Eastern Relays Recap
Here is a list of performances that hit the New Balance Outdoor Nationals qualifying standards at this weekend’s edition of THE Eastern Relays.
Boys 800 Meter Sprint Medley (1:36.0)
1 Lawrence Central 1:33.10
2 Cahokia 1:33.32
Girls 2000 Meter Steeplechase (7:25)
1 Megan Klein Paul Dunbar 7:13.67
Girls 1600 Meter Medley (4:10.0)
1 Evanston Township 4:07.34
Boys 1600 Meter Medley (3:33.0)
1 Lawrence Central 3:32.97
Boys 4000 Meter Distance Medley Relay (10:30.0)
1 Greenwood 10:24.85
Boys 800 Meter Relay (1:30.0)
1 Lawrence Central 1:28.02
2 Owensboro 1:28.46
3 Cahokia 1:29.45
4 Bryan Station 1:29.85
5 Male 1:29.91
Boys 400 Meter Relay (53.13)
1 Lawrence Central 42.10
2 Male 42.70
3 Owensboro 42.95
Boys Triple Jump (47-05.25)
1 Vernon Carter Cahokia 48-05.50
2 Peter Randles North Hardin 47-11.00
USATF Junior National Championships Qualifiers
Girls 1600 Meter Run (4:58.14)
1 Emma Brink Sacred Heart 4:52.77
2 Anna Bostrom Woodford County 4:54.06
Boys 110 Meter Hurdles (14.60)
1 Brandon Bagley John Hardin 14.46
2 DeAnthony Henderson Cahokia 14.48
Boys 2000 Meter Steeplechase (6:25.0)
1 Will Mullett Lexington Christian 6:21.04
Girls 2000 Meter Steeplechase (7:25.0)
1 Megan Klein Paul Dunbar 7:13.67
Boys Triple Jump (48-00.75)
1 Vernon Carter Cahokia 48-05.50
THE Eastern Relays have once again come and gone, but they have left us with exactly what we hoped for: the state’s best coming together in one arena. Adding to our state’s best talent, was some of the best talent from Indiana (Lawrence Central’s boys), Ohio (Mason), West Virginia (Cabell Midland), and Illinois (Cahokia and Evanston Township). This combination made for the perfect storm as the deepest and highest quality track meet in the state of Kentucky once again proved why it holds that distinction, even with weather keeping the meet from reaching competition.
The Friday night portion of THE Eastern Relays has given focus to the elite distance relays, but with the out-of-state squads taking the Friday night relays very seriously this year, we experienced some great performances. Evanston Township opened the meet with a very impressive performance in the 2-2-4-8 medley relay and dipped under the New Balance national qualifier of 4:10 en route to a big win over the crew from Meade County. Their time of 4:07.34 ranks them right near the top of the national rankings in the event to this point, placing them just outside the top 20 times to this point in the season.
The boys squads were just as impressive as the crews from Lawrence Central and Mason battled it out in the 2-2-4-8 medley relay with Lawrence Central creeping just under the 3:33.00 standard (3:32.97) while Mason faded at the end (3:36.76). In the Sprint Medley Relay (1-1-2-4), though, Lawrence Central had company all the way to the finish line as Cahokia ran side-by-side with them down the straight before giving way at the end. Their times of 1:33.10 and 1:33.32, though, were well under the 1:36.00 standard for New Balance, and continued to build the excitement on a night that gave us ideal conditions for competition.
As for the steeplechase races, they were fun to watch and even more so because of the quality of the performances. Megan Klein (Jr, Paul Dunbar) had her first experience with the steeplechase last weekend and ran 7:44, taking 3rd in a solid race. This time around, though, her barriers were impressive and her water barriers were down right powerful as she laid down a time of 7:13.67, another New Balance national qualifier, but it also qualified her for the USATF Junior Nationals which is a much more exclusive meet as it includes all athletes who are not yet 20 during the year of competition. Will Mullett of Lexington Christian followed up Klein’s run with an impressive performance of his own as he waited patiently for more than 1200 meters before exploding away for the win in 6:21.04. Mullett’s time also qualifies him for the USATF Junior National championships the last weekend in June in Des Moines, Iowa. Mullett will be looking for another opportunity to get some experience in before the season is over to get himself qualified for New Balance (qualifier is 6:14).
