The MileStat.com Elite Track Gala has grown greatly from its first year into becoming one of the top high school post-season meets on the East Coast. The meet will feature some outstanding athletes including National champions, All-Americans, Footlocker finalists, and state champions. The events will definitely be spectator and track enthusiast friendly with the level of competition as well as some unique and exciting events as part of the meet.
The featured event of the Gala will be the All-Star distance medley relay as the evening's final running event. The distance medley relay for the girls will have two stacked Virginia All-Star teams looking to push a team of stars from one high school in Eleanor Roosevelt of Maryland as the Blazin' Raiders (club name) are gunning for the high school national record in the event of 11:33.42 set by Bay Shore High School of New York in 2004 at Nike Outdoor Nationals. The Raiders just missed setting the high school national record in the 4x800 meter relay (8:50.40) at the Penn Relays in April with a thrilling US #2 all-time performance of 8:51.19. At next week's Nike Outdoor Nationals, Eleanor Roosevelt's focus will be on other relay events and claiming multiple national titles as they have done in past Nike Outdoor and Nike Indoor national meets rather than time. However, at this weekend's Gala, their top girls focus is on the DMR and the record.
Meet management is glad to have them and assist them on their record attempt with two outstanding All-Star distance medley relays to push them along. One team will be comprised of only Group AA girls, while the other will be the "A" team with a three girls from AAA and one star from Group AA in 1600 meter anchor leg in Catherine White.
The relay with White will have three talented legs to set her up for either a chase after Eleanor Roosevelt anchor Marika Walker or position to pull along Walker. White has a best of 4:51 for 1600 meters. The anchor for the 2004 Bayshore team split a 4:50. Running opening leg for the Virginia "A" team All-Stars is Midlothian sophomore Paige Johnston, the Virginia 3A state champion indoors for 1000 meters (2:54) and outdoors for 800 meters (2:13). Johnston will be competing in the relay fresh, so the Virginia girls should definitely get on a good start with her. In between Johnston and White will be Lee-Davis senior Rachel Butler and Westfield junior Tasia Potasinski. Butler, who is tuning up for US Junior Nationals competition as the 400 meter leg, who has split 56 seconds numerous times and also won the open 400 meter dash in 56.75 at the Dogwood Track Classic in April. Potasinski, one of the top half milers in Virginia, ran on the state champion 4x800 meter relay last Friday for Westfield with a 2:16 third leg split. Potasinski has a personal best of 2:14.67 this spring. Quite talented crew to push the Raiders to a national title with three milers with bests of 4:51, 5:01, and 5:01 and Miss Versatile as their 400 leg with a 56 second 400 and 42 second 300 meter hurdles under her belt.
The Group AA girls team will be just as competitive and looking to push ER along to the record with the likes of Cate Berenato, Alisha Royal, Christina Lee (pictured above by David Fleenor), and Laura Rapp (pictured above by David Fleenor). Berenato will be running the 1200 meter leg and the Blacksburg senior was the 2A state champion indoors for 1000 meters with a 2:58 best. Royal, a William Byrd sophomore, will be dropping down to 400 meters after competing in the steeplechase earlier and looks to split under 60 seconds. Potomac Falls freshmen star Christina Lee has had an amazing spring as a ninth grader with a best of 2:18 for 800 meters, while last weekend at the AA State Championships finished as a state runner-up to Catherine White in the 1600 meter run with an all-time best of 5:01.48. Meanwhile, Rapp was a tick behind Lee in third place at the AA State Meet, but will be taking the baton from Lee as the 1600 meter leg for the Group AA girls with her 4:59.24 best in the event as she looks to run under five minutes again in the exciting relay format.
The DMR for the girls had been modified from its original intentions as a race to have the best from each classification and regions in Virginia go head to head to see who really had the best runners in Virginia. Now it has become a matchup to see if two Virginia All-Star teams can reallly give one of the nation's top track programs in Eleanor Roosevelt all they can handle for 4000 meters. However, the boys' race has stayed true to its core with a total of six All-Star relays from AAA's Central, Eastern, Northern, and Northwest Region as well as teams comprised of the very best in Group AA and A. Breaking up the AAA classification by regions has made the relay race into a more wide open and even playing field to give the two relays from the small schools in AA and A a decent shot at taking home the win.
Pride will be on the line in the final event of the meet with athletes who have never competed together and are use to racing against each other as fierce rivals. Many of these individuals are excited to be part of a team as some come from teams, who they are the big fish in a small pond and rarely get the opportunity to be part of relay glory.
The early favorites in the event appear to be the Group AA boys as two athletes who battled down to the wire for the 800 meter state title last weekend in Harrisonburg between Will McLaughlin of Heritage and Peter Dorrell of Blacksburg (pictured above by David Fleenor) will be hoping to score a win for the Group AA crowd as the final two legs in the event. Dorrell won an amazing three state titles last Saturday in the 3200, 1600, and 800 meter races. He will be AA's anchor on the 1600 meter leg with his 4:15 best. Jamestown senior Andrew Mearns will open up things for the AA squad in the 1200 meter leg. Mearns recorded his 4:15 1600 meter best on the same track at Sports Backers Stadium in May at the Southern Track Classic. Ronquis Posey is the man to try and keep AA ahead of the AAA regionals teams on the 400 meter leg including a 45 second splitting Sean Holston for AAA's Northern Region team. Posey won the 2A state title in the 400 and 200 meter dash last weekend in 49.03 and has broken 49 seconds this spring. McLaughlin will be one of the top 800 meter legs in the DMR with a 1:54 best in his state runner-up finish to Dorrell last Saturday.
