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Columbus Ohio March 13-14, 1999

Nike Indoor Classic Previews

Virginia State Meet previews Newell, Thompson, Harris
Late entries spice hurdles, 400m, SMR, 800m
Genesis - Mike Byrnes' preview of the meet
Competition - Event by Event Analysis
Commitments - major athletes entering early
Shuttle Hurdle Relay is added - slots available
Long Beach Wilson girls will shoot for 4x200 and sprint medley records
Another mano-a-mano: Casey Combest and Mike Newell

The Genesis:

by Mike Byrnes

The Beginning. The first. The first time for anything is always exciting. The birth of your firstborn is one of the greatest events in most people's lives. To create something where nothing was before, is a stunning experience. The team of Mike Byrnes, Jim Spier and Tracy Sundlun, did that with the creation of the meet that came to be known as the National Scholastic Indoor T&F Championships. Now they are about to experience those same emotions again. The exhilaration has been building for the past several months and will culminate today with the beginning of the Nike Indoor Classic. First, a bit of background.

In 1984 this intrepid trio launched the Pathmark Classic, a meet designed to bring together the finest high school track and field performers from throughout the nation to vie for the title, Pathmark Champion. More importantly, it would be the first meet to provide significant financial support to the athletes thus making it possible for many youngsters, who could not otherwise afford it, to attend. "One of our primary objectives," stated Sundlun, "was to give American kids the exposure they needed to get a college scholarship." Most felt the meet would fail. It was too innovative, too risky. Who could talk the parent of a sixteen-year old into letting their son/daughter fly 3000 miles to run in a track meet? How would you get the word out about the meet? Most importantly, where would the money come from?

Enter "The Team." Jim Spier is a computer genius with a love for detail. He developed a database for athletes that has grown from a few hundred to one containing the names of over 8000 athletes from throughout the nation. As a result, each year over 5000 entry blanks are sent to EVERY kid who has met the qualifying standard. Who convinces them to attend? That's where I come in, Mike Byrnes. It's my job to canvass the country and ferret out the talent that makes the meet the best indoor competition in the land. Over the past fourteen years I've flown over 400,000 miles and seen hundreds of track meets. I've discovered athletes from Maine to Florida; from sun drenched California to wind swept Kansas. Who pays for all this? Tracy Sundlun has the guts of an underweight street brawler, the chutzpa of The Imposter and a heart that's big enough to store all the pole vault poles in the world. On more than one occasion he was forced to dip into his personal funds to keep the meet going. He never hesitated.

In 1987 a meeting was held in Freeport, NY. We were sitting around my dining room table trying to solve a problem. The Pathmark people had ended their support and a new name was in order. Finally, someone said, "How about the National Scholastic Indoor Championships?" Thus, that name was born.

Unfortunately, in 1998 our association with the National Scholastic meet ended. What we had worked for over the past fourteen years was suddenly taken away and we were on the outside looking in.

Many coaches, athletes and parents felt the need for "The Team" to get reinvolved and to create a new event that would restore the high standards that had become the hallmark of the competition.

Thus, the Nike Indoor Classic was born. We hope you enjoy it.

Here's who you'll see in Columbus March 13-14:


Well, that's it. We're quite proud of the fields we've put together for you and sincerely hope you enjoy the competition. If you have as much fun as JOY KAMANI, AJ HOLZHERR and I had in putting these great athletes in head to head combat, you're going to have a great time! Thanks for coming, now enjoy the show.

Commitments to NIC:

(No names have been posted on this list without the athlete's/coach's knowledge and permission. However, it is inevitable some switching of allegiance will take place. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.)

2/8 NY Track Writers Luncheon
February 1 - Duriel Laird, Lynn Harris, Joey Handy, Jamie Walker
Long Beach Wilson - national record girls 4x400
Alexis Joyce - leading returning 100 meters
Julie Stevenson - 5-9 HJ, San Diego Games winner
3 top NSI officials move to Columbus
Jamie Ostrov - new #1 US girls HJ (5-9.75)
Jessica Johnson - national girls high jump leader
3 Virginia powers pick NIC - Bethel, Bayside, Menchville
Casey Combest - "the best will be in Ohio"
Thomas Jefferson HS (VA) - wants great field for girls DMR record try
10 national stars pledge early
Larry Eder's American Track & Field - All America certificates
Greater Philadelphia coaches association
National champion hurdler Jermaine Cooper
Blaine Bussey 400m - Nike co-meet director Mike Byrnes announced:   "BLAINE BUSSEY, the USL at 500y has decided to do his post-season competing at the Nike Indoor Classic. Bussey, from Taft HS in Los Angeles, sped to the #2-AT clocking with his 57.3 at the San Diego meet a few weeks ago. He duplicated his win at the LA Invitational and will take a few weeks off to get ready for the Nike competition. He’ll face some tough opposition from Virginia’s Ricky Harris.   Harris, the favorite to take the hurdle crown since the withdrawal of Jermaine Cooper, clocked 48.0 anchoring his 4x400mR squad at Virginia Tech Jan. 30."

