MONCTON, CANADA -- Miserable conditions with heavy rain and gusty winds marred the morning session Thursday on day four of the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships. That didn't keep one Team USA athlete from excelling, though.
Iowa high schooler Alex Gochenour set a lifetime best in the 100 hurdles to open the heptathlon competition, ripping to a 13.97 for the second-fastest time overall. "I am freaking stoked," Gochenour said. "I love these conditions. I wrote on the back of my shoes 'bring the rain' and I am so happy with my first event."
Both U.S. runners advanced to the final of the women's 400 hurdles, led by Penn State's Evonne Britton, who ran 59.62 to take second and nab an auto qualifying spot. Baylor's Christina Holland ran a bit quicker in heat three at 59.11 and took third, advancing as a time qualifier.
Britton, who also qualified for the final of the 100 hurdles, said, "You can't let the conditions bother you. All the rain does is makes you get wet. I went out harder than usual to make sure I was in contention. My main goal was just to make the final."
Holland said, "I was trying to relax because I was a bit nervous. I am a good finisher so I knew I could stay near without having to go out too hard. The rain was really making me blink a lot."
All four Team USA entrants in the 200 advanced to the semifinals, with Clemson's aptly named Stormy Kendrick clocking the third-fastest women's time at 23.75 to win heat two. California high schooler Ashton Purvis, who was fourth in the 100 last night, also moved on with a 24.26 to take third in heat three. Kendrick said, "The rain doesn't affect me at all. I worked on running the curve, running really smart, and relaxing down the stretch."
Eric Harris of Georgia was an auto qualifier after finishing second in the first men's heat at 21.22, while Kansas high schooler Oliver Bradwell was a time qualifier at 21.42 in heat five.
Stanford long jumper Karyn Dunn survived brutal conditions to qualify for the final with a 5.85 leap, but Andrea Geubelle of Kansas, who will compete in the triple jump final tonight, failed to advance with her 5.71 effort. The best mark overall was only 6.07, by Chantel Malone of the Virgin Islands.
Three other Team USA athletes didn't fare as well as hoped. Texas prep Sheroid Evans had a tough time in the men's 400 hurdles, clocking 53.03 to finish sixth in his heat and fail to advance. Hammer throwers Shelby Ashe, the Georgia high schooler who is the American Junior record holder, and Lauren Chambers of USC both struggled and did not advance. Ashe managed a 50.59 throw, and Chambers hit 46.02.
The women's pole vault qualifying round was postponed to Friday morning, and the men's javelin qualifying will be held later today if conditions permit.
For more information on the IAAF World Junior Championships, visit www.usatf.org.