– Team USA ordered one gold, one silver, and one bronze on day two of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Historic Olympic Stadium was the stage for team co-caption Gunnar Nixon (Edmond, Okla.) to bring home the gold in the men’s decathlon, scoring a new American Junior Record of 8,018 points. Aaron Ernest (New Orleans, La.) grabbed silver in the men’s 100 and Jarrion Lawson (Texarkana, Texas) claimed bronze in the men’s long jump in what was a very productive day for the U.S. squad.
Adding to the highlights, Cayla Hatton recorded the best-ever American finish for a World Junior meet in the women’s 5000 finals with a fourth-place showing. Her time of 15:50.32 will go into the books as the second-fastest ever by a high schooler and seventh-best all-time among American juniors.
The U.S. leads the Points Table after the second of six days and ten of 44 events. Scoring 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, Team USA is ahead of the pack with 46 points in combined men’s and women’s scoring, followed by Ethopia (40), Kenya (35), and China (35).
The U.S. had its biggest moment of the night when Gunnar Nixon in the decathlon threw down the hammer in the final lap of the 1500 meters and won the event’s final discipline with a lifetime-best time of 4:22.36, bringing cheers from all around Olympic Stadium. Nixon and his competitors then took the traditional collective victory lap around the oval in which Nixon led as the newly crowned World Junior Champion.
By a narrow margin of two points, Nixon’s score topped the previous American Junior Record previously held by current Arkansas teammate Kevin Lazas from the 2011 U.S. Junior Championships.
The gold also was America’s first-ever World Junior medal. Previously, the U.S.’ best finish in the event eighth was in 1994 (Tage Peterson).
Nixon opened the day with a run of 14.54 in the hurdles, followed by a toss in the discus of 42.23/138-6. Tim Dekker of the Netherlands claimed the top spot in the standings after the hurdles, but, after a vault of 4.50/14-9, Nixon went back to the top. In the javelin, Australia’s Jake Stein marked their country’s best ever mark in the event for a decathlon at 69.61/228-4 and went back to the front. Nixon launched a throw of 56.25/184-6 and remained in a good position to win it all.
Nixon came into the final event with an 86-point deficit to Stein and needed to defeat the Aussie by 14 seconds in order to top the medal stand. Nixon ran a controlled race throughout and did not grab for the event’s lead until the final 600 meters. Near the finish line, Nixon face turned from determination to joy as he knew that he had captured victory. Once crossing the line, he threw his arms into the air and let out a yell of happiness.
“I can’t explain this feeling – words can’t even describe,” said Nixon. “I feel so lucky. I feel blessed – just to be here and be able to compete. I’m just so happy. The best part of the whole competition was the last 100 meters (of the 1500) because I knew I had the space I needed ahead of (Stein). I almost came into the tears the last 20 meters because I knew I had won it. No lows, no bad events in this meet – I’m so happy.”
For LSU freshman Aaron Ernest (New Orleans, La.) a clocking of 10.17 in the finals of the men’s 100 produced a silver medal. Ernest equaled his personal best with the readout as Great Britain’s Adam Gemili ran away with the world title in 10.05. High school senior Tyreek Hill (Douglas, Ga.) placed fourth in the final with a time of 10.29, just one hundredth of a second behind bronze-medalist Odean Skeen of Jamaica.
After cruising to a comfortable semifinals victory in 10.21 earlier in the day, Ernest drew lane No. 7 in the final alongside Gemili in lane No. 6. Hill would draw lane No. 4 as a result of his 10.25 heat win in the semis.
It quickly turned into two-horse race for the World Junior title as Gemili surged ahead of the field after 50 meters with Ernest nipping at his heels. Gemili broke the World Junior Championships meet record with the winning run, while Ernest took home the silver. Hill lunged at the line with two other competitors as the fight for third was intense. Skeen would get the nod for bronze while Hill took fourth and Jamaica’s Jazeel Murphy took fifth.
Ernest extended the U.S. streak of having at least one World Junior medalist in the event to a tenth year and for the second-straight championships, the USA has won silver (Charles Silmon, 2010).
“I feel great. Obviously, I wanted to win, and I could have put together a better race today, but I’m pleased with the outcome,” Ernest said after the event. “I timed my personal best, so I’m pleased. I thought I came out of the start either second or third and just rolled it up. I just felt good all day. I felt great running in the semifinal, and came back and ran a pretty good race tonight to win a silver medal.”
Ernest and Hill both have the 200 meters and relay duty to look forward to in the coming days. Ernest remarked about how his confidence might shift now that he has one medal in the bag, “I always had confidence, but this just helps me out a little more, and I’m thankful to have this opportunity.”
Men’s Long Jump
In a tight back-and-forth battle for the podium, Jarrion Lawson (Texarkana, Texas) claimed bronze in the long jump with a best on the day of 7.64/25-¾.
In the first round, Lawson jumped out to 7.41/24-3¾ and that was enough to gain him entry into the final.
