These Florida Athletes Set To Star At Ellis Elite 16 Invite

* St. Thomas Aquinas' Cha'iel Johnson is a two-time defending Florida 800m champion

Photo Credit: Flrunners

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High-level action will be back at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami, Florida this weekend for the Ellis Elite 16 Invitational, which is heading toward its fourth edition. 

A talented pool of Florida's top track and field athletes are entered to compete at the meet, with hopes of drawing fast times, big PRs and maybe a state record or two. 

Florida MileSplit will be on site with live coverage and the live stream. Don't miss the action. 

Below, we dive into the top athletes in key event areas.

Skyler Franklin, Davie Western

Events: 200m l Start List: 200m

She might be one of the youngest athletes on the line this weekend, but there won't be much fear. Franklin currently owns Florida's No. 2 all conditions time in the 200m with her mark of 23.38 (+2.8) from the Louie Bing Invitational on Feb. 18.

Saying that, Franklin shouldn't overlook the likes of Samuel or Skye Jackson, who are capable of ripping off a top time, too. 

* Samuels broke a Florida state record in the 100mH at Louie Bing

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Aleesa Samuel, Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy

Events: 100m, 200m l Start List: 100m200m

While there will be no hurdle work this weekend, Samuel will pump the gas in the sprints, where she's entered in both the 100m and 200m. You might count Samuel, the newly-minted record-holder in the 100mH, as the favorite in the 100m. 

She's clocked a Florida No. 3 all conditions time of 11.73 (+2.5) and a state No. 7 mark in the 200m (24.44), where she'll also face the freshman Franklin. 

Kaj Baker, Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy

Event: 100m, 200m l Start List: 100m, 200m

It's going to be a dog fight in the sprints, where Baker may have his work cut out for him. 

While the freshman owns a respectable No. 6 state ranking in the 100m of 10.61, his fellow first-year colleagues Zamarii Sanders and Brandon Bennett, both of American Heritage, are at No. 1 and No. 2. 

So the defining sprint event of the season may be proving ground for Baker. 

His chances may be a little higher in the 200m, where he's currently lodged as Florida No. 3 with his wind-legal 21.24 time from Louie Bing. Even better, with the right notes out of the blocks, Baker could make a run at sub-21. 

It might be a little early for that, though, especially with the senior Johnson in the fray. 

Chris Johnson, Dillard

Event: 200m, 4x100 l Start List: 200m, 4x100, 4x400

Speaking of which, the senior Johnson will open up his 200m account on Saturday. 

It would be reasonable to think he will not want to go down against a freshman. 

Better yet, Johnson is the top returning 200m athlete in the state, with his all conditions performance of 20.73w from the District 3A-14 Championships last year. He is the reigning FHSAA Class 3A champion, too. 

And yet, Johnson will have to keep his eye on Baker and Sanders and Bennett. All three will be lurking.

Cha'iel Johnson, St. Thomas Aquinas

Event: 800m l Start List: 800m

Breakdown: Saturday will mark the 800m debut of Johnson, the reigning two-time champion at the distance with a PR of 2:08. Thus far, she's logged tune-up marks in the 300m (40.10), 400m (56.11) and 600m (1:31.40). 

All signs point to a big outing for Johnson this weekend in Miami. The Florida senior still remains unsigned. 

* The American Heritage pair of Sanders and Bennett went 1-2 in the 100m at Louie Bing

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The American Heritage Sprint Relays

Events: 100m, 200m, 4x100 l Start List: 100m, 200m4x100m

The freshman boys of American Heritage have turned into mini-viral stars, at least in track and field Tik Tok circles. 

And so Saturday will be an important moment for Zamarii Sanders and Brandon Bennett, the talented freshman pair who currently own Florida's No. 1 and No. 2 wind-legal times in the 100m of 10.40 and 10.43, respectively. 

While it would be unwise to think that level of production will automatically improve, there's reason to think they could hold their counterparts over the high bridge. Both are entered in the 100m and 200m. 

The 4x100 will be where the action is, though. 

The team from American Heritage is just a tenth of a second away from 40-flat. Right now, only three teams in the U.S. have gone under that barrier. All are from Texas. 

Florida's contingent will be looking to change that. Watch out for the fireworks this weekend.