OMAHA -- 2007 World Youth team member Howard Shepard helped his Texas Stars club to a scintillating win in the young men's 4x800 relay Wednesday to cap off the second day of the 42nd USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championship at Burke High School. Shepard, who represented Team USA in the 800 at Ostrava last year, teamed up with Jodale Burkley, Eric Gosset and Sirron Warren to win in 7:37.58, just over two seconds off the national youth record that has stood since 1981.
Two national youth records fell in multi-event competition, as Stacey Destin of Boynton Beach, Fla., won the midget girls' pentathlon with 3,412 points, besting the previous record of 3,329 set in 2004 by Shanay Briscoe. Victoria Powell of Montclair, N.J., set a national youth record in the bantam girls' triathlon with a score of 1,460 points, 10 better than the previous standard set in 2007 by Jaela Williams of the Rising Stars.
The USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships is the largest and most visible youth athlete developmental program in the world. The Junior Olympics feature the following age divisions: Bantam (10 and under), Midget (11-12), Youth (13-14), Intermediate (15-16) and Young Men/Women (17-18). Entry for this championship is based on athlete performances at preliminary, Association, and Regional levels of the 2008 USATF Junior Olympic Program.
Oregon's Dakotah Keys (Sweet Home) used strong performances in the javelin and 1500-meters to wrap up the young men's decathlon gold with 7,204 points, 199 ahead of Albuquerque's Daniel Gooris as both broke the 7000-point barrier.
Running a 4:47.04 in the final 1500-meters, Gunnar Nixon of the Eastside Steppers edged first-day leader Justin Gross of Randallstown, Md., in the intermediate boys' decathlon, 5,772 to 5,749. Malik Henry of the Los Angeles Jets won the bantam boys triathlon with 785 points, while Bailey Roth of Atlanta, Ga., topped the midget boys' pentathlon standings with 2,373 points.
Heptathlon action saw Missouri's Precious Selmon maintain her first-day lead in the young women's event to take gold with 4,450 points, and Lindsay Vollmer took the intermediate title by almost 400 points with her score of 4,715.
In the race walks, Joshua Haertel of Utah won the intermediate boys' 3000, while Jacob Gunderkline of the Miami Valley TC took top honors in the young men's 3000. Gunderkline's clubmate Allison Chin won the intermediate girls' 3000, and Mercedes Mancha of the Elgin Sharks was golden in the young women's 3000.
Relay wins in the 4x800 went to Team Missouri (young women), So Cal Running Cougars (intermediate boys), United Stars (intermediate girls), Heavenly TC (youth boys), Wings of Eagles (youth girls), LA Jets (midget boys) and PSA Youth Running Club (midget girls).
Competition resumes Thursday at 8 a.m. with the young men's 5000 meters. For more information and complete results, visit www.usatf.org