The weather forecast for tonight's Hamline Elite Meet presented by Nike predicts a 60% chance of thunder and lightening.
There is, however, a 100% chance of speed and power at the Friday night session of the 4th-annual event which gathers many the state's best prep tracksters in a one-night, one-off, one-class, elite competition.
Meet organizers have expanded the meet this year to include a Saturday relay carnival component to the meet, which also includes 3000 meter race, co-sponsored by the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, open to adults athletes and a Fastest Kid in the City competition for St. Paul youngsters.
In tonight's action, nine 2008 MSHSL Class AA State Champions will return to Klas Field, the State Meet venue, headlined by the state's fastest prep 800 meter runner of all time, Zach Mellon of Buffalo. In its short history, the meet has proven to be an exciting preview of the season's State Meet match-ups and typically posts marks that aren't topped until Sectional competition.
Buffalo's Mellon will strive to become a three-time Elite Meet event winner. The Wisconsin-bound middle distance star, who sports a 1:48.64 PR, enters the event as the #2 seed behind Winona's Sam Miner. While Fridley's Harun Abda, a 1:50.74 man last year, has chosen the 400m at the Elite Meet, Class A cross country champ Moses Heppner of Warroad, the #3 seed, is an interesting addition to the 800m field.
Defending Class AA 200m champ Chichi Ojika, who helped Irondale to its runner-up team finish at State last year, enters the meet as the #1 seed at 100m and the #3 in the 200m. Ojika has clocked 10.84 for the 100m this year and 22.64 for 200m.
Casey Dehn of Owatonna, who won Class AA titles in the shot put and discus throw last spring, enters the Elite Meet shot competition as the #1 seed with a 62-7 mark. He's seeded #2 behind Litchfield's Ryan Ackman in the disc.
Chaska's Derek Jerde, the two-time Class AA high jump champ, seeks his second Elite Meet title. Jerde is the co-meet record holder in the event at 6-7.
In girls' competition, Jesica Cagle of Grand Rapids, the Elite Meet record-holder in the discus and the defending Class AA champ in the event, is the top seed in the disc and the #3 seed in the shot put. Cagle, who holds the All-Time State Meet record in the discus at 162-4, has thrown 153-2 already this year.
Sophomore Mara Olson of St. Louis Park, the Class AA 1600m champ last spring, tops the startlist in that event with a 5:10.68 seed, but could face a challenge from a strong field that includes 2007 Class AA 1600m champ Michelle Volz of Lakeville North and the U of M-bound Katie Moraczewski of White Bear Lake.
Young middle distance star Haylie Zenner of Fergus Falls, the Class AA 800m champ last year as an 8th-grader, is the #1 seed in the event with a 2:20.67 mark this year.
Mounds View's Kayla Sawtelle, the Class AA champ at the 100m hurdles and the state's top returnee in the 300m hurdles, is the #3 seed in the Elite Meet 100m hurdles and the top seed at 300m.
Waseca high jump state champ Katie Guse will jump as the #3 seed tonight. Guse was the Elite Meet runner-up last year.
Elite Meet action gets underway at 5:30 p.m. tonight and resumes at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.
The heat sheets for tonight's Elite Meet events is HERE.
The heat sheets for Saturday's events are HERE.
Remember ... Join Down the Backstretch tonight for live coverage of the meet beginning at 5;30 p.m. We'll provide live-text results for all the events and upload race video upon completion of the session.