The first annual Clover Hill Outdoor Track & Field Invitational will feature over 500 athletes from 16 schools comprising of mainly Central Region squads from all four districts as well as Commonwealth District teams Colonial Forge and Riverbend. With teams able to enter as many as 6 runners in the distance races, 5 athletes in the sprints and hurdles, 4 competitors in the field events, and 2 relays per event, coaches are able to get a good early season look at virtually their entire roster. Field events start at 9:00 AM and the racing on the track begins shortly thereafter at 9:30 AM with an estimated finish time before 4:30 PM.
The girls 400 meter dash should be an excellent race with one of the state's top returning quarter milers in Erin Edmond of Riverbend with her 55.49 personal best and two of the Central Region's top underclassmen sprint stars in Thomas Dale sophomore April Wilson and Cosby freshmen Alex Moseley. Edmond is also the top seed in the 200 meter dash at 25.48 with AAA indoor state triple jump champion Siobhan Ford-Holland as her closest challenger at 25.59. Ford-Holland is not triple jumping on Saturday, but will be competing in the long jump with her Thomas Dale teammate Sarah Fulgham who both have went over 18 feet. Cosby freshmen Moseley is the top seed in the triple jump in Ford-Holland's absence.
Marques Atkinson of Atlee could potentially dominate the meet as a favorite to win the high jump, 110 meter hurdles, and 300 meter hurdles. The AAA indoor 500 dash state champion Atkinson competed in and won all three events last weekend at the Manchester Relays including a personal best clearance of 6'6" in the high jump, and sub 15 and 40 second clockings in the 110 and 300 hurdles respectively.
Central Region indoor 500 meter champion Jayden Metzger will be making her debut in the open 800 after running some stellar opening legs of Cosby's 4x800 meter relay this past winter including a sub 2:20 split at indoor nationals. Cosby's top distance runner in state champion and All-American Megan Moye is training through this meet, which leaves the opportunity for her teammates to compete for individual wins including Metzger in the 800 and sophomore Amanda Steinman as the lead entrant in the 1600 with a 5:21 personal best.
The Riverbend boys could be equally dominate in the distance events with Ryan Kuhns and Gabe Fisher looking to run away from the field and post times well under 4:30 in the 1600 meter run, while junior teammate Shaquon Wilkins has almost a 45 second cushion on the second fastest seed in the 3200 meter run.
Huguenot's Keith Crawford competes in his first meet since last June after finishing fourth at the 2010 AAA State Outdoor Championships with a 1:54.67 personal best, which ranks 3rd fastest among returnees in Virginia. The unheralded Crawford is looking to remind others who may have forgotten about him after not competing this past winter that he is one of the state's best middle distance runners.
The fast section of the boys 200 will feature many of the Central Region's fastest sprinters with five under 23 seconds including Cosby's Ajani Kingslow, Mills Godwin's Rex Owusu, Atlee's Trevor Elie, and Thomas Dale's Byron Robinson. Kingslow, Owusu, and Robinson are considered more quarter milers, while Elie specializes normally in the short sprints to make Saturday's race into a battleground event. Kingslow and Elie are both top seeds in earlier events with Kingslow looking to break 50 seconds early in the season at 400 meters, while Elie has been knocking on the door of his first sub 11 second clocking in the 100 dash.
Armstrong junior Alea Stevens kicked off her outdoor season last weekend at the Manchester Relays with a win in the 300 meter hurdles and third place in the 100 meter hurdles. Stevens will attempt this week to improve upon that double in the hurdles with two wins instead. Her top competition in the short hurdles will come from host school athlete Lisa Dang of Clover Hill, who will contend for the Dominion District title this spring alonside Cosby's De'nisha Smith, who is also entered in the 100 meter hurdles on Saturday.
In the field events, the girls' high jump and boys' long jump have potential to be exciting events to watch with three girls at 5'5" or better in the high jump and five boys over 22 feet in the long jump including two over 23 feet in Jamarian Bates of Matoaca and Matthew Ross of Highland Springs. Erin Edmond is not only a speedster on the track for Riverbend, but also has a best of 5'5" in the high jump. When healthy, Sherhae Holloway of Highland Springs is one of the state's premier high jumpers with a 5'8" all-time best in the event.