The last time Jamaree Murray ran here, he posted a big 300 time; this weekend, he is back to focusing on the 500.
Boys Previews: Sprints & Hurdles | Distance | Field Events
Girls Previews: Sprints & Hurdles | Distance | Field Events
NOTE: due to weather conditions, some school systems may not allow their athletes to compete in this meet. This preview reflects all entries regardless of those kinds of restrictions.
Sprints & Hurdles: I'll be honest here - I don't know what's going to happen in this 55 Dash, and neither does anybody else. One thing is certian: Quashawn Cunningham (Mallard Creek) has proven himself to be one of the state's best a legitimate 4A title contender, with his FAT performances. Khairee Lewis (Sanderson) and Jakara King-Penn (Reagan) have also posted strong, verifiable times. The fact that those three are seeded 6th, 7th, and 9th just goes to show how completely clueless some of our state's coaches are. (Inspector should have a field day with some of these sprint seeds!) Cunningham should also have an excellent chance to win the 300, but he will be sorely challenged there by the Knightdale trio of Kimani Hoffman, Marquavious Johnson, and Henry Kiedy. If he doesn't go to Virginia Tech, Jamaree Murray (Southeast Raleigh) will look to become the second guy in the nation this winter (and the 11th in North Carolina history) to run under 1:05 in the 500. Knightdale's Johnson and Kiedy, as well as Fuquay-Varina's TJ Bleichner, will chase him - and don't be surprised if Murray's teammate, Jayon Woodard, is right there at the end. Durham Striders dominate the hurdle entries, with Isaiah Moore (Cummings) and Marcus Krah (Hillside) as the top two seeds. As Moore seeks to break through to the low 7.20's, expect Emmanuel Jackson (Sanderson) to challenge Krah for second place. The 4x4 is a toss-up, with North Mecklenburg and North Forsyth having the best verified times this season (Overhills has a strong outdoor time, and Southeast Raleigh appears to have entered a B team based on their seed time).
Distance: After running 8:24 for the 4x800 early in the season, RJ Reynolds took some time off for recovery from cross country. That time has held up to be the 8th-best in 4A so far, and the Demons will race again Saturday to see if they can make a run at a top-5 finish at the state meet. With Broughton, Southeast Raleigh, and North Mecklenburg all in the race, there will be plently of competition to produce fast times. Jared Buddington (Cedar Ridge) makes his indoor season debut in the 3200, and he has been seeded aggressively in 9:42. Daniel Beamer (Jordan) and Dean Abushouk (Cary) have already run sub-9:50, so the pace will be there if Buddington is fit. Andrew Fea (North Lincoln) will be looking to move back into the top 5 in the state overall for 1600, and Mihret Coulter (Apex) has the same idea. It will be interesting to see which of the 4:30's runners (Colton Lawson, Asher Smith-Rose, John Dalton Rohr, Connor Peeples, and others) will still be close to the front two at the end. The 1000 features a crowd of hungry runners with no clear favorite, and that could make it the most exciting event of the day. Josh Barrett (Cary) and Carson Ellerbe (Leesville Road) are looking to make that next step forward with sub-2:35 times, and runners like Parker Lee (Fuquay-Varina) and Coulter should make the race interesting. Dustin Sneed (RJ Reynolds), 8th in the 4A cross country state meet, has not yet qualified individually for the indoor state meet, and this race is his last chance.
Field Events: Two teams that hope to contend for 4A team titles based on strength in one particular field event will test out that plan on Saturday. Mallard Creek brings three potential high jump scorers to the table, led by Keon Howe. Apex counter with three top-notch vaulters, with Drew Pederson having the best PR at 15 feet. Both Howe and Pederson will likely be looking up at the individual event winners at the end of the day, though: national leader Steven Dunbar (Tallwood VA) brings his 7' 1" high jump mark to Eddie Smith, while Harry Glasser (Bolles FL) has cleared a US #12 height of 16 feet this season (and state leader Ian West of Fike is also in the field for the pole vault). Isaiah Moore (Cummings) is searching for a 24-foot long jump, while his summer teammate Marcus Krah (Hillside) wants to break through the 23-foot barrier. Kimani Hoffman (Knightdale) has 23-foot potential, too, and he is a top contender in the triple jump, where he will face Krah and Michael Jenkins (Garner). A.C. Reynolds has a strong history in the shot put, but seeding their two throwers at over 50 feet for their first competition of the season is pretty aggressive. Myquon Stout (Carson) is the legitimate top seed, having thrown over 50 feet this winter; the rest of the "top seeds" haven't broken 48.
