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Indoor State Records that should be scared, very scared

by Jeff Hollobaugh

In what might be one of the finest seasons ever in Michigan high school track & field, the records have already started falling. Here's a look at the ones we might see tumble in coming weeks.

Girls 1000m – A 40-year-old record in danger – if the snow gets cleaned up on time

 A rarely-run event, so records tend to last a bit longer than in the standard events. The existing record of 2:54.5 was set by Rochelle Collins of Detroit Immaculate HS (closed in 1983). Collins was coached by Richard Ford of the Motor City TC, one of the kindest men I have ever met in the sport. Collins set the record in 1975 at Ann Arbor as a ninth-grader. She was no slouch, with bests of 55.90 and 2:08.2+ when she graduated. Perhaps her best mark ever was a 1:32.0 for 600m in Ontario in 1977. Do that math on that—it will be a long time before we see it fall. Collins later starred for the University of Texas at El Paso and made All-American in the 4 x 400 and distance medley.

The challenger: Ersula Farrow, senior from Oak Park HS and the Motor City TC. Farrow has the potential to break every 800m record we have. Her outdoor PR is 2:06.75 as a sophomore, and she’s already run a 2:11.00 this indoor season. On Friday night she will be running in the Armory Track Invitational in NYC (provided the city can dig out from the blizzard that is hitting it now). She will be in a special Junior invitation-only 1000m race at 6:05pm. There will probably be a live webcast. Check details on on Friday.

Girls 300m – Can a Baisden mark fall?

Another rarely-run event for Michigan kids, but the record is a tough, recent one. Kendall Baisden of Country Day HS ran her 38.16 at the New Balance Invitational on the Armory Track in 2012. Now she is the World Junior 400 champion and one of America’s best Olympic prospects. An even 38.16 pace would mean passing 200m in 25.41 and going another half lap!

The challenger: Anna Jefferson, junior from Oak Park HS and the Motor City TC. Jefferson has already run 7.77 (twice), 25.07, and 56.40/55.99OT this season. She will have great competition this Friday at the Armory Track Invitational. Race is set for Saturday at 2:50pm.

Boys Mile (and 1500 and 1600) – Depends on the field

The mile is one of those events where a three-for-one deal is possible.  The 1500m, 1600m and mile (1609.34m) marks can all fall in the same race. Last year at New Balance Nationals, Grant Fisher passed 1500m in 3:54.29, narrowly missing Dathan Ritzenhein’s record of 3:54.0. However, Fisher’s kick was good enough that he obliterated the mile best of 4:10.28 set by Connor Mora the previous year. He also was clocked at 4:08.2 a few steps earlier, good enough to break Ritzenhein’s 4:09.0.

The challenger: In case you were meditating in a monastery in Tibet and missed the cross country season, you need to know that Fisher ran okay. His base fitness is there and he is dabbling in speedwork. However, since he doesn’t make a practice of chasing records, it all depends on the pace of the other runners in the race for the first half. Hopefully, by now the nation’s best distance preps have figured out that they simply cannot outkick the Grand Blanc senior. Their only hope, as slim as it may be, would be to hammer the pace and try to burn the kick out of Fisher. Whether or not that actually happens will be the key to whether or not we see Fisher improve his record. Fisher will be running in the Gazelle Sports Elite Mile at Grand Valley this weekend. Since it’s an oversized track, he can’t set a state record, but it’s not unlikely that he will run faster than the mark. New Balance Nationals in March is where we will see the record get its biggest scare, as Fisher is heading to NYC to defend his title.

To be honest, let’s say Fisher stubs a toe and sits out the season, one can’t discount Logan Wetzel as a possible record threat. The Saline senior is healthy and running very well, with a 1:55.12 and 4:18.42 OT to his credit. Plus, he’s going to be running the invitational Junior mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on February 7 at the NYC Armory.  He’s also expected to run at New Balance Nationals, where last year he clocked 4:15.37 for second in the Emerging Elite race.

Girls Pole Vault –Shell is on fire, and she’s not alone.

The record going into the season was 12-10.5 by Mackenzie Shell of Port Huron Northern last year. She’s already busted it twice, and is at 13-4 now, the #3 vaulter in the USA. Michigan is blessed with riches as Frankenmuth’s Stephanie Lambeth is now also over 13-feet, and is #7 in the USA. Here’s hoping that they many chances to push each other higher. Will we see Michigan’s first-ever 14-footer?

Boys 60m – Ahmad Rashad’s mark on the line

The current record of 6.73 was set by Flint Carman-Ainsworth star Ahmad Rashad at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Landover, Maryland, in 2006. Four years later, Rashad busted a 10.10 for USC, and he competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials

The challenger: Jaron Flournoy of Westland Glenn and the Michigan All-Stars TC is on fire. He blasted a nation-leading 6.78 in early January and has racked up serious marks in all his other events. The record is a tough one, but it would make sense to watch Flournoy wherever he puts on his spikes. The mark could go at any time.

