With a second place in last weekend’s regional track meet, Franklin County sophomore Ja’mela Ray earned a return trip to the Class 1A state track and field meet, this time in the discus.
In addition, the team's two other regional qualifiers, sophomore Tiauna Benjamin and senior Simon Brathwaite, will be competing this weekend at the Class 1A state tournament at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
With a throw on her first attempt of 31.90 meters, the equivalent of 104 feet 8 inches, at the Region 1- Class 1A meet Saturday at Bishop Snyder in Jacksonville, Ray took second place. Last year as a freshman she went to state in shotput, and finished eighth.
Coach Josh Palmer said Ray missed winning regionals by about two feet.
“I think she’s going to go there and hopefully place in the top five,” said Palmer. The state meet open Friday, May 3, with Ray throwing discus at 2 p.m.
“If she throws her best, I think she’ll do really well,” he said.
In her second event, Ray finished ninth in the shot put, her best toss 9.34 meters on her second throw, or about 30 feet 7.75 inches, below her personal record.
“She normally throws shot first,” said Palmer. ”When she threw discus she kind of tweaked her arm a little bit.”
The girls team’s other regional qualifier, sophomore Tiauna Benjamin, also advanced in the high jump, but failed to in the long jump.
In the high jump, she took fifth place. Benjamin leaped for 1.42 meters, or 4 feet 7.75 inches, on the fifth of her six attempts, but it was a few inches short of the fourth place mark of 1.52 meters.
Palmer said she is advancing as an at-large bid, meaning that although she did not finish in the top four in her region, her performance placed in the the top eight among all those athletes who did not qualify in the top four in their respective region.
Benjamin will compete at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4.
In the long jump, Benjamin settled for ninth place, well off a spot that would have advance. She leaped for 4.72 meters, or 15 feet 6 inches, on her second attempt, after fouling on her first, and didn’t lengthen her best leap after that.
It was a heartbreaking day for senior Simon Brathwaite. In the high jump, he settled for fifth place, with his best jump 1.77 meters, or a quarter-inch shy of 5 feet 10 inches.
His leap was good enough to qualify among the top four, but since he had scratched twice on an earlier jump of 1.72 meters before completing it on a third attempt, the other athlete was awarded the fourth place sport.
Still, Brathwaite will be competing in Jacksonville at 9 a.m. Saturday, because his regional peformance was among the top eight at-large high jumpers from around the state.