Watch the TSSAA State Championship LIVE on MileSplit along with 50+ other state meets!
We thought we'd take a look at the Memphis area athletes and how they may look for the State Championships coming up. I'm not going to try and get into the discussion on whether the East or West or Middle has the best athletes across the state... not sure that would be fair considering the huge difference in available athletes. i.e., population size! We'll start with the D2-A small schools first.
The first group going into this year's State Championship Track and Field meet on Wednesday will be the D2 schools. Last season was the first year this meet changed things up and moved both girls and boys on the same day. Not a bad idea economically for some schools, not sure I totally like the idea yet but I'll let it set in for a bit and see how it plays out. Splitting the D2 schools, well, that's up for debate for this guy at the moment. But enough of that, on to a quick preview of what's to come out of our D2 Memphis schools.
The Boys D2 small was taken by storm last year by Harding. They just dominated their Region and carried that over to the State meet as well. This year, well, it appears they are in for more of a fight. The Harding boys come in with a pretty strong jumping contingent with Coby Hollins marking 22 feet in the long and 40 in the triple. He and Nyles Neely switch places with Myles tagging a really strong mark of 43 in the triple and 20 in the long. Both these guys are poised to top the D2 small school for horizontals for sure! And when it comes to the vertical jumps, anytime you can clear over a bar that's over your head is impressive and so I expect Anthony Howard to make his 6-2 height this year history and try to get on the #1 podium.
Dietrick Pennington of ECS is a clear favorite for the best D2 small school thrower since he's tossed over 134 in the discus and 48 to get top seeds in the state meet on Wednesday. But be aware, Harding's Jamal Mitchel is a sophomore that is barely a few inches behind Dietrick and let's keep an eye on him Wednesday.
Once you get into the running events, it seems that Harding is the cream of the crop in the Memphis D2 small grouping. Well, there could be an Achilles heel in here though. The distance events have eluded the group this season and so that means the best at state title for Memphis area could be a closely matched battle between the ECS group and Harding. Or is it??
Harding has the overall top seed in the 4x100 for the boys but Lausanne's team is right there a second behind them. Same thing in the 400 open, Austin Jackson has a seed of 51.39 and Lausanne's Cameron Sims right behind him in 51.59. And Austin Saunier of ECS is seeded a couple of seconds ahead of Harding's Jackson Davis in the 300 hurdles.
Then of course, St. George's distance runners seem to be pushing their way up the standings as well. Jack Lange comes in as the second seed overall in the 1600 and well ahead of the other Memphis runners. It shows as well, since the St. George's 4x800 team is a good four seconds ahead of the runner up seed spot in the state for all the schools. Then again, ECS is the one they are ahead of and so that appears to be setting up one heck of a race on Wednesday.
So, I'm not predicting anything here, just pointing out some of our top D2 Small Memphis area athletes to keep an eye out for. Now onto the girls.
Shackelford. Ok, if you don't know why I said that, then you haven't been around Memphis much. The Shackelford girls have been on the track and field radar for several years here in Memphis. Reagan is the next one making her mark her senior year. Reagan comes in as the top ranked Memphis area hurdler. Having one her Region in the 100 and 300 hurdles, she stays poised to graduate as the top Memphis area D2 Small school hurdler at this state meet. And we'll have to watch her 300 hurdle race, because I know for a fact that it's her most favorite race of all... well... isn't it everyone's??? All joking aside, if you're a Memphis track fan, this family has been on your radar for years and I'm excited to watch how Reagan finishes off another high school track season! Will she win at State... well, we'll have to watch and see, but from this perspective... it really doesn't matter... I'm guessing she's going to be a big part in helping the ECS girls tag a Memphis best this season...
I think the one area that will be exciting to watch will be all the relays. These might be a big indication on how well each of the Memphis school fare at the state meet and who may come out on top as the Top Memphis school this week.
The first relay of the night is going to be the 4x800. ECS over the years has typically brought a pretty strong group to contend in this event. This year isn't an exception as they come in with a seed that is 35 seconds ahead of the next Memphis seed by, yep, you guessed it, Harding. If you were at the D2-A West region meet, then you know how the seeding stacks up in the 4x200... Tight is the word. 1:48.10 by Lausanne, 1:48.178 by Harding and 1:51.22 by ECS all made the state meet and certainly all these schools will be gunning to be the top Memphis finisher at state this year.
My guess would be that Lausanne is going to take the top sprint relays since they come into this meet with a top 2 seed of 51.25 in the 4x100. ECS is near them with 52.48 but we don't see any Harding that made it in the event. That could show a bit of a chink in the Harding steel. And then, it is possible that the meet comes down to the 4x400. ECS has the top seed for Memphis school and St. George's is right behind them. So... could this be a good year for ECS to come home as the top Memphis area team for the Girls D2 small division. Could be.
It's going to take a lot of work, and I haven't talked about it much, but the field events might be the deciding factor here. My guess would be the High Jump, Shot and Discus might be the deciding factor if ECS can topple the Harding group.
Isn't this why we go to the state meet... for that one reason... to see who comes out on top in the last meet of the year!!
Good luck to everyone!
And see you on the track,