Back on Track

Ben Lack, Sports Editor

Breaking six school records was not enough for senior Jared Hayes.  At FHSAA Track Regionals this season, he ran the 800 meter race in 1:55.98, good for second at the meet. Earning himself a spot at the state championship,  Hayes capped off a momentous high school track career, in which he amassed a collection of four district championships, four regional appearances and one state bid. At the state meet on May 4, Hayes placed 16th, with a time of 1:58.86.

“What we did this year was focus on speed early on in his training,” Coach Gregory Hayes said. “Same thing we did last year, and then as the season progressed went to working more on strength endurance to where he could finish off a race like the last one hundred meters.”

Since his freshman year, Jared has broken the 300, 400, 600 and 800 meter school records. He also was on the 4×400 and 4×800 record-holding relay teams.

In his sophomore year at regionals, Jared fell during the last 50 meters of the 800 meter race, dropping from second place to last. The following season, history repeated itself as Jared tripped once again while attempting to move into third place with 200 meters remaining. The sudden disruption of the race caused four other runners to fall, creating somewhat of a pileup in the middle of the track. 

“After the disappointing finishes he’s had the last few regionals, it was special seeing him finally succeed,” Jared’s brother and teammate Austin said. “The time he ran qualified him for the [University of North Florida’s] track team as a walk-on. He already committed there before regionals, but following his performance, he solidified his spot on the team.”

In addition to running on the Osprey’s track team, Jared will enter  an exclusive nursing program comprising of 25 undergraduates at UNF. 

“I was torn between attending [the University of Florida] and UNF for the longest time,” he said. “I was invited to a nursing interview at UNF and initially I was not accepted. I was leaning towards UF, but a week later I was sent an email saying that I was admitted because someone opted out and I was at the top of the waiting list. This made me confident in choosing UNF because of the guaranteed spot in the program as well as the track team.”

The state meet was held at UNF’s track this year, allowing Jared to compete in front of future coaches and against his future teammates. 

“Running at UNF was very surreal during the state meet,” he said. “It was a great introduction to the next four years of my track career.”