Shaw

 

Thanks to Spring Valley, Taco Bell Classic meet management and Durane Benjamin for assisting with 2009 live video coverage. 

By Kevin Shaw, Taco Bell Classic

Editor's note: scrunners.com will be onsite at Taco Bell Classic and Furman Invitational this weekend.

Live video from Taco Bell Classic will be available throughout the meet Saturday on scrunners, a MileSplit.us affiliate. Live video angle depends on time and resources while covering the event. The live video link will be available Saturday morning.

Boys heat sheets
Girls heat sheets

The sport of track and field has seen unprecedented performances by high school athletes through out the past decade. I attribute much of the growth to the Internet. I have always said the Internet was the best thing to happen to our sport.

Track is a numbers sport. Once athletes and coaches could go online and have instant access to what their peers were doing on a national basis, it became easier to set a goal of being the best. With the Internet it is easy to find out who the best is at any moment in time. This charge was serendipitously led by John and Donna Dye and their now “cultish” Web site DyeStat. DyeStat is the true leader in keeping our sport on the cutting edge. Thanks go out to John and Donna and a big welcome to sunny South Carolina.

Many of those national class performances were achieved right here on the track at the fabled Harry Parone Stadium. The 2007 and 2008 versions of The Classic are truly national in stature. Thirteen meet records were broken. These are not chump change records either. Marcus Rowland, Dorman (S.C.) took down Troy Williamson’s, Silver Bluff (S.C.), 100-meter dash record. Troy was a Gamecock football star and now a NFL star. Dylan Ferris, East Forsyth (N.C.), capped a three-year-run at the meet with an 800-meter record. Searra Jones, Fort Dorchester (S.C.), hopped, stepped and jumped past Nicole Gamble’s triple jump record from 1994. Nicole was an NCAA Champion and Olympian from Sumter (S.C.). And finally, without a doubt the most amazing race I have ever witnessed at Taco Bell.

The astonishing woman’s 100-meter high hurdles final. Jacquelyn Coward, Knoxvillle West (Tenn.), ran 13.26, Ryann Krais, Methacton (Pa.), ran 13.50 and Jasmin Stowers, Pendleton (S.C.), ran 13.67. The stadium just erupted when the girls crossed the line. And to top it off, everybody looked down to the wind gauge operator. When he gave a thumbs up, I knew we had just witnessed the most spectacular display of athletic prowess in the meets historic 17 years. The other memorable moment was the Herculean battle between Reece Hoffa, Lakeside Evans (Ga.) and Cleveland Pinckney, Sumter (S.C.), in 1997. It was truly a battle of Titans in every sense of the word.

This year could be just as spectacular, no less than 13 records are in jeopardy. With the talent of athletes like Chalonda Goodman, Newnan (Ga.), Tavaris Tate, Starkville (Miss.), Brittany Porter, Towers (Ga.) and Stowers, it should be another year the back space key will be busy deleting some amazing athletes from Taco Bells of the past. In the 2008 team races, McEachern (Ga.) rode the I-20 express from Georgia to South Carolina powered by a William Wynne jet engine to take top honors in the boys team race. Dorman finished a close second. The rocket fuel behind Dorman’s back to back South Carolina State Championships was Rowland.

Rowland now displays his talents for Auburn University. On the girls side, Mann (S.C.) finally put all of their guns in one meet and easily handled the girls competition. Even powerhouses like Therrell (Ga.), were surprised to see Mann scoring points in events all over the track and field. Don’t feel to bad for Therrell though. They have back to back runnerup finishes at the meet and will again be in the hunt for a trophy.

This year’s team races have the usual suspects. On the girls side Mann and Therrell once again have a bunch of solid points. Also look out for any other team from the Metro Atlanta area. What a hot bed for track and field. My dark horse this year is Cumming out of North Carolina. They are a Class AA school in the Burlington area that has won a few North Carolina Championships the past couple of years. For the boys, Redan appears to be back in full force. They can sprint, hurdle and relay. Behind Redan it is as wide open as ever, but once again I am betting some other Peach State powerhouse will end up on the awards stand late Saturday evening. My “under the radar” boy’s team is Northwestern (S.C). Coach (Calvin) Hudgins appears to have another talented group.

