Seven Athletes Who Have Seriously Leveled Up This Spring

* St. Thomas Aquinas' Eddiyah Frye has been on another level in 2021

Photo Credit: Danny Aguas/FLRunners

There is little doubt ... 2021 is shaping up to be an incredible spring. 

And early on, we've been reminded of one fact: It doesn't matter what season or time of year it is, athletes are always ready to race. 

In this profile, we're highlighting seven athletes who have shown an extra gear to begin their spring campaigns.

Some are new faces and making their first forays into national prominence, while others are simply building on the careers they've already made. 

But needless to say, the performances shouldn't stop here. 

Check out the full list below. 

7. Markevus Jackson, Kissimmee Osceola (FL)

Class of 2021, Unsigned

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Events: 100m (10.79, US No. 28), 200m (20.99, US No. 1), 400m (46.84, US No. 3)

Every year, a new star emerges in Florida. 

In 2021, it very well could be Jackson. 

The Kissimee native currently owns two US top 5 performances in the 200m and 400m and is among his state's leaders in the 100m, where he's currently one of 33 athletes under 11 seconds, wind-legal.

Jackson's strength perhaps lies in the longer sprints, where's been considerably better than his counterparts. 

In fact, he's the only athlete with a wind-legal time under 21 seconds right now for 200m. 

At least at this juncture, he's in a league of his own.

6. Alyssa Jones, Miami Southridge (FL)

Class of 2022

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Events: 100m (11.84w), 200m (24.24, US No. 28), 400m (55.75, US No. 36), HJ (5-11.5, US No. 1), LJ (21-4, US No. 1)

The Miami native has been on an absolute tear to begin her junior season at Southridge. 

Not only is she the nation's leading leaper in both the high jump and long jump, but Jones also is within the top 50 in both the 200m and 400m and arguably would be there in the 100m, too, if not for wind conditions. 

While Jones has always displayed the kind of versatility that would make her a coveted recruit at the next level, perhaps this spring she's stepping on the gas following a sophomore campaign that was cut short last March. 

It would not be surprising, in fact, to see Jones lower her sprint marks into the top 10 territory by the end of 2021, either. 

5. Mia Barnett, Crescenta Valley (CA)

Class of 2021, University of Virginia signee

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Events: Mile (4:43.11, US No. 1), 3,200m (10:15.82, US No. 4), 800m (2:09.49, US No. 5)

Barnett has rocketed off the line to begin her senior season, producing three US top five marks and a nation-leading mile effort. 

That mile, which came last week at the Sundown Track Series in Arizona, was probably the biggest indication that the future University of Virginia runner was ready for a special season. 

But these efforts also did not come out of nowhere, either. 

Despite not having a full cross country season last fall, Barnett was third overall at the Lubbock Christian University HS National Invite in December, clocking a 5K time of 17:08.86. 

That was impressive for a lot of reasons. But notably, it came in a field that included some of the best runners in the country. 

The California teenager didn't let that fitness go when the winter and spring came, and now she's seeing the reward for all of that hard work. 

4. Sully Shelton, Harrison (GA)

Class of 2021, University of North Carolina signee

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Events: 1,600m (4:07.42, US No. 3), 3,200m (8:52.72, US No. 4), 5K (15:15.01)

Shelton might be self-deprecating on Instagram, with lines like 'I'm back from the dead' after landing two of the nation's top times in the 1,600m and 3,200m.

But the reality is that he was always among the country's top distance runners. 

It just happened that Georgia is ridiculously loaded this year, with talents like Justin Wachtel, Kamari Miller, Andrew Jones and Edward Blaha. 

While Shelton didn't finish his final cross country season undefeated, he did leave with a PR of 14:48.83 for 5K and a top 20 finish in a national meet. 

His big breakthrough moment, however, came this weekend. 

His confidence went to another level as he rocked the Cobb County Championships with two US top 5 performances. 

