- February 20, 2023
The last race of the day was a treat for local track and field fans who stayed to the end at the East Coast Classic on Feb. 25 at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
The Bulldogs’ boys 4x400 relay team won the event — FPC’s only win of the day — and sophomore D.J. Murray put on a show.
“He definitely opened up a big gap at the end,” FPC coach Dave Halliday said.
Murray, running the anchor leg, had a small lead when he was handed the baton. When he crossed the finish line, he was 15 to 20 meters ahead of the field.
“(D.J. Murray is) going to be pretty special in track and field. It was definitely an impressive day by a 15-year-old sophomore.”
DAVE HALLIDAY, FPC track and field coach
FPC’s time of 3:25.26 was more than four seconds faster than second-place Ponte Vedra (3:29.54). Murray ran a personal-record 49.2 seconds in the event.
“It was about tied up three ways (when he was handed the baton), and I just thought I got to get out and do this for my team,” Murray said.
The team didn’t even have its regular quartet. Isaiah Joseph, who was scheduled to run with the Bulldogs’ 4x400 “B” team, filled in for D’Zirath Steward, who was nursing a sore hip. Steward had placed in two events earlier in the day.
Vijay Weeden ran the first leg, followed by Brandon Kalasnik and Joseph. Each FPC runner handed the lead to the next in line.
“I got the lead, and I maintained it,” said Joseph, who handed the baton to Murray, and then became a spectator.
“As soon as I handed it off, I went straight to the (infield) grass,” Joseph said. “He was going super fast. I could do nothing but cheer him on. I’m so proud of my boy.”
Murray said the relay is his favorite event.
“I like running with my team, and knowing we have to work hard every day to get to states.”
Murray had a stellar day at the early-season meet that included about 900 athletes. He finished second in the 200 meters with a time of 22.62 seconds and sixth in the 100 with a time of 11.31 seconds.
“It was a PR day for him across the board,” Halliday said. “He’s going to be pretty special in track and field. It was definitely an impressive day by a 15-year-old sophomore.”
Murray helped the Bulldogs finish fourth in the boys team standings. The FPC girls finished seventh.
Murray was not the only Bulldog to have a big day. Joseph finished second in the 300 hurdles with a PR time of 41.18 seconds. And he finished third in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.26 seconds.
“I plan on going to state this year,” said the junior, who finished ninth at region last year to miss state by one spot. “I plan on hitting 38 (seconds in the 300) at least. I really want to drop my time.”
Kasey Wheatley finished third in the 800. Three other FPC runners placed in the 200 behind Murray: Steward fourth (22.83), Weeden seventh (23.19) and Kalasnik eighth (23.20). Kris Sager (12 feet, 1.5 inches) and Josh Terry (11 feet, 7.75 inches) placed fifth and sixth in the pole vault. Thomonte Curry was sixth in the 400 (52.03).
Among the FPC girls, Taylor Spann was third in the triple jump at 33 feet, 10.75 inches; and the 4x400 relay team of Fabiola LaPlante, Savannah O’Grady, Ma’Shuyn Jeffers and Summer Barnes finished fourth at 4:20.05.