T&F Roundup (through 12/22/13): Breaking down the nation’s best by event

by Steve Underwood

BEST OF THE WEEK: Raven Saunders explodes on the scene

S.C. putter improves 11 feet to #4 a-t 53-8.25!
  • Raven Saunders (Burke, Charleston, S.C., sr) stunned the prep throwing community and the H.S. track world in general with a US#1 and #4 all-time 53-8.25 shot put at the NCRunners Elite Invitational at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.  In fact, Saunders is now the #5 putter in prep history, indoors or out.  Saunders had thrown 42-5 as a sophomore in 2012, but did not surpass 40 while struggling somewhat in the spring of 2013.  A switch to the spin technique during the summer and dramatically increasing her commitment to the sport, she said, has made the difference.  The monster put came on her 2nd throw during a series that also included a 50-5 on her final attempt and four fouls.  Three of the fouls were right sector fouls over 52 feet. 
Union Catholic’s younger McLaughlin makes stunning debut
  • The most impressive performance on the girls’ side of the mammoth Bishop Loughlin Games at the NYC Armory was a US#1 38.55 for freshman Sydney McLaughlin (Union Catholic, Scotch Plains, N.J.).  In her first major indoor meet, McLaughlin ran a 39.16 prelim and then in the final was just .02 seconds off the national class record of 38.53, set by Kyle Plante (Colonie, N.Y.) in 2009.  She also broke the 29-year-old New Jersey state record of 38.79, held by Wendy Vereen.  McLaughlin’s older brother, Taylor, is a junior and last March ran on UC’s winning 4x2 and 4x4 relays at New Balance Nationals Indoor (NBNI).  He also in the spring ran 51.69 for 400H and made Team USA for the World Youth Champs, earning a silver in the medley relay.
Rose climbs further up 600 list
  • Richard Rose (Boys & Girls, Brooklyn, N.Y.), who has been demonstrating the past few years that his combination of speed and middle-distance strength are ideal for the indoor-only 600 meters, further established himself among the all-time greats in the event with a US#1 1:19.20 at Bishop Loughlin – good for a share of #10 all-time.  Rose set the freshman class 600 national record in 2011 with a 1:20.97, then ran the fastest ever for a 10th-grader in 2012 as he led the U.S. overall with a 1:19.41.  He was 5th in the NBNI 400 last March (photo at right).  Still just a junior, he has lots of time to try and chase down the 1:17.58 HSR set by Strymar Livingston in 2012. 
Friday’s sizzling indoor debut: 6.70 for 60
  • Of all of the hot invitational events at the NCRunners Elite meet, none lived up to its billing better than the boys’ 60.  And no one got it done in that race like Trentavis Friday (Cherryville, N.C., senior), who was running in the first major indoor meet of his career.  Facing a field that included US#1 55 dasher Jahmaal Daniel (Terry Sanford, Fayetteville, N.C., jr), Friday rocketed to a US#1 6.70, good for a solid win over Daniel (6.81), #18 all-time and matching J-Mee Samuels for the best ever by a North Carolina athlete.
  • Friday raised his game late last spring after a 100-200-400 sweep at his 1A state meet and exploded on the national scene with a 10.37 runner-up finish at Golden South.  He would go on to demonstrate range out to 46.97 for 400 and take 3rd in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor (NBNO) 200.
Soph Lyles leads assault on boys’ 300
  • Last year, when Michael Cherry broke William Reed’s long-standing HSR, it took 34.68 to make the top 10 list in the 300 meters.  Just a few weeks into this indoor season, already seven have run under that mark – none faster than the 34.24 super soph Noah Lyles (T.C. Williams, Alexandria, Va.) ripped on a flat track last weekend to win the =PR= Holiday Invite at the PG Sportplex.  Meanwhile, Izaiah Brown (Amsterdam, N.Y.) smoked a 34.30 to win at Bishop Loughlin as a ridiculous nine athletes ran 35.15 or faster.  The 300, though not a national championship event, could be one of the best and most exciting of the season.
  • Lyles, who also blasted a US#4 6.40 to win the 55 at the =PR= meet, has picked up where he left off last summer.  He was the nation’s #2 freshman at 200, taking 3rd in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor half-lap, 3rd in the World Youth Trials, then made it to the semifinals in Donetsk.


More of last weekend's best...


