2019 Pan American U20 Championships, San Jose, Costa Rica
All photos by Joy Kamani
At left, USA 4x100 gold medalists Matthew Boling, Justin Ofotan, Marcellus Moore and Arian Smith. At right, USA 800 gold medalist Athing Mu.
Day 2, Saturday July 20
Women's 200 Meters
Lanae-Tava Thomas (USC) came close to her PR, running 22.80 for the win. Teammate Jayda Eckford (Mississippi) was second in 23.04, only .04 off her PR.
Women's 800 Meters
Athing Mu (Trenton Central, NJ), the favorite, did not disappoint in winning (2:05.70). Mu was the NBN indoor and outdoor 800 champ in ’18, as well as the Youth Olympic silver medalist – so she wins her 2nd international medal. Morgan Foster (Chandler, AZ; Stanford signee) in second with 100 meters to go, was edged by Canadian Aurora Rynda (U of Michigan) to finish third in 2:07.96, .18 behind Rynda.
Women's 5000 Meters
Sofia Mamani (Peru) was the winner here in a tactical race, running 17:16.59. Anne Forsyth of Canada (U of Michigan) was second in 17:20.66. She graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer (MI) HS and was second at the 2017 NBNO Mile. Heidi Nielson, a high school sophomore at Cinco Ranch, Katy, TX who was the 2018 NBNO champ placed 5th in 18:15.38. She was the US U20 runnerup at 16:54.02. Forsyth’s teammate, Jessi Larson, had won the US U20 5,000m but was unable to compete here due to a stress fracture.
Women's 400m Hurdles Trials
This was one of the fastest qualifiers in this event at this meet ever. Britton Wilson (Mills Godwin, Richmond, VA; U of Tennessee signee) was second in her trial at 56.60, with Colombian Valeria Cabezas the winner at 56.48. Masai Russell (Kentucky) won her trial in 57.28. Brooke Overholt of Canada and Cornell, qualified in 59.36.
Women's 4x100m Relay
It was to be Jamaica against the USA. Briana Williams, the 100 champ here, led off for Jamaica and had the clear lead at the first exchange vs. 100m runner-up Thelma Davies (Girard College, Philadelphia, PA; LSU signee). But the US steadily overcame that – starting with a blistering 2nd leg on the backstretch from Semira Killebrew (Brebeuf Prep, Indianapolis, IN; Florida signee).
Caisja Chandler (Cincinnati) had the U.S. in the lead when she handed off to anchor Brandee Presley (Mississippi) and she continued to run away from the Jamaicans, winning by almost a second. The clocking of 43.51 – 7th fastest ever by a U.S. U20 team – was just .13 off the meet record and .22 off the U.S. U20 record. The World U20 record of 43.27 was set by Germany two years ago.
Women's High Jump
Sanaa Barnes, recruited to Villanova for volleyball and “will also compete in track and field,” won here with an outdoor PR of 6-00. Lamara Destin (Jamaica) was second at 5-11.25, with Shelby Tyler (Noblesville, IN; U of Georgia signee) third on fewer misses at 5-10.
Women's Triple Jump
In a very close contest, Jamaican Lotavia Brown edged Cuban world leader Leyanis Perez, 43-04.5w to 43-04.25! Brown got her winning jump in the second round. Perez responded with the 43-04.25 in the next round, then jumped 43-00.25 and 43-03.25 in the next two rounds, but could not best the winner.
Third was Mikeisha Welcome (St. Vincent) at 43-01.75. Welcome recently changed her allegiance from Canada to St. Vincent, and will attend the U. of Oklahoma in the fall. Kali Hatcher (Columbia U) was a close fourth at 42-11.75, nearly a foot PR for her. Trentorria Green (Florida State), the US U20 champion, was 6th at 42-06.25w.
No one could touch Cuban Melany Matheus, who threw a meet record 195-03 on her fourth attempt. Shot put champion Trinity Tutti (Canada) was second, well back at 180-0, besting Cuban Silinda Morales by 5 inches. Veronica Fraley (Clemson) was fifth (165-05) and Tedraunna Britt (Mississippi), the shot put runner up, was sixth (164-10)
Men's 200 Meters
Matthew Boling (Strake Jesuit, Houston, TX; U of Georgia signee) got another PR here, running 20.31 with -0.8 wind. He shut it down at 120 meters in his prelim, running 20.51. It was thought that he would get close to 20.00 in the finals, but the negative wind certainly didn’t help him. Kennedy Lightner (North Little Rock, AR; U of Arkansas signee) was strong in second at 20.56.
