Pan Am U20s, Day 3: USA rocks pair of 4x400 WRs!

by Jim Spier

2019 Pan American U20 Championships, San Jose, Costa Rica

All photos by Joy Kamani

At left, Team USA's women's 4x4 on the medal stand. At right, Team USA's men celebrate their 4x400 U20WR.

Day 3, Sunday July 21

Women's 1500m

Maggie Smith, the Athletics Canada 2018 U18 Athlete of the Year, led from wire to wire to win in 4:25.47.  She built a big lead 1000m into the race and hung on with the field closing on her somewhat in the last lap. Rachel Hickey (Illinois State) finished 2nd with a 3 second PR of 4:26.83, with Jocelyn Chau of Canada and Yale third in 4:27.20.  Meghan Underwood (Arkansas) was 4th in 4:30.41.

Women's 400m Hurdles

Jessica de Oliveira (Brazil) broke Queen Harrison’s 2007 meet record of 56.25, running 55.94 for the win.  Masai Russell (Kentucky) challenged her the entire way but had to settle for second, but in a PR 56.29.  She added a silver medal to the bronze she won in this event in 2017. Britton Wilson (Mills Godwin, Richmond, VA; U of Tennessee signee), the 2019 NBNO and USA U20 champion, did not look like herself. She hit the first hurdle and was out of rhythm for most of the race, finishing 5th in 58.19.

Women's 4x400m Relay

Two world records capped the day, both in this event (see the Boys’ review below).   The U.S. team of Alexis Holmes (Penn State), Kimberly Harris (Buford, GA), Ziyah Holman (Georgetown Day, Washington, DC) and Kayla Davis (Providence Day, Charlotte, NC) were expected by most to top the all-time U20 standard of 3:27.60, set at the World U20s by Team USA in 2004 – given that the deep, above-mentioned quartet had each finished between 51.28 and 52.16 at last month’s USA U20s.

But few expected them to run a 3:24.04, demolishing the prior record by more than 3-1/2 seconds.  USA relay coach Michelle Freeman went with her 400 silver and gold medalists as the leadoff and anchor and the strategy paid off -- with the final three legs all having significant PRs: The unofficial splits: Holmes 51.6, Harris 51.2, Holman 51.4 and Davis 49.8. Three of those relay members, by the way, will still be high school students this fall.

Canada was second in 3:30.68, with three of its members being U.S college students (Lauren Gale – Colorado State; Aurora Rynda – Michigan; Alyssa Marsh – Ohio State).

Women's 3000m Steeplechase

Canadian Grace Fetherstonhaugh (Oregon State) was the early leader but could not hold off Lyida Olivere (Villanova).  Olivere had a “monster” PR of 10:12.16, her previous best being 10:22.93.  Fetherstonhaugh ran 10:32.13 with Meghan Worrel (Michigan) third in 10:48.04.

Women's Hammer Throw

Hawa Mahama (U of Pennsylvania) was leading through two rounds (197-09) until Cuban Liz Collia took the lead, throwing 204-07.  That turned out to be the winning throw, with Mahama finishing second in 202-01, a mark achieved in round 5.  Shelby Moran (Arizona State) was 4th in 194-07.

Women's Javelin Throw

Skylar Ciccolini (Mifflin County, Lewistown, PA; U of Missouri signee) opened with 175-10, her second best throw ever.  In round 2, favorite Yuleisy Angulo (Ecuador) threw 190-03 to take the lead.  She would throw 193-05 in round 4 to secure the win.  Skylar, suffering from back problems, could not match those throws and would finish second – earning her first international championship medal as her Project Javelin Gold career as a prep comes to a close.  Ava Curry (Missouri) – Skylar’s future teammate – got her bronze medal throw in round 3, throwing 156-04.

Women's Heptathlon

Anna Hall (Valor Christian, Highlands Ranch, CO; U of Georgia signee) added another major title – and her first international championship medal and victory – winning here with 5847 points.  That also exceeds her previous high school national record by 49 points, but because her long-jump (18-2.5, +5.1w) was significantly wind-aided, it won’t count as a record. Using Hall’s 2nd best jump, a wind-legal 18-0.25(-1.6w), gives her 5,829 points. Hall started out with a 14.11 [-0.7] in the 100 hurdles, high-jumped a near-PR 5-11.5 to build momentum, then finished day one with a solid 41-01.5 shot and 24.22 [1.9] 200.

Then she started day two the above-mentioned long jumps – better than her USA U20 effort, but not yet at her pre-injury level. After a 110-07 javelin, Hall needed her best-ever hept 800 and, with a supreme effort, got it with her 2:10.11.  Marys Adela Patterson (Cuba) was second with 5420 with Tamira Chapman (North Carolina State U)  third (5060). Chapman was the 2018 NBNO runner-up in the event.

