A large draw of Virginia athletes and teams will be competing at this weekend's Montgomery Invitational being hosted at the Prince George County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland. For some team Northern Virginia teams, this will be their third consecutive weekend racing at the facility that also hosts the Nike Indoor Nationals on a yearly basis.
Virginia's top relay in this event should be Forest Park as they return three of four members of a squad that finished sixth at the AAA State Meet with a season best time of 8:01 last spring. Their top relay leg is Zach Williams, who ran 1:56.40 for 800 meters last year as a junior. Another Northwest Region squad in Mountain View could also be competitive in the event and especially with Footlocker finalist Thomas Porter.
Most Virginia teams will be focused on trying to dip under the AAA state qualifying time of 8:11.64, which West Springfield did just that at Prince George last weekend and is unlikely to load up this weekend as a result. Defending AAA state 4x800 meter outdoor champions Colonial Forge return half of last year's team including a very strong leg in Blake Arnold, so it will be interesting to see who steps up as the other two legs this year.
West Potomac girls are the top seed and have a 9:57 to their credit this season from CNU in December. Last spring, they ran 9:36 in the 4x800 meter relay. Meanwhile, Colonial Forge is entered and returns three of their four members that ran 9:27 last June at the AAA State Meet. The Lady Eagles will be led by Kaylan Comer, who has ran 2:18 for 800 meters and 5:05 for 1600 meters in the past.
The Northwest Region looks to be surprising strong in the relay event on both the boys and girls side this year based off returning some young relays from last year. Osbourn Park girls are no exception to having all youth lead to state competition last year as they ran 9:32 last spring with no seniors and expect to go after a 9:45.60 state meet automatic qualifier like all other AAA teams in the race.
Boys 55 Meter Dash:
I.C. Norcom's Isaiah Gyasi may be seeded 19th in the 55 meter dash, but expect him to leave those with false seed times in the dust en route to the finals of the sprint event. Only US#1 performer in two events in Sean Holston has ran faster in the state of Virginia than Gyasi's 6.45 F.A.T. time from the CNU Winter Frolic back on December 9th. Over one month later, Gyasi gets an opportunity to test himself on the same track that Holston ran his state leading 6.41 two weekends ago at the F.I.T. Invitational. Gyasi already has a major victory to his credit over Manchester's Anthony Chesson, who still figures to be one of Holston's biggest threats at the state meet.
Expect Gyasi to be joined in the finals by Virginia's fastest rising young star in the sprints in Stonewall Jackson sophomore Damien Thigpen. Thigpen picked up a big win at the Bishop Laughlin Games in December at the New York Armory with a personal best 6.48 clocking, which ranks fifth in the state currently.
Girls 55 Meter Dash:
Three Virginians ranked in the top ten in the state and times under 7.50 this season will be featured in this event including Potomac Senior freshmen Yvonnne Amegashie, who won the Walt Cormack Relays in December with a 7.40 clocking. Ranked sixth in the state is Brittni Dixon of Woodbridge as the Stanford University recruit finished a close second behind Amegashie at VMI and posted a 7.41 time in the prelims. Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams also returns to the same track that she ran the state's 10th best time of 7.45 at the F.I.T. Invite.
Pardon the interruption, but Colonial Heights junior Shae Wilbon is going to come to Landover with a chip on her shoulder having something to prove after suffering two humbling defeats in the 500 and 300 meter dashes at the CVTF Clinic Invite last month. Wilbon has a 7.29 best in the event as she qualified for last year's AAA state finals.
Boys 55 Meter Hurdles:
DeShun Whitaker of Mountain View should have had a win this past weekend at VMI in the Keydet Invitational. After all, he won the fast section in 7.99, but Adams Abdulrazaaq was able to sneak out the win from a slower section. There will be no sneak wins over Whitaker this weekend as the top hurdlers will advance on from the prelim heats to a one section finals. A win will be a very tough feat for Whitaker with the competition that he will be facing at Prince George.
Michael Bern of Cave Spring has the fastest time this season among the Virginia entrants at 7.71 from the Wally Gilbert Invite, which ranks fourth in the state currently in the hurdle event. However, AJ Malicdem of Bayside has the fastest returning time from last year as he had a 7.83 clocking to his credit as a junior. Saturday will be Malicdem's first invitational this season.
