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National Scholastic Indoor Championships
March 13-15, 2009 - New York Armory

Preview - Girls

Ley shoots for Jackucewicz's 5k record;
Red hot sprint and hurdle showdowns expected

by Rich Bevensee

New York NY 3/12/09 -- Colts Neck NJ senior Briana Jackucewicz vividly remembers looking at the clock in disbelief at the Armory 5 years ago, not ever imagining she could run that fast as a seventh-grader, let alone break the national record for 5000 meters.  Today, Kingsway NJ junior Chelsea Ley, with the reminder of a substandard race in her back pocket, envisions herself running fast enough to break Jackucewicz's record.  She will have to beat Jackucewicz to do it.

There will either be old memories revisited or new memories made when these two young ladies clash in the 5,000 meters at the 26th National Scholastic Indoor Championships at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in New York. The girls’ 5k race is set to go off at 2 p.m. Friday on the famous banked track.

Last fall, Ley boldly predicted she was capable of breaking the course record at Holmdel Park’s state championship layout during the New Jersey cross-country season after churning out a 17:43 – just eight seconds off the record – in early October.   Ley fell short of that pursuit but that hasn’t changed her outlook on racing – which is to say she’s
always chasing the clock, and chasing records. As she closes her junior season of indoor track this weekend, she has her eye on Jackucewicz’ national 5K record of 16:43.02 set at the NSIC meet on March 12, 2004.

Ley is the defending champion in the 5-K, having won by nearly 21 seconds last winter in 17:03.79.

``I’m definitely going after it,’’ Ley said of the national record. ``I’m going after it and racing the clock. If I don’t get it I’m not going to be all bummed out, but my goal is definitely to shoot for that.’’

Ley said she has worked hard to overcome the bad taste in her mouth left after the New Jersey Meet of Champions last month, where she finished fourth in the 3,200 in 10:43.10. Jackucewicz placed third in 10:41.35.  Those times rank third and fourth, respectively, in the U.S. this season.

``I’ve tried to put that race aside and I’ve been training really hard,’’ Ley said. ``During the Meet of Champions my knee was bothering me. It was basically an overuse injury. Every time I pick up my mileage it comes up. After the Meet of Champs I could barely walk on it. But it feels 95 percent better now.’’

Jackucewicz stayed home from school Monday and Tuesday with an illness but said her training has been going very well and that she’s ready for anything, including Ley’s run at her record.

``Chelsea often likes to take it out,’’ Jackucewicz said. ``She’ll be able to take the pace out so that will make it a faster race. The 5,000 is a lot more unpredictable than the two-mile, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Asked to reflect on her history-making performance of five years ago, Jackucewicz said she is surprised the record hasn’t been broken by now.

``I’m surprised but I’m not surprised,’’ she said. ``There are a lot of great runners across the country who could run that kind of time who haven’t taken the opportunity to run one. The 5,000 is an underrated event. Not a lot of people want to go for the whole 25 laps. It’s probably intimidating.’’

Wasn’t it intimidating for Jackucewicz five years ago?

``I wasn’t intimidated by much as a seventh-grader,’’ she said. ``I had been doing road races with my father when I was little and I got pretty good at it."

``I never thought about national records, though. Looking back on that race, I can’t really remember it hurting but I’m sure during the race it hurt. I do remember looking at the time with a lap to go and I was jumping out of my skin. I didn’t believe I was going that fast. I didn’t think I could break 17 minutes. My goal was to go low-17.’’

Jackucewicz said the notion of someone taking over her record doesn’t bother her. She is more preoccupied with beating the girl who wants it, though.

``I’m sure Chelsea has been eyeing that record down for two years, and I’m sure she’s in great shape,’’ Jackucewicz said. ``She has had a solid indoor season.’’

Ley and Jackucewicz may be two of the headliners, but the 5-K will be more than just a two-runner race. Also listed among the entrants is Elizabeth Briasco of Queens-Sciences in Jamaica NY. Briasco owns the ninth-fastest 3,000 in the U.S., this season with a 10:02.95 from the NYU Fastrack meet Feb. 27

The other top contestants from New Jersey include Mendham junior Laura Vigilante and Montgomery's Jill Prentice.  Vigilante is a Foot Locker national finalist last fall who is No. 6 in the U.S. this season in the two-mile thanks to her 10:57.53 at the Eastern States meet Feb. 24. she also is No. 16 in the 3,200 with a 10:53.14 from the NJ Group 3 meet Feb. 15.  Jill Prentice is No. 18 in the U.S. in the 3,200 with a 10:53.40 from the NJ M of C.

