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Prose and Kohn

Track and field no easy task to coach

Sarasota High Head Coach Rosita Reyes explains the intricacies of the sport.

Rosita Reyes is in her first season as the Sarasota High track and field coach.
Rosita Reyes is in her first season as the Sarasota High track and field coach.
Photo by Ryan Kohn
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Run, fast. 

How much more complex could track and field, particularly the track part, get?

Quite a bit, it turns out. There's a reason some programs churn out state qualifiers year after year while others flounder. Sarasota High track and field coach Rosita Reyes — known as Coach Ro to her athletes — has been part of many good ones over her seven years of coaching. She's in her first season at Sarasota after coming from Riverview High. Reyes said natural speed is a plus, but the best track athletes learn how to maximize that speed instead of going off instinct. 

It is especially important in sprint races, Reyes said, as a few milliseconds can separate winners and losers. If a sprinter never learns how to get a good start off the blocks, they won't find the success they seek. But distance runners need coaching, too; not only in learning how to pace themselves during races, but how often to run at all, avoiding the toll that overdoing it can take on a body. Tight muscles are the enemy of performance. 

"I tell everyone to take at least one day off a week for their body's sake," Reyes said. "Do they listen all the time? No, they don't, because they think they have to run every day. But it's good to rest your body." 

Relay races are another beast. Not only do runners have to worry about passing the baton correctly, eliminating as much slow-down as possible, but mentally, they have to trust their relay partners to carry their legs of the race. A lack of trust in their teammates can cause runners to overdo their own leg, causing more problems for others if it goes poorly. Luckily, Reyes said, the Sailors don't seem to have that problem. Everyone on the team has a good rapport, even though distance runners, sprint runners and field event athletes tend to hang within their own groups. The team as a whole has a group chat where the groups can mingle and Reyes answers questions, Reyes said. 

For some athletes, track and field is not a chance to better themselves, simply a way to stay in shape for other sports — or worse, an excuse to talk with their friends after school. After years in the game, Reyes can pick out these athletes right away, she said. It can be frustrating to have her tailored advice pass through their ears with no change in behavior to show for it, she said, but the reward of seeing other athletes blossom via her advice makes up for it. 

The Sailors have several blossoming athletes on their 2024 roster. Sophomore Aubri Antczak is one. She's a dual-sport athlete — currently out of the country on a soccer training trip, in fact — but she takes track as seriously as anything else. Antczak is No. 4 in Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A in the 3,200-meter run (11:04.22, a school record) and No. 31 in the 1,600-meter run (5:23.95). Reyes is also excited about freshman Jasmine France, who ranks in the top-100 in Class 4A in several categories, including 69th in the 400-meter run (1:00.95) and 78th in the long jump (4.90 meters). On the boys' side, sophomore Grayson Cicilioni is ranked 38th in the 3,200-meter run (9:51.59). Cicilioni echoed Reyes' thoughts on the importance of rest to a runner, saying that listening to his body has helped him progress as a sustainable pace. 

Though it is her first season with the Sailors, Reyes' impact is already being felt. 

"We have a smaller team, but it's a good team," Reyes said. "It has good kids and it is positive. I like it here." 

The Sailors are not the only area team with impressive track and field results in 2024. Here's a few more athletes who have made the most of their coaches' instructions to achieve top-end results. 

  • Riverview High has a handful of strong field athletes this spring, starting with do-it-all girls senior Susan Lowther. On the days Lowther is not scoring a bushel of lacrosse goals, she competes in shot put. As of April 2, Lowther is No. 1 in Class 4A with a toss of 12.94 meters, set March 23 at the Guy Thomas Memorial Classic in Fort Myers. Other Rams who have impressed? Boys senior Luis Castaneda is second in the discus (50.54 meters); boys sophomore Alexander Bates is seventh in the pole vault (3.96 meters); and boys junior Adryan Schuetz is eighth in the high jump (1.94 meters). 
  • Cardinal Mooney High girls senior Addison Dempsey is fourth in Class 1A in the 3,200-meter run (10:55.18); girls sophomore Grace Hronrich is eighth in the pole vault (2.90 meters); girls junior Riley Greene is 12th in the shot put (10.53 meters). 
  • Booker High girls senior Terrietta Smith is sixth in Class 1A in the 100-meter dash (12.03 seconds); girls senior Jakai Peterson is fourth in the long jump (5.49 meters); girls junior Ibre Edwards is sixth in the 400-meter hurdles (1:06.71); the boys 100-meter relay team of sophomore Chauncey Kennon, sophomore Jacobey Mobley, senior Josiah Booker and senior Jayson Evans is ranked fifth (42.77 seconds). 



Ryan Kohn

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

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