Prep track and field: Collier County reaches Elite ‘8’ status at middle school championships

Flanked by coaches Tammy Loux, far left, and Justin Moomaw, far right, Reed Cunningham, Augie Kent, Drew Mclendon and Javier Silva each grab the baton after winning the 4x800 boys relay Saturday at the Florida Middle School Track and Field Championship. The four runners attend Gulfview Middle School but were competing as part of the Gulf Coast Runners Youth Team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BY GREGG HARDY
CSI EDITOR

The pipeline for many of Collier County’s high school track and field programs looks to be flowing with future standouts.

Eight local athletes landed a coveted top-eight finish — and the medal that went with it — at the Florida Middle School Track & Field Championship, held Saturday at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Two girls — Heaven Cummings of Immokalee Middle School and Rebecca Weir of Seacrest Country Day School — led the Collier contingent with third-place finishes in the shot put and high jump, respectively.

RELATED: Oakridge’s Furgason takes off in final hometown meet

PHOTO GALLERY: View images from the middle school track championship

Cummings earned her medal with a throw of 42 feet, 8 inches — some six-and-a-half inches behind the winner. Two weeks ago at the Collier County Athletic Conference middle school championships, Cummings set a CCAC record with a throw of 44 feet, 3.5 inches.

(Note: Collier County’s public school athletes competed under the banner of the Gulf Coast Runners Youth Team since CCPS does not send middle school athletes to state.)

Weir’s jump of an even 5 feet was six inches shy of the winner.

Gulfview Middle School eighth-graders Javier Silva, Augie Kent, Drew McClendon and Reed Cunningham took fifth place in the boys 4×800-meter relay. McClendon said he and his three running mates plan to participate in cross country and track and field when they get to Naples High next year.

“When we went to the race, we had a pretty clear idea of the competition, what we needed to get to (achieve) a top-eight finish,” said McClendon, who called Saturday’s performance the “highlight” of his middle school career. “We all performed pretty well, and we were very happy with fifth place.”

Grace Dean, an eighth-grader and three-sport athlete at First Baptist Academy, finished seventh in the girls triple jump with a leap of 33 feet, 10 1/2 inches. It was her first time using a take-off board 32 feet away from the sand pit, and she narrowly missed her personal record of 34 feet.

Sporting the seventh-place medal she earned in the triple jump Saturday, Grace Dean, right, poses for a photo with fellow First Baptist Academy athletes Hannah Casey, left, and Katie Beam. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“It definitely pushed me to get farther,” Dean said of the 32 board. “It was very difficult for me because I haven’t done that all season; so for me to do that was a great accomplishment.”

Dean also competed in the long jump (14-08.00, 30th place), as well as the 100 hurdles (18:00, 24th) and 200 hurdles (31.83, 21st). Her effort capped a hectic seven-day itinerary, as she also competed at the high school state championships in Jacksonville last Saturday.

Really, it’s been a busy school year for Dean. She also plays volleyball and is a central figure on a Lions varsity basketball team that went 23-6 and was perfect in district play. (Despite a game-high 16 points from Dean, FBU suffered a three-point loss to Saint Stephens Episcopal in the regional semifinals.)

Asked if playing volleyball and basketball helps her performance on the track (or vice versa), Dean said, “Starting from volleyball to basketball to track, it all builds me up for track — speed-wise, in competition … and seeing all the different public schools.”

Kentucky-bound Lukas Furgason of Oakridge Middle School (7) punctuated his time as a Collier County runner with a seventh-place performance in the 1,500 meters Saturday. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Lukas Furgason, an eighth-grader at Oakridge Middle School who will soon be moving to Kentucky, finished seventh in the boys 1,500 meters with a time of 4:25.90. That put him on pace to run a mile (or, 1,600 meters) in 4:43, which would have shattered his previous two CCAC record-setting runs — 4:52.91 at the CCAC championships two weeks ago, and 4:55.34 at a home meet on April 7, which eclipsed a nine-year old mark.

