Boys - Girls
by Pete Cava
RALEIGH, N.C., June 13, 2002 --- While scouts were bemoaning the
slim pickings at the recent amateur baseball draft, track and field
aficionados have been drooling over this year's bumper crop of high
Incredibly, a slew of the nation's best high school track athletes
are underclassmen. And many of them will be on display at this weekend's
adidas Outdoor Championships at North Carolina State University
in Raleigh. The event takes place under the auspices of the National
Scholastic Sports Foundation.
Here's an event-by-event preview of the two-day meet, which opens
Friday with nearly 2,000 of the nation's top athletes.
100: There might be more Texas legends in this final than there
were at the Alamo. Defending champion Brendan Christian (Reagan,
Austin, TX) comes to Raleigh fresh from a sprint sweep at Saturday's
Golden West Invitational in Sacramento. Christian's 10.20 at Golden
West is the year's fastest time and No. 5 all-time. Christian's
main competition should be Willie Hordge (Forest Brook, Houston,
TX), Ivory Williams (Central, Beaumont, TX) and Kelly Willie (Sterling,
Houston, TX). Hordge, a junior, checks in with a season best of
10.3. Williams was second to Christian at Golden West in 10.27 ---
a sophomore class record. Willie is one of the nation's most vesatile
200: Christian, Hordge, Williams and Willie rate as the best in
the furlong, along with Michael Loyd (Mt. Tabor, Winston-Salem,
NC) and Mark Jelks (West, Gary, IN). Loyd, a 21.12 performer this
year, was last year's runnerup. Jelks, a junior, doubled at the
Indiana state meet with wind-aided times of 10.25 and 20.88
400: This promises to be a memorable race. Twenty-two entries have
dipped under 47.70 this season, 20 of them below 47 seconds. "It's
never happened before in a high school race," says NSSF's A.J.
Holzherr, who recruited the boys fields.
Last year's runnerup, Ray Williams (Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Scotch
Plains, NJ) is back. He'll have his hands full with Kelly Willie
and Ashton Collins (Clark, New Orleans, LA). Willie's gone 45.96
this year and Collins is a 46.63 performer.
800: Paul Cross (South, Plantation, FL), Will Fitts (DeSoto, TX)
and Richard Smith (South Lakes, Reston, VA) are the class of the
field. Cross is the national leader at 1:49.68. Fitts has run 1:50.08.
Smith, a teammate of 2001 high school mile sensation Alan Webb,
checks in at 1:51.47.
Mile: Seven of the top ten entries in this race are juniors, including
Matt Debole (Mt. Tabor, Winston-Salem, NC), Sam Bair (Shaler, Pittsburgh,
PA) and Bobby Curtis (Xavier, Louisville, KY). Debole's run 4:09.73
this year, tops in the U.S. Bair has run the equivalent of a 4:09.63
mile. His dad, also named Sam, was a sub-four miler at Kent State
in the late Sixties. Curtis was fifth in this race a year ago. He
won the mile at this year's Nike Indoor Championships and comes
to Raleigh fresh from a second-place finish at Golden West. Curtis's
specialty is a furious kick down the homestretch.
2-Mile: A.J. Holzherr promises it'll take 9:05 or better to crack
the top 12 --- an amazing statistic for a prep race. National leader
Chris Solinsky (Stevens Point Area, WI), Bobby Lockhart (Handley,
Winchester, VA), Tim Moore (Novi, MI), Kyle Alcorn (Buchanan, Clovis,
CA) and Brian Dalpiaz (Sayville, NY) top the field. Solinsky, a
junior, is the national leader with a converted 3200 time of 8:51.51.
Lockhart's gone under nine minutes indoors and Moore was fourth
here a year ago. Alcorn and Dalpiaz, both juniors, waged a battle
for the 3200 crown at Golden West. Alcorn took the lead down the
homestretch to win in 8:56.76, with Dalpiaz second in 8:57.24.
110 hurdles: Dexter Faulk (Stone Mountain, GA) is the year's quickest
prep at with a wind-aided 13.48. He'll have to fend off Kenneth
Ferguson (Mumford, Detroit, MI) and junior Kerron Clement (LaPorte,
TX). Ferguson is the national leader with a time of 13.65. Clement,
just 16 years old, was second at Golden West in 13.85.
