HUMBLE, Texas -- The beginning of two title defenses for a hurdler, the sixth straight gold medal for a high jumper, broken records and outstanding performances showcased the athletes competing on Day Four of USATF National Junior Olympics, Thursday, July 24, at Turner Stadium on the campus of Humble High School.
2013 Junior Olympics 100m hurdles champion and National and Junior Olympic meet record holder (13.53) Tia Jones (Marietta, Georgia) of Full Throttle Elite started her title defense on the track today, running a 13.74 in the prelims to take the top seed for Friday’s semi-finals. She also won the 200m hurdles and set the National and Junior Olympic meet record (25.80) at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina last year. She ran a 11.90 in the 100m, good for first in her heat and second fastest time overall for Friday’s semi-finals.
In the 13-14 boys high jump, six time Junior Olympic gold medalist and record holder Sean Lee (Rancho Santa Margarita, California) of USA High Jump Club jumped into the record books again as he broke the Junior Olympics meet record of 1.94m/6-4.25 with his 1.95m/6-4.75 leap, which also tied the National record. He also holds the National records for the 9-10 (1.60m/5-3) and 11-12 boys (1.76m/5-9.25); as well as his pending record of 1.98m/6-6 for the 13-14 division. He also holds the Junior Olympics meet record in the 9-10 (1.56m/5-1.25) and the 11-12 boys (1.76m/5-9.25).
In the prelims of the eight and under boys 100m, Cameron Walker (Thomasville, North Carolina) of High Point Heat Track Club claimed the top spot in Friday’s semi-finals as he ran a swift 13.65, breaking the 2011 National and Junior Olympics meet record of 13.69. Not to be outdone, Stacey Onyepunuka (Avondale, Arizona) of Arizona Rising Suns Track Club ran a 14.25 in the eight and under girls division, besting the National and Junior Olympic meet record of 14.35.
The eight and under boys shot put saw the Junior Olympic meet record of 8.90m/29-2.5 fall to Eugene Brooks (Las Vegas, Nevada) of Las Vegas Blazin Onez. He started off in first place with a 7.93m/26-0.25 toss on his first attempt before breaking out with a 9.04m/29-8 throw on his third attempt to take the record. But he wasn’t done yet, as he further demolished the record with 9.07m/29-9.25 and 9.18/30-1.5 tosses on his last two attempts.
In the 13-14 girls triple jump, Saudia James-Heard (Lakewood, Washington) of Flying AJS Track Club leapt 11.80m/38-8.75 on her first attempt to break the Junior Olympic meet record of 11.68m/38-4 and take home the title.
There were several photo finishes today as well. In the first heat of the girls 13-14 1500 meter prelims, it came down to the last 400m between McKenna Henke (Corvallis, Oregon) and Emily Covert (Minneapolis, Minnesota) of Eagles Wings. Covert had split between second and first for the majority of race before Henke made her move at the 1100m mark. Covert sprinted a 1:14.03 from her three place position to catch Henke and produce a photo finish at the line, with Henke just edging Covert 4:50.90 to 4:50.91. In the second heat, Cassi Land (Sonora, California) of Foothill Gold came from behind to sprint to first and the top seed for Sunday’s finals with a 4:50.66.
The prelims for the 17-18 women’s 1500m also produced some exciting finishes. The trio of Rebekah Topham (Griswold, Iowa) of Cornhusker Flyers, Megan Mooney (Thornton, Colorado) of Real Training and Virginia Hutton (Boulder, Colorado) of Boulder Mountain Warriors all finished under 4:42.00 to take the top three spots for Sunday’s final. Topham and Sutton kept cool as they stayed towards the back in the first 300m, while Mooney sprinted out to third place. By the 1100m mark, they had all moved into the top four and jostling for the top spot. Topham took the top seed with a 4:41.08 followed by Mooney (4:41.21) and Hutton (4:41.95)
In the 17-18 women’s long jump finals, Kacia Vines (HIllsborough, North Carolina) of Durham Striders Track Club found herself in fifth place and 8.75 inches behind leader Sydnei Murphy (Holly Springs, North Carolina) of Bull City Express heading into her sixth and final jump. Vines took off and when she landed, her jump measured in at 5.95m/19-6.25, good for first place and the title.
The 15-16 boys shot put saw a remarkable display as Jordan Geist (Cabot, Pennsylvania) jumped from fifth place to first on his sixth and final attempt with a 17.81m/58-5.25 toss, to jump ahead Adrian Piperi III (Spring, Texas), who had led for the first five throws. Undeterred, Peperi III calmly stepped up for his final throw and let go of a 18.51m/60-8.75 rocket, more than three feet of his next best toss, that left little doubt of who the title would belong too.
Olympian Carl Lewis made an unannounced appearance at the track today, being recognized on at the south endzone of the field to the applause and cheers of nearly 8,000 spectators. His club, CL Athletics Stars Track Club, has twenty six athletes competing this week.
Day five of the USATF National Junior Olympics continues tomorrow, Friday, July 25, at 8 am CST. For more information, including full results and schedules, click here
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