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18th Nike Outdoor Nationals
June 19-21, 2008 - North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro NC
DyeStat on-site saturation coverage in words, pix and video.

SteveU's Previews and Predictions - Boys

Distances - Throws - Jumps - Sprints/Hurdles - Distance Relays - Sprint Relays

Boys Distances

The Buzz: Off the charts, especially for the 2M. The DyeStat Nation loves the Deuce. As if German Fernandez CA wasn’t enough reason to get geeked up, the long-awaited fulfillment of MN star Rob Finnerty’s potential has given deuce double the hype, as well as an air of mystery – since Finnerty has not run a really great 2M yet.

On the other hand, the buzz for the mile isn’t as high, without a Sam Borchers-type in the field, but the word is that two runners will be added to the fast heat of the mile field from Friday night’s 2M field (typically doublers have had to run in 2nd heat of mile). The names have not been released, since seeding is not yet complete, but if you can’t guess who they are, then you need to study the entries more closely.

And while the 800 field has been partly depleted by USATF Jrs., there’s still top-end power of Joe Franklin FL and Jason Walton NJ, as well as great depth. The buzz is never super for the steeple, but this year’s field is an intriguing mix of talents.

What 2 Watch 4: For the most part, the script for the deuce should be pretty clear. German will seek the 64-65 pace needed to challenge the record, while Luke Puskedra UT and Colby Lowe TX will seek to hang on. German, who won’t be coming off a 1600 like he was when he ran his 8:34 3200, should be able to make that kind of pace happen – especially if the weather is as fair as predicted. Will Luke or Colby help with the pace? Luke did go out in 4:17 at Pre, so it’s possible.

But there are two ‘X’ factors: The first is that now, with his 4:01 mile in hand, Finnerty is looked at not just someone who might be pulled to an 8:50 or so, but as someone who can legitimately race with German. Rob has never tried to run that kind of tempo for 8 laps … but neither had Matt Centrowitz last year before his 8:41. Of course that race had a slow stretch before a very hard finish, not likely to happen with German’s metronomic pacing skills. The other is that German has STILL not raced and won in a pressure-cooker race with top peers. Sorry, but the Jr. XC races or his Cali. competitions just don’t count here. But if German has the mental fortitude to match his physical gifts, he will be almost unstoppable and Jeff Nelson’s record will go down.

In the mile, Brett Johnson NJ and Jordan Carlson MN both have the talent to push a solid 4:07-08 pace straight through, but don’t look for the insane 4-flat pace like Ben Hubers set last year. Charles White has the most dangerous kick among the elites, but if the pace is 61-62, he may not be able to use it. The question mark is the guys doubling back from the deuce and what they have left. Remember, last year, Evan Jager got 3rd out of the “slow” heat. This year, those who have the chance at such a feat will get to run with the big boys.

Pace is also a key in the 800, where Franklin has been known to go out like gangbusters. There’s too many good 2nd-lap runners – especially Walton and Tommy Brinn MI – for that to work here. If Franklin runs smart – like a 53 or so for an opener – his talent should prevail. If not, the door is open to the best kickers.

The 5k should be a solid battle between Zach Ornelas TX, NIN champ Solomon Haile MD, and Joe Bosshard CO … but there’s always some surprises. Ornelas has built up some strong big-meet experience that should serve him well. The Texan is also running the steeple, after a days’ rest, where he will face the miler’s speed of Patrick McGregor AL and Taylor Morgan OR. Tyler Sorensen CA has the best entry mark in the Mile Race Walk by 24 seconds.

Record Possibilities: If Jeff Nelson’s legendary 8:36.3 is ever going to go down, this could be the year – and Centrowitz’s 2M meet record (8:41.55) looks to have a pretty short shelf life. Sharif Karie’s meet record in the Mile (4:02.01) should be safe, but don’t be shocked if a certain Minnesota runner has the stones to go after it. Franklin could get Moses Washington’s 800 meet record (1:48.51). The meet and national records will likely not be tested.

