High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: ohio

Former prep leapers take fast track to London Olympic medal stand

August, 17, 2012
Christian Taylor and Will ClayeCameron Spencer/GettyImagesFormer prep stars Christian Taylor and Will Claye celebrate their 1-2 finish in the Olympic triple jump.

When you saw the success of Team USA’s youth movement in the 2012 London Olympic jumps last week, accounting for five of the eight medals won in those four men’s and four women’s events, you knew Christian Taylor, Will Claye, Erik Kynard, and Brigetta Barrett were young. But did you know how young?

To wit: In August of 2008, during the last Olympiad, Taylor was finishing a fine senior year at Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) High School in the triple jump (US#1 52-8), long jump (US#2 25-6) and 400 (US#4 46.60), with a pair of top-eight finishes at the World Junior Championships in Poland. He had won the World Youth triple jump as a junior. Claye, just a junior at Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.), was not far behind Taylor’s marks, including a US#2 52-4.75 TJ, and his post-season included wins at Great Southwest and USATF JOs.

Kynard, a Rogers (Toledo, Ohio) junior, had made the 2008 Olympic Trials off of a 7-3.75 indoors and while he didn’t make the final in Eugene that June, he did muster 7-0.5 in qualifying there. Barrett, yet another junior (Duncanville, Texas), had been one of three girls from her state over 6-0 at Great Southwest. Both Barrett and Kynard finished second at USATF Juniors, but Barrett didn’t compete in Poland while Kynard didn’t make the final.

Taylor, Claye, Kynard and Barrett. Three of them still had another year of high school, while Taylor was headed to University of Florida for his freshman year. No doubt all of them hoped for NCAA success and probably had Olympic dreams in the backs of their minds.

But the 2012 London Olympic team? And making the finals in their respective events and earning gold, silver and bronze medals, with none of them older than Taylor’s just-turned-22? With all of them already among the top 10 Americans in history, save for Kynard, who’s just a centimeter away from joining that elite group?


In your dreams, folks might have said back then. But dreams sometimes come true much faster than expected, and so it was in London last week that Taylor and Claye gave Team USA a 1-2 finish in the men’s triple jump (with Claye also winning long jump bronze), and Kynard and Barrett both earned silver in their respective high jump events. It was clear that all of these athletes had a lot of talent and could possibly someday by national or international elites, but rarely have prep stars – beyond prodigies like Allyson Felix – risen up this fast. Each of the four were outstanding preps, but it’s not like they really threatened any high school records. All have improved tremendously during the past four years, however, going from being very good (if not truly great) preps to among the best collegians and young pros the U.S. has ever seen. And they each have many more years to get even better.

Gator power

It was Taylor and Claye who gave the quickest indication after high school that they had London medal potential. Claye skipped his final semester at Mountain Pointe and enrolled at Oklahoma in time for the 2009 indoor and outdoor seasons. He claimed a Big 12 title indoors as he began to improve dramatically, while Taylor was doing the same at Florida. Taylor topped Claye for the NCAA indoor title, 55-8.5 to 55-1.5, both three feet beyond what they’d done in 2008, but outdoors it was Claye turning the tables at NCAAs with an even-better U.S. Junior record 56-4.75. In what would have been his senior year in high school and as he was just turning 18, Claye won six major titles, including the Pan Am Juniors.

Claye had an injury-plagued off-year in 2010, while Taylor improved to 56-4.25 and won the NCAA outdoor title. Then Claye transferred to Florida, joining Taylor, and both exploded in 2011. They continued to dominate NCAAs and inch toward the 57-foot mark indoors. Then at the outdoor NCAAs, they soared to PRs of 58-4.75 (Taylor) and 57-9.75 (Claye), though both were wind-aided. They were now contenders for the 2011 World Championships podium and both turned pro. They were rewarded in Daegu, with Taylor (the youngest jumper in the final) nearly beating the American record and assuming the global yearly lead with a 58-11.25 gold-medal performance, and Claye taking bronze.

While the biggest breakthrough came in 2011, Taylor and Claye still had to elevate their games for the pressure of the Olympic cauldron. But throughout 2012, they never really left any doubt they’d be ready, going 1-2 in the World Indoor Champs (Claye winning) and Olympic Trials (Taylor winning) and building their resumes in other meets leading up to London.

Taylor and his coach never had anything less than high expectations. “When I was recruiting him (to Florida), I sat him down and told him, ‘In four years, the goal is to be an Olympic medalist,’” said Coach Rana Reider to The Dayton Beach News-Journal (Taylor trained at Daytona Beach’s Embry-Riddle U. this past year). “That is what you can do if you stay on task and learn how to compete under not the greatest circumstances (tough collegiate schedule).”

And while Claye was super talented as well, the decision to head to Gainesville a few years ago was a key factor in his success. “Me and Christian have been going 1-2 for a long time,” Claye told USATF after they won their TJ medals. “We have a brotherhood, and jumping against your brother, you go harder than you do with anyone else. It feels like it is just me and Christian out there sometimes, you know. It is an awesome rivalry, and we definitely push each other and help each other.”

** Christian wins World Youth triple jump gold in 2007, plus long jump bronze
** He comes back in 2008 with NSIC triple capped with TJ victory
** Will edges rival Bryce Lamb at 2008 AZ state with US#1 TJ
** Interval Session with Will in 2008

Raw talent

Erik Kynard
Adam Pretty/GettyImagesErik Kynard, a prep junior just four years ago, is now the Olympic men's high jump silver medalist.
Few athletes displayed as much talent and potential as did Kynard as a prep, but he still wasn’t quite at the level of, say, a Scott Sellers and Andra Manson. But his progress since has been special. After that Trials experience as a junior in 2008, Kynard followed with US#1 7-4.5 indoors and #2 7-3.5 outdoors as a senior, claiming Nike Nationals titles in both seasons. He did all that with form that at times looked less than polished and one wondered what heights he could ascend to at Kansas State.

In 2010, as a KSU frosh, Kynard stayed at the 7-3, 7-4 level, indoors and out. But in February, 2011, he had his big breakthrough with a 7-7.75, becoming the third-best indoor collegian ever. Outdoors, he won the Drake and Texas relays, then the NCAA outdoor title before earning his Daegu ticket. Then earlier this year, he won his second NCAA outdoor title with a PR of 7-8 and that set the stage for his making Team USA at the Trials.

As the London final unfolded, Kynard’s talent was on display for all the world to see, as well as some daring. He clinched the silver with 7-7.75 on his first attempt, then duked it out with eventual gold medalist Ivan Ukhov of Russia by twice passing after misses to the next height, finally bowing out at 7-10.5.

While still getting the “raw” talent tag from the likes of NBC Olympics field event analyst Dwight Stones, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist himself, it’s clear Kynard is well beyond the jumper he was in high school.

“I was probably most impressed with his attempts at 2.38 (7-9.75) and 2.40 (7-10.5) as much as anything,” said his Kansas State Coach Cliff Rovelto in a press release from the school. “He’s come an awful long way in a relatively short period of time. We should all be very proud of him and what he did today.”

While calling it “the best second-place I’ve ever had,” Kynard was clearly at home trying to win gold in the world’s biggest meet. “Pressure doesn’t burst my pipes,” he told USATF. “I have faith in my abilities. No stage is too big.”

To the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he added, “I'm young and I’ll be around for a while. I'm going home with some hardware, so I can’t complain. I’ll be back. I’ll see you all in Rio.”

U.S. HJ teammate Jamie Neito called Kynard “the future and the present for high-jumping. He’s going to have an amazing career.”

** Erik wins 2009 Nike Indoor high jump
** And then takes Nike Outdoor high jump three months later
** 2008 Interval Session with Erik

Unlimited potential

Brigetta Barrett
Cameron Spencer/GettyImagesBrigetta Barrett during her silver medal performance in the Olympic women's high jump.
Barrett was on a bit of a plateau in 2009, winning state and, in another meet, matching her 2008 season’s best with 6-0. But at the University of Arizona, improvement came immediately as she cleared 6-2.25 during her frosh indoor campaign in 2010, then 6-3.25 outdoors – placing third in both NCAA national meets. 2011 was even better, as she claimed both NCAA titles, won the World University Games with a PR 6-5, and took 10th in the IAAF World Champs.

To begin 2012, she repeated both NCAA titles, but she saved her first major PR for the best possible time, taking second in the Olympic Trials at 6-7. Now with her 6-8 in the Olympics, only one American in history, the aforementioned Lowe, has gone higher.

“I’m definitely thankful I have the medal, but it is really what comes with the medal that means a lot,” Barrett told USATF. “I know that God has brought me so far and I know where I started, so to be able to stand here and look back on the journey, that is what it really means for me. My mom is in the stands smiling and healthy, so it’s great.”

Said fellow American Chaunte Lowe, who was sixth in the Olympic HJ: “My performance was not great, but I am really proud of Brigetta. She is a really great talent and I am glad that she was able to stay poised on this type of a stage.”

NBC’s Stones has called Barrett’s potential “unlimited” and said she’s got what it takes to be the “next world-record holder.”

The same can be said of all four of these Team USA high-flyers.

** Brigetta part of elite trio over six feet at 2008 Great Southwest

Press Release

NEW YORK CITY (May 16, 2012)—Josh Lampron and Ben Malone, who own the two fastest 1500-meter times in the nation so far this season, are among 16 top high school athletes added to the fields for the adidas Dream 100 and adidas Dream Mile at the adidas Grand Prix on June 9, organizers have announced.

Also headlining the roster are Ajee Wilson, the 2011 World Youth Champion at 800 meters, and freshman sensation Alexa Efraimson, the first freshman ever invited to a Dream event.

The Dream 100 and Dream Mile are again destined to be among the most hotly contested events at the adidas Grand Prix on June 9. In its eighth year as one of the premier track-and-field events in the world, the adidas Grand Prix, at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, will feature dozens of Olympic medalists and World Champions, including Yohan Blake, the reigning 100-meter World Champion, and David Rudisha, the 800-meter World Record-holder, who will be making his U.S. debut. The event will again be the sixth stop on the international Samsung Diamond League circuit and is part of the Visa Championships Series. Tickets are now available at adidasgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722.

Lampron, a senior from Mansfield, Mass., last weekend ran 3:45.74 for 1500 meters at a meet in Boston, among the top-20 high school times in U.S. history and the fastest in the nation since 2009. The 2011 national champion in the mile, Lampron is a three-time state champion and will attend Villanova University in the fall.

Malone, a junior from Hillsdale, N.J., is the 2012 National Indoor Champion at 800 meters and holds U.S. high school indoor records for a junior at 800 meters (1:49.94) and 1000 meters (2:23.56). On Monday, he ran the #2 time in the U.S. at 1500 meters, 3:49.84.

A senior from Neptune, N.J., Wilson is one of the top high school athletes in New Jersey history. Currently ranked #2 in the nation at 800 meters, she finished the 2012 indoor season ranked #1 at both 600 and 800 meters. A qualifier for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Wilson will attend Florida State University.

Efraimson, of Camas, Wash., has run 4:23.41 for 1500 meters already this season to rank #4 on the U.S. list, and her time of 2:08.92 for 800 meters is #7. She finished 14th at cross country nationals last fall.

Also accepting invitations to the Boys’ Dream Mile are Jacob Burcham, a junior from Ona, W. Va.; who finished seventh at 1500 meters in the 2011 World Youth Championships in 3:46.55, the fastest time by a U.S. prep last year; Brannon Kidder, a senior from Lancaster, Ohio, a four-time state track champion ranked #4 in the U.S. at 1600 meters who is headed to Penn State University; Craig Nowak, a senior from Cypress, Tex., who is a five-time 5A state champion, ranks #2 at 1600 meters and #3 at 3200 meters, and will attend Oklahoma State University; and Craig Engels, a senior from Pfafftown, N.C., ranked in the top 10 at the mile (#3), 1500 meters (#4), and 3200 meters (#10). Engels was the 2012 Penn Relays Mile Champion in front of Burcham, the runner-up, and Malone, who placed third. He will attend North Carolina State University.

Joining Wilson and Efraimson in the Girls’ Dream Mile will be Haley Pierce, a senior from Wilmington, Del., the 15-time State Champion ranked #3 at 3200 meters and #4 at 1600 meters who will attend Georgetown University; Angel Piccirillo, a senior from Homer Center, Penn., who is a two-time state Gatorade Cross-Country Athlete of the Year, a seven-time State Champion, ranks #2 in the mile and will attend Villanova University; Amy-Eloise Neale, a junior from Snohomish, Wash., six-time Washington 3A State Champion ranked #4 in the mile and #6 at 1500 meters; and Paige Rice, a sophomore from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Ore., the 6A Oregon Cross Country State Champion ranked #4 in the U.S. at 1500 meters.

Burcham, Wilson, Pierce, Piccirillo and Neale are all making return Dream Mile appearances.

Joining the field of the adidas Boys’ Dream 100 are Raymond Bozmans of Fort Collins, Colo., a senior ranked #3 in the U.S. at 100 meters and #5 at 200 meters who is the 2012 Arcadia Invite Champion and will attend Texas Christian University on a football scholarship; and Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks, Calif., a junior who is the 2012 Mt. SAC champion at both 100 and 200 meters and 2011 state runner-up in both distances.

Added to the adidas Girls’ Dream 100 are Kali Davis-White of Lauderdale Lake, Fla., a junior ranked #4 in the U.S. and 2012 Florida State 4A runner-up at both 100 and 200 meters to the previously announced Shayla Sanders; and Destinee Gause of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a senior who is the 2012 National Indoor Champion at 200 meters and is ranked #5 at 100 meters. The 2011 Ohio State Champion at 100 and 200 meters, she will attend the University of Florida.

