Versatile Jackson (Miami)
track star Robin Reynolds
has a chance to become the biggest gold medal winner in Florida history over the next two years.
The 5-foot-4 junior dynamo shocked the state by winning four golds and leading her team to the Class 3A title as a mere freshman. Though plagued by injuries as a sophomore, she won three more.
The state record is 13 by Julian Reynolds of Benjamin (North Palm Beach, Fla.) from 1990-95. She had the advantage of winning three as either a seventh or eighth grader. She won the 800 six times, the 1,600 five times and the 400 and 100 once. Three individuals share the boys' record with nine golds.
Robin Reynolds' running career began in a rather unusual – and somewhat humorous – situation.
She told MaxPreps that when she was 7 years old, "I used to go to the park with my dad (Carl Cunningham). He was a football coach (of the Northwest Boys Club Pop Warner team). He used to make the boys do suicides for punishment. I used to beat them. They used to get mad at the coaches, because if I beat them, they had to run again."
Cunningham added, "She thought it was all fun and games. We all were surprised. Originally, we thought she was beating them because they were tired. So we started running them at the beginning of practice and she kept on beating them."
Her parents decided to enroll her in a local track program at age 8 and she was an instant hit.
"I taught her a lot of technique," said Cunningham, who is an assistant boys track coach at Jackson – his alma mater – as well as the school's curriculum intervention specialist. "She has the get-up-and-go spirit where she doesn't ever want to lose."
At age 8, Reynolds was running the 800 and 1,500 in the 9-10 age group. At age 10 she won the 200 in a national-record 26.5 seconds during the Junior Olympics in Eugene, Ore.
"It felt great," she said of her national record. "I was on top of the world. I was a little kid with a lot of ambition. I was practicing hard, real happy and blessed."
As a freshman and sophomore she attended Turner Tech, a magnet school which did not have a sports program. She was able to run for a school of her choice, which was going to be Jackson because her father threw the shot put and discus for the Generals. At Jackson she came under the tutelage of Donnell Jackson, who said he first saw her as a sixth grader.
"She was a scrawny little thing," he described. "I couldn't believe she was capable of doing the things she was doing. Her body finally (now) is catching up with her talent."
She went undefeated during a phenomenal freshman year. During the Class 3A state meet, she won the 100 in 11.56, the 200 in 23.67, the 400 in 54.95 and the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 4¾ inches. She scored 40 of the Generals' 60 points as they claimed their first state title since 1980.
Reynolds was only the fifth girl – and second freshman – to win four golds in the history of Florida's state meet.
Practically everyone in the state was stunned, except Reynolds.
She said, "I did (expect to win four golds). I always went to the state track meet. I always had a vision and dream that I wanted to win a state championship. It wasn't going to be easy, but I drove for it. None of the races were close. It was flat-out convincing."
Jackson described Reynolds' sophomore year as "kind of plagued by injuries. At the state meet she was kind of held together by rubber bands. She had a blister on her foot and was dehydrated. She was cramping when she was in the blocks (for the 200)."
Her sophomore year actually had started with a twisted ankle. Still, she won three more state titles: the 100 in 11.79, the 400 in 54.02 and the long jump at 18-10½.
"I was ready for the challenge, but my body just wouldn't go," she said of her eighth-place finish in the 200.
Last summer she estimated that her body was about 95 percent healthy.Continue reading