Top 10 Athletes/Events to Watch in 2008

2007 was a year of highlights in track and field and cross country.  With an incredibly exciting fall under our belts, we look forward to the 2008 track and field season and what can happen.  Here are our top ten athletes/events to watch in 2008.

Top 10 Athletes/Events to Watch in 2008

10. Connor McCullough (CA) & Hannah Carson (AZ)

  Some events in track and field go un-noticed by most during the season due to a variety of reasons, but usually because the event is contested in few states.  Two events that annually receive little recognition are the hammer throw and javelin throw.  While both events are seen rarely, two athletes this year plan to make their mark on them.

  McCullough threw the hammer in '07 a distance of 243' 11", only twelve feet off the national record.  The surprising thing is that the California thrower was only a sophomore.  McCullough has a great shot to set the national record this year, while putting it out of reach for a while his senior season. 

  Carson meanwhile finished less than three feet off of the high school girls javelin record with her throw of 173' 7".  Like McCullough, the surprising thing about Carson is her age.  She threw that mark in '07 as only an eighth grader and has high hopes for 2008.  Her throw put her seventh in the nation last year on the senior lists, however she will have to petition the USOC in order to get into the Olympic Trials this year since she does not meet the age requirement of being 16 years old by the time the Trials roll around.

9. Chalonda Goodman (GA)

'07 sprint champ Chalonda Goodman (GA) looks to repeat in '08

(Photo by Brandon Miles)

  While this junior from Newnan, Georgia may get a bit overlooked this spring with other top sprinters squaring off more often and other events taking some of the spotlight, Goodman needs to be watched closely after winning both the 100 and 200 dashes at Nike Outdoor Nationals in 2007.  It is a rare feat that both sprints are won by the same person, but Goodman showed her strength.  She upset North Carolina sprint sensation Gabby Mayo last year and looks to continue that momentum this spring.

8. Girls Mile & Two Mile

Do any girls have what it takes to beat Hasay on the track?

(Photo by Scott Bush)

  California junior Jordan Hasay nearly took this spot on the list for herself after a monster '06-'07 track season saw her win the USATF Junior National 1500m race and earn the top spot in the 3200/two-mile rankings as well.  However, if Foot Locker National indicated anything, it's that a handful of girls this year can make a lot of noise nationally on the track.

  Hasay leads the way, while others like '07 Foot Locker Champion Ashley Brasovan (FL), '06 Foot Locker Champion Kathy Kroeger (TN) and Neely Spence (PA) follow closely behind in the two-mile.  The mile will see Hasay's in-state rival Christine Babcock, Stephanie Morgan (OH) and Emily Infeld (OH) push Hasay to the line, as the girl's national mile record of 4:35.24 may be in jeopardy.  Hasay had the top mile time last season, while Babcock finished third in the rankings.  Morgan and Infeld placed first and second at Nike Outdoor Nationals.

7. Vashti Thomas (CA)

  While it is not uncommon to see a top girl trackster to be amazing at multiple events, it isn't every day you see an athlete ranked in the top five in three separate events.  Thomas accomplished such a feat last spring, finishing with top five rankings in the 100m hurdles, long jump and triple jump.  The California native ran the fastest non-aided 100m hurdle time of the year in 13.03, which puts her only .08 behind the national record set by Candy Young of Pennsylvania back in 1979.  Thomas verbally committed to Texas A&M earlier in the school year.

6. T.J. Graham (NC)

Graham enters 2008 as the #1 returnee in the 100 & 200

(Photo courtesy of

  2007 was the year of the North Carolina sprinters it seemed.  Three athletes, including the national champion, competed in the 100m dash final at Nike Outdoor Nationals, while four Tar Heel state athletes competed in the 200m dash finals.  All in all, six seperate athletes particpated in the two finals.  Out of those six athletes only one returns this season, with that athlete being Graham.

  Last spring at NON's Graham finished third in the 100m and sixth in the 200m, returning as the top man in both events.  While there are certainly other athletes such as Maurice Mitchell (MO) and Jeff Demps (FL) capable of winning both races, Graham proved as a junior that he had the talent, desire and maturity to run through rounds against the best competition.  That sort of composure will help him immeasurably this season.