There should be great parity in the race though and several teams are looking to be in good position to make a run at the Group AA boys. Especially when four of the relays feature 1600 meter anchor legs capable of going well under 4:20 with Northern Region's Mike Spooner of West Springfield, Eastern Region's Eddie Judge of Cox, Central Region's Ben Dejarnette of Atlee, and Group A's Nathan Brame of Radford. Seven of the state's top ten ranked milers are featured in the DMR relay with times all at 4:16 or faster.
Spooner (pictured above by Ted Plunkett) has the leading time among the anchors at 4:13 as the West Springfield senior will not to have to dig down as deep as he has on past relays for West Springfield to bring his team from behind with the likes of the Robert E. Lee duo of Josef Tessema and Sean Holston on the front end of the relay as the 1200 and 400 meter legs. Tessema gives the Northern Region two 4:16 or faster milers on the relay as Tessema has had a stellar spring including a victory over Spooner at their district championships. Tessema and Spooner will be looking to earn a victory together on Saturday night. Usually the 400 meter leg has little impact on the outcome of the results of a DMR with the least amount of time to be gained or loss compared to the other three legs, but when a relay posses the likes of Nike Indoor Nationals 200 and 400 meter champion Sean Holston, time is definitely going to be gained. Holston could easily gain four or more seconds for the Northern Region squad as he has split under 46 seconds on two occassions this spring in 4x400 meter relay action along with his 46.47 best, which was recorded at Sports Backers Stadium for the Southern Track Classic. Holston will be doubling back from the 200 meter dash earlier in the evening and look to roll without the 1/8 inch spike limitations that prevented many athletes at last Saturday's AAA State Meet from posting the times which they had hoped for.
Both Spooner and Atlee's Ben Dejarnette (pictured above by John Herzog) will be racing their anchor legs fresh, which will be only be advantageous for both the Northern Region and Central Regions squads having the leg which has to cover the most ground as the most well rested. Dejarnette has continued to develop as one of the state's top milers only as a sophomore with a 4:16 best this spring, which at the time was the nation's third fastest among sophomores. Dejarnette will look to better that time with his split on anchor as he should have some great milers to run with and chase after. Michael Saunders of Hanover, who defeated Dejarnette for the Capital District title last month in the 800 meter run for a personal best time of 1:57.23, will be handing off to his fellow district runner in Dejarnette as the 800 meter leg. Saunders has really shined in the half mile this spring in converting up from the sprints indoors. Opening up for the Central Region will be Hermitage's Kieran Lee, who beat out Saunders last weekend to the line to win a slower section of the 800 meter run at the AAA State Meet in a personal best time of 1:56.95. Lee, who will be competing in the steeplechase roughly four hours earlier, will be the key leg if he can double back and keep the Central Region close as he hands off to 400 meter leg Michael Quash, a sub 50 quarter miler from Douglas Freeman.
Watchout for the Eastern Region though as they possess the AAA state 1600 meter champion in Eddie Judge (pictured above by John Herzog) as well as two of Western Branch's top studs in Daniel Nix and Javanti Sparrow as the middle legs of the race. If 1200 meter opening leg Blaine O'Reilly of Gloucester with a 4:25 1600 meter best this spring can keep in contact with the other legs that he will be going up against then Nix, Sparrow, and Judge could take care of the rest to possibly pull off the upset of the meet with an Eastern Region squad, usually considered the weakest of the four AAA regions in the distances, taking home a victory to the Tidewater area. Nix has ran some incredible 400 meter legs for Western Branch's 4x400 meter relay (3:14 best this spring) and been clocked in at around 47 seconds. Sparrow, the 500 meter state champ indoors and state runner-up last weekend in the 400 meter dash to Holston, has the range to run up to 800 meters and will show many what he can do on Saturday evening. Judge claimed his first state title last weekend and will be doubling back from a great 1500 meter race several hours earlier in the meet. Judge showed at Dogwood his ability to double twice at the same distance as he finished second in the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:17 after anchoring his Cox team to a DMR win in a much shorter time span than he will have Saturday between the two races.
The underdogs in the race will be the Northwest Region and Group A boys teams, but they still should put up great times regardless with the talent on their rosters. It will be exciting to see what kind of performances these "All-Stars" can muster. Better be there at Sports Backers on Saturday night to see a national record assault as well as some of Virginia's top individuals put together to form monster relays. After all, the price of admission is $0 with the exception of the $3 parking charge due the Richmond Braves game next door at the Diamond.
