In a lot of ways Golden South is a meet in trouble. It continues to bring in some of the nation's top athletes from out of state, this year including national leaders Jack Whitt (PV) and Charlene Lipsey (800), but fails to bring in even many of the best talent in its own state. The result is that many events this year will be great to watch... but instead of a great competition, maybe will be a great exhibition of a single great athlete or team running away from the pack.
We as Floridians should be embracing this meet if at all possible and getting it on our schedules. Otherwise, the opportunity is going to be gone and Florida's only national-level post-season meet will be history. This event has produced so many Olympians over the years and used to be a staple of elite athletes continuing their seasons.
I am excited to see some of the nation's best this weekend, but hoping the entry list fills out more and surprises me when I get there. Here is a preview of who to look for winning each event based on the current entries...
Charlene Lipsey (New York) - 800 Meters
She was the most outstanding female athlete of Golden South last year and will likely be again this year. Don't be surprised to see this New Yorker in the Olympics (or at least the Trials) next time around. She enters with a 2:05 PR and will just dominate this thing from the gun.
Jack Whitt (Oklahoma) - Pole Vault
I just flipped a lid when I saw this guy was entered! He is the national leader by over a foot!! He has cleared 18-0.25... even if you're not a pole vault fan, if you want to see how this event should look, come watch this kid vault!
Want one more reason? He is #5 all-time in the US... and only 3 inches off the national record... so potentially you could see the all-time American high school record!
I have no idea why he is coming to Golden South, frankly... maybe for a shot at the record specifically who knows. Hopefully Mike Vani will jump into this event also, if nothing else to give Jack some company since he probably won't enter until 16 feet!
Brittney Harrell (Mississippi) - 100 Hurdles, High Jump
She was a 3-time state champion this year in Mississippi, winning the 100H, 300H, and high jump. She will be the favorite in the two events she is entered in, the 100H and HJ and enters with personal bests of 14.43 and 5-8 in those events. As the entries stand now, she should have a pretty easy time in the 100 Hurdles. In the high jump Paige Cooke could give her some trouble if she has a good day. Cooke cleared 5-6 at regionals this year, but that's the only time she's seen that height so far.
Octavious Freeman (Florida) - 100 Meters, 200 Meters
Octavious is likely to sweep both of her events this year. The 100 meters should be a relative walk in the park. She has two competitors in the race seeded under 12 seconds: Zakiya Tyson of North Carolina and Velma Morant of New York. Neither of these two athletes have run under 12 in 2009 though. Tyson's best time of 11.82 was from 2008 with a 12.09 last year at Golden South. Our New York affiliate doesn't have any record of Morant ever going sub 12... so it really should be Freeman way out front, way alone.
In the 200 she is going to have to watch her back a bit more though. Tyson enters that event with a 24.02 seed time from 2008 again, but has backed it up a little better this year with a 24.36 and ran 24.22 last year at Golden South. Tatianna Fisher of Oak Ridge could also be right there in the mix with Freeman if she get a good jump out on her early. Fisher's PR is 24.25. And Donna-Lee Hylton enters with a 24.34 season best time... so really the 200 is going to be pretty hot, perhaps the most competitive event at this year's meet.
Oak Ridge Girls 4x100
Right now it looks like there will be no one to push them in this one. But they will have one very important thing pushing them: vengence! They are the state leaders in this event, but failed to qualify for state after dropping the baton. You better believe they want to run a phenomonal time and redeem themselves.
Brianna Frazier (Florida) - 400 Meters, Triple Jump
This is probably second only to the Girls 200 as the most competitive event lined up for this year's GSC. Brianna Frazier will come in with a target on her back... she is definitely the favorite with her 53.92 time from state. Donna-Lee Hylton of New York will look to mix it up with her if she can manage... she ran 54.56 at the New York Relays this year. Julie Nunn of Florida is also a talent, but with a PR of 55.66 she will need to kick it up a notch to run with the top two.
In the triple jump, Brianna will have to battle Juna Esperance... likely a two way battle between those two, with Frazier the slight favorite.
