Some of the top indoor athletes to look for at the upcoming State Indoor Championships also seem to be a strong indication what you might see in May!
Whitehaven is certainly bringing a contingent
of sprinters and field event athletes to this indoor meet. Arlington has a handful of talented distance
runners hoping to make some noise. These
and several other schools will be represented at the 2019 edition of this
super-fast TN State Indoor Championships Saturday. A little run down of just a few of the
Memphis area athletes to watch.
Kirstin Jones is one of the leaders on a very - again - stacked Whitehaven High School track and field team. Kirstin is the reigning 100/200M outdoor champion. She is also the current State indoor record holder for the 200M at 24.65 which was set last year at this meet. She's currently the #2 ranked girl in the state for the indoor 60M dash, needing just 0.03 seconds to move up to the top spot. By the way, her 200M mark is the top indoor mark so far this season. It certainly looks promising for her to make a loud statement Saturday. Could the two-year-old 60M dash State record of 7.61 drop this weekend? We'll have to wait and see! No doubt, this is a springboard to another great outdoor track and field season!
Breanna Miles, a Southwind junior, is a very busy athlete this season as she holds a top 5 mark in the state for the 200M, the top mark in the 400M and a very respectable 7.95 in the 60M dash. It could depend on what she has on her plate Saturday, but her 400M time of 57.02 is just begging for her to set a PR. And if she does, and it's about 0.02 faster, then the 400M State indoor record of 57.00 could come down.
Sanura Branigan is a Whitehaven sophomore that should be one to watch as a possible spoiler alert. Sanura has some strong times and considering she only has one other 60M dash under her belt, a 7.90 ran at the Music City indoor, she could come out and surprise a lot of folks. No matter what, she's going to add more talent to an already talented Whitehaven squad and that's not good for the competition.
Shekinah Garner, a Bartlett High senior, is having one of her best indoor seasons to date. Shekinah has set PR's in the 55M, 60M, 200M, and 400M during this season. Posting a top 10 ranking in the 60M dash, this is one Memphis area lady to keep an eye on at the State Indoor. Shekinah has a 1:02.95 in the 400 this indoor as well, so her speed and speed endurance seems to be on track this early in the year! Of course, that 60M dash goes by quick, so don't blink... you might miss something great!
Another strong 400M athlete is Houston's Lanea Wallace. Lanea has run a 58.94 indoor and also has 57.25 as her outdoor best. She also boasts a quick 2:21 for the 800 and
Whitehaven seems to be dominating the sprinters for the Memphis area athletes going into this meet. Marius Steward, whose 7.17 seeds him firmly in the top five of this event. Having a 10.94 in the 100M dash and a solid sub 22 in the 200 in the outdoors should put this athlete on the radar Saturday.
But Emmanuel Bynum seems to be the top dog coming out of Memphis at this meet. Having the top state ranking in the 200M (21.59), a top five in the 400M (50.08) and a 7.19 in the 60M is a clear indication of the spread this guy has in the sprints. Emmanuel put most of his indoor track work in during the early part of the season. He's run 48.99 for the Indoor 400 early in December but hasn't done much on the track since. Of course, his 21.67 at the Music City Indoor is sure to prove a little time away from the track isn't going to slow this guy down.
The 60M Hurdles sometimes lacks the excitement of the 100/110 or the 300/400 hurdles. It's quick, fast, over in a flash and unless you're a really strong track fan, difficult to visualize what a good and fast race looks like. For the girls, anyone around 9 flat or below is usually a strong racer. Southwinds Tyra Nabors ran an 8.90 in the event at the beginning of February and sits comfortably on top of the rankings in the state for the event. I would watch her Saturday in this event. Coming in the third overall spot in the state is Briarcrest Junior, Michella Diebenow. Michella makes her indoor debut this winter and is backing up her 100M PR from last season with a strong indoor season. These two should make for some interesting races Saturday and I expect both to come out on top of a small group of Hurdlers from Memphis this season.
Let's move on to some of the distance athletes that we hope to see at the meet this Saturday.
Felicity Bost (2:17.12 800), a young Houston athlete, has been pounding the pavement for many years and continues to impress across several of the distance events both indoor and outdoor. I remember watching her get an impressive win as a sixth grader at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic in 2014. She blistered the 2K course then and is still always a contender in any race she lines up for. She comes into the State indoor with the third best time in the state after setting a PR in the 800 at the Music City Indoor, which is the same venue for this meet Saturday. Familiar territory could just make for a difficult day for her competitors.
