Posted: 8:11 pm Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Class 4A state track: John I. Leonard’s Ryan Pickering chased down in 3200 

By Matt Porter

WINTER PARK – Ryan Pickering did all he could, but he couldn’t do anything about Armando Del Valle.

Pickering, the John I. Leonard senior who won gold in the 1600 at last year’s states, wasn’t at his best heading into Saturday’s Class 4A meet. His speed is down; he can’t figure out why. He attributed it to a loss of confidence; his coach attributed it to a lack of weight training and overthinking.

Whatever the reason, he wanted to finish his high school career with a strong performance in the 3200 after placing fifth in the 1600.

Pickering, Del Valle and Orlando-Boone senior John-Logan Hines pushed the pace and traded the lead. With 200 meters to go, Del Valle, a senior from Miami-Columbus, broke into a jaw-dropping sprint, winning the 3200 in 9:09.08. Pickering placed second (9:12.17).

“I knew he had another gear,” Pickering said. “He does it all the time. I don’t know how he works on it.”

“He’s amazing,” Lancers coach Al Jordan added.

Pickering, who finished fourth at states (9:23.14) in the 3200 last year, will likely increase his distance at the University of Oregon, running 5K or 3K races. Del Valle, who won gold in the mile and ran a 1:51 split in the 3200 relay, will do whatever he wants next year at Florida State.