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U.S. Junior Championships Set the Stage for IAAF World Junior Championships
By Steve Ritchie
July 6, 2014

Arianna Washington, IAAF World Junior Championships, University of Oregon

Eugene, OR – I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the U.S. Junior Championships this weekend. Held at Hayward Field on July 5-6, the meet was not only a national championship meet, but was also the selection method for the World Junior Championships, which will also be held at Hayward Field in just over two weeks time on July 22-27.

With the indoor and outdoor collegiate and high school seasons having run their course over the past six months or so, I wasn’t sure how much these young athletes would have left in the tank as we move into July. And, even with free admission, how many people would come out to watch the meet, given this was a holiday weekend with lots of other options for their free time?

But I was pleasantly surprised with the fan turnout and the meet atmosphere over the two days. The west grandstand at Hayward, while not packed, was maybe half full (they couldn’t all be parents right?) and the crowd was definitely into the action on the track and in the field.

Nate Moore, University of Oregon

Even more impressive was the overall quality of the meet. There were so many outstanding record performances it is hard to pick out just a few highlights. One had to be Florida high school sophomore Kaylin Whitney winning the women’s 100 meters and setting a national high school record time of 11.10. The 15-year-old backed that up with a 22.49 wind-legal time to win the 200.

The University of Georgia’s Kendall Williams ran 12.87 in the 100 meter hurdles, a new American junior record and a time that is the second-fastest ever run by a junior from any country. Trentavis Friday, from a 1A high school in North Carolina, blazed to a new U.S. high school record of 10.00 in the 100 prelims, and, after false- starting in the 100 finals, ran a windy 20.03 to win the 200 on Saturday. The latter time, by the way, is the fastest time ever for a high schooler, but won’t count in the record book because the wind was .3 meters per second over the allowable. Despite their youth, Friday and Whitney look like they could each turn pro tomorrow and compete at the highest level (Just to set the record straight, I hope they don’t.)

Then there was crowd favorite Mary Cain, a seasoned professional distance runner but still just 18 years of age, easily winning the 3000 meters in workmanlike fashion with a time of 9:15.81. Cain confirmed after the race that she will, indeed, compete in the World Junior Championships and expects a stiff challenge from the top African runners. However, Cain said that her training is still geared to peak her for the top European meets – possibly Stockholm and/or Zurich – in mid to late August.

Raevyn Rogers, University of Oregon

It was also a good meet for current and future Ducks. Incoming freshman Raevyn Rogers from Texas won the women’s 800 in 2:04.40, and looked like an immediate replacement for departing Laura Roesler. Sprinter Arianna Washington, another UO recruit, squeaked out a second-place finish to Whitney in the 100 by .01 seconds. Her 11.30 in the 100 finals secured her place on the US team for the Worlds.

Rogers and Washington are both already enrolled at Oregon, having started summer classes on June 23 rd. Rogers said her early arrival at the UO was helpful to her success at this meet.

“Coming to school early (allowed) me to do some heavy workouts on the track and that helped me a lot . . . being in this part of the country the air is different than in Houston where it is humid and hot. I was able to get my breathing right in this type of weather and that helped a lot.”

Cole Walsh, University of Oregon

Two more likely UO stars in the future are Cole Walsh, a vaulter who redshirted the 2014 outdoor season as an Oregon freshman, and Nate Moore, a jumper from Castro Valley HS (CA) who will enroll at UO this fall. Walsh and Moore both came up with huge personal records at the US Juniors, and both were event winners, Walsh in the pole vault and Moore in the triple jump after taking fourth in the long jump. However, it appears that only Walsh will be going to the World Juniors, since Moore’s winning jump was wind-aided and he does not have a wind-legal jump this season that meets the qualifying standard for the world meet.

That is a shame and it is one of the hard realities of track and field. Moore got off the triple jump of his young life – 53-7 – a 2’+ personal best. Although it was wind-aided, it still brought him the victory and the national junior championship. But it doesn’t get him through to the World Juniors. It’s understandable, and makes sense within the rules and the need for comparable marks, but still somehow just seems unfair to the athlete.

The women’s 1500 featured a pair of high school wunderkinds, Alexa Efraimson, a junior from Camas, Washington and Elise Cranny from Colorado. Efraimson is the second fastest high school girl ever at the distance, with her PR of 4:07 behind only Mary Cain. Cranny, who is headed to Stanford, is number three all-time. After a slow early pace, the pair separated themselves from the field at the start of the bell lap. Cranny came up on Efraimson on the backstretch, but Efraimson held her off and then pulled away on the homestretch to win convincingly in 4:16.87. Efraimson, who ran in the senior nationals in Sacramento last weekend, showed her strength with her 61 second last lap. Both Cranny and Efraimson will be on the US team for Worlds.

Watching this meet unfold with such impressive young talent now has me really fired up for the World Junior Championships. Take the top US talent and add in the top under 20 performers from around the world – it is going to be a special meet!

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