Event-by-Event Previews: USA Has a Tough Road
By Mike Kennedy
Boys - Girls
The United States will be going for its third straight team championship, but judging from results in the United States and around the world, it could be an uphill battle. Nevertheless, the U.S. team includes a number outstanding athletes that should find their way to the awards stand.
Doing a preview such as this is somewhat difficult. As of this writing there is no final list of events that the U.S. team members are entered. Coupled that with the fact that Start Lists are not available until 24 hours prior to each event and you can understand that there is fair amount of guesswork involved. Having said that, here is a look at each event.
When the team was first named in mid May, prospects looked bright with Jeremy Rankin (Overland, Aurora, Co.) flying high with times of 10.32, 10.33 and 10.42, but a season-ending injury at the Great Southwest put him out for the season. Now it will be up to Isaiah Sweeney (Hightower, Sugar Land, Tx.) and Kenneth Gilstrap (Miller Grove, Lithonia, Ga.). Sweeney was second in the Texas State 5A meet in a personal best of 10.51. Gilstrap has run 10.68 twice and was third in the State 4A finals in 10.84.
The opposition is impressive. Dexter Lee and Nickel Ashmeade, both of Jamaica, ran 10.33 and 10.39, respectively in their national Under 18 championships in June. Jordan Huggins of Britain was third in the national Under 20 championships in 10.45. In a bit of true irony, the winner of the U.S. Junior Nationals was Rynell Parson (Stevens, San Antonio, Tx.), who set a Youth (under 18) world record of 10.23. But since he did not compete in one of three national youth meets in 2006, he was not eligible for the U.S. World Youth team in 2007.
Gilstrap and Danzell Fortson (Central, Keller, Tx.) are both entered and, if the opposition in the 100 looked tough, it might be even tougher here. Neither Gilstrap or Fortson ran the 200 on a regular basis. Fortson’s best this year has been 21.55. Gilstrap has no notable 200s this year but did run 21.49 last year.
Ramone McKenzie of Jamaica is the overwhelming favorite, based on his 20.63 in his national junior championships. His personal best is 20.58, and he has also run 20.89 and 21.11. Ramil Guliyev of Azerbaijan had run 20.67 and has a best of 10.42 in the 100. Ashmeade will be doubling back here and has a best of 20.82.
This race will bring together the No. 1 and 2 Youth runners in the world. At this time Danzell Fortsen (Central, Keller,Tx.) is the only entrant, but he has been an outstanding performer this spring. He was the State 5A champion in 46.76, won the Great Southwest Invitational in 46.92 and was fourth at the Nike Outdoor Nationals (NON) in 46.89.
World leader Christopher Clarke of Britain set a personal best of 46.70 in finishing second in his national junior championships. Vladimir Krasnov of Russia, at 46.96, and Reinier Valdes of Cuba, at 47.16, should be in the medal hunt.
Three runners have been selected to run, but there is a maximum of just two entries per event. Based on his overall season performances, Dylan Ferris (East Forsyth, Kernersville, N.C.) looks to have one of the spots locked up. He won the MileStat.com Gala in Virginia in a personal best of 1:49.27, was the State 4A champion in 1:51.48. third at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 1:50.12, and fourth in the USA Jr. Nat. in 1:51.52.
The battle for the final spot is between Texans Howard Shepard (Skyline, Dallas) and Blake Shaw (Cypress Falls, Houston). Shepard defeated Shaw in the State 5A final, 1:51.31 to 1:52.44, although Shaw does have a best of 1:51.58.
Although the Kenyans have been quiet, they almost surely will be a factor regardless of who they enter. Ali Saad Al-Deraann of Saudi Arabia is the world leader at 1:48.19 and has a backup time of 1:48.5. Henok Tesfaye of Ethiopia has run 1:49.5 at altitude and Garvyn Nero of Trinidad is next at 1:50.19. Most of the time the results of this race are determined in the last 100 meters.