Men's 800 Meters
As mentioned yesterday, this was a wide open race. The big surprise was Darius Kipyego, the high school sophomore (St. Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI), coming in with a 1:51.26 PR performance from the US U20 meet. He finished second to Raul Neri (Mexico), but only just barely, 1:49.10 to 1:49.46. It was close to a 2-second personal best for Kipyego. He had been 7th in the 2019 NBNO 800m (1:52.38) and 4th at the 2019 NBNI 800m (1:53.43). Only Michael Granville (1:48.98 in 1994) has run faster among U.S. sophomores.
Men's 10000 Meters
The US took 1-2 here, with Danny Kilrea (Notre Dame) the winner over Nicholas Yanek (Georgia), 30:49.45 to 31:06.06, both well off their personal bests.
Men's 3000m Steeplechase
Alex Slenning (Washington) could only manage 5th (9:27.74) in an event won by Mexican Cesar Gomez (9:11.05). Alex had run 8:43.23 earlier in the season. Twins Tate and Zachary Wyatt of Canada, both students at the U of Memphis, finished third and fourth. The second American, Benjamin Nibbelink (Virginia Tech) was 10th in 9:54.52.
Men's 400m Hurdles Trials
James Smith (Arizona) was the leading qualifier (50.41), winning the second heat. He was the runner-up in the 2018 NBNO 400H. Alison Brendon Alves Dos Santos of Brazil, the world leader, won the other heat in 50.47 with Smith’s teammate Cass Elliott (Washington) also qualifying (51.10).
Men's 10000m Racewalk
Mexico took 1-2 and Colombia third in an event typically dominated by Central and South Americans. It was Cesar Cordoba (42:26.83) the winner with Carlos Mercenario second (43:08.94). Americans Samuel Allen (Kingsway, Woolwich Township, NJ), the 2019 NBNO champ at 3000m, was 9th (48:22.83) and Jordan Crawford (Missouri Baptist), the 2018 NBNO 3000m runnerup, was 10th (49:54.56), both personal bests.
Tyriq Horsford of Trinidad (Mississippi State), third at the 2019 NCAA championships, took the early lead in round one, throwing 231-07. He improved to 234-04 in round 2. In round 3, Tzuriel Pedigo (USA) moved into third (233-03) after a second place throw of 233-07 by Brazil’s Luis Dias. Dias then moved into the lead in round four with a 236-06 throw, and improved on that in round 5 with a big 244-05.
Pedigo improved to 236-09 in the fifth and was now the third to last thrower in the final round. Mike Judge, the US Throws Coach, yelled over to Pedigo that he was already on the awards stand and had nothing to lose with his final throw. Pedigo responded with a meet record throw of 252-05, bettering his 249-10 prior best. It broke the meet record of 250-08 set in 2011 by Argentina’s Brian Toledo. In fact, Toledo’s Pan Am U20 victory that year in Florida prompted Joy Kamani and I to implement the Project Javelin Gold soon thereafter, noting that the U.S. needed radical improvement to compete internationally. Pedigo was not a member of the Project, but he did attend several of the clinics.
Yancarlos Hernandez (Cuba) was dominant here, easily winning with 7254 points. Jett Kinder (Brentwood, TN) was second in 6627, a PR for him. One of the favorites, NBNO champion Yariel Soto of Puerto Rico (Centreville, OH) “pulled” a muscle during the long jump and could no longer compete at a high level. However, he did start several of the events thereafter and even threw a PR in the javelin. Corbett Fong (Rice) finished fourth with 6194 points even though he “no heighted” in the high jump.
Men's 4x100m Relay
It was nice to end the day with a world record! That’s what the U.S. did, running 38.62 and besting the old record of 38.66. Jamaica was second in 39.20 and Brazil, with a South American record, third in 39.42. The Matthew Boling-anchored team pulled away from the rest of the field after decent handoffs to secure the win.
The US was actually in second place until Marcellus Moore, on the third leg, ran a “monster” turn to get them to the lead. Then Boling did the rest. It was a team of Arian Smith (Mulberry, FL), Justin Ofotan (Penn State), Moore (Plainfield North, Plainfield, IL) and Boling (Strake Jesuit, Houston, TX; U of Georgia signee). Smith and Moore are high school juniors, Boling a high school senior, with Ofotan (Penn State) the only college freshman.