by Pete Cava
National Scholastic Sports Foundation
Here is an event-by-event look at the boys competition in the Nike Indoor Nationals this weekend (March 10-11) in Landover, Maryland.
60 meters: This year’s field is very young and very talented, with three sophomores and a junior among the top entries – as well as national prep leaders in the 55m and 60m. Sophomore Jeremy Rankin (Overland, Aurora, CO) is the No. 1 U.S. prep at 60m with a best of 6.67, while junior Justin Murdock (Glen Burnie, MD) tops the 55m high school charts at 6.21.
Shane Crawford (Winamac, IN), enjoying a fine indoor season, comes in as the No. 2 U.S. prep in both the 60m (6.70) and the 55m (6.28). The other two sophomores, Devon Smith (Eleanor Roosevelt, Greenbelt, MD) and Rynell Parson (Stevens, San Antonio, TX), should be in the hunt. Smith’s a 6.31 performer at 55m this season while Parson – who scored a 60/200m double at this year Arkansas Invitational – has run 6.73 for the 60m.
200 meters: Three seniors head this year’s entries. Pennsylvania state champ Brandon Bing (Cheltenham, Wyncote, PA) has the year’s best time for a banked track (21.52) and the No. 2 flat track performance (21.96). The athletic Bing, a standout defensive back and wide receiver on his school football team, is also a member of the basketball squad.
Sean Holston (Lee, Springfield, VA) is the year’s top 300m performer this winter (33.21 banked track; 33.99 flat track). Another gridiron star, Holston hopes to attend Florida State or Tennessee.
400 meters: Competing in his second indoor season, Sean Holston (Lee, Springfield, VA) comes to Landover with the year’s best flat track performance (47.70).
LSU signee Chris Ward (Evans, Orlando, FL) 47.42 tops the banked track list at 47.42; Ward’s 48.39 flat track best trails only Holston. Lamarr Davis (East Wake, Wendell, NC) is this year’s Simplot Games champion. His 47.57 there is No. 2 on banked track list.
Junior Kendall Gregory (Strongsville, OH), sixth in this race last year, has a 47.99 on oversized track in 2007. His father, former Ohio State middle distance runner Keeon Gregory, was a five-time Big Ten champ.
Another noteworthy entry is UCLA recruit Nevin Gutierrez (J.W. North, Riverside, CA), who anchored the winning 4x400 relay squad at last year’s Nike Outdoor Nationals with an unofficial 46.3 split.
800 meters: This one’s up for grabs. For starters, there’s 2006 NIN runnerup Axel Mostrag (Fork Union, VA, Military Academy), a 1:53.11 performer this year. Mostrag, a Polish citizen, is part of a strong field. UCLA recruit Cory Primm (Westlake, Westlake Village, CA), the Simplot champ, has the year’s best time on a banked track (1:51.89). Junior Jared Hall (Cleveland Heights, OH) is the prep leader on the flat track list (1:55.29). Chris Bilbrew (Smiths Station, AL) checks in with a best of 1:51.08 on an oversized track.
Junior Joseph Franklin (Godby, Tallahassee, FL), a 1:56.36 flat track performer this season, was the 800m runnerup at last year’s Nike Outdoor Nationals. Junior Elliot Rhodes (Germantown Academy, Philadelphia, PA) hopes to improve on last year’s NIN fifth-place finish.
Mile: Ayalew Taye won this event in 2006. This year junior Sintayehu Taye (Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA) hopes to duplicate his older brother’s footsteps. The Ethiopian-born Taye placed sixth here last year.
Taye faces a gifted pack that includes Axel Mostrag (Fork Union, VA, Military Academy), who tops the flat track mile charts (4:15.85, converted from 1600m); future Duke Blue Devil Ryan McDermott (Chaminade, Mineola, NY), the No. 2 prep 1500m banked track performer (4:02.28); Eddie Judge (Cox, Virginia Beach, VA), fourth on the flat track list (4:17.48, converted from 1600m); Penn State-bound Samuel Borchers (Yellow Springs, OH, HS); and Ben Hubers (McEachern HS, Marietta, GA) .
