by Pete Cava
4x200 meter relay: Red-clad Trotwood-Madison High School of Trotwood, Ohio, competing here as the Waggoner Raiders, led wire-to-wire en route to the first boys' title at the 2008 Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Chris Burrows, Donte Lyons, Derricus Purdy and Mike Shaw finished in 1:25.18, the season's second-fastest prep performance. The squad's previous best was 1:25.44.
Second was South Lakes High School (Reston, VA) in 1:26.42, with Eastern Hills High (Fort Worth, TX) third in 1:27.51.
Trotwood-Madison's lineup consisted of four seniors, who weren't completely satisfied with the first-place finish.
"It's good to win it, I guess," said Purdy, who handed off to Shaw, "but people still don't respect us. We were expected to win, but we were looking for Team Texas. They beat us [at the 2007 NON], so we were looking to beat them this year."
Shaw said he and his teammates switched focus when they learned Team Texas wasn't back this year. "When we found out they weren't here we just focused on breaking records," he said. "Every time we run we tell the first guy to stay with the pack. When he does that, we know we have it. When Donte began to pull out in front, we knew that was it."
Shaw, a University of Michigan football recruit, is one of the top entries in Friday's 100 meter event.
Mile walk: A year ago, Evan Crowdus came out of nowhere to win the walk crown at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. This time around it was freshman Tyler Sorensen (Lafayette, CA) who emerged from obscurity to finish first in Greensboro.
Crowdus (Morganfield, KY), one of only two seniors in the seven-man field, went out hard and had a 50-meter lead at the halfway mark.
Sorensen, meanwhile, showed economical form and patiently maintained his own pace. As the rest of the pack fell further back, Sorensen began to gain ground.
Long before then, Crowdus realized the error of his ways. "I saw the quarter-mile mark (1:36) and knew I was done," he told NSSF correspondent Elliott Denman.
Crowdus passed the halfway mark in 3:19. He soon began to pay a toll for the indiscriminate pace, and Sorensen began reeling him in.
Sorensen took over the lead at the start of the bell lap and breezed home first in 7:05.21. Second was Crowdus in 7:20.17 while third place went to Matt Bolton (Hollis Center, ME) with a time of 8:12.49.
Sorensen's victory came on the heels of his sister's third-place finish in the girls' walk. Nicolette Sorensen, 20 months younger than Tyler and an eighth grader, had a time of 7:52.77.
"I knew Evan was the defending champion," said Sorensen. "My goal was to pretty much go at my pace, stay with that pace and make him have to keep up with that pace. Just being here is awesome. To actually win it is really nice."
Crowdus is headed to Lindsey-Wilson College in Kentucky. With the Vergara brothers (Roberto and Ricardo) also enrolled, Lindsey-Wilson is an emerging walk powerhouse on the NAIA ranks.
100 meters - qualifying: Dentarius Locke (Tampa, FL) posted the quickest time in the prelims, a 10.43 in the third heat.
Joining him in Friday's final are Hunter Furr (Lewisville, NC), Samuel Jordan (Wilmington, NC), Mike Shaw (Trotwood, OH), Horatio Williams (Oxford, MS), Shaun Smith (Terre Haute, IN), Kenneth Gilstrap (Lithonia, GA) and Herman Kirkland (Philadelphia, PA).
Javelin throw: Upsets were the order of the day in the early going at the Nike Outdoor Nationals on Friday, with unheralded Neal Hyunh upending Ben Latham for the javelin title. Latham (Mystic, CT), an Oklahoma recruit, came to Greensboro with the year's sixth-best prep performance, a mark of 212-0. He took the lead with a first-round heave of 197-0 and improved to 200-11 on his second attempt.
Hyunh (Altoona, PA) started out modestly with a first-round 179-11. By the fourth round he was second with a mark of 199-3. On his final, Hyunh uncorked a 204-6 throw to take the lead. When Latham fouled, the day went to Hyunh.
