Mike Kennedy's 2015 World Youth Championships Prospects


At Cali, Colombia, July 15-19


At Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois, June 30-July 1

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January 28th Report

To be eligible to compete you must 1) be a U.S. citizen with a valid passport; 2) be born in 1998 or 1999; and 3) have met two qualifying standards, one standard for the U.S. World Youth Championship trials and a second standard for the World Youth Championships (there are two separate standards and two different time frames when marks must be achieved). Those 2015 World Youth Standards are listed below. Those marks must be made between October 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. The 2013 U.S. Trials standards for the World Youth Championships are listed and will be updated with the 2015 standards as soon as they are posted on the USATF web site (www.usatf.org) in early 2015. The exact time frame will also be established but will likely be something between early July of 2014 to early June of 2015.

First in a Series--Compiled by Mike Kennedy (e-mail mkentrk@aol.com )

In 2013, the United States won its seventh straight IAAF World Youth Championships team title in Donetsk, Ukraine. The 2015 WYC are just seven months away in Cali, Colombia. The U.S. team will be selected. June 30-July 1 at the USATF National Youth Championships at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.

Selection for the first seven WYC teams was done by various methods. In 2013 the U.S. sent a team of 43 athletes based on demonstrated performance, the ability to make the finals at the WYC. Even with those tough standards--standards that were much tougher than the IAAF standards--90 percent of the U.S. entrants in individuals entrants (37 of 41) reached the finals, In addition, at least six athletes who met those standards were not selected for the U.S. team. At this time the number of athletes the U.S. will send to the WYC has not been established but there are indications that the number will be between 40 and 50. In 2009 the U.S. sent 55 athletes. Hopefully, in 2015, ALL athletes who demonstrate by performance the ability to reach the WYC finals will be selected. Provided an athlete has met the IAAF standard for the WYC and finished in the top two at the U.S. trials, they will be placed in a pool from which the team will be selected.

Qualifying marks for the World Youth Championships must be achieved between October 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. The exact period during which the qualifying marks for the U.S. Trials must be achieved will be established in early 2015 but almost surely will fall between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

Here is a look at the leading candidates for the 2015 U.S. team and the top world challengers they might face. All marks were made in 2014 unless noted. For a frame of reference, the standards used at the 2013 U.S. Trials for World Youth championships meet have been listed and will be updated in early 2015. Keep in mind there are a number of athletes whose birthdates are unknown but may have outstanding marks that better the IAAF standards and are age-eligible. All references to Youth athletes are for athletes born in 1998 and 1999. A list of U.S. prospects can be found at the end of this preview.

A monthly update of the U.S. Prospects will begin in March.


At the eighth World Youth championships in Eugene, the United States won its seventh straight team title, taking home a record 21 medals. However, that included just two gold medals. Given the very high quality of the 2015 prospects, that total is likely to increase especially in the sprints and hurdles. Leading the sprinters are junior Kaylin Whitney of East Ridge (Clermont, Fl.) and sophomore Candace Hill of Rockdale (Conyers, Ga.). All that Whitney did in 2014 was set World Youth (under 18) records in both the 100 and 200. Her time of 11.10 in winning the USATF National Junior championship also set a nation high school record. She then ran 22.49 in the 200 semifinals to set the World Youth record. That time made Whitney the second fastest Junior (under 20) of all time behind Allyson Felix, who set the national high school record of 22.11 in Mexico City. Three weeks later at the World Junior Championships she finished third in the 100 and won the 200.

Candace Hill was just as dominant as Kaylin Whitney and almost as fast. As a freshman she was undefeated in the 100 and lost just once in the 200 in her first meet of the year. Hill won the State 6A 100 with a legal personal best of 11.44 and the 200 at 23.21. Hill repeated that double at the New Balance nationals running a wind-aided 11.34 and a legal 23.14; won the Golden West Invitational running 11.55 and 23.53 and the USATF National Junior Olympic meet (15-16) running 11.76 and 23.56, where she also clocked 23.13 and 23.12. If either of the top two falters just a little or gets injured, look for junior Khalifa St. Fort of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), with bests of 11.51 and 23.55, and sophomore Jayla Kirkland of Birmingham, Al.) With bests of 11.53 and 23.60, they are more than capable of stepping up. In the 400, undefeated Sophomore Kaelin Roberts of Poly (Long Beach) won the California state meet in 52.52 to rank as the No. 2 Youth runner in the world behind only Jessica Clarke of Australia, who was the Youth Olympic Games champion at 52.50. Salma Eid Naser of Burundi was second at 52.74 and Meleni Rodney of Grenada was third at 53.35. Junior Anna Jefferson of Oak Park (Mi.) won the state Division I championship at 53.50 to rank No. 5 on the world Youth list. However, the best overall U.S. sprinter just might be Symone Mason of Southridge (Miami, Fl.) with bests of 11.65, 23.63 and 53.57.

