By Chris Lotsbom
GREENSBORO, NC, USA (13-June) -- NOTE: Junior Editor Chris Lotsbom previews this weekend's New Balance Nationals, the United States' national athletics championships for high school students --Ed.
WESLEY FRAZIER FAVORITE FOR MILE CROWN
Last year's girls' mile champion Kelsey Margey has graduated and moved on to Villanova University. That leaves Wesley Frazier as the top returnee, and she sure is the favorite. In 2012, Frazier placed second in the championship mile in 4:48.28, a year after winning the title.
There's something about North Carolina A&T's Aggie Stadium that suits the Duke-bound Frazier perfectly. In the past two years, Frazier has seven top-five finishes --including three wins-- at the stadium, located roughly 70 miles from her hometown of Raleigh.
Frazier is entered in three events over the course of the weekend --the mile, two mile, and 5000m-- and the mile is the last of the three on Sunday. If fatigue gets to Frazier, don't count Pennsylvania's Kennedy Weisner out; she placed third last year.
Also entered is Katie Knight of Spokane, Washington, who timed 16:25.75 for 5000m last weekend.
ERIN FINN/WESLEY FRAZIER MATCH-UP IN BOTH TWO MILE AND 5000m
Michigan's Erin Finn and North Carolina's Wesley Frazier have battled countless times over the last four years, creating a friendly rivalry that has blossomed on the track. Friday and Saturday, another chapter will play out on Aggie Stadium's blue surface.
Most recently, Frazier earned the upper hand at the adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile, which she won in a personal best of 4:39.17. But, Finn's strengths lie in the longer distance events, particularly two miles and up.
At New Balance Nationals Indoors, Frazier defeated Finn by one one-hundredth of a second in the 5000m, setting a national high school indoor record of 16:18.01. Finn held the lead and opened up a large margin in the early stages of the race before fading, due in large part to being ill with a virus and bacterial sinus infection.
As mentioned in the mile preview, Frazier always seems to rise to the occasion at New Balance Nationals Outdoors. But, Finn has something to prove; as she told Race Results Weekly last month, her narrow loss to Frazier at the Indoor championships served as motivation over the last three months.
A double dose of the duel in the two mile and 5000m is a must watch: it's seemingly too close to call who will come out on top.
Throw in Katie Knight and Bella Burda in the two mile and you have the makings of what could be a phenomenal race.
SABRINA SOUTHERLAND RUNNING 800m VS. WASHINGTON'S EFRAIMSON
Benjamin Cardozo High School senior Sabrina Southerland is entered in the championship 800m on Sunday. Southerland is familiar with the national stage: in March, she ran 2:03.59 to win the indoor high school national crown, setting both a meet and facility record. Not only that, Southerland's time was faster than any mark Mary Cain or Ajee' Wilson ever had run at New Balance Nationals Indoors before. Though she finished 12th of 14 at the adidas Grand Prix's Dream Mile (timing 4:54.05), don't write Southerland off for a fast time. She will be attending Georgetown University next fall.
Washington's Alexa Efraimson, 16, could prevent Southerland from capturing the New Balance Nationals Indoor/Outdoor double. Just last week, Efraimson ran 4:16.00 at the Portland Track Festival for 1500m.
HOLLOWOOD AIMS TO REPEAT OVER 2000m STEEPLECHASE
The steeplechase isn't run in every state throughout America, but it is a staple in New York, a state that has produced numerous steeple standouts in recent years. Among them are Providence College's Shelby Greany and Syracuse University's Brianna Nerud. The most recent master of the event is Keelin Hollowood, a senior at Saratoga Springs. Hollowood won the event with ease last year, finishing in 6:50.46. Look for her to break away and defend her title, but not without a challenge from fellow New Yorker Laura Leff.
NO EDWARD CHESEREK AS OF YET
As of the official start lists published on June 13, one big name missing from the meet is Edward Cheserek of New Jersey. Cheserek doesn't appear to be competing, a disappointment as it is his senior season. He will attend the University of Oregon in the fall. Of course, there is the possibility that Cheserek is a late entrant; if he does run at the meet, he'll be a favorite no matter the discipline.
BERNIE MONTOYA DROPPING DOWN TO 800m
Arizona's Bernie Montoya, who timed 4:01.71 for the mile at the Prefontaine Classic, will go for the national title over 800m on Sunday. A senior in his last go around on the outdoor track, Montoya is ready to unleash a mark to be remembered. The meet record stands at 1:48.09 (set by current University of Wisconsin athlete Austin Mudd in 2011), something that could be in jeopardy if he has a great race.
WYNNE SEEKING INDOOR/OUTDOOR DOUBLE IN MILE
Connecticut's Henry Wynne has had a tremendous senior season. The 18-year-old from Staples High School won the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Junior Mile in February, then traveled to New York City and captured national crowns in both the mile and distance medley relay at New Balance Nationals Indoors. This outdoor season, he has run 4:05.04 for the mile and just last week won the New England High School Championships 800m in 1:49.93. University of Virginia bound, Wynne is certainly the favorite over four laps. He is also entered in Saturday's 4x800m and 1600m sprint medley relay.
STACKED TWO-MILE HARD TO PREDICT
The two-mile may be the most loaded men's event of the New Balance Nationals weekend. Entered are New Balance Nationals Indoors 5000m champion Elijah Armstrong, Foot Locker Cross Country Championships runner-up Sean McGorty, 4:01.71 miler Bernie Montoya, Nike Cross Nationals winner Sam Wharton, plus many more who could become factors. It's hard to judge how this race will play out --strategic or fast from the gun-- but one thing is for sure: with the caliber of athletes in the discipline, a great race is sure to be had.
5000m FEATURES PAST NEW BALANCE NATIONALS WINNERS
The first distance event on the meet program is the 5000m, run under the lights on Friday evening. Toeing the line will be 2013 New Balance Nationals Indoor winner Elijah Armstrong and cross country ace Sam Wharton --both of whom will also run the two-mile a day later-- as well as last year's 5000m champion Jake Leingang of North Dakota.
Armstrong looked phenomenal at New Balance Nationals Indoors, when he timed 14:54.27 to win the 5000m crown. Leingang has been performing well of late; he won the high school mile at the Portland Track Classic in 4:07.16.
No preview of New Balance Nationals would be complete without mentioning the relays. Among the distance contests are the 4x800m, 4xMile, and Distance Medley Relays. What is best about the relays are seeing the individual standouts perform in a team setting. Among those competing as part of their school's quartet are Sean McGorty, Henry Wynne, and Jake Leingang.
PHOTO: Wesley Frazier shows the finish tape she broke at the 2013 New Balance Nationals Indoors winning the 5000m in a USA high school indoor record of 16:18.01 (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)