Team USA sweeps 4x400s, finishes with 7 GOLDs: NSAF @ World U20s, Day 6

by Jim Spier


Team USA had two strong performances in the World U20 Championships 4x100 relays on Friday, winning silver (women) and bronze (men) – laudable, but not quite the golds that every American foursome is ultimately striving for.  Saturday was another story, as Team USA blasted to decisive victories in both the men’s and women’s 4x400s – clocking world-leading U20 times in both cases and history’s #2 performance in the latter.  It was a great way to end the week.

Individually, there were nine Americans in finals Saturday and while there were no medals, several came up with PRs and/or good efforts.  Jalaysiya Smith placed best, with a 4th-place finish in the women’s 100H final, while 2-time Nike Outdoor Nationals champ Addy Wiley came up with a 5th in the 1500 final. 

Check out all of the details of the final day of the meet below:

Men’s Discus Final

Desmond Coleman (Liberty U/Providence, Charlotte, NC) fired off a PB of 198-03 to get himself closer to the 200-foot barrier and into the 8-man final.  He struggled somewhat on his final three throws, fouling on each of them, and wound up finishing in 7th place.  Marius Karges of Germany went from 4th to gold on his final throw, reaching 215-0.

Kevin Grubbs (Sam Houston State U/Summer Creek, Humble, TX), third in the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals discus, had a good first-round throw (197-02, his second best ever), but it wasn’t enough to get to the top 8.  He finished 9th overall

Women’s High Jump Final

Emma Gates (Cascade, Turner, OR), the 2022 Nike Indoor Nationals champion, struggled with a nagging injury and couldn’t quite reach the level she had in qualifying or during her outstanding HS season. She made 5-08.75 on her third attempt, then missed 3 times at 5-10.75, finishing 11th.  She’s headed to the University of Arizona.

Women’s 100m Hurdles Final

Jalaysia Smith (USC/De Soto, TX) immediately fell back to 3rd behind the two Jamaicans for the first half of the race.  Kerrica Hill (Jamaica) was the winner in a stunning meet record 12.77, while her teammate Alexis James was second in a PB 12.87.  Anna Toth (Hungary), who looked so good in the first 2 rounds, took third in a national record 13.00.  Jalaysia was 4th in 13.35, after running 13.20 in qualifying.

Women’s Triple Jump Final

Agor Dwol (Mullen, Denver, CO), the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals Champion, finished 12th in 41-05.25, well off her 42-11.5 she jumped in qualifying.  Her three jumps were all within about an inch of one another.  Nonetheless, she had a superlative senior year and is on her way to University of Oklahoma.

Women’s 1500m Final

Addison Wiley (North, Huntington, IN), the Nike Outdoor Nationals 800m Champion (and 2021 NON mile champ), ran an incredible race, in the midst of the 2 Ethiopians and 2 Kenyans for most of the way.  The pace was scorching early – 61.64 for the first 400m – then leveled off to 2:09.76 (800m) and 3:02.25 with a lap to go. 

Addy moved into 4th with a lap to go and, for a moment, it looked like she would be in a medal position.  But with 250 meters to go, the East Africans displayed a gear that is unknown to most US athletes.  Birke Haylom won in a meet record 4:04.27.  Ethiopian athletes were 1st and 4th, and the 2 Kenyan athletes took silver and bronze behind Haylom.  Addy finished in a PR 4:11.43 for 5th, #6 all-time U.S. high school.

Mia Barnett (U of Virginia/Crescenta Valley, La Crescenta, CA), who was 11th in the 2019 NBNO mile, and who had run 4:11.32 in April, ran 4:22.27 for 11th – not quite able to find the form she had in the semis.

Women’s 5000m Final

It was the East Africans – 2 Kenyans, 2 Ethiopians, 2 Ugandans – all alone at 1000 meters (2:55.32), then dropping the rest of the world a half lap back and more.  The event was won by Medina Eisa of Ethiopia in 15:29.71.

Analee Weaver (Utah State transfer/Stillwater, MN), who was 4th at the 2020 XC Town USA 5000m, finished 8th in 16:35.74, only 10 seconds off her PB.