The Predictions:

2-Mile: 1. Fernandez, 2. Finnerty, 3. Puskedra – Winning Time: 8:33.90

Mile: 1. Finnerty, 2. Johnson, 3. Puskedra (remember, winners can come from either heat) – Winning Time: 4:04.50

800: 1. Franklin, 2. Walton, 3. Brinn – Winning Time: 1:49.20

5k: 1. Ornelas, 2. Haile, 3. Bosshard – Winning Time: 14:48.00

2k Steeple: 1. Ornelas, 2. Morgan, 3. McGregor – Winning Time: 5:52.50

1 Mile Walk: 1. Sorensen, 2. Evan Crowdus KY, 3. Matt Bolton ME – Winning Time: 6:43.00

Boys Throws

The Buzz: Pretty strong, especially in the boys shot put, where the field is loaded with pretty much every top thrower in the country except Jordan Clarke AK. The discus, on the other hand, is not without its king, Mason Finley CO, who became #3 all-time this spring with his 222-01. The hammer and javelin fields are solid, but lacking their top stars, who are either in Columbus or sitting out.

What 2 Watch 4: Freshman phenom Nick Vena NJ claimed the NSIC shot title; now he goes for what he hopes will be the first of several in the Nike series. He is the only one who is over 67-feet, but is certainly not invulnerable to being a few feet off some days and NJ rival Mike Alleman has beaten him several times with throws of 66 feet or less. Alleman and Brandon Pounds IN are probably the most battle-tested, but it’s one of the most difficult events to predict as few of these standouts were in the hunt last year.

Finley, however, has to be considered the heavy favorite in the discus; not only does he have the best throw by 11 feet, but also has the consistency over 200 feet. Oklahoma’s Tabor cousins, Geoff and Cameron, have put up strong marks at home, but must prove their mettle in the heat of a championship. Two other doublers, Dayshan Ragans CA and Stephan Saenz TX are two other top-three contenders with the platter.

US#3 Michael Gama Jr. RI and Wesley Wright GA (3rd in 07) look to be a cut above the field in the hammer, though Gama’s fellow Rhode Islanders, Thomas Davis and Justin Nicoll, will be right in the mix. The event is missing US#1 Conor McCullough (USATFs) and #2 Trent Kraychir (neither meet). The jav, with the top 5 in Columbus or not competing, looks like a CT-NJ dual meet as throwers from those states comprise the top five entrants (and all the 200-footers). Ben Latham CT (212-00) has been strong and consistent all year, and has to be considered a solid favorite.

Record Possibilities: Finley has a good chance at the discus meet record of 213-04, by Glenn DiGiorgio in 2002. Then with the exception of another freshman record by Vena in the shot (tough in a meet like this), other top marks should be safe.

The Predictions:

Shot Put: 1. Alleman, 2. Pounds, 3. Vena – Winning Distance: 65-11

Discus: 1. Finley, 2. Ragans, 3. G. Tabor – Winning Distance: 215-06

Javelin: 1. Latham, 2. Brian Florek NJ, 3. Stephen Simalchik CT – Winning Distance: 210-03

Hammer: 1. Gama, 2. Wright, 3. Davis – Winning Distance: 216-00

Boys Jumps

The Buzz: Moderate – Generally, the jumpers and vaulters considered the top 2-3 in each of these events are in Columbus. There’s still talent – and depth – in Greensboro, though. In a year light on great, legal jumps, US#1 long jumper Ryan Butts CA is slated to be here after competing at Juniors on Friday. US#3 TJ’er Omar Craddock TX will do the opposite, competing here Friday, then heading north. In the vertical jumps, there are still three seven footers and 11 at 6-10 or better, while 11 16-foot vaulters will line up, including four over 16-09 and six over 16-06.

