By Mike Byrnes
If I had the time, I'd like to do some serious research and find out what was the greatest indoor meet of all time. The problem is what I might think might not be what you, and others, might think. The year's group can certainly challenge those from years gone by. The kids of today are bigger, faster, can jump higher, throw farther…can do EVERYTHING physical better than ever. When I played basketball years ago it was considered a feat to a) hold the ball in one hand, palm on top; and 2) get you wrist over the rim. Today guys 5' 6" dunk easily with many young women doing the same. Of course, this gives us "old timers" a wonderful chance to say things like, "Ya know, Jesse Owens coulda beat that big kid from Jamaica easy. Just think if he'd had the shoes, startin' blocks and tracks back then! Hell, ol' Jess mighta broken 9 flat!"
Enough rambling! Sorry.
From the looks of all results thus far, the class of this years 60m field is definitely one of our strongest. USL DARRELL WESH leads the nation at 6.30. BUT, he shut down about the 50m mark. Looking to surprise, and I don't know if that's the right word, is Ohioian BLAKE HERIOT. He's won a few big races, is experienced and will be tough to beat. A local favorite, CHRIS McCONNELL, 6.35 and a semi-local, MARK CANADY, 6.36 will offer serious competition. The 200m is Loaded. FUQUAWN GREENE, out of the Nick Sparks stable in North Carolina, has a 21.41a, a race run in the rarefied air of Pocatello, Idaho on a very fast track. But Greene lost to BRADY GEHRET over 300m at the New Balance meet in mid-February. Gehret has a best of 21.44. GREENE will fight it out with JOHN THOMAS. It should be noted that Greene has three of the top five times nationally. Also a force with which to be reckoned, BLAKE HERIOT, 21.46 on a 300m venue. These three represent the class of the field here. (This doesn't belong here but it's MY story and here goes. The aforementioned Mr Gehret just has a "Jesse Owens Ohio State moment, remember when Owens set three world records in one afternoon back then? Well, Gehret didn't do anything that spectacular but here's what he did do: Got a USL 21.22 over 200m; 47.70 400m; lj'ed 23-06 and split 48.1r. WOW!)
THE 400m is tough to call since the big guns are not used to running this distance. Indoors the 300m and 500m dominate the better kids. The aforementioned Heriot has the best time, 47.59 on an oversized, 300m, track, but GEHRET leads the US on a 200m track at 47.70. (It's a huge advantage running on a 300m oval. The turns are far less tight, the start is faster and the kids can maintain top speed down the longer backstretch.) Out of Alabama comes JAMES HARRIS. Harris finished a close second to Heriot in Kentucky, a stride or two back in 48.02. Then you've got TAYLOR SYKES, USL over 500m, 1:05.02.
THE 800m brings together the nation's THREE best, BILL LEDDER, 1:52.81; followed by two juniors, NICK KAISER, 1:53.38 (1:53.17o) and RYAN O'CONNER, 1:53.37. Now we get into trouble. Where does junior KEVIN BYRNE fit in? His 2:26.78 leads the US over the 1000m distance. As a matter of fact, the TOP FIVE in that event will be in Boston! MIKE QUERCIA, USL at the 600m distance, 1:19.37 (1:05.35) and CHRIS FITZSIMMONS, 2:27.15 at 1000m are also to be considered. SOPH ZAVON WATKINS, 2:27.59, ALNEY TOBIAS, 2:28.61 and DAN ZACCARIELLO, 2:29.32 round out the field.
THE MILE features three young men under 4:13! With another just over that mark. Three, 4:12.25o, junior OMAR KADDURAH, 4:13.48o and DJ THORNTON, 4:13.74. All four on the same track, look for a time around 4:07-4:08. ALEX HATZ is quite strong here.
In the 2 Mile Don't count out CHRIS BENDTSEN, 8:32.42, USL, 3000m. Can he, JIM ROSA, 9:09.26 or TYLER UDLAND, 9:11.16 get under 9:00?
THE 55mH, always a terrific race here, features four of the top 55mH five hurdlers in the nation and the USL over the 60m distance. US in the short race, JEFF LEWIS, 7.40; MARQUIS WOODYARD, 7:41; RODRIGO SOUZA, 7.42 and the 60mH #1, TREVOR BROWN, 7.81a (the "a" stands for 'altitude' which can play a significant role in the short distances. Brown ran at the Air Force Academy.)
THE RELAYS are, as explained in the Girls Preview, tough to call. Here are a few that will probably be at, or near the top, of the victory podium: SHEEPSHEAD BAY should be the class of the 4x200mR. They have the top two times nationally, 1:29.00 and 1:29.05. . Over the 4x400mR three teams, NEWBURGH and CHELTENHAM, 3:20.13 - 3:20.51b should challenge US leader TROTWOOD-MADISON. Once you get to the 4x800mR and up it becomes impossible to pick since so many teams will combine their best kids into a relay and become instant contenders of whom I know nothing. LIVERPOOL and ST JOSEPH BY THE SEA lead the US, followed by, ABINGTON. The top 3 in the US are all in the race.
THE FIELD EVENTS: HIGH JUMP - Three over 6-10, DWAYNE GOLBECK, TANNER ANDERSON, and STEVE LEWIS . POLE VAULT action highlights the nation's top four jumpers; USL SAM EWING, 17-1; MICHAEL WOEPSE, 16-07; MARK THOMAS and PAUL MALQUIST, both over at 16-06. THE ONG/TRIPLE JUMPS are totally dominated by CARLTON LAVONG. Lavong is coached by the fabulous Arnie Schriffrin, known as "Dr Jump" in the Philly area and for good reason, a reason we don't have space for here. Suffice it to say, he's produced more top quality long-triple jumpers in the nation. Lavong is evidence of that having the country's top five(!) efforts, all over 24' with a best of 24-11. He also leads TJ entrants at 49-11.5. According to Schriffrin, Lavong has had several fouls in the 25' range as well as one "…about 52'+." Top quality competition will be offered by junior JARRETT SAMUELS, 24-03.75 and MARQUISE DENDY, 24-0.25. KENDRICK SMITH will challenge coming in with a best of 49-05. It should be noted Smith's effort came on a very slow runway. He'll do better. THE SHOT PUT Has three of the best, DUSTIN BRODE, 66-6; DOMINIC FILIANO, 63-03.5; and junior ISAIAH SIMMONS, 63-03. THE 25# WEIGHT THROW will see ALEC FALDEMEYER, 82-10.5 take the gold. His closest competitor, BRENT HARDIN comes in at 69-09.
Well, that's it. I assume those of you reading this rather lengthy missive are true "tafnuts." I think you'll agree this is one of the best overall fields, both Boys and Girls, ever held. We, at the NSSF, are proud to be able to offer this national event to our countries young people. Remember, until 1984 there was no such competition. Many will go on to World and Olympic glory and we'll be very proud to say "We helped.'