Top AZ prep sprinters take on nation’s best at new event

After providing one of the most exciting competitions in recent memory at the Arizona high school state track finals, it looks like Trae Armstrong and Devon Allen will get a chance this weekend to join forces in representing the state in national competition.

Both runners have reportedly registered for the inaugural Arizona Sprints Showcase, which has been designed to provide a stage for some of the top high school runners from across the country.

The Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, which has organized the event, has invited the top three boys and girls from each state to try to crown a “national champion” in each of six sprint events; 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 110-meter hurdles, and 300-meter hurdles.

Little more than a month ago, Armstrong, who just graduated from Deer Valley High School, and Allen, a senior-to-be at Brophy Prep, went head-to-head in several events at the Division I state meet – with literally hundredths of a second separating some of the finishes.

Armstrong won state titles in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters.  In the 100 and 200, he beat Allen by an incredibly thin margin of victory in both races.  Armstrong finished the 100 in 10.48, Allen in 10.49; in the 200, it was 20.74 to 20.75.

Only two other runners in Arizona high-school history have posted better times in the 100 meters, so Armstrong and Allen go down in the books with the third- and fourth-best times.

Allen got his share of state titles as well, finished first in both the 110 hurdles (13.58) and 300 hurdles (36.94).  The year before, his time of 13.90 in the 110 hurdles was the best mark in the nation for a sophomore.

And in March, running in the Chandler Rotary Invitational, Allen broke a 32-year-old state record in the 110 hurdles.

On the girls’ side, Ky Westbrook has also reportedly signed on to participate.  The junior-to-be at Chandler High School cleaned up at the state finals, winning the 100 meters and 200 meters, and then running a leg of the winning 4×100 relay team.

Her time of 11.42 in the 100 meters is the third-fastest girls’ time in state history and she finished the season ranked 14th in the nation in that event.

Earlier in the season, Westbrook set a meet record in the 100 meters at the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State University, finishing in 11.68 to give her the title for the second straight year.  She also won the event at the prestigious Chandler Invite, posting an even-better time of 11.65.

The Arizona Sprints Showcase is part of the Sports Commission’s High School Sports Division, which was formed last year to develop national championship tournaments in the Valley.  The first event was the Arizona Soccer Showcase, which the Commission says drew 2,400 fans.

Chandler High School, which won its second straight national high school track title last summer at the Nike Track & Field Invitationals in Oregon, is hosting the event, under the direction of Dave Shapiro and Steve Carlson at the school.

Competition will begin tomorrow and run through Saturday, with Fox Sports Arizona providing a webcast of the event finals as part of a partnership formed with the Sports Commission for this event.

Organizers are expecting the new event to attract 500 participants.

(Photo: Devon Allen/ Phoenix Regional Sports Commission)