Girls Event-by-Event Preview

By ELLIOTT DENMAN

Loads of talent. Loads of potential record-breakers, Loads of superb racing and field-event confrontations on the agenda.

Loads of excitement coming up. No wonder loads of track and field's most dedicated enthusiasts can't wait for the action to begin in Greensboro.

100 - Meter Dash - Ogechi Nwareni of Chatham, NJ ran fourth in 11.65 last year and is the top returnee this time around. But she's not the favorite, either. The pre-meet choice to win it all is the sensational Ridgeland, MS.junior, Bianca Knight, who checks in with the USA-leading time of 11.45.

Two others own national Top Five times and figure to be right in the hunt - Elizabeth Olear of Canoga Park, CA at 11.46 and Kenyanna Wilson of Glendale, AZ at 11.48. Other most-likelies include Jessica Gregory of Richmond, TX with an 11.42 credential, Gabby Mayo of Raleigh, NC at 11.46 and Breehana Jacobs of Uniontown, PA at 11.47

200-Meter Dash - Again, it may turn out to be Bianca Knight's day.

The Ridgelander was fourth in 23.41 in 2005, comes in as just one of two returning finalists and owner of a 2006 best of 23.14, clearly the fastest in the 45-runner field. Considered her most likely challengers are two Californians, Sa'de Williams of Fontana, seventh last year and 23.36 performer in 2006, and Eliabeth Olear of Canoga Park, who has a 23.36 of her own.

On paper, Knight figures to win by a stride or two, but races are never decided on paper. Just as in the 100, Gabby Mayo of Raleigh, NC (23.61) and Kenyanna Wilson of Glendale, AZ (23.70) expect to contend.

400-Meter Run - With three of 2005's top four back in G reensboro, this should be an eye-opener. Jessica Beard of Euclid, OH ran third as a sophomore and comes in with a 52.16 as a junior. But Sa'de Williams of Fontana, CA (who doubles in the 200) was a strong second as a soph last year and owns a 2006 52.56. Brandi Cross, the Missouri City, TX senior, fourth in 2005, checks in with a 52.46 this spring.

Just one other one-lapper in the 43-runner field has broken 54 - Elan Hilaire, the sensational Eleanor Roosevelt, Md. freshman running for the Blazin' Raiders, with a 53.84 to her credit.

800-Meter Run - The top three in 2005 were seniors, so that opens the door wide open. Who will step right in?

It figures to be an underclassman with Katie Doswell of Richmond, VA the fastest senior here at 2:10.02. But she's outranked by three juniors, Boulder, CO's Sarah Cocco (2:08.45), Fairfield, CA's Dominique Jackson (2:09.49) and Sayville, NY's Kristy Longman (2:09.49) along with three sterling sophomores, Easton, PA's Chanelle Price (2:09.58), Brightwaters, NY's Sarah McCurdy (2:09.59) and Columbia, MO's Lauren Borduin (2:09.98.)

The highest-placing returnee is Strafford, PA senior Liz Costello, 11th in 2:12.30 last year and a 2:12.00 performer this spring.

1-Mile Run - This may be THE RACE of the entire meet.

Greensboro will welcome the sensational freshman, Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep, San Luis Obispo, CA to the national track and field stage, Of course, she's already the Footlocker National XC champion.

With her 4:42.21 mile triumph at the Golden West Invitational, she ranks as the fastest frosh in 33 years. Not since Mary Decker's hand-timed 4:42.0 in 1973 has any first-year runner turned in a performance this scintillating.

With all that going for her, Hasay will still have to run the race of her younglife to win, such is the strength of the competition.

There's Danielle Tauro of NJ's Southern Regional HS, NON third-placer at 4:43.07 in 2005 as a sophomore, and already the champion of the Millrose Games and Penn Relays in 2006.

There's Newport Beach, CA senior Anne St. Geme, who checks in at 4:43.20, Valley Stream North, NY's Theresa Rush at 4:49.06, and Hiram, OH's Bridget Franek at 4:50.01.

Don't think the meet record - Sarah Bowman's 4:36.95 last year - is out of reach. If the pace is right and the atmospherics mild, be prepared for something extraordinary.

2-Mile Run - No HS school girl has ever broken into the 9's and don't expect it to happen here. But do count on some great racing.

With Warwick Valley, NY's Aislinn Ryan (10:18.21), Colts Neck, NJ's Ashley Higginson, the Penn Relays champion (10:22.07), Eureka, MO's Merideth Snow (10:23.71), Sioux Falls, SD's Allison Eckert (10:23.74) and Claremont, CA's Christy Adamyk (10:23.83) bunched on the charts, the eight-lapper is considered wide open.

Ryan (second at 10:20.02 in 2005) is the top returnee,

100-Meter Hurdles - Seniors snared the first six spots in 2005, making seventh-placer Nia Ali the top comebacker.

Moving from Philadelphia to Pleasantville, NJ for her senior year, Ali has run 13.78 this year.

But four others sport faster credentials - Raleigh, NC's Gabby Mayo (already a leading NON sprint candidate) at 13.60, Knoxville, TN's Jacquelyn Coward (13.73), Douglasville's Kristi Castlin (13.74) and Evanston, IL's Shalina Clarke (13.75.)

400-Meter Hurdles - Winslow Township, NJ's Krystal Cantey took the 2005 NON gold, stunning Philadelphian Nicole Leach, with a meet-record 56.83 to Leach's 57.26. No others broke 1 minute.

With Leach now a collegian, Cantey should figure to win in a breeze. But hold it.

