* East Central's Michael Pinones at the UIL State Track Championships in 2022
Photo Credit: San Antonio Express News/Link
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The AAU Junior Olympic Games are nearly 24 hours out, and we couldn't be more excited.
We saved the best for last: The throws.
With some of the competition's top athletes set to square off in the circle and beyond, we profiled the top performers in various age categories.
From blue-chip athletes in Texas over to New York and North Carolina, the throws will amass a major cross-section of the country's top talent. Check below for more information on what to watch and who to look out for.
WATCH LIVE: THE 2022 AAU JUNIOR OLYMPIC GAMES
BEGINS AIRING JULY 30 - AUG. 6
Five Athletes To Watch:
Michael Pinones, Adkins (TX): Pinones will be, for the most part, in a league of his own in the 17-18yo shot put, as he is one of just two athletes with a seed mark over 60-feet entering the competition. On top of that, he's a full three feet farther than the next-best-competitor. So, really, the only question is: How far will Pinones go? The rising high school senior from San Antonio popped off a career-best mark of 66-5.75 at the UIL Class 6A State Championships in May, giving him a runner-up finish in the event. He owns five marks on the year over 64 feet with the 12-pound shot. He's also ranked sixth in the discus throw, too.
Brielle Hudson, Cornwall (NY): She set national records for the 9yo turbo javelin and triathlon last year and enters this year ranked fifth in the 10yo high jump, third in the triathlon, first in the shot put and first in the turbo javelin. Based on her accomplishments last year, it would be safe to assume she's going to put in some major work in 2022.
Laila Jones, Clemmons (NC): Jones has been winning medals her entire career at AAU. This year shouldn't stray from that norm. The 12-year-old is ranked first in the shot put -- by over a meter -- and first in the discus -- by over seven meters -- leading us to predict that she's on the cusp of a few more medals. Jones would need career marks for new national records, but we don't think that's out of the question.
Camryn Massey, Gastonia (NC): Let it rip. That's likely what Massey will be thinking in the circle as she heads into the 17-18yo girls discus with the top seed. She's on the cusp of breaking 150 feet, too. If all goes well, she'll put her name among the champions in 2022.
Josiah Allen, Melbourne (FL): Allen has been incredibly impressive for his age. In fact, he threw a No. 2 mark nationally in the freshman class this year in Florida, hurling a PR of 173 feet, 10 inches. At AAU, Allen will be looking to take down that mark and possibly could go after the 15-16yo AAU national record of 187-2.
Top Event To Watch
In our eyes, the premier throwing event at AAU will be the 17-18yo boys shot put.
And with Michael Pinones leading the way, we could be in for a treat.
The rising senior at San Antonio East Central (TX) High School is clearly the favorite in the event, with the event's top seed mark; he's also one of just two athletes with throws over 60 feet. With consistent PRs over 64 feet -- he has five of them in 2022 alone -- we're also likely going to get a big throw from the Texan.
But just how far can he go?
It is important to consider all-time performances. In the junior class, just 36 athletes have ever surpassed 65 feet with the 12-pound shot put. Pinones is in that group. But as we reach farther out in the sector, however, only 10 high school juniors in history have ever gone over 68 feet. Only four have ever hit 70 feet.
With his last high school meet of the 2022 calendar year in front of him, the moment shouldn't be lost on Pinones.
He has a chance to make history. While the AAU national record for the 17-18yo class is an astounding 73-8.75 -- last achieved by Gabriel Oladipo -- Pinones has an opportunity to enter his name into elusive company
An AAU Throwback
Speaking of Gabriel Oladipo, my golly, his shot put and discus marks of 2017 were absolutely legendary.
His shot put throw of 73 feet, 8.75 inches currently stands as the seventh-best throw in high school history. His discus throw of 210-4 was his third over 210 on the season and solidified his performance as one of the best two-way series in AAU history.
What's more, his shot put finish entered Oladipo in the elusive 200-foot discus and 70-foot shot put club -- only 13 high schoolers ever have achieved that feat.
"The meets where you have the most competition, those are always the most fun," Oladipo said back in 2017. "Because it's great to win. But there's something about having all the best guys around you that just makes winning all the more gratifying. And I definitely had that today.
It's hard to look back in the AAU history books and find a better overall week than what the Fort Bend Hightower graduate achieved five years ago.
In recent years, Oladipo won the Big 12 discus championship in 2021, which followed his 2021 Big 12 indoor win in the weight throw.
