Coming into the season, Hillside's Marcus Krah was the top North Carolina returner in three events: the 55 Hurdles (where he was the #2 returner in the nation), the long jump (US #5), and the triple jump (US #8). However, we have yet to see him compete indoors this winter, which has been a little unsettling. That all ends this weekend, though, as he makes his season debut at Eddie Smith Fieldhouse, home of UNC's Dick Taylor Track.
Of course, Krah is not the only big-time athlete competing this weekend. In fact, the meet is stacked with top talent from North Carolina, as well as a sprinkling of Virginia, Georgia, and Florida just to make things more interesting. Check out our event-by-event preview below, along with some of the big names to look out for.
Events to Watch
- Girls High Jump: One of the top North Carolina jumpers, Sarah Timberlake (West Forsyth), faces a formidable pair of opponents from West Virginia: Laurel Miller (Ripley) and Carly Winkle (Winfield). All three have been 5' 6" or better.
- Boys Triple Jump: The state's top returner in this event, Marcus Krah (Hillside), takes on strong in-state competition from Jayhlen Washington (North Brunswick) and Tyrese Cooper (Pinecrest).
- Boys 55 Hurdles: Krah is also the top returning hurdler in NC, and this could be an epic final. Braxton Canady (Paxon School FL) is up for the first of two big meets in NC, and he ranks 2nd in the country in the 60 Hurdles. Current North Carolina leader Elliott Graves (Reidsville), who is US #3 in this event, is also in the race. Canady's teammate Jalen Mathews is also coming on strong in the hurdles this winter. Jayhlen Washington (North Brunswick) and Anthony Richardson (Southeast Raleigh) could also contend, and there's a good chance all 6 of these hurdlers will be back together for the David Oliver Classic next weekend.
- Boys Pole Vault: The top NC vaulter all season until he was tied last weekend, Elijah Cole (Millbrook), will have strong competition from Tristan Slater (Capital WV), who cleared 16' 7" last year, and 15-footer Austin Garrett (Ritchie WV).
- Girls Triple Jump: With four 37-foot jumpers at the top of the field, this could be the most competitive event of the meet. Kelsia Moore (Cummings) will represent NC against three invaders from the north of us: Oscar Smith (VA) teammates Destiny Ward and Alexis Woodley, plus Deja Stevenson (Baltimore Poly MD).
- Boys 4x800 Relay: Early state leader Asheville is now NC #3, and they will face the debut of an always-strong Broughton squad. Jordan has run 8:27 outdoors, but needs to translate that to a strong indoor time to hang with the top 2 seeds.
- Girls 55 Hurdles: Alexis Woodley (Oscar Smith VA) is legit, with a season best of 8.14 in this event. Will that be enough to hold off Cummings' Kayla Moore? Akira Rhodes (Mallard Creek) is also likely to make the finals, as is Deja Stevenson (Baltimore Poly MD).
- Girls 55 Dash: Three of NC's best will take on a Georgia interloper. Tajah Walston (Cummings) has made a big step forward after moving from West Craven, and she is the favorite in this race. Genaya Johnson (Mallard Creek) and Sun-Sara' Williams (Independence) are capable of beating her with good races, though. Alexandria Blount (Jack Britt) has a chance to put up an indoor time to match her 7.0 outdoor hand-time, and Taylor Deloach (SVA GA - see below) could also contend for the top 3.
- Boys 55 Dash: As is often the case at this time of year, there are a bunch of guys with hand times that need to prove themselves under the unyielding glare of FAT. Such is the case here, and there are even a few competitors making their debut at this distance, having only run spring track before. The guy who SHOULD be the top seed is Tyri Beard (Wake Forest), but his FAT 6.48 ranks him 13th against the flood of hand times. Cameron Barnhill (North Brunswick) and Isaiah Southerland (Jordan) ran big 55 times last winter, while Dante Miller (RIchmond/Track Eastern) and Ja'Quan Buffaloe (Northhampton) ran strong 100 times last spring.
- Girls 1600 Run: Blair Ramsey (Grimsley) is booked to run the mile at JDL on Friday, so it's possible she might choose one meet or the other rather than doing both. If she's in the race, though, she has to be the favorite, as she has been sub-5 in her career. Janay Hall (South View) just started racing this winter after a period of intensive training, and that could pay off in a big time. Kate Sanborn (Pinecrest) and Jennifer Stephenson (Village Christian) are both strong competitors running their first indoor miles of the 2016 season, while Katherine Dokholyan (Chapel Hill) is trying to match with training partner Marija Crook's 5:13 last weekend.
- Girls 500 Dash: It's too bad McKinley McNeill went to Va Tech this weekend, while Destiny Ward (Oscar Smith VA) came down to UNC! Ward ran 1:14.42 last winter and has clocked 1:15.8 this year. Behind her are four very strong NC long-sprinters: Victoria Porter, who just transferred to Mallard Creek, Kristoni Barnes (Wake Forest), Jessica Wright (Hillside), and Cheyenne Jones (Fuquay-Varina). Several of these girls are scheduled to double back for the 300, but will they have anything left after this monster of a race?
