* Makeriah Harris, Anastacia Gonzales, Sanaa Hebron, and Kaila Jackson are the top girls athletes to watch at this year's AAU Junior Olympic Games
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The AAU Junior Olympic Games begins this week!
Previous national champions and All-Americans will have an opportunity to step into the ring, track and pit to defend their titles or redeem themselves.
There will be just over 10,000 athletes competing this year in various events. Throughout the summer, athletes competed in their respected regions to claim one of the top six spots to qualify for the Games in Humble, Texas.
MileSplit has broken down the top performances to watch between July 31 through August. 7.
Check out the top 12 events to watch over the next eight days below.
8 and under - Girls 200m
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As we every year at AAU, watch out for the kids. In the 8 and under age group, Lilyanna Duvra has a chance to break the national record in the championship of the girls 200m.
Duvra enters the meet with a seed time of 28.72. Weather permitting, she has a strong probability of breaking the record of 28.38.
So far this year, she's the only girl in this age group to break 30 seconds in this race.
There are five girls who have sprinted faster than 31 seconds.
Duvra will also contest in the girls 100m.
* 9-year-old Jada Harper almost broke the AAU Junior Olympics National in the 800m in 2019
11-Year Old - Girls 800m
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When Jada Harper was nine years old, she was 0.05 seconds off the AAU Junior Olympics national record in the 800m.
Two years have gone by and she has an opportunity to do something special against an elite field. There are a handful of girls who have the potential to grab their first national title and she's one of them.
The national record set back in 2000, by Quantikia Stepney in 2:19.27, is in jeopardy.
Jayla Flemons of San Antonio Swift entered the meet with the fastest seed time 2:22.49. Along with Flemons, there are six athletes who have run faster than 2:30.
11-Year-Old - Girls 400m
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Cai Culpepper of Ruskin, Florida is less than two seconds off the national record in the 400m.
The 11-year-old enters the meet with a season-best time of 55.578 to Kayla Davis' mark of 55.78 on the chopping block.
Culpepper will also look to win the 200m-400m double while also putting the shorter sprint in contentions as well.
The national record in the 200m was set by Aaliyah Brown when she ran 25.14. Culpepper has a time of 25.25 to her name this year.
* D'Asia Duncan's future in track and field is bright
13-Year-Old - Girls Pentathlon
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Since D'Asia Duncan made her first appearance as a track and field athlete, she began to flourish in the multis.
This year, she enters the meet with the highest score of 3,388, which is 735 points ahead of the next 13-year-old in the pentathlon.
At the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics, she set personal bests in the field, going 5.57m in the long jump and 8.99m in the shot put.
This season, she's already run a personal best of 2:24.34 in the 800m earlier in April.
Last year, she finished second in the long jump and won the 100mH. This year it will look very similar as she will compete in all three individual events.
* Mekenzie Rogers is the reigning champion in the 100m
13-Year-Old - Girls 100m
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Mekenzie Rogers has not lost a 100m AAU Junior Olympic Games title since 2019.
The reigning champion won the title in 12.55 for a new personal best last season. She also finished with the silver medal in the 200m.
Rogers can potentially break the record of 11.87, which was set by Tamari Davis in 2016. The 13-year-old enters the championship with a seed time of 12.15.
She has potential as this is the only individual race she's competing in at the AAU Junior Olympics and will just focus on this individual event.
13-Year-Old - Girls Shot Put
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In 2019, J'Nia Simpson of Trailblazers Youth Athletic Ministry won the girls 11-year-old shot put.
In 2020, Simpson didn't compete at the AAU Junior Olympics, which opened the door for any girl to claim the title. That's exactly what Northwest Flyers Track Club's Zoey Hubert did.
Now it's 2021 and Simpson and Hubert are scheduled to compete as 13-year-olds.
Simpson has thrown over 45 feet while Hubert has thrown 41-05 this year.
* Nonah Waldron and Makeriah Harris competed at the AAU Club Championships
15 & 16 - Girls 100mH
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Nonah Waldron remained undefeated all season in the 100mH.
