JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Fleming Island High track and cross country graduate Kameron Wallizada, a sophomore track runner at the University of North Florida now, blasted an incredible 60 second final lap …
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Fleming Island High track and cross country graduate Kameron Wallizada, a sophomore track runner at the University of North Florida now, blasted an incredible 60 second final lap of a track 10K (6.2 miles) race on his home track to lead a 1-2-3 finish for Osprey runners at the River City Classic season opener on Thurs., March 16.
"I just felt good and wanted to win the race," said Wallizada, who was among a four-man pack near the bell lap when he revved up his engine for the incredible finish to win the event in 30 minutes, 50.51 seconds. "I've been training hard with Aiden O'Gorman and the rest of the team and the payoff was tonight."
UNF track coach Jeff Pigg commented that Wallizada's performance, though exciting and dramatic, was not much of a surprise.
"He's a tough kid," said Pigg. "He's got a strong character and I don't have to worry about the little stuff of readiness. He's also hungry to do well. One big thing is he is not afraid to hurt. Sometimes, he works too hard, but we keep him easy on the easy days."
Also at the River City Classic, in the 5000 meters (3.1 miles), former Ridgeview High track standout Joel Nesi, now a sophomore at Flagler College, shredded the Flagler track record in his event with a sixth place finish in 14:32.82 with two Florida State University runners taking the top two spots in 14:15.81 and 14:18.87.
For Flagler, also in the 5K, Oakleaf High grad A'Jani Stokes finished 34th in 16:30.18.
Just a week ago, Nesi and teammates Brandon Knieja, Chase McKee and Francisco Ramirez received all-region honors (top five finishers) in the distance medley relay at the 2023 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field region championships. Flagler had the third best region time at 10:0815 to break the old record of 10:20.17.
In the 10K, Wallizada blasted away to finish in a time of 30:50.51 seconds to win the event followed by UNF freshman runners; Paul Lespacio and Cole Perry; in at 30:51.35 and 30:57.39, respectively.
"Kameron [Wallizada] won with a great 60 seconds over the last 400m," said UNF coach Jeff Pigg. "These guys work their tails off constantly. They are humble, respectful and are hungry. I'm happy for them and so proud of those guys. It was Paul [Lespasio]'s first collegiate race and what a way to start his career."
Pigg noted that Wallizada's 60 second finish was not much of a surprise.
"I knew they were all working together to break 31 minutes and it was a great,cool night to run out there," said Pigg. "The three of them exercised good patience and took turns leading; Kameron maybe doing a bit more than the other two, but he later said when Paul (Lespacio) took off near the end, Kameron said that was what got them trio under 31 minutes. It's good to see a kid like Kameron, who works his butt off, do well."
Cool winds accompanied the North Florida men's track and field team, as it highlighted the outdoor season debut on the home course at Visit Jax Track in Hodges Stadium on Thursday evening. The Osprey men went for personal-best times in several athletic events including the 200m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m and the 10,000m.
Wallizada, who visited the UNF track on Saturday to watch the Bob Hayes Invitational, noted that his training while at North Florida has simply become more simple.
"Consistency, good nutrition and easy runs that are easy," said Wallizada, noted in his high school days as a torrid-paced runner both in competition and in training with his Fleming Island teammates which ultimately led to nagging injuries. "The rest and recovery we are required has been the biggest change."
In the womens 5K, Middleburg High grad Emma Mussante, a sophomore at Florida Southern College, finished eighth in 17:24.37 to break her school's record for the event.
In the women's 10,000 meters, former Fleming Island cross country runner Emma Millson, now a freshman at UNF, finished fourth in 37:15.07 behind winner Raquel Lespasio of UNF, who won in 36:57.24. Former Bishop Snyder cross country champion Gianna Forte, a senior at UNF, was third in 37:11.94.
In the mens 1500, Keystone Heights High grad Alex Guy, a junior at Florida Southern, was 16th in 4:01.87. Winner was UNF's Mac Franks in 3:45.33. Guy posted a 1:53.64 800 meters in February at the Collegiate Last Chance Qualifier in Gainesville during indoor season.
In womens high jump, Middleburg High grad Kaley Petrosky, a senior at UNF, was third at 5'-3" with Kristi Snyman of Jacksonville University winning at 6'-0".
In the mens 400, former Orange Park High trackster Markez Sermons, now at FAMU, was 17th in 51.25 seconds.
In Brookings, SD, the NAIA mens track and field national title went to Southeastern University with former Fleming Island state hurdle champion Glenn Rodgers, a senior, finishing eighth in the 60 meter hurdles.
At the University of South Florida's Bulls Invitational on March 18, two area state champions; Fleming Island hurdler Glenn Rodgers, now at Southeastern, and Oakleaf triple jumper Loren Johnson, now at USF, competed with Johnson taking 15th in the long jump at 18'-5.26" and fourth in the triple jump at 39'-5". Rodgers was seventh in the 110 hurdles in 14.35 seconds.