Preview of the Coaches Invitational at Lakewood Stadium

2016 Coaches Invitational PREVIEW 

(Thanks to the PHS staff who contributed to the preview Cathi Monk, Josh Martin, Bill Blythe, Jerad Johnson, Butch Climmons, Steve Rowe, Steve Krause and Zandi Debowles) GA.MILESPLIT will be onsite shooting video of all Track Events by future cinematographer Matt Almand and great photos from the eye of Chis D'Aquin !

This year's field of throwers is by far one of the most competitive groups this outstanding meet has ever seen. There are many talented athletes who will be looking to make their mark in the most competitive throwing meet in the state. Throwers from all different classifications will get to square off to see who has the upper hand.

The Girls Shot Put will be a battle between 3 athletes who all have hit a mark over 40 feet his season. This includes Nia Seldon (Marietta HS), Makenli Forest (Woodward Academy), and Sydnee Walker (King's Ridge). Walker placed 2nd last year at state, while Seldon and Forrest each placed 3rd in their respective state meets last year and are all looking to leave this weekend on top.

The Girls Discus competition is stout this year including 16 throwers who have recorded a mark of at least 100 feet already this season. It will be an event which anyone could win with a big throw! I would keep an eye out for Makenli Forrest (Woodward Academy), Kamryn Brinson (Marist), and Hilary Harris (J.L. Mann) though as they all look to improve upon their 125+ foot marks thrown so far this season.  

The Boys Shot Put group includes 7 throwers who have already eclipsed the 50 foot mark this season. It will be a head to head battle between this superior throwers to see who will come out on top this year. This is always one of the most competitive and fun events to watch during this weekend's activities. Keep a watch for Ryan Spiecha (Starrs Mill), Madias Loper (Whitewater), Robert Beal (Norcross), Ahmir Lee (MTVR), Varian Martin (Marietta), Tanner Holcomb (S. Paulding), and Sean Bailey (Lambert) who are all within 3 feet of each other's marks this season at the top of this special group.

The Boys Discus event will include some of the most powerful, yet graceful, throwers we have in the southeast. The top echelon of this outstanding group includes: Varian Martin (Marietta) with a mark of 165-04 so far this season, Madias Loper (Whitewater) who has thrown 160-04 this year, and Connor Krieger (North Oconee) who has hit a mark of 150-03 this season. This group can definitely turn upside down as all 30 throwers included throw between 120' and 165' so there could be a lot of lower seeded throwers moving their way up amongst the ranks. This should be the most interesting battle to watch on Saturday.

This year's Coaches Invitational features some of the best vaulters in the state of Georgia and is sure to be a preview of this year's State Meet. In the girl's competition, Carson Dingler and Becky Arbiv are both over 13' and are the leading marks in the field. Along with these talented jumpers, there are 12 vaulters over 10' which are sure to give us a great competition.

The boys marks are led by Mitt Conerly (15'-1") and Hunter Mallard (15'-0") with Michael Runyan (14'-0") close on their heels. The competition is sure to be fierce with 7 vaulters over 13' and many more between 12'-6" and 13'. Be sure not to miss this competition, it will be a battle to the end.

This year's girls long jump of the Coaches' Invitational will be very exciting and competitive. There are at least 14 competitors, who have jumped at 17 feet or better. Leading the pack will be Alexis Farley of Starrs Mill, entering the competition with a seed mark of 19'5. She will be closely contested by Nicole Teague of Lovejoy, Allenia Ponder of Marietta, and Nailah Moore of Fayette County all entering with marks of 18 feet or better.

The girls triple jump will also be another closely contested event in this year's Coaches Invitational. Alexis Farley of Starrs Mill leads the way, entering the event with a seed mark of 39'8. Her main competition will be from Alonie Sutton of Smith Station, Brianna Isles of Brookwood, Nailah Moore of Fayette County, and Kennedy Brown of Smith Station, each will be entering the competition with jumps of 38 feet or better. Then, there will be another 5 jumpers entering the triple jump with a seed mark of 36 feet or better

This year's Girls HJ should be a competitive field this year with 19 girls over 5-0 and 7 over 5-4 early in the season. Aliyah Whisby from East Coweta has jumped 5-8 and was second in Georgia 6A last year. Harmony Stephens of Smith's Station and Madeline Hammond of Starr's Mill have jumped 5-6 and Madeline has three first place finishes already this year. There are four other jumpers at 5-4 including Marietta's super freshman Sterling Lester.

It still being early in the season, many of the boy jumpers are just beginning to stretch themselves to higher heights. Leading the competition this year will be South Gwinnett's Antuane Dennard who has gone 6-7 and won both Bartow Jenkins and the Drew Relays. Jordan Dukes of Marietta has jumped 6-5 and was first at Jerry Arnold this year.

