AAU JO Games Recap: Tying A Bow Around AAU, The Final Day

* An athlete competes in the high jump during the AAU Junior Olympic Games

Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Let's tie a bow around it. 2023 is a wrap. 

And with that, we conclude eight days of coverage at the AAU Junior Olympic Games.

Saturday's final moments featured some truly remarkable displays of athleticism and grace, record races, yarns of intrigue and even some melodrama. 

All across the track and in the field, athletes leveled up for some of their best moments. What resulted was a highly-entertaining final day and a capstone to a successful 2023 installment of the Games, which saw over 11,000 athlete descend on Drake Stadium over the week. 

Below, we offer our final recap of the week. 

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The number of track finals on Saturday. There were a total of 77 finals across the final day of the AAU Junior Olympic Games. 

MVP OF THE DAY (And of the Games)

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Jonathan Simms (Allen, TX)

What else more can you ask for in a performance? 

Simms ran twice on Saturday, first in the open 15-16yo 400m final and then in the 15-16yo 4x400. 

The first performance was breathtaking in its own right. His 45.12 smashed the AAU national record, the Texas state record and gave him a new World age group record. 

The second may have been even better. He ran 44.36 on the anchor leg of his team's 4x400, taking Impact Track from last to third in the final steps. 

He also won the 800m on Wednesday in 1:51.69. That effort was a new personal best. 


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Last race, best race? The final performance of the 2023 AAU Junior Olympic Games did not hesitate to provide thrills, as it came down to a gutsy move on the inside of Lane 1 in the final 100 meters by the H-Town Hurricanes over Wings Track Club. Better yet, both teams reside in the Houston, Texas area. The winning time was 3:11.01, just a tenth of a second faster than Wings. 


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A total of 10 records went down on Saturday over the final day of action at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. Among them: the 11yo boy 400m (54.53), the 15-16yo boys 400m (45.12) and the 10yo girls 4x400 (4:19.95). 


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"Sydney McLaughlin, I've watched her run the 400m. I said, 'One day, I'm going to be the fastest woman on earth.'" 

Alissa Parks of Birmingham, Alabama, just 7 years old, has big goals. After finishing second in the 400m on Saturday in 1:08.65, she announced her plans for the future.


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Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit