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Hill and O’Keeffe set meet records, Lyles wins big on first day of USATF Juniors

6/24/2016
 

CLOVIS, California -- The temps were warm but the times were hotter as two championship records were registered and 12 champions were crowned on day one of the 2016 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium.


Two-time World Youth champion and the American junior record holder, Candace Hill (Conyers, Georgia) blew away the field in the women’s 100 meters, taking her first USATF Junior Championships title in 11.24.


“It wasn’t the best race for me but I’m pleased. It feels amazing, I came out here, this was my goal [to qualify for the World Junior Championships] and make the team in the 100.”


In the prelims, it was more of the same, with Hill comfortably turning in the top qualifying time of 11.09 out of heat 1 for the fastest U20 100m time in the world this year and a USATF Junior Championships record. Hill will shift her focus to the 200m prelims to begin Saturday at 6:35 p.m. PT.


It wasn’t until late on Friday, when Fiona O’Keeffe (Davis, California) set the second meet record of the day, winning the women’s 5000m with a time of 15:56.84, beating the previous record of 16:10.60 (Caitlin Chock, 2004) by nearly 15 seconds.


“It was a great meet. I’ve made a lot of really great memories. I wasn’t sure [making my final move] at first, but I tried to stay close and focus on the last 200 meters.”


O’Keeffe bided her time in the 5,000m, letting Anna Rohrer (Mishawaka, Indiana) take the lead until the bell lap. With 150 meters to go and Rohrer running out of steam, O’Keeffe took advantage and shifted into another gear. O’Keeffe edged Rohrer in the final 100 meters to take her first USATF title.


Noah Lyles (Alexandria, Virginia) was nothing short of impressive in the men’s 100m, prevailing in the finals of the men’s 100m to punch his ticket to Poland. Getting a rapid start out of the blocks and swift stride down the backstretch of the track, Lyles bested Big 10 100m champion Nick Gray (Pickerington, Ohio), with a wind-aided time of 10.08 (+2.2) to Gray’s 10.32. Earlier in the day, Lyles turned in a wind-legal time of 10.20 to advance out of Friday’s 100m prelims.


“It felt pretty nice; this is my first time in three weeks getting back to racing, so I’m just trying to get race sharp and everything,” Lyles said after winning the men’s 100m. “I definitely wanted to run within 9 [seconds] today. It didn’t happen, but that’s alright. I’m still excited about my time.”

 

Cale Wagner (Seward, Nebraska) of the University of Nebraska, set the pace for the men’s decathlon, setting four personal records in his five events of the day, and is currently leading the men’s decathlon heading into the second half of events on Saturday.


Wagner began the day by winning the 100m, setting a personal best of 10.67. Wagner continued his success, later setting personal records in the long jump (7.43m), shot put (13.56m), and high jump (2.00m). The 400 meters was the only decathlon event Wagner did not set a personal best, despite his victory in the event.


“I’ve been talking with my coach and it’s Poland or bust. We want the Junior National Championship, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen,” Wagner said. On Saturday, Wagner will have the opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships, with only the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m decathlon events remaining.


Following her record-breaking performance at the New Balance Nationals last week, 400m hurdler Sydney McLaughlin (Dunellen, New Jersey) came into the meet with the intent to win her heat and qualify for the 400m hurdle finals on Saturday.


‘My race overall was pretty solid, my goal was just to get through 8 hurdles with my right leg and cruise the rest of it, so I think I did that well,” McLaughlin said of her preliminary performance. “My goal was to just to win the heat. I feel good and ready for tomorrow.”


Alex Rogers (New Braunfels, Texas), a freshman at the University of Texas, punched his ticket to Poland with a 15 second PB in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Rogers ran with the pack for much of the race and made his move with 400m to go. Down the straightaway, Rogers kicked from his competitors to edge the chase pack and take the title in 8:56.03.


For full results, please visit USATF.org. Fans can follow along with the USATF Junior Championships on social media by using #USATFjrs on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


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).


Quotes

 

Christopher Nielson – pole vault champion

 

“One of the biggest things in pole vault is to stay consistent. This is my sixth time over 18 feet in a meet, so I’m happy to represent myself and stay consistent.”


Noah Lyles – 100 meters champion

 

“It felt pretty nice, this is my first time in three weeks getting back to racing, so I’m just trying to get race sharp and everything. I definitely wanted to run a 9 [seconds] today, it didn’t happen, but that’s alright. I’m still excited about my time.”

 

“I definitely had way more power coming out in finals, and I felt really good in the race.”

 

Alex Rogers – 3000m steeplechase champion

 

“It was a good time to do it coming out with a good competition I was really excited to come out here and represent Texas.”

 

“It was a great opportunity to come out and run.”

 

Marcus Krah – 110m hurdles champion

 

“I definitely had more, and I kept telling myself to just push.”

 

“It felt really good, I’m just siked that I ran 13.25, but my form going over, my start, my finish, my quickness over the hurdles, just felt great.”

 

Alexa Efraimson – 1500 meters

 

“No U.S. girl has ever medaled in the 1500 at World Juniors, so I think I have a good opportunity. I’m really excited to represent the U.S. the best I can.”

 

Cale Wagner – decathlon

 

“It feels great [to get 4 PRs]. I’m glad I’m able to come out here and compete with all these guys. If I do what I need to do I should have a great day [tomorrow].”

 

“I’ve been talking with my coach and it’s Poland or bust. We want the Junior National Championship, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”

 

Sydney McLaughlin – 400 meter hurdles

 

It was good to come out here and shake off all of the rust. My race overall was pretty solid, my goal was just to get through 8 hurdles with my right leg and cruise the rest of it, so I think I did that well.”

 

“Regardless of if I make the finals or not, regardless of if I make the team, it’s the experience of coming out here and getting to race with some fast girls.”

 

“I think with 20 meters, I kind of shut it down. My goal was to just to win the heat. I feel good and ready for tomorrow.”

 

Carlton Orange – men’s 800 meters

 

“I just kind of went with my regular strategy and came out with a win. I am kind of sad Donavan [Brazier] wasn’t in there because I know he would’ve pushed me to a good time. I’m not that guy that’s scared to run, I would go with him.”


“Tomorrow I’m going to just go out there and run like I’ve been doing all year. I just want to wear that USA on my chest.”

 

Aaliyah Miller – women’s 800 meters

 

“I feel really good, I really wanted to run fast and in these running conditions I knew that I was ready.”

 

“I just wanted to run a smart race and I wanted to make sure I had a little left at the end in case it came down to the wire, and it really did come down all the way to it, so it was a good race.”

 

Ja’bari Ward - long jump champion


“[I] can’t wait to double tomorrow. All I’ve got to do is jump like I did today and I’ll be ready for Poland.”


Thomas Pollard - men’s 10,000 champion


“It was a great group of guys. I had no idea what to expect coming in, but I had a great race. I knew it was a close one, but I knew there was no way I wouldn’t win.”


Contributed by Andrew Eisch, USATF Communications

 


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