Taco Bell Classic preview: Lockwood’s Lockdown

2012 coverage and results

scrunners.com will be onsite with team coverage Friday and Saturday

By Paul Lockwood

Lockwood assists with meet operations and submitted this preview to scrunners.com

Spring Valley Asst. Coach 2005-2009

Current Apex HS (N.C.), Track Coach

COLUMBIA -- Finally, feels like spring in the Palmetto State. Just in time for the 21st annual Taco Bell Track and Field Classic. As the season changes so do the times, after 20 years Kevin Shaw has passed the baton onto me and the era of Shaw’s Shakedown reaches the finish line. Please don’t worry as Kevin isn’t going anywhere and will keep his vital role as one of the meet directors.

Photo, right: 2012 Taco Bell Classic file photo 

I hope to impress our readers and live up to Kevin’s legendary work. Along with making Meet Director John Jones happy and get a chuckle out of Rick Crumpler. Last year’s meet had some pretty good numbers with 142 teams and 1,839 athletes competing. Unfortunately, the Classic had to break through the ceiling yet again with 146 teams and 1,855 athletes! States this year competing include S.C., Ga., Ky., N.Y., N.C., W.Va., Fla., Va., Md., Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

We were close to having some meet records broken, but you know the old saying about almost. Three teams broke the record in the boys 4x800, but only one team gets their name printed in meet history with local Lexington Wildcats with a time of 7:51.72. This year we might be flirting with the record book in many places due to having some pretty high profile athletes up for the challenge.

We have athletes that have competed in the AAU Championships, New Balance Outdoor Championships and New Balance Indoor Championships, but we have National High School Record Holder in the stadium this weekend! Michael Cherry of Oscar Smith (Va.), a Florida State signee ran a 33.05 300-meters during his indoor season and setting the high school indoor national record. I know Florida State alumnus Joe Paschal (Spring Valley coach) will have the best seat in the house during the 400-meters.

Looks like for the ladies most of the action will come out of both hurdle events. There is a chance for both meet records to go down and post U.S. no. 1 marks, which will make Jim Spier and John Blackburn from the NSAF very happy. Mollie Williams, a University of South Carolina signee, will be coming from Clayton (N.C.) and is aiming for the 100-meter hurdles record (13.26 (2008)). Heather Smith, a University of Virginia signee, from Great Bridge High, Va. could run and jump her way into the 400-meter hurdles record book.

Welcome to Lockwood’s Lockdown and the 21st edition of the Taco Bell Track & Field Classic.

Boys sprints
Wow! A national record holder at Harry Parone…the only excuse you can give me is you are down the street at The Masters watching Tiger. In the long sprints we have national record holder Michael Cherry seeded at 46.39 in the 400 along with Brad Lemmons (Dreher) 48.12 and Curtis Walker (Lexington) 48.45, who is eyeing the South Carolina Class AAAA gold in May. Walker’s best is much faster in the event and could challenge Cherry to the finish. The short sprints will be led by Sophomore Xavier Atkins of Spruce Creek (Fla.), who is seeded at 10.47. Atkins competed last year in AAU summer track clocking the nation’s fastest wind-legal freshman times of 2012 to win both the 100 (10.58) and 200 (21.11). The 100 finals should be Atkins, James Drummond (Lexington, N.C., 10.65) and local favorite Jaylen Bacon of Lower Richland (10.60). With this speed the track should be sizzling!

Photo, left: 2012 Taco Bell Classic file photo 

Girls sprints
The girls’ short sprints will be the battle of the state champs. In the blue corner seeded at 11.95 the North Carolina 55 Class AAAA Indoor State Champion Sabrina Moore of West Mecklenburg and in the red corner seeded at 11.94 the Virginia 100 Class AA Outdoor State Champion of Zakiya Bateman of E.C. Glass.

This is sure to be a fun one to watch. Andrea Wright of Indian River (Va.), another Virginia signee. She is the Class AAA 300 Champion and is seeded at 54.88. Wright, the strong favorite, could she put the meet record in jeopardy?

Boys distance
This will be the most excited Hall of Fame member Jim Kilbreth and I have been since Alan Webb graced us with his presence back in 2000. The boys distance races are loaded. Although it’s going to be tough for the 3200/Mile guys to go after Webb’s records, it will be a tight pack to the finish. The 3200 front pack will be all juniors. Nik O’Brien (North Augusta, 9:13), James Quattlebaum (Christ Church, 9:16.39), Tony Morales (Lexington, 9:16.39), and Daniel Navarro (Marist, Ga. 9:17.52).

This is bound to be one exciting 3200, as all but Navarro are using momentum from the Florida Relays to win the race. The mile will have a close lead pack as well led by Dreher's Nick Putnam (College of Charleston signee), (4:15.02) East Carolina signee John Crossley (4:16.2), Kenan Farmer (Walton, Ga.) 4:16.2), and Zack Langston (Lexington, 4:17.46). Can the Cougar out race Petey the Pirate to the finish?