  • Friday’s sizzling victory in the NCRunners Elite 60 was clearly the highlight for that event and the top short sprint performance of the week.  At 55, however, Lyles didn’t have the only impressive mark.  Mondryl Glover (Western Branch, Chesapeake, VA sr.) soared up to US#4 with a 6.38 at the Boo Williams Winter Break Invite and Darryl Haraway (DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, MD jr) took the Loughlin 55 with a US#7 6.42.  The latter performance is notable as it displays the depth of the event:  Through just three December weekends already 10 have run 6.45 or faster.  Like the boys’ 300, this event is red-hot.
  • Action in the 200 has been relatively light, but there were a few good marks last weekend, led by the season’s first sub-22.  Zyaire Clemes (Trenton Central, NJ sr) opened at the Armory Youth Holiday Classic in NY and zipped to a 21.95, as well as hitting a US#2 49.09 at twice the distance.  Clemes was the NBNI 400 runner-up last winter at 47.27 (photo at right), then 3rd in the NBNO one-lapper at 46.28.  Also, Marcus Taylor (Highland Springs, VA jr.) captured the Boo Williams (flat track) 200 with a US#2 22.09.
  • The 300 is well-detailed above, as Lyles, Brown and others have led a slew of sub-35s.  Another good mark in that event, though, was an off-the-national-radar 34.6h by Andrew Bolze in a Patriot League meet.  Bolze is doing it all this winter already, leading the nation with his 48.81 400 and ranking #6 in the long jump at 22-10.25.  He has 55 to 600 range, and also triple jumps and throws the shot!  Decathlete in the making?
  • The NCRunners meet also had an invite 400, which saw Marquavious Johnson (Knightdale, NC sr) impress with a US#3 49.17, leading three under 50 seconds.  Johnson has a 47.16 best outdoors, was 6th in last March's NBNI 400 (photo at right) and was a Team NSAF member at Caribbean Scholastic last summer, taking 2nd in the 400.
  • There’s been nothing really impressive at 500 yet this winter, but the event does have a new national leader after Bryce Ailshie (Dobbyns Bennett, Kingsport, TN jr.) won the NCRunners race at 1:06.29.  He beat Justin Marsh (Howard, Ellicott City, MD sr.), who ran US#3 1:06.59, then came back to win the 300 at 35.34.  As for the 600, the Loughlin race that Rose won had three more beating 1:23, including runner-up Kwasi Applewhite (Tilden, Brooklyn, NY sr) at US#2 1:20.72.


  • The Boo Williams meet saw a fine early-season 55, as Carolyn Brown (Phoebus, Hampton, VA jr.) nipped Asonya Anderson (Heritage, Newport News, VA sr), 7.00-7.01 – the fastest two times of the season to date.  Brown also ran a nation-leading 25.22 200 in the meet.  Solid winning marks were also turned in at Loughlin, with Torie Robinson (Winslow Twp, Atco, NJ sr) hitting 7.10, and at the MSTCA Small Schools Winter Festival at the Reggie Lewis Center, where Jessica Scott (Hopkinton, MA sr.) ran 7.11.
  • The NCRunners Invite 60 suffered when three key entrants scratched, so Charminque Hackney (Cary, NC soph) ran a US#4 7.70 for a mild upset win over Ama-Selina Tchume (Wakefield, Raleigh, NC sr.) US#5 7.73.  It was otherwise a light week in the 60.
  • McLaughlin dominated the Loughlin 300, but there was another good sub-40 turned in behind her with Toni Brown’s (Millford Mill, Gwynn Oak, MD sr) 39.47.  Another sub-40 came from Dominique Hall (Shrewsbury, MA sr.), who won the large schools division of the MSTCA Winter Festival in US#5 39.95. 
  • Over 400, yet another NCRunners invitational event was captured by Layla White (Cary, NC jr.), who nipped Tamani Wilson (Maclay, Jacksonville, FL soph), 57.29-57.37.  Those were US#2-3 until they got bumped down a notch the next day when Zola Golden (Arlington, LaGrangeville, NY jr.) ran a US#1 56.5 hand-time at the semifinals of the Colgate Women’s Games at The Armory.
  • A good, competitive early-season 500 at the =PR= meet resulted in a new national top-3, as Jewel Christian (Woodbridge, VA sr.) ran 1:15.30 to edge Ellison Grove (Battlefield, Haymarket, VA sr) 1:15.84 and Sharon Dorsey (Western Tech, Catonville, MD sr) 1:16.00.  Also faster than the previous #1 was NCRunners Elite Invite winner Tatiyana Caffey (Miller Grove, Lithonia, GA sr.) at 1:16.18.
  • And in the 600, the great Olivia Baker (Columbia, Maplewood, NJ sr.) powered into the national lead with a strong 1:33.35 victory at Loughlin.  She was followed by Emma Gallagher (Garden City, NY jr.)1:34.82  and Yazmin Wilson-Jones (Port Richmond, Staten Island, NY sr.) 1:35.95, as a new national top-3 was also established in this event.  Fans will be excited to see what Baker does for an encore after an epic 2013 where she won the NBNO and WY Trials 400s, then took silver in Donetsk – and that’s on top of anchoring seemingly countless national championship relays (photo at left) for Coach Lisa Morgan and Columbia.