Heidi Nielson (U of Arkansas/Cinco Ranch, Katy, TX), the 2018 NSAF NBNO 5000m champ (as a HS freshman) who was also 2nd at the 2021 NSAF Meet of Champions mile, finished 14th in 17:13.97.  She had already taken 13th in the 3000m on the meet’s first day.

Women’s 4x400m Final

Team USA’s athletes each had strong credentials coming in, including from NSAF meets:

  • Mekenze Kelley (Coastal Carolina/Campbell, Smyrna, GA) was 11th in 2019 NBNO 400m.
  • Shawnti Jackson (Wakefield, Raleigh, NC) was 1st at the 2019 NBNO Freshman 100m and bronze medalist in the 100m here.
  • Akala Garrett (Harding, Charlotte, NC) is the 2021 and 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals 400m Hurdles Champion and World Junior Champion.
  • Roisin Willis (Stevens Point, WI) is the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals 400m Champion and World Junior 800m Champion.

Kelley led off and was in 2nd at the handoff, just about even with 3 other teams.  Her 52.23 was just .08 behind the split of Great Britain’s World U20 400m champ, Yemi Mary John.

But it was all US from then on.  Shawnti Jackson, who was also a silver medalist on the Team USA 4x100 – giving her 3 medals total – blasted a 51.36 second leg to create a lead the US never relinquished.  That was not only the fastest carry of any team on that leg, but second for the meet overall.  Jackson handed to Garrett, who more than maintained the margin with a 53.13 leg.

Garrett then handed off to Willis, who clocked a sizzling 51.34 for her anchor, fastest of the meet.  The outcome was never in doubt, despite Jamaica’s (3:31.59) and Great Britain’s (3:31.86) attempts to close.  Team USA’s 3:28.06 is #2 all-time World Junior, second only to the 3:24.04 record-smashing effort by the American team three years ago in Costa Rica at Pan Am U20s.

Men’s 4x400m Final
  • Steven McElroy (U of Cincinnati/Pickerington North, Pickerington, OH), is the 400m Silver Medalist
  • Ashton Schwartzman (Texas A+M/Waucona, WI) was 4th in the 2021 Nike Outdoor Nationals
  • Charlie Bartholomew (Oklahoma State U./Boyd, Mc Kinney, TX) won Gold in the Mixed 4x400 and Bronze in the 4x100.
  • Will Sumner (Woodstock, GA) is the 2022 Nike Indoor Nationals 400m Champion and Mixed 4x400 Gold Medalist

McElroy led off and gave the stick to Schwartzman in 3rd with his 46.93 – just .31 off the leaders from Canada.  Schwartzman, who missed the 400 individual final here while teammate McElroy won silver, dug down deep on the first curve and backstretch to make up the deficit and power into the lead.  His 45.36 was Team USA’s fastest leg, the fastest of any team on the 2nd leg, and #2 for the meet overall.  He gave the USA a lead it would never surrender. 

From there, it was never in doubt as the US clocked #9 World Junior all-time, winning in 3:04.47.  Schwartzman handed to Bartholomew, who did not run an individual event but ran in FIVE of Team USA’s Mixed 4x400 and Men’s 4x100 and 4x400 (all but the 4x100 final)!  He clocked a solid 46.30, then handed off to Sumner who brought it home in 45.88.  Sumner ran qualifying and finals for both the Mixed and Men’s 4x400s to take home two golds even though he didn’t have an individual race.

U.S. Athletes in the Finals today

  • M DT  Desmond Coleman 7th
  • M DT  Kevin Grubbs  9th
  • M 4x400m    1st
  • W 1500m Addison Wiley  5th
  • W 1500m Mia Barnett  11th
  • W 5000m Heidi Nielson  8th
  • W 5000m Annalee Weaver 14th
  • W 100m H Jalaysia Smith  4th
  • W 4X400m    1st
  • W HJ  Emma Gates  11th
  • W TJ  Agor Dwol  12th

US Medal Count 15

Jamaica bested the U.S. in medal count, 16-15, though the US had 7 golds to Jamaica’s 6.


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