The ninth edition of the Southern Track Classic will be held under the lights on Friday night for the third consecutive year at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Virginia. The meet will certainly carry a great deal of momentum into the 10th ever STC next May with another slate of stars expected to push each other to the highest levels of excellence.
We are actually ten years removed from the first ever Southern Track Classic, which was held at Dinwiddie High School as the meet took a one year hiatus in 2004. Meet director Dan Ward put a great idea into action on that May night in 1998, which has been a crown jewel of a meet for high school track and field in Virginia ever since. Recruiting our state's best athletes to compete in a meet setup to have only one agenda in providing ideal conditions for running faster, jumping higher, and throwing farther.
Lets take a look at what to expect from the 2008 Southern Track Classic in a preview article by MileStat.com's Brandon Miles.
Girls High Jump
The event features a national champion in Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams, a state champion in Briana Hudson of Deep Run, a state runner-up in Pearl Bickersteth of Potomac Senior, and a rising unknown star in Andrea White of Lancaster. Butts is often associated with the long jump and rightfully so as the state indoor record holder in the event and already several marks of 20 feet this spring, but she is definitely more than just a long jumper and great all around athlete. The high jump might be her second best event, but it also won her a national crown in March at the National Scholastic indoor Championships when she cleared a personal best height of 5'8.50".
She has yet to clear 5'8" this season, but has focused much of her attention to the long jump and will be splitting time going back and forth between the long jump runway and high jump area. Springing a big mark in the long jump on Friday night might carry over to another win in the high jump. Winning just one event at Southern Track is difficult with the competition, but becoming a winner in two events is quite rare and is well within reach for the T.C. Williams junior.
Hudson and Bickersteth will be competition for Butts as Hudson has a 5'9" clearance from her sophomore year state indoor title clearance and was clutch in state competition this year winter to finish second despite not performing as well heading into George Mason. Bickersteth shined at the outdoor state meet last June as a state runner-up with an all-time best 5'8" clearance. The junior for Potomac Senior has been one of the state's most consistent high jumpers this spring including a string of 5'6" clearances as of late.
The more intriguing entrant will be Andrea White of Lancaster. Competing at a small Group A school and not having too many free weekends to compete in invitationals due to splitting time with AAU basketball has let White slip under the radar. However, White is the current state leader in the high jump with a 5'9" clearance at a quad meet held at New Kent High School on April 16th. Others should have started taking notice of her last June when she cleared 5'6" as a freshmen to finish third at the Group A State Outdoor Championships. Southern Track could be a coming out party for White and potentially spoil plans by Butts to take first places in the long jump and high jump.
Boys High Jump
A handful could still be remaining after the bar goes higher than 6'6' with the field of ten assembled. Chris Copeland of Lakeland, a national champion from the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and three-time AAA state champion, leads the field as the lone seven footer. He might need another seven foot performance with plenty of company behind with six entrants who have cleared 6'6" or better in the event. There is a chance that Southern Track Classic could end up having the eventual four state champions from Group AAA, AA, A, and private school with Copeland, Tony Brown of Brunswick (Group AA), Davon Ross of James River-Buchanan (Group A), and Ben Katz of St. Christopher's (Private).
A darkhorse will be Ocean Lakes sophomore Justin Hunter who has plenty of upside as the school's star athlete who is participating in his first season of track. Hunter cleared 6'7" in his first track meet ever this spring. Copeland has already jumped well at Sports Backers Stadium this season as his state leading performance of 6'10" came at the All-American Track Classic in March. The Lakeland senior is also only one of three returning Southern Track Classic champions. He will be hoping for a better performance though as earlier misses gave him first last year over Brunswick's Brown with both athletes topping out at 6'5".
Girls Long Jump
Could this be the meet? The meet that T.C. Williams junior Tynita Butts (pictured above by John Herzog) breaks a state record which has stood for 27 years. Piper Bressant of Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe at the 1981 AAA State Meet with a handful of girls over 19 feet and pressing over 20 feet pushed Bressant to leap to a mark of 20'6.50". Penny Blackwell of Highland Springs went 20'2" in the same state finals. The girls' long jump and triple jump have been some of the featured events at Southern Track Classic over years with girl after girl popping big marks.
