After a three year absence of the Colonial Relays, one of the most historic meets in the state of Virginia with its beginning in 1963, due to reconstruction at William & Mary's Zable Stadium, the meet returns on an brand new track for the great high school and college competition that will converge in Williamsburg for the two day event. Several of Virginia's top high school athletes will be competing in the Colonial Relays including Natalie Baird, Chris Tyson, Kristy Tobin, Marcus Robinson, Thomas Porter, and Kristy Tobin. Expect to see plenty of "old faces" competing as well with the many colleges also competing at the relays having some of the old high school stars on their rosters. This weekend will the 42nd annual hosting of the Colonial Relays.
Girls Field Events:
Natalie Baird (pictured left, by John Herzog) is the top female high school athlete in the meet. Baird was an All-American in the discus throw last year and threw one of the best sophomore marks in the U.S. high school history in the event. She'll be heavily favored to win early Friday morning's discus throw (9 am start time) with her 157'7" best. The Park View junior started off her season with a state leading mark of 146'9" at the Saxon Track Classic two weeks ago. She will have a great throwing surface to launch a big mark as not only did William & Mary rebuild for a new track, but also put in a state of the art throwing facility and honored long-time director of track and field at W&M in Dan Stimpson with the naming of the Stimpson Throwing Events Area.
Baird will be hoping to sweep the throwing events at the Colonial Relays, but she will be challenged in the shot put by Central Region indoor champion K'Lynne Robinson of J.R. Tucker as both have best all-time marks over 40 feet. Baird vastly improved in the shot put last spring and ended up as the AA state champion in the event with a 42'8" best. Meanwhile, Robinson has also made great strides including a 40'2.50" personal best throw in indoors.
Robinson's teammate Jasia Richardson is very well capable of winning both the long and triple jump as the J.R. Tucker sophomore finished third at the AAA State Meet in the triple jump and is the top seed in the long jump at the Colonial Relays. Richardson has bests of 17'11.50" in the long jump and 38'9.75" in the triple jump, yet finds herself seeded behind Nohjay Nimpson of Archbishop Ryan from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the triple jump. Nimpson hit her personal best jump of 38'10" in a state championship at the Pennsylvania State Indoor Meet in February. There could be a great duel between the two jumpers just under 39 feet.
Heritage's SheAnna Mitchell tied her best high jump clearance of 5'6" in last weekend's Conn-Madden Relays. Mitchell will be looking to match that performance and pick up a victory at the Colonial Relays.
Atlee girls should go 1-2 in the pole vault with Emma Dejarnette and Rachael Hawks. Both cleared over 11 feet during the indoor and were All-State performers in the vault with Hawks finishing third at the AAA State Meet and teammate Dejarnette clearing the same height of 11 feet for fifth place. However, Princess Anne senior Katie Wright has a shot of breaking the pair from Mechanicsville up as she is the defending Eastern Region indoor champion and has a 10'6" best.
Boys Field Events:
J.R. Tucker's Marcus Robinson (pictured right, by John Herzog) is the top seed and favored in both the long jump and triple jump as the Tigers could possibly take the two horizontal jumping events for both the boys and girls with Richardson as a top contender for the girls. Robinson has become of the state's best jumpers after winning the AAA state title indoors in the triple jump and having made the state's top long jumper in Rashaad Cannon of Highland Springs sweat out a Central Region title with both sharing the same best mark in the meet. Robinson hit his 48'0.75" best mark in the triple jump in his indoro state championship and started the season off at the Manchester Relays with a jump of 46'3" as he edged out defending AAA outdoor state champion Antonio Miller of Manchester (46'1") for the top mark of the meet. The J.R. Tucker senior is looking to get over 23 feet in the long jump this spring with his 22'10.75" best.
Mountain View will have a pair of 22 plus foot long jumpers to go up against Robinson in the long jump with Olu Olamigoke and Cedric Hudson.
The state of Pennsylvania has the top three seeds (four in the shot put) in both throwing events and should dominate both events.
Hickory's Kevin Nichols should take the high jump easily as he is four inches better than the second seed Leemue Koimene from Father Judge in Philadelphia. Nichols has cleared 6'8" on two occassions with the most recent coming in a win at the All-American Track Classic two Saturdays ago in Richmond.
Atlee is capable of sweeping the pole vaults with AAA state indoor runner-up Cameron Sovick as the top seed in the boys' pole vault. Sovick cleared 14 feet at George Mason University in March to finish second at the state meet.
