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girls sprints | 07-08 most outstanding performers

This is the ninth of a series of DyeStat year-end awards for 2007-08. The DyeStat Most Outstanding Performers series, which follows the DyeStat Athlete of the Year awards, includes top honors for boys and girls distances, sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, relays, and multi-events. Selections are made by DyeStat editors and are based a combination of multiple major victories/honors won and performances on all-time and yearly lists. Performances from outdoor track, indoor track, and cross-country are taken into account..

Text by Dave Devine (MOPs) and SteveU (HMs) - Photos by John Dye, John Nepolitan, and Vic Sailer

Nadonnia Rodriques

While she may not have been as prolific in individual events as some of the nation’s other sprint stars, Nadonnia Rodriques still managed to lead the US prep ranks in the 400 both indoors and out.  In fact, in a year with some very talented one-lappers, the Boys & Girls NY senior was the only one to slip under 53-seconds, and she did it several times.  She was US#1 in the 300 and 400 indoors, US#2 in the 600, and US#1 in the 400 outdoors.

Boys & Girls has a storied history of great relay work on the East Coast, and Rodriques likely sacrificed some possible individual glory to carry on that tradition.  When she ran in individual events, it was often wedged into a busy schedule of relay heats and finals at the same meet.  At the National Scholastic Indoor Championships, the South Carolina-bound Rodriques secured the 400 title in a near-PR 52.85 (she’d run US#1 52.83 at the NY Hall of Fame meet), handily turning back west coast star Turquoise Thompson.  She then led off the victorious 4x200 squad, which grabbed gold out of the non-championship heat after failing to make the ‘hot final.’  In the 4x400, Boys & Girls had a substantial lead until their third leg dropped the baton, but Rodriques still ran a sizzling 52.5 anchor to nearly steal the win and bring her team to a 3:50.41 bronze behind Speed City CA’s 3:49.85.

Outdoors, Rodriques again carried the stick in the biggest HS relay affair of the spring, the Penn Relays.  With the customarily strong Jamaican squads and an ascendant Eleanor Roosevelt team in the running, the results were mixed for Boys & Girls, but Rodriques showed her range with a 2:09.8 carry for her 12th-place 4x800 team, and supplied the key leg on a 4x400 squad that ran 3:41.79 to finish fifth behind Roosevelt’s sterling 3:37.16 winner.

The remainder of the outdoor season was somewhat under the radar for Rodriques, but she emerged into the spotlight again at Nike Outdoors, where she contested the 400 from the “slower” heat after lacking a sufficiently fast outdoor time to be seeded in the fast heat.  Fans were deprived of a chance to see the NY star square off against Utah speedster Natalie Stewart, as Stewart won the final heat but took silver overall when Rodriques blitzed a US#1 52.86 in the preceding section to steal the gold.  Rodriques also dropped a 52-flat third leg in the runner-up 4x400, but had to watch as the Blazin’ Raiders stormed back for the gold on the final leg, 3:37.02 to 3:39.77.  Despite that letdown, being surrounded by her relay-mates was a fitting end to the season for a sprinter who put as much energy into the baton work as she did her individual titles.

Victoria Jordan

Among the predictably strong group of female speedsters to emerge from Texas every year, Dunbar senior Victoria Jordan separated herself this year with an eye-popping and wind-legal 11.16 (1.2w) 100 meters at the Texas 4A state meet.  That mark equaled #5 all-time, and was probably her top accomplishment of the year, but she earned numerous other awards and accolades.

Indoors, she ran off a string of impressive 60m dash marks, then took the NSIC 60 in a US#2 7.38 against a stacked field that included fellow DyeStat MOP’s Chalonda Goodman (2nd 7.40 ) and Ashton Purvis (3rd 7.48).  In a 200 final that featured nearly the same lineup, she faltered at the start and ended up last in her heat, twelfth overall.  Still her 24.18 in the prelims stood up as the US#7 time on the season.

When the action moved outdoors, Jordan really hit her stride, tearing it up in Texas and stretching out a long post-season with appearances at Great Southwest, USATF Junior Nationals, USATF Junior Olympics, and the US Olympic Trials.  That 11.16 in the Texas state meet was the highlight, but she also qualified to represent the US at the World Junior Championships in both the 100 and the 200, based on her finishes at the Junior Nationals.  In each case, she was edged by a collegian, but her 11.38 and 23.74 runner-up finishes still placed her ahead of MOP Ashton Purvis in both races.  Although she didn’t travel to the World meet due to passport issues, Jordan did compete in the US Olympic Trials, where she made it to the quarter-finals on the strength of an 11.36 heat.  She hit 11.29w (+3.4) in that quarter heat, but ended up eighth and didn’t advance.

Jordan’s season—and high school career—ended at the USATF Junior Olympics, where she twice ran into the Chalonda Goodman post-season buzzsaw and ended up second in the 100 (11.71) and fourth in the 200 (24.16).

Ashton Purvis

Precocious Californian Ashton Purvis served notice relatively early in her sophomore campaign that she was ready for a big year.  Traveling north to Washington at the start of the indoor season, she put up big marks of 7.50 (60m) and 24.05 (200) on the over-sized UW oval.  From there, she tore up the few indoor meets she contested, setting several sophomore class records in the 200 and winning the NSIC furlong in the process.  Her outdoor efforts were not quite as remarkable, but Purvis still impressed with an Arcadia sprint double and a strong showing at the US Junior Nationals.

