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2008 IAAF World Junior

July 8-13, 2008 - Bydgoszcz, Poland

Women's Track Event Preview
by Mike Kennedy

(Editor's note: Since this report was written, we have received roster information that indicates the following changes in the women's events: Victoria Jordan (100 and 200), Cydney Ross (800), Elizabeth Graney (3,000 SC), Brigetta Barrett (HJ), Irene Cooper and D'Ana McCarty (HT), Roxanne Grizzle (JT) finished in top two and were qualified but not on team due to lack of passport or personal choice.

Shayla Mahan (South Carolina) replaces Victoria Jordan in 100; Ashton Purvis (St. Elizabeth HS, Oakland, Ca.) replaces Victoria Jordan in 200; Camilla Dencer (West Valley Christian, North Hills, Ca.) replaces Cydney Ross in 800; Jordan Hasay (Mission College Prep HS, San Luis Obispo, Ca.) added to 3,000; Jessica Marriweather (unat) replaces Brigetta Barrett in HJ; Lauren Chambers (Kell, Marietta, Ga.) replaces Irene Cooper and D'ana McCarty in HT. Erin Sampley (Kentucky) added to heptathlon. Gabrielle Glenn (South Carolina) added to 4 x 100, Porche Byrd (South Carolina) added to 4 x 400.

Nine years ago the city of Bydgoszcz, Poland, hosted the First IAAF World Youth championships. This year, the best young athletes in the world will again ga
ther in this quaint city for the 12th IAAF World Junior championships. The meet will be at the same location but the facilities have been completely redone with a state of the art track and a stadium that can seat 23,000.

The U.S. team, which has not been announced as of July 2, will be much like previous teams—strong in the sprints, hurdles and relays, with a smattering of outstanding athletes in the distances and field events.

A world of caution is necessary. Although the U.S. team has not been announced, most of the athletes mentioned should be in attendance unless there were passport problems. Unfortunately, since the IAAF does not issue or post a list of entrants (which were due about the 24th of June) until right before the competition begins, it is very difficult to get an exact overview of the events.

Although some teams were available on the IAAF site and on the internet, the exact make up of most teams is not widely known and therefore more then a little guess work, especially from Africa and Asia, is involved. Having said that, here is a look at each event where the U.S. has entrants, and how they are likely to measure up to the competition.

100 Meters
Bianca Knight of the U.S. is the world Junior leader at 11.07 with her Olympic Trials mark, but she chose to by-pass the Junior circuit and as a result, Jeneba Tarmoh of Tennessee and Victoria Jordan of Dunbar High in Fort Worth (Tx.), ranked No. 2 and 3, are the favorites for the Gold.

Tarmoh, who finished seventh in the Southeastern Conference and advanced to the NCAA semifinals, won the Junior Nationals with a personal best of 11.21. Jordan was second at 11.38. Earlier Jordan burst on the national outdoor stage with a 11.16 to win the Texas State 5A title and move into a tie for fifth on the all-time high school list. She also participated in the Olympic Trials, where she ran 11.38 and 11.29 to advance to the semifinals.

The group behind the Americans is very closely bunched, and it will be interesting to see who emerges. Ashlee Nelson of Britain, who was third in the 2007 World Youth championships, is the fastest non-American at 11.37, albeit with a 2 meter per second aiding wind. Gabriela Laleva of Bulgaria set a personal best of 11.37 in winning her junior championships and Shenique Ferguson of Bahamas did the same with her 11.38.

Rosangela Santos of Brazil, the silver medalist in the 2007 World Youth championships, set a personal best of 11.41 in a Grand Prix meet in Brazil. Tameka Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis set a national junior record of 11.44 in Houston in May, and Trisha-Ann Hawthorne of Jamaica has a personal best of 11.44 set in the NCAA East Regional.

200 Meters
Tiffany Townsend of Baylor, the No. 2 ranked Junior in the world behind Bianca Knight’s 22.43, won the U.S. Junior nationals in 23.60 into a 2.4 meter per second wind. Earlier, running at altitude in Boulder (Co.), she set a personal best of 22.75 in finishing sixth at the Big 12 Conference championship. Townsend’s best non-altitude mark is 23.20 in the NCAA semifinals. She then went on to place eighth in the final. She does have a wind-aided 22.91

Victoria Jordan of Dunbar High in Fort Worth (Tx.) was second to Townsend at the Junior Nationals with a 23.73, but it was just her fourth 200 of the year because she was running in three relay events in most of her high school meets. She set a seasonal best of 23.68 in the North Texas Invitational after her State meet. Last season she ran a personal best of 23.24 in the USATF National Young Womens JO championships.

