World Youth champion Trinity Wilson and record-setting racewalkers Trevor Barron and Tyler Sorensen lead a squad of more than 70 Team USA athletes ages 16-19 for the 16th Pan American Junior Championships July 22-24 at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Florida.
The U.S. team will be looking to repeat the dominant performances that reaped an average of more than 50 medals at each of the past four editions of the meet. Nations from across the Americas and the Caribbean will compete at one of the top facilities in the United States, the third time the state of Florida has hosted the Championships.
Wilson, the California state champion in the 100 hurdles, won the World Youth title in that event two weeks ago at Lille, France, zipping to a 13.11. Team USA athletes have won the 100H 10 times at this meet, including victories by future Olympic champions Joanna Hayes (1995) and Dawn Harper (2003). She will have plenty of competition from teammate Bridgette Owens-Mitchell of Clemson, who leads the 2011 world junior list at 13.08.
Barron and Sorensen have been the faces of a youth movement in walking that has given the U.S. renewed hope in a discipline that it has struggled at over the years internationally. In Eugene, Barron won his first national 20K senior title with an American Junior record 1:23:26, and he was seventh at the World Junior Championships last year in Canada with a 41:50.29 for 10K, also setting an AJR. At the World Youth Championships on July 9, Sorensen smashed that AJR with a 41:23.14 to place fifth.
Texan Shelbi Vaughan won bronze in the women's discus at the World Youth meet and will be favored to improve on that medal in Miramar. Pending AJR holder Shelby Ashe will be in the hunt for gold in the hammer, and another strong throws tandem stands ready in the javelin, where high schoolers Avione Allgood and Hannah Carson have both surpassed 170-0. Allgood was fourth in the senior national meet with a prep record 53.85/176-8, but she was second to Carson in the junior competition.
A pair of national record holders will carry U.S. hopes in the decathlon, with AJR-setting Kevin Lazas of the University of Arkansas and Oklahoma high schooler Gunnar Nixon topping the entries. Lazas cracked the 8,000-point barrier in Eugene to win the U.S. Junior gold, and Nixon set national prep records this year as he became the first prep to score more than 8,000 points with his 8,035 at the Great Southwest Classic at Albuquerque in June.
Local fans will have multiple reasons to cheer on Team USA. Florida high schooler Marvin Bracy won the Junior national 100 with a wind-aided 10.05, one of the fastest times ever by a prep, and he will be joined on the track by University of Florida hurdler Eddie Lovett, who will be a favorite in the 110H after winning the U.S. crown with a speedy 13.33.
Roy Smith of North Carolina, who prepped at Plantation, Fla., will also be in the 110H, while triple jumpers Donald Scott of Eastern Michigan and Phillip Young of Florida State are also products of the Sunshine State. For the women, 2009 World Youth 400 champion Ebony Eutsey of Florida attended high school in Miami and will be among the medal hopefuls in the one-lapper and on the 4x400 relay.
USC's Josh Mance is ranked second in the world in the 400 with a best of 45.29, and finished sixth at the NCAA Championships before capturing U.S. Junior gold in Eugene. He was fifth at the World Junior meet last year and won silver at the '09 World Youth Championships.
Other top-rated Team USA men include: --Maalik Reynolds of Penn, who is ranked third in the world in the high jump and is the leading entrant here with a best of 2.28/7-5.75. --Hammer thrower Alec Faldermeyer of UCLA has the fifth best throw in the world this year and will be looking to improve on a sixth-place effort at the '09 World Youth meet. --Parker Stinson of Oregon, who went to high school in Texas, was sixth in the 10,000 at the World Junior Championships last summer and has dropped his PR to 29:14.35 this year.
NCAA third-placer Shanay Briscoe of Texas won the Junior national high jump title with a personal-best 1.88/6-2 and could challenge the meet record of 1.90 set in 1991. Another NCAA third-placer, Big 12 400 champion Diamond Dixon of Kansas gives Team USA a shot at gold with her 51.55 PR, the fastest junior time in the world in 2011.
Additional women's gold medal hopefuls include: --Louisiana high school pole vaulter Morgan, who holds the national prep record at 4.34/14-2.75, four centimeters better than the PAJ meet record. --Jessica Davis of USC, the second-ranked 200 runner in the world and the fastest entrant here with a 22.84 that gave her the Pac-10 title in May. --Heptathlete Allison Reaser, the Mountain West champion for San Diego State with a PR of 5,408.