Two Eighth-Graders Should Be On Your Watch List At U20s

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It's one thing to be young. It's another to confident. It's a third to be contender. 

Maybe Aria Pearce, a 14-year-old from Kansas who's fresh off her eighth-grade school year at Rock Creek Middle School, isn't quite there when we talk about the top athletes heading into the USATF U20 Championships next week in Eugene, Oregon.

Maybe she's not bound for the Pan American U20 Championships just yet. 

But there's something to be said about her being in the mix. 

And Pearce is not alone.

She is one of two eighth-graders entered for the USA U20 Championships this week, joining Olivia Harris, another young teenager from Georgia who's the younger sister of Sydney Harris, a Buford graduate who's also entered in the 400m; and Kim Harris, currently a member of the University of Southern California's women's team and a former Pan American U20 qualifier herself. 

On the other side, Quincy Wilson, the phenom from Bullis School and a high school freshman, is the youngest male entered. 

While it would be easy to watch out for the athletes most likely to qualify for Pan Ams in Puerto Rico, there's also a secondary conversation that could be found with these young athletes lining up with the promise of future hope in the years to come. 

Wilson, at 15 years old, just may have what it takes to qualify for his first World team. He's run 45.99 second this year and is the third-fastest athlete to enter the 400m on the men's side. 

But Pearce and Harris, in many ways, are looking to gain experience.

The pair remain two of the most talented middle-schoolers in the U.S., with both owning top 100 marks in their events; Harris is No. 20 in the 400m, while Pearce is No. 81 in the 100m and No. 63 in the 200m.

They certainly have proven they have what it takes to compete with athletes four years their junior. 

Pearce is coming off two Emerging Elite titles at Nike Outdoor Nationals in June when she ran a wind-legal 11.76 (+1.0) seconds in the 100m and 23.95 (+0.7) seconds in the 200m.

Earlier, at the Kansas Relays in April, she ran a career best 11.50w against collegiate women, later finishing second in the final in 11.66w. She's entered in the 100m and 200m. 

Harris, meanwhile, is entered in the 400m.

She ran 53.81 seconds at a meet in June and she's previously coming off an Adidas Outdoor Nationals National Elite title in 55.07. 

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