Girls 55 Meter Hurdles:
West Springfield is competing in the meet, but Trisha Friederich is not running the hurdles this weekend or otherwise, two of Virginia's top three ranked seniors would be competing this weekend. Friederich ran the state's second fastest time at 8.56 last weekend at the Southern Maryland Mega Meet. While Friederich will be absent in the event, Lee-Davis senior Rachel Butler will look to better her season best of 8.59 ran without spikes and go for the win as well. Butler has a 8.48 best from last year.
Boys Mile Run:
Two Virginians make up the selective 12 athlete section with Blake Arnold of Colonial and Zach Williams of Forest Park. Both are speedsters geared toward the middle distance events as Arnold has ran 4:21 for 1600 meters and also posted times of 2:34 and 1:55 for 1000 and 800 meters respectively. Meanwhile, Williams has a bit more untapped potential in the event with a 4:29 best, but excellent speed with a 1:56 800 under his belt. Both have very outside shots of winning it with a sub 4:15 miler featured in the event from Delaware in Dominic Della Pelle.
Girls Mile Run:
There is no lack of top harriers representing Virginia in the girls' race including Virginia's top returning miler in Catherine White. White is set on qualifying for the Millrose Games elite high school mile race after being snubbed last year despite running a 4:56 1600 indoors the week after selections were made last year at Virginia Tech. With this year being the 100th annual Millrose Games, White has even greater incentive to be a part of the event and has ran very strong early this season including breaking Sarah Bowman's meet record last weekend at VMI by one second with a time of 5:08 for a full mile. White had put up a 10:53 3200 before her mile race last weekend, so she'll have fresher legs to go for a sub five minute mile attempt. She just missed breaking five minutes for 1600 meters last month at Liberty.
Sarrah Hadiji of W.T. Woodson and Brittany Copeland of Brooke Point give the state three more proven milers in the field with Copeland as the returning AAA state indoor runner-up in the event and Hadiji coming off an impressive 5:07 1600 meter performance two weekends ago at the F.I.T. Invite. Copeland has a 5:03 best and ran 5:04 indoors last year in her state runner-up performance.
Lia Divalentin of Chantilly (5:08 PR) and Elizabeth of West Potomac (5:14 PR) help round out a stacked field of eleven runners as Divalentin recorded her best 1600 meter time at Prince George last year at the Northern Region Meet and also earned All-American honors in the freshmen mile at Nike Indoor Nationals.
Boys 1600 Meter Run:
Bradshaw Kenimer of T.C. Williams just missed the cut to get into the Millrose qualifier mile section as he is the top seed in the unseeded 1600 meter event. Despite the fact that he has ran 4:24 for 1600 meters in the past and posted a time of 4:29 this season at Prince George. He might have a little fire in him to prove he deserved to be in the mile section in his race on Saturday.
Girls 1600 Meter Run:
The more interesting story in the unseeded 1600 meter run for the girls will be who will finish first among two of Virginia's better freshmen distance girls in Amanda Lineberry of Lee-Davis and Ariel Karabinus of Osbourn Park. Lineberry started off running great in cross country with a few wins and sub 19 minute performances, but had a bad day at the Central Region Meet and failed to qualify for the state meet. Meanwhile, Karabinus had a great finish to her cross country season as she earned All-State honors in AAA with a 14th place finish. Both are likely more geared to longer distance races, but Lineberry has ran 5:25 this season for 1600 meters, while Karabinus has a 5:24 best. Should be close on Saturday.
Boys 400 Meter Dash:
Sean Holston really needs to slow down. At this rate, he will have a US#1 in five different events by the end of the month. He already has two with a US#1 1:03.93 500 meters two weeks ago at Prince George and US#1 33.99 300 meters last week at the same venue. He will look to do it again in Landover this weekend as he'll be competing in another event with the 400 meter dash. The Robert E. Lee senior is the top seed in the event and has a 48.89 best from a Northern Region title last spring. Time to beat for Holston to notch his third US#1 in as many weeks is 48.39 from Chris Ward of Florida, which was run at the LSU Invite this past weekend. Holston's US#1's have been quite impressive coming from an unbanked track found at Prince George.
Girls 400 Meter Dash:
This will be a hotly contested event as while Virginia will have three studs representing the state in the fast section of the event, it will be hard to break up the Eleanor Roosevelt pair of Elan Hilaire and Tameka Jameson. Nonethless, if any trio of Virginia girls can do it is the group that will be found in that loaded top section in Landover with Fauquier's Dania Sanford, Colonial Heighs' Shae Wilbon, and Lee-Davis' Rachel Butler.