Sprints & Hurdles: The 55 should be ultra-competitive, as state leader Charminique Hackney (Cary) isn't entered. That leaves at least 3 very evenly-matched contenders: Atlanta Woodall (Riverside), Gabriele Cunningham (Mallard Creek), and Teri Strickland (West Johnston). Watch out for Jacklyn Howell (Southeast Raleigh) in the 55 Dash, since you can't run sub-8 in the hurdles without some serious speed, and don't be surprised if Imari McLean (Hillside) breaks through with a fast race. Howell, who is also entered at Virginia Tech, headlines the hurdles with Cunningham, and Kayla Moore (Cummings) is also in the mix. Keep an eye on Shellbi Chapman (Sanderson), who had a late start to her indoor season and should still be improving sharply. Chelsea Johnson (Wilson SC) is aggressively seeded in both the 55 Dash and the 300, but then she is a sub-12 100 runner. If she doesn't live up to her billing, then Strickland will be there to capitalize. Hackney is focusing on this race and should challenge for the win, as will Ngozi Wedderburn (Athens Drive) and Jocelyn Culbreath (Reagan). Culbreath will tangle with Jasmin Allen (Southeast Raleigh) in the 500, with the intriguing addition of Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson), who is inserting this race between the 1600 and the 1000. The 4x400 features a strong Sanderson team, but futher back in the race there will be a cluster of teams trying to reach state qualifying.
Distance: With state leader Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) in the 1600 and 1000 with the 500 between them, a combination that should lead to some serious fatigue, the distance races might be more wide-open than otherwise expected. If she runs all three, Ellington will be most vulnerable in the 1000, where Megan Sullivan (Broughton) is still looking for her breakthrough performance for this winter. Caitlin Potter (North Lincoln) and Vanessa Bateson (Mount Tabor) could also challenge with races under 3:05, and Sophie Ebihara (Cardinal Gibbons) has better speed than you might think based on her history in the 3200 and 5K. Ebihara and her teammates Mary Grace Doggett and Rachel Bartolomeo should benefit from a fast pace in the 1600, and rising freshman star Nevada Mareno (Leesville Road) could be a sleeper for a sub-5:10 time. Sullivan is also entered in the 1600, as is Allie Castro (North Lincoln). After focusing mostly on shorter races, Kayla Holder (Kerr-Vance Academy) turns her attention to a fresh 3200, and based on her mid-18's 5K time she should be able to match her seed time of 11:35. Emily Pettis (Millbrook) should make this a 2-girl race, and both Becky Meshaw (West Johnston) and Kerry Leonard (Laney) have the potential to get into that lead pack, as well. Green Hope and Leesville Road squared off last weekend in the 4x800, and will race again next weekend; don't be surprised if one or both of these teams puts in some of their second four to get future experience.
Field Events: Jocelyn Culbreath (Reagan) is still seeking a return to the 5' 8" form she has shown in past high jump competitions, with only teammate Makaila Roberts to push her this weekend. Anna Eaton (Apex) has a 12-foot jump outdoors this winter, but has cleared 11 feet indoors (and has not jumped at JDL all season, which could make things interesting next weekend). Kayla Moore (Cummings) is the only girl in the long jump field that has gone beyond 18 feet this winter, although Imari McLean (Hillside) certainly has that potential. Moore will also tangle with K'Lynn Beal (Broughton) in the triple jump, as well as fellow 37-footer Nicole Lawson (North Mecklenburg). Finally, Alycia Springs (Mallard Creek) has one final tune-up before pursuing a 4A title in the shot put next weekend, and an improvement of just 4.5" over her season best would make her the #2 thrower in state history as a sophomore.