"It's a great honor because of all the people who have won it before," said an ebullient Hyunh. "I got third in my state. There are a lot of good guys in my state, but I didn't want to end my career like that. This is a better way to finish my career."
Hyunh almost missed the opportunity. "I had to give it all I had because earlier in the week I tweaked my groin, so it's been pretty tough throwing all week," he explained. "I didn't know how well I would do because I had trouble running all week."
Third with a best of 197-8 was Cody Unger (Oak Ridge, NJ).
Hammer throw: Burly Mike Gama made a clean sweep of the 2008 Nike Nationals weight titles, winning the hammer throw Friday with a mark of 204-1.
Gama, a junior from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, R.I., also won the weight throw at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Landover, Md., last March.
Here in Greensboro he defeated Wesley Wright (Villa Rica, Ga.), who was third in the event in 2007.
Going into the fifth round, Wright had the lead on the strength of a 203-0 third-round effort. Gama improved from 195-10 to 204-1 on his fifth try and, when Gama and Wright fouled on their final attempts, Gama had the win.
Thomas Davis (East Greenwich, RI) took third with a best of 201-8. Friday's results were off the mark for all three. Gama came in with a best of 222-6, fourth-best in the U.S. this year, while Wright (217-4) and Davis (214-0) couldn't match their season bests. "I didn't throw the hammer as far as I would have liked to but I'm pretty happy with the win," Gama told North Carolina A&T sports information director Brian Holloway. "I just didn't have anything at the end of throw, I just let it go and it worked out for me. I pretty much got lucky today, but it's nice to get lucky.
"Winning indoors was a little more special because I was ranked third coming in. But this one wasn't bad either, because I was ranked third going into the finals. I still had to wait for two more throws and that was pretty stressful. I was sweating a lot."
110 meter hurdles — qualifying: Sporting sunglasses, Spencer Adams (Charlotte, NC) coolly cruised to the fastest time of the prelims with a 13.67 clocking.
Also advancing to Friday's hurdles final were Brandon Tucker (Lewisville, TX), Chance Casey (Dayton, TX), Jeffrey Artis (Chesapeake, VA), David Howard (Daytona Beach, FL), Chris Rutherford (Toms River, NJ), Matthew Callanan, Mansfield, MA) and Marcus Pope (Andrews, SC).
1600 meter sprint medley relay (200-200-400-800): Anthony Hendrix and Akinto Boone duked it out over the final 200 meters, with Hendrix taking the lead on the homestretch to give Track Eastern Carolina the nod over Newburgh (NY) Elite Track Club.
Track Eastern Carolina, Newburgh, Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, PA) and Absegami Track Club were all in contention heading into the conclusive 800 meters. With 400 left, it was Hendrix in the lead, followed closely by Ford Palmer of Absegami and Boone.
Moon grabbed the lead with 200 to go. Hendrix, a sophomore, took it back with 40 meters left. Hendrix's split was 1:51.9 to 1:52.7 for Moon.
The quartet of Fuquawn Greene, Miles Sparks, Andrew Hendrix and Anthony Hendrix produced a time of 3:23.71. Second was Newburgh in 3:25.03 with Absegami third in 3:26.25.
Greene, Sparks and the Hendrix brothers also won the sprint medley relay title at this year's Nike Indoor Nationals.
"We wanted to break the national record," said Sparks, "but our coach told us not to worry about it because we have another shot at it next year. Andrew got us out in front, he opened up the gap and Anthony kept himself composed and held on to win."
Anthony Hendrix admitted that Boone's surge on the backstretch gave him the willies. "I was feeling good until he passed me," said Anthony. "When he went passed me it clicked in mind, 'Wait a minute, he just past me.' We had too much on the line to let that happen and to let him beat me. I couldn't sit back and know I could catch him and not do anything about it. I had to put it all out there.
