Five Big Takeaways From This Weekend Of High School Track

* Timpview's Jane Hedengren (right) battled with Elizabeth Leachman at Woodbridge in October of last year

Photo Credit: Raymon Tran/MileSplit

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This weekend had everything.

A few of the nation's best athletes tested themselves at the U.S. Indoors Championships, a runner experienced a terrific high followed by a confusing low followed by another, um, win (I guess?), while runners out West started pumping out some top moments and first-year studs continued to show us what the future looks like. 

Track and field truly never disappoints. 

We came up with five takeaways from the weekend. Check out that and more as we recap the weekend that was. 

5. The Best Of The West Threw Down At Simplot


Nevermind the fact that Jane Hedengren had to run a 3,200m prelim first. The Timpview (UT) star was finally back in action this weekend in Idaho and let it loose on the track in the final at The Simplot Games, clocking a U.S. No. 1 time of 10:02.42 for the distance.

The altitude conversion? According to the Final Surge, at 4,400 feet of elevation that performance converts down to a 9:46 3,200m. 

She's back, folks. 

Officially, Hedengren clocked back-to-back performances of 10:51.04 and 10:02.42 over three days of action. That's a pretty solid four miles of work. 

Remember, Hedengren was a pretty reasonable pick to chase after a national cross country title in December before she went down with an injury -- she had clocked a 3-mile national best of 15:32.50 at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic in September. 

1Jane Hedengren11Timpview10:02.421
2Avalon Mecham12American Fork10:45.521
3Maggie Madsen9Cheyenne East High School10:59.341
4Mya Oyler11Riverton11:01.541

This performance makes you wonder what we're in store for as the rest of the indoor season plays out and the outdoor campaign approaches. 

However, let's not stop there. That wasn't all from Utahans.

In the 1,600m, Olympus' JoJo Jourdon submitted an efficient 4:07.73, a time that converts to 4:03 at sea level, and he was hyping up the crowd down the final stretch. More and more, he's looking like the man to beat at the mile in 2024.

Meanwhile, his stiffest competition in Utah, Daniel Simmons, was in the 3,200m and, like Hedengren, was lights out, authoring an 8:48.08, which converts down to a 8:34.

4. The Freshmen Girls Class Is Ridiculously Loaded Right Now


Let's take a moment to register what the Class of 2027 is doing in the 400m. Right now, we have five girls under 55 seconds.

The nation's top freshman, Bullis School's Kennedy Brown, clocked a class No. 1 of 54.71 at the Youngstown State High School Meet over the weekend. Jaiya Patillo, a talented youngster from Nebraska, produced a time of 54.79 on Feb. 9 at an indoor meet at South Dakota State. 

Aria Pearce, a first-year athlete from Kansas who also owns the second-best 200m in class history at 23.54, has run 55.18, while Montverde Academy's Dasia Reed, a Floridian, has followed with a 55.39. 

Last but not least is Union Catholic's (NJ) Rhia Randolph, who ran 55.92 on Feb. 3 and operates under the instruction of coach Mike McCabe.

Just how good are all of those marks? 

Class wise, they stand at No. 5, No. 6, No. 10, No. 14 and No. 27 all-time. 

Which means ... this year's freshmen class is potentially really special. 

3. The Boys 800m Is Heating Up


Patrick Hilby ran his first 800m of the season on Thursday. 

He left with a U.S. No. 1. 

That wasn't so surprising, really. Hilby finished his junior outdoor season with a U.S. No. 9 time of 1:48.81 and returned in 2024 as the second-best runner at the distance as a senior. 

But he held off with his return to the half-mile until he was ready. He responded with a 1:50.50 at a smaller meet at North Central midweek. 

That was the country's first sub-1:51 time of the indoor. 

Could it jumpstart what's to come? 

We think it could, as three athletes hover at 1:51 and three more follow at 1:52.

Last year, only one athlete -- Tinoda Matsatsa -- finished the month of February with a time under 1:51. 

We then proceeded to get four athletes under 1:50 at nationals in March, including Matsatsa, who improved from that 1:50.25 to a nation-leading and national championship winning 1:48.27.

2. A Two-Mile National All-Conditions Best, And Then Controversy


What a wild week Drew Griffith has had. 

The Butler High School senior and reigning Foot Locker Nationals winner ran the fastest indoor two mile in history on Saturday at Notre Dame, clocking a ridiculous 8:38.67 to pass Edward Cheserek's former mark of 8:39.15 from 2023. 

The next day, he learned that he was at risk of not being able to compete at his indoor state championships for essentially being in a race with a professional pacer earlier in the month. 

Some discussions happened, an appeal came, then some more conversation happened, and then on Monday Griffith was granted his entry into the state championship.

The impact of Griffith racing seemingly wasn't just a self-serving one. Butler High School truly needs the impact of his performances to help them vie for a state team title on Sunday. 

Fortunately, we will be able to see it all play out on Sunday at Penn State at the PTFCA Indoor State Championships. 

1. You're Never Too Young To Compete


Sometimes, you just have to go big. 

This weekend, JaiCieonna Gero-Holt, Dominick Corley and Josie Donelson weren't afraid of the moment.

All three high schoolers -- from Oregon, Washington and Oregon -- were entered at the U.S. Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

All three held their own. 

But in Gero-Holt's case, she authored the best of the teenage crew, grabbing a career-best mark of 6 feet, 2.5 inches in the high jump to claim second behind U.S. champion Vashti Cunningham. 

That performance (1.89m) didn't meet the World Indoor standard of 1.92m, but there's a chance Gero-Holt, 17, does get called into action for Team U.S. in Scotland. 

We'll wait to see how that shakes out, but in the meantime we have to dive into just how impressive her progression has been at the U.S. Indoor Championships. 

The Emerald Ridge athlete first competed at U.S. indoors in 2022, finishing ninth with a leap of 5-10.75, or otherwise, last.She improved to fifth last year with a clearance of 6-0.5. 

On Friday came another massive jump. That 6-foot-2.5 height is fourth-best in history, only behind Lisa Bernhagen, Morgan Smalls and Cunningham, who owns the indoor high school national record at 6-6.25. 

Corley, meanwhile, ran 6.66 in the men's 60m. He was just two-hundredths of a second off his nation-leading 6.64.

Donelson ran 53.44 in the prelims. While that did not qualify her for the finals, it did go down as the second-best mark this season and the 23rd-best in history. 

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