words // Brandon Richard
In 2010, New Balance signed on to be the official partner of the NSAF Outdoor Nationals, a prestigious track & field event that showcases up to 3,000 of America’s elite high school athletes. Held annually since 1991, the meet is regarded as the unofficial High School National Championship in track and field.
This year’s Outdoor Nationals will take place at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina June 14 – 16. The event was held in Los Angeles for the first three years (at University of California), in Raleigh for the next decade through 2004 (at North Carolina State University) and has been held at A&T since.
Championship races are for those who have made the qualifying standards for those events. Between male and female high school athletes, there are currently 69 events to compete in. For 2013, Distance Medley now will take the best 12 entries.
For a few athletes who barely miss the NSAF qualifications cut, Outdoor Nationals put together an Emerging Elite program that allows them to compete at the event. Emerging Elite Athletes will compete in their own series of events, which include everything from distance running to high jump to discus. This year, Distance Medley has been added to the Emerging Elite lineup, bringing the event total to 23.
The idea is that Emerging Elite athletes will eventually join the ranks of the elite. In 2007, Kyle Merber won the Emerging Elite Mile as a junior in 4:15.95 (The championship mile was won in 4:03.33). The next year he was New York State 1600m Champion. And, this year, his Sophomore year at Columbia U, he ran 3:58.62 for a mile. Similarly, Megan Goethals was the Emerging Elite mile champion in 2008 in 4:59.26. In 2009, she became the National Champion in cross-country.
There’s also a Freshman series of events for new competitors and underclassmen. Going a step further, a mile event for Junior High School athletes is being introduced this year. Freshman events are limited to ninth graders, while the Junior High School Mile features 7th and 8th graders.
With so much taking place during Nationals weekend, many may find it difficult to keep with athlete performance. Making things easier, New Balance hosts “Tracklete” at nbtracklete.com. Tracklete provides live updates, a searchable athlete database and videos and photos from the events. The same tracking options are available through facebook.com/newbalancenationals. Twitter updates will be provided by @NBRunning. As a testament to the quality of their interaction, New Balance has won several awards for their social media campaigns during Nationals events.
Why is the New Balance Outdoor Nationals a must-see and must-follow event? Simply put, you’re seeing the best of the best compete on one of the grandest stages in the sport. Over 60% of the 2008 USA Olympic team medalists competed in at least one NSAF event including, Kerron Clement, Angelo Taylor, Shalane Flanagan and Sanya Richards. So, if you have your eyes on Rio 2016, you can get the biggest jump possible by watching the future of track & field in Greensboro later this month.
Enjoy a few visuals from last year’s event below. Be on the lookout for this year’s athletes, many competing in the latest New Balance track shoes, starting next Friday.