Team USA to showcase young talent at World Junior Championships
BARCELONA, Spain – America’s stars of tomorrow will be on display at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships beginning on Tuesday in Barcelona. Montjuïc Olympic Stadium will be the venue of the six-day competition (July 10-15) that will feature 180 countries and the best athletes in the world under the age of 20.
Olympic Stadium in Barcelona holds a special place in USA Track & Field’s history. Twenty years ago, at the 1992 Olympic Games, Team USA brought home 32 medals in track & field, the second-most in American history. With a bevy of international experience and a handful of world-leading and American junior record marks among the 80 squad members, this USA junior team is set to make some magic of their own in Spain’s second-largest city.
The formidable men’s group includes Tyreek Hill (Douglas, Ga.), the world junior leader at 200 meters. Hill’s personal-best, a 20.14 clocking from the Golden South Classic in Orlando, came within just one-hundredth of a second from the American junior record set by Roy Martin in 1985. Hill and LSU’s Aaron Ernest (New Orleans, La.) are America’s entries in the 100 and 200 meters and are key cogs for Team USA’s 4x100 that has won the last two and four out of the last five golds.
The U.S. 4x400 has won the last five and all but two golds in World Junior Championships history. Recent high school grads Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, Texas) and Arman Hall (Pembrooke Pines, Fla.) are the U.S. 400-meter crew and will figure into America’s bid to continue dominance in the relay. Bailey holds the world’s second-best junior time of the year at 400 meters (45.19) and was a semifinalist at this year’s Olympic Team Trials. Hall was the 2011 World Youth Champion in the event, and, with a season’s best of 45.59, he stands in the top five among world juniors. Both Bailey and Hall, along with relay-pool member Cameron Burrell (Houston, Texas), won World Youth gold in the medley relay in 2011.
Tyler Sorensen (San Diego, Calif.) is the American junior record holder in the 10,000-meter race walk (41:23.14). On the international stage, he most recently placed fifth in the 2011 World Youth Championships. In addition, Sorensen was sixth at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 20k Race Walk.
In the decathlon, University of Arkansas’ Gunnar Nixon (Edmond, Okla.) holds the American junior record with senior implements, having scored 7,892 points in finishing fifth at the NCAA Championships back in June.
The U.S. women’s team is a very talented bunch and could prove to be one of the best in American junior history. In addition, as winners of the past four world titles in the 4x100 and last five in the 4x400, the U.S. women are strongly suited to continue their strong junior-championship record in the relays.
The most internationally ballyhooed on the U.S. team is Illinois freshman Ashley Spencer (Indianapolis, Ind.). Spencer holds the world-junior leading mark of 50.95 in the 400 meters, set in the capture of the NCAA title back in June. Spencer became the first freshman to win the U.S. collegiate title since Sanya Richards of Texas in 2003. Only one woman in history – 400-meter hurdler Lashinda Demus (South Carolina, 2002) – has won the NCAA and World Junior titles in the same event and year.
World Youth gold medalists from 2011 – Jennifer Madu (Murphy, Texas) in the 100 meters and Ajee Wilson (Neptune, N.J.) in the 800 meters – are on the U.S. junior team. Madu, also entered in the triple jump, won a second medal, silver, with the World Youth team on the medley relay in 2011. Clemson’s Dezerea Bryant (Milwaukee, Wis.) has at least the 100 and 200 on her schedule along with any relay duty. Bryant was on the gold-winning 4x100 team at the 2010 World Junior Championships.
Morgan Snow (Decatur, Ga.) – a University of Texas freshman – ranks No. 3 on the 100-meter hurdle world junior list at 13.13 seconds. The top five on the world junior list is separated by no more than a tenth-of-a-second and is led by Russia’s Ekaterina Bleskina. Snow is also a candidate for relay duty.
A fantastic class of young throwers will be on display for Team USA. Three on this year’s roster hold American junior records and four have won international medals at either the 2010 World Youth Championships or the 2011 Pan-American Junior Championships.
