It’s the national meet and every event is one to watch but here’s a few to give some special attention:
GIRLS 800 METERS: This race is as loaded as a national championship final is supposed to be. There’s Claudia Francis of Cardozo (N.Y.), the two-time defending outdoor nationals championship, who clocked 2:10.00 this season. Francis has a lifetime best of 2:05.47. Ajee Wilson of Neptune (N.J.) has a 2:07 to her credit this winter and is most famously known a historic 2:00.8 relay split on the sprint medley relay at outdoor nationals last June. Also keep an eye on Mamaroneck’s Anima Banks, who clocked 2:50.05 for 1,000 meters two weeks ago. Banks has a lifetime best of 2:09.90. And wherever Banks has been, Mary Cain of Bronxville has followed. Cain also has a 1,000-meter PR of 2:50.84.
GIRLS 2MILE: Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall (N.Y.) has been as dominant as any runner in th country this season and it should be the same in this race. She ran a New York State record 9:29.89 for 3,000 meters at her state championships last week. Cuffe also has a history of record-chasing. The national record is 9:55.92 by Colorado’s Melody Fairchild in 1991. Cuffe could become just the second runner in U.S. history to break 10 minutes.
BOYS 2MILE: Lukas Verzbicas took his shot at the 2-mile record in a exhibition at the Armory last month. But this time he’ll have a full field to chase – this time there will be runners to lap. The Oregon-bound senior from Carl Sandberg High (Ill.) clocked a nation-leading time of 8:43.24. The matchup for him comes from Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.). The sophomore dropped a controlled 9:02.40 to beat Jim and Joe Rosa of West Winsor-Plainsboro North two weeks ago. That came after her anchored his team’s distance medley in 4:07.7. The biggest problem for Verzbicas when he attempted the national record at the Armory last month is that once Bernard Lagat, who broke the American 2-mile record, took off with the rabbits, Verzbicas was left to run alone. With Chesesek in the race, he won’t have that problem. Gerry Lingren’s 47-year-old record still stands at 8:40.0.
Verzbicas is also set to run the 5,000 tonight and should challenge is own national record of 14:18.42.
BOYS MILE : Just over an hour later, Verzbicas will take his 4:03.88 season-best and line up with a stacked field in the mile. Millrose Games champ Chad Noelle of Greene (N.Y.), who clocked 4:11.64 at the New Balance Games, has proved numerous times that he can run up to the level of any competition. Elias Gedyon of Loyola (Calif.) is US #3 in the mile at 4:07.58.
BOYS 800: As great a season as it’s been for Columbus junior Strymar Livingston, this will be no solo run at a national title. Livingston broke the national record in the 600 meters two weeks ago in 1:17.64. He also took the New York State 500-meter record in 1:02.88. Another New Yorker, Zavon Watkins of Liverpool, clocked the 12th-fastest 1,000 meters in U.S. history at his state qualifier. Wade Endress of Altoona (Pa.), the national leader in the 800, ran 1:51.73 at the Pennsylvania state meet two weeks ago.
BOYS POLE VAULT: This year’s event features seven vaulters over 16 feet and three 17-footers. US-leader Andrew Irwin of Mount Ida (Ark.) will take his nation-best 17-4.5 to square off against Joey Uhle of Olentangy (Ohio), who’s cleared 17-3 and Jordan Yamoah of Arlington (N.Y.). Yamoah became the first New Yorker to clear 17 feet this season, topped out 17-1 this season at the Armory.
GIRLS POLE VAULT : Morgann Leleux of Catholic High (La.) cleared 14 feet last week and could have a chance at the national record of 14-2.5 set by Tori Anthony of Castilleja (Calif.) in 2007.
BOYS 400: Najee Glass of St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.) has already had some of his fastest races at the New Balance Track and Field Center this season. He posted a controversial 1:02.22 in the 500 meters earlier this season and clocked a US #2 47.54 at the Eastern States March 1. Glass will match-up with IAAF World Junior finalist Alistair Moona of Canada, who has an outdoor personal best of 46.54.
WHO’S OUT: Cardozo will not defend its national championship in the 4x400. Hurdler Lateisha Philson and sprinter Chamique Francis both suffered leg injuries and haven’t run since the Eastern States championships The Judges won the last two indoor titles at NSIC.