What 2 Watch 4: Butts, whose legal best is 24-10.75, would love to get a legal jump way up in the 25s. He’s a solid favorite, with Virginia’s best – NIN 4th-placer Wesley Smith – clearly his best challenger. Craddock, who led at Great Southwest until the last round, will likely get a tough battle from fellow 50-footer Chris Phipps, who ruled New Jersey most of the year, and another national-class standout from Virginia, NIN champ David Wilson – who is less than an inch from the 50-foot barrier and has been knocking at the door all year. Craddock was just 9th at NIN, but has a PR of nearly 51 feet.

None of the nation’s four 17-foot vaulters are here, but Jason Pelletier AR, a stunning champion at NIN, will hope to grab another Nike title in Greensboro. His PR remains the 16-10.25 he jumped in Maryland. While the field he will battle against doesn’t have quite the top-end talent, it is deep, with 3 others having hit 16-10 and 16-09. They include North Carolina record-setter, Scott Houston; Maine’s 16-09 treasure, David Slovenski; and Oklahoma’s latest standout, Jack Whitt. Don’t forget NIN and Golden West runner-up Riley Egan, either; he also set a new record at Florida’s state meet. Houston and Slovenski also vaulted at NIN.

Dwight Barbiasz, who set a stunning New Hampshire state record at 7-01 a few weeks ago, leads the HJ field. At 7-feet even are Montez Blair NJ and Tyler Campbell AL. Eight others at 6-10 or better will be ready to challenge them if they falter. Paul Annear WI, though not quite a 7-footer, has been knocking at the door all year and is definitely one to watch.

Record Possibilities: The meet and national records in each of these events should remain intact.

The Predictions:

High Jump: 1. Barbiasz, 2. Annear, 3. Campbell – Winning Height: 7-01

Pole Vault: 1. Slovenski, 2. Pelletier, 3. Egan – Winning Height: 17-00

Long Jump: 1. Butts, 2. Smith, 3. Olu Olamigoke VA – Winning Distance: 25-02

Triple Jump: 1. Wilson, 2. Craddock, 3. Phipps – Winning Distance: 50-02

Boys Sprints/Hurdles

The Buzz: Mixed, but pretty solid overall – The 400 is the strongest sprint event, with US#2 Tavaris Tate MS and US#4 Leon Dillihunt leading the way, plus Bernard Goodwyn (46.48 last year). The 100 and 200 aren’t as strong, but there’s star power in TJ Graham NC (US#3 200 20.82, running both sprints) and intrigue with talented Michael Shaw OH.

It could be argued that NON will feature the country’s current top two 110-meter hurdlers in Brandon Tucker TX and Spencer Adams NC. And while the two considered the best in the 400H – William Wynne and Reggie Wyatt – are in Columbus, nearly all of the rest of the country’s sub-53 talent will be in Greensboro, led by Chance Casey TX.

What 2 Watch 4: Tate, whose victories include Golden West and Mobile MOC, has been as consistent as any sprinter in the nation – but he’d certainly love to move toward 46-flat. Super soph Dillihunt, part of the nation’s top 4x400 team at Dominguez, should make it a really thriller, while Goodwyn will hope to get down to his ’07 level. NIN champ Ja-Vell Bullard VA is also due to get under 47. Graham should be a cut above the 100 and 200 fields, but NIN champ Fuquawn Greene NC or Dentarius Locke FL (21.02) could challenge in the 200, while Horatio Williams MS and Shaw are in the best spot to push him in the 100. Actually, Shaw will be one of the athletes most worth watching, as he was denied competing most of the year due to issues with his state association and is itching to show his talents.

In the 110s, NIN champ and record-setter Wayne Davis NC has had his season compromised by injuries, so fellow North Carolinian Adams has stepped up with the US#1 time (13.51). But Tucker has multiple wind-aided readings in the 13.4s, including his 13.42 to win Great Southwest. Tucker’s finish is particularly strong. Casey’s 51.59 puts him on top of the 1-lap hurdles event; he is doubling back, as are Tucker and Adams. Jermaine Lowery PA will be the top fresh hurdler; also watch for Booker Nunley NC.