Sanford is the top returnee from last year's AAA State Meet in the event and had the third fastest time in Virginia last spring 55.19 clocking. Meanwhile, Wilbon is the defending Central Region champion in the event and had a 55.84 best last spring. Butler is probably the most untested as being a multi-event athlete and hurdler leaves her few opportunities to test herself on the track in an open sprint event, but she can definitely run with the best.
Osbourn Park junior Bethany Hyter's seed time did not place her in the top section, but she is the state's second fastest returnee in the event at 55.16 as well as a Northwest Regional title victory over Sanford to her credentials as well. This event is certainly one of the deepest in the meet.
Boys 800 Meter Run:
Tough to justify top Virginian distance runners to compete in the 800 meter run with other state qualifying events available in the meet such as the 1600 and 3200 meter races as the event looks to have the weakest representation of three up front by Virginians. However, the Degfae twins from Thomas Edison look to be the state's top two entries in the event as both Tihut and Leoule ran 1:57 in the open 800 meter run last spring only as freshmen, which is very uncommon for any ninth grader in the state to dip down that low under two minutes and much less a set of brothers.
Girls 800 Meter Run:
Defending AAA state 1000 meter champion Andrea Oaxaca of Yorktown leads the Virginian girls against a formidable duo from the powerhouse that is Eleanor Roosevelt with Tasha Stanley and Takecia Jameson entered. She has a 2:16 best for 800 meters and also has ran 2:56 for 1000 meters. The Yorktown sophomore has a season best of 3:02 for 1000 meters from George Mason last month.
Bayside's Mary Kownack joins Oaxaca as a fellow sub 2:20 performer for 800 meters with a 2:19 best from 2006 after running 2:17 in 2005.
Boys 3200 Meter Run:
Last time that Mike Spooner and Thomas Porter faced off in a 3200 meter race it was for the AAA state outdoor title, literally. Mountain View's Porter nearly had his first state championship only as a freshmen last June at Todd Stadium in Newport News until Mike Spooner closed with a devastating kick to nip Porter only steps before the finish line. Both ended up qualifying for Footlocker Nationals this fall in cross country and have become great friends over time, so it will be interesting to see if they work together to post a fast time in the 16 lap event on Saturday or go back to war as they did last June for the state championship. Only two seconds separating the all-time personal bests between Spooner (9:17) and Porter (9:19), so expect another close race between them.
They will not be alone in the race though as Pennsylvanian Jason Weller is the top seed with a 9:09 3200 best from the Pennsylvania State Outdoor Meet last spring. Weller and Spooner have raced in the past with Spooner (8:43) beating Weller (8:45) by two seconds in the 3K at Penn Relays in 2005. However, Weller certainly has improved since then as shown with his 9:09 best last year as well as running a 8:39 3K indoors last month.
Girls 3200 Meter Run:
White will be flip flopping her double from last week and finish with the 3200 meter run this week, which should better suit her to run faster than her 10:53 last week on a better track than VMI. White certainly has very fond memories of the Prince George County Sports and Learning Center from last March when she earned national runner-up honors in the two mile run at Nike Indoor Nationals and ran her 3200 meter converted best of 10:28.
While White should be a runaway winner in the event, expect several of the next Virginia girls to be battling it out for the Maryland girls for the next place after White. Colonial Forge's Kaylan Comer has the next fastest time at 11:05, while teammate Molly Hawkins is not far behind at 11:08. Look for a big race from Stephanie Bray. The James Robinson sophomore transfer from Florida showed great promise during the cross country season and ran well a few weeks ago at F.I.T. doubling back from a strong DMR anchor leg.
Boys 4x200 Meter Relay:
I.C. Norcom talks enough about themselves on the message boards, lets see if they can back it up. They are entered as the 13th seed and will be facing some serious competition and in particular from Maryland. Forest Park reportedly ran a time of 1:31 in an outdoor polar beat meet, but they will gain more legitimacy as a relay posting a similar time on a 200 meter indoor banked track this weekend. This event still needs a few more meets to get a feel for those that are the real deal and those that are just dreaming.
