UK Meet to Feature Some of the Best Preps in US

Several athletes who lay claim to US #1’s for the current indoor season will be descending upon Lexington, Kentucky this Saturday for the Annual UK High School Indoor Invitational. Due to the central location of the meet, the athletes come from as far south as Florida and Alabama and normally include a high-quality group of athletes from the Midwest as well. This year is no exception as the meet includes 5 athletes who currently hold US #1’s.

High jump phenom Erik Kynard (Toledo Rogers, OH) is here to continue his dominance of the high jump. Having already reached 7-03.75 this year, the sky may really be the limit for this individual as his rise to the top has been quick and powerful. While he probably won’t be challenged at this meet, but there will be several watching to see if he can continue to perform at such a high level and carry that into the national meets in the coming weeks.

In the long jump, we have World Junior Outdoor Bronze Medalist Christian Taylor taking off. Coming of his incredible performances at Worlds last year, Taylor has already reached US #1 24-09.75 which is almost a foot longer than his bronze winning jump last at last year’s Outdoor Worlds. Taylor is not entered in the triple where he is also leading the nation right now at 52-00. On the girl’s side, Brittany Porter has put together a solid indoor season already reaching US#4, 19-05.25 and looks to continue that here.

The boy’s 60m is loaded with young talent and will be something great to watch. With 5 runners ranked in the top 11 in the 55 or 60, it is almost certain that we will be watching some fireworks here. Kenneth Gilstrap, (US #6; 60m) Dominique Lynch, (US #10; 60m), Gerry Cooper, (US #6; 55m) Marcus Rowland, (US#9; 55m) and Blake Heriot (US#11; 55m) will all be looking to put down a fast time and move up the national list as NIN and NSIC draw near. On the girl’s side, Chalonda Goodman (US#11; 60m), who claimed silver at World Juniors last summer in the 200, will be mixing it up with several young stars that are just on the cusp of joining the elite and should make for a very good race as well.

The boy’s hurdles will feature William Wynne who won the 400 hurdle distance at World Juniors last summer and boasts a US#4-time of 7.84 in the 60H already this year. Competition is solid, but most will just be looking for a solid time for Wynne.

For anyone who was at this meet last year, though, they have been waiting for this meet since last year. Jacquelyn Coward lit the track on fire with and ran a new US#1 all-time for 60H (8.17). Last weekend she bettered that time to 8.16 at Simplot and the excitement for a new record has been building since. Also competing will be US#5 performer Jasmin Stowers who gained some great experience at Junior Worlds last year running the 110s. The sophomore from South Carolina has continued to improve and should be someone to watch going forward.

Coming back in the boy’s 200 meters will be Shaw (US#7; 200), Gilstrap (US#9; 200), Heriot, and throw in Wynne and Taylor to make things even more interesting. The track is 270 meters so the athletes only have one turn which should yield some rather quick times.

On the girl’s side, Goodman is lined up to double along with World Juniors 400m runner Meshawn Graham. If you tuned out last year and somehow missed Graham, here’s your chance to see her twice as she will also run the 400m. Second to Jessica Beard, now at Texas A&M, in the Ohio state finals last year, her time would have won the World Junior title by a full second, but an earlier injury left her less than 100% and she placed 6th. Graham will be joined by Coward in the 400 along with 3 others who were under 55 last year which should lead to some very fast times.

Wynne, Taylor, and Shaw lead the boys 400 field and should make things interesting with a couple chances to go head-to-head at very different distances.

The 800 features a big name on both sides. Andrew Perkins was supposed to be racing Dylan Ferris here this weekend as two of the fastest mid-distance runners in the nation would have gone head-to-head. Ferris got sick last week, though, and decided to skip the meet leaving Perkins the fastest entry by over 4 seconds. Ramzee Fondren is also a heavy favorite on the girl’s side coming off an outdoor season where she ran 2:06.81. The next fastest time is over 2:12 so look for Fondren to push the pace early and try to lay down a good time.

The girl’s mile features Virginia Hine, Stephanie Morgan, and, from the state of Kentucky, Mary Grace Pelligrini. The first two have had several strong races that have made them household names over the past two years, but Pellegrini is an up-and-comer with some real ability and has received great coaching. Pellegrini will stay for the deuce as well and be joined by another Kentucky product Anna Bostram. Bostram has been 11:09 this year already so the race should give up a solid time.

The boy’s mile doesn’t really have the kind of star power here that we are seeing in most of the other events, but Indiana native Michael Hoffman is a legit 4:14 runner so that should help the times. The 2-mile picks up the slack and includes recent Virginia signee Sean Keveren. Keveren went 8:52 last year and is opening up his indoor season here. There are several other sub 9:30 runners, but if Keveren is healthy, he should control this race.

As for the relays, they are running only the 4x4 and 4x8. Trotwood’s boys have already run 3:21.46 and there are some solid club teams entered here that could post sub-3:20 times. There are six girls teams entered under 4 minutes for the 1600 relay, but none of the teams have yet posted national level marks.

Girl’s 4x8 has yearly power Cincinnati St. Ursula and Indiana’s cross-country team champion Westfield. Both are entered with times under 9:25. On the boys side, Flashes TC (Franklin Central, Indiana) stands ready to put up a solid time, along with LaSalle, OH and KY-All-Stars TC which is compiled of some of Kentucky’s best middle distance talent.