Last year at the UK High School Indoor Invitational, the likes of Christian Taylor, Jacquelyn Coward, Brittany Long, William Wynne, Erik Kynard, Jasmin Stowers, Chalonda Goodman, Madeline Morgan, Patrick McGregor, Meshawn Graham, Marcus Rowland, Kenneth Gilstrap, Andrew Perkins, Michael Shaw, and Sean Keveran all made memories. Several of those athletes (Stowers, Goodman, Gilstrap, Morgan, and McGregor) will have another shot to make their mark at one of the strongest indoor meets of the year, while others, including, current US #1 60m hurdler, Wayne Davis II (Southeast Raleigh, GA) and Millrose Miler Cory McGee (Pass Christian, MS), will look to leave their own mark on the 280-meter oval in Lexington, Kentucky.
Starting with the returners, McGregor’s name stands out as he, and Tennesse native Matt Sonnefeldt (Knoxville West, TN), will be continuing his running career on campus at the University of Kentucky. There will be many locals that will look to get their first glimpse of what appears to be a great future for UK’s distance runners. McGregor (Hoover, AL) is coming off an epic mile race at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games which saw him and four others make history as the first group of four preps to break in the mile in the same race.He and Sonnefeldt made their mark during the cross country season as each placed second in a national regional meet (McGregor – Nike South; Sonnefeldt-Foot Locker South) and though McGregor opted to call it a season, Sonnefeldt went on to place 21st at the Foot Locker National Championship.Both have great resumes, but will be tested if they want to bring home titles this weekend.
As for Stowers (Pendleton, SC), it was two years ago at this meet that she showed up on the national scene in a big way. Stowers broke the US Sophomore 60m hurdles record here in 2007 finishing in 8.51, but that was overshadowed by Jacquelyn Coward’s US high school record 8.17 in the same race.Last year, the gap was much closer, but Stowers still played second fiddle to Coward running 8.38 over the same 60 meter distance.With Coward now graduated, it is Stowers who has the nation’s attention coming off a summer that saw her win the USATF Youth National Championship in 13.72 over the 100 meter hurdles. Just two weeks ago, she ran 8.55 over the 60 meter hurdles in Tennessee, ranking her #2 on the US Junior lists right now.
Goodman, a University of Texas signee, is just as talented in her own right.She is coming off a summer that saw her win the 100 and 200 meters at the Nike Outdoor National meet and also tied the meet record of 11.39 in the 100 held previously by Muna Lee. She also won national championships in the 100 meter and 200 meters at the USATF Youth and Junior Olympic National Championships last summer and has lowered her PRs to a wind-legal 11.36 for 100 meters and 23.29 for 200 meters. She already has two marks that rank US #3 this season; 7.47 over 60 meters and 7.00 over 55 meters, as well as a US #4 in the 200 meters (24.45).
This is always a meet for athletes to make early statements as the best in their specialty, but it is also a place where many athletes will shine nationally for the first time. Here’s how the events break down starting with the field events:
Girls High Jump
Alexandra Morgan (Moutain Brook, AL) and Brionne Williams (Hoover, AL) come in having jumped against each other several times before. At their state sectional last year, it was Williams who won on misses as both cleared 5’ 6” and Morgan was left settling for second. At the state meet, neither was able to clear 5’ 4” and on misses, Williams placed second with Morgan falling to fourth. These two athletes come in with PRs of 5’9” (Morgan) and 5’8” (Williams) and will kick off their indoor seasons with the meet this weekend.
Boys High Jump
Erik Kynard (Toledo Rogers, OH) won’t be here, but Anthony May (Hoover, AL) will look to wipe away the memories that Kynard left here last year. May went 7’00.75” last year at the state finals to bring home the state title, but this is not a one trick pony. May also placed second in the decathlon at the Alabama High School State Championship. Other entries include Billy Thompson (John Hardin, KY), the outdoor Kentucky State champ last year, and Anthony Walriven (St. Xavier, OH), who went 6’5” outdoors last year and has already been 6’4” once indoors this year.
Girls Pole Vault
Margo Tucker (Lawrence Central, IN) is the returning champion after going 11’6” here last year. She will definitely have her sites on the meet record of 12’ given her PR of 12’6” outdoors last year. Challenging Tucker will be three 11’ vaulters in Sandi Morris (Greenville, SC), Laura Bedsole (Hoover, AL), and Leigh Allin (Henry Clay, KY). Bedsole and Allin were 4th and 7th, respectively, here last year and will look to make Tucker work for the win.
