Many athletes from the Kentuckyana region took a test drive on the new Louisville oval
Typically around this time of the season, many track and field athletes in the southeastern part of the country are typically getting themselves ready for indoor nationals. That of course has come via the University of Kentucky High School Invitational. However, in a full calendar year still recovering from the Covid-19 Pandemic, the new normalcy has shifted things quite a bit. Teams from Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and as far away as New York took part in the day-long action.
Enter the Louisville Indoor Games held at the spanking brand new Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center. The latest state-of-the-art facility located just after the Mason-Dixon line on the current revitalization of west Louisville is nothing short of amazing. The den features a banked mondo track, seating for over 4000. In addition, the arena looks more like a basketball stadium with premium seating and number codes to help fans to get into the best viewing spots. Did we mention the bowling alley and play center for the youngsters while mom and dad are attending to the hot action on the track and in the field?
There is even a mini-bowling alley for the family and kids who want to wind down during the meet
As for the events themselves, there were many fine moments:
One of the most discussed distance runners who had not competed yet entering the final month of February was Will Jefferson. The Whiteland IN senior did not have the concluding cross country season that he wanted, so he went back into the lab and improved his training program. The debut outcome was nothing short of spectacular. In his first race of the day, Jefferson pulled away from Nate Mueller of ADM High School in Iowa late in the second half to win the two-mile in a personal best 9:09.89. Mueller clocked 9:14.91 for his efforts. Several hours later, Jefferson checked back over his shoulders a half dozen times inside the final quarter-mile to win the mile in 4:18.55.
Up and comer senior Nicolas Manfroy of distance powerhouse Cincinnati St. Xavier came and proved that he and his school has some speed too. It took 12 sections before a facility record was tied by Manfroy in 50.52.
Sophomore Wyatt Stewart of Madison Central, KY produced a ton of energy among the small crowd at the end of session four when he topped 15-10 in the pole vault. Instead of the satisfaction of achieving his goal of 16-feet, he went for 16-5 which would have placed him inside of the top five nationally.
Columbus North IN junior Tucker Smith won the shot put with a PB US#3 61-7.75
Louisville St. Xavier senior Anthony Woods came in as the favorite in the long jump and needed all of his jumps to get loose. He connected on a US#10 23-2.25 effort in his first competition in more than a year. Woods indicated that his goal is to eclipse 25-feet this season.
Rachel Forsyth took a road less traveled to Louisville instead of competing at the Adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach, VA. The freshman standout from Ann Arbor, Michigan indicated that since her team wasn't going collectively, staying semi-local was the best economical choice. Forsyth rewarded herself with two victories: 800m and mile. The first was the half-mile in which she had to use poise as much as it takes to win with speed and endurance. "I saw her shadow [Makayla Clark] off the last turn," said Forsyth who held on for the 2:13.51-2:15.17. More than an hour later Forsyth returned to win the mile a bit more comfortably in 5:00.42.
One of Ohio's top sprinters Azariyah Bryant of Lakota East opened her season campaign with two victories. The first was the 60m and it was no contest in the section final nine in 7.77. It is now the seventh-best performance in Ohio. Later, Bryant completed the sweep with a 200m win in 25.57- OH #6.
It has been more than two years since Whiteland IN senior Isabella Jackson has competed. It was like old times for the Lipscomb University signee who roughed up the competition in the high jump. Jackson leaped a personal best 5-8 and later attempted 5-10.
Hollan Powers of Tennessee won the long jump in a PB 18-5.75
Jordan Marshall of Chicago South Shore International is ready to compete at Murray State University (Kentucky) next year by the way she handled business in the triple jump. Marshall won with a leap of 37-2.