The first two events of the Elite running events session for Saturday's Elite 16 Invitational set the tone for the rest of the evening at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar. It was the hurdles to kick things off with the 100 meter hurdles for girls and 110 meter hurdles.
The result at the time for both races would be a new national leading wind-legal time.
In the 100 meter hurdles, Skye Tolbert of Niceville already owned the nation's best time in the 100 meter hurdles with her first sub 14 second clocking ever by the junior last Friday at the East Coast Classic in Bunnell, Florida at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
Her team considered one of the best in the state of Florida made the long trip from the Florida Panhandle in a drive that they broke up over two days after their coaches were recruited by St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Alex Armenteros to come down to South Florida to face other traditional powerhouse programs like St. Thomas Aquinas, Miami Northwestern and others.
For Tolbert, it was a great measuring stick opportunity to race against the area's best that normally always owns the state leaderboard in the hurdles.
The crowd had a local rooting interest to cheer on Miramar's Terica Boyd as the second fastest entrant, but they could not help but appreciate and be dazzled by the show and race put on by Tolbert in another jaw dropping performance taking her personal best and national leading time down to 13.53 with a +1.4 legal wind reading. Her race was clean and efficient from start to finish to distance herself easily from Boyd in second place at 14.21 and Miami Northwestern's Paris Baker in third place at 14.48.
There is a gap too to find the next fastest wind legal 100 meter hurdles in the country as US #2 right now is 14.04 by Kayee McCoy of Katy High in Texas. A full half second in a race as short as the hurdles is two different worlds, which Tolbert is certainly competing on an another planet right now.
The Niceville junior also won the girls pole vault competition at The Elite 16 Invitational with a clearance of 12 feet as earlier misses broke a tie with her and teammate Lilly Chouinard also clearing 12 feet as well.
In less than 10 minutes after the excitement high brought by Tolbert, Miramar junior Tristan Simmons induced another in the second section of two for the elite boys 110 meter hurdles. Simmons was two weeks removed from a name making weekend at the Louie Bing Invitational when won both 110 and 300 meter hurdles including a state leading and US #5 time of 37.99.
Simmons also ran a personal best of 14.57 in the 110 meter hurdles to win at Louie Bing, but the feeling coming out of that meet was certainly viewing Simmons more of a national class talent when it came to the 300 meter hurdles compared to more of being an elite hurdler on the state level in the 110 meter hurdles.
Add him to being fast and good enough in the 110 meter hurdles too after The Elite 16 Invitational on Saturday. Simmons got a much closer competition than Tolbert did in the girls 100 meter hurdles as the last hurdle set had Jameli Thomas (2nd, 14.39) of Northeast and Claude Campbell (3rd, 14.42) of St. Thomas Aquinas right with him breathing down his neck.
Simmons hit the finish line in 14.25 with a wind legal +1.8 meters/second reading to at that moment tie for the current national leading performance in the event. Another hurdler from California in Jadyn Marshall later in the day on the West Coast would best the run by Simmons at 14.05 to push him down to US #2 at weekend's end.
The hurdle coach for Simmons and the girls 100 meter hurdles runner-up Terica Boyd is Craig Howard, who worked last year with North Miami's Amanda Kinloch and had prior stops as well with plenty of success developing great hurdlers at St. Thomas Aquinas and Hallandale High.
Simmons was looking to sweep the hurdles at Elite 16 like he did at Louie Bing, but hit the third hurdle set in the race and decided to peel off and not finish. It did not appear to be a serious injury or more of a being safer than sorry move by Simmons when his steps and race were thrown off.
After competing sparingly last year (did not run in district, regional or state meet) and a few club meets, Simmons certainly could compete for state titles this year in the 4A classification. He will have to contend with top returnee Cyrus Ways of Nease who ran faster than Simmons this weekend at the Ponte Vedra Invitational, but no wind gauge or wind readings on the 14.17 performance on Saturday by Ways to qualify for national rankings. Ways has yet to compete in the 300 meter hurdles this spring, but is the state's top returnee in the event with a 37.47 best.