* Buford's (GA) Kimberly Harris won the Emerging Elite 60m and Championship 400m at NBNI last year
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The VA Showcase is fast becoming a place for World Athletic U20-level performances, national high school record breaking performances, and country-leading marks.
This year should be no different.
There are, at (the very) least, 10 national records in jeopardy and an unpredictable amount of US No. 1s to come throughout the duration of this meet. And this weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia, the VA Showcase is seeing an even larger number of athletes make the trip to compete among the best of the best.
Enter Kimberly Harris. The University of Southern California signee is used to this kind of domestic travel and is coming off a World Junior Record for Team USA in the 4x400 at the Pan American U20 Championships. The Buford High School (GA) senior has the sixth-fastest 400m mark in high school history and is using the showcase to open up her final season -- just a tad later than last year.
excited, (but) also kind of sad that this is my last indoor season of my high school
career," Harris said. "But it's really exciting for me to be running in such a
high profile meet as my first meet to open up the season. I'm excited to see
the competition, to see where I am and get back in the swing of things."
Harris, MileSplit's No. 6 recruit in the Class of 2020, is a second-year veteran on the VA Showcase stage who, running in one of the meet's fastest events last year, was part of an electric AAU 400m -- she was third, behind Athing Mu and Kayla Davis.
But this is 2020, and Harris feels prepared to battle elite competition yet again.
She'll be competing in the two most anticipated sprinting events this weekend, the 60m and 300m. Not wanting to set limits for herself, the US No. 2 400m returner has big things in mind.
"We're looking at big numbers," she said. "For me, setting a goal kind of limits yourself for where you could be and where you could go. I never really set a goal time because anything can happen, and I believe I can limit myself to one time if I do."
The senior did reveal that she plans to at least match what she ran at the VA Showcase last year, which was 53.58.
If her debut equates to that or faster, this might just be the precursor to a her fastest season yet. After all, she went on to finish last year as a national champion in the 400m at New Balance Nationals Indoor in a time of 52.62. She said she learned a lot from last year's performance and is eager to apply lessons learned this weekend.
"Stepping on the track, it's anybody's race at any time," she said. "I know to stay patient and calm. Also making sure no matter happens in the race, there are always more things to be done, I can always follow up and finish through."
The 300m will be familiar territory, a race almost identical to the previous year's 400m. Harris will race against fellow powerhouses: World Junior and American 600m record holder and future Texas A&M Aggie Athing Mu and freshman national record holder Kayla Davis -- both athletes are also lining up in the 500m.
This will be Harris' first time running an indoor 300m, but for her, the race plan is simple.
* Harris talks about her 400m at the USA Track and Field U20 Championships
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"I'm not really worrying about what's around me or what's happening at the meet during that time," she said. "The way that the race is ran just trying to make sure that I'm able to stay with whoever else in the race with me and that I'm able to compete."
Harris ran 37.67 during the outdoor season at the Christian Coleman Invitational. Her counterparts, Mu and Davis, have had similar times on the record, both indoors and outdoors. However, in the same race together, the results could be record breaking.
The opportunity to break former high school phenom and Olympian Sydney McLaughlin's record of 36.82 is well within their grasp.
Harris also owns a PR of 6.94 in the 55m from her performance at New Balance Nationals Indoor last year -- she won the Emerging Elite Championship.
With cameras at the 50m mark, the senior could break the national record of 6.28. But she'll have to go through freshman rising star Shawnti Jackson, fellow USC commit Talitha Diggs, North Carolina high school state champion Jonah Ross and Milan Fields for the crown.
Throughout her career, the senior has competed in a range of events from the 55m to the 800m and she plans to continue this trend to further improve her versatility on the track before heading to USC to begin her college career.
This will be Harris' first competition since signing her National Letter of Intent in November.
But no matter how many eyes are on the future Trojan this weekend or season, she doesn't feel the target on her back is any bigger than before.
"Yes, signing to USC was a really big deal for me, it's real exciting for me and I'm real excited to be there," Harris said. "But I don't think it adds any more pressure than I would've already had being at the level of running I've always competed at... I've always tried to attain a certain level; I've always ran with the high level groups and so I feel like pressure doesn't change now that I've added where I'm going to be following up my career."