Now on to the real stuff…Since Jim’s retirement I rarely get to hear the famous shout “BACK STRETCH!” I have a feeling you will be hearing it from the HOF member. This is also my stone cold lock pick of the meet. Tretez Kinnaird (Butler, Ky.) is seeded at 1:49.31 in the 800. The Hooser Signee is U.S. no. 1 Indoors and defending Kentucky 800 champion. This Kentucky thoroughbred is bound to not only break the meet record from 2008, but shatter it.

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Girls distance
This year the sophomore class will be leading the way for the distance events. Malia Ellington of Community School of Davidson (N.C.) is going for double win in the mileand 3200. She will push towards double meet records. Shaw’s very own Michigan signee Darby Middlebrook of Watagua, seeded 10:53.07 could be in the mix. Jennie Cunningham of Pinecrest (N.C.) is the Class AAAA 1000 State Champion and is the heavy favorite to win the 800. The Dartmouth signee is seeded at 2:13, but I know she can push for sub 2:10 this weekend.

Boys throws
Hall of Fame Coach Rick Crumpler (Spring Valley) should be all smiles this weekend down in Crumper’s Corner. We have three 56 foot plus throwers with local favorite Griffie Loy of Bishop England seeded first at 59’8.” Loy is the defending Taco Bell shot put champion, but will have his work cut out with Myquon Stout of Jesse Carson (N.C) (56’3”) and Rusty Provins of Cumberland Gap (Tenn., 56’2”). All three are state champions from their states, but don’t count out Matthew Zajac of E.C. Glass (Va.) seeded 54.’ Zajac will get down and dirty in shot, but he is the clear favorite to win the discus (186’4”) with Kenneth Brinson of Marist (Ga.) close behind.

Girls throws
Legend has it Crumpler never has to cut the discus sector grass because he dares it to grow! Could this be Khayla Dawson of Olympic (N.C.) debut meet of her high school career? Dawson, only a freshman is seeded 43’2.5” in shot put, but has thrown 47’5” in middle school. Camelia Gibson of Seneca is seeded with a 41’10.5” could help both of them push toward the 50’ mark and closer to a U.S. no 1. In the discus we could also see the ladies push the 130’ barrier. Zakiya Rashid of Nansemond River (Va.), only a sophomore, is the clear favorite in the discus seeded at 128’6”. These ladies have the potential to come back to the classic and become legends themselves if it’s a great day down in Crumpler’s Corner.

Boys jumps
We have the S.C. no. 1 Craishaud Foulks of Richland Northeast as heavy favorite to win the long jump, seeded at 23'8." The triple jump should be exciting as we have four guys jumping around 46.' Dwight Rogers of Spartangburg should be the favorite in this event, but has to be on his A game if he wants to hop, skip and jump his way to gold.

Friday under the lights is usually an exciting one. Foulks is seeded 6'8.” Could this be his first
 gold of the weekend? Spring Valley's own Richard Fish will be fishing for a gold medal seeded 14'6" along with Mauldin's Joseph Berry in the pole vault. This should be a fun event as the guys push the 15' mark.

Girls jumps
Can Wando junior Sarah Lee (12'1") or Kent State signee Morgan Allen of Byrnes (12') push each other for first place and a meet record? This should be a good one and the horizontal jumps event to watch this weekend. Javonne Antoine of Elizabeth Seton (Md.) is seeded 40'1” in the triple jump,  only nine inches off off the triple jump meet record. Antonie placed fourth at indoor nationals and Md. no. 1 indoors in this event.

Boys hurdles
Defending Class AAAA State Champion Davon Anderson (Summerville) is looking to give all the locals a preview of the state meet. Anderson is seeded at 14.05 with Erin Jenkins of Z.B. Vance (N.C.) able to challenge, but has a better chance to win the 400-meter hurdles with a seeded 52.77 time.

Girls hurdles
It's great to be a Gamecock this weekend while spectators can watch signee Mollie Willaims of Clayton (N.C) in the high hurdles. Williams seeded 13.64 will go after gold and a possible meet record in the 100 hurdles. Heather Smith of Great Bridge (Va.) is seeded 59.76 in the 400 hurdles. The University of Virginia signee and Class AAA defending state hurdle champion will have her work cut out if she wants to make her way in the record book.

Boys relays
Lexington's 7:48.95 and defending 4x800 champions are seeded faster than their own classic meet record. If everything goes as planned, these Wildcats could be the first record of the meet. We might see some 'Bolt' arms after the 4x100 as the clear favorite Summerville is seeded 41.57. The 4x400 will close out the meet the with Spring Valley and Harding University (N.C.) both seeded at 3:19. Will Spring Valley use the home track crowd to push them into the record books?

Girls relays

The girls 4x800 will kick off the meet Friday night as J.L. Mann runs for gold with a seed time of 9:42.23. While Providence (N.C.) and Lexington both seeded at 9:45, putting the pressure on J.L. Mann Friday night. The 4x100 clear favorite will be Nansemond River (Va.) with a seed time of 47.27. Hillcrest will try to end the night winning the 4x400 seeded at 3:54.15 unless J.L. Mann (seeded 3:57) looks to challenge them.