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boys sprints-hurdles | 08-09 most outstanding performers

This is the seventh of a series of DyeStat year-end awards for 2008-09. The DyeStat Most Outstanding Performers series, which precedes 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 SteveU - Photos by Donna Dye, John Nepolitan, and Kirby Lee

Wayne Davis II

Those who question whether or not a prep trackster’s season can go from good to all-time great after June 15 need look no further than one Wayne Davis II.  It’s not the first time WDII has used the summer to elevate his season into greatness.  In 2007, he won NON in mid-June, then tore it up at the World Youth Championships in July, winning gold and setting a WY record.  A year ago, however, was Davis’s literal summer of discontent as a great indoor campaign dissolved into a what-could-have-been outdoor season as he battled fruitlessly against injuries.  In the summer of 2009, however, fans indeed found out “what could have been.”

First, however, there was indoor.  Davis downplayed the indoor season, saying he was just trying to build back up from the previous summer, but while he didn’t start as fast as he had in the winter of 2008, the times and results were still there in the end.  He started by clicking off early marks of 7.23 55H and 7.79 60H.  But by Virginia Tech, he was down to 7.09 55H, just .03 of his own USR.  Three weeks later, the Southeast Raleigh NC senior ended his in-state indoor career by shaving .01 off his USR with 7.05 at 4A state.  A week later at Kentucky, he was down to 7.69 60H, putting his 7.62 USR in danger.  Finally, at NIN – despite an ankle injury incurred the previous week – he rocketed to a 7.60, breaking the USR tie he had with three other hurdlers and finishing his indoor career with both hurdle USRs.

While allowing his injury to heal, and trying to make sure to avoid a recurrence of 2008, Davis started slowly outdoors.  By late April and May, he was consistently in the 13.6s, then finally hit 13.58 (-0.2) at his outdoor state meet.  Still, he wasn’t atop the leaderboard yet.  He went across the country to win Great Southwest and Golden West, picking up a then-all-conditions PR of 13.35w (+4.6) at the former.  By NON, though, he was finally reaching the level that seemed destined for him, and he wowed the crowd in his prelim with a big legal PR 13.33 (+0.2w).  In the final, he had to fight a 1.3 headwind, and still ran 13.37.

Now, for many athletes, a meet like the Pan Am Juniors is not a huge deal, but with the meet being held in Trinidad and Tobago, it held special significance for Davis – it’s his family’s home country.  So running well at USATF Juniors, the qualifying meet for Pan Ams, was probably the year’s biggest goal – and he was facing tough collegians in William Wynne and Booker Nunley.  He improved his legal PR to 13.31 in the prelims and then in the final, with a 3.8 aiding wind, he blasted a 13.16 for a decisive win.  So a month later in Port of Spain, Davis’s dream came true.  Not only did he win, but rocked the track world with a 13.08 that topped not just the auto USR, but was superior to Renaldo Nehemiah’s 12.9h from 1977.  Davis truly overcame all obstacles for a dream year.

Tavaris Tate

Tavaris Tate’s 2008 reached a peak with a flourish of mid-high 46-second 400 clockings in the mid-to-late season, but ended with tough losses at NON and AAU JOs.  Going into 2009, the Starkville MS senior was determined that he wasn’t going to lose over 400 and in a year where he seemingly ran everywhere and met all-comers, he was just about true to his aspiration.  He had as complete a combined indoor/outdoor campaign as any quarter-miler of recent vintage.  On top of that, he ran well and took some major races in the 200. 

He began the year with a solid slate of indoor performances in limited action, winning at LSU, Houston, and Kentucky, where he had a list-leading 47.06 (oversized).  At Nike Indoor, he saw a strong rivalry begin with New Jersey’s Clayton Parros, beating him by .01 in the 400, and had a tough 200 situation in the 200 where he won the fast section, but was .02 slower than Fuquawn Greene from the slower section.  Still, it was all a good start to his year.  Outdoors, he made a big statement early when he doubled the Mobile Meet of Champs, running 46.74 in the 400 and a big PR 20.89 (+1.6) in the 200 – the latter a mark that would hold up as US#2 all year.  After a PR 45.78 in his region meet, he produced a great state meet triple with nwi times of 10.48 and 21.73, as well as another 400 PR of 45.71.

Then began a long, long post-season.  After a 46.20 win at the Dekalb Atlanta International, he went to Great Southwest, invited as part of a 4x400 All-Star relay to challenge New Bern NC.  Not only did the relay win, but Tate again hooked up with Parros over the open 400 and came up with another blazing PR: 45.48.  A week later, he took the Golden West 400 and was 2nd in the 200.  Then it was on to Greensboro, where he again beat Parros for the NON crown.  Tate then made another trip west, this time to meet the best juniors at USATFs.  He nearly had another sub-46, running 46.04.  Finally, the season came to an end at Pan Am Juniors, where he faced his toughest competition of the year in Kirani James.  James prevailed by .05, but Tate had his second best time ever: 45.50.

