Not only will all of VA's eyes be on Todd Stadium this weekend but the entirety of track nation will have at least one eye on the 6A State Championships this weekend. That is only proper considering we will see some of the biggest stars in the entire nation battle it out one last time this season and for some, the last time in their high school careers.
The biggest of these stars is Noah Lyles who is entered in the 100 and 200. He is seeded at 10.14 and 20.23 which are both Virginia state records if he did not already hold them. Though his victory is almost a certainty, his times are the real interest as he could seriously run something special if he so chose. The 200 would be the event to watch as if he really sprints at the start and choses to drive down the home stretch we could see a new national record and our first ever sub 20 performance from a high schooler. Noah is also entered in the high jump.
His future teammate Grant Holloway will also be putting on a show in an attempt to win yet another state team title for the Grassfield Grizzlies. He is the favorite and entered in the 110H, 300H, long jump, and high jump. He is also seeded second in the boys 200.
Trevor Stewart (South County) enters the meet as the top seed in the boys 400 but he is going to have some young talent chasing him but it seems to be his state title to win or lose. Though he gets looked over being in Josephus Lyles' conference and region, he may be one of the ten best quarter milers our state has ever had and this weekend we will get to see exactly where he stacks up.
Also sprinting their way into the record books will be both Destiny Ward (Oscar Smith) and Lauryn Ghee (Grassfield). Ghee enters the meet as the favorite in all three sprint events as she will try and attempt to pull off the sprint triple to go along with her indoor triple.
Destiny on the other hand will try and bust up this triple crown bid like she did last year when she came from behind in the 400 to take the title in a meet record time. This year will be much different though as both will only face off in the 100 since Destiny is also running the 300H and 4x400.
Also in those events is none other than Western Branch superstar Faith Ross. The Kentucky bound senior enters the meet as the favorite in the 300H and 100H. She will also likely run on the 4x800 as her relay team chases down the state record that they set back in 2014.
Speaking of that relay record, it may not be hard to come close to that record but it certainly is going to be hard to win the title as both Lake Braddock and Patriot are entered in that race as well. If all goes to plan and we really hope it does... there is a chance that Kate Murphy, Rachel McArthur, and Faith Ross all get the baton at the same time on anchor leg and it will be a race to the finish.
No matter which team you are cheering for, you better cheer for that to happen. We are talking about three of the greatest athletes all-time squaring off in what would be an epic showdown for the record books. It will definitely take a US #1 performance to win.
The boys 4x800 should be exciting as well but it looks like it is completely Lake Braddock's to win or lose. If they stack their squad up then it is them against the clock as they just have too much speed and depth for anyone in the state this year.
In the shorter relays we could see some jostling for bragging rights and team points too. The most interesting one of these events will definitely be the 4x100 for girls with Western Branch leading and Grassfield (without Ghee), Westfield, and Osbourn Park chasing.
The interesting thing at stake here is not only the fact that Western Branch's girls have swept every outdoor 6A relay ever but the fact that no one but Eastern Region teams have won the 4x1 since 1994 (22 years). If there was any year to do it, this would be the year since Grassfield returns everyone and WB is led by a freshman.
Josephus Lyles' season ending injury is unfortunate and due to his absence the boys 4x100 will be wide open between Western Branch, Gar-field, and Battlefield.
In the final event of the state meet we are in for a showdown both on the boys and girls side. Last year stealing the show and the title was Chantilly's boys relay who walked down Western Branch in the rain. That team is back and a lot stronger but their competition is also stronger as Western Branch has already run 3:17 to their 3:19. There are also four other teams that could really break 3:20 as well making for an interesting end to the meet.
The girls race is much more about rivalries than anything else. We would see a Western Branch, Oscar Smith, Grassfield, Patriot, and Lake Braddock matchup. Though this is just speculation... if you check out the performance list it looks like quite a few athletes have an event left over and if they want, they could be put onto a 4x400 making for an awesome race with some really strong anchors.
