By REID TUCKER
The weather was something just less than gloomy on the track in Jacksonville last Friday, but the results of the Class A state track and field championships were shiny indeed.
Freeport’s Gabe Moore and Paxton’s Brooklyn Welch laid claim to some serious hardware at the May 2 meet, leading a field of several Walton County athletes to finish in the top-eight. Moore won gold in the long jump while nabbing silver in the 110-meter hurdles and bronze in the pole vault event. On the girls’ side, Welch tied for third place in the high jump to get her first-ever state podium finish.
Moore edged Curley High School’s Germaine Small by an inch-and-a-half to win the long jump with a 22-05.75 mark. He crossed the line in 14.92 seconds in the 110 hurdles to take second spot, just a few ticks behind First Academy’s Michael Taylor, who finished in 14.67. Moore set a 13-06 mark in the pole vault to grab his third-place medal, and, though a foul in the discus kept him from finishing higher in that event, he still got a seventh-place medal for his toss of 133-01.
Welch finished seventh in the high jump last year, but her bronze medal at the 2014 state meet was the best in her career. She cleared the bar at the 5-0 mark, tying for third place behind the eventual winner, Desiree Nathe of St. Petersburg’s Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High.
Though Moore and Welch were the county’s biggest winners, two other local athletes brought medals home with them. Freeport’s Antonio Cosio finished sixth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.56 – less than a second behind the winner – illustrating just how close was the field in the finals. South Walton’s Maddie Fulmer got two medals for her performance in distance events at the Class 2A meet: she finished seventh in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.11 and came in the eighth in the 1,600, crossing the line in 5:12.20.
Deuntris Carswell, Welch’s team mate on the Bobcats track team, didn’t medal at the state meet, but he did round out the top-10 with a throw of 125-09 in the boys discus event. Similarly, South Walton’s Ryan Short finished ninth in the pole vault, posting a best mark of 12-06, while Haley Anderson came in 10th in the girls pole vault with a 90-06 mark.
By REID TUCKER