* Sanaa Hebron at the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games in January
Photo Credit: Derrick Dingle/PennTrackXC
WATCH LIVE: THE EAST COAST INVITATIONAL
LIVE ON FEB. 4-5 AT STARTING AT 1:30 p.m. EST
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Last year featured a first for the East Coast Invitational.
After years of its annual meet being held at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond, Virginia, the competition moved to the Virginia Beach Sports Center. And with athletes flying around the 200m banked track in Virginia Beach, something very clear began to happen: Times started to drop.
Season best performances were made. Records were broken.
One year later, perhaps the same sentiment is true: Anything can happen at the East Coast Invitational.
With just over 1,000 athletes registered from various states across the Eastern seaboard, it remains among the country's top meets overall.
Below are seven key athletes headed to Virginia Beach this weekend.
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The Breakdown: Holland is clearly the girl to watch in the 55m.
She's the only seed under 7 seconds and she's coming off a superb showing in the 60m this past weekend at The 'Bama Showcase in Birmingham, where she produced a U.S. No. 4 time of 7.35 seconds.
Holland is currently ranked US No. 6 in the 55m from her performance of 6.95 in January at The VA Showcase. But it won't come easy, either, with standout competition from Heritage's Madison Whyte, IMG Academy's Columba Effiong and others.
Weber Long, Greencastle-Antrim (PA)
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Events: 1-mile, 2-mile
The Breakdown: After opening his indoor season last weekend in State College, Long is vying for a few personal best efforts as he travels south to Virginia Beach.
If we quickly rewind it back to cross country, all signs indicate that Long is ready for some big performances. Undoubtedly, the Wake Forest recruit had his best season to date, finishing second at the PIAA Class AA Championships while he also came agonizingly close to qualifying for the Eastbay Cross Country Championships in San Diego.
After logging a time of 1:59.78 for 800m on Jan. 27, Long will set his sights on surpassing his personal best times of 4:25.32 and 9:26.51 in the 1-mile and 2-miles.
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Events: 55m, 200m
The Breakdown: Whyte has her hands full in the 55m with Holland. Whyte enters as the fourth seed and will arrive just a few days off her personal best effort of 7.11 from Feb. 2 in a district meet.
Really, though, Whyte's forte is in the longer sprints, and she's already offered some scintillating form in the 200m. She's currently ranked US No. 1 in the event at 23.66, while she's No. 3 in the 300m (38.25) and US No. 36 in the 500m (1:18.64).
Historically, she's been known to fly. Just a year ago at this very meet, Whyte went 23.80 at the East Coast Invitational, which finished the season ranked fourth nationally. When all is said and done, Whyte could be the nation's top 200m runner.
Myla Greene, Bullis School (MD)
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The Breakdown: February is a month for refinement, and Greene seems inclined for even more improvement. She's currently tied for the US No. 1 mark in the 55mH with Akala Garrett at 7.92, but she's produced times of 7.99, 8.33 and 8.44 across the season. The consistency is there.
This weekend's matchup will see Greene compete across the prelims with the eventual goal of reaching the finals. There, she could potentially see Neshaminy's Sanaa Hebron (8.30), her teammate Gabby White (8.33) or a number of others.
For perspective, Greene still has a ways to go before she topples Bullis School legends like Ashley Wallace (7.84), Masai Russell (7.81) and Leah Phillips (7.72). But perhaps that could come sooner rather than later. Greene is just a junior.
Sanaa Hebron, Neshaminy (PA)
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Events: 55mH, 200m, 400m
The Breakdown: Hebron may be the busiest girl of the weekend. She is set to compete in three events.
But she's among the nation's top 50 performers in two of them, owning times of 8.30 in the 55mH (US No. 12) and 56.05 in the 400m (US No. 14).
Beyond those two markers, Hebron is looking for a breakthrough in the 200m. She owns a personal best of 24.70 -- which came on this track last year at adidas Indoor Nationals. Currently, Hebron also owns a US No. 8 time in the 300m (38.90) and a US No. 5 mark in the 500m (1:14.01).
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The Breakdown: Curious minds may wonder what Butler-Simpson could net in the 200m. Everything considered, it's been a banner campaign thus far for the Maryland athlete.
He owns a US No. 10 time in the 300m (34.38) and a US No. 6 mark in the 500m (1:05.28). But he hasn't broken 22 seconds in the 200m just yet.
And he's only ran off distances to start 2022.
All signs are pointing toward his first sub-22, though, and this weekend will offer a very good shot. Last outdoor season he ran 22.20 and 49.86.
Alonzo Sims, Riverdale Baptist (MD)
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Events: 300m, 400m
The Breakdown: Sims has been another steady crusher of PRs across 2022. In fact, he's clocked career best times in every event he's taken part in this campaign.
He's run 6.94 in the 55m, 7.29 in the 60m, 22.67 in the 200m, 35.20 in the 300m, 49.67 in the 400m and 1:06.15 in the 500m. He's even ranked US No. 12 in the 500m.
But it seems Sims' true love is in the quarter, so his efforts in both the 300m and 400m could distinguish himself even further this weekend at East Coast.