28 Team NSAF athletes selected, preparing for CSI in Cuba

by Steve Underwood

It’s fitting that when the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation hosts its Caribbean Scholastic Invitational (CSI) in Havana, Cuba for the first time, this coming June 12-13, it will do so with perhaps its most exciting competitive squad yet – spanning the eight previous editions of CSI. Twenty-eight student-athletes were selected for Team NSAF over several weeks this spring and, with the roster finalized, they are getting ready for the trip of a lifetime -- even as they are at different points in their competitive seasons and coming together from all over the nation.

Eleven of the athletes (see below) have already won NBN indoor or outdoor individual titles, and two others have been on championship relays.  Twenty-two are current U.S. #1 in one or more events, or have been so – indoors or outdoors – in the past.  Five have actually represented Team USA already, in either World Youth, World Junior and Youth Olympic competitions, and have won five medals between them.

Team NSAF’s 28 student-athletes will include four seniors, 22 juniors and two sophomores, and they represent 15 states.

“This team may be our strongest ever … at least since the first one (2006),” said Jim Spier, Director of the NSAF.  “That one had Bianca Knight, Johnny Dutch and Jessica Beard, among others.  Having U.S. leaders and national champions, like these kids, should have a definite impact and make for a very strong team.”

The CSI has always been about providing first-time international competition opportunities for rising stars that are strong prospects to make Team USA Youth or Junior national squads in the coming years.  Typically, the squad is made up of all juniors and sophomores, and none usually have any previous international experience.  Having this many athletes on the team that have already won NBN titles is not the norm, either.  But this obviously a special year and the competition will be tougher.  So it makes sense to choose a team that has some established stars and internationalists to go with those who are still trying to reach that level.

The athletes will gather in Miami on June 9, and then travel to Havana from there on June 10.  After a day of training and some cultural opportunities, the meet will be held June 12-13, with return to the states on June 14.  Already, the team is working on some pre-trip “homework” to familiarize themselves with USA-Cuba history, the significance of this event and more. 

“I’m not aware of any non-USATF group that has taken a group this large to Cuba for a track and field event – ever,” said Mr. Spier.  “The last “official” team was for the 1997 Pan Am Juniors.”

Some of these athletes have already completed their state meet seasons; others have a few weeks to go.  Below are the 14 boys and 14 girls who will represent Team NSAF, with school, class, events and biographical highlights:

