This may be hyperbole but I feel that the 2015 installment of the Virginia Tech Invitational could be the biggest and baddest meet this track has ever seen, including the 1996 World Championships run on this very surface. With 171 teams competing and 1700+ athletes competing this is going to be a mega-meet for the ages.
Let's start with what matter most, this is the FIRST Va indoor meet EVER to receive enough national attention to warrant a live stream nationwide. That just tells you how important this meet is not only for Virginia and the Southeast but the entire nation this weekend! With such a large meet comes a ton of great competition in nearly every event. Here are some of the highlight races we have picked out that you should really keep an eye on.
The first of those is the boys 300 which has been previewed in depth here. This race will feature the best athletes in the country including the national leaders in the 55m hurdles, 55m dash, 500m dash and some of the top athletes inside the top 5 nationally in the 300, 200, and 400m dashes. It will be one for the ages and could take a national record to win. The top competitors in this race will be Grant Holloway, Noah Lyles (defending champion), Rico Gomez (runner-up a year ago), and Josephus Lyles (national 400m champion).
Following the Grant Holloway trend, Grant who currently leads the nation in the 55m dash, 55m hurdles and high jump will be competing in a few events this weekend including the hurdles, 300 and high jump. He sits comfortably a top the national leaderboard at 7-0 in the high jump and we should hope to see him reach that height again this weekend with just three events on his slate. It also helps that the high jump is Friday allowing him to focus on his two final events the following day.
Though Grant may be US #1 in the hurdles, he will have some tough competition and have to run his very best as he will be seeded next to US #2 (7.23 to 7.28) with Phoebus' Charles Graham wanting a piece of the spotlight this weekend. Graham will be coming to this event having run his 7.28 just a week ago compared to Grant who has not serious races the hurdles since December. Will Grant have any rust in that event or will he come out strong? We will also see 1A/2A super-star DaJuan Seward in this race who currently sits at US #11 at 7.46.
In the other sprint events we will see some out of state talent, more specifically Maryland talent trying to make a point with defending national champion Darryl Haraway (Dematha Catholic) in the 55m dash and Rico Gomez (Frederick Douglas) in the 500 which is an event he is currently US #1 in. He will face Josephus Lyles though who is US #2 in the event and ready to defend VA territory.
Moving up the ladder to the distance events, we are in store for a big one in the Boys Mile. After last week's performance Matthew Novak is going to be a heavy favorite but also see some competition throughout the first 1000m of the race. If Novak wants a fast time then this week and field could be where he should do it. Currently seeded at 4:14, he will have to run faster then that to beat the likes of Seufer, Hahn, Willcutts, and more. This race is literally a whose who in VA distance racing. The boys 3200 will be no slouch either and could seriously contend for that US #1 spot if the race pushes the pace.
Relay wise for the boys things will all depend on how stacked the Dematha and T.C. Williams relays are. If they both decide to stack the box then we should be in for a showdown and possible meet record and US #1 but if they do not we should still see some new state leaders.
On the girls side of things we get some historically great girls in action ready to show NY and the nation VA long sprints is where it is at. Just like with the boys, the best race of the day will be the 300. Many of the coaches have stacked their talent into this and are pushing for some fast times. We have four girls seeded faster then 40 seconds in this race and you shouldn't be surprised if we have four that break 39! Leading the way and currently sitting at US #2 is Brandee' Johnson of Nansemond River who enters the competition a week after a big win up at the Armory where she threw down a 38.55 season opener. She won't be able to drop this field as right beside he is US #1 at 500 in Lauryn Ghee who will then be joined by a duo of Parkland runners (Williams & Sherman) and other tough out of state competition.
What makes this race really interesting is how it play out after the 4x200s which will feature national talent from both Parkland and Nansemond River. Team "WAR" as they are now called sit calmly at US #2 with horrendous handoffs but will that be enough to fight off Parkland? Parkland for those that forgot, gave Virginia a wake up call a couple weeks ago by winning basically anything they wanted to at the Liberty High School Invitational. They currently sit at US #4 just behind Nansemond River but they have not run on a banked track yet this season. This race will be exciting, loud, and of course decided on the precision of the handoffs. Just someone please get a split on Brandee' Johnson!
Speaking of the Liberty Invitational, we will get to see again one of the best races all year when Malia Ellington (NC) gets her rematch with Bonnie Angermeier (Blacksburg) in the Invitational Mile. Both of these girls are two of the four girls seeded sub 5 for the competition and the favorites as we speak. They, like nearly the rest of the field, will be entering the race having run at least one other event. For Angermeier and Fleming that will be the 3200 from Friday and for Ellington that will be the 1000 earlier Saturday morning. In the 1000 Emma Call will look to move back into the national spotlight with her focus on that event.
All the field side of things for both boys and girls we will get to see some of the best athletes in the state compete across what is now five classifications all under one roof. In the high jump we will have a nice competition between Jones and Grier Spratley and in the boys Pole Vault we will get to see Caleb Rider and Bryce Simpson dual it out for the state's leading mark. In the boys Triple jump we will also get to see US #1 Marcellus Fletcher try and extend his personal best to nearly 51 or more feet. On the girls side we will also have some state records in range for the likes of Nansemond River's Zakiya Rashid who is pushing 45+ this season in the shot.
The final event on the day could very well be the most exciting of them all with both 4x400s looking particularly good. The girls will feature Parkland who will be miles ahead of the field but chasing all sorts of meet record set by the Penn Relay champions Eleanor Roosevelt who did the impossible and won the 4x800 and 4x400 only hours apart, something no one has ever done in the 100+ years of the relay. So any of their records are obviously very legit and on the boys side it depends on who runs but if T.C. and Dematha run we will have the All Met showdown we could only dream of.
For more coverage of the 2015 Virginia Invitational and to check out our live stream click here!