New Balance Indoor Nationals – Pennsylvania
It feels like outdoor season when you walk through parts of Pennsylvania this week, but a group of athletes have extended their indoor season by two weeks for an opportunity to compete on high school’s biggest indoor track stage.
State 60 meter champion Christian Brissett of Cheltenham will carry the torch for PA in the event. Brissett shares the US#16 mark in the 60 with his state winning performance of 6.86. James Biggs-Frazier of Penn Charter will look to make up for his semifinal exit following a hamstring injury. State finalist Tory Long of Hempfield (3) has also entered the 60 meter dash after finishing 8th at states.
In the hurdles, state bronze medalist J’Von Jennings of Downingtown East and Donaldo Benjamin of Delaware Valley Charter. Jennings had a big state meet while Benjamin had a rough state meet despite a consistent season near the top of the state rankings. Both enter the meet in the national top 20. Mason Weh of Upper Darby was 6th at states and is back for one final run at the indoor high hurdles.
In the distance events, Will Cather of State College and Jeff Wiseman of Council Rock South will give the 800 meter run another shot. Wiseman ran a big 1:51.36 at states to finish 2nd behind state record holder Kyle Francis of Bensalem. With Francis not competing, Wiseman will be a favorite, with his state time sitting at US#2 for 2014. After a 4th place finish at states, Cather is still looking to dip under the 1:54 mark in an open race this season. His 1:54.05 from January is US#11 and a good race will put him in contention for the top 6.
Inter-Ac stars Jaxson Hoey of Malvern Prep and Sam Ritz of Germantown Academy will contest the mile. Hoey did all he could to hang with Tony Russell of West Chester Henderson at states, only to finish 4th when the race was over in 4:17.38, the top time in the country for sophomores. Ritz has one top six performance at the Armory this season at the Millrose Games Trials back in January.
Ross Wilson of Council Rock North will run the 2 mile run. Wilson is in the national top 50 for 3000 meters and the Foot Locker Finalist will look to duke it out amongst the nation’s best.
State 3000 meter champion Colin Martin of Fox Chapel will run the 5000 meter run on Friday. The senior will look to duplicate or improve on Max Norris’s runner up performance last year behind defending champion Elijah Armstrong of Idaho.
In the relays, the dual between Delaware Valley Charter and Cheltenham resumes in the 4x200 meter relay. After dominating the event for the entire season, Cheltenham suffered a setback at the hands of Delaware Valley Charter at the state meet. Cheltenham is US#3 while Del Val Charter is US#6. Momentum favors Delaware Valley Charter, but consistency favors Cheltenham. PA had three All American teams last year in this event and these two schools have the tools to earn that honor.
Cheltenham will also run the 4x400 meter relay. The state champions and US#7 team enter a field of 17 teams looking to earn top six honors. The past state champions to enter this meet had broken 3:20 at one point this season, something Cheltenham has yet to achieve this season. That will need to happen if they want to earn PA their 4th straight All American honor.
In the 4x800 meter relay, Cardinal O’Hara is looking to improve on their runner up state finish and they will be PA’s top representative. The US#8 squad ran 7:50.98 a month ago. Downingtown East is US#25 with their bronze medal state performance of 7:58.45.
Meanwhile, the two top cross country teams in 2013 will run the 4x1 mile relay. West Chester Henderson has won All American honors in the past and the next step is to win a national title. North Allegheny have one of the deepest distance squads in the state and they will test that depth against the country’s best. Tony Russell may be the big X-Factor in this race with the form he has been in all year long.
O’Hara and Henderson will also contest the distance medley relay. Henderson has been in the US#3 position for over a month now while Cardinal O’Hara are US#12. O’Hara made the medal stand last year and the two teams have the squads to get on the stand in 2014.
In the field events, four of the top five state finishers in the high jump have returned for one more shot at glory. State champion Chris Stone of Springfield Montco will be joined by Alex McCord of Warwick, Randall Johnson of Central Bucks South, Tra-C Davis of Coatesville and Tyree Ballinger of JP McCaskey. These five have all cleared 6-7 or better in 2014 and a similar performance may get them a spot on the medal stand.
Stone will also compete in the pole vault along with state runner up Ryan Wilkes of Valley View. Both have cleared 15 feet and the duo will have to shoot for higher marks to mix it up with the other vaulters.
Isaiah Brooks of Woodland Hills will be PA’s lone representative in the long jump. The state champion has been on a roll lately, bringing to the competition a US#7 23-9.25 mark from the TSTCA championships. His momentum can carry him far in this event.
In the triple jump, three of the top eight from the state meet are back for one more round. Bryce Williams of State College finished 2nd at states with a US#33 46-6.50. Bronze medalist D’Andre Polland of Neshaminy finished half a foot behind Williams. D’Lorian Day of Hempfield (7) and Walt Pegues of Central broke the 45 foot mark at states and are on the track to improve on those marks.
In the shot put, champion Max Adams of Hempfield (7) is back to finally try to break the 60 foot mark. 3rd place state finisher Morgan Shigo of Fleetwood had his best mark of the season at states (58-2.25) as did 4th place finisher Sam Reid of Central (57-5.25). Lawson Monta of Greensburg Salem did not have his best mark at states, but has thrown 58 feet this season.
Cheltenham’s 1-2 sprint duo of Katelyn Jackson and Chanel Brissett are back in the 60 meter dash. Although both sprinters didn’t run their best marks of the season, their ability to run consistently will help them in this event. Both sit in the national top 25 this season. Dasia Pressley of Neshaminy is the rising star on the block who now has a 200 meter gold medal to her name. Pressley’s star will continue to rise with a big performance this weekend. Taylor Chapman of Pennridge was just a couple steps behind them at states and this will be her chance to surpass them.
