New events mean new records at track finals
Among its usual offerings, the annual European high school track and field championships Friday and Saturday at the Ruesselsheim City Stadium this year come with a rock-solid guarantee.
At least four European records will be established when the boys' and girls' 1,600 and 3,200-meter races unfold.
That's because both events are new to DODDS-Europe this year, and the school system requires any mark recognized as a record to be attained at a divisional or European championship meet. Since there no longer are any divisional meets, all records must be accomplished at the annual season finale.
Bavaria district superintendent Mike Thompson, who oversees high school track and field in Europe, said DODDS-Europe substituted the longer races for the classic metric-mile distance of 1,500 meters and the 3,000 to bring DODDS-Europe in line with Stateside high schools and to increase the chances Europe-based athletes can catch on with college programs. College coaches want to see times in the 1,600 and 3.200 rather than the 1,500 and 3,000, he said.
So far, Brian Hannum of Heidelberg appears to be the front runner to become Europe's first boys' record-holder in the new events, having run season-best times of 4:32.68 and 10:04.22. But he'll be closely challenged by Charlie Haywood in the 3,200 and Alex Dobbs in the 1,500, both of Frankfurt International School; John Fain of Naples and Carl Lewenhaupt of Ramstein in the 1,600.
Reigning girls' 1,500 champion Jessica Kafer of Ramstein has posted the fastest time so far in the 1,600, 5:19.73, and Patch's Christina Hamilton holds a season-best 11:50 in the 3,200. But those two are likely to be joined in their duels at each distance by European cross-country champion Baileigh Sessions of Patch.
A few more events to watch:
• Weighty matters - Darian Billups of Bitburg is the defending shot-put champ with a season-best throw of 47 feet, 7.75 inches. But Billups, who has a 134-5.5 discus toss to his credit this seasson, is known to covet gold in that event, too. He's facing an uphill battle in the discus against Justin Dickey of Ramstein, 141-9; Tony Legare of AFNORTH, 137-9, and Xavier Thompson of Lakenheath, 136-3. In the girls' field, Mariah Morris of Vilseck appears well-positioned to defend her European discus crown (109-6, six feet past her 2011 winning mark), but the girls' shot is wide open.
• Half-mile heaven - David Lance of Vilseck and Tyler Holderby of Heidelberg each has cracked the two-minute barrier in the 800 this season and figure to push each other in the finale to an even better time.
• Sprint prodigies - Two U.K. freshmen, Mikala McCain of Menwith Hill (season bests of 12.44 and 25.60 in the 100 and 200) and five-event qualifier Jada Griffin of Alconbury (26.05 in the 200) have turned heads. But McCain was injured three meets ago and might not yet be back, and there are plenty of runners breathing down both girls' necks.
• Jump right in - Tommy Baker of Vilseck, Wayne Dawkins of Heidelberg and defending champion Darien Cornett of Aviano all have cleared 21 feet in the long jump, and all three figure to challenge triple-jump leader Renanzo Williams of Vilseck, who has covered a season-best 45-9.5.
• Multiple medal prospects - DODDS-Europe rules limit any athlete to three individual events and one relay, but like Alconbury's Griffin, Abigail Diaz of Patch, who has season-best times in the 100 and 300 hurdles and the 400 meters, can pick her four from the five for which she has qualified.
• Two-tenths takes longer than it looks - Corey Evans of Bitburg is sprinting for the first time this year and ran a 10.70 100 meters. Can he put everything together by Saturday to match the DODDS-Europe record of 10.50 set by Isaiah Fluellen of Ramstein in 2001?
K-town's girls are chasing a 10th straight D-I title and might have the power to pull it off despite the graduation of quadruple gold-medalist Rio Harris. But Ramstein, Patch, Heidelberg and Vilseck pose significant challenges. Heidelberg's the defending boys' D-I champ, but Vilseck, Patch, Wiesbaden and Ramstein pose obstacles to a repeat.
In Division II, AFNORTH's girls, behind one-girl gang Sara Sawyer, figure to battle Naples and Bitburg in their quest for a repeat title; Bitburg's boys look poised to topple Black Forest Academy as the boys' champ.In Division III, Alconbury coach Bud Foutz predicts the team which comes up with the highest two scorers in any event will walk off with the small schools titles.
According to meet director Tom Richards, opening ceremonies are scheduled for 10:50 a.m. with field events to start at 11 a.m. and running events at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The first-day schedule at the track (Sommerdamm 1, 65428 Ruesselsheim), which is located off highway B-43 on the eastern edge of Ruesselsheim, a city located between Darmstadt and Wiesbaden off autobahn A-67, features finals in nine events. There is no admission charge.