TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A pair of under 20 athletes added impressive totals to their already impressive resumes at 2018 Sunshine State Games competitions to earn the annual Male and Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Madison Malone, of Fort Lauderdale, competed in the Ultra Weight Throw in the 2018 SSG International Beach Games in Clearwater Beach and threw a weighted ball through the air to earn the honor. Meanwhile Kahleil Jackson, of Hawthorne, threw a circular ball filled with air, through a hoop at the 2018 SSG Basketball Championships in Alachua County.
After taking up the weight throw in her junior year of high school, Malone participated in the inaugural SSG International Beach Games in 2016 and won her first gold medal. That success earned her a trip to the New Balance National Indoor Championships, where she made such an impression on coaches from Auburn University, the recruitment process began. She was ultimately offered a full scholarship.
She returned to the 2018 Beach Games and won the gold medal, with a 20lb ball throw of 54 feet, in the U29 Florida Weight Throw Championship gold medal.
While it was the longest throw of any athletes competing, it was not one of her best performances, according to her coach from the Broward Elite USATF Team, Jim Griffin.
“She threw 72 feet at the SEC Indoor Championships this year,” he said.
She competes in the Indoor Weight Throw and Outdoor Hammer Throw at Auburn and was recently named the SEC Freshman Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
As a member of the gold-medal winning Florida Hornets team, Kahleil Jackson earned the MVP of the 11th Grade Division. The Hornets won three of four games over the weekend of games and beat Gainesville Stampede in the Championship game, 72-61.
“We were down by three late in the game and Kahleil scored seven straight points to change the momentum of the game to give us the lead and eventually the win,” said Hawthorne High School Basketball Coach Greg Bow, who also coached the Hornets team.
Besides being a talented basketball player for Hawthorne High School, Jackson threw 42 td passes in 2018 as the senior quarterback for the football team and is a member of the track and field team, running in the 110- and 330-meter hurdles and 4X100 Relay Team Events. He was named one of the Gainesville Sun’s High School Football Players of the Year.
As a member of the Hawthorne basketball team, Jackson played in 49 games during his junior and senior years and averaged 11.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game. His Florida Hoops team was made up of the majority of the team from Hawthorne High School that finished with a 23-6 record and advanced to the Regional Final of the 2018-19 FHSAA State Basketball Tournament.
Malone and Jackson are the 40th and 41st individual athletes to earn the award since 2000, along with one girls’ basketball team and a family of judo athletes.
Previous Sunshine State Games Athletes of the Year (2000-17)
Angelica Ramirez, Archery, Melbourne
Brian Hickey, Track and Field, Tallahassee
Briana Whitman, Synchronized Swimming, Lakeland
Trevor McGovern, Swimming, Gainesville
Jenn Figueroa, Rowing, Gainesville
Jaden Villalobos, Wrestling, Fort Lauderdale
Graciana Wargo, Racquetball, Clearwater
Jamari Johnson, Track and Field, Tampa
Jesse Price, Taekwondo, Tampa
Justin Herman, Fencing, Plantation
Jessicah O’Rourke, Artistic Roller-skating, St. Petersburg
Bill Kelly, Archery, Lakeland
Carolyn Vasconcellos, Synchronized Swimming, Palm Coast
Chris Follenius, Weightlifting, Gainesville
Cece Williams, Swimming, Tallahassee
Matt Tamayo, Karate, Gainesville
The Germain Family, Judo, Bartow
Evelyn Dowling, West Palm Beach, Synchronized Swimming
Luke Kendall, Winter Haven, Track & Field/Swimming
Jessica Randolph, Plantation, Swimming
Joe Shanahan, Casselberry, Track & Field
Tim Gehret, Miami, Ultimate
Lady Superfriends Basketball Team, Gadsden County
Ryan Milmoe, Weightlifting, Fort Lauderdale
Susan Pfahler, Racquetball, Neptune Beach
Shane Simerly, Judo Niceville
Tyler Wolfe, Karate, Gainesville
Samuel Valentin, Tampa, Boxing
Gertrude Zint, Edgewater, Rowing
Anita Perkins, Track & Field, Belle Glade (Summer Games)
Larry Parzynski, Canoe/Kayak, Cape Coral (Summer Games)
Felecia Gostisbehere, Figure Skating, Margate (Spring)
Andrew Stroud, Fencing, Safety Harbor (Spring Games)
Alina Syukova, Synch. Swimming, Longwood (Summer)
Robert Wimberly, Wrestling, Fort Lauderdale (Summer)
Melanie Vega-Borja, Judo, Wellington (Spring Games)
Chad Schiferl, Mountain Bike, Criterium, St. Pete (Spring)
Amber Davis, Weightlifting, Chiefland (Summer Games)
Alex Forbes, Swimming, Casselberry (Summer Games)
Dusty Price, Figure Skating, Coral Springs (Spring Games)
Catherine Leach, Sport Shooting, Orlando (Spring Games)
About the Sunshine State Games
The Sunshine State Games are presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, and a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The Foundation works in conjunction with a variety of local sports industry partners to present the different competitions. The Sunshine State Games, an annual amateur sports tradition in Florida, is part of the state’s $57.4 billion sports industry that accounts for 580,000 jobs statewide.