The United States has no entrants here and that might be a good thing. Josephat Kithii of Kenya at 3:41.5 has a five-second world lead over David Bustos of Spain at 3:46.66 and Dallas North of New Zealand at 3:46.98. Frederick Musyoki is Kenya’s second entrant at 3:48.1. Dawit Wolde of Ethiopia has a best of 3:47.2 at altitude. Six of the top seven finishers in the World Youth Championships in Morocco in 2005 were from Africa.
Again, there are no U.S. entrants. Also missing will be world leader Charles Koech of Kenya, who has run 7:55.85, but will continue to compete against older athletes. Have no fear about picking a winner. Just think Africa. Eleven of the top 12 finishers in 2005 were from Africa. However, none of them are eligible for this years meet. Ryan Gregson of Australia, at 8:15.22, and Simon Horsfield of Britain, at 8:17.04, are the next two fastest. But Horsfield, probably wisely, has opted for the 1,500 where he has run 3:50.67. Regardless of how things look now, look for the Africans to dominate.
Another event that the U.S. has no entrants and that the Africans figure to dominate. Kenya has entered Sile Koskei and Jonathan Muiya, the top two runners in the world at 5:34.0 and 5:37.6, respectively. They have “owned” this event on the world’s stage for a long period of time. Legese Lamiso of Ethiopia has run 5:55.2. All three times were run at altitude. The first non-African is Richard Everest of Australia at 5:46.55. Abdellah Dacha of Morocco has run 5:44.28, but could be looking for experience since he will be eligible for this meet in 2009.
110-Meter High Hurdles
A tough event to get a hold of since the U.S. runs 39-inch hurdles and the rest of the world runs 36-inch hurdles. A number of the Youth athletes, however, regularly run the Junior height of 39 inches. Both Wayne Davis II (Southeast, Raleigh, N.C.) and William Wynne (McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga.) should contend for medals. Davis was just fourth in the State 4A meet in a wind-aided 13.79, but came back to win the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 13.65 for a sophomore class record. Wynne won the Georgia State 4A title in 13.77 and then was third to Davis at NON in 13.76.
Running over the lower 36-inch hurdles, Daniel Martin of Australia has a best of 13.72, but is very consistent with backup marks of 13.75 and 13.79. Cordera Jenkins won for the U.S. in 2005 in 13.35.
Again, there is a hurdle height difference. The U.S. runs over 36-inch hurdles while the rest of the world’s Youth run over 33 inch hurdles. Like the 110 hurdles, this is another event where the U.S.figures to do well. William Wynne (McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga.) came from way back to win the USA Nat. Jr. title in 49.70 for the second fastest time in high school history. Reggie Wyatt (J.W. North, Riverside, Ca.), in finishing second to Wynne at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, in 50.10 to set a national sophomore class record, and now ranks eighth on the all-time high school list.
The leaders over the 33 inch hurdles are South African’s P.C. Beneke and Cornell Fredericks, at 50.74 and 50.75, respectively. Running for a country with a storied tradition in the long hurdles, the two should provide great competition for the Americans.
Swedish Medley Relay (100-200-300-400)
This could be really fast. Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the U.S. should all be in the medal hunt.
Frankie Hammond (Hallandale, Hollywood, Fl.) is the only U.S. entrant at 6-10. Hammond was second in the State 3A meet at 6-8 and had four meets at 6-8 this spring with a best of 6-10. Although 25 jumpers have marks better than Hammond, keep in mind that 6-6 advanced to the finals in Morocco in 2005.
China has two jumpers at 7-2 ½--Zhaobing Qu and Chen Wang—but they do not always send their best athletes abroad. Sergey Mudrov of Russia has also done 7-2 ½, but the most consistent jumper has been Miguel Angel of Spain with a best of 7-2 ¼.
The leading jumper in the world is a familiar name to DyeStatCal.com viewers. Nico Weiler (Los Gatos, Ca.) was a foreign exchange student in the U.S. this past year and his 17-6 ¼ in the Central Coast Section semifinals is the leading Youth mark in the world.
