Athletics News – News – Montverde Academy FL Track Program Ready To ‘Show Out’ At New Balance Nationals Indoor - News - Montverde Academy FL Track Program Ready To 'Show Out' At New Balance Nationals Indoor

Orlando-Area Super Team Could Win As Many As 10 National Titles This Weekend At New Balance Nationals Indoor

By David Woods for DyeStat

Montverde (FL) Academy has long been a basketball incubator. Its alumni include NBA players such as Joel Embiid, D’Angelo Russell, Ben Simmons, R.J. Barrett, Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes.

Perhaps it was not Montverde’s mission to develop something similar in track and field. But that is what happened.

“When I got here five years ago, this is definitely not where I expected the program to be. Ever. Never mind in a five-year period,” coach Gerald Phiri said.

As recently as Florida’s 2018 state meet, Montverde had two points for boys and zero for girls. Last year, Montverde scored 90 points to win the Class 2A boys title and 62 for second among girls.

Now the Eagles feature athletes such as Issam Asinga, US#1 at 60 meters and No. 2 all-time; Micah Larry, last year’s US#1 in the long jump; Zyaire Nuriddin, US#2 at 400 last year; Micayah Holland, US#2 at 60 meters and No. 4 all-time; Adeajah Hodge, US#4 at 60 and 200; Michelle Smith, US#2 at 600.

Larry, Nuriddin and Holland are all national champions.


Heading into this weekend’s New Balance indoor nationals at Boston, the Montverde boys have potential champions in as many as seven events and the girls in at least three.

So this Montverde group is historically good. Not just for one year or one state.

“I don’t really dwell on those kinds of things,” Phiri said. “I’m definitely aware. When the year started back in September, we had a meeting with the kids. I did tell them, ‘This is a very rare team. We’re probably not going to see something like this in a very long time.’

“But I’d say our day-to-day is not any different, in terms of holding kids to a standard and getting them to do the best they possibly can.”

Phiri, 34, was originally asked to help coach by his wife, Khrystal, the athletic director at Montverde. He has subsequently become director of boys and girls programs. Phiri is a former Texas A&M sprinter – he was second in the NCAA indoor 60 meters in 2010 – and twice represented Zambia in the Olympic Games.

There is an unusual synergy at Montverde in that Dennis Mitchell’s pro training group – featuring Sha’Carri Richardson, TeeTee Terry and Kenny Bednarek – trains on the school’s track. Phiri said his teenagers like having the pros there, but they don’t work out…

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