The 101st Millrose Games take place Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Each year, the event brings together many of the top distance runners in the country to compete in elite high school boys and girls mile races. The fields this year are stacked with incredible talent and should produce some very fast times. MileSplit National Editor Scott Bush breaks down the race one athlete at a time.
101st Millrose Games H.S. Mile Preview
February 1, 2008 - Madison Square Garden - New York, New York
The Best Meet Coverage will be at ArmoryTrack.com
Boys H.S. Mile
Robby Andrews (NJ) is a co-favorite to win the Millrose mile
(Photo from PennTrackXC.com)
Willie Ahearn (Sr., Danbury, CT): Ahearn can check off one of his goals this season, as the senior standout qualified for the Millrose Games. However, now that Ahearn has arrived he should be looking to make a statement and be in contention for the win. Ahearn has run a few races this year, including a second place finish in the mile at the Hispanic Games and a third place finish at the New Balance Games in 4:16.40.
Robby Andrews (Jr., Manalapan, NJ): The surprise winner of the New Balance Games elite boys mile two weeks ago, Andrews runs in Madison Square Garden this weekend on a path of momentum. Andrews' time of 4:12.48 currently ranks him fourth in the country, only behind the top three finishers in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games mile last weekend. Andrews showed some incredible closing speed at the New Balance Games, which means if he is in contention with 200 meters to go watch out!
Parker Boudreau (Sr., Danbury, CT): Boudreau was overshadowed much of the fall by his teammates Willie Ahearn and Matt Terry, however, track is this athletes time to shine. Last year at Nike Outdoor Nationals, Boudreau helped his team to a top eight finish in the 4x8 with his closing leg of 1:52. Obviously the senior has some leg speed, which showed earlier this month as he won the Yale Track Classic mile in 4:17.23.
Nick Crits (Sr., Wissahickon, PA): Perhaps the most overlooked athlete in the field, Crits has little to lose and a lot to gain. With only a few races under his belt this season, Crits has accomplished a lot thus far, placing fourth at the New Balance Games mile in 4:17.07, which ranks him seventeenth in the MileSplit National Rankings.
Peter Dorrell (Sr., Blacksburg, VA): A successful early indoor season helped Dorrell capture one of the bids for the Millrose Games, and he is one of the favorites heading into Friday's event. Dorrell placed fourth last weekend at Virginia Tech in the mile, running 4:17, but only after he ran a U.S. #1 time of 9:06 in the 3200m run. At the Montgomery Invitational he won the mile in 4:16.81, ranking him sixteenth in the country currently.
Vince McNally (Sr., Conestoga Valley, PA): McNally (photo on right, PennTrackXC.com) enters the Millrose Games as a heavy favorite, entering the meet as the #3 returnee in the event from last season. At Nike Outdoor Nationals last spring, McNally placed sixth in the mile, running just under 4:09. However, the Pennsylvania speedster has yet to really open up his season. His lone indoor performance came in mid-January, winning a 3k by 38 seconds in 8:53. It will be interesting to see just how fast McNally can go this Friday.
Kyle Merber (Sr., Half Hollow Hills West, NY): The New York star has been on a roll all indoor season, starting back in December. Merber won the Hispanic Games in 4:15.13 during the first weekend of the New Year, while also running 2:31.62 for 1k at the Bishop Loughlin Games in mid-December. His best performance came last weekend at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games where he placed third in the mile with a U.S. #3 time of 4:12.42.
Doug Smith (Jr., Gill-St. Bernard's, NJ): A star runner since very early on in his high school career, Smith seems ready to take that next step to greatness. After ending his cross country season on such a low note, not qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals, Smith looks to really make a statement this winter/spring on the track. Smith placed second behind Kyle Merber at the New Balance Games in the mile, running 4:15.95, while earning himself a U.S. #1 ranking in the 3k last week in New York, running 8:24.30.
Charles White (Sr., Cherry Creek, CO): The Texas-bound White runs the second race of his season, after opening up at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games last weekend. White placed fourth in Boston, running a U.S. #5 mark in 4:13.33. White is the #4 returnee from 2007 after running 4:09 and finishing seventh in the mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals. What remains to be seen is whether White can travel back and forth across the U.S. twice in nearly a week's time and run two high quality mile performances.
Last year it took running 4:15 to win the Millrose Games elite boys mile race. This year the field shows more promise, with three athletes already running under 4:15, and five others running between 4:15-17. Eight of the top 18 ranked milers in the country will be showing their speed Friday night, under the lights at Madison Square Garden.
A few favorites stand out among the field of nine competitors. Many are predicting Vince McNally (PA) to steal the show, entering as the top ranked miler from '07 entered in the field. However, McNally has only raced once this indoor season, with that race being an easy 3k.
Four athletes in particular are showing they may have what it takes to win the historic event. Kyle Merber (NY), Charles White (CO), Doug Smith (NJ) and Peter Dorrell (VA) provide a clash of state versus state talent. Merber has been on a tear all season thus far, with a handful of big wins to his name. White opened up his season last weekend at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, placing fourth in the mile behind third place Merber. Smith recently ran an outstanding time of 8:24.30 in the 3k, which ranks him number one nationally in the event, while Dorrell holds the U.S. #1 mark in the 3200m run at 9:06.30.