Three others have gone under 60 seconds this year while Cantey's best is 1:00.05. New Jersey has come up with another super talent in McNair Academic of Jersey City's Leslie Njoku atop the national list at 59.48. Then there's Menchville, VA's Nicole Saunders at 59.65 and Houston, TX's Sandra Iwunze at 59.74.

Three others have gone under 61.

2000-Meter Steeplechase - When Saratoga Springs, NY senior Lindsey Ferguson won the New York State Championships final in 6:36.05, it represented her second National record in the event this season and emphasized her virtual ownership of the five-lap barrier race.

She won the NON title as a sophomore in 6:45.69 and as a junior in 6:39.60, each of them, like the 6:36.05. a class record.

If anyone is to challenge Ferguson's dominance in Greensboro, it may be Reno, NV's Marie Lawrence, with a 6:40 seed time, or East Syracuse, NY's Leah Andrianos, at 6:52.08.

But don't count on anyone being close to Ferguson at the end.

1-Mile Racewalk - When Heather Buletti steps onto the track, all the national racewalk records go on the endangered list, The Long Island, NYer is already a veteran of the USATF national and international circuits.

In May, she represented the USA in the IAAF World Cup of Walking in LaCoruna, Spain and placed a quality 24th place in the personal best time of 51:25. That was in the Junior Women's World 10K, so one-mile becomes a breeze.

Look for Buletti to get under Maria Michta's 2004 7:16.02, time that represents both the National and US senior class records.

Jennifer Monahan of Holbrook, NY (7:52.71 in 2005) is back as defending champion and a strong, deep field of 21 is signed up to walk.

High Jump - Nearby Durham, NC's Patience Coleman is the only 6-0 jumper in the 32-leaper field and thus the clear choice. A 5-7 got her fourth place as a sophomore in 2005 and she plans to soar at least five inches higher this time around.

Two 5-10 jumpers, Austin, MN's Tressa Beckel and Memphis, TN's Jessica Merriweather, loom as major threats.

Pole Vault - The event continues in its developmental stages with hot prospects emerging all over the nation.

The National and NON records - 14 feet even - date back to Tiffany Maskalinski of Elma, NY's clearance here a year ago. Katie Veith of Fort Wayne, IN, a junior, is the gold medal pick and has 14-foot credentials of her own. Much improved, she went 12-5 1/2 for fifth at the 2005 NON.

Just three others have reached 13 - Brittany Parker of McKinney, TX (13-4), Rachel Laurent of Houma, LA (13-3) and Allison Stokke of Newport Beach, CA (13-0.)

Long Jump - Medford, MA's Arantxa King outdueled Columbia, MD's Tiffani Long at the 2005 NON, 19-9 1/2 to 19-4 1/2. King, still a junior, is back, and so is Long, a senior, but any kind of repeat perfomance along those lines is no cinch. The three longest leapers coming into Greensboro are Eagleville, PA's

Ryann Krais and Colorado Springs, CO's Nyeisha Wright (both at 20-3) and Fort Lauderdale, FL's Deandra Doyley (20-2.)

Triple Jump - Arantxa King of Medford, MA is the TJ defender, too. The 2005 winner at 41-10, she's been up to 42 even this spring.

Just three others have plus-40 seedings: Colorado's Nyeisha Wright (41-3 3/4), Bradford, PA's Erin Hannon (40-2) and Mechanicsville, VA's Rachel Butler (40-0.)

Shot Put - Charlotte, NC's Kamorean Hayes, 2005 NON titlist at 51-1, is poised for a title defense - and she's still a junior. Hayes has raised her sights in 2006 and reached 52-2. With just one other 50-footer in the field - Monaca, PA's Allyn Laughlin at 50-10 3/4 - Hayes is the strong favorite.

Two rising sophomores represent the coming-on-fast younger generation. Karen Shump of Media, PA has reached 47-6 and DeAnne Hahn of Lakewood, NJ has one out to 46-2.

Discus Throw - Again, this may be a Kamorean Hayes show. The Charlotte, NC junior took third at the 2005 NON (147-7) behind two seniors and heads the lineup of returnees.

Then again, Hayes may have a huge battle on her hands. Emily Pendleton, a Lindsey, OH junior, has wnged one out to 172-8, for a big gap on Hayes' 2006 best of 162-10.

They are by far the class of the 43-thrower field with just two others up to the 155 line - sophomores Natalie Baird of Sterling, VA (157-7) and Rachel Deloney of Bloomington, IN (155-0.)

Javelin Throw - They don't send their spears out to the distances they used to. The meet record (168-4 by Warwick, RI's Emily Carlsten) is 10 years old and appears safe at NON 2006.

Longest throwers coming to Greensboro are Johnstown's Karlee McQuillen (162-4), Chambersburg's Lorraine Hill (157-4), Russell's Elisha Jones (146-4) and Palmyra's Meghan Briggs (142-2.) They're all Pennsylvanians. Briggs (132-8) and Jones (131-8) went 1-2 in 2005.

Hammer Throw - Once upon a time, Rhode Islanders ruled the HT world, but no longer. The 2006 NON ball-and-chain event is going south, and five Georgia athletes come north with the best throws on the entry list.

Emily Bernhardt of Marietta was fourth at 152-1 in 2005 but is top seed in Greensboro at 180-9.

Then there's Allison Horner, also of Marietta, second in 2005 with a 166-6 and up to 167-5 in 2006. Other members of this power-packed Georgia cast include Patrice Gates of Villa Rica (160-1), Kristin Smith of Marietta (150-0) and Jessica Irizarry of Acworth (145-11.)


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