The boys 100 is up for grabs with some very talented runners! Terrell Smith from South Gwinnett is looking to continue his undefeated 2016 campaign having already posted 10.7 and 10.6 early in the season. Be on the lookout for something impressive from this young man. He may not be able to run away with it however since 2015 3A State Champion Austin Pierce from Lumpkin County possibly right next to him in the finals. Austin has posted a best of 10.78 and looking capable to challenge Smith. Grayson is also bringing two teammates to the party, Ismail Abdul and Cameron Douglas, who have both posted times in the 10's and should challenge each other.

Top seed in the Girls 100 with an 11.74 best, is Pope High School's Hope Glenn who was the 2015 6A State Runner Up in the 100m. She will definitely have some good competition with Brookwoods Caitlan Tate who has gone 11.83 and stood on the podium at the state meet in 2014. Other notables to watch for are Alexander's Vivette Green with a 12.03, Mikayla Jordan from Arabia Mountain, and Myia Dorsey of Saint Pius.

The boys 1600 boasts a strong field, with 10 athletes having PRs under 4:25. The race promises to be an exciting one, as there is no clear favorite. Lakeside's Davis Stockwell and Lambert's Jonathan Schwind(4:17 indoors) come in with the fastest PRs, but Chandler and Chase Kennedy of East Jackson top all competitors in the field so far this season, both having clocked sub-4:22. Other possible contenders include Marietta's Khayvonn Benson, 4:17 PR, Lakeside's Andrew Kent, who ran 4:22 indoors this year, and Thomas Moore of North Oconee, who has already run a PR 4:23 this season.

Headlining the girls 1600 is Fellowship Christian's Emma Grace Hurley, the defending state 1A-Private champion in the 3200, with a PR of 4:55. Her most likely challenger is Lovett's Serena Tripodi, defending state 2A champion in both the 3200 and 1600, and 3200 Coaches Invitationa Champion, with a PR of 4:59 in the 1600. While the race may come down to a battle between Hurley and Tripodi, there are other athletes who might have a say in the outcome, including East Jackson's Sue Ann Morales, PR 5:03, McIntosh's Alyssa LeClaire, PR 5:08, and Sophia West of Paideia, PR 5:11.

The Emerging elite 3200's is a new event this year to help showcase the 9th/10th grade athletes who could be stars of the future. Some of the top seeded athletes will be Marist's Olivia Baljet (11:57) and Katie Hartigan (12:00), Lambert's Brianna O'Neal (12:03) and Blessed Trinity's Emma Rose Bagwell (12:00) On the boy's side of the 3200, The top seed is Nick Nyman of Starr's Mill who has the best seed of 9:39. Hopefully he will be able to pull some of the other boys to some quality times. There are 6 other athletes with very similar seeds so a tactical race could be important for these young distance runners. Look for a tight pack of runners after Nyman including Blessed Trinity's Matthew Lupert, St Pius X's Rowan Wiley, McIntosh's Zach Jaeger, Greyson's Emmanuel Devore and Pope's Jacob Brenneman

In the ELITE 400 showcase event the defending 2AState Champion and multi-time/event AAU Champ from Lovett boasts the best seed time of 54.06 but St Pius' highly decorated Myia Dorsey is also an experienced competitor and comes in which a blazing fast time of 54.75. Hopefully the other athletes can push the whole field to some fast mid season times including Parkview's Jessica Moody and Arabia Mountain's Mikayla Jordan. Arabia Mountain's prowess in the long sprints continues in the boys ELITE 400 with Quincey Wilson turning in the top seed of 47.67. Wilson was a National Champion last summer at the USATF outdoor Nationals. Cobb County rivals DeAston Tandy of Pope and Kuunemuebari Mini of Marietta HS have run well early season but both could be ready to PR and make the race interesting.

In Distance Relays should be a treat for all to watch this weekend as the top teams all stood on the podium at the State meet for XC. In the boys premier 4 X1600 of the year we should see a battle between Milton and Marist. 2A State XC Champion of Marist, Pittman 154 414/417 this spring, Anderson 434 Burden434 and Reteneller 4:45 will have their hands full with the likes of Milton's Bluth420/421 McCarthy 424/158 McGorrey 433/2:00 Bowers 433 DuPlessis 442/203. Blessed Trinity could be in the mix with Robert Turko 438, Brennan O'Conner435, Ben McCoy429 and Robby Gipson 425 , St Pius X Mill Creek and Marietta, Nike Team National Champions should all be in the mix for one of best 4X1600 down to the last lap of anchor leg that should put several team under 18:00 (4:30/runner). The 4X800 should be equally as competitive with many of the same 4X1600 teams along with North Atlanta and

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