Maryland Girls At The VA Showcase: 2017 vs. 2018

Franklin's Nyjari McNeil broke the Montgomery Invitational 500 meet record last weekend. Whose record did she break? Bullis' Masai Russell, who set the record back in 2016. Now the two will get a chance to go head-to-head in a 500 race that promises to reshape the Maryland leaderboard. (Photo by Craig Amoss)

Last year, 13 Maryland schools sent athletes to compete in the inaugural VA Showcase, the indoor-mega with the goal of attracting the best from all around the eastern United States under the roof at Liberty University. This year that number has more than doubled as the meet continues to grow. Let's compare the top Maryland girls performances from last year's meet to the top entered Maryland athletes in this year's meet.

Bullis' Ashley Seymour after her MD #2 7.06 performance at this year's Ocean Breeze Holiday Festival.

55 meter dash

2017 Top Performer: Ashley Seymour (Bullis) - 7.13

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 6

Ashley Seymour led all Maryland girls in the event last year and made it to the finals. However, there's a good chance that the young record is broken, with not only Seymour (7.06 personal best) returning, but St. Mary's Ryken's Kelisa Cain (7.08) also entered.

200 meter dash

2017 Top Performer: Ashley Seymour (Bullis) - 24.89

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 7

The top four Maryland performers in the event came from Bullis, led by Seymour who edged her teammate Sierra Leonard (24.98). This year Seymour leads three Bullis girls all seeded at 25.01 or faster, along with the top seed Tylar Colbert from Franklin (24.40 outdoor personal best).

Elizabeth Seton's Lauren Morgan finished second in her heat - and fifth overall - in the 300 at last year's VA Showcase. Her 39.03 time ended up holding as the MD #1 performance throughout the winter.

300 meter dash

2017 Top Performer: Lauren Morgan (Elizabeth Seton) - 39.03

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 8

The Elizabeth Seton senior was the only girl from Maryland to run under 40 seconds at the event last season, and her 39.03 performance ended up as the top time in Maryland last winter. Franklin's Cameron Hinton, who sits at second in the state following her 39.40 effort at the Bishop Loughlin Games, headlines Maryland's athletes, along with Kelisa Cain running just the second 300 of her track career.

Franklin senior Nyjari McNeil ran a US #2 and set the meet and PG Sportsplex facility record in the 500 last weekend at the Montgomery Invitational.

500 Meter Dash

2017 Top Performer: Masai Russell (Bullis) - 1:15.59

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 2

Russell was one of just two Maryland athletes to achieve the MileSplit silver performance status (1:21.00) at last year's meet, but that is poised to change dramatically this year. She is one of five Bullis girls seeded faster than 1:15.00 in the invitational section that features a whopping 13 Maryland athletes. Also in the section are Franklin seniors Nyjari McNeil and Cameron Hinton.

800 Meter Run

2017 Top Performer: Ayanna Johnson (Bullis) - 2:27.42

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

Johnson finished second in the girls invitational 800 last season, but this year there will only be an AAU section of the event. Johnson's record still stands a chance to fall, however, as Bullis freshman Ariana Johnson enters having run 2:26.37 already this season.

1000 Meter Run

2017 Top Performer: None

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

No Maryland girls ran the 1000 at last year's meet, but that will change this season. Ariana Johnson (Bullis, 2:26.37 indoor 800), Yasmine Kass (Paint Branch, 2:19.13 indoor 800) and Jessica Rogers (C. Milton Wright, 2:21.84 indoor 800) are all entered in the invitational section.

Paint Branch's Yasmine Kass ran a MD #1 1600 at the Southern Maryland Indoor Track Classic two weekends ago.

1600 Meter/One Mile Run

2017 Top Performer: None

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

Once again, no Maryland girls competed in the 1600/mile last season at the VA Showcase. There will, however, be a strong field of Maryland runners in this year's meet, led by Yasmine Kass, Jessica Rogers, and Damascus' Heather Delaplaine and Alexis Whitehorn-Coriz, all seeded under 5:20.

3200 Meter/Two Mile Run

2017 Top Performer: None

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

Damascus sophomore Alexis Whitehorn-Coriz is the only Marlyand girl entered with a seed time lower than 12:00, and is a good bet to set the bar when it comes to Maryland girls at the VA Showcase.

