In Division I-Small Schools, sprinting will make the difference.
The top few teams are led by some elite sprinters who will likely run three or four events. A few Middle Tennessee powers come in as the favorites to bring home the title in this new-look division.
Here are our preseason rankings for D1-Small Schools.
1. Pearl Cohn High School
Let's start in the field. When you have an athlete who can score 20 points by himself, you have a chance to win the state meet. Pearl Cohn has one.
Elijah Simmons has the No. 1 mark in the shot put and discus. He's thrown 51-8 and 147-3, which would be enough for 20 points. Last year, Simmons finished third in the shot put and didn't qualify in the discus. Under the reclassified division, he's the favorite to win both this year.
Pearl Cohn also has three of the fastest sprinters in the division. Jayden Harrison is the top ranked 200m runner at 21.88 and No. 8 in the 100 at 10.99. Nickson Pierre is the top seed in the 400 at 48.37 and fourth at 200 meters in 22.16. Jimmyrious Parker is ranked fourth in the 100 at 10.88.
When you add that depth to the three sprint relays, the Firebirds have the best shot at winning the state championship coming into the season. They're the only team projected to score 50 points. So this division could get very interesting and tight down to the wire.
2. East Nashville Magnet School
The Eagles also have some of the best sprinters in the state. That helps in the individual events and in the relays, which is why they edge out Independence for the second spot.
Job Blacksmith is the athlete to watch for East Nashville. He'll likely qualify in all three sprints. He's got PRs of 10.85, 22.25 and 50.21 in the 100, 200 and 400. Based on preseason standings, those three times would score 14 points.
Malik Watkins and Jesse Patterson should be able to score points in the jumps. Coming into the season, Watkins is No. 4 in the long jump at 21-5. Patterson is ranked fourth in the triple jump (42-2) and high jump (6-2). Those two add 14 points to the initial projections as well.
Elsewhere in the field, Brian Watson's 44-9 PR in the shot put adds six points as well. Adam Jones adds three points to the projections in the 110mH with his PR of 16.10.
3. Signal Mountain High School
Signal Mountain is projected to score 34 points at the state meet in individual events. And all 34 of those points are from the distance squad.
Jackson Lillard and Jonah Bird lead the way. Lillard is projected to win the 800 with his personal best of 2:02. Bird is seeded first in the 1600 at 4:32 based off outdoor personal bests. Garrison Wheeler will also be in the field for that 1600. He's got a personal best of 4:42 that puts him fourth in the state to open the season. Tamjeed Azad's 4:44 adds another two points as well.
Wheeler is projected to finish eighth in the 3200 based on his outdoor personal best of 10:14.
4. Memphis Academy of Health and Sciences
Joshua Jones should be able to score a lot of points for Memphis Academy of Health and Sciences. He comes into the season ranked second in the 800, fourth in the 1600 and eighth in the 3200. Based off his performances alone, his team will score 13 points.
Redreas Simmons should be able to qualify in all three sprint events. He's ranked fifth in the 400 at 51.5 and fifth in the 100 at 10.9. In the 110mH, Deshaun Burks comes in as the number two seed. He's run 15.24, which would be good for eight points at this point.
This team has the potential to finish in the top two or three. And truthfully, any of these five times could make a run at the state championship. This division is going to be a tight one all season long.
5. Austin-East High School
Jazine Pelcher is the athlete to watch for Austin-East this outdoor season. He's currently ranked second in the state in the 100. His personal best is 10.84.
Kiyontae Warren should be able to add points in the 400 as well. His personal best is 51.43, which is the third-fastest time in the state this season or last year. Martest Forbes is also the fifth-fastest 200m runner, which adds four more points.
The Roadrunners will also have fantastic relay depth based on those guys as well.
Honorable Mention: University School of Johnson City, Alcoa High School, Memphis East