Want to see something new at a track & field meet? Check out Bryn Campbell and the other hammer throwers.
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Championship Boys Decathlon
Five events are in the books, and Kris Horn (Pembroke MA, right) leads 3766 - 3413 over Taylor Cudequest (Pascack Hills NJ). Today, the schedule calls for the 110m Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, and finally the 1500m Run.
Championship Girls Heptathlon
Day two will have the competitors squaring off in the Long Jump, Javelin, and 800m run. After day one, Aaron Howell (Farmington MI) leads with a four-event total of 3087, while Jennifer Cannon (Tennessee TN) is close behind at 3026.
Championship Boys Octathlon
After completing four events yesterday, these all-around athletes will compete in the 110m Hurdles, High Jump, Javelin, and 100m Run. The current leader is Zachary McDermott (Christian Brothers NJ), with his midway total of 2664 points.
Championship Girls Pole Vault
This is an all-day affair, with the unseeded section beginning at 10:00 AM (opening at 10' 11") and the seeded section at 5:00 PM (opening at 11' 5"). It looks like there will be a fierce competition at the top, as Kimyanna Rudolph (Lawrence Central IN) and Sydney White (East Forsyth NC) are separated by one one quarter of an inch, with both over 13' 2" this year. Those two are US #5 and #6 this spring, and they have at least two close challengers right behind them: Larissa Debich (Hempfield Area PA) is US #11 at 13' 0.25", and Emma King (Oakdale MD) is US #20 at 12' 10".
Championship 4x200m Relay
This event is a favorite at NBON, especially among those schools whose states don't regularly contest the event. This year, both the boys' and girls' races should be extremely competitive.
Boys: Texas dominates the national rankings in this race, but the Lone Star State teams have decided to stay home this June. Not to worry, though; North Carolina will provide! Knightdale (NC) is the top seed with a season best of 1:26.28, and third-seeded Holly Springs (NC) is ready to crack the 1:27 barrier. Top out-of-state contenders include Thornwood (IL) and Great Oak (CA), both poised to go under 1:27 as well. Don't be surprised if Smith's Station (AL) gets into the mix from the second-fastest section, too.
Girls: North Carolina is home to the nation's top 4x200 team, Wakefield. However, the Wolverines opted out of this event, and so it is a young Parkland team that has will represent the home state in the fast section. Parkland has run 1:39.50, good for US #20, with one sophomore and three freshmen on the relay! Withrow (OH) and Mount Vernon (NY) are on the verge of breaking through the 1:40 barrier.
One of several events Thursday and Friday that are not common around the country, the hammer throw is fun to watch and...exciting...to photograph. If you've never seen it before, come out to the throwing field behind the stadium (or go up to the top of the backstretch bleachers) and watch to see the delicate balance being struck between the thrower and the implement over who is actually in control. It's not hard to tell which state puts the most emphasis on this event: tiny Rhode Island has 11 of the 20 competitors, with the next closest being Georgia's Throw1Deep club (three contestants). If you make the effort to watch, you will be rewarded with : US #2 Joseph Velez (Classical RI), US #3 Bryn Campbell (Canal Winchester OH), US #4 Charlie Ionata (Barrington RI), US #5 Carlos Mangum (Central RI), US #6 Reuben Horace (Bishop Hendricken RI), and US #7 Kevin Conway (Westerley RI) have all thrown over 210 feet.
Championship 1 Mile Racewalk
Another event that has a smaller following around the country, the race walk is one of the most technically challenging to master. The boys' field is small and completely wide open, while the girls' field includes the US leader at the 1500 Race Walk, Annica Penn (Westhampton Beach NY). She was fifth last year at this meet, and will be looking for the title this year.
The talent pool in this event has definitely been thinned by USATF Junior Nationals being on the same weekend. However, while that may have taken some of the star power, it has left behind some incredibly competitive races, with legitimate uncertainty going into the finals. For true fans of the sport, it's sometimes fun when you DON'T know who is likely to win in advance.
Boys: There are 12 athletes in this field with legitimate times between 10.50 and 10.65, all fighting for 8 spots in the final. West Virginia state champion Dante Price (Jefferson WV) has the fastest wind-legal time in the field at 10.52. Tevin Hester (Granville Central NC), the New Balance Indoor champion in the 60, has run 10.56 and is now healthy after battling minor injuries late this spring. Jahmaal Daniel (Terry Sanford NC) stunned observers with a 10.55 to win the North Carolina 4A State Meet, and Harvey McSwain II (Crest NC) adds to the Tar Heel contingent with a 10.57. Otugo Ananaba (Deer Creek OK) is right there, as well, with a 10.58 mark, while Cameron Hudson (Berry Academy NC) has posted a 10.59.
