VA Showcase: Top Girls Athletes To Watch, Races, Matchups

* Avery Lewis, Shawnti Jackson and Gillian Bushee are three athletes to watch at The VA Showcase this weekend



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The January meet we've all been waiting for will finally take place at the Virginia Beach Sports Center starting on Friday.

The VA Showcase will host nearly 3,000 athletes from all over the country. Like in year's past, this has become one of the indoor season's highest-profile meets. 

The boys and girls entries will showcase many of the nation's best throwers, jumpers, sprinters and distance runners.

Check out the top storylines and girls to watch going into this prestigious meet. 

* On the January 10th episode of On the Line, Cory, Ashley and Olivia discuss the top storylines for the VA Showcase

Micayah Holland, Montverde Academy (FL): The Texas signee found her stride during a junior season that pushed her toward becoming one of the top sprinters in the country. The adidas Track Nationals champion and the Nike Indoor Nationals runner-up in the 60m will look to capture victory in the 55m and 200m.

Shawnti Jackson, South Granville (NC): The No. 2 all-time performer in the 300m and the defending champion in this event will look to repeat her performance. The Arkansas signee will also compete in the 500m for the third time in her high school career. She enters the meet with personal bests of 36.95 and 1:13.04. 

Madison Whyte, Heritage Newport News (VA): At the Liberty Premier Invitational last weekend, Whyte clocked the No. 4 all-time performance in the 300m with a 37.17. The Southern California recruit also clocked a season-best of 6.96 in the 55m last weekend. From just about 40 miles from her high school, Whyte will line up in both sprint events and contest for the titles. 

Akala Garrett, Albemarle (NC): The World U20 champion in the 400mH will test her speed and endurance in the 55mH and 500m. The U.S. No. 1 performer in the 55mH enters the meet with a season-best of 7.89, which is just one-hundredth of a second off her lifetime best. 

Sophia Gorriaran, Moses Brown School (RI): Gorriaran is the best middle-distance runner in the country now. And she's no amateur when it comes to competing at the VA Showcase -- we've seen her set all-time marks at this meet over the last two years. This weekend, she will line up in the 500m and the 800m, where she currently has U.S. No. 1 performances of 1:11.45 and 2:02.27.  

Gillian Bushee, Herndon (VA): The VHSL state champion and the 24th-place finisher at the Champs Sports Nationals Championships has the opportunity to become a double champion in the mile and two-mile. Last season, she set personal bests at these distances at New Balance Nationals Indoor with times of 4:54 and 10:19, respectively. 

Adeajah Hodge, Montverde Academy (FL): MileSplit's No. 2 recruit for the Class of 2024 will debut  this weekend in the 55m, 300m and long jump. She enters the meet as one of the top returners in the sprints and jumps with her 7.51 in the 60m, 24.30 in the 200m and 18-7.25 in the indoor long jump. 

Avery Lewis, Friends' Central (PA): MileSplit's No. 3 recruit for the Class of 2024 has set all-time marks in the jumps throughout her high school career. Last year she claimed a mark of 21-2.5 to win adidas Track Nationals with a No. 6 all-time jump. The New Balance Nationals Indoor champion in the 60m will have a packed weekend as she will be all over the place. Catch her in the 55m, 200m and long jump.

Alexa Brown, Strath Haven (PA): At her second meet of the season, Brown threw 43-0.25 in the shot put. She's currently ranked U.S. No. 6 in the event. 

Top Event To Watch:

* On the January 3rd episode of On The Line, Cory, Ashley and Olivia discuss and breakdown what could potentially happen in the girls Invitational 500m this weekend at the VA Showcase

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What happens when you line up a World U20 champion in the 400mH, a World U20 bronze medalist in the 100m, a CARIFTA Games champion in the 400mH and the No. 2 all-time indoor performer at 800m for a 500m?

Well, we will just have to see on Saturday as the girls Invitational 500m is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated races of the weekend. 

Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown School (RI) has the fastest personal best time at the distance, as she clocked 1:11.26 last year to finish second overall. Shawnti Jackson, the national record holder in the 60m, showed her strength at the JDL Holiday Invitational last year where she clocked a time of 1:13.04. 

The wildcards in this race will be the CARIFTA Games veteran Michelle Smith and the World U20 400mH champion Akala Garrett, both of which have proved to be threats at the distance.

However, Sandy Creek (GA) senior Isis Symone Grant, an Oklahoma State recruit, will also be in the mix -- although she will be entered in the second-fastest heat. So far this year she ran 57.61 in the 400m and 1:30 in the 600m. 

Event 71  Girls 500 Meter Dash Saturday Inv
     Name                        Year School                 Seed           
  1  Gorriaran, Sophia                Moses Brown         1:11.00 
  2  Smith, Michelle                  Montverde Ac        1:12.00 
  3  Jackson, Shawnti                 South Granvi        1:13.04 
  4  Grant, Isis Symone               Sandy Creek         1:13.68 
  5  Garrett, Akala                   Albemarle           1:14.03 
  6  Haywood, Ka'Myya                 Bishop Kenny        1:14.48 
  7  Hinton, Sage                     Bullis Schoo        1:14.61 
  8  Leath, Lauren                    Bullis Schoo        1:15.44 


Who wins the girls' 500m Invitational title at the VA Showcase?

VA Showcase Throwback:

Roisin Willis, Stevens Point (WI)

Year: 2022

Performance: First in the Invitational 1K

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We're throwing it back to 2022: In one of the more thrilling races of the weekend, Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown School (RI) faced off against Roisin Willis of Stevens Point (WI) in the 1K. 

This race had the crowd on its feet as there was a battle all the way to the finish.

In a new meet record, Willis clocked a 2:43.34 to just edge out Gorriaran's 2:43.52. Gorriaran's performance moved her up to No. 6 all-time in this event. Willis clocked a 2:41.53 in 2021 at the CYUP Misfits Invitational to be No. 3 all-time. 

Big Matchups:

Micayah Holland of Montverde Academy (FL) vs Adaejah Hodge of Montverde Academy (FL) vs Brianna Selby of Indian River (VA) vs Avery Lewis of Friends' Central (PA)

Event: 55m

Performances: 6.70, 6.75, 6.87, 6.90

Shawnti Jackson of South Granville (NC) vs Madison Whyte of Heritage Newport News (VA) vs Adaejah Hodge of Montverde Academy (FL) vs Elise Cooper of McDonogh School (MD) vs Ella Cooper of McDonogh School (MD)

Event: 300m

Performances: 36.95, 37.17, 37.30, 37.60, 39.51

Gillian Bushee of Herndon (VA) vs Charlotte Bell of Cuthbertson (NC) vs Alyssa Preisano of Cuthbertson (NC) vs Stella Kermes of Cuthbertson (NC) vs Angelina Napoleon of Allegany-Limestone (NY) vs Logan St. John Kletter of Mount Lebanon (PA)

Event: Mile

Performances: 4:47, 4:47, 4:49, 4:50, 4:50, 4:50

Logan St. John Kletter of Mount Lebanon (PA) vs Leah Stephens of Our Lady Of Good Counsel (MD) vs Gillian Bushee of Herndon (VA) vs Mary Bonner Dalton of Myers Park (NC) vs Alyssa Sauro of Williamstown (WV) vs Charlotte Bell of Cuthbertson (NC)

Event: Two Mile

Performances: 10:25, 10:25, 10:26, 10:30, 10:33, 10:35

Avery Lewis of Friends Central (PA) vs Adaejah Hodge of Montverde Academy (FL) vs Olivia Pace of Wester. Central (OH)

Event: Long Jump

Performances: 21-2.5, 20-4.25, 19-00.25