THE BEST EVER? NOT A DOUBT!
by Mike Byrnes
A definition is in order. What, exactly, is a "national" caliber event? The American College Dictionary defines the word as "peculiar or common to the whole people of a country." The key words here are "…whole people of a country." In the case of a sporting event, this implies an entry list made up of entrants from throughout the country, the WHOLE country. For an event to describe itself as "national" in scope, it must have athletes from many different states. OK, describe "many." To my mind, "many" means at the very least, more than half, or a minimum of 25 states. To be truly "national" one would think far more would be appropriate prior to attaching the label "national." The NIKE INDOOR NATIONALS has had more than 40 states represented in almost every year it has been in existence. I know, I was the recruiter in the early years with a goal of one day having EVERY state represented, a goal I achieved, all 50 were in the meet. Today's recruiters have maintained the same perspective. Doubtful? Go to nationalscholastic.org, click on Nike Indoor Nationals, click on results, and count the states represented.
This year's entry list has not been finalized as of this writing there are at leastr 40 states sending athletes to Boston for the NIKE INDOOR NATIONALS.
One final thought, who REALLY makes the decision as to which is the true "national" championships? The athletes, their parents and their coaches. When you read this preview you'll see why I am so vigorous in making the case for the true "nationals".
THE NIKE INDOOR NATIONALS
Now, let me back up those words. (Ed. Note: Please refer to the following abbreviations and other marking for reference. USL = United States Leader; #2-US = second best in the US; #2-AT = second best in history; b = banked track, generally faster than "f" = flat track; A = a mark set at altitude, usually faster for the sprints, slower for the distances; O = oversized, usually faster, *=state champion. MBSleeper = an athlete capable, in my mind, of winning! But not expected to! The number after each group of events indicates the number of states represented up to that point.)
THE SPRINTS (60-200-400) - In the 55-60m Dash, five of the nation's top six, DOMINIQUE BOOKER, USL-6.92*, CHALONDA GOODMAN, 7.00-7.34, KEILAH TYSON, VA, 7.01*, MARLENA WESH, 7.02 and 38.86f* - USL, AURIEYALL SCOTT, 7.03, SHAKEELA SAUNDERS, 7.03 and RAYIANA JOHNSON, PA, 7.45*, ASHLEY COLLIER, TX 7.52 will toe the mark in the 60m.(EdNote: 1st time = 55m; 2nd or only = 60m) They represent Georgia, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Texas. Over 200m, Goodman is the USL, 23.79ob. She is also the #1 sprint returnee having outdoor bests from 2008 of 11.36 and 23.22. Her toughest challenger could be DONIQUE FLEMINGS, another Texan although this young woman is more of a hurdler. In honesty, there's no one in the country who represents a serious challenge to Goodman (23.79b-24.61f. SHANAE BAILEY, PA, 24.39b and Collier, 24.64 are close but…So is BRIANA NELSON, SC, 24.48fo and 54.34 as well as yet another BREANNA HUBBARD, GA at 11.84 last spring. The 400 includes Eleanor Roosevelt's, MD AFIA CHARLES, the USL over 500mb and soph OLIVIA EKPONE, MD, #2-US over 300m, 38.96. (9) The famed MB Sleeper, from California, THANDI STEWART, 54.84 as a soph last spring. (9)
The Middle Distances:800 and Mile: is one of the better fields in the meet. Coming in from Illinois is the USL, STEPHANIE BROWN at 2:08.41 and hoping her training in sunny Fargo, North Dakota is LAURA ROESLER. Her 2:03.08 is the top returning time for 800m. The nation's best frosh, OLICIA WILLIAMS, NY, 2:12.87 will stand upon the awards platform as may Virginian PAIGE JOHNSTON, the MBSleeper. Always on the fringe, this could be her time to shine. The best 800-mile athlete in the US, JILLIAN SMITH intends to confine her running to relays, a pretty selfless gesture. Her teammate, CHELSEA COX will do the same. Soph AMIRAH JOHNSON, MD is another one to keep an eye upon. In the mile, look for CORY McGEE, MS to be near the front. Currently #2-US ( behind Smith) 4:57.20f, she's also clocked 4:54.59b. . She had intended skipping this meet to go to a soccer game but EMILY LIPARI, NY, 4:53.29, saw this field and said, "I have to be there." Good thinking Emmy. From Kentucky, out of the famed Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville comes soph EMMA BRINK and she will be a factor at 4:55.75fo. (14)