Record Possibilities: There probably aren’t any athletes quite at the national record level in the five sprint and hurdle events, but Graham could challenge J-Mee Samuels 2005 meet record of 20.76 in the 200.

The Predictions:

100: 1. Graham, 2. Shaw, 3. Williams – Winning Time: 10.33

200: 1. Graham, 2. Locke, 3. Greene – Winning Time: 20.94

400: 1. Tate, 2. Dillihunt, 3. Bullard – Winning Time: 46.26

110H: 1. Tucker, 2. Adams, 3. Devon Hill NJ – Winning Time: 13.46

400H: 1. Casey, 2. Tucker, 3. Lowery – Winning Time: 50.95

Boys Distance Relays

The Buzz: Pretty high – The US#1 DMR crew from Southlake Carroll TX will be in attendance, with 4:06 1600 anchor Colby Lowe doubling back from the previous night’s deuce. The 4x800 is missing US#1-2 North Penn and Cleveland Heights, but still has at least three teams that are sub-7:45 material. The 4x1 Mile sports four teams that look in the 17:20-30 range. As usual, all three races have great depth.

What 2 Watch 4: If Lowe can bounce back from Friday’s 2M, and history shows he’s pretty good at doubling, he and his fresh teammates have a great shot at hitting the rarely broken 10:00 barrier – assuming they’ve all stayed in shape since their early-May state meet. Although they’re a cut above the rest, there are at least a few teams that will give Carroll great competition. Trabuco Hills won Arcadia and features distance stars Scott Blair and Riley Sullivan – the latter who will be looking to bounce back big time after a disappointing California State Meet. Danbury CT should also be a big factor, with its big guns, Parker Boudreau and Willie Ahearn, running just the 4x8 Friday and DMR Saturday. At least a few others should be knocking at the sub-10:10 door.

The 4x800 should be at least a great 3-team battle, with others possibly mixing it up, too. US#4 Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg) and #5 Detroit Mumford (Motor City) have both run 7:44. The question mark is Danbury, which has rolled a few huge 4x1 Miles this year, but has not tested itself in a major 4x800 (or DMR, for that matter). The DMR is a little easier to project, but if Boudreau (1:50 PR) and Ahearn (1:54 PR) can coax a few 1:59s out of their teammates, then a big mark is probably in the cards. The race is loaded with other dangerous teams, like New Bern NC (Track EC) and three others which have run 7:45. If anchors Boudreau and Isaiah Ward (Mumford) have the baton at or near the lead when they get it, forget about it; if not, expect a thrilling finish as they try and mow down the rest.

The top teams in the 4x1 Mile are a stronger mix of projections and uncertainty, with The Woodlands TX the only team that has really put up a huge mark – and that was very early in the spring. Pinckney MI (Jackalopes) have great balance and depth, while Mountain View VA (with two-time FL Finalist Thomas Porter) and Fishers IN (with 4:09.64 miler Drew Shields) look capable of sub-17:30s. Again, the anchor could make the biggest difference here, with Shields being the best.

Record Possibilities: In the case of the 4x800 and DMR, the meet and national records are one and the same – and no one’s touching 7:32.89 (Auburn WA) and 9:49.78 (South Lakes VA). The meet record for the 4x1 Mile, 17:18.33, is reachable if one of the top contenders really busts one.

The Predictions:

4x1 Mile: 1. Fishers, 2. Pinckney, 3. The Woodlands – Winning Time: 17:26.50

Distance Medley: 1. Southlake Carroll, 2. Danbury, 3. Trabuco Hills – Winning Time: 10:03.50.

