History In The Making?
After Ajee Wilson won gold and Brianna Nerud broke her own national high school record at the IAAF World Junior Championships last night, the stage was set for Bronxville rising junior Mary Cain to pull together her own magic in Barcelona.
Nothing magical just yet, but Cain did advance to the final of the 1,500-meter run this morning in 4:14.77. She was a close third in her heat, which earned her an automatic berth to the Sunday's final (1:05 pm in New York). No American has ever medaled in the 1,500 at World Juniors, an event that began in 1986, and it would be a surprise if Cain were to end that drought. She'd likely need a huge personal best to do so, which would mean a complete shattering of Jordan Hasay's national high school record (4:14.50).
Hasay, now a star at the University of Oregon, came the closest to earning a World Juniors' trip to the podium in this event, taking fourth in both 2008 (4:19.02) and 2010 (4:13.95).
“I felt really good,” said Cain. “I started going out with the girls in 65, 66, and then I said to myself, ‘This is not my race’. It’s a different pace that what I’m used to, and I know I have a kick to mess with, so I played the game differently after the first lap or so. I’m excited about getting to the final – it was my goal."
Americans have not fared well in the steeplechase either, but Princeton rising sophomore Eddie Owens — a Brooklyn native — advanced to Sunday's final as well by finishing sixth in his heat in 8:52.99. He has had the luxury of training in the event with an Olympian, Tiger teammate Donn Cabral.
“I was feeling good, but this race with such a high-level of competition and inflated expectations, these guys were running fast, like 68s – blazing,” said Owens. “But, I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to run 70s.’ I was holding that pace and started to track down kids, and I was thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’ve got to get into fifth or sixth place’. I put what I had into it. I didn’t close very fast, but I did what I needed to.”
The steeple has been long dominated by Kenyans at the World Juniors. The last 12 champions have been from that amazing country and a look at the preliminaries would indicate that the streak could easily get to 13. Countryman Gilbert Kanlangat Kirui took the first of two steeple semifinals by more than 11 seconds in 8:26.58. Teammate Consesius Kipruto must have been unimpressed as he scorched the second heat, winning by more than 17 seconds in 8:19.46. That time is below the Olympic A standard. Needless to say, Owens has his work cut out for him.
So does Averill Park's Rudy Winkler, who advanced to the hammer throw final with a personal-best 73.18 meters (240-1) with the international implement. Winkler took just one throw to hit the auto qualifier (72.50) as did Qatar's Ashraf Amgad Elseify, whose lone effort soared 79.98 meters (262-5).
“It was crazy,” said Winkler. “My warm-ups weren’t very good, but it didn’t change my thinking. I was just going to step in the ring and throw. My winds were good, I thought I had fouled it at first, but — white flag, and I started yelling and got all excited, knowing I had a good one. Making the finals was my goal, so anything after this would be great.”
The young woman whose been called "the future of throwing" by her high school coach back in Texas — Shelbi Vaughan — was an easy advancer in the discus throw. Her qualifying mark of 179-8 is far from her personal best. Both she and Southern Cal rising sophomore Alex Collatz will compete in the final.
Both American female high hurdlers — Dior Hall of Denver, Colo., and University of Texas star Morgan Snow — advanced. Snow ran 13.44, just one-hundreth swift than Hall, who won at the New Balance Nationals at The Armory in March.