  • Excitement was high at the NCRunners meet in the 55H and 60H, with headliner Isaiah Moore (Cummings, Burington, NC sr.) looking to reset the national leaders, but he had to settle for victories in 7.47 and 8.09 – still faster than almost anyone else has run this winter.  Otherwise, the weekend was light on top-notch performances.


  • The weekend produced new national leaders at both distances.  Chantel Ray (Hampton, VA sr.) triumphed at the Boo Williams with a quick 7.97 55H and also won the 200 in US#2 25.44.  She was 5th in the NBNI 60H last March, then 3rd in the NBNO 100H.  She also won the CSI 100H for Team NSAF (photo at right).  At the NCRunners meet, the Invite 60H went to Jacklyn Howell (Southeast Raleigh, NC, sr.), who won decisively at 8.68.


  • Usually, December is light on good distance performances on the track, but sometimes you either have athletes using their XC fitness to get an early fast track time before taking a break, or others who just happen to get in good shape fast.  Sean Kelly (Chaminade, Mineola, NY sr.) was a 2:30 runner over 1k last winter, then a 4:09 1,600 performer in the spring.  Now, coming off an XC season where he finished 6th at NY Feds and 13th at NXN NY, he clocked an eye-popping US#1 2:27.39 1k at Loughlin – a time beaten by only three last winter.  Jacob Johnson (Colonie, NY soph) – the NBNI freshman mile runner-up last winter – also got under 2:30 at US#2 2:29.31.  Already this season, 10 athletes have run 2:31 or better.
  • There were also some fine longer races.  Garrett O’Toole (Middlesex, Concord, MA sr.), who ran at NBNI and NBNO last season and has 3:49 1,500 creds, jumped into a fast open 3k at a Boston U. Mini Meet and came up with a sizzling 8:29.27 in 7th – a mark that will be tough to beat for awhile.  At the RITCA Invite in Providence, Colin Tierney (Bishop Hendricken, Warwick, RI sr.) ran US#2 8:47.74 and led four of his rival from the La Salle Academy (Providence) powerhouse under 9:00, as well.
  • At Loughlin, two harrier types sped under 9:20 in the deuce, also not bad for December.  Comebacking Kyle Levermore (Don Bosco, Ramsey, NJ sr.) outlegged Stephen Garrett (Tatnall, Wilmington, DE jr.), 9:15.49 to 9:19.01.  Levermore ran 8:55 for 3,200 last spring and contested the NBNO 5,000.  Last weekend also saw new national leaders in the 800, with Russell Wells (Minnechaug Regional, Wilbraham, MA sr.) running 1:56.13; the 1,600, Nick Causey (Osbourn Park, Manassas, VA sr.) 4:20.08; the mile, James Burke (Port Jefferson, NY jr.) 4:21.80 at Loughlin; and the 3,200, McKenzie Haight (George Marshall, Falls Church, VA sr.) 9:21.05 at the =PR= meet.


  • The distance performances last weekend weren’t quite as strong for the girls, but there were some good runs at the NCRunners meet and Loughlin.  In the former, Malia Ellington (Davidson, NC jr.) executed a very impressive double, first dominating the 1,000 with a US#3 2:59.43, the coming back to take a closer mile over Blake Dodge (West Carteret, Morehead City NC sr.), US#1 4:59.79 to #2 5:02.41.  It was the first sub-5 of the season.  Ellington ran both the 1M and 2M at NBNO last spring.
  • At Loughlin, Claire Howlett (Westhill, Stamford, CT sr.) authored a nation-leading 10:48.16 2-mile, winning by 14 seconds, then came back for the mile later in the day.  Denise Branch (Benjamin Cardozo, Bayside, NY sr) took that event in US#3 5:03.17, with Howlett a solid 2nd in 5:04.33.  Howlett ran both NBN 5,000s last year, finishing 9th, then 5th.
  • In Massachusetts, Karina Shepard (Dracut, MA sr.) burned an outstanding 2:52.61 1k at the MSTCA Winter Festival Small Schools to improve the US#1 by more than three seconds.  She had an 800 best outdoors of 2:08.05 and was 7th at NBNO.  The other new leader came from Tiana Guevara (Miller Place, NY sr.), who clocked a 10:16.2 3k hand time in a Section 11 meet.  She was 9th in the NBNI mile last winter.


