By Pete Cava
4xMile: The Woodlands (TX) finished first in Saturday's initial event, which began while some fans were still celebrating the previous night's national record in the boys 2-mile. Jackalopes Track Club (Pinckney, MI), came to Greensboro hoping to improve on last year's third-place finish. But the day — or, at least, the morning — belonged to the Woodlands foursome of Michael Golden, Layne Nixon, Drew Butler and Reed Connor, who won with a time of 17:26.58.
Butler and Connor are juniors, wile Nixon and Golden are seniors. Second place went to the Fishers (IN) High School squad, consisting of Cale Allen, Alex Shields, Tyler Stegman and Drew Shields. The same outfit took second place at last month's Indiana high school meet. The Hoosier squad posted a time of 17:31.67.
The Jackalopes were relegated to third place for a second consecutive year with a time of 17:40.26.
It was a tight race through the first three miles, with Fishers and Pinckney taking turns in the lead. Butler ran a strong final 400 to give the Texans a permanent lead.
Golden praised Butler's work on the anchor leg. "Drew has really impressive kick," he said. "When we saw he was still with the group over the last 600 meters, we had a feeling he was going to put it in gear and get it done."
Butler said the Texans came here with victory in mind. "It's not often you can come and win a national championship," he said. "We wanted to stay with the group in the first and second leg. We wanted to pick up the pace with the third leg and then take it home on the anchor leg. We ran it perfectly."
800 meter medley relay (100-100-200-400): Union Catholic High School (Scotch Plains, NJ) emerged victorious from a hard-fought race with Bethel (VA) High, while Western Branch (Chesapeake, VA) finished third in the composite standings, courtesy of a swift time in an earlier section.
In the fast section, Union Catholic's Shariff Stubbs, Obinna Nwafor, Mike Suarez and Garrett Ellis turned in a time of 1:31.72 to edge Bethel. Bethel's time was 1:31.90.
The clocking for the Western Branch foursome was 1:31.99.
"We wanted perfect sticks, perfect times and stay focused," said Suarez, a St. Peter's recruit. "It all started to come about around the 400 meter market around the straight-a-way. We were right where we wanted to be in that point."
Ellis credited Suarez for a fine third leg. "Michael came through in a good spot when he handed me the stick," said the Connecticut-bound Ellis. "I figured I'd sit back a little bit, run my race, until it was time to make a move. Coming off the turn I wanted to see where I was at. I was in a pretty good position, so I just made my move."
2000 meter steeplechase: Zachary Ornelas had the steeple crown sewn up early, as the junior from Cedar Park, Texas, High School breezed to an easy victory in 5:54.58.
Ornelas, who moved to Texas after his sophomore year at South Jefferson High in Adams, N.Y., led wire to wire.
While Ornelas cruised, the race came down to a battle for second place between Taylor Morgan (Portland, OR) and Donny Roys (Medina, OH).
With 800 meters to go, Royce, Morgan, Andrew Sullivan (Ellington, CT) and Ryan King (Tolland, CT) were all in the hunt. Roys put on a surge with about 250 meters to go. Then Morgan surged over the final 200, passing Roys to wrap up the silver medal.
Morgan's time was 5:57.47 with Roys third in 6:00.89.
"I've been doing some good steeple training this year," said Ornelas. "I've ran some good races. I won the Texas Relays and was one second off the record, so I came in here with a little taste of what winning felt like. I decided I want to experience winning again so I came out here and gave it all I had.
"About half way through the race I just felt great and my pace was pretty even so I thought this was going to be my best race ever. It was a good place to have it.
"The last 100 meters I kept looking back because I was thinking 'Oh no, I'm going to be that kid who gets walked down!' Once I cross the line I realized I wasn't going to be that kid."
200 meters — qualifying: Hunter Furr (Lewisville, NC), winner of Friday's Nike Outdoor Nationals 100 meter title, qualified for Saturday's 200 meter final.
Furr won the first of three heats in 21.63 to advance. The junior from Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem ran into a headwind oif 2.2 meters per second. The races took place after a brief rain that cooled off the track.
The fastest qualifying time belonged to junior Dentarius Locke (Tampa, FL). Locke, runnerup to Furr in the 100, had a 21.48 Saturday.