All-Star DMR Lineups
Virginia "A" Team
1200m - Paige Johnston (Midlothian)
400m - Rachel Butler (Lee-Davis)
800m - Tasia Potasinski (Westfield)
1600m - Catherine White (Westfield)
Virginia "AA" Team
1200m - Cate Berenato (Blacksburg)
400m - Alisha Royal (William Byrd)
800m - Christina Lee (Potomac Falls)
1600m - Laura Rapp (Heritage-Lynchburg)
Central Region Team
1200m - Kieran Lee (Hermitage)
400m - Michael Quash (Douglas Freeman)
800m - Michael Saunders (Hanover)
1600m - Ben Dejarnette (Atlee)
Eastern Region Team
1200m - Blaine O'Reilly (Gloucester)
400m - Daniel Nix (Western Branch)
800m - Javanti Sparrow (Western Branch)
1600m - Eddie Judge (Cox)
1200m - Josef Tessema (Robert E. Lee)
400m - Sean Holston (Robert E. Lee)
800m - Brian Blincoe (Falls Church)
1600m - Mike Spooner (West Springfield)
1200m - Eric Hoepker (Battlefield)
400m - Brice Mathews (Potomac)
800m - Joey Murray (Stafford)
1600m - Zack Williams (Forest Park)
1200m - Andrew Mearns (Jamestown)
400m - Ronquis Posey (Brunswick)
800m - Nick McLaughlin (Heritage-Leesburg)
1600m - Peter Dorrell (Blacksburg)
1200m - Jakob Maidens (Lebanon)
400m - Ronald Coles (Goochland)
800m - Will McLaughlin (Goochland)
1600m - Nathan Brame (Radford)
The second annual MileStat.com Elite Track Gala will be contested tomorrow at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Virginia with an excellent assembly of some of Virginia's best athletes as well as decent number of outstanding out-of-staters making the trip to compete in the post-season event. The meet once again has attracted a high quality field including the likes of national champion sprinter Sean Holston of Robert E. Lee as well as arguably the nation's top girls' high school track program in the United States in the Blazin' Raiders from Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt, Maryland. From the start of the boys' high jump competition at 2 pm and the remaining field events at 3 pm to the conclusion of the meet seven or eight hours later with the All-Star distance medley relays, there is plenty of great competition for spectators to enjoy.
The top name among the boys' sprinters is quite easy to find in Sean Holston (pictured left by John Herzog) as the future star at Florida State University will be competing in the 200 meter dash in hopes of finally dipping under 21 seconds in the event. Holston had two solid clockings in the 200 meter dash in mid to late April with a 21.07 clocking at the Allen Johnson Invite and followed up in the next weekend at the Dogwood Track Classic in a 21.09 performance. This will be the first time all spring long for Holston in which the 200 meter dash will be his first event of the meet. Last weekend at the AAA State Championships, Holston won the 200 meter dash state title in his sixth race of the meet after going through trials and finals of the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes. Currently only nine athletes in the U.S. this outdoor season have broken 21 seconds, so a sub 21 performance would assure Holston a US top 10 ranking in the event.
Holston had originally planned to travel to Golden West this weekend to face off against US #1 leader in the 200 (20.43) and 400 (45.54) meter dashes, Bryshon Nellum of Long Beach Poly, in California at Golden West in the 400 meter dash, but decided the travels would be tough on him as he prepares for Nike Outdoor Nationals next weekend.
While state leader Holston at 46.47 is not competing in the 400 meter dash at the Gala, it should be one of the deeper events on Saturday in the sprints with a total of seven athletes have run under 49 seconds. Michael DeHaven from Sandy Creek High School in Georgia has once again made the trip far up north to Richmond to compete at the Gala. DeHaven was fourth in last year's race with a time of 48.99 and returns this year as the top seed as he has recorded a personal best of 47.62 this spring. DeHaven helped his squad to the 3A state title in Georgia in May by finishing second and third respectively in the finals of the 200 and 400 meter dashes.
Last year's Gala 400 meter runner-up is back in DeMatha Catholic (MD)freshmen Taylor Sykes. Sykes, a native of Chesapeake as his older brother Ryan competed and graduated from Great Bridge in 2006, had one of the most impressive performances in last year's meet to clock in at 48.67 for second place only as an eighth grader.
While DeHaven and Sykes have past experience competing in the meet, the newcomers to the Gala for the 400 meter dash will certainly make the top section of the 400 meter dash one of the hottest races of the evening with the likes of Group AA state champion Ronquis Posey of Brunswick Senior and the Western Branch sophomore tandem of Daniel Nix and Javanti Sparrow. Sparrow was the state runner-up last Saturday in Newport News with a personal best of 48.17 and claimed the 500 meter state title indoors, while Nix was all-state in the same 400 meter finals at 48.52.
Manchester senior Reggie Hill will be looking to keep the Gala 100 meter dash title and meet record in Manchester's hands after his teammate Anthony Chesson won in 10.97. Hill has the leading time among all entrants at 10.59, which is a state leading time. However, there were will be some tough competition for Hill to contend with including Group A state runner-up Ronald Coles. Meanwhile, also competing are Western Branch's Kelvin Griffin and Woodbridge's Joe Williams, who were both qualifiers in the AAA state 100 meter finals last Saturday, which Hill failed to qualify for the finals in. Should be one of the more up for grabs events in the meet with seven athletes entered under the meet record.
The 800 meter run was one of the deepest races last year at the Gala with seventh place at 1:57.58 as Fork Union's Jamie Reichlen was one place off a top six medal. Reichlen returns to the Gala with an improved time of 1:56.96, yet one again finds himself on the outside looking as the 11th seed in what looks to be one of the best individual races of the evening. The Gala 800 meter run for boys definitely looks to be the best 800 meter race this season in Virginia including last weekend's state championship races as Dylan Ferris (pictured right by Mark Keenen for NCRunners.com), a junior from East Forsyth High School in North Carolina, leads the field with a 1:51.48 best, which ranks 8th in the country currently. Ferris recorded his US top 10 time in a double at the North Carolina 4A State Meet in which before his 1:51.48 800 meter title win, Ferris won the 1600 meter run in 4:14 with an incredible last 800 meters of 1:59.
