The West Orange girls track team won first place at the regional meet April 26 and the Warriors' boys team placed second — setting the stage for this week's FHSAA Track & Field State State Championships in Jacksonville.
West Orange track coach Adolph Morris didn’t mince words when he addressed his girls 4x400-meter relay team moments before their race at the regional championship last week.
With a regional championship for the program hanging in the balance, the first-year coach for the Warriors laid out the scenario.
“We told the girls that we had to win the race,” Morris said.
And they did just that — in thrilling fashion — giving the girls program at West Orange its first regional title. The team of Jahnile Registre, Taryn Dotson, Jasmine Williams and Shyanne Mayes bested the runners-up from Oak Ridge by just more than a second — the Warriors’ time of 3:53.13 edging the Pioneers’ 3:54.27.
The victory in that race helped secure a team championship victory as West Orange’s 57 points at the meet topped Winter Park’s 55 and Windermere’s 52. The victory April 26 was extra sweet for the Warriors, because they had been defeated by rival Windermere — a roster that includes several former teammates rezoned for the new school — at the Metro West Championship earlier in the month.
Now the program has a district and regional title to its credit as it heads to state — and the West Orange boys team is coming along, too. The Warriors boys team finished tied for second at the regional championships that day, and between both teams a total of 16 student-athletes will make the trip to the University of North Florida for the 2018 FHSAA Track & Field State Championships May 4-5.
“It’s a really big deal,” Morris said. “It’s exciting any time you have an opportunity to make school history.”
Although the girls 4x400 relay was the emotional highlight of the day, Morris said the success for West Orange was punctuated by athletes stepping up in big moments. Whether it was Shyanne Mayes in the 800-meter run, Simon Sutherland in the discus and shot put, Nicholas Miller in the 1,600-meter run or Taryn Dotson in the long jump, several Warriors outperformed their pre-meet seeding.
Add to that individual regional championships from the likes of Russell Robinson, Elijah Jackson, Jasmine Williams and Jahnile Registre and West Orange had a winning combination.
Now, the Warriors will head to Jacksonville with their sights set on contending for state championships. Results from the state meet can be followed at FHSAA.org.