No track. No problem! Highlands Christian Academy seniors Ryan Davis and Kyle Audet picked up where they left off last year as they advanced to the state track meet and came away with stellar performances.
Davis successfully defended his state title in the Class 1A 300-meter hurdles as he clocked a 38.04 time and won by two seconds. Audet was fifth in the event as he ran a 40.88.
Davis was fourth in the 110- meter hurdles with a 14.76 time, while Audet was close behind at 15.43 and took seventh.
Sixth-year Highlands Christian track coach Marc Veynovich said he was not surprised by their performances despite not having a track at the school.
“Watching Ryan when he first started running and how he took to the hurdles, and in pretty much every event you put him in, I wasn’t super surprised,” Veynovich said of Smith, who signed a track scholarship with Liberty. “I definitely expected a repeat from him this year even though he was suffering from a groin injury.
“Ryan had very little practice time, yet he still had the athletic ability to put it all out there and still get down to low 38s,” Veynovich added. “He would have been in the 37s this year if he had any challenge. I really feel for him.”
Veynovich called Audet a “beast.” Audet has been accepted to the University of Florida and said he would try and walk on for track and maybe kick for the football team.
“Kyle is good at whatever he does,” Veynovich said. “He is an excellent football player, an excellent soccer player and what he brought to track was complete athleticism and the ability to do whatever I asked of him. He was also an 11-6 pole vaulter in addition to the hurdles.”
Audet, 18, of Deerfield Beach, has been at Highlands for 14 years. This is his fifth year running track at the school.
“The whole point of not having a track is when you are running on the grass you don’t get correct times that you would usually get on a track,” said Audet, who finished 11th in the state in hurdles as a sophomore and eighth last year as a junior. “You can’t practice your splits in hurdles as well as you could do on a track.
“I mean, it would help a lot to have a track,” Audet said with a laugh. “I just like to consider us the grass hurdle brothers because we have been doing it on grass the whole time.”
Audet said it was a lot of fun attending Highlands where he played football, soccer and track.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Audet, who also plays beach volleyball. “I love the fact that I went to a small school so I’d be able to play all of these sports. It conditioned my body into the perfect athlete.”
Davis, 18, also of Deerfield Beach, has been a Knight since he was in kindergarten. “It is kind of cool to see the people I have grown up with like Kyle,” Davis said. “Just through the years seeing how much I’ve changed and how much the school has changed. I am really proud of what I have been able to do.”
Davis will have a banner up on the gym wall again. Other than former Athletic Director and head boys basketball coach Reg Cook, who won more than 500 games at the school, Davis is the lone individual who is recognized with a banner.
“I was the first individual state champion for Highlands as far as any sport goes so they put that up last year,” Davis said. “I thought that was very nice of them. It feels really good. I feel that God has pushed me in this direction every step of the way. Throughout my life, he has been guiding me the right way and staying here and running track here.”
“It really set in after the race that it was my last race in high school,” Davis said. “It feels great to win states my senior year and the last two years. It was an amazing gift from God.”
Cook, who is an assistant athletic director at the school, said Veynovich has done a wonderful job building the program and guiding it to its first-ever district title this year. He said there were approximately 20 varsity girls, 20 varsity boys and 20 middle school (boys and girls) athletes in the program.
“A lot of credit goes to coach Veynovich and his leadership,” Cook said. “Track, a lot of times, was on the back burner. Now it is a prestigious part of our school. It shows pride in the track program and that is just great.”