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Team USA Looks to Top Medal Count Again at Pan Am Juniors

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA - World-leading 400m hurdler Autumne Franklin of Harvard and Clemson's 100m specialist Tevin Hester head a squad of more than 70 of the top Team USA athletes ages 16-19 for the 17th Pan American Junior Championships August 23-25 at the Alfonso Galvis Duque Stadium in Medellin, Colombia. This is the first time Colombia has hosted the event, which takes place in the nation's second-largest city at almost 5,000 feet elevation.
The U.S. team will be looking to match or better the 59 medals they won at the 2011 edition in Miramar, Florida, and Team USA has averaged more than 50 medals in the past four Pan Am Junior meets.
Franklin has the fastest time in the world by a junior this year in the 400H at 57.10, and Hester's 10.21 in the 100 is the third fastest globally and the fastest in the Pan American region in 2013. U.S. women have won the 400H five times at this meet, including in 1999 when current American record holder and 2011 world champion Lashinda Demus took gold. California state 300H champion Jade Miller has the No. 2 time coming in at 57.21.
Hester will be looking to become the 11th Team USA athlete to win the men's 100, but will face a stiff challenge from teammate Trayvon Bromell, who zipped to a wind-aided 9.99 earlier this season, the first sub-10 time ever by a high schooler.
Hammer thrower Rudy Winkler already has a World Youth meet and a World Junior meet on his resumé, finishing 12th in Barcelona last year at the World Juniors, and he is the No. 2 all-time U.S. high schooler with the six-kilogram implement. His 74.80m/245-5 at the USATF Juniors is the top entry mark for this meet by more than two meters.
American Junior record holder Brianna Nerud of Syracuse was fifth at the World Juniors last year and has a best of 10:03.18 in the 3000m steeplechase.
Texas A&M's Jennifer Madu, fifth at the NCAA Championships, has the fastest time in the 100 coming into the PAJ at 11.31, and teammate Morolake Akinosun clocked 11.45 for Illinois this year, the equal second-fastest entry mark. Akinosun was eighth at the NCAA meet and will also run the 200 here.
California state champion Sasha Wallace is the fastest entrant in the women's 100m hurdles at 13.43, and Courtney Okolo of Texas is the top 400m entry with a sterling 51.04. Okolo was fourth at the NCAA Championships. World Junior 4x400 gold medalist Kendall Baisden is also a threat in the 400, sporting a PR of 52.03. She was sixth in the 400 at the 2011 World Youth Championships.
In the women's shot put, Oklahoma State's Chase Ealey and California high school champion Stamatia Scarvelis are ranked 1-2, and Alabama's Hayden Reed has the top entry mark in the men's discus. Thomas Awad of Penn has twice run under 14:05 for 5000m this season and is the fastest man in the field at 14:04.24.
Conference USA champion Alexis Faulknor of UCF has a best of 6.52 in the long jump in 2013, the top mark at this meet, while Texas high schooler Tony Brown is the fastest in the men's 110H at 13.38. Team USA athletes are ranked 1-2 in the women's discus with Becky Famurewa of Kentucky and Minnesota high schooler Maggie Ewen.
BYU's Marcus Dickson is the only man in the 800m to have gone faster than 1:49, sporting a season best of 1:48.71, and Nicholas Rivera of Texas Tech is the second-fastest at 1:49.55. Mississippi State's Scottie Hearns is the top-ranked man in the 400H at 50.56.
Craig Engels of North Carolina State and Justin Brinkley of Stanford top the men's 1500m entry list, with Engels having the fastest mark in 2013 at 3:45.51. Penn's Brendan Smith leads all 3000m steeplechasers with a 9:00.58. In the men's 10,000m, Matt McClintock of Purdue is the only sub-30:00 entrant with a best of 29:37.89, and Brandon Shemonia of Southern Illinois is ranked second.
Team USA has a history of strong performances in the men's shot put, and Coy Blair of Purdue and Joshua Freeman of Southern Illinois will look to continue that tradition as they come into the championships with the top two throws. Blair leads with a 19.96m/65-6 with the six-kilogram ball.
Minnesota basketballer Wally Ellenson was eighth in the high jump at the NCAA Championships and leads the entry list at 2.20m/7-2.5, one centimeter ahead of Alabama's Justin Fondren, who was second at the SEC Championships. Utah high schooler Megan Glasmann is the top woman in the javelin throw with a best of 51.23m/168-1, set at Pihtipudas, Finland, on June 30.
Team USA athletes selected Craig Engels and heptathlete Kendell Williams as team captains. Williams was eighth at last year's World Juniors and was the 100H bronze medalist at the 2011 World Youth Championships.

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