Shelton immediately entered into sub-4:05 talk the minute he ran 4:07.42 for 1,600m, and he's also now in the territory of sub-8:50 with his time of 8:52.72 in the 3,200m.

With bigger races on the horizon, Shelton is one to watch. 

3. Eddiyah Frye, St. Thomas Aquinas (FL)

Class of 2021, University of North Carolina signee

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Events: 100m (11.74w), 200m (25.02), 100mH (13.52, US No. 1), 300mH (41.42, US No. 2), LJ (20-2.25, US No. 6)

Wind-aided or not, Frye is thus far the fastest female in the high hurdles in 2021. She owns the nation's leading time with both legal (13.52) and non-legal (13.14) times. 

This past weekend, though, she clocked a pretty impressive performance.

The future Tar Heel battled against one of Florida's best (Lucheyona Weaver), and despite looking like she was headed for defeat in the final meters, she somehow came away with a wild victory. 

What that performance showed, however, is exactly what makes her special. 

While Frye surely exhibited the mechanics, talent and speed to earn her victory, that never-out-of-it mentality also played a huge role. And sometimes, that instinct is what sets apart a good athlete from a great one. 

While the 100mH might be Frye's specialty in 2021, she's more than capable in a handful of other events and could walk away with a sizzling performance at state in a few months. 

2. Hobbs Kessler, Ann Arbor Skyline (MI)

Class of 2021, Northern Arizona University signee

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Events: 1,600m (4:08.53, US No. 5), 2-mile (8:39.04, US No. 1)

While it's fairly obvious the recently-minted indoor national record holder in the mile (3:57.66) has 'leveled-up,' we still have to consider where he was at this point last year ... and where he was even two years ago. 

While Kessler certainly improved over the spring and summer last year, there's a difference in being in low 9-minute or just-under-9-minute shape to what he showed this weekend in Myrtle Beach -- his time of 8:39.04 was No. 4 all-time at the 2-mile.

Kessler absolutely exploded in the last lap, striking for a 55-second quarter that put everyone in the dust. 

In a lot of ways, that performance was even more impressive than the mile in February. Because Kessler did it against his peers. He ran consistency, he ran patiently and then when it was time, he made his move. 

It was the kind of race that once again showed why he's legit. 

Some of Kessler's training has been in public view as of late -- that incredible Michigan workout, specifically -- and so it's not really that surprising to believe just how well he did at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions. 

But you have to also give the young man credit. Kessler is showing tendencies on the track that in some ways you can't teach -- the patience -- and exhibiting all the things that might get better down the road: Strength and finishing. 

While an outdoor mile race in February in Texas was a learning lesson for Kessler, perhaps all of the things headed his way will be reminders that as long as he puts the work in, he's got the potential to make things happen. 

As an aside, the only reason Kessler isn't No. 1 on this list is because he exploded on the scene this past indoor season.

1. Colin Sahlman, Newbury Park (CA)

Class of 2022

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Events: 1-mile (4:04.86, US No. 1), 3,200m (8:47.05, US No. 1)

Sahlman has been an absolute juggernaut this spring.

And yet, don't be deceived just by times.

Yes, Sahlman currently owns the country's top mile and 3,200m times -- he's No. 3 at the full converted 2-miles, by the way. 

But just as important in his ascendance is how he's racing. 

Consider his three wins. Not only has he improved over each outing, but he's tactically been better than everyone. 

Wins over Judson Greer, Larry Josh Edwards, Isaiah Givens, Caleb Boutelle and Ajani Salcido have proven that. 

Then there's this: He's only a junior. 

What's crazy is that Sahlman is right about where his former colleague, Nico Young, was at in 2018 when the former Newbury Park athlete was a junior -- actually, to be fair, he's ahead. 

What's in Sahlman corner are the lessons he gleaned from those early years: He was fortunate to see how Young's career played out in real time. At the time, he was just a freshman and sophomore. 

Perhaps that history will aide Sahlman as he continues to make strides throughout 2021 and into 2022. 

So far, his trajectory has been right on pace.