GIRLS FIELD EVENTS: Rivera-Wiltrout showdown the biggest highlight; PV record could go down
The Penn Relays are, by definition, an event where the focus is getting batons around the track as quickly as possible. But when you have a matchup of two of the top three performers in the country – and potentially two of history’s all-time greats in the event – then why not zero in on a field event taking place outside the stadium (way, way outside the stadium, as it turns out). The girls’ javelin – with super soph Madison Wiltrout (Connellsville, PA) taking on Sophia Rivera (Brentwood, MO junior) was already compelling as of last weekend, with Wiltrout ranking US#2 with her new 164-11 PR and Rivera not far behind with her first career 160-footer (162-9) to win the Kansas Relays.
But mid-week, Rivera – part of the NSAF’s Project Javelin group – went and launched a 175-10 bomb in a small, home invite to move to US#1 and #5 all-time, and ratchet up the cache of the battle. There are several other good throwers in the field, including Chrissy Glasmann, who threw 160-11 last year and is at 145-11 this year. Not to be forgotten is top Jamaican entry Ayesha Champagnie of St. Andrew Tech, who has twice hit 156-7.
As for the other two throws, in the discus, Shanice Love (Excelsior, JAM) hopes to extend the run of victories by Jamaican school athletes to six straight. She has hit 167-2 this year, which would put her at #3 on the all-time meet list if she could match it here. The nation also has the #2-3 seeds in Paul-Ann Gayle (Edwin Allen, JAM) and Syledeen Smith (Petersfield, JAM). The top-seeded US entry is Zakiya Rashid (Nansemond River, VA). In the shot, the majority of top entries are US-based, but 49-1 performer Rochelle Frazier (Edwin Allen, JAM) –who won the discus last year – is going for the shot in 2015. If she won, she’d be the first Jamaican champ since 2004 and only the 3rd ever in the event. NBNI 3rd-place finisher and 48-11.75 performer Nickolette Dunbar (Whippany Park, NJ) is basically the co-favorite with Frazier.
Looking at the jumps, the meet record could be under siege in the pole vault by a pair of Maryland athletes. Defending champ Olivia Gruver (Franklin HS) was that state’s 3A indoor champ at 13-4, while Jackie McNulty (Oakdale HS) triumphed in 2A at 13-3.25. McNulty was just 10th last year, so she may have something to prove. The meet record is 13-1.5 by 2013 champ Emily Savage. The high jump looks pretty wide open; Safia Morgan (Immaculate Conception, JAM) jumped 5-11.25 last year (not at Penn), but the field is basically a group of 5-8 and 5-9 athletes. Cyre Virgo (Fleetwood, PA) won in 2013 and was 2nd last year, but it’s been a year since she hit 5-10 and her 5-11 and 6-1 bests date back two years ago.
In the horizontals, watch for Shanice Lewis (Edwin Allen, JAM), who was 3rd last year and has a best of 20-4.25 this year. Kara Lyles (Nansemond River, VA) has an outlier mark of 19-11.25 when she won her state indoor title, but otherwise has been a mid-high 18s jumper. Also watch the Western Branch, VA duo of Milan Parks and Jewel Smith. The triple jump features Tamara Moncrieffe (Holmwood Tech, JAM), who swept the LJ and TJ at the Jamaican Champs and is concentrating on the latter here. She has gone 43-6.5 this year and 44-4 in 2014. Also keep an eye on Shanique Wright (Manchester, JAM), Nhayilla Renteria (St. Jago, JAM) and Marie-Josee’ Ebwea-Bile – the Benjamin Cardozo, NY senior from France. Ebwea-Bile has a 43-8 career best from when she 5th at World Youths in 2013, and went as far as 41-1.5 this past winter before taking 4th at NBNI.
GIRLS TRACK FINALS: Suffern hopes to extend DMR success; distance races wide-open
The three afternoon distance races all have to be called pretty wide-open, but if there’s any favorite, it’s Suffern, NY in the distance medley relay. They got it done at NBNI in 11:53.57 with 600-meter indoor US record-setter Kamryn McIntosh leading off, Imani Sloan and Mary Hennelly handling the middle, and Rachel Ludwikowski anchoring. McIntosh would go on to win the 400 and anchor the runner-up SMR, too. The school also won the event back in 2006. Several other schools, though, have a shot with entry marks between 11:55 and 12:05 – including the NBNI 2-4-5 finishers in Padua DE, Bronxville NY and Patriot VA.
