Can Fischer repeat as indoor 1600 and 3200 champion? Who will be the 2018 indoor 800 champion?
Camren Fischer will be looking to defend his indoor 1600 and 3200 meter titles at the Tyson Center on Saturday. The Fayetteville junior won both races in a strategic manner in 2017. Since the 2017 indoor meet, Fischer has run 4:18 for 1600 and 9:38 for 3200. He's already posted an 8:43 for 3k this season which converts to about 9:21 for 3200. Comparing these times to what was run at the 5-7A indoor meet in 2017, he's the clear favorite. Traditionally the distance races at the state meet are tactical affairs and produce slower times than other invitational races. If you look at the 2017 results, 4:30 won the 1600 and 9:58 won the 3200. Therefore, the champion is a lot of times left up to whomever can sprint that last 200-300 meters the fastest and outlast the rest of the field. With that being said, there's a whole host of athletes that are in contention to take the 2018 title in the 1600 and 3200.
In the 1600, as mentioned before, Fischer is the returning favorite with a 4:18 personal best. Other athletes to keep an eye out for in this event include Dylan Douglass and Carter Reynolds of Maumelle, Joseph Wittig of Greenwood, Coleman Wilson of Bentonville, Colby Swecker of Lake Hamilton, Chris Barrientos of Bryant, and Alex Zangara of Morrilton who have all run under 4:30. If we see another strategic race this season, any of these athletes could end up taking the crown.
Similar to the 1600, the 3200 could see another champion this year. Although Fischer shows to have a big lead on the field, especially after the 8:43 3k he ran last weekend, if kept strategic, it's anyone's race. Unlike the 1600, Fischer does not have the returning best time from the 2017 season. Maumelle's Dylan Douglass holds that time in 9:28. Following Douglass, Fischer's Fayetteville teammate Anton Michna is returning with the second best time of 9:35 followed by Fischer in 9:38. Other athletes who have run under the 2017 winning time of 9:58 include Wilson of Bentonville, Barrientos of Bryant, and Omar Ramos of Lake Hamilton.
In the 800, 2017 champion Jessie Ramirez of Rogers will not be returning, therefore we will see a new champion this season. Second, third and fourth from the 2017 meet however, will all be returning this season. These athletes include Ethan Carney of Springdale Har-Ber, Zerai Belai of Bentonville, and Max Zargari of Catholic. Of these three, Belai has the fastest personal best time of 1:54 which ranks first in all of Arkansas. Carney follows a few seconds behind in 1:57 which was run last weekend. Along with the three top returners from the 2017 indoor championships, other athletes to keep an eye out for in the 800 include Fischer of Fayetteville, Swecker of Lake Hamilton, Trevin Eckwood of Har-Ber, Douglass of Maumelle, and JD Otts of Vilonia who have all run 2:00 or better.
Kennedy Lightner Triple-Double? 60 Meter Hurdles Preview
Sophomore Kennedy Lightner of North Little Rock walked away with thirty individual points in 2017 after winning the 60, 200 and 400. Alone, he put North Little Rock in seventh out of twenty-two teams that competed in the 5-7A state meet last year. Lightner has posted the top returning times in the three events since the 2017 indoor meet. He ranks first in the state over-all in the three events. Will he be stopped in 2018?
In the 60, Lightner won the 2017 race in state record fashion with a 6.95. He's the only athlete that has run under the 7.00 mark. Other athletes hovering around that mark include Payton Copher ofHar-Ber and Jadon Jackson of Bentonville West who have both run 7.05. If these three meet in the final on Saturday we could potentially see another state record fall.
Lightner continued his historic day with a win and another state record in the 200. Lightner posted a 21.90 which was the only time under 22.00 on the day. In the 2017 outdoor season, Lightner improved on his 200 time and ran 20.80. That ranks him seventh nationally among returners to the 2018 season. Other athletes to look out for in the 200 include Devin Doughtery of Bentonville,Copher andEckwood of Har-Ber, Jadon Jackson of Bentonville West, Sean Jamerson of Conway, and Josiah Woodard of Russellville. All of these athletes have run under 23.00 for 200 which will make for an exciting one lap around the Tyson Center.
Although Lightner won the 400 in 2017, it wasn't as commanding as his performances in the 60 and 200. Lightner edged Eckwood of Har-Ber by only .2 seconds and Dougherty of Bentonville by .3 seconds. All three athletes have personal bests under 49.00 which will make the 2018 race one you will not want to miss.
Finally, the 60 meter hurdles will see a new champion this year as the top two finishers from 2017 have graduated. The top returner in the 60H is Liam Alderson of Roger Heritage. Alderson finished third in 2017 with a time of 8.73. Other athletes to look out for include Clay Workman of Rogers and Austin Compton of Fayetteville. Both athletes have run under 7.00 and will all be in contention for a title this Saturday.
Field Event Titles up for Grabs
The five field events will all see new champions at the 2018 indoor state meet. All winners from the 2017 season have graduated, leaving that state champion position up for grabs this year.
Top returners from the 2017 indoor meet in the long jump include Russellville's Josiah Woodard, Conway's Cary McClain, and Har-Ber's Emmanuel Smith. Other athletes that have posted notable marks in the long jump since the 2017 indoor meet include North Little Rock's Deontae Montgomery, DeQueen's Hunter Earny, Vilonia's Draven Smith, Fayetteville's Jon Conley, and Greenbrier's Reese Hammontree. All athletes have similar personal bests which could make for a close competition this year.
In the triple jump, top returner Stefan Branda of Bentonville leaped to an impressive 46-1.25 in the 2017 outdoor season. Other returners from the 2017 indoor meet include McClain of Conway and Earney of DeQueen, who will be looking to score big points for their teams in both the long and triple jump. Arkansas High's, Irijah Price has the second leading mark among returners from the 2017 outdoor season with 45-0. Smith of Vilonia, who did not compete in the 2017 indoor triple jump, has a personal best of 43-7 which could end up being decent points for his team if he decides to compete in the event this year.
The two top returning high jumpers in the state, Johnathan Jones of Little Rock Central and Traveus Soils of Arkansas high school, both have personal bests of 6-6. If they decide to compete in the event this year their personal bests are four inches higher than the rest of the field. Top returners form the 2017 indoor meet include Noah Fitzgerald of Rogers Heritage and Josh Robinson of Bryant who have both jumped 6-2. Cameron Mitchell of Vilonia, Emmanuel Smith of Har-Ber, Alex Garrison of Farmington, and Seth Stanley of Heritage have also jumped 6-2 or better since the 2017 indoor meet and could be in contention for points if they compete this year.
Catching nobody by surprise, Lake Hamilton holds the top two spots in the pole vault. Haze Farmer has already vaulted 16-8.25 this month and will look to continue his success this Saturday. Teammate Michael Harris has a personal best of 16-0 which ranks him second among returners to the 2018 season. The next top marks are held by Vilonia's Thomas Hutchison at 15-0.25 and Springdale Har-Ber's Nicco Bersi at 14-8.
Lastly, the shot put will be an exciting event this year. The top two returning athletes in the event William Burgess of Lake Hamilton and Bryant Parlin of Bentonville have both thrown over 50-0 since the 2017 indoor meet. The remaining athletes to keep an eye out for: Malik Beasley and Adrian Mendoza of DeQueen, Alejandro Ramirez and Blake Wade of Har-Ber, Michael Toney of Bentonville West, and Alzerio Williams of Forrest City have all thrown over 45-5 since the 2017 indoor meet and will be looking to secure points for their teams this year.