Class AA is sometimes the less regarded group in the state with the large schools and small private schools often producing the most consistent talent, but there are some programs in Class AA that have been doing serious damage recently. South Oldham’s girls have been incredibly strong in the distance races and relays, while Central has continued producing strong performers in the sprints and jumps, and Highlands has had a great run of talent across the board. Not to be forgotten in all of this, though, is the Blue Tornado of Paducah Tilghman and a growing program from Lloyd Memorial, both of which will be on display this weekend.
South Oldham’s ladies are heavy favorites in the 3200 meter relay to be sure, while Hannah Ellis and Grace Whitworth are leading entries in the 800 and 3000 meters respectively. Ellis will definitely face a challenge from North Bullitt’s Chelsey Slayton and Fairdale’s Tia Weston, while Whitworth will do battle with Shelby County’s Taylor Webb. Watch for this group in the 4x4 as well, as their strengths have been specifically in the mid-distances, but their depth appears to running thinner than usual this year, so we’ll have to wait and see what they come up with in the coming months.
Central has filled all the sprints, hurdles, field events, and relays with solid athletes and it has continued to pay dividends for them. Maya Spalding, Cha’quita Gore, Kayla Forrest, and Chantel Henry return for a group that will be looking to continue their recent success and it starts this weekend. Spalding will do battle in the hurdles, 400 meters, and relays, Gore has the leading seeds in the triple and high jump, Forrest is the leading entrant in the long jump, and Henry will be contributing with the relays in a big way. Tilghman will definitely battle these ladies in the sprint relays and we are hoping for the same heated competition we w`ere treated to last year.
The main sprint competition may come from Western Hills’ Alisha Adair, who is entered in both the 55 and 400 meters. Spalding and Hopkinsville’s Aunye Christian will make the 400 more than interesting, while Christian and Lloyd Memorial’s Tati Jouett might be the main competition in the 55 meters. Jouett’s teammate Jessica Crabtree is lined up for another great hurdle battle with North Oldham’s Brianne Brown and will also be a top competitor in the pole vault where last year’s outdoor state champion (Laura Geiman of Highlands) will be looking to continue her dominance in Class AA.
On the boys’ side, Central’s run of team dominance appears to be in jeopardy this year after losing some very big contributors last year. Kevon Dunbar and Jaz Hayes return, though, and both look to kick off more successful years this weekend. Dunbar is the top seed in the long and triple jump (Lawrence County’s Hunter James will give him strong competition in both events), while Hayes is the top seed in the 400 and is likely to compete for the 55 meter title as well. Both will be major pieces of the talented relay squads for a group that has banked major points in the relays over the years.
Expect a great race in the short hurdles as the group is very closely matched and very deep, though Joseph Jamerson (Prestonsburg) has been competing with the best hurdlers in Class AA for years now. Jamerson is competitive in the hurdles as well as the long jump and the high jump as well, while the top seeded hurdler, Elizabethtown’s Clayton Patton, will look to take the hurdle title and comeback to challenge for the triple jump title as well.
South Warren’s Jared Skrabacz, who recently signed to run for Loyola (Chicago) University, is a heavy favorite in both the 1500 and 3000 meters after his impressive performances in the fall and showings early this spring. Skrabacz will be challenged by a deep distance crew from Class AA XC State Champions North Oldham. Taylor Sanders will take aim in the 1500, while Colin Grandon will target the 3k, but the best chance for a distance event win from North Oldham will be in either the 3200 meter relay or the 800 meters as Jeremy Rice enters as a heavy favorite. Don’t fixate on North’s distance prowess, though, as standout Zach Evans is a legitimate contender in the sprints, Austin Crawley has become a solid long jumper, and they may even steal points in the pole vault and shot put as well.
Paducah Tighlman’s crew will be in attendance, most notably with 100 meter standout Rashad Brown, who was runner-up at last year’s state championships. Brown is the lead seed in the 55 meters and will look to pull the Blue Tornado to the 4x200 meter relay title as well.
Stay up-to-date with live results tomorrow on KYTRACKXC.com and follow the Mason-Dixon Games as they mark the beginning of the new track season for us this year.