Previewing Friday's Races At FSU Relays

Video: Boys 3200 from the 2022 FSU Relays with 5 Florida boys breaking 9 minutes.


BEGINS AIRING 6:00 p.m. EST On March 24

Are you ready for the FSU Relays this weekend in Tallahassee? has put together an in-depth preview of the 10 fastest entrants for Friday's high school races at the FSU Relays.

While some late additions could change, these top 10 seed lists as based on preliminary entries received as of 2:30 PM on Monday, March 20th.

Our preview will be adjusted once final entries and heat sheets have been received. 

Related Links: will have full coverage of the FSU Relays this weekend in Tallahassee, including live coverage on during the high school races. For more information on the meet, visit our meet page. We will have archived races, interviews, stories and more. 

Girls 800

The girls 800 meter run will feature two athletes capable of running 2:10 or faster.

The headliners will be returning FSU Relays champion Michelle Smith of Montverde Academy and Bishop Kenny senior Ka'Myya Haywood.

Haywood was the Florida indoor state champion in the event and dipped under 2:10 this past winter, while Smith has a 2:10 personal best from last spring at the Florida Relays and this will be her first 800m race of her junior year after running 1:29 indoors for 600m as well as opening with a US No. 1 59.02 in the 400mH last weekend at the Bob Hayes Invitational.

Haywood is currently U.S. No. 4 outdoors in the event after going 2:10.98 at the Bolles Bulldog Classic.  

Haywood was a close second to Cha'iel Johnson this past weekend -- in adverse weather conditions -- at the Bob Hayes Invitational in a time of 2:14. But the weather is looking much nicer this Friday in Tallahassee and that could be conducive for both Haywood and Smith to push each other for a time under 2:10. 

It should be wide open for third place as Trinity Holland of Niceville is coming off a breakthrough 2:12 PR from a meet in Alabama last weekend, while sub-5 minute miler Ava Wyant of The Master's Academy is looking to sharpen up for future sub-5 performances with an 800m race at FSU.

Lauren Mahan of Calvary Christian is one to watch as she is coming off a breakthrough indoor season with a 2:15 best and looking to translate that success onto her outdoor season. 

Hoover's McKenzie Blackledge is top out-of-state entrant as she has run 2:13 numerous times, including as the Alabama state runner-up this past indoor season. 

Boys 800

Alex Leath is making the trip down from Alabama to compete in Tallahassee this weekend.

He's the man to watch.

The Vestavia Hills High School senior is coming off a New Balance Nationals Indoor runner-up performance in the 800m with a U.S. No. 2 personal best time of 1:48.46. Leath is the fastest seed in the event by a full four seconds, but the field is plenty deep behind him as the entries go beyond the top 10 of runners who have gone 1:55 or faster.

Florida is definitely represented with some state champion caliber or potential state champion competitors in the field, including two of South Florida's best in David Serra of Ransom Everglades, who ran 1:52 as a sophomore last spring; and Joseph Socarras of Belen Jesuit, who broke the Florida high school freshmen state record last year in 1:53.

Meanwhile, Jonah Kirspel of South Walton was the FHSAA 2A state champion last May at 800m with a 1:54 best. 

Vestavia Hills though will try to go 1-2 in the event with Leath and his teammate Max Armstrong, who two weeks ago opened his outdoor season looking very sharp with a 1:52.53 personal best victory.

Girls 200

Adaejah Hodge of Montverde Academy will make her highly-anticipated outdoor debut after setting the high school national indoor record in the 200m with a sensational 22.33 clocking at New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston.

Originally from the British Virgin Islands, Hodge has been virtually unbeatable since arriving in Florida, with the exception of losing races to her teammate Micayah Holland at 60m indoors. 

The current national and state leading wind-legal time of 23.31 by Cynteria James of Miami Southridge should certainly be bested by Hodge on Friday night and state record of 22.48 by Tamari Davis from the 2018 FHSAA State Championships could be in jeopardy as well this weekend -- if not certainly later this outdoor season.

Only six past Florida high school girls have broken 23 seconds in the 200m outdoors. 

Her closest challengers are East Lake senior Sophie Haag and Sandalwood senior Emani George.

Both athletes are coming off big performances last weekend at separate meets in Florida.  Haag broke 24 seconds for the first time in the 200m with a wind-aided 23.96 effort at the IMG Spring Break Invitational after earlier in the meet clocking a U.S. No. 1 all-conditions time in the 100m of 11.41, which was wind-aided.

Meanwhile, George was a double winner in one of the most competitive sprint meets in the state annually at the Bob Hayes Invitational clocking times of 11.80 in the 100m for a new personal best then winning the 200m finals in adverse conditions at 24.78. 

Skyler Watts of Episcopal had bested George earlier this month in a 24.30 victory at the Bolles Bulldog Classic, but opted out of competing in the finals against her last weekend after competing and qualifying as the top qualifier in the prelims at 24.87. 

Boys 200

Montverde Academy's Issam Asinga, the new national high school record holder indoors in the 200m with his historic 20.48 performance at the New Balance Nationals Indoor, will make a quick transition to outdoors at the FSU Relays. 

The Florida high school state record is 20.20 and is held by Jaylen Slade from IMG Academy.

Olympic medalist Erriyon Knighton has the second fastest record high school time in Florida at 200m at 20.33 from the 2020 AAU Junior Olympic Games. The fastest 200m in the month of March by a Florida high school athlete is 20.47, and that mark is held by current NFL wide receiver Anthony Schwartz of American Heritage.

