* Jackson Heidesch (left to right), Issam Asinga and Nyckoles Harbor are all entered at New Balance Nationals Indoor
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports/MileSplit
- - -
BOSTON, Mass. -- It's game time.
We are less than a few days out from New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston and we've been busy preparing stories, schedules and more ahead of the national championships.
Which athletes could win titles? What all-time records could get broken?
Who's most likely to dominate?
Below, we offer some thoughts and more. We'll have full coverage on the ground at the Track at New Balance, so stay tuned throughout the weekend for much more.
Preliminary Start Lists For New Balance Nationals Indoor
Here's Who We Selected For MileSplit Social Media Takeovers
Best Case For A National Record
- - -
Where it Could Happen: 60m, 200m, 4x200, 2-Mile
There's good news and bad news.
Want the good news first? OK, here you go: Like always, consider optimism.
Every new year we head into a national championship competition, optimism reigns. Take the 60m national record, for instance.
Montverde Academy's Issam Asinga, the nation's No. 1 athlete at the distance, is just two hundredths of a second away from the top mark of 6.57 seconds. The 200m? Archbishop Carroll's Nyckoles Harbor is just 0.14 seconds shy of tying the leading mark of 20.62.
Let's also consider the 4x200. Harbor's squad is less than a second away from Bullis School's national record of 1:25.60.
Here's the bad news.
Close is not enough. Performances, while brilliant in their own right, don't necessarily predict the future, either. That 60m record? It's stood for 24 years. The 200m was accomplished in 2021, by a high school athlete who turned professional a year later. The 4x200 record was comprised of one of the most prolific squads in history; one athlete on that squad, for instance, is currently ranked No. 4 in the NCAA at 400m indoors.
But here's the thing: The opportunity is there for all of these athletes and teams to go after those efforts, and if all goes well, we could very well see them go down.
Harbor will be hungry to prove himself again, as will his D.C.-based squad in the relay.
And for Asinga, a national record could very well put him over the top. He's currently our No. 3 ranked athlete for the 2023 indoor season.
- - -
Distance races have an added advantage here. Whereas the sprint events comprise of rounds and then just six athletes in a final, distance events can yield a hyper-competitive field consisting of 14 of the very best athletes in the country in one race.
And that's just the fast section. This year's boys 2-mile features Dowling Catholic's Jackson Heidesch, who dropped the No. 4 performance in history, 8:42.60, back in January, along with Champs Sports Nationals champion Kole Mathison -- a World U20 XC bronze medalist with Team USA; sub-4 miler Connor Burns; All-Americans Noah Breker, Samuel Hansen, Sam Burgess and Drew Griffith; and the No. 2 athlete in the country at 3K, Philip Exeter's Byron Grevious.
That's an insane lineup.
It doesn't even include athletes like Charlie Ortmans, Christian Groendyk, Maxwell Hardin, Rendon Kuykendall, Brian DiCola, Wyatt Haughton, Riley Novack and Conner Rutherford, all of whom are in the sub-heats.
The national record was last broken in 2013 by Edward Cheserek. While Heidesch has an edge, anything can and may happen in this race.
Social Media Takeover:
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we'll have athletes taking over our social accounts. Here's the schedule across those three days:
Friday: Tik Tok -- Antwan Hughes, Parkland Magnet (NC); Instagram -- Ohio Speed Academy
Saturday: Tik Tok -- Rah'ji Dennis, Edna Karr (LA); Instagram -- Joiner Evans, Mount Tabor (NC)
Sunday: Tik Tok -- India Alix, Klein (TX); Instagram -- Rodrick Pleasant, Gardena Serra (CA)
Best Head-To-Head Matchup
- - -
200m: Nyckoles Harbor vs. Brody Buffington
400m: Zyaire Nuriddin vs. Quincy Wilson
5K: Lex Young vs. Daniel Simmons
Take your pick.
In the 200m, a scintillating matchup between Harbor, the country's top crossover football-track athlete and Buffington, the nation's top small school athlete, could meet in the finals and offer an explosive race.
