Pendleton silver, Nolan bronze pace Team USA on day four of IAAF World Junior Championships
MONCTON, CANADA - Michigan's Erin Pendleton had the best series of her life Thursday on the way to a sliver medal in the discus at the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships, and Houston's Errol Nolan added to Team USA's medal count with a bronze in the men's 400.
Pendleton came into the competition ranked third, but she uncorked a 53.57 on her first attempt to take the early lead. Cuba's Yaime Perez moved into the top spot in round three with a toss of 56.01, and Yuliya Kurylo of Ukraine passed Pendleton in the fourth round. In round five, Pendleton had an excellent 54.15 to take back second, and she solidified her hold on the silver with a 54.96 last attempt.
I had a really good series, the best of my season, Pendleton said. The wind was pretty good out there, and I wanted to make sure to get a good one early. After I did, I just went from there and my last was my best. I was here to do my best and I just stayed focused on my throws all the way.
Nolan, who received a yellow warning card for moving in his blocks before the set command, was running in lane eight and had to make a late charge to finish in the medals at 46.36. It was a blind race all the way, Nolan said. I saw Kirani [James] at the 230-meter point, and then saw some others near me. I wanted to win a medal and didn't want to go home empty-handed, so I just kept pushing. California high schooler Joshua Mance, the 2009 World Youth silver medalist, ended up fifth at 46.84.
In the women's 400 final, Stacey-Ann Smith of Texas also started in lane eight, and after blasting around the first turn, she came back to the field before making a strong run in to take fourth at 53.42. Regina George of Arkansas was seventh at 53.83. I decided to go out as hard as I could, Smith said. I slowed a little on the second curve, and on the run in I just gave it all I had to get back into the mix. It has been a very long and tiring season, but now I want that gold in the 4x400.
New Jersey prep Ajee Wilson produced a lifetime best of 2:04.18 to take fifth in the women's 800, leading the race at 200 (27.69) before passing the 400 mark at 58.5 in fifth. After a 1:32.5 at 600, Wilson closed well as she improved greatly on her pre-meet ranking. I wanted to stay close so I could be in it at the end, Wilson said. I may have gone out too fast, so I backed off after the first lap. My legs didn't feel as good as I hoped, and I may have done better with a slower first part. This was my first meet ever where everyone is at a very high level.
Evonne Britton of Penn State, who earlier in the day advanced to the semifinals of the 400 hurdles, came back to place sixth in the 100 hurdles in 13.50. I had a bad start, a very bad start, and it was just disappointing, Britton said.
In other field event finals, Los Angeles Valley College pole vaulter Kyle Ballew cleared 5.00-meters on his first attempt, but went out after three misses at 5.10 and ended up in a tie for seventh with Vitaliy Tsepilov of Ukraine. Triple jumper Andrea Geubelle of Kansas placed ninth with a 12.87 leap.
The women's 3000 steeplechase promised to be a bright spot for Team USA before a pile-up at the first water jump put paid to any medal or PR hopes for Shelby Greany of Providence and Colorado high schooler Eleanor Fulton. Both runners were in good position and running comfortably when an Ethiopian runner fell into the water jump and caused Greany, Fulton and several others to go down in the deep, cold water. The two U.S. runners never quite recovered, as Greany ended up 10th in 10:27.33 and Fulton 12th.
The Ethiopian girl went down in front of me and I belly-flopped on her, Greany said. Then someone fell on me, and I don't really remember what happened right after that. I felt great running before that happened, but I don't know, I might even have screamed right after that pile-up. In the NCAA's, everyone hurdles pretty well. Here, a lot of them just run really fast between the hurdles and then jump over and kick your butt.
Fulton may have had the worst of it when she cleared the barrier and came down awkwardly, stepping on the pile of runners and tweaking her ankle. She gamely continued to run and made up a lot of ground on the way to a 10:47.72.
After the first four events of the women's heptathlon, Iowa high schooler Alex Gochenour had a sunny and positive outlook despite the relatively miserable conditions throughout the day, standing a very surprising third on the points table with 3,294.
There was a great atmosphere here today, Gochenour said. I am really pushing myself to be in the top 10, and I had a good day. I love competing in weather like this. I probably could have done better in the high jump if conditions were better, but I finally went sub-14.0 in the hurdles and had a heptathlon PR in the shot put. My 200 was close to my PR too. I can't wait for the second day because I love throwing the javelin. My dream has always been to wear the USA uniform, ever since I started doing track when I was nine.
California high schooler Ashley Smith was not so positive about the wet and cold after finishing the first day in 10th place with 3,182. I have never ever competed or practiced in conditions like this. My high jump was really bad and even though I PR'ed in the shot, I was not that happy with my 200 time.Semifinals in the men's and women's 200 produced contrasting results.
Stormy Kendrick of Clemson ran a PR 23.28 to win heat three, and California high schooler Ashton Purvis was third in heat one at 23.48 as both advanced to the women's final, but the U.S. men did not move on. Kansas high schooler Oliver Bradwell lost out on a photofinish for second in heat one, ending up third at 21.12, while Eric Harris of Georgia had a disappointing race in heat three to end up fifth at 21.23.
Day five competition gets under way Friday at 9 am with heats in the women's 1500.
For more information on the IAAF World Junior Championships, visit www.usatf.org.