The B-Side: Marcellus Will Be In A Fight For His Life In NYC

The only loss in 2019 to date that Marcellus Moore suffered was to Missouri speedster Lance Lang

B-Side is Back!!

It's that time of the year when high school indoor track meets are getting lathered up but for those of us who started in mid-to-late October, this is the last weekend for club indoor track in terms of national consciousness. Then it's on to indoor for your school or outdoor season.

I will be in Ypsilanti, Michigan for the AAU 14 & under Indoor Nationals but THE MEET is here -- New Balance Indoor Nationals in Manhattan, NY. This is the indoor meet of meets and everyone need not apply for this one. I love matchups and this meet will have some tasty ones. The boys 60m final could be epic. It may be the greatest prep 60m field ever run (on paper) and will also allow us to see this season's best speedsters lock horns. It's rare these matchups take place because all the great ones don't show up and the races usually don't live up to the hype. I have a feeling this year's New Balance 60m will be BIG!

Illinois' own, junior Marcellus Moore of Plainfield North may be in his toughest race to date (on paper). One mistake in this 60m final by any competitor and it's a wrap! Marcellus has been my guy since he was a kid on coach Thomas Boatright's Aurora Flyers Track Club. I've said to Tony Jones way before it was popular to say or print, that his start has been inconsistent. Personally, I thought his start in Iceland had been one of his best starts- on the flipside the UK Invite was his worst. He came out the gate at Texas A&M with a U.S. #1 in the 60m, and for a while it seemed like it was Marcellus vs history for the next two years. Then Oregon's Micah Williams came to the party in early January dropping a 6.67. He has since lowered it to 6.64 at the Simplot Games (and he was sick when he did it).

The exact same day Williams ran 6.64, Marcellus ran into an unknown (at least to us) from Missouri named Lance Lang. I met him the week prior at a meet hosted by Indiana University where he blazed 6.82. He appeared to be a quiet young man and when my brother asked him if he was going to UK, he said, "yeah." We then looked at each other and said, "son, you are going to have to bring it! Marcellus Moore will be waiting on you." He looked at us and his face said he was not worried about anybody. The gun went off in KY and he exploded out the blocks. Lang not only beat Moore but broke the facility record held by the great Casey Combest whom I had just met at AAU Indoor Nationals. Lang goes 6.62 and a U.S. #1. In fact, if you're old school and played the Def Jam video game back in the day, when it was over Lang was Bonecrusher when he used to say, "You Will Be Destroyed!" You Will Be Destroyed!" All three of these sprinters are headed to New Balance but do not sleep on these wild cards -- Langston Jackson (KY) who was also in the UK 60m placing 3rd in 6.74, Bryan Santos (MA) is at a U.S. #5 with a 6.79, and Nick Cross (MD) with a U.S. #7 at 6.80. The field is loaded and Marcellus MUST get out! If not, it's a wrap!

The advantage Marcellus has is his experience being at New Balance. He has been in the finals before against a guy faster than any of these sprinters in Anthony Swartz (Auburn freshman) who was the New Balance 2018 60m champion. The atmosphere alone can break you, the warm-up area aka "The Strip" can ruin you as all the sprinters have their game faces on. Ian (the announcer) as he reads each sprinters resume' as you stand behind the blocks allows one's mind to think "I am not at a regular invitational final back home". Who can handle the pressure? You know pressure busts pipes! I do feel Marcellus comes home with a 200m title and even a 20 but the matchups aren't as tough as the 60m.

The other event that matches up with the 60m final is the girls HJ. You have Morgan Smalls (NC) whose #1 with a 6'1, Taylor Wright (MD) #2, along with Nyagoa Bayak (ME) at 6'0, and the greatest prep Heptathlete Anna Hall (CO) with a U.S. #5 at 5'11 1/4. This is a MATCHUP! 

There is a crucial matchup in the girls 200m as the national leader, Tamari Davis of Florida, sports a 23.41, will face US #2 Thelma Davies of Philly. I know guys last week who didn't run that fast, so it should be a good one. Don't sleep on Alexa Rossum (GA). She's on my boy's squad, ATL Zoom at 23.88 which is U.S. #7.

And just when you thought it was safe... THINGS HAVE CHANGED!!! NB update: Coach and Olympian ATO BOLDEN made a phone call to New Balance and now BRIANA WILLIAMS (FL) who was the sprint double champion for Jamaica at the IAAF World U20 championships in Finland, and is now in the field!!! She hasn't run indoor since 2016. BUT as my pops used to play Marvin Gaye's "'Mercy Mercy Me' way back in the day on 8 track tape." Woo...Ohh..ahh Mercy Mercy Me. "Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no no." This definitely changes the girls 60m completely. Nobody beats her out the blocks, there could be a new national record coming

My final matchup is the girls 60m final. You could have an all Pennsylvania rematch from earlier this year. Moforehan Abinusawa (freshman) vs Davies (Senior). Davies won the earlier matchup by .01 but this time it's for a New Balance crown. Davies comes in ranked #1 at 7.31 and Abinusawa #2 at 7.32. A couple of dark horses, Semira Killebrew (Indiana) at 7.36 who has been destroying sprint fields since VHS tapes. No, I'm serious I have her on VHS tapes winning national titles and ATL Zooms Alexa Rossum at 7.40 will be there.

New Balance is NOT a place for pretenders. If you are not ready and lathered up, you will be exposed for what you really are and sent back to your state humbled, chin in the chest. Good Luck to all IL athletes participating.

Shout out to an Illinois great, Brittny Ellis (Univ of Miami FL), on capturing an ACC 400m title and qualifying for NCAA's.