She won the AAU Club Championship, The Outdoor Nationals and the MHSAA State Championship title. That's quite the row of accomplishments.
Even though Waldron had a strong regular season, she will face one of her closest competitors at the championships.
The fans will see another face-off between Waldron and Makeriah Harris.
15 & 16 - Girls 200m
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The fastest freshman in the 100m and third fastest in the 200m will line up this weekend for the sprint double.
Mia Brahe-Pedersen of Lake Oswego (OR) had a limited season compared to most athletes, but that hasn't stopped her from setting a new season-best.
She finished fourth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m at The Outdoor Nationals, respectively, while being the youngest in the field. She clocked 23.48 (+2.5) in the prelims and 23.78 (+1.2) in the finals.
Aniyah Brown has a championship title to her name this season. She won the AAU Club Championships this season and ran a 23.90 (+0.7) in the finals.
* Kayleigh Stargell broke the AAU Junior Olympic national record in the 200mH
15 & 16 - Girls 400mH
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Harris is the fastest freshman this season in the 400mH. Recently at the AAU Region 11 Qualifier, Harris clocked a 59.88 and is the only freshman this season who ran a sub 1:03.
She leads the qualifiers.
However, she will face an AAU Junior Olympic national record holder. Kayleigh Stargell won the 200mH in 2019 for the 13 age group while Harris finished third.
Now that Stargell has gotten older and is a freshman at Lovett (GA), she will use her experience to carry her through the finish line.
During the high school season, she won the GHSA State Championship in the 300mH in a personal best of 45.60. At the USATF GA-SC Battle of THe Peach Track and Field Championship, she finished fourth with a lifetime best in the 400mH in 1:04.51.
* Sanaa Hebron competed at the VA Showcase
17 & 18 - Girls 400mH
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Akpan showed a huge improvement in the 400mH this season. At the AAU Gulf District Qualifier, she clocked a 1:03.86 in June. She turned around a few weeks later and ran a personal best of 1:01.88.
Neshaminy's (PA) Hebron has competed in multiple 400m and hurdle races this season. She's gotten stronger in her flat 400m as she opened her season with a 58.42 and ran a 55.57 at the East Coast Track and Field Championships at the end of June. At that same meet, she ran a 1:03.04 in the 400mH.
Last season, Hebron finished second in this event and has experience underneath her belt. Now with Akpan in the mix, it will be a head-to-head matchup for the gold.
* Anastacia Gonzales shares how she continues to drop time after the UIL state championship
17 & 18 - Girls 800m
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In the girls' 800m, there's an athlete with a certain eye on a prize.
Boerne Champion (TX) rising senior Anastacia Gonzales has flashed her endurance this season. She's competed in a handful of 800m and 1,600m races.
She became the UIL state champion in the 1,600m and bronze medalist in the 800m.
Competing at the AAU Junior Olympic Games isn't new to her.
However, she's going after her second title. Gonzales won her first gold back in 2018 in the 800m.
Now as a rising senior, she looks to have another title to her name. Her fastest time of the year is 2:08.61, which ranks her in the top 40 in the country.
Tolbert ran a 2:07.77 in May at the NCRunners Twilight. She also became the NCHSAA 1A State champion and the AAU Club Championship gold medalist. Highland Tech's rising senior crossed the finish line in second at the Outdoor Nationals.
Price and Melvin enter the meet with a sub 2:15 season's best as well to add some more pressure.
* Kaila Jackson ran the fastest 200m all conditions this season in Las Vegas, Nevada
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17 & 18 - Girls 200m
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The girls' 200m might be the race of AAU. There have been different leaders throughout the year for this event.
Her fastest time of the season leading up to the West Coast Junior Olympics was 23.71 (-0.6) at the MHSAA LP Region -7-1.
There are two girls seeded faster than 23.50 for the 17-18 age group.
Trinity Henderson finished second to Jackson at the West AAU Junior Olympic Games and will be looking for redemption. Henderson clocked a 23.26 (NWI).
Samirah Moody posted a few of the nation's fastest times this season. At The Outdoor Nationals, she ran a 23.32 for a new personal best.
All three of these girls are also entered in the 100m.