dill, who was second at regions in 1:55, got knocked off his feet in the first 200 to end his career with a 14th place 2:14.38 finish.
In the 4 x 400 boys race, Fleming Island finished ninth with a 3:24.18 after registering at region 1-4A a third place split of 3:21.51.
In the girls 200, Fleming Island senior Ashley Nelson took 15th in 25.79.
Oakleaf sophomore Loren Johnson finished fifth in the long jump at 17’-11.75” and finished 13th in the triple jump with a 36 foot jump with the winning jump at 42’-8”. Also in the long jump, Oakleaf senior Jaqueline Thomas finished sixth at 17’-11”.
In the girls high jump, Oakleaf High senior Nia Anthony finished 12th at 4’-7.75” with the winner at 5’-7”.
Also in the boys triple jump, Oakleaf High senior Khalif Copeland fouled on all his jumps.
Ridgeview High senior Devon Fertil finished eighth in the triple jump with a 45’-1.75’ jump with the winner at 47’-8.5”.
In the boys 110 high hurdles, Ridgeview High sophomore Glenn Rodgers finished 12th at 15.97 with the winner at 14.44.
St. Johns Country Day School sophomore Jett Isley finished 13th in the 400 with a 53.37 split to the winning time of 50.71.
Distance runner Mackenzie Glenn ran a personal best in the 3200 of 12:04.35 to finish 12th with the winning time at 11:07.94.