Girls: It might not be as intense to make the finals in the girls' 100 as it will be in the boys', but it should be an outstanding final. Ky Westbrook (Chandler AZ), the Division 1 state champion, comes in with a wind-legal 11.65. Shekara Martin (Hampton GA) did not compete in the spring season, but showed she is in great form with an 11.67 in late May. Gabrielle Gray (High Point Central NC) has run 11.70 this spring while fighting against a nagging hamstring injury; if she is healthy she will contend for the win, as she raced to an 11.63 last summer.
Championship Boys Javelin
Another less-common throwing event, the javelin requires a completely unique skill set that includes running speed, rotational hip and shoulder flexibility, and balance. Michael Shuey (Johnsonburg Area PA) has thrown 212-2 this year, good for US #3. He will be challenged by Ryan Kerr (Brookville Area PA), with his mark of 207-2 that ranks him US #9. Cole Proffitt (Manheim Central PA) has also thrown over 200 feet, while a number of throwers will be looking to get there for the first time this afternoon.
It's easy to watch the triple jump (and the long jump) while taking in the races, because the runways and pits are right across the track from the homestretch bleachers. So stake out a spot early, and you will see a variety of events from one location.
Boys: Jeremiah Green (Hillsborough FL, right, photo courtesy of Jeff Adams) is the favorite in this event by virtue of his US #6 jump of 50-6.5. Wellington Zaza (Strath Haven PA) is the main challenger, with his US #8 mark of 50-0.5 (as long as the hurdles don't tire him out too much, that is). Kwaneal Hairston (George Washington VA) is a distant third at 48-11.25, with Harley Lacroix (Cheltenham PA) right behind him. George Freiberger (Westchester Country Day NC) leads the local contingent; watch out for Jaylon Holt (Southeast Raleigh NC), who has jumped 47 feet this year using his off-foot (due to a nagging ankle injury) and could leap forward if healthy.
Girls: This field includes five girls who have already joined the 40-foot club, plus several more who want to get into that group today. Carla Forbes (Newton North MA) has jumped 41-2 (US #5), but that is eclipsed by her national-leading 42-5 indoor mark. Keturah Orji (Mount Olive NJ) is currently US #6 with her jump of 41-0.75, while Marshay Ryan (Chambersburg PA) comes in at 40-5, good for US #12. Melodee Riley (Riverhead NY) had a best of 41-3.5 last spring, which is better than her current US #13 ranking. Finally, Shemiah Brooks (Southwest Guilford NC) went 40-11 indoors this year, although she has been stuck in the 39's this spring and, I am sure, really wants to get back over 40 feet.
Championship High Hurdles
This is one of the thinner events in the meet today, although that doesn't matter one bit if you're an athlete competing in it. While the nation's fastest hurdlers might have chosen to be elsewhere this weekend, there are still several talented individuals here to challenge for a spot on the podium.
Boys 110 Hurdles: Only two boys have wind-legal times under 14 seconds in this field: Wellington Zaza (Strath Haven PA) at 13.86 for US #13, and Jermaine Collier (Trenton Central NJ) with his 13.92 (US #18). With only 14 entries, the majority of the field will advance to the final.
Girls 100 Hurdles: After a slow start to the spring season, Mollie Williams (Clayton NC) turned it on at the 4A state meet, running 13.70 to earn a national top-10 ranking. Skylar Ross-Ransom (Langham Creek TX) has clocked 13.74 this spring, while Chantel Ray (Hampton VA) posted a 13.82.
Championship Girls Discus
After the hammer throw is complete, you could stay outside to watch the girls' discus competition, which should be very competitive. Jessica Woodard (Cherokee NJ) leads the field with her 151-10 mark, one of three girls entered today who have cleared 150 feet. The other two are Avana Story (Woodward Academy) at 150-6, and Alyssa Gary (Liberty-Benton OH) with her 150-5 toss. Kori Reiser (Elmwood OH) is close behind and looking to break 150, but the uphill throwing sector at NC A&T might be her toughest opponent in that battle.
With legs of 200, 200, 400, and 800, this event is an interesting blend of long sprint and mid-distance. The anchor leg covers as much distance as the other three combined, and so you have to have a big gun at the 800 (and a strong 400 to set him/her up) if you want to succeed here.
Boys: Speaking of big guns in the 800, how about having Edward Cheserek anchor your relay? One of only a handful of boys nationwide to have broken 1:50 this year, he will certainly be trying to bring St. Benedict's Prep to the win. They have a sub-49 400 runner in Naija Omari, as well. Lawrence Central (IN) counters with the combination of Jeron Brown and Matt Dorsey, but unless their sprinters spot them a strong lead it may not be enough. If Liverpool (NY) can somehow keep Zavon Watkins close, he will be a serious threat. Talk about a New Jersey affair: West Orange (NJ) has a strong anchor in Jared Mason, as do Union Catholic (NJ) with Allen Eke and Pascack Valley (NJ) with Ben Malone, but they may not have the 400 leg to stay competitive.