There are no U.S. entrants this year but maybe there should be. Cory Shank (Northrop, Ft. Wayne, In.), who was a 15-10 vaulter in 2006, had a severe back injury during the summer and was unable to participate in any one of the three youth national meets. Because he was unable to compete, he could not be considered for the 2007 World Youth Championships. That is truly unfortunate, not only for him but for the U.S. Shank this year has won his state meet at 17-0 for the second best Youth mark in the world this year. He also had marks of 16-7, 16-9 and 16-0. Absent Shank, Yuu Miura of Japan, Dmitriy of Russia, Bo Zhou of China and Shota Doi of Japan are all over 16-4 ¾.
Two years ago in Morocco it took 22-11 ¾ to make the final and, by that measure, the two U.S. entrants stand a fair chance to making the top 12. Christian Taylor (Sandy Creek, Tyrone, Ga.), was the State 3A champion at 23-4 ¾, and had a best of 23-8 ¾ earlier in the year, and Bruce Lamb (Chandler, Az.) had a best of 23-6 ¼.
Daisuke Yoshiyama of Japan is the world youth leader at 25-2 ¾, followed by Tarik Batchelor of Jamaica, the Penn Relays champion at 24-11 ¾, who also has a backup mark of 24-10 ½.
Christian Taylor (Sandy Creek, Tyrone, Ga.) and Bruce Lamb (Chandler, Az.) are also entered in the triple jump. Qualifying for the final here might be a little more difficult since it took 51-0 to make the final. Taylor was the State 3A champion at 49-11 ¼ and was fourth in the USA Jr. Nat. meet at 49-7 ¼. Lamb was the State 5A-I champ at 49-0 and has a best of 49-7.
Way out in front on the world scene is Ernesto Kindelan of Cuba at 51-11 ¾. Next in line are Gennady Chudubiv if Russia at 50-8 ½, Anvar Zeynaizade of Azerbaijan at 50-7 ¼ and Trevor Okoroafor of Britain at 50-5 ¼.
Another event where there is a difference between the U.S. and the world. The high schoolers use a 12-pound weight while the rest of the world uses a 5-kilo weight (just over 11 pounds). Cameron Tabor (Norman, Ok.) stands the best U.S. chance of advancing to the finals. He was the State 6A champion at 63-1 ½ and won at the Great Southwest at 61-5. He was third at the Golden West at 61-4 ¼. Michael Barbas (Jersey Village, Houston, Tx.) was third in the State 5A meet at 57-3 ¾ and has a best of 59-2.
Mykyta Nesterenko of Russia and Marin Premeru of Croatia, are solid favorites to finish one-two but not necessary in that order. Mesterenko, in his secondary event, has a best of 70-0 ½ with the lighter shot and Premeru has done 69-8 ¾. Two years ago 60-0 made the finals.
Yet again another event where there is a weight difference. The U.S. kids throw a 1.62-kilo discus while the rest of the world is throwing a lighter 1.5-kilo platter. Both Cameron Tabor (Norman, Ok.) and Michael Barbas (Jersey Village, Houston, Tx.) are entered. Tabor has thrown a personal best of 186-10 in winning the State 6A title and Barbas was third in the State 5A meet at 173-3.
Mykyta Nestorenko of Russia is not only the world leader at 236-0, but also the world Youth record holder with that mark. A good bet for second is Gordon Wolf of Germany with a best of 222-7. Marin Premeru of Croatia is a distant third at 203-1.
Can an American get on the podium in the hammer???? It could happen. Conor McCullough (Chaminade, West Hills, Ca.) has been taking down the records of Walter Henning and, based on his best of 243-11 with the heavier 12-pound high school hammer, he is in the hunt.
The rest of the world throws the 5-kilo (just over 11 pounds) and there are two monsters out there. Andriy Martynyuk of Ukraine has thrown 257-3 and Richard Olbrich of Germany has done 255-9. Reinier Mejias of Cuba is next at 247-1 and McCullough is next with a 244-2 in his only attempt with the 5-kilo ball. Martynyuk and Olbrich appear to be locks but after that it looks wide open.
