1/16 Weekend Preview: Welcome Back Lizzie Powell!

Photo by Ted Plunkett

Brief preview for some of the top meets this weekend in Virginia at Liberty University, Boo Williams Sportsplex, and Fork Union Military Academy. This weekend will mark the return of Lizzie Powell back to competition after the defending Group AAA state champion and meet record holder learned she had cancer following last year's state outdoor meet. If you had to choose one athlete to root for this year, the Patrick Henry senior Powell has to be the one after being dealt such life-changing news following her outdoor state title in the pole vault. Powell will be competing on Friday in the pole vault at the Liberty Flames High School Invitational in Lynchburg.


Liberty Flames High School Invitational: The largest meet of the weekend and maybe one of the biggest indoor high school meets ever in Virginia with two long days of track & field action on Friday and Saturday at Liberty University's Tolsma Track Center. This meet marks the return of Patrick Henry senior Lizzie Powell, the defending Group AAA state champion in the pole vault who has spent the off-season battling cancer. She will be vaulting on Friday.


Also in Friday's events will be the Stevens twins of Blacksburg, Joanna and Kathleen, planning on rolling out fast 1600 meter times to accompany their 10:26 performances in early Decembert at the same Tolsma Track Center venue. The boys 1600 meanwhile will feature two national leaders in Cody Snyder of Lee-Davis (US #1 at 1000 meters - 2:31) and Chris Foley of Chantilly (US #1 at 1600 meters - 9:14) along with Blacksburg junior George Carter, who ran just under 4:20 at Liberty earlier in the season as the first in the nation under the time at that point.


Other top athletes competing on the first day of events at the Flames Invite including DeVaughn Benion Jr, who holds the nation's second fastest time in the 55 meter dash with his season best 6.36 clocking. The boys' high jump will pit two of the top athletes to come out of Southwest Virginia in the event in recent years with Group A state champ Phillip Morris of Glenvar (6'10" best) and Group AA's best Travis Hudson of Christiansburg (6'8" best). The boys 300 meter dash will feature current state leader Adrian Vaughan of South Lakes (35.34 state best) and defending Group AA state champion Chris Williams of Robert E. Lee.


Suffolk Stars Invitational:  Several big match-up and premier events at Boo Williams this weekend including Genamarie McCant of James Robinson and Monica Williams of Green Run in the girls 300 meter dash as well as Anthony Kostelac of Albemarle and Drew Paisley of Ocean Lakes in the boys 3200 meter run. McCant and Williams currently own two of the nation's top three times in the 3200 meter run. Kostelac and Paisely are two of the state's top returning milers who will be stepping up for a rare crack at the longer distance race.


The girls field events will have several potential state championships this year including Sherhae Holloway of Highland Springs in the high jump (5'8" best), Jazmen Townsend of Grassfield in the long jump (19'11" best), and Sydni Cobb of Western Branch in the shot put (40'11.75" best").


Jordan Hill and Justin Hunter will be comping in the same meet, but not in the same event unfortunately as Hill will not be doing any jumping and is entered in the 500 meter dash, while Hunter looks to make a splash in the long jump. The 500 meter dash will be an interesting race featuring Hill and 55 meter dash national leader Joel Coleman of Oscar Smith.


Fred Hardy Invitational: The field events will be loaded with the state's best including the current co-state leaders in the girls pole vault at 11'6" with Stephanie Oleson of Henrico and Cameron Overstreet of Atlee vaulting against one another for the first time this season. Sulaiman Fareed of Highland Springs will attempt to improve upon his state best mark of 56'7" in the shot put.


The Atlee boys are one of the state's top track teams currently and will be competing at FUMA. The distance races should be competitive including a potential Ted Richardson-Josh Morris rematch in the boys 3200 from their great battle in cross country at the Albemarle Invite, while Hannah Lowery of Stafford and Madalyn Nuckols of Deep Run should be a good race in the girls 1600.