Lost in all of the excitement that Klein and Mullett warranted, were the performances of the other steeplechasers as Caroline McCaslin of Assumption (7:37.98) and Lily Rodgers of Covington Latin (7:47.05), along with a slew of boys, laid down times that would normally have claimed a win in this event. It is clear that the steeplechase may soon be one of the biggest draws of the weekend as it doesn’t have a qualifier associated with it and it may be the only opportunity some athletes will ever have to try the event. A total of 8 girls and 23 boys finished the event this year and we can only hope to see those numbers grow in the future.
Here’s the commentary I put together for Greenwood’s race on Friday night:
The focus was on the 4x1600 on the boys’ side tonight with Mason (OH) entered and shooting for a good time, but Greenwood had other plans on the evening. After coming through the 1200 in splits of 66 and 2:13, Lawrence Central had a slight edge on the exchange, passing off in about 3:14 to Greenwood’s 3:16. The 400 splits are rough, as I was trying to get the splits off my watch, but I had something close to 50 for Lawrence Central (4:04 on the split) and 51 for Greenwood (4:07). Still closely contested, the race started to turn a bit as Greenwood’s 800 leg pulled ahead slightly on the exchange as Greenwood crossed the line in 6:09.9 on my watch, then Ryan Eaton took control. His first half split was something to the tune of 2:05 and change, with Lawrence Central still all over him and keeping things interesting. After the split hit 9:23 with 400 to go, my mind started churning wondering what the qualifier was for New Balance Nationals, but I was more interested to see Eaton’s split as he opened up and powered away from Lawrence Central’s anchor. Closing in to the line, it was clear that something special was in the works and Eaton crossed at 10:24.85, which was not only a New Balance qualifier for the Gators, but also roughly a 4:14-4:15 split for the University of Kentucky signee.
I tried to tell him that I had him in 4:14 high and stopped my watch so I could show him the splits on my watch. After we both recognized that I had actually cleared my watch in this process, we took a look at my notepad with the splits written down and I showed him that according to my splits, it was that fast. He was still in a bit of disbelief, but mentioned something along the lines of him still having to run the 3200 meter relay, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters tomorrow. I told him that we wouldn’t tell anyone what he ran………it was announced a minute later…… Lawrence Central ends up lost in all of this as they ran an awesome time of 10:30.56 and missed hitting the national standard by that .56. Their anchor was right around 4:20 and got dropped in the last lap, so it was definitely a valiant effort.
Here is the commentary for the boys 4x1600 meter relay I had from Friday Night:
The event of focus on the night was definitely the boys 4x1600 meters after Ryan Eaton ripped his 1600 meter split, it was pretty clear that the track was definitely capable up allowing a quick time to go down. Mason (OH) had mentioned that they were trying to hit the national qualifying standard of 17:40 and they brought the guns to do it. Hitting splits from my watch here is what I recorded:
67/2:12/3:18/4:24 – At this point, the first Mason team broke away and Mason B and Meade County were well into their battle for 2nd as they split almost identical 4:33 and North Oldham crossed in 4:37.
5:26 (62)/(missed)/7:42 (3:18)/8:50 (4:25) – Now things are getting interesting, as the Mason squad is on pace through two legs and could really make this thing happen if the group keeps pushing. Mason/Meade County were about 9:09 on that split, for roughly 4:36, and North Oldham was still in range at 9:14 (4:37).
9:49 (60?)/10:56 (2:06)/12:07 (3:17)/ 13:18 (4:28) – So, here we were handing off to the last leg and they will need about a 4:21 to get the standard, so there is definitely a chance. Mason B is at 13:44 (4:35ish) and Meade County was at 13:47 (4:38ish), with North Oldham starting to fade in 13:58 (4:44ish). St. Henry was in this race all along, but didn’t really seem to be within striking distance until now.
14:21 (63)/15:29 (2:11)/16:37 (3:19)……. Only a 62 or better was going to get it done and this kid had been solo the whole race, but it didn’t make sense that they wouldn’t make it after such a great run.
