VA Showcase Day 1 Recap: A Johnson-Jackson Duel Is Brewing


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* Wakefield's Shawnti Jackson ran a U.S. No. 2 all-time performance in the 300m on Friday

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant/MileSplit

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA -- The girl who hadn't been beaten at any point during the season, in a prelim or final, remained unbeaten on Friday at The VA Showcase. 

In theory. 

But Lowndes' (GA) Kaniya Johnson, who recently opened up the season at No. 1 on the MileSplit50 rankings, wasn't the fastest girl on the Virginia Beach Sports Center track, either. 

That honor was bestowed to Wakefield's Shawnti Jackson.

Jackson posted the fastest 55m time on the day at 6.91 seconds. Johnson was second in 6.96.

They were the only two athletes under seven seconds. 

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What's fascinating is what's to come in this budding indoor season rivalry. Johnson's U.S. No. 1 time of 6.87 from November still stands. It's actually tied with Jackson's 6.87 from last week.

But something will have to give on Saturday.

We know the stakes will be higher with a move to the 60m. What can we expect? Johnson currently owns a U.S. No. 2 performance of 7.29, while Jackson's top mark of 2022 is 7.34.

Both also earned wins elsewhere. Jackson would go on to run the No. 2 all-time performance in the 300m (below), while Johnson secured an overall win in the 200m (below).

* Shawnti Jackson in her 55m prelim on Friday

Girls 300m: Raleigh Wakefield's (NC) Shawnti Jackson wasn't done. In fact, she saved the best for last. 

First up was the introduction, a thrilling explosion out of the blocks. The next segment was a sequence of smooth but steady running that put her in target of her goal pace. And then came the hammer, a final 100 meters that earned Jackson her historic finish. 

Jackson secured a new national junior class record 36.95 seconds, and in doing so produced the second-best time in high school history. It's also currently the third-best time in the world -- though the 300m is an off-distance and during a season that isn't run very often. 

Jackson is now one of three athletes who have run under 37 seconds all-time. She was just 0.13 seconds shy of tying Sydney McLaughlin's national record. 

Perhaps even more, she shattered her former personal best (38.02) by over a second. 

Second-place Madison Whyte ran an impressive 38.37. William Hough's Kayla Davis was equally good in 38.53 and Sanu Jallow followed in fourth in 38.76. 

The first four girls all went U.S. No. 1, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6.

Girls USATF 1K: It was the Roisin Willis and Sophia Gorriaran show. And everyone knew it. 

But how that show began and how it finished were two different stories. It ultimately served as a chess match over 2 minutes and 43 seconds of very exciting running. 

Willis struck first in the first 400m, taking the pole position and gliding through the first 400m in 66.11 seconds. But then Gorriaran made a hard-line after 600m, forcing her colleague to keep up. She made up a second on the third lap, crossing the distance split in 1:40.22. 

One would have thought this dual may have gone one way -- the ultra-competitive Gorriaran does not often let an advantage go -- but Willis had other ideas, going into the reserve for one last ounce of foot speed en route to the win in 2:43.34. 

Gorriaran followed less than two-tenths of a second later, finishing in 2:43.52. New England's Finleigh Simonds was also in the race and finished in 3:20.41.

It wasn't a personal best for Willis, who ran 2:41.53 in 2021, but it was darn close.

And it now gives her the No. 2 and No. 5 performances on the all-time charts. Gorriaran's effort, meanwhile, was her first truly fast 1K and it is now No. 6 all-time and was the second-fastest junior performance in history. 

Girls adidas Nationals 200m Qualifier: In the first very race of the day, Lowndes (GA) senior Kaniya Johnson continued her undefeated season, dispatching the likes of Kennedi Sanders, Jassani Carter and Micayah Holland en route to the overall win in 23.76 seconds. The performance, her 12th straight win across the 55m, 60m, 200m and 300m, marked her third straight performance under 24 seconds. Sanders was second in 24.39 seconds while Holland was third in 24.77 and Carter was fourth in 25.07. All four times qualified for them for adidas Indoor Nationals.

Girls 55mH Prelims: With just eight girls qualifying to the finals on Saturday, preliminary races were crucial. Bullis School's Myla Green posted the top overall time of the day and the only one under eight seconds, authoring a U.S. No. 2 effort of 7.99 seconds. Providence Day Schoo's Falon Spearman ran 8.22, while Cardinal Gibbons' Taylor McKinnon also was at 8.22. The cut-off time for the finals was 8.60 and Green Level's Alexa Nastor grabbed the final spot. 

Girls 55m Prelims: Beyond the machinations of an forthcoming dual between Jackson and Johnson, the final on Saturday will be filled to the brim with talent. Montverde Academy's Micayah Holland ran 7.01, as did Madison Ridgeland Academy's Kennedi Sanders -- tying for identical U.S. No. 3 times. Flanagan's Jassani Carter, brushing off a disappointing 200m, was sixth in the prelims with a time of 7.12. The top eight times all were among the top 26 times on the national leaderboard. The qualifying bubble time was 7.17 seconds. 

Girls 1,600m: Sofia Sheldon, a sophomore from Arlington Yorktown (VA), ran the fastest time in the overall section, going 5:18.01. McLean's (VA) Elise Walker followed in 5:18.58 while Bishop O'Connell's (VA) Molly Weithman was third in 5:20.20.

Girls Mile: It was a tactical display of racing. Cicero-North Syracuse's Kate Putnam bided her time, just meters behind Moon Area's (PA) Mia Cochran, for the much of the race. And then with a lap to go she struck, putting in a move that gapped Cochran, the University of Arkansas signee.