Boys Pole Vault
Jacob Sebastian (Austin, IN) comes in as the highest seed after placing 3rd here last year at 14’. Jack Greenlee (St. Xavier, OH), a recent signee of the University of Michigan, comes in with a PR of 15’1” which he reached indoors earlier this year. Kevin Lazas (Brentwood, TN) is no slouch either, having been 14’6” indoors this year and is a great athlete having won the AAU Junior Olympic decathlon last year. One more, Cory Duggan (Monsignor-Farrell, NY) has beenover 14’6” indoors already this year as well, so this event promises to make things interesting even if the meet record of 16’00.75” seems just out of reach.
Girls Horizontal Jumps
Brittany Porter (Towers HS, GA) comes in with a PR of 20’3” in the long jump and placed second here last year. Already this indoor season she has been 19’5” and Christiene Linton (Romulus, MI), who has been 18’08.50” this year, looks to be the only one within reach of her. Porter also leads the triple jump entries with a PR over 40’ and a 38’7” jump to her credit this year. Looking to test Porter in the triple jump will be a pair of jumpers from RavenwoodHigh School in Tennessee: Courtney Woodard and Emily Allen. Both have impressive accomplishments with Allen having jumped 37’7” this year already and Woodard, who boasts a PR of 38’3.25”, having placed fourth in the AAU Junior Olympic National meet in the heptathlon. If Porter can put together another strong set of jumps, she will be tough to beat, but the meet tends to bring out the best in many of the athletes that compete.
Boys Horizontal Jumps
Last year we saw Christian Taylor jump almost all the way out of Kentucky with his mark of 25’00.25” in the long jump. This year, Damar Forbes (MLK, GA), last year’s USATF Junior Olympic National Champion in the long jump and runner-up at USATF Youth Nationals in the triple jump, has already been 24’06.50” and has the talent to snatch the year old meet record from Taylor with a good day. There are seven other long jumpers between 21’ and 22’ so the chase for second will be a tight one, but all eyes will be on Forbes when he prepares to take flight.
The triple jump is still a bit of a muddled picture with no real clear favorite. J’Don Short (Oak Ridge, TN) comes in with a 45’5” jump already in the books this year, but Willie Matthews (Bartlett, TN), who went 44’10” last year, and Tyler Anderson (Hillsboro, TN), who has been 44’9” indoors this year will definitely make things interesting.
Girls Shot Put
Jessie Harrison (Houston HS, TN) and Brittany Wilson (Colerain, OH) finished 3rd and 4thhere last year and will look to improve on that this year. Wilson threw 41’ outdoors last year and finished second at the OhioState finals while Harrison brought home a state title in the discus in Tennessee, but was unable to improve on the 36’ 8.25” throw she landed here last year. Kim Johnson (Virginia HS, VA) comes in seeded second with a PR of 40’3.25” and should put pressure on a mcuh improved Wilson for the title.
Boys Shot Put
Cameron Frazier (Daviess County, KY) threw a PR of 57’2.75” just last week and will look to uncork another big one this weekend. Looking to challenge will be several other Kentucky athletes including Patrick Stuart (Glasgow, KY), Andrew Miller (LouisvilleBallard, KY), and Kyle Jenkins (Male, KY) who have been 54’8.50”, 51’8”, and 50’1” respectively. Others in the mix should include, Kendrick Davis (Mason, OH), who has already thrown 49’11” this season after 52’11.75” outdoors, and Brandon Turner (Lawrence Central, IN), who went over 52’ last year.
Goodman and Stowers will both be entered in the 60 meter dash, with Goodman coming back in the 200 and Stowers showcasing her abilities in the hurdles. Joining them will be Breanna Hubbard (Mundy’s Mill, GA), who is coming off of a fifth place finish at USATF Junior Olympics last summer, and has already been 7.09 in the 55 this year. Other notables include Takeia Pinckney (Coumbia, Ga) who ran 11.92 outdoors last year, Mahogany Jones (Rhodes Cleveland, OH) who already has run 7.11 for 55m indoors this year, and Lacresha Styles (McEachern HS, GA) who went 7.90 for 60 meters just three weeks ago.
Goodman, Hubbard, Pinckney, and Jones will double back in the 200 meters and will be joined by Briana Nelson (Mann, SC) and Lauren Ellis (West Florence, SC). If you followed the postseason last summer, then you know about both of these athletes from their performances on the USATF National scene, but they may be more know for the 400 meter distance than the 200 meters. Nelson ran 53.46 over 400 meters to place 3rd at Nike and just a tick slower to place second at the Junior Olympics over the same distance. Over the 200 meter distance Nelson ran 24.13 in the prelims at Nike, but ended up 8th in the finals. Ellis ran 55.83 over the 400 meter distance to find herself 4th at USATF Youth Nationals and has already run 25.54 in the 200 this year. If everyone makes it to the starting line, this should be a great one on the oversized track at UK.
