2/24-Whiting, Fritz & Cave, and Simon Gratz relays headline boys\' competition @ PTFCA Indoor States


Carrington Queen, Chichester, may have gotten a wake-up call when he was caught at the line in the 60 Hurdles at the PTFCA Track Carnival by Dallastown\'s David Hoffman. Queen has the season\'s best time time of 8.14. Kamal Marell of Penn Charter should be in the mix of the finals as well. Queen was 2nd in 2004.

In the 60 dash, West Mifflin\'s Montel Williamson is ranked in the top five of the country, and is the only PA runner under 7 seconds for the distance. He was 2nd in 2004. He\'s been pushed all season by teammate Brandon Coleman. Others who have the best shot to make the finals are Steve Slaton, Conwell-Egan, Cardel Johnson of West Allegheny, Trey Womack, Malvern Prep, Andre Nelson of Springfield Delco, and Central Dauphin\'s Jordan Mitchell.

Mitchell has the best 200 by a PA boy this season, and he meets Williamson early in the 200 semis. Also in that heat are the athletes with the other top times of the season, Bensalem\'s Reggie Carter, Penncrest\'s Andrew McCloskey, and Cheltenham\'s Zachary Shands. Coleman and Simon Gratz\'s Khaliff Featherstone race each other in another semi.

No one has cracked 50 seconds yet this season in the 400. A few will on Saturday. The hot heat includes Andrew Burton of William Tennent, Eddie Kiser, Red Lion, Justin Babich, Southern Lehigh, Max Westman, Lower Merion, Featherstone, and Cumberland Valley\'s David Stonfer.


There\'s a reason that Justin McCarthy of Central Dauphin, and Central (Phil)\'s Thurman Sanders are the top two seeds in the 800. Unusually for PA, they are the only two under 2 minutes. McCarthy put some distance between himself and Sanders with a 1:57.02 last Saturday on the Penn State track. But this is so close, any of the other six in the hot heat could have the race they need.

The Mile is wide open this year. The three fastest milers of the season are all racing in the 3000. That leaves ten runners within one to three seconds of each other. Fastest of that group are Cedar Cliff\'s Tim Johnson, and Cardinal O\'Hara\'s Greg Thomas. As you should know by now, Manheim Township\'s Craig Miller is a swimmer during the winter. You saw what he did last spring, so...

The 3000 is the deepest field of the Distance races. Four guys are under 9 minutes. Max Brown of North Allegheny and Jacob Walker of Ellwood City have been trading wins in western PA this season. But Walker, who owns a 9:12 3200 from last spring, separated himself from the pack with a 8:44.23 at the TSTCA Champs 2/19. Curtis Bixler of Cumberland Valley is under 8:52, and Sam Luff, Emmaus, is experienced and has the talent to beat any of this group. He has a 9:10 3200 and 4:16 1600. But Bixler and Walker have the two best miles of this season. Waiting for someone to make a mistake will be East Stroudsburg\'s Brian Cullin, Unionville\'s Colin Leak, and Coatesville\'s Amin Garnett. Not competing is AA state XC Champ and Foot Locker Finalist Jeff Weiss of McGuffey. He ran one 3200 earlier this season, going 9:34.6 by himself. Conservatively, that would be an 8:58 3000.


In the 4x200, Simon Gratz still has the #1 time in the country, 1:27.96. No team in PA is within five seconds. But that\'s why they run the races. Anything can happen. But if these four guys get the stick around cleanly, they should win easily.

The same also goes for the 4x400, as Gratz had the #1 time in the US of 3:20.14. Newburgh Academy NY erased that, but they\'re still #2. And in PA, no one is within seven seconds. Taking into account that not every team has had the advantage of racing on a banked track, these time differentials are still daunting. Clean passes, no lane violations, and Gratz is two-for-two.

In the 4x800, the winner most likely will come from one of the first five seeds, Archbishop Carroll, Springfield Montco, Germantown Academy, North Penn, and Great Valley. Don\'t count out Council Rock North. But individual events can take just enough out of the legs to cause a slow split or two. It\'ll be a tight race.


The High Jump has the makings of a classic. It\'s been a few years since PA has had a 7-foot high jumper, and this year, we have a great one in Ryan Fritz of Octorara. But he\'ll have competition up there in that rare air, as Juan Cave of St. Joseph\'s Prep - the defending champ - has cleared 6-10 a few times, and seems ready to hit that landmark mark. A lot will depend upon misses and how early or late these two enter the competition.

Hickory\'s Eric Sparks won the outdoor Pole Vault, and has cleared 15-06 this season. But Sean Gil of North Allegheny is over at 15-01, a PR he achieved at last week\'s TSTCA Champs. Also in that vicinity is Baldwin\'s Ron Walters. A good day at the office, and it\'s Sparks\' to win.

Only seven inches separate the season bests of the athletes in the Long Jump. At this level of competition, it\'ll take someone popping a 23-plus to separate themselves from the field.

Clarence Smith of Coatesville has been looking great in the Triple Jump. He is the only PA athlete over 46 feet (46-07.75), but he\'ll be facing stiff competition from the AAA outdoor state champ in Darnell Johnson of Gettysburg, who went 45-11 in only his second meet of the season at Albright College on the 13th. Johnson, however, has gone 47-11, and if he\'s on form, it\'ll be a great competition.

What more can you say about Ryan Whiting of Central Dauphin in the Shot Put? As he said himself, he\'s competing against the numbers now. And the first big one is the 70-foot barrier. There is another thrower over 60\' in Rob Rankin of Upper Saint Clair. But 69-08.50 is another zip code. And Whiting has five more throws over 65-04 this season. Stand back and enjoy this one.