Viera track athletes excited about opportunity at state meet


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Viera High track standouts (from l-r) Devon Giles, Madelyn Shafer, Shamaar Mohr and Isbella Babilonia along with (not pictured) Andy Martinez, Coby Karl, Shawn Coleman II and Cooper Davis are on their way to the state track meet this weekend at the University of North Florida.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It’s going to be a busy weekend for eight Viera High track and field athletes as they head to the University of North Florida for the Class 3A state meet.

And no one will be busier than senior Andy Martinez who will be running in three different events.

“I want to run until I legit can’t run no more,” he said. “In the two-mile (3,200 meters), I want either first or top three. That’s what I want.”

Martinez will be competing in the 1,600 meters, the 3,200 meters and the 4x800 relay.

Senior Shamaar Mohr will be taking part in the long jump and triple jump. Junior Coby Karl will also be running in two events (1,600 and 4x800) relay.

Other Viera state competitors include sophomore Isabella Babilonia (3,200); Madelyn Shafer (triple jump); freshman Devon Giles (4x800 relay); senior Shawn Coleman II (4x800 relay) and junior Cooper Davis (shot put).

While getting to the state meet is obviously a great accomplishment for all eight Viera athletes, their road to the University of North Florida track is uniquely their own.

Shafer, for example, has been doing the long jump for the past two years but didn’t try the triple jump until just recently at the urging of Viera girls coach Odieka Giscombe.

Now, she’s going to the state meet in what is now her favorite event after finishing sixth (35-1) at the Class 3A regional meet at South Fork High School last weekend.

“It was a big surprise,” Shafer said. “I just started triple jumping two weeks ago.

“I’m excited. It’s going to be a whole different environment. It will be good competition.”

Mohr, a record-breaking wide receiver who has signed to play at Central Connecticut State, didn’t seem surprised he made it to state although he had no previous track experience prior to this season.

“This is my first year doing track,” Mohr said. “Me and Coach Tyrone (Giscombe), we always knew I could jump. He was always telling me I could make it to state. It was just a matter of working hard. I knew I could do it.”

Mohr won the regional triple jump event with a mark of 44-5 ¼ and took third in the long jump at 22-1 ¾.

He’s looking to go all the way at the state meet.

“My expectations are to win the whole thing,” Mohr said. “I made it all the way here, so I feel like the only thing to do is to win. I’m glad I made it this far. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and Coach Tyrone.”

Babilonia, who has reached the state cross country meet as both a freshman and sophomore, was excited to make it to the state track meet for the first time after finishing third at regionals (11:38).

“I’m really excited because in track and field, it’s much harder to get to states than cross country,” she said. “… I’m very proud of myself.”

She is hoping for a top 15 finish at the state meet and also plans to make a slight alteration in her approach to the race.

“I’m not planning to go by splits this time,” she said. “I’m just going to complete and try to run for place this time because the weather conditions at states are not going to be great. It’s very hot and windy.”

Viera’s boys 4x800 relay team reached the state meet not just by breaking the school record. The team of Martinez, Karl, Giles and Coleman II shattered it by seven seconds, finishing fourth in a time of 8:11.27.

“It just happened,” Giles said. “We were trying to go to state, but we didn’t know we were going to break the school record.”

The Hawks know they will be up against some pretty tough competition at the state meet, but they’re ready for it.

“We’ve looked at the other state teams,” Giles said. “They’re pretty good, really good. We can go faster. I’m going to shoot for breaking two minutes (in my split).”

For Martinez, the chance to go to the state meet is a testament to his perseverance and determination.

Seeded fourth at the 2017 regionals, Martinez (then a sophomore) was running and in position to qualify for the state meet when the pain in his foot caused by plantar fasciitis proved to be too great.

Not only did he miss out on reaching the state meet, he wasn’t able to run during his junior season. Now, after working his way back, the senior is going in not just one, but three events.

“That’s what I’ve been thinking about all year,” he said. “(I’ve been thinking about it) since I was a sophomore.”