17:45 (4:27) – Mason (OH) missed the qualifying standard by just over 5 seconds, but it is the 7th-fastest time in the country on Milesplit’s rankings. Mason B and Meade County fought to the end, with Mason B running 18:26.98 (4:42 anchor) and Meade County 18:28.72 (4:41 anchor).
Saturday had some intense action and several surprises of note to discuss. Campbell County’s ladies kicked off the day’s action with a bit of an upset in the 3200 meter relay and may have just given us reason to believe that they may have real thoughts of claiming not just this event at the state championships in a month and a half, but also the overall team title. After two of their more inexperienced ladies broke 2:25 earlier this week, they built off of that in running away from the competition in the last two legs en route to a 9:49.40 clocking. Eastern’s girls showed how far they have come this year in taking 2nd place overall in a big come from behind performance and DuPont Manual, the heavy favorites coming in, ended up 3rd.
The boys race was very interesting as well as Andrew Stewart of North Hardin ripped it open early, splitting something in the ballpark of 1:55 and giving his squad almost a full three seconds on the field. North Hardin would hang around for awhile before finishing 4th in 8:20.60, but Cahokia and Lawrence Central were the two teams really racing through all three legs. Greenwood had led off Ryan Eaton to keep it close, but he wasn’t able to stay close enough to Stewart to get the kind of lead they were hoping for to start the day. Lawrence Central finally gained a slight edge coming down the straight at the end of the 3rd leg and then the only question was how fast they would go. Coming down the straight, there was still hope of them breaking the 8 minute barrier and when their anchor crossed, the clock still read 7:58 (7:58.28 to be exact), while Cahokia had faded badly to finish 2nd in 8:07.62 with Greenwood easliy 3rd in 8:12.21.
The hurdle races only confirmed what many had already thought as Kentucky talents Brandon Bagley (Sr, John Hardin) and Nealy Williams (Sr, Bryan Station) both claimed victory. Bagley had a hard-fought victory over Cahokia’s DeAnthony Henderson, 14.46-14.48, while Williams had significantly less trouble in handling Fern Creek’s Diamond Wilson and Model’s Chelsea Harnack, 15.84 to Wilson’s 16.07 and Harnack’s 16.16. Both have previously claimed state titles and looked primes at this point to do so again this year. Courtney Edwards of Fort Knox was a false start on the boys’ side and before the day was done, there was word he may have injured himself while jumping, so we will have to wait to see what happens with him going forward.
The 100 meters was a big surprise on the girls side as Alisha Adair of Western Hills was taken down by Sariah Edwards of Bryan Station 12.85-12.98. Adair has seemed to be untouchable thus far and today was the first time we saw any point of weakness with her as she was taken down here in the 100 and again in the 400 meters later on. This would definitely make Edwards the new favorite in Class AAA as she ran away from Ballard’s Cidnei Johnson and Owensboro’s Shanice Carbon, while Adair was more than a half-second ahead of Class AA counterpart Tati Jouett of Lloyd Memorial. This clear separation at this point in the season puts a good amount of pressure on those top two going forward as they now have the target clearly on their backs.
The boys’ race had the consensus speed leader in the 100 meters in the state with Marcus Windstead of Owensboro and he took the title in the 100 over William Kannamore of Ballard, 11.08 to 11.14. With Male’s John Giddens running about half a step behind Kannamore, though, it definitely left open the possiblity that Male’s Chisom Omenyinma will be ready and waiting for Winstead at the state championships in six weeks.
Tates Creek’s ladies stunned everyone in the 800 meter relay, and to even consider the level of domination they leveled on everyone is incredible. They beat defending state champion Campbell County by more than 1.5 seconds, running 1:44.59 to 1:46.17 and now have the momentum on their side going forward this season. The boys race wasn’t similar by any means, as Lawrence Central took a slight win over Owensboro, running 1:28.02 to 1:28.46, but the speed and depth was pretty special as 7 teams went under 1:31.00 and 5 teams hit the New Balance qualifying standard of 1:30.00 with St. Xavier just missing at 1:30.02. Male’s crew wasn’t fully loaded and defending champion Henry Clay was not in attendance due to some health and fitness issues, so this isn’t an exact depiction of current fitness by any means, but this may be one of the most exciting events at the state championships this season based on these results.