But, on his fourth jump, Lawson notched his best of the competition, moving him to third place. In the moment, his best was tied with China’s Haibing Huang, but Huang had a better second jump at the time (7.53/24-8½) which had him in second position.
Round six was when all the shifting occurred. Early in the round, Denmark’s Andreas Trajovski claimed a new junior record for his country and moved to second with a leap of 7.82/25-8. He would stay there and claim the silver. On Lawson’s final attempt, he was able to better Huang’s second-best mark with a 7.61/24-11¾ and that put him back on the podium. Huang was not able to post an improving mark, so Lawson kept hold of the bronze.
Russia’s Sergey Morgunov won the gold with a round-one leap of 8.09/26-6½.
“Am I satisfied?”asked Lawson. “No, I’m not. I felt I could have jumped better, but winning the bronze means a lot. It’s good to have it, but I still have some more work to do and more years left to do it.”
In the women’s 5000, Americans claimed two of the top eight spots as Cayla Hatton (Andover, Mass.) and Oregon frosh Allison Woodward (Green Bay, Wis.) placed fourth and eighth, respectively, in the finals.
Hatton clocked a personal-best 15:50.32, the second-fastest time in high school history and the seventh-fastest ever by an American junior. The fourth-place showing is also the best in U.S. history by a junior, bettering the fifth posted by Caitilin Chock in 2004.
“I’m really happy with my run,” said Hatton. “I usually go out too fast and that’s where I kill myself. So, I made sure I started out really controlled and that really paid off. I even would have liked to go out slower, but I didn’t want to lose contact with the group at the beginning, but I’m really pleased with my race. I was excited all day, but once I stepped on the track, it felt like any other race, except, I had some really good competition that helped pull me along.”
Woodward notched a personal-best time of 16:08.29 in her race.
“I feel really good that I was able to get the team some points,” said Woodward of her day. “That’s what I was hoping for. I’m coming off my first college season and I’m looking forward to the next step. I was happy to be given the opportunity to compete in Spain. (Our coaches) back at the hotel talked about so many times about leaving it all out there and representing our country well. Regardless of where I finished, I’m really proud to be a face for the country in the junior level, especially in this Olympic year. Not only that, but it is a great opportunity for me to represent the University of Oregon and the running history we have there and start to show off that American talent in distance running that we do have.”
In the women’s 100, Jennifer Madu (Murphy, Texas) finished fifth in the final with a time posted of 11.52. Anthoinque Strachahan of the Bahamas was the victor with a world-junior best of the year of 11.20. Turkey’s Nimet Karakus claimed silver (11.36) while Brazil’s Tamiris De Liz took bronze (11.45).
Madu clocked 11.49 and placed third in her heat of the semifinals earlier in the evening. Madu’s heat was the fastest of the three as the top three spots took the overall top three times into the final thanks to a generous 1.7 m/s tailwind.
Clemson’s Dezerea Bryant (Milwaukee, Wis.) was not as lucky with the wind in her semifinal heat as a headwind of 2.6 m/s made time qualifying a bear. Her clocking of 11.77 to finish third in the heat placed her 11th overall, not enough to advance to the finals.
Bryant still has the 200 meters later this week and the 4x100.
Men’s Shot Put
Stephen Mozia (Hackensack, N.J.) of Cornell finished tenth overall with his best throw of the day of 19.45/63-9¾.
Haley Crouser (Gresham, Ore.) finished 11th in the women’s javelin at 49.22/161-6.
Men’s 110 Hurdles
Dondre Echols (Oxon Hill, Md.) finished second in his semifinal to advance automatically to tomorrow’s final of the 110 hurdles. Echols recovered from a rough start clipping several hurdles, but came on strong at the end, advancing from fourth with 15 meters back.
“It was a good race, but I got to work on my footing,” said Echols. “I can stick with them – I just have to get my steps together. (To comeback), I just finished strong as I always do. I had to stick right beside them. (For the finals tomorrow I need to) rest and get ready – I want to medal.”
Josh Thompson (Stuebenville, Ohio/Pittsburgh) also clocked 13.71 in his semifinal, but finished fourth in his race. Thompson missed the final time qualifying position by eight thousandths of a second to finish ninth overall.
“I started out good,” said Thompson. “But at hurdles six and seven, my trail leg got real lazy and I clipped the hurdles and fell off my rhythm and never got back at it.”
The duo of Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, Texas) and Arman Hall (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) again won their heats, this time in the semifinals of the men’s 400. Bailey had the best time of the day amongst the field at 45.79. Hall posted a 46.42 as his heat winner.
“I just tried to win – nothing too fancy, and I feel good about it,” said Bailey. I knew the guy from Kenya (Boniface Ontuga Mweresa) that his PR was 46-flat, so I knew he was going to give me a push (from the outside). I just picked it up (off the turn) in the last 100. (In the final I look) to PR, hopefully. I’m going to run my race – that’s all I have to say.”
Hall, the reigning World Youth Champion did not feel like he had his best race. “It was alright, but I guess the cool air got to me,” said Hall. “I didn’t feel as strong, but at least I won my heat. Conditions weren’t the best; I just tried to do the best I can, hoping I could make it back to the finals. (In the finals), I hope to win to be a World Juniors Champ as well to add to my (World) Youth (title). It’s going to be a great (final) between a lot of athletes, but that’s the fun of it – can’t wait.”
