April 2, 2024

Lake Sumter State College Inaugural Track & Field Season Off To Strong Start

2.4 min read| Published On: April 2nd, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Lake Sumter State College Inaugural Track & Field Season Off To Strong Start

2.4 min read| Published On: April 2nd, 2024|

CLERMONT, Fla. – Lakehawk track athletes have come off the blocks strong in their inaugural season.

After starting the season with indoor competitions from January to March, the team has transitioned to outdoor competition through May. Thanks to a partnership with Orlando Health South Lake Hospital, the team practices at the National Training Center adjacent to the LSSC South Lake Campus.

Indoor Competition

During the indoor season, LSSC competed in four meets alongside NJCAA, NAIA, and NCAA Division I and II athletes.

On February 8, 2024, Jaabir Taylor was named the NJCAA Track & Field Athlete of the Week after a standout performance at the Celebration Pointe Classic indoor meet in Gainesville. Competing in the 400-Meter, Taylor ran a time of 51.41 seconds, his third consecutive indoor personal record of the season.

Taylor’s time was good for a first-place finish in his heat and an overall 18th place finish. He was the highest finishing two-year school athlete competing. This achievement by Taylor was both the first national honor for Lakehawk track & field and the first for any track & field athlete within NJCAA Region 8/Florida College System.

“As Jaabir’s coach, I could not be prouder to see him recognized as the NJCAA Athlete of the Week,” said Head Coach Cristy Snellgroves. “His dedication to his sport and his unwavering commitment to excellence are truly commendable. With a clear goal of becoming an Olympic athlete, Jaabir consistently puts in the work and effort required to achieve his dreams. His determination, discipline, and passion for his craft serve as an inspiration to his teammates and coaches alike.”

Outdoor Competition

The Lakehawks competed in three meets in March with four left on the schedule this season.

Another standout performance came on March 4 from Santos Aguilar, a sophomore, at the Embry-Riddle Blue & Gold Invite.

Competing in the first outdoor meet of the season, Aguilar posted an 800-Meter time of 1:54.15, taking first in his heat and third overall in the final standings. His time was the fastest 800M time in the country for the opening weekend of the outdoor track & field season.

Aguilar’s mark was less than one second off from qualifying for the 2024 national championship meet.

“To finish in the top three in a race is always a reminder that I’m a gamer, a competitor, and that I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” shared Aguilar. “No matter if I finish first or last, it’s a blessing.”

Coaching Success

Head Coach Cristy Snellgroves boasts an impressive resume as a two-time U.S. medalist in the 50-mile National Championships, a bronze medalist at the Comrades Marathon 89k in South Africa, and over 130 marathons completed in her running career.

In March 2024, Snellgroves joined Team USA Track & Field as the Women’s Distance Coach for the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Last year, she was selected as the Women’s Distance Coach for the Pan-Am U20 Championships and has coached at several other international competitions for USA Track & Field.

“Coach Cristy Snellgroves’ coaching selections with USA Track & Field speak to her expertise, passion, and commitment to train and inspire athletes to their full potential,” said Dr. Heather Bigard, President of Lake-Sumter State College. “Not only is she an excellent role model for our female athletes, Coach Snellgroves embodies the College’s commitment to the pursuit of excellence in support of our student-athletes.”

Looking Ahead

As they round out the season, the Lakehawk runners have their sights set on the 2024 NJCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s Track & Field Championships this May in West Monroe, La.

Visit www.lakehawksports.com to stay up-to-date on all Lakehawk Athletics activities and results.

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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