The 800 meter race itself has a strong out of state presence with eight of top nine entrants coming in from outside of the state of Virginia as the top three seeds are from North Carolina in Ferris, Drew Tucker of West Stokes High Schol, and Dakota Lowery of West Johnston High School. Tucker is a two-time 2A state champion in North Carolina in the 800 meter run and has a 1:54 best this spring, but ran 1:52 last year as a junior in his 2A state title victory and is anxious to drop down to 1:52 against fellow North Carolina state champ Ferris. Meanwhile, Lowery recently raced against Ferris last weekend in the Raleigh Running Outfitters Mile Under the Stars
and placed second to Ferris with a US #9 time of 4:12.8. The outcome for Ferris was even better as the race champion at 4:08.1, which is a US #2 performance only behind Matt Centrowitz's 4:03.40 at the Reebok Grand Prix last Saturday against a professional field.
The list just gets better and better in this event with another sub 4:20 miler from North Carolina in Sean Sewell of Cardinal Gibbons, who has split 1:55 on several occassions. There is also a strong representation from up north in Maryland and DC athletes in the field. Gonzaga's Aaron Taylor knows how to win at Sports Backers Stadium as he claimed the Southern Track Classic in May in 1:56.13 in convincing fashion. A second win for Taylor in Richmond this season may be a long shot with the likes of Ferris in the field as Taylor is seeded eight in the race, but he will definitely be along for the ride in a race which could produce personal bests for many. Maryland 4A state runner-up Jordan Sawadago, went under 1:55 at the Maryland State Championships in second place at 1:54.49.
Heritage's Nick McLaughlin, who just missed claiming a state championship at the Virginia AA State Championships last weekend in Harrisonburg with Blacksburg's Peter Dorrell just nipping him at the line for win that took several officials looking at the camera finish of the photo to decide with both being timed to same hundredth of a secondtime of 1:54.40, looks to be the homestate's best respective in the stacked race. McLaughlin, a signee for Virginia Tech, has been a late bloomer this spring in the event as he had a coming out party in a victory at the Dogwood Track Classic in April. McLaughin is ranked third in the state currently in the event.
The 1500 meter run will likely have the most suspense in determing the winner with a handful of runners entered with just as much of a chance as the next guy to steal the victory. There is no doubt this pack is looking to take advantage of the "100 meter head start" that they will get from their usual race distance of 1600 meters to attempt to push for a 4:10 or faster converted time from their 1500 meter performance at the Gala. The race features three state champions in Virginia 2A state champion Peter Dorrell of Blacksburg, Virginia 3A state champion Eddie Judge of Cox, and Maryland 2A state champion Andrew Revelle competing for the Mac Los Track Club. Revelle has the leading 1600 meter time among the three with his 4:14.83 state meet performance, but neither Dorrell or Judge were far off him in the heat at their state championships last Saturday in 4:15.22 for Dorrell at 2A and 4:15.78 for Judge at 3A. Both times were season bests for the two Virginia state champions. All three are looking to push for a sub 4:10 1600 meter converted effort in the event, which would would take a time under 3:53 for 1500 meters.
There are several outstanding runners in the race to bolster the depth in the field including Robert E. Lee's Josef Tessema, who has clocked in at 4:16 for 1600 meters this spring, and Turner Ashby's Alex Ott as the super sophomore talent was a 2A state runner-up to Dorrell last weekend in a personal best time of 4:20.03. Making the trek up all the way from Athens, Georgia to compete in the Gala is Athens Christian junior Brandon Griffin, who has ran 4:19 this spring for 1600 meters.
The 5000 meter field in the second to last running event of evening under the lights will be paced by Andy Wacker from Pinecrest High School in North Carolina. Wacker was a Nike Indoor Nationals All-American in the event this past March with a time of 15:12.35, which placed him second in between two Virginians in Jason Witt and Thomas Porter. Wacker, who will be running at the University of Colorado next fall under Mark Wetmore, recently clocked a lifetime personal best of 4:16.1 for a full mile last Saturday night in the same race with Ferris and Lowery in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Virginian most likely to challenge or push Wacker despite being seeded over 30 seconds ahead of the next competitors is Hermitage senior John Vial. Although Vial has a personal best of 15:57 for 5K from cross country, his track times in the 3200 meter run this spring indicate he is certainly fit enough to run with Wacker and ventue well below his former 5K best. Vial clocked his 3200 meter best of 9:24, which is superior to Wacker's best this spring of 9:26 at Sports Backers Stadium a month ago in the Southern Track Classic two mile race.
Even if this race did not have the quality and quantity of runners it has for this year's MileStat.com Elite Track Gala, the boys' steeplechase would still be the most anticipated boys' distance race on the track. It gives the same thrill for track fans as do crashes for Nascar fans and fights for hockey fans. Everyone wants to see the fall in the water pit. However, the top participants in the steeplechase at the Gala have over plans including qualifying for some future races in the steeplechase at Nike Outdoor Nationals (6:14) and US Junior Nationals (6:25).
The times are well within reach for a talented group of distance athletes leading the event with two sub 4:20 milers and two state champions in the race. Jamestown senior Andrew Mearns has the most experience in the event since competing in the event in his younger days in AAU summer track and has improved greatly in the other distance events as a senior including a personal best 1600 meter time of 4:15 recorded at Sports Backers Stadium in the Southern Track mile race. However, Mearns experience was overtaken last year at the Gala on the last barrier in an exciting finish by Clarke County's Daniel Callan, who beat Mearns (6:29.56) by two seconds in last year's race in 6:27.66. Callan returns for the Gala steeple with some improved credentials including a great double at the Virginia 1A State Championships last Saturday in Radford with a second place finish in the 1600 meter run in 4:24 and personal best time of 1:56 to win the 800 meter state title. Callan will be joined in the race by another top Group A distance runner in Nathan Brame as the Radford junior looks to convert the success he has found in cross country with a state championship this past fall and in the 1600 meter run with his second consecutive state last weekend into a strong steeplechaser. Brame has a personal best of 4:22 in the 1600 meter run, which is third fastest among the steeple entrants behind Mearns and Rockbridge County senior John Crews.
