60 meters: Trenton Guy (West Charlotte, NC), Ahmad Rashad (Carman-Ainsworth, Flint, MI), A.J. Bunton (West Deptford, NJ), Brandon Banks (Garner, NC), Charles Clark (Bayside HS, Virginia Beach) are this year's best bets. All are seniors except Guy, the national high school leader at 6.76. Rashad's right behind him at 6.78.
200 meters: Charles Clark (Bayside HS, Virginia Beach, VA), fourth in this event a year ago, should have his hands full with A.J. Bunton (West Deptford, NJ), Jay Provitt (Harding, Warren, OH), Antonio Sales (East Chapel Hill, NC), Chris Ward (Evans, Orlando, FL) and juniors Trenton Guy (West Charlotte, NC), and LaDarius Woods (Homewood, Birmingham, AL). Guy, this year's Simplot champ, has a flat-track best of 22.19. Ahmad Rashad, third in this event in 2005, will apparently concentrate on the shorter sprint.
400 meters: Chris Ward (Evans HS, Orlando, FL) expects to double up here, and has a season best of 47.97 for the quarter. He'll have to contend with the likes of Reggie Carter (Bensalem, PA, HS), John Hewitt (Franklin, TN, HS), Christopher Harrison (Gar-Field HS, Woodbridge, VA), junior Handy Dawes (Nashville, TN, Central HS) and sophomore Kendall Gregory (Lake Ridge Academy, North Ridgeville, OH). Carter comes here with a banked track best of 48.36 from his state meet. Hewitt's a track and football recruit at Tennessee.
800 meters: A year ago, when he ran for St. Augustine HS in New Orleans, Karjuan Williams (New Bern, NC, HS) became the first underclassman in meet history to win this event. He left the Gulf Coast for North Carolina after last year's devastating hurricanes, but nothing's changed – he's still the man to beat. Williams won the Simplot title this year in 1:50.74, the best banked track prep time of 2006. Others to watch are Jackson State signee William Johnson (Lakota East HS, Middletown, OH), Alex Bean (Somers, NY, HS), and junior Axel Mostrag (Fork Union Military Academy).
Mile: Brothers Ayalew and Sintayehu Taye (Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA) rank among this year's top entries. Ayalew, the eldest, is a 4:11.44 miler while Sintayehu, a junior, comes in 4:12.89. They'll be in the mix with John Schroeder (North HS, Nashua, NH), whose flat track 1500m best is 3:58.63; Oregon recruit Justin Harbor (Flagler-Palm Coast HS, Bunnell, FL), Ben White (Liverpool, NY, HS), Brian Rhodes-Devey (Guilderland, NY, HS) and Greg Kiley (Saratoga, NY).
2-mile: Junior Stephen Murdock (Saratoga, NY, HS) was the runnerup here in 2005 and his best indoor 3200 mark this year converts to around 9:14. He'll face a field that's hot, hot, hot. Kenny Klotz (Central Catholic HS, Portland, OR), Reebok/Boston Games mile winner Michael Coe (Cabrillo HS, Lompc, CA), Isaac Stoutenburgh (Crater HS, Central Point, OR), Michael Eaton (Greenwood HS, Bowling Green, KY) and junior Craig Forys (Colts Neck, NJ, HS). The lineup includes three future Pac-10 performers. Klotz and Coe will team up at Oregon next year, while Stoutenburgh's headed for California. Eaton's committed to Louisville.
60 meter hurdles: As a sophomore last year, Johnny Dutch (Clayton, NC, HS) took fifth. Based on his 2006 showing in the 55mH, Dutch is the man to beat this time around. Darius Reed (Washington HS, Denver, CO), Will Brown (Palmyra, NJ, HS) and Carrington Queen (Chichester HS, Boothwyn, PA) round out a strong field. Reed and Queen are two prize prospects. Reed will enter UCLA next fall, while Queen is bound for Florida.
Mile walk: Sophomore Roberto Vergara (Edinburg, TX) was second at NIN in 2005 and comes in as the favorite this year. Vergara's top rival is his twin brother, Ricardo, who took fourth last time out. The brothers Vergara are the only sub-7 walkers in the field. Their South Texas Walking Club teammates, Abraham Villareal (Donna, TX) and Alejandro Chavez Pharr, TX), should battle for third. Villareal was ninth here in '05.