It worried me but it didn't worry to the point where I was going to give up. When most people are passed they just give up. I wasn't going to let that happen."
100 meters: After a false start charged to the field, Hunter Furr emerged victorious in a close final.
The powerfully-built junior from Mount Tabor High School (Winston-Salem, NC) zoomed to the finish line in 10.56, followed closely by Dentarius Locke (Tampa, FL), another junior and Horatio Williams (Oxford, MS). Locke's time was 10.60 with Williams finishing in 10.64.
Williams got out quickly and had the early lead.
Furr, a football standout who looks more like a shot putter than a sprinter, moved ahead at about the 60-meter mark. "I was relaxed the whole time," he said. "I was breathing all the way through the lines and not tightening up. You can't worry about who's around you. If you've got your head and if you're running all the way through, it doesn't matter who's around you."
The 6-0, 195-pound running back, who helped Mount Tabor to the state 4A title last fall, has announced plans to attend the University of North Carolina.
"This means everything to me because I've worked so hard over the last two weeks," said Furr. "To say you are a national champion is truly an honor."
The race was run into an 0.6 meters-per-second wind.
4x100 meter relay — qualifying: Fresh off a third-place finish in the 100 meters, Horatio Williams propelled Oxford, Miss., High School into Saturday's final.
Williams ran down Roscoe Lee of Eastern Hills High (Fort Worth, TX) for first place in the fourth and final heat, finishing in a time of 42.00.
Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn, NY) had the fastest qualifying time, a 41.52 from the third heat.
Other teams advancing were Bethel (VA), Western Branch, McDowell, Franklin, Middle Country and Eastern Hills.
The Texans barely advanced with a time of 42.45.
Triple jump: Omar Craddock missed a personal best, but the junior from Killeen, Texas, High School hopped, skipped and jumped far enough to win the Nike Outdoor Nationals title.
Craddock unfurled a 50-9.25 effort on his second try, and the mark stood up through the next four rounds.
Chris Phipps (Lodi, NJ) threatened with a third-round 49-4.5 jump, good for second place, while Olu Olamigoke (Stafford, VA) moved into third place with a fourth-round 48-10.75.
Craddock came to Greensboro with the No. 4 U.S. prep mark (50-10.5) while Phipps was sixth (50-5).
"I came here last year with scar tissue built up on my hamstring," said Craddock, and I finished in sixth. This year I came in and felt great. I have been training for the longest time to get up to a 50 (foot) jump. I scratched on 51-foot and 52-foot jump. So it feels so good to not only come out here and win it, but to be so close to that record means a lot."
Craddock's mark came with a slight wind (0.2 mps).
Two-mile: How many times have much-ballyhooed events turned out to be bombs?
The Edsel, for example.
The most recent version of "King Kong."
Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.
But not the boys 2-mile race at this year's Nike Outdoor Nationals. The highly-touted event paid off Friday night with a national high school record by German Fernandez of Riverbank, Calif., High School.
Fernandez was part of a star-studded field that included Oregon signee Luke Puskedra (Judge Memorial, Ogden, UT), Oklahoma State recruit Colby Lowe (Carroll, Southlake, TX) and a pair of top finishers from last year's race, Sean Kevern (Brentwood, TN) and Robert Finnerty (Burnsville, MN).
Fernandez whetted appetites with a 64.2 split on the first lap, and Puskesdra took the field through the second lap in 65.8. The 2:10-flat half-mile had the crowd stirring.
Three laps into the race, Fernandez, Puskedra, Lowe and Finnerty began to separate from the field. Finnerty began to lag by the mile mark, which Fernandez covered in 4:19.4.
Lowe was fading by the fifth lap and, on the backstretch, Fernandez began to gain ground on Puskedra. A 64.7 sixth lap by Fernandez had announcer David Mitchell pleading with the crowd for vocal support.
At the bell lap it was clearly Fernandez's race. His only opponent was Jeff Nelson's prep record of 8:36.3 from 1979.
