SPRING ALL-AREA 2016: Girls Track & Field

By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports

All-Area girls track and field player of the year Abigayle Weinfeld of Lemon Bay High School. Sun photo illustration by Jennifer Bruno

All-Area girls track and field player of the year Abigayle Weinfeld of Lemon Bay High School.
Sun photo illustration by Jennifer Bruno

ENGLEWOOD — Most high school athletes can only dream of four straight trips to the state championships. Abigayle Weinfeld lived it.

Twice.

The now-graduated Lemon Bay High School runner qualified for the state meet eight times in her four years with the Manta Rays — four times in cross country and four more in track.

And if you had seen her run at Jacksonville’s Hodges Stadium during the track and field state championships way back on April 27, 2013, you might have assumed there would be a state title in her future. Then just a precocious freshman, Weinfeld finished third in the 1600-meter run and sixth in the 3200.

But as quickly as the state meet became a sign of her talent, it came to represent one of the few things she ever struggled with as an athlete.

Weinfeld qualified for state in one or both of those individual events each of her next three years at Lemon Bay, but she never again reached the heights she did as a rookie. Her best finish over the remainder of her career was 10th, and her worst was a “DNF” at her final state meet in Bradenton early last month.

“I was very excited about how I ended my career,” Weinfeld said. “Besides the state meet.”

Of course, one meet does not define a career. If anything, the troubles Weinfeld, the Sun’s All-Area girls track and field athlete of the year, had at the state meet should show just how hard it is to be as consistently successful as she was for the Manta Rays.

Not counting the state meet, Weinfeld ran 37 individual races in her four-year career. In those 37 races, she finished in the top three 24 times and finished first 13 times, winning two district titles and two regional titles along the way.

As a senior, the reigning All-Area girls cross country runner of the year ran 15 individual races and finished first in six.

How many runners can graduate high school saying they won more than 35 percent of their races?

“It was one of those things that you look back on and never want to take for granted,” said Joe Casale, Weinfeld’s coach in cross country and track. “Because it’s something you don’t usually have.”

But for all her regular-season and early postseason success, misfortune seemed to follow Weinfeld to every state track and field meet she qualified for. As a sophomore, she was “really, really sick.” As a junior, she was dealing with a tweaked glute muscle.

And last month, every thing seemed to conspire against her at once leading into the final state meet of her career.

In the week leading to the championships, Weinfeld caught another cold. “It’s hard to prevent that when it’s going around the whole school,” she said.

On the first day of the meet, her race in the 3200 was scheduled at the very end of a packed schedule at IMG Academy. So instead of running it under the sunshine in high-80s heat, she ran it just after 9 p.m. on a cool night with temperatures that had dropped below 70 degrees.

That might sound like a welcome respite to some Floridians, but not Weinfeld. Like her father and his father before him, Weinfeld suffers from asthma.

And while it almost never bothers her during races — she runs holding her inhaler only as a precaution — it does tend to flare up with she’s sick or when there are quick temperature changes.

Check, and check.

“To be honest, it was one of those things that was kind of the elephant in the room the whole day,” Casale said. “None of us there — coaches, her parents — wanted to talk about it, but we all kind of knew it was a possibility.”

Midway through the fourth lap of the final 3200-meter race of her career, Weinfeld had to step off the track and onto the infield, struggling to breathe. It was the first and only “DNF” of her track career.

It was a difficult outcome, “but that happens,” Weinfeld said. “You can’t really do anything when you’re sick and have breathing problems on top of that.”

Fortunately, Weinfeld didn’t have to end her career on that note. She came back the next day to finish 15th in the 1600 and help lead the Manta Rays’ 4×800 relay team to a seventh-place finish, and she’ll continue her career at Flagler College in St. Augustine.

Weinfeld never again reached the levels she did as a freshman at the state meet, but that doesn’t erase everything else she did, Casale said. “If you look at every cross country and track team we’ve had the last four years, her fingerprints are all over them.”

Said Weinfeld: “It’s been exciting to be one of the top runners at Lemon Bay and to be one of the best. It’s strange that it’s over.”

ALL-AREA TEAM

Lindsay Boethig
North Port • Junior
Finished third at districts in the 800 with a personal-record time of 2:25.20 to advance to regionals and ran on the 4×800 relay team that won five times in seven tries.

Kendall Chavarria
Charlotte • Senior
Advanced all the way to the state meet in her first year throwing shot put, finishing third in regionals with a career-best throw of 41 feet, 10.5 inches.

Isabella Coogan
Charlotte • Freshman
Continued her strong debut year with the Tarpons by advancing to the regional meet in both the 1600-meter and 3200-meter runs.

Shelby Cutchineal
North Port • Junior
Won her first individual district title with a time of 2:23.87 in the 800 and helped lead a 4×800 relay team that took first in districts and sixth in the state.

Alexis Francavilla
North Port • Sophomore
Excelled in multiple field events, racking up 21 top-three finishes between the shot put, high jump, long jump and triple jump. She advanced to regionals in the shot put, long and triple jumps and to states in the long jump.

Morgan Gloster
North Port • Junior
Was a revelation in her first season pole vaulting, winning the event three times in 11 tries and advancing to the state meet, where she finished sixth with a jump of 10 feet.

Alden Goucher
Port Charlotte • Junior
Did a little bit of everything for the Pirates, advancing to the regional meet in the 800, triple jump and 4×400 and 4×800 relays.

Natalie Jen
Charlotte • Freshman

Burst on to the scene in her first year pole vaulting, going from a seven feet, six inches in her first vault all the way to 11 feet and a second-place finish at the state meet.

Kelsi Ogilvie
Lemon Bay • Junior
Spent her junior year right on the heels of her player-of-the-year teammate Abigayle Weinfeld, finishing top-two in districts and regionals in the 1600 and 3200.

Armani Seale
North Port • Junior
Won a district title with a personal-best time of 59.20 in the 400 and also advanced to regionals with a school-record-breaking time of 4:10.26 in the 4×400 relay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s