2012 NBNI: Friday Preview and Predictions
March, 9, 2012
By Steve Underwood | ESPN.com
Girls High Jump (Friday, 6 p.m.)
This should be a great battle between a trio of jumpers who have cleared 5-10 or better, led by 2011 runner-up and top returnee Madeline Morrow OH. Morrow was known last year for a big handful of great duels with fellow Ohioan Taylor Burke (2011 NBNI champ), who has now moved on to college. But she’ll hardly have the stage to herself. Multi-event star Kendell Williams GA, always a national championship threat in any one of several indoor or outdoor events, is entered here – though she recently said she might just focus on the 60H and pentathlon. The HJ has perhaps been Williams’ best event (and favorite) this year, so it would be surprising if she skipped it. If she’s here, she’ll likely battle Morrow to the final jump. A later add to the field is fast-rising Rhode Island star Dakota Dailey-Harris, coming off her New Englands title a week ago. Finally, the deep field includes 13 jumpers at 5-8 or better, so if the stars falter at the higher elevations, it could be anyone’s gold.
Top Three Picks: 1. Williams, 2. Morrow, 3. Dailey-Harris.
Winning Height: 5-11.25
Girls Distance Medley Relay (Friday, 6:10 p.m.)
The last time a powerhouse girls distance program from Michigan was a threat for a national relay title was back in the early 2000s when Rockford was fielding some of the nation’s best. Now enter the girls of Grosse Pointe South, which won the Michigan D1 state XC title (MI teams aren’t allowed to run NXN) and feature the Meier twins – both sub-4:50 milers (See Baker’s Dozen story about their record chances). There are a handful of other teams that could run in the mid-11:40s to 12:00, including LaSalle RI (US#3 11:53.36), Ocean Lakes VA, and meet-record holder Saratoga Springs (US#4 11:55.14), but it’s hard to imagine anyone beating the Michigan squad. Defending champ Fayetteville-Manlius is only running the 4x800.
Top Three Picks: 1. Grosse Pointe, 2. LaSalle, 3. Kinetic (Saratoga).
Winning Time: 11:34.50, USR
Boys Distance Medley Relay (Friday, 6:40 p.m.)
CBA NJ assistant coach Chris Bennett said Friday that their US#1 squad was pulling out of this event, better to focus on Saturday’s 4x1 Mile relay – the assault on a record taking precedence over scoring a potential sweep of the three longest relays. That leaves the door wide open for US#2 St. Benedict’s NJ to take the win, with star Ed Cheserek’s path to a potential DMR/SMR/2M/1M quadruple growing a bit easier. That’s not to say there are no other contenders. Marshfield MA with its distance duo of Kevin Thomas and Joel Hubbard, Piscataway NJ with Tim Ball, and Pembroke MA with Wesley Gallagher all have a chance to run 10:10 or better. Still, if Cheserek gets the stick within 6-8 seconds of the lead, it’s lights out.
Top Three Picks: 1. St. Benedict’s, 2. Marshfield, 3. Piscataway
Winning Time: 10:06.40, USR
Girls 5,000 (Friday, 7:10 p.m.)
The rematch of Erin Finn MI, Haley Pierce DE, and Wesley Frazier NC is the story here (see Doug Binder Story, SteveU’s Baker’s Dozen) and, as has been mentioned, Brianna Nerud NY is also highly capable of winning. If Pierce is on form, she should win, but the fact that she has been prone to an occasional collapse or major mid-race fade opens the door for anyone else. Whoever is most on their game definitely has a national record shot.
Top Three Picks: 1. Pierce, 2. Finn, 3. Nerud
Winning Time: 16:31.20, USR
Boys 5,000 (Friday, 7:55 p.m.)
There aren’t going to be any record chases this year, but the 5k should still be a very good competitive race with national class talent. Dallin Farnsworth ID and Dustin Wilson PA are both familiar with the 5k on the track; Farnsworth was 4th in this race last year and Wilson was 5th in the NBON 5k last June. On top of that, they were 11th and 13th, respectively, at Foot Locker Finals last fall. Farnsworth is really on a roll, though, coming off his meet record Simplot 3,200 win. Also, New Yorkers Thomas Awad and Dan Lennon should be solidly in the mix, especially Awad, whose marks have been strong nearly all winter.
Top Three Picks: 1. Farnsworth, 2. Awad, 3. Wilson.
Winning Time: 14:33.70