The girls’ mile is anybody’s race, with Catherine Pagano (Northern Highlands, NJ), Marissa Sheva (Pennridge, PA), Malia Ellington (Davidson, NC) and Olivia Sargent (Pennsbury, PA), the most likely contenders. Pagano, a 4:48 miler last year, won the Millrose Mile indoors ahead of Sargent (4:50.66 to 4:51.02), and had a good winter, overall – though was just 7th in the NBNI 800. Sargent also didn’t fare as well after Millrose and was way back in the NBNI mile. Ellington and Sheva are the top returnees from last year’s Penn mile, taking 4-5, but each has also had mixed results in recent major races. In other words, any of the four seems capable of winning and running sub-4:50 – or finishing out of contention.
In Hannah Debalsi, the girls’ 3k field has its defending champ (9:34.57), but the Staples, CT junior has not been quite the same since closing out the 2014 outdoor campaign with an NBNI 2-mile title and a 9:55 deuce in the Brooks meet. Yes, she was still 5th at Foot Locker in XC and got down to 10:26 in the 2M before illness took her out of NBNI, but her times have all been a bit off her soph season. Still, she can hardly be counted out. On the other hand, there are three strong Canadian entries, led by Branna MacDougall (Regiopolis-Notre Dame, ONT) – a 9:30.93 performer from 2014 and recent World Junior XC competitor (42nd). Also watch for NBNI 2M runner-up (10:20.22) Kate Murphy (Lake Braddock, VA), 2014 Great American XC champ Libby Davidson (E.C. Glass, VA) and Bella Burda (Arlington, NY).
The girls’ 400m hurdles entries feature three Jamaicans who have run under 59 seconds: Defending champ Andrenette Knight of St. Jago (59.58 in ’14; 58.63 best this year), her teammate Genekee Leith – who beat Knight at the Jamaican Champs with 58.37, and Junelle Bromfield of St. Elizabeth Tech with a 58.13 PR from March. Top U.S. contenders are Emma Gallagher (Cardozo, NY), who was 5th here last year and has a 58.87 best from 2014 NBNO, and Anna Cockrell (Providence Day, NC) – with a 59.69 best from ’14
GIRLS RELAY PRELIMS: Jamaican trio stoked for 4x400 rematch; St. Jago could win two
In the girls’ 4x400, the stage was set for a potential all-time thriller here when St. Jago, Vere Tech and St. Elizabeth produced one of the best-ever mass prep 4x4 finishes at the Jamaican Champs earlier this year. That trio of schools crossed the line in 3:35.78, 3:36.61 and 3:36.71. So this event will likely be about whether St. Jago can retain superiority or if the others can wrest it from them. St. Jago and Vere both have girls who can produce 53-second legs. Don’t forget Edwin Allen, though, the defending champs who just missed the meet record last year. There are several U.S. teams which could run in the low 3:40s or better, including NBNI #2 and #3 finishers Benjamin Cardozo NY (3:42.82) and Western Branch VA (3:45.06 indoor best), Arcadia champs Nansemond River VA (3:45.80), Paul Robeson NY (3:46.85) and possibly others. Union Catholic NJ (3:47.03 indoors) will reportedly be without the services of top star Sydney McLaughlin.
St. Jago also claimed the girls' 4x100 at the Jamaican Champs, running 44.39, making them the favorites in that event, too. Edwin Allen is the defending champs, but have a relatively new group of athletes that may not quite be ready to repeat. Holmwood Tech, Hydel and Wolmer’s Girls are other Jamaican squads under 46 this year. Among U.S. squads, Long Beach Poly, CA has been the top finisher the past four years, winning with stars like Akawkaw Ndipagbor and Ariana Washington in 2011 and 2012, then taking 3rd and 4th the past two years. At 46.02 this year, they are still the top U.S. contender. Others to watch are Nansemond River VA, Cheltenham PA, Medgar Evers NY and Western Branch VA.
The girls' 4x800 has seen some epic performances in recent years, whether it’s been the three wins in four years by Edwin Allen between 2009-12 (including an 8:39.22), the 2013-14 Olivia Baker-anchored victories by Columbia NJ (8:45.37 last year), or the 8:43.12 runner-up finish by Eleanor Roosevelt back in 2007 that still stands as the HSR. But the bar doesn’t look to be quite as high this year with no U.S. teams under 9:00 or Jamaican teams under 8:50. Holmwood Tech at 8:54.42, Western Branch at 9:02.27 and Vere Tech at 9:02.85 are the top entries