Prior to this year, Maritzer Williams of Saint Kitts and Nevis was non-existent as far as track performances were concerned. She first appeared outdoors in Houston in February, when she ran three 200’s all over 25 seconds. She next showed up at the Carifta Games in March where she was second in the 100 in a wind-aided 11.41 and sat a national junior record of 23.13 in finishing second in the 200.

In June at her national junior championships, she improved her national junior record to 22.96 in the 200 and won the 100 with a wind-aided 11.39. Also running for Saint Kitts and Nevis will be Tameka Williams who finished third at her national championships in 23.19.

The Bahamas will have two strong entrants in Nivea Smith and Cache Armbrister .  Smith was third in the 2007 World Youth Championships in 23.69. This year she won the Carifta Games with a personal best of 23.01 and later took her junior national championships down to 23.16. Armbrister was fifth in the Southeastern Conference and fifth in the NCAA Midwest Regional where she set a personal best of 23.13, while running for Auburn.

Jura Levy, who was third in the Carifta Games at 23.28, is likely to be Jamaica’s No. 1 entrant. Gabriela Laleva of Bulgaria set a personal best of 23.33 in winning her national championships. Emilie Gaydu of Francis is entered in the 100 at 11.51 but ran 23.44 in mid June and could be seen in this event.

400 Meters
The U.S. team of Jessica Beard of Tennessee and Lanie Whittaker of Washington High in Miami (Fl.) is a study in contrasts. Beard is the No. 2 ranked junior in the world at 51.09, with a ton of experience, while Whittaker, who did not break 57 seconds in the 400 in 2007, is just getting exposed to the running world.

In 2006, Beard was fifth in the World Junior championships at 52.51 and had a best of 51.63. Two years later she won the Big 12 Conference meet with her personal best, finished fourth in the NCAA finals in 51.75 and won the National Junior meet at 52.23.

Whittaker opened 2008 with a personal best of 54.20 and then won the Florida State 3A championship at 54.47 before finishing second at the Golden West Invitational and second to Beard in the Junior nationals with a personal best of 53.25.

Sade Abugan of Nigeria is the world Junior leader at 50.89, which she ran in finishing second at the African championships at high altitude Addis Ababa. However, since that time she has run 51.56, 51.62 and 51.35. Racheal Nachula of Zambia ranks No. 3 in the world with her personal best of 51.39 in finishing third in the African championships. Susana Clement of Cuba has a hand timed best of 52.2 and could be a sleeper.

Two years ago, Irina Gafiyatullina of Russia was fourth in her national junior meet at 56.53. The next time she appeared on the national stage was in 2008 when she won her Junior nationals in 53.08. Brittney St. Louis of Trinidad and Tobago, who ran for Florida State, was third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and then set a personal best of 53.20 in finishing second in her national championships.

800 Meters
Chanelle Price of Easton High (Pa.), with a best of 2:01.61, and Laura Roesler of South High in Fargo (N.D.), who has run 2:03.08, were the heavy favorites to make the U.S. team, but they both chose instead to concentrate on the Olympic Trials and that opened the door to a large field of athletes hoping to compete for their country.

The two athletes who took advantage turned out to be Cydney Ross of Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill High of St. Louis (Mo.), a virtual unknown, and Sarah McCurdy of Bay Shore High (N.Y.). Going in to 2008, Ross had not broken 57.0 for the 400 or 2:16.0. This year she was the State 3A champion at 2:09.88 and won the Junior nationals at 2:07.12. McCurdy was just fourth in the New York State meet with a 2:09.67 before running a personal best of 2:07.75 in finish second at the Junior nationals. Her best performance probably was a fourth place finish in the Junior nationals 1,500 at 4:28.38. Both runners will be hoping to advance beyond the first round.

Pamela Jelimo of Kenya, the world junior record holder at 1:54.99, will not be in attendance and will probably collect a medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. That opens the door for, among others, Alison Leonard of Britain, Merve Aydin of Turkey, Juanda Mendez of Cuba and Katarina Zarundnaya and Yekaterina Zavyalova, both from Russia.

Leonard, who was second at the World Youth championships in 2007 at 2:05.36, was the National Junior champion this year at 2:06.85 and has a personal best of 2:02.57. Aydin had a person best of 2:07.10 prior to 2008, but has put up times of 2:02.20, 2:03.81 and finally a winning performance of 2:01.28 the last week in June. Mendez was third in the 2007 World Youth championships at 2:05.42 and then improved this year to 2:03.9 in June. Zarundnaya and Zavyalova were one-two in their junior championships, at 2:04.86 and 2:06.24, respectively.

