Teams to watch
1. Land O’ Lakes:
The Gators are looking to notch another Sunshine Athletic Conference crown. Though several region finalists graduated from the 2013 squad, Land O’ Lakes returns many athletes that also participate in other sports, including Ethan Weilant (football), Jamel Clark (football) and Tyler Stahl (cross country). Stahl and Weilant both will likely qualify for regions and have opportunities to place at states.
2. Wiregrass Ranch
Consistency has been the key at Wiregrass Ranch. The Bulls lost a few key contributors in Elijah Boston (discus throw) and Ermias Bireda (800), but also return a good portion of the team. Senior James Jackson, who qualified for regions in the triple jump, leads the way.
Coach Alan Parmenter has one of the best all-around teams in Pasco County and several of his athletes have the potential to make the state meet. Jamaree Ried (110 hurdles) and Devonte Luis (300 hurdles) both were region qualifiers last spring and are expected to go deeper this season. Senior Andrew Janus will compete in the high jump and has already set school records in the event.
Like most teams, Ridgewood has to overcome the loss of graduating seniors from the 2013 season. However, the Rams have some returners looking to open some eyes. Chris Branfield leads the 2014 group and could be a favorite to qualify for states in the discus.
The Mustangs, led by coach Keith Paulk, lost a couple key seniors from last season’s club, including Michael Tancreti (400) and Michael Guash (300 hurdles). Mitchell will still be a team to watch, with athletes like Troy Shea and Jeremy Guash returning.
Keep Your Eye On
Ethan Weilant, Land O’ Lakes, Jr.: Plays wide receiver on the football team and runs the 800 on the track and field team. Weilant placed sixth at Class 3A-Region 2 meet in the 800.
James Jackson, Wiregrass Ranch, Sr.: The senior jumper will be one to watch for this season in the triple jump. He should qualify for regions and states this spring.
Jordan Roberts, Zephyrhills, Sr.: Roberts might be the fastest sprinter in the county in the 100. As a junior, Roberts placed fifth at Class 3A-Region 2 meet in the 100.
Jamaree Ried, Anclote, Sr.: Parmenter speaks highly of Ried’s chances to qualify for states this season in the 110 hurdles. Ried placed eighth at regions in 2013.
Devonte Luis, Anclote, Sr.: Luis is another football player that Parmenter has high expectations for this spring. The senior will be competing mainly in the 300 hurdles.
Tyler Stahl, Land O’ Lakes, Sr.: Arguably the county’s top distance runner, Stahl qualified for the Class 3A state finals and placed fourth in regions in the 3,200.
Brent Dawson, Pasco, So.: Made a splash as a freshman last season competing in the high jump. Has the potential to reach states.