  • Without a doubt, the jump of the weekend came from Mustaqeem Williams, who snatched the national long jump lead from Isaiah Moore with his 24-6 at the =PR= meet.  He nearly topped his outdoor (nwi) PR of 24-6.75.  Williams typically does just the sprints in national meets; he was 4th in the NBNO 100 last June, then peaked at USATF JOs with 10.31 and 20.64 victories in the 100 and 200.  Moore couldn’t beat his PR at the NCRunners meet (where he also won both hurdles), but still went 23-6.5.
  • Rubin Owens (Le Roy, Rochester, NY sr.), just a 46-9 performer last year, opened eyes with a 48-10.5 triple jump in a Section 5 meet, taking the national lead.  Moving into US#3 was Michael Francis (Digital Harbor, Baltimore, MD sr), who leapt 47-7.5 in the =PR= meet and was also 2nd behind Williams in the long jump at US#7 22-10.
  • Last week, there was a log jam of vaulters sharing the national lead at 15-0.  Now Todd Uckermark has broken out with a 16-2 vault at an OCIAA development meet.  It was a 6-inch PR for the Warwick Valley senior, who vaulted in both NBN meets last season.  Similarly, no one had exceeded 6-6 in the high jump until last week; now five have leapt 6-7 or better.  The best of the bunch was John Seals (West Springfield, VA sr.), who cleared 6-9 at the =PR= meet.  He was 9th at NBNI last March.


  • This past weekend saw the first 19-footers of the season in the long jumpKate Hall (Lake Region, Naples, ME jr.) smashed the Maine state record with her 19-2 at the Bowdoin Relays.  Last winter at NBNI, she was 7th in the LJ (photo at right) and 3rd in the EE 200; at NBNO she took 4th in the 100 and 7th in the LJ.  She was matched at 19-2 by another NBN vet, McKyla Brooks, who did it in a Section 3 meet.  Brooks was one spot back of Hall in the NBNO LJ last June, with the same 18-8 distance.
  • Brooks also moved to US#2 in the triple jump, with a 39-0 in the same meet.  She and national leader Javonne Antoine (39-2.5) are not only the sole 39 footers so far, they’re the only ones who have yet surpassed 38, too.
  • And speaking of unsurpassed standards, nine girls have negotiated 5-6 so far this winter in the high jump, no one yet breaking out of that pack.
  • In the pole vault, the seasonal 12-foot club swelled this past weekend from one member to four.  Jackie McNulty (Oakdale, Ijamsville, MD jr.) equaled Hannah Meador’s national lead with a 12-3 vault at the Dwight Scott Western Maryland Invite at Hagerstown College.  Also, Kaityn Toman (Salisbury Twp, Allentown, PA jr.) and Jenna Calandro (Newtown, Sandyhook, CT sr.) both went 12 feet even, Toman getting it at the Maroon and Gold Invite in Kutztown and Calandro at Loughlin.  Amazingly, McNulty, Toman and Calandro were all 9-footers and newbies last winter.  By June, McNulty had won the NBNO EE vault with 12-2.75 and Calandro was the New England runner-up at 12-3.  Toman’s PR was 11-3 by last spring, so her 12-0 represents a big 9-inch PR.


  • The shot put last week saw both of the season’s 60-footers improve their marks.  Ben Bonhurst (Smithtown West, NY sr.) broke into the 63s at a Section 11 meet, hitting 63-5.  He was 7th in both NBN meets last season.  Meanwhile, Devon Patterson (Williamsville South, NY sr.) went 60-10 at a Section 6 meet.  At the =PR= meet, Rashad Manning (Riverdale Baptist, Marlboro, MD, jr.) scored a 59-0.5 PR to move to US#4.
  • It’s been a big month for Adam Kelly (Barrington, RI jr.) in the weight throw.  He threw a massive US#1 PR 75-5.5 in a dual meet December 12, then last Saturday at the RITCA Invite hit a strong 73-4.5.  As a soph, he was 11th in the NBNI weight and 9th in the NBNO hammer.  He leads the rest of the country by almost nine feet.


  • While the above-mentioned Raven Sanders was suddenly becoming an all-time great, a pair of New York rivals were continuing to improve.  Jesse Dhaliwall (Grand Island, jr.) made a big 3-foot jump (extraordinary most weeks) to 47-7, while McKenzie Kuehlewind (Lancaster, sr.) jumped up a foot-plus to 44-6.5.  They are US#2-3.  Emily Stauffer (Cocalico, Denver, PA soph) also hit a nice PR, especially for a 10th-grader, by becoming the 4th at 44 or better this winter with 44-1.5.
  • In the weight throw, there is still just a single girl over 50 feet, but Tori Ebert (Exeter-West Greenwich, RI sr.) moved to US#2 with her 49-8.5 at the RITCA meet.


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