High jump: National prep leader Eric Thompson (Herrin, IL, HS), a junior, cleared 7-2 on March 4 and looks like a blue-chipper. Justin Frick (Freehold, NJ, HS) and Tyler Boswell (Hoover, AL, HS) have 6-10 ability. Junior Michael Healey (Cinco Ranch HS, Katy, TX), Aaron Johnson (Oxon Hill, MD, HS) are both at 6-9 or better this season. Johnson, who has the home field advantage, cleared the height at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex on February 21.
Pole vault: Another marquee event, with 17-footers Spencer McCorkel (Bryant HS, AR, HS), Mike Morrison (Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake, VA), Scott Roth (Granite Bay, CA, HS) and Jordan Scott (Oconee County HS, Watkinsville, GA) leading the way. McCorkel, a junior who took fourth at the 2005 NIN, is the current U.S. prep leader. This year he's gone 17-3.5 at the Arkansas Invitational and 17-3 at Simplot. Morrison, the Florida recruit who tied for the runnerup spot last year, won the Virginia AAA title on March 3 with a 17-0.5 effort. Roth, a 16-10 performer this indoor season who'll sign with Washington, cleared the 17-foot barrier seven times last outdoor season. The Kansas-bound Scott, who tied for second with Morrison here in 2005, was the only other prep 17-footer last outdoor season. He comes in at 16-6 this time around. Ben Peterson (Cody, WY), a 16-9 vaulter, rounds out a field that's almost as deep as Barry White's voice.
Long jump: Junior Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch HS, Pomona, CA) has the best qualifying mark, 24-0.75 at Simplot. He's got one other 24-footer this season and should be the favorite. Brandon Banks (Garner HS, New Bern, NC), Matt Meyer (Liberty HS, Locust Grove, VA), Toriano Moody (Indian River HS, Chesapeake, VA) and Wayne Ferguson (Heritage HS, Lynchburg, VA) should finish near the top.
Triple jump: Gary Jones (Webster-Schroeder HS, Webster, NY), the seventh-place finisher last year, joined the 50-foot club on March 4 with a 50-1 effort at his state meet. Jones moves to the head of the class, with Jason Gross (McDonogh HS, Owing Mills, MD) and talented sophomore Antonio Miller (Manchester HS, Midlothian, VA) not far behind. Gross comes in at 47-7 and Miller's season best is 47-4. David McFadgen (Newburgh, NY), who comes in at 46-9, is the son of a former nationally-ranked TJer by the same name.
Shot Put: Eric Flores (Custer, SD, HS) will make his last stand in prep indoor track here, and he should fare better than his school's namesake. Flores, fourth at NIN in 2005, comes in as the season leader with a best of 63-11.25. He's also got a 62-8.5 this year from Simplot. Other 60-footers are Trey Jordan (Troy, TX, HS) and a pair of juniors, Jimmie Pacifico (Butler HS, Vandalia, OH) and Benjamin Stephen (Union County HS, Liberty, KY). Jordan's best is 62-8, Pacifico's is 60-9 and Stephen has a 60-7.
Weight throw: Walter Henning (St. Anthony's HS, South Huntington, NY), has completely dominated the national high school lists this year. Henning, fourth in this event a year ago, has been over 80 feet three times with a best of 81-0. He has a good shot at the national prep junior class record (76-1.75 from 2003). David Schiedt (Lassiter HS, Marietta, GA) is the next closest at 74-7.5. Eric Flores (Custer, SD) and Craig Pearce (Woonsocket, RI) are both over 70 feet and should battle it out for the third spot.
Pentathlon: The least-contested event on the program, the five-eventer is up for grabs. Wesley Bray (Cypress-Fairbanks HS, Houston, TX) was fourth in the meet last year. Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch HS, Pomona, CA), the LJ favorite, is expected to double in the pentathlon. He was seventh here last year. Thirteenth-placer Alex Holcombe (Germantown Academy, Soudertown, PA) also returns, along with Martin Ross (Brentwood, TN, Academy), nineteenth in 2005. The top entry, however, just might be David Klech (CaliforniaHS, San Ramon, CA). Klech's abilities in the high jump, long jump and hurdles make him a formidable contender.