Others advancing were Mike Shaw (Trotwood, OH), Fuquawn Greene (New Bern, NC), Darryl Williams (Jacksonville, NC), Troy Faulkner (Staten Island, NY), Samuel Jordan and Harold Houston (Ashburnham, MA).
Greene is the lone sophomore in the final.
High jump: Dwight Barbiasz, flawless through his first five attempts, matched his personal best of 7-1 en route to the title. The recent Milford, N.H., High School graduate needed one try each at 6-5, 6-7, 6-9, 6-11 and 7-1 before missing three jumps at 7-3.
Tyler Campbell (Jasper, AL) and Paul Annear (Richland Center, WI) stayed with Barbiasz through 6-9. Campbell wound up second with a 6-11 clearance while Annear took third with the same height. Campbell needed two tries at 6-11 while Annear needed three attempts.
Annear placed sixth at this meet in 2007.
"I just tried to put good speed into the jumps," said Barbiasz. "Once I approached the bar, I felt really good about how high I could go. This ties my personal best. I was close to 7-3 and went for it, because it would have been the best in the nation this year. I just wanted a chance to say I went for it.
"I'm from a small town in New Hampshire. We don't have great facilities, so I just try to do the best I can to prepare for these kinds of meets."
Long jump: Jarrod Hutchen (Villa Rica, GA) overtook Tra Wilson (Indianapolis, IN) in the fifth round with a wind-aided jump of 23-3.5 that stood up for the title.
Wilson had popped a 22-11.75 on his first attempt and led through most of the competition. Hutchen trailed in second place on the strength of a second-round 22-10.75.
After Hutchen took the lead, Joseph McCloud (Newark, NJ) came up with a leap of 23-2.5 that clinched second place and relegated Wilson to third.
Hutchen called the win his best-ever performance. "Because at states," he explained, "I jumped a 23-2 and today I jumped a 23-3. So it was a really good day for me because I thought I scratched on the 23-3.
"When you're around all these great athletes and all these great people and you're at a big track meet, it helps you perform that much better. It was good competition today. Those guys really pushed me and help me get out there. I just eased it out by a little bit."
400 meter hurdles: Coming off the final hurdle, Spencer Adams reached back to his early training in the 400 meters. He caught up with Chance Casey and nipped him at the tape in one of the closest finishes of the meet.
Adams (Butler High School, Matthews, N.C.) became the first double winner of the boys' event.
Casey (Crosby, TX), third in Friday's high hurdles, had a clear lead after 200 meters. Adams, the Clemson recruit, began to narrow the gap with two hurdles to go. Coming of the tenth hurdle, Adams began to reel in Casey. He squeaked past the Texan at the finish. Casey, the No. 2 prep in the 300 meter hurdles, was the lone junior in the field.
Adams' time was 50.99 with Casey at 51.07. James Thurn (Cicero, NY) came up for third place in 51.86.
"It felt good to double up," said Adams. "I knew he [Casey] was coming because I could hear him. I used to run the 400 when I was little. I used my 400 experience after I got over the last hurdle. I wanted to keep my eyes straight on the lanes, don't worry who is behind you or beside you or ahead of you — just go for the win. I had to bring that out of the grave today.
"I gave him an opening coming off the curve. I felt like I was getting over the hurdles kind of slow. I could feel him coming up on me because I gave him the opportunity, so I'm going to let him make his move coming out of the corner and then I was going to make my move after the last hurdle."
4x100 meter relay: As if the intermediate hurdles wasn't enough of a heart-stopper, the next race, the 4x100, was decided by five-thousands of a second. In comparison, the 2000 presidential election looked like a lopsided victory.
Sheepshead Bay High School (Brooklyn, NY) stormed into the lead by the first exchange and stayed in front through the next two handoffs.
By the third exchange, Naquan Alexander appeared to be in control for Sheepshead Bay. But Bethel's Ja-Vell Bullard had other ideas, and he turned on the jets to pull even with Alexander at the finish.
The Aggie Stadium scoreboard quickly listed six times — all but the top two — as the crowd's collective blood pressure spiked upwards.
Then the times for Sheepshead Bay and Bethel flashed on the screen — 41.23 for both squads! After an amazed sigh from the fans, the scoreboard showed the time to the thousandths . . . and Sheepshead Bay was the winner, 41.221 to 41.226.
Oxford, Miss., High School took third in 42.09.
