By:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

Five regional champions headline a large contingent of Osceola County athletes that will compete in the FHSAA Class 3A (May 19) and Class 4A (May 20) track state championships on the North Florida University campus in Jacksonville next week.

That group will be led by Gateway sprinter Amela Johnson, who won both the 200-meter and 400 meter events at the Class 3A, Region 2 Championships at Davenport High School.  Johnson won the 200 with a 25.15 clocking and the 400 in 56.99.  She won the 200 by full half second over her closest competitor and was a full second faster in the 400.

Also gaining automatic qualifying status for the Panthers was the 4 x 400 Relay team of Darius Young, Kaleb Hill, John Pagan, and Lawson Chaponda, that finished second in that race.  Jose Calderon (4th- 400 meters) and Williams Martinez (5th – Pole Vault) were awaiting a report of Region 3 Results to see if they secured at-large spots in their event.

Osceola County’s other regional champions came at the Class 4A, Region 3 Championships at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach. Those champions included Harmony’s Drea Thompson, who won the girls’ high jump with a leap of 5’-1 ¾”; Osceola’s Shannon Levy who won the girls’ 100-meters (12.01) Tohopekaliga’s Johan Comacho who took the boy’s 3200-meters(9:36.62).

The top two finishers in each regional event automatically qualify for the state championship meet.  While up to 10 additional individuals (state wide, across four regions) could earn at-large spots in the state meet based on their performances at regionals.

Garnering automatic advancement to the state finals via second place finishes were Harmony’s 4 x 800 relay team of Byrnn Magner, Shelby Fertic, Rebekah Wiles and Lailana Decker; Toho’s Brianna Rodriguez in the girls’ Pole Vault (9’-4 ¼”), and Osceola’s 4 x 100 girls’ relay team of Quanaya Jenkins, Kadrea Varnado, Zanaya Bright and Levy (47.98).

At the 4A, Region 3 meet at Dwyer, several more county athletes gained at-large spots based on their finishes.  Those athletes included Toho’s Jevon Andrew-Brown and Osceola’s Jalen Bell in the triple jump; Harmony’s Decker ( girls’ 1600 meter run) and Alex Tuyo (400 hurdles); Kowboys’ 110-hurdles specialist Jordan Stynes and David Buggs (Discus), and St. Cloud’s Jahleek Lawrence in the high jump (3rd – 6’-3 ½”).

In the race for the regional team championship, Harmony girls’ squad had the top county placement with 33 points and a seventh place showing among the near 30 teams competing.  Olympia (93 points) won the girls’ title, Osceola (25) was tenth, St. Cloud (19) was 14th and Tohopekaliga (10) was 20th.  On the boys side, Vero Beach ran away with the team title with 101 points, Osceola (36) was ninth, Tohopekaliga (29) tenth, Harmony (26) twelfth, and St. Cloud (12) 20th.

Celebration and Poinciana competed in the Class 4A, Region 2 Championships at Sumner HS in Riverview.   State power George Jenkins ran away with both the boys and girls championships; while Celebration was a distant 29th in the boys’ team chase and 22nd in the girls’ team standings. 

The only individual advancing to the state meet from that regional was Storm senior Catalina Edwards, whose fourth place finish in the girls’ 1600 meters in 5:11.61 earned her an at-large bid and overall sixth seed in the state meet.   Both Storm boys’ (Alex DelPuerto, Evan Amaya, James Cooper, Justin Quispe) and girls’ (Hailee Schadt, Sophia Meadows, Ayla Moffit, and Gabriella DeCesare) 4 x 800 meter relay teams also advance as at-large participants.