Wesley Frazier enters Saturday with an impressive resume and a 4:44.76 mile personal best.
Most would assume there is a tremendous “home track” advantage for the Massachusetts athletes that call the Reggie Lewis Center (RLC) home each week. With only a handful of indoor facilities sprinkled about the state, the RLC gets plenty of use, and the high quality oval becomes a home away from home during the winter months in New England.
But the magic of television is about to take over, and the modest facility will be transformed to an unrecognizable made for TV set; complete with all the action and drama of a multi-million-dollar blockbuster. The transformation of the Reggie Lewis Center has already begun, and the only recognizable thing on Saturday will be the exterior facade.
U.S. middle distance standout Maggie Vessey describes it best, “It's tight, fast and exciting. The crowd is close and it just makes for a hyped up, fun experience."
A stacked field has been assembled for both mile races, and the addition of the boys 4x800m and girls 4x400m has given high school track fans even more to cheer for. The Reggie Lewis Center track is considered a relatively fast surface, and if athletes get after it early, we may see some jaw dropping times.
Kellenberg, NY (Kell TC) has been on a roll this season at the 4x800m distance, and their win last weekend at the U.S. Open made them one of the favorites going into Saturday. Their 8:07.40 winning time at the Garden was well off their 7:59.31 winning time at the Bishop Laughlin Games, indicating that the track last weekend was not as fast as everybody had hoped. Expect Kellenberg to dip under 8 minutes again this week at a relatively fast Reggie Lewis Center facility, and several of their New York counterparts might do the same.
Pembroke, MA (Titans TC) has their sights set on a time well under eight minutes, and they have the talent to make it a reality. Christian and Billy Stafford will most likely be in the 2:00 range, while Joe Vercollone and Wes Gallagher have demonstrated the ability to post times in the 1:55 to 1:57 range. Vercollone is US#3 at 1000m (2:30.51) and Gallagher was second last week at the U.S. Open mile. The order they decide to run may determine if the field breaks apart early.
Acton-Boxborough, MA (Acton Boxborough TC) is the defending New England Indoor 4x800m Champions where they blasted a 7:51.23 in 2011. They are missing a couple of key components from that group, but have filled in nicely with continued development of James Sullivan and Tim Cox. Sullivan broke Alberto Salazar’s Dual County League mile record a few weeks back with a 4:19.34, and Cox recently posted a 2:34.52 in the 1000m at the MSTCA Elite meet. The real wildcard of the group may be Brian Sommers. The 300m specialist who has a personal best of 35.89 will be moving up in distance, and if he can maintain contact, can be dangerous in the final 200m.
St. Anthony’s, NY (St. Anthony’s TC) finished 3rd at the U.S. Open in 8:09.66, but won the CHSAA Varsity Invitational in a very impressive 8:05.50. This very deep squad has four athletes that have run under 2:40 for 1000m this season, and 8 that have run under 4:40 for 1600m.
Xavier, NY (Knights TC) finished 4th at the U.S. Open in 8:10.09 and have displayed a nice spectrum of strength and speed this season. Dmitri Zuccarello leads the team with a 4:26.14 personal best in the 1600m, but has also run a 2:35.75 in the 1000m this season. Eliot Kaufmann (4:29.76 / 1600m) and Greg Watch (2:39.34 /1000m) could be in the mix, but it will be interesting to see if they move Edward Wagner up for the event. Wagner has run 50.02 for 400m and 1:23.41 for 600m this season.
On paper, St. John the Baptist, NY (SJB Elite TC) displays modest individual times in distances from 400m on up. They do have two athletes that have run 51.xx this season, but it’s the combined effort that matters. SJB put together a brilliant 8:09.20 to finish 2nd at the U.S. Open and will be in the mix with a gritty style of team running.
Three athletes have run 1000 meters under 2:40 for Lowell (MA) and Michael Kalenoski is right on the verge at 2:41.53. Kalenoski has also run the mile in 4:32.80, but the game changer might be Patrick Coppinger. He has a mile PR of 4:26.08 and Lowell has been working on his foot speed via the 4x400m relay. Coppinger runs the quarter like a freight train, picking up speed after a few corners and running down competitors with every subsequent step.
