2018 / 26th Annual Mobile Challenge of Champions: An NSAF Select Meet!
The Mobile Challenge of Champions, founded and directed by Steve Schoenwald and Mike Cambre, has been one of our NSAF Select Meets for many years. Each year, it attracts many of the best athletes from Alabama, as well as Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida, and even distant states like New York and Illinois. Some of the Challenge of Champions meet record-setters and top athletes of the past include superstars like Casey Combest, Kendell Williams, Reggie Wyatt, Char Foster, Marlon and Brittley Humphrey, Erica Whipple, Xavier Carter and more.
The fields this weekend include both established standouts and rising stars, making the this Mobile Challenge of Champions -- April 6-7, 2018 -- again one of the nation's premier meets!
More LINKS: Mobile Challenge of Champions Home Page | Invitational Meet Schedule and Records | Open Meet Schedule | Alabama Runners.com/MileSplit.com Live Webcast | Alabama Runners Hub Page | LIVE RESULTS (note: has been updated for Invite)
Here are a half-dozen of the best and most interesting storylines:
1. Humphrey tries to add to hurdles, MVP family legacy
When you talk about all-time greats of Alabama prep track and field, the name Humphrey is a dominant theme across the past decade-plus: Marlon, Brittley and now Marion – excelling in the hurdles and numerous other events for Hoover HS (AL) on a state, national and even global level. The trophies and titles are topped by the World Youth silver medals won by Marlon (Class of ’14) in 2013 and Brittley (’16) in 2015.
Between them, those two earned three Mobile CoC MVP awards, with big brother sweeping the 110H and 300H in 2012-13, then sister doing the same in ’16 – each still holds meet records in the longer race. Last year the youngest, senior Marion, hurdled to a 3rd in the 110s before capturing the 300s in 37.26. Now in starting 2018, during the recent FSU Relays, he blasted to PRs of 14.10 and 36.90 – both state-leading marks. He’s the fastest entrant in both events – and is a solid prediction to take home a 4th Humphrey MVP award from Mobile this weekend.
2. Jackson challenges defenders Moore and Ruffin for dash titles
Mobile 2017 100 and 200 champs Okheme Moore (10.59) and Hakim Ruffin (21.37) each return to defend their titles this weekend – and both are better than they were last year. But that doesn’t mean their task will be any easier. Moore (Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa AL sr) went on after Mobile to earn All-American honors with 10.49 and 21.19 PRs at NBNO, then briefly held the national 60 lead this winter after his 6.73 Dunamis Super Meet win. But he didn’t make it out of the semis at NBNI.
Ruffin (Hoover, AL sr) also made the podium at NBNO (21.40 200, 4th) after his Mobile win, PR’d this winter in the 60 at NBNI (6.83 in semis), then ran new outdoor PRs of 10.48w and US#5 21.02 during victories at FSU. But the problem both Moore and Ruffin may have is super junior newcomer Caleb Jackson out of Pleasant Grove AL. In his first season of track, Jackson kept improving indoors until he hit 60 PRs of 6.78 and 6.76 in the NBNI semis and finals (4th). Then in his outdoor debut, he blasted 10.50 and 21.22 to sweep the Homewood Invite.
So Jackson, Ruffin and Moore will all line up in the middle of the track in the 100 final here Saturday, with West Feliciana (La.) standouts Derek Turner and Kam Jackson on either side, then again in the 200 – with ’17 Mobile runner-up Charles Lewis (Sparkman, AL sr) also a major contender in the longer race. Expect two of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the meet.
3. Phelps going for another distance double-double
In 2017, Lainey Phelps of Homewood completed an outstanding distance double, running to a decisive victory in the mile with a 4:58.90, then coming back for the 800 title by the narrowest of margins – 2:11.97 to 2:11.98 over Emoni Coleman (Tucker, GA). To repeat the feat this year, she’ll have to beat a considerably tougher field in the mile and a similar – but slightly better – group in the 800. The mile entries are headed up by Amaris Tyynismaa, the Catholic-Montgomery, AL junior running her first Challenge since ’16. She was dominant indoors, winning state and finally getting under 5:00 at 4:56.51 (1600). The field also includes 4:59.76 performer Abbey Weitenbeck (Huntsville, AL jr).