An outgoing high-school senior, Shelbi Vaughn (Mansfield, Texas) captured the attention of many when she most recently placed fourth with the discus at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She reset the American junior record while winning the U.S. Junior title with a throw of 60.59/198-9 and sits among the world’s top five juniors this year. Vaughn was also named the Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Vaughn’s qualification round will occur on Friday morning, just a few hours after she is expected to be in Los Angeles to accept her Gatorade honor on Wednesday as part of the ESPY Awards.
While Vaughn is the reigning Pan-American Junior champ and World Youth bronze medalist, fellow discus thrower Alex Collatz (Southern California/Bakersfield, Calif.) is the reigning World Youth silver medalist.
Another high school senior with an American junior record is hammer thrower Shelby Ashe (Stone Mountain, Ga.). Ashe notched a throw of 68.12/223-6 in her title defense of the U.S. junior title and ranks second in the world among juniors this year to only France’s Alexandra Tavernier (68.44). Ashe won gold at last year’s Pan-Am Junior games, and she was 13th with the hammer at the 2010 World Junior meet.
As a high school junior and only 17 years of age, Haley Crouser (Gresham, Ore.) is already the American junior record holder in the javelin. Her personal best set this April of 55.22/181-2 rests in the world’s top ten this year among juniors. Crouser reached the finals and placed seventh at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
At the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, Team USA won 15 medals, including six gold, tying Kenya for lead country in the overall medal count. More impressively, the 2010 squad won the overall scoring title with 183 points, vastly better than the 119 of runner-up Kenya.
The teams are led by head coaches Steve Fritz (men) and Wendy Truvillion (women). Manny Bautista and Carla Coffey are serving as the squad’s head managers. The men’s staff includes assistant coaches Chris Asher, Glenn Latimer, and Gary Aldrich. The women’s coaching crew includes assistants Megan Watson, Michele Curcio, and Apryl Hampton. Junko Yazawa leads the athletic training team with Aki Tajima assisting. Dr. Amadeus Mason serves as the team doctor while Traci Statler is the team’s sports psychologist.
Live results and coverage of the World Junior Championships can be found at IAAF.org. UniversalSports.com will offer live broadcast coverage starting on Saturday, July 14 at 12:20 p.m., Eastern. Day five and six evening session coverage can be found on the site for $5.99. DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers can log on to the site and watch the broadcast for free.
Follow the team and send your best wishes via the squad’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/USABarcelona2012).
The U.S. will host the IAAF World Junior Championships for the first time in 2014 as Eugene, Ore., is set to host.
2012 Team USA at World Junior Championships – By the Numbers
Most Squad Members by Hometown State (leaders)
TEXAS – 9
GEORGIA – 9
OHIO – 6
FLORIDA – 6
NEW YORK – 5
CALIFORNIA – 5
Most Squad Members by College (leaders)
TEXAS A&M – 4
LSU / OREGON / STANFORD – 3
MISSISSIPPI STATE / FLORIDA / NOTRE DAME – 2
(34 of 80 on squad were in high school in 2012)
Oldest: Olivia Ekponé, 200 (January 5, 1993 – currently 19)
Youngest: Mary Cain, 1500 (May 3, 1996 – currently 16)
World Junior Leaders
Tyreek HILL – 200 (20.14)
Ashley SPENCER – 400 (50.95)
American Junior Record Holders
Tyler SORENSEN – 10k Race Walk (41:23.14)
Gunnar NIXON – Decathlon [senior implements] (7,892)
Shelby ASHE – Hammer (68.12/223-6)
Haley CROUSER – Javelin (55.22/181-2)
Shelbi VAUGHN – Discus (60.59/198-9)
Olympic Trials Experience
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Eugene, Ore.