Some Maryland athletes who have decided to go to Columbus:
--Old Mill stars Victor Thillet (distance) and Jackie Allen (sprints, PV)
--Two of Maryland's top female pole vaulters:  Lori Tvarkunas, 12 Glenelg, 10-10 best this year, and Natalie Dye, 12 Middletown, 10-4 best this year and third at last year's National Scholastic Indoor at Boston.  The state leader, K.C. Allen of Calvert (11-3.5), has opted to return to Boston. 
--Glen Burnie HS stars Katie Sloan (3200 meters) and DelRhea Godwin (HJ).

NY Track Writers Announcement 2/8

Nike Indoor Classic co-director Mike Byrnes announced the following signings 2/8 at the New York Track Writers luncheon:

Mike Newell of VA Potomac will go to the new Nike meet in Columbus Ohio March 13-14 to duel Kentucky star Casey Combest - a matchup of the last three National Scholastic Indoor 60-meter dash champions (2 for Newell and one for Combest).
Sheena Johnson, US leader in the 55 hurdles and triple jump
Newell's VA Potomac and Johnson's VA Gar-Field squads will also go to Ohio.
Both Millrose Mile winners will be in Columbus: Katie Hotchkiss of California and Dylan Welsh of New York.
NY Saratoga, perennial cross country and track power, will journey west to Columbus.  In addition to Welsh, Saratoga boasts nationally ranked miler Danielle Coon and the US leading girls distance medley team (12:10)

4 new entries February 1

Duriel Laird - The #3 ranked sprinter nationally in the 55m Dash with a time of 6.37 will compete in the Nike Indoor Classic. Laird joins Casey Combest, #2-US and defending National Scholastic Indoor champion from Owensboro KY in a star-studded field.

Lynn Harris - new US girls long jump leader will compete in Columbus March 13-14.  The Newark DE Christiana senior soared 19-10.75 in Delaware 1/30.

Joey Handy - (Franklin, TN), who ran 47.3 outdoors last year and finished third at NSI in 1998 in the 400m. He was the only returning NSI finalist in that event from 1998.

Jamie Walker - (Paschal, Ft Worth), the leading US returnee in the multi-events in the US (4676) has entered the pentathlon in the Nike Indoor Classic.

Long Beach Wilson - record girls 4x400

The national record Long Beach Wilson girls will travel East to Columbus for the Nike Indoor Classic.  Wilson's sensational 3:36.22 in the California State Meet was a new US 4x400 record, and all members of the team return this year. 

Alexis Joyce - #1 returning at 100M

Alexis Joyce (CO) will battle previously committed Erica Whipple (FL) in sprints at Columbus.  Joyce is the leading returning US girls 100 meter runner (11.40) and Whipple is the leading returnee at 200 meters (23.29).  Both are seeking to fill the void left by Angela Williams.

Julie Stevenson - San Diego HJ Champ

Julie Stevenson, Diamond Bar CA, 5-9 winner of the girls high jump at the San Diego Games, makes it three blue chippers in the girls HJ field at Columbus (Jessica Johnson and Jamie Ostrov).

3 Top NSI Officials Move to Columbus

Ian Brooks, Meet Director for the 1998 National Scholastic Indoor Track
and Field Championships (NSI), has joined the 1999 Nike Indoor Classic (NIC)
management team. Also joining Brooks in Columbus are Lewis G. Maharam, M.D.,
Medical Director for the NSI in 1998 (and before), who will serve as the 1999
NIC Medical Director. John Chaplin has been named Meet Referee. Chaplin had
served as Meet Referee for the NSI for several years through 1998, and will
serve in that capacity in Columbus for 1999.

The Nike Indoor Classic will take place at Ohio State University in
Columbus, Ohio on Saturday and Sunday, March 13-14,1999. Meet Directors of
the meet are Tracy Sundlun, Mike Byrnes and Jim Spier, who founded the
National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships in conjunction with
the M.A.C. in 1984 and ran that event through 1997.