Butts may need someone in the field to challenge her early with a big jump to get the excitement going for the event. Two individuals who may be up for that challenge are star freshmen Nefertiti Smith of Norfolk Collegiate and Elaine Derricott of Henrico. Derricott had a great meet at Dogwood two Saturdays as the Henrico junior had the top mark in the field in the long jump with a personal best mark of 18'10.75". Nefertiti Smith is coming off a busy meet at the TCIS Championships on Tuesday where she won individual titles in numerous event. Her best jumping event has been the triple jump with marks over 39 feet, but she may be ready to crest over 19 feet at Southern Track Classic.
Ultimately though it all comes back to Butts and what she will do. She could be the performer of the meet and can be argued to be the greatest performance ever in the history of the Southern Track Classic if she gets the state record in the long jump. Butts is currently ranked #3 in the United States with her season best mark of 20'4.50". She is riding high from win at the Penn Relays two weeks ago with another tape measuring performance over 20 feet.
Boys Long Jump
The state's top five ranked long jumpers are missing from the Southern Track Classic. Penn Relays champion and AAA state indoor champion James Taylor of Nansemond River will be competing at the Southern Track Classic, but bypassing the jumps to focus on relay action with his team.
The winner of the long jump could find themselves ranked among the best in Virginia after the completion of the event at STC though with several athletes entered with bests around 23 feet who are itching to get a better mark in. Keith Ricks of King's Fork can certainly move the quickest down the runway with short sprint bests of 6.32 in the 55 meter dash and 10.75 in the 100 meter dash. He had an all-time best mark last weekend as well at the Suffolk Invite with a leap of 23'4". One of the state's best triple jumpers in Olu Olamigoke of Mountain View will be skipping the event at Southern Track and turn his attention the long jump where he put up a mark over 23 feet early in the season at Fork Union in April.
Girls Triple Jump
40 feet and girls triple jump have gone hand in hand together at the Southern Track Classic as we are not far removed from the 2006 meet where there were four girls were 40 feet and putting their names in the US top 10 lists. Deep Run senior Ashley Orr (pictured above by John Herzog) was the fourth place finisher that year as a sophomore with a personal best mark of 39'9". She showed plenty of promise in that mark at the 2006 Southern Track, but has had her shares of ups and downs since then especially in state meet competition. Recently in a quad meet three weeks ago, she had her first mark over 39 feet in quite some time which might start leading her to believe she can best her 2006 meet mark of 39'9" on Friday. It would be a nice story to see the senior Orr fulfill the promise she showed as a sophomore at Southern Track with a big mark and win as a senior at the same meet two years later.
She will have two other 39 footers with her including AAA state indoor champion Jasia Richardson of J.R. Tucker as well as freshmen Nefertiti Smith of Norfolk Collegiate. Smith had ownership of the nation's best mark in the triple jump at one point in the indoor season. Both Smith and Richardson earned All-American honors in the event this past March at Nike Indoor Nationals.
Boys Triple Jump
Tynita Butts brings the excitement and buzz to the female jumps at Southern Track Classic, while David Wilson (pictured above by John Herzog) may be the one bringing attention to the boys' jumpers as the Nike Indoor Nationals champion continues to seek out the 50 footer which has been missing in Virginia for way too long in the boys' triple jump. Last weekend at VMI, Wilson matched the state's leading mark in the triple jump at 48'2.50". The George Washington junior from Danville, Virginia was only three inches shy of becoming the first Virginian prep to hit a mark of 50 feet or more in the triple jump since 2001 in his national championship mark of 49'9" at Nike indoor Nationals. Alonzo Moore of Phoebus was the last Virginian over 50 feet in 2001 and also happens to be the meet record holder at Southern Track with his 2001 meet win of 49'11.25".
Nike All-American Rex Parker also is in the field. The Battlefield senior Parker recently signed to compete at Indiana University and was not far behind Wilson two weeks ago at the Dogwood Track Classic with a personal best mark of 46'10".
