Busy Day Of Shocks, Surprises And Awe On Day 2 Of USA U20s

"I tried to use the negative energy I had and turn that into fuel." -- Matt Boling on his 100 meter final

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MIRAMAR, Fla. -- As Matthew Boling was scrolling through his phone Friday night, the Houston Strake Jesuit graduate found a note dated July 10, 2018. It read: "I will never take an opportunity for granted again."

He wrote it after he wasn't selected to run the 4x400 meter final at the IAAF U20 World Championships in Finland. The Georgia signee has stuck by the statement ever since, including during Saturday's 100-meter dash final at the USA Track and Field National Junior Championships.

Less than an hour after losing his first and last long jump competition of his senior season, where he used all six jumps -- he finished third and didn't qualify for the Pan American Junior Championships -- Boling vowed not to give anything other than maximum effort in the 100 final.

The result was a blistering 10.15 second performance, all conditions with a 2.3 meters per second tailwind, that won the race and set him up to compete in Costa Rica next month.

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"I was going to do my best even though I was tired for the long jump and 100 finals," said Boling, who finished ahead of Penn State's Justin Ofotan (10.21). "I just did my best and executed."

The duo will be joined on the 4x100 relay by Mulberry (FL) High School's Arian Smith and North Little Rock (AR) High School graduate Kennedy Lightner.

Still drained from the 100 preliminary, Boling's first three jumps fell short. However, his fifth attempt was marked at 25 feet, 3.5 inches. It eventually came up short after Arizona's PJ Austin's popped a sixth-and-final attempt of 25-04.75, which immediately took over the lead. Rutgers' A'nan Bridgett was runner-up in 25-4.75.

"Especially getting third in the long jump, I just really wanted that title," Boling said of the 100.

"I tried to use the negative energy I had and turn that into fuel."

Boling will be the favorite in Sunday's 200.

In the women's 100, Ole Miss's Brandee Presley record a personal record 11.19 to take the final's win. Philadelphia Girard College's Thelma Davies (11.25) scored a new Pennsylvania wind-legal state record, while Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit's Semira Killebrew (11.31) was third and Cincinnati's Caisja Chandler (11.33) was fourth, rounding out the 4x100 relay team.

"Once I crossed the line, I was just happy I got first," said Presley, who was coming off a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships a few weeks ago. "I didn't even know I ran that time. Just to know I ran it was a confidence builder going into the Pan American Championships. I'm just very confident in myself."

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BYU signee Gardner runs strong final 800 meters to win men's 5K

Springville (UT) High School product Grant Gardner booked one more competitive race before a two year hiatus.

The BYU signee, who will embark on a mission trip in September to Fortaleza, Brazil, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held off a late charge by Oklahoma State's Adam Dayani to win the men's 5K in 14:52.47 and qualify for the Pan American Junior Championships.

Gardner was a little more than a month removed from winning Utah high school state championships in the 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m, giving him plenty of time to make his push toward a junior national championship.

He broke from the pack of Dayani and Saginaw Valley State's Carlee Stimpfel with two laps to go, posting two final lap times of 1:05.84 and 1:05.03. Dayani, a Lewisville Hebron (TX) product, gave chase over the final 200 but ran out of room.

"I was a little bit tired the whole time, but I stayed relaxed. I've been racing all my life and that's what I know to do," Gardner said of running in the heat.

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Starliper runs sub-9:30 to take home junior national title in women's 3K

Dillsburg (PA) Northern High School standout Marlee Starliper has had her share of big wins and tough losses during her junior season.

She lost at the line to Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks at New Balance Nationals Indoor in the mile and then again at 1,600 meters at the Pennsylvania high school state championships this spring. Most recently, she earned a win in the mile at New Balance Nationals Outdoor, followed by another solid victory against a tough field Saturday.

Starliper recorded a 9:29.39 to win a junior national crown in the women's 3K. Penn's Ariana Gardizy was the runner-up in the event and qualified for the Pan American Junior Championships.

Preparation was key. Starliper and her family left straight from New Balance in North Carolina for her grandmother's home in Cape Coral, Florida, to acclimate for the heat and humidity of South Florida.

"I really didn't know what to expect because the field was really small," Starliper said. "But I knew girls like Ariana were here and there would be people I could work off of. We were all right together for pretty much that whole first mile. From there I just tried to pick it up and just go off the field from there."

Starliper recalled a time seven months ago where her nerves tended to get the better of her before a big race. After her runner-up finish to Marianapolis Prep's (CT) Sydney Masciarelli, she said she flipped a switch and started not to worry about things she couldn't control.

