2021 Marietta Distance Carnival Preview

A successful splashdown at the 2019  Meet of Champions (all photos by Dan McCauley)

This Saturday the 8th Annual Marietta Distance Carnival looks to at least be a dry, chilly day. Thus far, the 2021 outdoor season has been cold and wet. 38 schools and 721 athletes are registered to compete. MileSplit Georgia will be onsite shooting photos and video from every race start to finish. Coach Nicholas Houstoulakis commented, "Throughout the past seven, this meet has grown in both numbers and quality of competition. This year, we will once again have the steeplechase on the list of events as it was a fun and unique event for the athletes to participate in and the spectators and coaches really enjoyed watching it as well!! We feel that the Distance Carnival is a great way to kick off the season as teams have unlimited entries in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m events. Visiting programs use it as a time trial to allow their distance athletes to compete against other schools and measure their progress from all the work they put in during the winter months in preparation for the 2021 track season." Click on the link below for the final heat sheets.

Race Breakdown


After catching the attention of the entire country during his indoor track season, we are all looking forward to seeing what Parker Buchheit will run this weekend.  Right up there with Parker will be Zack Truitt, who sports a 1:56.30 pr despite only having run the event three times during his high school career.  Other speedy competitors include Seth White of Pickens County and sophomore William Carlton of Decatur.

The Girls 800 will be a fast one, with Camryn Curtis upfront and St Pius X duo Hannah Schemmel and Catherine Breault following close behind.  Freshman Heidi Heppner will also be looking to run some blazing fast times.  However, she is currently seeded with no time, putting her in the slower heat, which could make the race significantly harder.


The first race of this meet, the 1600 meters, will be an intense start to the day.  Although Kamari Miller is the clear favorite for this race, Zack Truitt's 4:22.87 pr is a time that cannot be ignored.  Joe Sapone, a sophomore from Holy Innocents, will likely try to start a conversation with his competitors from the gun, staying towards the front of the pack regardless.  Luke Churchwell, another sophomore, is one who I believe will shock some people with a very impressive time.

The Girls pack will likely be taken out fast by Hannah Schemmel, based on her incredible 5k time from last weekend, followed by a pack led by xc superstars Elle Mezzio and Ashley Thompson.  Clara Heppner is a bit of an unknown variable in this race.  Although she had a tremendous XC season, she is seeded with no time, like her sister in the 800, placing her in the slower heat. 

Justin Wachtel puts on a gun show


The Boys 3200 will no doubt be the race to watch.  Featuring the tremendous trio of Justin Wachtel, Kamari Miller, and Andrew Jones, we are looking at a race that could go down in history.  Andrew McGinnis will be another strong contender, looking to set a massive pr from his current time of 11:17.50.  Jared Fortenberry, whose freshman season was cut short, will surely be one to keep our eyes on. 

The Girls 3200 could be a bit of a runaway by Rylee Evans of Woodland, who showed her stamina at the Running Lane National Championships in November, running a time of 18:30.17.  Phoebe Brodrick and Finlay Mann will likely lead the chase pack for second.  Nora Hart, a freshman from Marietta, will also be in contention for the podium.


After a great XC season, Matthew Brown seems to be the leading contender in the steeplechase.  With the help of Andrew Cole, both of them could reach the New Balance Nationals qualifying time of 6:30 (this time is subject to change and has historically been 6:15).  Kaden McVey of Harrison also has the potential to reach this standard, with his current pr at 6:45.19.

The Girls race is hard to call, with less than half of the field having run it before.  However, powerhouse Riley Perlakowski is expected to hit the Girls National qualifying time of 7:20 (also subject to change) based on her fast and furious indoor season.  Steeple returners Lillian Murrell and Allison Baker will also be dueling it out for spots on the podium.

The Steeple at the Marietta Distance Carnival will double as an ice bath

Order of Events:

1600m Run 
DMR (1200-400-800-1600)
2000M Steeple Chase
800m Run
3200m Run