U.S. prep contingent starts Youth Olympic competition in Buenos Aries today

by Steve Underwood

The 2018 Youth Olympic Games are underway in Buenos Aries, Argentina, with the six days of track and field competition set to run from Thursday, October 11 through Tuesday, October 16. The NSAF is on-site in Buenos Aires with photos from Joy Kamani and reports from Jim Spier.

Seven U.S. preps, all with strong NSAF and/or New Balance Nationals ties, are part of the Team Americas which will be competing against other continental teams – and each of them could wind up on the podium for their respective events when all is said and done. These preps – Skylar Ciccolini (javelin), Malcolm Clemons (long jump), Meghan Hunter (400m), Charles O. McBride (high jump), Athing Mu (800m), Nick Ramey (400m) and Grace Stark (100m hurdles) – were all profiled in August when they were named to the team.

In this unique format, the first three days of competition include qualifying rounds (“stage one”) in each event. The top competitors will advance to “stage two” finals in qualifying order, scheduled for the last three days of competition, where they will battle for medals or get to compete in consolation finals. All competitors will get to compete twice during the week.

Track and Field Schedule and Entries  |  U.S. Entries Proiles

Here is the breakdown of events that include U.S. athletes, with the schedule for their events and how they stack up against the competition:

Men’s High Jump

Charles O. McBride II, Apex HS, NC senior

Prelims/Finals – Thu. 10/11, Sun. 10/14

Prospects: McBride – the Team NSAF Bahamas and NBNO high jump champ – is listed with a 2.14m (7-0.25) PR on both the YOG entry list and 2018 IAAF World Youth list, which ranks him 3rd and 4th, respectively. But McBride’s PR is actually 2.20m (7-2.5), his winning mark during the jumpoff at the USATF JOs. That equals the top global mark by leading YOG entry Long Chen of China. European U18 silver medalist Oleh Doroshchuk of UKR (2.15m) and Oscar Miers of AUS (2.14m) are the other top entries in a very strong field, but if McBride is on his game, he will be deep in the medal fight.

Women’s 100m Hurdles

Grace Stark, Lakeland HS (White Lake), MI senior

Prelims/Finals – Thu. 10/11, Sun. 10/14

Prospects: This is another example where Stark’s status is misrepresented in the entry marks, but in a different way. She’ll run Thursday in heat 1 of the prelims, listed with an entry PR of 13.86. That, however, is her best 30” hurdles time – an event she almost never runs (and obviously was not at top form in that race). Over the normal high school 33” barriers, she has run a PR of 13.16 (and won the NBNO title). By comparison, the top YOG entries are Sophie White AUS at 13.14 and Ackera Nugent JAM at 13.18. White has no 33” marks on her resume, while Nugent has a best of 13.54 at that height. If Stark runs the 30” barrier like one would expect of an athlete of her talent, she should be around 13 flat and battling for gold. The Michigan star came within less than .01 of beating Tia Jones over 60 hurdles at NBNI last March – and Jones was the World U20 champ (33” hurdles). Note that Jamaican Britany Anderson, the World U20 runner-up, is also the 30” world leader at 13.01 but is not entered.

Women’s 800m Run

Athing Mu, Trenton Central HS, NJ junior

Prelims/Finals – Thu. 10/11, Sun. 10/14

Prospects: Mu had a stunning 2018, winning both the NBNI and NBNO 800s and PR’ing at 2:04.51 (World Youth #8). She’s definitely a medal contender, but this is a very tough field. Mu has the top entry mark in her heat, the first of three, but the second heat includes 2017 World U18 bronze medalist Hirut Meshesha Mero ETH at 2:01.16 and then in the third heat Keely Small AUS at 2:00.81. They are ranked #2-3 in the world (global leader and World U20 champ Diribe Welteji ETH is not entered). Kenya’s Angela Ndungwa Munguti bears watching, as well, with a 2:06.21 best.

Women’s 400m Dash

Meghan Hunter, Provo HS, UT senior

Prelims/Finals – Thu. 10/11, Sun. 10/14

Prospects: The top four athletes on the IAAF World Youth list are all U.S. preps, headed by World U20 4x400 gold medalist Arria Minor. The honor of representing Team Americas and the U.S. here went to Meghan Hunter (WY#4) – who captured the 400 gold in the Bahamas this past June for Team NSAF. With her 52.59 PR, she’s the top entry here and will run in the last of four heats in the prelims. Two other sub-53 talents are in the field – Barbora Malikova BLR at 52.66 and Marie Scheppan GER at 52.82 – plus more in the 53s. Malikova, in fact, was the World U18 champ last year and the Euro U18 champ this past summer. Hunter, who has super range from 100m to 800m (and even XC), has a great chance for gold or at least the podium.

Men’s 400m Dash

Nicholas Ramey, Brookwood HS (Snellville), GA senior

Prelims/Finals – Thu. 10/11, Sun. 10/14

Prospects: Like Hunter, Ramey was the Team NSAF 400m champ in the Bahamas in June – and he was also the NBNI runner-up indoors back in March. He is the #2 entry here, with the favorite’s role going to Mexico’s Luis Antonio Aviles Ferreiro - #2 on the WY list at 46.04. Ramey’s PR of 46.20 is just an eyelash faster than Kennedy Luchembe at 46.21, setting up a terrific battle for the three medals. By the way, #1 on the WY list? That’s American Sean Burrell, with his 45.74 from back in May. Canada’s Myles Misener-Daley (45.99) is also not entered in this event.

Men’s Long Jump

Malcolm Clemons, St. Mary’s (Berkeley), CA junior

Prelims/Finals – Fri. 10/12, Mon. 10/15

Prospects: Clemons joined the NSAF’s Project Triple Jump last fall and has made some strides in that event. But in 2018, his best marks came in the long jump, where he won the California state title as a soph at 7.65w/25-1w (7.61m/24-11.75 legal) and was the NBNO runner-up. In Buenos Aries, he’ll face his greatest challenge yet. He’s the #3 entry in a field that includes WY leader (and 2017 World U18 silver medalist) Lester Alcides Lescay Gay of Cuba – with an eye-popping PR of 8.07m/26-5.75 – and Taipei’s Hua-Yu Wen at 7.84m/25-8.75. Seven other jumpers have PRs of at least 7.40m/24-3.5. Clemons can definitely medal, but will have to be at his best to do so.

Women’s Javelin

Skylar Ciccolini, Mifflin County (Lewistown), PA senior

Prelims/Finals – Sat. 10/13, Tue. 10/16

Prospects: Ciccolini, starting her third year with the NSAF’s Project Javelin and the nation’s #2 prep in 2018 at 53.96m/177-0, has to wait the longest before beginning action on Saturday. She also may have the toughest path to a medal – though like McBride and Stark, her entry mark here is somewhat misleading. Ciccolini is ranked 11th among the 15 entries with her PR, but that was actually achieved with the 600g javelin – in winning the Bahamas meet for Team NSAF – rather than the 500g jav which she’ll throw here. And while it’s true that in her few outings with the 500g implement she has not thrown as far, in theory she could add up to several meters with the lighter implement. Only favorite Ying Wang CHN and 2017 Pan Am Junior champ Juleisy Angulo ECU have thrown further than Ciccolini with the 600g.


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