  • Ryan Clark, Banneker (College Park, GA) senior, sprints/relays
    Currently US#1 at 100m (10.26/10.22nwi) and #2 at 200 (20.70/20.64nwi) after a state meet sweep (plus a leg on US#1 3:12.03 4x4) … NBNI 60m champ at US#1 6.65 – capping off unbeaten season at 55/60 – and 2nd in 200 to Noah Lyles with US#2 20.85 (#3 all-time) … repped Team USA at 2013 World Youth Champs, winning 400 and medley relay silvers.
  • Noah Lyles, T.C. Williams (Alexandria, VA) junior, sprints/relays
    Has raced sparingly outdoors so far, but had 45.60 and 45.4 carries on school’s Penn Relays 4x4 heat (US#1 3:12.17) and final (4th, 3:13.97) … NBNI 200m champ at US#1 20.83 (#2 all-time) and 2nd to Clark in 60 at US#2 6.65 … 2014 campaign included Youth Olympic Games 200 title … ran on 2013 World Youth medley relay team with Clark.
  • Dylan Peebles, Wakefield (Raleigh, NC) junior, sprints/relays
    Rising talent in powerhouse Wakefield program is one of nation’s better junior sprinters … 2nd at this past weekend’s 4A state 200 at 21.30w(+4.7) … outdoors has also run 10.92 100m and 50.34 400m … indoor ’15 highlight was 4A 300 title with 34.53 on flat track … also ran 6.62 55m, 7.08 60m, 22.06 200m (15th NBNI) and 50.47 400m.
  • Josephus Lyles, T.C. Williams (Alexandria, VA) junior, sprints/relays
    Like brother Noah, has raced lightly outdoors other than 45.71 and 46.22 carries during the aforementioned Penn Relays efforts … injuries slowed him early in 2014, until he exploded in with NBNO 400 title (46.23), 4th at USA Jrs (46.55) and World Jr 4x4 gold … this past winter, he was 3rd in the NBNI 400 and showed amazing range from 55 to 500m.
  • Rasheed Tatham, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) senior, sprints/relays
    Made a big impression last spring with 4A state 400 title and 46.79 PR as a junior … also ran 22.15 200m, 14.47 110mH and long jumped 22-0.5(nwi) … in ’15 had a strong 47.73 400 in February, but struggled at region and missed making state … 4x400 made it, though, and he rebounded with 47.12 anchor for runner-up STA (3:14.03).
  • Logan MacKay, Davis (Kaysville, UT) junior, 800m/4x400
    Davis HS is one of nation’s best distance programs and MacKay’s a big part of it … anchor of 4x800 champions (7:42.19) at NBNI – with 1:52.13 carry – and ran leg on runner-up 4x1 Mile relay (17:11.44) … has run 1:53.09 PR outdoors so far … also raced Arcadia Invite mile and notched a PR 4:14.50 for 7th … at 5A state last weekend he won 800 and 3rd in 1,600.
  • Grant Holloway, Grassfield (Chesapeake, VA) junior, hurdles/jumps
    The nation’s top hurdles/jumps/sprints talent … biggest of his many achievements is NBNI 60H title with US#1 7.59 (#2 all-time) – in which he passed 55H in an HSR 7.05 … also 2nd in NBNI HJ with 6-11.5 (US#2 7-0 best) … epic indoor season also included US#3 300m (33.93), #4 500m (1:04.67), #8 long jump (23-6.25) and 6.30 55m … just getting going outdoors, but has done 14.18 110H, 37.54 300H and 23-11 LJ.
