Midwest Meet of Champions (MI)
Seniors from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan converge on Jackson H.S. (MI) Saturday to take part in the Midwest Meet of Champions. Many of the top senior athletes in each state will test their skills against their cross-state rivals in a match-up for regional bragging rights. The prime event of the entire weekend is the boys shot put. With six athletes over 62 feet, this event is deep and extremely talented. Leading the charge is U.S. top ten ranked Brandon Pounds (Lawrence North, IN) (pictured left), tabbed as the pre-meet favorite, but followed closely by Indiana teammates Tyler Hiatt (Noblesville, IN) and Jakob Engel (Portage, IN). Following closely behind Pounds are Michigan's Mike Martin (Detroit Catholic Central, MI) and Matt Armstrong (Lansing Sexton, MI), while Ohio's Drew Ebersole (Midview, OH) represents the Buckeye State with his own 62+ seed throw.
Elsewhere on the boys side, vaulters Kevin Schipper (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, IN) and Joe Wesley (Marine City, MI) go head-to-head since they last met during the indoor season. Both athletes have a great shot to clear the 17-00 barrier, and do not be surprised if either of them cleared 17-02 and moved into a U.S. top three position. Other top field event participants are Bob Belden (Decatur Central, IN) in the discus and Ryan Fleck (Napoleon, OH) in the high jump.
On the track, D'Juan Richardson (Warren Central, IN) leads the way. Richardson is one of the best hurdlers in the country this season and enters Saturday's competition ranked #1 in both the 110m and 300m hurdle events. However, Richardson will receive competition from Michigan's Roscoe Payne (Flint, MI), who won double gold at the Michigan State Meet.
Varick Tucker (Belleville, MI) is the top ranked 400m runner but should have plenty of challengers in the event, especially the strong contingent from Ohio, while Tucker also anchors a competitive 4x400m relay that will be the highlight relay of the day amongst the three states. Ohio's Jared Hall (Cleveland Heights, OH) and Mike Krisely (Reynoldsburg, OH) will challenge each other in the boys 800m dash as well, with both athletes looking to break 1:51 for the first time this season.
The top girls races come in the 100m and 200m dash events. Both fields are stacked with national level talent, including the likes of Candyce McGrone (Warren Central, IN), Meshawn Graham (Toledo Bowsher, OH), Aaeron Payne (Beaumont, OH) and the two Elises from Michigan, Elise Brown (Jackson, MI) and Elise Glass (Dearborn, MI). McGrone, Payne, Glass and Brown will clash in the girls 200m dash, which could produce a few U.S. top ten performances in the event, while McGrone and Glass are both entered in the 100m dash. Graham will be looking to push a new U.S. #1 performance in the 400m dash, ranked as the top seed after running 53.30 in the event last weekend, which currently ranks her U.S. #1.
The hurdle events are always fun to watch as well at this meet. This year Leslie Aririguzo (West Bloomfield, MI) and Sarah Snapp (Shelbyville, IN) should put on quite a show. Aririguzo is one of the top ranked short hurdlers in the country and the senior is entered in the 100m hurdle event. Meanwhile, Snapp is entered in the 100m and 300m hurdle events and looks to improve her bests in both events.
In the field events Mackenzie Wills (Troy Christian, OH) and Monteka Flowers (Warren Central, IN) lead the way. Flowers is ranked highly in both the shot put and discus events, while Wills looks to clear even greater heights after soaring over the 13-00 barrier earlier in the season in the pole vault. Tia Brooks (East Kentwood, MI) will be a challenger as well in the girls throws, entering the meet with a 48-00 seed mark in the shot put. In the distances Alex Banfich (Culver Academies, IN) looks to close out her Midwest career with double victories in the 1600m and 3200m runs, while Emily Infeld (Beaumont, OH) looks to improve upon her 2:09 800m seed time from earlier in the season, while preparing to head back to Nike Outdoor Nationals, which saw her take second in the mile last season.