2017 Vanderbilt High School Invitational
It has always surprised me how the Vanderbilt HS Invitational in early February draws such a talented group of athletes across several indoor events. It's winter! And yes, we are in the south and don't get the massive snow piles our friends in the north get. But still, training in wet, cloudy, windy and cold weather just seems to put a damper on the expected performance. But it doesn't.
This event is in its fourth year and looking over the accepted entry list you can see a fairly large group of athletes that have already ran some impressive times. Just looking through the accepted entry list, there will be some very fast time set here again. By no means will I have the time to mention every great athlete running in this meet, but I'll try and point out a few (so hold off the comments should I miss your favorite athlete today!).
The boys 800 meters is likely to be a tight race with Ryne Bevan from Georgia running a 1:54 last week to nab 3rd at the David Oliver classic. On the girls 800, Kentucky state champion Emma Kuntz, Georgia athlete Emoni Coleman and TN athlete Meghan Underwood come into here with some impressive credentials. There are several athletes across the board in this 800 that could come out on top
The boys 1 and 2 mile should be a burner with the likes of Brodey Hastey, Taylor Vroon, Ben Ewert, Titus and Silus Winders, Carter Coughlin... some running the 1 and some just the 2 and some both. We could see 20 or 30 runners under ten in the 2 mile Saturday! The girls is stacked with talent as well. Niamh Schumacher, Jalyn Jenkins, Niki Narayani in the 2 mile entries. And the mile will have several hovering around that 5 minute mark with Julia James, Ella Baran, Jalyn Jenkins, Addi Coggins and several others accepted into the meet this year.
Jeffery Hulon Jr seems to be coming a long ways for this meet and if he has his way, it won't take him long to race. He's run a 6.90 indoor 60M and came in 2nd at the AAU Junior Olympic games this summer in the 100 with a 10.64 sprint.
On the girls side for the 60, Milledgeville GA athlete DaLoria Boone is going to be one of the athletes to watch as she can long jump over 19 feet and just ran the David Oliver Classic to a 7.53 win in the 60. And that 60 win was after running a 7.53 in the prelims. DaLoria won the GISA state meet in the 100 last season with a blistering 12:00 in the 100. Another one to watch will be Hope Glenn from Marietta GA. Hope has several sub 12 100's and just ran a 7.56 for the 60 at the ETSU Niswonger Invite a couple of weeks ago. These are going to be some of the girls to watch for sure.
The 400M race at this meet is always an exciting one to watch. The 300M oval makes sure of that fact! Brian Herron of Decatur GA steps onto the starting line at this meet with a huge list of credentials that probably makes him the one to watch Saturday. He's run a 46.29 outdoors and 47.39 indoors and with this oversized indoor venue, we could see a hot race from him. He's run 21.22 for the 200 at the USATF Indoor this past December and a 48.08 in the 400 at this race. Last year he was second in the 400 at this meet and you know he's gunning for one step above that Saturday.
I think this year, the 60M hurdles for the boys is going to be pretty wide open. Several of the top contenders here are really tightly packed and the outcome is going to be too tough to call. Chris McNaire-Jones and DeAntoine Boyce seem to be a couple of the top athletes in this event this year. Last year Kiara Rhodes won the girls 60M hurdles at this meet and hit a blistering 8.45 mark to get that spot. Kiara is back and likely should be considered the favorite again. Another one to watch is Darci Khan who recently won the Last Chance Invite in January 27th in a fast 8.65. Darci's 100M hurdles is impressive too, with a UATF National win in 14.06, you know she has the capacity to turn a fast race in this Saturday.
Sliding over to some of the field events, I'd like to name out a few of the talented athletes schedule to compete Saturday. Tyra Gittens, probably one of the most talented TN athletes in quite some time is ready to defend her win from last year in the high jump. Tyra was the D2 state champion last year in the high jump and of course, the pentathlon. She is going to be a tough one to beat for sure. And she's entered in the long jump as well, so keep an eye out there for her.
The boy's high jump also has some state champions with D2 TN champion Dayton Leach entered and ready to see where he's at this early. Rahman Minor is set to jump and could have a good shot to get a record height Saturday.
Every year, this meet has some of the best marks in the country for the throwing event. Seems there are several athletes coming that will not disappoint again this year. The club Throw1deep has shown up at this meet several years in a row with a slew of talented throwers. This year they bring Natasha Samp and Makenli Forrest to lead the way in the shot. Kathleen Young however might be a spoiler for these throwers in the shot as she enters here with marks over the 50' length.
On the boys shot side, Sam Sikon is likely the favorite here having thrown over the 65' mark last outdoor season and has thrown over 61 feet indoor as well. Samuel Wright of the Throw1Deep club is also a strong over 60' thrower. And of course, there are several others that are here that could just toss it over everyone and get into the top spot.
And lastly, and yes I realize I missed a few athletes I should have pointed out, is the pole vault. This event always surprises me with the level of performances for an event that notoriously is, well, difficult to do in the cold of winter! With a pretty strong group of athletes with marks over the 14' mark, we could see a very exciting finish in this event. Hunter Mallard seems to come in this Saturday with the best so far this season with his 16-0.25 at the GA Indoor PV championships on Jan 29th. Jacob Sobota, from TN, just vaulted 15-5 at the ETSU meet Jan 13th and so comes in here with some confidence and will be one of the top ones to watch as well. Jack Rhea also has a 15-5 that he set in December at the USATF Galleria Game indoor meet.
Just the other week, Carson Dingler vaulted to an indoor PR of 13-4.75. Carson is last year's New Balance Nationals champion and so comes here with some pedigree and what I would see as the favorite. I'm sure Kaylee Riley however, has a different view of this as she is the reigning champ at the Vanderbilt indoor and has improved since that performance last year. Her indoor 12-3.25 may just be broke Saturday as she is likely to give her best to give Carson a run.
So... as I said, I know I missed a few athletes but the bottom line here is that this meet is one of the best meets around and not one that should be missed. The Knoxville Youth Athletics folks (Chris Kane and Marty Sonnenfeldt) and all the people that help with this meet are the cream of the crop when it comes to meet management and execution. If you're not entered in this meet, I would recommend at least coming out and watching the talent competing this Saturday at a very nice Vanderbilt indoor venue.
Hope to see you on the track Saturday,