American’s boys and Killian’s girls had never known what it was like to head to the state track and field meet as a regional champion.
Solid collective efforts from both squads changed that Wednesday night at Traz Powell Stadium as each collected their first-ever regional team championships by winning the boys’ and girls’ Region 4-4A meet.
American’s boys capped the night by winning the 1,600-meter relay as the quartet of sophomores Ari Cogdell, Kevin Turner, Kareem Bullard and junior Darius Fortune ran a time of 3:23.79. The win was one of several key performances that helped the Patriots post 101 points, ahead of runner-up Columbus (90 points) and third-place Ferguson (85).
Cogdell also won the 400 meters and Christian Williams opened the day strong for American with a win in the high jump. Senior Jawill Davis also finished second in the 100 and 200.
“This feels great because we worked hard and didn’t take any days off,” Cogdell said.
“We’re building a future for American as a track team and making sure other kids get excited about the sport at the school and want to be a part of it.”
The Patriots, who have only two seniors on the team, have gradually improved in spite of having to train without an on-campus track. American coach Enrico Knowles said the team only gets to train on a nearby track once a week, but does the rest of its workouts on the school’s grass field.
“These kids’ confidence has grown and they’ve believed they can achieve this,” Knowles said.
Killian’s girls also needed to gradually gel this season as coach Crystal Jenkins’ squad had to blend youth with experience.
Star senior Ebony Morrison, who transferred from Southridge before the season, led the Cougars by winning the 100 hurdles and the long jump, and finishing second in the 100 meters.
“This is history for us,” Morrison said. “I’m proud and happy for all of these girls because we train six of the seven days of the week and we’re so grateful to our coaches.”
Teammate Brianna Payne won the 300 hurdles while Reanna Payne finished second and wound up third in the 100 hurdles. Dominique Bullock also did well finishing second in the 100, 400 and third in the 200.
Jenkins was also proud of two of her freshmen — Quest Bolton (discus) and Tenka Stringer (800).
South Dade’s Barbra Vilson had the most individual victories of the event.
Vilson won the high jump and triple-jump early on and then followed up with a victory in the 400 meters.
Southridge’s N’Jea Bellamy continued to dominate the 100 and 200 meter sprints with solid runs of 11.70 and 23.85 respectively.
On the boys’ side, Columbus’ freshman Amir Rasul continues to impress. Rasul won the 100 and 200 meters in 10.72 and 21.57. Southridge’s Chris Prophet once again swept the 110 and 300 hurdles.
Girls’ team scores: 1. Killian 115; 2. Ferguson 108; 3. Southridge 84; 4. South Dade and Lourdes 82; 6. Dr. Krop 49; 7. American 45; 8. Coral Reef 32; 9. North Miami 12; 10. Coral Gables 11; 11. North Miami Beach and Reagan 8; 13. South Miami 7; 14. Varela, Coral Park and Southwest 5; 17. Miami Beach 2.
Boys’ team scores: 1. American 101; 2. Columbus 90; 3. Ferguson 85; 4. Southridge 70; 5. South Dade 55; 6. Sunset 46; 7. Coral Park 45; 8. Coral Reef and Killian 37; 10. Dr. Krop 36.5; 11. Coral Gables and Varela 17; 13. Southwest 5.5; 14. North Miami 5; 15. Braddock, North Miami Beach and Palmetto 3; 18. Miami High 2.