AAU JO Games Day Four Recap: Athletes Shine In 1,500m

* Paige Sheppard (Trenton, N.J.) discusses challenging the 13yo girls 1,500m AAU record en route to a national title.



Recap written by Ashley Tysiac and Olivia Ekpone

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It can take years to build the confidence -- not to mention, the patience -- to become a seasoned racer in track and field.

But for the young 13-year-old Paige Sheppard, she's mature beyond her years when it comes to toeing the line in the distance events.

The Trenton, New Jersey resident entered the 13yo girls 1,500m finals on Tuesday morning at the AAU Junior Olympic Games eyeing Daesha Rogers' age group record of 4:36.79. She didn't enter the race without a plan of attack. 

Sheppard knew how to challenge the record: Sit, be patient and kick hard.

That's exactly the race plan she executed, playing the game of patience in the first couple of laps before opening up over the final 400m. She fell just short of the record in 4:38.76, but her seasoned race strategy and poise certainly stood out and helped her to a coveted AAU title win.

That approach is a confident skillset that has largely developed over the outdoor season alone.

Just a few months ago, the middle schooler held a mile personal best of 5:13.77. At Brooks PR in June, she smashed that PR with a 4:52.65 1,600m. 

That's a nearly 20-second improvement (including the 1,600m to mile conversion) that's seemingly unheard of at the distance.

Now, she can add a new all-time best in the 1,500m to her name with her title-winning run of 4:38.76.

Scroll below to see more content on the athletes and performances that impressed on day four of the AAU Junior Olympics.

Related Links:

Day 3 recap: More records fall

13yo Girls 1,500m: Paige Sheppard said she came in eyeing the national age group record of 4:36.79, and she certainly put herself in position to chase that time. The Trenton, N.J. middle schooler took it out patiently over the first half mile but tapped into her 800m speed on the bell lap to put a gap on the field and hunt for a record-breaking time. 4:38.76 for Sheppard fell just short of the all-time age group best, but earned her the national title in seasoned fashion. Behind her in a battle for silver and bronze was Annabelle Steckel and Clare Puryear, as just tenths of a second separated the two athletes as the crossed the line. Steckel earned the slight advantage in 4:48.07 for second, and Puryear finished in 4:48.31 to take third.

13yo Boys 1,500m: Jackson Miller entered the finals with a 1,500m personal best of 4:29.95, but that didn't stop the middle schooler from St. Louis, MO from chasing big goals. Miller split a jaw-dropping 1:03.6 on his last lap to win in 4:13.84. Not only was that an all-time best for Miller by over 16 seconds, but it fell just 0.39 seconds short of former AAU star Brandon Miller's national age group record of 4:13.45. Joining Miller under 4:20 for 1,500m was Kaleb Young of Philadelphia, PA, running 4:19.12 for second.

14yo Girls 1,500m: Addison Moore won the 13yo 1,500m at last year's Junior Olympics, and this year saw Moore defend her crown. A pack of three -- Moore, Sophia Hamdani and Virginia Kraus -- entered the bell lap all in contention to grab the event title, but Moore took over and built a small lead, crossing the line in 4:38.08 for the win. Hamdani pulled just ahead of Kraus for second in 4:43.79, and Kraus ran 4:46.53 for third and joined Moore and Hamdani as the only competitors to go sub-4:50.

14yo Boys 1,500m: It was Drew Johnson's race from start to finish, setting a blistering pace from the get go and never looking back as he ran his way to his second-straight 1,500m AAU title in 4:11.34. Hot on Johnson's tail was Brandon Morrow, who closed strong over the final 400m to run 4:13.74. Following closely behind Morrow came Gannon Dolan with a 4:15.10 time for third place.

15-16yo Girls 1,500m: Charlize Trinity-McKenzie (Cedarburg, WI) successfully defended her 1,500m crown from 2021, running an impressive 4:36.55 to win the event dominantly over the rest of the field. Coming in after the repeat champion was Jayden Harberts (Macomb, MI), who fought off Kata Clark (Wenham, MA) down the final homestretch to take second in 4:42.41 to Clark's 4:43.66.

