The Virginia Tech Invitational this weekend will be another launching pad for many athletes and relays looking to post some of the nation's fastest and best performances this indoor season. Virginia's best will be there as well as great out of state competition. The two day event has plenty to look forward in the first day alone on Friday. Find out who are the top athletes and relays to look out for in a preview article of Friday's events in Blacksburg.
Girls Shot Put
Thomas Johnson MD junior Emily Vannoy leads the female throwers at Tech as the top entrant by six feet with a best of 45'5.25". The defending Maryland state champion is currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation in the shot put. Vannoy will be looking to launch a throw to move her further up the national list in Blacksburg as she has put up some big throws in the past including a 4th place finish at the 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals and third place finish at the USATF Junior Nationals with a personal best mark of 48'4.75". Matching or eclipsing her all-time best this weekend would put her close to the six year old meet record of 48'4.50" set by Lindsay Neuberger of Cox in 2002. Maryland's best prep shot put girl ever certainly is within range.
Three of the top four ranked Virginian throwers are in the meet with the first 40 foot mark still yet to be recorded this season. State leader Kayla Lewis of William Fleming crept closer to 40 feet last week at the Asics Invite when she threw for a personal best mark and state best mark of 39 feet in Lynchburg. William Fleming moved up from AA to AAA this year, so Lewis will be contending for her first AAA title this year. Meanwhile, Fort Defiance's Katelyn Cummings looks to be AA's best in the shot put in indoors as she is ranked third in Virginia with a season best mark of 38'4". Northern Region's best in Jessie Echard of James Robinson has thrown for a top mark of 37'5" this winter.
The closest competitor to Vannoy is likely to be Deirdra Morrison from Wilkes Central High School in North Carolina. Morrison has thrown over 40 feet this season at UNC and is the defending North Carolina 2A state outdoor champion in the shot put.
Boys Triple Jump
Photo by John Herzog
Mountain View VA senior Olu Olamigoke is coming off a US #5 performance last weeked at Libery University with a mark of 47'8" and looks to push towards his outdoor best of 48'10" in the event at Virginia Tech. He also defeated the previous state leader in David Wilson of George Washington in the process last weekend, but Wilson is also competing at Tech this weekend and looking to even the score with the fellow state title contender Olamigoke.
Wilson is also ranked in the top 10 at the US with the nation's seventh best mark of 47'8". Woodlawn MD senior Vincent Fuller has a US #8 mark of 47'2" to make for three in the field ranked in the top 10 nationally. Fuller achieved his mark in a win at the Montgomery Invitational two weeks ago.
In the field as well is two-time Virginia 3A state outdoor champion Antonio Miller of Manchester, whose performances this season have been hampered by injury in coming close to his all-time best of 48'8.50". Miller finished third in last year's Tech Invite, while 2007 runner-up Dada Titcombe of Thomas Edison is also back.
Girls Pole Vault
Photo by Ted Plunkett
Four girls over 11 feet in the field including 12 footer Emma Dejarnette of Atlee will be on hand at the home of Virginia's top college currently in the pole vault. Dejarnette, teammate Rachel Hawks, Kate Collins of Nelson County, and Erin Patterson of Franklin County will be competing in the same together for the first time this season.
Dejarnette, Hawks, and Collins all competed last week at Liberty with actually Hawks pulling out the win over her teammate Dejarnette with her second consecutive clearance at 11'6". Patterson has not competed against the state's top vaulters yet this season, so it will be interesting how she fairs head-to-head against the other top vaulters and vice versa.
Boys High Jump
Photo by John Herzog
Both Chris Copeland of Lakeland and Justin Jackson of Charlottesville have both cleared 6'8" this month to rank them them third nationally with a half dozen others. Copeland is more established jumper as the defending AAA state champion indoors and outdoors in Virginia, while Jackson has continued his late season success last spring with 6'7" clearances in a Virginia 2A state runner-up finish and a solid showing in his first national meet as a sophomore at Nike Outdoor Nationals. Copeland is well ahead of schedule from last year where he cleared an indoor best of 6'8.75" to finish third at Nike Indoor Nationals, while clearing 6'10" in the summer at his AAU regional meet. Copeland was a AAU Junior Nationals runner-up in the high jump this past August as well in Tennessee.