The DISTANCES: Two Mile and 5000m: Californian JORDAN HASAY, enough said. The question here is not if she'll win but if she can break Melody Fairchild's 1991 record, 9:55.92. (See an earlier blurb) Giving chase will be 2007 Foot Locker cross-country champion, ASHLEY BRASOVAN, MELANIE THOMPSON, NJ. 10:39.29 and SHELBY GREANY, NY, 9:51.0 3000m. Local EMILY JONES, MA, the current US Leader in the 2 mile, will have major support from the 3000+ crowd The 5000m is a tough call since no one runs it on the track. Right now there are three kids worthy of mention, CHELSEA OSWALD, OH, MADDIE ELKINS, CT and KELSEY HUNT, NH. (18)
The 60mH: USL JASMINE STOWERS, SC, 8.43, DONIQUE FLEMINGS, TX, 8.47, NEVADA SORENSON, SD, 8.62A and ASHTYNN BALTIMORE, CA, 8.64A rank as USL, #3-US, #4-US and #5-US. (19)
The RELAYS are another tough call since many schools pool their best kids and opt just for these races. One example is SOUTHERN REGIONAL of NJ. They have two of the best milers in the US in Jillian Smith and Chelsea Cox but their events of choice are the relays. Thus, they are the USL's in both and heavily favored in the 4x800mR, 9:07.67b and the DMR, 12:14.98f.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT leads the country in the 4x200mR, 1:38.15b, 4x400mR, 3:42.75b and, if they enter, will be heavily favored in the Mile Medley (200-200-400-800). Their competition will come from OXON HILL, MD, 1:39.28-3:51.05, BETHEL, VA, 1:40.53-3:48.91. In each event the top two teams are also 1-2 in the US. It should be mentioned that Southern Regional has a pretty good shot in the medley with Smith certainly capable of a 2:04 anchor should they choose to run.
4x800mR sees the aforementioned SOUTHERN REGIONAL with VOORHEES, NJ, 9:19.47b.
The 4x1mile is too tough to call. But TATNALL, DE had a terrific cross country season and plans to win in Boston. ( 20)
The FIELD EVENTS: HIGH JUMP will be a good competition with three athletes, AMBER MELVILLE, MD, AMINA SMITH, MD and ALEXANDRA MORGAN, AL all at 5-8.
POLE VAULT: The USL soph MORGAN LE LEUX, LA IS OVER AT 13-02.5 but must face the challenge of Texan SHADE WEYGANDT who has a 13-10 clearance to her name, albeit last spring. Then there are three at 12-09, MEGAN WELLER, IL, MORGAN TOONE, TX and TORY WORTHEN, PA. This event has often gone to the athlete who's "on" that day.
The LONG JUMP is an intriguing competition. Virginian TIFFANY HARRIS has abest of 19-10.75 but she'll be hard pressed to beat SAMANTHA COLLINS, AZ, 19-07, KARYN DUNN, CA, 20-0 and ANDREA GEUBELLE, WA, 19-06.75. That's four of the top five! And on any given day…
The TRIPLE JUMP may be better than the long jump! The nation's top three + another who won the Virginia state title and you have an event that is explosively exciting! USL CIARRA BREWER, CA, 41-06A, GEUBELLE, 40-05A, soph SHAKEELA SAUNDERS, 40-02.5 and the Virginia champion JASIA RICHARDSON, 40-02.5 leaves you with a sense of wonder that all these great athletes will be on the same runway in Boston. AMAZING!
The SHOT PUT is having a bit of a "down" year, but EMILY VANNOY, MD at47-10.5 is one of the best.
The WEIGHT THROW is always entertaining. USL LAUREN CHAMBERS, GA, 61-07.5 heads the entries and is quite a ways in front of her competition. (24)
With over 2000 athletes and more expected to enter, I see no problem at anticipating close to 45-46 states represented. Now that's a meet truly able to call itself "national" in scope. Congratulations to the National Scholastic Sports Foundation for putting the meet together with special plaudits to our recruiters AJ HOLZHERR and JOY KAMANI ably assisted by JOE LANZALOTTO, RICH GONZALEZ and JACQUE' KENDALL. If you e joy this meet and are able to attend, make it a point to drop by and say HI!
See you at the nationals in Boston!
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