Reggie Wyatt

As a junior in 2008, Wyatt was basically a runner without a team, having been ruled ineligible to compete at CIF level because of a transfer from Riverside North to La Sierra.  He had some good races anyway, but it was tough to fulfill the promise he’d shown as a frosh and a soph; the latter had included class records at both 300H and 400H, and a World Youth silver at 400H.  But in 2009, a full season of opportunities lay ahead with his new team and he would plenty of chances for the high school records he seemed destined to reach.

The first major effort came in late March, where he quickly dropped impressive times of 36.59 for 300H and 46.67 for the flat 400.  Two weeks later, he lined up for the Arcadia 300H, hoping to make a real run at the HSR.  It was a tad soon, especially in terms of his technical readiness, but he still cranked a 36.01, just .30 off his PR.  At Mt. SAC, he dropped his 400 PR down to 46.38.  In moving through section and state qualifying, he put up a dizzying handful of impressive quadruples, with mid-46 400s, 21.2s for 200s, and hit 35.74 and 35.71 for 300H – plus relays. 

Suddenly, it was state meet weekend and Wyatt’s last chance for the 300H mark.  He wasted no time; in his Friday prelim, he put it all together and sliced more than a quarter-second off Jeshua Anderson’s 2007 standard with a 35.02.  The next day he could hit just 36.71, but he also had a big PR 46.13 400 win, which would stand as US#4.  Now the push for the 400H mark began.  With just a few minor flaws at NON, he blasted his first sub-50, a 49.78 that made him #4 all-time.  At USATF Jrs, he had to settle for 50.02, but also a big win over former prep rival William Wynne.  Finally, though, at Pan Am Jrs, Wyatt showed signs of a long year and ran 50.61 for 3rd as Wynne took the title.  Still, Wyatt had taken one of the records to a new level that will be very tough to beat.

Dentarius Locke

Sorting out the country’s top 100 and 200 boys was going to be a tough prospect this year, all the way around.  You had 10.08w runner Prezel Hardy TX winning World Youth, but coming back to the pack with his legal times and 3rd at NON.  You had footballers like Randall Carroll (10.30) and Ken Gilstrap (10.31) – US#1 and #2 in the century – trying limited post-season action.  You had indoor stars like NIN 60 champ Devon Smith and NSIC 60 champ Jeremy Rankin not running at the same level outdoors, and megastar Marquise Goodwin focusing on the jumps when it counted the most.  There was, however, one sprinter who put together the happy marriage of one huge mark – in the 200 – and a pair of outdoor titles to deserve some real accolades.

Dentarius Locke was without question one of the guys to watch in 2009, not only because he was the #4 returnee in both the 100 and 200, but he was also 2008 runner-up in both the 100 and 200 at NON.  The Tampa Chamberlain FL senior started with a low-key indoor meet in Florida, then came to Boston for NIN, where he was 3rd in the 60 and passed on the 200 final due to a minor injury.  Outdoors, however, he moved quickly toward the top of the lists in the 100 and 200 at his late March county meet, where he ran 10.35 and 20.99, both nwi.  A month later he got his 100 time down to 10.31 nwi, but it wasn’t until the state meet where he could get in a good effort with a wind gauge. 

The 4A state meet was, indeed, where he started separating himself from the rest.  The 100, 10.32 (+0.9w), was a confirmation of what he’d been doing, but it was the 200 that turned heads everywhere.  In the prelim, he stopped the clock at 20.58 (+0.9), a big PR and a towering national leader that would stand up all season.  By the 200 final, he had to settle for 20.70w (+2.4), but he’d made his statement.  Fortunately, Greensboro was again in his plans as NON officials had to be pleased to get a showdown of Locke and the TX state champ (Hardy), given that FL and TX stars don’t often clash there.  Locke was ready, running a 10.41 prelim (+1.2w) and a 10.59 final (into a 2.6 headwind) for his first title, then coming back for 21.04 prelim (+0.1w) and 20.87w final (+3.2) to complete the double – and cement the season as a great one.
Honorable Mention

Prezel Hardy – A late-season surge into the limelight turned Hardy from the relatively unknown soph he was last year to the great prospect he is now.  The Killeen Ellison TX junior started impressing at the Texas Relays, where he ran a 10.45w 100 prelim and 10.61 (+1.8w) final, but it was at his Region 2-5A meet he really opened eyes, beating Marquise Goodwin in the prelims (10.34, +1.8w) and final (10.41, +1.8w).  In their rematch at the 5A Texas state meet, Hardy joined the all-time greats as he became only the 4th under 10.10 in any conditions, beating Goodwin with a 10.08w (+2.2).  He was a somewhat disappointing 3rd at NON (10.62, -2.6w), but then succeeded in winning the World Youth Trials (10.48, +1.4w) and becoming the first American to win the 100 at the World Youth Champs (10.57, -1.2w).

