Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

HOMECOMING FOR STATE MEET | Area Competitors Will Have a Short Road Trip to IMG Academy for This Weekend's Meet

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

HOMECOMING FOR STATE MEET | Area Competitors Will Have a Short Road Trip to IMG Academy for This Weekend's Meet

Article excerpt

FEATURED SPORT TRACK & FIELD

Friday promises to be special for Abigayle Weinfeld.

It marks the senior's final day at Lemon Bay High, as well as the first day of the state track and field championships. A distance runner, Weinfeld will represent the Manta Rays in three events.

Thanks to the Florida High School Athletic Association deciding to move the meet a little closer to home, Weinfeld will get a chance to experience a little of everything Friday.

"I get to go to school some, say goodbye to my friends," said Weinfeld, a state-qualifier in Class 2A for the 1600- and 3,200- meter runs and the 3,200 relay, "and then leave for state."

IMG Academy will host this year's two-day meet beginning at noon Friday with the jumping events, making this the first time the event will take place in Charlotte, Manatee or Sarasota counties. It's quite a contrast to the last three seasons when area competitors had to leave the night before in order to compete at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Prior to that, area athletes who qualified had to head to Gainesville (University of Florida), Winter Park (Showalter Field) or Coral Springs (Coral Springs High) in their pursuit of state gold.

The closest the event came to the area was St. Petersburg High, site of the boys meet in 1940 and '41. (The first girls meet took place at Altamonte High in 1975.)

Now it's coming to Bradenton.

"Jacksonville was a long haul," said Booker High's Joseph Cooper, a sprinter who will compete in the 100 dash as well as the 400 and 1,600 relays during the Class 2A meet. "Basically, it's just a skip and a hop away. Most of your family and friends can go see you now. Jacksonville is pretty far; IMG is 15, 20 minutes away from us."

The facility's track is located inside IMG Academy Stadium and has enough seating for about 5,000 fans. It has hosted area prep events, including the Manatee County championships as well as IMG's own invitational, which will make things a little more familiar for this weekend's area qualifiers. …

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