In the 400m, this will feature the time-honored tradition of veteran vs. greenie, with the nation's No. 1 ranked athlete, Nuriddin, potentially going up against the next-in-waiting Wilson, who's already broken the freshman class record at the distance. And Wilson isn't a sleeper; he could win.
Then there's the 5K, where we have Newbury Park's Young, who ran the No. 2 time in history at 3K, going up against Simmons, the reigning Gatorade National XC Player of the Year and the national runner-up at Nike Cross Nationals. This one should be fun considering both are looking to break 14 minutes for the distance. Will they both get there?
The Most Enticing Throwing Event
- - -
The Shot Put
As I covered this week on the show, my money is on the shot put.
You have four of the top five ranked throwers in the country all entered, including national No. 1 Jacob Cookinham, who's thrown 67-4.5.
You also have No. 2 Luke Himes, No. 3 Hayden Dixon and No. 5 Rodney Lora, not to mention upstart Benjamin Shue in flight 1. That could hurt Shue slightly, considering he won't face the best throwers in his field.
But it could also put a MASSIVE amount of pressure on the top flight if Shue uncorks something big. The high school sophomore still has yet to hit 60 feet indoors, but he did post a mark of 60-9 outdoors last June.
5 Athletes You Should Pay Attention To
- - -
This is a general who's who of athletes. They will have significant opportunities to compete for national championships. For some, they could even aim for much more.
5. Aaron Sahlman, Newbury Park (CA)
A year after Cade Flatt, Sahlman seems to be the most likely to take his mantle. Sahlman has already confirmed he would like to go after the high school national record of 1:46.50 during the outdoor season. What's more? Could Sahlman run faster than Flatt's winning time of 1:48.86 from New Balance Nationals Indoor last year. Knowing Sahlman -- the nation's top Kick Artist -- it's very possible.
4. Devan Kipyego, St. Raphael Academy (RI)
The odds will be stacked against him, considering no national race has ever hit that sub-4 quota, but that doesn't make the opportunity any less riveting. Kipyego could become the first Black high school athlete to ever break the mark this year. Whether he does it indoors or not is less of a question. His ability to hit that mark by the end of the 2023 campaign is a serious reality.
3. Antwan Hughes, Parkland Magnet (NC)
The 60m is absolutely loaded. Issam Asinga, Brody Buffington, Nyckoles Harbor, Micah Larry, Jerrae Hawkins, Troy Lane and Jasiah Rogers have all gone 6.70 or faster. And with two rounds of action to reach the finals, athletes have to be at their best at every moment.
Hughes' best is 6.82. But the North Carolina indoor state champion is No. 2 in the country at 55m, with his 6.19 from February. He's in the picture here. An appearance in the finals will go a long way in solidifying his ascent into the national fray.
2. Andre Korbmacher, Squalicum (WA)
The Washington native is the defending champion here. He's also been surpassed on the national rankings by a Texan who ran 7.71 earlier this season. Korbmacher's season-best of 7.74 came in January, so I'm sure he will be itching to produce here in Boston. The national record is 7.40, which seems a little out of the picture. But 7.50 might be within reason. The last time anyone went under that mark came in 2018. Only five athletes in history have done it. Korbmacher is the next threat.
1. Kyle Johnson, Montverde Academy (FL)
Do not sleep on Johnson. The Eagles have a ton of stars in the sprints, with five athletes ranked in the top five of our MileSplit50: Zyaire Nuriddin, Issam Asinga and Micah Larry.
But Johnson actually enters as the top seed in the triple jump, too. The Connecticut signee is just three inches away from 50 feet. If the national atmosphere isn't enough, Johnson will be buoyed by a team that can buoy his performance around him.
One Team That Should Dominate
- - -
Montverde Academy. Enough said.
MileSplit will have on-site coverage at New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston. With interviews, recaps, social media, results, photos and more, we'll have everything you need to remain locked into the national championships.
For More: NBNI Meet Page