Sprints - defending 200m champ Ashton Purvis isn't even top seeded

Some of the hottest action of the meet is expected to take place in the sprints
One of the most eagerly awaited matchups is in the 200 as St. Elizabeth's CA junior Ashton Purvis of St. Elizabeth’s CA will defend her title. But Purvis, who holds the US freshman (23.55) and sophomore (23.43) national records in the 200 and has run a US#3 23.99 this season, isn’t the top seed. That distinction belongs to junior Whitney Fountain of  Pelham Prep NY, who blazed a US #1 23.78 to win the one lapper at the Eastern States Championships at the Armory on Feb. 24.  Also in the race is US# 8 Xauddina Whittington of Baltimore, Md., (24.51).

Between Purvis and Fountain there is a chance the national junior class record of 23.26, set in 2006 by Bianca Knight, could be history. 

If Purvis wins the 200, she’ll  have a great chance of earning double gold since she’s the favorite in the 60 dash, coming in with a US #2 time of 6.96.  Purvis will have to contend with TaNay Chandler of Suffolk VA (US #4 7.01), Stormy Kendrick of Gastonia NC and Takeia Pinckney of Columbia GA.  Kendrick and Pinckney have each run a US #8 7.04.

400 - US #2 Nijgia Snapp of Oakcrest NJ (55.33), US #5 Chamique Francis of Benjamin Cardozo NY (55.48), and US #6 Xauddina Whittington MD (55.83) should wage a memorable battle in the two lapper.

Two freshman Wilsons could win

Two of the best young talents in the sport -- freshmen Ajee Wilson of Neptune NJ and Trinity Wilson of St. Mary’s in Berkeley CA, will each have a great chance of winning national titles.

Ajee' Wilson, who won the  NJ championship in the 800 in a NJ freshman record 2:10.45, is also scheduled to run the freshman mile, and anchored the 4x400 and sprint medley for Neptune. In the 800, Wilson will have to deal with Hempstead NY senior Charlene Lipsey, who owns a US #2 2:09.47. Lipsey was third a year ago in 2:09.15.

Lipsey will also be handling the anchor duties on Hempstead 's US leading sprint medley that has stopped the clock at 4:05.59 this season. The SM could be a thriller as Hempstead will line up against US #3 Mount Vernon NY (4:08.19) and US # 4 Benjamin Cardozo NY (4:08.84).

Trinity Wilson is the favorite in the 60 hurdles based on her US#1 55H time of 7.94, the only sub-8.00 clocking in the country.  She will face a stern test from US #2 Janice Jackson of Medgar Evers NY (8.01) and US #3 Lateisha Philson of Benjamin Cardozo NY (8.02). Wilson has a great shot at the national freshman record of 8.50 set two years ago by Jasmine Stowers of Pendleton SC.

3 Foot Locker finalists are in the 2-mile

The 2-mile entry lists three Foot Locker cross country finalists from this past fall -- Chelsea Ley, Shelby Greaney of Suffern NY and Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall NY.  It remains to be seen if Ley will run the 2-mile after running the 5-K on Friday. Jackucewicz, a 2005 FL finalist, is also entered in both the 5-K and 2-mile.

In the mile, there are a bunch of runners with seasonal bests between 5:00 and 5:02, led by Lindsay Crevoiserat of Glastonbury CT. (5:01.16), Liana Epstein of Lake Braddock
VA (5:01.58), and Meg Ryan of Fairfield CT. (5:00.71).
Field Events

In the jumps, Tynia Butts of T.C. Williams VA is the co-favorite in both the long and high jump. Butts and Karimah Shepherd of Grassfield VA have both soared a US #1 20-0 ½ LJ.
Meanwhile, Butts and Saniel Atkinson of Bishop McNamara DC have each cleared a US #2 5-9.in the HJ.  Shepherd and Atkinson figure to go 1-2 in the triple jump, where Shepherd owns a US #2 41-2 ½ and Atkinson has gone a US #4 40-4 ¼.
The shot put features a battle of New Yorkers as two of the nation’s premier juniors, US #2 Melissa Kurzdorfer of Lancaster (47-11 ¾), and US #4 Vanessa Stewart of North Babylon (46-11 ¾) square off.
In the pole vault, the heavy favorite is US leader Morgann LeLeux of Catholic High in Louisiana, who has cleared 13-2 ½ this season, .

The 4x200 should be a battle between US #2 Oxon Hill MD (1:39.28), US #5 Elizabeth Seton MD  (1:41.09), and US #9 Medgar Evers NY (1:42.05).
Benjamin Cardozo NY is the fastest team in the 4x400, having blazed a US #2 3:45.36. They should get a push from Oxon Hill MD (US #4 3:51.05) and Penn Wood PA (US # 7 3:53.87).
The DMR looks like a battle between US #3 Burnt Hills NY (11:58.99), Bronxville NY (US #6 12:05.97) and Immaculate Heart NJ (US #7 12:07.72).

St. John Villa NY (US #4 9:19.14) and Bronxville (US #5 9:19.46) appear to be the class of the 4x800.