The nation's No. 1 ranked 800m runner in Sammy Watson returns to the New York State Championship this weekend to defend her titles in the 400m and 1500m.
Girls 100m Hurdles
Who: Alyssa Sandy, Paula Simon
When: Friday, 1:30 p.m. ET [Trials]; Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET [Class Final]; Saturday, 1:15 p.m. [Federation Final]
Why: Sandy is one of the most-improved runners in the nation. Last year, the senior from Paul Robeson High School was a mid-14 second performer over the high hurdles. In her senior year, she's broken 14 seconds five times and owns a slightly wind-aided PR of 13.38 (+2.1) that ranks her No. 7 all-conditions. Her wind-legal 13.45 (+1.1) ranks No. 11 this year. Can she go out with her first New York outdoor state title to match her indoor title in the 55m? She'll have to get by defending champion Simon, who is seeded at 13.98.
Girls 400m Hurdles
Who: Alyssa Sandy, Tara Hernandez
When: Friday, 3:50 p.m. ET [Class Final]; Saturday, 2:00 p.m. [Federation Final]
Why: U.S. No. 4 ranked Sandy has run 59.14, while Hernandez ranks U.S. No. 6 with her new PR of 1:00.34 from last weekend. Sandy defeated Hernandez by significant margins in both hurdles events at the Loucks Games, but Hernandez is improving at the right time.
When: Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET [Class Final]; Saturday, 1:50 p.m. ET [Federation Final]
Why: Defending champion Watson is back and undefeated this spring! The IAAF World Championships gold medallist for 800m will skip her specialty event this weekend, but will race in the 400m, 800m and 4x800m relay. Watson ranks No. 8 in the nation this year at 53.21, which she ran to win the Prefontaine Classic over No. 4 and No. 5 ranked Makenzie Dunmore and Sterling Lester of Ga. The four-time individual national champion ran her personal best of 52.69 to win the 2015 state meet. Her biggest competition will come from Robeson senior Crawford, who split mid-52 seconds on the mile relay at indoor nationals. Crawford's open best is 54.16.
When: Friday, 3:00 p.m. ET [Federation Final]
Why: Relay stars converge for an individual battle in what Kyle Brazeil of New York MileSplit says will be a "blanket finish" in "the most competitive girls' distance fields in recent memory." Hurta is the top seed at 2:08.77 and three more girls in Reale, March and Mahoney are seeded at 2:10 or better. Reale was the workhorse behind Shenendehowa's surprise win over the Jamaicans at the Penn Relays Carnival, though who can forget March's 800m leg on North Rockland's indoor national record-setting distance medley relay, or DeVore's 2:08 anchor to win New Balance Nationals in the 4x800m relay? Expect a slew of sub-2:10s and 2:08 or faster for the win.
When: Saturday, 11:25 a.m. ET [Federation Final]
Why: Watson looks to defend her 1500m state title vs. a stacked field. She set her personal best of 4:25.24 at states last year and will need to run close to that to win here; her best season effort at the longer distance this spring was a 4:49 to win the Penn Relays mile. Top seed Chmiel owns a season-best 4:23.81. The Saratoga Springs frosh races the 3K on Friday night but she's been on top of the double all season. Watson and Chmiel will have to contend with fellow sub-4:30 runners in Lawson (4:27), Wheeler (4:28) and Vizza (4:29).
When: Friday, 5:40 p.m. ET [Federation Final]
Why: Lawson (No. 3), Vizza (No. 4) and Chmiel (No. 10) are three of the top 10 ranked 3K runners in the nation and each member of the trio has recorded a solo time under 9:40. This is the first race of the 3K-1500m double for all three girls and the most unpredictable. Lawson won this race as a freshman in 2014. The national leader is 9:19.91, run by Weini Kelati to win the Penn Relays Carnival.
Girls 4x800m Relay
Who: Shenendehowa, Mamaroneck
When: Saturday, 2:20 p.m. ET [Federation Final]
Why: New Balance Nationals Indoor champions Mamaroneck get another shot at Penn Relays champions Shenendehowa, whose anchor in Hannah Reale took home the wheel with a wild dive at the line in Philadelphia. But that was April and this is May. Shen's time still ranks No. 5 in the nation and Mamaroneck No. 7; the winner here could forecast a favorite for New Balance Nationals Outdoor. The national leader is Western Branch of Virginia with their state title-winning time of 8:51.61.
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