By:  J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola 

The FHSAA Track and Field State Championships were held over the weekend and Gateway’s  Jose Calderon was the only athlete from Osceola County to earn All-State honors; while St. Cloud’s Sofia Houser just missed the honor by one place.

Calderon, a junior, competed in the 400 meter dash in the Class 3A meet that was held on Friday.  He ran the event in 48.99 to place seventh overall to place in the top eight, score team points and earn all-state designation.

Calderon just missed out on a sixth place finish by 3/100th of a second. Miami Northwestern’s Tywan Cox won the event in 46.83.  

“Considering this is just Jose’s second year running track, I thought he had an excellent season and a great state meet,” Panthers head coach Tane Crossley said.  “His personal goal is to break 47 next year, which could put him in the top three at states.  He is such a good athlete, that goal is obtainable”

Crossley noted that Calderon has had to overcome adversity to become a standout athlete.  “His family came here as political refugees from Venezuela and had to assimilate.   From the moment I saw him on the soccer field, I knew he could also excel in track but it took me two years to convince him to try track.”

In the 4A Meet on Saturday, St. Cloud senior pole vaulter Sophia Houser just missed joining Calderon as an all-state finisher – placing one spot off the medal stand. She cleared 10’-4” to finish in ninth place.  

Overall, Osceola County sent 14 athletes to the state championship finals.  Senior Aniyah Radcliff from Gateway qualified for the 3A finals in both the long jump and triple jump, where she finished 17th in the long jump (15’-7 ½”) and 13th in the triple jump (35’-8 ½”).  Gateway had two other qualifiers for the 3A State Championship as Levi Hill placed 18th in the 110-meter hurdles (15.30) and Dalton Gould was 18th in the pole vault (11’-3 ¾”).

In the 4A meet on Saturday, Aaliyah Strachen from Osceola High was the only county athlete to qualify in three different events.  She finished 17th in the long jump (15’-2 ¾”), 14th in the triple jump (36’-4 ¼”) and joined Cheyene Price, Mia Gonzalez, and Norlena Forde on the 4 x 400 relay that placed 16th in 4:11.21.

St.Cloud had three other qualifiers.  Hannah Kline finished 11th in the girls’ high jump (4’-11 ¾”); while Jahleek Lawrence and Abisai Ramos-Cotto  tied for 12th in the boys’ high jump – clearing 6’-1 ½”.  Tohopekaliga also had a high jumper qualify, with Sanaa Charles placing 10th in girls’ high jump at 5’-1 ¾”.  Charles should have ample opportunity to improve on that status as she qualified for the state championships as a sophomore.

Harmony sent a regional champion in the javelin and a pair of pole vaulters to the state meet. Junior Ivaniel Ramos won his Region 3 meet in the javelin last week and ended up placing 14th in the state championship with a throw of 154’-4”.  Mason Shaffer, another junior, placed 14th in the boys pole vault (12’-3 ½”); while Kacey Sinagoga was 16th in the girl’s event (9’-10”).

In the team championship race, American Heritage was the 3A Boys’ title (76) points; while Dillard (76) barely edged Miami Northwestern (73.5) for the Girls’ 3A title.  Teams from opposite ends of the state, Miami Columbus and Niceville share the Boys’ 4A title with 70 points each.  Creekside (84.5) was the Girls’ 4A Team Champion; while nearby George Jenkins (Lakeland finished 4th (41 points).