* In 2017, the Chester Cheetah's (PA) Damira Allen posted a national record of 2:26.31 in the 9yo 800m
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Major talents stand to compete for some very big efforts over the course of a week at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa, this coming week.
Interestingly enough, though, all six of those names have one thing in common. They're qualified for the 800m at the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
There's no questioning how talented this year's half-milers are. At the very highest level, Miller and Mu have run times in the top 15 of the U18 category worldwide--Miller's 1:49.55 is the ninth fastest time, while Mu's recent 2:04.51 at New Balance Nationals Outdoor slots in at No. 15.
The only question will be just how fast these youth athletes will go.
Several athletes will likely be soloing in their efforts. That will start first with Simms, who enters the 12-year-old category with a PR (2:12.43) nearly eight seconds faster than his competitor (Daden Grogan, 2:20.11). But he's not alone. Johnson, in the 13-year-old category, is seven seconds ahead of her best challenger while Miller, at his best, is at least eight seconds faster in the 15-16 division and Mu is a remarkable 10 seconds ahead of the next closest runner in the girls 15-16 bracket.
That in itself will be a challenge for any record-breaking effort. But don't discount any of them to make big moves. Johnson's personal best of 2:12.27 is closing in on a sub-2:10, while Miller is hoping for a sub-1:49 and Mu could drop even more time from her 2:04.
Outside of those three, closer battles remain in other categories. Gammons, a 13-year-old from Miami Gardens Xpress, is just three seconds removed from Reese Vannerson. Meanwhile, 10-year-old Damira Allen will hope to fight off Julia Grant's best of 2:29.00 in the final stretches.
Of course, the Games aren't just about the 800m.
San Antonio's Jayla Flemons is aiming for double gold in the 800m-1500m in the 8 & under category, as is Allen in the 10-year-old division, Ruby Ford of Full Stride in the 11-year-old bracket, and Makayla Clark in the 14-year-old division.
E.O.T.O Elite's Daishon Spann is seeded first in the 800m, which is impressive when you consider she's also competing in the 100mH and the heptathlon. Meanwhile, one of Texas' best distance runners, Halena Rahmaan, will feature in the 17-18-year-old girls 1500m. Rahmaan was a Foot Locker Nationals qualifier a year ago and is headed for a big cross country season this fall.
In the boys category, Simms was a burgeoning young star in 2017 and remains an athlete to watch in 2018. Interesting enough, MGX, which historically has featured national-caliber youth sprinters, is starting to spread its wings and offer more distance talent. Two of its young boys, Joshua Gammage (4:47.72) and Devin Jones (4:43.77), are back-to-back No. 1 seeds in the 11-year-old and 12-year-old 1500m categories.
And don't forget about a killer matchup in the 12-year-old 1500m race walk. Texas Thunder's Judah Edwards is looking to average his loss to Caleb Nesbitt in the 11-year-old race a year ago. This time, Edwards' seed time (8:46.45) is over a minute ahead of Nesbitt's (9:53.39). But will that matter?
Check out the distance seeds below.