400 hurdles: Ferguson, Bershawn Jackson (Central, Miami, FL) and
Greg Simonds (Byram Hills, NY) are all threats to break the 18-year-old
national prep record of 50.02. Jackson is the year's fastest prep
300 hurdler and the Golden West champ, while Simonds is one of the
year's top intermediate hurdlers. This fall Ferguson and Jackson
will head for the University of South Carolina, where coach Curtis
Frye is one of the world's top hurdles coaches.
Mile walk: Adam Staier (Mt. Blue, ME), the year's premier walker,
hopes to crack the 6-minute mark here.
4x100 relay: Middletown (OH) leads the way at 40.79.
4x200 relay: Reagan (Austin, TX), with Brendan Christian anchoring,
leads the way at 1:26.50. The Texans aren't a sure bet, however
--- Middletown checks in at 1:26.70.
4x400 relay: Five teams come to Raleigh with times under 3:35,
including Winslow Township (Atco, NJ) at 3:12.27 and Mumford (Detroit,
MI) at 3:13. The New Jersey quartet is made up of four juniors.
4x800 relay: National leader Elyria (OH) comes to Raleigh with
a time of 7:42, followed by Mumford at 7:43, West Plains (MO) at
7:44, North Penn (Lansdale, PA) at 7:45. Auburn (WA) could surprise.
4xMile relay: Hudson (OH) tops all comers with a 17:45 clocking.
Sprint Medley relay: Mumford and Mt. Tabor (Winston-Salem, NC)
come here with plenty of firepower and could threaten the national
Distance Medley relay: Auburn (WA) is the national leader at 10:08.21.
They'll catch heat from Edwardsville (IL), with a season best of
High jump: Seven entries have cleared 7-feet or better this year.
Leading the way are Andra Manson (Brenham, TX) and local standout
Jesse Williams (Broughton, Raleigh, NC). Manson went 7-4 at Golden
West while Williams --- last year's runnerup --- is a 7-2 performer.
Pole vault: Only a junior, Thomas Skipper (Sandy, OR) has come
close to the national record this season. He's gone 17-7.5 this
year --- a junior class record --- and had a near-miss at 17-8.25
at Golden West. Eight others have cleared 16-feet this season, including
junior Chase Sheely (Brookland-Cayce, Cayce, SC), at 16-8.
Long jump: Kevin Marion (Hollins, St. Petersburg, FL), another
junior standout, is the national leader at 25-5. He's the class
of this field.
Triple jump: The favorite here is yet another member of the Class
of ‘03 --- Devon Fanfair (Dobie, Pasadena, TX). Fanfair checks
in with a best of 49-8.75.
Shot put: More loaded than a post-parade party on St. Patrick's
Day, with 20 entries over 60-feet. "Usually, we get ten,"
says Holzherr. "This year, it's double." Kevin Bookout
(Stroud, OK), Glenn DiGiorgio (Bayonne, NJ) and Brian Robison (Splendora,
TX) lead the way. Bookout's the national leader at 70-1.5. Next
is DiGiorgio, the defending champ, at 68-0.75. Robison checks in
at 66-4.5. For good measure there's Tyg Long (Custer, SD) 65-6.5.
Discus throw: This will be the first high school meet with five
entries at 200-feet or better. There's Robison (215-2), DiGiorgio
(211-8) and Bookout (203-2) --- they're all doubling --- plus Adam
Kuehl (Monmouth, Tinton Falls, NJ) and Michael Robertson (International
School, Brussels, Belgium). Kuehl, fifth at last year's meet, checks
in at 209-0. Robertson, an American who lives in Europe, is a 205-5
performer this year. He's making his debut on U.S. soil.
Hammer throw: Defending champ Michael Freeman (Bishop Hendricken,
Warwick, RI) is the class of the field.
Javelin throw: Tops among the entries are Brad Zimmerman (Warwick,
Lancaster, PA) and Justin Ryncavage (Coughlin, Wilkes-Barre, PA).
Zimmerman's best this year is 222-3 while Ryncavage is a 212-0 thrower.