Boys Shot Put
Photo by John Herzog
Oscar Smith senior Frede Spellman may be getting his only in-state test this season in Friday's shot put competition at Virginia Tech when he goes up against AA's best in Justin Smith of Turner Ashby. The two-time Virginia 3A state champion Spellman will still be a strong favorite in the event as he seems to be close to being back at his 60 plus foot performances from a year ago with a US #6 mark of 59'3" at CNU two Saturdays ago, but Smith is throwing not too far behind him as of late. Last year's runner-up in the shot put at VT, Smith won last weekend at Liberty with an indoor personal best and US #13 mark of 57'4". Spellman will definitely need to be on to spoil an upset attempt by Smith on Friday evening in Blacksburg. Meanwhile, it will be tough for any of the other throwers in the field to come close to breaking up Virginia's top two ranked individuals.
Girls 55 Meter Hurdles
Photo by David Fleenor
In the first running event on Friday, Michelle Ferguson of Osbourn Park and Rachel Coaxum of Liberty lead the Virginian hurdle girls with season best times of 8.57 and 8.60 respectively. They have the fastest two times this season among all Tech entrants as top ten ranked times in Virginia as well. However, both will have their hands full with the crop of talented North Carolina hurdlers in the meet. Southeast Raleigh's Danielle Davis, younger sister of US #1 hurdler Wayne Davis, won at Liberty last weekend at Liberty University in 8.68 and should be the biggest challenger from North Carolina.
The top 8 times from Friday's prelims will advance onto Saturday's 55 meter hurdles finals. Other potential qualifiers with times under 9 seconds including a West Charlotte NC pair of SheQuyra Guy and LaQuisha Hemphill, Shaundra Cook of Franklin County, Regina Davis of Lee-Davis, Haley Boone of Westfield, Stephanie Brown of Manchester, and Courtni Pannell of Bethel. Also have run under 9 seconds are two Maryland hurdlers in Candace Bond of Elizabeth Seton and Chowan Brightful of Linganore.
Boys 55 Meter Hurdles
Photo by Tom Hoerner
Fresh off his US #10 all-time 55 meter hurdles performance, Wayne Davis of Southeast Raleigh NC will attempt to dip further into all-time list of Virginia. Also owning the nation's fastest time in the 55 and 60 meter hurdles, Davis will be an overwhelming favorite to decimiate a solid field assembled in the hurdles for the Virginia Tech Invite. His competition is teammate Keare Smith who is right behind on the national leaderboard with a US #2 clocking of 7.33 last weekend at Liberty to finish behind Davis with his all-time list performance of 7.16.
Davis and Smith will try to do it again as the top three finishers could be identical from last week's finish at the Asics Invite as Brookville's Ethan Nixon is also in the field. Nixon finished third behind the Southeast Raleigh pair last weekend with a US #11 time of 7.49 for the two-time Virginia 2A state 55 meter hurdles indoor champion. Nixon is the lone returnee from last year's finals at Tech where he placed sixth.
Johnny Dutch won last year's finals in a new meet record time of 7.18, which the defending Nike Outdoor Nationals 110 meter hurdles champion Davis is certainly capable of breaking the year old record after dipping under the time just last weekend.
Girls 55 Meter Dash
Photo by Mark Keenan for NCRunners.com
Nyosha Bryant of West Charlotte NC comes in with nation's fifth fastest time at 7.00. The junior nearly ran her first sub 7 at UNC in early January and will have to press herself again as she is two tenths of a second faster than the next best competitor at Tech. Bryant is coming off a third place finish last weekend in the 60 meter dash at KTC High School Classic in Tennessee behind some stiff competition including World Youth Championships participant Shalonda Goodman of Georgia.
Fork Union Invite winner Tanay Chandler has the next fastest performance this season after running 7.21 at FUMA two weekends ago. Jasmine Jones from Dunbar High School in DC ran a personal best in a 7.23 win at the DCIAA Invite held at the Prince George Center in Landover, Maryland last week. Two others from Maryland should fair well in the event and advance onto Saturday's finals in Montgomery County Championships runner-up Katie Wolfe of Winston Churchill (7.30) and Dionna Hayes of Elizabeth Seton. Hayes finished third last year at Virginia Tech with a 7.23 clocking.
