Men - Women
With the World Junior Track and Field Championships to be held during the six days of August 15th-20th you may say, what are we doing still running track. Well, that is how it goes in some of the rest of the world, with the summer season sometimes stretching very close to the start of our August-September schooling. A natural question that comes to your mind about athletes involved in this meet, some of whom have been going very hard since the start of cross-country, almost a year ago, or at least for many at the Collegiate level not in the distances, since the winter indoor season as early as December, if they have any emotional energy left in mid-August. We have been pleasantly surprised in the past how folks have done, but certainly have to be very forgiving of any athlete who may seem to let down a tad given the length of the operation over the last year–there is only so much emotional energy in the well.
The traditional American male strengths in the sprints, hurdles, and jumps should hold true once again, with the below considerations done a day or two before the World Junior Meet, with each nation still not having done its final declarations, meet management allowing them to enter three athletes per event if they are eligible, then cutting back to the two allowed just prior to seeding.
100 - Willie Perry (Univ Florida) is way ahead of everyone on the watch here, but we do not expect him to win by that much. Perry was 10.49 and teammate Gordon McKenzie 10.54 in the Eugene tune-up meet last week, marks that will not win in Beijing, but with three rounds one can kind of warm into things. Nothing really shocking around the world in the last few weeks at the Junior level, with Remaldo Rose, a Jamaican medalist from 2004 World Juniors dangerous, and the Brits hanging in the background. It will be a fun event!
200 - Same story here, with Perry leading the World on the clock. Canadian Brian Barnett took his nation's senior title run at 20.70 recently to move into the medal picture, with Brit Alex Nelson, who has a lifetime best of 20.69 potentially dangerous.
400 - Martyn Rooney (Great Britain) and Japan's Yuzo Kanemaru, both under 45.50, seem very solid, with Pasadena CC's (by way of Jamaica) Edino Steele 45.81 during the spring. Americans Justin Oliver and Quentin Summers, should they have held their form, be in the battle for third here.
800 - With fourteen in the field under 1:48 North Carolina stars Brandon Jones and prepster Karjuan Williams will hopefully secure personal bests during the qualifying rounds, with the pacing during those contests often a bit tough to gauge, and with twenty-five in the event under 1:49 there will be some pack running in intensity at a level that at least the prep Williams has not faced.
1500 - With the metric equivalent of a 4 minute mile somewhere in the 3:41's there are half a dozen in the field with that or better for a 2006 mark. Americans Andrew Acosta and Andrew Bumbalough could sneak into the finals with the races of their lives. Two years back in 2004 their 3:45 bests would have made the finals, with the pacing 59-2:02-3:03, 57-1:57-2:59, and 63-2:05-3:03 something to scratch your head about the possibilities of. Acosta closed at 55.7 to win the Junior Nationals and Bumbalough is a real veteran of the racing wars, so we will see. UC Berkeley's David Torrence was a 2004 World Junior finalist for the US in the event, with Acosta and Bumbalough at about his level coming in.
5000 - I remember the first World Junior Championship I went to a few years ago. One of the Africans won the 5k with a big kick in not too spectacular a time, but did run 12:53 for the distance a week after the meet was over in Europe. I realized right at that time it was a brave new world! With Bumbalough deciding on the 1500 only (he is not among the 5000 entrants), we can sit back and watch an event that has two Ethiopians and a Kenyan in the field who have run under 13:00 this year (that's three consecutive 4:10 1600's without rest followed by a 30 second 200 to put you between 4800 and 5000 meters!).
10,000 - Ethiopians at 27:15 and 27:52 head the field here, with Jake Schmitt turning out to be the lone US entrant. The Northern Californian can hopefully put together a respectable effort close to or better than his 30:15.0 personal best.
3000m Steeplechase - Americans Alex Mason and Cory Thorne bring their just over 9 minute bests into another very solid distance contest. Eight of the African/Middle Eastern athletes have entered with bests under 8:30 this season. The final qualifiers for the finals out of the three heats in the 2004 World Junior meet raced 8:57.90, 8:53.22, and 8:53.69, with the kilo pacings for those a bit all over the map (2:49.66-5:48.79, 3:02.23-5:57.78, and 2:47.85-5:40.28), so we will see if Mason and Thorne can hold on.
110 Meter High Hurdles - Americans Cordera Jenkins and Dennis Martin lead the world on the rank sheets, but one has to assume that a few from around the world will close down a tad as they groove into the 39" hurdles used in this competition during the rounds. Two medals would add nicely to the American haul here with Jenkins the World Youth Champ last year, and no reason he should not continue his international string.