  • Norman Grimes, Canyon (TX) junior, hurdles
    Breakout 2015 season topped so far by US#1 36.10 300H, beating great field at Texas Relays … also 13.78 for 110H … then missed 2 weeks after appendectomy, but went on to win 5A state 300H at 36.35 … burst on scene indoors with 60H/200 double at Arkansas … later improved to US#6 7.82 and also ran US#10 48.01 400 … missed NBNI 60H final, but 6th in 200.
  • Jaron Brooks, Henry Clay (Lexington, KY) junior, high jump
    Has exploded into limelight in 2015, going from 6-4 last year to 7-1 indoors and an NBNI title (6-11.5) … his 7-1 best came at UK Invite and also had a 6-10 … so far outdoors has a 7-0 best at Fayette County City champs and another 6-10 … has improved his horizontal jumps this year to 22-4.25 LJ and 47-2.5 TJ (both NWI).
  • Ja’Mari Ward, Cahokia (Cahokia, IL) junior, horizontal jumps
    2nd-year member of NSAF’s Project Triple Jump, his incredible 2015 has so far been topped by NBNI long jump/triple jump double with US#1 marks of 25-7.25 and 51-7.75 … outdoor has been no less impressive with US#1 wind-legal performances of 25-6.5 and 51-11 … ranked 4th nationally in TJ and LJ in ’14 (T&FN), with Great Southwest LJ victory a big highlight.
  • Isaiah Rogers, Campbell (Smyrna, GA) junior, throws
    Part of Coach Mike Judge’s Throw 1 Deep club, he is one of nation’s top combo throwers … hit big 2-foot PR of 63-11.25 in the shot May 2 to move into US top 8 after consistency in 61s … then won state at 63-8.5 … has 198-3 hammer and 164-2 discus bests this spring … indoor season included big shot win at Simplot (plus 6th at NBNI) and 67-8 with the weight.
  • Ryan Camp, Archer (Lawrenceville, GA) junior, throws
    Has made huge strides so far during an unbeaten 2015, having started with a 145-4 PR and highlighted by a then-US#1 190-4 victory at the Taco Bell Classic … four days later, he improved to 191-0, which is still close to US top 10 and #1 junior … also has a 185-1, 6A state title and five other meets beyond 173 … shot PR is 54-1.5.
  • Grayson Hill, Cathedral Prep (Erie, PA) junior, throws
    Strong improvement so far in 2015 for 2nd-year NSAF Project Javelin thrower, with three early spring PRs – including a barrier-breaking 200-3 at the TSTCA champs that had him in the U.S. top five … earlier had victories at 192-2 and 193-4 … has six meets over 180 feet this year after throwing a best of 178-7 as a soph in 2014.
  • Adam Kelly, Barrington (RI) senior, throws
    Great start to 2015 saw him claim his 2nd straight NBNI weight throw title to cap off unbeaten campaign and ascension to #6 on the all-time list at 83-3.25 … has improved to 236-7 so far in hammer so far this spring, #12 all-time and US#2 behind teammate Robert Colantonio … last spring/summer he was 3rd at NBNO, 5th at Juniors … has also thrown shot 54-5.25.