Girls Running Events:
Kristy Tobin of Great Bridge (pictured left, by John Herzog), two-time AAA state champion for 1600 meters, will be favored in Saturday's high school mile with her 4:53 personal best credentials, but should get pressed by Northwest Region indoor 1600 meter champion Heather Lambert of Mountain View. Lambert has some wheels as she finished third in the 1000 meter run at the AAA State Indoor Meet with a personal best time of 2:59.95, so despite being a strong favorite, Tobin can only make the race but so tactical. Lambert also went 2:17 indoors at Nike Indoor Nationals.
However, Lambert will be doubling back from Friday's 3000 meter run in which St. Basil Academy's (PA) Kathleen Davies should be the odds on favorite to win with 10:14 best in the 3K. Davies posted her time last spring while competing in the prestigous Penn Relays. She also has ran under 11 minutes for 3200 meters last spring with a 10:56 best. New Jersey's Erin Lunny of Red Bank Catholic will also be in the mix though as she ran 11:07 3200 meter time indoors at the New Jersey Meet of Champions.
While many of the Eastern Region's top teams will be over at the CNU Captains Classic or are off due to spring break, the Menchville girls will be in full force in the relays and are coming to win both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays as the top seed in both races. Their relays will feature two All-Americans in Kali Watkins and Nicole Saunders. Both are looking to have strong final high school outdoor seasons as Saunders in particular struggled during the indoor season after having a breakthrough spring last year in the 300 and 400 meter hurdles. Saunders has two of the faster returning times in the country in both the 300 and 400 meter hurdles from 2006 and was a national runner-up in the 400.
Pennsylvania added the distance medley relay to their championship season format for the indoor season. The racing experience and proven times run by Archbishop Prendergas has them looking as the likely pick to win the distance medley relay on Saturday as they posted a time of 12:25 indoors. Red Bank Catholic (NJ) and St. Basil Academy (PA) should also be in the running with solid anchor legs in 3K contenders Lunny and Davies.
Boys Running Events:
The 3000 meter run on Friday and mile run on Saturday could possibly produce the top distance performances of the season so far in the state with the talent assembled. The 3K and mile run will have two All-Americans in Chris Tyson of Washington-Lee (NSIC mile) and Thomas Porter of Mountain View (NIN 5K), while Dakota Lowery of West Johnston (NC) has ventured into Virginia on several occassions in the past to prove himself as a tough competitor to beat as an entrant in both races. Jamestown's Andrew Mearns split a 4:21 in a DMR 1600 meter leg two weekends ago at the All-American Track Classic and will have the hometown crowd behind him in Friday's 3K.
However, Tyson (pictured right, by John Herzog) and Porter have be considered the top two favorites in 3K as Porter has ran under 9:20 for 3200 meters two times and both in state meet competition with the most recent coming in a personal best 9:18 performance to finish third at the AAA State Indoor Meet. Porter finished just off the national sophomore 5K indoor record at Nike Indoor Nationals with a third place finish of 15:12. Porter is traditionally a slow starter in every season that he competes in and then pours it on at the end as he was sluggish last weekend at the VA Runner Invite posting times of 4:30 and 2:03 in a 1600 and 800 meter double, so Colonial Relays may be too early for him to put it in high gear.
Tyson prior to this year had been considred primarily a two miler as he gained notice as a sophomore running a 9:29 3200 meter time. However, the Washington-Lee senior has shown some great wheels this year as he showed during indoors when he won the a state championship for 1000 meters in a time of 2:31. He followed his first state title up with his first All-American performance finishing in the top six in the mile at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and dipping under 4:20 for the first time a 4:19 mile to finish fifth in New York.
Both Tyson and Porter will come back on Saturday for their second race of the meet. Tyson stands an excellent shot at winning both, especially given his new wheels. Germantown Friends of Philadelphia (PA) junior Max Kaulbaugh is the top seed in the race, but Tyson has the superior personal best by six seconds at 4:17 to 4:23. Lowery is a stronger miler than 3K runner, so he should be in contention for the win as he ran a 4:21 mile indoors at Virginia Tech.
The relay events are heavy with out of staters over Virginian teams with the state of Pennsylvania in particular having a strong presence. Pennsylvania has two sub 10:30 distance medley relays at Colonial Relays with Germantown Friends (10:24) and Upper Dublin (10:28) running under 10:30 at their indoor state meet with Great Valley also bringing in a solid relay with a 10:37 best.
It is actually quite a shame that many of the state's top teams are bypassing the Colonial Relays and meets altogether this weekend due to spring break because Pennsylvania is certainly bringing in some great relay teams to go up against. Two of the Keystone State's top three 4x800 meter relays from the indoor season will be racing at Zable Stadium on Friday with LaSalle College and Great Valley having both ran times of 7:58 at the Pennsylvania indoor state meet to finish second and third in the 4x800 state race.