SJ Mercury News Track Athletes of the Year - 2012

Girls Track Athlete of the Year: Taylore Jaques, Presentation By Glenn Reeves Posted: 06/19/2012 06:41:53 PM PDT Updated: 06/19/2012 10:38:36 PM PDT Taylore Jaques picked a perfect time to establish a new personal best. The pole vaulter from Presentation High cleared 13 feet, 4?1/4 inches at Buchanan High-Clovis on June 2 to win the state championship. "At the beginning of the season I didn't know if it was attainable," Jaques said. "After I cleared 13 feet (earlier in the season) I started hoping." Five vaulters cleared 13 feet at the state meet. It was the first time that ever occurred in the girls pole vault at a U.S. high school meet, according to longtime South Bay pole vault coach Bob Slover. Jaques, though, separated herself from the group by being the only one to clear 13-4?1/4, a nice way to conclude her sophomore year and her second year of competitive pole vaulting. Now Jaques, the Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, has set a goal in the 13-10 to 14-0 range for next year, which is getting close to the national record of 14-1 set by Castilleja's Tori Anthony in 2007. "We need to get her physically stronger," Slover said. "In the pole vault you're never strong enough or fast enough. Your technique is never perfect. "But she does a lot of things really right. She is a Level 9 gymnast. She already has better upper-body strength than any freshman or sophomore boy, unless they came out of gymnastics. "What she cleared at state, that's a good mark for a sophomore boy to jump." Jaques qualified for the state meet as a freshman, advancing through the prelims and clearing 11-6 in the finals to tie for seventh. That experience helped her this year, as she wasn't in awe of her surroundings or intimidated by the stage. "I was excited for it, really looking forward to it," Jaques said. "I felt it was a great opportunity to get a personal record with the unbelievable crowd." The pole vault is a unique event, one without a lot of parallels in other sports. Upper-body strength is important, but so is speed on the runway. And so is a certain mindset. "I guess the pole vault is the closest thing to flying," Jaques said. "People imagine flying through the air. It's fun to be up in the air and not be scared, to have faith you'll come down safe." GIRLS HONOR ROLL Sprinter of the year: Ellisa Bryant, Piedmont Hills, Jr. Hurdler of the year: Micha Auzenne, St. Francis, Jr. Distance runner of the year: Kylie Goo, Westmoor, Jr. Horizontal jumper of the year: Cydney Leath, Mt. Pleasant, Sr. Vertical jumper of the year: Rachel Bolton, Homestead, Sr. Thrower of the year: Brielle Rowe, Mountain View, Sr. Boys Track Athlete of the Year: E.J. Floreal, Palo Alto By Glenn Reeves Posted: 06/19/2012 06:48:29 PM PDT Updated: 06/19/2012 10:38:42 PM PDT E.J. Floreal has made it clear that basketball is his sport, his priority, his passion. But it just so happens he also has the talent to do very well in track and field. Floreal won both the 100 meters and the 200 at the Central Coast Section finals and anchored the 400 relay to another first-place finish as Palo Alto won its first CCS track championship in school history. The junior went on to place third in the 200 and fourth in the 100 at the state meet. Not bad for a basketball player moonlighting as a sprinter. He was asked whether his success this spring in track had changed his outlook. "No, I still feel the same, basketball is my game,'' said Floreal, the top scorer at the CCS meet, the top scorer from the CCS at the state meet and now named Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. "What it does is open more doors. If basketball unfortunately does not work out, track can be a backup plan.'' Floreal's father, Edrick Floreal, is the head track and field coach at Stanford. He competed for Canada in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games in the long jump and triple jump. E.J.'s mother, the former LaVonna Martin, was a U.S. Olympian in the 100 hurdles in 1988 and 1992, winning the silver medal in '92. Floreal was a standout on the Palo Alto basketball team the past two years, but, at 6-foot-4, was utilized primarily inside. Floreal knows his future in basketball is on the perimeter. "We lost our point guard,'' he said. "I'm going to be bringing the ball up more. All summer I'll be playing guard. Next year I'll play the 2 or the 3 and just post up when I have smaller players guarding me.'' He went out for track the first time as a sophomore. Palo Alto coach Jason Fung took a look at his long legs and put him in the 400. As a junior, Floreal got the chance to focus on the shorter sprints and made the most of it. He had bests of 10.52 seconds in the 100 and 21.16 in the 200. Palo Alto tied for sixth at the state meet with 13 points. Floreal's finish in the 100 and 200 accounted for 11 points. He anchored the 400 relay to a seventh-place finish for Palo Alto's other two points. "Next year I want to win state in the 100 or 200 and bring home gold,'' Floreal said. "For a team goal, I want us to repeat at CCS, but our ultimate goal is to win state. It will be difficult, but next year I will know what to expect.'' BOYS HONOR ROLL Sprinter of the year: E.J. Floreal, Palo Alto, Jr. Hurdler of the year: Kamara Biawogi, Prospect, Jr. Distance runner of the year: Yohaness Estifanos, Milpitas, Jr. Horizontal jumper of the year: Ricky Strehlow, Wilcox, Sr. Vertical jumper of the year: Patrick Hughes, Los Gatos, Sr. Thrower of the year: Cody Bickham, St. Francis, Sr.