Without a doubt, though, Purvis was at her best when racing undercover.   The UW meet was just the beginning, as she took double gold at the Simplot Games with wins in the 60-meter dash (=US#3 7.38) and the 200 (23.54 soph class record previously held by Sanya Richards).  When she arrived in NY for the NSIC, sprint fans were salivating over a monster 200 showdown that featured some of the top talent in the nation.  Purvis didn’t disappoint, lowering her class record to 23.43 while turning back stars like Candyce McGrone (2nd 23.79), Chalonda Goodman and Victoria Jordan.  In the 60 she ended up third against most of the same sprinters, capping off a highly successful winter season.

Outdoors, Purvis was on top again at the Arcadia Invitational, where she turned a 100-200 double that included her 100 best for the year of 11.54w (2.1).  In the California state meet she was a surprising second in the 200 to Jessica Davis, but bounced back to top Davis in the USATF Junior National meet with a 23.80 third place finish (2nd prep).  Although she didn’t advance to compete in the World Junior Championships, the St. Elizabeth flyer has already appeared on a US team at last summer’s World Youth meet, and still has two years left in her high school career to make her mark on the prep sprinting ranks.

Chalonda Goodman

With many of the nation’s top sprint stars opting for the USATF Junior Nationals at the end of the spring season, Newnan GA junior Chalonda Goodman could have eschewed the same-weekend Nike Outdoor Nationals as well, but she feels a sense of loyalty to the meet where she first emerged as a star with her double sprint win as a sophomore.  Her commitment and her choice paid off nicely, as Goodman repeated as a double national champ and dropped a US#1 23.22 200 into a 1.7 mps headwind in the process (topping Nike Indoor National champion Marlena Wesh VA).  Goodman’s post-season didn’t end there, as she also grabbed double gold at the USATF Youth Championships a week later (11.41 and 23.40) and repeated the feat a third time at the USATF Junior Olympics, where her 11.36 (+1.3) 100 turned back Victoria Jordan, and her 23.29 (-1.1) beat a host of top sprinters.

Goodman was almost equally impressive on the indoor circuit.  She hit =US#3 7.38 in the 60 meter dash at the Kentucky Invitational, and ended up a silver medalist in that event at NSIC.  In the NSIC 200, she grabbed bronze behind Ashton Purvis’ stellar run, but still came away a double medalist in an undercover season which is not exactly a focus for the Georgia star.

But if there is a meet Goodman is in danger of claiming as her own, it might be Nike Outdoor Nationals.  She has now swept the sprints two straight years, and still has her senior year to go.  As radiant off the track as she is explosive on it, Goodman appears to feel at home on the blue Greensboro  track, and has twice used it as the launching pad for deep post-season runs.  While she may not always post the fastest times on the season (her 23.22 did end the year as fastest wind-legal 200) there is no doubt Goodman is hard to beat when the championship racing begins.

Honorable Mention

Lanie Whittaker – From a national perspective, it could be said that the Miami (Fla.) Washington junior flew under the proverbial radar most of the year, but at the end she was the one among this year’s group of talented quarter-milers that was representing the US internationally.  Her 53.83 prelim at her 3A state meet was her first sub-54, then she moved up another step with a runner-up finish behind fellow Floridian Ebony Eutsey at Golden West, 53.23 to 53.43.  Then, while others faltered, ran at NON, or ended their seasons, she raced into the USATF Juniors 400 final and took 2nd to Jessica Beard with a 53.25.  At Worlds, she ran 53.98 in qualifying, then took 7th in the final with 53.61.

Ebony Eutsey – The amazing Miami Southridge soph wasn’t seen much outside of the Sunshine State, despite entering the year as the #2 national returnee in the 400.  At the USATF Youth in 2007, she had run 52.67, just 0.18 off the national freshman record.  It took her awhile to get back to that kind of territory this spring, with her 53.85 at her 4A state meet being her first mark under 54 for the year (she also won the 200 there in 23.79).  Her one appearance on the national stage was an impressive one, as she topped fellow Floridian Lanie Whittaker at Golden West in California, 53.23-53.43, putting her US#3 for the year.

Natalie Stewart – The Spanish Fork UT senior made her presence known both indoors and out, showing long-sprint versatility, but focusing on the 400.  Her big statement undercover was an impressive 54.41 at Simplot, which held up as one of the best of the season.  Outdoors, she hit a US#1 mark mid-season, then at NON, blazed a PR 53.07 to win the final – except that Nadonnia Rodriques had rolled a 52.86 in the next-to-last section.  Still, she wound up US#2 for the year and showed she could fly at low-altitude.

Candyce McGrone – In a season where a number of sprinters had good, but not consistently great credentials, the Warren Central IN senior showed up strong at the biggest meets to clearly put herself in the top three or four short dash girls.  The peak of her year probably came at Golden West, where she twice topped CA star Jessica Davis in scoring the 100/200 double in 11.37w and 23.47.  Then at USATF Juniors, she scored a pair of fourths (11.50 and 23.84 into 2.4 headwind) against the prep/collegian mix, with only Victoria Jordan (twice) and Ashton Purvis (by .04 in the 200) topping her among high schoolers.

Year-End Awards Index