400 Meter Hurdles - Americans David Carter and Joe Greene are first year Collegians who have shocked with their improvement and quality of finishes during super first year seasons at the four year level. Jamaican Josef Robertson is quality, and we assume someone else will drop significantly here, but Carter is a definite favorite and Greene looks as good as anyone else for one of the other medals.
400 Meter Relay - US pride is always on the line here, but you do need to get the stick around, and if that is not done in an efficient manner, as the US senior teams have grown to realize in recent years, there are some real quality teams around the world who are pressing even under ideal results. Great Britain and Jamaica need back down from no one, with the Brits especially the raw talent to challenge heads-up four deep here. The US set a World Record of 38.66 in its 2004 win, so let's hope the string continues!
1600 Meter Relay - The amazing production of long sprinters by the US gives us a bit more of a margin, with likely team members here from really good programs or with great experience in pressure situations (Bryshon Nellum for instance, we timed in a conservative 45.2 in an anchor relay this spring). The usual suspects will chase, and try to pass, with Martyn Rooney anchoring Britain with 45.35 open speed, and the Jamaicans always waiting in the wings. We will plan on a victory lap for another American relay squad to close the meet down on its final day.
High Jump - The field has five entered at 7-04.5 or better, with amazing Antone Belt, entered, but probably sticking to the Long Jump, very competitive off his 7-03.75 seasonal best and a number of very good jumps during the year. It took 2.15 from the two flights in the 2004 World Junior Championships, so 2.17 probable entrants Ryan Fritz and Joe Kindred from the US should not be intimidated going in.
Pole Vault - Scott Roth ended up a silver medalist on misses at last year's World Youth Championship meet, and in a very tough field here he is once again competitive with the Californian =#7 on the event rank list in a tough year! 5.05 was the qualifying mark to make the finals in 2004 at the Grosetto World Juniors, so it is hoped that 5.31 star Roth and 5.20 vaulter Phil Hanson for the US can put it together in qualifying to move on through.
Long Jump - Three good 26-footers grace this field, with Americans Antone Belt and Aaron Smith certainly able to make the finals on a decent day, with something special bringing a medal from the twosome.
Triple Jump - Another very tough event, with half a dozen over 53-06 in the field! Andre Black of the US is a 53-footer who should make the finals, with a number of American three-boundrers through the years showing surprisingly well when they realized what was needed to be truly competitive internationally.
Shot Put - Five in the field are out over 66 feet with the in between 6 kilogram weight (in between the high school 12 pound and international 16 pound ball). A good day will have John Hickey, ranked 10th on the entry list off marks into the finals.
Discus - Same thing here, with an off-weight implement, 1.75 kilograms (between the prep and open one), with California neighbors Bo Taylor and Nick Robinson seeded among the top fifteen, but needing strong efforts to move into the finals with a very talented group.
Hammer - Walter Henning has done so much, and he is the best thrower in the world for his age-group, with his 1989 birthdate! The Europeans, who we have not mentioned much, are nails here, with Walter ranked at the bottom of the top dozen on the rank list, with hopefully a good meet that has him throwing in the finals and picking up the experience to help him medal in 2008!
Javelin - Another strong event world-wide, with a couple among the top fifteen all-time as Juniors in this field, with Americans Matthew Maloney and Adam Montague hoping for respectability against the talented group.
Decathlon - Well prepared Shawn Schmidt and Matthew Clark of the US are seeded about half way down the nearly thirty athlete list here, but with the next ten above them within a few hundred points there are a number ways to whittle away at folks and move to a higher place, so it is hoped the duo can help create some sense of a future for the event in the country.
Medal count - okay, we'll go out on a limb
100 - one, hopefully gold from the solid Perry
200 - same as the 100, give us a medal here.
400 - yeah, one here also, out on a limb possibly, but no one tougher than Justin Oliver and Quentin Summers trained by Clyde Hart, need we say more.
High Hurdles - two medals for the US here.
Intermediate Hurdles - Chris Carter is the favorite and we will go with one here, though Joe Greene could easily prove us wrong and bring home a second medal in this event.
400 Relay - gold or silver if we hold on to the stick, gold if the passes are crisp, second to Britain if they are not.
1600 Relay- hold on to the baton and we win.
Long Jump - Antone Belt is consistent and he was beaten by Aaron Smith in the US Juniors, but this field is pretty unreal. Again, another one we would love to be proven wrong to leave our cupboard bare on.
