Chris Lotsbom, Junior Editor of Race Results Weekly gives us his take on last weekend's excellent races....
By Chris Lotsbom
Junior Editor, Race Results Weekly
The state of Florida swept the Dream 100m sprints here at the adidas Grand Prix, the sixth stop of the Samsung Diamond League. Levonte Whitfield of Orlando and Shayla Sanders of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. won the boysí and girlsí Dream 100m races, respectively, clocking times of 10.43 and 11.34.
For Whitfield, the Dream 100m title stays in the family for at least one more year. In 2011, Whitfieldís cousin, Marvin Bracy, won the title, while Levonte finished fourth.
"It feels real good, weíre blessed," said Whitfield. "He got one, I got one two. Iím happy I got it [this year]."
With Bracy out of this yearís race due to injury, the spotlight was not so much on Whitfield, but on Tyreek Hill, who has the fastest time at 200m this year. With the starter's pistol still pointed skyward, Hill false started, something that stunned spectators. But that didn't faze Whitfield. Asked if the disqualification of Hill impacted his strategy at all, Whitfield emphatically said "No sir."
"I was staying focused on my race, and not focusing on anybody else," he said, a tip he learned not only from his coaches, but from Tyson Gay, who provided a few helpful hints to the Dream 100m athletes before the race.
"Last year I came in fourth, my first time in New York, first time with a big crowd. This time I wasn't coming in fourth or second, I wanted to win," he said. The high school junior did just that, running into a -0.9 headwind yet still clocking 10.43.
"I feel like I'm a world champion,"proclaimed the two sport star. Whitfield also plays football, and has received attention from schools like Miami, Florida State, Texas, West Virginia, and Clemson, among others.
Behind Whitfield, Jamaica's Jazeel Murphy and Texasís Abraham Hall rounded out the top three in 10.47 and 10.54.
On the girlís side Shayla Sanders won with a mark of 11.34, beating Aaliyah Brown (second, 11.44) and Kali Davis-White (third, 11.45). All three girls set personal bests.
"When I first got to the line, I just remembered what my coach told me, to just execute your race and you'll get it. And that's what I did," said Sanders. Similar to Whitfield, Sanders executed each of her sprint phases seamlessly- start, drive, and finish.
"My start was excellent; I made sure that I pushed my arms, made sure they were going back. When I saw that I was out [in front], and I didn't see anybody, I knew it was a win," she said. From here, Sanders believes the sky is the limit.
"As long as I continue to keep my mind focused, anything is possible," the Boyd H. Anderson High School senior said. Next up, Sanders will try and qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
For winning the adidas Dream 100m titles, Whitfield and Sanders both received a gold plated championship belt, similar to those you see heavyweight boxers wear after winning a title.
"I feel like I was fighting Floyd [Mayweather, the world champion boxer]," said Whitfield. Sanders added that the belt was definitely the best piece of hardware she had ever won.
Also contested were the adidas Dream Miles, where 29 boys and girls from across the country came to run personal bests and claim the nearly three foot tall Jim Ryun trophy. In the end, a pair from the west took the large bronze award home.
Camille Chapus won the girls' mile, holding off Angel Piccirillo and Alli Cash down the stretch. Chapusís time, 4:39.64, was a new personal best and a US #2 for the distance this year.
"I can't believe it,"said the 17-year-old from California, who successfully defended her win from a year ago. In second was Piccirillo, 4:39.94, and third was Cash, 4:39.98. For the first time in event history, each of the top three broke 4:40.
"Last year I was going into the race completely new to traveling and racing, that whole experience. This year, having an international race under my belt [she ran at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships] definitely puts more pressure on. But I was able to rebound from a bad race last weekend and come back this week and race as myself again. It was great," she said.
Chapus continued: "With 200m to go, I just decided that I really want this. I came all the way out here, missed my graduation night and everything, decided to come out here and "do the best I can."
The boys' Dream Mile saw a new champion in Bernie Montoya of Yuma, Ariz. With less than a straightaway to go, the high school junior had one thing on his mind: to hold on for the win.
"First thing that came running through my mind with 50m to go was I really going to win this? Am I really going to win this?"Montoya detailed. "I was just like you give it all you've got, you're already here, don't quit." I was just so happy, so happy to cross that finish line."
After going out in 59.66 seconds for 400m, Montoya didn't let the early pace take away from his kick. Literally breaking the tape in jubilation as Montoya grabbed the finishing tape, ripping it and screaming in excitement as the Cibola High School junior set a new personal best and came that much closer to running a sub-four minute mile.
"It does leave some urgency to go and do it again. But 4:01 as a junior is nothing to be upset about. It's definitely a blessing," said Montoya, who had been thinking about the four-minute barrier since summer of last year.
Two others would go under 4:03, while nine in total would dip below 4:05. Jacob Burcham of West Virginia finished second (4:02.73) and Josh Lampron of Massachusetts was third in 4:02.98. New Jerseyís Edward Cheserek finished twelfth in a distant 4:07.29.
Outside of the Dream events, two prep stars competed with the professionals in the women's 800m, a Diamond League Event.
California's Amy Weissenbach and a teammate of Chapus, and New Jersey's Ajee Wilson took to the line alongside 2011 IAAF World Champion Jenny Simpson and seven other professionals. Finishing seventh and eighth in 2:02.61 and 2:04.03, Weissenbach and Wilson enjoyed the elite experience. After all, they ended up beating Simpson, who had an off day and finished ninth in 2:05.79.
"It's all about the experience," said the Florida State bound Wilson. "I just wanted to stay close to the lead pack as long as I could. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out."
All of the Dream Mile and 100m athletes agreed that the experience running in New York City as part of the Samsung Diamond League was amazing.
"This is by far the biggest thing that's never happened to me,"said the miler Montoya, still clutching his trophy and finishing tape, which he says will be hung in his room at home.
Before the meet, Erin Finn, the national high school record holder indoors at 5000m, said just getting her bib number and with the Diamond League logo clad on the front and it was exciting.
"When I saw we got Diamond League style bib numbers, I thought that was really cool," she said. "Hopefully this isn't the last time I'm in a Diamond League race."