Here we are again, Nike Outdoor Nationals weekend, and once again you hear the talk – “The Greatest Meet Ever.” You hear it each year, bigger and better, they say. Well, the bigger is clear – the meet is up 300 entries from its previous high mark, with more than 2,600.
But is it better? That’s measured in lots of ways – superstars, great matchups, hyped-record attempts, unexpected records, great relays, and deep, deep fields.
So let’s look at the evidence and decide for yourself. In the next two days, we’ll look at the best matchups, top stars, deepest fields, best events, and even some potential diamonds in the rough and most up-in-the-air events.
Here we go:
10 Best Matchups
Boys 400: Antonio McKay GA vs. Sean Holston VA
There are several athletes in this field of sub-47 standouts who could win this race and, with Bryshon Nellum not here, all probably feel they have a chance to win. But McKay and Holston are probably the two best. Holston won their showdown at Mobile (46.77), following up on his NIN triumph (47.12), but McKay came back with the year’s best non-Nellum time (46.28).
Boys 800: Dylan Ferris NC vs. Cory Primm CA
Until last Saturday, it appeared that with Nectaly Barbosa OR injured, there would be only one sub-1:50 runner in Greensboro. But with his superb 1:49.27 last weekend Ferris joins Cory Primm (1:49.50 at Arcadia) in that exclusive club. There are plenty of other fast 1:50-52 types, but watch these two the closest.
Boys HJ: Randal Carter NE vs. Grant Lindsey TX
When HS boys start jumping 7-03 or better, people sit up and take notice. But Carter’s commitment to hoops and other factors have kept him from national meets. Until now. Carter (7-04.25) has been a man among boys in his home state and is said to be trying for the USATF Senior Championships. But first he has to get past Lindsey, whose best of 7-03 is also in rarified air.
Boys 2M: Craig Forys NJ vs. Matt Centrowitz MD
Probably no single race will be watched more closely by the DyeStat kingdom. Forys has proven himself a sub-8:50 man, but Centrowitz hasn’t broken 9 yet. The MD star, however, has the best 1600 and mile of the year, and beat Forys at 3k in the 2006 Penn Relays before taking 2nd to him at NIN. Plenty of history for these guys and a great rivalry, though they are friends. Evan Jager IL or others could play spoiler. See Dave Devine's 8 laps with Centro and Forys
Boys DMR: Whoever’s Leading After 3 Legs vs. Craig Forys NJ
Like his NJ counterpart, Danielle Tauro, Forys has developed a rich history of great come-from-behind efforts in the distance relays. The day after a bid for a 2M win, Forys will lead Colts Neck in the DMR and Craig again will probably find himself with a deficit that takes some heroics to make up. His best-ever 4-lapper is indeed a 4:04.4 1600 relay leg.
Girls DMR: Southern Regional NJ vs. Corona Del Mar CA vs. Eleanor Roosevelt MD
This will probably be the most-anticipated duel of the meet, except now it’s a 3-way duel after Eleanor Roosevelt has re-committed to this race. After missing the US record last week at the Milestat meet, they will challenge deep XC power Corona del Mar and Southern Regional to see who can get the 11:33.42 by Bay Shore NY a few years back in this meet. Corona is the defending champ at 11:34.65 and has reloaded with the most sub-5 milers ever. Southern is the Penn champ and boasts 2:08 800 soph Jillian Smith and last year’s NON/USATF Jrs. champ Danielle Tauro (4:39y last year) as the anchor. Roosevelt will have the best speed and balance from all four legs.
Girls 100 – Tiffany Townsend TX vs. Gabby Mayo NC
Townsend has the best 100/200 performances of the year at 11.21/22.84, achieved in a great double at TX State. Mayo, the sprint queen who burst on top here and at USATF Jrs last year, has not replicated those marks (11.16/22.88) so far as a senior. But remember, it was not until Greensboro last year that Mayo burst ahead of Bianca Knight in the 100 and a week later when she earned her Athlete of the Year props. Is she ready to unleash the tiger this weekend or will Townsend continue to reign supreme?
Girls 2M: Ashley Brasovan FL vs. Ashley Higginson NJ
There’s no Jordan Hasay here, but in the Ashleys, NON has gathered together two others as good or better than anyone else. On a fine Sunday in March, one Ashley (Brasovan) was blazing a huge 2nd half to win the NIN deuce, while a few states away, the other (Higginson) was clocking the country’s best time in taking the NSIC 16-lapper. Both have continued to shine this season and stand head-and-shoulders (figuratively, anyway) above the rest of the field.
Girls HJ: Victoria Lucas TX vs. Brittani Carter TX
If you’re looking for a flat-out rematch of the best two in the country, simple as that, look no further than the girls high jump. Lucas rose up to edge Carter in the TX State Meet, 6-01 to 6-00, and for the first time since then, they will lock horns. But don’t forget about USATF Jr. defending champ (and fellow 6-footer from 2006) Patience Coleman NC
Girls PV: Shade Weygandt TX vs Rachel Laurent LA
Nothing like a classic “rubber match” between two track stars. Sure, it would be nice to have Tori Anthony CA here, but how about another clash between Weygandt and Laurent? National soph record-holder Weygandt won a dramatic duel with her Bayou rival two weeks ago at Great Southwest, avenging the defeat that Laurent handed her in winning her NIN title in March. Who will it be this time as both girls look for the high-13s?