Another huge star, who thankfully is only a junior, is Chantilly's Brandon McGorty. He is already US #2 and VA #2 All-time at the 800 and this weekend it looks like he could be chasing down some fast times once again as he is entered in the 800, 1600, and 4x400. We know he is going to have to run hard in all three as there is little room for slip-ups in the ultra-competitive 6A classification.
Starting competition Saturday will be the eight lap races featuring Dalton Randall (Clover Hill) and Rachel Northcutt (Cosby) who were both third and second respectively at XC states. Both of these athletes are going to have to really run hard this weekend as the entire fields are seeded very close and depending on how the race is run, they could not even be the favorites.
The girls race has quite a few girls that will be completely fine sitting back and kicking while the boys race will almost guaranteed be run that way. Randall has a great kick but so does Lyons (Lake Braddock). His county counterpart and runner-up at 6A XC, Grant Northcutt will also be in this race making for an interesting matchup of the longer and shorter distance specialists meeting here.
Ryan Drew, the 6A South Champion at 1600, will also be in contention and he is our early pick for who will push the pace. If he pushes the pace early it will be interesting to see if the field lets him go for six laps or if this race will be a time-trial against the clock.
The most exciting race though could be the girls 800 with Murphy, McArthur, Bustamante, and Thomas all entered in the competition. We are talking about #4, #8, #17, and #23 all-time in Virginia squaring off. Thomas will almost certainly push the pace early but will the other three set their own more even pace or just go after it? It is going to exciting whatever way this plays out because it is going to take 2:07 or better to really win this title.
There is no doubt the racing will be exciting from start to finish and have us talking for weeks after but the stuff we have been talking about weeks before are these field events.
The superstars here are definitely Grant Holloway in the long & high and Titiana Marsh (Thomas Dale) in the long & triple jumps. Though both have jumped somewhat conservatively this season, both also have that killer instinct and always jump their best when a state title is on the line.
Marsh should be able to go past 20' in the long jump and Grant is definitely able to go 26'. The question though will both come ready for huge performances. They are also the athletes to beat in their other jumps but it is no secret that they will have to work in all the jumps as VA is quite deep this year when it comes to jumps.
All-American Gary Williams and Perry Donker and Hasani Knight are all seeded high in the triple jump and should put on a great show that could eclipse 50'.
In the girls high jump it will be a stellar competition with 11 girls over 5-4 and three having cleared 5-8 in the past. Osbourn Park does have the two top seeds in Hayes and Banks but Ghee is seeded third and will definitely try and take home 40 points for her team. Sydney Banks could be the athlete to watch though as she is jumping 5-8 as only a freshman and if she continues to improve could be unstoppable for years to come.
Happening both days will be the pole vault competitions with Emily Harrison (Battlefield) leading the girls competition at 11-9 and three guys - Shotwell, Demory, and McEvoy - all right there between 14-6 and 14-8 for their competition.
Just like in indoors, this competition will likely come down to misses and that final attempt at 14-0 to make or break someone's state championship. Tim McEvoy seemed to have made the most of just that indoors and will definitely try and repeat that script down at Todd Stadium.
Finally in the throws we are going to get to see what the likes of Benedict Draghi (Washington-Lee) have in store outdoors. He has had a meteoric rise over the past year and half which saw him move up the all-time lists and win the indoor state shot put title on his first attempt.
He may have the best marks in both but the shot put is going to be hard for anyone to win especially with Seth Harrell (Grassfield) also seeded over 62' meaning we have two junior guys seeded better than the state meet record.
In the Discus Draghi has a significant lead on the competition.
In the girls competition Taylor Gorum (Grassfield) enters as the favorite in the discus at 140-01 which is further than the state meet record but she is going to have to watch out for Maria Muzzio (Robinson) and Foreman (T.C. Williams) who are seeded second and third in the discus and first and second in the shot as well.
With Ross and Thomas and their young talent starting to shine it looks like once again Western Branch has the girls title wrapped up but it could be interesting between Grassfield and Lake Braddock for second place. Grassfield will be safe if Ghee sweeps and may actually be pretty close to Branch as well so don't count them out yet.
On the boys side it will be between Western Branch and Grassfield who will go toe-to-toe in nearly every event and if Grant can get some help it should be exciting in that 200.