Manatee’s multi-sport star Kavious Price separates self on track

Manatee’s Kavious Price is the Herald’s All-Area track and field athlete of the year for 2016.
Manatee’s Kavious Price is the Herald’s All-Area track and field athlete of the year for 2016.

Kavious Price has a wealth of athletic achievements to rave about during his time at Manatee. He was a star wide receiver for the Hurricanes, perpetually helping to bring them to the brink of state championships. On the track, he is a two-time state champion in the 400-meter relay with even more medals for his success as an individual.

What he really wants to talk about, though, is the time he dropped 32 points against St. Petersburg for the Canes’ basketball team as a sophomore. The Green Devils are loaded with Division I talent and Price was just using basketball season as a bridge between football and track seasons.

Manatee won only two that year, so Price’s performance flew under the radar. He remembers it well, though.

“Pretty decent for me,” Price said while grinning.

In the era of the specialized athlete, Price can’t be classified as one of Manatee County’s best athletes because of his performance in any one sport. On the football field, he was one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the state and a first-team All-Area selection in the fall. He spent three seasons as a varsity basketball player, handling point guard duties for the Hurricanes before dropping the sport as a senior to focus on track.

And that is where he has separated himself. This spring, Price completed one of the best track careers in program history. He was the only member returning from the 2015 Class 4A champion 400 relay and helped carry three new teammates to the 2016 title. Throw in medals in the 100 and 200 dashes, and Price is the clear All-Area Athlete of the Year.

“I was the leader and I had to lead by example,” Price said. “I feel like I just made the team that much better with my experience.”

Athletic prowess was always something of a given for Price. His mother was a track star at Palmetto and so was her mother. Before Price turned 2, his father had him catching a college-size football.

He’s always been small — he’s 5 feet, 7 inches and played football at 160 pounds in the fall — so he’s had to learn to be quick and shifty. When he started playing football as a 5-year-old with the Palmetto Trojans in Pop Warner Little Scholars he was either out at wide receiver or playing quarterback because of how gifted an athlete he was. As recently as the spring of 2014 he was even a full-time quarterback for Manatee.

This past fall, he was Manatee County’s top wide receiver and a first team All-State selection in Class 8A. Next year, he’ll play football at Kent State, where he’ll make his debut against Penn State in Pennsylvania, and also hopes to run track during the winter indoor season.

But there are plenty of great athletes to come through Manatee. Far fewer win multiple state championships.

“You don’t see many guys like KP come through Manatee,” said Lorenz Allen, a football and relay teammate of Price’s.

The seeds for his first state title were sewn as a sophomore, when he first teamed up with Jarquevis Laughlin and Sam Vrinios on the Hurricanes’ 400-meter relay. He was only a sophomore then, a year removed from running as the alternate on an all-senior relay team, and already he’d become the de facto leader of the unit.

His talent was evident to Smith during Price’s freshman season. He began the season as a raw, speedy football player and by the end of the year had cut half a second off his 100 dash time to force his way into the top five of the Canes’ 400 team.

At the time, Price was able to lean on his four experienced teammates who would go on to finish third at the Class 4A championship. By his sophomore year, he had to become the runner who was ready to lead a pair of state titles.

“He became very coachable his sophomore year,” head coach Mike Smith said, “and his competitiveness came out.”

The Hurricane relay didn’t qualify for the 4A meet that season, but Price won his first medal with an eighth-place finish in the 100. Once again, he cut half a second off his time. He was more than just athlete used to darting around the football field, making defenders miss in the open field. He had become a track maven, enthralled with the nuances and technical aspects of the sport.

At the state championship last year in Jacksonville, the Canes were the runaway favorite with Price anchoring a team including three seniors. When college coaches spoke with Smith during the meet, the head coach heaped praise upon his junior leader.

“He’s just another coach,” Smith told them. “He listened enough where he was able to help the kids with their start as much as I could.”

When the team took an entirely new look for Price’s senior year it was this leadership which became most important. He spent his junior year learning the routine it takes to win a state championship, meeting with Smith every week to discuss where the team stood at any given moment and where it needed to get during the coming weeks to stay on track.

Price could instruct his three new teammates while also fostering an atmosphere of confidence. Allen said it’s because Price has never been afraid to voice his opinion and he tends to be right. He promised his teammates that if they handed him the baton for the final 100 meters and Price was within range, he would win them a state championship.

Price finally saw it click with his teammates when they were on the way back from the Florida Relays. Manatee had won a bronze medal and while Price sat in the front seat of the car with Smith driving he saw his teammates brimming with excitement in the back seat. For the first time, Smith and Price saw the same sort of confidence Price has.

“Yep,” Price said to Smith. “They finally understand.”

David Wilson: 941-745-7057, @DBWilson2

Honorable mentions

MANATEE: Reggie Carter, senior, runner; Lorenz Allen, senior, runner; Marcel Sanchez, senior, runner; Chase Main, junior, jumper; Seth Walter, junior, thrower; Darante Copeland, senior, runner

LAKEWOOD RANCH: Ian Griffin, junior, runner; John Rivera, junior, runner; Michael Petruzzi, senior, jumper; Ben Lacina, senior, jumper; Sam Jackson, junior, thrower

PALMETTO: Azavion Smith, senior, runner

SOUTHEAST: Dominic MacRae, senior, runner; Dequan Williams, junior, thrower

BAYSHORE: Arion Youmans, freshman, runner

SAINT STEPHEN’S: Andrew Csubak, junior, runner; Jordon Murrell, junior, runner; Bobby Harrison, senior, runner

All-area schedule

June 16: Boys tennis

June 17: Girls tennis

June 18: Softball

June 19: Baseball

June 21: Boys track

June 22: Girls track

June 23: boys weightlifting