The bar keeps getting set higher for Don Chaney Jr.
And despite only being a freshman, he continues to clear it with ease.
Chaney jumped a height of 6-feet, 8-inches on Friday night at IMG Academy to win his first state track and field title in the Class 3A high jump.
But it’s Chaney’s quick rise in both track and field and on the football field that have been the most impressive since he’s only a freshman.
"My coach is always telling me you have an opportunity whether you are a freshman or not," Chaney said. "My dad always tells me just play the ball game and focus on what you have to do to stay on top."
Chaney’s coach and dad are one in the same.
His father, Don Chaney Sr., an assistant coach at Belen, looked on proudly as his son became one of three Dade or Broward boys’ athletes to win state titles on Friday on the first day of the state championships.
Chaney led Belen Jesuit to a district football championship this past fall.
He starred at six positions, returning punts and kicks, playing safety and corner on defense as well as running back and wide receiver on offense.
Chaney already has a handful of FBS scholarship offers including ones from the University of Miami, FAU and South Carolina.
“My dad and my mom, my entire family have helped me achieve this,” Chaney said. "I’m just blessed to have them.”
Calvary Christian’s Danny Ferro crossed the finish line and collapsed, but was elated after winning his first state title in the 800 meters.
Ferro’s victory followed a successful cross-country season in which he secured a fifth-place finish at state in Class 2A. Ferro had the county’s fastest time overall that day when he ran 15:45.36.
“I knew everyone that started the race was going to go crazy fast,” Ferro said. “I was just trying to do my splits the way my coach told me so I was pretty much right on it.”
Ferro is also competing in the 1,600 meters on Saturday. Last season, he placed third in the event.
Broward County’s first boys’ state champion Friday emerged in the Class 1A long jump when Coral Springs Christian senior Owayne Haughton won the event with a jump of 22-11¾.
Haughton became the first state champion for the Crusaders since Noah Thompson in 2007.
Miramar put itself in position to win its first state team title going into Saturday’s finals after its trio of runners –— Terrence Horne Jr., Taylor Banks and Jamal Walton — each finished in the top four in the prelims of the 100- and 200-meter races. Horne edged Banks in the 100 by six thousandths of a second.
Columbus, another challenger for the Class 4A crown, picked up eight points from Deshay Fernandes’ runner-up finish in the 800 meters and its 400-meter relay is the top seed heading into the finals. Tyler Harrell also qualified in both the 100 and 200 meters.
American Heritage’s top two runners — Tyson Campbell and Anthony Schwartz — finished first and second respectively in the Class 2A 100 and 200.
The top seed in the 400 meters in all four classifications is a runner from Dade or Broward.
Norland’s Tyrese Cooper, who dealt with a hamstring injury at the end of last week’s regionals, posted impressive times in the prelims. Cooper ran a 10.63 in the 100, 20.62 in the 200 and 46.29 in the 400 meters to qualify as the top seed in each.
Heritage had a couple of errant exchanges in the 400-meter relay, causing their runners to finish the race in ninth place in 43.08 seconds and miss qualifying for the finals. Aquinas’ 400 relay team was disqualified after running out of its zone during the race.
Northeast’s Damione Thomas, Broward County’s record holder in the 110 hurdles, advanced as the top seed in that event in 14.01 seconds.
Northwestern’s Thomas Burns ran a time of 36.65 in 300 hurdles prelim to advance as the top seed.
Team standings – Class 4A: 1. Lakewood Ranch 14; 2. Buchholz and Colonial 10; 4. St. Thomas Aquinas, Columbus and Lake Mary 8; Class 3A: 1. Sebastian River 30, 2. Creekside 26; 3. Chiles 17; 4. Auburndale 13; 5. Boyd Anderson 11; Class 2A: 1. Jacksonville Bolles 21; 2. American Heritage 14; 3. Mulberry, Calvary Christian, Lincoln Park, Citrus 10; Class 1A: 1. Mount Dora 26; 2. Indian Rocks Christian 20; 3. Westminster Academy 17; 4. King’s Academy 14; 5. St. Stephen’s and Canterbury 12.
Individual results (winner plus top 8 Dade/Broward) - Class 4A – Long jump: 1. Nyron Tate (Colonial) 23-8¾; 5. Caleb Okwaraji (MIR) 22-1½; 800: 1. John Rivera (Lakewood Ranch) 1:53.16; 2. Deshay Fernandes (COL) 1:55.04; 6. Michel Normil (Taravella) 1:58.61; High jump: 1. Jaasiel Torres (Sarasota) 6-8¾; 2. Brian Edwards (Miramar) 6-3½; 8. Andre Foster (Southridge) 6-1½; 3200: 1. Calum McFetridge (Buchholz) 9:29.39; 2. Nicholas Rischar (STA) 9:33.74; 6. Guillermo Rojas (Ferguson) 9:40.08; 8. Cavan Wilson (Coral Gables) 9:45.44.
Class 3A – Long jump: 1. Queshun Watson (Sebastian River) 23-11; 2. Avery Thornton (BA) 23-1/2; 6. Tard Smith (BA) 22-3½; 8. Tayondric Crowder (Ely) 22-1¾; Shot put: 1. Jarez Parks (Sebastian River) 17.70; 800: 1. Joseph Storey (Creekside) 1:53.26; 4. Tyree Simeon (NE) 1:54.40; Discus: 1. Jarez Parks (Sebastian River) 210-5; 5. Bethal Miles (NE) 161-6; High jump: 1. Don Chaney, Jr. (Bel) 6-8; 3. Divaad Wilson (NW) 6-2; 6. Tard Smith (BA) 6-2; 8. James Harris (Ely) 6-0; 3200: 1. Matthew Clark (Creekside) 9:21.34; 4. Joshua Collins (Bel) 9:32.34; 7. Sebastian Roa (Bel) 9:37.61.
Class 2A – Long jump: 1. Arian Smith (Mulberry) 7.19m; 3. Dyllion Lester (AH) 6.78; 800: 1. Danny Ferro (Calvary) 1:54.07; 2. Jose Penalver (AH) 1:55.79; 3. Zaemione Jones (HAL) 1:55.85; High jump: 1. Israel Diaz (Citrus) 6-6¾; Pole vault: Noah Mumme (Satellite) 15-4¼; 5. Alejandro Plate (AM) 14-4½; 6. James Nutt (CG) 13-4½; 3200: 1. Caleb Pottroff (Lincoln Park) 9:13.39; 6. Will Shine (AM) 9:35.20.
Class 1A – Long jump: 1. Owayne Haughton (Coral Springs Christian) 7.00; Shot put: 1. James Thorpe (Indian Rocks) 16.73; 4. Nicholas Sharpe (WA) 14.18; High jump: 1. Berrick Jean Louis (Canterbury) 6-8¾; 800: 1. Justin Bridgewater (TKA) 1:55.11; 3. Patrick Sastre (WA) 1:58.14; 6. Saahr Edouard (WA) 2:00.43; Discus: 1. Jesiah Pierre (Mount Dora) 155-4; 6. Nicholas Sharpe (WA) 136-10; Pole vault: 1. Kane Aldrich (Community) 14-5¼; 7. Kyle Coulson (HC) 11-11¾; 3200: 1. Austin Montini (Oak Hall) 9:47.55; 6. Ryan Szklany (HC) 9:51.92.