Two-mile: Another race with a pedigreed headliner. Oregon-bound Matt Centrowitz (Broadneck, Annapolis, MD) is the son of a 1976 Olympic 1500m runner – also named Matt – who won the 5000m gold medal at the 1979 Pan Am Games. The younger Centrowitz, eleventh here in 2007, is the year’s top banked track miler at 4:08.6.
He faces another returnee, Michigan recruit Craig Forys (Colts Neck, NJ). Forys, the 2006 runnerup in this event, tops the current prep 2-mile list (9:07.58, converted from 3200m).
Ryan McDermott (Chaminade, Mineola, NY) rates with the best here, along with Simplot winner Luke Puskedra (Judge Memorial, Ogden, Utah), Jason Weller (Boyertown, PA) and junior Pete Dorrell (Blacksburg, VA). Weller’s got 8:26.21 speed for the 3000m (the nation’s best thus far) while Dorrell’s fifth on the current 2-mile prep list (9:14.76, converted from 3200m).
60 meter hurdles: The weekend forecast for Landover is seasonal, but this race promises to be hot-hot-hot. Two finalists from last year return – third-placer Johnny Dutch (Clayton, NC) and Josh Hembrough (Forest Hills Northern, Grand Rapids, MI), who took fourth in 2006. Dutch, who signed with South Carolina, is the national leader for the 55mH (7.07). In the high school (39 inches) 60mH, Hembrough leads the nation at 7.80, with Dutch’s 7.83 from Simplot third on the current prep list. Hembrough also tops the leader board for the 42-inch 60mH at 7.85.
There’s much, much more. Brendan Ames (Central, Cheyenne, Wyo.) and Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch, Pomona, CA) are two more prize prospects. Ames, who’ll enter Kentucky this fall, is second to Hembrough on the 42-inch 60mH list at 7.99. USC-bound Prentice is the 4 No. prep for the 39-inch 60mH with a 7.85 at the Simplot Games, where he was runnerup to Dutch.
And that’s not all. Shane Wells (Romulus, MI) is second only to Hembrough on the 39-inch 60mH hurdles list at 7.82. Sophomore Wayne Davis (Southeast, Raleigh, NC) trails only Dutch and Hembrough at 55mH this year with a 7.32. Right behind Davis is junior Spencer Adams (Butler, Mathews, NC) at 7.33. Junior Michael Hancock (Washington, Denver, CO) is third on the 42-inch 60mH chart with 8.08, right behind Hembrough and Ames.
High jump: Heading into the current indoor season, sophomore Eric Kynard (Rogers, Toledo, OH) had a career best of 6-6. Then came a sudden, stunning 7-0 clearance on January 6 that put him at the top of the national prep list.
This year’s NIN marks Kynard’s big-time debut. He shares the spotlight with Devon Bond (Trenton Central, Trenton, NJ), another seven-footer; James Pittenger (Warminster, PA), who comes in with a season best of 6-10; and Jordan McPherson (Wayne, Huber Heights, OH), last year’s fifth-placer. McPherson’s season best is 6-9.
Pole vault: Always one of the top events at NIN, this year’s field would draw praise even from American Idol’s Simon Cowell. Two of last year’s top finishers are back – Hunter Hall (Homestead, Fort Wayne, IN) and Spencer McCorkel (Bryant, AR). Hall, fourth at the 2006 NIN with a PR 16-8, returns with a season best of 16-6. Hall is a Virginia Tech signee whose father, Randy Hall, won NCAA indoor and outdoor vault titles in 1980 for Texas A&M. McCorkel, fifth here a year ago, had a career best of 17-3.5 in 2006. The Arkansas recruit is the No. 2 prep this season with a 17-0.75 clearance.
Casey Roche (St. Francis, Mountain View, CA) and Maston Wallace (Clear Brook, Friendswood, TX) come here with excellent credentials. The Stanford-bound Roche doesn’t compete indoors that much. But his outdoor 17-5 mark last year – the No. 2 prep mark – makes him a top contender. Roche’s uncle, Mike Roche, was a steeplechaser on the 1976 Olympic team. Wallace is the year’s top high school performer with a 17-3.75 vault. He’s headed for Texas this fall. Another vaulter from Lone Star territory, Joseph Farley (Aledo, TX), has a 16-6 clearance in 2006. Farley’s earmarked for Baylor.