"I've enjoyed everything about this sport even more and it really has amazed me with how my performances have been getting better with the whole mental aspect," Starliper said.

"With every up and down this season it was still definitely my best effort and it was also the most fun," Starliper added "With the wins I'm always like, 'I can do better.' I'm always thankful that I'm never quite satisfied."

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Hazelwood West's Robinson not living in the past

When asked if he had time to realize what he accomplished in the 400 meters at the Great Southwest Classic a few weeks ago, Hazelwood (Missouri) West High School's Justin Robinson acted as if he didn't remember turning in a personal best of 44.84.

"What did I do?" Robinson asked with a smile.

Clearly, the Missouri state champion in the 100m, 200m, and 400m wasn't looking back and only forward. Thus, the only thing on his mind after running a 46.82 in preliminaries at the USATF Junior National Championships on Saturday was his Sunday meeting with the likes of Southern Miss' Trey Johnson, Houston's Frederick Lewis, Middle Tennessee State's Willington Wright, Oklahoma State's Lakyron Mays and Baylor's Matthew Moorer, who all finished in the top 6 in qualifying.

Robinson is seeking his second trip to the Pan American Junior Championships after taking fourth at USA Juniors last year and earning a spot on the relay. 

"I want the competition with some of the older guys," Robinson said.

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Gehm's discus win earns some respect for Youngstown State

Zach Gehm is confident Youngstown State can contend on a national level against bigger, more-decorated programs. The former Harmony (PA) Seneca Valley standout is eager to prove it any chance he gets.

He got his chance Saturday as he bested athletes from Kentucky and UCLA en route to a national crown in the discus.

"To be able to compete against these guys from Power 5 schools and show I can compete with them, it's just a great confidence boost for my whole entire career as a track athlete," said Gehm, who threw a 197-10 to beat Kentucky's Joshua Sobota, the runner-up, by eight feet. "It just shows it doesn't matter if you go to a big Power 5 school. All that matters is if you put in the work in the weight room, throwing and have the heart."

The prospect of representing his country was also a long-awaited goal.

"It's always been my dream to come down here and even be considered for Team USA," Gehm said. "To be able to move on to the next level and wear the Stars and Stripes out in Costa is just amazing."

On the women's side, Ole Miss' Tedreauna Britt punched her ticket to Costa Rica with a throw of 177-02 alongside runner-up Veronica Fraley of Clemson, who hit 167-10.

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Kentucky's Brown, Oregon's Edwards finish 1-2 in 110 hurdles

Oregon rising sophomore Eric Edwards Jr.'s redemption season will continue.

After he clipped a hurdle at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this fall in the 110 final, Edwards vowed to make it his final memory of his freshman season.

On Saturday, Kentucky's Tai Brown (13.204) beat him at the line by five thousandths of a second on, though both qualified for the Pan American Junior Championships.

Edwards competed in one of the fastest 110 hurdle fields in NCAA championship history just a few weeks ago. A leg injury had been bothering him a bit ever since.

"The NCAA finals didn't really go as I wanted them to go. Last year I couldn't compete at World Juniors because of injury," Edwards said. "I just want this to be a different type of year."

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Trenton Track Club's Mu faced with steep challenge in women's 800 final

Athing Mu understands she's up against an impressive 800 meter field Sunday.

She has firsthand knowledge what Stevens Point (Wisconsin) High School's Roisin Willis can do after the freshman ran down Mu at New Balance Nationals Indoor.

So, to solidify that rematch, she exuded as little energy as possible in preliminaries, where she ran a 2:05.73 to win her heat.

"It's the first round. As long as I won the heat that's all that really matters," Mu said. "If someone came up on me I was just going to act upon it and not fall back. I didn't want to go too hard because I know there's going to be a final tomorrow with some really fast girls."

Berkley Heights (New Jersey) Governor Livingston's Victoria Vanriele checked in with a time of 2:05.99 followed by Willis (2:07.67), Boulder (Colorado) Fairview's Marlena Preigh (2:06.31), Chandler (Arizona) High's Morgan Foster (2:06.84), USC's Alyssa Brewer (2:06.86), Phoenix North Canyon's Dominique Mustin (2:07.79) and San Diego State's Nyjari McNeil (2:08.65).

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Eastview's Green has another chance at a big win in Sunday's men's 800 final

Apple Valley Eastview (MN) High School rising senior AJ Green hasn't turned the page on his junior season just yet. A victory in the Brooks PR Invitational 800 meters last week could have been the cherry on top of a season where he won a high state championship in the event.