Men's addition to the total should be eight from this year's competition. Man, those field and distance events are tough to medal in!!
100—American’s Alexandria Anderson of Texas and Gabriella Mayo of Southeast High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, ran 11.12 and 11.16, respectively, at the U.S. Junior Championships and remain the No. 1 and 2 junior sprinters in the world. Schillonie Calvert of Jamaica, seventh in the 2004 World Junior meet and third in the 2005 World youth meet, had a personal best of 11.21 earlier this year before getting injured but is now back in form and should make it tough for the Americans. Tezdzhan Naimova of Bulgaria has run under 11.26 twice.
200—Gabriella Mayo is the world leader at 22.88 and is the slight favorite over Tezdzhan Niamova and Schillonie Calvert, who have run 23.06 and 23.14 respectively. Bianca Knight of Ridgeland High in Mississippi, who won the 100 and was second in the 200 at the World Youth Championship, finished second to Mayo at the Junior Nationals and was a very solid medal threat but pulled a muscle in Eugene last Tuesday and will miss the meet. Taking her place will be Jennifer Tarmoh of Mt Pleasant High in San Jose and based upon her 23.14 time in finishing third at the Junior Nationals should find herself in the medal hunt. Anasthasia Leroy of Jamaica (what a surprise) should also contend for a medal. Sheniqua Ferguson of Bahamas, the Carifta Games Champion at 23.44, is a dark horse. World Youth Champion Aymee Martinez of Cuba is not entered.
400—Sonita Sutherland of Jamaica was second in 2004 World Junior Championships and with the top four times in the world headed by a 51.13, is solid favorite. Close behind is teammate Kaliese Spencer at 51.56. Between the two women they have eight of the nine fastest times in the world this year. However, Nawal El-Jak of Sudan, with a best of just 52.73 this year, came out of nowhere last year to win the World Youth Title in 51.19. Can she do it again? Second in that race was Danijela Grgic of Croatia at 51.30. If any of the four falter, look for American’s Jessica Beard of Euclid, who closes with a rush, and Brandi Cross, who finished fifth at the World Youth Championships, to be right in the medal hunt. Beard, at 51.89 and Cross, at 51.96 set personal bests in the U.S. Junior Championships.
800—No American has ever reached the final, let alone win a medal, but that string should end at these championships. Rebekah Noble, the freshman NCAA champion in from Oregon, is the world leader at 2:02.07 and with her blazing finish should earn the U.S. its first ever medal. After that Europe takes over with Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine, at 2:03.24 but a best of 2:02.66 in 2004, Aleksandra Uvarova of Russia at 2:03.93 and Annett Horna of Germany at 2:03.94. Shannon Leinert of Missouri, ran a personal best of 2:05.80 in finishing second at the U.S. Juniors and will be looking to make the semifinals.
1,500—Yuriko Kobayashi of Japan, second in last years World Youth Championships, is the world leader at 4:07.87, but Emebet Etea Bedada of Ethiopia (4:10.48), Irene Jelagat of Kenya (4:10.5), Yuan Jin of China (4:11.66), Christina Vasiloiu of Romania (4:12.01) and Irene Jelagat of Kenya (4:12.36) will provide plenty of competition. Americans Danielle Tauro of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J. and Erin Bedell of Baylor, both possess good closing speed could make the semifinals and one just might sneak into the final.
3,000—The U.S. has no entrants here but that might not have made a whole lot of difference with the dominance of the African nations. This race will be a straight final with just 16 entrants. Normally there are 15 qualifiers for the final but it seems highly unlikely they would run two heats to eliminate one person. Pauline Korikwiang of Kenya, the World Youth champion, has a solid lead by time at 8:42.38 but look out for Belanynesh Fikadu of Ethiopia, whose best is just (?) 9:00.45, to make things close between the two heated continental rivals. Liwei Song of China, Sayuri Sendo of Japan and Viktoria Ivanova of Russia should contend for the Bronze medal.
5,000—Another race which will be a straight final with just 15 entrants. This time it is Ethiopia with the advantage--Workitu Ayanu having run 14:50.51 and Wude Yimer, 14:57.23 for a 30 second advantage over the rest of the field. Fei Xue of China, Florence Kiplagat and Mary Ngugi, both of Kenya and Sian Edwards of Great Britain, are all between 15:38 and 15.42, should battle it out for the Bronze medal. Natasha Labeaud of Georgetown is in with a best of 16:29 and will be looking for a PR.