Boys 200m – Flournoy, of course

It’s kind of a no-brainer here, since Flournoy already took the record from Morgan Trent’s 21.74 in 2004 to a 21.66 on the 200m flat track at EMU. What can he do on a banked track? Hopefully we’ll see him at the New Balance Nationals. (And hey, Jaron, they’re trying to reach you! Get in touch with me asap!)

Boys 300m - Again, Flournoy is dangerous!

Had to add this one to the list, because I found out Flournoy is in New York for the Armory Invitational, in a special 300m race that organizers are hoping will challenge the national record of 33.19 set by the legendary prep William Reed back in 1986 (Reed ran 45.17 as a junior the next year). Our state record is 35.48, set by Anthony Beal of North Farmington in winning the state indoor meet in 2000 (yes, we used to run 300, 600, etc). One would think Flournoy's times at 200 and 400 almost guarantee something in the 34s--if he can get comfortable in his first race on a banked track. Race time: Saturday, 2:54pm.

Boys 400m – Can Flournoy take down an Olympic gold medalist’s record?

The record is 47.87 by Darnell Hall of Detroit Pershing. He ran it in 1990 back when the national high school meet was on the 200m flat track at Syracuse University. Two years later he won gold at the Barcelona Olympics in the heats of the 4 x 400m. Flournoy ran a shocking 47.35 on Saginaw Valley’s new 300m track; ineligible for a record, but very exciting nevertheless. Get him on a record-legal track, and this could happen the next time he plans a major effort.

Girls 2 Mile – Belf most likely to give it a run

Audrey Belf is already in sub-five shape this year, and she has plenty of experience going against big-meet competition. She already owns the 3000m best of 9:31.30, which she got en route to her 10:10.90 2M at New Balance Nationals last year. The 8-lap records are a hair faster: 10:07.1/10:10.14 by Megan Goethals of Rochester in 2010. No doubt Belf will be there, and will be gunning for them.

Girls 4 x 400 – Can Motor City do it again?

The current record of 3:46.31 is a legitimate barn-burner, set when the Motor City TC won the national title a year ago. Check out these splits for the Oak Park foursome: Johnyce Powell 56.94, Carlita Taylor 56.95, Jayla Fleming 58.76, Anna Jefferson 53.66. The scariest thing is they’re all back. Coach Brandon Jiles’ squad is so loaded that he has a B team that has also broken 4:00. His fastest squad has run 3:49.92 on an oversized track for an easy win. Against tougher competition on a banked oval, can they go faster? They will be running at the Armory Track Invitational—looks like their race is 6:20pm on Friday. They also are expected to defend their title at the New Balance Nationals in March on the same track.

The Unknown Unknowns

This article is based on what we’ve seen so far this indoor season. Quite likely there are people training their hearts out who will emerge and surprise us somewhere. Nothing would make us happier. Will the Saline boys put together a distance relay capable of challenging records? Wetzel would certainly contribute big-time, and the boys usually go to New Balance Nationals, which offers the competition to make records happen.

The Motor City /Oak Park girls have everyone back from their 1:40.49 record 4x2, so if they run it, they can threaten it. They can probably also break the sprint medley mark of 4:05.11 set by Motor City/Mumford in 2007. What about the distance medley? It’s one of the toughest marks on the books, an 11:35.98 set by Grosse Pointe South in 2013. But Motor City has Farrow with a 4:51.96 best for 1600m, plus Dorriann Coleman at 2:15.95 and Jayla Fleming (2:13.01 PR). Throw Anna Jefferson in there (53.50 last May), and some coaches might see a viable DMR. However, Jiles has the unenviable task of figuring his own line-up, knowing that the team simply doesn’t have time enough in one New Balance Nationals weekend to chase all the records it’s capable of breaking.

Then there are the boys distances. We have people capable of breaking records, but will they get the chance? A Donavan Brazier-Grant Fisher match-up could challenge the 800m record of 1:51.34, but we don’t know if that race might happen. The 3000/3200/2M records owned by Ritzenhein could also be approached by Fisher, but we have no indication that he will go long indoors. The 5000m record of 15:12.74 by Stephen Shay is vulnerable, not only by Fisher, but also by guys like Ben Hill, Ryan Robinson, and Anthony Berry, among others. However, they would need to focus on it, and make the trip to NYC for New Balance Nationals.

When I started writing this, I didn’t realize how many records were in danger, and the number surprised me. This is already a banner season for Michigan prep track & field, and it’s still January! Stay tuned, because breaking news will be happening all season.