  • Cassondra Hall, Northside (Warner Robins, GA) junior, sprints/relays
    A top Peach State sprinter for more than 4 years, made biggest national impact yet with 2nd at NBNI 60m in March with US#2 7.37 … outdoors, just won 3rd 100m and 2nd 200m Class 5A state titles on May 9 with near-PR 11.69 and wind-legal PR 23.91 … currently US#12 and #17, respectively … won 2013 AAU JO 100 title (15-16 yo).
  • Twanisha Terry, Northwestern, (Miami, FL) soph, sprints/relays
    Rising talent a huge part of Coach Carmen Jackson’s epic program … doubled 100m and 200m at 3A state May 2 with 11.44w and US#6 23.55, plus leg on state-record-setting US#2 45.61 4x1 … set legal 100 PR with 11.68 in Region 4 meet and ran on US#1 4x2 back at Fla. Relays … at NBNO last year, won frosh 100 and ran on winning championship 4x1 and 2nd-place 4x2.
  • Lauryn Ghee, Grassfield (Chesapeake, VA) soph, sprints/relays
    Another soph who’s risen in the ranks in ’15 … like teammate Grant Holloway, has great all-around talent and range … 3rd in NBNI 400 at US#4 54.65 … also US#1 1:13.84 500m, #3 38.47 300m … improved to 54.37 so far outdoors … also has 5-4 HJ, 17-9 LJ, 11.78 100m and 23.96 200 PRs (all nwi) … won frosh 400 at NBNO last spring with record 54.84.
  • Brooklyn Broadwater, Springside Chestnut Hill Acad. (Philadelphia, PA) junior, sprints/relays
    Starting to emerge on national scene this year, with latest and best highlight being her Penn Relays 400H victory last month in then-US#1 1:00.69 … had a big 200/400 breakthroughs indoors with 24.52/54.73 double to sweep PTFCA state titles … also set 300H PR in April at 42.61 … great range, can do anything from 55 to 5k, all hurdles and long jump.
  • Sarah Walker, Germantown Friends (Philadelphia, PA) junior, 800/4x400
    Rocketed to US#11 2:06.62 PR as a soph in 2014, and currently stands US#3 at 2:07.56 … has good history of marks in 2:07-2:09 range, as well as mostly good championship finishes with 4th at NBNI in March after 9th at NBNO and 7th at Juniors in ’14 … her strong range includes 56.05 400 PR and 4:59 in 1,600 … had a fine US#3 1:32.30 600m indoors to win Armory Invite.
  • Anna Cockrell, Providence Day (Charlotte, NC) junior, hurdles/relays
    Very good indoor season (lots of 8.4s in 60H) turned great at NBNI with US#2 8.21 60H runner-up finish, good for #5 all-time … has continued to impress outdoors, with NCISSA state triple including 13.53 100H(nwi) and US#2 41.31 300H … also has 13.42(nwi), with wind-legal 100H PR still 13.46 from ’14 NBNO (3rd) … at 400H, 1:01.45 this year, 59.97 last year (4th NBNO).
  • Alexis Duncan, DeSoto (TX) junior, hurdles/4x100
    Hit new peak at 6A state this past weekend with 13.25w 100H (all-conditions PR), 42.09 300H double, plus 4x100 victory … has US#4 13.45 legal best in ’15, plus US#8 41.92 … great soph season in ’14 was highlighted by NBNO 100H title in US#2 13.33, just nipping Sydney McLaughlin … has taken 3rd at 60H at both 2014 and 2015 NBNI.
  • Nicole Greene, Ponte Vedra (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL) senior, jumps
    Had a 3A state meet triple two weeks ago that was legendary: US#3 20-5 long jump, 40-2.25 triple jump and 5-10 high jump … otherwise best known for the HJ, where this year she’s become consistent 6-footer (six times) … biggest highlight has been 6-0.5 to capture NBNI title in March … first jumped 5-10 way back in 2012.
  • Courtney Corrin, Harvard Westlake (Los Angeles, CA) junior, jumps
    Super frosh campaign in 2013 saw her long jump US#1 21-0, win the NBNO title and go unbeaten until taking 5th at World Youths … has been nearly as good since, with 2nd at NBNO in ’14 behind Keturah Orji … so far in ’15, has claimed 2nd in first NBNI meet and currently has a US#1 20-8.5 best outdoors – which won her 3rd straight Mt. SAC title.
  • Chinne Okoronkwo, Mountlake Terrace (WA) junior, jumps
    NSAF Project Triple Jump member has continued to progress after outstanding soph year … improved to 41-10 indoors, US#3 and good for 3rd at NBNI … outdoors she won Arcadia title with then-US#1 40-11.75 (still #5) … 2014 saw her go 41-3.75 and 41-6.5w, plus 19-11.75w … won Youth Olympic Trials to make US team for Nanjing, China games … 12-7 pole vault PR.
  • Sophia Rivera, Brentwood (MO) junior, throws
    NSAF Project Javelin thrower has taken a great finish in 2014 to becoming arguably the best all-around prep girls thrower ever … went from 117-ft. PR in jav to 175-10 in 18 mos., becoming #5 all-time and then winning Penn Relays in 1 big week … won NBNI title to cap off unbeaten season in shot indoors (US#1 50-6.25) … also has 149-9 discus PR.
  • Kiana Phelps, Kingsley-Pierson (Kingsley, IA) junior, throws
    Was a big surprise in May last year when she improved her PR from 155-0 to US#1 179-7, which stood as nat’l leader for the season … 3rd at NBNO, then won big Chicagoland Throws battle … more consistent in 2015 so far with five meets between 157 and her US#2 172-9 … won her 3rd straight Drake Relays title in April.
  • Katelyn Gochenour, Marian Catholic (Omaha, NE) junior, throws
    NSAF Project Javelin thrower has thrown consistently far to start 2015, with three meets between 164-4 and 167-2 (and another at 157-2) … the 167-2 was a PR and US#1 at the time (now #3) … hit 167-0 early last year, but never topped 157 after … still, placed high in several 2014 meets, including 2nd at NBNO and Vaasa, Finland victory … clearly better now, though.
  • Kamryn Brinson, Marist (Atlanta, GA) junior, throws
    Throw 1 Deep club standout recently set new PR of US#7 168-8 at Southern Challenge … also US#4 with 3k Youth hammer at 175-7 … in 2014 was 10th at NBNO, then won USATF JO (15-16) title … in weight throw, was US#4 57-9 and 6th at NBNI … career best was 58-8.75 soph class national record last year … also good marks for shot, discus and jav.


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