Nike Indoor Championships
Mar 13-14, 2004 at PG County Sportsplex, Landover MD


Saturday at NIC photo album by John Dye
Virginia triple gold state champ Lashawn Merritt qualified Saturday
in both the 200 and 400 and won both events on Sunday.





Wisconsin 's stature in the racewalking world keeps speeding along. The University of Wisconsin at Parkside, under coach Mike DeWitt, has been the nation's collegiate walking leader for decades. Curt Clausen of Stevens Point is the nation's best-known

Walker, a three-time Olymp ian , once at 20K, twice at 50K.

It was Katy Hayes' turn in the spotlight at the NIC meet. The junior at Wisconsin's Oconomowoc High School sped to a meet-record victory in 7:00.94, just 4/100ths off the national mak of Lisa Kutzing of New York's Port Jefferson High in 1998. The meet record she demolished was the 7:07.82 by Robyn Stevens ( Vacaville . Calif. ) in 2000.

“It was close the first couple of laps, then I kind of broke away,” said Hayes, all smiles. She smiled some more a few minutes later, when given the honor of presenting the medals to the top six finishers in the boys mile walk.

A top student who ranks third in her class of 360, Hayes will be college bound in the fall of 2006 to major in special education or world religion. Three colleges – Cedarville of Ohio , Calvin of Michigan , and Elmhurst currently top her list of possibilities.

“I got started in the Junior Olympic program,” said Hayes. A third place in the JO National 15-16 mile walk last year was her springboard to NIC meet success. An excellent runner, Hayes competes on Oconomowoc's strong cross country and distance relay teams, but racewalking is clearly her prime dedication.

She'll walk in the upcoming USA Junior World Cup trials and the National Juniors, and figures to have a USA uniform or two in her collection by season's end.

Nineteen racewalkers competed, in a pair of sections. Corina Ortiz of McAllen , Texas took the first one in 8:47.76 and wound up 10 th over-all.

In another positive indicator, the first five placers represented five states. South Carolina 's Erica Adams was second (7:19.21), Ohio 's Tina Peters third (7:44.62), New York 's Brittany O'Br ian fourth (7:46.12) and Maine 's Lauren Forgues fifth (7:52.08.) And all but two of the 17 who finished may return in 2005. Adams and 11 th -place Kristine Ewald were the lone seniors.

Peters, a sophomore, gets high-level encouragement at home. Her dad, Vince Peters, is the USATF national racewalking committee chairman.


The fifth of this five-section event was supposed to decide all. Palm Beach Lakes of Florida won it in 34 seconds flat, in a sizzling come-from-behind race, with J.W. North of Riverside , Cal. right behind at 34.50 and Westside of Anderson , S..C. back in 35.21

But when they checked the final standings, they got a small shock. Jackson Memorial of New Jersey had won section four in 33.82 and thus won it over-all.

“We should have been in the fast(est) heat, I'm not exactly sure why we weren't,” said Jackson lead-off Bryanna Johnson. “Maybe we didn't have the times coming in, I just don't know. But they should have known about us.”

It was in the meet history books all along. Jackson had placed second in this event last year and third in 2002. And Coach Alton Johnson's Lady Jags have been a power in their Ocean County, Shore Conference and New Jersey state circuits for years.

Johnson put the Lady Jags out front early and Mara Sirbu, Savannah Knox and Joanne Shia kept widening the gap. Menchville , Va. was second in the Jackson section in 35.54.

Shia and Knox are seniors, but Johnson's a junior and Sirbu a sophomore, so Jackson has the makings of another mighty club next year. For further evidence, a second Jackson team of one freshman, two juniors and a senior won the opening section of the 13-team event in 37.64 and wound up 10 th over-all.

“Amazing,” said Shia, after stepping down from the victory stand. “I can't believe it,” said Knox, all smiles.

Left unscathed, though, was the national and met record of 32.02 set by Palm Beach Lakes in 1999.


Coming in, the Saratoga Springs , N.Y. relaywomen knew that their toughest competition would come from … .Saratoga Springs, N.Y. And that's just the way it unfolded. The rest of America had no chance once the Saratogans – actually representing the Kinetic Running Club – got rolling. Lap after lap, leg after leg, the excitement built as the Saratogans chased not only each other but the national record book.

