From The Armory To The World
USA Track & Field has released its rosters for the IAAF World Junior Championships — which welcomes qualified athletes between 16 and 19 years old from 186 nations. These championships take place in Barcelona, Spain, next week, beginning on Tuesday and running through the weekend.
And, of course, any international event involving Team USA will feature a number of members of the Armory Army, those who have found themselves at home at the New Balance Track & Field Center.
Two of the expected runners — Bronxville rising junior Mary Cain and New Jersey's Ajee Wilson — will be there. Cain ran the second-fastest 1,500-meter time ever at U.S. Junior Nationals (4:14.74) and is poised to take on the world. Only Oregon star Jordan Hasay has run faster while in high school.
Wilson has not only taken on the world before, she has won! Last summer at the IAAF Youth Championships in France, she claimed gold in the 800-meter run, dipping below 2:03. The Florida State-bound star has run 2:02.61 this year and advanced to the semifinals at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
North Shore High's Brianna Nerud — who will attend Syracuse in the fall — is the top seed from the U.S. in the steeplechase. The IAAF called her 10:23.87 effort at U.S. Junior Nationals a 'one-woman show,' but it actually was her season's best. She has been under 10:20.
Rudy Winkler — the rising senior from Averill Park High — was an easy winner of the hammer throw at Nationals, advancing to Worlds with a mark of 232-1. His consistency makes him a medal contender in Spain. He is one of only four high schoolers to throw the hammer in excess of 250 feet.
Eric Futch of Lansdowne, Pa., came to The Armory early in the winter and recorded a season-best Armory time in the 300-meter dash… despite a broken arm. He shook loose some controversy from his home state championship to post a 50.73 for the 400-meter hurdles at Nationals and is the top seed from the States. "I’m really excited. It’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life," Futch said. "I’ve been dreaming to make the USA team my whole life."
Of course, it's not just the high schoolers who will be aiming for world acclaim next week. Cornell's Stephen Mozia — a product of North Jersey — will be in contention for a medal in the shot put. He put the world on notice at Nationals with a final-round toss of 20.20 meters (66-3 1/4), which was within inches of the meet record.
Another Ivy Leaguer — Eddie Owens of Princeton via Packer Collegiate Institute — will compete in the steeplechase. He took second at Nationals in 9:13.08, which was outside the qualifying standards, but he'd run sub-nine already in his rookie season. Owens has already represented Team USA twice in his young career and told John Torenli of the Brooklyn Eagle, "It's quite an honor and I am extremely proud to represent the United States in the competition."
And both U.S. entrants in the women's 3,000-meter run — Stanford's Aisling Cuffe and UConn's Lindsay Crevoiserat — are familiar faces at The Armory. Cuffe, a native of Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., defeated Nutmeg State native Crevoiserat at Nationals to bring a highlight to an otherwise trying freshman season.
"It was definitely a roller-coaster performance-wise," Cuffe told Ken McMillan of the Times Herald-Record. "As much as I would have liked to have a great year and follow up my senior year of high school with an even-more amazing year ... if there was a year to have ups and downs, this was it."
And now she is in position to close the year with a tremendous 'up.'