The first day of New Balance Nationals Outdoor was all about the junior high and freshman athletes. There was plenty of wire-to-wire action, upsets, head-to-head matchups and most importantly, national championships.
By Denise Spann - MileSplit Correspondent
Cheyla Scott, an eighth grader competing for the Charlotte Flights, showed complete confidence on Thursday coming into the first day of the competition in the high jump, passing on the beginning four heights of the event.
It was risky, but it paid off.
After clearing 5 feet, 1 inches on her first attempt, she cleared 5-5 on her second run and then easily cleared 5-7 to officially win the competition.
But she then chose to continue and cleared a new PR and US No. 7 of 5-11.25, just off the junior high school class record, a mark of 6-0 which was last set by Amy Acuff in 1990.
Scott asked for the bar to set at 6-0.5 to try and break the national record, but she missed all three attempts.
Still, she walked away with a well-deserved win as a New Balance National Outdoor Junior champion.
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Ija Mumford Leaps to a New Meet Record in Girls Freshman Long Jump:
Mumford, of Mustang Track Club (NC), broke the meet record four times during the freshman girls long jump prelims and finals. She also set three new personal bests after fouling in the second round of the prelims.
Mumford set her old PR just a couple weeks ago at the Johnson Riley Track Challenge in North Carolina with an 18-10 jump. In the first round of the finals, she got out to 18-10.75 for a new PR.
She then followed that effort with a 18-11.25 jump. It was the final round where Mumford laid it all out on the runway with a big PR and new meet record of 19-7.
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Slade and Gupton Battle for New Meet Record in Boys Freshman 100m:
In the prelims, Jaylen Slade of Purple Reign Track Club ran within eight one-hundredths of the old record, crossing the finish line in 10.70.
However, the final was a different story for the fastest freshman in the nation.
The race came all the way to the line, with Michael Gupton of Rolesville Light coming away with the win and a new meet record of 10.52 seconds.
Slade also ran under the old meet record with a time of 10.54.
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Cha'iel Johnson dominates JR HS 800m
Johnson is no stranger to national championships. On Thursday, the MGX youth distance runner proved yet again why she's one of the nation's top young athletes heading into high school in 2019-2020.
The middle schooler took the second section of the 800m out fast, with Kenyah Conner of ATL Zoom right on her hip. The pair came through their first lap in 61 seconds, but from there Johnson began to open up a gap on Conner and the rest of the field.
With over 30 meters on the rest of the competition, Johnson finished in 2:11.65 for the national junior title.
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Ava Parekh just Misses Freshman 2-Mile Meet Record
Parekh, of Chicago Latin High School, led from start to finish in the freshman girls 2-mile.
She took the race out in what looked like a comfortable first lap for her, in 1:17.16, and then slowly began to open up the gap. She came through the mile with a two-second lead over Rylee Tolson of Stockbridge (MI) and over five-seconds on the following chase pack.
From there, she had consistent laps in the low 80s before a charge to the finish. She crossed the finish in 10:43.79, missing the meet record by little over a second (10:42.19).
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Mekhi Gammons Wins JR HS 400m and 200m
Gammons, the fast-rising sprinter competing for Miami Garden Xpress, had a great day on the track.
In the final heat of the boys junior 400m, he broke the stagger early. But it was on the homestretch where he was able to separate himself for the win over Nathan Leacock and Elijah Dawes (NC) in 49.37.
In the 200m, Gammons won his prelim despite running into strong headwind for a time of 23.25.
In the final, Gammons ran away from the rest of the group to win his second event of the day in 22.60 seconds.
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Landon Helms Wins Freshman 110mH and Pole Vault
Previously, Helms won an Idaho State Championship in the 110mH and pole vault in mid-May.
On Thursday, he brought that same dominance to New Balance Nationals Outdoor's freshmen championships.
He started off his double with a good performance in the 110mH prelims, convincingly winning his heat, and then he hit another gear in the finals to pull away for the win in 14.18 seconds.
In the pole vault, he passed the first five heights, coming in at 13-7.75, which he cleared on his first attempt. He then passed the following height and easily cleared 14-7.5 for the win.
He chose to continue and cleared 15-5.
Cheyla Scott, Charlotte Flights (NC)
She won the junior high jump with a three-inch PR and new US No. 7 jump of 5-11.5. She also attempted to jump a new national record of 6-0.5 but missed.
Michael Gupton, Rolesville Light
He won the freshman boys 100m with a new meet record of 10.52 seconds. It's a new PR by one-hundredth of second, and it also ranks him as the second fastest freshman in the nation this year.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The 400m today was not my best. People win, you lose; you always got another race to come, so just forget about it. I did. I dominated in the 8, showed people how strong I was. I know I got to work harder in the 4, but it's nothing man. I got a long way ahead of me, so I'm going to keep grinding." - Cha'iel Johnson