Fields for the Dream Mile and Dream 100 are being drawn from the winners of three qualifying meets in the adidas Golden Stripes series, as well as from at-large bids. The first meet, the adidas Meet of Champions, was held on March 24, followed by the Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan., April 19-21. Next up is the Golden South Classic in Orlando, Fla., on May 26. In addition to the opportunity to compete in a world-class international track event, athletes in the Dream Mile and Dream 100 will also have the chance to receive coaching from mile legend Jim Ryun.

All of the latest news, photos and additional information on the event can be found at adidasgrandprix.com, the event’s pages on Facebook at facebook.com/adidasGrandPrix and on Twitter at twitter.com/adidasGrandPrix. When tweeting, use #agpny. For even more coverage on the Dream Mile and Dream 100, visit adidasgoldenstripes.com.


Sara Hunninghake, Global Athletics & Marketing
Coverage of the OATCCC Indoor Track and Field Championships

Sat., March 17, 2012 -- Stile Fieldhouse, U of Akron., Akron, Ohio

Division I Elites | Division II/III Elites

  • B-60H: Donovan Robertson (Berea) broke the Ohio indoor state meet record by running 7.67 seconds in the prelims. In the finals he was a little bit slower, clocking 7.88 seconds, still won by three-tenths of a second. Robertson, who set the USR at 7.57 in Seattle, also won New Balance Nationals with 7.70 in the finals.
  • B-PV: Jacob Blankenship (Gahanna Lincoln) matched his best clearance of the season, making 17-6.50 to break the meet record. Blankenship is the indoor national champion, having topped a great a field in NYC.
  • B-200: In the race of the day, junior Anthony Young (St. Edward) and junior Shelton Gibson (Cleveland Heights) both ran under the state meet record. Young won a photo finish, 21.34 seconds to 21.35.
  • G-200: Destinee Gause (Reynoldsburg) broke the state meet record, running 23.95 seconds in the final.
  • B-800/1,600: Brannon Kidder (Lancaster) swept the mid-distance events with a fine 1:55.71/4:15.69 double.
  • B-4x200 relay: Cleveland Heights ran 1:28.28 to come within .16 seconds of the meet record.
  • B-3,200: Tsehaye Hiluf (Reynoldsburg) smashed the state meet record, winning in 9:07.51.
  • G-HJ: Maddie Morrow (Hoover) cleared 5-10 for the win, one inch lower than the meet record she set in 2011.
  • B-SP: Logan's Coy Blair threw 64-10 on his first attempt -- a meet record -- and then fouled on his five remaining throws.
  • G-WT: Austintown Fitch sophomore Gabby Figueroa hit a big final throw 55-5 to break the state meet record.
  • B-WT: Aaron Zedella (St. Edward) threw 72-7 for a new state meet record.
  • B-400: In the Division II/III finals, Michael Ohiembor and Trell Turner of Dunbar went 1-2 in 48.15 and 48.40 -- both breaking the state meet record.
  • G-TJ: Cierra Brown (Chaminade Julienne) broke the meet record in Division II/III with a mark of 39-8.50.

News, ohio

Mary CainJohn Dye/ESPNHSMary Cain (left), who finished 2nd to Ajee Wilson in the NBN Indoors 800, is now training with Bronxville's boys' team and coach.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Bronxville (Bronxville, N.Y.) sophomore Mary Cain is unquestionably one of the brightest young talents in U.S. track and field, but the 15-year-old’s decision to switch coaches and break away from the girls team has ruffled some feathers.

Cain finished second in the 800 meters on Sunday at the New Balance Nationals Indoor championships, trailing Ajee Wilson (2:06.58) across the finish line in 2:07.26. Bronxville’s girls competed in several relays without Cain.

She said she is unfazed by the criticism her move from successful girls coach Jim Mitchell to boys coach Ed Stickles.

“I have to do what I think is best and that’s always been my attitude toward it,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with (my training situation).”

Cain brings a vivacious New York personality to the sport and has all the ingredients to be a star. She loves The Armory and is friendly to her competition. She broke the ice with the Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) senior Wilson before their race by approaching her in the bathroom and asking whether she would like to warm-up together.

“I like talking to people beforehand,” she said. “It’s nice to be happy for the person. I always meet the nicest people at track meets.”

This spring, Cain, who turns 16 on May 3, has the Olympic Trials in sight as an ambitious goal.

“Why not shoot for the stars?” she said. “I’m not sure what event would be my best (this spring). I’ve run more 15s, the 800 is more technical and tactical and I don’t have much experience with it. At some point we’ll make a call on that. Who knows, maybe (the 800) will be my race.”

Robertson out to back up his record

Berea (Berea, Ohio) senior Donovan Robertson ran so well on the way to his 7.57-second national record in the boys’ 60 hurdles at the Brooks PR Invite in Seattle that he feels some pressure to back it up.

On Sunday, Robertson won an intensely competitive final against Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) senior Dondre Echols and Martin Luther King (Lithonia, Ga.) senior Jordan Moore and won, partly, because he was willing to dive for the finish line. Robertson said afterward he wasn’t sure if it was a lunge or fall caused by leaning too far forward, but the fall was worth it. He ran 7.70 seconds to win the national title, .01 seconds in front of Echols.

“I met all these (other top hurdlers) in Seattle and I know I had a big target on my back,” Robertson said. “The second to last hurdle I could feel them pushing up. I knew I had to try something (to win).”

Physical finish to girls two-mile

Neither Sachem East (Sachem, N.Y.) senior Rachel Paul nor McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.) junior Carmen Carlos were willing to yield in the final 20 meters of the girls two-mile.

two mile girls
John Dye/ESPNHSThe finish of the girls 2M saw Carmen Carlos pass Rachel Paul on the inside, with contact occurring.
Paul had sped into the lead on the final lap, but in the last few strides she could sense Carlos coming up. Five meters before the finish line, Carlos inadvertently bumped Paul as she passed on the inside. The contact sent Paul sprawling to the ground as she hit the finish line, and at least one runner behind them had to jump over her to complete the race.

“I felt something,” Paul said. “We were both going at it.”

“I tried not to touch you,” Carlos said to Paul.

“I think when you’re running that fast the slightest thing can cause you to fall,” Paul said.

There were no hard feelings. Meet officials reviewed the incident and decided the contact did not warrant a disqualification.

Carlos won in 10:25.30. Paul was second in 10:25.82.

Throw1Deep has a new star on the horizon

The Georgia-based throwing club led by coach Mike Judge brought 20 athletes to the New Balance National Indoor meet.

In addition to championship winners Avana Story (girls weight throw) and Torie Owers (girls shot put), a young new phenom emerged on the boys’ side.

Freshman Kenneth Brinson, from Marist (Atlanta, Ga.), PR’d by more than three feet and won the emerging elite weight throw at 64-4, a freshman class U.S. record.

The 14-year-old began throwing two weeks ago after his wrestling season ended. He placed second in the 195-pound weight class at the Georgia state championships.

“The previous record was held by Wes Wright, who threw 63-6 and he became my best ever (boy) and threw 81 feet,” Judge said. “Kenneth has that kind of ability.”

Another athlete who has taken advantage of Judge’s expertise is multi standout Kendell Williams, the national champion in the heptathlon. Williams won the indoor pentathlon, the high jump and was a finalist in the 60-meter hurdles.

But Williams’ lack of firepower in the throws is a weakness to her heptathlon and so she sought out Throw1Deep.

“Last year my PR in the shot put was 32 feet and I only did that one time,” she said. “Now, in practice I’m hitting 32. And in a meet last week I hit a 34.”

Barber combines diving with pole vaulting

Shawnacy Barber, a senior from Kingwood Park, Texas, has added the sport of diving to break up the daily routine of pole vault workouts.

Shawn Barber
John Dye/ESPNHSShawn Barber vaulted to a second-place finish Saturday.
“Diving and pole vaulting covers a lot of the same ground,” said Barber, who placed second at NBN Indoor with a 16-8 clearance. “They both take a lot of kinesthetic awareness in the air. They don’t work me too hard in the dive class (at school). I like that. It lets me get out and go do my vaulting after school.”

Barber’s dad built a gym with rings, a trampoline, pole vault pit and other stuff that Shawn played with growing up.

“It was almost like gymnastics (in the room) but with no rules,” he said. “I grew up with that the first 10 years of my life and then stopped for a while.”

Barber’s best dive is a reverse one and a half with a one-half twist. He placed seventh in the Class 4A Swimming and Diving Championships two weeks ago in the 1-meter springboard event.

Can diving help him in vaulting?

“Core strength helps,” he said, “and knowing how far away you are, a foot or two away from the board. It’s that awareness in the air of knowing where you are, same as pole vault.”

Charho MarsellaJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSShaker NY 4x1 mile anchor (and leader) Christian Delago looks to his right to see Chariho RI's Mike Marsella passing him.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – To fully appreciate Chariho’s national record Saturday in the boys 4x1 Mile relay, try imagining the vantage point of longtime coach Bill Haberek, who will soon enter his 23rd season as the outdoor track head coach at the Wood River, R.I. school.

There he was, bellied up to the rail, wearing the Steve Prefontaine T-shirt , watching his first three runners log PRs and then once-in-a-career standout Mike Marsella chase Shaker (Latham, N.Y.) anchor Christian Delago with a national championship on the line.

“First of all, I wanted Mike to hold on and win the thing,” Haberek said. “Then, I’m looking at the clock and trying to savor as much as I can. I knew it was going to be close. When I saw (the time) posted, I can’t explain the emotions.”

Tiny Rhode Island doesn’t often barge into a meet like New Balance Nationals Indoor and rearrange the all-time list with a national record. But Chariho turned the stick over to Marsella within striking distance of Delago, right on time and according to plan.

“I had a feeling I’d be 15-20 meters behind the guy in first,” said Marsella, who split 4:11.7. “I just wanted to keep my eyes open and hopefully catch him with 800 meters to go. I was hoping to sit on him, but I knew we had a chance at the national record so I made a move and just had to keep going for it.”

By the time Chariho’s quartet – Dan Kilcoyne, Bryce Kelley, Jake Kilcoyne and Marsella – was kneeling next to the reader board stuck on 17:20.20, it had been nearly forgotten that the squad wasn’t even favored to win the race.

Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.) was expected to be the team that pushed all of its chips into the record chase, but the Nike Cross Nationals (and defending 4x1 Mile) champs fell behind early and were barely a factor in the race.

Meanwhile, Chariho knew it had a foursome that could average close to 4:20 per mile.

“We wanted to stick on the leader and be as close as possible so I could go after him, whether it was CBA or Shaker,” Marsella said.

Dan Kilcoyne split 4:24.1 and Kelley followed that with 4:15.6. Then Jake Kilcoyne, more of a long-distance specialist, stripped six seconds off his mile PR to split 4:28.8. Marsella did the rest.

“It was crazy, absolutely crazy,” Marsella said. “I couldn’t see the time (coming around the final lap), I just knew I had to close as fast as possible. I didn’t want to leave anything out there.”

Chariho took down the 2009 record of West Windsor-Plainsboro North (N.J.), which ran 17:21.58. Shaker ran the second-fastest time in history, clocking 17:21.56.

Relays in the spotlight all day

Chariho’s record came on the heels of a near-miss by The Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) in the girls version of the same event.

With pressure coming from Saratoga Springs (N.Y.), Tatnall ran aggressively throughout and put together legs of 5:03, 5:03, 5:00 and 4:54 on the way to 20:00.97. Senior Haley Pierce, who placed second (and #2 all-time) in the 5,000 meters the night before, anchored the race and came up just a second and a half short of the national record.

Saratoga Springs, which set the record of 19:59.24 in 2005, finished second in 20:16.23 – good for No. 6 all-time.

In the 4x800 relays, much later in the day, the Armory crowd was treated to more sensational relay action. The powerhouse Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) girls ran away from the field and won in 8:58.18 – four seconds shy of the national record and No. 4 all-time. The school won the same event in 2010 and then claimed the distance medley relay last year.

NXN championship team members Katie Brislin, Katie Sischo and Jillian Fanning were joined by Heather Martin, who returned to training in January after missing out on cross country with a foot injury.

In the boys 4x800 race, Boys and Girls of Brooklyn produced the No. 2 time in history, 7:41.10, thanks to Robert Rhodes’ heroic 1:52.1 anchor. Rhodes gave it everything he had, to the delight of a roaring home crowd.

“It was all about my team,” Rhodes said. “I was not giving up this race. The whole time I was running I was thinking ‘I’ve come way too far.’ If I would have gave up, and let them pass me, I’d be ashamed of myself. I was too close and I wasn’t letting it go.”

Rhodes paid a price for his effort. He spent nearly 10 minutes doubled over, on his knees, throwing up and trying to recover. But after he and his teammates had their fingers sized for championship rings, it was all worth it.

In the boys sprint medley relay, Edward Cheserek led St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) to its second relay title of the meet. Cheserek anchored with a 1:51.2 800 to bring the baton home in 3:25.88, for No. 4 all-time – outrunning a quartet of the nation’s best half-milers. He will try to add third and fourth titles on Sunday in the two-mile and mile.

Hillhouse (New Haven, Ct.), spurred by long sprint superstar Precious Holmes running on the third leg, won the girls sprint medley relay in 4:00.58. Her teammate Kellie Davis gradually extended the lead on her 800 anchor, then provided one of the day’s best expressions of delight at the finish.

Conley, Blankenship win marquee events

When the coach in your corner is an Olympic champion and an American record holder, it’s a little bit easier to react in the big moment and not get overwhelmed by it.

Sydney Conley made the adjustment she needed to on her sixth and final attempt to win the girls long jump with 20 feet, 1.5 inches.

