TN State Indoor Championships
Presented by Knoxville Youth Athletics
On February 28th a couple of years ago, the KYA folks attempted to put together a unique meet for the state, an indoor State Championships. Doing so on their own presented another challenge for this group that seems to thrive on those each meet. They got the usual calls asking if out of state athletes can compete in a TN state championships (hmm). The indoor season also had its challenges to get qualifiers, as local indoor meets aren't exactly a common entity here. But, and you probably know by now, they succeeded. And then they did it again last year and well, they succeeded again. Although driving to the ETSU campus from the west end of the state proved to be a bit of a test, some made the drive anyways and from all over the state the athletes came to compete.
With the girls setting times the first year at 57.13 in the 400, 10:47 in the 2 mile, hitting 18 plus in the long and even 52 in the weight throw. And the boys under 7 in the 60, 1:55 for the 800, 9:27 to win the 2 mile with five under 10 in that event, and the 14 foot vault and 6-8 high jump set the stage for this indoor championships to be a very competitive event and one that I expect will be around for quite some time.
This year, the venue changes to the Vanderbilt indoor facility and if you're into the sport of track and field, this will be a great meet to watch - again! There are a lot of advantages to indoor meets. From the athlete's perspective, it's a chance to feel out exactly where your fitness level is as you approach the start of the outdoor season. It's also a chance to compete during a period that well, is packed with really dedicated track and field athletes. For the spectator, you can get up close to the athletes as they compete. Then of course, there's the one thing you can't control during the outdoor season - the weather. The weather is always perfect indoors!
Now, let's take a peek at a few events that could be very interesting to watch this Sunday at the State Indoor Championships. I'll start out with the girl's 2 mile race. If you were at Vanderbilt Indoor a couple weeks ago, you saw as Niamh Schumacher scorched the course by posting a very fast 10:25.44 which currently stands as the #1 time in the nation (by almost 10 seconds!). It's going to take a monstrous effort to run a faster race Sunday, but believe me, with Niki Narayani (11:16) and Madison Grimm (11:29) posting great times this season, and all top ten girls entered having run sub twelve this outdoor, we are certainly in for a fun race at both the leader and deep into the pack.
The girl's mile Sunday looks like it'll be a pretty interesting race as well. Rebecca Story comes into this race with some impressive credentials as you all know. This past November at the Hoka One held by the KYA folks, she ran to a 9:59.85 that is the fastest time all around for the distance. She is likely the one to watch in the mile Sunday.
Of course, one of the most exciting athletes to watch in the distance races will be coming into this meet with marks in the two mile that ranks third in the nation and fourth for the mile. Watching this talented athlete run is almost like watching a national championship basketball game go down to the wire and someone makes a three pointer to win with time running out... only this is better! Is there anyone that can top this guy on the track? We'll see Sunday. Joel Barlow (9:20), Ben Tabor (9:32), and Timothy Dye (9:58) are all going to be gunning to do just that, so we'll see. All top four guys have run under 10 and so we should be in for another fast two miler.
And if the boys two mile isn't fast enough for you, come watch Brodey Hastey (4:08), Taylor Vroon (4:15), Conner Hawkins (4:18), Scott Thompson (4:18) and Carter Cheeseman (4:19) compete in the mile and see what kind of excitement they can generate! That's top five runners here under 4:20! Yea, that's pretty solid. Then of course, you can never rule out a second or two improvement by other athletes and if they're close, we may see some upsets. A few to watch would include John Elrod (4:20), Joel Barlow (4:21), Jackson Vroon (4:23) and Colin Lamb (4:24) who all round out the top nine and all under 4:25. This is the top nine athletes in the TN ranking! How good is that going to be!
Looking at some of the sprints, one to watch for is Johnny McGluen. Johnny came in 3rd in the state for the 200 (22.00) and same for the 400 (48.70). Johnny comes in with an even faster time for the indoor 200 at 21.86 and just slightly slower for the 400 indoor at 49.12. But with this being the state championships, I would guess he'll be coming out strong. Nickson Pierre was 2nd at the 400 a couple weeks ago in a very competitive race at the Vanderbilt Indoor (49.50), so he will be another top athlete to keep an eye on in that race on Sunday. Kedrick Wilbanks, 22.29, has a 10.62 for the outdoor 100 set at New Balance Nationals. That time was a 2nd place and so that speed puts him as a sure tag on the watch list for the 200 Sunday. With this being a 300M track, that 200 should be a blistering one for sure!