15-16yo Boys 1,500m: A huge pack of 10 entered the concluding lap running stride for stride, but then came the decisive move from Luke Anderson (Salado, TX) at 300m. Anderson bolted into the lead and had one the most impressive kicks so far at the Junior Olympics, diving across the finish for the win in 4:03.77. That made for a significant personal best for Anderson, having run 4:13.14 for at last year's Junior Olympics to win the 14yo division. James Butler (Del Valle, TX) and William Shepherd (Dallas, TX) also had strong closing laps to finish 2-3 in 4:05.92 and 4:07.52.

17-18yo Women's 1,500m: She set the national record in the 3,000m racewalk on Sunday, and Heather Durrant took to the track for the 1,500m ready to chase yet another AAU championship. Durrant took control of the race with about 800m to go to gap the field en route to a 4:50.40 title-winning time, successfully completing quite the unique double. Abigail Beville closed hard and finished not far behind in 4:53.38, and Juliette Salazar ran 4:57.39 to take the bronze medal.

17-18yo Men's 1,500m: A back-and-forth race came down to the final lap a decisive move on the back straightaway from Leo Davis (Williamsburg, VA) propelled him to a title win in 4:00.54. Caleb Bost (Battle Creek, MI) also made a strong move on the final straightaway to pull into second in 4:02.25.

15-16yo Boys 400mH: The close race saw five athletes finish in under 56 seconds, and it was Romaro Knight's 55.05 that took the win the event. Rounding out the top three in the competitive field was Andrew Brown and Desmond Smith with final times of 55.23 and 55.30.

17-18yo Men's 400mH: Yougendy Mauricette managed to hold off a fast-closing Tamaal Myers over the final two hurdles to take the win in 51.35. Myers also recorded a sub-52 second time of 51.70 for the AAU silver medal, and Chris Brinkley surged ahead for a third-place time of 52.35.

15-16yo Girls 400mH: Makeriah Harris and Morgan Roundtree came around the final curve neck-in-neck, but Roundtree had the cleaner finish over the final two hurdles to pull ahead and win in 59.34. Harris held on for second in 1:00.12, and it was Joslyn Hamilton who clocked 1:01.59 to take third.

17-18yo Women's 400mH: Allyria McBride got out hard from the blocks and didn't look back as she raced to a national title win in 1:00.34. Brinesha Derrick-Bain followed in behind McBride with a time of 1:01.63, and Leyanis Armenteros-Castillo also dipped under 1:02 to take third place in 1:01.98. 

13yo Girls 200mH: The race came to the line as Adrianna Haynes and Kaili Payne fought over the final meters, Haynes finished just 0.09 ahead of Payne to win in 27.70. Payne's time of 27.79 put her just in front of Rheanna Burke, who grabbed bronze with her 28.06 time.

13yo Boys 200mH: An unfortunate fall over the final hurdle for Jamir Crichlow left the race wide open for Dekai Butler to sneak ahead and take the win in 26.91. Only 0.02 separated second and third place as Aiyden Cousins earned the advantage over Clemson CJ Harrod with his second-place time of 27.16.

14yo Girls 200mH: Kyra Swart came off the curve hard and held onto a sizeable lead over the final 100m, crossing the finish with a championship-winning time of 26.96. Multi-time AAU national record holder Damira Allen placed second in 27.70, and a battle for third proved worthy of a photo finish as Phoenix Phillips finished just 0.002 ahead of Carrie Vannoy in 27.789.

14yo Boys 200mH: It was a four-man race coming off of the final hurdle, but it was Graylen Houston who crossed in 24.74 to win the title just ahead of Brandon Murray in 24.84. Nyan Brown also ran a sub-25 second time to capture third place with his 24.91 time.

9yo Girls Long Jump: 8yo national record holder Lilyanna Duvra moved up to the 9yo age group ready to win another title, jumping 14-11.25 to win and finish just 0.25 inches short of setting another AAU record. Both Cali Smith and Zoey Hutton jumped over 13 feet to finish second and third with marks of 13-1.5 and 13-0.75, respectively.