Asinga will be looking to go 1-2 and maybe even 1-2-3 with his teammates Zyaire Nuriddin (21.05 PR) and Jayvian Greene (21.34) as the second and fourth seeds behind him.

Nuriddin is actually the defending FSU Relays champion in the 200m with a 21.20 clocking; he's also the nation's top returnee at 400m from last spring with his 45.78 PR.

Nuriddin is definitely looking to bounce back strong after a disappointing sixth-place showing of 48.17 in the finals at NBNI. 

One athlete that could definitely break up the Montverde Academy party in the 200m is freshman phenom Kaj Baker from Somerset Academy Pembroke Pines.

Baker won the 200m this past weekend at the Bob Hayes Invitational with a 21.51 and earlier in the season ran a personal best of 21.18 into a headwind at the Ellis Elite 16 Invitational.

Baker also had a notable season opening win at the Louie Bing Invitational and has shown to be one of the state's fastest freshmen sprinters of all-time. 

Another athlete to watch in the race is a local Tallahassee standout in Micahi Danzy from Florida High School as Danzy won the 400m at the Bob Hayes Invitational in a U.S. No. 6 season best of 47.24 and has run as fast as 21.41 in the 200m as well. Danzy was the FHSAA 2A state runner-up in the 400m last spring to Nuriddin, and also finished fourth for All-State honors in the 200m as well. 

Girls 3,200


An incredibly deep girls 3,200m field has been assembled and it includes at least 10 athletes who have already gone under the 11 minute barrier. 

The race is headlined by arguably our state's two most dominant distance runners in Bolles senior Jillian Candelino (10:29 PR) and Cambridge Christian freshmen Eliana Black (10:39 PR). 

Candelino clocked her personal best in last year's FSU Relays when she finished third behind two graduated star runners in Caroline Wells and Caroline Lehman. During the cross country season, there was plenty of healthy debate who was the No. 1 ranked runner in the state between the eventual state champions in Black as the 1A classification winner and Candelino as the 2A classification.

In the lone two head-to-head races at the start and the end of the season, Black finished ahead of Candelino in both encounters at the Cecil Field Summer Classic and NXR Southeast Regional. However, Candelino was the fastest performer on the day at the state cross country meet. 

In possibly what could be their lone encounter this 2023 outdoor season on Friday, this will be an exciting opportunity for these two great talents to race head-to-head. Candelino is the current state leader for this season with a 10:37 performance at the Danny Brown Invitational, while Black is two ticks behind her with a 10:39 season best from the East Lake Early Bird Invitational. 

There is plenty of star power behind them and easily someone among that group could break through to either best one or both of the top seeds between the likes of Malinda Underwood, Brooke Hooper, Madeleine Gear, Ava Povich, Emma O'Day, Emma Hencock, Palmer Walstad, Addison Boyer and more.

The top seven ranked runners in the state of Florida currently are all competing in the 3,200m with Underwood, Gear, Povich and Hencock having all already broken 11 minutes this spring while the FHSAA 4A state cross country champion O'Day went under 11 indoors in the two mile at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

Boys 3,200

Patrick Koon of Leon is entered as the U.S. No. 1 ranked and state leader in the event from his FL No. 6 all-time 8:53 personal best at the Bolles Bulldog Classic.

That performance would make him the runaway favorite in the race.

He is the lone athlete returning from last year's historic 3,200 at FSU Relays, which saw five runners all from the state of Florida break nine minutes. Three of those athletes have since graduated -- Nick Carpenter, Ethan Lipham, and Michael Toppi -- while Brayden Seymour transferred to Newbury Park (CA). 

Speaking of California, there is rumor that Koon will not be racing the 3,200 at FSU Relays this weekend and instead will save himself for an opportunity to race at the Arcadia Invitational in April. The goal? To potentially go after Rheinhardt Harrison's 8:47 state record in the event.

Even without Koon, this race would still be exceptionally deep.

A total of 12 athletes are entered with personal bests under 9:20 and we are approaching 30 athletes who have dipped under 9:30. The consolation heats on Saturday morning will be fast as well as over 100 boys are entered who have broken 10 minutes for the eight lap event.

The defending FHSAA 2A state champion at 1,600m and 3,200m in Aidan Ryan of Bolles would be the next biggest name in the field with a 9:10 personal best best, but his status as well as fitness is unknown after being missing so far this track season due to coming back from injury.

There are couple of out-of-state talents that could also take this race including Will Douglas (9:12 PR) of Camden Central in Tennessee and Joseph Jacquot (9:13 PR) of Westminster in Georgia.

Cypress Creek's Zack Poekert, the runner-up to Koon at the Bolles Bulldog Classic with a 9:09 PR, was not entered at the time of preliminary entries received, but he had intended on racing at FSU and certainly would be in contention to win a race without Koon in it.

Poekert was the Florida indoor state champion in the mile with a 4:15 best. Other runners in the field who dropped quick times at Bolles earlier this month will be looking to drop their PRs even more. They include Fleming Island's Graham Myers (9:12) and Belen Jesuit's Joshua Ruiz (9:14).

A runner in the field who may not be entered with a seed time that puts him inside the top 10 but really should be ranked among them is Leon junior Jonathan Leon, who ran 9:09 for the full two miles at New Balance Nationals Indoor. The time converts to a faster 3,200m time than any other runner in the field with the exception of Koon. 

Could be Poekert, Leon, Myers, Ruiz and large pack of others all working together to keep the pace as close as possibly to 67-68 seconds per lap to stay on pace for a shot at getting close to 9 minutes to finish out Friday night at the FSU Relays.