Hept underway; Americans advance in m400H & m200m: NSAF @ World U20s, Day 3 A.M.

by Jim Spier

Photos of hurdler Grant Williams and heptathlete JaiCieonna Gero-Holt by Joy Kamani.

Women’s Heptathlon Day 1

JaiCieonna Gero-Holt (Emerald Ridge, Puyallup, WA) is a stellar young athlete.  She will not turn 16 until December.  As an 8th grader, she was 6th at the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals, scoring 4855.  This year she equaled the Freshman class High Jump record (6-00.75). 

In early June, at the Washington Multis, Gero-Holt set the Freshman Class Heptathlon record (5108), breaking US Junior teammate Bryanna Craig’s record set in 2019 of 5094.  Then, in winning the USATF Junior Champs, she demolished that record, scoring 5401 points! 

It should be noted that the Sophomore Class record is held by Kendell Williams (5180 points) and she’s already well beyond that.  Gero-Holt wisely opted to just compete in the High Jump at the Nike Outdoor Nationals at which she was victorious (5-10.5). 

Craig (Ruston, LA) competed only in the high jump as well, finishing 5th.   Both saved themselves for the USATF Junior meet the following weekend.

They both had a great USATF Junior Championships, with Gero-Holt finishing second (as noted above) and Craig 3rd (5388 PB).  Blakelee Winn (Pittsburg State U/Pea Ridge, AR), the USATF Junior Champion and US Junior leader (5518 points), opted not to compete on the World U20 team.

The first two events of the World U20 hept were contested this morning. In the 100H, both Gero-Holt and Craig ran reasonably close to their U20 marks, but with several sub-14 hurdlers in the field, found themselves far back in the field.

Each made up ground in the high jump.  Gero-Holt cleared an outstanding 6-0.5, rocketing all the way up to 5th, while Craig did 5-7.75 to improve to 13th overall.  They’ll finish today with the shot put and 200m, then contest the long jump, javelin and 800m tomorrow.

What follows is an event by event summary for both athletes, comparing their current personal bests with their performances here:

JaiCieonna Gero-Holt

USATF U20       --- World U20      
Event Mark Score Cum. Score   Event Mark Score Cum. Score
100mh 14.62 892 892   100mh 14.76 874 874
HJ 5-11.75 991 1883   HJ 6-00.5 1029 1903
SP 39-06 664 2547   SP      
200m 25.69 824 3371   200m      


Bryanna Craig

USATF U20       --- World U20      
Event Mark Score Cum. Score   Event Mark Score Cum. Score
100mh 14.55 902 902   100mh 14.65 888 888
HJ 5-07.75 879 1781   HJ 5-07.75 879 1767
SP 34-07 565 2346   SP      
200m 25.11 877 3223   200m      


Women’s Hammer Qualifying

Emily Fink (USMA/Three Lakes, WI) had one legal throw, her second, throwing 192-00, well short of her personal best of 208-08 in winning the Patriot League in May.  She finished 8th overall in her group and it’s unlikely she will advance. 

Emily was the 2021 Wisconsin State Shot Put Champion and participated in the 2020 NSAF Virtual shot put competition.  It is doubtful that she touched a hammer prior to getting the West Point.  It is quite an accomplishment to have made the U20 team in that event.

Kali Terza (Kennesaw State U/Etowah, Woodstock, GA).  Kali was a shot putter and sprinter in high school, with bests of 40-04, 12.44 and 25.69.  It appears she was also a member of Mike Judge’s Throw 1 Deep, beginning in 2021.  She obviously has made great strides with the hammer.  She was 10th in her Group, throwing 174-01, well below her 190-09 best.  Both Americans did not advance.

Men’s 3000m Round 1

The US had only one entrant, Lucas Guerra (Georgetown/Highland, IN).  Lucas’ PR is 8:04.98 set in placing 9th at the Big East Indoor Championships.  He finished 11th in his heat, running 8:21.90.  The top 6 qualifiers, all under 8:00.00 were, not surprisingly, East Africans. 

