SEBRING Four members of the Sebring track and field team will be making the long trek to Jacksonville for Friday’s Class 3A state track and field meet, where they’ll run into the best athletes the state has to offer.
The state meet is definitely approaching at the right time for junior discus thrower Gary Demarest. Demarest entered the district meet with a personal best of 137 feet and claimed the district title with a throw of 146-10 1/2 feet and followed that up with a throw of 154-9 to win the regional title.
“I’m just working hard,” Demarest said. “Right now I’m seeded eighth at state. It’s my first year going to state and I’m hoping to at least place.”
This is just Demarest’s second season competing in track and field, making a trip to state even that much more of an impressive accomplishment.
He has worked quite a bit on his technique, which he said was the key to the event.
“It’s mainly the release, if your release isn’t right you can lose so much distance,” he said. “You can mess up and lose 20 feet on a throw.”
Demarest said there’s a certain feeling when everything comes together and you know you’ve made a good throw.
“The throw that was 154 feet, it felt perfect,” he said. “I was balanced and it came out of my hand beautifully.”
Brian Dixon will compete in the 200-meters and will be entered in the first preliminary heat. The top three finishers in each of the preliminary heats, along with the next three fastest times advance to finals.
Dixon’s regional time of 22.05 would have him seeded No. 13, but anything can happen in an event where most runners are separated by a few tenths of a second.
Taylor Tubbs will be making her final appearance at the state meet, as the senior is set to take her talents to Gainesville next year to compete for the Gators. She placed seventh at state in the 1,600 last year and will definitely be looking for bigger and better things in both the 800 and the 1,600.
Tubbs will be seeded No. 3 in the 1,600 with a time of 2:15.18, but has managed to do whatever it takes to win this season.
Her toughest competition could very well come from Kristin Zarrella, of Lakewood Ranch, and Naples’ Danielle Avery, both of whom are entering the meet after finishing under 2:15 at regionals.
Tubbs enters with the best mark in the 1,600, having run 5:03.69 at regionals, and has established herself as one of the best high school mile runners in the country.
The schedule isn’t kind to Tubbs, as the 1,600 begins at 6:47 p.m. and her heat in the 800 takes place at 7:39 p.m., giving her less than hour to rest up after the mile.
Kiley Blake Fort is making her second straight appearance at the state meet in the pole vault. The senior is seeded No. 15 with a height of 8-feet-6 inches, but has shown she can clear much higher heights, as was evidenced at last year’s state meet when she placed eight with a mark of 10-6.