Jenna Barker (right) finished 2nd in heat 2 last year and has moved into the fast heat this year
This year looks to boast the fastest girls races we've seen since, well ever. We have the 2017 state cross country champ, the 2017 runner-up, the 2016 state champ and almost every all state runner from last fall's state champs. To say we have a loaded field is an understatement. There's 16 girls scheduled to run at 8:45 on Friday night. We may see the first finisher cross that line just before 8:50.
Emma Wilson is a girl on a mission. She won the 1600 and the 3200 at the state meet last June and pushed that even further to win the state cross country meet, come in 2nd at the Nike Cross Midwest and then become an All-American, finishing 14th at Nike Cross Nationals in December. So far this calendar year she has clocked a 4:50.81 indoor 1600. The meet record for the girls is a 4:55.82, set by Waverly Neer in 2011. Wilson is looking really fit right now and will likely take the race out fast and not look back from there. Phoebe Bates, Tyler Schwartz, Sophia Rigg and Abby Lynch look to be the four girls that will attempt to hang right behind her as long as they can.
Girls races tend to go out a little slower, because no one wants to take the lead to early or they aren't confident enough to take the lead and hold it. Wilson is not afraid to do that, so the challenge will be seeing who will be willing to take the lead from 2nd. Bates is confident and will more than likely run with her teammate, Maddie Dalton and Abi Little side-by-side for a little while.
Emma Wilson looks to be able to crush that meet record and along the way bring at least six other girls with her onto the top 25 leader board. The race at 8:45 looks like it'll be the most exciting one of the night.
Remember to not count out the other heats though. Heat 3 of the girls mile features many all-staters as well that will be looking to drop some PR's and get a great first big race in. Lulu Black is the favorite but watch out for Grace Williams and Lauren Beckmann. Both of those girls had great cross seasons and should be looking to use that momentum on the track now.
Girls Fast Heat Predictions
1st Emma Wilson - 4:49.7
2nd Phoebe Bates - 4:57.4
3rd Sophia Rigg - 4:57.6
4th Abby Lynch - 4:58.3
5th Tyler Schwartz - 4:58.7
6th Abi Little - 5:00.3
7th Margo Hornocker - 5:01.4
Barker ran a 5:11 at last years meet, finishing 2nd in heat 2, which would have given her 7th in the fast heat. Just speculation but she might have been a little faster if she had been in that heat instead. This year she's in the fast heat and has the potential to break into one of those top 9 spots if she's ready for the big time.