Conley, of Fayetteville, Ark., said it was the first time she had ever pulled out the victory on her final attempt. She needed it because Jasmine Todd of Chandler, Ariz. had taken the lead in the fifth round with a leap of 19-11.5. Todd’s jump surpassed Javanique Burruss of Louisa County, Va., who took the early lead with a second-round 19-8.75.

There were four current 20-footers in the loaded event, including defending champ and Newton North (Newtonville, Mass.) junior Carla Forbes, who was fifth.

The boys’ pole vault competition lost some of its luster despite the presence of three vaulters who had scaled 17-6 or better this winter. Jacob Blankenship won the competition with a clearance at 17-0 and then took the bar up to 17-8.5 and missed all three attempts at that height.

Reese Watson of Spring, Texas had been nursing a quadriceps injury that he hoped would heal in time to compete. But when he tried to run on it at the start of the competition, the leg didn’t respond as he’d hoped. He ran through three times and didn’t attempt a jump.

Shawn Barber of Kingwood Park, Texas worked his way up and over 16-8 – good for second place – but couldn’t summon the energy he needed to keep pace with Blankenship.

“I was going slow,” Barber said. “(I was) trying to get up, trying to get moving. I had a hard time getting down the runway, getting upside down. I tip my hat to (Blankenship).”

Blankenship, of Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio) had a few early misses, but then found his rhythm and made majestic first attempt clearances over 16-8 and 17 feet. It was his second NSSF title, following his triumph last June in the outdoor meet.

“At the end, sometimes you run out of adrenaline,” Blankenship said. “There was so much competition, I was worried about Reese Watson being there and Shawn Barber. That’s good for me, but maybe I kind of played it a little long. It worked out well, though.”

Blankenship has two more indoor meets scheduled (Ohio has not had its state meet yet) in which to try and surpass the national record of 17-9.75.

In the boys’ long jump, US#1 Devin Field of DeSoto, Texas won his first New Balance championship, finding a 24-footer on his fourth attempt. It wasn’t an easy day for Field, who has been suffering from back pain and also had cramping issues in his calves. He sought help from the meet trainer three times during the competition and fouled his final two attempts.

“The last jumps I tried to hide (the pain,) but I really couldn’t (go),” Field said.

The 2011 U.S. junior champion has a 25-5.75 from earlier this year. But he has been ruled ineligible to compete this spring for DeSoto because residency issues. He has transferred twice in the past year. He may be able to compete unattached in a few meets, but he will not be allowed to defend his state title in the long jump.

The nation’s top-ranked shot putters closed the deal on NBNI titles as well.

Torie Owers of Athens Academy (Georgia), part of the Throw1Deep Club’s contingent, threw a new PR of 51-0.75 to win the event as well as move to No. 11 all-time. She won by three feet.

Braheme Days, Jr. of Bridgeton, N.J. continued his dominance of the boys shot put, throwing 68-10.75 to win the competition by more than eight feet.

“It’s all about development,” Days said of his progress this winter. “I didn’t throw 70 feet today, not even close, but I’m more happy about the win. It’s my first national championship and I’m excited. A lot of guys can say I threw this far, or threw that far, but I like titles.”
Erin FinnJohn Dye/ESPNHSErin Finn moves out to a huge lead against the great national class 5k field -- which she would never relinquish.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Erin Finn decided that she’d had enough of driving to the lead in big races and then getting passed at the end. That happened to her in the Foot Locker XC Finals this past December and it happened again at the Brooks PR Invitational two weeks ago.

It didn’t happen on Friday.

Instead , the junior from West Bloomfield, Mich. charged to the front and kept on charging. She buried the field on the way to smashing the U.S. high school indoor 5,000 record by more than 15 seconds – crossing the finish line in 16:19.69 to win her first national championship at New Balance Nationals Indoor at The Armory. The previous record was set in this meet just last year: 16:35.15 by Waverly Neer.

“I told myself this is my chance,” Finn said. “I’ve come in second and third too many times. This is my race, my night, and everything worked out so well. God blessed me tonight, I’m so happy.”

Haley Pierce, of the Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) – who was second at NXN and second ahead of Finn in the Brooks PR two-mile – figured there was a chance that she could stick with her evenly paced plan and catch back up to Finn. She briefly edged closer in the middle of the race, but Finn’s pressure was too relentless.

Finn opened with 2:31 for 800 meters and went through 1,600 in 5:07. She then hit a succession of laps mostly in the 39s, with just one over 40.

“I was a little disappointed that I was slowing down,” Finn said. “I think my ego got the best of me. I knew if I went out and held on as long as I could I’d (get the record).”

Pierce also had reason to think she could break through with her biggest win since last year’s 3,000 at the Penn Relays.

“I was pretty confident,” Pierce said. “I know she goes out hard, but sometimes you can pull her back in, you know? I was just trying to stay relaxed in my head. I was trying for the national record and I could win if I got the record, but (Finn) ran an amazing race so I can’t feel too bad.”

Grosse Pointe South
John Nepolitan/ESPNHSKelsie Schwartz hands to Hannah Meier during Grosse Pointe South's winning DMR.
Pierce also ran under Neer’s 2011 standard, running 16:31.86. Brianna Nerud from North Shore (Glen’s Head, N.Y.) was third in 16:43.56 and 2011 New Balance Outdoor 5,000 champ Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) was fourth.

Finn wasn’t the only success story from Michigan on Friday.

The girls distance medley relay squad from Grosse Pointe South (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.), featuring junior twins Hannah and Haley Meier, chased Mountain View of Utah’s 8-year-old national record (11:35.43) and came up just four seconds short.

GPS turned in the No. 4 time in history, clocking 11:39.29 and winning by nine seconds. And it could return intact next year to make another attempt. In addition to the Meier sisters, the quartet included sophomore Kelsie Schwartz (800 meters) and freshman Ursula Farrow (400).

Hannah Meier took the final baton pass needing to run about 4:42 to get her team the record. And the mixture of adrenaline and nerves drove her to a 65-second first 400.

“There was a lot of nerves,” she said. “I felt different than I usually do before races. I just got out there pretty fast and went for it.”

Meier, who won the mile at the Brooks PR Invite two weeks ago, split 4:47.3.

The third final for girls on Friday was the high jump, and Kell, Ga. junior Kendell Williams lived up to her No. 1 ranking in the event. Williams needed a third attempt to make 5-9.25 but then cleared 5-11.25 on her first try.

Williams, who will begin the indoor pentathlon Saturday and also has the 60-meter hurdles on her plate, was able to overcome nagging discomfort in order to focus on her event and win the high jump title. She spent at least 20 minutes trying not to think about her full bladder.

“I’ve never had to high jump when I had to go to the bathroom like that,” Williams said. “I’m just glad I could still jump. I just tried not to think about it, to look at something else.”

Kendell Williams
John Dye/ESPNHSKendell Williams approaches the bar en route to HJ victory.
After outlasting 2011 runner-up Maddie Morrow of Hoover (North Canton, Ohio) and Dakota Dailey-Harris of LaSalle Academy (Providence, R.I.), Williams was given permission to leave the competition for a few minutes to address her emergency and then returned to take three attempts at 6-0.5.

In the boys DMR, the irrepressible Edward Cheserek made his first appearance in the meet a memorable one. He anchored St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J. to the championship in 10:10.08.

Cheserek took the stick in sixth place but burned through a 54-second 400 to catch everyone in front of him and move up to the lead. From that point he ran only as hard as he needed to in order to stay in front of Piscataway’s Tim Ball.

Ball made Cheserek work for it, but the Foot Locker champ and 5,000-meter record holder had enough in the tank to bring his team the victory. He has three more events on his weekend to-do list: The sprint medley relay on Saturday and the two-mile and mile on Sunday.

The meet concluded Friday with a stirring finish in the boys 5,000. Foot Locker finalists Daniel Lennon of Peru, N.Y. and Dallin Farnsworth of Pocatello, Idaho traded the lead and neither one of them could shake the other. For 25 laps they went, not separated by more than a stride.

Lennon sped to the lead with 220 meters left and tried to put the race away but Farnsworth responded. Coming around the final curve Farnsworth slide wide and tried to make one final pass but he ran out of room and lost by less than a foot. It was Lennon in 14:37.25 and Farnsworth, the Simplot Games two-mile champion, in 14:37.32.

Lennon was gracious, calling it a “co-championship” because the race was so close.

“I got to the last 100 and started to see his shadow and thought, ‘I’ve got to go,’” said Lennon, who summoned everything he had to get to the finish line first. “I had no idea (who won). In all honesty, I thought he was going to get me. I consider it a co-championship. He closed on me faster than I closed on him and it was both of us together the whole race.”

Three vaulters take alternate routes to top

March, 9, 2012
Shawn Barber at 2012 SimplotJohn Dye/ESPNHSShawn Barber from Kingwood Park, Texas soared to 17-2.75 and had a good try at a national record (17-9.75) in the pole vault at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho.
The top three boys pole vaulters in America – Texans Reese Watson and Shawn Barber and Ohio’s Jacob Blankenship – will compete side by side for the first time and launch an assault on 18 feet at the New Balance Nationals Indoor championships on Saturday afternoon at the Armory.

All three of them have topped 17-6 already this year and progressing in the direction of Tommy Skipper’s 2003 outdoor record of 18-3. (Andrew Irwin set the national indoor record in 2011, 17-9.25).

But there are subtle in how Watson, Barber and Blankenship get that high off the ground.

There three are important factors to consider: Size of the pole (length and also its weight rating, which correlates to how much the pole will bend. Most vaulters use a pole with weight rating of 20 pounds higher than their actual weight). The placement of the hold (if an athlete is using a 16-foot pole, they may “hold” at 15-6, for instance). And third, is the number of inches over the hold that the athlete can get their bodies over (usually 24 inches, or higher).

“Everyone is trying to do the same thing, but everyone does it different,” Blankenship said. “We all have our own technique.”

Barber, of Kingwood Park, Texas, moved slightly ahead of the others when he jumped 17-8 at an outdoor meet on March 2. Barber has a best of 17-6.50 indoors, from Jan. 7.

Barber typically uses a 16-foot or 16-foot, 1-inch pole weighted between 175 and 185 pounds. He has jumped on a five-meter (16-5) pole but hasn’t incorporated it into meet competition yet. He holds near the end of his 16 (or 16-1) pole.

When Barber lowers the end of his pole into the box at the end of the runway, it’s eight inches deep. So if he’s holding at about 16 feet, then he loses those eight inches in pole length. To get over a bar at 17-8, he has to rise 28 inches over his hold.

Watson, of Spring, Texas, is the current US#1 with a clearance of 17-7 on Feb. 4.

Watson holds at 16 feet on a 16-foot pole weighted for 190 pounds. In order to make 17-7, he’d have to get 27 inches over his hold.

Most vaulters make a progression, moving onto “bigger” poles (length and weight rating) as a competition moves to higher bars.

Watson has a 16-5 pole that he has experimented with but he is still working on getting proficient with it.

“If I’m out there having a really good day, I could use it,” he said. “You can’t be scared to try big poles.”

Even though Watson and Barber are from Texas their paths cross only occasionally. Barber competes for Class 4A school, Watson in Class 5A.

“It’s definitely good to have people up there with you to push you,” Watson said. “We’re all going after that record. Shawn is one inch above me and I know Blankenship is trying to beat that and go an inch higher.”

Blankenship, of Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), has a different approach. He grips at about 15-2 feet on a 16-foot pole weighted at 210 pounds. His best jump so far was 17-6.50 on Feb. 25, meaning he was more than 30 inches over his grip.

So why take a lower grip on a stiffer pole?

“It’d doesn’t make sense,” he said. “I’ve been working more on my technique and it’s just what works for me.”

Blankenship also uses a fiberglass pole which has a slightly heavier “carry weight” than the carbon fiber poles used by Watson and Barber.

On Saturday, all of those slight difference will be at play when the three of them go into competition.

Blankenship said he’s been eagerly waiting a chance to meet Watson and Barber and get know them a little bit this weekend.

“I’ve been wanting to jump against these guys for a long time,” he said.

The feeling is mutual for all three.

“I’m excited for it. It should be a good competition,” Barber said.

Rick Baggett, a popular club coach in Oregon, has been paying some attention to this year’s Big Three vaulters.

“I have seen them jump on Youtube,” he said. “They’re strong, fast and their technique is good. You’ve got to be big and strong and fast.”

Baggett should know. He coached Skipper when he was at Sandy High School.

“When Tommy jumped 18-3 he was holding at 16-3 and got 35 inches over his hand hold,” Baggett said.

Over the next three to four months, Watson, Barber and Blankenship will try to get that high too – by whatever means works best.

“I honestly think one of us three will break that (record) this year,” Blankenship said. “Shawn and Reese have been putting up PRs left and right. One of us three will get up to that point.”

Blankenship hopes it’s him.

He’d like to reach the Olympic qualifying standard – (5.60 meters) 18-4.50.

“I’m hoping to get up there,” he said. “That would be awesome.”

2012 NBNI: Friday Preview and Predictions

March, 9, 2012

NBNI Index

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

Boys 800John Nepolitan/ESPNHSThe last time (from left) Ned Willig, Zavon Watkins, and Ben Malone were on the track together, great drama ensued at the NB Collegiate 1k. What will happen in the 800 Sunday?

NBNI Index

There’s so much to love at the New Balance Nationals Indoor, the second straight year of a single national championship meet indoors for preps to settle who’s the best in the U.S. Here’s a primer to Baker’s Dozen best of the best over the three-day stretch (boys followed by girls, but in no pecking order).