Girls: South County (VA) should take the early lead based on their strong sprint crew, particularly Felicia Majors, but could struggle a bit on the anchor leg. On the other hand, Cosby (VA) has Megan Moye on the anchor, with her 2:07 PR, plus a 56-second quarter-miler in Alexandria Moseley. Garden City (NY) can challenge with Taylor Hennig and Emma Gallagher, while Sparta (NJ) might be able to hang on the back of the lead pack. If Columbia (NJ) could run Olivia Baker on both the 400 and the 800, they would be serious contenders; as it is, Shanika Dessin will be forced to run the race of her life. Likewise for Windsor (CT), who have a monster on the anchor in Sydney Over but will need better than a 58 from their 400 leg to stay in the race.
Championship Boys Shot Put
It looks like a pair of 60-foot throwers will square off in this event, with Matthew Bell (Hickory PA) holding the incoming edge at 61-4 over Nick Ponzio (Great Oak CA), who has thrown 60-2 this season. There are a number of upper-50's throwers in the field, though, and any one of them could catch fire and pull the upset. A. J. Wolf (Hackley School NY) is the closest at 59-4.
Friday night brings two classic distance favorites, starting with the full two-mile. With cooler-than-usual temperatures, and running after sundown, the conditions should be very favorable for strong performances in this event, which has a history of producing great results at this meet.
Boys: This race is set up in a single section, which could create some lapped traffic for superstar Edward Cheserek (St. Benedict's Prep NJ, left, photo courtesy of Stone Photo). Cheserek went 8:40.13 indoors this year, but has not put up a big two-mile or 3200 outdoors yet. The junior-class national record is in serious danger, and who knows what this young man can do in relation to the meet record (8:34.40) and the national record (8:29.46). If anyone has the talent to do it this year, it's Cheserek! Thomas Madden (Skyline VA), Thomas Graham (Cary Academy NC), and Dallin Farnsworth (Highland ID) have run under 9 minutes this year, while Daniel Lennon (Peru NY), Sam Parsons (Tatnall DE), Asam Visokay (Albemarle VA) and Seumas O'Reilly (Warren County VA) are extremely close.
Girls: This should be an ultra-competitive race, as the top four entries are separated by only 9 seconds coming into this meet. Haley Pierce (Tatnall DE) of has a season best 10:16.35 and is always a threat to win at the national level, while Mackenzie Berry (Mendham NJ), Dana Giordano (Bernards NJ), and Wesley Frazier (Ravenscroft NC) will all be chasing her. Carmen Carlos (McGill-Toolen Catholic AL) ran 10:25 indoors this winter, so she will also be in contention, while Bethanie Brown (Waterville ME) was only four seconds behind coming out of the winter season. Expect a solid pack to form and a few lead changes, and keep an eye on Frazier: she won the 5K and the mile last year, but the two-mile has eluded her so far.
The second night of the meet concludes with an exciting relay, and a rare chance to see it run under the lights at nearly 10 PM. The collection of talent is very strong in these races, and this is always an excellent way to end the day on a high note.
Boys: National leader Westfield (VA) is the headliner in the second section of this race, with their impressive time of 7:39.73. This will not be a walkover, however, as New York has sent us US #6 Pearl River (7:42.45) and US #4 Collegiate (running as Riverside Runners, 7:41.44). When you factor in Carroll (IN, running as Raber TC), a squad that has posted US #3 7:41.49, that makes four of the top six teams in the country. Don't forget about Christian Brothers (NJ), who ran 7:41.53 indoors way back in February. While they might be a ways off from Long Beach Poly's national record 7:28.75 from last year, this should be an exciting, back-and-forth battle for a national title.
Girls: The absence of Fayetteville-Manlius opens this race up a bit, and makes it potentially very competitive (and therefore fun to watch). Shenendehowa (NY) comes in with a time of 9:09.46, while Sylvania-Northview (OH) has clocked 9:08.52. Don't count out the New Jersey schools: Red Bank Catholic (competing under the name Runner's High) has two girls under 2:15 in the open 800, and there are a bunch of teams from the Garden State that have put up sub-9:20 times already this year. A dark-horse here could be Bishop Guertin (NH), which has two 2:12 legs but will need outstanding races from their other two runners to stay in the race. Finally, if Cosby's Megan Moye is close at the end of the race, watch out; her 2:07 PR could make up a lot of ground, even against other strong anchors.