Ridaught: Buchholz boys finish 5th, Eastside 6th at state track championships

Buchholz's Evan Fleming
Buchholz's Evan Fleming won the 800- and 1600-meter runs at the FHSAA Track & Field Class 4A State Championships on Saturday.
Photo by Patrick Douma

Last week at the FHSAA Track & Field state championships at Hodges Stadium on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, the area had a pair of top six team finishes and four individual state titles.

The top eight individuals in each event made the podium and several area athletes were represented.

On Saturday night, the Buchholz boys finished fifth overall in Class 4A with 27 points and just behind Chiles (Tallahassee) and Nease (Ponte Vedra), which tied for third with 30 points.

Columbus and Niceville tied for first with a total of 70 points apiece.

The Bobcats finished fifth in the state without University of Florida signee Riley Smith, who suffered an injury in early April.

The senior rewrote the record book in Florida running in the 3200-meter run at the Florida Relays with a nation-leading 8-minute, 39.71-second mark, breaking the old state record by five seconds.

“Riley may have added an additional 20 points subtracting four points from Evan (Fleming) making it a net of 16-point gain, which would have gotten us third,” said Buchholz distance runner coach Patrick Douma.

Senior Evan Fleming scored 20 points on his own by winning the 800-meter run (1:54 minute, 50 seconds) and 1600-meter races (4:14.96).

Fleming’s win in the 1600 was the first for a Buchholz boys athlete since 1983 and the 800 win was the first for a Buchholz boy since 1977.

Douma said the two races were only separated by 70 minutes, “so most of the time people don’t even try to get a win in both events.”

“His two state wins with just 70 minutes back-to-back is monstrous,” Douma said. “He had to sit in a cold tub for 15 minutes in between races as I noticed from the three prior days of the state meet that athletes were crashing in their second events…athletes that are well trained and normally wouldn’t have crashed. Evan accepted that we were going to reduce his core temperature to shivering in between events. That’s the definition of coachable since most athletes would balk at such drastic measures and ones that we had never taken before prior to this event.”

Douma said that trying something new on the big stage “is not a typical trait of an athlete.”

“But Evan is a gamer and understood we needed a different tool to get the job done,” he said. “His second event was only won by .19 seconds, so preparation details were important, to say the least.”

Fleming, who set a school record back in March that had stood for almost 50 years, committed to the University of Florida on the day before the races and will join Riley at UF, along with former teammate Emerson Miller who also runs distance at UF.

In the boys 3200, junior Gino Palazzolo (9:20.90) and sophomore Samuel Freas (9:25.93) finished fourth and seventh, respectively, giving the Bobcats seven more points to move them into fifth overall.

“Both of those guys getting in the top eight are very big for the future of our distance team,” Douma said. “They’re the core of our cross country team in the fall. Both Gino and Samuel ran tactically perfect races. Samuel made big race changes throughout the year getting a season’s best every single race and Gino has set himself up as one of the best incoming seniors in the state regardless of classification when it comes to cross country. He’s going to be an amazing leader next year.”

“Together those three distance runners carried the Buchholz boys team score of 27 points using just three of the 18 events and three runners to do so,” Douma said.

Junior Eleanor Whisler (11:06.55) and senior Maggie Whisler (11:06.64) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the girls 3200.

The Buchholz girls 4×800 relay team of Whisler, senior Lucy Voss, junior Ashley Hamilton and junior Kaitlyn Goslinga finished eighth with a time of 9:36.17.

On Thursday, the Eastside boys finished sixth overall in Class 2A.

The Rams just missed a top-five placement, finishing with a total of 32 points, behind No. 5 Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) with 35 and No. 4 Calvary Christian (Ft. Lauderdale) with 32.5 points.

Leading the way was FAMU signee Kennith Martin.

The senior took home the gold in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.57 and he was a state runner-up in the 200 (20.99).

Eastside senior Ta Joun Waldon finished fifth in the triple jump (13.58 meters/44 feet, 6¾ inches) and eighth in the long jump (6.70m/21′ 11¾), while senior Declan Odwyer finished seventh in the 1600 with a time of 4:22.97.

