NIC Preview: Virginia Girls Outlook

LANDOVER, MD - While the state of Virginia clearly has some individuals and relays that have national title winning and All-American placing potential on the male side for this weekend\'s Nike Indoor Championship, the same holds true for the female side of the coin.

Western Branch\'s Tosin Oluwole, an All-American a year ago at NIC in the 60 meter dash, is hoping to return with even a better showing this year as she is coming off a state championship victory in the 55 meter dash at the AAA State Meet. Oluwole is the second fastest returnee from last year\'s meet.

While Tiandra Ponteen of Maryland is the defending champion in the 400 meter run, the defending champ does not appear to have the repeat in the bag with a couple Virginians expected to challenge her. Both Tallwood\'s Faraign Giles and Western Branch\'s Leslie Treherne are expected to be those challengers. Giles and Treherne had an exciting battle at AAA State Meet in the 500 meter dash, where Giles prevailed in with the nation\'s second fastest time at 1:13.32 and Treherne followed close behind with the nation\'s fourth fastest clocking at 1:13.92.

The clear favorite in the 800 meter run is Russian import Katya Kostetskaya of Arkansas, who has posted a national leading time of 2:07.57. Despite running the mile less than an hour and a half prior, Fauquier sophomore Sarah Bowman, who clocked a 2:14 last year as a freshmen and has currently the third fastest time in the nation for 1000 meters (2:52.44), will try and challenge the Russian or at least come away with a strong All-American finish. The event also includes some of the state\'s best middle distance stars including AAA 1000 meter state champion Huma Husain (2:57.79), who has run 2:15 for 800 meters before and Shylan Bumbrey of James Monroe, who ran 2:13 at the distance as a freshmen last spring.

Bowman\'s primary focus at Nike will obviously be her first event of the day on Sunday with the mile which will be a strong event that includes two of the nation\'s best milers in Colorado\'s Megan Kaltenbach and New York\'s Nicole Blood. Kaltenbach, has dipped well under 4:50 before and was a national champion outdoors at the adidas Outdoor Championships last spring. Only a freshmen, but in certainly in no way unaccustomed at competing at the national stage, Blood has the nation\'s second fastest time (4:52) in the mile. The AA state champion Bowman has yet to be defeated this season at the distance and comes into the race with the second fastest time for the season out of any of the entries (4:56.48c). Bowman was the runner-up in the freshmen mile at NIC last year and was the race champion in the outdoor version of a national championship at AOC.

Virginia\'s top two distance runners this winter have clearly been Bowman and Hickory\'s Jennifer Boyd. Boyd was a state champion at both 1600 and 3200 meters and her season best in the 3200 of 10:49.40 makes her a viable contender in the two mile race in Maryland. Two other favorites in the race, Blood (9:48.35 3K, US#1) and Indiana\'s Katie Harrington (10:09.01 3K, US #3), will be doubling back from the mile which might give a fresh Boyd an advantage. Two darkhorses linger in the race though. Megan Kaltenbach\'s younger sister, Katelyn, who was seventh place finisher at Foot Locker Nationals during cross country, but has no track times to show for herself this seasons, could be in contention in the race. Also a possible darkhouse has to be freshmen Katie Albright from North Carolina who earned recognition in the Foot Locker South regional meet in cross country where she won the freshmen and sophomore race with a time which would have won the seeded race, which consists of the top eight finishers that advance onto nationals.

Menchville\'s Jelyn Quick returns as an All-American in the 60 meter hurdles from last year\'s meet, but does not return as the state\'s top hurdler currently or even the best on her own team. The reason why is because of the transfer of Yvette Lewis from Denbigh as Lewis has improved tremendously in the hurdles this season to make probably the best hurdle tandem in the nation with Quick. Lewis and Quick finished 1-2 at the state meet in the 55 meter hurdles. The two of which are hoping to both get All-American honors this weekend and another hopeful is Gar-Field\'s Afua Amponsah who has the state\'s best time in the 55 meter hurdles at 7.99. The field will be very tough for the three Virginians to break into though with four returnees from last year\'s top six.

While their male counterparts appear to be lacking in the sprint relays, Virginia is not lacking on the female side as Bethel and Western Branch both are brining very formidable 4x200 and 4x400 meter relay teams. While the top seed is William Penn out of Pennsylvania (1:40.88), both Bethel (1:41.48) and Western Branch (1:42.28) provide two talented relays that should give William Penn a run for their money. The Bethel squad is comprised of a group which is anchored by AAA state champion at 300 meters, freshmen Francena McCorory (39.98). Western Branch is solid through all four legs as well with 55 meter state champion Tosin Oluwole and 500 meter state runner-up Leslie Treherne members of that relay.The two teams will have to come back 30 minutes later after the 4x200 meter relays, to race off again in the 4x400 meter relay, where they are not expected to place as high, but could surprise many as Bethel (3:57..50) and Western Branch (3:58.90) have dipped under four already and the increased level of competition could push the two squads even further under four and into a top six finish. Bethel also is entered in the sprint medley relay, which is on Saturday night, and figures to have a strong showing.

While the top seed in the 4x800 meter relay, Bay Shore of New York (9:08.18) is clearly out of the league of any Virginian squads, the likes of AAA state champion Kellam (9:22.32) and AA state champion Western Albemarle (9:33.83) could place very high and come away with All-American honors. Kellam, anchored by 2:17 800 meter runner Natalie Sherbak, actually has the second fastest time out of any of the other entrants for the season and Western Albemarle, led by the Fanning sisters (Jessica and Tasmin), figures to be in a cluster of teams fighting out for those top six spots. Kellam also will be loading down on their distance medley relay on Saturday night and figures to run a pretty smoking time with the likes of Sherbak and Kelley Taylor (3:00 1000m/5:03 1600m) leading that squad.

The Menchville girls as stated before are loaded in the hurdles with having two stars in Lewis and Quick and will try their luck in the rarely contested 4x55m shuttle hurdle relays and will be expected to be in contention to win the event with duo leading the group.

The Herndon girls\' 4xmile relay team can very well earn All-American honors in a nine team field that includes four teams from the distance powerhouse known as Saratoga Springs from New York.

AA State high jump champion Imani Moorman has an outside chance at placing in her specialty as she boasts a state best of 5-6.50 for the season. Moorman also has even a better shot in the triple jump to earn All-American honors in the triple jump as she is currently ranked eighth in the country at 39-7.

Another field event star from Virginia with an outside shot at returning home with an All-American medal to show for herself is Prince George senior Rhian Jenks in the pole vault as she is the state\'s leading pole vaulter at 12 feet.

Menchville senior Yvette Lewis will be in contention for a national title in both the long jump and triple jump as Lewis ranks fifth in the nation in the long jump (19-4.50) and third in the triple jump (41-6.25). There is no question that is Lewis able to win a national title as she has done it before as she won the outdoor national title in the triple jump last spring.

Having gone undefeated all season long, Gar-Field\'s Tiffany Evans will step onto the national stage to try her luck against the nation\'s best in the shot put. Evans comes into the contest with the nation\'s third best throw at 45-8, but will be going up against some sizable competition such as the top thrower in the nation currently, Kelley Fazekas of New Jersey (48-6.50). However, Fazekas will not be the favorite to win with Michelle Carter from Texas entered as Carter threw 53-3.75 outdoors last year and the mark ranked her first in the nation outdoors. Behind Carter and Fazekas, Evans stands a excellent shot at taking third and earning All-American honors.