In 2014, with almost no forewarning, the then freshman Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.) burst upon the high school hurdle scene. She was second at the USATF National Junior (under 20) championships in the 400-meter hurdles at 55.63 to become second fastest high schooler of all time. Unfortunately, for the U.S. team she was TOO YOUNG to compete at the 2014 World Junior Championships, where you must be 16 to compete. McLaughlin is the world youth leader with that time and ranks No. 4 on the all time world Youth list. Sophomore Reonna Collier of Piedmont Hills (San Jose, Ca.) was fourth behind McLaughlin at 58.55 and is the No. 4 Youth runner in 2014 just behind Ilaria Verderio of Italy at 58.53. McLaughlin also finished second in the 100 high hurdles at the New Balance nationals in 13.34 to set a national age-14 record. Junior Alexis Duncan of DeSoto (Tx.) won the race in 13.33. Ashley Miller of Cherry Creek (Greenwood, Co.) has run 13.38 to rank No. 3 in the world.

They are the three fastest youth runners in the world over 33-inch hurdles. The rest of the world's Youth use 30-inch hurdles where Klaudia Sorok of Hungary at 13.32 and Janeek Brown of Jamaica at 13.48 are the leaders. The 30-inch hurdles run about .30 seconds faster than the 33-inch hurdles.

In past few years the U.S. has faired well in the middle distance and distance races at the WYC. Jordan Hasay ran 4:17.24 to finish second in the 1,500 in 2007 at Ostrava (Czech Republic). Chelsey Sveinsson was fourth in the 1,500 in Bressanone (It.) in 2009. In 2011, Ajee Wilson won the 800 in 2:02.64 in Lille (Fr.) with Amy Weissenbach in fourth at 2:03.59. Cammie Chapus was fifth in the 1,500 at 4:17.12. Two years ago at Donetsk (Ukraine) Raevyn Rogers was third in the 800 at 2:09.32 and Alexa Efraimson was third in the 1,500 at 4:16.07. In 2014, junior Aaliyah Miller of Boyd (McKinney, Tx.) and sophomore Samantha Watson of Rush Henrietta Sperry (Henrietta, N.Y.) hooked up in a great 800 at the USATF National JO (15-16) final with Miller prevailing, 2:06.28 to 2:06.53. That made the two the No. 3 and 4 Youth runners in the world behind Alina Ammann of Germany at 2:05.05 and Hawi Alemu of Ethiopia at 2:06.01.

Ella Donaghu of Grant (Portland, Or.) is the U.S. 1,500 leader at 4:21.35 and ranks No. 5 on the world Youth list behind Dalila Abdulkadir Gasa of Burundi at 4:18.36 and Hadiyes Benafeta of Azerbaijan at 4:18.49. However, junior Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy (Colorado Springs, Co.) has run 4:41.07 for one mile--a time that is worth about 4:20.0 for 1,500 meters. Rainsberger could also be a factor in the 800 with a best of 2:08.98 in limited competition. Despite having a number of very fast 3,000/Two Mile runners, the U.S. has not had an entrant in the WYC since 1999 when there were no qualifying standards. In 2014 both Hannah DeBalsi of Staples (Westport, Ct.) at 9:55.05 for two miles and Donaghu at 9:24.86 for 3,000 demonstrated that they can place in the top eight at the WYC. The world leader at 3,000 is Fatuma Jawaro Chebsi of Burundi at 9:06.87. DeBalsi's two-mile time is worth 9:10.9 for 3,000 meters and would rank her No. 4 in the world. In the 2,000 steeplechase Jackie Thorne of Northport (N.Y.) is the U.S. leader at 6:58.40. The world leader is Alli Anna Toth of Hungary at 6:31.92 with her third at the World Youth Olympic games.