Crews is the sleeper in this field and one to place a careful eye on in the race. He has had to live in the shadows of his older brother John Crews, who bursted onto the state scene as an underclassmen as one of the state's best distance runners and now currently runners for NC State. Meanwhile, Scott Crews has been late bloomer unlike his brother as he only had a personal best of 4:32 for 1600 meters last year as a junior. However, he has been able to drop his times down considerably this year in his final year of high school including a 4:19.37 1600 meter personal best at the Valley District Championships. Crews finished fourth in the 2A state 1600 meter race last weekend in a close race for second behind Turner Ashby's Ott and Jamestown's Mearns in 4:21.74.
The steeple is one event that has grown greatly from last year's event as the list of skeptics of the Gala continue to dwindle as everyone received a medal in last year's race with five finishers, but this year will be a dogfight for the top six positions with a total of 23 entrants.
Much like the 1500 meter run, 5000 meter run, and steeplechase prepare many of the high school distance runners for what it will be like at the college event in the races which are more commonly run at the next level, the 400 meter hurdles at the Gala gives the current high school 300 meter hurdles a chance to test themselves in one of the toughest races on the track. Highland Springs senior Adams Abdulrazaaq (pictured left by John Herzog), two-time Virginia 3A state champion in the short hurdle races with a 55 meter hurdle title and 110 meter hurdle title from last weekend in Newport News under his belt, is anxious to see what he can do in the 400 meter hurdle event as it is likely an event he will specialize in at the University of Virginia next year and possibly earn him future tickets to NCAA National Championship competitions. Abdulrazaaq leads a total of eight entrants under 40 seconds in the 300 meter hurdles this season with his best time of 37.79, which he clocked at the Southern Track Classic. After tripping on his second hurdle last weekend in the 300 meter hurdles state finals and end his hopes of a hurdles sweep at the AAA State Championships, Abdulrazaaq will be eager to redeem himself.
A win in the 110 meter hurdles earlier will not come easy for Abdulrazaaq when facing Western Branch sophomore Kevin Newsome. Newsome and Lakeland's Predist Walker pushed Abdulrazaaq to the line in last Saturday's 110 meter hurdles state finals as it took a late surge from Abdulrazaaq to claim the state title. Abdulrazaaq recorded his state leading time of 14.04 at Sports Backers Stadium in the Southern Track Classic, while Newsome has ran his two fastest times this spring with 1/8 inch spikes at Todd Stadium with his best of 14.24 at the Eastern Region Meet. Newsome will look to challenge for the win and push closer to 14 seconds flat with the opportunity to compete in 1/4 inch spikes at Sports Backers on Saturday.
Boys Field Events:
Nearly all of the state's bests and leaders in the field events will be answering the roll call on Saturday starting at 2 PM with the boys' high jump and 3 PM with the other field events begining and others following once their female counterparts have completed their events. A total of seven state champions from last weekend will be competing in the boys' field events at the Gala.
The boys' jumps are simply loaded. The high jump will have Tony Brown of Brunswick, the 2A state champion in the event and the only athlete in Virginia this spring to have cleared 6'10" in the event. He will need another 6'10" performance at the Gala though with Hickory senior Kevin Nichols posing as a formidable challenger. Earlier misses prevented Nichols from winning the 3A state title over Chris Copeland of Lakeland, but his clearance of 6'8" is noteworthy considering Brown cleared 6'7" last weekend for his AA state title.
The long jump has the potential to produce three 24 footers as Nike Indoor Nationals runner-up Rashaad Cannon of Highland Springs and Cedric Hudson of Mountain View have already achieved the mark this spring, but Wesley Smith of Oscar Smith got the better of both of them as well as the rest of Group AAA last weekend to win his first state tile in the long jump with a mark of 23'8.50". Smith has a best mark of 23'11" this spring at the Eastern Region Meet and will look to produce his first jump over 24 feet with the likes of Cannon, Hudson, and others in the field pressing to get revenge on the AAA state champion.
The triple jump should also produce some big marks with the field assembled including two performers over 48 feet in two-time Virginia 3A state outdoor champion Antonio Miller of Manchester and state runner-up to Miller last weekend in Mountain View junior Olu Olamigoke at 48'2.50". Olamigoke put out his best mark in his opening jump last weekend at Todd Stadium, while it took a clutch final jump from Miller at 48'4.50" to defend his title. Miller's best as well as state leading mark of 48'8.50" came at Sports Backers Stadium for the Central Region Meet.
There is some talent lurking behind both Miller and Olamigoke that could move ahead both and pull off a somewhat surprising win at the Gala. Western Branch sophomore Kelvin Griffin needs this meet to shake off what was a frustrating state meet for himself and his team as he scored no points in all three jumping events that he competed in, which was unexpected. Griffin is right off popping a mark of 48 feet with a 47'10.75" best to date. Also in the triple jump field is Virginia 3A state indoor champion Marcus Robinson of J.R. Tucker, who has struggled to find the same success this spring as he found indoors in the state championships at George Mason, but will look to redeem himself with a win against the state's best.