There are no U.S. entrants. Tuomas Laaksonen of Finland at 257-11 and Kuan-Lun Chen of Taiwan at 253-4 are the comfortable leaders, at least as comfortable as you can be in this most unpredictable of events. Kirill Kadukov of Russia is next at 245-4 and Hamish Peacock of Australia is next at 244-8.
That’s eight events instead of ten. Curtis Beach (Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, N.M.) set a national freshman record of 5,989 in the decathlon last year and, based on a few of his individual marks, he should contend for a top six finish. Given the lack of competition, and the different weight and distances (1,000 meters vs. 1,500), judging this event is very difficult.
100 and 200 Meters
Right now, Erica Alexander (Clear Brook, Friendswood, Tx.) and Ashton Purvis (St. Elizabeth, Oakland, Ca.) are entered in both the 100 and the 200. However the schedule has been expanded since 2005 and, as a result, when you ask an athlete to double he or she will run seven races in five days. That is quite a physical as well as mental load. Alexander did not run the 100 in her state meet, but had a best of 11.63 wind-aided and 11.77 legal. In the 200, Alexander was the state 5A champion at 24.12 and has a best of 23.86.
Purvis was second in the California State meet 100 in 11.41, and the 200 in a wind-aided 23.24. She was sixth in the USA Jr. Nationals at 11.61 and fifth in the 200 at a wind-aided 23.37. Her legal best in the 200 is 23.50.
Waiting in the wings is Chalonda Goodman (Newnan, Ga.), who is listed as a relay team member. Goodman defeated a number of quality sprinters at the Nike Outdoor Nationals taking the 100 in 11.58 and the 200 in 23.42. The latter time is the fastest Youth time in the world this year.
Regardless of who runs, there is plenty of competition from around the world, especially in the 100. Asha Philip of Britain is the world Youth leader with her 11.37 run at their national junior championships. Close behind was Ashlee Nelson at 11.56. This past weekend, the Brazilians went nuts at the Pan American Junior Championships in Brazil. Rosangela Santos was second in 11.44 and Barbara Leoncio was fourth at 11.52. Both will be in Ostrava. Traditional power Jamaica will be led by Jura Levy at 11.64 and Gayon Evans at 11.65. Laura Turner of Australia has run 11.47.
In the 200 Racheal Nachula of Zambia is co-world leader with Goodman at 23.42 and has also run 23.45. Nivea Smith of Bahamas has also run 23.45. Barbara Leoncio of Brazil will double back here and has a best of 23.62.
The mystery about who would run the 400 for the US – three had been listed – has been solved as 53.62-runner Turquoise Thompson (Poly, Long Beach, Ca.) will not travel because of a late May injury that apparently has not healed. The other two runners, Meshawn Graham (Bowsher, Toledo, Oh.) and Brianna Frazier (Raines, Jacksonville, Fl.), will thus make up the team. Graham has been running behind national leader Jessica Beard all year, but the results have been excellent including a second place finish to Beard in the Ohio State meet in 52.51 to make her the second best Youth runner in the world. Frazier was the Florida State 2A champion with a personal best of 54.62.
Folashade Abugan of Nigeria is the dominant figure on the world stage. She has the top five times with a best of 51.49. Racheal Nachula of Zambia will come back here and has a best of 52.99. Latoya McDermott leads Jamaica with a 53.48.
Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.) is the world youth leader with three times at 2:03.0 or faster and a best of 2:02.38. She finished seventh in the Senior Nationals with that time. Price is looking to become the first U.S. runner to make a world Youth final and medal in the 800. A lot will depend on how the rest of the field can handle an opening 57.0 quarter, which would appear to be Price’s best chance to succeed. Also entered for the U.S. is Blaire Dinsdale (North Tama, Traer, Ia.), who has a best of 2:08.05 in finishing fifth at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Elena Lavric of Romania at 2:03.78 and Alison Leonard of Britain, at 2:04.86 are the only other runners under 2:05.0. Kenya has entered Winny Chebet and Fancy Cherotich. Chebet has run just 2:07.7 this year but was second in Morocco in 2:08.15.
