LILLE, FRANCE – The boys’ medley relay won gold, set a World Youth Record and added the sixteenth medal to the U.S. haul at the 2011 IAAF World Championships on the last day of the July 6 – 10 competition in Lille, France.
Team USA dominated both the medal and points tables. With six gold, four silver and six bronze, the U.S. tied the best-ever medal count set at the 2009 World Youth Championships with sixteen total medals. Team USA won the placing table with 159 points and Kenya was second with 107 points.
The boys’ medley relay started off with a quick 100m leg by Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md.) who handed off to Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, Texas) for the 200m leg to set the U.S. in winning position. Najee Glass (Fords, N.J.) got the baton at the start of the 300m with only a narrow lead over Japan and increased it to at least one meter before the next exchange. Arman Hall (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) anchored the 400m leg and turned over a new gear on the last 200m to pull further away from the Japanese. Hall brought the team home in a World Youth Record time of 1:49.47.
The girls’ medley relay also medaled with a combined time of 2:03.92 to take second place. Jennifer Madu (Murphy, Texas) ran the 100m leg to hand the stick to Bealoved Brown (Desoto, Texas) who maintained the U.S.’s second place position over the 200m leg. Kendall Baisden (Franklin, Mich.) ran the 300m leg and handed off to Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.) to complete the effort. However, at the top of the curve, Reynolds stumbled when a cameraman inadvertently stepped onto the track. Reynolds was quick to recover her form and anchor the team to a silver medal.
Amy Weissenbach (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Ajee’ Wilson (Neptune, N.J.) ran side-by-side for the first lap of the girls’ 800m. With 200m left to go in the girls’ 800m, Wilson changed gears and ran to the lead with four athletes chasing close behind. Wilson kicked to the finish and opened a half second gap over the rest of the field to win the world championship title and finish in a personal best time of 2:02.64. Meanwhile, Weissenbach found herself fighting in a pack of three athletes, all trying to claim podium positions. Weissenbach finished just shy of the podium as she sprinted and collapsed on the line in fourth place in 2:03.59.
Jacob Blankenship (Buckeyelake, Ohio) won bronze in the boys’ pole vault. Blankenship sailed through his first attempts and quickly found himself in first place. However, after clearing 5.15m/16-10.75 he was unable to clear the next increase of the bar to 5.20m/17-0.75. While two other competitors advanced in competition, Blankenship was happy to medal in his first international competition.
Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md.) won a bronze medal in the boys’ 200m. Darby had the quickest start of the field and ran to first through the curve. He held his pace for third as others moved up on the straightaway. Darby crossed the line in 21.08 to secure his first medal of the world championships. Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, Texas) ran 21.36 to finish sixth.
Maddie Meyers (Seattle, Wash.) and Brianna Nerud (Glen Head, N.Y.) ran two very different races in the girls’ 2,000m steeplechase, but they finished with nearly identical marks. Meyers ran strong from the gun and ran side-by-side with a Moroccan athlete as both were challenging for fourth. On the last lap, Meyers was unable to answer as two competitors surged ahead. Meyers crossed the line in a personal best time of 6:29.20. Meanwhile, Nerud ran most of the race in ninth place, but began to quicken her pace on the last two laps and move up to seventh. Nerud kicked down the final 100m to finish less than half a second behind Meyers. Nerud crossed the line in seventh place in 6:29.56, a personal best by nine seconds.
In the boys’ 1500m final, Jacob Burcham (Barboursville, W.V.) tucked in to the chase pack and held on through the first three laps. But on the final 400m, Burcham began to kick and moved to the front of the pack. While Burcham sprinted towards the finish, he was unable to hold off a lean from James McMurry of Great Britain. Burcham took seventh to finish in a personal best of 3:46.55 to better his PR that was just set in the semifinals. During the meet, Burcham lowered his PR by a stunning eight seconds.
In the girls’ 200m final, Bealoved Brown (Desoto, Texas) was unable to duplicate the strong race she had in semifinals where she ran a personal best of 23.80. Bealoved finished in eighth place in 24.08.
Maddie Meyers – Girls’ Steeplechase “I tried to hang in there, but my legs felt like they couldn’t go. It’s a little disappointing, but I’m happy. I had two goals coming in, one to make finals, and two to PR, so I’m happy I was able to get both.”
Brianna Nerud – Girls’ Steeplechase “I was really determined not to let my nerves get to me and not worry about anything and just run. I stayed in back of pack until the second half of the race, then just went.”
Ajee’ Wilson – Girls’ 800m “I’m feeling so good and very happy. I just tried to stay relaxed and new my time would come. I’m glad my kick was enough to hold off the other girls. It is amazing, and I can only thank God.”
Amy Weissenbach – Girls’ 800m “I was a little disappointed, but I can’t be mad at myself. In the last 200 and 100, I gave it all I had. I don’t have any regrets about this race, and I did my best. But it is a little disappointing that it wasn’t there today. I’ll look to next you to try to PR.”
Ronald Darby – Boys’ 200m “I wish I would have done better. I placed and I’ve had fun running out here. To help out the U.S. medal count – I’m happy.”
Jacob Burcham – Boys’ 1500m “I just tried to stay in the pack and kick at the end. I had been waiting to kick for the whole race. My only plan was to go out and race them. Seventh is great – I’m happy with it!
Jacob Blankenship – Boys’ Pole Vault “ It went pretty well. I could have probably made a few adjustments on the last few jumps, but I just went with what I knew. I was still excited to get third place.”
Kendall Baisden – Girls’ Medley Relay “I was just trying to get us in a good position. It feels good to bring a medal home on my first international trip.”
Robin Reynolds – Girls’ Medley Relay “The race was going by so quick, the cameraman was just an obstacle in my path. It threw me off a little, but I got right back.”
Arman Hall - Boys’ Medley Relay “I’m tired. I’ve done a lot. But I’m happy we did what we wanted. We’re all happy right now!”
Najee Glass – Boys’ Medley Relay “We knew we were going to win it if we were focused and had clean handoffs.”
For complete results, visit the event page at www.usatf