Future Stars: These Sophomores Had Strong Starts To Indoor

* Livingston (NJ) sophomore Jessica Oji wins the shot put at the Coach Glynn Holiday Carnival on Dec. 28.

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Only a month into the indoor season, a handful of sophomores have emerged at the top of the national leaderboards.

From setting massive personal bests in season openers to racking up event wins, members of the class of 2025 have impressed as they look to improve over the indoor season.

Perhaps some of them could mold into future stars, too.

Continue below to see which sophomores have already made bold statements in the opening weeks of the 2023 indoor season.

Jessica Oji, Livingston (NJ)

Prior to December, Oji didn't have a single indoor meet under her belt. 

The Livingston (NJ) thrower had only begun high school competition during the 2022 outdoor season, with highlights including a third-place finish in the shot put at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.

But when Oji stepped into the ring for her first-ever indoor season competition on Dec. 21, she let the shot fly.

Oji commanded the shot put with a winning and personal best mark of 42-9.9.25, surpassing her outdoor PR by over a foot. And that mark not only moved her to the top of the New Jersey state shot put leaderboard, but also earned her a spot on the national rankings at No. 5. 

A freshman Oji only eclipsed the 40-foot mark twice during her debut outdoor season. Now, she's thrown over 40 feet in all three meets she's contested so far this indoor season and is ranked as the top sophomore in the country.

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Christian Dixon, Mallard Creek (NC)

In the first indoor season of his high school career in 2022, Dixon ranked among the top 50 short sprinters in North Carolina, particularly when it came to the 55m event.

But in his return to track to begin his sophomore competition year, the Mallard Creek sprinter has molded into a national-caliber talent that ranks among the best in the country.

On Nov. 22, Dixon shaved a significant two-tenths of a second off his 55m PR to win his indoor debut at the Hopewell Polar Bear Meet #1. 

And that was just the kickstart. Since then, Dixon has won the 55m at three-straight meets, including the COROS Holiday Invitational on Dec. 17 where he clocked a new best of 6.32, a time also good for US No. 3 and the top time among sophomores.

He's shown promise at the longer 300m distance, too. Dixon has already dropped his best in the event from 36.74 from freshman year down to 35.66, a performance which earned him fourth at the COROS Invitational in early December.

It's safe to say that Dixon could be the next up-and-coming sprinter to watch for in North Carolina -- and potentially in the country, too.

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Taryn Henderson, Motor City Track Club (MI)

Henderson has been a staple member of the always-dominant Motor City Track Club since her freshman year.

She was the New Balance Nationals Indoor champion in the freshman 400m and placed fifth and sixth in the ninth-grade 200m and 60m in 2022. 

But with just a few indoor meets under her belt as a sophomore, Henderson has already proved she's even more valuable than she already was in her first year of high school.

It didn't take long for Henderson to hit her stride on the indoor oval. In her season debut, she won the 60m dash at the MITS - SVSU #1 meet.

Since then, Hendersen has logged three personal bests -- in the 60m (7.76), 300m (40.71) and 400m (57.22). Her 400m PR is over a second faster than her 58.67 winning time in the NBNI freshman race last year, and it ranks her as the top 10th grader at the distance.

Across the board, Henderson has displayed significant versatility, ranking fourth, third and second in Michigan in the 60m, 300m and 400m and among the top 50 leaders nationally in all three events.

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Gator Young, Pole Cats (TX)

Sometimes, one significant PR is all it takes to hit the ground running.

For Argyle High School (HS) and Pole Cats club sophomore Gator Young, that breakthrough came in his 2023 indoor season debut.

A clearance of 15-6 at the Paul Golibart Memorial Meet in early December helped Young blow his previous pole vault best of 14-6 from outdoor out of the water. 

His most recent performance at the Texas Elite Pole Vault Expo Explosion saw him continue to improve, upping his PR to 15-7 for a current US No. 11 ranking.

Just last indoor season, Young didn't clear a bar over 13 feet. Now in three meets this indoor season, he's vaulted 15-1 or better in every competition and lead all sophomores in the pole vault with his 15-6 best.

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Emma Brooke Levering, Homewood (AL)

In her sophomore indoor debut, Homewood (AL) distance runner Levering broke through a barrier.

Her 3,200m performance at the Holiday Invitational #2 meet in early December earned her membership into the elusive sub-11-minute club.

10:57.97 for fourth overall at the meet in Birmingham made for Levering's first race under 11 minutes in the 3,200m and ranks her as the fastest sophomore at the distance so far in the 2023 indoor season.

Prior to that meet, Levering had never clocked faster than 11:28.43 in the indoor 3,200m. Outdoors, her best time came at the Alabama 6A state championships, where she ran 11:12.23 for third.

With the sub-11 time barrier now surpassed, who knows what's in the cards for Levering for the rest of her sophomore season. But for the emerging Alabama distance talent who showed consistent progression on the track from season's beginning to end as a freshman, that could mean more improvement and PRs to come in her 10th-grade indoor campaign.