Chris McComb has only been the track coach at Miramar High for four years, but he knows the history of the Patriots track program pretty well. That’s because there’s isn’t a lot of history to track.
Miramar has only had two state champions in their history — David Salsberry, a 1985 discus thrower, and Scott Freeman, who won the two-mile run in 1988 — and only one top 10 finish all-time at state as a team (fifth in 2014). But the list of accomplishments and champions will grow a lot longer by the end of the weekend.
The Patriots have three of the nation’s fastest sprinters in juniors Terrence Horne and Jamal Walton and sophomore Taylor Banks, and a real shot to win the Class 4A state title if it can stay ahead of St. Thomas Aquinas and Columbus, the two teams they were sandwiched between last week at regionals.
“We know what’s at stake — it’s our to lose,” McComb said. “St. Thomas scored a lot of bottom points last week at regionals. I’m not saying we’re overlooking them, but at the same time, the points we have are very strong points. As long as everything goes as it’s supposed to, we’ll be OK.”
“Miramar is a football school,” McComb continued. “To win a state track title would be a tremendous thing. It would probably change the culture around us.”
Walton owns the nation’s second-fastest times in the 200- (20.57) and 400-meter (45.70) dashes, while Horne owns the nation’s ninth-fastest in the 100 meters (10.29). Together, they team up to form the fourth-fastest 4x100-meter relay team in the country (40.63) and the 28th-fastest 4x400-meter relay team (3:16.01).
But the Patriots are hardly the only local team with speed to burn.
American Heritage, the defending Class 2A boys’ state champions, are led by junior Anthony Schwartz, a state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters last year, who owns the nation’s second- and third-fastest times in those races, respectively.
Then there’s Norland super sophomore Tyrese Cooper, who ranks first nationally in the 200- (20.55) and (45.45) 400-meter dashes and is also a favorite to win the 100 meters in Class 3A. Cooper finished his last regionals last week in agony when his left hamstring tightened up on him after he won the 200-meter final.
But Cooper’s summer track coach Darius Lawshea said Thursday that Cooper was on his way to Bradenton to compete at state after going through plenty of massage and acupuncture therapy this week.
“With the day off between the prelims and finals, Tyrese should be more than fine,” Lawshea said. “He really wants the national title in the 400. That’s what he’s gunning for.”
Northwestern’s boys haven’t won a state title since 2003 but comes in tied with Tampa Hillsborough for having scored the most points at regionals among Class 3A teams. The Bulls, who have finished as the state runner-up six times since its last state title, will ride the legs of junior hurdler Thomas Burns, senior sprinter Tiondre Toomer and its relay teams at this year’s state meet.
Burns is gunning for his first state title in the 300m hurdles, an event he has posted the best time nationally (35.57) this season after finishing second as a freshman and third as a sophomore at state. Northwestern owns the fastest time in the class in the 4x100m relay (41.05), the nation’s fastest and a state-record time of 3:10.56 in the 4x400m relay (an event the Bulls have won three years in a row) and the second-fastest time in the state regardless of class and 10th-best nationally in the 4x800m relay (7:47.84).
Hallandale’s boys won the local Class 2A regional last week and have enough qualifiers to make a run at the state title after winning their first in 2015. But the Chargers will need some unexpected qualifiers to step up. As it stands, Hallandale will count on junior Peter Anderson (400m), senior Favien Lively (both hurdles) and sophomore Amari Johnson (300m hurdles) to score big on the track and for junior thrower Milton Ingraham to sweep the shot put and discus and score major points.