In the field events, junior Vashti Cunningham of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nv.) had an excellent sophomore season in the high jump with a best of 6-3 to set a national sophomore and age-16 record. She also had nine meets over 6-0. Her best ranks No. 2 on the world Youth list behind Michaela Hruba of the Czech Republic, who cleared 6-3 ¼ in finishing second at the 2014 World Junior championships. The third best world Youth performance is 6-0½ by Eliska Buchlouska of the Czech Republic. The next best U.S. jumpers are sophomore Tyra Gittens of Nashville (Tn.) at 5-10 ¼ and junior Lexy Witmayer of Rolette/Wolford (Rolette, N.D.) at 5-10. Junior javelin thrower Tairyn Montgomery of Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Ca.) had three meets over 155-0 capped by a 168-1 win at the USATF National JO (15-16) meet to set a national age-15 record. Junior Katelyn Gochenour of Marian (Omaha, Nb.) was second at 155-01 and had a best of 167-0. The U. S. uses the 600-gram while the rest of the world Youth throwers use the 500-gram javelin. Geraldine Ruckstuhl of Switzerland at 188-2 and Emma Hamplett of Great Britain at 187-5 are the world Youth leaders. Give a difference of about ten feet between the two javelins, Montgomery and Gochenour would rank in the top five in the world.

Rhesa Foster of Clovis North (Fresno, Ca.) was third in the long jump at the World Youth Games in Nanjing (China) at 20-3 to rank as the No. 2 Youth jumper in the world behind Susana Hernandez of Mexico, who had a best of 20-6 ¼. Sophomore Tara Davis of Agoura (Agoura Hills, (Ca.) was third at the state meet at 19-9½ to rank No. 5. Georgiana Anitei of Romania is the leading Youth triple jumper at 44-0½. Kimani Rushing of Hallandale (Fl.) is the U.S. leader at 40-6½. Elienor Werner of Sweden is the world Youth pole vault leader at 13-9 ¼ followed by Elizaveta Bondarenko of Russia and Elina Lampela of Finland, both at 13-3½. Sophomores Carson Dingler of First Presbyterian (Macon, Ga.) and Makayla Lineberger of Reed (Sparks, Nv.) are the U.S. leaders at 13-0 and rank No. 5. Alina Shukh of Ukraine is heptathlon leader at 5,713 with Youth implements followed by Ruckstuhl at 5,617. The U.S. uses international implements in all meets but the U.S. World Youth trials, and is led by Tyra Gittens at 4,934. Given about a 200-point difference between the two that would rank Gittens No. 6 in the world.

Senior Meia Gordon of Cypress Creek (Houston, Tx.) is the U.S. discus leader at 152-1 followed by juniors Hannah Chappell of Oakdale (Roseville, Ca.) at 149-6 and Daija Young of Trinity (Garfield Heights, Oh.) at 149-1. Alyana Belyakova of Ukraine is the world leader 171-3 followed by Kristina Rakovecic of Montenegro at 169-5. Gordon ranks eighth. She is also the U.S. 4-kilo shot leader at 48-8 followed by junior Sophia Rivera of Brentwood (Mo.) 47-2. The rest of the world used a 3-kilo shot. Maria Orozco of Mexico, who was second at the Youth Olympic Games, is the leader at 59-9 ¾ followed by Julia Ritter of Germany is at 57-5½. Allowing for a six-foot difference, Gordon ranks seventh. Kamryn Brinson of Marist (Atlanta, Ga.) is the U.S. 4-kilo hammer leader at 167-7. The rest of the world, which uses a 3-kilo weight, is led by Kiira Vaananen of Finland at 218-3.


For the past two years Amir Rasul of Columbus (Miami, Fl.) was among the leading Youth sprinters in the world for athletes born in 1998 or 1999. Unfortunately, in both years his seasons were cut short by injuries in the month of April. In 2013 as a freshman he ran 10.71 in the 100 and 21.09--a mark that ranked him No. 1 in the world for athletes born in 1998 or 1999. In 2014 he ran 10.47 to rank No. 3 in the world and 21.12 to rank No. 2. Just behind Rasul was T.J. Brock, who ran for Crespi (Encino, Ca.) in 2013. His 10.57 for 100 ranked No.1 in the world. In 2014 Brock switched to Chaminade (West Hills, Ca.) where he ran 10.61 at the Mt. San Antonio Relays. Three weeks later he was disqualified for a false start in the 100 after which he switched his concentration to the 200 where he ran 21.13 to rank No. 3 in the world. In 2014 Jhevaughn Matherson of Jamaica was the world leader in both the 100, at 10.37, and the 200, at 20.97. Jack Hale of Australia was No. 2 in the 100 at 10.42. The U.S. prospects in the 400 are excellent. Josephus Lyles of T.C. Williams (Alexandria, Va.) won the New Balance outdoor national 400 in 46.23 to set a national age-15 record and rank No. 1 in the world for Youth athletes. Keshun Reed of Martin (Arlington Tx.) won the AAU National JO (15-16) championships in 46.45 to rank No. 2. Quincy Hall of Raytown (Mo.) was second at 46.71 to rank No. 3. Karabo Sibanda of Botswana, who finished second at the World Youth Olympics, leads the rest of the world at 46.76.

