NSAF champs Garrett, Rose power to GOLD-BRONZE for Team USA: NSAF @ World U20s, Day 4 P.M.

by Jim Spier

Akala Garrett (right) and Michaela Rose (left) celebrate their 400H GOLD and BRONZE medals for Team USA, respectively. Photo by Joy Kamani.

Yet another NSAF Nike Outdoor Nationals champion won a gold medal for Team USA Thursday night during another session filled with strong American performances at the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

Akala Garrett – who is not only a two-time Nike Outdoor Nationals champ in the 400H, but a Nike Indoor 60H champ as well – blasted a stunning 56.16 to capture the Gold in her signature event (see details below).  Teammate Michaela Rose, the NSAF NBNO 800 champ back in ‘19, was under 57 as well in winning the Bronze.

With Steve McElroy winning 400m silver, Team USA won a medal of every color last evening. There were numerous other highlights, so check them out in chronological order in the recap below:


Women’s 4x100m Relay Qualifying

(First 2 in each heat and next 2 fastest times advance to the final)

The US team won their heat in 43.66, not quite as fast as the leader, Jamaica, which ran 43.28.  The American team was comprised of Lily Jones (Roosevelt, Portland, OR), 3rd at 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals 100m and 200m; Autumn Wilson (St. Dominic Savio, Austin, TX), 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals champion; Iyana Gray (Texas-Arlington U/Eisenhower, Houston, TX);  and Alyssa Colbert (Northern Arizona U/William Fields, Gilbert, AZ).  Lily Jones is headed to LSU in the fall.  Autumn Wilson will be at the U of Georgia.

Men’s 4x100m Relay Qualifying

(Winner of each heat and next 4 fastest times advance to the final)

The US team was comprised of Johnny Brackins (USC/Lees Summit, MO), 6th in the Nike Outdoor Nationals Long Jump; Michael Gizzi (Alabama-Huntsville/Alcovy, Covington, GA), 34th in the 2018 Dunamis 400m; David Foster (U of California/Tompkins, Katy, TX) and Charlie Bartholomew (Oklahoma State U/Boyd, McKinney, TX).  The US team barely eked in, the 8th of 8 qualifiers.  Australia was leading by 10 meters at the final exchange in their heat but passed out of zone, allowing a US 2nd.  Two other teams were disqualified in what was a shambles of a race and Team USA was one of two squads left standing.

Because of a combination of resting 100m finalist Laurez Colbert, potential relay pool athletes who didn’t make the trip, and the proximity of the race to the 200 rounds and final (Brandon Miller), this team was cobbled together and included a long jumper (Brackins) and 400m runner (Bartholomew) – both college athletes who hadn’t run a 4x100 since high school.  But except for one shaky pass, they ran quite well.  Gizzi, who WAS expected to run, had an exceptional second leg to put the US in a position to qualify.

Women’s 200m Semi Finals

(First 2 in each heat and next 2 fastest times advance to the final)

Mia Brahe-Pedersen’s (Lake Oswego, OR) better event is the 200 (vs the 100).  It was the battle of the “sub-23s” in her heat, as she got second to Jamaica’s Brianna Lyston, 22.95 to 22.83.  That 22.95 bettered her prior best of 22.98, and lowered her yearly US High School lead.

Jayla Jamison (U of South Carolina/Airport, West Columbia, SC) won her heat relatively easily, running 23.01.  Brahe-Pedersen and Jamison are the 2nd and 3rd fastest qualifiers to the final behind Brianna Lyston and both athletes look ready to battle for medals. Brahe-Pedersen appearing to have new energy after a challenging set of 100 races and Jamison being fresh after not running the 100.

Men’s Pole Vault Final

Garrett Brown (Stanford/La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad, CA), was 2nd at 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals.  He jumped 17-05 this year in winning the Stanford Invitational.  He was one of five athletes to clear 17-02.75, then went out 17-06.5 which would have been a PB.  He finished one place out of the medals, in fourth.

Justin Rogers (Hershey, PA), 7th at 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals, finished =9th at 16-10.75.  He has a best of 17-03 and will be headed to the U of Virginia in the fall.

Women’s High Jump Qualifying

Emma Gates (Cascade, Turner, OR), 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals runner-up (to JaiCieonna Gero-Holt) was one of 12 athletes to clear 5-10.75 and advance to the final.  She cleared that height on her third and final attempt.  Emma will be attending the U of Arizona in the fall.

Men’s 400m Hurdles Semi Finals

(First 2 in each heat and next 2 fastest times advance to the final)

Yan Vazquez (Puerto Rico/Red Mountain, Mesa, AZ), the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals Champion, was well back for six hurdles.  He then began his surge, moving to 4th over the 9th hurdle, then charged to the front on the run-in to get the win.  He took over the US High School lead and improved his Puerto Rico national record. 

Yan’s father, Jayson Vazquez, was a top hurdler in high school in upstate Amsterdam, NY, and went on to compete and later coach at the U of Albany.  He also competed internationally for Puerto Rico.  Yan will be competing for UCLA in the fall.

USA entries Grant Williams (Celina, TX) and Kody Blackwood (North, Mc Kinney, TX) both finished 4th in their heats and did not advance.  Williams ran a PR 50.82, improving his qualifying time, but couldn’t quite sneak in.  He will be attending the U of Arkansas this fall.

