The Next Distance Stars

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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.

Working our way up to the 1,600m, Texas distance stud Gracie Morris takes the top of the list. She's had a couple of impressive performances this year but her top time comes from the Texas Distance Festival, where she ran 4:53.02 to take the win. That time also ranks U.S. No. 9 this year among all grades. She has yet to lose a 1,600m race this year as she even dominated the field at Texas Relays.

In the 3,200m the leader is none other than Foot Locker National champion Claudia Lane, who has run 9:57.52.Her time is not only the top time among the underclassmen but also the top overall time in the country. She ran it in a loaded field at the Arcadia Invitational just a few weekends ago. 

On the boys side, there are three sophomores who have all ran 1:55.00 or faster, led by Estero's Hugh Brittenham, who holds a season-best PR of 1:52.84. Brittenham's time ranks 14th currently among all grades. The other two guys who have run sub-1:55 are Alfred Chawonza from St. Benedict's Prep (1:53.85) and Jacob Miley from Matanzas (FL), who's run 1:54.97. 

In the 1,600m and 3,200m, sophomore sensation Alex Maier dominates the rankings. He's run 4:10.88 for 1,600m this year and 8:52.30 for 3,200m. He's the only underclassman to run sub-9:00 in the 3200m. Out of all grades he ranks fourth in the 1600m and 16th in the 3200m. 

Check out the full distance rankings by clicking through the slideshow or on the links below.