A near three hour weather delay slowed down Saturday's portion of USATF Junior Nationals considerably but many prep athletes still competed well, qualifying for the US Junior National team. The best performance of the evening came from Oregon junior Elijah Greer, who won the mens 800m dash in 1:47.68, a high school U.S. #4 all-time and a junior class record. On the girls side Cydney Ross (MO) and Shanay Briscoe (TX) picked up first place finishes in the 800m dash and high jump respectively. See what else took place on the second of three days in Ohio.
USATF Junior National Champs - Saturday Highlights
Blustery winds and rain caused a near three hour rain delay but that didn't slow down the competition at USATF Junior National T&F Championships Saturday. Athletes from the first event to the last laid it on the line with some surprising results taking place.
Perhaps the most surprising event of all came from Elijah Greer (Lake Oswego, OR) (pictured left by Margot Kelly). The junior middle-distance runner won the men's 800m dash in 1:47.68, not only ranking him U.S. #1 this season, but also earning him the distinction of U.S. #4 all-time and setting a junior class record. Video of Race
While track fans across the country were talking about German Fernandez' (Riverbank, CA) two-mile race from Friday, Greer's gutsy race from start to finish is bound to create a stir in the American running community. Not since Alan Webb has such speed been seen over 800 meters. While Greer will earn much of the attention from this race, it must also be mentioned that runner-up finisher Zachary Mellon (Buffalo, MN) is also a junior and finished in 1:48.64. This year was an exceptional 800m year, but next year could be even greater.
The other prep winner on the day was Shanay Briscoe (Cypress Christian, TX) in the women's high jump. Going against two other Texas six footers, Brigetta Barnett (Duncanville, TX) and Victoria Lucas (Midland, TX), Briscoe was well aware of her competition and took her talent to the next level by showing consistency and a calm demeanor. Briscoe beat out Barnett for the title with a winning mark of 5-10.75, while Barnett finished second in 5-09.75.
Further top prep results came in the men's triple jump and men's shot put, which saw Christian Taylor (Sandy Creek, GA) and Dan Block (Lake Park, IL) earn trips to Poland where the World Junior Championships will be held. Block came into the competition having an outside chance to make the World Junior team and that chance became reality as he finished second in the shot put in 62-01.25. Taylor furthered his personal best for the season, leaping 52-08 to place second in the triple jump. Taylor was followed by fellow high schoolers Bryce Lamb (Chandler, AZ), who finished fourth in 51-08.50 and sixth place finisher Omar Craddock (Killeen, TX).
In the hurdle events both Vashti Thomas (Mt. Pleasant, CA) and William Wynne (McEachern, GA) earned their way onto the US team. Thomas placed second in an incredibly talented and deep women's 100m hurdle squad, finishing in 13.62. Jacquelyn Coward (Knoxville West, TN) placed a heart-wrenching fourth in the event with a time of 13.72, while Julian Purvis (St. Elizabeth's, CA) placed fifth in 14.10.
Afterwards Thomas explained that her nerves tried to get the best of her, but she wouldn't allow it, "Actually I was really kind of nervous. I didn't think I had it because my shoulder was bothering me earlier today, but I decided to just run as fast as I could. I am ready to go!"
Wynne meanwhile finished third in the men's 400m hurdles, running his best time of the season, but falling short of his personal best. The University of Florida-bound senior ran a 50.42 effort, a new U.S. #1 in 2008.
While Greer and the men's 800 might have stolen the show in the distance events, other prep distance stars impressed in their respective races. In the women's 800m dash Cydney Ross (Villa Duchesne, MO) and Sarah McCurdy (Bay Shore, NY) placed 1-2, with Ross leading much of the race and holding on to victory in 2:07.12, good enough for a U.S. top five ranking. In the girls 5k Emily Sisson (Millard North, NE) finished fourth in a hard fought 16:38.25, while Donn Cabral (Glastonbury, CT) (pictured right by Margot Kelly) made the World squad with a second place finish in the men's 10,000m run in 30:50.28, after leading for 24 of the 25 laps.
Kori Carter (Claremont, CA) also qualified for World Juniors. The sophomore placed second in the 400m hurdles in 1:00.69, while also placing seventh in the 100m hurdlers earlier in the day with a time of 14.24. Jacquelyn Coward had qualified as the top 400m hurdle entry in Friday's prelims, but didn't start the race after finishing in fourth in the 100m hurdles.
A thrilled Carter said afterward, "It feels amazing right now. I'm sort of blown out of my mind, I wasn't expecting to go this far so I'm really glad I came."
Elsewhere, junior Curtis Beach (Albuquerque Academy, NM) finished an impressive third in the decathlon with a score of 7026. Beach came into the last event in fourth place, but knew that his strongest event of the day was still to be run. From the gun Beach took out the 1500m race, finishing up his day with an impressive win of 4:12.84, while earning his first Team USA berth. Daniel Gooris (Cibola, NM) finished sixth in the competition with 6700 points, while pre-meet favorite Ben Davies (Brentwood Academy, TN) struggled early Friday and only registered marks in five of the ten events.