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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 31, 2022 3 months ago

Prose and Kohn: Riverview sophomore sprints into school's record books

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Plus, a look at how other track and field athletes in the area are doing.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

His coaches say Riverview High sophomore Jayson Evans is a quiet kid.

That’s fine. His ability to run does all the talking he needs.

Evans is in the midst of a breakout season for the Rams’ track and field team. As of March 29, Evans holds the 10th-fastest 100-meter time in Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A (10.76 seconds). The time is also the second fastest in Riverview history behind Reggie Green (10.74 seconds). Evans also holds the school’s second fastest time in the 200 meters (21.92 seconds) behind New York Giants wide receiver Richie James (21.63 seconds). That time is good for 11th in Class 4A. Evans set both times March 23 at the IMG Spring Break Invitational. 

Seeing as Evans has more than half of his high school career remaining, expect to see those records fall sooner or later. His coaches have no doubt he can do it. Not bad for someone who admits he hated running when he first started doing it competitively in fifth grade. The reason? Well, it was simply too much running, a sentiment even the most fervent athletes can understand. 

"I had to fight through the pain," Evans said with a laugh. "I liked that there was a chance to get better every day. That is what helped me stick with it and get to this point." 

Like a lot of Gen Z athletes, Evans said he learned his technique by watching YouTube videos of Olympians, particularly Jamaica's Usain Bolt. He takes mental notes and puts those notes into practice every time he takes the track.

On the weekends, when Evans runs with his AAU club, he likes to arrive an hour early to get in extra work. Recently, Evans said, he's been working on keeping his knees up and tight to cut down on motion. His knees getting loose is a holdover habit from Evans' old running days when, he said, he used to "run all sloppy."

"It was kind of crazy looking," Evans said. "Over the years I have gotten better about that, especially my start." 

Evans said he did not know how close he was to breaking Riverview's records until coaches told him before the Rams' March 29 practice. Evans had modest goals coming into the 2022 season. As a freshman, Evans mostly ran the 400 meters, though he was placed on the 4x100 relay team once. He didn't advance past the district meet stage of the postseason.

But this year, after getting settled into the 100 and 200 slots, Evans has found a home and thrived. He wanted to run the 100 in under 11 seconds, for instance; he's already done that, so his goals are now changing. 

"It makes me feel like I need to work even harder, knowing how close I am," Evans said. "I need to stay consistent with my work and my times and go as low as I can. I think I can do it." 

Evans is one of the top track and field athletes in the area, no doubt, but others are having great seasons as well, showing up high in the state rankings. Let's take a look at who else is making a strong impression. 

  • Sarasota High junior Alec Miller is fourth in Class 4A in the boys 1,600 meters (4:21.37). He set the mark March 26 at the FSU Relays in Tallahassee. Like Evans, Miller didn't make it to the state meet last season. His best 2021 time in the 1,600 was 4:51.64, according to Athletic.net. He's taken approximately 30 seconds off that time in 2022, an impressive achievement. He'll need to take approximately six more seconds off his time to catch state leader Brayden Seymour, a senior at Hagerty High (4:15.52). A tough task, but Miller has set himself up to have a shot at the state meet, and that's not nothing. 
  • Staying with the Sailors boys, junior Tyler Boyer is fifth in Class 4A the 110 meter hurdles (14.82 seconds) and junior Tyler Pack is sixth in the high jump (1.92 meters). 
  • On the Sailors girls side, junior Haven Wyles is tied for fourth in Class 4A in the high jump (1.57 meters), junior Isabella Nebel is fifth in the 300 meter hurdles (44.64 seconds) and junior Ella Menke is eighth in the 800 meters (2:20.90). Of this trio, all of whom have impressed, Wyles is perhaps the most impressive. In 2021, Wyles hit 4 feet, 11.75 inches at her first meet, but was unable to replicate the feat the rest of the season, reaching the regional meet before stalling out. This year, though, she matched her personal best mark at the Booker Invitational on March 4, then beat it on March 10 at the North Port Invitational. If she can keep improving it, she's a real contender; there's a glut of athletes jumping at approximately the same height in Class 4A, so even marginal improvement the rest of the way could lead to a medal at states. 
  • At Cardinal Mooney High, junior Madeline Carson is seventh in the Class 2A girls discus (35.71 meters). Carson competed in the state meet last season and had a personal best throw of 34.30 meters coming into 2022, so she's already made an improvement. That bodes well for her chances to get back to the state meet and perhaps finish top-five in the state. 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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