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Quick Morning of Qualifying for Team USA at World Youth

DONETSK, UKRAINE - Five of Team USA’s athletes secured their spots in the next round of competition at the IAAF World Youth Championships during the Friday morning session.

Alexa Harmon-Thomas (Lawrence, Kan.)  has a full day of competition with the first day of the heptathlon and the open high jump final in the evening session. Harmon-Thomas started the day with a time of 14.01 in the women’s 100m hurdles where she faced a stiff headwind of -1.9. In the heptathlon high jump, Harmon-Thomas recorded the third best clearance of the day with the bar at  1.75m/5-8.75. After two events, Harmon-Thomas sits in third with 1883 points.

In the first round of the women’s 200m, both Hannah Cunliffe (Federal Way, Wash.) and Ariana Washington (Signal Hill, Calif.) won their heats to secure their spot in the semi-finals. Cunliffe looked very relaxed as she ran the seventh fastest time of the morning in 23.80 in the first heat. Washington produced the third fastest time of the morning in 23.72.

Paulo Benavides (El Paso, Texas) and Devin King (Kentwood, La.) will be vaulting in Sunday’s final after hitting the automatic qualification standard of 4.85m/15-11. King cleared four heights, all on his first attempt. Benavides need all three attempts at 4.80m/15-9, but sailed over 4.85 on his first vault.

Noah Lyles (Charlotte, N.C.) finished second in his heat of the 200m to advance to the semi-finals. Running out of lane one, Lyles cruised home in a time of 21.28. Kenzo Cotton (La Vista, Neb.) did not compete after his injury in the 100m yesterday.

Nyla Woods (Fayetteville, Ga.) had two fouls before she was able to send the hammer flying 59.68m/195-9 to finish 10th in qualifying group A. Overall Woods finished 21st out of 51 competitors, so she will not advance to the finals.

Competing in the IAAF’s youngest age group, the 16- and 17-year-old athletes were selected to represent Team USA after competing in the World Youth Track & Field Trials in Edwardsville, Ill., on June 25-26.

For complete results of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, visit With no finals during the morning’s competition, Team USA still stands atop the medal count with six from Thursday’s events. Competition resumes Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., local time.

Athlete Quotes

Nyla Woods, women’s hammer throw, qualification A
“It meant the world to me. I was very proud to be here, and I tried my best. Now I’m just praying I make it to the finals.”

Paulo Benavides, men’s pole vault, qualification A
“It went well. I ended up taking a few more jumps than I wanted to get to the final, but in the end I made it, so I’m excited and relieved to get there. It was a great experience being with all of these international guys and meeting new people, it was a really good experience.”

Devin King, men’s pole vault, qualification B
“It was great. I felt good, and we both qualified, so I’m happy. I’m relieved and excited for the final on Sunday.”

Hannah Cunliffe, women’s 200m, round 1
“I felt really great. I felt smooth. I felt like my mechanics were good. I didn’t push it too hard, and slowed up at the line. I’m really excited for the next round.”

Ariana Washington, women’s 200m, round 1
“It felt really slow. I didn’t get off the turn first, but I just strided home and didn’t push it. I’m trying to conserve as much energy as possible, so that’s what I did. Last night there was so much chaos after the race, so it’s good to be able to conserve some energy now.”

Noah Lyles, men’s 200m, round 1
“I tried to just listen to my coach, he told me to look smooth coming off the turn, and it worked. My whole season, I’ve been running the 200 by myself, so it is nothing new. It is an amazing feeling to run for the USA, to support my whole country and to show everyone what I can do.”

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