Notable absentees from the USATF Junior qualifying meet were Parker Wolfe (7:52.39), Lex Young (7:57.06) and Aaron Sahlman (8:01.72)

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Round 1

Peter Visser (Weber State/Star Valley, Afton, WY), the 2021 NSAF Meet of Champions (Myrtle Beach, SC) 2000m Steeplechase Champion, coming in with a best of 8:49.77, did his best to stay with the leaders through 4 laps, but fell back to 6th with a lap to go and held on for that place, running 9:06.47.  The winner, Ben Yazide (Morocco) won in 8:50.70. 

The top 3 in each of the 3 heats automatically qualify for the finals, as well as the next 6 fastest times.  After the first heat, Peter was the 3rd best non-qualifier.

Bryce Lentz (USAFA/Colgan, Manassas, VA), 16th at the 2019 Great American Cross Country Festival, came into the competition as the US Junior leader with a best of 8:39.73.  Here he ran 9:07.67 for 7th.  He did not advance as he became the 7th overall non-automatic qualifier.  Peter Visser was still in the mix at that point as the 6th non-auto qualifier, but had to wait for one more heat to see if he would advance.  It was not to be, so neither Visser or Lentz moved to the final.  The leading time was Samuel Duguna (Ethiopia) at 8:44.83,

Women’s Long Jump Qualifying

There were no auto qualifiers here, the standard being 21-00.  The leader was Evelyn Yankey of Spain at 20-09.75, as 12 athletes jumped 20-01.5 or better to qualify for the finals.

The Americans, Alyssa Banales (North, Mc Kinney, TX), third at the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals and India Alix (Klein, Houston, TX), 17th at the Nike Indoor Nationals, finished 20th and 25th respectively, at 19-09 and 19-06.

Those who opted not to go the USATF U20 Trials or to not join the team included Miracle Ailes (21-08.75), Alyssa Jones (21-02.5), Gianna Locci (21-01.5), Avery Lewis (20-08.5) and Ayanna Jones (20-08.5).  The World U20 qualifying mark was (20-01)

Men’s 400m Hurdles Round 1

Dillon Leacock (Trinidad/U of Houston/Millbrook, Raleigh, NC), the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals 400m Hurdles champion, ran in Heat 1 and, after a mishap at the 3rd hurdle, could not regain momentum.  He finished 8th and then was disqualified for a violation during the mishap.

Grant Williams (Celina, TX), 3rd at the USATF Champs in 51.02, out in lane 8 with 49.39 hurdler Rashawn Clarke of Jamaica just to his inside, ran close to his personal best in second at 51.12, automatically qualifying (first 3 in each heat automatically qualify as do those with the next 3 fastest times).  He ran “tough” and seems to be taking this event very seriously.  He will be at the U of Arkansas in the fall.

Kody Blackwood (North, McKinney, TX), fourth at the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals 400m hurdles and 2022 US Junior Champion at 50.62, was assigned to Lane 1 (Somebody has to get that lane; Angelo Taylor won the Olympics from Lane 1 so it’s “not the end of the world”).  He was leading through 7 hurdles and appeared to be laboring thereafter.  He hung on for the 3rd automatic qualifying spot from his heat, running 52.50.

Yan Vazquez (Puerto Rico, Red Mountain, Mesa, AZ), the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals 400m Hurdles opted to compete for Puerto Rico after being runnerup at the the 2022 USATF Junior meet.  He won his heat in 50.66 (U.S. #2 High School) a personal best.  He was the leading qualifier overall.

Men’s 200m Round 1

Laurenz Colbert (Baylor/Eleanor Roosevelt, Greenbelt, MD), 100m finalist last night, was entered in this event but did not start.

Nazzio John (Grenada/Butler CC/Roosevelt, San Antonio, TX), third in 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals 200m, had in auto qualifier, finishing third in his heat at 20.93, a seasonal best.

Anthony Smith (Turkey/U of Washington, Eastside Catholic, Sammamish, WA), third in the 100m and 200m at the 2021 NSAF Meet of Champions (Myrtle Beach), was 2nd in his heat, running 20.96 for a Turkish national record.

Brandon Miller (Grand Valley State U/Fenton, MI), the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals 200m Champion, easily qualified, finishing second in his heat at 20.79.

The leading qualifier was 100 Meter Champion Letsile Tebogo (Botswana) who cruised to a 19.99 win, a meet record.  Let’s see what the semi final brings later today.


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