Recap from third and final day at NACAC U-23 Championships
KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- On the third and final day of competition at the NACAC U-23 Championships held at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops, B.C., Canada, the U.S. performed much as it had in the previous two days, coming up with two additional meet records, a three-time gold medalist, and 12 golds for a total medal haul of 63 pieces of hardware earned over three days.
In the women’s 200m, Cierra White (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Texas Tech turned it on from the beginning as she moved ahead of the field midway through the curve. White finished in a dominant 23.05 for first place, winning her third gold medal at the 2014 NACAC event. American teammate Ashton Purvis (Richmond, California) of Texas A&M finished third for the bronze.
Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Michigan) of the University of Michigan was the first of two Americans to set meet records on the last day of competition. Finn, running the women’s 5,000m, began creating space for the lead after the first mile and preserved her pace through the finish in 16:06.26 for a new NACAC best.
Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) of Arizona State also won gold and set a meet record in the women’s 800m, finishing in 2:03.00. Houlihan was in second place heading into the bell lap, and she made her move on the back stretch to go shoulder to shoulder with Canada’s Rachel Francois to the end. Houlihan earned the edge, winning by just .18 seconds.
Relay excitement continued on the final day as both U.S. 4x400m relay teams won gold. The women’s team of Kiara Porter (Yorktown, Virginia) of VCU, Taylor Ellis-Watson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Arkansas, Briana Nelson (Greenville, South Carolina) of Texas and Kala Funderburk (St. Petersburg, Florida) of Florida State set the tone early as Porter took the lead after the opening curve to create early distance. The gap increased with each leg as the American women won gold by almost 100m in 3:35.79.
In the men’s 4x400m relay, the U.S. topped three other nations with a four-second lead on the first handoff. Leading off was Najee Glass (Woodbridge, New Jersey) of the University of Florida. Glass moved to the front after the first 100m but had Nathan George of Canada on his hip for much of the first lap before gaining a two-stride advantage for the handoff to Brycen Spratling (Webster, New York) of the University of Pittsburgh. Spratling ran a similar split to maintain the pace en route to Akeem Alexander widening the cap on the third leg. Vernon Norwood (Morgan City, Louisiana) of LSU ran anchor as Team USA finished first by nearly 40 meters in 3:04.34.
Aaron Ernest (New Orleans, Louisiana) of LSU and Remontay McClain (Victorville, California) of Azusa Pacific University won their heats of the men’s 200m semifinal. In the final, Ernest. Ernest led coming out of the curve and was ahead of the pack with 40m to go. He unfortunately suffered a cramp as he neared the finish and was forced to slow his pace. McClain powered through the final meters for first place in 20.32 while Ernest finished fifth in 20.81.
Sha’Keela Saunders (Suffolk, Virginia) of the University of Kentucky and Sydney Conley (Fayetteville, Arkansas) of the University of Kansas finished first and second in women’s long jump with marks of 6.40m/21-0 and 5.98m/19-7.5 respectively.
Team USA also earned the top spots in the men’s shot put as Willy Irwin (Clovis, California) threw 19.44m/63-9.5 for gold and teammate Darrell Hill (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Penn State tossed 18.85m/61-10.25 for silver.
Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.) Penn State won the gold in an exciting USA versus Jamaica women’s 400m hurdles final. On the final straightaway, Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton was shoulder to shoulder with Seymour up until the last obstacle when Clayton hit the hurdle and fell to the track. Seymour finished first with a time of 56.35, and fellow American Tyler Brockington (Greensboro, North Carolina) of the University of South Carolina was second with her time of 58.29.
Team USA’s Trevor Brown (Colorado Springs, Colorado) of Colorado State University and Michael Stigler (Canyon, Texas) of the University of Kansas ran side-by-side down the final stretch of the men’s 400mH with Brown winning the race and the gold in 49.92. Stigler finished second for silver in 49.98.
In men’s pole vault, Jacob Blankenship (Blacklick, Ohio) of the University of Tennessee won gold when he went up and over 5.50m/18- 0.5. American Chase Wolfe (Amarillo, Texas) of Texas A&M won silver with a height of 5.20m/17-0.75.
Emmanuel Corvera (San Diego, California) of Cuyamaca Community College won silver in men’s 20,000m race walk with a time of 1:31:31 and Alejandro Chavez (Pharr, Texas) of Missouri Baptist University won bronze in 1:33:27.
DAY THREE MEDAL TALLY
Sha’Keela Saunders, women’s long jump (6.40m/21-0)
Willy Irwin, men’s shot put (19.44m/63-9.5)
Eric Sloan, men’s triple jump (16.20m/53-1.75)
Jacob Blankenship, men’s pole vault (5.50m/18-0.5)
*Erin Finn, women’s 5,000m (16:06.26) New Record
Kiah Seymour, women’s 400mH (56.35)
Trevor Brown, men’s 400mH (49.92)
*Shelby Houlihan, women’s 800m (2:03.00) New Record
Cierra White, women’s 200m (23.05)
Remontay McClain, men’s 200m (20.32)
Women’s 4x400m relay (3:35.79)
Kiara Porter, Taylor Ellis-Watson, Briana Nelson, Kala Funderburk
Men’s 4x400m relay (3:04.34)
Najee Glass, Brycen Spratling, Akeem Alexander, Vernon Norwood
Emanuel Cordera, men’s 20K race walk (1:31:30.86)
Sydney Conley, women’s long jump (5.98m/19-7.5)
Matthias Tayala, men’s hammer throw (68.93m/226-1)
Dakarai Hightower, men’s high jump (2.10m/6-10.75)
Darrell Hill, men’s shot put (18.85m/61-10.25)
Chase Wolfle, men’s pole vault (5.20m/17-0.75)
Tyler Brockington, women’s 400mH (58.29)
Michael Stigler, men’s 400mH (49.98)
Mason Ferlic, men’s 3000m steeplechase (9:04.78)
Soloman Ijah, decathlon (6,993)
Alejandro Chavez, men’s 20Krace walk (1:33:26.31)
Christopher Low, men’s 800 (1:48.46)
Ashton Purvis, women’s 200m (23.86)
Edward Owens, men’s 3000m steeplechase (9:18.87)
Kale Wolken, decathlon (3,080)