Alex Maier taking on Reed Brown in the 1600m at their district meet. Cover Photo: eighth-grade 800m sensation Jinah Mickens-Malik.
There are lots of underclassmen who are already doing big things in the distance events.
On the girls side, eighth-grader Jinah Mickens-Malik from Mater Academy Charter Middle School in Hialeah Gardens, FL, crushed a crazy fast 800m time of 2:08.05 earlier this spring. She placed second at the Florida Pepsi Relays with the fastest underclassmen mark in the country and fourth-fastest 800m among all grade levels. The only girl Mickens-Malik lost to in that race was current U.S. No. 1 senior Kayla Johnson, who ran a blazing-fast 2:07.19. For some perspective from prior years, that mark would have ranked U.S. No. 22 at the end of the 2016 season, U.S. No. 20 at the end of 2015, and U.S. No. 18 at the end of 2014.
Sammy Watson, who has been U.S. No. 1 at the end of the past two outdoor seasons and ran a 2:01.78 for the indoor national record this past winter, ran a 2:06.35 in her freshman year. Mickens-Malik is only two seconds behind as an eighth-grader.