National Records Could Fall at GSW
PDF Print E-mail
In 35 years as one of America's premier high school track and field competitions, the Great Southwest Classic has never disappointed either the fans or the athletes.

When state teams arrive in Albuquerque for this weekend's 36th edition at the UNM Stadium, the display of speed and strength is expected to challenge several all-time national records. Over the course of three days, 53 events will be contested with almost 600 athletes entered from across the country.

The headline individual event will probably be Saturday's Pole Vault where no less than five acrobatic entries have already scaled at least 17 feet. The national scholastic Decathlon record, set by Albuquerque's own Curtis Beach in 2009, is the avowed target of the versatile young Oklahoma champion Gunner Nixon, when that event is contested Thursday and Friday.

The addition of a elite team from Florida that features an array of dazzling sprinters serves as strong endorsement of the meet organizers' broad vision in adding Florida to the nine teams already competing for the team title.Selection chairs from each state pick only their best boys and girls to present in this wonderful opportunity, since the stands always include forty or more D-1 college coaches with an eye for developing talent. Other state teams entered in the unique forum include Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Kansas, and Missouri, as well as host team New Mexico.

Two of the best local stars are nursing injuries that may limit their participation. Sprinter-hurdler Krista Armistad (Sandia Prep) and distance runner Julia Foster (Academy) have been undefeated in their events all season and welcome, and senior Foster was a close runner-up in last year's GSW 1500 meters. Whether they will be up to fully displaying their gifts this weekend remains to be decided.

The big surprise of the New Mexico state meet will be among the contenders for the high Jump crown. Carlos Hernandez (Santa Theresa) upset some solid competition when he soared 7' to win his state championship, but he will be only one of five young men who have gone at least that height, come Saturday's finals. Texas' Ailex Austin is the favorite and has already cleared the meet record 7'2" this spring.

The Houston duo of Jaylon Hicks and Jermaine Authorlee are in America's top five in the 100 and 200 meters, and lead the incredibly deep team from Texas, but Florida is bringing its very best, which include Orlando's Tyler Osorio and Palm Beach's Antwan Wright. When these teams hook up in the 4 X100 and 4 X 400 meter relays the smoke will be rising off the track, and the 40.0 4 X 100 barrier is likely to be eclipsed.

The national high school record is 39.5 In that Pole Vault, three of the standouts hail from Louisiana, headed by Andreas Duplantis of Lafayette. The nation's top-ranked schoolboy in the Triple Jump and Long Jump is Marquis Dendy, and he is coming from Middletown, Delaware, to prove what he can do on this national stage. The girls Pole Vault field is not as deep but headed by the country's second-highest vaulter in Texas' Kaitlin Petrillose (13'8")

The young ladies events feature Missouri's Lindsay Vollmer defending her Heptathlon title and Ladue teammates Montenea Watkins (53.8 400) and Samantha Lewin (2:06.7 800) who suddenly emerged on the national scene with their breakthrough performances in winning state titles last weekend.

Serving as one of the three Honorary Referees this year will be one of the most famous UNM athletes in any sport: Adolph Plummer, who exploded onto the world scene when he became the first man to run under 45 seconds in the 440 yards, breaking the world record with his 44.9 in 1964. The always-gracious Plummer has served as an inspiration to many.

Thursday and Friday events include fifty young men and women competing for three multi-event titles, as well as the Steeplechase , Hammer Throw, and 4 X 800 relays. The balance of the schedule will be Saturday afternoon, and updated entry information is always available at www.GreatSouthwestClassic.com