MIAMI -- It's not often that there is so much excitment surrounding a freshman athlete before they even compete in their first high school meet. Months before her debut Robin Reynolds had already gotten national atttention from as high up as famed writer Mike Kennedy of the Track & Field News. What high school was going to be lucky enough to have her on their team?
People in South Florida and diehard youth track fans have known about Robin for some years. But for many, they first heard about the then 8th grade starlet last May after the flrunners.com Middle School State Championship where Robin set two meet records and took home a total of four state championships in a matter of about three hours. Her times at that meet dropped some jaws and then got them flapping about what she'd do in high school: 11.93 100 meters, 55.08 400 meters, 24.39 200 meters, and 2:22 800 meters. Not bad for a middle schooler!
At the Louie Bing Classic, a two-day season opener, we got to find out if the young trackster would live up to the hype and expectations. The answer: YES!
She won her heat easily in Friday's prelims of the 400 meters, earning the top seed into the Saturday finals with a time of 56.61. But seemingly staring her down on the rankings was Lanie Whittaker, a senior who with her 53.25 PR and World Juniors experience is regarded as one of the best high school single lappers in the nation. The stage was set for Saturday's finals... the rookie versus the vetran.
The rookie won. Reynolds rode her way into sure national attention by beating Whittaker by over a second and a half. Her time of 54.71 puts the freshman as the national leader in the event (at least for the time being it's early yet). Funny thing is it's not a PR... she ran a 54.45 last year at the South Region qualifier. Between Reynolds, Whittaker, and Ebony Eutsey (who opened her freshman season two years ago with a slightly better 54.60, in case you're keeping score), Miami has the highest 400 meter studlets per capita than anywhere else in the country.
As if the 400 meter time was not impressive enough, Reynolds also showed her versatility by also winning the long jump with an 18-10 (an event that we have no record of her having comepted in previouslly). She also contributed to her 4x400 team's 3:49.21 third palce finish and first place finish in the 1000 Meter Sprint Medley (2:17.69).
And in case you were wondering Robin wasn't the only one in the meet...
The Louie Bing Classic is always a star studded affair for the short stuff and the jumps and that's basically because Miami teams typically dominate these events and all the big guns come out for it. This year was no exception and our leaderboard of a week's worth of state rankings was completely rewritten by this meet for just about every event 800 meters and shorter, boys and girls.
Where to begin?
Let's talk about senior Brianna Rollins of Miami Northwestern. If it wasn't for Reynolds she would have surely been the cover story here. She too spent a lot of time on the podium this weekend with a 14.55 win in the 100H (US#3), another in the 300H (44.50, US#1), yet another victory in the triple jump (39-1.5, US #2), and finally helped the Lady Bulls 4x400 team to second place in 3:52.61.
Boyd Anderson's girls made a 1-2-3 sweep of the 100 meter medals, with freshman Shayla Sanders 12.49, Jasmine Gray (12.65, state leading 12.45 in prelims), and Sharniece Supal (12.67). Those three, along with Acacia Sangster, lead BA to a sizeable 48.28 victory over Northwestern (49.11). The Boyd Anderson girls had opened the meet with a 4x800 victory of 9:34.10 featuring Eva Pierce, Imani Sudlow, Jasmine King, and Rachael James. They completed the 4x100-400-800 relay sweep to close the night with Supal, Pierce, Sudlow, and James winning the hot 4x400 in 3:49.79.
Lanie Whittaker shook of any disappointment in her second place 400 meter finish (56.38) to win the 200 with a state-leading time of 25.13.
Ohio State University signee Skyler Wallen doubled-up winning the 1600 in 5:24.77 and then came back two win the 800 easily in 2:17.45, now the state leader in that event.
And what about the boys???
While the girls clearly outshined the boys in this one, the other gender certainly had its high points.
CJ Lockhart, commuting several hours down I-95 to compete against the Miami contingent, lead coming out of the prelims on Friday with a state-leading 48.13, but he did not compete in Saturday's finals. He left Akeem Williams of Carol City and Hugh Graham of Northwestern to battle it out in the finals. Williams won 48.29 to 48.34. CJ tweaked his tender hamstring in the 200m prelim and decided to not compete to stay away from further injury.
Miami Central senior Jimmy Florestal posted the state leading 800 time with a 1:57.46 victory.
Courtney Thompson of Everglades High won the 110 Hurdles over Cody Riggs of St. Thomas Aquinas 14.77 to 15.10. Riggs was able to get his taste of victory though with his impressive 37.77 win at the longer hurdle race. The time currently leads the nation. Riggs also took second in the long jump (23-7.25) for good measure.
Has there ever been a 4x400 race featuring two Miami teams that hasn't been exciting to watch? Miami Northwestern and Carol City duked it out with Northwestern taking the tape 3:18.19 to 3:19.31. CJ Lockhart and his crew from FPC were next in 3:23.33.
Ferguson took first in the 4x800. Their 8:14.04 gives them the state lead for now. Next week they'll race Belen Jesuit (currently #2 in the state) at the Sam Burley Hall of Fame Invitational down at Miami Southridge HS.
And the best performance on the guy's side for the meet... Antron Jackson of Carol City flew over the bar to become the nation's first outdoor 7-footer of 2009! That is a height he has now hit three times in his career.
Kentrell Sanders took both horizontal jump golds with excellent 23-7.5 and 45.1.5 in the long and triple, respectively.
And finally, since St. Thomas Aquinas always has good pole vaulters, they went 1-2 with David Shepperd (13-6) and Hunter Moon (13-0).
National Elite Performances
Below are the performances entered for the meet that met the national silver standard.