AUSTON CHEN, JR., BERKELEY PREP
Only a junior, Chen is arguably the best all-around prep track athlete in the county. The proof is in the state AAU decathlon title he won last summer as a 16-year-old. Since then, he's gotten leaner, bigger, faster and stronger - all the things a decathlete needs. Chen's personal bests in the 10 events are marks most prep track athletes would be proud of for one event: 147 feet, 10 inches (discus), 44-4 (shot put), 12-0 (pole vault), 21-3 (long jump), 53.35 seconds (400 meters), 18.06 (110 hurdles), 145-0 (javelin), 11.53 (100), 5-10 (high jump) and 5:12 (1,500 meters). He'll concentrate on the throws for Berkeley this season, but his coaches, who include ex-South Florida decathlete Jeremy Geisel and former world-class shot putter Doug Price, say Chen is already drawing plenty of interest from Division I colleges for his multi-event skills.
Lindsey Lamar, Sr., Hillsborough - Sprints: Returning state medal-winner in the 100 and 200. Should be a Class 3A state contender in both events this year.
LaVaughn King, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech - Jumps: Titans star came on big-time at 3A state meet to finish third in the triple jump.
Dentarius Locke, Sr., Chamberlain - Sprints: Defending 4A state champ in the 100 and runner-up in the 200. If the Tennessee-bound Locke stays healthy, he should win both this time.
Desmond McGill, Sr., Brandon - Hurdles: State medalist in the intermediate hurdles could be a contender for the top of the podium this season.
John Mitchell, Sr., Durant - Middle distance: Defending 4A state champ in the 1,600 looking to show that win was no fluke.
Terrence Mitchell, Jr., Hillsborough - Jumps/sprints: State medalist in the long jump looking for a 25-foot mark this season.
Mark Parrish, Jr., Chamberlain - Distance: The area's top finisher in state cross country wants to carry it over to the track.
Connor Revord, Sr., Jesuit - Middle distance: The 2A boys favorite to win the state 800 and 1,600.
Derek Wehunt, Sr., Sickles - Distance: Looking to once again medal at state in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Trent Wiseman, Sr., Freedom - Pole vault: Has gained 10 pounds of muscle, more speed and technical skills. The sky's the limit this year.
WATCH OUT FOR ...
Jeremy Deering, Jr., Leto - Hurdles
Dan Wehunt, Sr., Sickles - Middle distance
Trenor Wilkins, Jr., Plant - Distance
Darrin Gibson, Sr., Robinson - Middle distance
T.J. Glover, Jr., Plant - 400/sprints
Chad Hansen, Sr., Plant City - Throws
Jerod Brisbon, Sr., Hillsborough - Jumps
Jordan Schilit, Sr., Jesuit - Distance
Corlus Pope, Jr., Hillsborough - 400
Kyle Pruner, Sr., Newsome - Pole vault
Keegan Bixler, Sr., Newsome - Distance
John Grellner, Sr., Wharton - Distance
TOP 5 TEAMS
1. Hillsborough: Two-time defending region champion and defending county champion Terriers are the ones to beat again.
2. Plant: Panthers were clawing at Hillsborough's door last year and will once again have the edge in distance events.
3. Wharton: The Wildcats have one of the most balanced and deep squads. Question is, do they have the talent to hang with Hillsborough?
4. Chamberlain: Led by Locke in the sprints and a distance squad that was state cross country runners-up, the Chiefs will score well in big meets.
5. Jesuit: The Tigers' distance and middle distance athletes alone can keep them close to most squads.
THE BIG MEETS
March 7 - Nash Higgins Relays, Leto, 8 a.m.
March 14 - Disney Showcase, Lake Buena Vista, TBA
March 14 - Charles Johnson Invitational, King, 8 a.m.
March 18-21 - Disney Invitational, Lake Buena Vista, TBA
March 20 - Jack Rice Invitational, East Bay, 4 p.m.
March 21 - Elite Invitational, Gaither, 8 a.m.
March 21 - Bob Hayes Invitational, Jacksonville Raines, TBA
March 24 - Western Conference divisional meets, Jefferson, Spoto, Armwood, 1 p.m.
March 27-28 - FSU Relays, Tallahassee, TBA
March 28 - Manuel/Griffin/Fraundorfer Relays, Hillsborough, 8 a.m.
March 31 - Vernon Korhn County Championships, Jefferson, 6 p.m.
April 3-9 - Florida Relays, Gainesville, TBA
April 11 - Distance Carnival, University of Tampa, TBA
April 13-18 - 1A/2A district meets, TBA
April 20-25 - 3A/4A district meets, TBA
April 22-24 - 1A/2A regional meets, TBA
April 29-May 1 - 3A/4A regional meets, TBA
May 1-2 - 1A/2A state meets, Winter Park, 11 a.m.
May 8-9 - 3A/4A state meets, Winter Park, 11 a.m.