Having the State Indoor meet held at the Vanderbilt multi-purpose facility would seem to be a good spot to attract a lot of the Nashville and Middle TN athletes. And it certainly does, but in reality this meet covers the whole span of TN and that is a good thing for the sport! So let's take a quick look at who to watch from the middle of the state.
First off, a few of the athletes from the middle of the State stand out in events that are sometimes difficult to master on the indoor tracks, and that is the distance events. On the girl's side, here's a few you should keep your eyes out for. Brentwood High's Beth Donnelly, being the #1 ranked miler in TN, is certainly one to watch on Saturday. Oakland's Breja Hooks is another athlete capable of busting out a strong mile Saturday. Breja has an 800 PR of around 2:18 so that leg speed could be a factor at the end of the mile race for sure.
The boy's mile has some speed in it as well with Centennial's Davis Bove (4:14.40) and Brentwood's Elias Sandifer (4:22.10). These top seeded athletes have gone up against each other several times in the past and Davis does seem to have the edge here. Although I'd have to guess that Elias is going to think back to the Section 3 Sectional in 2017 where Elias got the edge by about half a second. Could this be another upset, let's watch and see. Like we always say, that's why we run the race!
Fred J Page's Leigh Walters ran an 11.11 at the Music City indoor that got her into a 5th place at that prestigious meet and so should also be right up there with the leaders this weekend. Siegel's Marilyn McCarthy ran an 11.21 at the music city which was her two-mile best and looks like she's running very well this time of year. And I'd say watch out also for Dinah Winders, the Henry County freshman racer but she's been under the weather recently and may not be on top of the game right now.
The two-mile race for the boys will be a fun race to watch as the top seeds in this event are just a few seconds apart. This fast course will clearly come down to who feels the best in this race. Oh heck, it's going to come down to one thing - who can gut it out the hardest and take the pain the longest! It's a two-mile race on a 300M track.... Not going to be cold... not going to fight any wind... it comes down to the individual for sure. Having fought to a runner up spot at the Music City indoor earlier in February, Silas Winders (Henry County), is by no means going to make the drive up to Nashville Saturday to settle for the same spot.
The girls 800 is going to be a stacked competition and I fully expect to see some fast times out of Dresden's Loral Winn. Loral seems to always have an extra kick at these high profile meets. Brentwood's Jackie Meyer is also a threat to podium here as well. Jackie has been consistent in the 800 as she improves on her outdoor time by a few seconds coming into this race. On the boy's side, Ravenwood's Gabriel Robinson enters here with a 1:57 time that seeds him at third and clearly puts him in a position to be on the heels of the lead pack and set a good time as well.
The 60 Hurdles seems to attract the multi-event athletes this indoor season. Cedric Johnson Jr of Northwest, is a solid Decathlete and has strong marks in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. On the girl's side, Centennial's Avery McMullen, 9.16 for the 60 hurdles, has a 14.97 for the 100 hurdles and a PR of 8.42 in the 55 hurdles she just set in late January. Preparing for her Pentathlon events, Avery has already set a few PR's across several events this indoor season and posted a win in the Music City Indoor Pentathlon, and so I look for this talented athlete to set a good mark in the hurdles Saturday!
The 200M and 400M dash are going to make for a tough day for Antioch's Andrew Brown as he's entered in both of these and in the top 3 for each event. Andrew will have to do the 400 prelim at 10am, 200 prelim at 11, then recover in time to get the finals of the 400 at 1:40 and finals for the 200 at 2:45. Whew... I'm tired thinking about it. But let's keep an eye on this guy and be sure to root him on in his quest for a very difficult two events to compete in at this meet. Good luck Andrew!
The Distance Medley Relay is a race that I wish we could see at the State outdoor. It's fun, competitive and really is a great relay to watch. And although, I've sometimes wanted the 3200M relay dropped at the state meet, I would love to see this relay on the event list at some point. They run it a lot in college and so why not. At the indoor Saturday, and this isn't a surprise, the Brentwood High girls team seems to be the top seed with their 12:30.13 time. The best mid-state team entered for the boys is the University School of Nashville's team. Although USN's team isn't the top seed here, there's only about four seconds separating the top five teams, with USN having just under two seconds from the top spot. No doubt, keep an eye out for the excitement in this relay matchups.
Victoria Caldwell and Alexandria Swindle, two talented Brentwood Academy athletes, are in good position in the indoor shot at this meet with seeds in the top 5. Victoria was 3rd in the 2018 State indoor shot and runner up in last year's outdoor season as well. So it looks like she's getting in the work now so those marks can improve starting Saturday. Down the street from these athletes is Analeigh Wingo of Brentwood High who also comes in seeded in the top 5 for Saturday. This looks like this is Analeigh's inaugural season for the indoor shot and she definitely is starting out strong. Victoria, Alexandria and Analeigh make up 3 of the top 5 shot marks in the state this indoor season and that makes for some good competition. And I'm going to guarantee perfect weather... ummm.... Indoors, not out!
As it always does, the pole vault at this meet will have some excitement. Jett Kinder, the current top returning Decathlete in the state is the top dog to beat here. He shares the #1 rank in TN with Josh Whitaker and so the battle between these two athletes Saturday will be interesting to watch. Jett has an outdoor PR of 15 feet so might be considered having the edge at this meet. But in the end, the pole vault is an event all in its own and anything can happen. It is the definition of that saying about that's why we do the event... anything can - and will - happen in the vault!
The girls vault is no less exciting either. The top seeds here all range from 3.65M to 3.37M. Alexandria Swindle is likely anticipating this matchup as it gives her a chance to set the bar among her D2 Large school competitors. However, Alexandria will be busy at this meet, but the Brentwood Academy athlete is probably one of the toughest competitors I've seen in a while so she will be strong for sure. Ensworths Jacqueline Frist has her PR at the National Pole Vault summit at Reno in Mid-January and will take that 10-6 and see how much she can raise that bar come Saturday.
The boys long jump is another field event that is worth keeping some eyes on. Hillsboro's Ja'Juan McClain comes in with a runner up spot in the state rankings. That spot though is only about an inch from the top mark of the season. 21-11.75 is Ja'Juan's seed mark in the long jump and his 46-6.75 mark in the Triple is the top seed by a pretty sizable margin. Another mid-state athlete, Lipscombs Mikele Vickers also has the top spot in the girls Long and Triple. Mikele has jumped 18-9.25 and 37-10.75 in the horizontals this season which are the top spots in the State. Avery McMullen of Centennial is the #2 ranked long jumper is certainly looking to make this a bit difficult for Mikele. But isn't that what every great athlete wants... the best competition they can get!
Well, that's the quick run-down on some of the mid-state athletes to watch for at the State Indoor Championships Saturday. Hope to see you there...
See you on the Track