Besides the aforementioned medalists, there were several other notable performances by local competitors Saturday:

  • Katie Beam, a seventh-grader from First Baptist, finished ninth in the girls 1,500 with a time of 5:02. She also finished 12th in the 800 with a time of 2:28.
  • Pine Ridge Middle School’s Josh Ostler finished 10th in the boys 800 with a time of 2:09.46. (Six weeks ago, that would have topped the nine-year-old CCAC record of 2:11.53 that Immokalee’s Gillermo Venegas set at the 2009 state championship. However, Furgason blew past that time during an April 7 meet by clocking in at 2:06.70. Ostler did get the better of Furgason on Saturday, though, as Furgason finished 14th with a time of 2:10.73.)
  • Bernardo Barnhart added another top-10 finish for Collier County’s athletes. He finished 10th in the boys 3,000.
  • The Gulfview Middle School girls 4×800 relay team of Lane Calkins, Kiley McKernan, Siersha Schrack and Briana Shimer finished 15th.
  • Maura Baird of Mason Classical Academy finished 17th in the girls 800 with a time of 2:30.34. (Three weeks earlier, Baird clocked in at 2:27.52 to break an eight-year-old CCAC record.)
  • Gulfview’s Devin Moore finished 16th in the boys 200 dash with a time of 24.15.

Here is a list of Collier County’s other competitors (school names, if known, are abbreviated) and how they finished:

  • Boys 3,000 — Drew McClendon, GV (10:31.60, 31st); Chase Howes, GV (10:49.87, 52nd); Charles Jaikaran, Oak (10:52.28, 54th).
  • Girls 3,000 — Ann-Campbell Brown, PR (12:12.44, 22nd); Kayla Callis, NN (12:19.67, 23rd); Miriama Iverson, NN (12:27.50, 24th).
  • Boys 4×800 — Wesley Podos/Charles Jaikaran/Riley Hart/Lukas Furgason, Oak (9:31.49, 11th); Alex Greenling/Owen Marshall/CJ Bussell/Aiden Dunn, GV (9:35.48, 12th).
  • Girls 4×800 — Caprice Morley/Marissa Akins/Amelia Jones/Coral Morley, GV (11:26.32, 25th); Katy Lynch/Havana Layton/Camille Sonalia/Meaghan McKernan, GV (11:32.64, 28th).
  • Girls 100 hurdles — Hannah Casey, FBA (18:05, 26th).
  • Girls 200 hurdles — Hannah Casey, FBA (31.46, 17th).
  • Boys 100 dash — Devin Moore, GV (12.01, 27th); William Miller, PR (12.22, 38th).
  • Girls 100 dash — Michelande Joseph, Imm (13.33, 32nd).
  • Boys 1,500 —  Bernardo Barnhart (4:46.50, 23rd).
  • Girls 1,500 — Maura Baird, MCA (5:19.08, 27th).
  • Boys 800 — Javier Silva, GV (2:16.38, 24th); Reed Cunningham, GV (2:21.15, 29th).
  • Boys 4×400 — Cooper Narrell/William Miller/Joseph Miller/Josh Ostler, PR (3:56.34, 15th).
  • Girls 4×400 — Avary Piglia/Alexa Cardinale/Andreana Washington/Arianna Kinsley (4:36.11, 24th); Kathiana Vilcin/Pierre Loius/Mowenta Etienne/Calouna Zamor, Imm (4:56.20, 31st).  
  • Girls long jump — Hannah Casey, FBA (15-01.00, 23rd).
  • Boys discus — Andre Dollar, GV (94-03, 33rd).
  • Girls discus — Peyton Davidson, NN (70-01, 23rd).
  • Boys high jump — Devin Moore, GV (17-10.00, 21st).
  • Boys shot put — Andre Dollar, GV (35-09.00, 31st).

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