Booker T. Washington, Northwestern, Central and Jackson all have several things in common in boys’ track and field.
All four schools have won state championships.
All are still strong contenders to win another this season.
And all have on-campus tracks to develop their stars.
There is a new school hoping to join those ranks that has had to take a tougher road to contention.
Fresh off its first regional championship last season, American returns a boys’ squad with plenty of potential to make a run at a state championship in Class 4A.
But the Patriots have developed over the past four years without an on-campus track or jump pits.
Instead, American coach Enrico Knowles’ squad travels to nearby tracks, parks or schools so his kids can train.
“We often go places nearby, or schools like Dade Christian are really good to us and let us use the high jump pits there to practice,” said Knowles, an American alumnus who ran track at the University of Mississippi. “I train my kids not to give excuses. They don’t complain and just go and make it happen.”
That “grind” has produced two high jump state champions in recent years at American. The first was Willie Bromell, who is now at Florida A&M University.
Christian Williams, a returning senior, became the second last season after jumping a height of 6-6 at the Class 4A state meet.
Williams, also a solid long jumper, leads American’s field event contingent, along with senior triple-jumper Wisdom Offor. But the Patriots should be strong again on the track as well
Junior Ari Cogdell, a regional champion in the 400 meters, is back along with juniors Kevin Turner, Kareem Bullard and senior Darius Fortune. Senior Ed Crouch will run the 100 meters, and senior Tristan Enriquez will run distance.
American should be particularly strong in the 800 meters with the addition of Yohance Haynes, a transfer from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, and Dawun Hilton, a transfer from Pace.
American only has won two state championships in the school’s history — girls’ basketball (1982) and boys’ soccer (1999).
“It would be something unheard of at this school especially the way we’d be able to do it,” Knowles said. “We want to show how hard we had to work to get to this point.”
Fresh off its national championship in football, Booker T. Washington is the top-ranked team in Miami-Dade County and the favorite to win the boys’ Class 2A title this season.
A year after coming up one point short of the championship to St. Petersburg Lakewood, the Tornadoes bring back nearly all of their track stars, who were also once again vital to the football team’s success.
Seniors Deltron Hopkins, Krondis Larry, Nigel Bethel and Terrawn McPhee are all title contenders in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, as well as the speed relays.
Junior Vaquan Small and senior Damas Petit are strong in the 800 meters and the mile, respectively, and should give the Tornadoes an overall strong team that can contend with anyone statewide when the finals begin.
Bulls are back
Led by senior thrower Lloydricia Cameron, a defending state champion in the shot put and discus, Northwestern is are favored to once again top the podium at the Class 3A meet.
If the Bulls win, it would be their sixth state title in a row and 11th overall, which would give them the most of any program in the state if Belle Glade Glades Central doesn’t also win its 11th this season.