We took a look at the Florida entrants in the Championship distance events at New Balance Outdoor Nationals, here are a few potential story lines to keep an eye out for this weekend.
Boys 800m Championship
Ocala Vanguard senior and University of Tennessee bound, Alex Kay, is on the outside looking in on a top five performance. After a 2nd place finish at the state meet in a 1:53.54, he split an "easy" feeling 1:53 leg of the Vanguard's championship 4x800 relay team. He kept racing after his season, running a 4:23.42 personal best for the 1600m at the Avery Creek Classic and wining the 400m at the Flo Golden Classic in 49.06. Then raced to a win in the Music City Distance Carnival on Memorial day weekend in a personal best of 1:51.76. That shaved 0.48 off his best from last year.
Among the top of the entrants is junior, Conor Murphy (RI), who ran 1:50.43 in 2018. However, Murphy has not approached that time in more than a year and three others are in the same 1:51 range as Kay this year.
It could be a story book ending for Kay who suffered an injury in mid year.
Girls 800m Championship
The 800 meter distance has been turned on its ear in recent years. Kim Gallagher's 31 year old record of 2:00.07 was finally broken in 2013 by Mary Cain's mark of 1:59.51. Since then, there have been some close misses by Sammy Watson, Ajee Wilson and Florida's own, Caitlin Collier. Now, junior Athing Mu of Trenton, NJ is taking a shot at Mary Cain's record. Most recently she posted a 2:01.38 at the Music City Distance Carnival. With a 600 meter indoor American record time of 1:23.57 set in March, it is only a matter of time before Mu dips under 2:00 and maybe gets the record. All eyes will be in her as the field's next best times are some 5+ seconds back.
Jinah Mickens-Malik of Mater Academy is Florida's best bet for a top five finish. Mickens-Malik came on to the scene as an 7th grader winning the state championship. Then she kept improving and blasted a 2:08.05 at the Florida Relays as an 8thgrader. This year she's won the FHSAA State 3A Champs again (2:10.80), then blasted a near personal best of 2:08.47 to win the Flo Golden South Classic, before posting her next best time of 2:09.48 to finish 5th in the Music City Distance Carnival 800 meter run.
With the limelight on Mu, you can be sure the front running Mickens-Malik will be in the mix and hopefully as she did in winning the Flo Golden South Classic, she can hold on to eclipse her 2:08.05 from her 8th grade year.
Boys Championship 1 Mile
Harrison's 4:12.59 fell short of Eli Krhan's high school frosh record of 4:09.38 set in 2013 and the age 15 record of 4:07.4c (4:08.8 mile) set by Jim Arriola set in 1974. He'll get another chance in Greensboro against a field that features two four under 4:10.85 for the mile.
Monk's 4:13.91 just missed the Alachua County record of 4:13.9 set by Sean Belgrade of Buchholz in 1987. He posted a 4:15.13 behind Charles Hicks 4:07.39 at the JAC Distance Classic on May 10
Girls Championship 1 Mile
Lake Brantley junior, Ashley Klingenberg, is the top Florida entrant. The junior had a solid triple at state posting a 10:51.63 3200m, 2:13.32 800m and a 5:03.89. She was elated after her 4:55.76 personal best at Florida Relays in March after having an injury shortened junior season. With less races, she could be zoned in to set a personal best once again.
Her top competition will come from Marlee Starliper (PA). The NBNI champion ran at personal best of 4:39.05 in winning the indoor mile in march. She also posted a 9:58.22 2 mile time indoors at the USATF National meet. A host of others are back at the 4:46-4:52 range so Klingenberg could have some solid competition to help with a solid pacing.
Girls Championship 2 Mile
Two prodigies burst on to the scene this past fall at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego, CA. Sophomore Sydney Masciarelli from Marianapolis Prepatory used a furious kick to win in the homestretch's final meters to nip Katelynn Hart by 0.7 seconds to stun the field. After a full basketball season to speed to a HS 5K sophomore record of 16:24.18 and most recently a 9:21.44 3000m this spring.
Freshman Abigail Vanderkooi of Muskegon Western Michigan Christian finished 3rd at Foot Locker Nationals some 14 seconds back but proved to be a formidable competitor. Indoors, she clocked a 10:04.18 3200m and this outdoor season won the Lower Peninsula group 3 championships in 10:33.39.
Riverview junior, Alyssa Hendrix, poses a threat to these two after a stellar senior year. The two time Foot Locker Nationals finalist completed the double win at the FHSAA 4A championships with solid times of 4:53.70 in the 1600m and 10:33.25 in the 3200m using negative splits. She followed that with a new mile personal best of 4:46.58 to take third at the Music City Distance Carnival. With that added speed, a proven record of strength this track season and a veteran of racing, she will be able to match Masciarelli and VanderKooi in the two mile. It could be a break out party for Hendrix who has looked splendid this season.
Boys 5K Championship
Seniors Benjamin Hartvigsen (Sarasota) and Angel Vicioso (Oviedo) duked it out over 3200m at the FHSAA 4A State meet with Viscioso overcoming a 9 second deficit over the last 700 meters to claim the win.
The Harvard bound Hartvigsen lowered his 3200m personal best the following week to 9:12.16 at the Avery Creek Distance Showcase. The 5K will be fit for him as he's shown the ability to endure pain over long stretches as his 4:27 opening 1600m of the FHSAA 4A 3200m final showed. He'll be able to go out more moderately in the 5K use his strength as two time XC Champion to hang with the pack.
The University of Connecticut bound Vicioso has shown a good range following his state double come from behind wins. He's lowered his personal best to 1:54.07 at the Flo Golden South Classic in May and his ability to hang when the chips are down could prove the difference in the 5K distance.
The field is pretty even based on past performances, but the 12.5 lap distance in hot and humid conditions could be challenging for the field. It may come down to intestinal fortitude to determine the top five and Hartvigsen and Vicioso has shown they are capable of enduring a lot of pain that comes with the 5K distance.
Girls 5k Championship
Rylee Pustilnik of Spanish River will pose as a threat to the top 10 in the girls championship 5k. Pustilnik doubled at the FHSAA 4A State meet finishing fifth in the 1600m in a time of 5:03.54 and in the 3200m in 10:47.47. Pustilnik had a strong weekend at the Music City Distance Carnival running the steeple for the first time and doubling back to run a strong mile the next day.