LYNCHBURG, VA -- This weekend's Asics Invitational will be hosted at Liberty University's Tolsma Track Center in Lynchburg and will be hosted over two days on Friday and Saturday. The meet will feature four individual state leaders including the likes of Bethel's Shakia Forbes and Harrisonburg's Tim Beierle as well as the state's fastest 4x400 meter relay in the Osbourn Park girls. Events will start at 4:30 PM on Friday and resume again on Saturday at 9:00 AM.
The Bethel duo of Shakia Forbes and Crystal Carrington will be looking to finish 1-2 in the 55 meter dash for the second week in a row after posting the state's second and third fastest times in the even last Saturday at CNU. Forbes won in the finals last week with a 7.19 clocking with her teammate Carrington right behind her at 7.21. Look for a repeat performance at Liberty.
There is no clear cut favorite in the boys' version of the sprint event while Patrick Henry's D.J. Thomas has the fastest F.A.T. time among Virginian entrants at 6.57 this season. Amherst's Jeremy Lewis has already clocked a 6.59 this winter at Liberty University's indoor track facility from the Wally Gilbert Invite.
Brentsville's Danyelle Kent-Robinson is coming off a stellar meet at Fork Union last Saturday in which she won three events including the 55 meter hurdles in 8.96. She will be hard pressed at Liberty to win the hurdles again with the likes of George Washington's Shaday Barksdale (8.81 season best), Huguenot's Wanetta Kirby (8.88 SB), Franklin County's Shaundra Cook (8.88 SB), and Osbourn Park's Michelle Ferguson (8.88 SB) and Brittany Hyter (8.86 SB) all having ran faster this season. Expect a finals of the hurdle event to come down to a photo finish with so many of the top competitors having nearly identical personal bests.
D'Angelo Scales knocked Brookville junior Ethan Nixon off the Group AA state leaderboard with a 7.66 clocking at CNU last weekend in the 55 meter hurdles. Nixon, the defending Group AA state champion in the event with a current 7.68 best, will look to top the field on Saturday as well as regain his top seed for the state meet in the event. He will be pressed to post a fast time with some of his toughest competition in AA entered in the meet with Cave Spring's Michael Bern and Brett Olinger coming off 7.70 and 7.78 clockings at Fork Union last Saturday. Langley's Jordan Calderwood should also be in the mix with a 7.78 season best.
Patrick Henry sophomore Natalie Woodford will have a busy weekend as after she competes in the 300 meter dash on Friday night, she will be heading down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to compete against some of North Carolina's top sprinters at the Eastern Challenge on Saturday. She cannot take Friday evening's field for granted with the likes of Shakia Forbes from Bethel and Jacqueline Hargrove from George Marshall. Forbes will be looking to win both the 55 and 300 meter dashes this weekend, while Hargrove will be looking for a fast 300 meter time to complement her previous state leading 500 meter time of 1:18.91. Woodford should drop her season best of 42 seconds in the event as she posted that time in a win at VMI two weekends ago.
UPDATE: Woodford is staying put in Lynchburg for Saturday's 500 at the Asics Invite versus competing at UNC
Huguenot's Donnie Seward is one of the lone holdovers from last year's dominant track team found at Huguenot as they took heavy losses due to graduation. Seward has been representing his former teammates well as an individual and looks to be one of the favorites at Liberty in the 300 meter dash after clocking a time of 36.02 at CNU in a runner-up performance in Newport News. He will be in a fast section that will include three entrants from the state of Florida.
It should be safe to assume that Natalie Woodford will be scratched from the 500 meter dash in lieu of competing at UNC on the same day on Saturday, but the top section of the event will still be stacked with the likes of Osbourn Park's Bethany Hyter and George Marshall's Jacqueline Hargrove. As mention earlier, Hargrove had previously held the state's fastest time in the event. Meanwhile, Hyter clocked a 58.29 400 meter time last Saturday at the Montgomery Invitational and has broken 1:18 in the past for 500 meters at 1:17.99. However, Hargrove has the superior all-time best of 1:17.14 from the 2005 AAA State Meet.
Langley's Chris Yi has the fastest time this season in the 500 meter dash among Saturday's entrants at 1:07.77. However, expect a strong debut performance from Patrick Henry's Joseph Mesadieu in the event who has already clocked quick times for 55 meters (6.53) and 300 meters (35.73) this season. Do not sleep on Mountain View's D.J. Haskins either, who won the 300 meter dash at VMI out of a slower section.
The 1000 meter run for the girls has the potential to be one of the more competitive distance races of the meet with several runners entered that have a shot to go for the win. Heritage's Laura Rapp has the fastest time currently in Group AA at 3:04.94 as she posted her time on the Liberty track back on December 9th. Defending Group A state cross country and 800 meter champion Mariah Hagadone of Buffalo Gap is also a threat to win. Hagadone has broken 2:20 for 800 meters in the past. Blacksburg senior Cate Berenato clocked a 3:06 1000 earlier in the week at Virginia Tech and has great turnover with a 2:17 800 meter best. Mountain View junior Heather Lambert also has posted a 800 meter time of 2:17 and ran 3:09 for 1000 meters back in December.
