Sophia Falco, Junior, Lakewood Ranch
To her credit: Falco completed one of the best seasons in Mustangs history by leading Lakewood Ranch to the Class 4A championship in Bradenton. She claimed gold in the long jump, silvers in the triple jump and 100 meters, and a fifth in the 200.
Ranch scored 68 points to win the state title. Falco accounted for 30 of those.
Falco, whose sister, Talia, was also a state champion for Lakewood Ranch and now competes for Kent State, battled through shin splints to produce a season to rival her older sister’s. The junior added Class 4A-Region 2 championships in the long and triple jumps, and Class 4A-District 8 titles in both jumps and the 200. She only competed in the triple jump a handful of times before the postseason and still jumped 40 feet, 2 inches in the final, falling four inches short of the winning distance.
Fast fact: Shin splints aren’t the only issue Falco has to contend with on the track. The athlete also struggles with severe athletic-induced asthma.
Up next: Falco has one more season with the Mustangs, where she’ll likely be the favorite to win state championships in the long jump and triple jump. She’ll be one of the most sought-after jumpers in Florida.
MANATEE — Raquel Lespasio, sophomore, runner; Alison Ecker, junior, runner; Jacqui Armer, senior, thrower
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Reide Ryans, senior, jumper; Faith Schyck, sophomore, runner; Shay Lee, sophomore, runner; Kristine Akervold, junior, jumper; Olivia Ogles, senior, jumper; Cree Lotterer, junior, jumper
PALMETTO — Elizabeth Atkinson, junior, thrower
BRADEN RIVER — Alyssa Gagnon, junior, runner; Emma King, junior, jumper
SOUTHEAST — Priscilla Miller, sophomore, runner; Johnelle Clark, junior, thrower
BAYSHORE — Alexus Norman, junior, jumper
SAINT STEPHEN’S — Kaitlyn Siegel, senior, jumper
OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY — Saraiah Walks, seventh, runner; Sofia Gardinier, junior, runner