Boys 800: Talent and drama to burn
The boys 4-lapper at NBNI isn’t getting the buzz of, say, the 400 or pole vault, but there’s no doubt that there will be high drama, especially with the following four protagonists:
Liverpool (Liverpool, N.Y.) senior Zavon Watkins: Defending champ and the only sub-1:50 (outdoors) in the field, Watkins had a great run of mile victories, but at shorter distances (600, 800, 1k) he’s dealt with a few defeats and a DQ. He still has something to prove.
Columbus (Bronx, N.Y.) senior Strymar Livingston: USRs at 500 and 600, but definitely has something to prove at 800 (2nd at Simplot), which will be his main outdoor event.
Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.) senior Ned Willig: Still US#1 at 800 this winter at 1:51.25, he “won” the 1k where he and Watkins were DQ’d and might still be burning a little from his 10th at Millrose (mile).
Pascack Valley (Hillsdale, N.J.) junior Ben Malone might be the most talented of all. He was the official winner of the NB Collegiate 1k (2:23.56) when the DQs came in, and has a US#1 4:11.66 1600, a 1:51 800 relay leg, and even a 1:21 600 to his credit. A dark horse who could take it all for sure, but he’s also entered in the mile.
Don’t be surprised if Robby Andrews' USR comes under attack and more than one runner goes under 1:50.

Boys PV: Best indoor trio ever
There have never been three pole vaulters at 17-6 or better in a single year, indoors. And, suffice it to say then that there has never been an undercover competition with three guys doing battle at such high altitude. It’s not completely shocking that Spring (Spring, Texas) senior Reese Watson and Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio) senior Jacob Blankenship have reached that level, given their creds from 2011. But Kingwood Park (Houston) senior Shawn Barber was “only” a 16-6 vaulter when the season began. With his 17-8 outdoors last weekend, he actually leads the trio now. Interestingly, Texans Watson and Barber have not met this year, with Watson winning previous meetings between them before Barber’s big improvement. Blankenship has never vaulted against either of them, but his creds certainly match up: He was the surprise New Balance Nationals Outdoor (NBNO) champ last June and then earned a bronze at the World Youth Champs. These are three of the top six indoor vaulters in history, enjoy them.

Boys 400: From teammates back to rivals
While the above-mentioned vaulters have relatively little competitive history between them, the top guns in this epic 2-lap battle could hardly be more familiar with each other (See Doug Binder story). Still, the drama could hardly be higher. St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) senior Arman Hall was the man almost all of last year – winning NBNO and World Youth titles – except when he was beaten by Timberview (Arlington, Texas) senior Aldrich Bailey at the World Youth Trials. That surely gave Bailey confidence, despite being second fiddle again at the World Youth Champs, and he came out sizzling this winter with 47.05 and 20.99 marks in January. But then St. Peters Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) Najee Glass – a runner-up in the biggest races last year – finally got his, too, when he beat Bailey by .01 at Brooks Feb. 26. Their 46.06 and 46.07 times are #2 and #3 all-time (all tracks). Hall has done little indoors, but is down to 46.41 outdoors now (his 46.01 PR is the best of the three). And that’s what has transpired to create a matchup that, despite the rivals’ familiarity with each other, will be as dramatic as any race in the meet. And don’t forget, Bailey and Hall are racing the 200, too.

Boys 60H: Can Robertson confirm?
The boys short hurdle scene (55, 60) coming into 2012 was characterized by a big handful of guys with similar PRs, but no one having quite broken through to the super-elite level yet. And by the Brooks PR meet, the story was the same, with Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) senior Dondre Echols (7.17 55H) and Berea (Berea, Ohio) senior Donovan Robertson (7.87 60H) having pushed closes to all-time great territory. But then, shockingly, Robertson became that super elite performer Feb. 26 at the Brooks PR meet, hitting 7.77 in his prelim and then an eye-popping 7.57 in the final – cutting .03 off Wayne Davis’ 2099 standard. On Sunday, Robertson gets a chance to back it up. There will be eight other hurdlers in the deep field who have run 7.27 or better for 55H, or 7.89 or better for 60H. Robertson will have a big target on his back and it will be fun to watch if he can “get to the first hurdle first” (his words) and do it again, or if a challenger will rise up and take him down. One more thing worth remembering: In Robertson’s last national meet, NBNO last June, he led 110H qualifying (13.74, -0.1w), but finished last in the final. Think he won’t be motivated by that?

Ed Cheserek: Doing the “Verzbicas”
The races and circumstances may be a little different, but for all intents and purposes, Ed Cheserek looks to be trying to pull a “Verzbicas” this weekend at NBNI. No, he won’t be running the 5,000 and going for a record there – he’s already done that this winter. But he is expected to anchor St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) US#2 DMR (Friday) and US#1 SMR (Saturday), both with a solid chance to win. And he is entered in both the 2-mile and mile on Sunday. If he (and his team in the relays) wins all four, would it be as big a deal as what Verzbicas did last year? In comparing the Friday-Saturday part, Verzbicas pushed fairly hard to break his own 5k mark Friday before resting Saturday. With his respective 1600 and 800 relay legs, Cheserek would probably have to run PR-level marks to carry St. Bene’s to victories. On Sunday, Verzbicas had to beat Cheserek himself in the deuce, whereas Ches will not have nearly as tough a foe. And in the mile, Verzbicas faced a more experienced field for sure, but not necessarily more talented than what Cheserek will encounter. By Sunday night, we’ll see how the two historical efforts compared.

Boys Distance Relays: Can the Brothers beat ‘em all?
Whether or not a top cross-country program carries it through all year long to be a top indoor and outdoor distance power, in individual events and relays, is more hit and miss than people think. Some harrier outfits aren’t as well suited for the mile on down at the national level. So what the Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.) has done already this winter – US#1s in the 4x800 (#2 all-time) and DMR – and are poised to do this weekend is pretty special. Besides the favorite’s role in the above-mentioned events, you certainly have to give them the nod in the 4x1 Mile, where they are defending champions. Could they win all three, something no boys’ school has ever done? Certainly; they look to have a good margin on the fields in the 4x1 Mile and 4x800, while Ed Cheserek and St. Benedict’s (2011 outdoor champ) may offer the toughest challenge in the DMR. As for national records, CBA might not have quite the top-end power to take down the very tough 4x800 or DMR marks, but WWPN’s 17:21.58 4x1 Mile from two years ago could go down.

Girls 800: Cain chases Ajee chases the clock
One can hope for more competitive drama, but in all likelihood, the girls 800 will turn into three races:
1. Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) senior Ajee Wilson chasing the clock, trying to strengthen her hold on #2 all-time or even, perhaps, making a decent run at Mary Decker Slaney’s 38-year-old USR.
2. Bronxville (Bronxville, N.Y.) soph Mary Cain running in no-man’s land for a fast time, somewhere in the 2:05-2:08 range.
3. The rest of the pack having a good race for third place.
Can Cain challenge Wilson? Maybe, on a really good day. And remember, Wilson is a racer – not someone who’s often tried to push alone in a race where she’s the clear favorite. But for Wilson, who has run all of her fast races this winter against elites in the U.S. Open, Millrose Games, and New Balance Boston Indoor GP, what other motivation would there be to run here? She won last year in 2:06.17 and to come to The Armory Sunday just to run to win seems pointless. Been there, done that. Thus, if she really lays it on the line, maybe we’ll see something as special as we presumed two years ago when she authored that epic relay leg at NBON. Stay tuned.

Girls distance relays: New girls on the block
If you assess the girls distance relays starting with the 4x800 and 4x1 Mile, you’ll notice some typically good fields with a handful of teams that could go low 9s or just under 9:00 in the former, and another potential challenger (Haley Pierce and Tatnall, Del.) to Saratoga’s 2005 USR in the latter. But then you check out the girls DMR – now THAT could be interesting. Grosse Pointe South, Michigan and the amazing Meier twins have never entered a national meet relay since they burst on the scene two years ago. Now, just off 4:43.24 (Hannah Meier) and 4:48.10 (Haley Meier) indoor mile PRs at the Brooks PR meet, they will see if their combined talents can attack the 11:35.43 USR by Mountain View, Utah from 2004. Remember, they also have Kelsie Schwartz who has run 4:59 for 1600 and Ersula Farrow, who has run 5:05. One wonders why they didn’t go for the 4x1 mile, but running the Friday night DMR allows the Meiers a day of rest before tacking Sunday’s mile (Hannah his defending champ). If Schwartz and Farrow can combine for a 60-62 400 and a 2:18-20 800, the twins ought to be able to do the rest.

Girls 5K: Rematch for elite trio
While Tatnall (Wilmington, Del.) senior Haley Pierce, Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) junior Wesley Frazier and West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.) junior Erin Finn may have a broader perspective on Friday’s 5,000 than how it compares to their NBNO 5,000 last June – the comparison is certainly interesting to fans (see Doug Binder’s story). Pierce’s creds coming in last spring had made her an exciting favorite, but when she faded mid-race, Frazier and Finn put on quite a show in finishing 1-2. Since then, Pierce and Finn both had national runner-up finishes in XC (NXN and Foot Locker, respectively), while Frazier was off form. But as evidenced by their 2-3-4 finishes in the Brooks 2M, quite a battle should be ahead. In grave danger may be the 16:35.15 USR set just last year by Waverly Neer. And don’t forget about North Shore (Glen Head, N.Y.) senior Brianna Nerud, who could beat all three with a really good day.

Girls 60H: Hall gets another shot at unseating the queen
St. Mary’s (Berkeley, Calif.) senior Trinity Wilson has been one of the nation’s elite hurdlers since before her high school years and she has absolutely owned the 60H and 100H for the last year-plus. But if there’s anyone that could deliver the upset, it’s George Washington (Denver, Colo.) super soph Dior Hall. As the track world saw at Simplot, Hall pressured Wilson to be at the absolute top of her game at Simplot, only to stumble herself at the end and finish sixth. Atonement was sweet at Brooks, as Hall lowered her 60H PR to 8.28. Now she gets a rematch with the World Youth 100H champion, with both having to face a very good field. Can the young gun top the senior veteran? Or might Wilson be better than ever and take down Jackie Coward’s 2008 USR of 8.16? Watch and see.

Girls LJ: Battle of the 20-footers
Given that the national record in the girls indoor long jump is 21-7.5 (Carol Lewis, 1981), a 20-foot jump isn’t necessarily something to get really excited about. But five of them in the same years is pretty good, and having four of those five competing together for a national title is special indeed. The key players really haven’t crossed each other’s path much and don’t have a lot in common. Newton North (Newtonville, Mass.) junior Carla Forbes (20-1.25) is defending champ (and 2010 Nike Indoor TJ champ), so this meet is familiar to her. Fayetteville (Fayetteville, Ark.) senior Sydney Conley (20-1.5) has Olympic genes (her father is 1992 TJ Gold Medalist Michael), but is a relatively late bloomer and this is her first NSSF championship, in or out. And in Virginians Javanique Burress (junior AA champ from Louisa County at 20-1) and Shakeela Saunders (senior AAA runner-up from Nansemond River at 20-0.5), you have another national newcomer who’s made a big leap up this winter (Burress) and a veteran all-arounder (hurdles, TJ, long sprints) who has starred since her frosh year but popped that huge one way back in December (Saunders). These four girls have PRs within an inch of each other.

Multis: Familiar names
If it seems like Kendell Williams has been around forever, you may be surprised to realize that the Kell (Marietta, Ga.) junior is … still just a junior. Williams is everywhere, whether it’s in the number of events she competes in at a meet, or the number of meets she competes in during a given year. One of her many successes last year was winning NBNI with 3,792 points (#3 all-time) and while she must missed Shana Woods’ soph USR, she can get the junior class mark with just a 36-point improvement. Oh, and she’s also entered in the high jump (current US#1 5-10.75) and 60H (US#4 8.39). Meanwhile, on the boys side, the last name of the leading light should be familiar (Lazas), even if the first name (Jake) isn’t. Jake’s older brother Kevin battled Gunnar Nixon in 2010 in becoming one of history’s great multi-eventers in and out and is now a star at Arkansas (as is Nixon). But Jake, now a Brentwood (Tenn.) senior, has struggled with injuries somewhat. There’s no question, however, that he has tremendous physical talent and attributes and with a healthy senior year could challenge or surpass some of his brother’s marks. So don’t be surprised if you see a coming out party.

Girls sprint relays: Open the door for new powers
When you think of schools that have been all-around sprint and sprint relay powers at the nationals in the past several years, you think of Long Beach Poly, Eleanor Roosevelt, Benjamin Cardozo and Medgar Evers. But it may be time in 2012 to open the door to some new names, like Wakefield (N.C.) and Martin Luther King (Ga.). Wakefield isn’t new on the scene, but they’ve never run like they have this year, led by senior Ariah Graham and with US#1 marks of 1:38.35 4x200 and 3:45.64 4x400. Meanwhile, MLK – with athletes trained by Sprint Athletics – has developed stars like Felicia Brown (US#2 53.53 400) and Jada Martin (US#3 24.00 200). Perhaps the sprint relay race of the meet for either gender will be the 4x200, where both schools, plus Poly, will lock up.

Georgia, Ohio stars rule at UK Invite

February, 19, 2012
Felicia BrownMike Weaver/ESPNHSFelicia Brown looks at the scoreboard in disbelief as she realizes she ran a US#1 53.88 400.


There is not a single indoor track in the state of Georgia. And Kendell Williams made a point regarding how cold and rainy it’s been there for outdoor training in recent weeks, a sentiment no doubt shared by many of her compatriots. But no matter. It was, as Jim Kaiser put it, a “Peachtree Invasion” Saturday during the 19th Annual University of Kentucky High School Invitational in Lexington – and who could argue with him?