Brookline, MA (Brookline TC) is fully engulfed in the Massachusetts vs. New York Rivalry with Patriots owner Robert Kraft being a distinguished graduate of the school. The Warriors hope to create some good karma for the Patriots with an impressive showing Saturday. Sam Burrington has demonstrated tremendous competitive fire lately, putting together several impressive anchor legs over the past few weeks. Brookline may not have a flashy superstar, but they always find a way to link together a true team effort. Their Massachusetts Division 1 State Cross Country title is a testament to that.
Girls 4x400m Relay
St. John Villa, NY (ST JV TC) has the honor of the fastest time in the field this season at 3:55.81. They were pushed to the brink at the Bishop Laughlin Games by Swenson who just edged them by .61. Mariah Claudio leads the squad with an impressive 57.65 season best in the open 400m, but she has run 56.97 outdoors.
St. Anthony’s, NY (St. Anthony’s TC) posted a 4:03.05 to finish second to St. John Villa (4:02.08) at the U.S. Open; indicating that both teams can run well under 4 minutes. Further evidence of that rests on the fact that they have three girls who have run under 60 seconds this winter. Olicia Williams leads the team with a 57.72 season best. She is backed up by Claudia Zyskowski (59.18) and Megan Fiedler (59.87).
Mansfield, MA (Mansfield TC) is the top Massachusetts team in the field with a 4:03.81 season best. They are led by Jen Esposito who has posted a 1:36.82 for 600m and a 40.93 for 300m this season. The very talented Esposito is the workhorse of the Mansfield program, and with fresh legs, it would not be surprising to see her approach the 56.62 personal best she ran outdoors last spring. Even with a sub 57 effort, she will need help from Julia Jones (43.25 / 300m), Maddie Oldow (1:42.34 / 600m), and Briana Chuisano (7.47 / 55m).
Weymouth, MA (Weymouth Youth TC) has a season best of 4:07.85 and is certainly battle tested after running in the Bay State League all season. Jen Kimball has an impressive 600m season best of 1:39.49, but they will need distance runner Julie Tevenan to find those sprinter’s gears to keep them in the race. Mike Miller’s distance runners are accustomed to winning in high pressure situations so expect the Wildcats to be in the mix.
Notre Dame Academy Hingham (South Shore TC) has seen tremendous growth behind the patient development of a now veteran sprint crew. The team enters Saturday with a 4:10.71 season best behind the talent of distance runner Kelsey Whitaker (1:39.97 / 600m), and three very consistent sprinters. Shauna Owen, Kaleigh Erickson, and Marypat Henry all have 300m season best times that hover around 45 seconds, and if they can remain focused during some of the faster relay legs, will find themselves in the hunt for a top five finish.
Joel Hubbard (Marshfield, MA) - 4:20.06 (Mile) 1:55.14 (800m)
Recently split 4:14 in the mile leg of the DMR at Yale. Has good foot speed and can close with the best of them.
Kevin Thomas (Marshfield, MA) - 4:20.14 (Mile) | 2:37.10 (1000m)
Cruised to a win in the 2 mile last week at the MSTCA Elite Invitational. Is very strong, and needs the pace to go hard early.
Stephen Robertson (Wakefield, MA) - 4:25.44 (Mile) 2:34.56 (1000m)
Has looked untested ever since he ran away with the 2 mile at the Dartmouth Relays (9:23.35). He has good range and good foot speed based on his 1k time.
David Taranto (Burlington, MA) - 4:21.0 (Mile) 2:35.06 (1000m)
Finished 4th at the MSTCA Elite meet last weekend and looks to be returning to his old form.
Michael O'Donnell (Methuen, MA) - 4:23.58 (Mile) 2:32.91 (1000m)
Continues to have a brilliant season, one that started with a second place finish at Dartmouth. Came down in distance last weekend to the 1k and showed some very good speed.
Tom Awad (Chaminade, NY) - 4:15.30 (Mile) 2:31.24 (1000m)
Was 5th last weekend at the U.S. Open, but may have the most tools of the group. Also claims a 9:10.97 PR in the 2 mile.
Craig Engels (Pfafftown, NC) - 4:15.28 (1600m) 1:55.37 (800m)
Just ran an impressive double of 4:19.24 (1600m) and 2:23.04 (1000m) to win both events at the Durham Striders Eastern HS Challenge.
Dan Lennon (Peru, NY) - 4:19.30 (1600m) 9:07.52 (3200m)
May have the best strength of the group and could potentially take over the pacing duties if the pact hesitates.