9yo Boys Long Jump: Keyzelle Thomas (Columbia, SC) jumped a personal best of 15-0 to win the event, a huge improvement upon his previous PR of 14-2.25. Akiva Freeman (Cincinnati, OH) surpassed his previous best by nearly a foot to finish second with a mark of 14-7.25, and Mason Sylvester (Snellville, GA) made the top three thanks to a 14-5 final jump.

17-18yo Women's Discus: Both Camryn Massey (Gastonia, NC) and Noelle Igberaese (Lawrenceville, GA) both hit marks over 130 feet, but Massey's best throw of 134-4 proved to be the winner ahead of Igberaese's event best of 133-11. Keonna Otis (Harker Heights, TX) also had a strong showing with a final heave of 129-5 to bump up into third.

10yo Girls Shot Put: The triathlon champion and individual high jump winner Brielle Hudson of Cornwall, N.Y. continued her winning streak on Tuesday, this time coming away with the win in the shot put with a 33-11.25 mark. Bryelle Martin from Durham, N.C. also eclipsed 33 feet with her best attempt of 33-0.5 for the silver medal, and Tytianna Moore-Harris saved her best throw for last with a 32-3.25 mark on her sixth attempt to capture bronze.

10yo Boys Shot Put: Brent Jones (Pearland, TX) obliterated his previous personal best of 28-11.25 with a title-winning throw 34-4.75. Isaiah Jackman (Riverview, FL) had a strong final throw of 28-10.75 to move up to second place, and a 28-0.75 mark from Micah Anthony (Grandview, MO) earned the young thrower an AAU bronze medal.

12yo Boys Turbo Javelin: Trevor White Jr. of Baltimore, MD recorded a huge personal best of 134-1 to win the age group championship just ahead of Keny Belamour Jr. from Miami, FL. Belamour Jr. threw the javelin 131-7 on his best attempt, and second-seeded Daniel Frederick from Texas City, TX ended the competition with a third-place throw of 129-8.

13yo Boys High Jump: Liam Tesmer (Olathe, KS) finished just a quarter of an inch off the national record of 6-0.75 set in 2015, but 6-0.5 made for a significant personal best and earned him an elusive AAU individual crown. Randolph Ross finished with a mark of 5-7 with a sizeable improvement upon his seed height of 5-0 to earn silver.

13yo Girls Pole Vault: As the lone vaulter to clear a bar over nine feet, Tandee Hiser (Butler, MO) earned the AAU Junior Olympic title with a height of 9-0.25. Lyse Niclair (Austin, TX) and Myka Louthan (Alva, OK) came in seeded 2-3 and finished in that exact order, with Niclair clearing 8-6.25 and Louthan finishing with a height of 7-6.5.

The remaining heats of the 100m and 400m, along with remaining field events, will be resumed on a later day TBD.


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Number of seconds Jackson Miller (St. Louis) was off of breaking Brandon Miller's 13yo 1,500m national record.


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Brielle Hudson, New York Starz Track Club (Cornwall, N.Y.)

Won the 10yo girls shot put to make for her third individual title of the AAU Junior Olympic Games thus far. Hudson also won the 10yo girls triathlon and high jump on Sunday and Monday.


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In the 13yo boys 1,500m, Jackson Miller (St. Louis, MO) came within just 0.39 seconds of Brandon Miller's AAU national record, running 4:13.84 to win a national title.


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"Last year, I kind of got left in the dust, so I was really happy to be able to stick up with Addison this time. I look up to her, she's awesome."

Sophia Hamdani (Houston, TX) on finishing second in the 14yo girls 1,500m behind friendly competitor Addison Moore (Versailles, KY).


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Leo Davis (Williamsburg, VA) discusses his win in the 17-18yo men's 1,500m, which comes during his first year ever running track.


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* Heather Durrant (Elgin, IL) after diving across the finish to take the win in the 17-18yo women's 1,500m

Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit


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Day five of the AAU Junior Olympic Games will commence at 8 a.m. on the campus of North Carolina A&T, with finals in the 3,000m steeplechase and 800m, along with field events across various age groups and semifinal rounds of the 200m, 80mH, 100mH, 110mH and 4x400m relay. For complete event coverage, visit the meet page, or follow all of our content here.