With a very exciting cross-country season now well behind us, it is time for us to turn our attention fully to the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons. We have had several meets already, but the first meet of note in Kentucky will be this weekend at the University of Kentucky’s Nutter Fieldhouse. The facility is of the highest quality and has been known to yield some fast times (see the Kentucky Invitational from this past weekend), so we are all hoping to get a preview of the season from the happenings this weekend.
On the girls’ side, the short hurdles races will give us a chance to see 3 of the 5 fastest returners from last year in Shelby Wagenseller (Ballard), Sarah McKinney (RockcastleCounty), and Nathelie Zetrenne (Central). Wagenseller, who just recently committed verbally to Davidson College, placed 2nd in the 110m hurdles at the AAA State Meet last year, while McKinney placed 1st in the AA portion of the meet, and Zetrenne chose to focus on running on all of Central’s sprint relays. With Central moving down to AA this year, it will be interesting to see how Central chooses to use the talents of Zetrenne going forward, but this race should be a great battle.
On the boys’ side, Brandon Bagley from John Hardin already caused some heads to turn with his performance in the 55m hurdles this past weekend. Bagley ran 7.82 race over the 55 meter distance puts him among the likes of Adam Franklin (HarrisonCounty and UK), Tim Duncan (Covington Catholic), and Brian Wilson (Male and UK). From the past 10 years it ranks as the seventh fastest time run over that distance indoors by any high schooler in Kentucky. That leads to Bagley being ranked well ahead of all others in this event. Two others to keep an eye on here would be Heath Crist (West Jessamine) and Logan Ray (OldhamCounty). Both had tough finishes at the state meet last year, and should be motivated and ready to run here.
Chelsea Brown (Butler) took the 100 meter title at the AAA State Meet last year, but what happened behind her is the main interest in the 60 meters this weekend. Jazzmin Jeter (Ballard) and Tiffany Rogers (Butler) found themselves battling for second place behind Brown at the state meet last year, and we should get to see them battle for the win here. At the AAA state meet last year, Jeter edged ahead by about one-hundredth of a second. That makes for some good drama in their first chance to go head-to-head again. Others to be aware of are Central’s Ranisha Smith and DeshaelaRivers as well as eight-grader Alisha Adair (Western Hills).
I tried to root against Justin Green after I heard he signed with OhioState, but even my Wolverine heritage isn’t enough to keep me from wanting to see his races. He is the fastest returner in the 100 meters this year and will start his campaign to go undefeated at UK on Saturday. There are some solid challengers though, so don’t expect everyone to just hand the man the win. Oba Wilson (Lexington Catholic), Robbie Graham (Male), Greg Raglin (Lexington Catholic), and Tim Phillips (Trinity) are all accomplished sprinters in their own right and should make things interesting. It will be interesting to see if many of the sprinters in the state can overcome the awe of what Green did last year, and compete against him as an equal.
In the ladies race, four of the top ten fastest times returning in the 200 meters will be present. The first three, Brown, Jeter, and Rogers have been mentioned previously, so we’ll take a look at the fourth individual: Victoria Mitchell (Fern Creek). The first three athletes made very strong showings in both the 100 and 200 meter races at the state meet last year, while Mitchell was off anchoring the state champion 4x100 meter relay from Fern Creek. This will be a good chance to see these four athletes head-to-head on an indoor track that only has them running one curve. Also, look at Central’s girls in the 200 as it is clear that they are ready to knock off that one team from Paducah and are deep enough to do it.
First off for the guys, Male comes in with four of the five fastest seeds and that just makes you wonder what’s in the water over there! Green and Graham were highlighted for the 60, so I want to look at two others in this race: Chisom Omenyinma (Male) and Ben Mason (Lafayette). They finished second and third in this event at last year’s AAA State Championships and they were only one-hundredth apart. That would be good reason to watch them go at it again here, but Mason has more to his story. After the state meet, Mason just goes off in the 100 meters at the Bluegrass State Games in July and drops a 10.71! That time puts him almost even with Green’s PR of 10.70 and really makes Mason a wild-card to do some big things this year. After this race we’ll at least have an idea of each runner’s fitness, and with the state meet now less than four months away, it will be interesting to see what unfolds.
Chelsea Brown debuted in the quarter last week with a 62, and for most of the people who saw Chelsea run last year it seems rather pedestrian to hear that kind of time from an athlete who ran 55.35 during the AAU series last summer. That being said, there is definitely some good talent in this race with Brown, including three of Central’s 4:04.364x400 relay legs and an intriguing one in Michaela Hunter (Rockcastle Co.). Central’s team talent has not been enough to place on the podium at the AAA state championships in recent years, but their drop to AA and the depth that they have will most certainly make them a force to be reckon with in all the sprints and sprint relays this year. Based solely on KYtrackXC.com’s projections function, and not counting any relays, Central’s girls sit nine points ahead of Paducah Tighlman on paper. Enough on that topic though, as I want to highlight Michaela Hunter as returning to the track this year in hopes of becoming a solid sprinter. Clearly she has some talent on the track from her distance endeavors and she did some jumping over this past track season, but it will be interesting to see how she can respond this year in a different running genre.
With Green being held out of the boy’s race, there is a great chance to see some other athletes shine. Scott Radcliff (Trinity), Marcellus Hobbs (North Hardin), and Dustin Bollinger (Trinity) are all guys who went under 51 last year and will look to duel again in this race. Tossed into the mix are Mason, Wilson, and Bagley, and while none of them has focused on this race distance in the past, they have all shown talent in this race at different points. Two to watch: Truman Padgett (LarueCounty) and Isaiah Moorman (Apollo). Padgett has been improving consistently over the past year and willing be looking to take it to the next level this year and Moorman is the second stud Apollo will need to step up this year if they want to break that 4x8 record.