The 20:23.24 national and NIC meet marks set by Rockford of Michigan in 2000 had no chance of staying in the books, once Cameron Vahan ian , Lindsay Ferguson, Ruby Solomon and Nicole Blood took it over for the Saratoga “A” team. Vahan ian clocked a 5:11.6 mile, Ferguson 5:05.8, Solomon 4:59.3 and Blood 4:52.0 for the record-breakers.

The Saratoga/Kinetic B team of Alysa McElroy, Jess Bellon, Kayrn DeLay and Caitlyn Lane ran 20:48.30 in second - with only Bay Shore, N.Y. (20:48.30) and Kellam Track Club of Virginia Beach, Va. (21:33.16) of the “outsiders” in front of the Saratoga/Kinetic C team, which ran 21:53.97. And a Saratgoga/Kinetic D team was eighth in 22:48.62.

The record-breakers will have the chance to do it over and over again. Vahan ian , Ferguson and Blood are sophomores, Solomon a junior. In the B unit, McElroy, Bellon and Lane are freshmen, DeLay a junior.

“I knew we had the ability to do it (break the national record),” said Ferguson . “It was just a matter of going out and doing it. A national record is really exciting to all of us. But we work at it because we all just love running.”


Krista Simkins, a Wissahickon High/Ambler, Pa. junior, stepped a 55.42 to lead six qualifiers. She did it in the third of nine heats and seems a clear-cut choice to take the final.

Simkins had clear edges on the next-best threesome, all of them freshmen: hometown Greenbelt , Md. 's Takecia Jameson (56.01), Woodrow Wilson Classical/ Long Beach , Cal. 's Ebony Collins (56.18) and Ridgeland , Mississippi 's B ianca Knight (56.19.)


Carol Rodriguez is already ahead of the pack. The Woodrow Wilson Classical ( Long Beach , Cal. ) senior speedster has been named to Puerto Rico 's Athens-bound Olympic team. She stayed ahead of the pack once again with a 24.49 heat victory, taking the fifth of eight sections by a wide margin over Camden , N.J. 's Avionne Sloan (25.30.)

Three more seniors snared the next qualifying spots behind Rodriguez – Jacksonville , Fla. 's Lauren Austin (24.63), Union City , Cal. 's Angelique Smith (24.67) and Peoria , Arizona 's Jessica Onyepunuka (24.76.) But Jessica's sophomore sister. Judith Onyepunuka, didn't advance with a 25.16 that put her 10th in a 38-runner field.


Four hours after the 4-mile relay record-breaker, Saratoga Springs stepped right back into the victory column.

The quartet of Ruby Solomon (3:39 1,200 meters), Jessica Bellon (60 flat 400), Alysha McElroy (2:19 800) and Caitlyn Lane (5:02.8 1,600) - formally representing the Kinetic Running Club - zipped to a 12:03.38 triumph in this 4,000-meter event with another clearcut but hardly runaway triumph, this one several tads shy of the meet record of 11:56.87 set by the 2003 North Kent Running Club/Rockford, Michigan team.

The Detroit Cheetahs were strong runners-up in 12:06.24 with defending champion North Kent/Rockford close, too, third in 12:06.99. Saratoga/Kinetic had two more entries in the two-section, 17-team event. Its B team went 13:06.54 for 15 th , its C team 13:25.94 for 17 th .

With junior Solomon, and freshmen Bellon, McElroy, and Lane, Saratoga/Kinetic coming back, along with a wealth of other returning talent, Saratoga/Kinetic is already the 2005 DM favorite.

“It was exciting,” said Solomon, of the battle to win this one. “The (meet) record would have been nice, but there's always next year,” philosophized Lane.


West Catholic High of Philadelphia won this 1,600-meter race last June at the adidas Outdoor Classic and did it again at the NIC.

It took 4:04.69 for the listed lineup of Erica Ferguson, Clarra Lawson, Kneshia Ferguson and Latavia Thomas to cover their eight laps, with Beaumont (4:07.91) and James Logan Track Club (4:09.97) going 2-3 but not close.

Thomas' 2:09.94 anchor 800 ended all doubts. “She ran 2:08.47 in the Pennsylvania state meet two weeks and that's the fastest in the country, so I think she'll do pretty well in the individual 800, too, on Sunday,” said happy coach Lenny Jordan.

