Jillian Candelino de Bolles is the First Hill Female Long Distance Runner of the Year

Keeping up the pressure: For a back-to-back state champion, it’s not easy.

But Jillian Candelino makes a relaxed approach work very well. Even as the trophies pile up, junior Bolles tries to keep the pressure low.

“I try not to push myself too hard and focus on winning the team,” she said.

For the second year in a row, she is the Times-Union All-First Coast Athlete of the Year for women’s cross country, multiple state champion for Jacksonville in fall cross country and track running in spring.

Candelino led the Bulldogs to a record 13th Florida High School Athletic Association championship at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, as Bolles led the Class 2A standings with 56 points.

Counting the team, individual and relay titles, that makes five championships, one year: two in cross-country, three on track.

All First Coast Cross Country:Discover the whole team

Women’s All-First Coast Track:Discover the whole team

Bolles junior Jillian Candelino runs on the Bolles school campus.  She has won five FHSAA championships in 2021-22, including individual, team and relay titles.

Superb in cross season…

Candelino left the field throughout the fall in cross country.

When the state finals rolled around, no one in Class 2A even came close.

She escaped the competition and crossed the line in 17:53.20, winning by a margin of 29 seconds over Titusville Astronaut State runner-up Madison Carr for her first FHSAA Individual Cross Country Championship. . She had placed 12th in 2017, 18th in 2018, 12th again in 2019 and second in 2020.

“I saw the signs that she was really developing as a runner last year, said Bolles cross-country coach Tony Ryan. “This year she just took it to a whole new level.”

Perhaps Candelino’s best race of her season came in the only race in Florida she didn’t win. At the FSU Invitational in October in Tallahassee, she ran 17:36.50 on her way to a second-place finish and surpassed Caitlin Collier’s school record from 2015.

“I was running with Coach Ryan with three-quarters of a mile to go, and he was saying I could break the school record,” she said. “I was like, ‘What?’ It lit a fire under me and I just started sprinting, and when I crossed the finish line I was just in shock.”

For all the wins, however, she said the thrill of winning is only part of what keeps her strong on the road.

“I always try to take advantage of it,” she said. “I think it has so much to do with it, being happy and surrounding yourself with your teammates.”

Bolles junior Jillian Candelino won her second All-First Coast Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award.

…and on the track too

Candelino didn’t slow down a step once the track season started.

“She kind of developed a running tenacity,” Bolles track coach Mike Rivera said. “Her workouts may be like everyone else, but when it comes time to run, she takes it to another level.”

At the Class 2A Championships at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Candelino opened the competition by anchoring the victorious Bolles relay team in the 4×800 and ended his night with a victory in the 3200 meters.

She also placed second in the 1,600m, helping Bolles win a team championship on the track to go along with her previous cross-country triumph.

And, again, there was another Bolles record. She crossed the 3200 line in 10:29.19, surpassing Collier’s school mark of 10:30.39 in 2017.

Candelino said the results of the distance track campaign — an improvement from his sixth-place finish in the 1600s at the 2021 track finals — came through an off-season dedication to preparing for spring.

“I’ve definitely focused more on preparing for my workouts, things like sleep, hydration, stretching,” she said, “so I can do better in workouts, and that’s really helped makes a difference.”

One more year to go

For Candelino, and for his family, sporting success is nothing new.

His older sister, Olivia, won the All-First Coast Player of the Year award twice at Bolles and is now entering her first year at Auburn. Older brother Ross earned All-First Coast recognition this winter while leading Ponte Vedra to the Class 6A men’s basketball final, and he’s heading to Wisconsin for varsity hoops.

Jillian’s state championship tally is growing rapidly, counting tag team cross country championships with Bolles in 2018 and 2020 and a tag team track title in 2021.

She said she hasn’t solidified her college plans yet, but with the running routine appearing to be getting closer to normal in 2022 after two years of coronavirus disruption, she plans to broaden her horizons beyond the Sunshine. State.

Candelino is looking forward to the chance to test his skills against wider domestic competition this fall. She is scheduled to compete in several other elite events, including the Manhattan Classic.

“We typically see top notch competition from the New York and New England areas [in that meet]”, Rivera said. “She has some great encounters to look forward to.”

Jillian Candelino, Girls Cross Country/Distance

Junior, Bolles

Age: 17 years old

Summary: Won the Class 2A women’s individual cross country championship in 17:53.20 and led Bolles to the Class 2A team title. … Also won the 3,200 meter race in athletics (10:44.41) in the spring. … Grounded the winning 4×800 relay team and placed second in the 1600. … Led Bolles to the Class 2A Women’s Track Team Championship. …Still evaluating college options.

Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.

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