Girls Discus Throw
Two-time Southern Track Classic champion Natalie Baird will not be competing at Southern Track Classic on Friday, but instead will be at the Louisa Last Chance Invitational on the same night seeing what she can do at the venue where she threw a big mark of 157'7" at her regional meet two years ago as sophomore. Baird's absence will only make the discus event be more competitive and wide open. It is time for another female thrower to take the spotlight away from Baird for at least one night.
Too bad for the top three seeds in that they are all from Group AA and a state title runs through Baird or otherwise they would possibly be state champions in Group AAA. Katie Cummings (pictured above by John Herzog) of Fort Defiance at least proved that Baird was not invincible in the throws earlier in the season with a state leading mark of 43'3" in the shot against Baird. Baird's Park View teammate Julia Anyceugo will attempt to keep the Southern Track title with the same school as she has ventured over 120 feet this season with fellow entrants Cummings, Aimee Veatch of Cave Spring, and Sachet Wormley of Midlothian. Wormley is currently the top ranked discus thrower in Group AA at 126'1", so it will not only be distance runners from Midlo competing for first place watches on Friday night.
Boys Discus Throw
Move over AAA. Move over AA. Let the Group A throwers come through and show you how its done in the discus circle as Covington's Emanuel Alfred and James River (Buchanan)'s Sawyer Russell will be making the trips from their small towns in Southwest Virginia to lead the field and state at Southern Track. Russell has Virginia's #1 mark in the discus at 168'8", while Alfred is not too far behind over 160 feet at 164'11". Two of the state's top ranked discus throwers are coming fresh off a head-to-head matchup last weekend at VMI with state leader Russell coming out on top by a foot and a half over Alfred. Alfred would like to even the score one last time before they head into championship season where they will face off at not only the Group A State Championships, but at the Region C Meet and Pioneer District Meet.
Competition is nothing new to either, but will face some challengers to break them up including two Central Region throwers recently pushing for marks over 160 in Michael Williams of Meadowbrook (159'9") and Adam Taylor of Lee-Davis (158'6").
Girls Shot Put
The event features state leader Katie Cummings of Fort Defiance with her 43'3" season best and the thower who defeated last Saturday at VMI in Kayla Lewis of William Fleming(41'6"). The contenders extend beyond just Cummings and Lewis though as both have not consistently been over 40 feet in the shot, while others in the field have been in the neigbhorhood of the 40 foot range including Kayla Campbell of Bethel and Samantha Moseley of Prince Edward. Cummings is a two-time Group AA state indoor champion in the shot, while Lewis took the AAA crown over Campbell this past March.
Boys Shot Put
No make up contest for Justin Smith (pictured above by Ted Plunkett) of Turner Ashby with Frede Spellman of Oscar Smith after having an off day throwing at Dogwood for the AA state champion against the AAA state champion since Spellman will not be competing at Southern Track Classic. However, Smith could still redeem himself with a big throw against a solid field of throwers all over 50 feet and try to duplicate his state leading mark of 59'3" from an earlier tri meet. His performance at VMI last Saturday of 57'7" got him back on track heading into STC.
Girls Pole Vault
Meet director Dan Ward did not have to travel too far to find the best pole vaulters in the state as the state's top two ranked vaulters are from the Central Region in Atlee's Emma Dejarnette and Patrick Henry's Lizzie Powell (pictured above by Tom Hoerner). AAA state champion Dejarnette skyed over 12'6" at the Taco Bell Classic in early April to move closer and closer to the state record held by Ashley Early, while Powell has moved out of the shadows of her older sister Annie to emerge as a great vaulter in her own right with a spring best clearance of 11'9". Six vaulters are entered at 11 feet or higher to set up for a deep competition on Friday.
Boys Pole Vault
The pole vault competition at Dogwood of the big three in Daniel Inge, Matthew Armentrout, and Allen Kelly which was postponed due to severe weather will now resume at a different meet two weeks later with all three vaulting very well heading into this weekend. Inge's 16'4.75" clearance last weekend leads the group and state of Virginia, but Armentrout cleared 15'6" last month and Kelly went over 15 feet cleanly last Saturday at the Suffolk Invite.