Senior Antoneo Wilson finished sixth in the 110 hurdles (14.87).

The Rams’ 4×400 relay team was sixth (3:22.38), while the 4×800 relay team finished eighth with a time of 8:14.52.

Suwannee (Live Oak) finished 13th with 17 points thanks to three top 10 finishes by senior Will Wainwright, while Bradford (Starke) finished in a tie for 16th with Godby (Tallahassee) with 15 points.

Wainwright was second in the javelin throw (59.12m/193′ 11″), third in the shot put (16.29m/53′ 5½”) and sixth in the discus throw (47.39m/155′ 5″).

Bradford senior Elijah Kellum took home the gold medal in the triple jump (13.96m/45′ 9¾”) and he finished fourth in long jump (6.90m/22′ 7¾”).

Santa Fe (Alachua) senior Terek Logan, who signed with South Alabama, was state runner-up in the pole vault with a mark of 4.80m (15′ 9″).

The Eastside girls finished just outside the top 20 at No. 22 with 10 points.

Senior Arielle Livingston, who signed with Chicago State University on Wednesday, finished fourth in the 100 hurdles (14.38) and sixth in the 400 hurdles (1:02.95).

Sophomore Tyesha Smith finished seventh in the triple jump (11.28m/37′ 0¼”).

Senior Hailey Tharp of Newberry finished 10th in the girls long jump (5.28m/17′ 4″), giving her three state top 10’s in three sports (seventh in weightlifting and she anchored the final four volleyball team).

In Class 1A, the Oak Hall girls finished at No. 12 with 21 points just behind No. 11 Master’s Academy (Oviedo) with 22 and No. 10 Indian Rocks Christian (Largo) with 24.

The 4×800 relay team of freshman Valeria Beaver, sophomore Estella Collante, senior Eliana Eisner and senior Mackenzie Klein won the state title with a time of 9:28.68

“Winning a 4x800m state championship was immensely gratifying,” said Oak Hall track and field coach Edwin McTureous. “It reflects the athletes’ dedication, hard work, and execution of race plans. It was a proud moment to celebrate with the girls the culmination of a season’s worth of effort and commitment.”

The 4×400 relay team of Beaver, Collante, Eisner and Klein finished eighth with a time of 4:04.11.

Klein placed in the top 10 in two events.

She finished fifth in the 1600 with a time of 5:09.91 and 10th in the 800 (2:21.97).

Her teammate, sophomore Estella Collante, was fourth in the 800 with a time of 2:15.73.

Senior Bella Dyrkolbotn also had a top 10 finish, placing eighth in the shot put (10.78m/35′ 4½”).

Senior Sri Lanka Richardson finished just outside the top 10 at No. 11 in both the 100 (12.89) and the long jump (5.09m/16′ 8.5″).

On the boys’ side, junior Dakota Brower finished fourth in the 400 (49.78), eighth in the 200 (22.43), and 11th in the 100 (11.16).

“Dakota is an outstanding track and field athlete who has made significant strides this season, setting school records in both the 400 and triple jump while medaling in three events at State this year,” McTureous said.

Junior Peter Peloso finished just outside the top eight at No. 9 in the 800 with a time of 1:58.07.

The 4×400 relay team of senior Quinten Dragstedt, junior Daniel Grow, Brower and junior Briggs Copeland finished sixth 3:27.38.

“I am proud of all of my athlete’s efforts at State,” McTureous said. “We gave everything we had.”

Senior Alissa Beckham of Cedar Key finished 12th in the javelin throw (29.68m/97′ 4″).

Sophomore Brodie Gill of Cedar Key finished ninth in the pole vault (3.75m/12′ 3½”), while junior teammate Sammy Cannon was 14th with a mark of 3.45m (11′ 3¾”).

Freshman Corbin Abarca of Bell finished seventh in the discus throw (43.47m/142′ 7″) and also finished 10th in the shot put (13.55m/44′ 5½”).

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