3,000 STEEPLECHASE—With this being the first time the event has been held at this level there will probably be some surprises. Ancuta Bobcel of Romania, who finished second in her national senior championships, is the world leader at 9:51.08 closely followed by Karoline Grovdal, who won her national title in 9:55.95. The only other runners under 10:00 are Madeleine Heiner of Australia at 9:56.54 and Wang Huan of China who was third in her senior nationals with a time of 9:57.34. The American are led by Marie Lawrence of Reno High, who won the Junior national title in a high school record of 10:15.26 despite a terrible fall in the water jump. Amy Fowler of BYU, who was second at the Junior Nationals actually has the fastest time by an American this year at 10:08.12. Both could make the final with Lawrence being a big surprise.
100 HIGH HURDLES---April Williams of Skyline High in Dallas, Texas is the world leader and won the World Youth Championships in 2004 but since she finished only third at the U.S. Junior Championship in a wind-aided 13.47, she did not make the team. The U.S. team will be made up of Tiffany Ofili of Michigan, who won the Junior meet in 13.15 is the world leader in 13.35, and Shalina Clarke of Evanston High in Illinois, with bests of 13.38 and 13.51. Both are medal threats. Yekaterina Shtepa of Russia is at least the co-favorite with a best of 13.40 and four times under 13.50. Anne-Kathrin Elbe is the Germany junior champion at 13.45 and Christina Vukicevic of Norway, who was fifth at the last World Junior Championships, has a best of 13.48.
400 LOW HURDLES—Nicole Leach was fourth at the 2004 World Junior championship as student at West Catholic in Philadelphia and this year also finished fourth for UCLA in the NCAA Championships, where she set a personal best and world-leading time of 55.35 in the semifinals. Jamaica will counter with Kaliese Spencer, who has a best of 55.62, set in an IAAF series meet in Gateshead and Sherene Pinnock, who has a best of 56.90 and was third at the World Junior championship. America’s second entrant is Ebony Collins of Wilson High in Long Beach, Calif. Collins won the World Youth Title last year in 55.96 but so far this year has run just 57.78. However, when Collins won the World Youth meet she dropped her personal best by three seconds. Ajoke Odumosu of Nigeria, with a best of 56.09 and Anestasiya Ott of Russia, at 56.28 are the other leading contenders in the medal chase.
4 x 100 RELAY—The United States set a World Junior Record of 43.29 in Eugene last week. The bad news is that they will have to replace the injured Bianca Knight. The good news is that Alexandria Anderson, with world leader at 11.12, is available for duty. Jamaica and the U.S. have been doing battle for years and that should be the case again. Germany, China, Poland, Great Britain and Bahamas should battle for the bronze medal unless one or both of the top two falter.
4 x 400 RELAY—This should be another great battle especially if the U.S. decides to put Alexandria Anderson on the team. Jamaica has already run 3:31.90 and the World Junior record of 3:27.60 set by the U.S. at the 2004 World Junior Championship could be in serious danger. Poland, Ukraine, Germany and Australia could all fight for the Bronze medal.
HIGH JUMP—Zheng Zingjuan of China is the world leader with two jumps at 6-3 ½. Close behind are Annett Engel of Germany, who was fourth at the World Junior Championships, and has a best of 6-2 ¼ and Gu Biwei of China, who was the World Youth Champion with a best of 6-2¼. Svetlana Radzivil of Uzbekistan has a best of 6-3 ¼ and Vikotoria Leks of Estonia has done 6-2 ¼--both indoors. Patience Coleman of Southern High in Durham, N.C. has a best of 6-0 and has been very consistent at 5-10 or better. She will be hoping to make the final.
POLE VAULT—The battle for medals should be among the following: Russian national junior champion Valeriya Volik, who is the world leader at 14-5¼; Lisa Ryzih of Germany, the defending World Junior Champion with a best of 14-3¼.; Zhou Yang of China, third at the World Junior Championships; Vicky Parnov of Australia, who earlier this year set a world Youth (under 17) record of 14-3¼ and Chloe Mourand of France, with a best of 13-11¼. Tori Anthony of Castilleja in Palo Alto, Calif., who won the National Junior championships and has a best of 13-4, and Britany Parker of McKinney, Texas, who has jumped 13-0¼, will be fighting to make the final.
