With only hours to go it is time to look towards the numerous competitions that will have elite Virginia athletes competing in them this weekend in New York.
Nicie Grier-Spratley of Thomas Edison will lead a contingent of Virginia high jumpers with high hopes (photo by: Mary Ann Magnant)
Though many athletes from Virginia will be competing, there is a list of a few elite athletes and teams that will be competing at the highest level with serious chances of winning. The first of these is Western Branch's 55m shuttle hurdle relay team. This team is comprised of Milan Parks, Irielle Little, Funlayo Oluwole, and Faith Ross. These girls rank 4th, 6th, 8th, and 50th in the entire country in the 55m hurdles. Not only does this team, that won in 2012, have a serious shot at winning but also at setting the national record in this event. The current national record is 32.03, their team ran 32.41 in 2012. Parks, Little, and Oluwole who all rank inside the top 10 nationally will also have a serious shot at winning or placing high in the 60m hurdle competition individually.
Hampton's Chantel Ray has been the hurdler to beat this season
Highlighting this event however will be Hampton's Chantel Ray who is the current US #2 in the 60m hudrles at 8.37, an all-time VA record. She is also ranked #1 in the US in the 55m hurdles at 7.90. Ray has only run this event once this year when she ran the aforementioned time, she did so at the UK High School Invitational in Lexington, Ky. Ray will also have a shot at the national title which stands at 8.16. Ray will have very tough competition from Dior Hall who is ranked US #1 in the 60m hurdles this year.
Elsewhere in the relay competitions will be West Springfield's distance medley relay, Western Branch's spring medley relay, and Blacksburg's 4xMile relay team that all have legitimate shots at winning a national title. Many other Virginia schools have qualified and are likely to place highly.
Caroline Alcorta will attempt to continue her winning ways as she looks to win relay and individual titles
The first of these to be run will be the girls DMR held on Friday evening. West Springfield's team in this event will be comprised of Katie Kennedy, Kiera Bothwell, Reagan Bustamante, and Caroline Alcorta. Alcorta has run 4:44.40c this year and will no doubt be a monster anchor leg for this team. For those who weren't there, Alcorta caught the entire field in the 4x800 at the 6A State Championships and made it look easy. This team is returning three of their four runners from last year's runner-up team that finished in 11:59.35 in the indoor season and won the national title in the outdoor season with a 11:51 time. Alcorta will also be favored to place highly, if not win, the girls 2 mile. She has run 10:22 this year without any major competition and can definitely run much faster at this meet. West Springfield will also be running their 4x800 but Benjamin Cardozo and Columbia are highly favored to win the title.
The next relay to be run will be the shuttle hurdle relay that will be run directly following the 60m hurdle prelims. This could help some athletes and teams and also tire some teams out affecting their times. Western Branch, who has already been mentioned will be the team to watch in this race. Last year the "B" team finished in 8th with a time of 34.04.
Bonnie Angermeier and teammate Jennifer Fleming at the 3A state meet
Following those races on Saturday morning will be the 4xMile that will feature Blacksburg high school form Virginia. This program has a rich tradition in winning races with national significance and stepping up on the big stage. This team will be comprised of Bonnie Angermeier, Jennifer Fleming, Emily Beatty, and Claire Ewing-Nelson. These girls rank 5th, 8th, 11th and 15th in VA this year and together should make for an excellent relay team. What should be interesting is finally seeing some of these athletes run full-speed while not worrying about doubling in multiple events like the state meets. Angermeier was the state champion in the 1600 and 3200 as well as the 3A cross country champion.
Western Branch's 4x400m Relay Team (photo by Mary Ann Magnant)
The last relay race that Virginia should have a serious shot at winning will be the sprint medley relay held Saturday afternoon following the completion of the 4xMile races. Western Branch's team will be comprised of Milan Parks, Funlayo Oluwole (likely to be the 200 legs), Faith Ross, and Ebony White. Ross and White rank US #8 and #10 in the 500. This team is comprised of a unique combination of raw speed and endurance sprinting speed that should really bode well for them. Look for this team to be in the lead early and dictate a fast pace in the 800. Western Branch relay teams usually like to lead and chose the pace rather then sit back on the lead. The real test that decides this will be the 800 leg, some teams will have girls that are very good at this but to win the title you need quality legs at each distance, something Western Branch definitely has. Western Branch is also fielding very competitive relays in the 4x4 and 4x2 competitions.
Ellison Grove in route to her US#2 500 of 1:14.07
Competing individually and representing Virginia will be numerous other athletes, once again, many of which who will place highly at this meet. One such athlete is Ellison Grove from Battlefield high. Grove's event worth paying close attention to will be the 800 meter run. Grove is currently US #2 in the 500, behind Mary Cain, with her time of 1:14.07. This goes with her US #9 1000 at 2:53.53. Grove did not have a state meet that lived up to her high expectations meaning she is very driven and could produce a great time. Her 500 time equates to a sub 2-minute 800 pace if she did not slow down. Grove is also in the fast section of the 400m dash, lane 3.
Libby Davidson, 3A Champion in the 1600 and 3200
E.C. Glass' Libby Davidson, 4A champion in cross country, and in 1600 and 3200 this indoor season, will be competing in the emerging elite 2 Mile competition. Her 11:00.63 time in the 3200 ranks her 3rd in the entire nation for freshman girls. She should have a good shot at placing highly in this field.
On the field side of competition there should be numerous Virginians placing highly, especially in the high jump. Jumping at nationals will be Nicie Grier-Spratley of Thomas Edison, Crystal Jones of Colonial Forge, and Amiaya Carey of Stafford who all lead the state with a clearance of 5-8. The US #1 mark is 5-10, this means that many of these girls have a good chance of placing high and possibly winning. In the vertical jumps, championships are usually decided via a tie-breaker especially in years like this when there is not a jumper who has spaced themself from the field. This event will be one to watch Friday evening.
Heritage's Latrice Morris will be running in both the 60 meter dash as well as 200 meter dash and is seeded highly in both. Phoebus' Carolyn Brown will also be competing in the 60m dash and should place favorably. Brown is currently ranked US #4 with her 6.99 55m dash time. Brown is used to running and jumping in many events and having the time to focus on this event should greatly aid her in producing a quality time in the prelims and then capitalizing on her lane in the finals.
These athletes are only a few of the many athletes that will be competing at New Balance Indoor Nationals. Be sure to check back for live updates throughout the meet including videos, photos, rankings, news, and how these performances rank in the record books.