East Coast Invitational Preview

RICHMOND, VA -- The East Coast Invitational continues to be one of the longest standing high school indoor invitationals in the state of Virginia as well as the country and continues to bring in some of the state\'s best talent. The first East Coast Invitational was held in 1960 and this year\'s meet will be the 48th annual. The meet use to be hosted inside the Richmond Coliseum on a wooden banked track before moving over to the Arthur Ashe Center in 1983. The 2007 edition of the East Coast Invitational will feature Shanneka Claiborne, Aramis Massenburg, Rachel Butler, and Anthony Chesson as some of the state\'s top athletes in the meet with the Manchester boys and Midlothian girls as the top teams attending.

Matoaca\'s Shanneka Claiborne comes into the meet as the state leader in the 55 meter dash with a 7.09 clocking. Her time not only ranks her first in Virginia this season, but also ninth in the country currently in the event. She will be joined in the event on Saturday with defending Group A state champion Rahsheeta Hundley of West Point. The Matoaca senior Claiborne could potential win two events in the meet as she is the third seed in the 300 meter dash. Ahead of her in the event is a 2006 AAA state qualifier in the event in Karis Crosby with a 43.39 best in state competition. Claiborne also qualified for state competition in the event, but back in 2004 when she posted her personal best of 42.91 as a sophomore.

Rachel Butler, multi-event star for Lee-Davis, hopes to be recovered from illness that forced her to cut her day short at the Montgomery Country Invitational last weekend. She will be favored to win the 55 meter hurdles after a clocking 8.44 personal best last Saturday despite sickness. The state leader in the triple jump at 37\'8\" will be skipping the event on Saturday to focus on the long jump as she is the top seed with a 18\'0\" all-time best in the event.

She can pick up a third win possibly in the pole vault as while the state\'s top ranked and 11\'9\" vaulter Anne Marie Gordon of Mills Godwin is entered in the meet, she will be on the side of the country at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada this weekend.

Matoaca senior Aramis Massenburg, state leader in the 55 meter hurdles after winning at the Fork Union Invite last Saturday in 7.48, is the top seed in the hurdle event at the Ashe Center this weekend as well as the high jump with a 6\'4\" best. Massenburg will look to match Claiborne with two wins at the meet.

The Manchester boys will use the East Coast Invite as a prep meet for district and regional championship meets, which will also be hosted at the Ashe Center. The practice especially will be key in the sprint relays for Manchester, who have currently the state\'s fastest 4x200 meter relay (1:31.10) and second fastest 4x400 meter relay (3:27.87). However, as last Saturday\'s CNU Showcase showed in the 4x200 meter relay, bad handoffs can put the best team in back of the race as the Lancers experienced after their third leg.

Manchester will also have their top individuals competing in individual events including Anthony Chesson in the 55 meter dash, Reggie Hill in the 300 meter dash, and Antonio Miller in the 300 meter dash. Hill won the 55 meter dash at CNU in a 6.49 clocking, while Chesson and Miller are looking to bounce back from their performances at CNU. Chesson was disqualified in the 300 meter dash despite obviously having the fastest time in the event, while the defending AAA state outdoor triple jump champion was defeated by Western Branch sophomore Kelvin Griffin and dethroned as the state leader in the event by Griffin as well.

The Midlothian girls could potential win every running event from the 500 meter dash up with the toughest win likely to be Midlothian freshmen Amy Witt defeating Maggie Walker\'s Susannah Piersol in the 3200 meter run. Otherwise, Midlothian has a girl in each event with a strong shot at winning. In the 500 meter dash, M.C. Miller will return to the Ashe Center in the same event that saw her clock an impressive 1:22 win during the winter break against defending Central Region 400 meter champion Shae Wilbon of Colonial Heights.

The Lautzenheiser twins should romp the field in the 1600 meter run with Kathleen having already posted a strong time of 5:18 this season at the Ashe Center, while freshmen twin sister Leia rolled to a 11:02 3200 meter win last Saturday at CNU.

Three members of the Midlothian \"elite eight\" that led them to a state championship and Nike Team Nationals berth in cross country will be in the 1000 meter run with Sammy Dow, Erin Stehle, and Christine Selander. Dow and Stehle finished in the top five last weekend at CNU in the 3200 meter run with times of 11:18 and 11:30 respectively. Norfolk Academy\'s Anica Bilisoly, Douglas Freeman\'s Casey Fowler, and Lee-Davis\' Amanda Linbeberry will contest in this race though.

Midlothian has the bodies to not completely stack their relays and still win as well as shown with their \"B\" team running under the 9:45 state standard in the 4x800 meter relay last week. The Lady Trojans have a solid 4x400 meter relay as well as shown with their third place 4:11 clocking at CNU.

Petersburg\'s Demondre Woodson hit a mark of 22\'5\" in the long jump in a polar bear meet at Highland Springs. Woodson will try to do the same indoors at the Ashe Center this weekend as the top seed in the event.

J.R. Tucker\'s K\'Lynne Robinson threw for a personal best mark of 39\'5\" in the shot put at Fork Union last Saturday and despite throwing for the state\'s fourth best mark, she ended up second in the event behind William Fleming\'s Kayla Lewis. If she throws anywhere near the same mark this weekend, she will have no problem picking up first place honors.

Thomas Baker of Louisa County will be looking for his second win this year in the 1600 meter run at the Ashe Center after winning the 11 lap event in December at the Green Dragon Relays. Baker posted a 10:00 3200 meter time last weekend at Woodberry Forest, which is a somewhat comparable track in terms of times to the Ashe Center.

Almost all of the Central Region\'s top throwers will be present for the boys\' shot put with four throwers over 50 feet including defending champ Blake DeChristopher of Clover Hill. DeChristopher\'s season best of 53\'2\" ranks him fourth in the state currently. Cody Mohn of Lee-Davis coming off a big win at the Montgomery Invite with a personal best throw of 52\'3.75\" as teammate Adam Taylor finished behind him in second at 51\'3.50\".

Douglas Freeman senior Jake O\'Connor will be favored in the 500 meter dash after clocking a personal best time of 1:07.43 to finish runner-up at CNU last Saturday. O\'Connor is a hurdler in the spring and has a 39.66 best in the 300 meter hurdles.

If Andrew Duty of Manchester is actually back from injury, the 1000 meter run could be very interesting with him and Atlee\'s Ben Dejarnette. Otherwise, Dejarnette could run away with it as he is coming off a big win in the 1600 meter run at CNU. The Atlee sophomore posted an indoor personal best of 4:27 and had a decisive win over the two-time Central Region cross country champion Jason Witt of Midlothian.

The 3200 meter run should be best distance race of the meet among the boys with several solid runners in the 22 lap event. James River\'s Charlie Schmitt has to be considered the favorite after running a personal best time of 9:41.42 to automatically qualify for the AAA State Meet in a runner-up finish at CNU. Meanwhile, Collegiate\'s Matthew Richardson has to be a strong threat after winning the 3200 meter run this past Saturday at Fork Union and having a 9:54 best this season.