LONG JUMP—Rhonda Watkins of Trinidad and UCLA is the world leader at 21-6¼ but is closely followed by Anika Leipold of Germany at 21-5 ¾ and Natasha Harvey of Jacksonville. Harvey is the National Junior champion and has a best of 21-5 with three jumps over 21-1. Zhang Yuan of China had jumped 21-3 ¾ twice in winning her junior championships and finishing second in her senior championships. Sarah Griffin Matthew of Niwot High Colorado has a best of 19-9 this year but jumped 21-2 in 2005.
TRIPLE JUMP—The top three finishers in the World Youth Championships are the top three entrants at these championships. Cristina Bujin of Romania was just third last year but has improved her best to 46-1 ½ this winter indoors. Kaire Leibak of Estonia was second and now has a best of 45-9 and Sha Li of China has improved it best to 45-1 ¼. Two others in the medal hunt are Darya Safronova of Russia at 45-5 and Liliya Kulyk of Ukraine at 45-2. The only American entrant is Ke’Nyia Richardson of Holy Names in Oakland, Calif. She is undefeated this year and set a personal best of 43-3. Her best could put her in the final.
SHOTPUT—Denise Hendrichs of Germany is the No. 2 junior in the world her winning put of 59-9 in the European junior indoor championships. The Chinese are two-three with Li Li at 57-4 ¾ and Liu Yingfan at 56-10 ¼ in their junior championships. And in case you thought that this would be just a flash in the pan for the host team. The world leader in the event is Gong Lijiao of China and the only reason she is not entered is that she is too young to complete, being born in 1991. Simone Du Toit of South Africa, the World Youth Champion who has thrown 56-2 ½, Melissa Boekelman of Netherlands, at 55-3 ½ and Irina Tarasova of Russia are the other major players. Kamorean Hayes of Harding High in Charlotte, N.C., who was sixth in the World Younth Championships and has now thrown 52-2 and Jere Summers of Cal St. Northridge, who has improved seven feet this year to a best of 51-5 ¾, will be fighting to make the final.
DISCUS—Dani Samuels of Australia was the World Youth Champion in 2005 and finished third in the Commonweath Games this spring with a best of 195-0. Rocio Comba of Argentina, the South American Junior champion, has a best of 192-0. Tan Saili of China has throw 192-0 and teammate national junior champion Tan Jian has a best of 187-0. Emily Pendleton of Woodmore High in Elmore, Ohio, the national junior champion has a best of 172-8 and stands a good shot at making the final and could place in the top eight. Jere Summers is also entered with a best of 159-10.
HAMMER—The U.S. has no entrants. The medalist should come from the following: Anna Bulgakova of Russia, who was second at the World Youth Championships and now has a best of 222-5; World Youth champion Bianca Perie of Romania, who has thrown 218-8; Hao Shuai of China at 215-7, Zalina Marghiev of Maldives at 214-11 and Alena Krechyk of Belarus at 214-8.
JAVELIN—The U.S. has no entrants in a very unpredictable event. Vivian Zimmer of Germany is the World Junior champion and threw a personal best of 197-4 in 2004. China should be very strong with World Youth champion Zhang Li, with a best of 190-6 and teammate Li Lingwei, who is the yearly world leader with his throw of 193-1 at their national youth championships. Vira Rebryk of Ukraine at 189-1 is also in contention for a medal. But don’t be surprised if someone not mentioned ends up winning.
HEPTATHLON—The top three leaders this year are also the athletes who finished one-two-three in the World Youth Championships in 2005. Tatyana Chernova of Russia heads the list at 6,176 and teammate Yana Panteleyeva is second at 5,985. Germany’s Diana Rach is third at 5,807. Iryna Ilkevych of Ukraine is fourth on the yearly list at 5,751. Shana Woods of Poly High, Long Beach, Calif., won the U.S. Junior title with 5,533 points to set a national high school record and if she can again come through with a solid javelin throw and improve just a little in here better events (100 hurdles, 200 and long jump) she might have a shot at finishing in the top five. Shevelle Quinley of Arizona is also entered and has a best of 5,266.
10,000-METER WALK--The former Soviet Union should dominate here. Tatyana Shemyakina of Russia is the yearly leader at 44:26.5 followed by Svitlana Vavilova of Ukraine at 46:52.63 and teammate Yuliya Davedenko at 47:06.24 and Hana Drabenia of Belarus at 47:20.25. The next closest performer is over a minute behind. Federica Menzato is the lone entrant for the U.S. at 50:32.00.