Jackson Williams of Arlington is seeding near the top for the 1-mile event with his 4:23.81. Jackson won the Region 8 cross country championships in October and came into the indoor season running strong at the Music City indoor. That mile time, coupled with a 10:08.66 in the 2 mile at the same meet shows how strong this athlete can be. Running with fresh legs only in the mile Saturday could give this athlete an edge and I wouldn't bet against him as the top Memphis runner in the event.
Of course, Houston's Bradley Turner (4:31.18 indoor) is the elder of the two top Memphis area athletes at the Indoor State meet Saturday and being a senior, might want to flex his muscles a bit in the mile. Both Bradley and Jackson have raced against each other for quite some time. Jackson seems to be the dominant one in the cross country and longer distances with Bradley more prevalent in the 2-mile arena. The mile, well the only time both went up against each other was at the Music City indoor a few weeks ago and Jackson got the better at this event by a good margin. Bradley has a personal best outdoor mile that is better than Jackson's outdoor mile time. Could that be a sign? Not sure, but Jackson might have an edge this Saturday. But then again.... Isn't that why we RUN the races to begin with!!
Whitehaven is also bringing Andrew Cullins for the mile. His 4:35.08 mark puts him as the third fastest Memphis miler at the meet. Andrew has a pretty fast resume that includes a 2:06 for the 800 and a 10:13 for the 3K. With all the sprinters from Whitehaven at the meet, Andrew might just have the incentive to show how strong the distance guy is as well!! Watch him for sure!
The girl's mile and two mile are going to feature a couple of bookends for the Arlington High distance group with Anna-Marie Braese and Skylar Boogerd running the mile and two mile respectively. Anna-Marie, a freshman, ran a 5:29.55 at the Music City meet in early February and Skylar Boogerd, a Senior, ran to a fast second place at the same meet in the two mile in 10:59.34.
I've had the privilege of watching Skylar run several races and she never disappoints. But her recent 10:59 at the Music City indoor was one heck of a race. Through that whole race she didn't look fatigued and looked confident from start to finish. With her being a senior, I'm sure that well deserved confidence will help her race on Saturday. For many years she's been the top distance athlete in the Memphis area, can't say that's going to change until she graduates! And it's only fitting that as she goes into her senior season, an upcoming freshman, Anna-Marie, seems to be coming into her own as well. Can't wait to see how both these athletes end up on Saturday! I'm confident however, to predict they will be the fastest Memphis athletes in their events, yea... real confident!
I'm going to close out this preview with one of the events that I just love to watch. The pole vault. Specifically, the indoor vault. It always surprises me how this highly technical event is contested during the winter. Some coaches have access to indoor facilities and some don't. For the past several years, Jason Vogt, likely the most knowledgeable vaulting coach in the Memphis area, has had to do all season vaulting outdoors. With the help of the Memphis Youth Athletics and Christian Brothers High, he now has a vaulting venue that is indoors. Of course, that is a recent development and early on, when Memphis had that dusting of snow and ice, well, Jason and the athletes vaulted outdoors. Ok, on to the vaulters from Memphis.
Kate Sander is coming into this indoor meet as the top seed. That would sound pretty impressive to begin with, and it is. However, she has been hovering around the 11 or so mark for a while now and recently tagged a 12-0 vault at the USATF Vertical Climb Vault Meet on the 16th of this month. That means that hovering below twelve is history. That means the 3.66M indoor state meet record could be - and should be! - within the sights of this St. Agnes junior vaulter. Ok, there's going to be solid competition at this meet, but Kate is clearly the leading vaulter in the Memphis area right now and being the leader across the state could be in the cards this Saturday. Come watch, you will see this athlete carry a huge smile and beam with confidence and no doubt, watch a very competitive vault match in the works.
The boys side features Houston's Liam Jogal. Seeded well in the top 5, a 13-6.25 at the Music City indoor is going to be a good omen for Liam. That's his PR for the event, and he like the Vanderbilt facility, and it's also where the State Indoor Championships will be held. Three years ago, he vaulted a 10-10, last year a 12-5 and then he sets his PR this year. Vaulting takes confidence. Liam has that confidence for sure.
This isn't by all means a comprehensive list of the Memphis area athletes. There's still a lot more competing here, like Andrew Brown (800, Whitehaven), Aeneas Reed (Long Jump, Houston) and several more. There just isn't room for everyone to be discussed, so come out to the State Indoor and watch these talented athletes close out the TN indoor season. You're sure to be given one heck of a great Track & Field show for sure!!