The Freshmen Look To Make A Statement
Four freshmen will be making the trip San Diego -- three girls and one boy -- and each will have a shot to make a big impact on Saturday.
Let's start with the girls. Sadie Engelhardt from California has been on a roll during what has been a busy freshman campaign. She has plenty of big meet experience and took second to Dalia Frias at the CIF State Championships. She was second to Oregon's Kate Peters at the West Regional last week. Look for Engelhardt to not be effected by the bright lights of nationals. She'll be a factor near the front for sure.
Meanwhile, New York's Zariel Macchia had a big breakthrough at the Northeast Regional, taking second to Perez. But the ninth grader was just ninth at the NYSPHSAA State Championships. She'll look to keep the momentum going and could be in for another surprise performance this weekend.
Abby Faith Cheeseman from Tennessee is the other freshman girl in this field. She won the TSSAA 1A state crown and took fourth in a deep South Regional race. She's not one to sleep on on the heels of what has been a very successful freshman year.
On the boys side, Keegan Smith of Tennessee became the first boy since Graydon Morris (TX) in 2016 to qualify for nationals. The TSSAA 2A state champion clocked a quick 15:06 at the South Regional to book his trip to San Diego.
This is a name we'll likely hear a lot from over the next few years, but he's got a chance for a big day as just a ninth grader on Saturday. He's battle-tested this season, and Smith is ready to race against the best field he's seen.