Mainland and Seabreeze track and field athletes gathered at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium on Saturday, May 19, for the Class 3A state championships. Both teams represented their schools by recording personal bests and bringing home multiple medals.
Thirteen Buccaneers qualified to compete at state, with eight bringing home medals in their events. Seven Seabreeze athletes also went to the meet and earned seven medals.
The Mainland boys climbed to the podium in five events: Jonathan Williams was second in 110 hurdles, Cameron Boatright was third in the 400 meters, Zion Noralus was third in high jump, the 4x400 relay team was seventh and Demond Noelien was seventh in discus.
Seabreeze athletes placed in four events: Zeli Hayworth and Chandler Mitzo were second and third in boys javelin, Mackenzie Roy was fourth in the girls 1,600 and the 4x800 relay team was fifth.
Mainland head track coach and athletic director Terrence Anthony said the Bucs are ready to build on their success for next year.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” he said. “These guys have worked their butts off all year. It’s a testament to the hard work that they have put in. There is more to come.”
Williams led Mainland with his runner-up finish, running a 14.31 in the 110-meter hurdles — a mere 0.19 seconds behind the winner. Teammate Emmanuel Israel finished ninth in the event, with Damarcus Creecy placing 11th in the 110 hurdles and 14th in the 400 hurdles. Coming into the meet, Williams tried to take it all in as a senior and embrace his last race with the Buccaneers.
“I tried to make it as fun as possible for them,” he said. “All day I had been anxious, ready and excited. It’s a great opportunity to be considered the best of the best. I had a mishap on the last hurdle that cost me the race. It’s just mental mistakes — got to go back to the drawing board and hopefully get a ride to college.”
He is looking at South Carolina State, but his options are still open. He vowed to keep watching his teammates from wherever he attends college.
“To all y’all boys, I love you all with everything in my heart,” Williams said. “I did this for you. I tried to make it the best experience for y’all. I tried to push you all to limits that you couldn’t even see yourself. I’m proud of you.”
It was great to be back at states and on the podium for the second year in a row. There’s always good competition, which helped me compete harder. Was hoping for first place, but happy to hit a PR third meet in a row and take the podium at second. I look forward to my senior year and making big progress. — Zeli Hayworth, Seabreeze javelin thrower
After stumbling out of the blocks, Boatright wrapped up the 400-meter dash in third with a 48.25. He also ran the anchor leg in the 4x400-meter relay, with Seth Sawyer, Logan Camara and Drayden Wood, finishing first in their heat and seventh overall in 3.21.47.
“It felt great running the anchor leg and making the top eight for medalists,” Boatright said. “Shout out to my teammates. We all dogs. We work hard.”
Noralus jumped to third place in the boys high jump event with 1.92 meters (6 feet, 3.5 inches) and Noelien finished seventh in discus with a 45.29-meter toss (148 feet, 7 inches).
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Noralus said. “I just treated it like a normal track meet. I was pretty happy. Making it to states is pretty hard — just getting here (is hard). I treat it as a normal day, but I do eat oatmeal in the morning before track meets.”
Seabreeze javelin throwers Hayworth and Mitzo, both juniors, finished second and third in the event following a season vying for the top spot. After a 57-meter first-place throw by Ponte Vedra’s Vincent Jackson, Hayworth launched a 55.14-meter personal best (180 feet, 11 inches) for the second spot on the podium. Last season, he went to the state meet with Flagler Palm Coast and finished eighth with a 51.15-meter throw.
“It was great to be back at states and on the podium for the second year in a row,” he said. “There’s always good competition, which helped me compete harder. Was hoping for first place, but happy to hit a PR third meet in a row and take the podium at second. I look forward to my senior year and making big progress.”
Mitzo threw 51.02 meters (167 feet, 5 inches).
Seabreeze's Mackenzie Roy ran the anchor leg in the girls 4x800 relay with teammates Nickole Dane, Kirsten Glaenzer and Arianna Roy. The team ran a season best time of 9:36.31 for fifth place with Dane, a senior, running a PR split. Their third runner, Arianna Roy, passed six people, and sister Mackenzie overtook one more runner to give the team fifth place.
“I’m just so grateful for them for always pushing themselves to do their best,” Mackenzie Roy said. “They’re the best teammates anyone could ever ask for.”
Mackenzie Roy placed fourth in the 1,600 with a time of 5:06.93.
Seabreeze coach Jenna Meyers-Sinett was proud of Roy’s performance. Meyers-Sinett said Roy trusted her race strategy and listened to the pointers given prior to the race. She was also excited to watch Hayworth have his best day ever at the state meet. She expressed pride in all of her athletes.
“I try to encourage an atmosphere of train hard, do your best and support one another, if the results aren’t there,” she said. “I see the athletes who went to states this year returning next year and am excited for the athletes’ futures in the sport. We have many athletes this year I know will be competing at the next level in college in the future, and I know they will be successful moving forward.”