Southridge ends recent title drought in girls’ track and field

Miami Southridge’s wait to return to the top of the mountain is over.

The Spartans are once again girls’ track and field state champions, ending a six-year drought in Saturday’s Class 4A finals that included a season shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and three runner-up finishes.

“We had a heartbreaker two years ago, and we’ve talked about the things we’ve got to do to get back,” Southridge coach Erin McCray said. “They are dedicated, put in all the effort that they’ve got and laid everything on the line. I’m just happy, especially for my seniors to send them out as state champs.”

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Southridge pulled away as the night wore on with its dominance and depth on the track, scoring double-digit point totals in five separate events.

Kentucky commit Cynteria James won the 400-meter dash, added top-three finishes in the 100 and 200 and anchored the victorious 4×400 relay team to close the evening. Junior Takiyah Ferguson lowered her best time in the inaugural 400 hurdles final, kicking into gear in the home stretch to win in 1:01.27.

“I stayed patient and ran my race because my last hit is going to do it every time,” Ferguson said. “It’s difficult (to stay patient), I’m not going to lie. But you’ve just got to trust in God and know you can run it.”

Cynteria James (3482) races in the girls 100-meter dash during the FHSAA Class 4A high school track and field championship in Jacksonville on May 20, 2023. [Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union] Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union

Southridge now has eight girls state championship trophies, moving into a tie with Palm Beach Lakes for fifth-most all-time, per FHSAA records. Miami Northwestern holds the all-time record with 19, adding to its haul by edging Dillard in Friday’s Class 3A finals on Friday.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ girls finished third overall, taking silvers in all three relays and scoring a full 10 points in the 800 courtesy of three-time champion Cha’iel Johnson. Unlike the last two years, there was no drama at the line for Johnson; she won by nearly four seconds (2:11.41).

“I felt like I left my mark at St. Thomas,” said the uncommitted senior, daughter of former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson. “I hope somebody else can do it and win three straight state titles.”

The Raiders settled for second in the boys standings behind Niceville, whose throwers combined for 38 of its meet-winning 65.5 points. Jason Olivera Jr. comfortably secured gold in the pole vault (4.65 meters), clearing the bar in four of his first five attempts. British Wilkerson and Anthony Herrera added silvers in the 400 and 800, respectively.

Goleman junior Lydia Kentis, the state’s top-ranked athlete in the girls discus, held off Riverview’s Susan Lowther for gold. Kentis’ first throw sailed 42.11 meters, ensuring victory in her eighth meet this spring.

Callia Harris completed a perfect high jumping season as the Flanagan junior cleared the bar on her first four attempts with a best mark of 1.67 meters to secure victory.

Piper’s Josiah Gaynor set a new personal-best in the long jump (7.17 meters), but was outdone by Flagler Palm Coast senior Gerod Tolbert (7.43). Defending state champion Shaddai Carter of Columbus placed fifth.


Team scores – Boys: 1. Niceville 65.5; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 48; 9. Columbus 19; Girls: 1. Southridge 77.5; 2. Lakeland George Jenkins 48; 3. St. Thomas Aquinas 43.5.