In the 800, Phelps again faces Coleman and last year’s 3rd-place finisher, Grace Jensen. But there’s also Shelly Steely of Hoover this time, a 2:13.42 runner was the indoor state champ and time leader – unbeaten in ’18 vs. Alabama competition. Phelps hasn’t found PR form yet this year, in or out, but all four of the leading contenders seem overdue for PRs. She’ll need breakthroughs again in both races to match her 2017 feat.
4. Mississippi 8th-grader Sanders making big meet debut
With the results of a stunning 7th-grade season in ’17, Mississippi’s young sprint sensation Kennedi Sanders has begun making the kind of shock waves through the sport that Tamari Davis has done coming from Florida. After a spring season that saw her earn 6A state runner-up finishes for Madison Central HS in the 100 and 200, she ran to a gold (11.78 100) and silver (PR 23.85 200) in the 13-14s at USATF JOs. So far in ’18, she clocked a 7.57 60 indoors and has improved her wind-legal 100 PR to 11.62.
Here at Mobile, she’ll face quality invitational final fields in both dashes, a little different that she’s ever seen. Sparkman AL senior Lauryn Hall – 2nd in the 100 and 3rd in the 200 here last year – is the girl to beat in each. Her 100 PRs are 11.55w and 11.67, then in the 200 she improved to 23.98 (7A state title) and then 23.68 last summer. In the 200, there’s also Kiana Foster, a Loranger, LA jr whose legal PR is 24.56, but ran a 23.50w last summer at AAU Club Champs.
5. McEachern girls look to rack up the medals from GA
If you’re looking for an “invading” powerhouse to follow Saturday, with a chance to impact multiple events, the girls of McEachern HS of Powder Springs, GA are your team. The school annually is loaded with top sprinters and hurdlers, numbers the great Makenzie Dunmore (’16, now at Oregon) among its alums and are always high in the national relay rankings. Their 4x100 school record 45.33 from ’14 is the best in Georgia history and their 3:42.46 4x400 from ’15 is #2.
This year, their 4x1 has clocked 46.26, good for #6 on the current national list, led by key performers like seniors Tamiya Roberts and Nilaja Florence, plus soph Jayda Parsons. Senior hurdler Rayna White (14.63 100H) also has the speed, as does senior horizontal jumper Victoria Agyin. In fact, Agyin is the top entrant in both the LJ and TJ, with PRs of 19-6 and 40-9 – both from 7A state title performances.
6. Can visitors from the wintry Northeast make impact?
The indoor season may have ended a month ago in the Northeast, but training conditions have hardly been desirable since. It’s little wonder that some schools seek to travel south or west, often during spring break, for good training and competition. The men of Newburgh Free Academy, NY have made their 3rd trip to Mobile under Head Coach Malcolm Burks – headlined by their 4x400 quartet. Seniors Davin Slater, Brendon Hanson, Richardo Singh and soph Ryler Gould were 3rd at NBNI in 3:18.88. Here that should make them competitive in a tight field of teams led by 3:17.93 favorite Hoover, AL. They are also in the 4x100 final with their sub-42 group.
Meanwhile, the throwers of Christian Brothers Academy, NJ ) (CBA) are looking to get their discus, javelin and shot put throwers some action under decent conditions. Dan Mead with a 59-2 PR is the top entrant in the shot, with teammate Nick Morse another top-5 contender, while Jack Lotosky is squarely in the mix in the jav with his 175-10 PR in a field led by ’17 runner-up Ashton Domingue. Mead is also in the top four in the discus field.