Women's 10000 Meter Racewalk

Taylor Ewert (Beavercreek, OH junior), who has dominated prep racewalking the past three years and set several national records, was expected to be in a tough fight here with an outside shot at a medal. She was 10th in the World U20s last year and four of those who beat her were in this race. Glenda Morejan of Ecuador, the bronze medalist from Worlds, strode to a big lead early and walked away with the gold in 44:46.02. But Ewert was one of four others battling for the other two medals during the first half of the race.

The Costa Rican walk officials, however, thought Ewert was going a little too fast. She received multiple yellow cards, a red card that put her in the penalty box for one minute and then was disqualified shortly thereafter. Ewert has never been disqualified in a racewalk before and rarely even receives a warning. Mary Luz Andia of Peru took the silver with 45:22.94 and Costa Rican walker Noelia Vargas the bronze with 46:32.92 – the only medal of the meet for the host country. The second American, Grace Endy, finished 10th in 56:44.81 and also endured a penalty box “timeout.”


Men's 1500 Meters

The Canadians were dominant here, taking 1-2.  The winner was Foster Malleck (3:47.05), a Boston U signee, with Carter Free second (3:48.29).  Malleck was 4th in the NBNI mile this past March. John Castro Arias, 7th in the NBNO Mile, got Puerto Rico’s only medal of the competition, finishing third (3:49.05).  Drew Maher (Penn State), 2nd in the 2018 NBNO 800, and who had run 3:44.88 earlier in the year, was off form, finishing 8th in 3:59.16.

Men's 400m Hurdles

Yet another meet record for Brazil was set in this event, with Alison Alves Dos Santos running 48.49.  He recently won the World University Games in Italy in 48.57 which, at the time, was a World U20 leader.  James Smith (Arizona), the 2018 NBNO runnerup, was second in 49.84.  Rovane Williams of Jamaica and Western Texas College was 3rd in 50.29.

Men's 4x400m Relay

As mentioned, there were back to back world records, both by the U.S. and both in this event.  Soon after the U.S. women set the World Record in the 4x400, the U.S. men followed suit, running 2:59.30, breaking the 3:00.33 record of the U.S. team from this meet in 2017.  The team was Frederick Lewis (Houston), Matthew Boling (Strake Jesuit, Houston, TX; U of Georgia signee), Matthew Moorer (Baylor) and Justin Robinson (Hazelwood West, Hazelwood, MO). The final decision to add Boling – who had already won the 100m and 200m gold medals, and anchored the gold medal-winning 4x100 – appeared to have been made shortly after he had participated in 200 and 4x100 award ceremonies that morning.

Each of the U.S. legs had to run their best in order to make history and they did so. Lewis got Team USA the lead with his 45.9 opener, then Boling extended it with a 44.5. Moorer then clocked 45.2 on the penultimate leg and handed the stick to Robinson. The race was by no means a runaway and Jamaica, with anchor Anthony Cox, actually made a charge to close the gap 150-250 meters into the lap. But Robinson had more in the tank on the final stretch and, with a spectacular 43.54 (FAT) finish, the Americans got the gold, the record and sub-3:00. Jamaica won the silver with 3:00.99, #2 nation and #3 performance all time, and Brazil set a national record with their 3:02.84 for bronze and #4 nation ever.

Men's High Jump

Erick Portillo (Mexico) was the winner here, jumping 7-01.75.  2018 NBNO champion Charles McBride (Apex, NC; Campbell U signee) was 2nd in 7-00.25, besting Chile’s Nicholas Numair on fewer misses.  McBride was also the HJ winner for Team NSAF in the Bahamas last spring.  Shaun Miller (Bahamas), the 2019 Penn Relays Champion, was 4th at 6-11.5.

Men's Triple Jump

There was a bit of an upset here, with Colombian Geiner Morillo, aided by a 5.7 mps wind, beating Cuban Andy Hecheverria, 53-09.75 to 53-07.  Terrol Wilson of Jamaica was 3rd with 52-05.5 and Treyvon Ferguson (Kansas State) 4th (52-02). Ferguson was the 2018 triple jump runner-up at both NBNI and NBNO while a senior at Milton Hershey HS in PA.

Men's Shot Put

The US took 1-2 here with UCLA’s Otito Ogbonnia winning in 67-11.75 and Josh Sobota second in 67-05.5.  Sobota opened with his best throw, leading until the 2th round where Ogbonnia took the lead, but with the same distance as Sobota.  It was the 5th round where Ogbonnia got the winning throw. Sobota had previously taken bronze in the discus.

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