Boys’ individual winners plus top 8 Dade/Broward – 100: Christian Miller (Creekside) 10.31; 4. Durian Moss (Col) 10.64; 100 ambulatory: Seth Kavanagh (Calv) 11.54; 3. Kamari Graham (Hom) 12.09; 4. Giovanni Jones (CC) 12.29; 5. Tavares Washington (CC) 12.89; 6. Aaron Gold (GP) 14.54; 7. Amir Escolastico (BR) 16.14; 200: Christian Miller (Creekside) 20.57; 3. Tavius Horne Jr. (STA) 21.51; 200 ambulatory: Kamari Graham (Hom) 23.88; 2. Seth Kavanagh (Calv) 23.89; 4. Giovanni Jones (CC) 25.46; 5. Tavares Washington (CC) 25.97; 6. Nevian Brooks (Am) 27.38; 7. Amir Escolastico (BR) 33.86; 400: Valentino Rudolph (WO) 47.40; 2. British Wilkerson (STA) 47.73; 4. Adrian Cordero (Col) 48.21; 400 ambulatory: 1. Andreas Schultz (US) 56.01; 2. Giovanni Jones (CC) 58.30; 3. Nevian Brooks (AM) 1:05.45; 4. Adrian Delancy (CR) 1:09.00; 5. Shawn Hickman (Calv) 1:14.45; 6. Aaron Gold (GP) 1:20.48; 800: Miguel Pantojas (Hagerty) 1:50.30; 2. Anthony Herrera (STA) 1:51.82; 800 ambulatory: 1. Nevian Brooks (Am) 2:25.10; 2. Tavares Washington (CC) 2:25.21; 3. Adrian Delancy (CR) 2:37.91; 4. Justin Barber (Sun) 2:46.54; 6. Shawn Hickman (Calv) 3:00.88; 1600: Alex Pena (Sunlake) 4:07.97; 8. Ryan Sarafoglu (CR) 4:19.96; 3200: Matt Ryan (Nease) 9:07.41; 7. Shamar Henry (Flan) 9:20.11; 110 hurdles: Markel Jones (LM) 13.88; 7. Tristan Simmons (Mir) 14.40; 400 hurdles: Markel Jones (LM) 52.59; 7. Kahneil Budham (STA) 54.77; 400 relay: Seminole 40.86; 5. Columbus 41.45; 1600 relay: Seminole 3:14.51; 3. St. Thomas Aquinas 3:16.62; 4. Taravella 3:18.70; 7. Southridge 3:20.01; 3200 relay: Buchholz 7:48.92; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 7:49.79; 6. Braddock 7:54.62; 7. Flanagan 7:58.15; 8. Columbus 7:58.54; High jump: Adrain Rogers (Ridge Comm) 2.12m; 3. Christian Cabrera (Nova) 1.97m; Pole vault: Jason Olivera Jr. (STA) 4.65m; 5. Elijah Smith (Mir) 4.35m; Long jump: Gerod Tolbert (FPC) 7.43m; 2. Josiah Gaynor (Pip) 7.18m; 5. Shaddai Carter (Col) 7.01m; 8. Nikai McNee (Tar) 6.91m; Shot put ambulatory: Andreas Schultz (Univ) 9.53m; 2. Giovanni Jones (CC) 9.34m; 3. Kamari Graham (Hom) 9.31m; 4. Aaron Gold (GP) 9.22m; 6. Tavares Washington (CC) 6.60m; 7. Amir Escolastico (Br) 5.72m; 8. Shawn Hickman (Calv) 4.42m; Triple jump: Jaden Lippett (WH) 15.39m; 4. Jabari Lewis (SD) 14.27m; Javelin ambulatory: Kimari Graham (Hom) 28.50m; 2. Aaron Gold (GP) 24.14m; 4. Seth Kavanagh (Calv) 19.34m.

Girls’ individual winners plus top 8 Dade/Broward – 100: Rachael Uvieghara (PHU) 11.38; 3. Cynteria James (SR) 11.55; 5. Jade Brown (Tar) 11.62; 6. Somiyah Braggs (SR) 11.69; 200: Rachael Uvieghara (PHU) 23.22; 2. Cynteria James (SR) 23.69; 5. Somiyah Braggs (SR) 24.05; 6. Jade Brown (Tar) 24.36; 7. Hannah Taylor (STA) 24.39; 400: Cynteria James (SR) 53.75; 7. Somiyah Braggs (SR) 55.82; 8. Jaellene Burgess (CR) 55.86; 800: Cha’iel Johnson (STA) 2:11.41; 7. Amaya Pleas (SR) 2:17.42; 1600: Alyson Johnson (Creekside) 4:54.37; 8. Grace Finneran (STA) 5:08.80; 3200: Alyson Johnson (Creekside) 10:49.47; 8. Annabella Cardona (BR) 11:17.21; 100 hurdles: Chelsi Williams (GJ) 13.44; 8. Takiyah Ferguson (SR) 14.48; 400 hurdles: Takiyah Ferguson (SR) 1:01.27; 4. Infinity Thomas (Flan) 1:02.46; 7. Kendalle Sands (SR) 1:03.31; 8. Trinity Allen (Mir) 1:03.39; 400 relay: Southridge 46.42; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 46.86; 3. Taravella 47.23; 1600 relay: Southridge 3:45.38; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 3:46.11; 3200 relay: Niceville 9:17.19; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 9:23.01; 4. Southridge 9:30.75; 8. Braddock 9:36.52; High jump: Callia Harris (Flan) 1.67m; 6. Shanaii Gamble (SR) 1.57m; Pole vault: Kylie Neira (DeLand) 3.75m; 4. Camryn Givens (Pal) 3.45m; Long jump: Chelsi Williams (GJ) 5.94m; 7. Shanaii Gamble (SR) 5.51m; Shot put: Janiya Cesar (Riverview) 13.45m; 8. Lydia Kentis (Gol) 11.68m; Discus: Lydia Kentis (Gol) 42.11m; 3. Lauren Thomas (STA) 41.82m; Javelin: Selena Calix (PBG) 41.98m; 5. Azana Wooden (FTL) 36.57m.

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