Many were waiting to see what would happen in the 1600 meter races as the depth of talent has been increasing lately and the gap between talents Ryan Eaton of Greenwood and Emma Brink of Sacred Heart and the rest of the state seems to be shrinking. The girls race showed that there is a clear contender to Brink as Anna Bostrom of Woodford County put herself in the lead about 200 meters into the race and didn’t relinquish that lead entirely until the final lap. Splits of 72 and 2:25 put the pair in position to chase a fast time and they continued to chase just that as they came around the final curve, but Brink was just too much with her short speed and she ran to a big win in 4:52.77 to Bostrom’s 4:54.06. Liz Anderson of duPont Manual was considered a contender coming in, but found herself boxed early coming off the waterfall start and never was able to get up into the race, taking 3rd easily in 5:06.70. Brink and Bostrom both dipped under standards for both the Bew Balance and USATF Junior national championships and after their performances indoors, expect them to be ready to rise to the occasion again when it counts.
The boys race was very similar at the end, though the first three-quarters of the race left us with big questions about what the results would be at the end. Through 400 meters, Jacob Thomson of Holy Cross (Lou.) was doing the same thing that he has done every race in his rise to distance elite: get out fast and hang on as long as possible. Thomson’s pushing led the race to a quick 62-second first split with Ryan Eaton sitting very near the back of the group before moving in a big way on the curve and stretching out to a solid lead by 600 meters. The pace behind him was lagging significantly, so several different athletes were forced to make strong surges to keep Eaton in reach. After hitting halfway in 2:11, Eaton was slowly swallowed up by the field and as the group came down the stretch with one lap to go, it was Andrew Stewart of North Hardin at the front and there was movement everywhere behind him. Eaton started to move as the gun shot sounded signaling one final lap to go and no one except Cabell Midland freshman Jacob Burcham was able to respond. We think the 1200 split was somewhere around 3:18, but with me taking pictures, I couldn’t be sure and don’t remember, though Eaton mentioned that he heard 3:18 coming around and if that’s so, then the finish was even more impressive than we thought. Eaton started to get his knee lift going and Burcham was moving right with him as the rest of the field slowly faded out of the picture and the two battled, teeth grinding and muscles tense, down the straightaway to the delight of a screaming crowd watching the clock. As Eaton lunged for the line, he heard 4:15 and Burcham was just behind clocking 4:16.40 and becoming the fastest freshman in the nation this year. Robbie Scharold of Campbell County used a strong finish to get 3rd in 4:20.64 and Andrew Stewart, Jake Wildeman of Trinity, Jacob Thomson, Justin House of Apollo, Austin Carter of St. Xavier, and Adam Kahliefeh of Bardstown all barreled across the line right behind. The 9 athletes breaking 4:25 was a huge deal, but it was Eaton’s time and the performance of the two freshman that will be what people remember as Burcham and Thomson now hold the two fastest times by freshman in the nation according to our database. Both of those young men ran like athletes with experience much greater than their age and have great futures, but Ryan Eaton of Greenwood is the athlete of right now as he ran two 1600 meter times in the area of 4:15 and split 1:58 in the 3200 meter relay all within 16 hours. Asked before the race if he had gotten much sleep in between, he said, “Nah, I stayed up until like 3 AM,” then chuckled to himself and demolished a strong group of Kentucky talent.
Tates Creek’s ladies doubled up as the took the 400 meter relay in 49.31 and Evanston Township was easily 2nd in 49.67 to Male’s 50.59. It really is surprising that Tates Creek handled these crews with such ease, but they may find later on that their toughest competition may come from Paul Dunbar in their own region. The boys race saw Lawrence Central take another relay titles in 42.10 over Male’s 42.70. I would have to say I was impressed with Male as they definitely didn’t run the A squad again and almost found their way to a win anyways. Owensboro was a strong 3rd in 42.95, showing once again that they are likely going to be the team best suited to challenge Male and as we go forward, they now know what they need to be ready to do.
