SPRING ALL-AREA: Raffay named LCR's Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Confident yet determined, Yassin Raffay doesn’t shy away from competition.
He carries high expectations on his shoulders, so when he entered the Class 3A State Meet seeded 12th in the 3200m race, that wasn’t good enough.
Raffay wanted a state medal and he was going to get it.
The recent Columbia graduate and soon-to-be runner at Seminole State College came down the stretch of the state race in 10th place, but a late push catapulted him past two runners into eighth to take the last spot on the medal stand.
His state performance followed up a third-place finish in Region 1-3A and a silver medal in District 3-3A. For his accomplishments this season, Raffay is the Lake City Reporter’s Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“You have to give it your all. I kicked and I passed whoever. It worked out well,” Raffay said of the race. “In that last stretch I just had to finish strong and not think about anything else — clear your head and just go for it because it’s the end of the race.”
Most kids would be thrilled with an eighth-place finish and a medal at state, but Raffay actually thought he should have finished higher. He posted a time of 9:40.86, just 0.01 seconds behind Robinson’s Ethan Geiger and just 2.04 seconds out of fifth place.
Raffay says he was mentally ready for the race but should have been better prepared physically.
“My goal was to go to state and place but honestly, I should have been in a better position,” said Raffay, who was also the LCR’s Boys cross Country Runner of the Year. “I was really aiming for sixth place but eighth is where I ended up and I got a medal. Eighth is better than nothing.”
“I didn’t run my best race. Before the race I didn’t prepare the way I should have. I think I was walking too much and I may have gotten there too early. I don’t know. It was a couple of things but I definitely could have been in a better position. I could have felt better for it.”
Still, Raffay’s times increased steadily throughout the postseason. He went from 9:45.43 at districts to 9:43.63 at regionals before notching a personal-best at state.
Raffay also excelled during the regular season in multiple events, winning the 800 at the Friday Night Spikes and the 1600m at the Knight Invite. He also placed second in the 3200 at the Knight Invite, fourth in the 3200 at pre-state and fifth in the 1600 at the FTI-East Coast Classic.
“He’s one of the most dedicated young men that I’ve ever coached,” Columbia coach Audre Ruise-Washington said. “He puts 200 percent in in terms of getting there early and leaving there late. He and coach (Ed) Morse have an excellent rapport in terms of distance conditioning and that kind of thing. Most of the things I worked with him on were pretty much physical and just getting conditioned physically with the breathing and that kind of thing. But overall, he’s a very humble young man, which is what I really love about him. He gave it 100 percent every time he got on the line.”
Raffay will run both track and cross country at Seminole State College for the next two years. His coach currently has him on a schedule where he’s running six days a week to prepare for the JUCO level.
“I’m excited. I’m fired up. I want to see what this body can do and see how far it can go,” Raffay said. “Just one step at a time. It’s a ladder — if you put in the work, you can get it. If you set goals and you follow the steps the right way, you make the best out of it. I’m very excited but it’s going to be different and more intense obviously.
“But I plan on dominating JUCO honestly in long distance for the next two years. I’d like to dominate JUCO.”
Won the District 5-1A title with a throw of 12.91 meters before placing eighth at regionals.
Lorinza Jelks, Jamari Pate, Tracy White, James Williamson
Columbia’s 4x100 relay team qualified for state thanks to a sixth-place finish in Region 1-3A (43.33) after taking silver at districts (43.51). White also placed sixth in the 100m dash at districts (11.43).