It wasn’t just Williams – the Kell (Marietta, Ga.) junior (The Heat TC) who defended her titles in the 60 hurdles, long jump and high jump, the latter with a US#1 5-11 – who sparked Georgia’s dominance. It was also Martin Luther King (Decatur, Ga.) senior Felicia Brown (Sprint Athletics), who shocked herself and her coach with a US#1 meet record 53.88 400.

“You did that! You did that!” shouted Sprint Athletics mentor Eric Merriweather, over and over, to an equally overjoyed Brown as she tried to recover enough for an interview. “I hoped she could run as low in the 54s as she could, maybe break the meet record (54.07),” he added, turning to reporters. “But we didn’t expect this.’

It was also Union Grove (McDonogh, Ga.) senior Jordan Moore, who blasted to a US#1 7.80 60H. And it was certainly Sprayberry (Marietta, Ga.) senior Michael Newton and Brown’s MLK and Sprint Athletics teammate Jada Martin, who each came up with outstanding sprint doubles. Newton ripped a US#2 47.58 400, then came back with a #4 21.56 triumph in the 200. Meanwhile, Brown started with a US#8 7.55 60 dash victory, then added the 200 as well, with a US#3 24.00.

In all, Georgians came up with the meet’s three new national leaders and three other US top-four marks.

“It was hard with the events so close together,” said Williams of her triple, still looking a little drained at the end of the day, even though she passed on the 200 where she had also been entered. “I thought I remembered there being a few little breaks between.”

When it came to distance running, on the other hand, it was Ohio’s turn to dominate. Reynoldsburg (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) senior Tsehaye Hiluf outkicked Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) junior Brock Baker in a great 2-mile, hitting US#2 9:10.31. Earlier, 4:06 outdoor miler and Lancaster (Lancaster, Ohio) senior Brandon Kidder won as he pleased in his specialty, with US#3 4:13.57, while MacAuley (Cincinnati, Ohio) senior Danielle Pfeiffer easily defended her 800 title with US#3 2:11.78. Medina (Medina, Ohio) senior Anna Boyert also took the girls mile in 5:01.75.

Along with the aforementioned US#1s, there were 20 other US-top 10 marks in the meet, the annual fixture on the University of Kentucky’s 290-meter oval that this year attracted entries from 15 states, plus Canada and Antigua.
This is a list of reported Division I college commitments updated with news of this week''s signings. It is arranged by home state. Please let us know if any of these non-binding commitments have changed. We know this list is far from complete. Tell us where you are headed next fall and we can add you to the list. After you sign, send us a photo for our gallery and/or Facebook wall. Names in bold are confirmed as signed. The complete listings of college choices is HERE.

Andrew Harris (distance) - Alabama
Kevin Shannon (throws) - Alabama
Quincy Smith (sprints) - Alabama
Jonathan Stiegler (jumps) - Alabama
Lacey Dent (sprints) - Alabama
Joy Maneice-Marbury (sprints) - Alabama
Analisa Patrick (distance) - Alabama

Trae Armstrong (football/sprints) – Idaho
Jasmine Todd (sprints/jumps) - Oregon
Bacall Sterling (hurdles/sprints) - Sacramento State
Ashley Weber (throws) - Arizona State

Sydney Conley (jumps) - Alabama

Trinity Wilson (hurdles) - UCLA
Cami Chapus (distance) – Stanford
Amy Weissenbach (mid-distance) – Stanford
C.J. Albertson (distance) – Arizona State
Carrie Verdon (distance) – Colorado
Darren Fahy (distance) – Georgetown
Dylan Blankenbaker (distance) – Oklahoma
Kevin Mihalik (distance) – Air Force
Savannah Comacho (mid-distance) – Oklahoma State
Allison Sturges (distance) – Duke
Cameron Miller (distance) – Stanford
Kevin Bishop (distance) – Stanford
Cody Crampton (high jump) – UCLA
Rebecca Mehra (distance) – Stanford
Deon Pinder (jumps) – Oklahoma
Lyndsey Mull (distance) – UCLA
Blake Selig (sprints/jumps) – UCLA
Julian Todd-Borden (hurdles) – Drake
Ashlyn Dadkhah (mid-distance) – California
Shea Taylor (jumps and hurdles) – BYU
Kendal Nielsen (jumps) – Cal Poly
Rachel Bush (distance) - Cal Poly
Justin Unno (distance) - UCLA
Annie Grove (distance) - South Carolina
Erika Reddish (distance) - BYU
Adriana Olivas (distance) - Arizona State
Klyvens Delaunay (jumps) - Arkansas
Danica Wyson (distance) - BYU
Ashton Padberg (distance) - San Diego
Steve Michaelson (throws) - Wake Forest
Rashard Clark (sprints) - Arizona State
Alex Conner (distance) - Yale
Melanie Joerger (distance) - Loyola Marymount

Sierra Williams (sprints) - Florida State
Kirk Webb (mid-distance) - Penn
Karina Ernst (distance) - Syracuse

Connor Rog (distance) – Virginia
Matt Klein (distance) - Dartmouth
Clark Shurtleff (distance) - Penn

Julie Macedo (distance) – Florida
Haley Pierce (distance) – Georgetown
Sam Parsons (mid-distance) - N.C. State

Marvin Bracy (football/sprints) – Florida State
Robin Reynolds (sprints) – Florida
Arman Hall (sprints) – Florida
Shayla Sanders (sprints) – Florida
DerRenae Freeman (jumps) – Florida State
Kyri Tabor (sprints) - Alabama
Dwight Davis (sprints) - Alabama
Carly Thomas (distance) - Florida State
Katelyn Greenleaf (distance) - Alabama
Randy Johnson (sprints) - Miami

Cameron Thornton (mid-distance) – Texas A&M
Jonathan Jones (football/hurdles) – Auburn
Reed Hancock (jumps) - Alabama
Caroline Kissel (distance) - Georgia Tech
Sarah Howard (throws) - North Carolina
Avana Story (throws) - North Carolina
Devon Williams (multi) - Georgia

Emily Nist (distance) – Syracuse
Rebecca Lassere (distance) - Seattle

Malachy Schrobilgen (distance) – Wisconsin
Morolake Akinosun (sprints) – Illinois
Trevor Holm (distance) - Western Illinois
Danielle DeVito (distance) - Bradley
Lindsey Rakosnik (distance) - Illinois
Sydni Meunier (mid-distance) - Notre Dame
Jacob Bender (sprints) - Nebraska
Chelsea Blaase (mid-distance) - Tennessee
Zeke Elkins (mid-distance) - Drake
Ali Olson (distance) - Northern Illinois
Ellen Renk (jumps) - Northern Illinois
Olivia Herzog (throws) - Northern Illinois
Leah Raffety (distance) - Northern Illinois
Mallory Abel (distance) - Northwestern
Jacquelyn Thate (distance) - Murray State
Ben Bowers (mid-distance) - Penn
Rebecca Stearns (mid-distance) - Loyola Chicago
Will Crocker (distance) - Missouri
Leland Later (distance) - California
Tom Schutt (throws) - Ohio State
Dan Vitale (hurdles) - Northwestern
Jaylaan Slaughter (hurdles/sprints) - Northern Illinois
Lauren Lindholm (distance) - Illinois-Chicago
Carl Heinz (jumps) - Duke

Mary Davis (distances) - Miami (Ohio)
Maggie Bell (sprints) - Indiana
Meredith Jackson (mid-distance) - Baylor

James Harrington (sprints) – Alabama
Hannah Savage (mid-distance) - Northern Illinois
Taylor Twedt (jumps/multi) - Wisconsin
Tyler Donels (hurdles/jumps) - Missouri

Kavahra Holmes (football/sprints) – Louisiana State
Kelci Lyons (mid-distance) - Columbia

Abbey Leonardi (distance) – Oregon
Matt McClintock (distance) - Purdue

Champ Page (sprints) - Ohio State
Ronald Darby (football/sprints) - Florida State
Justin Ahalt (distance) - Alabama

Jennifer Esposito (sprints/hurdles) - Elon

Tyrus Conley (throws) - Tulsa
Zachary Kughn (distance) - Montana State

Thomas Anderson (throws) - Arizona State
Brandon Clark (distance) - Penn
Riley Macon (distance) - Minnesota
Mark Harries (distance) - North Dakota

Justin Fondren (HJ) - Alabama
Conner Foxworth (jumps) - Alabama
Asia Cooper (sprints) - Ole Miss

Dorial Green-Beckham (sprints/jumps) - Missouri
Brittany Kallenberger (sprints/jumps) - Central Missouri

Morgan Woitzel (mid distance) - Nebraska

New Hampshire
Hillary Holmes (hurdles/jumps) - Cornell

New Jersey
Ajee Wilson (mid-distance) – Florida State
Tim Ball (distance) – Notre Dame
Caroline Kellner (distance) – Cornell
Holly Bischof (distance) – Duke
Blake Udland (distance) – Duke
Najee Glass (sprints) – Florida
Myasia Jacobs (sprints) – Georgia
Samuel Mattis (discus) – Penn
Alicia Osley (sprints) - Northern Illinois
Darrell Bush (sprints) - LSU
Elly Wardle (jumps/multi) - Lehigh
Greg Caldwell (hurdles) - Princeton
Jermaine Collier (hurdles) - South Carolina
George Kelly (distance) - Michigan
Stephen Lewandowski (distance) - Clemson
Theresa Picciallo (throws) - Penn
Everett Price (mid-distance) - Princeton

New York
Samantha Nadel (distance) – Georgetown
Brianna Nerud (distance) – Syracuse
Katie Sischo (distance) – Providence
Kelsey Margey (distance) – Villanova
Alexis Panisse (distance) – Tennessee
Zavon Watkins (mid-distance) - Penn State
Lauren Fontana (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Olicia Williams (sprints) - Baylor
Giancarlo Sainato (mid-distance) - Georgetown
Thomas Awad, (distance) - Penn
Brendan Smith (distance) - Penn
Valencia Hannon (sprints) - Clemson
Daniel Lennon (distance) - Syracuse
Patrizio Grandinali (distance) - High Point
Cody Israel (sprints/jumps) - Lehigh
Heather Martin (distance) - Georgetown
Christie Rutledge (distance) - Dartmouth

North Carolina
Samantha George (distance) – N.C. State
Thomas Graham (distance) – Stanford
Craig Engels (distance) - N.C. State
Tevin Hester (sprints) - Clemson
Gabrielle Gray (sprints) - South Carolina
Anna Gelbach (sprints) - North Carolina-Charlotte
Alexis Perry (hurdles/jumps) - N.C. State
Hezekiah Ward (hurdles) - North Carolina-Wilmington
Francesca Evans (sprints/jumps) - North Carolina A&T

Destinee Gause (sprints) – Florida
Donovan Robertson (hurdles) – Ohio State
Maddie Morrow (high jump) – Duke
Coy Blair (throws) - Purdue
Taylor Hatfield (distance) - Alabama
Jacob Blankenship (pole vault) - Tennessee
Stephen Lyons (throws) - Eastern Michigan

Isaiah Duke (sprints) - Baylor

Megan Fristoe (distance) - Oregon
Sara Fristoe (distance) - Oregon State
Ashley Maton (distance) - Oregon
Kira Kelly (distance) - Oregon State
Jefferson Jarvis (throws) - BYU

Angel Piccirillo (distance) – Villanova
Tori Gerlach (distance) – Penn State
Drew Magaha (distance) – Penn
Thomas Pitt (HJ) - Penn
Imani Brown (jumps) - Alabama
Kyle Felpel (throws) - Alabama
Chris Williams (hurdles) - Washington
Kyle Long (throws) - Arizona State
Margo Malone (distance) - Syracuse
Ned Willig (mid-distance) - Brown
Meredith Speakman (distance) - Syracuse

South Carolina
Chris Brown (football/jumps) – Notre Dame

South Dakota
Tony Smoragiewicz (distance) – Michigan
Kari Heck (sprints/jumps) - Nebraska

Rebecca Stover (distance) - Alabama
Emily Yarnell (sprints) - Tennessee
Emily Davis (sprints) - Belmont
Will Templeton (distance) - Liberty

Daniel Vertiz (distance) – Texas
Craig Nowak (distance) – Oklahoma State
Cali Roper (distance) – Rice
Jessie Johnson (pole vault) – Auburn
Reese Watson (pole vault) - Texas
Aldrich Bailey (sprints) - Texas A&M
Shelbi Vaughan (volleyball/discus) – Texas A&M
Hector Hernandez (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Laura Craig (distance) - Texas A&M
India Daniels (sprints) - Texas A&M
LaKesha Jelks (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Jennifer Madu (sprints/jumps) - Texas A&M
Sierra Patrick (HJ) - Texas A&M
Brittany Wooten (pole vault) - Texas A&M
Samantha Turner (throws) - Jacksonville
Jordan Chavez (distance) - Richmond
Taije Jordan (hurdles) - Baylor
Brianna Richardson (jumps) - Baylor
Richard Gary (sprints) - Baylor
Felix Obi (jumps) - Baylor
Alex Reece (sprints) - Baylor
Chris McElroy (mid-distance) - Baylor
Kristin Smithey (throws) - Baylor
Jonathan Wells (sprints) - Wichita State
Jermaine Authorlee (sprints) - Alabama
Hayden Reed (throws) - Alabama
Susie Kemper (distance) - Alabama
Chance Griffin (jumps) - Columbia
Kierra Hamilton (sprints) - Kansas State
Shelby Poncik (pole vault) - Texas Tech

Ahmed Bile (distance) – Georgetown
Megan Moye (distance) – N.C. State
Shaquera Leach (sprints) - Virginia Tech
Harrison Scharf (sprints) - Penn
Nick Wolfe (distance) - Alabama
Kimberly Ficenec (distance) - Alabama
Hannah Brown (mid-distance) - Stanford
Joel Coleman (sprints) - Virginia Tech

Maddie Meyers (distance) – Washington
Anthony Lee (distance) - Vanderbilt
Andrew Matthews (sprints) - Kansas
Aaron Castle (throws) - Arizona
Jacob Smith (distance) - Portland

Molly Seidel (distance) – Notre Dame
Joshua Dixon (jumps) – Arkansas
Olivia Pratt (distance) - Butler
Andrew Faris (distance) - Alabama
Ali Olson (distance) - Northern Illinois
Taylor Vinhal (distance) - Northern Illinois

2012 Preview - Girls Jumps: Versatility a virtue for Forbes and other top leapers

January, 27, 2012
Carla ForbesDoug Austin/ESPNHSCarla Forbes, holder of New Balance titles in both the LJ and TJ and the nation's #1 outdoor returnee in the latter, has started fast with a US#1 40-10 TJ.
Scroll down for More to Watch, and Top Indoor and Outdoor Returnees
Previous Previews: Boys Jumps | Next: Boys Sprints

After competing for the U.S. in France last summer and attending an elite triple jumping clinic in the Bahamas, Carla Forbes is bringing a new perspective to her budding track and field career.

