Brooks PR Invite: Deep Boys' Preview
By Stephen Underwood
It’s been noted that while the Dempsey Indoor Track is something of a distance runners’ Mecca, and that the Brooks PR Invite for preps was designed with distance runners in mind, that the meet has become just as appealing to sprinters and hurdlers – thanks to performances like last year’s 60-meter hurdles USR by Donovan Robertson.
But that doesn’t mean the distance races still aren’t packed with thrills and drama, and plenty of questions to be answered.
That will be true Sunday as many of the nation’s top prep guys take to the track in the 800, mile, and two mile. Can Canadian Tyler Smith defend his 2012 crown over 800, or will US#1 Tre’Tez Kinnaird unseat him? Can 2012 Brooks PR mile runner-up Jacob Burcham shake off his last two outings – 84th at last December’s NXN XC Finals and last weekend’s 5th at the U-Kentucky Invite 800 – and capture another major title? And, perhaps most compellingly, who will reign supreme in the meet’s longest race as seven sub-9:00 types take to the track for the two mile, led by the supremely talented Bernie Montoya?
Even amongst well-credentialed distance studs like Jake Leingang, Sam Wharton, Jacob Thomson, Andrew Gardner and a dozen others, Montoya stands out in the deuce and fans can’t wait to see what the 2013 debut will be like for the Cibola (Yuma, Ariz.) star. While it’s fair to say he and Ed Cheserek don’t spend a lot of time worrying about each other, it is also fair to say that only Montoya (and perhaps now-graduated Futsum Zienasellassie) have shared with Cheserek the conversation of “who is the nation’s best prep distance runner” since back in the fall of 2011.
Think back to a year ago at this time. Cheserek had won his first Foot Locker title and just set a 5,000 USR at Millrose. The New Jersey Kenyan had also run a 4:02 mile indoors. But after he lost the final race of his New Balance Indoor quadruple attempt, perception slowly began to shift. A month later, Montoya was a stunning second behind Zienasellassie in the Arcadia 3,200, with both breaking 8:50, and then in June Montoya was basically on top of the prep distance running world after his adidas Dream Mile victory in 4:01.32 (Cheserek was 12th). Montoya was also impressive in a Nike mile exhibition later at the Olympic Trials and, even though he wasn’t the top harrier returnee, he went into last fall as some folks’ choice to be the best.
Since October, however, Cheserek has regained top distance prep stature, repeating at Foot Locker (Montoya was unbeaten until NXN, then 22nd there) and last weekend breaking Gerry Lindgren’s decades-old 2-mile standard.
Now, Montoya re-enters the scene. It’s been awhile since he’s overwhelmed us, but who could argue if he’s able to pick up where he left off last spring, that sub-4:00 and sub-8:40 aren’t within his grasp? Sunday night in Seattle will provide the first glimpse of what 2013 might be like for him.
Of course, there are a dizzying number of others who could smash the 2M meet record (8:59.15) and claim victory. So read on for previews of the meet’s boys’ events, finishing off with the continuation of this discussion of the deuce.
One thing that this meet does is go after not just the athletes who are currently starring indoors, but others who may be solely focused on the outdoor season ahead. Six of this event’s 10 entrants are from Texas and Florida, top sprint-talent-producing states which both have very limited indoor action, but are also already underway outdoors. Five of those six athletes, plus Californian Khalfani Muhammad, have raced once or not at all indoors this winter.
On the other hand, six of the top eight finishers from last year’s race were non-seniors and all have returned to race Sunday, so it’s a very experienced field. And those who have been racing are here, too: The top four from the 2013 US list in the 60 will hit the blocks here.
You have to start with the top two from the 2012 race. Local star Tatum Taylor was less than a hundredth of a second off the win last year at 6.71 and he recently clocked a US#2 6.73 on this track to prove he’s ready. He’ll hope to top defending champ Levonte Whitfield from Florida, who debuted last month in a torrid 55 at the Jimmy Carnes meet where he was third in 6.32.
Another athlete is even faster than Taylor in Washington, though, as Isaiah Brandt-Sims has improved to 6.70. That’s just .01 off of Cameron Burrell’s US#1 6.69. The Texan was seventh here last year, but has gotten better and more consistent. Look for one of the above-mentioned four to claim the victory.