Sophomore Damion Thomas of Northeast (Oakland Park, Fl.) ran 14.05 to set a national freshman and age-14 record in the 110-meter high hurdles for the world Youth No. 1 mark. He later finished second in the State 2A final. Junior Norman Grimes of Canyon (Tx.) was fourth in the State 4A meet in 14.19 and ranks fifth. Joseph Anderson of Upland (Ca.) is seventh at 14.22 but he ran a very slightly wind-aided 14.02 at the Mt. San Antonio Relays. While the U.S. runs over 39-inch hurdles the rest of the world uses 36-inch hurdles, which run about .30 seconds faster. Jonathan Petzke of Germany is the leader over the lower hurdles at 13.81 followed by Tavonte Mott of the Bahamas at 13.82. In the 400 hurdles, Quincy Hall (Raytown, Mo.) has never run for a high school but he is the U.S. Youth leader at 52.19 with his win in the AAU National JO (15-16) championships. Sophomore Ronaldo Griffiths of Clara Barton (Bronx, N.Y.) set a national freshman record of 52.28 in winning the USATF National JO (15-16) title. Grimes is the world Youth leader over 300-meter hurdles at 36.73 in finishing third in the State 4A championships. That time is worth less than 52 second for the 400 hurdles. Like the short hurdles there is a difference in hurdle height with the U.S. running over 36-inch hurdles and the rest of the world using 33-inch hurdles. Rivaldo Leacock of Barbados is the world leader at 51.70 over the 36-inch hurdles has a best 51.37 over the 33-inch hurdles. Witthawat Thumcha of Thailand is the world Youth leader at 51.01.

Terrell Jackson of University (Memphis, Tn.) is the U.S. 800 Youth leader with his 1:51.53 in winning the AAU National JO (15-16) championships and ranks fifth in the world. Hari Sathyamurthy of Brownsburg (In.) was second in the State meet at 1:52.58 to rank seventh in the world. Bacha Morka of Ethiopia is the world leader at 1:47.1 and Warsame Hassan of Sweden is second at 1:50.79. California distance juniors Jacob Ogden Hills (Dana Point), at 4:11.15, and Phillip Rocha of Arcadia, at 4:11.65, are the leaders in the 1,600. Ogden also leads the 3,200 at 8:59.12 followed by Ben Veatch of Carmel (In.) at 9:05.20. The 2014 indoor season had runners from La Salle Academy (Providence, R.I.) dominate. In the 3,000, sophomores Matthew Bouthillette and Jack Salisbury ran 8:40.25 and 8:49.37, respectively, followed by freshman David Principe at 8:50.72. Sophomore Aiden Tooker of Saratoga Springs (N.Y.) is the indoor leader at 3,200 with a 9:19.76. The rest of the world competes at 1,500 and 3,000 meters. Muluceta Assefa of Ethiopia is the world 1,500 leader at 3:45.08 in finishing second at the Youth Olympic Games. Ben Dukstra of Great Britain is the 3,000 leader at 8:23.08. Ogden's time in the 1,600 is worth 3:59.4 for 1,500. His 3,200 time is worth 8:21.9 for 3,000 meters which would rank him as the No. 1 Youth in the world. Veatch's 3,200 time is worth 8:27.9 to rank No. 4. Benjamin Ewart of Beavercreek (Oh.) is the U.S. 2000-meter steeplechase leader at 6:09.23 and Tooker is the 3,000-meter steeplechase leader at 9:34.76. The World Youth Championship distance is 2,000 meters and Wegene Sebsibe of Ethiopia is the leader at 5:34.24.

Milton Harrell of Tylertown (Ms.) was the State 3A champion at 6-10 and is the U.S. Youth leader at 6-11¾. Justice Summerset of Mountain View (Mesa, Az.) is next at 6-10 ¾. The two rank No. 3 and 4 on the world Youth list behind Alperen Acet of Turkey at 7-1 and Stefano Sottile of Italy at 7-0¾. The U.S. leader in the pole vault is Riley Richards of China Spring (Tx) at 16-1, which ranks fifth on the world Youth list. Nick Johnson of Lake Hamilton (Ar.) is next at 15-7 indoors. Hassein Assem Al-Hizam (Saudi Arabia) is the world leader at 17-5½. Muntadher Abdulwahid of Iraq is second at 17-2¾. The world Youth leader in long jump is Jaek Hale of Australia at 25-1 ¾. Hans-Christian Hauenberg of Estonia is second at 24-9 ½. U.S. leader Ja'Mari Ward of Cahokia (Il.) is No. 3 at 24-6 ½ but has a slightly wind-aided best 25-6 ¾ at the Great Southwest Invitational in Albuquerque. Ward is also the U.S. leader in the triple jump at 50-6½., which ranks fifth in the world. Fabian Ime Edoki of Nigeria is the world leader at 52-3¼ and Martin Lamou of France is second at 51-7¾.

