Sophomore sprinter wins 400-meter run and finishes second in 100 and 200

Dennis Maffezzoli - Herald Tribune
Saraiah Walkes has served notice.
Saraiah Walkes has served notice.

She is back and ready to go for more gold.

The Out-of-Door Academy sprinter, who burst onto the scene as an eighth-grader two years ago, grabbed a first and two seconds at the Class 1A-District 7 track and field meet Thursday afternoon at the Moore Athletic Complex on the campus of Saint Stephen’s.

Led by Meko Mayes, the Cardinal Mooney boys finished second in the team standings with 103 points behind winner St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut. Saint Stephen’s was fifth with 62, followed by Out-of-Door (43.5) and Bradenton Christian (37) in sixth and seventh, respectively.

On the girls side, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep captured the title with 139.5. The Cougars were fourth with 91.5, followed by Saint Stephen’s (59) and Out-of-Door (49) in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Now a sophomore, Walkes won the 400-meter dash in 57.37 seconds.

“In the 400 I was being conservative and then I realized I can catch them,” Walkes said. “I kept my form and did my own pace and easily did a 57.”

“She rises to the occasion in everything,” Out-of-Door coach Jake Siciliano said. “She seems to strive to get to that next level. She poured it all into the 400.”

Walkes placed second in the 100 (12.06) and 200 (25.71) behind Admiral Farragut’s Jazmine Alderman’s 11.89 and 25.26, respectively.

“The 200 just now I brought it back a little bit because my leg is a little tight,” Walkes said. “Even though I came up short in the 100, I felt a lot stronger. I was very proud of myself.”

It was the first time she ran the 100 this season. Walkes has been training by running 800s to stay stronger for each of her three races.

“We’ve been taking that strategy this year,” she said.

She has been working with Thunder sprint coach Andrew Brown and ODA strength coach Rod Miller.

“Exponentially tougher every year,” Siciliano said of Walkes’ training. “We’re super happy with her progression over the past three years. We’re just excited to see what she can do.”

As an eighth-grader, Walkes completed the triple, winning the 100 (12.35), 200 (25.20) and 400 (55.57) at the FHSAA State Championships held at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

“I had been running AAU as a kid so I already had those times and I knew I had the ability,” Walkes said.

“It was just me shaking the nerves, because I was running against high schoolers. I was so nervous and I had a lot of stress. A lot of negativity from other teams. I had to shake it off.”

Last year she suffered through some injuries, but still posted a 1-2-3 at the state meet with a first-place finish in the 100 in 12.18, a second in the 200 in 24.27 and a third in the 400 in 57.51.

“Last year, I had a lot of issues and my techniques were not where I wanted them to be,” Walkes said. “I had a little setback for a major comeback. This is the year.”

Siciliano said her best events are the 100 and 400, “but she is great in all three.”

“If it’s her best day she can run out and win all three,” he added. “That’s what we would love to see.

That’s what she would love too. You never really know until you get there. I don’t want to put her in a position to underachieve or overachieve.”

Walkes aims to run 55 seconds in the 400, 12 flat or 12.1 in the 100 and 23.9 or 24 flat in the 200 at the regionals Jan. 27 at Cypress Creek High in Wesley Chapel.

“I’m coming back for it (the state meet),” Walkes said. “This year I’m way better mentally. I’m gonna try. I’m not taking third. I want top two in everything.”

Also capturing district titles on the girls side were Cardinal Mooney’s Jenna Santiago (2:28.18 in the 800) and Hallie Monserez (5:46.58 in the 1,600). Monserez also was third in the 3,200 in 13:24.27. Both Santiago and Monserez teamed with Rachel Jarrett and Madison Smithers in helping the Cougars’ 4x800 relay team win in 10:17.52.

Mayes posted a first in the triple jump at 39 feet, 7 1/4 inches, a second in the long jump at 19-8 1/4 and ran legs on the Cougars’ 4x100 (third) and 4x400 (third) relay teams that qualified.

Two Saint Stephen’s athletes finished first in field events. Calvin Sauerbeck took the high jump with a leap of 5-9 3/4. Sauerbeck won a jump off with Cardinal Mooney’ Connor Powers. The Falcons’ Dylan Davis captured the shot put with a heave of 47-0 1/4 meters.

On the track, Cardinal Mooney’s Isaac Green grabbed the 200 in 23.51. Out-of-Door’s Tristan McWilliam was a runaway winner in the 3,200 in 10:26.48.

The top four finishers in each race advance to the regionals.

Source: Herald Tribune

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