Girls 4x800 Meter Relay
West Springfield girls and Gar-Field will both see if they can both make pushes after sub 9:30 times. The West Springfield girls competed at the Penn Relays in the event with season best time of 9:38, while the Gar-Field relay will feature a rising star in sophomore Lindsi Arrington (5:08 1600, 11:08 3200). Gar-Field clocked in at 9:32 in mid April at the Allen Johnson Invite. Central Region squads Maggie Walker and Deep Run could also get in the mix.
Boys 4x800 Meter Relay
The Penn Relays Championships of America 4x800 finals qualifier Albemarle boys will get another crack to better their state leading time of 7:51 on Friday evening with other squads in the race looking to join them under eight minutes this season, while AAA state indoor champions Thomas Edison would like to close the eight second difference which existed between the two teams in their qualifying heats at Penn Relays with Edison at 7:59. The Varina and Maggie Walker boys were both painfully close to breaking eight minutes at the Dogwood Track Classic with Varina at 8:00.55 and Maggie Walker at 8:02.48.
Girls 100 Meter Hurdles
Green Run senior Charisse Bryant has been unbeatable so far through the indoor and outdoor track season in any short hurdle race (55H, 60H, and 100H). There may not be a hurdler in Group AAA who will stand in her way to a state title in the 100 meter hurdles this June, but Norfolk Collegiate freshmen Nefertiti Smith may gave her a challenge at STC as Smith ran 14.21 in the event last year as an eighth grader. She will need to make another drop on Friday with Bryant taking her hurdling to another level after a 14.10 clocking last Saturday at the Landstown Invitational.
Boys 110 Meter Hurdles
All hurdlers entered have ran under 15 seconds this season led by defending AA state champion Ethan Nixon of Brookville and Michael Quash of Douglas Freeman. Quash won at Dogwood two weeks ago with a 14.33 clocking, while Nixon has a all-time best time of 14.23 from last year as a junior. North Stafford junior Reynaldo Radlin could be the sleeper after finishing second to Quash at Dogwood in a personal best of 14.47.
Girls 100 Meter Dash
Dionna Hayes of Elizabeth Seton (MD) is the lone athlete in the field of seven to have dipped under 12 seconds before, so Hayes will be favored with Virginians in Ruth Hunt of Heritage and Kim Blaylock of Battlefield appearing to be the top challengers for Hayes. Hunt has a season best time of 12.14, while Northwest Region 55 meter dash champ Blaylock has ran 12.36.
Boys 100 Meter Dash
Green Run sophomore Dejor Simmons will be racing more against Tory Womack's 10.50 state leading performance last weekend in the 100 meter dash versus the competition in the 100 meter dash at Southern Track since Simmons will be the heavy favorite and Womack took the #1 ranking away from Simmons in a certain pending battle in the event between the two at the state meet. Simmons ran a all-time best clocking of 10.55 at the Norfolk State Invite in April. Cosby's Mitchell Shifflett and South Lakes' Nick Vaughan both will get a chance to see if they can beat their times from March at Sports Backers Stadium when they clocked in with wind-aided times of 10.91 and 10.95 at the All-American Track Classic.
The question of the event will be if Simmons can make a serious challenge at the meet record of 10.53 set in 1999 by Casey Combest of Kentucky. Combest was a national indoor record holder in the sprints and one of the first national stars to make his presence felt at the Southern Track Classic in the early years of the meet.
Girls 1 Mile Run
More than a handful of runners have realistic shots at winning the girls' mile run with the top seed being Hiruni Wijayaratne of Herndon, the event state leader who just missed a sub 5 minute performance at the Allen Johnson Invitational at 5:00.48. Also in the race is Nike All-American Christina Lee of Potomac Falls, who ran a full mile time of 5:01.90 in her lone indoor meet of the season. Lee was a AA state runner-up for 1600 meters as a sophomore. Another Group AA distance runner in state cross country champion Laura Rapp is the lone entrant who has broke 5 minutes in the event with a 4:57 full mile at the 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals last June. The Heritage (Lynchburg) senior is also coming off a great double at VMI in which she clocked in at times of 5:04 for 1600 and 2:17 for 800 meters. The closing speed of Great Bridge's Jayna McGehee and James River's Kristen Wolfe needs to be taken in account if the race pace goes out too slow to extend the list of contenders to at least half a dozen in a field which includes 10 entrants under 5:10.
