This is the second in a five-part series, a joint effort with the NSAF and Runnerspace.com, highlighting some of the exciting confirmed entries for the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor in each event category! Coming in the days ahead: Part 3: Sprints/Hurdles | Part 4: Distances | Part 5: Relays | (previously) Part 1: Throws
Tara Davis – Epic LJ/hurdles season inspired by highs and lows
The memories and the visuals from two of Tara Davis’s best and worst days as a jumper are unforgettable: Tara exploding through the air on her final jump at the World Youth Championships in July, 2015, landing in the pit with a PR 21-0 and dancing around the infield at Cali, Columbia in joyous celebration afterward; then Tara making her way tearfully through the mixed zone last spring in Clovis, CA, having not made the World Junior team in either horizontal jump and having to stay home while her Team USA friends went to Poland. The Agoura, CA senior has had a lot more highs than lows during her awesome jumping and hurdling career, but it certainly can be said that both memories have inspired what’s happened so far in 2017.
During three memorable jumps in Texas last month, the Georgia signee turned the page on 2016 and showed talent beyond what most imagined. At the new Dunamis meet near Dallas, she hit a PR-tying 21-0, a new PR 21-4 (which made her #2 all-time), then a monster 21-11 leap that toppled the national record set by the legendary Carol Lewis 36 years ago. She has since backed it up with two more meets in the 21s and, along with Sammy Watson and Candace Hill, will compete as a prep at USATF Indoors this weekend. And Davis is not only long jumping better than ever, she’s also US#2 in the 60 hurdles with a PR 8.22 and #4 in the triple jump at 41-9. The Californian was 2nd in both horizontals at NBNI last year and 8th in the hurdles. Clearly, she’s ready for more.
Armand Duplantis – Fantasy becomes reality for near 19-footer
A little over two years ago, a trio of prep track and field pundits marveled at a Louisiana freshman named Armand Duplantis, how the son of a 19-footer had already vaulted 16-8 and was headed for 17-plus, and speculated as to how high he could go before his prep days were over. One of these pundits (yours truly) figured like most youth prodigies, Duplantis would hit a plateau at some point soon. “He'll almost certainly get 18-something by the time he's a senior, but he's not likely to get 19,” he (me) said. Now here it is, the first week of March of this remarkable student-athlete’s junior year, and he has cleared 18-10.25 – at the Millrose Games no less.
“Mondo,” in fact, first reached 18-feet during his 2016 indoor campaign and when he won his the NBNI with “only” 17-0.5, he was clearly disappointed. His sophomore year had some other “growing pains”: A tough loss to outdoor HSR-setter Chris Nilsen at Great Southwest when both went over 18 feet, then a no-height on a crazy-wind day at NBNO. But when it counted most last summer at World Juniors, Mondo was an excellent bronze medal-winner against athletes 2-3 years older – adding to his World Youth gold in ’15. This winter, he’s been unbeatable and raised the indoor HSR four times, from an 18-5 in January to Millrose – the latter of which was a World Junior record indoors. And, as for that consistency thing – well, how about ten 18-foot clearances in 30 minutes? Check out the video: http://www.dyestat.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44531&do=videos&video_id=200736
Titiana Marsh – Long-awaited nationals debut
There’s been no doubt since she was a Thomas Dale HS freshman that Virginia had a very special talent in Titiana Marsh. She triple jumped 39-3 in mid-December early that indoor season, then improved to 40-0 and finally 41-2 to win an improbable 6A state title as a 9th-grader. She was also 3rd in the long jump final. Since then, she’s swept every 6A state meet horizontal jump double. And through the end of 2016, she had PRs of 42-4 and 20-0.5. But … she had, for various reasons, never competed in a New Balance Nationals Indoor or Outdoor meet, any national meet at all, or even ever competed outside Virginia.
Next week, that will change. Fresh off another state meet double – a near-PR 42-0 TJ and a PR 20-1 LJ – the prep T&F world will see what Virginia has known for years: Marsh is one of the best-combo jumpers in the country and could become even better than that – if pushed with competition and considering she has another year left. The junior has actually had some ups and downs this year – losing her first TJ ever (to the talented Maya Hanks at the VA Showcase) and having some mid-season inconsistencies in training and (somewhat) in competition. But an outstanding state meet showed she’s back.
Kyle Garland – HJ contender is also pentathlon favorite, hurdles threat
One of the nation’s top high jumpers and 60-meter hurdlers this winter, and truly a meteoric rising star in the multis, Kyle Garland seems to be a young talent without limits. And as a junior at Germantown Academy in Ft. Washington, PA, he still has a lot of time to improve as a prep. As a sophomore indoors last year, he was up to 6-8.75 in the HJ, but his 60H time was still “just” 8.34. Still, his shot-putting, long-jumping and all-around game was good enough that he was 2nd to Grant Holloway in the pentathlon – even if it were a distant second (4,230-3,699) – as the only soph in the competition. At the NBNO decathlon, he was off-form in some events and wound up still a decent 6th at 6,351.
The big breakthrough came later in the summer when Garland soared to a 6,823 tally at AAU JO nationals, scoring better in early every event and crushing the 15-16 field. That score wound up #3 on the U.S. list for the year. This winter he’s become frighteningly better in nearly every event, including a US#3 6-10.75 HJ, 7.91 60H (US#5 7.89 prelim) double win at PA state – and a 22-10.25 LJ runner-up to boot. He’ll challenge for the HJ win and certainly at least the podium in the 60H. But in the pentathlon, he could dominate and become one of the greatest in event history, with a chance to score more than 4,100 points.