Joining Hayes as the second returnee from the finals in the 2007 Virginia Tech Invite is Yvonne Amegashie of Potomac. Look for Amegashie to qualify again as well as Booker T. Washington's Raven Wilson, who is ready to break 7.30 this season as the junior is ranked sixth in Virginia currently with a 7.31 season best.
Boys 55 Meter Dash
Photo by David Fleenor
Justin Murdock, the defending Maryland state champion in the 55 meter dash and 100 meter dash headlines this event with his 6.21 all-time best in the event to rank him as one of the nation's top returning athletes in the event. He put up a US #1 clocking twice last year as a junior topping out with his 6.21 victory at the Maryland State Championships Murdock has a best of 6.42 thus far this season, but should be ready to roll out a sub 6.30 performance in Blacksburg and challenge the current US #1 time of 6.25.
His chief challenger will be Keith Ricks of King's Fork, who has yet to be beaten in the 55 meter dash this season and is ranked ninth nationally with a best of 6.37 this indoor season. Murdock's season best time of 6.42 was recorded at the Prince George County Center in Maryland in December and one weekend after Ricks had won another invitational at the same venue in 6.41, so a win for Murdock will not come easy with Ricks running well also.
Girls Invitational DMR
Photo by Brandon Miles
Three of Maryland's best distance programs will make this a great race on Friday with Eleanor Roosevelt, Walt Whitman, and Winston Churchill. Eleanor Roosevelt has ruled the relay events on the national level over recent years, but could see their dominance within their own state challenged on Friday with Walt Whitman and Winston Churchill possessing squads filled with talent. ER won last year at Tech in a great race with Midlothian of Virginia in 12:06 and hope to come through with a second straight win in the invite only offered at Tech.
Walt Whitman will have a great 1200 meter opening leg though in sub 2:15 half miler Leslie Morrison and great 1600 meter closing leg in sub 5 miler Morgane Gay. Whitman finished third in 2007 in this event with a time of 12:16. Eleanor Roosevelt got the better of Whitman and others in the DMR two weeks ago at the Montgomery Invite with a 12:48 victory, but expect a closer contest and faster times with fresh Gay on anchor. Eleanor Roosevelt lost several key legs from last year's time including the Jameson twins and Marika Walker, but having the likes of Tasha Stanley, Teshika Rivers, and Dominique Lockhart gives them another national caliber DMR once again.
Boys Invitational DMR
Photo by Tom Hoerner
Quince Orchard MD and Mountain View VA appear to be the top teams in the this event as Quince Orchard has already put a US #13 time of 10:37 in their win at the Montgomery Invitational. Neal Darmody (4:28 1600) and David Laratta (4:30 1600) are the top runners in Quince Orchard's lineup as Darmody will be competing in Saturday's invitational mile as well. Mountain View has two sub 4:25 milers in the Porter brothers in senior Daniel Porter (4:24 1600) and junior Thomas Porter (4:23 1600). DJ Haskins will be a solid middle leg for Mountain View on either the 400 (50.78 best) or 800 (1:59.08 best) meter leg. The teams could be pressed to a winning time close to 10:30. Harrisonburg VA is a darkhorse in this event with Dan Nafziger (4:31 1600, 9:44 3200) and Bryant Clopper (4:24 1600, 2:37 1000) running well this season as the school had a 7:56 AA state champion 4x800 relay last spring.
Girls 4x800 Meter Relay
Photo by John Herzog
This race has a lot of if's as in if certain teams run stacked lineups. Walt Whitman and Winston Churchill are entered in the invitational DMR just prior the 4x800, so it might be unlikely to see them run their "A" squads despite having both broken 9:40 this season. With their district meet beginning early next week, US #4 Westfield VA (9:22) may only ask their top girls to compete in one lone individual race on Saturday to keep them fresh for likely triples at their district meet. If they do load up, we should see another good race between them and Midlothian, who ended up finishing second to Westfield at CNU earlier this month with a time of 9:33. Osbourn Park girls have ran 9:42 this season, while West Springfield is coming off a 9:50 performance at Yale last weekend.
