Home, sweet home helps Willer set national vault record on day four of Junior Olympics


Glen McMicken
USA Track & Field

OMAHA -- There was no place like home Friday for Natalie Willer of the Cornhusker Flyers, as she smashed the national youth record in the young women's pole vault with a clearance at 4.21m/13-9.75 on day four of the 42nd USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Championships at Burke High School. Willer broke the old record, set in 2003 by Kira Costa, by 11 centimeters. Silver medalist Rachel Fisher of Club Vaultitude also tied the previous meet record with her 3.90m/12-9.5 effort.

One other meet record fell Friday to David Reinhardt in the youth boys' javelin, where he threw 56.23m/184-6 to beat the old mark of 55.04m set last year by Devin Bogert of the Northwest Flyers.

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.

Field events dominated the action, with no running finals on the schedule. Matthew Kosecki, one of the top prep discus throwers in the nation, won the young men's event for Track Houston with a toss of 58.95m/193-5, and Brittany Waller of Quick Striders was an upset winner in the young women's discus at 45.39m/148-11. This year's USA Junior silver medalist, Erin Pendleton of Ohio, was second.

In the young men's javelin, Sam Humphreys of Laredo, Texas, followed in the lofty footsteps of his sister Emalie, the 2007 USA Junior silver medalist in the women's javelin, nabbing gold here with a solid throw of 64.52/211-8.

Georgia state class 5A champion Demar Forbes of Sprint Athletics rode the maximum allowable wind in the long jump to produce the winning leap of 7.52m/24-8.25 in one of the deepest competitions of the meet so far. The 23-feet barrier was broken by 11 jumpers, all with legal winds.

Last year's intermediate girls' triple jump champion, Alitta Boyd of the Oakland PAL, moved up a division and grabbed another gold, taking the young women's title with a leap of 12.81m/42-0.5. The day's other horizontal jumps crown went to Monica Todd of Wildcats TC in the intermediate girls' long jump with a 5.74m/18-10 effort.

Other girls' winners Friday included Morgan Leleux in the intermediate pole vault, with a clearance at 3.80m/12-5.5; Mimieux Land of the Ruff Riders in the youth high jump at 1.60m/5-3; Mystasia Alexander of the LA Jets in the midget javelin at 34.57m/113-5; Kelsey Card of Illinois in the ntermediate shot put at 12.98m/42-7; and Michelle Wallerstedt of West O Throws in the youth discus at 35.24m/115-7.

In boys' competition, golds went to Davis Fraker of Throw 1 Deep in the intermediate shot put at 16.07m/52-8.75; Kason Covington of YMCA Team Idaho in the intermediate triple jump at 14.51m/47-7.25; Erik Clemensen of the Castro Valley TC in the bantam high jump with a 1.30m/4-3.25 clearance; Jake Paulsen of Cozad in the midget high jump at 1.55m/5-1; and Elijah Zoucha of the West O Throws in the bantam shot put at 10.65/34-11.25.

Competition resumes Saturday at 8 a.m. with prelims in the 400-meter hurdles. For more information and complete results, visit www.usatf.org.