Long jump: Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch, Pomona, CA) and Brendan Ames (Central, Cheyenne, Wyo.), top contenders in the hurdles, square off here, too. USC recruit Prentice, third in this event a year ago, won this year’s Simplot title with a jump of 24-3 – the season’s No. 3 prep mark. The Kentucky-bound Ames has the year’s fifth-best high school mark at 23-9. Edward Turner (Mayde Creek, Houston, TX) comes to Landover with an outdoor PR of 23-10 from 2006.
Triple jump: A strong field, featuring the year’s top three performers along with a returning 2006 finalist. Zedrick Thomas (New Iberia, LA) is the year’s top prep with a best of 49-8. Right behind him at 48-6 is Devon Bond (Trenton Central, Trenton, NJ), who’s doing double-duty in the high jump. The year’s No. 3 prep, sophomore Semaj Spencer (Glen Mills, Concordville, PA), checks in at 48-5. Junior Antonio Miller (Manchester, Midlothian, VA) finished fourth in this event last year, while Chrys Jones (Mercersburg County, Harrodsburg KY) was a 48-6 outdoor performer in 2006.
Shot put: Jimmie Pacifico (Butler, Vandalia, OH), last year’s runnerup, returns as this year’s top prep indoor performer at 65-5.5. Pacifico plans to enroll at Moorpark (Calif.) Junior College this fall. Also returning is Benjamin Stephen (Union County, Liberty, IN), who was greener than a Dublin tavern on St. Patrick’s Day when he took fifth here a year ago. An Indiana signee, Big Ben made his mark as one of the nation’s bluechippers with a surprise triumph at the 2006 Nike Outdoor Nationals. Stephen, who doesn’t see much indoor action, had an outdoor best of 65-5 last year.
Colin Boevers (Judge Memorial, Salt Lake City, UT), who’ll head to Kentucky this autumn, is the year’s No. 2 prep at 64-1. Weston Banks (Hempfield, Greensburg, PA), who is also a football standout, ranks fifth on the current prep lost at 62-2.75.
Weight throw: The fourth time could be the charm for Trevor Kraychir (Twentynine Palms, CA). The Boise State recruit has been competing in the NIN since his freshman year. He placed third in 2006 and this time around he checks in with the nation’s No. 3 prep mark (72-7.75). Kraychir’s coach is his dad, Hank, a four-time All-American in the shot and discus for USC.
Three other 2006 finalists return – Craig Pearce (Woonsocket, RI), Patrick Sampson (Bishop Hendricken, Warwick, RI) and Ryan Loughney (Tri-Valley, Grahamsville, NY). Pearce, sixth last year, is the nation’ No. 4 prep at 72-7. Sampson was ninth in ’06, while Loughney – eleventh here last year – has a 2007 best of 71-5, which makes him the year’s fifth-best high school weight chucker.
Pentathon: Ubiquitous Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch, Pomona, CA) was the last year’s runnerup in this rarely contested event with a 3756 score. The future USC Trojan is also a threat in this year’s individual hurdles and long jump events.
Also back are Tennessee recruit Michael Ayers (Ravenwood, Brentwood, TN), fifth in 2006; Aaron King (Morris Hills, Morristown, NJ), last year’s eighth-place finisher; Alex Holcombe (Germantown Academy, Soudertown, PA), who came in tenth, and Jordan Calderwood (Langley, Fairfax, VA), thirteenth in ’06.
Mile walk: The Vergara twins, Roberto and Ricardo (Edinburg, TX), finished 1-2 here in 2006. This year it’s Ricardo who checks in with the top seed time – 6:29.70 – with Roberto right behind him at 6:30.61. The Vergara brothers compete for A.C. Jaime’s highly-regarded South Texas Walking Club. Teammate Abraham Villareal (Donna, TX), also returns; he was third a year ago. Like the Vergaras, Villareal is a junior in high school.
Other notables include junior Christopher Roschinsky (Washington Court House, OH), the No. 3 performer on the current high school list at 6:40.77, and sophomore Trevor Barron (Bethel Park, PA), No. 4 at 7:05.3.