A year ago, Berean Christian School’s Tajauni Elliott, then a sophomore, advanced to the 2021 Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A state track and field championship on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. That achievement was noteworthy since the Royal Palm Beach resident was brand-new to the sport.
In last year’s state meet, Elliott competed in the 400-meter dash, where he advanced to the final. He finished in seventh place with a time of 51.52. This year, now a junior, Elliott returned to the state track and field championship, held Wednesday, May 11 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Elliott was fitter and faster with far more experience in the sport. Not only did he return to compete in the 400-meter dash, but he qualified in two other sprints — the 200 meters and 100 meters. He was joined in Gainesville by Bulldog track teammate Chelsea Christian, who qualified in the girls 400-meter dash.
This year, Elliott improved on last year’s seventh-place finish in the 400-meter dash. He was one place better, coming in sixth with a time of 49.59, nearly two seconds faster than his time at last year’s FHSAA meet. A week prior, on May 4, Elliott set his personal record of 48.90 at the Class 1A, Region 4 meet at Southridge Park in Miami.
In the 200-meter dash at the state meet, Elliott placed eighth with a time of 22.52, which was slightly slower than his personal record of 22.27, which he recorded at this year’s regional meet. Elliott did not advance to the championship final in the 100-meter dash.
Looking back on this season, Elliott was the district champion in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash. He was also a member of Berean’s 4×400-meter relay team, which included teammates Ormond Russell, Camden Cerbone and Kyle Pinnock. That relay team placed second in the district meet on April 26 and in third place in the regional meet on May 4.
As for Christian, a junior, it was her first appearance in the FHSAA’s state track meet. In the girls 400-meter dash, she did not advance out of the preliminary round. Her time was 1:00.48, which was close to her personal record of 1:00.35, which she set at William T. Dwyer High School’s Lincoln Knowles Memorial Meet earlier in the season.
Looking back on this past track season, Christian was the district champion in the 100-meter dash and 400-meter dash. She was a member of the winning 4×400-meter relay team, which included teammates Dylande Innocent, Lori Beth Louis and Maddison Stegall. At the district meet in Fort Lauderdale on April 26, she was second in the 200-meter dash. Christian’s best times this year in the 100-meter dash was 12.85, and 26.73 in the 200-meter dash.
Christian’s immediate track future is bright.
“Chelsea’s perfectionist mindset is the catalyst that drives her hard work,” said John Fix, Berean’s head track coach. “She was able to reach heights on the track this year that placed her in the upper echelon as a state competitor. She will definitely bring home some hardware from the FHSAA Class 1A state track meet in 2023.”
As Elliott enters his senior year of running track next spring, he will be looking to add another state title to the school’s history books. Back in 2010, former Bulldog track star Talyn Washington won the FHSAA Class 1A state title in the 400-meter dash. Washington’s winning time that year of 49.05 remains a school record.
While Elliott may or may not win a state title next year in any running event, don’t be surprised to see his times continue to improve — and don’t be surprised if he breaks the current school record time in the 400-meter dash.
“Tajauni’s natural ability is truly a blessing, however, his work ethic is second-to-none,” said Mario Jackson, Berean’s assistant track coach. “His tenacity and competitiveness to be the best will serve him well beyond the track. There’s no doubt in my mind that Tajauni will return to the Class 1A meet in his senior year as a three-time qualifier and medalist.”