INDIANAPOLIS - Nearly 800 of the country’s top high school and young collegiate athletes will compete at the USA Junior Track & Field Championships June 15-17 in Bloomington, Ind.
The Junior Championships feature athletes who will be between 16 and 19 years old at the end of the year. The meet also serves as the selection for the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships, scheduled for July 10-15 in Barcelona, Spain. The top two finishers who meet qualifying standards in each event will be invited to compete in Barcelona as members of Team USA.
In the 100m, both Dezerea Bryant, who holds the second fastest junior time in the world this year at 11.29, and Tristie Johnson, who has clocked 11.28 in a wind-aided competition, will challenge for the win. After they face off on the straightaway, they will meet again in the 200m. Bryant is the only woman entered in the 200m with a mark under 23 seconds.
Last year’s World Youth champion and USATF Youth Athlete of the Year, Ajee Wilson is the favorite in the 800m, but Shelby Houlihan is sure to put up a fight as she has lowered her personal best by nearly four seconds during her freshman year at Arizona State. Wilson is entered in a time of 2:02.61 to Houilhan’s 2:03.85.
The U.S. boasts tremendous talent in the women’s 100m hurdles, and the event is set to be a fierce matchup. The women with the top five junior times in the country this year are all set to compete in Bloomington. 2011 World Youth champion Trinity Wilson is sure to be a favorite and is entered in a time of 13.15. Others to watch include Morgan Snow (13.04), Kendell Williams (13.28), Sasha Wallace (13.33) and Jade Barber (13.34).
The women’s long jump features the top freshman finisher in the recent NCAA Division I Championships, Kylie Price of UCLA, who finished seventh overall. She will go up against Sydney Conley, the daughter of Olympic triple jump champion Mike Conley. Price is entered with a mark of 6.18m/20-3.5 to Conley’s 6.17m/20-3.0.
The women’s javelin throw features both current national high school record holder Haley Crouser (55.21m/181-2.00) and the woman who previously held the record, Avione Allgood (53.84m/176-8.00). But it is far from a two-woman show - Brianna Bain of Stanford University recently finished as the runner-up at the recent NCAA Outdoor Championships and her mark of 54.93m/180-2 gives her the second best mark of the field.
Marvin Bracy will look to defend his 2011 USA Junior title as the top entrant in the 100m. Bracy’s top challengers will be Texas high schooler Abraham Hall and LSU’s Aaron Ernest. Georgia state champion Tyreek Hill is also on the list for the 100m, but his best event is the 200m after he ran a world junior leading time of 20.14 to clock the second fastest time ever on the all-time junior list last month.
In the men’s middle distances, the 800m is shaping up to be a very close race. The top five men all enter the competition with times between 1:48.62 and 1:48.85. The 1500m is a different story with University of Wisconsin freshman Austin Mudd boasting the fastest time of the field in 3:40.87, exactly two seconds faster than his nearest competitor.
The men’s pole vault is headlined by three of the nation’s top young vaulters. Nikita Kirillov of Georgia Tech boasts the best mark of the field in 5.45m/17-10.50, while JJ Julifs of Washington is not far behind in 5.44m/17-10.25. Also set to be in the mix is Jacob Blankenship who won bronze at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships.
Rudy Winkler has the talent to send the hammer sailing well beyond the rest of the field. Winkler is the top entrant in the hammer throw with his mark of 72.31m/237-3. Michael Foley is his closest competitor with the second best entry mark of 64.05m/210-1.
Live results and daily recaps will be posted to www.usatf.org