Junior athletes meet in Columbus

INDANAPOLIS - Track and field's next generation of elite athletes will meet on June 20-22 at the 2008 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Columbus, Ohio. Athletes will be competing for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in July.

The meet will be held at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State University. The top two finishers in each event will compete in Poland, provided that they have met the qualifying standard.

Stars on the rise

2007 World Youth champion William Wynne is back in the men's 400-meter hurdles and will look to win his second consecutive U.S. title. He will face stiff competition from 2007 U.S. Junior runner-up and South Carolina standout Johnny Dutch. Dutch owns the seventh fastest time in the world so far this year among all men in the 400m hurdles.

2007 World Youth silver medalist and reigning U.S. Junior 1,500m champion Jordan Hasay will be competing in her specialty in Columbus as well. Hasay last year won in 4 minutes 16.98 seconds, claiming her victory with an almost 4-second lead in front of the second place finisher.

2007 Pan Am Junior bronze medalist Jessica Beard also looks to retain her national crown in the women's 400m. Beard also was a member of the 2006 U.S. World Junior team, where she took fifth in the 400m in 52.51, and was a member of Team USA's 4x400m gold medal-winning relay.

Victoria Jordan, a four-time champion at the 2007 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships, is scheduled to run the women's 100 and 200 meters this weekend. Her main challenger looks to be Baylor standout Tiffany Townsend.

American Junior record holder Walter Henning, who holds both the Junior Pan Am and U.S. Junior Championship crowns in the hammer throw, will be fighting to keep his title this weekend. Last year, Henning threw 73.59meters/241 feet 5 inches at the U.S. Junior Outdoor Championships and won the Junior Pan Am Games with a throw of 69.89m/222-3.

Wonder twins Roberto and Ricardo Vergara are both entered in the men's 10,000m race walk. The 2007 U.S. Junior champion, Roberto will try to hold off his brother to win his second national junior title.

Reigning Pan Am Junior champions Jamesha Youngblood and Emily Pendleton will look to defend their U.S. Junior titles as well. Youngblood, a long jumper, flew 6.40m/21-0 at the Junior Pan Am Games last year and will compete in both the long and triple jumps this weekend. The 2007 Female Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Pendleton, who threw the discus 49.09m/161-0 at the Junior Pan Am Games, will compete in the discus throw again this year.

Reigning U.S. Junior steeplechase champion Ryan McDermott will also be on hand to defend his title. McDermott won last year with a time of 9 minutes 8.47 seconds and finished fifth at the Junior Pan Am Championships in 9:22.65.

Junior Pan Am bronze medalists Emily Sisson and Marissa Tschida also will be defending their U.S. Junior championships this weekend. A middle distance runner, Sisson will compete again in the 5,000m. Her time of 17:47.81 earned her a third place finish at the 2007 Junior Pan Am Games. Tschida, who competes in the javelin throw, placed third at Junior Pan Ams with a 44.82m/147-0 throw.

For more information on USA Track & Field or the 2008 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships, visit www.usatf.org.