Levonte Whitfield, Jones HS (Orlando, FL), 2013
(1st in ’12, US#6 6.32 55 (6.71 60 in ’12))
Trayvon Bromell, Gibbs HS (St. Petersburg, FL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#7 6.33 55)
Tremayne Acy, DeSoto HS (DeSoto, TX), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 6.99 60 (6.86 60 in ’12))
Cameron Burrell, Ridge Point HS (Missouri City, TX), 2013
(7th in ’12, US#1 6.69 60)
Tatum Taylor, O’Dea (Seattle, WA), 2013
(2nd in ’12, US#3 6.73 60 (6.71 60 in ’12))
Kyle Fulks, Katy HS (Katy, TX), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (7.03 60 in ’12))
Kendal Williams, Stanton Coll. Prep HS (Jacksonville, FL), 2014
(4th in ’12, 6.44 55 (6.81 60/6.35 55 in ’12))
Khalfani Muhammad, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA), 2013
(8th in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (6.89 60 in ’12))
Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Wenatchee HS (Wenatchee WA), 2014
(6th in ’12, US#2 6.70 60)
Greg Popylisen, Valor Christian HS (Highlands Ranch CO), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#4 6.80 60)
Boys 60m hurdles
This event saw a stunning national record last year, as Donovan Robertson came from seemingly nowhere to explode to a 7.57 victory. Interestingly, though Robertson ran very well the rest of 2012, both indoor (New Balance Indoor champ) and outdoor (US#1 300H, #3 in both 110H and 400H), you argue that he was never better than he was at Brooks. This meet brought out his best; the one time everything went perfect technically for the Ohio standout. Is there record potential in this field?
If so, it could come from the very talented Alabama junior Marlon Humphrey, whose career arc has taken him most recently to a US#3 7.80 60H to win his state title. Like Robertson, he’s at least as good at the longer hurdles, but his speed has improved markedly this winter. Or it could be someone who’s recent improvement has been even more dramatic. A few weeks ago, Freddie Crittenden from Michigan was an 8.06 hurdler, but now suddenly he’s tied for the US lead after his 7.76 at Grand Valley last weekend. Interestingly, Crittenden started at McClure North HS in Missouri before transferring after his sophomore year. Sunday, he’ll meet an old teammate in Aaron Mallet, who has gotten down to 8.00, but has run even better in the 55H at US#2 7.36.
Also watch for the amazing Devon Allen from Arizona, who is also doubling in the 400. He was third here last year at 7.80 and while he has not competed yet this winter, last spring was arguably the nation’s best combo sprinter/hurdler with US#5 20.75 200, #4 13.52 110H and #4 36.39 300H chops.
Aaron Mallet, McCluer North HS (Florissant MO), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#9 8.00 60H (US#2 7.36 55H))
Freddie Crittenden, Utica HS (Shelby Township MI), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#2 7.76 60H)
Derrick Willies, Rock Island HS (Rock Island IL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (7.84 55H PR ’12))
Marlon Humphrey, Hoover HS (Hoover AL), 2014
(5th in ’12, US#3 7.80 60H)
Isaiah Moore, Cummings HS (Burlington NC), 2014
(DNR in ’12, US#12 8.02 60H (US#3 7.41 55H))
Devon Allen, Brophy Prep (Phoenix AZ), 2013
(3rd in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (7.80 60H PR ’12))
Daniel Zmuda, Steilacoom HS (Steilacoom WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#19 8.12 60H)
Devin Liebel, White River (Buckley WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (14.62 110H best))
Davon Anderson, Summerville SC), 2014
(DNR in ’12, US#5 7.88 60H)
This was maybe the meet’s best race last year as Najee Glass and Aldrich Bailey nearly pushed each other under 46 seconds with an incredible duel to the wire. This year, it might – like the 60 – be a great chance for a Washington boy to win a gold before the home state crowd. Marcus Chambers from Tacoma is the only returnee from last year’s race (sixth) and has already run a US#9 48.56 on this track in 2013. He also sports the best outdoor PR in the field as he got all the way down to 46.18 last summer. No non-senior ran faster.
But he should get a battle from the above-mentioned Allen, as well as others. The Arizonan has run “just” 48.45 for the 400 outdoors, but has those great 200 and 300H PRs that suggest he could go faster. Another leading contender should be Theodore Foster, who’s used to running oversized indoor tracks at his home facility at the new SPIRE Academy. Since transferring from CBA in New Jersey, Foster has ducked under 48 seconds, leading the US at 47.85 until last week when his mark was overtaken.
Three others in the field ran 47.5 or better outdoors in 2012, including Californian Alex Rohani (47.34), Antwon Smith from Ohio (47.34) and Ceolamar Ways from Florida (47.27). Ways blitzed a 21.48 200 to win the Carnes meet in Florida with a US#2 time, while Smith has also clocked a US#13 48.80 undercover this winter.