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Top Distance Seeds
8 & Under: Jayla Flemons, FloJo San Antonio, 2:42.68
9yo: Alaya Stewart, Greater Houston, 2:33.97
10yo: Damira Allen, Chester Cheetahs, 2:27.93
11yo: Ruby Ford, Full Stride, 2:23.07
12yo: Kailey Littlefield, Unattached, 2:16.94
13yo: Cha'iel Johnson, MGX, 2:12.27
14yo: Makayla Clark, Excelerate Phenoms, 2:14.61
15-16yo: Athing Mu, Trenton TC, 2:12.46
17-18yo: Daishon Spann, E.O.T.O. Elite, 2:13.28
8 & Under: Jayla Flemons, FloJo San Antonio, 5:31.45
9yo: Neenah Trusty, Infinity Track, 5:30.36
10yo: Da'mira Allen, Chester Cheetahs, 4:55.42
11yo: Ruby Ford, Full Stride, 5:00.69
12yo: Kailey Littlefield, Unattached, 4:55.44
13yo: Cha'iel Johnson, MGX, 4:42.68
14yo: Makayla Clark, Excelerate Phenom, 4:48.30
15-16yo: Athing Mu, 4:40.62
17-18yo: Halena Rahmaan, The Wings, 4:39.09
11yo: Tayma Jmiai, C2K Striders, 10:16.66
12yo: Micaela Villarreal, San Antonio Swift, 10:53.96
13yo: Emoni Saxton, Ohio Heat, 9:47.67
14yo: Lexy Hasbrouck, BTWC Lake Effect, 10:08.02
15-16yo: Lacey Eden, Unattached, 10:31.93
17-18yo: Rebecca Wusinich, Infinity Track, 10:29.25
Girls 2K Steeple
15-16yo: Felicity Bost, Memphis Jaguars, 7:39.02
17-18yo: Alexia Phifer, Virginia Elite, 7:50.63
Girls 1500 RW
9yo: Deandra Young, Mustang Elite, 10:47.20
10yo: Emma Schmhz, Central Texas, 9:42.37
11yo: Abigail Quinn, Unattached, 8:11.22
12yo: Reese Gentry, Unattached, 6:59.21
Girls 3K RW
13yo: Heather Durant, Elgin Sharks, 16:32.68
14yo: Shaiel Jones, Unattached, 16:48.56
15-16 3K RW: Julie Ortega, Elgin Sharks, 18:02.93
17-18 3K RW: D'Amaie Davis, Unattached, 16:32.80
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8 & Under: Robert Eddings, Full Stride, 2:39.04
9yo: Grant Reynolds, Mark Trail Flying, 2:21.04
10yo: Elijah Price, My Brother's Keeper, 2:23.03
11yo: Jonathan Simms, Impact Track, 2:12.43
12yo: Devin Jones, Miami Gardens Xpress, 2:15.31
13yo: Mekhi Gammons, MGX, 2:05.12
14yo: Darius Rainey, My Brother's Keeper, 1:59.68
15-16yo: Brandon Miller, Ultimate Speed Academy, 1:56.52
17-18yo: Colin Jones, Memphis Jaguars, 1:53.36
8 & Under: Robert Eddings, Full Stride, 5:23.76
9yo: Kaleb Young, Infinity Track, 5:02.46
10yo: Joshua Shelton, Beast Mode, 4:56.13
11yo: Joshua Gammage, MGX, 4:47.72
12yo: Devin Jones, MGX, 4:43.77
13yo: Reese Vannerson, High Velocity, 4:25.55
14yo: Rheinhardt Harrison, Unattached, 4:21.90
15-16yo: Brandon Miller, Ultimate Speed Academy, 4:09.73
17-18yo: Kieran McDermott, Harford Country, 3:56.20
11yo: Bryan Hailey, Big Country, 10:31.07
12yo: Eli Hopkins, Texas Havoc, 10:26.53
13yo: Riley Nedrow, Lake Cities, 9:33.93
14yo: Noah Espeleta, Inland Valley, 9:33.93
15-16yo: Elijah Bennett, Unattached, 9:21.53
17-18yo: Aaron Modrow, Track and Field, 9:14.69
Boys 2K Steeple
15-16yo: Ethan Rice, Unattached, 6:27.06
17-18yo: Luke Pohl, Ann Arbor, 6:23.10
Boys 1500 RW
9yo: Dorceus Hubbert, TGM Windsteppers, 11:13.69
10yo: Prince Watkins, Unattached, 9:09.22
11yo: Collin Wise, Blue Thunder, 8:30.40
12yo: Judah Edwards, Texas Thunder, 8:46.45
Boys 3K RW
13yo: Max Coisman, Danbury Flyers, 18:16.95
14yo: Adrian Muriel-Hernandez, San Antonio Heat, 20:22.08
15-16yo: Kevin Schweikert, Blue Thunder, 17:34.55
17-18yo: Jadon Davis, Unattached, 14:46.80