Girls 4x200 Meter Relay:
Osbourn Park girls have the state's fastest time at 1:46.63. They will likely need to load up their relay on Saturday in order to keep the top time in the state with fast times looming out of the sleeping giant that has been the top Eastern Region schools so far this season at CNU on Saturday. Coach Mike Feldman's girls certainly are one of the best the state has to offer going up against one of the nation's best sprint relay schools for the girls found at Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Boys Distance Medley Relay:
With the DMR being contested at the tail end of the meet, there could be several teams stacking their relays with no remaining individual events to rest up for. Washington & Lee returns everyone from a sub 11 minute DMR squad from last spring and should be anchored by 4:20 1600 meter runner Chris Tyson. If Zach Williams is willing to triple up on the day, Forest Park can also be very competitive in the event. The same with Thomas Porter for Mountain View and Blake Arnold for Colonial Forge as both are solid anchor leg carriers with a decent supporting cast.
Girls Distance Medley Relay:
If loaded up, the Colonial Forge girls could do vey well in this race, but is tough to tell if they wil put their best runners on this team with their top two in Kaylan Comer and Molly Hawkins running in the 3200 meter run not too long before the start of the relay event.
Boys 4x400 Meter Relay:
DeMatha and Eleanor Roosevelt from Maryland should battle in this event in similar fashion as they did at F.I.T. I.C. Norcom has the fastest time this season among the Virginian entrants at 3:32.21. Virginia sadly still only has one team under 3:30 this season with Manchester barely under at 3:29.64.
Girls 4x400 Meter Relay:
The Osbourn Park girls hope they can get a little bit more push from the competition this time around at Prince George as last time at F.I.T., they ran virtually solo en route to a 3:58.69 state best, which stands as the fastest time in the season by nine seconds.
Girls Pole Vault:
Rachel Butler will have a busy day competing in four individual events as she is the top seed in the pole vault. The University of Nebraska bound senior has a 9'6" best this season, but has a 10'6" all-time best from last year. Meanwhile, Brooke Point's Colleen McGlade and West Potomac's Katherine Lee share a same best of 9'6" in the event.
Boys Shot Put:
Lee-Davis has a pair of throwers over 50 feet this season Adam Taylor (51'3") and Cody Mohn (50'9") who are the top two seeds in the shot put at Montgomery. There is a strong chance they could sweep the top two places on Saturday.
Girls Shot Put:
The event will feature the state's top thrower in Samella Koroma of T.C. Williams. The senior thrower put up a state best mark in the event and first throw over 40 feet two weeks ago at Prince George in the F.I.T. Invite. Koroma bettered her state best last Friday at UMES of 41'9.50" and should be heavily favored to win Saturday.
Boys Long Jump:
Mountain View has the top two athletes in the long jump with Olu Olamigoke and Cedric Hudson. Olamigoke has the better mark of 22'3", which ranks third in the state, but Hudson is coming off a 21'10" win last weekend at VMI over the field in Lexington including teammate Olamigoke.
Girls Long Jump:
A state champion and All-American will be featured in this event with returning AAA state outdoor champion Brittni Dixon-Smith of Woodbridge and Nike Outdoor Nationals All-American April Sinkler of Brooke Point. Dixon-Smith has a 19'5.50" best in the long jump and has a 17'3.25" best so far this season. Sinkler became an All-American with a personal best leap of 18'8.75" last June in Greensboro.
The competition should be very deep with several jumpers just under 18 feet with Katherine Lee of West P otomac (17'7"), Jacqueline Hargrove of George Marshall (17'6"), and Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams (17'5.50").
Boys Long Jump:
Mountain View's Olu Olamigoke (44'3.50") and Thomas Edison's Dada Titcombe (43'7") are the two Virginian seeds in the event.
Girls Triple Jump:
April Sinkler of Brooke Point has picked up triple wins in the jumps in past meets and the triple jump may be her easiest event to pick up a win on Saturday against some solid compeition at Montgomery. Sinkler currently has the third best mark in the state at 37'5" from George Mason in December, but has leaped to a mark of 39'5.75" in the past.
Girls High Jump:
The event will feature three of Virginia's top high jumpers with Sinkler of Brooke Point, Butler of Lee-Davis, and Kathleen Wade of Colonial Forge. Butler cleared a school record height of 5'5.50" last month, while Sinkler cleared 5'9" last year as a junior. Meanwhile, Wade has an all-time best of 5'6".