- Boys 500 Dash: This could be a real barn-burner, with NC's current 400 leader, Chantz Sawyers (High Point Christian), taking on the guy with the top outdoor 500 time in the state, R.J. Russell (Richlands). Also in the race are Olin Ravenel (Fort Dorchester SC) and Jaquez Torian (Jack Britt), who are both capable of winning the race.
- Girls 1000 Run: Grace West (Pinecrest) surprised some onlookers with a very strong 1000 two weekends ago, and she is capable of winning here. So is Taylor Delaney (South View - see below), who has been training hard for this event but hasn't raced much. Naomi Cartier (Asheville) and Taylor Hemming (Leesville Road) should be able to hang with the lead group, as well.
- Boys 300 Dash: State leader Ky-Mani Dula (Southern Alamance) will take on familiar foe Jayon Woodard (Southeast Raleigh) in this one, with NC #3 Elliott Graves (Reidsville) possibly making it three under 35 seconds if all goes well. Watch out for Jaylon Sanders (West Rowan) from the second-fastest heat.
- Girls 3200 Run: It's time for Brittany Stanley (Mt. Pleasant) to get to work on winning the state title she deserves! After a bitter end to her cross country season, the senior will make her 2016 debut and try to build on the 10:49 she ran on an outdoor track in November. Kayla Connelly (Landsdale Catholic PA) has run 5:10 for the full mile this winter, but hasn't run this distance yet (although she has an 11:15 PR outdoors). Coming off a 5:13 1600 last weekend, Marija Crook (Chapel Hill) could be ready for a strong race here.
- Boys 3200 Run: Todd Holbrook (RJR) Is also scheduled to run this event at Virginia Tech on Friday night, and I can't imagine he will race it twice in two days, so that bears watching. Even if he bows out, the race should be competitive up front with Broughton teammates Robbie Simmons and Lanier Derbyshire taking on Javier Alejandro (South View). Conner Prosser (Brentsville District VA) should be able to stay with that lead group, too.
Athletes to Watch
- Taylor Deloach (St. Vincent's Academy GA): She is legitimate 20-foot long jumper and has been over 19 feet already this winter, plus she has sub-12 100 speed to take to the 55 Dash.
- Marcus Krah (Hillside NC): The top returning hurdler and jumper in NC, he has had a quiet winter so far. Marcus is the top seed in the 55 Hurdles, Long Jump, and Triple Jump this weekend. Those are the same 3 events that Jayhlen Washington (North Brunswick) is entered in, which could make things interesting.
- Carson Dingler (First Presbyterian Day GA): She has been over 13' 1.5" US #4 this winter, and has an all-time PR of 13' 6". Apex's Zoe Early has been stuck at 11' 6" in just 3 meets so far this winter, but this could be the competition she needs to break through the 12-foot barrier again.
- Magnus Herweyer (Carrboro NC): Currently NC #3 with a 54' 3.25" indoor throw, but he has gone over 55 feet outdoors. Zachary Farmer (Hunt) has a 56' 3.5" mark outdoors, but his indoor best is 52 feet. This should be an interesting duel.
- Joseph Ibrahim (West Forsyth NC): He has been NC #1 since December 10th, and you know he wants to get better than his current 6' 6" mark.
- Tristan Slater (Capital WV): It's not every day you get to see a high school vaulter that has cleared 16' 7"! He is the #4 returning vaulter in the nation coming into this season.
- Kayla Beasley (Hillside NC): After joining the 40-foot club in December, she is the 4th-best sophomore shot putter in the country - and #3 is in this meet to, in the person of Alexis Clark (James Monroe VA).
- Terry Sanford (NC) Boys 4x200: The Bulldogs always seem to put together strong relays, and with William Wicks on the anchor this could be a state leader by the end of Saturday.
- Sam Ellis (Decatur GA): The 4:21 miler is in town, and he should have a good battle with Jeremy Brown (Broughton), who will be in the David Oliver Classic mile next weekend, as well.
- Destiny Ward (Oscar Smith VA): She's the top seed in the triple jump, the 500, where she is also national-caliber, and the 300. That's a busy day.
- Taylor Delaney (South View NC): She has been quiet this winter, but is highly focused on placing high in the 1000 at the NC state meet. She will be fresh for the race here, and that could make a big difference against competitors that ran the 1600.
- Noah Shore (Asheville NC): He stands at NC #4 right now in the 100, and he will have to run very fast to stay with the three in front of him, who are running at Virginia Tech this weekend. Who will be the first to break 2:30? Last year, it was the girls 1000 that saw two record-breaking performances at two different meets on this same weekend, and it could be the guys this time around.