An unfortunate, but understand scratch by Liberty's Erik Kuster as the Virginia 2A state discus champion and meet record holder (179'0") wanted to skip his own high school graduation to come compete in throws at the Gala, but he had to honor his parents' wishes to walk with his classmates at the graduation ceremony. Now that is a true track and field athlete. However, the throws should be one of the best events in the meet even without Kuster as nearly all the state's best will be going head-to-head.
Kuster would have been one of three discus throwers over 170 feet as now it is down to two with Louisa County's Todd Shelton at 175'2" and Denbigh's Jaymes Brooks at 172'8". Neither could be too pleased with their state meet performances as Shelton was over 10 feet off his best at 164'2" as a 2A state runner-up to Kuster, while Brooks ended up second to his teammate Terrence Riggins with a mark of 155'3". Riggins will be competing alongside his teammate once again at the Gala and cannot be overlooked considering his state title last weekend against AAA's best.
The shot put will be a deep competition with 11 throwers over 50 feet led by Nike Indoor All-American as well as AAA state indoor and outdoor champion Frede Spellman (pictured right by John Herzog). Spellman has been the man to beat in the event all year long and has withstood the challenges with only a lone loss at the Southern Track Classic to Liberty's Kuster. Spellman threw for a season best of 57'7" in his AAA state title last weekend, but Kuster moved him as the state leader by half an inch in his AA state title mark of 57'7.50". The Oscrar Smith junior Spellman would like to reclaim his spot on the state leaderboard on Saturday and certainly has it in him with two marks over 60 feet from the indoor season. The competition behind will certainly challenge him to a strong mark with the likes of familar Eastern Region foes in Jaymes Brooks of Denbigh (56'4.50") and Darien Kearney of Western Branch (56'3"). Colonial Forge senior Josh Capriani will be a strong contestant in both throwing events out of the Northwest Region with season best marks of 55'5" in the shot put and 162'9" in the discus. Last year's Gala, one of the more surprising performances came in the boys' discus throw when Mills Godwin's Chad Lawson launched a personal best mark of 15 feet exactly in a 176'10" win.
MileStat.com Elite Track Gala - Girls Preview
While the boys should see a few US top 5 and US top 10 performances from likes of Sean Holston in the 200 meter dash and Dylan Ferris in the 800 meter run among others, the girls at the Gala have two events in which the US high school national records could be seriously threatened or at least US #1 performances are likely even if the record attempts fall short with the Blazin' Raiders (Eleanor Roosevelt MD) in the night's final event in the distance medley relay and Northside senior Catherine White in one of the first races of the evening in the 2000 meter steeplechase.
Matoaca senior Shanneka Claiborne (pictured right by John Herzog) will look to beat her 100 and 200 meter dash double times from the Southern Track Classic as well as with matching wins as the two-time AAA state champion in the 100 meter dash competes one final time on the track at Sports Backers Stadium, which has brought her so much glory including a countless number of Central Region titles. Claiborne clocked Virginia's fastest for 100 meters in 11.63 at Sports Backers in May at the Southern Track and returns with a challenge from one of talented Jameson twins in Takecia Jameson, who is seeded ahead of Claiborne with a fastest time this spring of 11.59 recorded at her county championships. Jameson will be featured on the Blazin' Raiders' distance medley relay later in the evening and will use the 100 meter dash as a warmup event for the big final race.
Claiborne is alone as the lead entrant in the 200 meter dash as her season best in the second sprint event also came at Southern Track in 24.38. The Norfolk State bound Claiborne will look to drop her time as she will have two sub 25 athletes in the event with her in Potomac Senior's Yvonne Amegashie (24.83) and Huguenot's Wanetta Kirby (24.92) to push her.
The 400 meter dash is a bit more unknown or at least the top seeds are less familar and established among track fans in Virginia with two of the top three seeds from the deep Eleanor Roosevelt squad in Doris Anyanwu (55.9) and Afia Charles (56.5). It could be a top three sweep for the state of Maryland with Paris Williams, a senior from Aberdeen High School, returning back to the Gala after finishing second last year in 57.85 to Georgian Callie Pottinger (56.41). Williams ran faster than the meet record at the Maryland State Championships with a personal best of 56.22, while Anyanwu clocked in at 56.09 at the Prince George County Championships.
The hometown Central Region crowd will be cheering for Colonial Heights junior Shae Wilbon, who may be small in size, but has a large motor inside. After running a personal best of 55.84 as a sophomore last year, Wilbon has struggled with injuries this year, but still has a season best of 57.57 within striking distance of the top seeds from Maryland.
The excitement starts early in the girls' running events with the steeplechase for girls scheduled to go off prior to 6 PM. Hopefully, the water jumps will cool off the participants enough from this weekend's heat to put up some strong times. There is no doubt that one individual in Northside senior Catherine White (pictured left by David Fleenor) is looking to roll in the event. White, who has earned multiple All-American honors in cross country, indoor, and outdoor track, will be making her steeple debut on Saturday at the Gala. Possibly due to the competitive nature at the national meets that both the mile and two mile have become as shown by White finishing just off All-American honors last year in the two mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals with a great time of 10:32, the conversion into a steepler was decided upon. Or perhaps looking ahead to her future as a Razorback at the University of Arkansas with the steeplechase as a possible event to have future success in at the collegiate level. Regardless of the reasoning behind the move, it is a wise move and will be treat for track fans to watch one of the greatest distance runners in Virginia high school history compete in one of the more exciting distance races on the track in the steeplechase.