Becky Arbiv – Another potential vault champ from Peach State
Georgia has had one of the best 1-2 punches and rivalries in girls’ high school pole vaulting with the fight for Peach State supremacy between Carson Dingler and Becky Arbiv. Since the summer of 2015 in particular, Dingler has racked up the biggest achievements and performances, making Team USA for both World Youth and World Juniors, and winning both NBN indoor and outdoor. But in the early stages of 2017, Arbiv – a senior at the Weber School in Sandy Springs, GA, has been showing more strongly than ever that she’s ready for some of those type of accolades, too. Back at the ’15 World Youth Trials, Arbiv and Rachel Baxter tied for second behind Dingler at the World Youth Trials, but Baxter was chosen for the second spot on the team. Three weeks later, though, Arbiv improved her then-PR to 13-3.5 in winning the Georgia Games.
Then during last year’s indoor season, Arbiv didn’t get back over 13, but had an impressive runner-up finish (tie) at the Millrose Games with 12-11.5. Outdoors, she hit 13-4 early, then at NBNO she topped that with her then-career best 13-4.5 behind Dingler’s 13-8.5. This winter, however, the Duke signee took three of four early matchups with her rival, including the ATL/SMART Invite and first-ever Georgia indoor champs, hitting PRs of 13-5.75 and 13-7 – both of which were national leaders at the time. That opened some eyes. And while Baxter now is US#1 at 13-10.5, Arbiv has the top current mark of all NBNI entries, with Dingler, Landon Kemp and Katie Jones all within an inch. Could we have a new Georgian on top of the podium next week? Wait and see…
William Henderson – Ready for the spotlight this time around
The 2016 NBNI long jump was a revelation for William Henderson. The only problem was, it was also a revelation for Rayvon Grey. The latter leaper, a Beacon, NY senior now at LSU, blew past the meet record to become #3 all-time with his 26-0.25 victory, capturing the attention and imagination of nearly all of The Armory. But in second place, Henderson – then a Baltimore Polytech junior – was having a huge day, improving his PR by a full foot to reach 24-8.5. At the Penn Relays several weeks later, it was a similar story: Henderson soared to an outdoor PR 24-5.5, but Grey (and Grant Holloway) kept him out of the headlines with their battle for the watch and 1-2 finish.
Now, with Grey and Holloway off to NCAA competition, Henderson is not only arguably the long jump favorite, but also he co-leads the nation at 55 meters (6.31) and is #3 at 55 hurdles with 7.27. He certainly could win both the LJ and 60 dash, and in the 60 hurdles only national record-setter Trey Holloway is clearly a level beyond. Henderson has already made return trips to The Armory with a 24-6.5 victory at the Hispanic Games, then a 6.31 55-dash triumph at Millrose, prepping him for NBNI weekend. The only blemish on the Penn State signee’s season – in which he’s only long-jumped twice but dominated in the dashes and hurdles – was a false start in the 55 dash at Maryland 3A state. That should only serve to motivate him next week.
Sydney Banks – High achiever ready to top NBNI podium
To say Sydney Banks had an auspicious debut as a high jumper in 2016 as a Osbourn Park High School, Virginia freshman would be an understatement. She came out in her second meet in December, 2015 with a 5-5 PR victory and two months later she was the 6A North Region champion at 5-6. While her 5-2 for 6th in the 6A state meet was disappointing, she came back with a solid 5-5.25 for 5th at NBNI. Outdoors, she had a decent debut at the Penn Relays (5th), then suddenly became a consistent 5-8 performer at season’s end, closing it out with a redemptive 6A state outdoor triumph at that very height.
So far this winter, Banks has been unbeatable. She made her debut at The Armory in December and hit a new PR 5-9 to win the Marine Corps Classic. Her season has also included a 5-8 triumph at Virginia Tech and finally a big 5-10 state meet victory that entrenched her at US#2 and the top entry at NBNI.
Noah Igbinoghene – Building on a 50-foot breakthrough
When Noah Igbinoghene landed in the pit on his 3rd attempt during the Alabama 6A state indoor triple jump last month, and saw the distance given him, it surely must have been a transcendental moment for the Hewitt-Trussville HS senior. The measurement came up 50 feet, three inches, giving Igbinoghene his first career mark over that 50-foot barrier and reaching a goal that had first become realistic when he hit his first 49-footer in December, 2015, early in his junior year. Last March he came to NBNI and hit a then-career best 49-7 to take the NBNI title. On top of that, the impressive victory earned him a spot on the NSAF’s Caribbean Scholastic Invitational team to Cuba.
The reality of world-class triple jumping in Cuba was sobering and Igbinoghene, also dealing with injuries, struggled there and at NBNO a few weeks later where he was 12th. However, he also hit 24-1 for 2nd in the long jump, much closer to his PR there (then 24-8.5) to help salvage that weekend. Now as a senior, Igbinoghene has had a consistent, unbeaten winter on the runway and last month signed with Auburn to both jump, sprint and play football (he’s a 4-star wide receiver). Next on his agenda is defending his NBNI title – he’s at US#1 with that new PR – and possibly making it a horizontal jump sweep in the LJ, where he’s hit 24-5 this winter.