High Schoolers Are Bringing The Heat At The Texas Qualifier

* Hobbs Kessler and Sophia Gorriaran will both race in OTQ races this weekend in Austin, TEXAS

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Austin might own the title of 'Live Music Capital of the World,' but on Friday and Saturday you might as well call it Tracktown 2.0. 

Because this weekend The Texas Qualifier is sure to provide some real fireworks in the form of some U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trial and Olympic 'A' standard races across two days at a discreet location around the city limits.

Those coveted standards might even be earned by some talented high schoolers. 

Hosted by Trials of Miles, The Texas Qualifier was borne out of the idea that professional and elite athletes could vie for a chance to secure U.S. Olympic Trial and Olympic standard performances ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. 

In doing so, the event has brought in competition from all across the United States -- a negative COVID-19 test is required for all in attendance, by the way -- including some of country's foremost athletes on Saturday. 

On the high school front, more than a handful of athletes will be reaching for a U.S. Olympic Trials standard, including the likes of Roisin Willis and Hobbs Kessler. 

Below, we lay out the high school entries. 

Women's (HS)1,600m, 4:30 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Sophie Munoz, Sophia Dale, Elyse Hall, Katie Cline

Info: This group will look to break five minutes. 

Men's (HS) 1,600m, 4:00 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Philip Metcalf, Jayan Nitzsche, Kellen Frickel, Christopher Riley, Wyatt Athey, Ben Shearer, Tristian Merchant, William Powers, Caleb Scheffler, Luke Lambert

Info: A star-studded field includes the likes of Merchant, Shearer and Lambert, who have the potential to break 4:10. Merchant recently ran 4:17 indoors at the start of the month, while Lambert matched that time on Feb. 13 in California at the Sundown Track Series. Shearer ran 4:15 outdoors in January. 

Women's 5,000m, 5:10 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Sophie Atkinson, Heidi Nielson

Info: While the duo out of Katy Cinco Ranch will race for the first time since cross country, this won't be the first time either athlete has completed an outdoor 5K. Atkinson actually competed at the USAFT U20 Championships in 2018, recording a time of 18:07.30. Obviously, she's much improved: In October, the Virginia signee produced a 5K best of 16:40.90 on grass. Nielson, meanwhile, qualified for the Pan-American U20 Championships in 2019, finishing second at USAs in 16:54.02. Her season's best this past fall was 17:21.40 for 5K. The U.S. Olympic Trials standard is 15:20.00.

Men's 5,000m, 5:30 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Robert DiDonato

Info: DiDonato threw down an outdoor 5K best of 14:25.40 in October, followed by two more cross country races in the fall. This will be his first foray in the new year at the distance. The U.S. Olympic Trials standard is 13:25.00.

Womens 800m, OTQ, 7:00 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Sophia Gorriaran, Roisin Willis

Info: Talk about a star-studded field. These two young talents will be competing against women, and Willis, in particular, will be looking for that Trials standard of 2:02.50. Willis currently owns a personal best time of 2:04.86 outdoors, though she has run 2:03.05 indoors as well. Gorriaran, on the other side, already has a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier by virtue of her 2:02.44 at the American Track League earlier in the month. The Rhode Islander will be looking to slash that time even further. The U.S. Olympic Trials standard is 2:02.50.

Men's 1,500m OTQ, 7:36 p.m. CST

HS Athletes: Hobbs Kessler

Info: Kessler is the most intriguing of the bunch. He recently captured the indoor high school national record in the mile with a time of 3:57.66, though he came through the 1,500m split in approximately 3:42. The national outdoor 1,500m record is 3:38.26, and it was last achieved by Alan Webb in 2008. Kessler could potentially approach that time in this race. The U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying standard is 3:37.50.

The Schedule