Marcus Chambers, Foss HS (Tacoma WA), 2013
(6th in ’12, US#9 48.56 (46.18o PR ’12))
Ceolamar Ways, Nease HS (Ponte Verde Beach FL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 400 in ’13 (47.27o PR ’12))
Theodore Foster, Osbourne/SPIRE Acad. (Geneva OH), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#2 47.85)
Devon Allen, Brophy Prep (Phoenix AZ), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 400 in ’13 (48.45o in ’12))
Jonathan Green, Ephrata HS (WA), 2014
(DNR in ’12, 49.70 400)
Alex Rohani, Beverly Hills HS (CA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 400 in ’13 (47.34o in ’12))
Antwon Smith, Kennedy HS (Cleveland, OH), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#13 48.80 (47.44o in ’12))
Andrew Brown, Tumwater HS (WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 50.02 400 (48.35o in ’12))
Tre’Tez Kinnaird came here in 2012 off of his World Youth appearance, but light on racing for the indoor campaign and managed just eighth while Canadian Tyler Smith dominated the field. This year, Kinnaird already has one outstanding 800 effort to his credit – a then-US#1 1:51.83 at the Hoosier Hills Invite – and should be much more ready to take on Smith. The Canadian is hardly an underdog, though. He’s coming off defending his Simplot Games title with a 1:51.46 and last summer threw down a 1:47.96 that exceeded anything a US prep did. In any case, these two have separation from the rest of the field.
There are several other strong contenders in the field – for the top three, anyway. Perhaps the most precocious talent in the field is Charles Jones of Missouri, who as a sophomore last spring stunned with a pair of 1:49 performances. He has not raced yet this indoor season, however. Another from Missou, Amos Bartelsmeyer, has a 1:51.07 outdoor best from last year and impressed last month indoors with 1:52.56 and 4:13.26 for a full mile at Arkansas. Another who has run under 1:53 already this winter is Ricky Faure from Wyoming, who also claimed the Simplot 1,600 last weekend.
A pair with exception range are Floridian Andres Arroyo and Jacob Dumford from Ohio. Both went 1:51-low outdoors as juniors, yet have been on the verge of the harrier national elite: Dumford was the state D1 runner-up last fall, but a late collapse kept him out of NXN Finals, while Arroyo has won two state 4A titles, but struggled at the Foot Locker level. Both would love for their senior track seasons to be statement-making.
Also watch from Donnie Lee, Jr. from Alabama, who held the US#1 at 1:52.18 for several weeks before Kinnaird reset it.
Tyler Smith, Wetaskiwin, Alberta (CAN), 2013
(1st in ’12, 1:51.46 1st Simplot (1:47.96o PR ’12))
Tre'tez Kinnaird, Butler HS (Louisville KY), 2013
(8th in ’12, US#1 1:51.83 (1:49.31o PR ’12))
Andres Arroyo, Colonial HS (Orlando FL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (1:51.04o PR ’12))
Amos Bartelsmeyer, MICDS (St. Louis MO), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#7 1:52.56 (1:51.07o PR ’12)
Brett Moulten, Santiago HS (Corona CA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (1:51.49o PR ’12))
Jacob Dumford, North HS (Westerville OH), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 800 in ’13 (1:51.15o PR ’12))
Ricky Faure, Rock Springs HS (WY), 2014
(DNR in ’12, US#8 1:52.67 (1:51.66o PR ’12))
Donnie Lee Jr, Tuscaloosa Co. HS (Northport AL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#2 1:52.18 (1:51.79o PR ’12))
Brad Johnson, East HS (Brookfield WI), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 1:59.56 (1:51.43o PR ’12))
Adel Yoonis, Wheeler HS (Marietta GA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 800 in ’13 (1:52.06o PR ’12))
Cody Johnson, San Lorenzo Valley HS (Felton CA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (1:52.44o PR ’12))
Charles Jones Jr., Cardinal Ritter HS (St. Louis MO), 2014
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (1:49.78o PR ’12))
Last year, the Brooks mile had a thriller of a finish, with previously unheralded Washingon standout Marcus Dickson coming from behind and nipping favored leader Jacob Burcham at the line. Burcham is back and there’s some good talent behind him, but really this is a field with more questions than answers.
