Westminster Academy long sprint standouts Andrew “White Lightning” James and Brandon “Thunder” Bejarano are poised to take the Class 1A state track finals by storm Friday.
James, a sophomore, and Bejarano share an electrifying kick, which earned catchy nicknames and vaulted them into state gold medal contention.
“Andrew and I joke all the time about jumping into each other’s races and breaking each other’s records,” Bejarano said. “Whenever I drop down to the 400, I fall down the last two meters. So maybe I should be known as Mr. 398 instead.”
All kidding aside, James and Bejarano could be in for a medal haul at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
James is the No. 1 seed in the 200 (21.82) and 400 (48.22), and is the pivotal leg on a 1,600-meter relay team in the gold-medal mix.
Bejarano broke the school’s 800-meter record, which had stood for 28 years, and he also has a shot to medal in the 1,600.
The state finals is a dream deferred for James, who has bounced back from a torn MCL and botched appendectomy surgery that wiped out his freshman season to take his place among the sprint elite.
James is undefeated this season and on pace for a stated goal of owning 10 school records before he graduates. James already has set the school mark in the 200 and 400 and tied the 100 time (11.05).
“This is humbling to come off an injury and the other stuff I had to go through and be undefeated,” James said. “In my first race, I knew I was in it to win it. It’s just a blessing to make it to states. It would mean everything if I could win the 200 and the 400.”
James and Bejarano share a devastating kick that gives them an edge if either are tied or ahead with 200 meters left.
James, in particular, runs with an aggressive style that has made him a crowd favorite and lifted him to personal bests (21.82 and a Florida No. 10 48.22 in the 400) at the District 15-1A championships.
“I attack every race,” James said. “Once I hit that second gear, it’s another level. You just have to approach it aggressively. Other runners are not used to that toughness and that physical act that you have.”
Bejarano’s best bet for a state title comes in the 800, although it will require him getting through a grueling 1,600 meters first.
“The 800 is not a mid-distance any more,” Bejarano said. “It’s pretty much a long sprint. The key for me will be to get out strong. It’s going to be a mental thing. I have to believe in myself and push.”
Coral Glades announced the hiring of former NFL player Tony Beckham as its new football coach. Beckham, a former Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions defensive back, replaces Jeff Mathis, who resigned in January after a 3-21 record. Beckham was an assistant coach at Fort Pierce Westwood and at Whites Creek High School in Tennessee, as well as defensive backs coach at Tennessee State University.
• Region 4-8A quarterfinal — American 8, Coral Gables 4: After winning 20 of its 22 games during the season, American could have panicked after the Patriots fell behind Coral Gables in the fourth inning of their Region 4-8A quarterfinal.
But Michelle Murch would have none of it. The American first baseman walked up to the plate with the bases loaded in the last of the fourth and drilled a line shot to the center-field fence for a bases-clearing triple to give her team a 5-4 lead and the Patriots pulled away from there, defeating Gables at American High School.
American (21-2) will play at Goleman High School on April 30 for a regional semifinal and be looking for its first berth in the regional finals.
WP: A. Rincon LP: C. Falcon Top performers: M. Murch 2-4, 3 RBI. S. Benitez 2-3, 2 RBI. Catie Falcon 3-4, RBI. Cat Ruggiano 2-4
• Region 4-4A quarterfinal — Key West 4, Doral Academy 3: Key West advanced over Doral Academy in extra innings in the Region 4-4A quarterfinal.
In the top of the seventh, Raquel Schoneck led off the inning with a triple and was driven in by Lauren Schoneck.
Doral Academy was led by senior shortstop Kathleen Acevedo. Acevedo is a two-time All Dade player and holds Doral Academy’s record for most all-time steals.
WP: Desi Laguna. LP: Jenny Acevedo.
• Region 4-8A quarterfinal — Goleman 6, Hialeah Gardens 0: Pitcher Vicky Morales allowed the Gladiators (14-6) three hits in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal win at Goleman. With the win, the Gators (17-8) will face American in the 4-8A semifinal.
After scoring its first run in the second inning, Goleman scored three runs in the third. Right fielder Jessi Costero scored the second run of the inning on a double and the third run came on a wild pitch.
Morales gave up two hits in the first inning, but retired the next 15 batters she faced. She finished the game with five strikeouts. Morales is 11-3 this season.
WP:Vicky Morales. LP: Kristina Vega. Top Performers: Mel Costero 1-2, 2 RBI. Jessi Costero 2-3, double, RBI. Vicky Morales 2-3, run, 5 K.
• Cardinal Gibbons d. Everglades 25-11, 25-12, 25-22: Dylan Hall 9 kills, 2 assists, 5 service points, 12 digs, 2 blocks, 3 aces. Corry Short 12 kills, 7 service points, 13 digs, 2 blocks, 3 aces. Brandon Veliky 8 kills, 12 assists, 4 service points, 5 digs, 2 blocks. CG 18-2
District 12-8A final at Flanagan: Cypress Bay vs. Flanagan, 7
District 16-7A final at St. Thomas Aquinas: Nova vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 7
District 15-6A final at Archbishop McCarthy: Hollywood Hills-Pines Charter winner vs. Archbishop McCarthy-Fort Lauderdale winner, 7
TRACK AND FIELD
Class 1A state meet at University of North Florida -
BOYS’ WATER POLO
State tournament at Ransom Everglades - Quarterfinals: Cooper City vs. Orlando Olympia, 6; St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Gulliver, 7:30
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
State tournament at Ransom Everglades - Quarterfinals: Westminster Academy vs. Winter Park, noon
Lake Worth Park Vista at Cardinal Gibbons, 4:30
Second round state play-in: St. Thomas Aquinas at Columbus, 3
Second round state play-in: Boca St. Andrews at Pine Crest, 5
Second round state play-in: South Plantation at St. Thomas Aquinas, 5
TRACK AND FIELD
Class 2A state meet at University of North Florida -
State tournament at Ransom Everglades - Girls’ semifinals: 9 and 10:30 a.m.; Boys’ semifinals: noon and 1:30; Girls’ final: 4; Boys’ final: 6
State play-in first round: Piper-Plantation winner at Coconut Creek-Taravella winner, TBA
State play-in first round: Hollywood Hills-Stranahan winner at Miramar, TBA
State play-in first round: Delray Beach Atlantic at Deerfield Beach, 4
State play-in first round: Everglades-Archbishop McCarthy at Monsignor Pace, 4