2019 Pan Am U20 Men’s Preview: Boling, Robinson, Edwards bring experience

by Steve Underwood

Here's our 2019 Pan Am U20 Men's Preview, by event, U.S. entries (with USA U20 mark and career PR, plus HS or college affiliation) and event preview.

Pan Am U20 Champs starts today! Team USA includes 64 NSAF/NBN current stars and alums


  • Matthew Boling – 10.15w / 10.13 – Strake Jesuit, TX ’19 (U. of Georgia recruit)
    (photo by John Nepolitan)
  • Justin Ofotan – 10.21w / 10.38 – Penn State U. frosh
  • Preview: Texas prep Matthew Boling shook up the track and field world with his wind-aided 9.98 earlier this spring – the best all-conditions HS 100 ever – and has backed it up with consistent wind-legal 10.13-15 clockings since. Here he and teammate Ofotan will be pressed by other 10.1-10.2 talents like Jamaica’s Oblique Seville and Cuba’s Jenns Fernandez. Seville, also a 10.13 performer, is the Jamaican U20 and CARIFTA champ. Fernandez was the Memorial Barrientos runner-up at 10.14.



  • Matthew Boling – 20.36 / 20.36 – Strake Jesuit, TX ’19 (U. of Georgia recruit)
  • Kennedy Lightner – 20.59 / 20.48 – North Little Rock, AR ’19 (U. of Arkansas recruit)
  • Preview: With Boling’s new 200 PR (and World U-20 leading) 20.36 from USA U20s – plus Lightner’s strong performance and also previous PR from Great Southwest – Team USA has the top two seeds. But five other sub-21 runners will be hoping to knock them off, including Jamaica’s Xavier Nairne at 20.65 from his CARIFTA victory. Nairne was a semifinalist at World U20s last year, but obviously has made big strides since. Brazil’s Lucas Vilar, the South American U20 champ at 20.71, also bears close watch.



  • Justin Robinson – 45.59 / 44.84 – Hazelwood West, MO ’20
  • Trey Johnson – 46.41 / 46.35 – Southern Mississippi frosh
  • Preview: NBNI champ Justin Robinson is the clear favorite after his 44.84 at Great Southwest stunned the track world. The 45.59 with which he won USA U20s is also unmatched in this field. But Anthony Cox (JAM) at 45.71 and Miles Misener-Daley (CAN) also at 45.71 (and 7th at last year’s World U20s) definitely have a great shot to give Robinson a battle.



  • James Oliver – 1:50.67 / 1:50.16 – Maine U. frosh
  • Darius Kipyego – 1:51.26 / 1:51.26 – St. Raphael Acad., RI ’21
  • Preview: Oliver and Kipyego were each breakthrough revelations at USA U20s. But this field is loaded with seven sub-1:50 talents – including Peru’s Marco Vilca at 1:48.06.



  • Jason Gomez – 4:25.83 / 3:54.19 – Notre Dame de Namur frosh
  • Drew Maher – 4:26.04 / 3:44.88 – Penn State U. frosh
  • Preview: Despite their pedestrian times in a kicker’s race at USA U20s, Gomez and Maher both have the talent to medal here – with Maher’s 3:44.88 PR the best in the field.



  • Grant Gardner – 14:52.47 / 14:52.47 – Springville, UT ’19 (Brigham Young U. recruit)
  • Adam Dayani – 14:54.54 / 14:54.54 – Oklahoma State U. frosh
  • Preview: Americans Gardner and Dayani might be able to contend for medals, but the top seed by nearly 20 seconds in the field is Canadian Marc-Andre Trudeau Perron at 14:16.69.



  • Daniel Kilrea – 31:38.85 / 28:55.25 – U. of Notre Dame frosh
  • Nicholas Yanek – 31:59.89 / 30:04.88 – U. of Georgia frosh
  • Preview: The Americans have a great chance to possibly sweep the top two here with Kilrea – whose 28:55.25 PR during the NCAA season represented super improvement as a Notre Dame frosh after winning Foot Locker XC as a prep – the gold medal favorite.