The trio of Jackson, Pressely and Chapman are also running the 200 meter dash, all top 4 finishers at states. Pressley and Jackson are US#5 and US#6 respectively in the event and are two of ten sprinters in the country under 24.50 this season.
Another rising star is returning for the national meet in the 400 meter dash. State champion Brooklynn Broadwater of Springside Chestnut Hill enters the event as the only sub 57 second 400 meter runner in PA this season (US#17 56.22). Broadwater is one of 7 underclassmen entered in the field.
In the hurdles, co-state meet record holder Sierra Brabhim-Lawrence of Harrisburg made herself a household name at the state meet. Now she takes that incredible win to the national meet with the girl she defeated at states, Ciara Leonard of Cheltenham. Lawrence is T-US#3 this season with her 8.45 state win while Leonard is US#5 just .01 seconds behind her. The duo can make some noise and earn an All American certificate if they can push each other like they did in the state final.
In the distance events, Claire Brown of Villa Maria Academy (Erie) will enter the 800 meter run with 2013 outdoor state leader Sarah Walker of Germantown Friends. Brown has run 2:14.78 this season, while Walker has run 2:15.57. These two sophomores are turning into the future big competitors in the event and a good performance at nationals can be one step towards bigger things.
PA’s best distance event has been the mile and two of PA’s best will go for the highest honor on Sunday. Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic, Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley and Marissa Sheva of Pennridge have had success in New York at one point this season. Weisner pushed Brianna Schwartz of Shaler to the limit at states only to earn 2nd place for her efforts. Clahane is turning into one of the best young milers in the country, while Sheva is looking to end the indoor season on a high note after missing the state meet through injury. Weisner and Clahane enter the meet in the national top 10, a club they have been in for nearly two months.
The 2 mile and 5000 meter runs will feature Foot Locker Cross Country champion and 3000 meter state record holder Tessa Barrett of Abington Heights. Barrett finished 4th in the 5000 a year ago, one of many big performances on her way to national stardom. Barrett has the 2nd best 3000 meter mark in the country (9:36.45) which gives her a great chance to make it two national titles in one meet and three for the entire year. Nothing has slowed her down in the past 12 months. Will that hot streak continue?
In the relays, Cheltenham are back in the 4x200 meter relay after facing controversial circumstances at the state meet. That day aside, Cheltenham have been the top 4x200 meter relay team in the state and are one of three teams in the country to break 1:40 this season (US#3 1:39.48). State bronze medalists Hempfield (7) are also in the mix for All American honors along with Overbrook. Both teams are in the top 20 in the country. Meet of Champions winners Upper Darby and Neshaminy will also represent PA.
Overbrook will also compete in the 4x400 meter relay as PA’s top team (US#27 3:58.19). Overbrook will look to improve on their 5th place state performance and replicate the performance that made them state contenders back in January.
In the distance relays, the top three teams from the state meet will battle it out one more time. Strath Haven now owns both the state meet record (US#3 9:09.52) and the all-time state record that they set at this meet 3 years ago (9:08.57). Great Valley (US#6 9:11.76) finished 3rd in this event last year and that relay team is back one more time to try and win it all. Central Bucks South (US#7 9:12.80) were leading the state race for long periods, only to finish 3rd. The national final will be their chance for redemption. Villa Maria Academy were 8th at states and are back to try to improve on that performance.
Returning All Americans Germantown Friends and Unionville will compete in the 4x1 mile relay. Germantown Friends finished 5th out of the unseeded heat last year while Unionville finished 3rd. Unionville will have an experienced group that were successful last year. Germantown Friends will look to surprise once again with a big performance on the biggest stage.
Unionville will also compete in the distance medley relay, where they will represent the state as the champions. Unionville are US#6 and are one of 8 teams in the country to break 12:10 this season.
In the field, defending national champion Cyre Virgo of Fleetwood is back to defend her title. The junior has cleared 5-8 this season but opted to not compete at the state meet. Scheduled to join her are two-time indoor state champion Megan McCloskey of Germantown Academy and Claudine Andre of Upper Darby. McCloskey has also cleared 5-8 and has been on a roll in the past few weeks. Andre cleared 5-7 in January and will be looking to find that top form at nationals.
The top four pole vaulters at the state meet are all back looking for one more chance at success. Courtney McQuaide of Greensburg Salem won the state championship over Bridget Guy of Hempfield (7) and Bre Manzolillo of Schuylkill Valley. On that day, they all cleared 12 feet. Kennedy Shank of Northern was 4th but cleared 12-1.75 this season. Only Bridget Guy has gone higher (12-3).
In the long jump, state champion Maddie Holmberg of Hempfield (7) is back to improve on what was a big performance at the state meet. Her T-US#18 mark of 18-10.75 just misses the pack of 14 girls in the country who have cleared 19 feet this season. Claudine Andre will also contest the long jump after finishing 2nd at states. Ariana Przybylowski of Pennridge had her best meet of the season at states and is looking to get over the 18 foot mark to end the indoor season.
Shannon Taub of Council Rock South was close to winning the state title in the triple jump (T-US#37 37-9.50) but had to settle for 2nd. The state meet was a big performance for her this season and she will look to break 38 feet for the first time in 2014.
Shot put state champion Courtney McCartney of Selinsgrove had a big state meet with her US#12 mark of 45-7.25, which was over a 15 inch improvement from her best mark at Dickinson and was her best mark indoors or outdoors. Another personal best could get her a spot on the medal stand.