1,500 Meters
Jordan Hasay of Mission College Prep in San Luis Obispo (Ca.) took a giant step forward last year when she finished second in the World Youth championships in 4:17.24. Looking at the field for the World Junior championship she will have another opportunity to do the same, but the challenge looks to be even more difficult this time.

All year long Hasay has found herself in closely contested races and she has always met the challenge—the last time in the Junior nationals where she defeated Alex Kosinski of Oregon, 4:18.14 to 4:19.22. Earlier this year Hasay ran 4:17.46 at the Payton Jordan Invitational to just miss her personal best of 4:16.98 set in 2007. Hasay has spent much of her high school career running the 3,200, where she ranks No. 2 on the all-time high school list with a 9:52.13, and has won three straight State titles. Kosinski’s time at the Junior nationals was a person best and came after finishing tenth in the Pacific 10 and fifth at the NCAA West Regional.

Veronica Nyaruai of Kenya is the world junior leader at 4:10.33 but she did not attend the Kenyan World Junior trials so the favorites role has fallen to Stephanie Twell of Britain who clocked a winning 4:09.29 the last week in June. Twell was eighth in the 2006 World Junior championships at 4:16.58 and second the following year at the European championships. Emma Pallant, also of Britain, recently set a personal best of 4:13.76.

Liu Fang of China was third at the Good Luck Beijing meet in 4:14.54. Meraf Bahta of Eretria, who was fifth in the 2006 World Junior championships in Beijing at 4:16.01, improved to 4:12.52 in finishing fifth at this year's Iberoamericano championships.

(Editor's note: Jordan Hasay set a new PR and high school national record of 4:14.50 in the 1500 semi-final at the Olympic Trials.)

3,000 Meters
The yearly Junior list shows the top seven best times stretch from 8:53.14 to 9:13.00, and there is every likelihood that none of them will be running the 3,000 in Poland. However, two names not on the list are the first and second placers at the Kenyan World Junior trials, where Mercy Cherono ran 9:00.2 and Jackline Chebii clocked 9:04.4 to move into the favorites role.

The battle between these two should be quite interesting. Marina Gordeyeva and Yakaterina Gorbunova, both of Russia, should contend for places in the top eight. Gordeyeva won their World Junior championship at 9:13.03 and Gorbunova was second at 9:18.75. Joanne Harvey of Britain set a personal best of 9:13.58 in mid-June while finishing fourth at an invitational meet. Yukino Ninomiya of Japan has run 9:13.41 and Doreen Chesang of Uganda has a best of 9:13.70.

Laurynne Chetelat of Davis High (Ca.) was the Junior national winner at 9:29.45, but her intermediate time of 9:19.5 in a sterling duel with Jordan Hasay in the State 3,200 final shows that she has what it takes to hang onto a fast pace. Chetelat lost to Hasay by less than one second. This event is contested as a straight final.

5,000 Meters
The top nine World junior times are all from Kenya and Ethiopia and there is a good chance that none of them will be running the 5,000. The leading time is 14:47.14 by Linet Masai of Kenya. China and Japan fill the next six slots and the most likely of those runners to be on the track are Kasumi Nishihara and Nazumi Tomonaga, both of Japan. Nishihara has run 15:46.65 and Tomonaga has s best of 15:54.70.

Nelly Chebet and Lucia Muia were one-two at the Kenyan World Junior trials with times of 16:06.1 and 16:09.1, respectively. Olha Skypak of Ukraine set a national Junior record of 15:59.78 in finishing third at the Ukraine Cup in Yalta. Kendra Sheaf of Canada has run 16:05.16 and Emily Pigeon of Britain has a best of 16:13.49.

Catherine White of Arkansas was U.S. Junior national champion at 16:32.03, and Ashley Higginson of Princeton was second at 16:33.83. Both times missed the World junior qualifying mark of 16:30, but both runners had bettered the standard earlier. White ran 16:14.93 at the Payton Jordan meet, and Higginson had run 16:22.56 at the Penn Relays.

3,000-Meter Steeplechase
Poling Jelizarova of Latvia was fourth in the World Junior championships in Beijing in 2006 at 9:58.7 and has a best of 9:54.94 in 2008 to rank No. 3 on the yearly world junior list. Kambua Mayanga and Elizabeth Mueni were one-two in the Kenyan World Junior trials at 9:57.0 and 9:59.2. Julia Borner of Germany has run 10:05.16 but has no international experience. Sandra Eriksson of Finland has a best of 10:06.12 in finishing sixth in a European Cup competition.