4x800: 1. Danbury, 2. Mumford, 3. Quince Orchard – Winning Time: 7:41.80

Boys Sprint Relays

The Buzz:  Not bad – It’s a challenge every year for NON to land the fastest sprint relay teams, especially the ones from Texas, a state whose season ended six weeks ago.  But this year’s best 4x400 crew is a California team, Dominguez, which blazed it’s US#1 3:09.50 just three weeks ago at state.  They will seek to improve that mark here this weekend and will face a good field of 3:13-3:15 teams to do so.  In the 4x200, NON managed to nap two of the country’s eight sub-1:26 teams in Trotwood-Madison OH and yes, even a TX team in Fort Worth Eastern Hills.  In the 4x100, the newly-crowned NY champion, Sheepshead Bay leads the field.

The 1600 sprint medley is always good here, and while the top two US teams from Iowa decided not to come, there are at least four teams capable of 3:27 or better, including traditional SMR power New Bern (Track EC).  Bethel VA, also one of the top 4x400 schools, looks like the best 800 SMR entrant.

What 2 Watch 4:  Dominguez has seriously dominated the 4x400 this year; they have the nation’s top four performances and lead the US#2 by four seconds.  In 46.60 leader Leon Dillihunt Jr., who is also in the open 400 and should battle Tavaris Tate for the title, they the nation’s top sophomore.  In Trotwood-Madison OH (Waggoner Raiders, with newly returned star Mike Shaw), Newburgh Elite (with 47-second man Akinto Boone), and Bethel VA (with 47-second man Ja-Vell Bullard), Dominguez will have competition from three top-flight programs that should push them for at least 2.5 laps before battling for the silver on their own.

Trotwood also became the only team outside of Texas this year to break 1:26 in the 4x200 (1:25.44) , and will have TX 4A champ Fort Worth Eastern Hills (1:25.96) as a worthy adversary.  Again, with their state meet six weeks in the rearview mirror, Eastern Hills was challenged to retain fitness levels; we’ll see if they did.  Several other teams in the 1:27s and 1:28s will fight it out for 3rd. 

The aforementioned Eastern Hills and Bethel are two of the six sub-42 squads in the 4x100.  They have the 3rd and 4th-best marks coming in behind Sheepshead Bay NY (41.39) and Western Branch VA (41.44).  Sheepshead Bay, with their top mark coming just a week ago at their late-season state meet, should have the advantage.

With the 1600 SMR being an event not everyone gets to contest, putting together seeds becomes a guessing game.  Newburgh and New Bern (Track EC) went 3:28 and 3:29 indoors and figure to be at least a few ticks better outdoors, but haven’t raced it seriously this spring.  Absegami NJ figures to be at least at that level, too.  Meanwhile, Colonie Central NY actually has the best outdoor entry mark of the field, with the 3:26.79 they ran at Arcadia.  New Bern is always hard to beat here, though.  The 800 SMR is even less-frequently contested; Bethel looks to have the best quartet in that race, with a shot at sub-1:30.

Record Possibilities:  The medleys are hard to gauge, but the potential winners this year don’t have that ultra-elite runner that it usually takes to push a team to record territory.  Dominguez has already surpassed the meet record of 3:09.91 by Camden NJ, so they’re a good bet to take that down even if the 3:07.40 USR is out of reach.  O.D. Wyatt’s meet and national records in the other sprint relays will stand another year.

The Predictions:

4x100:  1. Sheepshead Bay, 2. Western Branch, 3. Bethel – Winning Time: 41.35

4x200:  1. Trotwood, 2. Eastern Hills, 3. South Lakes VA – Winning Time: 1:25.55

4x400:  1. Dominguez, 2. Trotwood, 3. Newburgh – Winning Time:  3:09.95

1600 Sprint Medley:  1. New Bern, 2. Newburgh, 3. Absegami – Winning Time: 3:25.50

800 Sprint Medley:  1. Bethel, 2. Franklin, 3. Midwood – Winning Time: 1:29.50

NON Index