The Invitational 1600's always attract the top talent in the state, and with cool and drizzly weather could be extremely fast.
The Bojangle Apex Relays has been an institution in Wake County for many years, and has always attracted some top talent from outside the area as well. This year is no different, as potential state championship teams like Parkland, Providence Day, and Terry Sanford will converge for some extremely competitive relay races. There are also highly-ranked individuals from all over the state scattered throughout the events, with what looks like the strongest field that I can ever remember for this meet. The only thing that could put a damper on this meet is the weather - the temperature may not make 60 degrees, and rain is in the forecast. NCRunners will be on-site regardless, bringing you live updates, photos, and videos of all the action.
The 1600 at Apex Relays has become one of the signature stops for the state's best distance runners, and this year's lineup is tremendous. In the girls' race, Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) is one of four girls seeded under 5 minutes; Ryen Frazier (Ravenscroft) and Sara Platek (Ragsdale) have run that fast, while Maysa Araba (Carrboro) is looking to ride a breakthrough 3200 to her first sub-5 mile. Eliza Dekker (Durham Academy) lurks deeper in the field, using a conservative seed time, although she ran 4:56 at this meet last year. Rebekah Greengrass (Panther Creek) could be the next NC girl to break that barrier, and both Kayla Montgomery (Mount Tabor) and Megan Sullivan (Broughton) have the potential to get there. On the boys' side, Ian Milder (Mount Tabor) will not run, but there are still three sub-4:20 athletes in the race: Nick Linder (Providence Day), John Dalton Rohr (Broughton), and Ryan Speer (North Raleigh Christian). Sadly, the race could have been even better with Linder's teammate Ben Huffman present, but an injury has his season in jeopardy right now. Likewise for Philip Hall (Terry Sanford), who is running three relays for the Bulldogs instead of competing in the individual race. Still, challengers like Carson Ellerby (Leesville Road) and Chris O'Brien (Raleigh Charter) should keep the front-runners honest and make for an interesting race.
Nick Linder is used to running in the rain, and that looks like it might be an advantage in tomorrow's 1600.
James House (Cary) showed he was back in top form when he took Jahmaal Daniel (Terry Sanford) to the wire in both the 100 and 200 at Elon. Daniel is in the house but only running relays this weekend, and that gives House a chance to claim bragging rights for the county by winning the 100 here. Therius Styles (Broughton) will have something to say about that, though, as will Khairee Lewis (Sanderson) and Nyheim Hines (Garner). Jakara King-Penn (Reagan) makes the trip from Pfafftown to see where he stacks up heading into the postseason. In the 110 hurdles, Emmanuel Jackson (Sanderson) will square off against Xavier Carter (West Johnston) and Damian Silver (Nash Central) in a very even battle among three of the state's best. As for the girls, Jacklyn Howell (Southeast Raleigh) already established herself as the best hurdler in Wake County last weekend, and now she will take on Parkland's Ebony Williams in a potential preview of the 4A title race. Don't count out Breanne Bygrave (Wakefield) either! Ama-Selina Tchume (Wakefield) leads the state in the 100, and she should be able to win this race comfortably, but weather can change things drastically for a 100 runner. Sydnei Murphy (Apex) has not put up a big time in the 100 yet this spring, but she is always competitive; Katlin Sherman (Parkland) and Teri Strickland (West Johnston) will also be right in the mix.
Ryan Davis (Pine Forest) and Mateius Brown (Western Harnett) are familiar foes in the throws, and the drive up I-40 to the Raleigh area won't make any difference when it comes to their rivalry. Iyin Battle (East Chapel Hill) and Jason Lockamy (Apex) should be right in the mix for the discus title, while Elijah Mallory (Wakefield) can hang with the front two in the shot put as well. Kimani Hoffman (Knightdale) has not competed much this spring, but has gone over 47 feet in the triple jump; that's the best mark by two feet in this field. Ladante Ellerbe (Terry Sanford) should contend in both the long and the triple; he popped a 23-footer earlier this season but needs to replicate that result, and he will have to hold off Tevin Quick (Ragsdale) and Kalen McNeil (Northeast Guilford) to take the win. Apex has Joe DeVries and Michael Utecht in the pole vault, to contend with Cary's Kevin Schmidt. Lamar Nobles (Holly Springs) is the top seed in the high jump, with his mark of 6' 6", although Knightdale's Jamie Brown cleared that same height indoors.
