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In a sports environment where pandemic-related adjustments continue, long jump is one event where the paths of Haines City High track and field teammates Aquila Kerr and Kiera Taylor still intersect.

And it’s one event where Kerr, a senior, and Taylor, in her junior year, continue to shine this season. Their latest success came during the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A-District 5 meet on April 16 at George Jenkins High in Lakeland, where Kerr placed first with a mark of 17 feet, 5.25 inches (on her second of four attempts), and Taylor secured third-place honors by going 17 feet, 2.75 inches, on her final attempt.

Both Kerr and Taylor qualified for the upcoming Class 4A-Region 2 meet on May 1, also scheduled for George Jenkins High.

The long jump – along with the girls’ pole vault, high jump, shot put and javelin as well as the boys’ discus – is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. start to help kick off the regional meet. As an example of the protocols remaining in place, field athletes need to wear a mask when checking into their event and then can remove it when making their attempt.

Regionals will feature a finals-only format where running events will be held in heats against time and horizontal field events include four attempts. The regional champion and runner-up receive automatic bids to the 2021 state championships (May 7-8) at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium, while the next eight marks/times across all regions earn at-large bids.

A top-four finish at districts allowed for advancement to the regional level. Kerr added two more victories during the 4A-5 event – in the high jump (5 feet, 1.75 inches) and triple jump (36 feet, 5 inches) – and Taylor ran third overall in the 200 meters (26.75) and fourth in the 100 meters (12.69).

The Haines City girls finished fourth out of eight schools in the district team standings with 79 points, while the Hornets were fifth in the boys’ standings with 71.

Additional regional qualifiers for Haines City included Payson Keown (boys’ 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs), Nathan Bowers (boys’ 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Wayne Jackson (boys’ long jump and triple jump), Ethan Loriston (boys’ 100 meters), Jameson Appolon (boys’ 110 hurdles), D’Jerry Canguste (boys’ triple jump), Yasmin Randolph (girls’ discus), and the Hornets’ 400-meter relay.

Ridge Community placed seventh (girls) and eighth (boys) in the respective team standings. The Bolts were led in part by sophomore Alexis Anstadt (28-5.75) and junior Yennifer Padilla (26-3), who placed fifth and seventh, respectively, in the girls’ shot put finals, sophomore Jakari Ward (eighth in boys’ 200 meters and ninth in 100 meters) and junior Quency Silien (ninth in boys’ discus).

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