As the lithe Fernandez loped toward the final turn, the crowd was on its feet. The Californian needed a 64-second final lap for the record and, to the crowd's delight, surpassed it. He finished with a time of 8:34.40.
Puskedra just held off Lowe for third place, 8:47.06 to 8:47.07.
Fernandez will join Lowe this fall at Oklahoma State. "I've been having a great senior season," he said, "so I just didn't want to come away here with a win, but I wanted the record too. I've won before, but to get the record is really an accomplishment.
"I wanted to run smart, work my splits and put it all out there because this is my last high school race.
"I heard them say I ran the first mile in 4:20. So I felt good when I heard that because I had so much energy left. I just stayed patient and made some key surges at the right time and went on from there. When I heard them say had to run my last lap in 64 seconds, I knew I had it."
110 meter hurdles: Spencer Adams (Butler High School, Matthews, NC), third at the 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals, went home with the gold medal Friday.
Adams, this year's top prep performer (13.51), crossed the sticks in 13.75 ahead of Brandon Tucker (Lewisville, TX) in 13.86 and Chance Casey (Dayton, TX) in 14.02.
The hurdles final was almost lost in the buzz, coming on the heels of the record-setting boys 2-mile race.
"I felt really good today," said Adams, a Clemson recruit. "I've been training so hard, I missed a couple of days of practice and it helped me recharge my batteries. I just couldn't wait to get on the track and compete. I knew I was fully prepared.
"I feel like this is my home track. I've ran here four years in a row in the state championships. I've set two state records here and last month I got the best national time here in the hurdles, so this track has been good to me and it's fitting that I'm ending my high school career here."
High jump: Eight contestants advanced with clearances of 6-7 — Allen Toddrick (Plano, TX), Montez Blair (Sicklerville, NJ), Terrell Rickard (Waynesboro, PA), Tyler Campbell (Jasper, AL), Dwight Barbiaz (Milford, NH), Tyler Stepp (New Market, TN), Anthony Stanton (Acton, ME) and Paul Annear (Richland Center, WI).
Others who made it to Saturday's final with 6-5 jumps were Dominique Reed (Trotwood, OH) and Darius Purcell (Fayetteville, NC).
Discus throw: In command since the second round, Mason Finley (Salida, CO), came up with a 206-11 throw on his final attempt to ice the Nike Outdoor Nationals title.
Finley, owner of the year's top high school mark (222-1), bested Dayshan Ragans (Bakersfield, CA) and Bob Belden (Indianapolis, IN). Ragans had a 194-9 fifth-round throw while Belden, the Indiana state champion, popped a 189-9 on his final attempt to knock Brett Einbacker (Aurora, IL) out of third place.
Finley took over first place with a 200-9 toss in the second round.
4x800 meter relay: Kris Washington turned in a 1:54.7 third leg to give Motor City Track Club (Mumford, MI) a lead it never relinquished and anchorman Isaiah Ward crossed the finish line in 7:37.99 to give the Michigan squad the victory.
The performance made the Motor City foursome of George Jackson, Shaka Dukes, Washington and Ward the year's fastest 4x800 squad on the U.S. high school list.
Washington overtook Chris Pregler of Doylestown (PA) TC on the third leg and the Michiganders never looked back.
"All year we haven't had a chance to race against anyone in terms of good competition," said Ward. "We weren't sure how well we were going to do against this type of competition. Today, we proved that our training is good enough to compete against the best. We took cross country seriously, we got second at indoors, and all the hard work paid off in winning the national outdoors."
On the final leg, St. Charles (IL) North High School passed the Pennsylvanians for third place. St. Charles's time was 7:45.49 to 7:47.48 for Doylestown.
Second and third place, however, went to Albemarle (VA) High School and Hudson High School. Albemarle and Hudson ran times of 7:42.21 and 7:42.24 in the second section to move up in the composite standings.