Coming into the season, Micah Williams (white jersey) was considered a dark horse. But after the NBNI 60m final, he is now the thoroughbred of the elite sprint group
What a difference a week makes. The previous weekend I was healthy hyped and ready for the New Balance Nationals Indoors to start. Then several days later, I've been John Wicked with the flu since the meet ended. But BSide has ALWAYS been a clutch performer. And even with a pharmacy of medicine and orange juice, I will come through with this week's edition of the B-SIDE.
All the hype, top 50 rankings, interviews, and analysis on preview shows meant absolutely nothing this year at NBNI in NY. Oh, you thought you had it figured out? Nope! Track & Field is the most unpredictable sport on Planet Earth. And what you think you know, can change as soon as the gun goes off. It's a different world when you're the one everyone wants to beat and is training for.
NBNI 2019 was March Madness on the track and the homegrown bunch from E. St. Louis Senior HS stole the show Friday in the Emerging Elite division. They might as well have been playing Kool Mo Dee's "I Go To Work" while they were running. Junior Willie Johnson "emerged" from the shadow and won the 400m from the first section in 48.39. And then the Flyers came back and won the 4x200- almost breaking their necks with the sloppiest set of racing- tripping and falling on the track rail. And lastly, Eastside closed the show with a 4x4 title. And they did this in their infamous Cheetah Orange sprint suits. The wins were viewed as the appetizer for Sunday's championship division. It ended being the meal for the whole weekend, I know my coaching friends were tired of me texting 'ESTL WINS! ESTL WINS AGAIN!' They turned the Emerging Elite Division into their own personal invitational meet.
The one thing people in track need to know let's say the girls 60m. When a coach like Olympian medalist Ato Bolden makes a call to enter an athlete like Briana Williams (FL) with the resume' she has into the meet. They aren't entering it if they aren't ready (lack of indoor 60m or not). A person and coach of that stature have way too much to lose. Anybody who thought anyone would win the 60m beside her was crazy. Briana won it in 7.28. Thelma Davies (PA) did impress me breathing on her neck at 7.30. I guess Marvin Gaye is still singing 'Mercy Mercy Me.'
Tamari Davis (FL) is another athlete analysts questioned. Are u serious? She's been my pick since the 2017 AAU Outdoor nationals in Ypsilanti, Mich, and it will never change. Think about it, Tamari is focused on one event (200m) and is the defending champ. And she' going to lose? NO! She wins the 200m in 23.24.
The national breaking Bullis Boys came in with all the hype but left with ZERO GOLD MEDALS!
The meet had people with their mouths open in shock. All season all we heard was Bullis this and Bullis that. They got it handed to them all weekend long. The great 4x4 didn't even show up for the final. And Ashton Allen got broken down on the final straightaway losing to Justin Robinson (MO) in 46.55. In case you were wondering where Johnson would have placed, it would have been 6th in the championship division and wore a crown.
The one THING that almost had me fall out my office chair and pull the computer on the floor with me was Athing MU (NJ) losing to a freshman from Wisconsin named Roisin Willis in 2:05.70 in the 800m. Years from now Roisin will be a trivia question nobody will have the answer to. I can tell you NOBODY saw the American record holder in the 600m losing at New Balance. There were fans in the stands with signs that said Go Mu Go! Well, she went... right to the second place spot on the podium letting you know anyone can be beaten at any time. She handled the interview like a pro, I have to give it to her. I would've been in the parking garage across the street flipping cars upside down, but that's me.
The HJ matchup didn't live up to the hype, but Morgan Smalls (NC) did as she jumped 6'03 1/4 to become second all-time behind the great Vashti Cunningham. Morgan's jump would have won NCAA D1 in which the winner cleared 6'1.50."
Stately speaking, last week Marcellus Moore (Plainfield N.) was in the race of his life. And a bad start would end his championship bid quickly. In the 60m prelim he had a decent start and cruised in. The semi he had a bad start and was blessed to win his heat. And even though all the top sprinters had bad starts in their heats I'm looking at their turnover after the mistake. I noticed Marcellus turnover wasn't matching the other top sprinters. I send T Jones a text, 'T, he's in trouble in the final & Micah Williams (OR) is gonna win it.' I said after Simplot Games Micah would win it when he ran a U.S. #2 and he was sick... Micah won it in 6.60, Lang 2nd at 6.65. And I definitely didn't see Mario Heslop (NJ) getting 3rd at 6.73, and Marcellus took 4th. And speaking of Heslop he won the 200m in 20.91 as Marcellus took second in 21.23. So I had the right time, but the wrong guy.
I'll say this, Marcellus was under a lot of pressure more so than his previous two indoor seasons at New Balance. Marcellus was looked at as the man (nationally). But the one thing that can change the temperature in a room fast is...expectations. The atmosphere alone at New Balance can't be prepared for. And now on top of that, YOU are supposed to win it. Marcellus won't be in another race like that the rest of the school year. He'll breeze through Top Times and outdoor state with NO challengers unless he gets hurt. The only competition he has is chasing history. He'll be fine.
The final lesson New Balance will teach you quickly if you didn't already know is, there are levels to this. And no matter the sport, but especially track, there' always another level. Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) is a beast. But her opponent was next level Katelyn Tuohy (NY). Touhy was relentless in the two-mile as she took the field to the deep water and drown them. And that's exactly why the meet record was broken.
The good news when all this is said and done. In a year Marcellus and Katelynne will have signed full ride scholarships with a university. And will return for one last ride at New Balance. And now my two questions. How do you run a race and Sydney McGlaughlin is holding the finish line and lose? You would think there would've been more meet records. I probably would've been DQ'ed for running out my lane. And lastly, Am I the only one in America that watched the mixed relays? No watched it close! A girl had another 250m to go with a boy quickly closing the gap. She took a peak as if the police were closing in on her. She reached up & with one quick snatch the head full of hair she had the first lap was in the other hand and thrown to the side of the track. .She finished the remaining lap with braids and her team took the win. I couldn't believe what I was watching. That's how fast things can change in track hair today, gone tomorrow.