Future Stars: These Underclassmen Could Shine At Penn Relays

* Joe Barrett will be one of the top underclassmen competing in individual events at the 2023 Penn Relays.

Photo Credit: Tom Smith / MileSplit New Jersey

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The 2023 Penn Relays presented by Toyota could serve as a breakthrough competition for athletes across the country.

That particularly includes a handful of the nation's top underclassmen who earned coveted spots in the selective individual fields set for next week.

Some of the nation's top up-and-coming distance talents and jumps stars could find themselves poised for a trajectory-changing moment at Franklin Field.

Continue below to read more on the future stars that could have an impact at the 2023 Penn Relays set for April 27-29.

Related Links:

The Penn Relays Carnival meet page

Here Are Your Penn Relays HS Individual Fields

Team Acceptances At The Penn Relays

Here Are The Entries For The 4x100 And 4x400s At The Penn Relays

Penn Relays 2023 Entries For The DMR And 4x800

Joe Barrett, Christian Brothers Academy (NJ)

Class of 2025

Boys 3k

Barrett is already a prominent New Jersey talent in his own right as the lead sophomore for the talented CBA distance program.

He's already off to a strong start for the outdoor season having posted a 9:07.21 PR for the 3,200m at the Arcadia Invitational just over a week ago. That ranks him fifth among all sophomores in the country at the 3,200m distance so far in 2023.

During indoors, Barrett finished sixth in the same event at the NJISAA Meet of Champions and second at the Non-Public A Group Championships.

Barret has never contested the 3k before, but still enters the field as a dark horse favorite to win at Franklin Field. He'll be the fifth-best seed when he toes the line next Friday.

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Addison Ritzenhein, Niwot (CO)

Class of 2026

Girls 3k

Ritzenhein has already made a name for herself in the distance events in Colorado.

Sure, it doesn't hurt that she's the daughter of former American record holder and current On Athletics Club coach Dathan Ritzenhein. But her own freshman accolades speak volumes to the potential she has as a prep talent.

The Niwot freshman finished 18th at Nike Cross Country Nationals during the fall and has since ramped up her speed on the track, taking third in the 2-mile at Nike Indoor Nationals in 10:21.03. She's also placed 13th in the mile at the Nike in a PR of 4:57.13.

So far outdoors, Ritzenhein ranks fifth among freshman girls in the 3,200 with her 10:39.25 winning performance at the NoCo Series #1 meet.

In the 3,000m at Penn, Ritzenhein will compete against some of the top upperclassmen talent, including Champs Sports XC Nationals champion Karrie Baloga and Kentucky star Ciara O'Shea, to name a few.

But as the sixth-best entrant heading into the event -- and considering her past stellar performances at meets on the national stage -- she could have a breakthrough moment at her first-ever Penn Relays.

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Kendric Curry, Highland Springs (VA)

Class of 2025

Boys Pole Vault

Progression has been the name of the game for Curry in 2023.

A sophomore at Highland Springs, Curry has shown improvement in nearly every pole vault competition he's contested since the beginning of the indoor season.

A 12-0 indoor debut at the Liberty High School Opener would later transition into a Virginia Class 5 indoor championship title with a 14-6 clearance and an eight-place finish at Nike Indoor Nationals with a personal best height of 15-0.25.

Now, Curry will take to the runway at Penn Relays looking for yet another PR.

He's yet to make his debut in the pole vault outdoors, so Penn Relays could likely be the first time he vaults this spring. But the vaulter has emerged as one of the top vaulters from the class of 2025 and could likely chase after a new ceiling in just a week's time.

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Katelyn Kliesch, Notre Dame (NY)

Class of 2026

Girls Mile

Kliesch has been a freshman phenom in New York for quite a few months.

Indoors, she earned top finishes at a slew of high profile meets, including third in the 1,000m at the NYSPHSAA State Championships in 2:52.73. She also competed at Millrose Games in the 1,500m and took 17th in the 800m at New Balance Nationals Indoor in 2:13.02.

That's certainly an impressive resume for the Notre Dame ninth-grader.

And she's carried that momentum with her to outdoors, too, with a 2:11.84 800m season opener at the Bullis Bulldog Invitational on April 15. Her performance currently sits at US No. 3 for the class of 2026.

At Penn Relays, she'll be the lone freshman in the girls mile field that includes top distance stars like Morgantown's (WV) Irene Riggs and New York state champions in Kate Putman and Angelina Napoleon.

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Jakob Reyes, Bishop Hendricken (RI)

Class of 2025

Boys High Jump

He may only be a sophomore, but Reyes has developed into one of the top high jumpers in all of Rhode Island in 2023.

A 6-7 personal best helped Reyes to a Class A championship during the indoor season, and he would go on to take fifth at the indoor championships in February with a 6-2 clearance. 

His 6-7 effort, though, ranked as the top mark by any athlete from Rhode Island during the 2023 indoor season.

He'll look to open up his season at the Penn Relays next week and enters the high jump as the seventh seed. A tight competition against some of the best jumpers from New England and elsewhere internationally could potentially propel Reyes to a new best in one of his first meets of outdoor.

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Lilly Ver Beek, James River (VA)

Class of 2025

Girls Long Jump

When it comes to versatility, Ver Beek may be one of the best freshman athletes out there.

She's competed in everything from the long and triple jumps to the 55m and 300m indoors, ranking as one of the top athletes in Virginia in each of those events.

But her true speciality lies with the long jump, and that's the event she'll contest at the first Penn Relays of her young career.

During the indoor season, the James River talent took runner-up in the long jump and triple at VHSL Class 6 State Indoor Championships and logged a new long jump PR of 19-0.5 in the qualifying round. In March, she also earned 10th place at Nike Indoor Nationals in the triple jump at 38-11.5 and 14th in the long jump.

At Penn, she will take to the runway among the top eight entrants.

In her only long jump competition so far outdoors, she's logged a new personal best of 19-1.25. Ver Beek could look to threaten the 19-6 -- or an even greater barrier, for that matter -- competing against other top jumpers like Friends' Central's (PA) Avery Lewis and Delaware talent Juliana Balon next week.