Who’s Coming to 2018 NBNO? Part 5: The RELAYS

by Steve Underwood


Highlighting the top New Balance Nationals Outdoor Entries!

Part 5 of 5

Western Branch – Grand finale for Coach Touks

The 2018 will represent the final meet for Western Branch HS (VA) head coach Claude Toukene, a true legend at the Virginia and nationally – and with so many championships at both levels that it requires a computer to calculate. “Touks” was the 2014 NSAF Mike Byrnes Coach of the Year, and over 14 years at the school he has developed great athletes and teams in almost every event category – but especially the sprints and hurdles. At NBNO this weekend, the Toukene grand finale features Western Branch teams contending in almost every boys and girls relay from the 4x100 through the 4x800 – and most of the medleys. They could top the podium half a dozen times or more.

But the shuttles, especially the girls race, is the greatest Western Branch showcase. At NBNI, they were favored to crush their own HSR, but were literally left in the blocks while Bullis claimed the title and record. Led by the Ballard sisters, Shadajah and Natajah, and Jazmine Tilmon, they have a great shot for redemption this weekend … and also paced by Shardonnay Nichols, Jessica Tucker, Adrianna Shockley and others, they should have a massive goodbye party for Coach Touks. Leading the boys’ efforts will be Treyvor Motton, Roland Evans, Chase Osborne, Kalen Whaley, Jared Knight, Alfandre Page and Darian Perkerson and more.

Bullis School – Still strong without key players

They will not have hurdle/sprint star Masai Russell for some or possibly all of the meet. They may not have standout Shaniya Hall, injured at the Penn Relays, at full strength. But even without those two stars, it’s hard to imagine the Bullis School (MD) girls will not be a sprint and hurdle relay force again at NBNO. Russell, the national leader at 300H and 400H, is trying to make another U.S. team in the latter event, with a Saturday 6pm final at USA Juniors in Bloomington, IN. It’s possible she could return for 4x100 and 4x400 relays Sunday that would make a big difference for Coach Joe Lee’s crew.

In any case, the Lady Bulldogs still will have a ton of talent on their relays, led by veterans Leah Phillips, Cierra Pyles, Sierra Leonard and Ashley Seymour – and will claim All-American spots, if not titles, in the above-mentioned races, as well as the shuttle hurdles and others. Several of these athletes are also entered in the individual hurdles, long jump and sprints, which will make for another impressive weekend for this powerhouse program – which claimed the 4x1, 4x2 and 4x4 here last year, before sweeping the 4x2 (national record), 4x4 and shuttle hurdles (another national record) indoors.

Brentwood TN Boys DMR – Brodey leads sweep hopes…

Brodey Hasty has had quite the career in NSAF competition. He won the 2016 Great American XC title with a spectacular kick (and was 12th as a freshman in ’14); he’s captured the past two NBNI 2-mile races and he and his Brentwood TN teammates have a silver (’17) and gold (’18) in successive NBNI distance medley relays – the latter in history’s #2 performance. Until now, however, he’s never competed at NBNO – a fact that changes Saturday evening when he and his Brentwood teammates go for a NBN in/out DMR sweep.

It’s been an unusual senior year for Hasty, as well as many of his teammates who decided not to run for the high school after some issues with the coaching staff. Independently, Hasty has run 4:00.05 in the Millrose Mile and 8:00.92 for 3k at the Music City meet, among others. The Brentwood quartet for Saturday will also include seniors Scott Thompson, Dodger Vest and Max Benson. Thompson has run 4:08 for a mile, while Benson has hit 1:54 for 800 and Vest 52.06 for 400. With a tough battle expected from NBNI runner-up St. Anthony’s (see next story), it should be a classic battle.

St. Anthony’s Boys DMR – … Gatewood, Payamps pace challengers

Most of the time, if you’re a prep boys’ team running multiple sub-10:00 distance medley relays in a year, you’re winning some major hardware. But this is a tougher than usual year for DMRs, as St. Anthony’s of New York is finding out. At NBNI, The Black Wave quartet ran 9:58.36, but merely became the first to run sub-10 indoors and lose, as Brentwood clocked a near-record 9:56.31. Then at the Penn Relays, St. Anthony’s again was spectacular with a 9:59.87, but Hopewell Valley VA was even better with a meet record 9:57.77.

Nonetheless, the squad from Huntington, NY is back to give it one more shot, with the stellar 1-2 punch of senior Mason Gatewood and junior Matthew Payamps. Those two were in peak form at the May 31 Festival of Miles, running PRs of 4:07.00 and 4:08.32, respectively. They also finished 1-2 in the Louck’s 3200 (8:55.00 and 8:56.06). Gatewood also had a fine meet here last year individually, winning the Emerging Elite mile in 4:12.87, then running 1:52.92 for 3rd in the championship 800. Joining these two are Brendan Dearie and Michael Barbaro-Barnett.

Parkview Express – What can they do for an encore?

One of the amazing success stories from 2017 NBNO was what Parkview Express (Parkview HS in Lilburn, GA) did in the sprint and sprint-medley relays. With seniors Demarius Smith and Amir Harris, junior Justin Long, soph Malik Washington and freshman Keith Williams, they won the 1k Swedish Medley in national record time (1:52.39), doubled the 4x100 (41.09) and 4x200 (1:25.45), and also were 3rd in the 800 medley (1:29.73). It was a revelatory weekend for Coach Matt Henson’s outstanding program.

Smith and Harris have graduated, but Parkview is back for more here this weekend. Justin Long has become one of the nation’s best long sprinters, with US#3 46.14 400 and 21.23 200 PRs from a state title double. He’s running the individual 400 as well as the relays, which will again include the 1k Swedish Med, 4x200 and 4x100. Tommy Rogers, Matthew Chavers and Christian Molloy will be picking up legs in various relays.

Ohio middle distance power – Gahanna Lincoln, Granville and Wadsworth

A handful of Ohio 4x800 squads and a 4x1 Mile quartet are giving schools from the Buckeye State a chance to win 2 or more distance relays this weekend at NBNO. The Wadsworth HS 4x800 boys built on early-season Penn Relays success the past two years, then got down to 7:42.20 at state in ’17, then 7:39.05 this year to lead the nation. They didn’t come to NBNO last year, but will test themselves against Green Hope NC – the top U.S. team at Penn with 7:39.28 – in what should be a great 4x800 battle. Nick Miller, with a 1:50.60 best, and Gabe Szalay 1:55.43 (and 4:11.66 1,600) lead the way.

Meanwhile, the 4x800 girls’ scene in Ohio has been amazing this year. At the D1, Region 3 meet, Gahanna Lincoln, Hilliard-Davidson and Granville ran 9:01.23, 9:01.79 and 9:02.77 to rank #2-3-4 in the nation at the time. Then at state, seven teams ran between 8:53 and 9:04, with Lincoln taking the crown in a nation-leading 8:53.49. Lincoln has great quality at the top, with Madison Martinez 2:08.89 state champ and Shynae Deas at 2:10.60.

Meanwhile, Granville is moving up to an event it has never contested … the 4x1 Mile Relay. And with a group of four that has run between 4:57.88 and 5:04.38 for 1,600 – why not? Alyssa Christian, Kylee McFarland and Rosie Lamb all ran their PRs at the Mason Invite, while Reilly Zine PR’d at the Larkin/Crosten Classic. While none are yet state champion level, it’s an amazing group as a whole.


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