On the individual side, there are almost too many stars to mention. Goodman will definitely lead the charge though. Goodman is a multiple time state and national champion who will continue her career at the University of Texas next year. She has also had the honor of representing her country in international competition. The Goodman’s have a long history at The Classic. Chalonda’s brother Cedric holds the meet record in the 400-meter dash. A big thanks goes out to the always smiling Mr. Goodman for bringing his children to our meet. Tate is currently the best long sprinter in the country. Just last weekend he ran 20.89 for 200-meter dash and 46.74 for 400 at the Mobile (Ala.) Meet of Champions. If he can repeat the 200 time, he will knock the X-man out of the top spot. Stowers is back fresh off of her indoor 60-meter hurdle national title at Nike Indoor Nationals. She finally gets to take center stage in the hurdle races. There is a great article on DyeStat about Jasmin, check it out when you get a chance. Nelson defended her 400 title at Nike Indoor Nationals this year. Nelson is once again a threat to break two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Monique Hennagan’s (Spring Valley) meet record.

Breanna Hubbard, Mundy’s Mill (Ga.) is also a national champion. Hubbard won the USATF 100-meter dash title two years in a row. Hubbard will keep her talent in Columbia next year. She will help continue the long tradition of sprinters at University of South Carolina.

The 2009 edition of the Taco Bell Track & Field Classic has over 2,200 athletes from 185 schools representing 11 states. From one end of the track to the other, the competition should be fast and furious. The discs will be soaring and the sand will be flying. Enjoy the view as another great Classic takes shape.

Boys sprints
The short sprints are led by Nike Out Nationals Champion Hunter Furr of Mount Tabor (N.C.). Hunter has run some fast early times this season and looks to be in great shape. He will be tested in the 100 by Travis Benton, Redan (N.C.). Benton and Hunter have almost identical PR’s in the 100. Travis will also step up in the 200 and challenge Tate, Starkville (Miss.).

How well Benton doubles will have a lot to do with shaping the team competition. Tate has been tearing it up in the winter and spring. Tavaris is fresh off of a Nike Indoor Nationals 400 title and 200 runnerup. He also earned meet MVP honors for his great 200/400 double at the Mobile meet last weekend. Andre Carter of Alexander (Ga.) will give the Mississippi flash all he can handle in the 400. It sets up to have two of the three sprint meet records go down this year.

Girls sprints
The girls 100 could well be the most competitive race at the meet. As talented as Goodman is, and she is world class, there are at least four other girls who can take the top spot on the awards stand if she is not on her A game. Takeia Pinkney, Columbia (Ga.), Dominique Weathers, ZB Vance (N.C.) Hubbard, Mundy’s Mill (Ga.), all have the pedigree to challenge Goodman and make this one fast race. In the one lapper, Mann's Nelson, seems to have the upper edge, but defending Classic champion Jawanda King, Therrell (Ga.) won’t give up her title easily. You can bet that King is also a key leg on those flashy relays that Therrell always seems to put together.

Boys distance
The state of North Carolina is beginning to get a strangle hold on the boys distance races. Distance running north of the border has been tremendous the past decade. In the 800-meter run, Tadarrin Phronebarger, West Charlotte (N.C.), has the best seed and personal record coming into the race. Andrew Hall is making the trip down from William Byrd (Va.) as well as Jovon Edwards from Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.). My dark horse in the 800 is really two horses. Keep an eye on the Johnson twins from host school Spring Valley. They both had break out races last weekend and look to improve on that effort. Dakota Peachee, West Johnston (N.C.), is the top guy in the mile and 3200. He is the top distance in the Tar Heel state this year. Speaking of Tar Heels, what happened to the Blue Devils?

Girls distance
The girl’s 800 has eight entrants at 2:17 or better. It should turn out to be a real battle the second time down the back stretch. Ashley Seymour, Archbishop Carroll (D.C.), and Becca Deloache, Myers Park (N.C.), should have the final say as they near the finish line though. Becca is part of a Myers Park 3200-meter relay that set an all-time North Carolina record at the Florida Relays last weekend. The mile should be led by Paige Johnston of Midlothian (Va.). Close on her heels should be long time South Carolina standout Kate Borowicz of Mann along with Kenyetta Iyevbele of Olympic (N.C.). Borowicz will do the double and needs to watch out for Kimberly Spano, North Mecklenburg (N.C.). Spano was a Foot Locker finalist this past fall and also took the North Carolina indoor state title in the 3200-meter run this winter.

Boys throws
Coach (Rick) Crumpler’s got a smile, and my home state of Pennsylvania (Steelers, six-time Super Bowl Champions, yea baby!!) is bringing it to him. Big throwers are back. Wesley Lavong, Methacton (Pa.), is big time. He comes in with PR’s that are just off the meet records. He has a chance to take down an Olympian, Reece Hoffa, Lakeside Evans (Ga.). That is not easy to do, but I am betting the warm weather and great competition will have “Crump’s Corner” all wound up this year. Tyler
Shatley, East Burke (N.C.) will push Lavong hard in the shot. In the discus there are four guys over 160 feet. The best of those is Miles Freberg, Walton (Ga.). Miles was second in the discus last year at The Classic.