5. Jacquelyn Coward (TN) & Ryann Krais (PA)

Jacquelyn Coward (TN) returns to defend 100m hurdle NON win

(Picture Courtesy of 

  The girl's hurdle events have been a sight to see the past few years.  Numerous national flight girls have taken to the short and long hurdle events, proving each year that the U.S. will do well on the world stage for years to come.  This year two athletes really stand out among the field.  Jacquelyn Coward (TN) and Ryann Krais (PA) both look to dominate the hurdle events after phenomenal showings in 2007.

  Coward won the 100m hurdles at Nike Outdoor Nationals last year over a class field and placed fourth in the 400m hurdles, while having the top 300m hurdle time in the country and being the only athlete to break 41 seconds in the event in '07.  Krais on the other hand placed second in the long hurdles and fourth in the 100m hurdles.  Both athletes ran times that ranked them in the top twelve in each hurdle event, while Krais proved she was the top prep heptathlete in the land, ranking first in the event and finishing second behind a college-aged athlete at USATF Junior Nationals.

4. Boys Two Mile

Can Foot Locker champ Mike Fout (IN) lead the way during track?

(Photo by John Herzog)

  Many are calling this year's collection of boys distance talent the best the nation has seen since the days of Ritz, Webb and Hall back in 2001.  While the top talent may or may not be equally as talented as those three, the depth is substantially better.  All fall no less than a half dozen boys showed they had what it took to potentially win Foot Locker Nationals, and the best part is that all of them should come back now and have fantastic track seasons.

  Mike Fout (IN), Chris Derrick (IL), German Fernandez (CA), Colby Lowe (TX), Luke Puskedra (UT) and Donn Cabral (CT) all showed their strength through the fall, while a handful of other athletes such as Brandon Jarrett (NJ) and Kevin Havel (IL) came on strong at the end.  While many of these young men have the speed to run at or under 4:10 in the mile, the event to watch will be the two-mile.

  Last spring Derrick ran a converted 8:57 at his state meet, while Fout, Sean Keveren (TN), Rob Finnerty (MN) and Puskedra all ran nine minutes or faster in the event.  With so much depth in the event you can expect times to come down drastically and potentially see a dozen athletes break the 8:50 barrier, with the top end pushing the 8:40 mark.

3. Ben Davies (TN)

  The USATF Junior National decathlon title fell out of Davies' hands last season as he missed to clear a height in the high jump and failing to advance to the next day.  However, that failure should help guide Davies this year as he prepares to make one more run at greatness.  The Brentwood Academy star scored 7379 last year leaving him 61 points shy of the national record.  With ten events to do well in you never know what might happen, but by the end of the '08 track season Davies may well be one of the best decathletes in the any level.

2. Robert Griffin (TX)

Robert Griffin (TX) looks for two seperate national records in 2008

(Picture courtesy of

  While most fans of Mr. Griffin may know him best for his football accomplishments, his true standout sport is track and field.  Last year as a junior Griffin nearly set the national record in the 300m hurdles, running 35.33 to finish only .05 off the record set in '07.  His magical mark of 13:46 in the 110m hurdles finished .16 off the national record in that event as well. 

  Griffin verbally committed to Baylor University earlier in the school year where he plans to play both football and track.  You can bet Quarter Mile University will try to keep Griffin heavily involved in the hurdles, but test him as well in the 400m dash.  Two national records are not out of the question, as Griffin has a shot to qualify for the senior Olympic Trials as well.

1. Chanelle Price (PA)

Chanelle Price (PA) is one to watch in 2008

(Picture Courtesy of

  Few high school athletes ever have the chance to make the Olympic team while still in high school, but in 2008 Price is the high school trackster with the best shot.  After finishing seventh last year at USATF Nationals in the senior women's race, Price spent this fall preparing for the long track season ahead, with the obvious goal being the Olympic Trials in late June - early July.  Do not count out Price from making a run at the national record in the event, set by Kim Gallagher back in 1982 where she ran 2:00.07.

  The Easton, PA star won't have much competition on the high school level with her times being so much faster than her competitions, but the girl's 800 meter dash is a standout event in the nation as well.  Seven of the top ten finishers at Nike Outdoor Nationals are back, while 15 returnees ran under 2:09.5 last spring.