SEBRING — Three Sebring athletes are making the trek to Jacksonville on Saturday with dreams of bringing back a state title.
Gary Demarest, Jordyn Blount, and Byron Cobb will represent the Blue Streaks at the Class 3A track and field meet at the University of North Florida.
Lake Placid’s Quiahja Williams, the only other athlete from Highlands County to quality for state, is competing in the Class 2A meet today for the Green Dragons. Williams, whose coaches believe she has a great shot to soar at the season’s biggest meet, advanced to state in the high jump (3rd, 4-feet, 10-inches) and the 100-meter dash (3rd, 12.82 seconds).
“She’s done really well throughout the season,” Lake Placid coach Scott Morgan said. “She’s got a shot to do really well.”
Demarest, who reached state last year in the discus throw, will be looking to make his senior trip to state a memorable one.
“If I can get above 165 (feet), I’ll be happy,” Demarest said, who routinely reached that distance during the season. Demarest qualified for state by finishing second in the discus throw at regionals, launching the disc 149-feet, 10-inches.
But everyone’s just hoping it won’t rain. Thunderstorms are forecasted to pound Northeast Florida this weekend, and the state meet is notorious for its refusal to reschedule events.
Last year, Streaks speedster Taylor Tubbs finished second at state in the 1600-meter event. Her extraordinary performance was marred by the post-run ceremony, when officials awarded her the second-place medal underneath the bleachers.
But Demarest has thrown in the rain before. He did it last year, and although he’s hoping the skies stay clear this weekend, he’s prepared for the worst.
“I know what it’s like to be on that big stage now,” Demarest said. “And last year was the first time I’d ever thrown in the rain, but now I’ve been working out in all conditions. If it’s not lightning, I’ll be out there throwing.”
Demarest added that he’s looking to impart some senior wisdom to his Streaks teammates, who will be making their first trip to state.
“If I can let them know what it’s going to be like to ease their nerves, I’m up for it,” he said.
For Blount, though, nerves shouldn’t be a problem. A multifaceted athlete, Blount competed in a myriad of events for the Streaks during the season. He was prolific in the high jump and long jump events, as well as distance events like the 4x100. Blount set a Sebring record at the regional meet in the long jump, where soared 22-feet, 11 1/2-inches.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” Blount said, who will compete in the long jump event. “And I don’t think the rain will really bother me. I’m just hoping to finish in the top eight and reach the podium. I think it will be a good experience and something to build on for state next year.”
Blount has a good chance at reaching podium, considering he’s seeded fourth, only inches behind No. 1 seed Dieondre Porter of Tampa Jefferson, who jumped 23-feet, 3-inches.
Cobb, meanwhile, came up just short in the hurdles at regionals. But he excelled in the pole vault event, topping 12-feet, 6-inches to punch his ticket to state.
One thing the trio can count on is that they have their coaches’ support.
“We wish our athletes the best of luck at state and we want them to know we’re proud of them,” Streaks coach Renee Crenshaw said.