However, the star of the evening may be Robby Andrews (NJ). The junior Jersey distance runner won with a huge kick at the New Balance Games in a U.S. #3 time of 4:12.48, leaving the track with seemingly a few more seconds left in his legs. With so many competitors in the field this Friday, one should expect the pace to be honest and the finishing times to be blazing fast.
Girls H.S. Mile
Jillian Smith (NJ) is the favorite for Friday night's Millrose mile
(Photo from ArmoryTrack.com)
Hannah Davidson (Sr., Saratoga Springs, NY): This senior star closes her final track and field season of high school by competing in the Millrose Games elite girls mile. Davidson has been on the national radar since her freshman year, winning numerous big races, including the 2k steeplechase at Nike Outdoor Nationals last season. With so much big meet experience, Davidson plans on being one of the main challengers Friday night. Her Molloy Stanner Games 4:55.05 mile win currently ranks her seventh in the country.
Shelby Greany (Jr., Suffern, NY): After completing a fantastic fall, marked with a trip to Foot Locker Nationals, Greany is looking for success on the track this winter and spring in a big way. Greany placed second at the Molloy Stanner Games earlier this season, running 4:55.54 and finishing a half second behind race winner Hannah Davidson (NY). Her time at Molloy currently ranks her ninth nationally in the event.
Jillian King (Sr., Scotia-Glenville, NY): King doesn't get the same hype that many of her fellow New Yorkers get, since she isn't as strong on the cross country course as many of them, but the experienced senior has a strong shot to win Friday night. Earlier this month she won the Yale Track Classic elite mile, running a U.S. #4 mark in the event with her 4:53.84.
Caitlin Lane (Sr., Greenwich, NY): The Penn State-bound senior has a list of accomplishments to her name a mile long. Since her freshman year, Lane tore up the tracks of the Northeast on a consistent basis. With her final high school track season finally here, Lane hopes to accomplish some big things. Winning Friday's race would be a great start. Her best mark this year ranks her eighth nationally, winning the Dartmouth Relays mile in 4:55.25.
Emily Lipari (So., Roslyn, NY): Small in stature, but big in heart, Lipari took a step up in her results this sophomore season. During the fall Lipari showed week in and week out that she was one of the top cross country runners in the Northeast. However, she took another leap forward with her sixth place finish at Foot Locker Nationals. Since then, Lipari won the Hispanic Games mile in 4:56.71, and is a dark horse entering Friday's race.
Jeanne Mack (Sr., La Salle, RI): A handful of times already this season, Mack showed the tenacity it takes to be a great miler. Earlier this month she placed second at the Yale Track Classic with a time of 4:54.86, finishing behind fellow Millrose qualifier Jillian King (NY). Mack's time at Yale currently puts her at U.S. #5 in the mile.
Cory McGee (So., Christian Pass, MS): The two-time Foot Locker Nationals qualifier placed third last spring at Nike Outdoor Nationals in the mile, showing she is one of the top milers to watch in '08. McGee has yet to race this season, so it is yet to be seen whether she has the same magic she had last year as a freshman. The Mississippi sophomore also placed second in the Millrose Games elite girls mile last year as a freshman.
Kristin Reese (Sr., Carmel, NY): After a hard fall, which saw the Stanford-bound distance star sit out much of the season due to injury, Reese (pictured to left, ArmoryTrack.com) has shown some signs of fitness early on this season. While she finished eighth at both the Hispanic Games and Reebok Boston Indoor Games, Reese did win the New Balance Games with the second best time this season nationally of 4:52.65. Last year Reese placed ninth in this event, running 5:11.03.
Jillian Smith (Jr., Southern Regional, NJ): Overshadowed by her ex-teammate Danielle Tauro (now running at Michigan), Smith has gradually grown into her own, showcasing her talents in full force last weekend, with her big win at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Her winning time of 4:48.83 currently ranks her tops in the nation and nearly four seconds ahead of U.S. #2 Kristin Reese (NY). Last year at the Millrose Games Smith placed fourth in the event, running 4:54.35.
Melanie Thompson (Jr., Voorhees, NJ): Thompson started her indoor season on the right note, competing very well in the handful of races she has run. Her best performance came at the New Balance Games two weeks ago, placing second to Kristin Reese (NY) and running the U.S. #3 time in the mile with her 4:53.58 finish.
The past few years have shown the strength and depth that the top distance runners offer on the girls side. This year at the Millrose Games, the experience in the girls elite high school mile is greater than ever. With eight out of the top nine top ranked milers in the country competing in this event, the times promise to be fast. Leading the way is Jillian Smith (NJ), who won the Reebok Boston Indoor Games mile last weekend in a U.S. #1 time of 4:48.83. Smith's time puts her nearly four seconds up on U.S. #2 Kristin Reese (NY).
However, Smith will certainly have tough competition. This year's top returnee to the event is sophomore Cory McGee from Mississippi. McGee has yet to really kick-off her track season, but that didn't stop her last year from placing second. McGee had a strong fall and should contend for the win.
A few other athletes of note are U.S. #3 miler Melanie Thompson (NJ), U.S. #4 Jillian King (NY) and U.S. #5 Jeannie Mack (RI). Each athlete poses a challenge to any front runner. Hannah Davidson (NY) and Caitlin Lane (NY) both have incredible experience, with years of high pressured racing under their belts, while an athlete like Emily Lipari (NY) might just sneak up on the field and pull of an upset.