The 400 meters on the ladies side was an incredible race that saw Kentucky’s defending state champion Anna Carrigan of Campbell County come up just short at the line against Margaret Bamgbose of Evanston Township, with Bamgbose running 57.89 to Carrigan’s 57.99. It was a great race down the straight with Bamgbose falling back just slightly with about 40 meters to go, before coming back up with a surge at the end for a nice win. Diamond Wilson of Fern Creek returned from the short hurdles earlier to claim 3rd in 59.14, while Michaela Hunter of Rockcastle County took a break from the jumps to get 4th in 59.52, just ahead of Western Hills Alisha Adair (1:00.06).
The boys racehad Lawrence Central’s Jeron Brown and Mason’s Alex Hamm battling to the line as Brown took the title in 49.65 to Hamm’s 49.89. Najee Calderon of Bryan Station continued his solid campaign with a strong 3rd place finish in 50.37 and Eastern’s Derayvon Thomas-Randle was again in the mix, taking 4th in 50.92. We had hoped that this would be one of the better races of the day with the Henry Clay duo making the trip, but it turned out to be a great race anyways as Brown and Hamm were right together to the very end.
In a big surprise, Madde Roark of Russell took the girls 300 meter hurdles and now sits as the heavy favorite in Class AA after edging out Nealy Williams of Bryan Station 46.58 to 46.71. Roark’s previous best had been over 50 seconds this year, though she had run 47.73 last year, but this was clearly a huge improvement and the absolute perfect race for her. Diamond Wilson followed up her 400 meter performance by taking 3rd here in 47.48, while Sadie Stone of CAL was 4th in 47.77.
Brandon Bagley of John Hardin didn’t let the 300 meter hurdles have the same suspense that the shorter race displayed earlier on in the day. He went to the front at the gun and put distance on the field early, only adding on the rest of the way as he laid down a time of 37.90 for the full distance, running just one-hundredth slower than the Kentucky State Meet record held by Tim Duncan of Covington Catholic from 2005. Bagley has slowly worked his time down and now appears prepared to get the record that he just barely missed out on last year. Paul Cusick of Covington Catholic was a distant 2nd in 40.21 to lead the rest of the heat across the line as 5 athletes crossed between 40.20 and 40.80.
In the throws, Camille Lannert of Assumption and Jackie Stevens of Bullitt East had a close decision in the discus, with Lannert beating out her part-time training partner for the win 106-09 to 104-08. Stevens was not thrilled with that result, though, and responded by claiming the shot put by four feet exactly over Eastern’s Alexis Crawford, 40-05 to 36-05. Male’s Kyle Jenkins didn’t leave any doubt as to who the best male thrower was on the day as he claimed both the shot put (55-00) and the discus (168-06) titles on the day, continuing a season that has seen him handling any and every challenge brought his way thus far.
The girls jumps saw Amanda Caines of Evanston Township claim the triple jump title in 37-03 over Samantha Smith of Rockcastle County (36-07). Nealy Williams of Bryan Station and Allison Ponzer of Simon Kenton were 3rd and 4th in the triple, but Ponzer flipped the script in the long jump beating out Smith for the title there 17-03.75 to 17-00.25. Cahokia’s Vernon Carter took the boys triple jump with a big lead of 48-05.50, qualifying to both New Balance and USATF Juniors in the process, while Peter Randles of North Hardin had a huge PR hitting 47-11 for 2nd place on the day.
Donovan Halsel of Warren Central took the high jump over Alex Connelly of Covington Catholic (6-4 to 6-2), while the girls pole vault turned out to be almost as close with Ballard’s Megan Zimlich winning with a vault of 9-03 over Molly Voyles of Silver Creek (IN) (9-00). Bardstown’s JP Willett and St. Xavier’s John Purcell tied for the win at 12-00 even in the boys pole vault, though I can’t be sure if it wasn’t cut short before completion like the girls high jump.
A great day by all the competitors and those that were able to get some racing in before the storms hit seemed to have a wonderful experience. The out-of-state squads were very happy with their results and the meet as a whole and we would love to have them back as they bring an added level of strength to what is already the strongest meet in the state of Kentucky. Put it on your calendar’s next year and meet director Mike Horan will start working on adding a new wrinkle or two to keep things interesting.