Photo Credit: World-Track
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Roisin Willis will remember this Wednesday night for a lifetime.
With a World U20 Championship on the line in Cali, Colombia, the recent Stevens Point High School (WI) graduate went to work.
Willis pressed confidently ahead in the opening frame of the 800m final, clocking off a 59.41 opening lap -- and pulling the field behind her -- before the challenges started coming in no short order.
By 600m, the biggest offering came from Switzerland's Audrey Werro, who put down a heady move on Willis and made the pass around the curve, looking at the finish line solely in front with 100m to go.
But Willis, who hadn't broken two minutes before, wasn't finished.
The Stanford signee -- whose mother was an Olympian for Ireland -- went for broke on the final straightaway and pulled away, winning the World U20 title in 1:59.13.
Werro was second in a new Swiss national record of 1:59.53, while Juliette Whittaker, the recently-minted high school national record holder at the distance and Willis' future teammate with the Cardinal, was third in 2:00.18.
Willis' senior year was epic. She finished her final campaign with 800m times of 1:59.13, 2:00.32, 2:00.03 and 2:00.06i.
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In the last race of the night, in a showdown of the world's best young female sprinters, the young American from Raleigh, North Carolina held her own.
Raleigh Wakefield's Shawnti Jackson yet again pulled down another personal record -- this one coming with a -0.1 wind -- finishing third overall in the World U20 100m final in 11.15 seconds.
That performance ties Angela Williams ('98 Chino HS graduate) for sixth all-time in the high school record books, and stands just behind Marion Jones ( 11.14), Tamari Davis (11.13), Kaylin Whitney (11.10), Candace Hill (10.98) and Briana Williams (10.94).
Jackson finished behind two Jamaicans, Tina Clayton and Serena Cole, who clocked times of 10.95 and 11.14, respectively.
Jackson's performance stands No. 7 in the world for the 2022 season for U20 athletes, and No. 2 for Americans, behind Tamari Davis' 10.83 from July 30.
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Men's 3K: Lucas Guerra, a freshman at Georgetown, finished 11th in the semifinals of the 3K, clocking a time of 8:21.90.
Women's Hammer: Emily Fink finished outside the qualifying standard in eighth with a throw of 58.52 meters. Kali Terza was 10th in the second section with a mark of 53.08m.
Men's 3K Steeplechase: Peter Visser, a 2021 graduate of Star Valley (ID), was sixth in the qualifying round in 9:06.47. He did not advance to the final. Bryce Lentz was seventh in heat two in 9:07.67 and also did not advance.
Women's Long Jump: Alyssa Banales, a rising junior at McKinney North (TX), was 12th in the first round with a mark of 6.02 meters while India Alix, a rising Klein (TX) senior, was 11th in the second section with a leap of 5.94m. Neither advanced past the semifinals.
Men's 400mH: Kody Blackwood, the rising McKinney North (TX) senior, and Grant Williams, a '22 Celina (TX) graduate, both advanced to the next round of action after impressive showings. Blackwood was third in heat three, clocking a time of 52.50, while Williams was second in the second heat in a time of 51.12.
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Women's 400mH: Akala Garrett has her sights on the final. The North Carolina native ran her best heat yet on Wednesday, clocking a new PR of 57.28 -- the fastest time of the day -- in section two. LSU's Michaela Rose won heat three in 57.83, also cruising into the finals, as the Americans head into the championship as the top contenders.
Men's 200m: Brandon Miller, the freshman from Grand Valley State, earned his way into the final with his time of 20.57 in the semifinals. University of Washington freshman Anthony Smith, running for Turkey, also qualified for the final in 20.83.
Women's 100m: Before her bronze medal finish, Jackson clocked a new PR of 11.16 in the semifinal, winning the first section despite a negative 0.4 wind.
Women's Discus: Sweden's Emma Sralla -- a rising senior at Lewisville Marcus in Texas -- won the discus with a mark of 56.15 (184-2). Siniru Iheoma, the Princeton freshman, was fourth overall with a mark of 53.15.
Women's 400m: Mekenze Kelley remained in the hunt for a place in the finals after her fourth-place finish in the semifinals on Wednesday, clocking a time of 53.09. Zaya Akins, in heat two, veered off and did not qualify after a time of 53.62.
Men's 400m: The Americans split off in the semifinal, with Cincinnati's Steven McElroy, a 2021 Pickerington North graduate, etching his name into the final with a time of 45.67 in the semifinals. Ashton Schwartzman, the freshman for Texas A&M, was the first athlete out after finishing third in the second heat in 46.50.
Men's 1,500m: Nathan Green, the freshman from Washington, finished fifth overall in the World U20 final with a time of 3:39.44. He was just two seconds outside the podium.
Men's 110mH: Malik Mixon will head to USC later this month with a silver medal in his pocket. The recent Northgate (GA) graduate scored a medal in the final with a new wind-legal PR of 13.27 seconds, finishing just a shade behind World U20 champion Antoine Andrews of the Bahamas (13.23).
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The Stevens Point (WI) graduate is hardly a "breakout" performer in broad terms -- she's been on our radar since she was a freshman in high school. But breaking two minutes in the 800m? That's a first for Willis, a Stanford recruit, and a huge milestone. Kudos to her.
GOLD MEDAL COUNT
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Gold: Mixed 4x400, Tarik Robinson-O'Hagan (shot put), Roisin Willis (800m)
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We have finals of the women's pole vault, men's pole vault, the heptathlon, the men's hammer, women's 400mH and 3K steeplechase, the men's and women's 400m and the men's 200m.