Not to be outdone by the girls, there are some great athletes in the sprint races on the boys’ side as well. In the 60 meters, Blake Heriot (Gahanna-Lincoln, OH) and Kenneth Gilstrap (Miller Grove, GA) are the leading names and their resumes speak for themselves. Heriot placed 8th at USA Junior Nationals last summer in the 200 and has run a 21.10 for 200 meters and 48.86 for 400 meters already this year. Gilstrap was 2nd here last year in 6.85 and ended up placing 5th at Nike Outdoor in the 100 meters. Other athletes having already served notice this year include Justin Emerson from Christian Academy of Knoxville, GA (7.02; 60m), Justin Green from Male HS in Kentucky (7.04; 60m), Aaron Bailey of Romulus, MI (7.03; 60m), Dominique Lynch out of Ypsilanti, MI (6.93; 60m) and Mark Mays from Northmont, OH (6.47; 55m). Green was 4th here last year in 6.95 just behind Heriot (6.88) and is the home state favorite. He ran 10.67 outdoors last year and swept the 100, 200, and 400 meter races as well as anchoring the winning 4x400 meter relay at the Kentucky State Championships for MaleHigh School. Emerson has a PR of 10.71, Mays has been 10.66, and Lynch and Bailey have looked very good early, so expect a fast and very close race.
Although Heriot has been 22.10 indoors this year and went 21.41 outdoors last year, there are several athletes entered that will make this 200 meter race more interesting. Joining him and Gilstrap in this race are two very decorated athletes in Tavaris Tate and Will Henry. Tate, a senior from Starkville, Mississippi, has already run a current US#2 21.58 in the 200 meters indoors this year to go along with his 21.27 outdoors. Henry (Trotwood-Madison, OH) was 21.52 outdoors last year, but, interestingly, both he and Tate made their mark more over the 400 meter distance than the shorter races last year. A few others to watch for include: Ben Mason, a local from Lexington, Kentucky who has already run 22.01, Eric Harris (Kell HS, GA), who went 21.42 outdoors last year, and Stephen Rich (Plymouth, MI), who has been 35.76 in the 300 meters this year, and this race should look to at least sniff the meet record of 21.41 set by Mike Loyd in 2002.
Jasmin Stowers is coming off a US #1 time 8.44 over the 60 meter hurdle distance in North Carolina last Saturday. She will be looking to better that time and the 8.38 she ran last year here placing second behind Jacquelyn Coward. Three others will be in the mix to lay down fast times and challenge Stowers for dominance in the short hurdles. Christienne Linton (Romulus, MI) has run an 8.95 60H this year and has several races under her belt already. Dinesha Bean (Cordova, TN) also has run 9.05 in the 60 hurdles this year and ran 14.14 outdoors last year over the 100 meter distance. Dannielle Davis (Southeast Raleigh, NC) went 8.50 for the 55 meter hurdles just this week at the North CarolinaIndoorState meet and brought home third place in the process. It looks as though Stowers, a national champion in the 100 meter hurdles last year at Nike Outdoor and USATF Junior Olympics as well, is probably too good to be caught in this race, but it will be worth watching to see if she can post another US #1 time here and continue an amazing junior year.
Wayne Davis II is not being forgotten in all of this as he just ran a US Junior Indoor record 7.05 for the 55 meter hurdles last weekend at the North Carolina Indoor State Meet and recently signed with Texas A&M to run next year. He will definitely be favored this weekend and will look to take a shot at lowering his new US record. There are two very good contenders, though, in Demar Forbes (MLK, GA) and Renaldo Powell (Wayne, MI). Forbes, much more renowned for his jumping ability than his hurdle times, has an outdoor PR of 14.24 for the 110H and Powell has been 8.18 over the 60 meter hurdle distance indoors this year. To compare, though, it is clear that Davis is the favorite as his 7.79 for the 60 meter distance this year is well ahead of Powell and far exceeds Forbes’ 8.42 . After William Wynne lowered the meet record here last year, Davis is the perfect athlete to come in and, hopefully, lower the mark again.