Boys-Girls 8yo -- 4lbs; Boys-Girls 9-12yo -- 6lbs; Girls 13-14yo -- 6lbs; Boys 13-14yo -- 4kg; Girls 15-18 -- 4kg; Boys 15-18 12lbs
8yo Girls -- Laila Jones, Clemmons, NC, 28-5.75, 2018; 8yo Boys -- Dylan Carter, Alcoa, TN, 34-10, 2010; 9yo Girls -- Nia Lyles, St. Louis, MO, 30-1.5, 2010; 9yo Boys -- Jon Allen, College Station, TX, 37-1.5, 2002; 10yo Girls -- Shanell Atkins, Pembrook Pines, FL, 34-0, 2008; 10yo Boys -- Jon Allen, College Station, TX, 42-4, 2003; 11yo Girls -- Zoe Burleson, Rock Springs, TX, 40-5.75, 2013; 11yo Boys -- Dylan Carter, Maryville, TN, 48-11.25, 2013; 12yo Girls -- Tami Keitner, Ft. Yates, ND, 47-3, 1982; 12yo Boys -- Jackson Cantwell, Nixa, MO, 56-7.5, 2020; 13yo Girls -- Carlie Weiser, Giddings, TX, 50-2.5, 2018; 13yo Boys -- Jackson Cantwell, Nixa, MO, 57-11, 2021; 14yo Girls -- Meia Gordon, Houston, TX, 52-8.25, 2012; 14yo Boys -- Arnold Campbell, Shreveport, LA, 60-5, 1980; 15-16yo Girls -- Ashlie Blake, Las Vegas, NV, 52-1, 2012; 15-16yo Boys -- Bryce Foster, Katy, TX, 64-0.5, 2018; 17-18yo Girls -- Emily Vannoy, Frederick, MO, 47-7, 2008; 17-18yo Boys -- Gabriel Oladipo, Missouri City, TX, 73-8.75, 2017.
Boys-Girls 11-14yo 1kg; Girls 15-16yo 1kg; Boys 15-18yo 1.6kg
11yo Girls -- Brittany Mann, Neverly Hills, MI, 100-4, 2005; 11yo Boys -- Larry Minner, St. Louis, MO, 108-11, 2015; 12yo Girls -- Amy Bilmanis, Hughesville, MD, 121-0, 1999; 12yo Boys -- Zechariah Blake, Metairie, LA, 137-6, 2013; 13yo Girls -- Zoe Burleson, Rock Springs, TX, 138-10, 2015; 13yo Boys -- Jackson Cantwell, Columbia, MO, 177-6, 2021; 14yo Girls -- Faith Bender, Bakersfield, CA, 141-1, 2016; 14yo Boys -- Bryan Hudson, Williamstown, KY, 198-4, 2015; 15-16yo Girls -- Chamaya Turner, Garden Ridge, TX, 163-11, 2011; 15-16yo Boys -- Brian Milne, Union City, PA, 196-11, 1989; 17-18yo Girls -- Chrystal Herpin, Houston, TX, 177-6, 2021; 17-18yo Boys -- Gabriel Oladipo, Missouri City, TX, 210-4, 2017.
Boys-Girls 8yo Turbo Jav -- 300g; Boys-Girls 9-12yo Turbo Jav -- 400g; Boys-Girls 13-4yo 600g; Girls 15-18yo 600g; Boys 15-18yo 800g
8yo Girls -- Savannah Davis, Miami, FL, 71-9, 2021; 8yo Boys -- Izard Evans, Houston, TX, 89-6, 2017; 9yo Girls -- Brielle Hudson, Cornwall, NY, 86-9, 2021; 9yo Boys -- Adonis Dunnigan, Manhattan, KS, 94-7, 2019; 10yo Girls -- Cameron Chapman, Atlanta, GA, 96-11, 2017; 10yo Boys -- Luke Schuller, Easley, SC, 111-5, 2015; 11yo Girls -- Sarah Marvin, Gaines, MI, 104-0, 2014; 11yo Boys -- Isaish Stephens, Emporia, VA, 138-3, 2015; 12yo Girls -- Sarah Marvin, Gaines, MI, 122-11, 2015; 12yo Boys -- Sam Hankins, Olsburg, KS, 140-11, 2013; 13yo Girls -- Zaybree Haury, San Diego, CA, 124-0, 2008; 13yo Boys -- Henry Martin, Leawood, KS, 153-11, 2017; 14yo Girls -- Sydney Juszczyk, Florissant, MO, 140-4, 2017; 14yo Boys -- Charles Schob, Fresno, CA, 184-6, 2002; 15-16yo Girls -- Skylar Ciccolini, Lewistown, PA, 155-7, 2017; 15-16yo Boys -- Johannes Swanepoel, Overland Park, KS, 187-2, 2007; 17-18yo Girls -- Avione Allgood, Las Vegas, NV, 158-4, 2011; 17-18yo Boys -- Tzuriel Pedigo, Baton Rouge, LA, 229-4.
Four Big Matchups
Category: 15-16yo, shot put
Seed Marks: 12.16m (39-10.75) & 12.13m (39-9.75)
Category: 17-18yo, discus
Seed Marks: 58.82m (192-11.75) & 54.50m (178-9.75)
Category: 14yo, discus
Seed Marks: 36.74m (120-6) & 36.32m (119-2)
Category: 17-18yo javelin
Seed Marks: 53.77m (176-5) & 53.51m (175-6)