This Is It
The U.S. men have been struggling to keep up with the Jamaican sprint force for several years. First it was Asafa Powell and then Usain Bolt. Now they've added Yohan Blake to the mix and it appears that America might not win a global 4x1 gold medal for quite some time.
Except that the Americans pushed back on that Saturday at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Spain. The fantastic foursome of Tyreek Hill (Douglas, Ga.), Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, Texas), Arthur Delaney (Gresham, Ore.) and Aaron Ernest (New Orleans, La.) brought the stick home in 38.67, three-tenths ahead of the Jamaica juniors, anchored by Jazeel Murphy. Despite the loss, Jamaican time of 38.97 was a national junior record.
"I felt good when I got the handoff," said Ernest, who has already medaled in the 100m and 200m dashes. "I didn't have my legs yesterday (for the 200 meter semifinal and final), but today was a different story. I just tried to go out there and show everyone I can sprint."
"I won my first gold medal," said Hill. "I wanted to cry, but, I didn’t want to show the emotion right now."
The U.S. women, on the other hand, made it five WJC 4x100m titles in a row as Morgan Snow (Decatur, Ga.), Dezerea Bryant (Milwaukee, Wis.), Jennifer Madu (Murphy, Texas), and Shayla Sanders (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) brought the stick around the track in 43.89.
The United States' women's 4x4 had initially been disqualified in Saturday's semifinals, but the IAAF recognized an official's error led to that decision. The U.S. was permitted to run again on Sunday morning and, if it met the time of the other qualifiers, would be allowed back into the final. After blazing in 3:34.25 all alone this morning, the U.S. — with Kendall Baisden (Detroit, Mich.), Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.), Kiara Porter (Yorkville, Va.) and Olivia Ekpone (Germantown, Md.) — will run again this afternoon.
Before that, the fastest qualifying time had been 3:34.96 by Jamaica, which featured recent New York City high school star Sandrae Farquharson on the opening leg.
The American men qualified for the 4x4 final with Saturday's fastest time of 3:06.26. That relay consisted of Quincy Downing (Dayton, Ohio), Eric Futch (Lansdowne, Pa.), Chidi Okezie (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Arman Hall (Pembroke Pines, Fla.). All four split 47.0 or faster.
Aside from Farquharson, the other New Yorker competing on Saturday was Averill Park hammer thrower Rudy Winkler, who finished 11th in the event with a best of 69.35 meters (227-6). Qatar’s Ashraf Amgad Elseify easily won the championship with a world-junior record throw of 85.57 meters (280-9).
American Shelby Ashe (Stone Mountain, Ga.) was 10th in the women's hammer with just one legal throw which measured at 58.62 (192-4). Kalia Barber of Notre Dame won bronze in the women’s 400 meter hurdles (57.63) while Emily Grove (Pontiac, Ill.) posted the best U.S. finish ever in the pole vault, taking sixth with a clearance of 4.15 meters (13-7 1/2).
Sunday will see Brooklyn's Eddie Owens — a rising sophomore at Princeton — and Bronxville High's Mary Cain give chase for a medal. Owens' steeplechase final starts at 12:45 pm (New York time) with Cain chasing not just a world medal, but the American high school 1,500-meter record, at 1:05 pm.