University of Florida

UF-bound Robin Reynolds still standing out at Northwest Express Track Classic

Robin Reynolds did a leap of joy Thursday as she graduated from Miami Jackson High.

On Friday, Reynolds was doing a different leap.

She was leaping into a wet, soggy sand pit to become the early top female qualifier in the long jump at the 37th Annual Northwest Express Track and Field Classic with a jump of 19 feet 6 inches. The sand became soggy and hard as the meet went on after a delayed start because of weather and was interrupted several more times by the inclement conditions.

The meet had sentimental meaning to Reynolds, 18. She will be wearing the Northwest Express Track Club uniform much less in the future. Instead, she will be wearing a Florida Gator uniform.

That doesn’t mean she won’t still be connected to the track club that has been a big part of her life.

“I plan to come back here to the track team to help out,” Reynolds said. “I want to be a part of it. This is where my foundation was built. I’ve been running for this team and coach Jesse Holt since I was 7.

“That’s why it got to me,” she continued. “I won’t forget where I came from.”

Although she was in high-quality form for the long jump, that’s not her best event by no means. She is thought to have Olympic potential, particularly in the 400 meters. She will not compete in this year’s London Olympics, opting instead for the World Juniors in Barcelona.

But she has her eyes on the 2016 Games. Asked if she envisions herself participating in those Games, she quickly answered, “Definitely.”

Meanwhile, she will try to put the Gators on the fast track. Any track-conscious school in the country would have signed Reynolds to a scholarship. Her times and 14 state championship medals made her one of the nation’s top track recruits.

“The 400 will be my main focus at Florida,” she said. “That’s where my heart is.” However, she expects to also run the 200 and in the 1,600 relay.

When did she realize she was fast?

“When I was 10,” she said. “I was at a meet and I had a distance race to run, and I wanted to go home.”

She and her Dad made a compromise. She could go home if she ran the 200 meters instead of the distance race. “He threw me over the fence to get me on the track, and I won. And by the end of the year I had a 26.5 in the 200 and broke the national record. That told me I was a sprinter.”

Track appeals to Reynolds in various ways.

“I definitely get satisfaction from it,” she said. “I do a lot of it for my family and support group. I like putting on a good show for the people who love me, and I like people being proud of me. I’m also trying to achieve greatness.”

Many of her friends are track-related people.

“I try to keep myself around positive people who have goals for themselves,” she said.

As for her longtime coach, she had one message: “I’ll be back.”

Make-up races

The second day of the meet, which ends Sunday, will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with some catch-up in order because of the weather delays on Friday.