Versatile Florida Star Sophia Falco Aims For Flo Golden South

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Sophia Falco is coming off her biggest haul at the FHSAA Track and Field Championships yet.

The recent Bradenton Lakewood Ranch (Fl.) High graduate and Vanderbilt University signee produced two Class 3A championships in the long jump and triple jump and added medals in the 100m (4th) and 200m (7th).

There's not much left for Falco to accomplish, though she's going to try at Flo Golden South on Saturday at the National Training Center in Clermont.

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"I'm really just trying to get ready for nationals, which are in June," Falco said. "It's kind of like a prep meet for me. I'm still peaking, so hopefully I can PR."

At Flo Golden South, she'll compete in the 100m and long and triple jump.

Falco's focus has always been on the end-of-season meets. But that sightline includes New Balance Nationals Outdoor for the second straight year. In 2016, Falco won the emerging elite division of the girls triple jump (40-5) and earned All-American nods in the 100m (5th, 11.59) and the long jump (20-5.25).

"It's definitely been a long season and a lot of hard work has been put into it," she said. "Going into the meet, there's a lot I've accomplished but I've been working for more. It's been a good feeling knowing things are paying off."

Falco established herself this season as one of the nation's best. Currently, she sits at US No. 3 in the triple jump (42-8), US No. 20 in the 100m (11.65) and US No. 39 in the 200m (24.05).

But Falco isn't afraid about communicating her goals, either.

"I'm probably shooting for 21 feet in the long jump, 43 feet in the triple jump and 11.4 in the 100m," she said.

With a Brooks PR qualifier on the line in the 100m, Falco has a shot to win.

But the versatile athlete said she's not worried about that, either.

What will make the competition a little more special is a particular teammate on the sidelines. It's no secret Falco is dating Ole Miss signee and Lakewood Ranch graduate John Rivera, who's US No. 4 in the 800 with a time of 1:50.38.

Rivera will be competing in the 800, 4x400, 4x800 and potentially the 1-mile at Flo Golden South as well.

Talk about a power couple in high school track and field.

"It's definitely hard to see each other run," Falco said. "We make sure to make an effort to see everything we're doing, but track meets are spread out. He's been really great and someone who I can share the spotlight with and we're both proud of each other."

Who's going to have a better performance at Flo Golden South?

That's up for discussion.

But ultimately Falco is concentrated on her goals. And she knows there's still room for improvement.

"Some people are superstitious about saying their goals," she said. "You're working really hard and you want to hit your marks. But I'm not ashamed or scared at what I'm saying. It's within reach, and either way, as long as I'm getting there, that's what matters."

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