High School Digest — A Great Girls 800

Roisin Willis moved to No. 4 on the all-time list with her 2:00.78, while Juliette Whitaker’s 2:01.34 lifted her to No. 8. (KEVIN MORRIS)

THE TRADITIONAL MEET CALENDAR has remained anything but traditional in the second year of the pandemic, but the nation’s leading high schoolers have nonetheless been banging out big marks. Highlights:


Willis Wins Big Girls 800 Clash

New York City’s Trials of Miles meet brought together the year’s three fastest girls in the 800, none of them seniors.

Coming in, junior Roisin Willis (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) was the slowest of the three, but going out her PR 2:00.78 to win the race made her not only the year’s fastest but also No. 4 on the all-time list. Additionally, the mark scored as a national age-16 record, smashing the 2:01.38 set by Athing Mu two years ago. Willis’s Olympian mother, Breeda, ran in the Sydney 5 and 10 for Ireland.

In 3rd (behind a pro) junior Juliette Whitaker (Mt. de Sales, Catonsville, Maryland) PRed at 2:01.34 for No. 8 ever. And in 6th, soph Sophia Gorriaran (Brown, Providence, Rhode Island) missed her PR by 0.49 at 2:02.93.


Arcadia Invitational

The normal Arcadia formula is to draw top talent from many states, particularly for the mile and 3200, but this year’s gathering was restricted to Californians-only and the Golden Staters responded well, with 15 boys breaking 9:00 in the long race.

Newbury Park crafted a 1-2 with junior Colin Sahlman winning at 8:43.42 (worth 8:47.07 for 2M). Behind him came Lex Young, whose 8:43.71 (8:46.75) set a new national soph-class record. Young’s twin Leo was 6th in the race. The Youngs are the younger brothers of Nico Young, who as a senior last year set the absolute HS 3000 record. Continuing the siblings theme, Sahlman’s brother Aaron won the mile in 4:14.07.

On the girls side, national outdoor leader Mia Barnett (Crescenta Valley, La Crescenta) took the win at 10:01.18 (10:04.67), well shy of her 9:52.23 (9:55.67). The week after Arcadia the undefeated Barnett produced the third-fastest mile in California history, a nation-leading 4:39.41.


Texas State Meet

Big winds were the order of the day in Austin with the friendly breezes leading to some all-conditions yearly leaders. Boys — Jose Garcia 10.00w (wind 5.7mps), Barry Richards (Summer Creek, Houston) 13.31w (4.1); Girls — Jasmine Montgomery (Reagan, San Antonio) 11.09w (4.6), Montgomery 22.94 (2.2), Jalays’ia Smith (DeSoto) 12.93w (6.1).

But the meet also featured multiple legal leaders. Boys — Bryce McCray (George Ranch, Richmond) 36.27, Cedar Hill 40.49, Tompkins, Katy 40.49=, Cedar Hill 1:23.99, College Park, The Woodlands 3:13.37, Jaden Patterson (Atascocita) 50-7, Bryce Foster (Taylor, Katy) 71-1=; Girls — Seven Lakes 44.89, DeSoto 1:36.93.


Youngsters Sprinting With The Pros

Two young speedsters have been cranking out fast times in open meets.

Indoor AOY Jaylen Slade (IMG, Bradenton, Florida), an 11th-grader, had a busy day at the Sprint Elite meet. In the heats of the 100, he used a 2.7 wind to run 10.03w to finish 4th. That made him the No. 5 prep ever under all conditions. In the final, a barely illegal 2.1 wind was behind him as he ran 10.04w. In the 200, with a negligible 0.3 reading, he moved to No. 5 on the all-time list with his 20.20. The time is just 0.02 off the junior-class record held by Noah Lyles.

In the women’s races, soph Shawnti Jackson (Gibbons, Raleigh, North Carolina) had a 3.6 reading as her 11.13w in the heats made her =No. 10 ever, all conditions. The wind was a legal 1.8 as she took the yearly lead with her 5th-place 11.28 in the final. She claimed another HSL with her legal (1.1) 23.15 in winning her 200 section. Jackson, whose April 52.54 leads the nation in the 400, is the daughter of renowned long hurdler Bershawn Jackson.


adidas Dream Races

Boston streets once again hosted the adidas Dream races. The boys 100 (wind -1.2) went to junior Jordan Anthony (Tylertown, Mississippi) at 10.45 narrowly edging Gavin Schurr (Fairview, Boulder, Colorado) at the same time, with Slade 0.02 back in 3rd.

The top girls speedster was Jasmine Montgomery (Reagan, San Antonio) at 11.27, beating Jackson by 0.03. Junior Kennedi Sanders (Ridgeland, Madison, Mississippi) was 3rd at 11.36.

In a close boys mile, Ethan Strand (Vestavia Hills, Alabama) beat Dayton Carlson (Casteel, Queen Creek, Arizona) 4:10–4:11, with Ben Shearer (Christian, The Woodlands, Texas) 4:12; and junior Rheinhardt Harrison (Nease, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida) finishing 3-4 at 4:12 and 4:13.

The girls mile wasn’t close, Sophie Atkinson (Cinco Ranch, Katy, Texas) running 4:41 for a 5-second margin over junior Caroline Wells (Winter Springs, Florida).


A Rare Double For Kessler

The New Balance Invitational gave Hobbs Kessler (Skyline, Ann Arbor, Michigan) an opportunity to showcase his range with a rare 800/3200 double.

First came the 2-lapper where the ace miler followed Patrick Byrnes (Plymouth) through 200 in 25.3 then let the pace lag through the 400 in 54.0. He took command with 350 left, passed 600 in 1:22.1 and sped to a nation-leading 1:49.67 finish. Miles Brown (Novi) finished 2nd in 1:51.81.

The 3200 came 3½ hours later. Kessler had indicated that he would be running just to win as opposed to chasing a time. That strategy found him at the head of a crowded pack when the bell rang. He accelerated smoothly through 3000 (8:28.8) and with 5 runners still tailing him, he shifted to a gear no one else had.

Kessler’s final 200 stunned in the 25.6 seconds it took. He won by 30m with his 8:54.42 (worth 8:57.52 for 2M), saying later, “That was fun! The first 6 or 7 laps felt very comfortable.” ◻︎