Men’s High Jump
Dartis Willis II (Beverly Hills, Mich./Stanford) and Trey McRae (Laurinburg, N.C./Charlotte) did not make it out of the qualifying round of the men’s high jump.
Willis finished classified in 18th place as he cleared 2.10/6-10¾. McRae was 29th with a clear of 2.05/6-8¾.
IAAF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – BARCELONA, SPAIN
Wednesday, July 11 – Evening Session
OVERALL MEDAL COUNT:
(after 10 of 44 events)
1. Ethopia – 2 gold, 2 silver (4 total)
2. Russia – 2 gold, 1 silver (3 total)
3. Kenya – 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze (4 total)
4. United States – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze (3 total)
OVERALL SCORING TABLE:
(after 10 of 22 events)
1. United States – 46
2. Ethopia – 40
=3. Kenya – 35
=3. China – 35
5. Russia – 30
MEN’S 100 METERS
(wind: 0.1 m/s)
1. Adam Gemili (GBR), 10.05, CR
2. Aaron Ernest (USA), 10.17
3. Odean Skeen (JAM), 10.28
4. Tyreek Hill (USA), 10.29
MEN’S LONG JUMP
1. Sergey Morgunov (RUS), 8.09/26-6½
2. Andrea Trajkovski (DEN), 7.82/25-8
3. Jarrion Lawson (USA), 7.64/25-¾
MEN’S SHOT PUT
1. Jacko Gill (NZL), 22.20/72-10, CR
(21.74 CR, 22.19 CR, 21.5, 21.84, 22.20 CR, 22.02)
2. Krzysztof Brzozowski (POL), 21.78/71-5½ (21.78 CR, f, f, 20.88, 21.37, f)
3. Damien Birkinhead (AUS), 21.14/69-4¼ (20.44, 20.60, 21.03, 20.83, 21.14, 20.40)
10. Stephen Mozia (USA), 19.45/63-9¾ (19.45, f, 19.22)
1. Gunnar Nixon (USA), 8018 AmJR, WJL, PB (11.23, 7.12, 14.54, 2.10, 49.13  / 14.54, 42.23, 4.50, 56.25, 4:22.36 )
2. Jake Stein (AUS), 7951 PB (11.31, 7.41, 16.39, 1.95, 51.15 / 14.90, 51.43, 3.80, 69.61, 4:46.05)
3. Tim Dekker (NED), 7815 (11.06, 7.23, 14.68, 2.04, 49.70 / 14.02, 43.69, 4.20, 48.04, 4:34.34)
--. Garrett Scantling (USA), DNF
WOMEN’S 100 METERS
1. Anthonique Strachan (BAH), 11.20 WJL
2. Nimet Karakus (TUR), 11.36
3. Tamiris De Liz (BRA), 11.45
5. Jennifer Madu (USA), 11.52
WOMEN’S 5000 METERS
1. Buze Diriba (ETH), 15:32.94
2. Ruti Aga (ETH), 15:32.95 PB
3. Agnes Jebet Tirop (KEN), 15:36.74 PB
4. Cayla Hatton (USA), 15:50.32 PB
8. Allison Woodward (USA), 16:08.29 PB
1. Sofi Fllinck (SWE), 61.40/201-5 (56.09, 55.22, 55.59, 53.91, 56.71, 61.40)
2. Shiying Liu (CHN), 59.20/194-3 (54.77, 59.20, f, f, p, p)
3. Marija Vucenovic (SRB), 57.12/187-5 (49.49, f, 57.12, f, f, f)
11. Haley Crouser (USA), 49.22/161-6 (f, f, 49.22)
Q1 (1h2). Adam Gemili (GBR), 10.18 (-0.5 m/s)
Q2 (1h3). Aaron Ernest (USA), 10.21 (1.3 m/s)
Q3 (1h1). Tyreek Hill (USA), 10.25 (-1.2 m/s)
Q1 (1h3). Aldrich Bailey (USA), 45.79
Q6 (1h2). Arman Hall (USA), 46.42
[final Thursday evening]
110 METER HURDLES
Q1 (1h2). Yordan L. O’Farrill (CUB), 13.28 (0.8 m/s)
Q8 (2h1). Dondre Echols (USA), 13.71 (-0.8 m/s)
9. (4h3). Josh Thompson (USA), 13.71 (-0.5 m/s)
[final Thursday evening]
18. Dartis Willis II (USA), 2.10/6-10¾
29. Trey McRae (USA), 2.05/6-8¾
[final Friday evening]
Q1 (1h3). Tamiris De Liz (BRA), 11.42 (1.7 m/s)
Q3 (3h3). Jennifer Madu (USA), 11.49 (1.7 m/s)
=10 (3h2). Dezerea Bryant (USA), 11.77 (-2.6 m/s)
Contact: Tom Lewis (email@example.com