Aldrich BAILEY – 400 (14th)
Sean KELLER – Javelin (8th)
Tyler SORENSEN – 20k Race Walk (6th)
Mary CAIN – 800 (18th SF)
Haley CROUSER – Javelin (7th)
Emily GROVE – Pole Vault (NH)
Shelbi VAUGHN – Discus (4th)
Ajee WILSON – 800 (14th SF)
International Experience among U.S. Junior Squad Members
2011 World Youth Championships – Lille, France
Arman HALL – Medley Relay (GOLD), 400 (GOLD)
Aldrich BAILEY – Medley Relay (GOLD), 400 (6th)
Cameron BURRELL – Medley Relay (GOLD), Long Jump (part)
Devin BOGERT – Javelin (7th)
Tyler SORENSEN – 10k Race Walk (5th)
Rudy WINKLER – Hammer (9th)
Jennifer MADU – 100 (GOLD), Medley Relay (SILVER), Triple Jump (10th)
Ajee WILSON – 800 (GOLD)
Kendall BAISDEN – Medley Relay (SILVER), 400 (6th)
Robin REYNOLDS – Medley Relay (SILVER)
Alex COLLATZ – Discus (SILVER)
Shelbi VAUGHN – Discus (BRONZE)
Kendell WILLIAMS – 100 Hurdles (BRONZE), Heptathlon (11th)
Ciarra BREWER – Triple Jump (7th)
Haley CROUSER – Javelin (4th)
Hannah MEIER – 1500 (9th)
Brianna NERUD – Steeplechase (7th)
Torie OWERS – Shot Put (5th)
Sydney WHITE – Pole Vault (8th)
2011 Pan-American Junior Games – Miramar, Fla.
Gunnar NIXON – Decathlon (SILVER)
Eddie OWENS – Steeplechase (SILVER)
Sean KELLER – Javelin (6th)
Tyler SORENSEN – 10k Race Walk (5th)
Shelby ASHE – Hammer (GOLD)
Shelbi VAUGHN – Discus (GOLD)
Christina HILLMAN – Shot Put (SILVER)
Allison WOODWARD – 3000 (SILVER)
2011 World Cross Country Championships – Punta Umbria, Spain
Aisling CUFFE – 6k Junior (17th)
2010 World Junior Championships – Moncton, Canada
Tyler SORENSEN – 10k Race Walk (15th)
Dezerea BRYANT – 4x100 (GOLD)
Shelby ASHE – Hammer (13th)
Ajee WILSON – 800 (5th)
2010 Youth Olympic Games -- Singapore
Devin BOGERT – Javelin (SILVER)
Robin REYNOLDS – 400 (GOLD), Sprint Medley (GOLD)
Le’Tristian PLEDGER – Long Jump (SILVER)
Olivia EKPONÉ – 200 (BRONZE)
2009 World Youth Championships – Bressanone, Italy
Jarrett SAMUELS – Long Jump (6th)
Nikita KIRILLOV – Pole Vault (part)
Collegiate Gems on World Stage
NCAA Champs and World Junior Champs in same year:
Kirani James (Alabama/GRN), 400 meters, 2010
Kerron Clement (Florida/USA), 400 meter hurdles, 2004
Jeshua Anderson (Washington State/USA), 400 meter hurdles, 2008
Lashinda Demus (South Carolina/USA), 400 meter hurdles, 2002
2012 NCAA Championships – Des Moines, Iowa (national top-eight)
(U.S. junior squad members finishing in national top-eight)
Aaron ERNEST (LSU) – 100 (8th), 200 (5th)
Dalton ROWAN (Texas A&M) – Discus (8th)
Gunnar NIXON (Arkansas) – Decathlon (5th)
Ashley SPENCER (Illinois) – 400 (WINNER)
Allison WOODWARD (Oregon) – 10k (5th)
Emily GROVE (South Dakota) – Pole Vault (7th)
Ciarra BREWER (Florida) – Triple Jump (4th)
Brianna BAIN (Oregon) – Javelin (2nd)
A Glance into the Future
Team USA – 2012 Olympians on Past Two World Junior Teams
2010 World Junior Championships – Moncton, Canada
Josh MANCE – 400 [OG ’12 – Relay Pool]
Diamond DIXON – Relay Pool [OG ’12 – Relay Pool]
2008 World Junior Championships – Bydgoszcz, Poland
Ryan BAILEY – Relay Pool (OG ’12 – 100)
Donn CABRAL – 10k (OG ’12 – Steeplechase)
Matthew CENTROWITZ – 5000 (OG ’12 – 1500)
Evan JAGER – 1500 (OG ’12 – Steeplechase)
Marquise GOODWIN – Long Jump
Erik KYNARD – High Jump
Christian TAYLOR – Triple Jump
Jeneba TARMOH – 100 (OG ’12 – Relay Pool)