Southern athletes are ready to go for the Mobile Challenge of Champions this weekend in Mobile, Alabama. Athletes from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Virginia are all scheduled to compete.
The powerhouse meet will span two days, with open races taking place on Friday before invitational races follow on Saturday.
Some of the top athletes from the South will be competing in this illustrious meet, which has historically produced some of the nation's top early-season outdoor times. Last year, Winfield City (AL) High's Trey Cunningham raced to a US No. 13 all-time performance in the 100mH in 13.35 seconds.
Cunningham is at Florida State now, but others remain and will vie for their best times this weekend. Check out the best races below.
The Hoover girls hold the current Alabama No. 1 time in 9:21 from the FSU Relays. McGill-Toolen, however, ran 9:36 on the same weekend ran 9:36 at the Sugar Bowl Classic. This will be the first time these two teams have met outdoors this season.
One of the top athletes to watch is ready for an encore after a stellar indoor season.
- Okheme Moore, Tuscaloosa Hillcrest (AL): The Mississippi State signee had one of the breakout indoor seasons in the country, posting a US No. 7 time in the 60m (6.73). Expect Moore to go after some equally impressive outdoor marks, including wind-legal bests close to his 100m best of 10.49 (+1.0) and 21.19 (-1.7) from 2017. So far in 2018, Moore has run once under 11 seconds in the 200m and has yet to go under 22 seconds in the 200m.
GIRLS 4X100 RELAY
The McEachern (GA) girls are the top-seeded squad heading to Mobile after an early-season time and US No. 6 mark of 46.26 seconds. I don't think these girls have will have too much trouble if they hit this time again.
One of the better events of the day, the girls invitational mile features some of the best distance runners in the South. Depending on the weather, we could possibly see several under five minutes.
- Amaris Tyynismaa, Montgomery Catholic (AL): The junior has yet to get back to her impressive time of 4:59.50 in 2015, when she was just in 7th grade. But Tyynismaa has been hovering around that mark for some time and could achieve it this year. She opened her outdoor season with a time of 5:01.04 and is coming off a pretty successful cross country season where she won her third straight state championship. She's also split 59 seconds in the 400m.
- Presley Miles, Saint James (AL): Just a freshman, she ran 5:08 at the King of the West meet in her debut and ran 5:07.08 as an 8th grader.
- Lainey Phelps, Homewood (AL): The sophomore is one of the fastest girls in this field. With 2:11 800m speed, Phelps ran 5:05.83 just a few weeks ago at the Auburn Elite Meet. She dipped under five minutes for the first time as a freshman, going 4:58.26 at the Homewood Invitational.
The quarter-mile has an intriguing matchup between two of Louisiana's best
- Sean Burrell, Zachary (LA): Burrell is one of the top underclassmen in the country in the 400m. And he's going to get a good matchup here. A year ago, Burrell netted his career best of 46.19 -- 15-year-old class record -- at the Great Southwest Classic, where he went toe-to-toe with Tyrese Cooper, but he also produced two other times under 47 seconds. He's opened his season with three straight efforts under 47 seconds. Burrell will want to go 46-low or even possibly 45 seconds here.
- Darius Davis, West Feliciana (LA): The senior has posted two straight titles in the 400m -- and one in the 200m -- over the last two seasons and enters with a career best of 46.86. So he and Burrell are going to make quite an early-season matchup in this race. So far, Davis has ripped off times of 49, 48 and 47, so expect him to make another jump here against one of the nation's top underclassmen.
- Marion Humphrey, Hoover (AL): The senior is continuing in his family tradition -- his sister is Brittley Humphrey, who won the 100mH in 2016 -- and is already off to a blazing start in the 300mH this season. He is currently US No. 5 after running 36.90 at the FSU Relays. He's also ranked US No. 10 in the 110mH in 14.10. But that 300mH time in Tallahassee marked the first time Humphrey dipped under 37 seconds in his career.
The top three girls from 2017 return in 2018 to see who ends up on top. This is another event you won't want to miss. With good weather, it is going to be F-A-S-T. 2:12 is the meet record.
- Grace Jensen, McGill-Toolen (AL): The senior has 58-second 400m speed and ran 2:15.24 in her season debut. But she finished second at the indoor state championships in 2:15 and likely will be looking to better that time en route to a second straight outdoor title in the event. She has a PR of 2:13.79.
- Lily Hulsey, Mountain Brook (AL): The sophomore ran 2:17.78 to open her season at the Homewood Invitational, though she ran 2:14.92 a year ago at a home meet. She was a silver medalist at the distance at the state championships in 2017.
- Lainey Phelps, Homewood (AL): She's the defending champ here, but she's got a heavy workload this time around. The sophomore will be doubling at Mobile in the 800m as well as the 1600m. But don't count her out, as she's run 2:15.05 so far in 2018. She went 2:11.97 in this same race last year as a freshman.
- Sydney Steely Hoover (AL): The senior currently leads the state in the 800m after a 2:14.48 at the FSU Relays, where she finished third. She finished third at state a year ago and has a best of 2:14.28 on record.
One of the nation's top freshmen is traveling to Mobile to see what she can bring to the table.
- Jahnelle Saunders, Phoebus (VA): One of the top up-and-coming athletes in the country, Saunders will be competing in three events here: the high jump, long jump, and 100mH. She'll be making her debut in all three events outdoors. But over the indoor season, she LJ'ed 18-2.25, went 5-7 in the high jump, and ran 8.37 seconds in the 55mH.
- Darci Khan, Stockbridge (GA): One of the top hurdlers in Georgia this year, Khan will be adding to her list of races in 2018. She just achieved her second effort under 14 seconds at the Championship Primer meet, though owns a PR of 13.79 from 2017 at the state championships, where she finished first. Khan is an experienced racer who knows how to win and she's coming off a pretty extensive and successful indoor season where she went 8.39 seconds in the 60mH.
Note: Alabama MileSplit Editor Tim Loreman contributed to this preview