Hawks bring home medals from state track meet


Members of the Viera High track team bringing home six medals from the Class 4A state track meet are Kaitlyn Jensen, left, Daniel Headley, Hayley Lofton, Nick Bandos and J.P. Caglione.

photo by Carl Kotala

As Hayley Lofton entered her sophomore year at Viera High School, her father urged her to try a sport. Her best friend, Briana Gorbea, convinced her that sport should be track and field.

That was definitely the right call.

Lofton, who swept the long jump, triple jump and both hurdle events at the district meet, finished off her senior year with her first trip to the Class 4A state finals last month. She finished fourth in the triple jump, becoming one of five Hawks to bring home a medal.

“I thought I could do a lot better, personally, but I was pretty happy that I made it there because I didn’t make it last year,” Lofton said.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Jensen scored two state track medals, finishing third in the shot put and eighth in the discus.

Senior Daniel Headley also got a medal for his fourth-place finish in the the triple jump (45 feet, 0 ¼ inches). Junior J.P. Caglione was fourth in the shot put (47-7 ½) and sophomore Nick Bandos was fourth in the pole vault (14-0).

Lofton didn’t beat her personal record (PR) of 18 feet in the long jump this season, but did set new marks in the 100 hurdles, the 300 hurdles and the triple jump.

The latter PR of 38-3 came on her first attempt at the state meet and represented a big leap in distance for Lofton, who was relatively new to the event.

“I didn’t really do triple jump until the end of my junior year,” she said. “That was at a home track meet. I was like, ‘Coach, can I just do triple jump today?’ I’d never practiced it, really, ever.

“I got 33 feet, and I won. I was like, ‘Is that good?’ I didn’t know that was good. I went from 33 feet all the way to 38 feet. That was a really big hop.”

Lofton will be heading to Hampton University on a scholarship.

Jensen, meanwhile, will enter next season with plenty of motivation after her strong finish … especially considering she only practices a few times a month.

Her trip to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville for the state meet came a day after she played for Viera in the Class 7A regional final in Sarasota. 

 “I don’t think I had the best day I could have at states, but I’m happy that I got to go to states and compete,” she said.

Jensen was particularly happy with her performance in the shot put, where she finished third.

“I had trouble in the beginning,” she said. “I was throwing 36 (feet) and I just wanted to pop one. With my last throw, I finally threw it 38 feet. I was proud of that because that’s almost my PR. … I think I did the best I could.

“I wish I could have gotten my PR at states, but I was close.”