The Newton North (Newtonville, Mass.) junior is already one of the top high school jumpers in the nation, based on a sophomore season in which she went 42-1.50 in the triple jump (at the World Youth Trials). Forbes has also gone 19-5.5 in the long jump and demonstrated versatility in sprint events as well. She made a big impact from the start at Newton North, winning the triple jump at Nike Indoor Nationals as a freshman in 2010, the long jump at New Balance Indoor Nationals in 2011, and several state titles indoors and out.

“Her work ethic is second to none,” Newton North coach Joe Tranchita said. “Sometimes you have to chase her out of practice. She’s a coach’s dream.”

The above-mentioned versatility of Forbes is a common theme among 2012’s top returning girls jumpers. You can’t be much more versatile than Kell (Marietta, Ga.) junior Kendell Williams, who is probably best known as a heptathlete, but has 6-0 high jump hops and has long-jumped 19-8.75. When it comes to combining both horizontal jumps and the high jump, Monroe (Albany, Ga.) senior Mimieux Land may be the country’s best. And, like Forbes, Plano East (Plano, Texas) senior Jennifer Madu and Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.) senior Jasmine Todd are devastating in combining sprints and both horizontal jumps.

Project Triple Jump a boon to Forbes

With all of the competition this year will bring, getting off to a great start doesn’t hurt and that’s what Forbes has done. A little more than a week after taking part in the Project Triple Jump clinic, sponsored by NSSF, she broke her indoor PR in the triple jump, going a US#1 40-10.

“I like the challenge of the triple jump,” she said. “It’s a challenging event (to master) and it’s a lot of work. The reward when you get there is definitely great.”

Forbes pours herself into her work. She not only accepted the invitation to be part of Project Triple Jump, she also wrote blog posts to give the outside world a sense for what was going on.

In the Bahamas, she had the opportunity to see new training techniques and listen to renowned Bahamian coach Peter Pratt.

“It’s definitely raising expectations, just to be able to say you’ve worked with (Coach Pratt),” Forbes said. “I definitely think there’s a higher expectation because you’ve put yourself on the radar. It’s an extra thing to push you.”

She added that her trip to the Bahamas served to reinforce that she was doing many of the right things in training. “Some of what they taught was an emphasis on things I was already doing.”

But Forbes also came back home with a clearer idea about how to approach competition. “The big thing that helped me down there were lessons on centering and taking control of each jump,” she said. “I’m definitely learning that, how to focus on myself and not to have a cloudy mind.”

And she also has a better understanding of where she is in relation to the top athletes in the country, if not the world.

“Being stuck up north sometimes you get a one-dimensional view,” Forbes said. “When you go to something like (World Youth Games or Project Triple Jump) you get the overall view of what people can really do. It definitely broadens my view of track.”


KENDELL WILLIAMS, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), 2013
Even if she wasn’t a top national-class hurdler and heptathlete, Williams deserves mention here just for her jumping … with her current US#1 5-10.75 HJ, she has already exceeded her 2011 indoor best of 5-9.25 from the NBIN pentathlon … was extremely consistent in HJ outdoors last year, with 6-0 best that makes her top US returnee … her overall LJ PR came indoors last winter at Kentucky Invite; her 19-8.75 there makes her top indoor returnee (went 19-7.5 outdoors) … often gets her best LJ and HJ marks in multis.

MADDIE MORROW, Hoover (North Canton, Ohio), 2012
Last year, Morrow divided New Balance nationals HJ titles with now-graduated Ohio rival Taylor Burke, taking 2nd at NBIN and 1st at NBON … her current US#2 of 5-10 gives her more than a dozen clearances over that mark in her career … was knocking at door of 6 feet last year both indoors and outdoors as she hit 5-11 marks to win indoor state and in taking 2nd at outdoor state (behind Burke’s US#1) … has committed to Duke.

RACHAL PROTEAU, West Albany (Albany, Ore.), 2013
Proteau had a stunning late-season surge last spring as a sophomore to move into the national HJ elite … by late May her PR was just 5-7, which she leapt to win 5A state … went up to 5-9 in taking BorderDuel, but it was her unlooked-for US#5 5-10.75 for 2nd at USATF Juniors that really opened eyes … she earned Pan-Am Junior ticket, where she was 5th … came back at end of July for USATF JOs Intermediate Girls title … is #3 returnee outdoors.

DerRENAE FREEMAN, West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.), 2012
Freeman made her mark at end of Fla. outdoor season as she went 19-10. 5 (nwi) in LJ at region meet, then a legal then-US#1 20-0.75 to win 4A state … wound up the season US#3 and is top returnee … later won Golden South (19-4, nwi), but had disappointing World Youth Trials (6th) … came back in the summer for AAU Club Nats title … improved almost a foot during junior season from 19-1 PR as soph … also a 12.08/24.60 sprinter (both nwi).

JASMINE TODD, Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012
Has been a major jumping/sprinting force for national powerhouse Chandler her entire career … #2 returnee in TJ outdoors with her 41-5 (+1.3w) from Chandler Rotary last spring and #5 LJ returnee with 19-8.75 best … won both at D1 state, AZ Meet of Champs and LJ at Nike Track Nationals … tripled the 60, LJ and TJ at Great Southwest Indoor last year … LJ PR came in 2010 state meet with 19-11; she also won GSW outdoor LJ that year (19-9w).

JENNIFER MADU, Plano East (Plano, Texas), 2012
Like Kendell Williams, Madu will get extensive mention in sprints/hurdles, as well as here … in TJ, she was 2nd at World Youth Trials with US#6 41-3 (#3 returnee) to make Team USA in 2 events (also 100, where she’d win gold) … was US#1 in TJ in 2010 with 42-0.75 to win Great Southwest … LJ PRs are 19-4nwi and 19-2 legal … TJ win and LJ 2nd were part of quadruple attempt at 5A state last year … strong start to indoor already, including US#5 39-6.75 at Arkansas.

MIMIEUX LAND, Monroe (Albany, Ga.), 2012
Land is an impressive do-it-all jumper with (legal) PRs of 5-8.75 HJ, 19-6.25 LJ (#8 returnee) and 40-4 TJ (#7 returnee); no one else combines the three quite so well … won Golden West with TJ PR last spring … has won all 3 events at 3A state two years running … at World Youth Trials, she was 2nd in HJ and LJ, but not named to Team USA … won Golden South HJ and TJ, and 3rd in LJ … also took USATF JOs (YW) in HJ … has committed to Florida.

JESSIE JOHNSON, Argyle (Argyle, Texas), 2012
Johnson had her best jump early last spring, a 13-3 in March that would stand up for US#6 for the year and makes her the top returnee for 2012 … in early January this year, she matched her 2nd best meet ever at 13-0 to own the current US#1 … won her second straight 3A state title last spring with 12-9 … she has committed to Auburn.

SYDNEY WHITE, East Forsyth (Kernersville, N.C.), 2012
With her US#7 13-1.25 PR, White placed 8th at the World Youth Championships last summer and is the #2 US returnee … has gotten off strong in 2012 already with 12-8 victory at the Reno PV Summit … great consistency in big meets last year, including runner-up finishes behind Morgan LeLeux at both NBIN and NBON … her 12-10.25 indoor PR at NBIN made her US#6 and she is #2 returnee there, as well, this time behind Megan Clark … her 12-3.5 soph best in 2010 earned her USATF JOs title in Intermediate Girls.

DANIELLE WILLIAMS, Eaglecrest (Centennial, Colo.), 2012
Not too many athletes become TJ specialists in HS, but Williams is about as close to that as you can get … does some sprinting and long jumping, but TJ by far her best event … very fast start to 2012 with 40-10 PR at Colo. School of Mines Open to tie US#1, one of 3 meets over 40 already for her … 40-4.25 outdoor PR at 5A state last year, but lost by an inch … won Great Southwest with 39-10 leap … 2nd at USATF JOs (Young Women) with 39-8.5 … 2nd at Simplot last winter at 38-8.5.

MEGAN CLARK, Columbus (Columbus, Ga.), 2012
After an outstanding 2011 at James O’Neill HS in NY, Clark is now in Georgia after a move dictated by family military obligations … her US#4 13-0 PR indoors at Eastern States in 2011 makes her #1 returnee and she has a 12-4 best (7th PV Summit) so far this winter … her best outdoors last spring was 12-8 at the Ahern Classic and she’s #7 returnee there … she was also 3rd at WY Trials and 7th at NBON in spring, after a 4th at NBIN … took state titles both indoors and out in 2011.

- Scroll down for indoor lists

High Jump
National Record: 6-4, Amy Acuff, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas), 1993, and Toni
Young, Del City (Del City, Okla.), 2009
2011 Best: 6-1.25, Taylor Burke, Medina (Medina, Ohio), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 6-0, Kendell Williams, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), 2013
2. 5-11, Maddie Morrow, Hoover (North Canton, Ohio), 2012
3. 5-10.75, Rachel Proteau, West Albany (Albany, Ore.), 2013
4. 5-10, Taylor Twedt, Westfork (Sheffield, Iowa), 2012
4. 5-10, Kiara Wright, Clear Lake (Houston, Texas), 2012
4. 5-10, Emily Godwin, Buckhann Upshur (Buckhannon, W.Va.), 2013
4. 5-10, Sara Henry, Somerset (Somerset, Wis.), 2012
4. 5-10, Audrey Ketcham, Wenatchee (Wenatchee, Wash.), 2012
4. 5-10, Ashlee Moore, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), 2014
4. 5-10, Julisa Tindall, Northwestern (Rock Hill, S.C.), 2013

Long Jump
National Record: 22-3, Kathy McMillan, Hoke County (Raeford, N.C.), 1976
2011 Best: 20-4.25, Jenna Prandini, Clovis (Clovis, Calif.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 20-0.75, DerRenae Freeman, West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.), 2012
2. 19-11, Robin Reynolds, Jackson (Miami, Fla.), 2012
3. 19-10.75, Ashlie Curenton, Silverado (Mission Viejo, Calif.), 2012
4. 19-10.25, Kyla Walker, White Station (Memphis, Tenn.), 2012
5. 19-8.75, Jasmine Todd, Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012
6. 19-7.5, Kendell Williams, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), 2013
7. 19-6.5, Clariwin Dameus, Santaluces (Lantana, Fla.), 2012
8. 19-6.25, Aliyah Harmon, Rich Central (Olympia Fields, Ill.), 2013
8. 19-6.25, Mimieux Land, Monroe (Albany, Ga.), 2012
10. 19-6, Alexis Faulknor, Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions
1. 20-0.5, Kira Moreland, Los Osos (Ontario, Calif.), 2012
2. 19-10.75, Anna Robinson, DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013
3. 19-9.5, Chyna Ries, Washington (Denver, Colo.), 2014
4. 19-9, Chantavia Johnson, Molina (Dallas, Texas), 2012
5. 19-6.25, Sidney Conley, Fayetteville (Fayetteville, Ark.), 2012

Triple Jump
National Record: 44-11.75, Brittany Daniels, West (Tracy, Calif.), 2004
2011 Best: 43-2.5, Ciarra Brewer, James Logan (Union City, Calif.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 42-1.5, Carla Forbes, Newton North (Newtonville, Ma.), 2013
2. 41-5, Jasmine Todd, Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012
3. 41-3, Jennifer Madu, Plano East (Plano, Texas), 2012
4. 40-6, Cydney Leath, Mt. Pleasant (San Jose, Calif.), 2012
5. 40-4.25, Danielle Williams, Eaglecrest (Centennial, Colo.), 2012
5. 40-4.25, Rachel Toliver, St. Mary’s Acad. (Berkeley, Calif.), 2013
7. 40-4, Mimieux Land, Monroe (Albany, Ga.), 2012
8. 40-3.5, Brianna Richardson, Rockwell-Heath (Heath, Texas), 2012
9. 40-3.25, Jessica Caldwell, McDonogh (Owings Mill, Md.), 2012
10. 39-11.5, Molly Gribbin, South Burlington (S. Burlington, Vt.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions
1. 41-3.5, Melodee Riley, Riverhead (Riverhead, N.Y.), 2012
2. 41-2.75, Richardson
3. 40-9.5, Gribbin
4. 40-8.75, Sasha Wallace, Holy Names (Oakland, Calif.), 2013
5. 40-5, Imani Wright, Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana, Texas), 2013
6. 40-4.5, Adefunke Sonaike, Montgomery (Skillman, N.J.), 2012
7. 40-3.25, Simone Charley, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.), 2013
8. 40-2.25, Nataliyah Friar, E.E. Holt (Wentzville, Mo.), 2013
9. 40-0.75, Alyssa Kelly, Blue Valley West (Overland Park, Kan.), 2012
10. 40-0.5, Ashley Ivey, Washington County (Sandersville, Ga.), 2012

