Dan PearsonBy:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

Harmony High School took a big step towards defending their 2020-21 Orange Belt Conference All-Sports trophy on Wednesday as both their girls and boys track teams captured OBC championship titles.  The Longhorns, who are locked in a close race with Celebration for top overall athletic program, saw both their boys and girls track and field teams roll to impressive wins at St. Cloud High School.

The Longhorn girls won five events to post a team score of 191, easily out-distancing St. Cloud 112.5.   Celebration (111) was third and Osceola (99) placed fourth; while the Harmony boys posted a 176.50 team score to slip by a sterling effort from a Tohopekaliga team, who came in second at 155.  Celebration (88) was third followed by Osceola (78.5). 

“No real surprises, we came in with some goals and we accomplished them,” Harmony girls coach Adam Kern said.  “The county (OBC) championship is a big deal to our kids and we were thrilled to defend our title.”   

Debra Richardson, the Harmony’s boys coach, echoed the sentiments.  “We had some injuries heading into the meet, so it was probably closer than we thought it would be.  But the bottom line is the guys we had out there did a great job and took care of business.  Hopefully we’ll get some of our injured guys back for districts next week.”

Harmony was led by Lailana Decker, who won the 3200 meter run and also ran a winning leg on the 4 x 800 relay.  Thora Gaston set a new Orange Belt Conference record in the javelin with a throw of 35.68 meters.

Other winners for Harmony included Drea Thompson in the high jump (1.57 meters), Elizabeth Hernstrom in the pole vault (3.05 meters), and Hannah Vickers in the triple jump (9.71).  It was a clean sweep for Harmony in that event, as Vanelis Ramos was second and Hallie Vickers finished third.  Harmony’s 4 x 800 relay team of Shelby Fertic, Lailana Decker, Rebekah Wiles, and Brynn Maher also won that event in 10:23.82.

Harmony boys’ were challenged by Tohopekaliga but ended up 21 ½ points ahead of upstart Tohopekaliga in defending their OBC crown.  Isaiah Oquendo had a huge meet, winning the 100 and 200 meter dashes and also running a winning leg on the 4 x 100 meter relay.  Joining Oquendo in the 4-by- 100 meter relay was Wathson Cherancy,  Alex Tuyo, and football star Tyler Emans.  Tyson Job won the 110-meter hurdles and the triple jump; while Tuyo led a 1-2-3 Harmony sweep in the 300-meter hurdles.

The Tigers put up a valiant effort against the Longhorns.  Orlando Descartes won the high jump and then set OBC and county records in the javelin (48.76 meters).  Toho also swept the pole vault with Peter DeAlmeda winning at 3.53 meters, followed by Angel Mendoza (3.23), and Orlando Descartes (3.23).

Behind distance specialists Julian Pomales, Johan Comacho, and Zeniel Lizardo – the Tigers went 1-2-3 in the 1600-meter run.  Pete Rodriquez, who has also qualified for the FHSAA State Weightlifting Championship next week, won the shot put at the OBC meet.

“Our athletes and coaches deserve all the credit,” Tohopekaliga coach Matt Fenn said.  “We had some outstanding performances by our distance guys and Orlando was fantastic in high jump, javelin and pole vault.  It was a great effort all the way around by everyone for a second place team finish.”

Celebration senior Jared Falchook added to his impressive resume with three wins – taking the 400-meter and 3200-meter runs and running a leg on the winning 4 x 400 relay, where he joined Evan Amaya, Oniel Senatus, and Gabriel Merino in victory lane with a time of 3:27.64.  Cooper James also took a first for the Storm in the 800 meters.

Other OBC boys track champions included Liberty’s Hakeem Alvena in the long jump (6.09 meters) , Osceola’s Jimarion McCrimon in the discus, and the Gateway 4 x 800 relay team of Luis Alberto-Gonzalez, Jovanni Matos, Aarron Campbel, and Eli Azize.

On the girls’ side Celebration got impressive performances from Helena Huyke and Catalina Edwards.  Huyke won three individual events – winning the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and taking the long jump; while Edwards doubled in the 800 and 1600-meter runs.

Gateway also had a pair of double winners as Paige Alise won the discus and shot; while Amela Johnson won the 400 and 800.  Alise also took second in the javelin, accounting for 28 of Gateway’s 64 team points.

Osceola’s Shannon Levy was the 100-meters champion.  The Kowboys also won the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays.  Levy was joined by Quayana Jenkins, Aailiyah Strachen and Zanayah Bright on the 4 x 100; while Bright, Strachen, Jenkins, and Tatina George formed the victorious 4 x 400 team.

All eight county teams will participate in their respective district meets next weekend.

In a poignant moment at the conclusion of the meet, Tohopekaliga requested permission to run a ceremonial 4 x 400 meter relay in honor of 2020-21 graduate Stephanie Davis, a former Tiger soccer and track star who died Sunday in a one-car accident.  Three members of the Tigers track team who set a school record with Davis last spring were going to run a race in her honor with the fourth leg being run by the both the girls and boys track teams from Tohopekaliga.  But when the third runner came down the home stretch, athletes and coaches from all eight schools joined in —  running the final lap in memory of Davis.