By REID TUCKER
At the time of this writing, Gabe Moore and Sam Morgan had just completed the biggest track meet of their young careers with superlative results.
The two faced off against some of the nation’s best 15-and16-year-old decathletes at the Amateur Athletic Union’s 2012 National Club Championship, held annually at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The unofficial results as of 12:20 p.m. Tuesday showed Moore coming out on top of the Intermediate division’s 13-athlete field, beating the next-closest finisher by more than 1,000 points, while Morgan, in his first-ever decathlon, claimed 11th spot.
Moore finished the meet with 5,974 points, posting first-place finishes in the pole vault (10-5 ¼), the javelin throw (142-05), the shot-put (42-06 ¾), the 400-meter dash (50.88 seconds), and the high jump (6-02 ¾), the event in which he also took second place at last year’s 1A Florida track and field championship meet. His results in the other five events were fifth-place in the 110-meter hurdles (17.27), fifth place in the long jump (19-04), third place in the discus throw (98-04), third place in the 1,500-meter run (4:57.64), and second place in the 100-meter dash (11.59).
Morgan finished with 3,050 points. His highest finish was eighth in javelin (79-04), but he had three top-10 finishes in the 110 hurdles (20.92), discus (60-10) and long jump (16-04.50).
Though Moore took top honors at the championship meet, his 5,031-point win at the state national qualifier in June already earned him a spot at the AAU National Championship to be held in Austin, Texas, later this month. Morgan, on the other hand, just missed the top-seven finish he would have needed to qualify for a trip to nationals.
The boys’ private coach, Willie Parker, said that Moore and Morgan, both of whom only began training to compete in the decathlon a few months back, were proof that interest in track and field was picking up in Walton County and Freeport in particular. The pair’s hard work during the hot summer months has already paid off and the two improve almost daily during the course of training, Parker said.
“Gabe and Sam are the first kids I’ve trained that have come from Freeport,” Parker said. “That was interesting because all the other times the kids who trained with me in the summer were from Okaloosa County or from South Walton (High School), so now to get two from Freeport High School is really something. It’s showing that things are going the right way for the sport in the area.
“They both have the determination and the drive and the willingness to make sacrifices. They’ve got the will to be great. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do from here out.”
For full meet results and other information regarding the AAU National Club Championships, visit http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/track-field/aau-national-club-championships.