Kendrick Smallwood (Mesquite Poteet) will be attempting to win double golds again this year
- - -
The action is just one day away. Six classes, nine athletes and teams, in 17 events will verge into Austin, Texas to compete in the most talented track meet in the country.
This weekend will complete the most daunting path to most coveted high school championship in the country. These athletes have already gone through three qualifying rounds to reach this point.
Here is our preview for this week's championship event:
- - -
The smallest classification in the state could provide some of the biggest and most action packed punches.
With Athletes like Taytum Goodman (Springlake Earth) and Makenna Byrd (Wildorado) looking to defend their state championships, this could be a weekend of athletes taking shots on defending champions.
Goodman won the 800m and 1,600m last season as a freshman. She'll be looking to do it all again, but she'll hope to add the 400m stat title to make it a triple gold type of day.
Byrd also won two events last year when she took the hurdle double as a sophomore. This year, she is only defending the 100 meter hurdle title, but taking less than first place probably isn't in her plans.
Ackerly Sands won the 4x200 relay and the 4x400 relay last year and could be considered the favorites again this year.
The boys will have a major battle beginning with 1A distance studs Isaiah Billingsley and Brandon Passmann. Last year, they split their two races with Passmann winning the 3,200m in a conference record and Billingsley taking the 1,600m win.
This year, they will only connect in the 1,600m. Passmann will try to lower his state record in the 3,200m and Billingsley will try a couple of new events. He'll give a go in the 800m and the 400m. The two could combine for a push for the 1A conference record in the 1,600m. Adding to the luster of these two athletes is Passmann going to run in college at Alabama and Billingsley going to Auburn to compete.
- - -
The 2A girls classification has perhaps one of the more exciting athletes in the state with Texas Tech signee Macklynn Land. The Panhandle sprinter is looking to win her third 400m title in her career. She comes to Austin after a huge regional championships that saw her drop 23.87 and 54.80 PRs in the 200m and 400m.
Wellington senior Kyla Kane from is no stranger to success in running. The West Texas A&M basketball commit is perhaps competing in her final running competition this weekend. She is a two time cross country state champ and won the 1,600m last year in Austin.
This year, she'll look to defend that win, but also add the 800m gold medal to supplement her runner-up performance last season.
The 2A boys could be a show put on by two teams.
Hamilton will be led by seniors Caleb Lengefeld and Taylor Long. Lengefeld will look to get big points in the 800m, 1,600m, and the 3,200m and Long will compete in the 400m and the 800m.
They'll be trying to outscore Timpson who has two relay entries and several individuals who can score big points.
Lengefeld will also have to battle defending 1,600m and 3,200m champion from last year Abraham Morales (Brackett).
- - -
Hannah Spears is another athlete who will be trying to defend her state meet wins from last year. The Holliday senior won the 1,600m and the 3,200m last spring and is the favorite to do it again.
Yierra Fleming (Cameron Yoe) won the 400m last year in 54 second as a freshman and is the favorite to win again. She could also win the 100H and long jump.
Fleming will compete with Taylor Nunez (Randolph) in the long jump who like Fleming has a 19 foot jump coming into the state meet. Nunez will be the favorite in the 100m and 200m, but she'll have to fend off defending champion Jayla Franklin from Newton. Franklin was dominant last year as well as at the Region 3-3A Championships.
Abigail Elmore will be a must see in the girl's high jump. The Gunter sophomore finished sixth last year as a freshman along with the 100H. This year, she is the US No. 2 high jumper coming into Austin with her 6 foot PR. She is also competing in the shot put and the 4x400 relay.
Riley Nedrow transferred from Flower Mound after the cross country season and he has the best times coming out of regionals Now competing for Boyd, Nedrow will have to dul with Kiser Crawford from Amarillo River Road who won the 1,600m and 3,200 m last year.
Four star wide receiver Brenen Thompson was runner-up in the 100m last year and won the 200m. The Spearman senior will be looking for two wins this year as he will return to Austin in the summer to compete for the Longhorns football team.
The field events will host can't miss competitions. Linus Mannino jumped 6-10 at regionals and the Woodville jumper could be shooting for 7 feet this weekend.
Chris Preddie (Little River Academy) and Donovan Ramirez of Odessa Compass Academy will be tearing up the runways and the sand pits.