Bullis' Leah Phillips won the 55 meter hurdles at this year's Southern Maryland Track Classic, and also set the MD #1 mark of 8.02 at the Ocean Breeze Holiday Festival.

55 Meter Hurdles

2017 Top Performer: Taylor Grimes (Bishop McNamara) - 8.15

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 4

Grimes - along with three Bullis athletes - made the silver elite standard of 8.50 at last year's meet, with Grimes taking fourth in the event finals. Grimes is entered again in this year's meet and has not lost a 55 hurdles competition all season, but she will go up against current MD #1 ranker Leah Phillips (Bullis, 8.02) in a competition that could lead to the first sub-8.00 performance by a Maryland girl since Howard's Christine London did it in 2013.

Last year's invitational 4x200 at the VA Showcase was a thrilling battle for bragging rights between Maryland, Virginia and Jamaica.

4x200 Relay

2017 Top Team: Bullis - 1:37.62

2017 Silver Elite Teams: 5

The Bullis girls ran 1:37.62 at last year's meet in a valiant runner-up effort to Western Branch (VA). After setting the PG Sportsplex facility record last weekend at the Montgomery Invitational, they will return to Liberty University with a vengeance (and hopes of cracking 1:36.00 on the banked track against some of the best competition in the area).

4x400 Relay

2017 Top Team: Henry E. Lackey - 4:04.72

2017 Silver Elite Teams: 1

The Lackey girls won their heat of the 4x400 last year and were the only Maryland squad to crack the MileSplit silver elite performance standard of 4:10.00. That Maryland meet record could fall in a matter of about, say three minutes and 40 seconds (give or take a few). The Bullis girls will be rolling out their 'A' team in the invitational section to go up against the Jamaican athletes from Hydel Group of Schools, and will be joined by the current MD #2 rankers from Franklin.

The Damascus girls ran a MD #1 4x800 the last time they raced in Virginia at last year's Virginia Tech Invitational.

4x800 Relay

2017 Top Team: None

2017 Silver Elite Teams: 0

No Maryland teams competed in the 4x800 at last year's inaugural meet, but this year the Damascus girls enter as the top seed in the event. They currently sit third in the Maryland rankings with their 9:50.48 performance at the Montgomery Invitational, and ran a 2017 MD #1 of 9:37.16 the last time they ran in Virginia (at last year's Virginia Tech Invitational).

Shot Put

2017 Top Performer: Courtney Hawkins (Henry E. Lackey) - 37'10.50

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

Last year's 2A state runner-up, Courtney Hawkins had easily the best Maryland performance at the 2017 VA Showcase. She is undefeated so far this season in the event and enters this year's invitational section as the top-seeded thrower from Maryland.

High Jump

2017 Top Performer: Dasia Newell (Riverdale Baptist) - 5'0

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 0

No Maryland girls came close to the MileSplit silver elite performance standard at last year's meet, but (as is the case with many other events) that is poised to change in 2018. MD #1 ranker Taylor Wright (Northwest, 5'8) headlines a strong field of Maryland athletes that includes four athletes seeded at 5'2 or higher.

Long Jump

2017 Top Performer: Jacqueline Simmons (Elizabeth Seton) - 18'10.70

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 4

Simmons finished third overall in the event, narrowly edging Bishop McNamara's Taylor Grimes (18'7.50) for the top mark by a Maryland athlete. It was just shy of her 18'11.00 MD #1 performance at the Ocean Breeze Holiday Festival earlier in the year. This year Grimes is back, and so is Bullis' Cierra Pyles, who went on to win the New Balance Indoor Nationals emerging elite section and then jumped a MD #2 19'3.00 outdoors.

Triple Jump

2017 Top Performer: Cierra Pyles (Bullis) - 38'10.50

2017 Silver Elite Performances: 2

Cierra Pyles and Taylor Grimes were the only two Maryland athletes to reach the MileSplit silver elite performance standard at last year's meet, but Pyles is not entered in the event this season. Grimes comes into the meet with the top rank so far in the state after jumping 39'3.50 at the Ed Bowie Classic back in December.