Thomas Graham (Cary, NC) - 4:16.67 (1600m) 9:04.14 (2 Mile)
Was the NC Gatorade Runner of the Year after his 9th place finish at the Foot Locker Nationals. He has impressive strength, but he has also run a 1:57 in the 800m.
Tim Ball (Piscataway, NJ) - 4:10.57 (1600m) 9:06.67 (3200m)
Just posted an impressive double of 4:18.60 (1600m) and 9:36.97 (3200m) to win both events at the GMC Indoor Championships.
Thomas Madden (Fort Royal, VA) - 4:20.85 (1600m) 9:14.85 (3200m)
Has had a quiet indoor season after finishing 8th at the Foot Locker South Regional in cross country. Relies more on strength than foot speed.
Chris Allen (Wrentham, MA) - 4:18.40 (Mile) 9:05.97 (3200m)
Has stayed away from major invitationals this winter following a top 25 finish at the Foot Locker Nationals. Untested, but very talented.
Sarah Gillespie (NW Catholic, CT) - 4:49.89(1600m) 2:55.11(1000m)
Has been collecting titles in New England for two years now and looks to be the favorite again in 2012. Impressive foot speed with a 2:11.77 PR for 800m.
Camille Blackman (Longmeadow, MA) - 5:03.90 (Mile) 10:56.7 (2 MI)
Has stayed in the western part of Massachusetts this season and is relatively untested at the mile distance. Demonstrated great strength in cross country, but will need the pace to stay honest if she wants a shot at the podium.
Marika Crowe (Lincoln, MA) - 5:00.43 (Mile) 2:14.46 (800m)
A relatively quiet winter has resulted in very few individual times in 2012. Crowe did run 3:04.03 and is the reigning outdoor mile champion.
Cayla Hatton (Philips Academy MA) - 20:54 (6000m)
Her ticket was punched after she caught the eye of meet management by winning the USATF New England Cross Country Championships among a field of very talented club runners. Her indoor track skills are largely unknown and her involvement should add some excitement and drama to the race.
Molly Keating (La Salle Academy, RI) - 4:39.73 (1500m) 2:15.01 (800m)
Keating has a full set of tools and fantastic range. She was second in the New England Cross Country Championships, but also posted a 1:39 600m a few days ago as she tunes-up for this event.
Annika Gompers (Waltham, MA) - 4:41.07 (1500m) 9:59.79 (3K)
Her school does not have an official track team, so Gompers spends her winter in open events at local universities. The intense competition has made her very poised and race savvy.
Megan Moye (Cosby, VA) - 4:48.67 (Mile) 2:11.24 (800m)
Moye has just been on fire in the month of July, posting time of 10:48.39 (3200m), 4:47.68 (1600m), and 2:54.10 (100m). With a resume like that she must be considered one of the favorites.
Wesley Frazier (Raleigh, NC) - 4:44.76 (Mile) 10:10.86 (2 Mile)
Frazier just posted a 4:54.60 to win the Durham Striders Eastern HS Challenge mile, but the nationally acclaimed star is most comfortable controlling a grueling pace and has a resume bursing with high profile championships.
Madison Granger (Belchetown, MA) - 4:58.89 (1600m) 2:25.13 (800m)
Belchertown High School does not have an indoor track team, but that has not stopped Granger from racing. She recently posted a 5:10.41 in the mile at the Greater Boston Track Club Invitational.
Kelsey Margey (Locust Valley, NY) - 4:43.91 (Mile) 2:10.01 (800m)
Kelsey won the mile at the Millrose Games Trials in 4:49.03 and then returned a couple of weeks later run a blistering 2:13.93 in the 800m at the Yale Track Classic.
Haley Pierce (Wilmington, DE) - 4:45.77 (Mile) 2:10.99 (800m)
Much of her season has been focused on helping the Tatnall relay teams destroy meet records. Individually, Pierce posted a nice double of 4:58.27 (1600m) and 2:18.22 (800m) at the University of Deleware High School Invitational.
Reagan Anderson (Wilmington, DE) - 4:52.13 (Mile) 2:10.26 (800m)
Anderson is the other component of the Tatnall relay machine and it is clear that having talented teammates around you all week makes you a better runner. Anderson can run with just about anybody in the country, and with sub 60 second quarter speed, she can close out races better than most.
More from the New Balance Grand Prix..........