Clayton Parros – You can’t blame Parros if he’s tired of chasing Tavaris Tate, but in doing so this year, he’s earned a place among the best.  The Seton Hall Prep NJ senior had a big indoor campaign, ripping a 47.58 400 to win New Balance, taking 3rd in the Millrose 600y vs. the pros, placing 4th in the deepest 600 ever at NB Collegiate, and finally taking 2nd by just .01 to Tate at NIN.  Outdoors, he swept through Jersey competition, including a 46.63 at his county meet, and a 21.31 200/46.79 400 double the MOC.  Then he zipped down to Great Southwest to run on the All-Star 4x400 team and battle Tate again, with the latter resulting in another great runner-up race: a US#2 45.71.  Parros followed that with third 2nd to Tate at NON (46.34), a 3rd at USATF Juniors (46.88), and a leg on the winning Team USA 4x400 at Pan Am Juniors.

James Taylor – As a sprint threat from 55 to 400 meters, and a 25-foot long jumper, Taylor was one of the country’s best and most versatile athletes.  Although he performed mostly well at national meets, it was probably at the Virginia 3A state meets where he was most impressive:  Indoors, the Nansemond River VA senior had an absolutely epic quadruple: 6.26 55 / 34.07 300 / 1:05.14 500 / 24-01.25 TJ.  For the season, he would rank in the top six in the country in six events.  At NSIC, he took 1st in the 200 and 2nd in the 400, with his 21.34 in the furlong being US#2.  Outdoors at the VA state meet, Taylor finished with two 1sts and two 2nds, going 10.68 100/ 21.68w 200/ 47.12 400/ and a big PR 25-00 (+0.5) in the LJ.  At NON, he was 2nd in the LJ and 3rd in the 200.  He was also 2nd in the Penn Relays LJ.

Jeremy Rankin – One of these days, the talented Rankin will have an outdoor season to match his indoor campaigns.  The Overland CO senior had four meets under 6.80 for 60 meters indoors.  He entered nationals weekend with a US#1 6.69 to his name, but lost the national leader to Devon Smith’s 6.63 at NIN.  But at NSIC, Rankin faced a 60 field that included Ken Gilstrap, Rynell Parsons, Jermaine Brown and Hunter Furr.  He won in 6.71, going through 55 at 6.21 en route, the fastest of the year.  Outdoors, Rankin had PRs of just 10.46 and 21.59, and did not compete at NON or USATF Jrs.  But he came back in July for USATF JOs to race a good Young Men’s 100 field that included several sub-10.50 runners.  He led prelims with a windy 10.41w (+3.1), his all-conditions best since his breakout soph year, and won the final with 10.80, with rain and a 2.0 headwind.

Cameron LaCour – As a junior, LaCour had run 7.97 for 60H and 14.06/13.74w for 110H.  Now at Dayton HS, he ran twice in the 7.8s, but at NIN he broke through to 7.72, second only to Wayne Davis II and =#7 all-time.  Outdoors, he got an impressive legal PR of 13.93 early at Texas Southern, into a 2.2 wind, suggesting a much faster time was possible.  At Texas Relays, he got it, using a barely legal 1.9 breeze and hitting a US#1 13.48.  His next big mark came several weeks later, 13.58 (+0.8) to win 4A state.  At NON, Davis finally knocked LaCour down to #2 US.  The two finally met again at USATF Jrs, but while LaCour had a strong 13.60 (+1.7) prelim, he could only manage 13.79w in the final.  Seemingly past his peak, he was 3rd at USATF JOs in late July.  At his best, though, LaCour was clearly second only to Davis.

Jordan Rispress – For a lot of long hurdlers, the 400H is tougher going than the 300H – whether because it’s a lack of experience, or a lack of endurance.  That didn’t seem to be the case with Jordan Rispress this year.  While the Hilliard Darby OH senior been running 300H times in the mid-37s and 38s that have him in the top 25 or so in that event, he came to the Penn Relays in late April and got all the way down to 51.89, winning the title and hitting a US#1 that lasted almost all year.  Rispress then completed an unbeaten season in Ohio and added a Midwest Meet of Champs title in a PR 37.47.  Then it was on to Nike Outdoor Nationals and a battle with Reggie Wyatt.  Rispress smartly ran his own race and while he lost by well over a second, he still knocked his PR down to 51.54, which finished the year =US#2.

Year-End Awards Index