  • Tai Brown – 13.21 / 13.21 – U. of Kentucky frosh
  • Eric Edwards, Jr. – 13.21 / 13.21 – U. of Oregon frosh
  • Preview: After their spectacular 1-2 photo finish at USA U20s, collegians Brown and Edwards will seek to get another sweep here. Edwards, of course, is the defending champ and after a rough prep senior year in ’18 has come back wonderfully at U. of Oregon. Brown was a 13.86 hurdler as a prep junior before injuries slowed his senior year in ’18. Now at Kentucky he’s improved tremendously. At 13.28, Akeem Cargill of Jamaica is the top challenger.



  • James Smith – 50.29 / 49.67 – U. of Arizona frosh
  • Cass Elliott – 51.30 / 50.38 – U of Washington frosh
  • Preview: Smith – the 2018 NBNO runner-up – and Elliott are a great 1-2 punch for Team USA and definitely medal contenders. But the top seed by a healthy margin is Brazil’s Allison Dos Santos, the World U20 bronze medalist last year and owner of a blazing new World U20-leading 48.57 PR to win the World University Games. Jamaican Romel Plummer at 50.43 is another to watch.


3,000m Steeplechase

  • Alex Slenning – 9:04.57 / 8:43.23 – U. of Washington frosh
  • Benjamin Nibbelink – 9:07.66 / 9:07.66 – Virginia Tech U. frosh
  • Preview: Slenning won the USA U20s with his 9:04, but with his 8:43.23 PR, he’s the only entrant in the field to break 9:00.


4x100 Relay

  • Team USA: Arian Smith, Justin Ofotan, Marcellus Moore, Quincy Mitchell, Matthew Boling(?)
  • Preview: Interestingly, Boling is not on the entry list for the event on the Pan Am U20 site, so the 100/200/4x100 triple may not be in the cards. Among those joining USA U20 100m runner-up Ofotan on the squad are Moore – the Team NSAF champion in the 60m in Iceland last winter – and Mitchell, who was the 2016 runner-up in the NBNO 100 as a soph.


4x400 Relay

  • Team USA: Justin Robinson, Trey Johnson, Frederick Lewis, Matthew Moorer
  • Preview: Fans might love to see Justin Robinson (44.84 PR) and Matthew Boling (44.75 relay leg) team up and challenge the World U20 record set by Team USA in this meet two years ago. But given that Lewis and Moorer, the #3-4 finishers in the USA U20 400, were both selected for the team with Robinson and Johnson – and that there are no semifinals to be run here – it’s much more likely that Team USA sticks with the above lineup. Still, it’s a group that adds up to under 3:04 with everyone’s PRs – plenty fast to win and put on an impressive show.


High Jump

  • Dontavious Hill – 6-11.75 / 7-1.5 – Auburn U. frosh
  • Charles McBride – 6-9.75 / 7-1 – Apex, NC ’19 (Campbell U. recruit)
  • Preview: With his new 7-3.25 PR from a bronze medal performance at the NACAC U-23s, Mexican 18-year-old Erik Portillo has elevated himself above the field. He was just a 6-9 jumper last year. Hill and McBride will likely be in the medal hunt in an otherwise evenly matched field.


Long Jump

  • Phillip Austin – 25-4.75 / 25-4.75 – U. of Arizona frosh
  • A’Nan Bridgett – 25-4.75 / 25-4.75 – Rutgers U. frosh
  • Preview: Their matching PR 25-footers at USA U20s – battling and beating 26-foot prep Matthew Boling – put Austin and Bridgett in the medal conversation here. But U20 world leader Wayne Pinnock of Jamaica – with a 26-5 PR (26-8.5w) – is the overwhelming favorite. He was the bronze medalist at World U20s last year and is still “just” 18 years old. Pinnock’s teammate Shaquille Lowe is also a 25-5 talent.


Triple Jump

  • Treyvon Ferguson – 52-11 / 53-1 – U. of Kansas frosh
  • Jamar Davis – 50-10 / 52-6.5i – N. Carolina State U. frosh
  • Preview: Not surprisingly, a Cuban is the man to beat here in San Jose: Andy E. Hechavarria is the U20 world leader with a 55-8.5 PR. Geiner Moreno of Columbia is next at 53-10.25. Ferguson and Davis should contend for the other medals as well.


