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Kentucky Invitational

Athletes from 19 states converge on Lexington

Saturday, February 17, 2007 Nutter Fieldhouse, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY

Preview by Steve Underwood

Accepted Entries List

Few prep indoor invitationals in the country are more diverse than the Kentucky High School Invitational. The selective, high-quality, one-day meet features athletes from no fewer than 19 states – yes, NINETEEN – and they’ll compete on a schedule that is less than 8 hours long, late Saturday morning and afternoon. It’s quality over quantity, and the quality is high. Last year, the meet featured three U.S. leaders, and the competition could be as good or better this year. Every event is quality, under meet director Jim Kaiser, but those that stand out the most are the girls sprints and hurdles, and the boys long sprints and middle distances.

They love to come to this 291 meter, fast, oversized track – almost centrally located in the whole eastern half of the country. Here’s some of what we’ll be watching for.

The Headliner

Jackie Coward – The Track Knoxville/Knoxville West jr has improved significantly since last summer and the result is that she’s already put her stamp on this campaign. Competing mostly against college athletes in open/college meets, she rules the 55H/60H lists. She got attention early with her 7.67 55H that vaulted her to #3 all-time on that list and she’s backed it up with 4 more marks in the 7.70-80 range.

But at the 60H she has really shone, with her 8.29 at Niswonger snipping .04 off the US record. Again, she dominates the list with four of the top 5 marks. Here, she is entered in the 60H, as well as the 200 and 400, where she is also a very good performer. Her best competition will probably come from prodigal Pendleton SC fr Jasmine Stowers.

The Defending Doubler

Shayla Mahan – Last year, the Motor City Track Club/Detroit Mumford speepster started her campaign to national prominence here with a 7.36 60 –23.96 200 double. She would go on to take 4th at NSIC. Now a senior, she is back and faster than ever, ready to make inroads into the tough Class of 2007. She held the national 55 lead earlier in the season with her PR 6.83 (now #2), and has also hit 7.32 for 60 (#3). In the 200, she has the country’s best regulation flat track time of 24.25, and is 4th overall.

She is the top seed in both events here, but she won’t be without great competition. Georgian Brittany Long has gone 6.97 in the 55 to head up the 60 challengers, while Joanna Atkins (GA), DeAngela McDougald (KS), and Long will make it a deep and tough 200.

The Great Matchups

Boys 400 – Possibly the best and deepest event, as well as one filled with intrigue. Top seed is Titans TC/McEachern GA jr William Wynne, who normally runs races with barriers. Given his solid 55/60 hurdling this winter, and his 400H pedigree from last year, there’s little doubt the junior could be at least in the 47s. But he’s hardly without great comp here. The best of this group so far this winter is actually 4th-seeded Kendall Gregory of Srongsville OH. The sr. has blasted a 47.99 at Kent State. There’s also Titans/Kell GA soph Justin Chambers (47.66 seed), Quicksilver TC/Sandy Creek GA jr Christian Taylor (47.92), and Motor City TC/Mumford sr Cedric Everson (48.00).

Boys 800 – Two of the country’s best half-milers, Chris Bilbrew and Joseph Franklin, will do battle here. Smith Station AL sr Bilbrew has hit 1:53.49 (#2 nationally on standard banked tracks) and 47.68 (US#2 overall), and makes no secret of his desire to take down the national record before season’s end.

Franklin ran 1:50.92 for 2nd last spring at NON, and opened at 1:56 a few weeks ago. Seeded 3rd is 1:53 performer Andrew Perkins of Watertown WI. Eight have seeds under 1:56. Isak Bergman’s US#1 1:52.12 is definitely in danger.

The Greatest Intrigue

Girls Mile – It will be fascinating to see what happens here as Mountain Brook, Alabama’s prodigal new state champ, 8th-grader Catherine Diethelm (4:56.79), takes on White Station TN stars Rita Jorgensen and Virginia Hine, who both ran 4:53 last year. Barnesville OH soph Stephanie Morgan is also a sub-5 performer with a best of 5:01 this year.

Boys 60/200 – Passing up the event where he is national leader, Evans FL sr Chris Ward will take on the field in the 1-lapper, where he is seeded at 21.56. He will get pushed by Justin Christian, the Morrow GA/Quicksilver sr who is seeded at 21.31 and has done 22.08 indoors, the best of the group.

In the 60, Christian is the top seed, based on 100 times. But he has bests of 6.83/6.37 in the 60 and 55 this year, which confirm the status. He is #3 in the country, in fact, in the 55.

Boys 3200 – Fort Wayne IN sr Bobby Moldovan, who ran 9:07 outdoors as a jr, but had not lived up to his XC potential until making Foot Locker Finals last fall, is the top seed here. But a victory or very fast time could come from Adam Lenz or Brian Long, as well. Lenz, a Crested Buttle Academy CO sr, ran a national schedule with great showings at Great American and Manhattan last fall, before a bad FL MW race kept him away from San Diego. Long is one of the top KY athletes in the meet and an up-and-coming St. Xavier sr who ran a 9:23.65 by himself on this track 3 weeks ago and then was a very solid 15th last weekend at USATF Jr. XC. Look for all three to be cracking 9:00 before the end of the year.

More Top Events

Girls LJ – 19-footers Jerae Byrd OH and Shawnte Middlebrook MO are seeded together at the top, within 1.5 inches of each other (marks from last year).

Boys 60H – Top seed Wynne has been very solid here this winter, with a 7.43 55H, but he will get a heck of a race from a faster Mich. Accelerators/Romulus MI sr Shane Wells, who has done a US#2 7.92 60H and 7.39 55H.

Boys Mile – No one really stands out in this field, but 12 sport PRs of 4:24 or better, with 5 under 4:20. The best bet is defending champ Adam Green of Franklin Central IN, who broke out here last year with 4:16.76. Franklin, the top 800 seed, is seeded 2nd in the event.

Girls 800 – Detroit Cheetah/Detroit Renaissance jr Ramzee Fondren heads the field, with a 2:10.95 seed from her PR at AAU JOs, with Hine and Mountain Brook AL sr Jordan Harper next.

Girls 400 – Atkins, McDougald, and Coward – last year’s 1-2-3 – all return in what should be a great battle. The US#1 right now is 54.28 and Atkins ran 54.41 here last year.

US Index