Jamie Ostrov - Girls High Jump

Jamie Ostrov of Tallahassee FL,  US '99 indoor leading girls high jumper (5-9.75), has committed to participate in Columbus, setting up a terrific potential duel with Jessica Johnson of Texas, US #2 in '98 (5-11)

Jessica Johnson - Girls HighJump

Southlake Carroll TX star Jessica Johnson has committed to compete at Columbus.   She is tied for  the US indoor lead with a 5-8 jump at the Carl Lewis Invitational and her 5-11 in 1998 was second in the nation.  She also won the Golden West Invitational in 1998.

3 Virginia Powers Pick NIC

Perennial Virginia powers Bethel, Bayside, and Menchville high schools have decided to compete for national honors this year at the Nike Indoor Classic in Columbus OH March 13-14.  Bethel's 1:41 is the fastest US time in the girls 4x200 so far this year.  Bayside's Brandy Parks is flirting with the national lead in girls triple jump with two jumps over 39-10 already.  Menchville's 4x400 squad finished in the US top five last year and looks more than ready to duplicate that feat this year, according to Bethel coach Eddie Williams.

Casey Combest - "the best will be in Ohio"

1/17/99 -- Defending NSI 60m champion Casey Combest announced plans to compete at the Nike Indoor Classic in Columbus. "I've always wanted to run against the best and the best will be in Ohio," the youngster commented today. He joins Marcell Allmond as returning NSI winners who will compete in Columbus.

Thomas Jefferson High School (Virginia)
-- shooting for girls DMR record

1/17/99 -- Jeff James, coach of Thomas Jefferson, Arlington VA, announced his intention to compete in the NIC meet as well. "I think we have a good chance to break the National Record in the girls DMR and in order to do that we'll need more than a fast track, we'll need a great field. It looks like we'll find that kind of field in Columbus."

All American Certificates

ALL-AMERICANS: The top 6 finishers at the Nike Indoor Classic will receive All-American certificates from Larry Eder's American Track & Field publications.

NIC Lands Katie Hotchkiss, Erin Sims

Katie Hotchkiss of California and Erin Sims of Mississippi, two of the leading US distance runners, have committed to run at the Nike Indoor Classic in Columbus OH March 13-14, NIC meet directors announced (1/15).  Both girls are in the select field for the High School Mile at the Millrose Games.  Hotchkiss, of Fremont CA Mission San Jose HS, had 1998 outdoor bests of 2:09.74 (US #5) and 4:49.77 1600 (US #4).  Sims, of Pascagoula MS, is the first Mississippi HS girl to break 5:00 in the mile (4:54 in 1998).

NIC recruiters gain early support from Jermaine Cooper, Philadelphia coaches association, and 9 more US stars

Giddings TX 1/10/99 -- Jermaine Cooper, who swept the Golden West and National Scholastic Outdoor 110 hurdles last June and was the fastest hurdler in the nation (13.40) in 1998, has committed to compete in the new Nike Indoor Classic at Columbus March 13-14.  The Giddings TX star got his senior campaign off to a sensational start Saturday in Baton Rouge by winning 3 events in the LSU Classic, including a 7.15 clocking in the 55M hurdles, just off the all time high school record of 7.08.

Philadelphia -- The Board of Directors of the Philadelphia T&F Coaches Association of Greater Philadelphia is urging its members to participate in the Nike Indoor Classic at Columbus March 13-14 instead of the NSI at Boston.  The 38-year-old association has 125 member schools and conducts weekly meets for Philadelphia athletes.  Bob "Cochise" Burdette, secondary schools chairman of the Penn Relays, is CEO of the Philadelphia association.

10 National Stars Choose Nike Indoor Classic

NIC meet directors today (1/12) announced 10 star athletes are confirmed to compete at the new meet in Columbus OH March 13-14.  In addition, the Greater Philadelphia coaches association is urging its 125 member schools to go to Columbus instead of Boston. 

Jermaine Cooper TX, #1 short hurdler
Nakiya Johnson CA, 52.06, US 400M leader, 2nd World Juniors
Lamar Johnson IN, 7-3.25, #1 US HJ
Deanna Schuler FL, 12-10 PV, #1 returnee, '98 NSO champion
Erica Whipple FL, 11.51 & 23.29, #1 US returnee, #2 US behind Angela Williams
Marcel Allmond CA, '98 NSI pentathlon champion; 13.83 HH, #5 returnee
Liz Reusser WI, 10:31.82, #4 returnee
Kori Hamilton CA, 55.62
Tracy Thomas CA, 19-11, JO champion and 9th grade record holder
Stephanie Kufuz CA, 19-0 LJ, German exchange student
Nicole Denby CA, 13.86, #2 HH returnee

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