100: Allyson Felix, the California Comet, will sit out the meet
due to a hamstring injury. But even with Felix on the shelf, this
is an outstanding field. Sanya Richards (Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale,
FL) and junior Janice Davis (Natchez, MS) are attempting sprint
doubles. They'll be joined by junior Marshevet Hooker (Southwest,
San Antonio, TX), sophomore sensation Jessica Onyapunuka (Peoria,
AZ), India Ransom (Largo, MD), and Amy Menlove (Alta, Sandy, UT).
Hooker, the Golden West champ, ran a wind-aided 11.28 earlier this
season while Davis tops the U.S. charts at 11.33.
200: Sanya Richards, Janice Davis and Jessica Onyapunuka loom as
the favorites here, along with junior Shana Cox (Holy Trinity, Hicksville,
NY) and Dominique Darden (Harrisburg, PA). Darden, the daughter
of 1979 Pan American Games 400 gold medalist Tony Darden, will double
in the hurdles.
400: National prep leader Sanya Richards will concentrate on the
shorter sprints here, leaving the field to the year's No. 3, 4 and
5 quarter milers --- sophomore Natasha Hastings (A.P. Randolph,
New York, NY), Ashlee Mitchell (Lockhart, TX) and junior Ashley
Freeman (Wilson, Long Beach, CA).
800: Joy Kamani, NSSF's recruiter for girls events, says this field
is still under construction. Heading into last weekend, Kamani said
the top entries included Golden West mile winner Kristina Smith
(West Valley, Anchorage, AL), Ari Lambie (Bromfield, Harvard, MA),
Evelyn Dwyer (Merion Academy, Merion Station, PA) and soph Trisa
Nickoley (Shawnee Heights, Tecumseh, KS). Not bad, with Lambie at
2:08.74 and Dwyer at 2:09.3, but Kamani says things could get even
better. "There were a lot of state meets scheduled (last) weekend,"
she notes, "including New York and Nebraska, so we could see
some major improvements to the field."
Mile: A real dream event, with Molly Huddle (Notre Dame, Elmira,
NY), Ari Lambie, junior Amber Harper (Orem, UT) and Meghan Owen
(Killingly, Danielson, CT) leading the way. Huddle, a U. of Notre
Dame recruit, was third here a year ago. She won the 1500 and 3000
titles at this year's New York state championships. Her 1500 time,
4:27.04, is the year's second-fastest time. Lambie's 2002 mile best
is an indoor 4:52.16. Harper checks in with a converted 1600 time
of 4:52.16 and Owen, the Connecticut champion, ran a 4:53.49 indoor
mile this year.
2000 steeplechase: A relatively new event that's very popular this
year. "We've been swamped with entries," says Joy Kamani.
"It's an event that came from absolutely nowhere. We'll have
three heats or two very packed heats for this event."
2-Mile: Another dream matchup, with national leader Huddle taking
on junior Megan Kaltenbach (Smoky Hill, Aurora, CO). Kaltenbach's
fresh off a 3200 win at Golden West in 10:03.35, making her the
fifth-fastest prep in history at that distance. Huddle placed third
in last year's 2-mile.
110 hurdles: National leader Ashlee Williams (Dunne, Dallas, TX)
tops the field. Williams matched her season best at Golden West,
winning in 13.57. Other notables include Dominique Darden, Shenae
Dawkins (New Rochelle, NY) and Vicki Howard (Montbello, Denver,
400 hurdles: Ashlee Williams missed a hurdles sweep at Golden West
by a hundredth of a second, running second in the 300H in 42.37.
This meet marks her season debut at the longer distance. Others
to watch are Christina Smith (William Penn, Philadelphia, PA), Courtney
Clark (Norristown, PA), Erica Crawford (Hillsborough, NJ) and freshman
Katya Kostetskaya (Jonesboro, AR), an exchange student from Russia.
4x100 relay: Elsik (TX) leads the way with a 2002 best of 45.43,
followed by Peoria (AZ) at 45.73. Don't overlook Morgan Park (Chicago,
IL) or Wilson (Long Beach, CA).
4x200 relay: Robeson (Brooklyn, NY), last year's runnerup, returns.
They're one of the favorites, along with William Penn (Philadelphia,
PA) and Gateway (St. Louis, MO). The St. Louis quartet is making
its first appearance in national competition. "They're ecstatic
about coming," says Kamani.
