Athletes to watch
Aniyah Bigam, Carrollton Newman Smith: The LSU signee was undefeated in the 100 and 200 last year, winning 5A state titles in both events. This season, she is tied for the 12th-best wind-legal 100-meter time in the nation, having run 11.90. Bigam won state last year with a wind-aided time of 11.46, and she nearly matched that this year by running 11.49 (there was no wind reading listed) at the Coppell Relays. Bigam also finished third at state in the 400 with a time of 55.26.
Sidney Green, Allen: The Michigan signee ran 40.82 in the 300 hurdles last year, which ranked third nationally, and this year Green is No. 6 in the country at 42.72. She was the bronze medalist in 6A at state, running 42.18.
Kailey Littlefield, Lovejoy: The junior has won back-to-back Class 5A state titles in the 800 and ranks No. 1 in the nation in the event this year with a time of 2:07.02. That isn’t far off her PR of 2:06.21 that she ran in winning state last year. Littlefield set a new PR in the 1,600 by running 4:50.36 at the Texas Distance Festival last week. That time would have been good enough for second place at last year’s state meet.
Skyler Schuller, Coppell: The Stanford signee is tied for fourth in the nation in the pole vault with a clearance of 13 feet, 6 inches — a mark that Keller junior Jacqueline Rose has also reached. Schuller was the 6A state runner-up last year, clearing 14-0, and she will once again be chasing defending state champion Molly Haywood of Tomball Memorial, who has already cleared 14-6 to rank No. 1 in the nation. Schuller tied for sixth in the high jump at state last year, clearing 5-6, and she was a regional qualifier in five events (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump, long jump and pole vault).
Emma Sralla, Flower Mound Marcus: The Stanford signee ranks No. 1 in the nation in the discus with a throw of 180 feet, 7 inches. That isn’t far off her nation-leading mark of 185-0 from 2022, which was the second-best throw in state history. Sralla won the 6A state title last year with a throw of 174-3, then she won the discus at this summer’s Under-20 World Championships in Colombia with a throw of 184-2 while representing Sweden. Sralla has thrown 45-10.75 in the shot put, which ranks sixth nationally. Sralla is one spot behind Sachse’s Favor Anyanwu, a USC volleyball pledge who is the Dallas-area leader at 45-11.75. In the discus national rankings, Sralla is one spot ahead of Midlothian junior Madeleine Fey, the defending 5A state champion who has thrown 169-2.
Wyatt Athey, Denton: The Texas pledge ranks sixth in the nation in the 3,200, having run 9:02.53. That time is five seconds faster than the winning time in 5A at last year’s state meet. Athey’s personal-best time of 4:13.69 in the 1,600 ranks 22nd nationally. Athey finished fourth at state in cross country, and he should have some great battles with Grapevine junior Adam Burlison in the postseason in track. Burlison, the 5A state runner-up in cross country, has run 4:18.08 in the 1,600 and 9:05.81 in the 3,200.
Area high jumpers: Woodrow Wilson senior Isaac Onuoha has cleared 6-9 in the high jump, which is tied for 12th in the nation. The winning mark at last year’s 5A state meet was 6-8, so Onuoha has already shown that he will be able to compete with the state’s best. He will have competition from Frisco Heritage junior Kameron Franklin, who tied for fifth at state last year and then won this year’s Nike Indoor Nationals by clearing 6-10.25.
Andrew Lutkenhaus, Justin Northwest: The Tulsa signee has posted PRs of 49.85 in the 400, 1:53.62 in the 800 and 4:23.87 in the 1,600. He ranks 14th nationally in the 800, and his time would have won last year’s 5A state title. The 1:53.62 is also two seconds faster than anyone else in the Dallas area has run this year. He finished eighth at state last year, running 1:57.25.
Mansfield ISD: Mansfield Lake Ridge tied for fifth in the 6A team standings at state last year, helped by a second-place finish in the 4x400 relay with a school-record time of 3:12.71. Lake Ridge has the talent and depth to be among the top teams in the state again in 2023. Jacob Alexander and TCU signee Dominic Byles are back from that 4x400 relay team, and Byles is the top returning 6A 400-meter runner in the state. He placed fourth at state last year with a time of 47.03. Lake Ridge has two 100-meter runners to keep an eye on in freshman Jordan Byles (10.61) and Miles Jones (competed at indoor nationals in the 60). Sophomore Abisayooluwa Gbakinro is tied for the national lead in the triple jump with a school record of 50 feet, 4 inches, and teammate Jordan Tetsopguim ranks second in the area with a jump of 47-10.5. Rylan Kennedy, a Texas A&M football signee, has won the high jump in four of the first five meets of the season. At Mansfield Timberview, Omari Mitchell has run 10.33 in the 100, tied for fifth nationally among all fully automatic timing marks.
Heath Vernor, Ennis: He finished third in the 5A discus at state last year with a throw of 185-9, and he has already improved on that as a senior. Vernor’s personal-best throw of 190-0 ranks second in the nation. He has come a long way since his sophomore year, when he placed fourth at state with a season-best mark of 166-7. Vernor’s throw of 190-0 is more than 11 feet farther than the second-ranked thrower in the Dallas area, LSU football signee Ka’Morreun Pimpton of North Crowley, whose best mark is 178-6.
Flower Mound girls: After winning the 6A team state title last year, Flower Mound returns athletes who accounted for 48 of its 68 points at state. That list starts with junior Samantha Humphries, who won the state title in the 800 in a personal-best 2:07.68 and was the state runner-up in the 1,600 (4:53.50) and 3,200 (10:23.68). Her twin sister, Nicole, took third in the 1,600 in 4:53.59, and Alexandra Fox (third in the 3,200) and high jump state champion Riley Ward are also back. The Humphries sisters tied for first at the state cross country meet, both running 17:36.4, and they led their team to a state championship three-peat. Samantha Humphries finished eighth in the two-mile race at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet earlier this month, running 10:12.99, and Nicole Humphries placed 10th in the one-mile run in 4:48.05.
Girls high jumpers: The Dallas area has two defending state champions in the high jump — Colorado pledge Riley Ward of Flower Mound in 6A and Oklahoma volleyball signee Hannah Pfiffner of Frisco Wakeland in 5A. Pfiffner has won back-to-back state titles and cleared 6-0 last year, while Ward cleared 5-10 to win state after missing all of the 2021 track season while recovering from a torn ACL. Texas Tech signee Claire Lowrey of Rockwall will also be in contention for a 6A state title in the high jump after clearing 6-0 in the regular season last year and then tying for second at state with a mark of 5-8. Lowrey and Mansfield Lake Ridge’s Elizabeth Abiara are tied for fifth nationally this year at 5-8, and they trail Coppell’s Megan Judd, who is tied for third in the nation at 5-9.
Prosper ISD girls: Texas signee Lauren Lewis of Prosper went undefeated in the 400 last year, capping her season by winning the 6A state title with a time of 52.54. That is the fifth-best time in state history. So far this year, Lewis ranks third nationally in the 400 with a time of 54.13, and she has the fourth-best fully automatic time in the 200 at 23.81. Prosper could make some noise as a team this year with Lewis, Ohio State signee Kayla Watson (third at state in the long jump) and Texas A&M signee Shewaye Johnson (eighth at state in cross country). Prosper Rock Hill junior Skylynn Townsend leads the nation in the long jump at 20-3.75, and she has the second-best triple jump in America at 41-4.25.
On Twitter: @DMNGregRiddle
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