Colonial Forge senior Blake Arnold will be the heavy favorite in the boys' 1000 meter run after running 2:34 for 1000 meters and 1:55 for 800 meters. Arnold is one of the top returning middle distance runners in the state in both events.
Surprise. Surprise. Footlocker South champion and Footlocker Nationals runner-up Aurora Scott is found on the entry list for the 1600 meter run as the top seed at 4:55 for this weekend's Asics Invitational. It will be interesting to see if any barriers have been cleared to allow her to compete in a sanctioned high school meet as her status as a homeschooled athlete makes that questionable. Whether or not Scott will be able to compete, there is a deep field behind her.
The race will feature five top tier runners within the state. Laura Rapp of Heritage has already ran 5:12 at Liberty from earlier in the season in a runner-up finish behind Catherine White at the Wally Gilbert Invite. Meanwhile, Colonial Forge's Kaylan Comer has the fastest personal best of 5:05 for 1600 meters from last spring. The Blacksburg duo of Cate Berenato and Allison Homer ran personal best races at the Tolsma Track Center last month with times of 5:13 and 5:16 respectively and will look to continue to drop their times and hopefully under 5:10 at Liberty. One of Group A's best in Mariah Hagadone from Buffalo Gap is a darkhorse with a 5:10 best.
Blacksburg junor Peter Dorrell ran a state leading time of 4:23 for 1600 meters on December 9th at Liberty University, which stood as Virginia's fastest until Axel Mostrag ran 4:17 this past Saturday. Dorrell returns to Lynchburg this weekend as the top seed in the event and should be pressed in Friday evening's race by several legit challengers including Blake Arnold of Colonial Forge, John Vial of Hermitage, and Alex Ott of Turner Ashby.
Arnold is looking to bounce back from a subpar race from the Millrose qualifier mile at the Montgomery Invitational. Arnold has a 4:21 best in the event and a kicker's race would benefit him with his 1:55 800 meter speed. Hermitage senior John Vial has the third fastest time behind Arnold and Dorrell with a 4:25 outdoor best in the event from last spring. Vial is coming off a runner-up finish in the 1000 meter run last weekend at CNU. Turner Ashby sophomore Alex Ott ran 4:28 for 1600 meters as a freshmen last spring at Fort Defiance and will be looking to go for a personal best time after running a 4:33 at VMI two weeks ago.
Courtlin LaReau of Deep Run will be making a highly anticipated debut in the 3200 meter run on Saturday at Liberty. LaReau was one of the state's most improved distance runners in cross country after finishing second in the AAA state race and has continued her success onto the track. The Deep Run senior posted a state leading time of 3:00 for 1000 meters at the St. Christopher's Quad Meet last Saturday after clocking a 5:04 for 1600 meters shortly before.
She will be racing against some experienced two milers this weekend with 12 entrants under 12 minutes. Three-time Region B cross country champion Becky Stewart of Brentsville has ran 11:09 for 3200 meters, while Colonial Forge's Molly Hawkins closed her junior year of outdoor track with a 11:08 best.
Expect Region III distance runners Laura Rapp and Allison Homer to put up personal best performances as Rapp ran 11:29 last spring but has shown great improvements in cross country and during indoor, while Homer has focused primarily on middle distance events, but showed in cross country that she can be competitive in the longer races.
The 3200 meter run for boys will be just as loaded with Footlocker finalist Thomas Porter of Mountain View, AA state cross country runner-up Adam Henken of Brentsville, and Peter Dorrell of Blacksburg.
Porter is slowly getting back into indoors just as he did during cross country in which he had a fantastic close to his fall season by qualifying for Footlocker Nationals. Porter got an early state qualifier in the event only a few days after coming home from San Diego in December with a sub 9:40 clocking for 3200 meters in a polar bear meet. The Mountain View sophomore ran his 9:19 best in a state runner-up finish in the event last outdoor season.
Henken will also be shaking off some race rust at Liberty in his first race this indoor season. Henken was one of the state's most consistent performers in cross country and capped it off leading his Brentsville squad to another team state championship in AA with an individual state runner-up finish. Henken has ran 9:34 for 3200 meters in the past, but if he is anywhere close to his cross country level of fitness then a sub 9:30 is in him.
Meanwhile, Dorrell is probably the most race sharp of the three harriers as he has clocked a 9:26 already on the same track that they will be racing on this weekend at the Tolsma Track Center. Dorrell held the state's top time in the event for a month until Mike Spooner's 9:19 clocking last weekend.
In a possible foreshadow of future battles at the AAA State Meet, the Northwest Region's best team in the Osbourn Park girls and one of the Eastern Region's best and defending indoor state champions in the Bethel girls will go head to head for the first time this year in the sprint relays at the Asics Invite. Bethel appears to have the slight edge in the 4x200 meter relay, while the Osbourn Park girls appear to a have firm claim as the state's top squad in the 4x400 meter relay. The Bethel girls won at CNU last week in the 4x200 meter relay with the state's second fastest time at 1:46.48. Osbourn Park's season best is not far behind though and was ran a month earlier at George Mason in 1:46.63. Meanwhile, the 4x400 meter relay for the Osbourn Park girls appears to be on another level with their 3:58 state best still standing eight seconds better than the next best in the state. Expect both teams to load in their strongest relays with the Bethel girls in the 4x200 meter relay with Forbes and Carrington and the Osbourn Park girls in the 4x400 meter relay with the Hyter twins.
