Technically, there is no such thing as a high school national championship. NFHS rules state that the sanctioned high school season ends with the state championship. USATF and AAU both hold national championships (FloTrack will be streaming the AAU Junior Olympics live!), but they divide the high school athletes into two age groups, 15-16 and 17-18. There are all-star meets such as Brooks PR and adidas Boost Boston Games, but those are small and usually only hold a few events. Competition is held in three divisions: Championship, Emerging Elite, and younger grades (freshman or junior high). For the purposes of this article, we only gathered the California athletes competing in the Championship events.
Only one meet comes close to approximating a high school national championship, and that is New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro, NC. The meet holds all the standard events plus many more, and it draws a huge crowd from all across the nation. This year, as every year, California athletes will be among those competing this weekend on the East coast for national titles and New Balance All American status!
The Golden State has a sizable contingent of boys that made the cross-country trip, including some of the state's best hurdlers and distance runners. Warren Williams may have the best chance of bringing a title back to California with him, as he currently sits at US #3 in the 110 Hurdles, but Caleb Foster will also be in the hunt (as will be the case in the long jump, too). Solomon Strader will compete in the 400, which may be the strongest and most loaded event of the meet - US #1 Justin Robinson (sub-45 as a junior!) will face US #2 Alex Collier and US #3 Jonah Vigil in the final.
Chase Gordon and Willie Coleman will be in the 800, where they will face a competitive field that includes US #3 Conor Murphy and US #15 Luis Peralta. We have a trio of milers competing, too, led by Laguna Beach's Sebastian Fisher (more on him in a moment). Eric Eng and Caleb Niednagel will join him there, while Niednagel will also compete in the 2 Mile.
Foster also headlines California's field event athletes, and he will be the only jumper in the field with a wind-legal 25 footer on his resume, making him the narrow favorite. John Kroeger will also be in the long jump, while Jacob Rice will seek to move closer to 17 feet in the pole vault. Jacob Furbee (high jump), Jake Porter (shot put), and Mason McKhann (hammer throw) will also compete this weekend, and California also has two decathletes in the meet: Matthew Molina and Nick Gammal.
For many, NBN's most important events are the relays, of which there are MANY - they run three sprint medleys, distance medley, shuttle hurdles, and everything from 4x100 to 4xMile. California has some interesting contenders in a few of these races, including Loyola in the 4x800 and Laguna Beach in the 4xMile. Tesoro has brought a good crew to Greensboro to compete in the 4x400, 1600 SMR, and Swedish Relay (which goes 100-200-300-400).
The list of Golden State girls is smaller and only has one real title challenger: Faith Bender, who will compete in the shot put and discus (she is one of the favorites in the latter event). Bender, who is US #3, is the top seed but will have stiff competition from the likes of Shelby Frank (US #4). In the shot put Bender will not be favored, as US #1 Gretchen Hoekstre will be in Aggie Stadium for the meet.
The girls side features a trio of California hurdlers, including Calabasas teammates Kyla Robinson-Hubbard (in the 400 Hurdles) and Jade McDonald (in the 100 Hurdles, plus the long and triple jumps). Taylor Shorter, who is excellent at both hurdle races, opted for just the 100 Hurdles this meet.
Rounding out the female entries for our state will be Kelli Wilson (2 Mile), Alexus Alexander (100 & 200), and the Dana Hills girls in the 1600 Sprint Medley. Dana Hills will also run a mixed 4x400, which will be interesting to watch!