While Cochran responded, it wasn't enough as Putnam won in a U.S. No. 1 time of 4:51.27. Cochran was second in a U.S. No. 2 effort of 4:51.55 while Anna Macon Corcoran was third in 4:53.83. A total of five girls broke five minutes. Alli Crytser was fourth in 4:56.26 while Katherine Strong was fifth in 4:57.78. All five were within the national top 10.

Girls DMR: William Hough (NC) secured a dominant win, posting a final time of 12:32.87, a full 90-plus seconds ahead of Archbishop Spalding, who was second in 14:07.48.

Girls 4x400: Over the years, fans of high school track and field have come to expect one thing from the Bullis School program: Excellence in the relays. And on Friday, we saw it again. The Maryland powerhouse once again unloaded for a new U.S. No. 1 time, clocking a thoroughly dominant 3:49.69, a full 15 seconds faster than second-place Kellam, who followed in 4:04.81. Woodbridge Freedom (VA) was third in 4:06.13 while Cuthbertson was fourth in 4:13.79.

Boys 300m: Justin Braun didn't exactly have the race he wanted. 

But perhaps it goes to show that even when everything doesn't go to plan, the Westerville Central (OH) athlete still finds a way to win. 

Just hours after setting a new U.S. No. 1 in the 200m, Braun came back with another U.S. No. 1 in the 300m, defeating an incredibly talented field in the process. Braun ran 33.32, fighting off L.C. Bird's Jayson Ward, who finished second in 33.73. Mountain Island Charter's Trevin Moyer was the third and final athlete under 34 seconds in 33.79. 

All three went U.S. No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the national rankings. 

Hialeah Miami Lakes junior Mekhi Gammons, running outside the fast section, was fourth in a new overall PR of 34.40.

Boys adidas Nationals 200m Qualifier: Justin Braun wasted little time displaying his best on Friday, cruising to a U.S. No. 1 performance in 21.29 seconds. It was an impressive race from start to finish for the Westerville Central (OH) senior and it came just over a month since his last effort in December.

Tylertown's Jordan Anthony, an elite sprinter who entered the meet with similar credentials -- he ran 20.57w outdoors in July -- was second overall in 21.61 seconds. Three others entered inside the U.S. top 25 with performances: Noah Straley and Zyaire Nuriddin clocked 22.03 while Demitri Carter was third in the fast section and finished in 22.04.

Boys Mile: The first three boys across the line in the mile were separated by less than three-tenths of a second. Porter Ridge's (NC) Jacob Laney took the overall win in 4:18.08, while Potomac School's (VA) Charlie Ortmans was second in 4:18.13 and Centennial's (MD) Antonio Camacho Bucks was third in 4:18.31. The penultimate heat saw Justice's (VA) Ryan Watson out-kick Loudoun Valley's (VA) Graham Mussmon in the final lap en route to a time of 4:18.46. Mussmon was fifth in 4:19.56. 

Boys 1,600m: Porter Ridge (NC) senior Dominic Conroy ran the fastest time in the open section of the 1,600m, clocking an effort of 4:25.78. Cleveland's (NC) Harper Clark was second in 4:27.72 while Grafton's (VA) Gary Amole was third in 4:28.57. A total of nine boys broke 4:30.

Boys 55mH Prelims: A bit of a surprise took place when Deondre Hardy, arguably the top seed, failed to advance after he ran a time of 7.91 seconds. The top overall finisher? That honor went to Southern Columbia's (PA) Jake Rose (above), who ran a U.S. No. 5 time of 7.46. That represented a 0.44 second improvement from his best effort in 2021.

The overall bubble time was 7.72, and notable athletes to reach the final were Thomas Smith IV, who ran 7.65, and Easton Tan, who was fourth in 7.61.

Young Boys 200m: Bershawn Jackson Jr. is the fastest 'kid' in the country. It's a designation given, ultimately, to a 10 & under boy in the race, and the North Carolina native was certainly deserving of it. The son of Bershawn Jackson ran 26.71 seconds to win the heat by nearly two seconds. 

Boys 55m Prelims: The first day of action at The VA Showcase was as good a day as ever for a new No. 1 time, and that's exactly what Mount Tabor's Terrell Robinson brought to the table. The North Carolina star ran a new national lead of 6.27 seconds, coming just a shade off his 6.26 personal record. Five-star football talent Nyckoles Harbor was second in 6.35 while Justin Braun, fresh off his 200m personal best, was third in 6.36. The last guy in? That was none other than Jordan Anthony, who ran 6.46 seconds. The nation's No. 1 at 60m, Trevin Moyer, also qualified with a time of 6.46. All eight performances were at least as fast as the No. 19 performance on the national leaderboard. 

Boys DMR: New Jersey-based Ridge won in a time of 10:17.36, dispatching two impressive programs, Severna Park (MD) and LaSalle College (PA) by five and 12 seconds, respectively. Ridge was led by Andrew McCabe, Patrick Doran, James Kisker and Jackson Barna

Boys Shot Put: Providence Day School's (NC) Martin Hare came away with the victory with a new personal best mark of 40-2.75. Northern Calvert's Bradley Jenkins was second with a throw of 39-5.5 while Western Branch's (VA) Samahr Powell was third in 38-5.75.

Boys Long Jump: Montverde Academy's (FL) Micah Larry secured the win with a leap of 7.37 meters (24-2). Maple Heights' Malachi Collier was second in 7.04 meters and Woodberry Forest's Jaden Ferguson was third with a mark of 6.89.

Girls/Boys Racewalk: Langley's Clayton Stoil won the boys section with a time of 7:43.13.