The lineup for Sheepshead Bay consisted of Darryl Bradshaw, Ayo Isijola, John Thomas and Alexander. "Our stick work is what took us over the top," said Alexander. "We were focused today and our stick work was excellent. That was the difference between winning and losing. It was scary and unbelievable how close things got. It was hard, but it's all about the stick work."
800 meters: Joseph Franklin (Godby, Tallahassee, FL) took the lead at the bell and picked up the pace, finishing strong in 1:50.48 for a solid victory.
The Tennessee-bound Franklin, owner of the year's quickest prep time (1:48.97), was part of a tightly-bunched pack that went through the first 200 in 54.8
When Franklin took the lead William Zahorodny (Damascus, MD) tried to go with him, but coming into the straightaway there was no doubt about the outcome.
Franklin raced to the finish line with Charles Jock (San Diego, CA) in hot pursuit. As Jock closed, Franklin began to flail. He held on for first place in 1:50.48 with Jock second in 1:50.66.
Third place went to Monroe Kearns (Jackson, NJ) third in 1:51.81.
"I didn't get the time I wanted, but it's okay," said Franklin. "The race took a lot out of me. I get dehydrated a lot, so that slowed me up a bit. I tried to do better by drinking more water two or three days ago, but it apparently wasn't enough.
"Races usually slow down after the 400 mark because people are trying to rest and I didn't want to. I wanted to go ahead and get a lead. It took a lot out of me, but I got the win."
In the first of four 800 meter heats Saturday, Barry Wilkins (Indianapolis, IN) set a deaf world junior record. Wilkins posted a time of 1:55.25 to better the year-old mark of 1:57.08 by Germany's Daniel Helmis. Helmis's record came last July 11 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Wilkins, who was fourth in the 800 at this year's Indiana state meet, is a junior at North Central High School in Indianapolis.
400 meters: Ja-Vell "The Bullet" Bullard, denied a win in the ultra-close 4x100, dominated the last 100 meters of this race for a 46.54 triumph.
Bullard (Bethel, VA, High School), running in lane 6, blasted past Bernard Goodwyn (Wilmington, DE) and Tavaris Tate (Starkville, MS) on the homestretch.
Tate moved up for second in 46.90 with Goodwyn settling for third in 47.44.
Bullard's time was the fourth-best U.S. prep mark of the season.
Mile: "After four years, winning this feels really good," said Robert Finnerty when the mile was over. "After all the years of coming to this meet, it feels good to finally come out on top."
Finnerty (Burnsville, MN, HS) hammered around the final turn to pass Luke Puskedra (Ogden, UT) to finish in 4:05.25 for the mile title.
The crew-cut Finnerty, eleventh in this meet a year ago, dueled the taller Puskedra through most of the race. Finnerty took the field through the first lap in 61.5, and pushed the pace harder on backstretch. Puskedra took over on the third lap, passing in 61.7. On the backstretch it was Puskedra in the lead with Finnerty right on his heels. Heading into the straightaway, Puskedra couldn't match Finnerty's surge. The Minnesotan's time was the year's fastest prep mile.
Puskedra wound up second in 4:06.50. Another Gopher State runner, Jordan Carlson (Rosemount, MN) placed third in 4:07.51.
"This is the first time I've come in here with a chance to run in the fast heat," said Finnerty. "I really came in feeling like I was one of the top guys here and that really made a difference. Last year I was just going for fast times, this year I was going for a championship."
200 meters: Mike Shaw, wearing the distinctive red uniform of Trotwood-Madison High School (Trotwood, OH), slammed around the track in 21.19 for first place.
It was a big turnaround for Shaw, who finished eighth and last in Friday's 100 meter final.
Shaw's triumph denied Hunter Furr double-victor status at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. Furr, a junior from Lewisville, N.C., was the 100 meter champ. Furr settled for third in 21.54.
Dentarius Locke (Tampa, FL), a junior who was second in the 100, was runnerup in this event, too, with a time of 21.52.
The race was run into a headwind of 2.2 meters per second.
"The 200 meters has been my race all year long, said Shaw. "I know last year I false started and I was upset I didn't win it. So today I came in and just ran the curve hard. I knew if I came off the curve first, I was going to win it."
Shot put: In one of the biggest upsets at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, Brandon Pounds of Lawrence North High School ambushed junior Nick Vena (Whippany, NJ) for the shot put title.