Pole Vault
National Record: 14-2.75, Morgann Leleux, Catholic (New Iberia, La.), 2011
2011 Best: 14-2.75, Morgann Leleux, Catholic (New Iberia, La.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 13-3, Jessie Johnson, Argyle (Argyle, Texas), 2012
2. 13-1.25, Sydney White, East Forsyth (Kernersville, N.C.), 2012
3. 13-0, McKenzie Johnson, Clairemont (San Diego, Calif.), 2012
4. 12-9.75, Victoria Rische, Foothill (Santa Ana, Calif.), 2012
5. 12-9, Alyssa Applebee, Seneca (Seneca, Ill.), 2012
5. 12-9, Cimran Virdi, Las Lomas (Walnut Creek, Calif.), 2012
7. 12-8, Megan Clark, Columbus (Columbus, Ga.), 2012
8. 12-7.5, Hannah Acton, Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.), 2012
9. 12-7.25, Katie Rancourt, East Kentwood (Kentwood, Mich.), 2012
10. 12-7, Alex Flucke, Ashwaubenon (Green Bay, Wis.), 2013
10. 12-7, Chanel Krause, St. Paul Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.), 2013

NATION'S TOP RETURNEES (and current leaders)

High Jump
National Record: 6-3, Lisa Berhagen, Wood River (Hailey, Id.), 1984
2011 Best: 5-11, Maddie Morrow, Hoover (North Canton, Ohio), 2012

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 5-11, Maddie Morrow, Hoover (North Canton, Ohio), 2012
2. 5-9.25, Kendell Williams, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), 2013
3. 5-8, Taylor Morgan, Upper Dublin (Ft. Washington, Pa.), 2012
3. 5-8, Lexy Boschee, Glacier (Glacier, Mont.), 2012
7 tied at 5-7
**Current 2012 Leaders
1. 5-10.75, Williams
2. 5-10, Morrow

Long Jump
National Record: 21-7.5, Carol Lewis, Willingboro (Willingboro, N.J.), 1981
2011 Best: 20-1, Keilah Tyson, Western Branch (Chesapeake, Va.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 19-8.75, Kendell Williams, Kell (Marietta, Ga.), 2013
2. 19-5.5, Carla Forbes, Newton North (Newtonville, Ma.), 2013
3. 19-2.5, Jordan Matthews, Abington (Abington, Pa.), 2012
3. 19-2.5, Sarah Bowens, Suffern (Suffern, N.Y.), 2012
5. 19-2, Shannen Rose-Forde, Dominion Christian (Marietta, Ga.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leader
1. 20-0.25, Shakeela Saunders, Nansemond River (Suffolk, Va.), 2012

Triple Jump
National Record: 44-6.75, Ke'Nyia Richardson, Holy Names (Oakland, Calif.), 2007
2011 Best: 42-3.5, Ciarra Brewer, James Logan (Union City, Calif.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 40-8, Jessica Caldwell, McDonogh (Owings Mill, Md.), 2012
2. 40-5.25, Sasha Wallace, Holy Names (Oakland, Calif.), 2013
3. 39-10.5, Jennifer Madu, Plano East (Plano, Texas), 2012
4. 39-8.5, Jasmine Todd, Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012
5. 39-7.25, Brianna Richardson, Rockwell-Heath (Heath, Texas), 2012
5. 39-7.25, Iana Amsterdam, Newark Tech (Newark, N.J.), 2013
**Current 2012 Leaders
1. 40-10, Carla Forbes, Newton North (Newtonville, Ma.), 2013
1. 40-10, Danielle Williams, Eaglecrest (Centennial, Colo.), 2012

Pole Vault
National Record: 14-2.5, Tori Anthony, Castilleja (Palo Alto, Calif.), 2007
2011 Best: 13-8.25, Morgann Leleux, Catholic (New Iberia, La.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 13-0, Megan Clark, Columbus (Columbus, Ga.), 2012
2. 12-10.25, Sydney White, East Forsyth (Kernersville, N.C.), 2012
3. 12-7, Jessie Johnson, Argyle (Argyle, Texas), 2012
3. 12-7, Larisa Debich, Hempfield (Landisville, Pa.), 2012
4. 12-6, Sydney Clute, Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leaders
1. 13-0, Johnson

2012 Preview - Boys Jumps: Texans Watson, Barber, Field get off to fast start

January, 19, 2012
Reese Watson and Shawn BarberDonna Dye/ESPNHS13 months ago (Club Altius Dec. '10 meet), they were just 16-6 and 14-6 vaulters; now Reese Watson and Shawn Barber are both over 17-6 (=#2, #4 all-time) and lead an impressive group of boys jumpers as we start our 2012 National Track Preview series.
Scroll down for More to Watch, and Top Indoor and Outdoor Returnees

If it all goes according to Reese Watson’s master plan, the senior from Spring (Spring, Texas) could make history this spring in the pole vault.

Already, Watson has kicked off the 2012 campaign with a 17-6 clearance at the Pole Vault Expo Explosion on New Year’s Eve in Belton, Texas – which at the time made him #3 all-time. His goals now include re-writing the national records indoors (17-9.25) and out (18-3) and earning a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the end of June in Eugene, Ore.

Watson is one of three Texans who have already made a huge impact in the boys jumps early this indoor season, a big part of the reason that fireworks are almost guaranteed in this event category in 2012. Just a week after Watson’s clearance, Kingwood Park (Kingwood) senior Shawn Barber topped that with a 17-6.5 at the Texas A&M Classic, equaling #2 all-time. Then last weekend, Lancaster junior Devin Field exploded to a 25-5.75 long jump at the Arkansas Invite, equaling #6 all-time.

And that’s just part of the story. The boys prep jumps corps also this year, nationally, include 2011 World Youth Championship bronze medalists Jacob Blankenship from Ohio (pole vault) and Justin Fondren from Mississippi (high jump), two red-hot sons of Olympic champions (Allex Austin and Cameron Burrell, both also in Texas), and a deep group of triple jumpers than includes four legal 50-footers.

Watson’s preparation paying off

Whether or not he has company in the 17+ range, Watson is focused on the heights he wants to achieve.

“I’ve already gotten a lot faster and stronger,” said the 6-foot-4 Texan, who has a similar build to last year’s US#1 performer indoors and outdoors, Andrew Irwin. “After I jumped 17-6, we put it up to 18, which is close to the Olympic (Trials) standard. For that 18-foot bar there is still a lot of work to do, but it’s not out of reach.”

There were no preps in the field of 27 that competed at the 2008 Trials. In order to achieve the B standard, Watson would have to make 18-0.50. Only four high school vaulters in history have ever gone that high.

“It’d definitely be a dream of mine to compete against some of my role models, such as Brad Walker, and try to compete with some of those guys,” he said.

Watson had an excellent 2011 season, winning at the Texas Relays (17-2), the Class 5A Texas championships, and then hitting his outdoor PR to win the Great Southwest Invitational (17-3) in Albuquerque, N.M. He was the only vaulter in the country to clear 17-2 or better twice outdoors.

An extensive off-season workout program, including once-a-week workouts at Club Altius, paid off with immediate results. Watson will likely take aim at the national indoor record as soon as his next competition. The all-time indoor record of 17-9.25, set last year, by Irwin, came after the indoor competition window ended.

“We thought (a PR) would come pretty quick,” Watson’s coach at Spring, Aaron Shock, said. “He went for 18, but was out of gas. He has a good shot at 17-9. If he’s on, he’ll definitely take a shot at it.”

Watson’s program has been designed to increase speed, which will help him on the runway and also fulfill another one of his goals – running on the Spring’s 4x400 relay.

“I don’t spend much time jumping,” he said. “It’s mostly running and lifting.”

Watson got started in the pole vault in the seventh grade and was introduced to it by his father. “My dad used to (vault) in high school,” he said. “He always helps me out, in workouts, at the meet, or whenever he can.”

For his indoor finale, Watson has the New Balance Indoor Nationals circled on his calendar. “I want to put a big jump out (in New York),” he said.


DEVIN FIELD, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013
His aforementioned 25-5.75 LJ just part of the reason he’s the country’s brightest young horizontal jumper … during monster stretch last spring, he won 2nd straight Texas 4A title (24-11.25w), USATF Juniors on 5th jump (24-8.5w), Pan Am Juniors on 5th jump (24-10.5w), and USATF JOs (US#2 24-10.5) … showed veteran poise all spring, with consistency well beyond his years … also fine TJ’er and hurdler … at Arkansas he also leapt US#1 49-8.25 TJ and ran nation-leading 7.91 60H … 50-1.75w TJ last spring … recently took part in the Project Triple Jump clinic in the Bahamas.

SHAWN BARBER, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012
Wasn’t even a 15-foot vaulter at this time a year ago and who could have thought he’d be where he is now? In February, though, he became a 16-footer and went on to take 2nd in state 4A meet outdoors … by summer’s end, had captured the AAU JOs with a 16-6 … nice improvement in a year, but still, adding a foot to that as he did at Texas A&M January 6 could never have been anticipated … is suddenly the 2nd best vaulter in U.S. history and stage is set for great clashes with him and Watson the rest of the year.

JUSTIN FONDREN, Oxford (Oxford, Miss.) 2012
With US#1 7-2.25, he was the nation’s dominant high jumper last year, having made steady progress upon exceptional freshman (frosh USR 7-0) and sophomore seasons … very consistent, having cleared 7-foot bars at eight meets in 2011 … won World Youth Trials at 7-0.5, then captured bronze at the World Youth Champs in France (6-11.75) … he has openly discussed the ambitious goal of 7-7 (matching Andra Manson’s USR and making Olympic Trials) during his senior year … occupied by basketball in the winter and has never competed indoors.

JACOB BLANKENSHIP, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012
Vaulter’s timely breakthrough last year began with 17-0 at D1 state, beating standout senior twins Joey and Chris Uhle during a watershed year for the event in Ohio … then he went to NBON where eight 17-foot vaulters were assembled and came out on top with PR 17-0.25 … easily qualified for the U.S. team that competed at the World Youth Champs and earned the bronze in France with 16-6.75 … just gearing up for season now and cleared 16-0.75 in low key opener last weekend.

CHRIS BROWN, Hanahan (Hanahan, S.C.), 2012
Amazing finish to 2011 outdoor season puts Brown right at top of list of TJ returnees … on the night he broke 33-year old state TJ record – oldest on the books at the time in South Carolina – he broke it not once, but twice (with a best of 51-2.5) … had two other meets over 50 feet, including NBON, where he finished second (50-6w/50-5.5) … additionally, he went 23-9 in the long jump … he is also part of the NSSF’s Triple Jump Project.

CAMERON BURRELL, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) 2013
Nearly as impressive in the LJ as fellow soph Field last year, he had bests of 24-7 at USATF JOs (2nd to Field) and 24-8w (regional qualifier) … following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Olympic sprinter Leroy Burrell, Cameron represented the U.S. overseas last year … he made the World Youth team with 24-2.25 at Trials, then was 14th in the World Youth prelims … like his dad, he’s also a sprinter, having placed 2nd in state 5A 100 last spring … currently leads the nation at 60 meters indoors with 6.82 and also jumped 23-8.75 in first indoor meet.

IMANI BROWN, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012
Has started fast this indoor season, triple jumping over 48 feet in December to temporarily hold US#1 … reigning champion at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, having jumped 50-6.75w (4.1) in Greensboro last June to beat a field that included Marquis Dendy, Chris Brown and others … followed that up by making the World Youth team, though he didn’t advance to finals in France … earlier, was seventh at NBIN and won the Pennsylvania state championship during the 2011 indoor season.

JOSH DIXON, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012
Became the 2nd TJ’er in state history to surpass 50 ft. when he went 50-4.75 at USATF JOs last July … had an off day in TJ at state meet, but he did win LJ at 23-9.5 … indoors, he has already jumped US#2 49-0.75, finishing 2nd to Field at Arkansas … this spring, he has his sights set on the 29-year-old state TJ mark of 52-4.5, held by 1996 Olympic Champion Kenny Harrison, who set it while competing at Brookfield Central … recently committed to the U. of Arkansas.

ALLEX AUSTIN, San Marcos (San Marcos, Texas), 2012
His father may be 1996 Olympic HJ gold medalist Charles Austin, but Allex didn’t take up the discipline in earnest until last year … even with the good genes, his progress was stunning … was a 6-6 leaper by early March and kept adding inches every few weeks … at his district meet in mid-April, he scaled a then-US#1 7-2 (#3 by year’s end) … would go 6-10 three times, including a clearance that netted him a 5A state title, but consistency is still a work in progress.

LOGAN BRITTAIN, Randall (Amarillo, Texas), 2013
Cleared seven feet in HJ five times in 2011 as soph and won Texas 4A title … also won the Great Southwest Invite when he cleared the bar at 6-11.75 … at 5-foot-10, he is already jumping more than a foot over his head … he is a three-sport standout who also plays football and basketball.

JAELEN SPENCER, Sultana (Hesperia, Calif.), 2013
As a soph, Spencer made big TJ breakthrough to 49-0.5 in mid-May at Southern Section D2 prelims … a week later, bounded to first 50-footer (50-02.25) to win SS Finals … though he was just 3rd at state, bounced back to take World Youth Trials with 50-4.5w … was unable to make finals in France at World Youth Champs, but has lots of potential and bright future.