The 4x200 meter relay could be especially deep as both Deep Run (1:47.64) and Armstrong (1:47.65) have clocked times not far off of either Bethel or Osbourn Park. The race will feature four of the top five ranked relays in the state currently.
Langley is the only team entered in the girls' 4x800 meter relay that has gone under ten minutes this season with their time of 9:57.80 from last week's DCIAA Invitational. However, expect a few more teams to join them under ten minutes in the race. The team probably with the best chance to beat Langley and go under ten minutes will the Brentsville girls as they will load up their relay with their top distance runners including their top two runners in Becky Stewart and Amelia Emerson. Deep Run should also have a shot at going under ten with 1000 meter state leader Courtlin LaReau as one of their four legs. Colonial Forge always has a solid group of 800 meter runners as well.
The Bethel boys could potential sweep the sprint relays as they have the two fastest times this season among the entries in the 4x200 (1:33.58) and 4x400 (3:29.72) meter relays.
The Jefferson Forest boys will look to pick up their second 4x800 meter relay victory at Liberty after posting their Group AA best time of 8:14 at the Wally Gilbert Invite on December 16th.
There will be three athletes in the high jump for the ladies that have cleared 5'6" as Brentsville sophomore Danyelle Kent-Robinson is the hottest jumper coming after winning the Fork Union Invite last Saturday in a new personal best of 5'6". Meanwhile, Huguenot's Wanetta Kirby has cleared 5'7" on two occassions in the past and opened last week at CNU with a 5'4" clearance. Deep Run's Brianna Hudson cleared 5'6" last spring as a freshmen.
Another Deep Run high jumper will be in contention for the win in the boys' event as Deep Run junior Kirk Fischer will be pitted up against another junior in Ethan Nixon of Brookville as both have cleared 6'6" this season.
Anne Powell of Patrick Henry just cleared 10'6" last weekend at CNU, while Franklin County's Erin Patterson cleared 10'6" last month in the same facility that the two will pole vaulters will be competing for the win in on Friday.
Two of the state's three best pole vaulters for the boys will be at Liberty this weekend with state leader Tim Beierle of Harrisonburg coming in with a 15'3" best and Daniel Inge of E.C. Glass sharing second in the state with Ian Prohaska of Lake Braddock with a 14'0" season best clearance. This will be the first time this winter that two of the state's vaulters will competing against each other this season.
Bethel's Shakia Forbes is just a few inches away from becoming the state's first long jumper over 19 feet after leaping to a 18'9.75" best last Saturday at CNU. Forbes has gone well over 19 feet in the past and is a returning All-American in the event. The jumping event should be deep with a total of ten competitors listed over 17 feet with Deep Run junior Ashley Orr as the next best entrant. Orr is ranked fifth in the state currently with a 17'9" best this season.
Mountain View senior Cedric Hudson will look to make it three for three and win his third straight invitational long jump competition in as many weeks after collecting first place finishes at the Keydet and Montgomery invitationals on the past two weekends. Hudson has a 21'10" best mark in the event thus far and will look to crack over 22 feet and pick up the win as well.
While Deep Run's Orr may have her work cut off for her trying top state leader Forbes in the long jump, the triple jump event is the Deep Run junior's to win. Orr has a 39'9" all-time best mark from the Southern Track Classic last May and so far this season has mustered a best mark of 36'8". Rashawnda James of Charlottesville looks to be her biggest challenger after leaping to a mark of 36'4" last Saturday at Fork Union.
Mountain View junior Olu Olamigoke hopes to continue the Mountain View dominance in the boys' jumps with teammate Hudson as the two last week swept the jumping events with teammate DeShun Whitaker winning in the high jump at the Montgomery County Invite. In Landover, Olamigoke had a big day in leaping to a new personal best mark of 46'1.25", which ranks him fourth in the state currently in the triple jump.
It will be the battle of the Kayla's in the girls' shot put with Group AA's top ranked Kayla Lewis of William Fleming and one of AAA's top ranked in Kayla Campbell of Bethel. Both throwers are coming off big wins last weekend. William Fleming sophomore Kayla Lewis threw for a mark of 39'11" to win the FUMA Invitational, while Bethel junior Kayla Campbell won the CNU Showcase with a throw of 38'4.50".
The shot put for the boys will feature Group AA's top three throwers in Jefferson Forest's John Pavia, Liberty's Erik Kuster, and Turner Ashby's Justin Smith. Pavia had a big throw of 53'3.50" at Liberty University last month to defeat Kuster (51'10"), and Smith (50'9"). Pavia will be the favorite this weekend. Smith is coming off two straight wins at the Keydet Invite and Fork Union Invite, which he threw for a personal best of 51'3" in the win at FUMA.