As we continue our preseason rankings series, we roll on to the Division I Small Schools girls division.
Yes, the season is well under way at this point. But we're still using marks from last season and early meets this season to compile these rankings. Let's look at who the favorites are coming into the season.
1. East Nashville Magnet School
The Eagles are loaded in the sprint events. But most of their points this outdoor season are projected to come from Jalena Curbeam in the jumps.
Curbeam is the top overall seed in the triple jump. She's also ranked third in the long jump and fourth in the high jump. She's got personal bests of 37-2 and 16-9 that should be enough to score lots of points at the state championship. Kennedi Johnson is the top seed in the 300m hurdles with a personal best mark of 45.83. That's nearly three seconds better than the next best time.
Kleymer Cruz and Amia Stanton will add some points in the intermediate hurdles as well. Alexis Patterson is ranked in the top five for both 100 (12.41 PB) and 200 (25.39 PB). That could add anywhere from 10-15 points.
And we know how deep the Eagles' relay depth will be come May. That's why they lead our rankings here in the early season.
2. Signal Mountain High School
Signal Mountain has exceptional distance depth. That will make the State Championship in May an excellent contrast of styles -- sprints and jumps vs. distance.
And they're led by Mattie Parker, who pulled off a victory in the steeplechase at the Tri-Cities Classic in Science Hill last weekend. She's got impressive range from 800-3200 meters. Parker is projected to score 21 points on her own, which will be enough to put Signal Mountain in the top five at the very least. She's ranked second in the 800 and 1600, and also fifth in the 3200.
Tara Jessen is projected to join Parker at the state championship. She's currently ranked sixth in the 800 and 1600. If Signal's 4x800 is able to put up some points in addition to those two, they'll have a chance to finish in the top three.
3. Dresden High School
The Lions are led by a veteran distance runner who's looking to complete a clean sweep of the 800, 1600 and 3200. There's a decent chance that Loral Winn will be able to score 30 points in those events.
Winn has run 2:15 in the 800. That's the top time by ten seconds. In the 1600 she comes in at 5:10. That's twelve seconds faster than the next-fastest runner. She also finished second in the state cross country meet last November.
If Winn can score at least 25 points in her individual events, Dresden will be in the running for a team trophy in May. And if she's able to lead her team's 4x800 to a top five finish, they could certainly finish second or third this spring.
4. Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences
CSAS is also anchored by one of the outstanding individuals in the state meet this May.
Alayah Dozier is looking for a sweep of her own in the individual sprint events. If the state meet were tomorrow, she'd secure 23 points for the Patriots.
Dozier has personal bests of 25.38 and 58.25 in the long sprints. Those would both be enough for first place at the moment. Indoors, she's run even faster -- finishing 8th at the Vandy HS Indoor Meet last February in 57.52. She ran her 200m personal best last weekend at the Red Bank Home Meet.
She's also ranked sixth in the 100, but that time continues to drop. She set a personal best time last weekend in Red Bank in 12.52.
5. Alcoa High School
The trend continues -- the Tornadoes have a key athlete who will score the majority of their points.
Jataya Wilson is projected to score 18 points in the throwing events. She threw 104-1 last year to win the sub-sectional meet. That's the top mark coming into the season in the whole state. Earlier this outdoor season, she launched a 36-6.75 to finish third at the Hardin Valley Invitational.
If she's able to score 20 points in those two events, Alcoa will have a chance to finish in the top five. They'll get help from Dominique Jackson (discus) and Evie Brandt (triple jump) as well.