Two of the state's 12-foot pole vaulters will square off for the first time tomorrow: Mariel Finger (North Gaston) is making the trip from west of Charlotte to take on Apex's Anna Eaton. Throw in the youngster, sophomore Zoe Early (Green Hope) and her 11' 8", and you have the ingredients for a great competition. Rachel Breasseale (Union Pines) has now cleared 5' 6" a few times this year, which may not be enough to stay in front of a deep field of high jumpers. Jocelyn Culbreath (Reagan) has gone 5' 8" more than once in her career, and there are several regular 5' 4" jumpers entered. Kacia Vines (Cedar Ridge) has jumped over 18 feet twice in her career, both times at the Orange County Championship (last year and this year); she will likely need to break that pattern to beat Chelsey Hargrave (Williams) and several other strong high-17 jumpers. Sydnei Murphy (Apex) is focusing on the triple jump this meet, having posted a 19' 6.5" long jump already this season; she is the only NC girl over 38 feet this spring, although K'Lynn Beal (Broughton) and Ila Mumford (Parkland) are in the 37's. Hasana Clark (Southeast Raleigh) has a good chance to win both throws, with Mookie Chavis (Northern Durham), Amber Daniel (Grimsley), and Koffia Limpscomb (Northern Durham) the most likely candidates to take it away from her.
The amount of relay talent on display at this meet on the girls' side s absolutely staggering. Parkland will be hard to beat in the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400, and the Mustangs have also entered the 800 SMR. Wakefield emerged from a quiet stretch with 48.05 and 3:57 last weekend, while Cary has a high-1:39 and a 3:49 (run in college competition) on their resume. Factor in Southeast Raleigh and West Johnston, and the potential for fireworks in the four sprint relays is real. Cary will also square off against Leesville Road and Green Hope in the 4x800, and Green Hope in turn will take on Cardinal Gibbons, Broughton, and Chapel Hill in the 4x1600. Gibbons will also be the top seed in the DMR, with Sanderson and Leesville giving chase. Although the weather could take away from the sprint races, it favors good distance times as long as the athletes warm up, and the deepest distance squads could prevail with so many relays to run.
When it comes to boys' relays, Knightdale has reigned supreme for the last several years. This year's Knights, though, are a bit of a mystery - aside from a 3:14 in the 4x400 run at Raleigh Relays, they haven't put up much data for us to digest. The trend for this team has been toward the longer relays for the past two seasons, although they are seeded aggressively in the 4x100 this weekend. Knightdale appears to be concentrating on the 4x200 and 4x400, though they have also entered the 1600 SMR. In the shorter sprints, Terry Sanford is looking to put things together for what could develop into a really strong sprint team; with Jahmaal Daniels on the anchor, all his teammates have to do is keep it close. In the long-sprint relays, Southeast Raleigh and Northeast Guilford both have developed strong reputations, and Northern Guilford brings a strong 4x400 and 4x800 combination. Speaking of the 4x8, Green Hope and Pine Forest will try to take the top spot in the rankings from Lake Norman, while several traditional Wake County powers - Apex, Broughton, Leesville Road - will attempt to stay up front. Broughton brings their depth to the track in the first event of the day, the 4x1600; the Caps were defeated last year in this race, but are poised to be the ones to break 18 minutes this time around (a result that would put then in the top 25 in the country right now). Middle Creek has loaded up their DMR, but with Philip Hall on the anchor Terry Sanford will be very tough to beat, and Green Hope has a strong combo in the Pehr brothers. All of them will be hard-pressed to run faster than Providence Day's 10:30 from earlier this season.