The off-season nowadays is hardly off-season. There are all kinds of post-season meets to attend and watch. For instance, one can choose a variety of smorgasbord venues: Junior Nationals, Senior Nationals, USATF Junior Olympics, World Youth trials, AAU track and field series… the list goes on and on throughout the summer. Here is my personal bird’s eye take on key performances:
USA Junior Nationals-
Des Moines, Iowa, played host to the prestigious junior national championships for athletes 19 and under. This basically means top-notched high school athletes can conceivably compete against collegiate athletes who are in their sophomore year (depending on where they fall age wise). Depending on the events, the qualifying athletes will advance to the Pan-Am Games to be held in Medellin, Columbia August 23-25.
Scott Filip (Sr., Roselle Lake Park/Dupage Track Club) placed third with7255 points. Filip led after day one on the stretch of very strong performances in the 100m (10.81 nwi), LJ (23-2), HJ (6-9.75), and 400m (49.92). Filip entered day two with the same intensity despite competing in some very tough degree of difficulty events. Filip appears to have earned his ticket to Columbia. It’s a nice consolation prize before heading off to attend college at Rice University.
Morolake Akinosun (U of Illinois/Aurora Waubonsie Valley HS) won the 100m title (11.64 -4.4) over a solid field that included Frankfort Lincoln-Way East graduate and soon to be Texas A&M student-athlete Aaliyah Brown. Akinosun proved that a year later and year of health in a superior collegiate system has paid dividends- particularly competing against high schoolers. Brown ran fairly well placing sixth. Akinosun returned later to place second in the 200m (23.18 -3.8).
Shamier Little (Sr., Chicago Lindblom) competed in two events that she termed: “my weakest events.” The multi-talented Little didn’t make the final in the 100H, but she made a forever lasting impression in the 400m. Little truly showed how strong and fast she really is in a one event scenario, peak scenario when she blazed 52.59 to place fourth and US#3. The mark is the fastest ever for an Illinois prep breaking the immortal mark 52.63 set by Alexandria Anderson (Chicago Morgan Park) back in 2004. Little jetted out of the blocks full throttled through the first 200 in 25.7 and continued pressing through the final turn and maintained her momentum through the finish.
Ironically, she had no idea that she set such a marvelous feat until her twitter feed lit up like the 4th of July. She will leave her last high school career performance on that hot Drake Stadium track as the fastest prep from the Prairie state.
Kristen Busch (Bradley University/Freeburg HS) might have found an event for the future. Busch completed her freshman year with a personal best 9:51.90 to place third in the 3000m steeplechase. The mark ranks #4 in school history. She also earned Junior All-American honors in the process. In addition, Busch may be in line to compete in the Pan American Junior Championships in late August.
University of Illinois-Champaign freshman Juan Paul Green (formerly Miami Carol City HS) punched his ticket to the Pan Am Games by placing second in the 400m (46.64). Green also ran on his team’s smoking 3:04.49 4x400m relay.
Josh Freeman (Southern Ill U/Cary-Grove HS) earned a trip to Pan Am’s with a second place effort in the shot put throwing 64-8.5.
Chris Derrick (Nike/Naperville Neuqua Valley) continues to build on his legacy as a hero to Illinois prep distance runners when he placed third in the 10k running a tactical 28:52.25. Derrick was in a dog fight with superstars Galen Rupp (28:47) and Dathan Ritzenhein (28:49) until the last 600m of the grueling 25-lap affair. Derrick will now test his mettle in the world championships later this summer in Moscow, Russia.
There was a time that the pundits thought Alexandria Anderson (Nike/U of Texas/Chicago Morgan Park) would be better suited competing in the 200 or 400 as a pro rather than the over crowed 100. But time after time the Olympian has proven the naysayers wrong. The greatest prep sprinter that Illinois has ever seen has enjoyed tremendous success as well as a comfortable living from running the Century. Oh yeah, she earned an automatic berth to the world championships with a sweet 10.91 personal best that netted third place. It also means that if Anderson continues running well she will end up in the Moscow final.
U of Illinois better savor sophomore Ashley Spencer. This time next year she may be running in the pro ranks. Spencer ran a savvy race to nab third place in the 400m (50.58). Spencer is just one of the young guns coming out of Champaign getting notoriety. Also, add her name to that USA 4x4 relay pool.
American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager (Nike/Algonquin Jacobs HS) and training partner Dan Huling (Nike/Geneva) go 1-2 with swift 8:20.67 and 8:22.62 times respectively. Jager took control of the race midway through clipping off a steady diet of 68-second laps. Huling moved into the runner-up position somewhere late in the race to earn his world championship spot.
FloTrack Interview: Evan Jager - Post Race
Watch more video of USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships 2013 on flotrack.org
Former three-time NCAA champion Jeneva McCall (New York AC/ Southern Ill U/Thornridge HS) continues her accent from high school to college and now the professional ranks with a second place performance in the hammer throw.
University of Illinois alumni and Olympian Gia Lewis-Smallwood set a Drake Stadium record to win the titel in the discus. She hit the winning mark of 65.13 meters on her very first throw to advance to the world championships in Moscow.
Riley Set For Second Trip To World Championships
Former University of Illinois star Andrew Riley has claimed his second straight Jamaican Outdoor Championships title in the 110 hurdles and once again will advance to teh World Championships. His time of 13.35 was a tenth of a second faster than runner-up Dwight Thomas. Riley competed for Jamaica in the 2012 Olympic games as well as the World Championships in Daegu in 2011.
USATF Illinois Jr. Olympic State Championships-
Illinois Benedictine University hosted the two-day championship that featured athletes from age 7-18.
- YW 800- Shianne Baggett (Sr., Chicago Whitney Young) won the 800m after a long layoff from the IHSA season in 2:19.58.
- YM 800- Matthew Anyiwo (Jr., Homewood-Flossmoor) crushed the field with a nice 1:54.70.
- IG 100- Britney Ellis (So., Gurnee Warren) get a personal best 12.17.
- YW 100- Ryan Preacely (Jr., Chicago Johnson Prep) held off Jenna Moody (Sr., Plainfield Central) 11.95-12.07. Morgan Park graduate Elexis Fairley represented well in third (12.15).
- YM TJ- Marcus Jegede (Jr., Lake Park) continues his prowess busting the competition 47-7.25.
- YW 100H- Emma Spagnola (Jr., West Aurora) and Jasmine Berry (Belleville West ) go 1-2 14.20 and 14.69 nwi.
- IG 400- Britney Ellis controlled the race from the gun in 57.05.
- YW 400- 2A state runner-up Ashley Fouch (Sr., Hampshire) beat a deep field rocking 56.41. Anthonia Moore (Sr., Huntley) 56.77, Jenna Moody 56.84, Jordan Shead (Sr., St. Charles East) 56.87, and Emma Spagnola 57.69 round out the top five spots.
- YM 400- Sam Bransby (Jr., Naperville Central) and Matt Anyiwo are the only sprinters to break 50.00 with 49.60 and 49.87 marks respectively.