Girls Middle Distance
Briana Nelson took the title in the 400 meter dash here last year in a time of 54.71, but will face some stiff competition to do it again this year. Dinesha Bean, Lauren Ellis, Xauddina Whittington, and Jande’ Pierce will all be doubling back along with Nelson and are not pushovers by any mean. Ellis has a PR of 55.83 from her 4th place finish at the US Youth National Championships last year and a time of 56.11 from her 5th place finish at Nike Outdoor. Pierce ran 55.92 at the US Youth National meet last year, but faltered a bit in the final placing behind both Nelson and Ellis in 7th. Bean went 56.14 last year and has already been 58.54 this year, and Whittington (Catonsville, MD) is coming off a great performance at the Maryland Indoor State Meet where she placed first in the 500 meters (1:15.24) and the 300 meters (39.94). One more to watch is Brittany Cromartie (Aquinas Institute, NY) who hasn’t actually run the 400 meter distance yet this indoor season, having run the 300 and 600 meter distance multiple times, but has a PR of 55.23 to her credit. The fastest high school time this season is 55.48 and with the field put together for this race, there is a good chance that it may be lowered after the dust settles this weekend.
At the 800 meter distance, there are three sub-2:15 entries but the one with the most national exposure is definitely Cory McGee whose second place finish at the Millrose Games was just another reason why she is one of the best mid-distance runners in high school right now. McGee, who placed 5th in the 1500 at USA Junior Nationals last year, has been under 4:56 in the mile three times this year, and is the returning Mississippi State 4A Champion in the 800, Mile, and 2-Mile. Her PR of for the 800 is very good, but she doesn’t come in as the fastest seed due to the entry of two dynamite young athletes from Mountain BrookHigh School in Alabama. Marie Demedicis and Catherine Diethelm are both sophomores and ran 2:11.35 and 2:11.88, respectively, for 800 meters last year. Demedicis tends to stick to the middle distances and placed 2nd in both the 400 (55.98) and 800 (2:12.94) at the Alabama4A-6AState Championships, while Diethelm won the 800 (2:12.85) and placed 4th in the 1600 (). It looks to be the first run of the year for the girls from Mountain Brook, so they will probably be looking for McGee to take it out hard and see what everyone has left.
Boys Middle Distance
Great depth appears at the 400 meter distance on the boys side with Blake Heriot, Will Henry and Tavaris Tate doubling back, as well as Andre Carter (Alexander, GA), Jaron Roberson (McEachern HS, GA), Quartez Clark (Overton, TN), Ben Mason (Lafayette, KY), and Javon Walker (Northmont, OH). Henry and Carter placed 6th and 9th, respectively, here last year and will look to improve on those places. Tate has been 47.80 already this year, with Heriot next closest at 48.86, then Roberson at 49.96, and Mason next closest at 49.98 on the same track three weeks ago. Henry’s outdoor times include a 47.64 at US Youth Nationals and 47.89 at US Junior Nationals, while Carter ran 47.12 to place 3rd at Nike Outdoor last year. Clark (48.62) and Walker (48.52) fill out a very strong field and will join the others who will look to chase Reggie Witherspoon’s meet record of 46.94.
After seeing Andrew Perkins run last year, it will be a hard act to improve upon this year. Fastest seeds include Chad Nickson (Trotwood-Madison, OH), Moise Frisch (Whitmer, OH), James Farley (Monsignor-Farrell, NY), and Thomas Canary (Lexington Catholic, KY). Canary was the hot name in Kentucky last summer after running a solo 1:54.06 at the state finals to win Class AA, but he will have to compete with last year’s runner up at this meet, Taylor Peruski. Peruski’s numbers include his 1:56.65 here last year as well as a 1:23.70 for 600 meters this year and a 50.94 for 400 meters this year as well. Nickson has plenty of experience from the Junior Olympic circuit, Frisch went ran his 1:52 to place 4th at the Ohio State Meet last year, and Farley has been 1:21.90 for 600 meters and 1:57.40 for 800 meters already this year. The time may not approach Chris Bilbrew’s meet record of 1:51.08, but there is plenty of talent and experience in this race to push the pace and produce a fast time.
The girls’ mile includes returning champion Madeline Morgan (Mountain Brook, AL), Katlyn Will (Corinth, MS), and Cory McGee coming doubling with the 800. McGee is obviously the hot name with the times that she has already put down this year, but Morgan is no pushover. With all three of these athletes being from the Deep South, they have met before. McGee (4:50.67) placed first in the mile at the Mobile Challenge of Champions with Will back in 5th. Morgan won the two-mile that day in , but ran five times under the five-minute mark for 1600 meters last outdoor season. The meet record belongs to Morgan after her 4:52.70 last year and should be in danger this week as all three athletes will be fresh and focused for a stellar mile race.