4x400 relay: Kamani calls this race "a shootout." It
features Wilson (Long Beach, CA), A.P. Randolph (New York, NY),
William Penn (Philadelphia, PA) and Willingboro (NJ). Penn and Willingboro
finished 2-3 in last year's race.
4x800 relay: A.P. Randolph (New York, NY), Bromfield (Harvard,
MA), Iowa City (IA), West Plains (MO) and Beaumont (Cleveland Heights,
OH) are the top entries. The New Yorkers have the fastest seed time
at 8:53.68, while the rapidly-improving Ohio foursome --- fourth
a year ago --- recently lowered their season best to 9:03.86.
4xMile relay: Leading entries include defending champion Rockford
(MI), 2001 runnerup Carmel (IN), Bronxville (NY) and Iowa City West
(Iowa City, IA). The Bronxville squad has a 2002 best of 20:29.30
Sprint medley relay: Defending champion William Penn (Philadelphia,
PA) is back. They'll contend with A.P. Randolph (New York, NY),
Gateway (St. Louis, MO) and St. Marys (Berkeley, CA).
Distance medley relay: Last year's second place team, Rockford
(MI), returns along with 2001 fourth-place Red Bank (NJ). Red Bank's
indoor 11:49.34 is the nation's fastest time this year. Vorhees
(NJ) could surprise.
High jump: "It's been an incredible year for the high jump,"
says Kamani, pointing to entries like defending champion Chaunte
Howard (North, Riverside, CA), 2001 runnerup Sheena Gordon (McDowell,
Erie, PA), junior Ashley Robbins (McMullen, Tilden, TX), freshman
Inka McPherson (Lincoln, Port Arthur, TX), and Stacy Boerema (Clinton,
IA), all at 6-feet or better this season. Robbins is the national
leader at 6-0.25. Kamani also says there's "a slew of kids
at 5-10 or better," including another freshman, Jenna Utecht
(Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, FL).
Pole vault: Top entries include Samantha Shepard (Weston, MA),
Molly Lederman (Jewish School, Waltham, MA), Jenny Green (Central
Catholic, Grand Island, NE) and Lauren Graff (Urbana, MD) are the
leading entries. Shepard was the 2001 runnerup, Lederman was fourth
last year, Green's a junior and Graff went 12-9 last April at the
Long jump: Yet another loaded field, with defending champ Marshevet
Hooker (Southwest, San Antonio, TX), Tianna Madison (Elyria, OH),
Sheena Gordon (McDowell, Erie, PA), Chaunte Howard (North, Riverside,
CA), Amy Menlove (Alta, Sandy, UT) and Francheska Ketchum (Elsik,
Alief, TX). Hooker, Menlove and Madison --- a junior who leads the
field with a 2002 best of 20-7.75 indoors --- are all juniors. The
versatile Gordon is a UCLA signee. Ketchum, a sophomore, is the
niece of former 400 standout Anthony Ketchum, the Prep Athlete of
the Year for 1981.
Triple jump: Shenae Dawkins (New Rochelle, NY), Chaunte Howard
(North, Riverside, CA) and Sierra Douglas (Beaufort, SC) are the
leading entries. Each has gone over 41 feet this season.
Shot put: Liz Podominick (Lakeville, MN) is a returning champion,
but she's got her hands full with another junior, Michelle Carter
(Red Oak, TX). Carter is the national leader at 53-3.75 and had
four throws over 50 feet at Golden West. Podominick's best this
year is 50-2.5. If she pushes the Carter, the national record could
fall. Carter's biggest fan in Raleigh will be her dad, former San
Francisco 49er lineman Michael Carter. Michael, the national prep
record holder, won a silver medal in the shot at the 1984 Olympics.
Discus throw: Mostly the same cast of characters here. Michelle
Carter and Liz Podominick are the leading entries, along with Kamaiya
Warren (St. Marys, Berkeley, CA).
Hammer throw: Kristen Michalski (West, Warwick, RI) and Jen Wynn
(Alexander, Douglassville, GA) are the top entries. Michalski tops
the U.S. prep charts at 189-0, more than ten feet better than Wynn's
Javelin throw: The leading entries are a couple of Oregonians,
Samantha Young (Henley, Klamath Falls) and Tiffany Zahn (Newberg).
Zahn leads all comers with a season best of 152-10.
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