I wish I could have been there to see the AAA girls’ 800 meter race at the state finals last year, since the times were great and the finish was close, that’s all you can ask for in a race. Alex Burgess (John Hardin) opens the season here and, on paper, is the clear favorite. Her 4x800 relay team brought home a big win at the AAA state finals last year and with Burgess they should feel pretty good about their chances. The race does feature several others coming off very strong cross-country seasons in Emma Brink (Sacred Heart), Maggie Mattingly (John Hardin), and Emme McAtee (Sacred Heart), as well as a couple of up-and-comers in Ashley El Rady (Assumption), Trina Thomas (Paul Dunbar), and Amanda Hancock (Paul Dunbar).
Thomas Canary (Lexington Catholic) has to be the favorite at 800 meters, right? I mean he ran a 1:54.06 at the AA State Championships by himself so that should validate him, right? There is no question that Canary has the best time of the entire field here, but there are several athletes here who will have something to say about him just running away with the event this year. Joe Mallek (OldhamCounty) had a down outdoor season last year after a breakout season two years ago that saw him run 1:55.87 for 800 meters. After a good cross-country season, it will be interesting to see if he can get back to the same level of performance and really give us some races to watch and remember this year. Don’t forget about Justin House (Apollo) either, let alone the likes of Matt Hillenbrand (St. Xavier), Geoff Spencer (St. Xavier), Isaiah Moorman (Apollo), and then, of course, Ryan Eaton (Greenwood). This race should be very strong and even though we all know from experience that indoor times are not necessarily able to be carried over to outdoors, it will give us a good idea of what could happen.
One Mile Run
The distance races are really more built for testing fitness at this meet, but it sure helps when you bring the best athletes in the state to do it. The big story here will be Anna Bostrom (WoodfordCounty) returning to competition after an injuring derailed her cross-country season early on. She will get a great chance to test herself against a long list of solid cross-country runners: Emma Brink, Emme McAtee, Caterina Karas (Shelby County), Maggie Mattingly, Madison Hale (Daviess), Megan Klein (Paul Dunbar), Brianne Porter (Muhlenburg South), and the list just goes on. The strategy will be something to watch here because it is unlikely that all of these ladies be in the same race again, so watch for a quick pace early and a strong kick at the end to win it.
This boys’ race holds six of the eight fastest returners from outdoor 2008 and promises to be very intriguing. On the track in the 1600 last year, Ryan Eaton didn’t race anyone in the state that would be considered his equal.That being said, it is a new year and there will be several who make charges this year.Justin House (Apollo, 6th fastest returner) will definitely be looking to take the 1600 title from Eaton this year and, given his 800 time, many think that Thomas Canary (4th fastest returner) will also make a push in the 1600 this year.Will Stratford (West Jessamine, 3rd fastest returner), Andrew Stewart (North Hardin, 7th fastest returner), and Jackson Carnes (St. Xavier, 8th fastest returner) will also be athletes to watch in this race.
Two Mile Run
Bostrom will be looking to double back in the 3200 this weekend, so look for her to be up front. The entries here are very close together and ran similarly during the cross-country season so it will be very interesting to see which ladies can assert themselves early in the season. Athletes to watch include: Elizabeth Anderson (duPont Manual), Sara Davis (Assumption), Madelyn Stichnot (Tates Creek), Amy Stamon (Assumption), Allison Reidling (Assumption), Brianne Porter (Muhlenburg South), and Caitlin Beyea (North Oldham).
David Hamm (duPont Manual) ran some great 3200 meter races last year and hopes to build on that this year. Stacey Eden (ShelbyCounty) had a great cross-country season and ran very well on the track last spring at this distance. Jake Wildeman (Trinity) is coming off a very good cross-country season and is looking to continue that onto the track this spring. These three athletes ran very close together during cross-country and should do similarly in the 3200 this weekend. Others to watch will be Will Stratford (West Jessamine), Jarred Brewster (West Jessamine), and Evan Ehrenheim (Daviess). I wouldn’t expect a fast time, but I do expect there to be plenty of jostling as this is a very competitive group up front.
These are always a bit harder, but I’ll play off of the entries. The top eight times entered are all by schools that have had great relay success in the past. Central is the top seed and I expect to see great things from them this year. Fern Creek, Eastern, and Ballard follow and their relay talent is always clear. Male, Central’s B team, John Hardin, and Shelby County round out the top eight here and should make for some good competition in this first meet of the year for most.
The boys’ side is similar with John Hardin and Central both at the top of the lists. ShelbyCounty, Male A & B, and Lexington Christian follow and some others to consider include Greenwood, Butler, and OldhamCounty. With the size of the track, the exchange zones will be interesting and make this one different to watch.
The teams that had good cross-country seasons are always the ones to watch initially, so duPont Manual, Eastern, Assumption, and South Oldham go right to the front of the list. Also, look for John Hardin here if they run their strong legs, as well as ShelbyCounty and Greenwood.
With Apollo holding out of the relays, there are many more teams who will feel like they have a shot to win this. duPont Manual is seeded first, but look for Greenwood, ShelbyCounty, Butler, North Oldham, and West Jessamine to have strong runs as well.
Thanks for reading through all this and we’ll hope to see you this weekend!