2A Preview: 2023 Arkansas High School Outdoor Track & Field

The last few days of February in Arkansas offered temperatures in the upper 70s and plenty of vitamin D. March, however, is a notoriously finicky month, and rain is forecast for these early days in many parts of the state. Nonetheless, athletes across Arkansas will lace up their spikes this week and take to the track for their first outdoor meets. Reflecting on the results from the 2022 outdoor season, a short indoor season, and promising prospects, we now preview some of the athletes, events, and meets to watch in coming months in the 2A division.


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Athletes To Watch

Kambree Gibson (Sr, Yellville-Summit HS): With 2022 seniors graduated and the promotion of LISA Academy North (and sisters Nyla and Kneila Watson) to 3A, Yellville-Summit's Kambree Gibson returns as the likely favorite in several events: 100m dash (where she took second at the 2A state meet last May), 200m dash (3rd at state), 100m hurdles (3rd at state), and 300m hurdles (2nd at state). She will also compete in the long and triple jumps and put it all together at the Arkansas Heptathlon on May 18-19.

Elizabeth Merritt (Soph, JD Leftwich Magazine HS): Merritt cooked up quite a day at the Indoor HS Championships in Fayetteville on February 18th, placing (in the 1A/2A division) 4th in the 400m dash, 2nd in the 800m, 2nd in the 1600m, and 1st in the 3200m. Her main competition in that meet was 1A Mount Ida's Peyton Macejewski, so in 2A, Merritt is set up well. After competing in both junior high and senior high divisions as a freshman in 2022, the sophomore will look to defend state golds in the 1600m and 3200m in 2023.

Nassir Donahoo (Sr, Quitman HS): At the same indoor meet, Quitman's Nassir Donahoo took gold in the 1A/2A 60m dash (7.40) and 200m dash (23.94), silver in the triple jump (41-06.50), and anchored the Quitman 4x400m relay to a bronze finish. Donahoo's main competition in the 100m and 200m dashes in 2022 (Lancer Clark of Parkers Chapel HS) has graduated, so expect Donahoo to rise up.

Tate Stacks (Sr, Quitman HS): Stacks, a teammate of Donahoo, wrapped up the indoor season with a hat trick of state golds in the 800m (2:14.90), 1600m (4:43.52), and 3200m (10:39.25), as well as anchoring Quitman's 4x800m relay team to second place. Also like Donahoo, Stacks' primary contender from 2022 (Acorn HS's Justice Neufeld) earned his diploma, which leaves Stacks in prime position to take his place.

Events To Watch

Girls' 400m Dash: A long list of runners in the intermediate sprints return with point-earning experience from the 2022 state meet, led by Kambree Gibson and Bigelow HS senior Aubrey Evans in the 200m. In the 400m, however, expect to see ascents from Salem HS junior Marleigh Sellars, Yellville-Summit HS junior KJ Moore, Des Arc HS sophomore Charleigh Patterson, and Dierks HS senior Caleigh Manning, who each finished in the top 6 with times under 1:06 at the 2022 state meet.

Girls' Shot Put: Mansfield HS seniors Seven Sanderson and Skylynn Harris comfortably claimed gold and silver at the indoor state meet in Fayetteville two weeks ago, and they will look to carry that dominance into the outdoor ring. Sanderson won the indoor meet with a PR hurl of 32-9, but it is Harris - who did not compete in 2022 - with the best overall PR at 34-7, which won her silver at the 2A state meet in 2021. They will sharpen one another throughout the season.

Boys' High Jump: Don't assume that just because they're smaller, 2A schools don't have some legit athletes across any division. That is clearly true in the high jump, which returns 2022 state champ Javon Orr (Sr, Bigelow HS) and close runner-up Joseph McVay (Jr, Earle HS), each of whom cleared 6-02.00 last year. Also keep an eye out for JaKourion Key (Sr, Junction City HS), Matthew Holloway (Jr, Salem HS), Hunter Fowler (Sr, Foreman HS), and Demario Carter (Sr, England HS) each of whom PR near 6 feet.

Boys' Hurdles (110m and 300m): With Foreman's Dejames Powell - the 2022 state winner in the 300m hurdles and second fiddle in the 110m hurdles - no longer in the high school ranks, hurdlers who nipped at his heels now take their turn. This pack will be led by Melbourne HS senior Nathan Woodall, who handily beat Powell in the 110m and nearly caught him in the 300m hurdles. Among other contenders are LaBraylon Washington (Jr, Gurdon HS), Khoben Grist (Jr, England HS), and Elijah Romine (Jr, Salem HS).

Notable Meets To Watch 

·         Southern Bancorp Relays @ Gurdon HS - 3/16/23

·         Parkers Chapel Trojan Relays @ Parkers Chapel HS - 3/30/23

·         Sr. Lion Relays @ England HS - 4/13/23

·         Quitman Relays @ Quitman HS - 4/13/23

·         2A State Championship @ Quitman HS - 5/2/23