The Amazing Journey of Bridgette Owens-Mitchell

by Joy Kamani
By Jim Spier Photos by Joy Kamani Bridgette Owens-Mitchell We first noticed Bridgette during this year's indoor season. She never made my top 5 lists, but ran well at Nike Indoor Nationals. She won her round 1 heat in the 60m hurdles in 8.88, then was second to Jasmin Stowers (Pendleton, SC), the eventual NIN winner, in her semi race in 8.66, the third fastest qualifier overall. She did not fare well in the finals, finishing last in 8.81. As an "unheard of" athlete, she sort of intrigued the Selection Committee of the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational (CSI), and she was invited to compete on the 28 member team to Puerto Rico. She accepted the invitation. In April, she opened her first major competition, the Shumake Invitational in Detroit, with 14.64 in round 1. She improved to 14.36 in the semis and won in 14.22. In May, she bettered her prior PR, running 14.08 (1.5) at the Oakland County meet. She won the Michigan state meet on May 30 with a time of 14.13, albeit with -1.4 mps winds. On to Puerto Rico. She finally got under 14 seconds, running 13.95 (0.2) and winning. The next week in Greensboro, NC, at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, and with the confidence of knowing she is now a sub-14 second hurdler, she continued to improve. She won heat 2 in 14.08 (-0.2) to automatically qualify for the finals. She finished second to nemesis Jasmin Stowers, 13.59 to 13.87, a new PR. She nipped future World Youth teammate Kori Carter by .01, who finished third. Ten days later she was near home in Southfield, Michigan, competing at the World Youth Trials in Ypsilanti. The hurdle height at this level is lower, down to 30" from the 33" normal high school hurdle height. She won her heat in 13.88 (0.0), then finished second to Kori Carter (Claremont, CA) in the finals in 13.69 (1.0)! She made the team. She left three days later for Italy, and began preparing mentally for competition on an international level, something she got slight taste of in Puerto Rico. Round 1 of the 100m Hurdles was on the first day of competition. She was second to Russian Ekaterina Bleskina in her heat, 13.77 to 13.76. She had to face the world's best, Isabelle Pedersen of Norway, in her semi final race. She improved by .31, second to Pedersen, 13.46 to 13.20! Now the final. Pedersen was the favorite. And Kori Carter had looked good in the earlier rounds. Bridgette and Kori were tied 1 to 1 in their previous meetings (at NON and the World Youth Trials). It was Pedersen the winner as predicted, followed closely by Carter, then Bridgette with another PR, 13.39 (0.3). In my years of track and field, I'm not sure I've ever seen such magnificent improvement as I've witnessed from Bridgette Owens-Mitchell. To make the progress she has in such a short time takes a lot more than talent. The stress at a place like the world championships requires focus and composure. She has it. And, she's also a terrific young lady. She has a big future, not only on the track, but in whatever endeavor she pursues in life. Bridgette recounts her amazing journey in her video interview on our WYC video interview page. The summary: April 25 Shumake Invitational round 1 14.64 Semi 14.36 Final 14.22 May 25 Oakland County Meet 14.08 June 13 CSI 13.95 June 19 Nike Outdoor Nationals 13.87 June 30 World Youth Trials round 1 13.88 (30") Final 13.69 (30") July 8 World Youth Championships round 1 13.77 (30") Semi 13.46 (30") July 9 World Youth Championships Final 13.39 (30")

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