Like the hurdles, there is a difference in the weights used by the U.S. and the rest of the world. In the shot put and hammer, the U.S. implements weigh 12 pounds while the rest of the world uses a 5-kilo (11 pound) weight. In the shot, U.S. leader Jordan Geist of Knoch (Saxonburg, Pa.) was second in the State indoor championships at 58-4 ½ and improved to a personal best on 61-4 in his first outdoor meet. He later finished third in the State 3A meet. Adrian Piperi of The Woodlands (Tx.) was fifth in the State 5A meet as a freshman at 60-8 ½ and improved to 60-8 ¾ in winning the USATF Nat. JO (15-16) championship. Bronson Osborn of Esperanza (Anaheim) is next at 60-3 ½ followed by Cole Van Lamen of Bay Port (Wis.) at 59-11 and Lawson Monta of Salem (Greensburg, Pa.) at 59-7½. Wictor Petersson of Sweden is the world 5-kilo leader at 66-8. Given that the distance difference in weights for the two shots is about three feet, Piperi and Osborn would be in the top five in the world and Van Lamen and Monta would be in the top ten. Junior Bobby Colantonio of Barrington (R.I.) is the U.S. hammer leader at 233-03 and the USATF Nat. JO (15-16) champion. Hlib Piskonov of Ukraine is the world Youth leader at 271-2 and Peter Szentnanszky of Hungary is second at 251-2. Given that the difference between the two hammer weights is about 15 feet Colantonio would rank sixth in the world.

Cole Van Lanen is also the leader in the discus with a best of 183-5. Here again, the U.S. uses a 1.62 kilo weight, while the rest of the world uses 1.5-kilo discus. Bailey King of Union (Camas, Wa.) is second at 175-4. Wictor Petersson of Sweden is the world leader with the lighter discus at 207-3. Countryman Jakob Gardenkraus is second at 200-0. Given a difference of about 10 feet between the two weights Van Lanen would rank No. 3 in the world. In the javelin, the U.S. uses an 800 gram implement while the rest of the world uses 700-gram javelin. James Whiteaker of Great Britain is the world at 253-0 and three other throwers are over 243-0. The U.S. leader is Liam Christensen of Academic Magnet (North Charleston, S.C.) is at 198-8. In the multi-events, the Octathon (eight events) will be replaced by the decathlon in the 2015 WYC. The U.S. uses high school implements, except for the U.S. World Youth trials, while the rest of the world uses the Youth heights and weights. Hans-Christian Hausenberg is the world Youth leader at 7,511 points and Niklaus Klaus of Germany is second at 7,058. George Patrick of Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tn.) is the U.S. leader at 6,649. With a new event and little information available for comparison the difference probably falls between 200 and 300 points. With no conversion Patrick would rank No. 5 in the world. Allowing for 250 points he would by No. 4.

Important Qualifying Information

In meeting the qualifying standards for the World Youth Championships, as opposed to the standards for the U.S. Trials for the World Youth Championships, athletes in running events must qualify in the specific events that will be run at the WYC. Performances in the 1,600/Mile and 3,200/Two Miles can not be used. Athletes must run the 1, 500 and 3,000. The same is true for the long hurdles. Athletes must qualify in the 400 hurdles and not the 300 hurdles. At far as the U.S. Trials, athletes can qualify in any of the above mentioned events provided they meet the qualifying standards.

Indoor marks can be used for the U.S. trials. They can also be used to meet the IAAF World Youth championships but they must be made on flat floor tracks that can be up to 400 meters. If there is the slightest chance that you might try to make the U.S. team--get a passport. The process takes time but once you get a passport it will be good for ten years. Given the high qualify of athletes considering the WYC there is an excellent chance that those athletes will have use of a passport. If you wait until mid-April it will probably too late. Athletes in the sprints, hurdles and the horizontal jumps must have wind readings to meet the qualifying standards. Be sure you are competing in meets where wind gauges are used and the readings are recorded on the results.