Graciana Wargo and Jamari Johnson to be honored as Sunshine State Games Athletes of the Year
TALLAHASSEE – A pair of young athletes who are rising stars within their sports, with family ties to the Sunshine State Games (SSG), have been selected Athletes of the Year for the 2014 Games and will be presented with their awards at the 2015 Games this month.
Racquetball player, Graciana Wargo, of Clearwater, and Jamari Johnson, a discus thrower from Tampa earned the annual awards with their performances at last year’s games.
Wargo, her father, Gary, and brother Evan have competed in the Sunshine State Games as Graciana has seen her game expand to a national level. Johnson’s mother and uncles are discus throwers who have guided him through his high school years to a state championship and his grandfather, Nate, is a long-time Track and Field coach and official.
At the 2014 Games in Sarasota, Graciana Wargo competed in both the Women’s C Singles and the Mixed B Doubles racquetball divisions, winning Gold Medals in both. Later in 2014, at the USA Racquetball Junior Olympics in Colorado, Graciana won two medals, including the Gold Medal National Championship in the Girls Age 12 & Under Doubles.
This qualified her for a roster spot on Team USA where the team competed in the Junior Racquetball World Championships in Cali, Colombia, against 21 other countries, where Team USA brought home a Third Place Team Bronze Medal in October 2014. Graciana has also competed and traveled in years past as part of Team USA in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. She has competed nationally in racquetball since age 6. She has been the Florida Racquetball Association Junior Female Player of the Year in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Graciana’s Dad (Gary) and Brother (Evan) both also compete in racquetball at the Sunshine State Games. She will receive her award on Saturday, June 6 at the Sarasota YMCA – Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Branch
In November 2012, Sports Illustrated Kids honored Graciana, as one of four youth athletes in the country chosen a “Future Stars: SportsKids of the Month.” She was in consideration after winning age-group National Championships in all three divisions — Singles, Doubles and Mixed. Also evaluated were youth athletes that not only achieved sports accomplishments, but established high-level academic achievements and meaningful volunteer community service efforts.
Jamari Johnson has risen through the SSG Track and Field ranks as a competitor and member of a family of discus throwers. At the 2014 Championships in Clearwater, he had a discus throw of 163 feet to beat the next best throw by more than 50 feet. He also had a silver medal winning shot put of 44 feet, missing a gold medal by ½ inch.
His discus throwing family members include his mother, Sana’tera Isacc, and uncles, Marqus and Garrett Johnson. Garrett earned All-American shot put honors at Florida State University and was a 2006 Rhodes Scholar. Jamari has been throwing since the age of four, according to his grandfather, Nate Johnson, who has been involved in SSG Track and Field since 1986. He will receive his award on Saturday, June 20 at the Youth Track and Field competition at Punta Gorda High School.
Jamari has been competing in the Sunshine State Games off and on since 2006. In 2015, he won the Class A State Championship Discus Gold Medal with a throw of 163 feet, 1 inch and a silver in the shot put for Seffner Christian Academy. He has advanced to the State Championship meet every year since he was in seventh grade, and now a recent graduate of, Seffner Christian.
For more information or to register for the any of the remaining Sunshine State Games event, visit www.flasports.com, or call toll free 1-866-354-2637 (FL GAMES).
Wargo and Johnson join a long list of former Athletes of the Year who have gone on to compete on a national and international level.
Previous Sunshine State Games Athletes of the Year (2000-13)
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 Games)
Andrew Stroud, Fencing, Safety Harbor (Spring Games)
Alina Syukova, Synch. Swimming, Longwood (Summer Games)
Robert Wimberly, Wrestling, Fort Lauderdale (Summer Games)
Melanie Vega-Borja, Judo, Wellington (Spring Games)
Chad Schiferl, Mountain Bike, Criterium, St. Pete (Spring Games)
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)