Lists and records from DyeStat TFX and Jack Shepard's High School Track

OUTDOOR EVENTS - Scroll down for indoor lists

High Jump
National Record: 7-7, Andra Manson, Brenham (Brenham, Texas), 2002
2011 Best: 7-3, Carlos Hernandez, Santa Teresa (Anthony, N.M.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 7-2.25, Justin Fondren, Oxford (Oxford, Miss.), 2012
2. 7-2, Allex Austin, San Marcos (San Marcos, Texas), 2012
3. 7-2, Tyler Donels, Southeast Polk (Pleasant Hill, Iowa), 2012
4. 7-0.25, Errin Baynes, Park (Wheeling, W. Va.), 2012
5. 7-0, Logan Brittain, Randall (Amarillo, Texas), 2013
5. 7-0, Carl Heinz, River Forest (Oak Park, Ill.), 2012
5. 7-0, Brandon Stone, Trenton (Trenton, Fla.), 2012
5. 7-0, Bradley Atkins, Idalou (Idalou, Texas), 2012
9. 6-11, Kevin Spejcher, Lake Park (Roselle, Ill.), 2012
9. 6-11, Noel Frazier, California (San Ramon, Calif.), 2012
9. 6-11, Miles Poullard, Colony (Ontario, Calif.), 2012
9. 6-11, Wally Ellenson, Rice Lake (Rice Lake, Wis.), 2012
9. 6-11, Cody Crampton, Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.), 2012

Pole Vault
National Record: 18-3, Tommy Skipper, Sandy (Sandy, Ore.), 2003
2011 Best: 17-6.5, Andrew Irwin, Mount Ida (Mount Ida, Ark.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 17-3, Reese Watson, Spring (Spring, Texas), 2012
2. 17-0.75, Jacob Blankenship, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012
3. 16-7, Dylan Bell, Alvarado (Alvarado, Texas), 2012
4. 16-6, Josh Sonnen, Midlothian (Midlothian, Texas), 2012
4. 16-6, Dillon Lookout, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.), 2012
4. 16-6, Shawn Barber, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012
7. 16-5.5, Garrett Starkey, Basha (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012
8. 16-3, Marques Hicks, Hallsville (Hallsville, Texas), 2012
9. 16-1, Kyle Padalecki, East Central (San Antonio, Texas), 2012
9. 16-1, Connor Stark, Oak Park (Oak Park, Calif.), 2012
9. 16-1, Patrick Anderson, Kane Area (Kane, Pa.), 2012

Long Jump
National Record: 26-10, Marquise Goodwin, Rowlett (Rowlett, Texas), 2009
2011 Best: 25-0.5, Josh McClam, Holly Springs (Holly Springs, N.C.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 24-10.5, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013
2. 24-7, Cameron Burrell, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas), 2013
3. 24-3.5, Janarion Grant, Pasco (Dade City, Fla.), 2013
4. 23-11, Michael Tillman, Buchholz (Gainesville, Fla.), 2012
5. 23-10.75, Tyris Jefferson, Robert E. Lee (Tyler, Texas), 2012
6. 23-9.75, Jarrion Lawson, Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana, Texas), 2012
7. 23-9, Chris Brown, Hanahan (Halahan, S.C.), 2012
8. 23-8.75, Elijah Mitchell, West (Tracy, Calif.), 2012
9. 23-8.5, Blake Selig, Rio Mesa (Oxnard, Calif.), 2012
10. 23-7.5, Dereck Knott, Colonial (Orlando, Fla.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions
1. 24-11.25, Field
2. 24-8, Burrell
2. 24-8, J.T. Washington, Satellite (Satellite Beach, Fla.), 2012
4. 24-5.75, Lawson
5. 24-3.25, Tevin Coleman, Oak Forest (Oak Forest, Ill.), 2012
6. 24-2, Kaleb Moore, Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas), 2012
6. 24-2, Ryan Jackson, Angleton (Angleton, Texas), 2012
8. 24-0.5, Jerrell Morrow, Emporia (Emporia, Ks.), 2013

Triple Jump
National Record: 54-10.25, Kenny Hall, Tara (Baton Rouge, La.), 2004
2011 Best: 51-3, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 51-2.5, Chris Brown, Hanahan (Halahan, S.C.), 2012
2. 50-4.75, Josh Dixon, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012
3. 50-2.25, Jaelen Spencer, Sultana (Hesperia, Calif.), 2013
4. 50-0, Felix Obi, Franklin (El Paso, Texas), 2012
5. 49-6.25, Imani Brown, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012
6. 48-11.5, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013
7. 48-10, Jarrion Lawson, Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana, Texas), 2012
7. 48-10, Kylvens Delaunay, Claremont (Claremont, Calif.), 2012
9. 48-4.5, Adarius Barnes, Port Gibson (Port Gibson, Miss.), 2012
10. 48-4, Dominique Irons, Haddon Heights (Haddon Heights, N.J.), 2013
10. 48-4, Myles Charley, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions
1. 50-6.75, I. Brown
2. 50-4.5, Spencer
3. 50-1.75, Field
4. 49-1.5, Lawson
5. 49-0.75, Eric England, Mtn. View (Meridian, Id.), 2012
5. 49-0.75, Kylvens Delaunay, Claremont (Claremont, Calif.), 2012
7. 48-9.5, Matthew O’Neal, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.), 2012
8. 48-7.75, David Johnson, Charlottesville (Charlottesville, Va.), 2012
9. 48-4.5, Marcellis Childs, Aransas Pass (Aransas Pass, Texas), 2012
10. 48-4.25, John Warren, Killeen (Killeen, Texas), 2014

**Current Indoor Leader(s) for 2012 listed below returnees for each event.

High Jump
National Record: 7-5.25, Scott Sellers, Cinco Ranch (Katy, Texas), 2004
2011 Best: 7-2.5, Jonathan Christensen, Southmont (Crawfordsville, Ind.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 7-0, Marcus Mason, Granite City (Granite City, Ill.), 2012
2. 6-10.5, C.J. Smith, Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012
3. 6-10, Wally Ellenson, Rice Lake (Rice Lake, Wis.), 2012
3. 6-10, Carl Heinz, River Forest (Oak Park, Ill.), 2012
3. 6-10, Kevin Spejcher, Lake Park (Roselle, Ill.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leaders
1. 7-0, Victor Glaze, Killeen (Killeen, Texas), 2012
1. (tie) 7-0, Rashaan Jones, South Lakes (Reston, Va.), 2013

Pole Vault
National Record: 17-9.25, Andrew Irwin, Mt. Ida (Mt. Ida, Ark.), 2011
2011 Best: 17-9.25, Andrew Irwin, Mt. Ida (Mt. Ida, Ark.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 16-6, Reese Watson, Spring (Spring, Texas), 2012
2. 16-1, Jacob Blankenship, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012
3. 16-0, Shawn Barber, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012
4. 15-8.25, Dillon Lookout, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.), 2012
5. 15-8.25, Terry Batemon, Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leaders
1. Barber, 17-6.5
2. Watson, 17-6

Long Jump
National Record: 26-6.5, Dion Bentley, Penn Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 1989
2011 Best: 25-9.5, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 24-3.75, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013
2. 23-8.5, Ray Beverly, Pike (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012
3. 23-6, Anaquan Peterson, Lakeland (Suffolk, Va.), 2012
4. 23-5.5, Cameron Burrell, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas), 2013
5. 23-3.25, Ismail El-amin, Wilson Magnet (Rochester, N.Y.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leader
1. Field, 25-5.75

Triple Jump
National Record: 52-7.5, Keith Holley, Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.), 1988
2011 Best: 52-1.5, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class
1. 48-7.5, Anaquan Peterson, Lakeland (Suffolk, Va.), 2012
2. 48-5.5, Imani Brown, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012
3. 48-3.75, Josh Dixon, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012
4. 47-4.5, David Johnson, Charlottesville (Charlottesville, Va.), 2012
5. 47-2.25, Jared Posey, William Penn (York, Pa.), 2012
**Current 2012 Leader
1. 49-8.25, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013
Earlier this week, the USTFCCCA (that's the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association) recognized the NCAA Division I all-region teams, revealing cream of the college crop for 2011. It also offered a chance to examine where those athletes went to high school -- and which states are contributing the most Division I talent.

Making the all-region is a byproduct of placing in the top 25 in one of the nine regional meets across the country last Saturday.

That means 450 athletes make the all-region teams, a list that skims the cream off the top of Division I cross country. And while it may not be exactly the 450 best ( because not all of the regions are equal), there is information here that may be eye-opening for high school athletes and coaches thinking about the next level.

The West Regional produced the fastest winning times, the fastest 20th place finishes and fastest 50th place finishes. That could be an indication that it was held on the easiest course, but it also indicates the level of talent in the West. Six women's teams from the West are ranked in the Top 30 nationally as well as four men's teams.

The deepest region for women may be the Great Lakes, where the top 50 finished within 81 seconds. The region with the fewest spaces up front for the men was the Mid-Atlantic Region, where the first and 50th finisher were separated by 84 seconds.

So where do the 450 all-region runners come from? Where is the fertile recruiting ground?

It may not come as a surprise that there are more Kenyans on the list (35) than there are Texans (30) or Californians (27). Additionally, 40 of the runners (or close to one-tenth) come from European countries. And 25 more come from Australia, New Zealand or Canada.

Would you believe that Pennsylvania produced more men on the list (12) than New York (8) or Illinois (8)? It's true. The Keystone state trails only California (15) and Texas (15). Also, 10 come from Indiana and nine hail from Georgia.

The women's list doesn't follow the same pattern. Texas (15) produces the most, which may seem odd because the state only runs 3,200-meter races for high school girls. Twelve of the 15 go to universities within Texas.

Ohio, the source of three of the men on the list, produces the same number of women (12) as California.

After Ohio and California, New York (11) and Michigan (11) are next, followed by New Jersey (10).

Pennsylvania, represented by 12 men, has just five women on the list. Iowa has six women, no men.

Here is a combined (men and women) breakdown by state or country where the athlete went to high school. Five states that did not make this list are Hawaii, Vermont, Delaware, Arkansas and Montana.

Kenya 35, Texas 30, California 27, New York 19, Michigan 17, Pennsylvania 17, Indiana 16, Ohio 15, New Jersey 15, Illinois 15, England 13, Georgia 11, Colorado 10, Utah 10, Virginia 10, Canada 10, Arizona 9, Connecticut 9, Australia 8, Minnesota 8, New Zealand 8, Missouri 7, Massachusetts 7, Florida 7, Tennessee 6, North Carolina 6, Washington 6, Iowa 6, Wisconsin 5, Ireland 5, Maryland 5, New Mexico 4, New Hampshire 4, Alabama 4, Germany 3, Uganda 3, West Virginia 3, Nevada 3, Norway 3, Kansas 3, South Carolina 3, Oregon 3, Wyoming 3, Nebraska 3, Kentucky 3, France 2, Belgium 2, Sweden 2, Idaho 2, Oklahoma 2, South Dakota 2, Mississippi 2, The Netherlands 2, Scotland 1, Maine 1, Czech Rep. 1, Rhode Island 1, Ethiopia 1, Venezuela 1, Zambia 1, Alaska 1, North Dakota 1, Portugal 1, Louisiana 1, South Africa 1, Estonia 1, Serbia 1 , Switzerland 1.
The cross country season continued to pick up steam over the weekend from coast to coast, with some of the nation's top teams and individuals getting their first taste of the competitive season.

Here is a recap, with links to specific meet pages with additional highlights and results:

Dyestat Cal editor Rich Gonzalez filed a thorough report on the Seaside Invitational, detailing the performances of several of the Golden State's top teams -- Palos Verdes and Trabuco Hills on the boys side, and the perennially strong Saugus girls. Jonah Diaz was impressive in victory.

Also on the west coast, North Central's boys from Spokane and the Bozeman (MT) girls made splashy debuts at the Tracy Walters Invitational in Spokane. (For those of you who don't know, Tracy Walters was Gerry Lindgren's coach at Rogers High back in the 1960s and a legend in his own right). Anthony Armstrong and Katie Knight got impressive individual wins.

Pat Cooper/no_sourceFreshman Allie Ostrander leads the pack at a recent meet in Alaska.

Way up to the north, Kenai Central's fab frosh Allie Ostrander won meets on back-to-back days. She won a 3,000-meter race on Friday and then went sub-18 for her third straight win at 3 miles or 5K, this time at Alaska's Palmer Invitational.

In Utah, the Davis boys rolled to a big victory at the BYU Autumn Classic in Provo.

In Missouri, Rockhurst's Zach Herriott flipped the script on Rock Bridge's Caleb Wilfong at the Forest Park Festival. A year ago, it was Wilfong first, Herriott second. There was also a sparkling debut from freshman Hannah Long of Eureka in the girls race.

In Alabama, Carmen Carlos and Griffin Lee picked up individual honors, at the Mobile Challenge of Champions. Plus, Arthur Mack provides details of the team titles won by McGill-Toolen's girls (AL) and Brother Martin's boys (LA).

In Illinois, the New Trier girls rolled and the Niles North boys got a big lift from their No. 5 at the Peoria Woodruff Invitational. Amanda Fox dipped under 17 minutes for 3 miles and Garrett Sweatt got a big win on the boys side.

In Indiana, the Columbus North boys went 1-5-7-12-15 to win the 17-team Brown County Eagle Classic.

At the Mason Invitational in Ohio, the girls from Carmel IN made themselves at home, going 1-3-5-6-7 to make a strong statement. Meanwhile, at the always huge Tiffin Cross Country Carnival in Ohio, Tsehaye Hiluf (15:19.58) and Jacquelyn Crow (18:23.14) put up impressive early season times.

In New York, Lizzie Predmore demonstrated her might with a 61-second win on the tough Guilderland course.

And in New Jersey, Bronxville's Mary Cain's star continued to rise with a big PR at the Randolph Invitational, where she won by a whopping 82 seconds.