Preddie jumped 24-5 in the long jump and 49-01.25 in the triple jump at the Region 3-3A Championships. Ramirez went 49-10.75 at regionals to set up the outstanding state meet match up.
- - -
Abigail Bass (Melissa) is the reigning cross country champion and will be the one to watch in the 1,600m and 3,200m races.
Abree Winfrey and Hannah Stuart from Canyon will try score a lot of points for their teams. Winfrey will attempt to win her second consecutive 800m title. She could get quite the race from the rest of the field as there are six girls under 2:20.
Ja'Naria Jackson from Terrell will be one of the sprinters to watch in 3A. She enters with 11.80 and 23.85 marks from regionals.
Carlie Weiser won the shot put and discus last year. The Giddings junior leads the classification and could be the state leader in both when this weekend is over.
The 4A boys distance races could be classics between Angel Sanchez (Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis), Chris Moreno (San Elizario), and Hudson Bennett (Burnet). The three are separated by the slimmest of margins.
Grant Williams (Celina) Could challenge the conference record in the 300H. He enters with a 37.26, but he has been working on his speed and it could show this weekend.
- - -
The girls distance races will be EPIC!
Isabel Conde De Frankenberg will compete in all three distance races this year unlike last year when she decided to forgo the 1,600m.
The Cedar Park sophomore will be joined by Cameron McConnell (Canyon Randall)and Anastacia Gonzales (Boerne Champion) who all also be doing the same. All three girls have run under 2:10, 4:55, and 10:46 this year.
They'll be joined by Kailey Littlefield (Lovejoy) in the 800m and 1,600m to make them even more highly anticipated races.
In the sprints, it'll be Christine Mallard (Mansfield Legacy) is catching her stride at the right time. The senior will be competing in all three sprint events (100m - 400m). She should be considered the favorite.
Walker St. John won the 1,600m in dramatic fashion last year. He will not be defending his title this year as he has elected to compete in the 3,200m and the 800m this year. He will be in a fantastic race in the 3,200m as he'll be tested by the entire field as well as by Isaac McGill most specifically.
The 1,600m will still have a key performer with last year's runner-up Chris Riley. Riley already has a 4:05 performance on his resume this season and could challenge the state record this weekend.
Also looking to defend his championship is Eric Hemphill from Brenham. He is the leading returner in the 400m
Kendrick Smallwood won both 5A hurdle races last year and like Hemphill, he'll be looking to score again. Smallwood will have quite the test with nationally ranked hurdlers like Kody Blackwood and Chris Brinkley to compete against.
- - -
Natalie Cook could be looking to tear apart both UIL state records as well as national records. The Flower Mound senior has already established herself as the best runner in Texas history in the 1,600m and the 3,200m, now it's time to make an even bigger impact and leave high school as the best American high school distance runner ever.
In the sprints, Tiriah Kelley could be a candidate to win two sprint races much like what we saw with last year's winner, but Camryn Dickson who was runner-up in the 200m last year will be looking to deter that. Haley Tate will be looking to win 400m gold and possibly run under 52 seconds.
The hurdle races will be explosive, however the lanes to be on the watch for are the ones with Simone Ballard in them. She has the best times from regionals in both the 100H and the 300H.
In the field events, Molly Haywood will try to dethrone defending champion Emily Fitzsimmons in the pole vault. Haywood has been on fire all year long, but Fitzsimmons knows how to turn it on at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Emma Sralla could be on the hunt for a discus state record and Claire Lowrey could be looking to jump 6-1 or higher for the first time in her career.
The relay and hurdlers from Klein Forest will look to score enough points to win stat titles, but they'll have the distances from Flower Mound to contend with and the outstanding relays from Shadow Creek to contend with.
The boys will see a high octane Summer Creek vs. Duncanville team battle.
Duncanville will have sprints and relays playing major parts of their scoring and Summer Creek will look to do it around the entire stadium.
Pierre Goree has already run 10.08 and on the track in Austin, he could run under 10.0. Khamari Terrell and Jelani Watkins will provide the sparks in the 200m as they could push the race under 20.5.
The long jump will be the sight of possibly the best competition all weekend long. Aaron Davis and Jayden Keys have jumped over 25 feet and defending champion Ashton Torns is ready for a title defense.
The relays are always exciting races at the state meet with Duncanville having the possibility to run under 40 point and Summer Creek possibly shooting for a state record this year shouldn't be any different.