By Ken Jackson
Saturday at the Class 4A state track meet at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville was Coronation Day for Celebration High’s Hunter Hummel.
The Storm’s senior thrower, in his third state meet competing in the discus and shot put and his last competition wearing the purple and white CHS colors, wowed the crowd, his onlooking family, his coaches and himself with a personal best discus throw of 181 feet, 5 inches on the fourth of his six throws that was good enough to earn the gold medal as a state champion.
Hummel, who left for a trip to his native West Virginia following the state meet, said earlier in the week that the victory still hadn’t sunk in.
“I haven’t taken the medal off yet,” he said Monday. “This validates all those nights of practice and hard work.”
After competing in the shot put, in which he finished 20th, he was able to execute a game plan for his six throws that he started to excitedly visualize the night before.
“I didn’t do much sleeping, it was a long night, but I felt great going in,” he said. “Everything went as I planned. The throw was nice and easy to get into the final (top eight), and then the fourth throw was just effortless power.”
The clinching throw was some nine feet over his previous personal record. Hummel’s main competition was Derek Akey of Gainesville Buchholz, who had a 173-foot effort already on the board and was in the rotation ahead of Hummel.
“I knew he could go 181, so I wasn’t counting my chickens,” Hummel said. “When he didn’t on his last throw, that was the greatest feeling of my life.”
With the title locked up, he took his final throw anyway as a chance to try to close his high school career with another PR.
Celebration track coach Cliff Branch said he never doubted Hummel’s game plan and mental state going into the weekend, and embraced his role as a cheerleader and adviser.
“When you have a student athlete of the sport like Hunter that works hard everyday with the passion to win, I just continue to encourage his efforts to be the best he can be at every opportunity, visualize your throws before the meet, have a short term memory, and just be yourself and compete,” Branch said, who also noted Hummel looked good and ready to compete from the outset.
“Earlier during our season, I registered Hunter for the pre-state meet (at UNF) to get a feel of the atmosphere and discus area. It seemed to pay off,” he said. “Hunter’s 1st throw was over (170 feet) and I said to myself, ‘He’s feeling good today.’
“I was so happy for him because he responded to his competition that sealed the deal for him to become the 4A state discus champion. It was the icing on the cake for Hunters’ career at Celebration High School.”
Hummel’s effort gave Celebration 10 points, good for a tie for 20th in the 4A boys team standings. The county’s other standout thrower, St. Cloud Essence Tornabene, earned 12 points for the Lady Bulldogs in her third and final state meet appearance. She was fifth in the shot put (40 feet, 10 inches) and second in the discus (134-11), two feet behind winner Geargette Simpson of Colonial.
Three others finished in the top three: St. Cloud distance runner Tristen Montalvo was second in the 3,200 meters at 9:15.26, less than a second behind Coral Gables’ Cavan Wilson (9:24.42). He was also 9th in the 1,600 at 4:23.33, less than .05 seconds from the podium.
Osceola’s Sadae Davidson was third in the 400 (56.17) and the Kowgirls’ 4×400 relay team of Davidson, Alliann Johnson, Amaya Phillips and Niyah Harris (3:52.21) was third.
In the 4A team standings, St. Cloud (9) was tied for 24th right behind Hummel’s effort for Celebration, and Osceola (3) was tied for 44th. The Kowgirls were tied for 15th (14), just ahead of St. Cloud (T18, 12).
Harmony, Liberty and Poinciana competed in the 3A meet. Thanks to pole vaulter Elijah Gunn (14-3), fifth-place showing, the Longhorns (4) were tied for 39th.
“Not only is this a personal record but it makes Eli tied with one other sophomore for the youngest pole vaulter to clear this height in the entire state,” HHS Coach Kyle Carr said. “This young man has been a joy to coach and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”
Liberty high jumper Christelle Bonzil (5-3 3/4) was seventh, earning 2 points to place the Lady Chargers 42nd.
The rest of the county’s state meet finishers, by school:
Poinciana: Shaneylix Davila, 14th in 100 meter hurdles (15.28), Shayan Jackson, 15th in 400 meters (58.74); Jendaya Nesbitt, ninth in high jump (5-1 3/4); Guy Bond, 11th in high jump (5-11 1/2); Aaron Hernandez, 9th in long jump (21-6 1/2); Isaiah Miller, 18th in discus (139-9).
Liberty: Alandi Jacobs, 22nd in 200 meters (26.33); Queen Washington, 21st in 400 (1:01.19); giirls 4×100 relay, 9th, 49.10; 4×400, 17th, 4:08.71; Marion Brown and Niles Hunte, 19th (15.61) and 21st (15.66) in 110 hurdles.
Harmony: Elimarys Gonzalez-Gotay, 17th in 100 hurdles (15.97), girls 4×800 relay, 23rd (10:17.55); Josh Grimes, 22nd in 51.13; boys 4×400, 24th (3:30.34), Tim Davis, 20th in discus (135-7).
St. Cloud: Simone Giggets, 19th in 100 hurdles (16.23), Ashanti Ramirez, 20th in 300 hurdles (46.83), girls 4×800, 20th (10:12.18), Haudi Whitson, 11th in pole vault (9-10), Zach Cloud, 20th in 3,200 (10:02.60), boys 4×800, 8th (8:21.95), Josh Smith, 10th in the high jump (6-1 5/8).
Osceola: Johnson, 14th in 100 (12.35) and 8th in 200 (24.82), Davidson, 18th in the 200 (25.27), Phillips, 13th in 100 hurdles (15.32) and 8th in 300 hurdles (46.27), 12th in girls 4×100 (48.82) and 4×800 (9:47.35) relays, Isabella Pancake, 19th in discus (105-3), Dyshawn Baker, 19th in 100 (11.18), Markevous Jackson, 16th in 200 (22.49) and 11th in 400 (48.62), Marvin Gatlin, 23rd in 400 (52.33), Quavon Brown 9th (14.64) in the 110 hurdles, Jeremiah Wilson 21st in 110 hurdles (15.28) and 17th in 300 hurdles (40.31), 13th in boys 4×100 (43.09), Kameron Green, sixth in high jump (6-3 1/2).
Three athletes from City of Life Christian competed in the Class 1A meet. Debra Buggs was 20th in the 100 hurdles (18.30), Kayla Hefner finished 13th in the discus (94-7) and Justin Harris placed 17th in the long jump (11-9 1/2).
Buggs and Harris set PR’s in their events, Warriors Coach Ray Buggs said.
“Each of those kids set new school records this year,” he said.