Boys 1 Mile Run
The boys mile run will be even deeper than the girls as this race could go down as one of the best ever in terms of the number of guys running under 4:20 if the race pace allows it to happen. There are at least ten runners in the field who have broken 4:20 or are able to break 4:20 on Friday led by Blacksburg senior Peter Dorrell (pictured above by John Herzog). Dorrell typically does much of the pace work in his races and so does #2 seed and AAA 3200 indoor state champion Ben Dejarnette of Atlee, so expect both to pull along the rest of the field to a fast ride.
Dorrell ran a US #3 time of 4:11 in the 1600 last Saturday at VMI. Dejarnette ran one of the country's fastest mile times for a sophomore last year at Southern Track with a runner-up time of 4:16. He will likely have to run much faster to duplicate a second place finish with Dorrell in the field and loaded field with him.
There are two Foot Locker finalists in the race with Michael Hammond of Midlothian and Thomas Porter of Mountain View. Hammond has been known primarily as a miler and ran 4:18 last Saturday at the Nike Spring Invite behind teammate Jason Witt. Porter has an open 1600 time of only 4:23, but split a 4:15 earlier in the season on a 1600 meter anchor leg for Mountain View's DMR.
The list is long of great runners in this race with the #13 seed having run a 4:20 1600 at Dogwood two weekends ago. Logan Collins of Orange County and Andrew Colley of Jamestown both have ran fast times this season in the 800 and 3200 respectively and are looking to roll out a mile time to accompany their season of fast times as Collins is the state leader at 800 meters in 1:54, while Andrew Colley of Jamestown ran an incredible 3200 PR time of 9:09 in his Dogwood win.
The state of Virginia has not had a sub 4:10 miler in quite a few years, but this race is presenting itself as the perfect opportunity to get one with field that has been assembled. It is by far the best mile field assembled in at least the past decade besting the 2003 Southern Track Classic mile field which included Bobby Curtis, Brian Dalpiaz, Kippy Keino, and Alex Tatu.
Girls 4x100 Meter Relay
It will be a tall order for the Virginian girls squads to take down the Elizabeth Seton girls of Maryland, but there is a shot especially after the local Richmond team in Deep Run went an impressive 48.00 last Saturday at the Five Forks Track Classic. Seton is seeded at 47.70 and will have some definite speed on their relays with potential 100 winner Dionna Hayes and potential 200 winner Jameice Decoster. It will be hard for Deep Run or other Virginia schools to overcome that kind of starpower.
Boys 4x100 Meter Relay
Eight teams have broke 43 seconds with several already under 42 seconds in a virtual preview of the AAA State Meet featuring the 41.36 state leaders from Green Run, who will be anchored by 100 favorite Dejor Simmons. Eastern Region foes Bethel, Nansemond River, and Western Branch will be bringing the heat as well and all pressing to runder 42 seconds. Green Run missed out on the Penn Relays, while the Western Branch boys won the large school section finals in a 42.01 clocking, so a win for Green Run is no sure thing as the room for error will be small for all teams involved in this event.
Girls 400 Meter Dash
Elizabeth Seton will attempt to make a sweep of the girls' sprints with top seeds in the 100, 200, and 400 meter dash as sophomore Ambrosia Iwugo has the top seed time in the 400 at 55.90. AA state champ Jennifer Weatherly of Dominion and Jay'vonne Bowman of Deep Run will be Iwugo's top challengers in the event as top five ranked athletes in Virginia and season best times of 57.00 or faster.
Boys 400 Meter Dash
The boys mile and 400 meter dash are the two races you cannot afford to miss. Top to bottom, the boys' 400 meter dash is a dream race of Virginia's best. The man to beat is Nike Indoor Nationals 400 meter champion Ja-Vell Bullard of Bethel who currently owns the fastest 400 meter time in the state of Virginia at 47.14. After Bullard sits seven athletes with personal bests of 48 seconds and all looking to join Bullard in the 47's. Brunswick's Ronquis Posey, a returning Group AA state champion for 400 meters, finished second at the 2007 Southern Track Classic in 48.72. The same time seeds him seventh fastest in the 2008 Southern Track Classic with a race full of stars.
