Colonie senior Kyle Plante will finally get the competition she’s been lacking in the 400, and Saratoga Springs goes for a third straight title in the 4 x mile relay in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, which open today and run through Saturday evening at North Carolina A&T University.
The Section II girls’ roster outweighs the boys in the Greensboro, N.C., meet, but Joe Carr of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is among the top contenders in the 200-meter dash.
Plante coasted to lopsided victories in both the Eddy Meet and state meet, partly because speedy Kadecia Baird of Medgar Evers (Brooklyn) chose to double in the 100 and 200 instead at the states. But now Plante finds herself in “the race of the meet,” featuring girls who are ranked No. 1, 5, 6, 7, and 9 in the country this spring.
Plante is ranked seventh, based on her Section II-record 53.38, but has run relay splits of 52.6 and 52.8 when pressed. She also has shown success on the national level, winning indoor titles in the 200 and 300, but did not compete in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals last year.
Baird will be top-seeded for the 400, which will run its seeded section at 7:10 p.m. Saturday, based on her victory in 52.62 in the Loucks Games at White Plains in May. Also contending are state champions from Florida (Deja Parrish, 53.20), Louisiana (Marcquita Stalbert, 53.73), New Jersey (Olivia Baker, 53.48) and Ohio (Karrington Winters, 53.89), as well as Florida runner-up Kendra Ellis (53.22).
Keelin Hollwood, part of Saratoga’s success in the last two 4 x mile national outdoor titles, as well as indoor championships, is the only runner back from last year’s foursome, but will have strong support from Taylor Driscoll, Margaret MacDonald and Maggi Szpak.
Competing as Kinetic Running Club, the Blue Streaks caught a bit of a break last year when two of their rivals, North Shore of Long Island and Adrenaline Track Club of Delaware, missed the race because of cancelled flights.
Saratoga had a similar experience one year earlier, but drove through the night in a van some of the parents had rented and made it to the track just in time to run the third-fastest 4 x mile relay in national history.
Adrenaline, which represents track powerhouse Tatnall School, is shooting for the national record this time around and will be the team to catch. The race goes off at 8 a.m. Saturday, a reprieve from the oppressive temperatures athletes will bear the rest of the day.
Saratoga will see familiar faces in the race, as Shenendehowa, led by Lizzie Predmore, is entered, as well as Greenwich and Niskayuna (Red Gremlin TC).
Both Kinetic and Shenendehowa are scheduled to double their girls back in a competitive distance medley division Saturday evening, and Shenendehowa will take another run at the 4 x 800 Friday night after finishing second a year ago.
“I love the team events. I love the relays,” said Predmore last Friday after winning the Federation 3,000-meter title.
Shaker will be competing in the girls’ sprint medley relay Friday afternoon, an entry guaranteed under a new promotion by its victory in the Eddy Meet.
Individually, state runner-up Hollowood, whose time of 6:49.74 is second best in the country this spring, will run the 2,000-meter steeplechase Saturday at 11:55 a.m. Felicia Sciortino of Niskayuna is also in the race.
State champion Molly Shapiro of Schenectady, a senior at Emma Willard, returns to the NBN triple jump Friday at 2:30 p.m., where she placed 11th last year. Despite having a 39-0 entry mark and threatening the Section II record, Shapiro will have to contend from the second flight because of 40-foot jumpers in the field. Emma Willard teammate Keishorea Armstrong, who has a mark of 6-6, is in the high jump Saturday afternoon.
On the boys’ side, Carr is one of the top seeds for his 200-meter heat, which goes off at 3:05 p.m. Saturday. Finalists come back at 7:35 p.m. Carr took down the all-time Section II record with his 21.33 outburst in the Eddy Meet, the best time in the state this year, and came back with two strong efforts under 22 seconds to win the Division I and Federation state titles last weekend.
Most of the other Section II boys didn’t qualify for the championship-level races, and are instead competing as “emerging elites.” Included are boys’ 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay teams from Schen-ectady and the Patriots’ top high jumper, Keilan McMillan-Moss.
Other emerging elites include Austin Lane of Greenwich, Mike Libruk of Shaker and Evan Little of LaSalle in the distance races and Schenectady’s Mukhtar Barros in the triple jump.
Izaiah Brown of Amsterdam, who set a state freshman record of 47.80 in the Eddy Meet, is entered in the freshman 400 this afternoon.
Girls’ emerging elites from Section II include a trio of 11-foot pole vaulters: Kara Snyder of Colonie, Maddesen Weekes of Shenendehowa and Kendra Lizotte of Guilderland, along with Shapiro in the long jump and both Kaleigh Higgins of Niskayuna and Kayleigh Lavender of Shaker in the 800.