Never in danger, however, were the national (3:53.17) and meet (3:59.62) records, both owned by Woodrow Wilson of Long Beach , Cal .

West Catholic's gold-medal run came in the fourth of four sections. Just as planned, the pace heated up with West Downingtown (4:18.41) taking the first heat, Great Valley (4:14.89) the second and Southeast Raleigh (4:12.73) the third.


With big-time concluding performances of 19 feet and half an inch in the long jump, and 2:28.94 in the 800 meters, Gayle Hunter of J.W. North High in Riverside, Cal. scored a decisive triumph with a 3,709-point total.

That put her Number Two on the all-time U.S. high school list, a mere two points back of national record-holder Texan Loren Leaverton's 3,711 in 1998.

Hunter, a senior, had opened with an 8.84 60-meter hurdles and a five-foot, four and three-quarter-inch high jump but Philipa Davies of Brentwood, Tennessee surged in front with a 36-foot, seven and three-quarter inch shot put put, a 606-point throw that earned 107 more than Hunter's 31 feet, three and one quarter-inch toss. Junior star Davies, though, was outclassed in both the long jump (going 17-3 ¼) and 800 (2:31.18) to wind up 138 points back with a 3,571 total.

With seniors Lauren Stewart third (3,562 points) and Molly Kennedy fourth (3,508), Tennessee 's Brentwood swept an awesome three of the top four spots.

“I've never met Jackie Joyner-Kersee, but I sure would like to some day; she's my idol,” said Hunter, who took the National Junior Olympic title and placed sixth in the World Youth Championships last year.

“I definitely want to go to college ( Illinois and Penn State top her current list) and keep on competing.”

Hunter will come right back to compete in the NIC individual long jump Sunday. She has an LJ personal best of 20-8 and has triple jumped 40-6.

“Another of my big goals will be to win the ( California ) state long jump this year,” said Hunter. “I fouled all three of my jumps at states last year. I've got to make up for that.”


Once upon a time, Rhode Islanders simply owned this event. Fortunately, no longer. The weight and the hammer throw, its outdoor season cousin, have gone national with long-term advantages for the sometimes hard-pressed U.S. Olympic development program.

Well, a Rhode Islander, Barrington senior Erin Donnelly took the 20-pound event with a 53-foot, seven and three-quarter-inch heave, but competitors from Georgia , New York and Idaho kept her company in the top five.

Seniors snared the first three places in this event where experience is so critical. Georg ian Lorna Finn of McEachern High/Powder Springs wound up second at 51-5, with New Yorker Andrea Kavleski of Liberty Central third at 50 feet, six and a quarter.

“This was my best-ever throw, so that just added to it,” said Donnelly. “I started as a freshman – my dad thought I'd be good at it; I've been working with coach Bob Gourley ever since, and I've been improving each year.

“Freshman year, I threw 37 feet; I did 43 feet as a sophomore, then 48 as a junior, now 53 as a senior. “The weight is a lot of fun, it's not your typical track and field event, and that's what makes it a big challenge to me.”

Donnelly, who has thrown the 4K hammer over 156 feet, and bench-pressed 150 pounds, squat-lifted 275, and power-cleaned 125, will take her strength and talent to the University of Connecticut this fall.


Erica McLain of the Plano-based Texas Express Track Club came in ranked number one in America for good reason. She tripled 43-1 last outdoor season and set the NIC meet record of 41 feet, eight and a half inches here a year ago.So her repeat victory was no surprise.

All six of her jumps passed the 12-meter mark (39 feet, four and a half inches) and all six topped the best effort of jumper-up Amelia Anderson of Smiths Station, Alabama.

The Stanford-bound McLain took the lead in round one at 41 feet, three and a quarter inches, and popped her event-winner of 41 feet, six and a half inches in round two. Anderson, a junior, took the silver at 38 feet, three and a quarter inches, with Camelia Norman a senior from Durham , N.C. , third at 38 feet, two and a quarter inches.

Even with Tiombe Hurd, 2004 national indoor champion and 2000 Sydney Olympian , on hand to lend encouragement and present the medals, there were no challenges to the national record of 43 feet, 11 and a half inches set by Jul ian a Yendork of Walnut, Cal. in 1991.


Nike Indoor Championships


is published by
John Dye

Baltimore MD