Great Bridge sophomore Taylor Sykes will be anxious to get a crack at Bullard after losing out in a photo finish to Bullard for the AAA 500 meter state title in March with the two athletes running the nation's first and second fastest times in the event at 1:04.10 and 1:04.11. Sykes was also an All-American at Nike Indoor Nationals winning the slow section of the two section finals in the event.
Keith Ricks of King's Fork makes the jump up to 400 meters and tuned up last weekend at the Suffolk Invite with a 48.87 win. Ricks had one of the fastest 300 meter dash times in the country this past indoor season at 34.57. Bullard was the national leader at 33.99.
While Bullard, Sykes, and Ricks have been more established names in the sprint world in Virginia, entrants such as Ulrick Smith of Douglas Freeman, Austin Cuffee of Bethel, and AJ Price of South Lakes can certainly run right with and finish very high in this race. Smith has been the closest after Bullard to break 48 seconds with his 48.00 victory at the Dogwood Track Classic, while Cuffee's 48.07 performance at Norfolk State was overshadowed by his teammate Bullard's state leading performance in the same race.
Girls 300 Meter Hurdles
A wide open race with no one individual appearing to be the clear cut favorite with a clutter of girls with season best times of 45 seconds. The race lacks the star power with the top seven ranked hurdlers missing, but Staunton River's Sarah Witt at 45.86 and Bethel's Taylore Williams at 46.04 have the leading season best times in the field. However, Witt is seeded at 47.61 and will have to run in the tough lane position of lane 1. Dogwood Track Classic champion Bilnita Armstead of James Monroe and Central Region hurdlers Cecily Young of Armstrong and Megan Sinclair of Colonial Heights should also be competitive in the race for first.
Boys 300 Meter Hurdles
Returning AAA state champion Damien Thigpen of Stonewall Jackson will be tested by Bethel's Sherrard Marrow and North Stafford's Reynaldo Radlin on Friday night and a state best time might be needed in order to win. Thigpen is the current state leader at 37.53, while Radlin ranks second in Virginia behind him at 37.93. The two Northwest Region hurdlers have exchanged wins over each other this season with Radlin's 37.93 season best coming in a first place showing against Thigpen at the Norfolk State Invite, while Thigpen got him back at Dogwood in 37.53.
Girls 800 Meter Run
Laura Rapp, Hannah Varnell, and Christina Lee are all entered in the mile run earlier as well as entered in the 800, so their uncertain status in the event whether they are scratching from it or doubling back for makes the race itself a difficult one to predict the outcome. Take them out of the picture and there still is Fairfax junior Frances Dowd, a 2:13 half miler last year as a sophomore and AAA state runner-up in the event. Dowd struggled in her first big 800 race of the season at the Allen Johnson Invite with a time of 2:21, but certainly cannot be counted out at Southern Track. Besides Dowd, Ocean Lakes junior Natalie Kuhn (2:16 season best) and Blacksburg senior Avery Mattingly (2:18) have to be considered as legitimate race contenders with their strong races so far this outdoor season.
Boys 800 Meter Run
It would be a tall order for Logan Collins to come back from a hard mile race earlier. If the state leader opts to scratch the mile to rest for the 800 meter run then he will be the race favorite after nearly breaking 1:54 in the open 800 last weekend by himself at the Fluvanna Invitational. The Degfae twins of Thomas Edison are in the same boat if they decide not to run on their team's 4x800 meter relay at the start of the meet. Otherwise, Collins and the Degfae's will have a tough time holding off fresh half milers in the race including three outstanding runners from Group AA in Blacksburg's Brian Hencke, WIlliam Byrd's Drew Hall, and Potomac Falls' Ryan Hagen. Hencke has challenged his teammate Peter Dorrell for the title of fastest 800 meter runner at Blacksburg after his two 1:55 open 800 performances at the Volunteer Track Classic as well as Cosmopolitan Invite. Hall has only ran a few open 800 races ever, but has learned fast how to run them as shown with a 1:56 win at VMI last Saturday.