Jordan Hasay (Mission College Prep, San Luis Obispo,Ca.) was added to the event after her stunning 4:16.98 win at the USA Jr. Nat. meet, but apparently has chosen to do just the 3000. A double is basically impossible because of the schedule that has the prelims for the 1500 and final of the 3k both on Wednesday evening. That leaves no American entries in the event.
Meanwhile, Sheila Chepkurui of Kenya is back to defend her title, which she won with a time of 4:12.29 in 2005. The Ethiopian duo of Emebt Etea, at 4:08.50, and Utura Suleh, at 4:13.42, are sure to be in the mix. Quizi Xu, at 4:18.52, and Linlin Cong, at 4:18.98, have been sharp of late for China.
As always, this will be a straight final. Hasay, who has chosen this event over the 1500, is the first U.S. runner to be in the final since qualifying standards were established. To finish in the top six it has been necessary to run between 9:20.0 and 9:25.0. That would seem to be within Hasay’s range, given her best of 10:04.07 for 3,200 and her 4:16.98 for 1,500.
There are five girls from Kenya on the yearly list under 9:16.0 and none of them are on their team. It makes you wonder just how good their two runners could be. There are no times available for either runner. Japan is led by Ayaka Mori, at 9:13.7, and Risa Takenaka, at 9:14.34.
The U.S. has no entrants. First time for this event, so it should be interesting. Jessica Gifillan of Australia has the fastest yearly time at 6:33.54, with Ethiopia’s Marta Tigabea at 6:40.2 and Sarah Hopkinson of Britain at 6:41.1. Kenya has two runners entered. Caroline Tuigong and Kambua Muyanga. Times for the two were not available..
This is the only girls event where there is a difference between what the U.S. runs, 33 inch hurdles, and what the world runs, 30-inch hurdles. This is an event where the U.S. has done fairly well, but the competition looks to be a little tougher this year. Julian Purvis (St. Elizabeth, Oakland, Ca.) and Jasmine Stowers (Pendleton, S.C.) are the two U.S. entrants. Purvis has run 13.32, but it was with the maximum allowable wind at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento (think Night of Speed 1968). She has been consistent in the 13.70-13.80 range. Stowers has a best of 13.87 which she ran in April. She did run a windy 13.73 in the Golden South meet in June.
Nataly Martinez of Cuba is the world leader over the 30-inch hurdles at 13.35 and the very tough Shermaine Williams of Jamaica is next at 13.53. Williams was sixth two years ago at 13.69. Elin Westerlund of Sweden was the under-18 national champion there at 13.64 and Anna Nastusenko of Russia has run 13.65.
The U.S. ranks one-two on the yearly world Youth list and they could be tough to break up. Dalilah Muhammad (Benjamin Cardozo, Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) and Ryann Krais (Methaction, Norristown, Pa.) staged a stirring dual at the Nike Outdoor Nationals with Muhammad prevailing 57.09 to 57.26. A week later Krais improved to 57.20 in finishing second at the USA Jr. Nat.meet.
Shana-Gaye Tracey of Jamaica ranks next at 57.90. In April, Krais edged Tracey at the Penn Relays. Andreea Ionescu of Romans has run 58.15 and Magdalena Mendoza of Venezuela has a best of 59.51. Just in case Ryann Krais has a change of heart and decides to enter the heptathlon instead of the 400 hurdles, Kiani Profit (Muir, Pasadena, Ca.) is also listed in the 400 hurdles and has a best of 61.30.
Swedish Relay (100-200-300-400)
Look for a battle between the United States, Brazil and Jamaica.
There are no U.S. entrants. This is a little unusual in that there are just two athletes in the world who have jumped higher than 6-0. Kimberly Jess of Germany has three of the four best jumps in the world headed by a 6-1 ½ jump. Yekaterina Bolshakova of Russia is close at 6-1 ¼ then Aleksandrina Klimentinova of Bulgaria and Natalya Mamlina of Russia are next at 6-0. It took a jump of just 5-8 ½ to make the final in 2005.