Boys 4x800 Meter Relay
Photo by WingedFootPhotos.com
With the Hendrix twins, New Bern of North Carolina is the top team in the field as they have already ran under 8 minutes this season with a US #5 performance at Arkansas two weekends ago. This could be one of the best 4x800 meter relay races held in Virginia in recent years with a handful of times ripe to push for a time close to 8 minutes. East Forsyth of North Carolina has a sub 1:50 half miler in Dylan Ferris to make them a legitimate threat if their other three legs can get the baton to Ferris within a striking distance of the rest of the field.
Thomas Edison has the fastest time among the Virginians after clocking a 8:06 performance at the New York Amory last weekend with the Degfae twins running great for them thus far in the indoor season. Western Albemarle and Midlothian should put together formidable lineups as Western ran a 8:12 time in the December polar bear meet, while Midlothian will have two Foot Locker finalists on their team in Michael Hammond and Jason Witt.
The only question for Western Albemarle is two of their top runners in Kyle Satterwhite and Tyler Stutzman are also entered in the 3200 meter run, which is contested not too long after the relay on Friday. Without Satterwhite and Stuzman, the Warriors would have a tougher time trying to be competitive in the relay event.
Girls 3200 Meter Run
Photo by Tom Hoerner
A pack of five will be in the hunt for a win in Friday's top section of the girls 3200 meter run with all having personal best times of 11:10 or faster including Leia Lautzenheiser of Midlothian (11:02), Laurel MacMillan of Blacksburg (11:03), Ariel Karabinus of Osbourn Park (11:08), Octavia Rinehardt of Tallwood (11:09), and Lauren Hopper of Hanover (11:10). Rinehardt is coming off a 11:14 win last weekend at the Asics Invite ahead of MacMillan (11:20) and finished ahead of Hopper in a runner-up showing at the CNU Showcase earlier this month.
Winning the race at CNU in a state best time of 11:00 was Leia Lautzenheiser's sister in Kathleen Lautzenheiser. Leia is working her way back into top shape after missing nearly the entire cross country season due to injury, but has the fastest all-time best in the field at 11:02 from last outdoor season. Karabinus competed in the New Balance Games mile last weekend and ran a near personal best time of 5:08 in the mile. There is no definitive favorite in this event and there should be quite a few in the mix late in the race.
Boys 3200 Meter Run
Photo by Ted Plunkett
Will anyone try to take the lead from Peter Dorrell? It will take a fast first mile in order to do so as it looks like it could be another race for Dorrell in which he has to lead from start to finish. Dorrell has the nation's second fastest 3200 time this winter at 9:16 and is the lone sub 9:20 two miler in the field, but there are several in the field who may be ready to dip under the time. Kellam's Bobby Peavey has ran 9:32 already this season and ran well two weeks ago at CNU with a successful 1600/3200 double win.
The Western Albemarle duo of Tyler Stutzman and Kyle Satterwhite have been on fire as of late also as Stuzman ran the third fastest 1600 meter time ever at Fork Union's Estes Center behind Axel Mostrag and Seneca Lassiter with a 4:20 win two Saturdays ago. Satterwhite has the second fastest PR in the meet at 9:23 and is the defending Virginia 2A indoor state champion for 3200 meters. He is coming off a solid 4:25 1600 and 2:35 1000 double at Woodberry Forest.
Johns Ross of The Potomac School took his running to the next level in cross country with a near Foot Locker Nationals berth and 5K personal best of 15:14. The Virginia private school state champion in cross country and for 3200 meters should be prime to run a personal best in the 3200 at Virginia Tech as well and knock off some seconds from his current best of 9:34.
Walter Johnson of Maryland's Brian Graves has put together a string of solid 3200 meter races with a win at the Southern Maryland Mega Meet and runner-up finish at the Montgomery Invite. His races have been surprising so far and he could have another surprise with a high finish in Blacksburg. Bradshaw Kenimer of T.C. Williams and Nathan Brame of Radford should also be running with the top pack in the race as sub 9:40 two milers.