Your In-Depth adidas Track Nationals Girls Preview

* Brianna Selby, Veronica Vacca, Shakayla Lavender, and Sophia Rodriguez are top athletes to watch ahead of this year's adidas Track Nationals



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            VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The final indoor national championship of the 2023 season is upon us.

            In Virginia Beach, there will be just north of 2,600 athletes entered to compete at the Virginia Beach Sports Center over the weekend.

            adidas Track Nationals is here and we've been counting down the days to the end-of-season meet. Which athletes have opportunities to leave their mark?

            The MileSplit team will have full coverage on the ground, so stay tuned for the content to come over the weekend.

            The Most Competitive Field

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            The 800m at adidas Track Nationals will feature one of the nation's best distance runners.

            Kate Putman, an NC State commit, had a busy last couple of weeks between the New York Indoor State Championships and finishing seventh at New Balance Nationals Indoor in the mile with a 4:44.48. She will wrap up her senior indoor season in Virginia Beach as she will contend in her first 800m of the year. The fastest time of her career, 2:14, came in 2021. With how her season has been thus far, she has the speed and endurance to improve on that mark.

            Similar to Putman, Olivia Bufalini of Laney (NC) hasn't competed in the 800m this indoor season, but she has an outdoor best of 2:14 from last April.

            Lucy McLean, who has been focusing more on the mid-distance this season, has gone 2:14 indoors and a 1:35 in the 600m at the Millrose Games. She's coming off a 2:16 performance from New Balance Nationals Indoor. Based on how her last races have turned out, things are beginning to click for the sophomore from New England Elite TC (MA). 

            We also can't forget Annie Miller of Metrolina Christian Academy (NC). The sophomore has progressed this season, shaving nearly 12 seconds in this distance since the beginning of the season. Miller enters the meet with a lifetime best of 2:14 this winter. 

            A dark horse to look out for is Richard Montgomery's (MD) Grace Finnegan. Even though she's competed once this indoor season, she has the opportunity to face competition and put out a solid mark. Over the weekend, she set a new 800m personal best of 2:18, which was her first time competing since the cross country season. 

            Best Head-To-Head Matchup

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            Girls 200m

            In the girls 200m, we will witness New Balance Nationals Indoor runner-up Jameesia Ford, the second-fastest girl in the 400m last spring.

            Madison Whyte of Heritage Newport News (VA) is coming off a strong performance at last week's national meet as she clocked a 23.08 to set a new personal best. This is also the fourth-fastest performance this season.

            Ford debuted her indoor season at the TRACK last week in Boston, where she ran a personal best of 23.58 to finish fourth in the finals. 

            This will be Whyte and Ford's first time facing each other head-to-head this season. 

            * Veronica Vacca became the New Balance Nationals Indoor champion with a 13-7.25 clearance

            Photo Credit: Shawn Conlon / MileSplit

            The Field Event To Watch

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            Girls Pole Vault

            The girls pole vault has been raising the bar all season. This weekend, we will be able to see four girls who have cleared over 13-6 this season and they will contest for the adidas Track Nationals title. 

            The New Balance National Indoor champion Veronica Vacca, a sophomore from Mount Saint Joseph Academy (PA), will take center stage. So far this year, five of her jumps have been over 13-0 and last weekend she had the biggest clearance of her career with a 13-7.25 mark. Last year she won the Nike Indoor National title.

            Vacca will face Wando's (SC) Hannah Togami, who cleared 13-7 in mid-February to take the Gamecock Youth Indoor title. 

            Seniors Maddy Kelley of Villa Maria Academy (PA) and Kailee Swart of Cathedral (IN) cleared 13-6 and 13-6.25 this indoor season respectively.

            5 Athletes You Should Pay Attention To

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            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.

            Shakayla Lavender, Oscar Smith (VA): She might be the only freshman in the 60mH field, but she has one of the top times in the nation. She leads the state with a 8.57, which is the seventh-fastest freshman time in high school history. 

            Brianna Selby, Indian River (VA): This year's New Balance Nationals Indoor champion was the runner up in the 60m at the 2022 adidas Track Nationals. This weekend, she has a chance to win the title as she enters the meet with a new personal best of 7.30. 

            Sophia Rodriguez, Dallastown Area Middle School (PA): This eighth-grader already set the World U14 two-mile best of 10:20.68 record at Nike Indoor Nationals over the weekend. She finished second to Brooke Wilson, a high school senior who finished second at NXN. You can check out the young talent in the two-mile and 5K double in Virginia Beach. Rodriguez is aiming for a 5K time of 16:19, which would break the World U14 record of 16:24. 

            Llyric Driscoll, Western Branch (VA): Driscoll will be a triple threat this weekend as she will compete in the triple jump, high jump and the 60mH. So far this season she's cleared 5-8 and leaped 41-10.25. The senior will also contribute to Western Branch's 4x200m. 

            Tyler Glover, Ardrey Kelly (NC): Glover is the sixth-best thrower in the nation with a 46-6 in the shot put. This throw came in a meet in December, and with this meet being the last indoor meet of the year, she's in the hunt for a new best going into the outdoor season.