There are again no U.S. entrants. Vicky Parnov of Australia (probably by way of Eastern Europe), the newly crowned world Youth record holder at 14-5 ¼, has the top six vaults of the year and is eight inches better than her closest competition. Parnov was fourth at 13-5 ¼ two years ago. Ekaterini Stefanidi, at 13-9¼, and Marianna Zahariadi, at 13-7¼, led the Greek onslaught. If any of the top three slip, look for Carolina Hasse of Germany, a 13-3 ½ vaulter, to take advantage.
There are no U.S. entrants. Darya Klishina of Russia leads the world Youth list at 21-3 ½ with teammate Mariya Shumilova just behind at 21-1 ½. Christina Sandu of Romania shocked Morocco two years ago with a qualifying jump of 20-9 but was not able to confirm in the final finishing 11th in 19-6. This year she has a best of 20-5½. Hitomi Nakano of Japan has done of 20-3½ and Yanmei Li of China has a best of 20-10 with a backup of 20-9.
There are no U.S. entrants. Dailenis Alcantara of Cuba is a solid favorite with a huge best of 46-7 ½ and three other meets over 45-0. Yanmei Li, at 44-6 ¼ and Huiqin Wang, at 44-8, both from China, have been hot in the month of June. The next best performer is Maja Bratkic of Slovakia and Jenny Elbe of Germany, both at 43-0 ½.
Becky O’Brien (Greely, Cumberland, Me.) has been a revelation this spring. After opening with just a fifth place finish at the Penn Relays at 43-9 ½, she has steadily improved to her personal best to 48-5 ½ in finishing second at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. A mark in the range should secure a place in the finals and a shot at finishing in the top eight.
Lijiao Gong of China is the overwhelming favorite with a best of 61-7. Gong actually has an outside chance to better 21-year old world Youth record of 62-7 ¼ set by the legendary Ilke Wyludda of East Germany in 1986. China also has the next two best putters in Meng Ziao, at 53-0 ½, and Quianquin Meng, at 52-9 ½, and will have to chose one. Aliona Hryshko of Belarus, at 51-7 ¾, and Samira Burkhardt of Germany, at 51-5 ½, are next before a two-foot gap.
Erin Pendleton (Woodmere, Elmore, Oh.) and Becky O’Brien (Greely, Cumberland, Me.) are the U.S. entrants. Erin is the younger sister of Emily Pendleton, the reining U.S. Jr. Nat. champion. Erin’s best of 154-10 came in finishing second in the State Div. III meet to Emily. O’Brien, who has just recently began to take up the event seriously, has a best of 147-5 in winning the New England Championships.
Two years ago it took just 135-8 to make the final, but it figures to be quite a bit tougher this year. Yuanyuan Jin of China is the world youth leader at 188-11 and has a sizable lead over Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who is second at 177-0. There is another gap to Jialu Wu of China, at 168-11, and Shaunagh Brown of Britain, at 167-11.
This is the lock of the meet. Bet the House. Bianca Perie of Romania was the winner two years ago in Morocco with a throw of 204-3. She’s back and she is better than ever. The world leader at 220-7, she has thrown over 204-0 in eleven mees this year. The next best thrower in the world is Yuliet Hernandez of Cuba at 203-7. Teammate Yirisleydi Ford is No. 3 on the yearly Youth list at 196-1. And yes, there were no U.S. entrants.
There were no U.S. entrants. Tazmin Brits of South Africa, at 185-6, and Dan Song of China, at 185-4, rank No. 1 and 2 in the world. Pei-Lien Chiu of Taiwan, Jucilene de Lima, of Brazil, and Carita Hinkka, of Finland are closely grouped between 175-5 and 176-6.
Ryann Krais (Methaction, Norristown, Pa.) had a choice to make and as of now it looks as if she has chosen the 400 hurdles. Had she entered the heptathlon, she would have stood an excellent chance of bettering her national junior class record of record 5,377 and had an outside chance at a place on the podium. Caroline Schafer of Germany is the world leader at 5,545, with Nikol Ogrondnikova of the Czech Republic in second at 5,478 and Anika Schultz of Germany in third at 5,451.
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