If White's not careful, she may end up with a national record in the event on Saturday or at Nike Outdoor Nationals given her ability level. With credentials of a 2:13 800, 4:51 1600, and 10:28 3200, White has the times that are parallel or least are close to the current high school record holder in Marie Lawrence of Nevada. Lawrence set the record in the 2000 meter steeplechase last year in a time of 6:35.63. With Lawrence shutting her season down last weekend at the Southwest Classic, the door is wide open for White to go after the record and a national title in the event next weekend. The Gala will serve as a test for the Northside senior if her hurdle drills and practice over the barriers at a local college in Roanoke have prepared her well to seriously consider a complete conversion over to the steeplechase. She certainly has the mental toughness to become successful in the event as shown by last weekend in winning all three distance events at the Virginia 2A State Meet for the second year in a row including a personal best time for 800 meters of 2:13 at the tail end of the triple. The current US #1 time in the event this spring is by Colts Neck of New Jersey star Ashley Higginson at 6:50.39. White might be looking to just take a baby step and go for the US #1 in her first outing in the steeple.
There were only two girls brave enough to run the steeple at the Gala last year, but the second year event has found that the popularity of the event among the ladies to be growing with 13 entrants in the race this year. There are certainly are some solid runners seeded behind White including an experienced steepler and an All-American at Nike Outdoor Nationals in the event in Ashlyn Sinclair from Montgomery Blair High School in Maryland. Sinclair finished fifth in the 2K steeple at NON last June with a time of 7:20.77 in the same race which Nevada's Lawrence set the national record.
Two more steeplers from Maryland will be in the race with an Eleanor Roosevelt pair of Teshika Rivers and Tyreka Arrington. For both it will be their first time competing in the steeple, but a hot June day in Richmond competing in the 2K steeplechase is nothing to these ladies compared to the conditions they have had to face two years in a row the past two Decembers in the cold, mud, and slop at Nike Team Nationals in Portland, Oregon. Their mental toughness should make them competitive in this race.
Several other Virginian girls in the race have some solid track times as West Potomac's Kelly Jemison is coming off a personal best 1600 meter run of 5:07.42 at the AAA State Championships in All-State performance, while a trio of underclassmen in William Byrd sophomore Alisha Royal (5:10 1600), Lee-Davis freshmen Amanda Lineberry, and Cosby sophomore Jenna Moye (5:13 1600) could gain potentially great early exposure to the steeplechase to really excell in the event in their upperclasmen years of high school.
A scratch by Sarrah Hadiji of W.T. Woodson and Laura Rapp of Heritage dropping the race to save herself for a fresh 800 meter race as well as double back to anchor an All-Star DMR at the end has left Alison Smith, one of Maryland's finest distance runners and a Footlocker finalist this past fall as a heavy favorite in the 1500 meter run. Smith, a graduating senior from Atholton High and competing for the Mac Los Track Club, has a personal best of 4:55 for 1600 meters from her Nike Indoor Nationals mile and finished 18th in the Foot Locker Nationals finals this past December. Even with the two other proven sub 5 1600 meter girls out of the race in Hadiji and Rapp, Smith's trip to Richmond will definitely be made worthwhile and she will be given a race by a pair of Virginian underclassmen in Potomac's Christina Lee and Albemarle's Liz Barclay. Lee has quietly been one of the state's most impressive freshmen distance girls in the state this spring as while the Lautzenheiser twins of Midlothian received plenty of attention in the fall leading their NTN squad all season long, it has been Lee this spring who has been the most consistent and top performers among the class of 2010 girls in Virginia. At last weekend's 2A State Championships, Lee was just off breaking five minutes with a personal best time of 5:01.48 to finish as a state runner-up to White and hold off Heritage's Rapp for second place.
Meanwhile, Liz Barclay of Albemarle is also coming off a huge state meet race in the 1600 meter run as the sophomore who has been splitting time with soccer this spring and having limited track practice time, nearly won the 3A 1600 meter state title out of the slow section with her personal best time of 5:01.74. Barclay chipped nine seconds off her season best previously this season. With both Lee and Barclay running just off a sub 5 mile last weekend, each is hoping to push Smith along under the sub 5 equivalent for 1500 meters (4:39) and go for the win.
Last year's 800 meter run at the Gala produced a state leading time of 2:12.39 by Kristy Tobin of Great Bridge in a swift race as Michaeline Nelson of Potomac School pressed the field with a strong first 600 meters. Nelson, who ran her all-time personal best of 2:14.83 to finish third in the 2006 Gala is back with another strong field looking to post personal best times. Two Virginians in the race in Laura Rapp of Heritage (2:14.30) and Tasia Potasinski of Westfield (2:14.67) will enjoy the opportunity to get to race the two lap event fresh after having to double in the event from the 1600 meter run for several weeks and for Potasinski, running the 800 off of a triple as she did last weekend with a state championship 4x800 meter relay on the front end. Rapp had an even tougher triple last weekend at the AA State championships with a 3200 meter instead of a 4x800 meter leg on Friday night.
A sophomore from DC in Ashley Seymour, a sophomore from Archbishop Carroll, has ran 2:15 this spring and it will be interesting to see who will be the top private school girl in the race between herself and Nelson.
The 5000 meter run for girls is one of the smaller fields in the meet, but who needs a road race size field when there looks to be a legitimate pack of half dozen girls in a field of eight who have just as great odds as the other five to pull out a victory with Blacksburg sophomore Allison Homer, Maggie Walker sophomore Susannah Piersol, Hanover freshmen Lauren Hopper (18:50), Tallwood junior Octavia Rinehardt, Pinecrest (NC) senior Amanda McKinney, and Clarke County sophomore Erin Broy. Both Hopper and Rinehardt were regional champions this spring in the Central Region and Eastern Region respectively in the 3200 meter run, while Piersol in the Central Region and Broy in Region B were regional runners-up in the longest distance event offered on the track.
