AAA Girls State Meet Preview: Simkins, Smith, Gehret, Hannon, Price, Krais, Shump. Nuf said.

If you\'re patient, you get your year to be the best in the state. Then again, patience is overrated. In the AAA Girls competition, you\'ll see both this weekend.

While most were watching to North Penn guys run the 4x800 this year, the girls were just under radar (just me, not opposing coaches). What they popped at Districts, an eight-second drop from the Penn Relays, was impressive and a sign that Hatboro-Horsham is going to have to run their best race to claim the the title. In the 4x400 defending champ Conestoga is not here, but Wissahickon is, complete with the top sprinter in the state - Krista Simkins - at anchor. They maintained contact at District 1, and then Simkins blew by the field before 200 meters, and the 3:55.66 was on the board. Norwin, Council Rock North and Upper Saint Clair will all give chase. But it\'s exactly that, all chase. Henderson is putting on a show in the 4x100 this year. They own a non-West Catholic PA best of 48.06. Penn Hills has gone 48.15. But will the controversy surrounding their qualification for WPIAL\'s - legal and gracious as it was - hurt them in the final. I think now. Can\'t pick this one.

The 100 and 200 will be owned by Simkins. 11.66 and 23.81 at Districts. She ran a 23.62 two weeks ago at her conference meet. All were wind legal. She\'ll face a tough challenge from Breehana Jacobs of Laurel Highlands, who went 11.75 at Baldwin... and Great Valley\'s Janessa Murphy. But these are two races that you just have to see.

Sha-Tira Snell of Penn Hills is the defending champ in the 100 Hurdles. But there are a few athletes who will have something to say about a possible repeat, including Valley\'s Mycaiah Clemons, Methacton super-frosh Ryann Krais, Plymouth-Whitemarsh\'s Chanel Williams, and Reading\'s Jasmin Hunt. Clemons and Krais have both gone faster than Snell\'s winning time in 2004. And Williams, who had to drop the 300 final at Districts due to an injury, will be focused on making something of her final race at States. In the 300 Hurdles with 2004 champ Williams out, the field should be wide open. Now it\'s not. Krais ran 42.26 at her conference meet. She could go for the PIAA record here. Schenley junior Kaetlyn Brown is the defending champ in the 400. Simkins chose not to run what is her best event at Districts to concentrate on the short stuff. She\'ll race at Nike Outdoor and Junior Nationals in the 400. But with here 53.23 gone, it\'s wide open this year.

The 800 will see the introduction of one of the newcomers. Easton frosh Chanelle Price went 2:10.75 indoor, and she has been heading for this race with improving times. Gwynedd-Mercy\'s Liz Kearins is not defending. Watch for D1\'s Serita Lachesis of Wissahickon. This one will be fast. The 1600 is wide open. The finals should include Strath Haven\'s Lisa Vienneau, Chamberburg\'s Sarah Morrison, Allentown Central Catholic\'s Meghan Burns and Marcy Sobrinski, Emmaus\' Christina Bortz, Hershey\'s Sam McMillan, and Freedom\'s Lauretta Dezubay. Dezubay nearly pulled off the nearly impossible distance double in 2004. She is stronger and more experienced. Says here it\'s a race for the tape between Morrison and Dezubay. In the 3200 Dezubay is defending, but will have her hands full with a healthy, quickly improving Lauren Bowles, of Upper Dublin. She ran 10.51.04 alone at D1.

We can cover most of the Long Jump, Triple Jump, and High Jump with three names. Nicole Smith of McDowell, Rachel Gehret of Altoona, and Erin Hannon of Bradford. One senior on a mission, and two juniors who aren\'t intimidated in the least. In the Long Jump, Smith was 3rd last year, Hannon 7th, and Gehret missed after an off day at Districts. This year, Smith has long-jumped 19-10.50, Gehret 18-09.50 and Hannon 18-05. The only one who could break up this threesome is Great Valley\'s Janessa Murphy who has gone 19-00.50. In the 2004 Triple Jump, Gehret, Hannon and Smith went 1-2-3. This year, Smith is over 40 by a half inch, Hannon has a best of 39-02.75 and Gehret has leapt 38-07. Also in the mix will be Megan Van Buskirk of Pottsgrove, who had gone 38-11.25. In the High Jump, Nicole Smith is the defending champ. Smith has already cleared 5-10 this year. Hannon and two others, Kendall Butch of Butler and Katie Dempsey of Pleasant Valley are in the 5-08 club. And Gehret has cleared 5-06, but she had gone 5-07 at the state meet in 2004. Both Smith and Hannon have been over at 5-10, going one-two at the Indoor state meet this year.

The Shot Put will feature a great contingent of 40-foot throwers. But one has stepped to the front, and it\'s another freshman. Penncrest\'s Karen Shump threw 48-00.25 earlier this month. No one is within four feet of that. She is chasing the US Freshman junior record of 49-04. The best of the rest are Baldwin\'s Jordan Veney at 43-05.75; Samantha Fetter, Hempfield 43-01; Amy Backel, Northern, 42-03; and Becky Eisenhauer, Cedar Crest 42-02.75.

Defending champ Tayvon Gray of Coatesville is back in the Discus. But Veney has thrown 152-09. That is big. There will be a great battle in the Javelin between Meghan Briggs, Palmyra (140-00), and Backel, who has thrown 141-09.

How about a national record to open the day on Saturday. It could happen in the Pole Vault from defending champ Lindsay Regan of Easton, who now owns the PA-best outdoor state record of 13-06. You\'ll know the height when she gets there.