Blackwood drew the inside lane for the second straight race.  His 51.15 was more than a second faster than his prelim – and just 0.33 off his PR – but he was in the fastest heat and could not advance.  He’s headed to the U of Texas in the fall.

Women’s 400m Hurdle Final

Akala Garrett (Harding, Charlotte, NC), 2021 and 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals Champion, ran a monster PR and the =#6 all-time 56.16 to win.  With a series of marks this year in the mid-57s (including her semi), Garrett had been in the gold medal conversation all year for this meet.  But she was also ready for a breakthrough and finally got it. 

Only Olympians Sydney McLaughlin, Lexie Maxie, Anna Cockrell, Leshinda Demus and All-American Ebony Collins have ever run faster in high school.  Garrett improved by over a second from her PR 57.28 run yesterday in the semis.

Michaela Rose (LSU/Landry Academy, Suffolk, VA) also a multi-time NSAF All-American - improved dramatically as well.  She ran 56.86 for third and the bronze, her first time ever under 57 seconds.  Garrett and Rose now stand with Willis and Whitaker in the 800 as Team USA duos achieving gold and bronze in these championships.

Men’s Hammer Final

Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan (Woonsocket, RI), the World U20 Shot Put Champion two days earlier, was sitting in 10th through two rounds.  On his third throw (and third throw from last in round 3) he unleashed a throw of 239-08 to move into 8th and into the final.  And that’s the way it would stay.  It was quite an impressive few days for Tarik in Cali.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final

Karrie Baloga (Cornwall, New Windsor, NY) finished 11th in 10:34.28 and Harper McClain (U of Oregon, St. Helena, CA), who was 6th in the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals, was behind her in 12th (10:37.58).  Several runners were lapped in this race, won by Kenyan Faith Cherotich in 9:16.14.

Men’ s 400m Final

Steven McElroy (U of Cincinnati/Pickerington North, Pickerington, OH) knew he wouldn’t have it easy, despite being the World U20 leader at 44.93.  It was a battle between him and Lythe Pillay (South Africa), who looked so good in the semis.  Pillay prevailed, beating McElroy 45.28 to 45.65.

Tyler Floyd (Seattle Prep, Seattle, WA), 2nd at the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals 200m, improved his PR significantly, running 46.01 for 4th.  He just finished his junior year in high school.

Men’s 200m Final

I love upsets.  And upset is what we got when Blessing Afrifah (Israel) upset big favorite Letsile Tebogo (Botswana), both running a meet record time of 19.96.  Actually, it was 19.954 to 19.960.  Afrifah actually ran Tebogo down and caught him at the line. 

Tebogo had been showboating and taunting his opponents in the rounds of the 100 and 200, and many suggested that he would get payback in the immediate future.  And the future came sooner than they thought.  To his credit, after sitting on the track away from the rest of the athletes at the end of the race for several minutes, he got up and congratulated the winner.

Brandon Miller (Grand Valley State U/Fenton, MI), the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals Champion, was a decent 5th, running 20.64.  Running in lane one, he appeared to be in 8th place coming off the curve, but rallied hard in the final 80 meters to move up three spots.  Miller, the NCAA D2 champ in the 200 both indoors and outdoors, will be transferring to the U of Kentucky in the fall.

Anthony Smith (Turkey/U of Washington/Eastside Catholic, Sammimih, WA), 3rd in the 100 and 200 at the 2021 NSAF Myrtle Beach Meet of Champions, was 8th in 20.87.

Women’s Heptathlon Day 2 - Afternoon

What follows is an event by event summary for both athletes, comparing their current personal bests with their performance at the World U20 Championships. 

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 38-11.5 653 2556
200m 25.69 824 3371   200m 25.85 811 3367
LJ 18-05.25 735 4106   LJ 17-09.25 677 4044
JT 127-01 643 4749   JT 117-03 586 4630
800m 2:33.29 652 5401   800m 2:39.22 582 5212


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 30-02 477 2244
200m 25.11 877 3223   200m 25.72 822 3066
LJ 18-06.25 744 3967   LJ 18-02.5 715 3781
JT 118-00 590 4557   JT 118-06 593 4374
800m 2:19.42 831 5388   800m 2:20.14 818 5192

Long Jump:  Both JaiCieonna and Bryanna did not have especially good long jumps. JaiCieonna was in real trouble with a best of 16-08.75 until improving to 17-09.25 in round 3.  JaiCieonna is sitting in 10th after the Long Jump, and Bryanna 18th.

Javelin:  Probably one of each athlete’s weakest events, JaiCieonna threw almost 10 feet less than at the USATF U20 meet, but Bryanna had a slight PR.  After this event, JaiCieonna sits 12th and Bryanna 19th.

800m:  JaiCieonna ran 6 seconds less than her personal best, scoring 5212 points, and finishing 17th.  Bryanna ran a decent 800m, scoring 5192 points overall and finishing 18th.


US placings this afternoon

  • M 200  Brandon Miller 5th
  • M 400  Steve McElroy 2nd
  • M PV  Garrett Brown  4th
  • M PV  Justin Rogers  =9th
  • M HT  Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan  8th
  • W 400m no qualifiers
  • W 400h Akala Garrett  1st
  • W 400h Michaela Rose  3rd
  • W 3000m SC Karrie Baloga  11th
  • W 3000m SC Harper Mc CLain 12th
  • W Hept JaiCieonna Gero-Holt 17th
  • W Hept Bryanna Craig  18th

Medals to date 10, including 5 golds


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