Meanwhile, Allison Homer of Blacksburg has the fastest 5K time from cross country among the entrants as the tenth grader clocked in at 18:21 at Foot Locker South and has a personal best of 11:16 for 3200 meters this spring. Tallwood junior Rinehardt has the momentum going in though after running a four second personal best time of 11:09.73 for 3200 meters as she was only one of three girls in the entire field of 31 at the AAA State Championships to run a lifetime best in the race with her fifth place All-State finish. Look for Rinehardt and the pack to push into the lower half of the 18's on Saturday evening at the Gala.
Twins are always naturally competitive. Tameka Jameson would be lying if she said that she does not want to beat her twin sister Takecia's season best and US #4 time of 1:00.66 in the 400 meter hurdles this spring from the Penn Relays. Takecia also has one of the nation's fastest times in the 300 meter hurdles at 41.79. Tameka's best this season in the 300 meter hurdles is no slouch time at 42.79 and shows she is capable of putting up a 60 second flat performance in the event at the Gala.
Their should be little to surprise as to the probable winner in the 400 meter hurdles with Jameson as a top seed by several seconds in the event, but the 100 meter hurdles could become interesting and have itself a close finish at the line between Western Branch's Jessie Gaines and Huguenot's Wanetta Kirby. Gaines has the fastest time this season between the two with the state's fourth fastest at 14.41, while Kirby is right behind her in the state rankings at 14.50.
Girls Field Events:
Top athlete in field events for both boys and girls based on her current national ranking and recent state meet performance is Park View junior Natalie Baird (pictured right by John Herzog), who launched the state of Virginia's best discus mark in sanctioned high school season (state meet and prior) ever with AA State Meet shattering record and US #2 throw of 159'4" last Friday evening at Harrisonburg High School in Harrisonburg. The mark comes with the "but" because according to the "Bible" on all-time high school national lists in Jack Sheppard's High School Track, Lafayette's Jackie Wallace recorded a mark of 159'9", which appears to have been recorded past the state meet competition, which Sheppard's lists counts towards the annual high school lists. Baird will be coming to the Sports Backers venue on Saturday to put any asterick on the official or unofficial state record (however you want to interpret state records or view performances recorded at state championships) and look to continue another fantastic close in championship season as she did last year as a sophomore with two AA state titles in the throws and an All-American finish in the discus throw at NON.
Unlike the state meet venue for AA where the discus competition is held outside of the stadium, the discus competition will be held right in the middle of the infield area of Sports Backers for all in the stands to have a clear view if Baird launches another big one at the Gala this weekend.
Speaking of the other throwing event, throws fans will be thrilled to see AA's best in baird and AAA's best in indoor and outdoor state shot put champion Samella Koroma go head to head as both come in with nearly identical season bests with Baird as the state leader at 43'1.25" and Koroma right behind her at 43'00.75". Koroma and Baird competed against one another indoors at Nike Indoor Nationals in the weight throw as Koroma put a better mark than Baird in the event and earned All-American honors with a top 6 finish in the event. with a mark of 45'4.50"
On the other end of the infield area, the pole vault competition will be taking place featuring the AAA State Meet record holder in the pole vault for both indoors and outdoors in Mills Godwin senior Anne Marie Gordon. Gordon will be the easy favorite in the event at the Gala with her best of 12 feet this spring and then a decent size group of 10'6" vaulters behind her. Gordon cleared 12 feet for the fourth time this outdoor season and seventh time total in her senior year last weekend at the AAA State Championships to claim her first outdoor title to go along with her previous two state crowns from indoors. She now graduates setting the standard for other AAA vaulters to follow with a matching meet record height of 12 feet for both the AAA State Indoor and AAA State Outdoor Championships.
There is a looming Central Region battle in the long jump with the likes of Huguenot's Wanetta Kirby, Deep Run's Ashley Orr, and Henrico's Elaine Derricott. All three have ventured well over 18 feet this season with Kirby as the top seed at 18'10". Orr leaped over 19 feet indoors with a mark of 19'1.25", but has had the remainder of her junior year marred by a hamstring injury. She is looking to end her season on a positive note with a win at the Gala and close to personal best mark.
Three girls in the triple jump are ranked in the top ten in the state and certainly a healthy Orr could have produced a mark to put her in the same ranking this season. Western Branch's Ermeshia Fair produced her season best of 38'10.50" at the biggest stage possible in the Penn Relays in April. Meanwhile, Matoaca's Mia Agahji has a mark not far behind her at 38'8.50" from Dogwood, while Manchester's Alaina Hite (37'11.75") and Deep Run's Ashley Orr (37'8") are looking for their first jumps over 38 season this spring.
The high jump will pit two of the state's top underclassmen jumpers against one another in Briana Hudson of Deep Run and Potomac's Pearl Bickersteth. Hudson's season best is 5'4", but her lifetime best happens to be 5'9", which she cleared for the AAA State title indoors with two other girls in the competition also clearing 5'9". Hudson has had difficulty reaching 5'9" since then including a tenth place finish last weekend at the AAA State Championships with a clearance of 5'4". Meanwhile, fellow
sophomore Bickersteth has gone on a different direction from indoors to outdoors as shown by last weekend's state runner-up finish to Ashley Gatling with her first clearance ever at 5'8". Perhaps the competition between the two as the best in their sophomore classes will bring out the best in both Hudson and Bickersteth at the Gala.