Junior Olympics begin at Historic Hayward Field
Melvin Jackson II
USA Track & Field
EUGENE Ore. - The 38th USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships began with the steeplechase, race walk and multi-events at the University of Oregon's historic Hayward Field.
Erin Gray of South Eugene High School felt like she could run 10 miles after she sprinted the last 70 meters to set a record and win the young women's 2,000m steeplechase final. "I am so excited because I wanted this since I was nine years old. I feel like I can run 10 miles now," said Gray. The 17-year-old Eugene Ore., native ran 7 minutes, 15.97 seconds to better the 7:34.02 set in 2003 by Suzette Luevano of the El Paso Wings.
Ironically, Gray edged runner-up Luevano (7:17.80) who also bettered the previous record. "I waited until the very last barrier to run hard. I knew I could catch her (Luevano) with one lap to go. I did not want to go too hard too early," Gray continued. Fawn Dorr of the West New York Jets ran 7:24.51 to finish in third place and also better the previous record.
Jared Swehosky of Stayton High School ran 6:07.46 to win the young men's 2,000m steeplechase final. "I wanted to go out hard and finish hard," said Swehosky. The 16-year-old Stayton, Ore., native held off runner-up finisher Luis Cuevas (6:11.09). "He (Cuevas) stuck with me a little bit longer than I expected, but I felt comfortable most of the race," Swehosky continued.
Ryan Holmes of the Pasadena Running Roses had the best meet of his life to win the youth boys pentathlon with 3,194 points followed by Running Roses teammate Kiana Profit who won the youth girls division with 3,294 points. "This is the best of meet I have ever had. I had a PR in every event," said Holmes. "Last year, I got 8th place and I want to thank my coaches: Mosely, Kevin, David, George, Chuck and all the others coaches who helped me get to this point," Holmes continued.
Shana Woods of the Long Beach Sprinter TC leads after the first day of competition with 3,040 points in the intermediate girls heptathlon. Daniel Kinsey of the Austintown Community TC leads with 3,459 points in the young men's decathlon.
Roberto Vergara of the S.T. Walking Club finished in 14:37.40 to win the youth boys 3,000m race walk finals.
The third leg of USA Track & Field's Verizon Youth Series, the six-day meet will showcase 5,657 youth athletes from across the country in the largest youth athlete developmental program in the world. This year's competition will also serve as one of the selection meets for the 2005 IAAF World Youth Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
In addition to Junior Olympics, t he Verizon Youth Series includes the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Competition age divisions are: Bantam (10 and under), Midget (11-12), Youth (13-14), Intermediate (15-16) and Young Men/Women (17-18). There will be a tape delayed broadcast the last three days of competition.
For more information on the 2004 USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Championships, all USATF Youth programs and the Verizon Youth Series, visit the USATF website at www.usatf.org.