Memphis Twilight Preview - 2021
When it comes to cross country, there are always courses or
venues that coaches and athletes just like to go to. Last year changed things. Races were postponed or cancelled all
together. The State meet moved to a
course that some really liked, and some (me being one) didn't quite care for
it. This year it seems as soon as the
competitive season could begin, the races started stacking up.
One of the races that had to be cancelled last year was the Memphis Twilight, mostly just because of the size of this race and the impossible logistics to put it on during the pandemic. This year though, it's back. Looking at the strong field entered in this Saturday's classic makes it seem like it never lost a beat. Still getting out of state athletes making the trip as well as the top local runners marking this off as a race not to miss!
This race, like so many other races, has a ton of back stories that I wish I could tell them all! The Winders name seems to always shows up at this meet, but this year all the brothers are off running in college and it's up to the female of the group, Dinah, to make a mark at this race. For another story, just take a glance at the records, specifically the one set in 2014 for the girl's middle school race. Felicity Bost set that mark and this Saturday will be her college debut as a freshman at the University of Memphis. I'm excited to see this 800M State champion runner take it to the next level and see how her career progresses! It's always great to see the former high school athletes running in college and this meet has been a showcase for that for many years.
For those that haven't been at this meet in the past, it has a Middle School, High school JV and Varsity divisions, and the college. We'll focus on the high school athletes in this article. But a few numbers to point out would be the fact that there will be about 25 or so college teams (50 with boys & girls) coming out to the meet. All told, over a hundred teams and 1700 + athletes running the soccer field on Saturday!
So... who are some of the athletes to keep an eye on Saturday? And remember, nobody's perfect and so if I leave someone off that's your favorite you have that one fallback... run fast and get mentioned in the post-race recap article!
Landen McNair - This Bartlett athlete holding a PR of 15:14.70 for the 5K distance is always a consistent winner in the area, likely the top athlete in Memphis this season. He ran a 1:53.05 800 at State in May - champion status. Runner up at state for the 1600 in 4:11.63 . His 2021 Outdoor track season was stacked with wins in races from 800 to 3200 - State championships, Houston Classic, Panther Relays, Jack Moran Relays - prolific season. And he won the 2 mile at the TN State indoor championships in Feb 2021 in 9:22.92. I've learned my lesson never to predict a cross country team winner or individual winner - anything can happen but it's hard to say Landen won't be the first over the line at this meet.
Brady Masters - coming in from Madison Central in Richmond KY and a PR of 15:38 makes him one to watch. Brady just won the Central Kentucky Run for the Gold in 15:44.00 last week. That's close to his PR too. He has a 2:00.86 PR in the 800, 4:26.86 in 1600 and 9:56.91 in 3200 all set in 2021 track season. That should put him in a good spot on this fast course.
Elliot Garst, another top area runner from Bartlett will be one to help his team towards that title. Elliot ran a 9:36.70 PR in the 3200 at the Jack Moran relays and earlier in the year ran a PR of 4:22.64 in the 1600 (March 2021). Bartlett always has a strong group of distance runners and Elliott should be right up there helping to bring his team home.