Girls 200 Meter Dash
Another Elizabeth Seton sprinter will have lane preference with Jameice DeCoster as the 200 meter dash favorite. She will have three against her in the race who have ran under 25 seconds this season with Ruth Hunt of Heritage at 24.84, Yvonne Amegashie of Potomac Senior at 24.88, and Jennifer Weatherly of Dominion at 24.99. DeCoster has a seed time of 24.67, so the Virginians should keep her honest at least with room for a surprise winner as well.
Boys 200 Meter Dash
The top three seeds in the event will be well warmed up in Dejor Simmons of Green Run, Ja-Vell Bullard of Bethel, and Keith Ricks of King's Fork. Simmons will have competed in the 100 meter dash and 4x100 meter relay, while Bullard and Ricks will be going at it for the second race of the meet as they come back from the open 400 earlier. Bullard was dealt a rare defeat at the hands of Simmons earlier in the season in the 200 meter dash and would obviously like to even the score. Simmons and Ricks have both went under 21.50 this spring at 21.43 and 21.48 respectively. The 2006 meet record of 21.36 by Anthony Chesson will be in jeopardy.
Girls 2 Mile Run
Kathleen Lautzenheiser of Midlothian could be a runaway winner in the eight lap event unless others are willing to chase after her at a well under 11 minute pace since her close rival Lia DiValentin of Chantilly has scratched from the event. Lautzenheiser has raced sparingly this season, but looked impressive in an easy 5:03 win in the 1600 meter run at Dogwood. She has yet to run a 3200 this season, but the Foot Locker finalist has a 10:48 best in the event from the indoor season. The best bet to give Lautzenheiser an honest challenge is Tallwood's Octavia Rinehardt. The American University recruit is in the sub 11 company with Lautzenheiser and has been one of the state's most consistent performers both indoor and outdoor in the event.
Boys 2 Mile Run
Every meet that Jason Witt has attended so far this season, he seems to have entered in the wrong race. Well in terms of not being in the best race of the meet. The same looks to hold true at Southern Track Classic with the mile as the clear featured distance race of the meet. However, Witt will not be entirely alone of stars in the two mile and should be pushed to run an all-time best with the likes of AAA 1600 meter state champion Joe Lorusso coming off a 4:14 1600 run last Saturday at VMI and Bradshaw Kenimer of T.C. Williams having the faster seed time than Witt from his remarkable All-American run at NSIC in March. Cave Spring senior Tim Smith who broke 4:20 for the first time in the 1600 last weekend will also join an expected lead pack of four who should contend for first and fast times. A possible sub 9:10 could be in the works for a winning time.
Girls 4x400 Meter Relay
It could be a tightly bunched race even on the anchor leg with only a few seconds separating all of the times in the top section. Bethel at 3:57 and Thomas Edison at 3:59 are the only two teams entered under four minutes, but the race could see a handful under four when it is all said and done with several teams already knocking on the door.
Boys 4x400 Meter Relay
The final event has the potential to be one of the most exciting races of the event with the Bethel boys only two weeks removed from their second place 3:14 performance against the Jamaicans at Penn Relays going up against many teams going as fresh and loaded up as they can to take their best shot at the relay led by Ja-Vell Bullard. Douglas Freeman has two studs in Michael Quash and Ulrich Smith, Western Branch has two as well in Javanti Sparrow and Daniel Nix. Potomac Senior and Nansemond River will put together fearsome quarters as well with Potomac already posting a swift time of 3:20 and Nansemond River seeing if their success indoors in the 4x200 can translate equally as well outdoors in the 4x400.
Emerging Elite 400's
Future high school stars of future Southern Track Classic's will give fans a sneak preview of what will come in future years with the emerging elite 400 meter dashes being added to this year's format. The event has brough in top ninth grade and middle school talent in the quarter with the speed still looking to come out of the Eastern Region as eighth grader Joel Coleman from Suffolk with a 49.24 best leads the boys' entrants, while the Bethel girls seem to have an army headed their way with three eighth graders and a nine grader all running under 60 seconds for 400 meters in the race. The Northern Region has a star though coming as well though in the form of Genamarie McCant from Fairfax Station, Virginia and her best time of 57.54 as a mere eighth grader.