Photo by Klotz Images
Top teenagers take center stage at USATF Juniors
CLOVIS, California – Veterans Memorial Stadium is set to host yet another stellar championship meet as the 2016 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships head to Central California, June 24-26. Boasting the nation’s premier junior athletes competing for a spot on Team USA, the championship serves as the selection meet for the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, July 19-24.
Athletes ranging from ages 14-19 from around the United States are registered to compete in the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, including hundreds of collegiate and high school superstars. Fans can watch the action live daily on USATF.TV +PLUS. The broadcast will begin each day with the first scheduled running event. Live webcast and on-demand videos for all three days will only be available with a USATF.TV +PLUS subscription (sign up here).
Friday, June 24 will mark the opening day of USATF Juniors, beginning with the men’s decathlon 100 meters and long jump events, soon to be followed by a competitive first round of the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
Eight of the men’s hurdlers are entered with a mark under 14 seconds, led by Olan Cunningham III, with a time of 13.42. The first round of the 110m hurdles is slated for Friday afternoon, as finals will follow later that evening at 6:50 p.m.
Among the notable day one competitors, brothers Noah and Josephus Lyles of Alexandria, Virginia will compete in the the men’s 100m. The brothers, with Noah being the elder, are among the best high school track and field athletes in the country, collecting state and national championships in their respective events. Noah is entered as the top mark heading into the Junior Championships with a 100m time of 10.17, while Josephus closely follows with a mark of 10.51. The University of Florida commits are entered in multiple events, as Noah will also compete in the men’s 200m, while Josephus will compete in the men’s 400m on Saturday.
Also competing Friday is newly-minted USATF Athlete of the Week Sydney McLaughlin (Dunellen, New Jersey), who will take to the track in the first round of the women’s 400m hurdles at 5:45 p.m.
Lining up for the women’s 100m and 200m, high school phenom Candace Hill (Conyers, Georgia) will attempt to repeat her success at the 2015 Junior Championships, after claiming first place in both the women’s 100m and 200m finals. Hill gained honor as the youngest track and field athlete to turn profession at just age 16, due to her sustained success in her events. Hill is entered as fastest time in both the women’s 100m and 200m.
On the second day of competition, the finals for women’s long jump and men’s transpire, as Samiyah Samuels of Houston Youth Track Club and Bria Matthews compete in the long jump. Meanwhile, Jordan Geist of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, will compete in the men’s shot put. Geist is the men’s high school shot put record holder for the state of Pennsylvania, and is entered in the meet with a top mark of 74 feet 3.5 inches, the top high school mark in the U.S. this year by over three feet.
Following the finals of the women’s long jump and men’s shot put, the top junior 800m runners for the women and men will compete in succeeding events. Leading the way in the 800m are Samantha Watson and newly-minted NCAA Champion Donavan Brazier. Watson is the top women’s high schooler in the country in the 800m, while Brazier leads the men’s field after setting the NCAA and American junior records (1:43.55) at the NCAA Division I Championships on June 10.
On the third and final day of meet, the women’s pole vault features the top three women’s high school pole vaulters. Rachel Baxter of Canyon High School in Anaheim, California set the standard after clearing 14 feet, 3 inches at the OC Championships on April 23. Baxter went on to win the California State Championships with a vault of 14 feet, 2 inches just a month later. Erika Malaspina (Santa Cruz, California) and Andrea Willis (Colorado Springs, Colorado) closely follow with vaults of 13 feet, 9 inches.
The meet concludes following the men’s and women’s 200m and the men’s and women’s 1500m on Sunday. The men’s 200m features the competitive clash between Michael Norman Jr. of Vista Murrieta High School (Vista Murrieta, California) and Noah Lyles. Norman and Lyles share the ninth fastest 200m time in the U.S. this year, coming in at 20.23 earlier this year.
Veterans Memorial Stadium plays host to the 2016 USATF Junior Championships, featuring a Super X Mondo track surface along with the recently upgraded the field event and warm-up areas. Veterans Memorial Stadium boasts a stellar record for hosting spectacular events, as the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships will culminate four outstanding championship track and field competitions held at Veterans Memorial Stadium, beginning with the Mountain West Conference Championships hosted by California State University, Fresno on May 11-14, 2016; the CIF Central Section Track and Field Championship on May 21, 2016; and the CIF State High School Track and Field Championships on June 3-4, 2016.
Contributed by Andrew Eisch, USATF Communications Intern