Probably a couple of the most exciting girl's events to watch Sunday might be the long jump and high jump. At the Vanderbilt indoor Tyra Gittens set a National #1 with a long jump of 20-11.5. That has dropped, but only to a #2 national mark today. A bit of a surprise to do that well this early, but could that mean we are on a National watch again Sunday as she tries to better that mark? Well, we'll just have to wait and see. And Tyra now also holds the number two national mark in the high jump after getting 5-9 at the same Vanderbilt meet. Like I said, I'm thinking these events are going to be pretty exciting this weekend.
Having the state AAA runner up in the boys pole vault who also just surpassed his outdoor mark by over two feet means one thing - excitement over the bar here for sure! Jacob Sobota jumped 16-1 recently and is leading a group of vaulters that are pretty darn talented. We have four vaulters (behind Jacob) that have cleared over 13'. Warner Lamar (13-5.5), Cole Shea (13-5.5), Garrett Lee (13-1.75), and Jett Kinder (13-0.75) come into this meet with that accomplishment under their belts. But wait, if you act before midnight tonight, you see... oops, sorry, got a bit excited! The top 17 entries coming in on Sunday have all surpassed the 11 foot mark in the vault, so yea, and lots of good vaulters here.
On the girl's side, Taylor Pickett comes in at 11-5.5. That's a foot over her 3rd place finish at the outdoor state championships last season. She is having a very excellent - and consistent - indoor season. Battle for 2nd place (or should I say, giving Taylor a battle for first??) will be tight - six girls from 9-6 to 10-5 - so close .... Brittany Bishop (10-5), Katie Woods and Alexandra Swindle both at 10', Tailia Barton and Melissa Briant sharing 9-11.75, and Mary Leichner rounding out the 9-6 spot. Like the boys, we're going to see some excellent vaulting at this meet, so don't miss it.
And of course, I'm sure I passed over someone that should be mentioned, and I'm sorry for that, but time is running out and it's time to finish up this preview. However, I can't do that without talking about the shot put a bit. Victoria Caldwell at 42'1.75 and Katherine Coffey at 42'0.5 are certainly going to be in a tight battle Sunday with those impressive throws this season. You know that's going to be a very tight contest between these two powers. The boys shot seems to be dominated by Joshua Sobota with his 58'10.75 throw which is way over his 3rd place finish in last season's state outdoor championships. What's even more impressive, he started out the season throwing 57-4.5 in mid-January, then 56-9.5 to win the David Oliver Classic and then to his runner up finish in the Vanderbilt indoor a couple weeks ago. This indoor season is Joshua's wake up call to all his competitors in the state that he is ready for the outdoor season!
Now these are just some of the athletes to preview for this upcoming State Indoor Championships. The indoor season sometimes can be difficult to predict. Having to deal with so much training adversity between the weather and getting dark early, sometimes this indoor performance might just come down to a couple of warm days to tweak the workouts a bit and who know, a great performance might just be on the horizon.
As I've said before, the indoor season for track and field is usually dominated by the athletes who are really into the sport. That's not saying that our regular spring season doesn't have dedicated athletes, because, as you know, that wouldn't be true. But track and field is a very unique - and very difficult - sport to enjoy. It's you against the clock or the tape. You run or jump or throw one day and the next day you try to beat that mark. Doesn't always work out that way, does it? But track and field athletes keep plugging away, keep pushing to better themselves, keep moving forward towards a better height, better jump, and better time. I'm not sure that so many years ago those athletes competing in Olympia Greece were thinking that one day we'd be taking a shovel to the track to clear a runway, or throwing a freezing cold metal ball on windy cold and wet days, or trying to keep your hands warm so you can grip the pole. But that's what it takes to train for the indoor season. You have to want to brave the conditions to be a competitor. That isn't a normal characteristic of most athletes, heck of most people! But for all you that are coming out to the Vanderbilt track on Sunday to compete in the State Indoor Championships, you know that's a characteristic you have! You know you've braved it all this season. So Good luck to all on Sunday as you compete - inside of course!
See you on the track,