Girls throws
Aslynn Halvorson of Butler (N.C.) finally gets one last chance at Taco Bell. She has been competing like a champion in the throws since her freshman year. You can bet she is eyeing that discus record held by fellow North Carolinian Kamorean Hayes of Harding University. Halvorson’s biggest problem is she could get blind sided by teammates Britney Waller and Naomi Atkins of Mann. The two Mann Patriots also have defending their team title from last year on their minds.

Boys jumps
I have seen amazing things happen on the runways at Harry Parone Stadium. Number one is Jamorya Funderburk’s, North Mecklenburg (N.C.), 25’2” rocket launch back in 1998. But look out for Carlton Lavong, Methacton (Pa.) That’s right, Wesley the throwers brother. Carlton went over 24 feet last weekend. He has a little bit of a sore ankle and will sit out of the triple jump, but should make a huge splash in the sand in the long jump. He won’t be the only one though. Damar Forbes, ML King (Ga.) also has gone 24 feet this year. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to GAFTXC.com on the Milesplit.US network. Check out the DeKalb County meet from two weeks ago. A DeKalb County all-star team could beat most states in a track meet. If you are going to run track in the Metro Atlanta area you better bring your A game!! The boys triple will be just as exciting.

Seven guys who have gone over 47 feet this year are entered. And you guessed it, led by some more Georgia jumpers, Steve Emere, Redan, Jamal Tiller, Wheeler, and Bubba Freeman, Cedar Shoals.

Girls jumps
21’3.25” sounds like a joke, right. It isn’t. Back to the DeKalb County meet again. Brittany Porter, Towers (Ga.) made that mind boggling jump. Twenty one feet makes a lot of boys happy at local dual meets. And she will have competition. Anita Hall and Nikola Malcolm of Archbishop Carroll have both been over 20-feet. It might take 19-feet to score this year. Throw in Sherice Walker, Cumming (N.C.), and the girls pits will be exploding with a depth of talent that hasn’t been seen in quite a few years. The girls high jump has the outstanding Saniel Atkinson, Bishop McNamara (Md.). She can go 5’10’ as well as 40-feet in the triple jump. Like I said, keep and eye on the closed end of the stadium; it is going to be busting at the seams with talent.

Boys hurdles
North Carolina is still producing hurdlers. What a rich history. Justin Crawford, Ashbrook, is doing a great job of carrying on the tradition. I saw him hurdle last weekend at the Blue Ridge Classic. He looked really smoooooth. Steve Emere will come over from the jumping pits to show his prowess over both hurdle races as well. Brian Holmes has the fastest 300 hurdle time coming in. We will see how well he handles those last 100 meters.

Girls hurdles
Stowers finally gets the favorites tag. She has been a star in South Carolina since seventh grade. She is the defending Nike Indoor National champion and will make waves nationally. Last year she broke the meet record but was third. That won’t happen this year. Sherice Walker also hurdles and has a great shot at a sub-14 second run. The long hurdles are always a tough race to predict. Most states still run the 300 hurdles. When many of the girls get here and have to go the extra 100 meters, anything can happen, but it usually isn’t good. But two girls to look out for are Shay Chandler, Westlake (Ga.) and Kennisha Holden of Redan (Ga.). I bet Stowers will find a way to sneak on to the awards stand as well.

Boys relays
The 4X100-meter relay looks like a Georgia state meet. I am keep asking Coach Crumpler to bring me some of that special water back when he visits his Georgia brethren. Redan looks like they want to improve on their two relay meet records. But they better be careful, Cedar Grove (Ga.) has been relaying with the best of them this spring, especially the 4x400. The 4X800-meter relay could be taken by the host school, Spring Valley. The Vikings have a shot at breaking eight minutes and walking out with a little bling.

Girls relays
Therrell is back. They once again are leaders in the sprint relays. Four of the Peach States top five relays are here, Redan, Westlake, Stephenson and of course Therrell. The 4X100 relay has always been my favorite event to coach, as my new team at Watauga (N.C.) is finding out. Add in the likes of Meade (Md.) and all three of the relays will not only have depth but star power.

Special thanks to John Olson at scrunners.com, a MileSplit.us affiliate for helping collect information on these amazing athletes and teams.

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