AAU JO Games Recap: Pardo's Big Moment And More From Day 3

Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit

* Recap written by Cory Mull

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The gears began to shift on Monday at Drake Stadium. 

And of course, there was good reason for that.

That's because the morning marked the opening of traditional track and field events across the AAU Junior Olympic Games. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint. 

A series of national records went down as thousands of athletes from around the U.S. descended on the famed blue track and began to put down personal records and big-time performances. 

MileSplit was once again front and center. Check out our top moments below. 

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        Jayden Wayne watched from the runway as Anthony Buford skied through the air and bombed into the sand like a heat-seeking missile.

        Elation crossed over Buford, a rising senior at Detroit Douglass High School, as he secured the first 23-foot jump of his career. Wayne couldn't help but smile. He felt that, too. 

        "I was so excited for him," Wayne said. 

        Lucky for him, though, he followed the mark. The '23 Little Miami High School graduate was so excited, in fact, that he replicated Buford's effort and then some, securing a new personal record mark of 23 feet, 4.5 inches. 

        It was a new PR for Wayne and also his first time over 22-10.5. What's more, he also secured a runner-up finish in the 17-18yo boys long jump at the AAU Junior Olympics on Monday at Drake Stadium. It was his first podium finish in a major championship. 

        Buford was third with a leap of 23-3.5. Isaac Ativie won the event with a mark of 23-7.5. 

        "He had some tears. We shared a brotherly moment," Wayne said of his dueling efforts with Buford. "We dapped each other up, we gave each other hugs.

        That jump only hit the surface, though. 

        Just two years ago, as Wayne made his first foray into the sport, opening his career with a 19-foot jump and finishing that year with a PR of 21-7.25, he was simply learning. But a little over 12 months later, he's nearly two feet farther in the pit. 

        So what's his ceiling? Wayne only knows he wants to keep growing. 

        Right now, that future looks bright. Louisville, a program for which Wayne took an unofficial visit, signed him recently. The Cardinal are allowing the Ohio athlete to walk-on to in 2024. He might not be a non-scholarship athlete for that long, though, at least if he keeps up with those 23-foot jumps. 

              "To be able to come out here and jump a 23-4, it felt amazing. Not only that, it's only my second year of track. It's exhilarating man."

                  STAT OF THE DAY

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                  * The number of heats that went off on Monday during the first round of the 200m across divisions ranging from 8 & Under to 17-18 years old at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. 

                  MVP OF THE DAY

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                  Patricio Pardo (Bethesda, Maryland)


                  This young man has no off switch. 

                  And for his efforts on Monday, a crescendo of applause met Patricio Pardo at the line after the 12-year-old star blitzed past a 36-year-old AAU national record in the 3,000 meter run at Drake Stadium, winning in 9:33.67. 

                  Pardo went after the record early and moved past his competition as he zeroed in on the former mark of 9:40.8, which was last set in 1987. 

                  The honor was nothing new for Pardo, who clinched his first national record in 2022 in the 3K. 

                  But what was more important for the young runner on Monday was who he was competing for. That honor, he said, went to his sister, who couldn't be at the meet. 

                  Next up for the Marylander is the 800m on Wednesday and the 1,500m on Thursday. 

                  TOP SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT

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                  NATIONAL RECORDS

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                  On Monday: The 12yo boys 3K mark went down (9:33.87) along with the 13yo PV record (12-0). A total of three national records have been achieved over three days thus far. 

                  RACE OF THE DAY

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                  The eighth heat of the 17-18 year-old boys 400m hurdles featured a battle that came down to the line. While only the first athlete in the heat was guaranteed a place in the final, the top two athletes in the heat, Kaiden Snyder and Kyler Alston, assured themselves a spot with times of 54.01 and 54.04 seconds.

                  QUOTE OF THE DAY

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                  "I was just really excited because I've been working toward that for two years. I finally got it."

                  * Evan Jitjaeng secured a new 13yo national record in the pole vault with a 12-foot clearance on Monday

                  PHOTO OF THE DAY

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                  * Ohio Heat's Jayden Douglas readies for the 17-18yo 400mH on Monday at the AAU Junior Olympic Games

                  * An athlete reacts after a race on Monday at the AAU Junior Olympic Games

                  * Olivia Pace secured a third-place finish in the 17-18yo girls long jump on Monday with a mark of 19-3.5

                  Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit

                  Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes/MileSplit