Angelo Cabrera (Florida) - 100 Meters, 200 Meters
There are a couple of guys seeded around the same times as Angelo, but I can't verify that their seed times actually exist. So to me it looks right now like his 10.61 and 22.32 (he is seeded at 21.79 but we have no record of that) times will let him soar to the dual victory. The 10.61 is a very good time, so I don't mean this the wrong way. But it is unfortunate that no one else is so far entered to rival those times. Golden South is traditionally sprint heavy, so.... what does that say?
Stephanie Strasser (Florida) - 1600 Meters, 3200 Meters
Stephanie should clean up both of these events easily. She will be seeking that sub-5 mark that she came so close to in her state meet performance. And she'll see to go under 10:50 in the 3200 if she can.
Mallory White and Grace Vandegrift are two talented athletes who will try to rival her in the 1600, but more likely they will be battling each other for second. Steph has just been running at another level this year. Olivia Papa looks to have seocnd wrapped up in the 3200 with her seed time of 11:24.
Courtney Thompson (Florida) - 100 Hurdles, 400 Hurdles?
Courtney Thompson FTW in the 100 Hurdles, hands down. Enters with a 14.19 personal best (seed is 13.91 but no verification on that), which got him third place at the 4A state meet. Without any surprise entries, he is a second ahead or more.
The 400 Hurdles might be a bit more interesting. It is not run hardly ever, so the athletes are not used to it. Making it even harder to judge, Courtney doesn't run the 300 Hurdles very often. His top competition in that 400H will be Brix Gomez. Brix has run a 38.46 300H, comapred to Thompson's 39.76.... however, Thompson is seeded at 52.5 so maybe he has run a 400H before and that's a pretty impressive time if it's not just a guesstimate.
Kamran Joyer (Florida) - Shot Put
He is the state leader and 3A State Champ in this event with his 59-7. His nearest rival is Auston Chen with a 51 foot mark.
Caitlin Schuessler (Florida) - Pole Vault
She is currently second in the state with her 11-10 clearance at regional. She will definitely have company though with Brianna Arellano and Megan Walker having also gone over 11 feet.
Phillip Young (Florida) - Triple Jump, 400 Meters?
A stud in the triple jump with his second-best in the state leap of 48-11, this should be all him. He will savor that victory, since he had the unfortunate luck of missing out on the state title because state leader Quayshun Smith happened to also be in his classification. So it will be nice to see him with a title.
The 400 Meters he is seed at 48.7 though we only have record of 49.41... that really should not be the favorite in this event... again Golden South is known for being sprint heavy! But based on the current seeds he is the leader in this one.
Auston Chen (Florida) - Discus
170-0 personal best is way ahead of anyone else entered. He is also seeded second in the shot.
Tachira Charles (Florida) - Discus
Ranked fifth in the state in this event, her 133-2 puts her a good distance out in front of the pack. Shayla Smith (123-11), Amelia Storer (118-0) and Venicia Owens (115-11) will need to get awfully big throws to challenge.
Samantha Sagley (Mississippi) - Long Jump
Sagley won the 3A title in Mississippi with her 18-9.75 personal best, which puts her as the clear favorite. The other two 18 footers in the event are Denae Fluellen (18-3) and Brittnay Wagoner (18-0.5).
Ronald Gleaton (Florida) - 1600 Meters, 800 Meters?
The 4:18.16 puts him eight seconds out in front of the next seed... so it's looking like he won't have to work overly hard to wrap this one up. Nick Palmero of Florid and Brett Hanke of Alabama will hope to put up new personal bests to challenge Gleaton.
The 800 will not be nearly as easy. There are a lot of seeds between 1:57 and 1:59 including... Gleaton (1:57.32), Jake Kehlenbeck (1:57.07, top seed), Tory Webb (1:58.37), Ryan Jones (1:57.99), and Brett Hanke (1:59.7).
Tamara Curtis (Florida) - 400 Hurdles
Likely all alone with her 45.66 300 Hurdles time.... unless Brittney Harrell (previouslly mentioned) decides to add this event then she would have company.
Boys 3200 - Sean Quinn - 9:47
Boys 4x100 - Belen Jesuit - 42.26 (Pace said at state they were entering...?)
Girls 4x400 - Hempstead, NY - 3:55.2
Boys Long Jump - Javier Rodriguez - 22-11