After competing with her new Wakefield teammates as a part of the Junior Striders club, Ama-Selina Tchume gets to wear the uniform this year.
She might be at a different school to start this season, but she hasn't changed positions in the rankings: Ama-Selina Tchume (Wakefield) is #1 in the 55 Dash. She is also the top returning 200 runner from outdoor track, and she has some skill in the field events (see below). Imari McLean (Hillside) is the closest challenger from last winter, although Sydnei Murphy (Apex) is also right there if she is competing for her school this winter. Several girls came on strong with big 100 times in the spring, including teammates Katlyn Sherman and Erin Morrison (Parkland), Jamie Durham (Ashley), and Atlanta Woodall (Riverside). Tchume has already run 40.52 for the 300 this year, but she is not the favorite until she beats Ebony Williams (Parkland), who clocked 40.01 during the 2013 indoor season. JeMay Ward (Wakefield) and Morrison are also strong in the 300, as is one of the top 500 runners in the state, Jocelyn Culbreath (Reagan). It is Layla White (Cary) that has reigned in that event, where she is the nation's #2 returner. Nikolete Hurrinus (Cuthbertson) and Ward are the only other two returners who can claim to have run under 1:18. In the hurdles, youth is served: Breanne Bygrave (Wakefield) and Shellbi Chapman (Sanderson) are the #1 and #3 athletes entering the season. Jacklyn Howell (Southeast Raleigh) came on strong at the end of the winter and carried that all the way through the spring and into summer, where she clocked 13.79 for the 100 Hurdles. Ebony Williams (Parkland) has opened the season with a PR of 8.35, signaling that she will be in the mix for the title, as well.
Anna Eaton (Apex) vaulted 11 feet last winter and then cleared 12' outdoors, which makes the junior the favorite. Lainey Hunnicut (South Mecklenburg) also cleared 11 feet during outdoor season, and she could be a sleeper. Last year's top indoor thrower, Mohogany Baker, did not compete for her school (she attends Phillip O. Berry). That leaves Sharmani Hall (Southeast Raleigh) and Imani Abraham (Dudley) as the only returners who threw beyond 37. Outdoors, however, two youngsters began to assert themselves, and either Alycia Springs (Mallard Creek) or Khayla Dawson (Olympic) could win the indoor state title on a good day. For that matter, so could Lauren Evans (Pine Forest) or Ashley Wingo (Mallard Creek); none of the last four competed during the winter last year, so it could come down to who shows up (we've confirmed that Dawson will compete). Jordyn Brown (Jordan) has cleared 5' 4" in the high jump indoors, which puts her slightly ahead of a host of 5' 2" returners. Makaila Roberts (Reagan) jumped 5' 4" in the spring, and has already hit 5' 2" this year, as has Amaka Awuruonye (Olympic). Jocelyn Culbreath (Reagan) has the best PR, however, having jumped 5' 8" over the summer. In the long jump, it is Tchume that returns with the best indoor mark, 18' 2.5" (a mark equaled by Murphy outdoors). Three girls went further than 17 feet last winter: Bygrave, McLean, and Hannah Dunston (Knightdale); two others broke the 18-foot barrier outdoors: Jamie Durham (Ashley) and Lauren White (Leesville Road). It's rare when an event has more performers exceed a certain mark indoors than outdoors, but that's the case with the triple jump. Kelsey Perry (Jordan) and K'Lynn Beal (Broughton) cracked 37 feet in the winter, while only Alexis Davis (Butler) managed the same distance in the spring.
Megan Sullivan (Broughton) showed in November that she was already fit for track season, as she turned a 10:44 for 3200 to defeat a strong field at the Dash for Doobie. Sullivan is the top 4A 800 runner, as well, and she is committing to indoor track 100% this year (in past years she also played basketball). That could make her the favorite in the 1000 and 1600, although she will face strong returners in both races. Kaylie Loyd (Southeast Raleigh) has improved the last two winters, peaking at 3:02 for the 1000 last year; keep an eye on Casey Greenwalt (TC Roberson), who broke through in the spring with a 2:17 800. Grace Sullivan (Providence) holds a narrow lead on a set of returning 1600 runners that is both competitive (with closely-bunched times) and also vulnerable (none ran under 5:20 indoors). Blair Ramsey (Grimsley) and Rebekah Greengrass (Panther Creek) have PR's close to the glorious 5-minute mark, which Sullivan has broken in the past. Kayla Montgomery (Mount Tabor) enters as the top scholastic 5K runner from the fall season, making her a likely favorite in the 3200 (and she's strong in the 1600, as well). Sydney Foreman (Ardrey Kell) and Bianca Bishop (Providence) both have experience and a history of good track results; on the other hand Elly Henes (Green Hope) is entering uncharted territory, and nobody really knows her potential (her first 3200 ever, at Reagan in November, resulted in a 10:47). Freshman phenom Sara Platek (Ragsdale) has experience running the 1500 on the club track circuit, which could pay off in the 1600 this winter (she also appears to be a natural fit for the 3200). Ramsey and Greengrass both went sub-11 last spring, as did Tori Churchill (Grimsley) and Lily Anderson (TC Roberson), who dropped 34 seconds in the 5K from 2012 to 2013.<p style="text-align: center;"> <a href="http://nc.milesplit.com/calendar/2014/indoor/noduals/all" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="http://cache.milesplit.com/user_files/36369/94467/2014_calendar_banner.jpg" /></a></p>