Going For Gold
Brianna Nerud of Long Island and Ajee Wilson of Neptune, N.J., have each advanced in their specialties at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
Nerud, who ran for North Shore High and will be attending Syracuse University in the fall, picked a fine time to run an 11-second personal best. She clocked 10:08.15 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase to take the fourth automatic qualifier from the first of two preliminary heats. Of the 12 qualifiers to the final, Nerud had the fifth-best time behind two Kenyans, an Ethiopian and a Russian. Nerud — who led the pack through the first 1,000m in 3:20.40 — will next race in the steeple final at 1:30 pm (New York time) on Thursday.
The U.S. Track & Field Coaches' Association is calling Nerud's mark a national high school record, topping the old prep standard, set by Mel Lawrence in 2006, by more than seven seconds. Nerud took the race out and was the leader through five laps.
“I was expecting it to go out a little faster, but the first two laps were really slow so I wanted to pick it up.” said Nerud. “I was waiting for someone to take it out. I didn’t want it to be a kicker’s race. (My coach) told me to run my own race.”
Wilson — last summer's 800m champion at the IAAF Youth Championships in France — breezed through the first round of the two-lap, recording a 2:07.07 in the slowest heat of the day. The other American in the field — Danielle Aragon of Billings, Mont. — also advanced to the semifinals, which will be contested Wednesday at 6:20 am (New York time).
"I just wanted to make sure I had a position in the top three so I just ran securely," Florida State-bound Wilson told Phil Minshull of the IAAF. "Normally I don't worry about any set pace, I just go with the race and stay close to whoever takes it out. The plan was just to make the semi-finals."
Elsewhere for Team USA, Tyreek Hill (10.37) of Douglas, Ga., and LSU standout Aaron Ernest (10.39) posted two of the fastest qualifying 100m dashes. The only other runner under 10.4 was Great Britain's Adam Gemill (10.37). All three sprinted into a strong headwind. The hurdlers also faced challenge headwinds, but it didn't stop the two Americans — South Carolina-bound Dondre Echols (13.74) and Pitt's Joshua Thompson (14.04) — from advancing to the semis.
Arkansas Razorback Gunnar Nixon stands seventh after three decathlon events with 2,413. While he is fewer than 80 points out of second place, Australian Jake Stein has taken a nice lead on the competition (2,581 points).
Oregon high schooler Haley Crouser — the 17-year-old American junior record holder in the javelin — had to struggle to make the final with a best of 51.04 meters (167-5). That is more than four meters behind her all-time best as she looks to go further in the final. Iowa State rising sophomore Christina Hillman and Cal-Berkeley-bound Torie Owers advanced in the shot put as Hillman produced the third-best throw of the morning at 16.11 meters (52-10 1/4). Those two will be in this afternoon's final.
The afternoon session begins at noon Eastern as a pair of Armory alums — Stanford's Aisling Cuffe and UConn's Lindsey Crevoiserat — will run in the 3,000m final. Medgar Evers' Kadecia Baird, representing Guyana, will run in the opening heats of the 100-meter dash this afternoon and the 400-meter dash in Wednesday's morning session.