After spending a few years as a walker, Aleksandra Kudryashova of Russia switched over to the steeplechase and promptly won the National Junior championship at 10:07.86. She still had time to walk 10,000 meters in 43.17 for the fifth fastest junior time in the world this year on the roads. It is unclear which event she will contest. Renata Krasnova was second in the Russian Junior championships at 10:18.50. Last year Krasnova was tenth in the World Youth championship 2,000 steeplechase at 6:39.03.

Milena Perez of Cuba has a best of 10:17.0 and Marita Barinova of the Czech Republic has run 10:17.86. Both times are national junior records. Rebecca Wade of Rice was first in the U.S. Junior nationals at 10:29.64 and Elizabeth Graney of Michigan was second at 10:34.11. Wade’s personal best is 10:29.23 and Graney’s best is 10:31.47.

100-Meter High Hurdles
Teona Rodgers of Florida State won the U.S. Junior nationals at 13.60 and Vashti Thomas of Mt. Pleasant High in San Jose (Ca.) was second at 13.62. Both have an excellent chance to make the final. Rodgers was seventh in the NCAA East Regional final and then advance to the NCAA semifinals. She opened the season with personal best of 13.35.

Thomas is the two-time California State champion. In 2007 she ran 13.03 with a 2.0 meter per second aiding wind and in 2008 she clocked 13.44 into a 2.7 meter per second wind. Her 13.03 ranks No. 2 on the all-time high school list. Jacquelyn Coward of West High in Knoxville (Tn.) was favored to win the Junior nationals based on her times of 13.00w and 13.26 but she finished just seventh at 13.72.

Jamaica has the best one-two punch in the world with Shermaine Williams and Natasha Ruddock. Williams was second in the 2007 World Youth championships at 13.48 and finished the season with a 13.37 over the 30-inch hurdles. Williams was the NCAA Division II indoor 60-meter hurdle champion for Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte (N.C) and in the Spring won the Jamaican World Junior trials at 13.22 for the fastest Junior time in the world.

Ruddock was second in the 2005 World Youth championships at 13.38 over 30-inch hurdles after running 13.24 in the semifinals. In 2008 she competed for Essex College and won the national Community College champion in a wind-aided 13.22. Two weeks later she set a personal best of 12.28 in finishing second a the Holmdal Invitational.

Kierre Beckles of Barbados won the Carifta Games in a national junior record 13.43 in March and then came back to win the national title at 13.73. Krystal Bodie of the Bahamas was third at the Carifta Games in 13.73 and then set nation junior records of 13.57 and 13.51 at her national championships. She was also second in the national Junior College championships with a wind-aided 13.42 while running for Southwest Mississippi College.

400-Meter Low Hurdles
Takecia Jameson of Miami opened up her season at 58.45 and just kept going, finishing third in the Atlantic Coast Conference meet in 57.96, second in the NCAA East Regional with a personal best of 56.60 for the best Junior time in the world this year, and third in the NCCA final in 56.75. She later won the won National Junior meet in 58.66.

Kori Carter, a sophomore at Claremont High (Ca.) was second at the Junior nationals in 60.69. She reached the World Junior qualifying standard in the semifinals with a 60.26. There were 13 Americans who had faster times than Carter this year, with three under 58 seconds. Jacquelyn Coward of West High in Knoxville (Tn.) had the fastest time in the prelims at 59.21 but did not run the final. Earlier in the year, over the 300-meter hurdles, Carter won the Arcadia Invitational at 41.58 and then the State meet with a personal best of 41.28.

The main competition for the U.S. should come from Fabienne Kohlmann of Germany, Hanna Titimets of Ukraine, Janeil Bellille of Trinidad and Ghofrane Mohammad of Syria. Kohlmann was the European Junior champion in 2007 with a personal best of 56.42 but has a best of just 58.08 this year. Titimets won the University Championships at Yalta in 57.34.

Janeil Bellille was second at the 2007 Pan American championships with a personal best of 56.94 and has a 2008 best of 57.73. Ghofrane Mohammad was sixth at the 2005 World Youth championships and seventh in the 2006 World Junior champions before winning the Asian Championships with a 57.85 earlier this year.

The Relays
Despite having the deepest pool of sprinters in the world, the U.S. is far from a “lock” to win the 4 x 100 gold medal, because it is also about how well you pass the baton. On paper, Victoria Jordan, Vashti Thomas, Tiffany Townsend and any one of three or four other sprinters looks to be the best team. But sometimes looks can be deceiving. Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Bermuda all would appear to have enough talent to win if the Americans are anything less than stellar. The U.S. could also win the gold in the 4 x 400, but Russia, Jamaica, Germany, Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago should make for a very tight race.

10-Kilometer Walk
The U.S. had no qualifiers

World Junior Champs Index