Pole Vault

  • Branson Ellis – 17-2.75 / 18-4.75 – Stephen F. Austin frosh
  • Max Manson – 16-10.75 / 17-5.5i – Monarch, CO ’19 (Stanford)
  • Preview: While Ellis cleared “just’ 17-2.75 at USA U20s, his U20 world-leading PR of 18-4.75 makes him a big favorite here. Dyander Pacho Velez of Columbia, with a new 17-4.5 PR, is the co-favorite for silver with NBNI champ Manson.


Shot Put

  • Otito Ogbonnia – 70-3.5 / 70-3.5 – UCLA frosh
  • Joshua Sobota – 68-6 / 68-6 – U. of Kentucky frosh
  • Preview: The IAAF U20 list hasn’t discovered him yet, but Ogbonnia’s 70-3.5 at USA U20s makes him #2 in the world with the 6kg implement and a huge favorite here. Sobota’s fine 68-6 for 2nd in Miramar makes him the only other over 66 feet here. Few events are better set up for a 1-2 USA sweep.



  • Zach Gehm – 197-10 / 197-10 – Youngstown State U. frosh
  • Joshua Sobota – 189-6 / 189-6 – U. of Kentucky frosh
  • Preview: The discus is a different story than the shot. While Gehm and Sobota could battle for bronze, three of the world's best U20 athletes are in the competition. Jamaica's Kai Chang is the reigning U20 world champ, having triumphed in Finland last year at 204-7. While he ranks #5 on the current list, entries here also include Dabirac Miguel Perez (CUB) – current World U20 #2 at 207-6 – and World U20 bronze medalist Claudio Romero of Chile, now #3 at 205-7.



  • Marc Anthony Minechello – 253-1 / 253-1 – U. of Penn frosh
  • Tzuriel Pedigo – 249-10 / 249-10 – LSU frosh
  • Preview: The jav here should be a great battle between three of the top seven U20s in the world in Tyriq Horsford of Trinidad & Tobago, plus Americans Minichello and Pedigo. Minichello had perhaps the shocker of the USA U20s with his massive 253-1 PR – which was a lifetime best by 16 feet and nearly broke the USA U20 record. But here he’s still second fiddle to Horsford (258-5), who completed Mississippi State’s 1-2-3 sweep at NCAAs – along with former NSAF star and JavFest medalist Curtis Thompson. Then there’s Pedigo, who also PR’d at USA U20s and is the reigning U20 World silver medalist!



  • Joseph Benedetto – 219-9 / 219-9 – U. of Mississippi frosh
  • Garrett Doyle – 212-4 / 212-4 – Ohio State U. frosh
  • Preview: Two entries in the field have surpassed the 70-meter mark: Rowan Hamilton of Canada at 71.17 (233-6) and Ronald Mencia of Cuba at 70.61 (231-8). Benedetto and Doyle will need significant PRs to get in the chase for a medal.



  • Corbett Fong – 6,766 pts. / 6,766 pts. – Rice U. frosh
  • Jett Kinder – 6,512 pts. / 6,512 pts. – Brentwood, TN ’20
  • Preview: Fong and Kinder have a good shot to battle for a medal, but the favorite for the gold is a U.S. prep in Ohio who will compete here for his native Puerto Rico – Yariel Soto. The Centerville senior had a stellar NBNO last month, scoring a meet record 7.509 with the prep implements and winning fans over. His best with U20 implements is 6,997 from last year, but it’s not hard to imagine he’d be close to 7,500 here this year. Yan Hernandez of Cuba at 7,439 will also have something to say in the battle for gold.


Race Walk

  • Jordan Crawford – 53:40.03 / 51:57.94 – Missouri Baptist U. frosh
  • Samuel Allen – 54:08.19 / 49:37.00 – Kingsway Regional, NJ ‘20
  • Preview: Jose Ortiz of Guatemala, the bronze medalist at the World U20s last year, is arguably the favorite at 40:45.26. Cesar Cordoba Fernandez of Mexico – a 16-year-old with a 41:08 road PR – also bears watching.

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