Every great track meet has lots of great storylines and a meet like Eastern Relays is packed full. We will try to break down some of the major ones here, but know that there are school record hunters, tons of PR pursuits, and lots of head to head match-ups for regional and state bragging rights as we head towards the postseason.
Here are the storylines we are looking forward to, but we'd love to hear from you @EasternRelays on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to see what you are excited about!
Also, the KYtrackXC team will be there covering the meet from all angles.
Tweet us @kytrackxc, Instagram @milesplitky, and Snapchat @milesplitky.
Midwest and (upper) Southeast Stand Up
Every year top marks early in the season roll out of the West Coast and Deep South early. While the kids in the Midwest are dealing with cold and wet weather. Eastern Relays will be one of the first big showdowns for some of the top teams and individuals in OH, IL, IN, MO, TN, WV, and KY. It's time to see how this part of the country stacks up against the rest of the nation. We will see some great competition in the distance races, and will feature potentially the best Eastern Relays fields ever in the sprints and field events. Springtime in this part of the country always brings unpredictable weather and rain and wind are in the forecast.
Eastern Relays 3200m Assault
The Eastern Relays 3200m is always a spectacle, serving as the best opportunity in the middle of the country for top-tier athletes to face off. This year's field definitely doesn't disappoint.
On the men's side we have 8 athletes entered with PR's between 9:00 and 9:10. That list includes Foot Locker Runner-Up Jake Renfree, FL Finalist Silas Winders, and David Ahlmeyer all from Tennessee clashing with Caleb Futter of Indiana, Vinnie Mauri, Caleb Brown, and Giovanni Copploe of Ohio, and Kentucky's top entrant Austin Mathews. As always, the field has tremendous depth with 7 more athletes owning sub-9:20 PRs.
This crew saw Arcadia light up the distance nation earlier this month and is looking for their shot to make a statement. Many will be looking for their first ever sub-9:00 clocking. They also have their eyes on the meet record of 8:46.72 set by Andrew Jordan in 2016. If conditions are good a few may also be eying the national leader of 8:40.0 of Nico Young at Arcadia!
The whole story isn't at the front of the race. With 149 entrants having qualified in the 3200m we could see 100 or more athletes break 10:00 on the same track within an hour and a half!
The women's field is easily the deepest in Eastern Relays history and they also have big goals. We have 14 ladies with PRs under 11 minutes and the top entrants is the multi-talented Taylor Ewert of Beaver Creek OH. Ewert is multi-time national champion in events including racewalk and steeplechase. She showed her chops this fall with a 3rd place finish at NXN and 4th place at Foot Locker. The field behind her is loaded with talent. Phoebe Bates (IN) is a FL Finalist, Skylar Boogerd (TN) boasts a 10:26 PR. Several others are looking to make a mark in the national scene. A sub-10:20 clocking could garner a national top 10 ranking from any of these athletes. Right now Katelynne Hart has a strong hold on the national leader at 9:59.57 from Arcadia. Second place nationally is 10:12.18. The meet record is 10:15.85 from Rebecca Story (TN). With good conditions we could see some Ewert and some of the ladies challenging those marks.
Another story in the women's race worth watching is the Beaver Creek contingent. These girls have been lighting up the relays early this spring but have their top 4 racing the 3200m on Friday. Watch to see if they could put 4 girls under 11:00 in the same race!
As with the guys we will see a huge field of ladies. Some will be chasing sub-11, many aiming for sub-12.
Big Time Sprint Power
The sprint fields are loaded with exciting races and some national stars. Many have been dominating local races this outdoor season and are ready to be tested against one another.
In the 400m Emmanuel Bynum (TN) brings his 47.04 season best in to take on the field. Currently ranked 5th nationally from the Sugar Bowl Classic almost a month ago. He is a hair over a big-time barrier and looks to be the 5th guy under 47 this year. Top rank nationally is 46.22 from Justin Robinson (MO). Bynum will be chased by NBNI qualifier Josiah Taylor of Louisville Moore (KY). The meet record is 47.37 from Will Allen (KY).
Kentucky's top sprinters will be challenged by a deep field with 16 sub-11 100m men. The top entrants include Richard Ninamou, JP Vaught, and Henry Young are looking for their first sub-10.5 clocking. Eastern Relays is also looking for the meet's first sub-10.5 clocking. The meet record belongs to one of the World's Fastest Men Ronnie Baker. He ran a 10.56 back in 2012, but now boasts a 9.78 PR and is proving to be one of the world's best at 60m and 100m.
The 300m Hurdles will feature two teammates from Rock Bridge (MO) who are both lead the entries in their event. Tyra Wilson's 42.71 PR leads the ladies entrants and also places her 17thnationally. Her teammate Martez Manuel leads the guys with his 37.51 which puts him at 40th nationally.
The Girls 100m Dash will pit two 11.5 ladies against each other. Indiana's Semira Killebrew of Brebeuf Jesuit will face Ameia Wilson from Danville HS in Illinois. They will look to rewrite the all-time list for Eastern Relays where the meet record sits at 12.26 from Taliyah Townsend from 2016.
Everyone versus Mother Nature
We could go up and down the performance list from http://easternrelays.milesplit.com and find more to highlight. The men's throws are very strong behind WV's Gavin Beverage of Cabell Midland whose 64' 2.5 shot is near the nation's best, ranking him 8th. Ladies jumps are led by a pair of 20'+ jumpers with both Danville's Wilson and OH Mentor's Paige Floriea over 20' at their best. At their best they could smash the meet record by over a foot. And the 3200m isn't the only distance race either. There are great fields in the mile, 800m, and the relays.
But, every track athlete in the Ohio Valley knows weather in this area isn't always calm and ideal. There is a lot of rain in the forecast for both Friday and Saturday. That said, these athletes have been tested by tough conditions throughout their preparations. It will be an exciting weekend of track and field action from Louisville!