Vena, the talented freshman from Morristown, N.J., High School, is the No. 2 U.S. prep performer with a season best of 67-10.25.
Pounds, an Indiana State recruit, came here with a best of 66-9, the fourth-best high school mark.
Pounds took over the lead from Hayden Baillio (Whitesboro, TX) in the fourth round with a heave of 68-11.25, a personal best.
Vena improved to 67-2.25 on his fifth throw and Steven Saenz (Rio Grande City, TX) moved into third with a fifth-round 65-7.5.
Vena came up with another 67-2.25 on his final throw while Saenz fouled.
Baillio's 65-0.75 gave him fourth place.
Pounds, winner of this year's Indiana state title, fouled on his last two attempts.
"You have to go in knowing it only takes one big throw," said the affable Hoosier. "I just couldn't get it. My first round of throws, I was really leaning. My coach had told me just to slow down a little bit and relax. I just put my emotions into it and got it."
Distance Medley Relay (1200-400-800-1600): Colby Lowe's 4:05.8 anchor leg decided the outcome as Carroll High School (South Lake, TX) finished first in 9:56.54.
It was the year's fastest prep time. The Carroll quartet of junior Chris Brown, Mason Williams, Jack Peterson and Lowe came in with the year's top time (10:02.47).
Lowe quickly moved in front after the third exchange and never looked back, slowly increasing the Texas squad's lead.
Up until Lowe's heroics, six teams were in striking distance. Danbury, Conn., High School wound second in 10:02.11 with Trabuco Track Club (Mission Viejo, CA) third in 10:03.24.
"We trust each other," Williams said after the awards ceremony. "We don't always run together, but we're together enough to know what it takes to get things done. We come out and get work done on our own, and today we were all a unit and we got it done."
Rowe said the victory capped off the high school careers for the three upperclassmen. "I mean it's a great way to end it out for the seniors," he said. "A lot of us have been together since freshman year, and we really wanted to set the bar next year and the runners that will come behind us. We wanted to be a part of the tradition and hopefully what we did will motivate guys to top it."
4x400 meter relay: Mike Shaw picked up his third medal of the meet, anchoring Trotwood- Madison High School (Trotwood, OH) to a first-place finish with a 46.4 anchor leg.
The Ohio squad battled Dominguez High School (Compton, Calif.) most of the way. The Californians came to Greensboro with the year's best time (3:09.59).
Leon Dillihunt's 47.1 third leg had Dominguez in front by the third exchange. That set up a showdown between Shaw and Dominguez's Aaron Hester on the final leg. Shaw, winner of the 200 and the anchor leg on Trotwood-Madison's triumphant 4x200, caught Hester in the waning meters.
The time for Trotwood-Madison — competing here as the Waggoner Raiders — was 3:11.33.
Hester's excellent 47.2 split wasn't enough as Dominguez wound up second in 3:11.41. A 46.6 anchor by Ja-Vell Bullard gave Bethel (VA) High School third place in 3:14.00.
Trotwood-Madison fielded a team of Derricus Purdy, Donte Lyons, sophomore Jordan Pascal and Shaw. "My coach [Randy Waggoner] got national coach of the year," said Shaw, "so we had to make him look good. It was a way we could congratulate him on his award and it was a nice way to finish out the season. The way he has coached this team is unreal."
Shaw said the game plan was to get out in front from the jump. "We wanted to start with the lead early," he said. "We knew our third leg is our weakest leg. We just told him to hold on. I told him if you get it to me and I'm within ten meters, I'm going to win it."
Pole vault: David Slovenski (Brunswick, ME) packed away the gold medal with a clearance of 16-4.5, four inches ahead of runnerup Jason Pelletier (Bryant, AR).
Pelletier came in with the top mark — an indoor 16-10.25. The Penn State signee had to be content with second place and a 16-0.5 height.
Matthew Alexander (Tolland, CT) and Scott Houston (Oak Ridge, NC) tied for third at 15-8.5
"This week I've really been working on making first attempts instead of worrying about height or placement," said Slovenski. "I didn't have school this week because I'm a senior, so all I had to do was focus on pole vault. "
I know if I make it on first attempt no matter the height, I'm winning. It also puts pressure on the other vaulters. It helps the mindset when you make it on the first attempt. I wanted to take the pressure off of me."