Yet Green has put himself in a position to pull off another sweet victory when he takes to the track for the 800 final after posting the top qualifying time of 1:51.88 on Saturday.

He'll be taking on Notre Dame De Namur's Jason Gomez, Cal Poly's Bobby Poynter, Maine's James Olivier, Pawtucket (Rhode Island) St. Raphael Academy's Darius Kipyego, Downingtown (Pennsylvania) Bishop Shanahan's Jonah Hoey, USC's Samuel Van Dorpe and Chabot College's Reece Shaul in the final.

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Penn's Mahama cruises to victory in women's hammer throw

The women's hammer throw was never in doubt. Penn rising sophomore Mayyi Mahama could have stopped after her first mark of over 196 feet.

Despite the rest of the field not coming within five feet, Mahama kept pushing and reached 215-05 on her fourth toss to put an exclamation point on her junior national championship performance.

Mahama is coming off a collegiate season where she finished third at the Ivy League Championships and 24th at the NCAAs.

Arizona State's Shelby Moran will join Mahama in Costa Rica next month after her runner-up finish following a mark of 191-10.

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Stephen F. Austin's Campbell, Towson's Horvath qualify in women's pole vault

In a field that included nine athletes who either just graduated high school or were still in high school, the experience of college athletes won out.

Stephen F. Austin's Nastassja Campbell and Towson's Hayley Horvath both cleared 13-5.25 to outlast the young field in the women's pole vault and qualify for competition in Costa Rica next month.

St. Paul (Minnesota) Mounds View product Julia Fixsen wrapped up the best prep pole-vaulting career her home state has ever seen with a third-place finish, clearing 12-11.5.

Meanwhile, Fredericksburg (Virginia) Stafford graduate Gennifer Hirata, who cleared 14 feet in March at the Texas Relays, settled for fourth after just missing out on clearing 13-5.25.

Stephen F. Austin's Branson Ellis completed the sweep in the event for the Lumberjacks with a victory on the men's side, vaulting 17-2.75 to best runner-up Max Manson (16-10.75), a graduate of Louisville (Colorado) High.

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Florida State's Green withstands a charge from Columbia's Hatcher in women's triple jump

Posting a personal-best 42-3.25 to take sixth in the triple jump at the ACC Championships was the high point of Trentorria Green's freshman season at Florida State. That mark was No. 10 all-time in Seminoles history. 

The Havana (Florida) Gadsen County High School product, a Florida State walk-on, starting to build momentum after hitting 41-10.75 in the event Saturday.

Columbia's Kali Hatcher tried to answer right back with a third jump of 41-8 but never got any closer and settled for runner-up honors.

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Michigan's Worrel makes late charge to qualify for Pan American women's steeplechase

For most of Saturday's 3,000 steeplechase, it appeared the Big East rivals Lydia Olivere of Villanova and Katie Dammer of Georgetown were going to be representing their country in Costa Rica.

Enter Michigan's Megan Worrel.

The Wolverines rising sophomore picked up ground, running the final two laps in 2:14.15 to pass Dammer to qualify, but couldn't catch Olivere (10:33.08).

Men's steeplechase winner Alex Slenning of Washington (9:04.57) and runner-up Benjamin Nibbelink of Virginia Tech (9:07.66) qualified for the Pan American Junior Championships.

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Fields set for men's and women's 400 hurdles finals

Mills Godwin (VA) High School's Britton Wilson and Spencerport's (NY) Vanessa Watson won their heats in the women's 400 hurdles with times of 57.32 and 59.34, respectively. They'll be joined Sunday by Kentucky's Masai Russell, Columbia (Missouri) Rock Bridge's Tyra Wilson, Potomac (Maryland) Bullis School's Leah Phillips, Pitt's Sydni Townsend, Penn's Skyla Wilson and Utah's Skyler Blair.

In the men's field will be second heat winner James Smith of Arizona (51.47) and first heat winner Ryan Fields of Cal Poly Pomona (52.16) followed by Washington's Cass Elliot, Homestead (Florida) South Dade's Lamont Wright, Middle Island (New York) Longwood's Jaheim Dotson, Wisconsin's Robert Hatch, Bradenton (Florida) Lakewood Ranch's James Rivera and Davidson's Cory Gaither Jr.

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Penn's Minich, LSU's Pedigo will compete in javelin at Pan American Juniors

Penn's Marc Anthony Minich ripped a throw of 253-1 on his third toss to best LSU's Tzuriel Pedigo (249-10) and the rest of the men's javelin field to punch his ticked to Costa Rica for the Pan American Juniors.