Those questions start with Burcham. Yes, he is a 4:02.73 miler outdoors, second in the Dream Mile to Bernie Montoya last winter. In the fall, he looked primed to battle for the Nike Cross Nationals individual crown after a season where he was unbeaten save for an invitational loss to Jacob Thomson. But he was one of several standouts to falter in the overwhelmingly muddy conditions and finished 84th. In his only indoor race so far this winter, he was a well-beaten fifth last weekend behind winner Thomson in the U-Kentucky Invite 800. Of course, Burcham has had many successes, including making the World Youth Finals as a soph and winning the New Balance Outdoor mile last spring. If he’s back to form, the rest of the field can forget about it.
Several of the other top contenders are also searching for a return to that PR-level. Texan Trevor Gilley had a 4:09.37 shocker as a soph in his incredible 2011 5A state meet 1,600, but hasn’t been under 4:12 since – including when he was 11th here last year. Chris Marco from New Jersey hit 4:07.31 for 1,600 last spring, but has a best of 4:16.51 for the full mile this winter as he finished in the middle of the pack at Millrose.
Others haven’t tested the water yet in 2013 after varying finishes in cross country. Carl Hirsch from Wisconsin had an electrifying 4:08.21 1,600 in 2012 and some good XC races early (a second behind Jake Leingang at Griak), but struggled far back at state and Foot Locker Midwest. On the other hand, local star Joe Hardy is looking for a sharp debut after getting down to 4:09.29 for 1,600 last spring and finishing up XC with a fourth at NXN Finals.
Another Washington standout who has started strong, however, is Keith Williams, who netted a recent PR of 4:13.21 for the full mile on this track – so watch out for him, as well as Connor Mora from Michigan who has been unpushed with a 4:15.05 best this winter after a 4:10.72 last spring. Tennessean Brock Baker is a 4:10.99 miler from 2012, then had ups and downs in XC, but while he hasn’t raced the distance yet in 2013, he rocked an 8:59.39 for the deuce last weekend at Kentucky, so he’s in good form, too.
Jacob Burcham, Cabell Midland (Ona WV), 2013
(2nd in ’12, no mile in ’13 (4:02.73o mile PR ’12))
Carl Hirsch, Central HS (Brookfield WI), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (4:08.21o 1600 PR ’12))
Ryan Silva, Rincon HS (Tucson AZ), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (4:10.33o mile PR ’12))
Trevor Gilley, Carroll HS (Southlake TX), 2013
(11th in ’12, US#19 4:16.57 mile (4:09.37o 1600 PR ’11))
Chris Marco, South HS (Toms River NJ), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#16 4:16.51 mile (4:07.31o 1600 PR ’12))
Patrick Gibson, Squalicum HS (Bellingham WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 4:19.62 mile (4:11.29o 1600 PR ’12))
Connor Mora, Cedar Springs (MI), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#11 4:15.05 mile (4:10.72o mile PR ’12))
Brock Baker, Oakland HS (Murfeesboro TN), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no mile in ’13 (4:10.99o mile PR ’12))
Joe Hardy, Seattle Prep (WA), 2014
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (4:09.29o 1600 PR ’12))
Keith Williams, North Central (Spokane WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, US#5 4:13.21 mile (4:12.38o 1600 PR ’12))
Jean Baptiste Tooley, Central Catholic (Portland OR), 2015
(DNR in ’12, 2:33.08 1k (4:01.38o 1500 PR ’12))
Sumner Goodwin, Lewis & Clark (Spokane WA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 4:27.36 mile (4:18.36o 1600 PR ’12))
Robert Domanic, Hebron (Carrollton TX), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (4:15.48o 1600 PR ’12))
Boys Two Mile
While top US mile and 3,200 returnee Bernie Montoya is mentioned at length above, the bottom line for the Brooks PR deuce this year – and every year, it seems – is that almost anyone could win it. And that’s because in this event, more so than any other in this meet, nearly all of the entrants have not run a meaningful race at this distance (or close to it) since last spring.
That’s sort of by design and by necessity. The top distance performers at this point in a season are generally going to be East Coasters who are in the middle of their state indoor campaign anyway, so why not base your invitees on the top outdoor returnees and top XC runners from the previous fall – even if they haven’t really raced yet?
This is Montoya’s first Brooks PR meet, but an iron-clad example of the success of this philosophy is Jake Leingang from North Dakota. After his stellar XC campaign in 2011, he made his 2012 track debut here and was runner-up in the deuce with a sterling 8:59.66 PR. He would go on to run 8:51.23 outdoors at Arcadia for 3,200 and win the New Balance Outdoor 5,000. This past fall (save for a bad day in the mud at NXN), he had a stellar senior year – third at Foot Locker after fourth in 2011 – and you’d have to think he’d be the most dangerous guy in the field next to Montoya.
