The best overall athletics program in Class 2A during the 2021-22 school year resides in the city of Gainesville.
Last week, the Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards presented by the Florida High School Athletic Association released its final girls,boys, and overall standings. Oak Hall School had two top five placements to finish No. 1 overall in the 2A standings.
The Eagles (76 points total) finished just over six points ahead of Cambridge (Tampa) (69.75) to take home the trophy.
“Winning the overall award is a great testament to our school’s mission,” said Oak Hall School Director of Athletics Edwin McTureous, who is also the head coach of the Eagles’ cross country and track and field teams. “Oak Hall’s student-athletes get an excellent education, opportunities to pursue their passions in fine arts, and still excel in athletic competitions at a high level.”
Points were awarded to a school based on its finish in the FHSAA State Series competition in each sport in the classification in which it has been assigned to compete.
In all sports with team scores, points are awarded as follows: 20 for the state champion, 12 for the state runner-up, 9 for the state semifinalists, 6 for 5-8th places, and 3 for 9-16th places. In sports where 16 or less schools qualify for the state tournament bracket, points will only be awarded to the first through eighth place finishers using the same scoring system.
Oak Hall, which last won the overall award back in 2010-11, finished No. 1 on the girls’ side as the Lady Eagles edged Cambridge, 49-48. A total of seven out of their 10 girls varsity sports that were eligible for this award scored points.
Leading the way were volleyball and cross country with 13 points each.
“When my wife shared the news with me that Oak Hall had received the 2A All-Sports Award I felt a great sense of pride and satisfaction,” said Eagles’ volleyball coach Perry McDonald, who led OHS to the state semifinals in November. “I immediately knew that the 13 points that the varsity girls volleyball team contributed to the award may very well have been the difference maker.”
The volleyball team defeated St. John’s Country Day (Orange Park) to win the 2A-District 4 title, followed by a win against Harvest Community (Jacksonville) in the region final, before falling at Seacrest Country Day (Naples) in the 2A state semifinals.
“I am extremely proud of our players and the tremendous turnaround that the volleyball program achieved last year,” McDonald said. “Anytime a program wins a district and regional championship for the first time in over a decade it is something to celebrate. Hopefully, this year’s team can take those experiences and build towards future successes.”
Both the girls and boys cross country teams at Oak Hall finished third at the Class 1A state meet.
Four of the Eagles’ 10 varsity boys sports scored points towards the award.
The Oak Hall boys cross country (13 points) and lacrosse (8 points) programs were the top two scorers. The boys program finished fifth in the state in 2A with 27 points.
It took a team effort on both sides to win the overall award.
“Oak Hall is very fortunate to have dedicated athletes and coaches that represent our athletic program,” McTureous said. “Over 85% of our student-athletes participated in at least two or more sports last school year.”
Meanwhile, the Bradford (Starke) athletics program had the second highest finish.
The Tornadoes finished third overall in Class 1A with 43.75 points, edging fourth-place Fort White (42.5), and ahead of No. 6 Dixie County (Cross City) (40.75), No. 8 Branford (34.75), and No. 10 Hawthorne (32.5)
Union County was just outside the top 10 at No. 11 with 31 points overall.
“It truly is an honor to be recognized for all the hard work by the staff and student-athletes to get things going in this direction,” said Bradford A.D. Sampson Jackson, who is also the head coach of the boys basketball team which won its first state title this past March. “Our area and state is filled with hard working programs and athletes and to finish among the top is a testament to our hard work.”
The Bradford girls finished ninth with 18.5 points, while the boys finished fifth with 25.25 points, which was narrowly behind No. 4 Hawthorne (25.50).
“As an athletic department, we all share the same vision and passion when it comes to success, there are things that have to happen and we understand that here,” Jackson said. “The success of our student-athletes as both students and athletes is what we pride ourselves on here at Bradford.”
Meanwhile, the Hornets finished 10th overall in 1A as the girls program contributed seven points to the Hawthorne boys’ fourth-place finish, giving them 32.25 points overall.
Two area boys programs placed inside the top five in Class 4A.
The Suwannee (Live Oak) boys finished fourth with 57.25 points, followed by Keystone Heights, which tied Lemon Bay (Englewood) for fifth with 53 points.
The Suwannee baseball team advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals this past spring, while Keystone Heights won its second straight weightlifting title.
The Suwannee girls tied for seventh with 41 points, helping lead the Bulldogs to a No. 5 finish overall.
Branford’s girls finished second in 1A (33.00) and Fort White (30.00) finished third. The Dixie County (Cross City) girls were sixth (26.00), while Bradford finished ninth.