The two-mile has Kentucky’s Anna Bostrom (WoodfordCounty) as the number one seed with her PR of 10:56.07, and will be the second time Bostrom has raced since a tough injury in cross-country ended her season early. Melanie Kulesz (Oak Ridge, TN) is looking to kick off her indoor season after finishing 15th at the NXN Southeast Regional during this year’s cross-country season and Amber Zimmerman (Webb School of Knoxville, TN) is coming off a 10:48.64 time for 3000 meters three weeks ago. One more to watch will be Emme McAtee (Sacred Heart, KY) who is coming off a cross-country season that saw her place 10th in Kentucky’s Class AAA and included a second place finish at the AAU National Championships. The Nike Indoor qualifying time for the two-mile is 11:15.00, so this race looks to be more against the clock than anything and will probably end up going to the strongest kicker late.
Patrick McGregor is definitely the favorite here after his two weekends ago, but Danny Neff (Vandalia-Butler, OH) will definitely be right there to push him. Neff was third here last year, just behind McGregor and has been 4:11.75 for 1600 meters. Giving chase will be Ryan Eaton (Greenwood, KY), Scott Lasiter (Franklin Central, IN), and defending champion Logan Rosenberg (Carmel, IN). Eaton is the local favorite and ran 4:22.02 for the full mile at this same track four weeks ago after taking the Class AAA cross-country state title in Kentucky in the fall. Lasiter ran 5th here last year in 4:24.81 and has been in the 1600, while Rosenberg was hurt most of the outdoor track season after winning here last year in . Locals Steve Mize (Male, KY) and Will Stratford (West Jessamine, KY) both went under 4:25 in the 1600 last spring and will be looking to test their fitness against a strong field as well. If the pace is slow, expect McGregor to dominate late with a strong kick, but the group seems strong enough to push early, so it will be interesting to see how many are left in the race at the bell.
The two mile has the likes of Matt Sonnefeldt and Zach Willis (Mason, OH) as the headliners. Willis is coming off an Ohio cross-country state championship in Division I. He brings in a PR of for 3200 meters and, based on that, would be the favorite except that Sonnefeldt ran a time trial at the end of cross-country season that clocked him at for two miles. Others who may be able to contend are Clint McKelvey (Maryville, TN) who ran 9:21 at the same time trial and placed 29th at Foot Locker Nationals, Alex Orlando (Monsignor Farrell, NY) who has run 9:32 this year already, and Jackson Carnes (St. Xavier, KY) who was state champion at 3200 meters last year in Kentucky. The meet record for this one is a tough 9:13.76 set by Chad Balyo in 2006 and even though Sean Keveran and company got close last year, it will be a tough record to take down. With a field this talented, though, you never know what might happen.
It is extremely hard to predict what might happen in the relays as some teams have run already this year and others have not, while some athletes have returned from last year and many have not. In the 4x400 meter relay Walnut Hills (OH) is seeded with the fastest time and their team from last year was clocked at 3:45.89 at the Ohio Division 1 State Meet last year. Other contenders should include Quick Striders (SC), Cleveland Heights (OH), Mountain Brook (AL), and Northmont (OH).
Looking at the pieces, it is hard to go against Mountain Brook (AL) in the 4x800 as they are seeded at 9:08.14 and have two athletes with PRs under in the 800 and two others with mile PRs better than racing this weekend. The US#1 time for the 4x800 meter relay right now is so if the Mountain Brook group looks good in their early events, expect a spectacular show in this race.
Trotwood-Madison (OH) has great history in the relays. Last year at Nike Outdoor they continued that with 200 meter champ Mike Shaw and company laying claim to the 4x200 meter and 4x400 meter relay titles. They are the fastest seed coming in, but gone are three legs from the great 4x400 relay and the entire 4x200. Will Henry and his team will look to pick up where their predecessors left off, but will definitely be challenged by Titans Track Elite (GA), Monsignor Farrell (NY), Hoover (AL), Mountain Brook (AL), and the team from JohnHardinHigh School in Kentucky running unattached.
The fastest seed in the 4x800 relay features the best that Kentucky has to offer. Joe Mallek of OldhamCounty (), Thomas Canary of Lexington Catholic (), and Will Stratford of West Jessamine () have three of the top five 800 times returning this year in Kentucky. Together, along with Stacey Eden of ShelbyCounty, they will see if they can measure up wil some of the best clubs in the country. Other teams to watch will be Monsignor Farrell (NY), who has already been already this year, Mason TC (OH), and Kindersport TC (TN).