An amazing seven additional runners come in with 3,200 PRs ranging from 8:54 to 9:04, but to lump them all together would be a mistake as they have displayed greater or lesser potential signs of readiness. For example, Californian Blake Haney (8:54.65) and Kai Wilmot from Washington (8:57.66) – sub-9:00 super sophs in 2012 – both had injury issues during XC last fall and are question marks until they show they’ve regained form (Wilmot won a low-key 3k recently in 8:50). On the other hand, fellow Evergreen Stater Andrew Gardner (8:59.83) had a disappointing Foot Locker (11th), but then earned a Team USA singlet for the IAAF World XC champs with an outstanding sixth at USATF Juniors a few weeks ago.
Jacob Thomson (8:58.12) from Kentucky was fifth at Foot Locker XC, then just 17th at USATF Juniors, but opened his track season last weekend with a strong mile/800 double at U. of Kentucky. And Zach Perrin, the Montana standout who shocked at Arcadia last year at 8:55.24, then had mixed results until a 10th at Foot Locker, will be racing for the first time since.
There’s also Ohio’s Sam Wharton at 9:01.24 and Bakri Abushouk from North Carolina at 9:04.02. Wharton was the surprise NXN champ in the mud, took sixth at Foot Locker, then has just a middle-of-the-pack 9:41 effort to his credit this winter. Abushouk, who got his 3,200 PR in a Foot Locker track tuneup in November, has actually been busy racing this winter, but mostly at 1,600 and a mile.
Then there’s a group of runners who haven’t run faster than 9:14 for 3,200, but who each had huge breakthroughs in XC last fall. They include California D1 state champ Bryan Fernandez (9:14.55), who also won Mt. SAC, Woodbridge and Clovis; Wisconsin’s Ryan Kromer (9:19.23), who stunned with ninth at NXN and eighth at Foot Locker; Aaron Templeton of Tennessee (9:25.56), who was seventh at Foot Locker; and Estevan De La Rosa, the Californian who was runner-up to Wharton at NXN.
De La Rosa, in fact, stayed with XC through two Team USA trips to the Great Edinburgh and NACAC junior meets, and an eighth-place finish at USATF Juniors. He’s never broken 9:30 for 2M or 3,200, but he looked very impressive at a California indoor state double this past Monday and cannot be overlooked.
Bakri Abushouk, Cary HS (NC), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 9:25.40 3200 (9:04.02o 3200 PR ’12))
Bernie Montoya, Cibola HS (Yuma AZ), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (8:48.25o 3200 PR ’12))
Andrew Gardner, Mead HS (Spokane WA), 2013
(9th in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (8:59.83o 3200 PR ’12))
Zack Perrin, Flathead HS (Kalispell MT), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (8:55.24o 3200 PR ’12))
Blake Haney, Stockdale HS (Bakersfield CA), 2014
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (8:54.65o 3200 PR ’12))
Jacob Thomson, Holy Cross HS (Louisville KY), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 2M/3200 in ’13 (8:58.12o 3200 PR ’12))
Troy Fraley, Glacier HS (Kalispell MT), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 8:59.91 3k (9:25.56i 3200 PR ’12))
Sam Wharton, Tippecanoe HS (Tipp City OH), 2013
(DNR in ’12, 9:41.76 3200 (9:01.24o 3200 PR ’12))
Aaron Templeton, Hardin Valley Acad. (Knoxville TN), 2014
(DNR in ’12, no 2M/3200 in ’13 (9:27.56o 2M PR ’12))
Alex Riba, O'Fallon HS (IL), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no indoor in ’13 (9:21.75o 3200 PR ’12))
Taylor Wilmot, North Central HS (Spokane WA), 2014
(DNR in ’12, 8:50.94 3k (8:57.66o 3200 PR ’12))
Ryan Kromer, Hudson HS (WI), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (9:19.23o 3200 PR ’12))
Bryan Fernandez, Dos Pueblos HS (Goleta CA), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no races in ‘13 (9:14.55o 3200 PR ’12))
Joe Sansone, Carroll HS (Southlake TX), 2013
(DNR in ’12, no 2M/3200 in ’13 (9:09.24o 3200 PR ’12))
Patrick Perrier, O'Fallon (IL), 2014
(DNR in ’12, no races in ’13 (9:22.55o 3200 PR ’12))
Estevan De La Rosa, Arcadia (CA), 2014
(DNR in ’12, 9:33.80 2M)
Jake Leingang, Bismarck (ND), 2013
(2nd in ’12, no races in ’13 (8:51.23o 3200 PR ’12))