NSAF stars shine in season-ending Junior Olympic meets

by Steve Underwood

The Junior Olympic summer track season – and, for almost all prep athletes, the 2016 outdoor season – rolled to its conclusion with the USATF Junior Olympics (Sacramento) and AAU Junior Olympics (Houston).  Among those shining most brightly in those JO meets were a number of NSAF Project Javelin Gold and Triple Jump athletes, members of Team NSAF in Cuba and at Iron Wood, and athletes who starred at NBNI and/or NBNO.    USATF JO Complete Results  |  AAU JO Complete Results.

Photo credits: Roman Mitchell from NBNationals.com; Jasmine Moore, Milan Young and Cameron Cooper by Vic Sailer, photorun.net.

Project Javelin: USA triumphs for Christensen and Mitchell
  • Liam Christensen (Academic Magnet, SC jr/Mt. Pleasant TC) hit 211-3 on his first throw and was never headed in winning the 17-18 division at USA JOs, moving up one spot from last year.  Christensen finished his season unbeaten, having hit his US#1 mark in winning NBNO at 232-1 and also having won the Penn Relays jav.
  • Roman Mitchell (SE Raleigh, NC soph/Team Powerhouse) broke the 15-16 USA JO meet record and nailed his first career 200 footer with a mighty 206-4 triumph.  He took the lead on his 2nd throw and hit the big one on his 3rd.  That moved him to US#10 for the season and #2 sophomore.
Project Triple Jump: Moore and Johnson leap to USA, AAU titles
  • Jasmine Moore (Mansfield Lake Ridge, TX frosh/North Texas Cheetahs TC) bounded to a 42-2.75w(+2.6), nearly beating the 7-year-old national USA JO record.  She took the lead on her first jump and never trailed, and also was 2nd in the long jump.  That put a cap on Moore’s superlative campaign, which included a 43-5.75w NBNO triumph and a Texas 5A title.
  • Koi Johnson (Dickinson, TX frosh) and Allyson Weiss (Woodbury, MN soph) fashioned a 1st-3rd finish for Project athletes in AAU 15-16s, with Johnson leaping 40-2.25 and Weiss 39-1.75 (missing 2nd by 0.75).  Johnson, the newest Project athlete, had been 3rd at the Texas Relays and 5th at 6A state, and finished ’16 as the nation’s #4 frosh (Moore was #1).  Weiss, the Minnesota AA state champ, broke her PR by an inch and bounced back from an off day at USA JOs.
Team NSAF/CSI Cuba: Victories for Clark, Walker, both Youngs
  • Tamara Clark (High Point Central, NC jr) won the AAU JO 17-18 200 in a near-PR 23.58, despite a 2.4 headwind – reversing a runner-up finish to Ka’Tia Seymour in the 100 (11.66, -1.1w).  That was also a reversal of Clark’s performance in AAUs last year, when she won the 15-16 100 and was 2nd in the 200.  Clark ran the 200 and runner-up 4x100 in Cuba for Team NSAF. 
  • Also in the AAU JO 17-18 100, Kaylor Harris (Mesquite Horn, TX jr) was 3rd behind Clark and Seymour (11.76) – as well as 2nd in the LJ (19-5.25).  Harris was just coming back from the World U20 Champs, where she ran on the gold medal 4x100.  She had run the 100 and 4x1 with Clark in Cuba, then went on to win the NBNO 100 before running Juniors.
  • Milan Young (Houston Lamar, TX jr) took the AAU 17-18 100H with a 13.85(-2.0w), nipping Yasmin Brooks at 13.92.  She was also 2nd in the 400H with a PR 1:00.30, trailing only Destiny Ward (59.02) – who was the NBNO Emerging Elite champ from VA.  Young had been 3rd in the 100H (Youth 30”) and 6th in the 400H in Cuba, then just missed the torrid NBNO 100H final – despite a PR 13.75.
  • Kathleen Young (Warrensburg-Latham, IL jr) took the USA 17-18 shot put at 48-6.75 and was 2nd in the discus at 142-1.  It was her 3rd straight title in the shot.  In Cuba, Young placed in multiple shot and disc competitions, including winning the Youth shot.  She also threw with Team NSAF at Iron Wood, leading all preps in the shot and 2nd in the disc, and took 3rd and 7th in the same events at NBNO.
  • Sydnee Walker (King’s Ridge Christian, GA jr/Throw 1 Deep) ruled the USA 17-18 hammer at 167-4, adding to her 15-16 title in 2015 and one of her best meets of the year.  She had won the Youth final in Cuba in the event, and placed 9th in the NBNO hammer.  This past winter, she won the EE weight throw at NBNI.
  • Jaimie Robinson (Homewood-Flossmoor, IL jr) was a solid 3rd in the 17-18 triple jump at 40-11.75, a year after winning the 15-16s with a 40-6. She hit her PR 41-10.5 for 3rd at NBNO after jumping 41-0 in Cuba for 9th in the prelims.  She had also been 4th at NBNI in the triple.  Robinson has trained with Project Triple Jump in the past and may do so this coming year.
Team NSAF/Iron Wood Throws Classic: Adams is back
  • Terrell Adams (Middle Creek, NC senior) claimed the USA 17-18 discus at 196-6 – his best mark since winning the Iron Wood Throws Classic (among preps) with a 204-9.  He had followed that big mark with a disappointing 184-0 at NBNO for 6th.  Adams had taken the national lead in May with a 213-9 at his 4A Mideast Regional, which held up for the rest of the season.
Other super highlights by NBN stars
  • One final epic Cooper triple – If you thought he couldn’t get any better than his frosh national record 45.69 400m to win NBNO, well, 9th-grade megastar Tyrese Cooper (American HS, FL) had one more peak to hit.  At AAU JOs, he swept the 15-16 sprints for Miami Gardens Xpress with a PR 10.36 100, a 20.89 200 (PR 20.62 prelim) and a mind-boggling US#1 45.23 400 (after a 45.54 prelim).
  • Wilkinson smashes 800, 1500 records – Talk about sweeps: Gabrielle Wilkinson (Friends Central, PA soph) was unbeatable at the AAU 15-16 distances, taking the 800 in a season’s best 2:07.04, the 1,500 in a PR 4:25.04 and the 3,000m in 10:25.08.  Wilkinson was 3rd in the NBNI 800, then 5th in the same event at NBNO.
  • JavFest winner Garner over 200 again – At the American JavFest a week earlier, he had thrown the javelin a mighty 208-2, improving his PR by more than 20 feet and moving to #7 on the national list.  At USA JOs, Eric Garner (Warwick, PA jr) proved JavFest was no fluke, dominating with a 207-4.  Through mid-July, he had carried a 187-10 PR and had been 15th at NBNO with 187-9.
  • Quick turnaround for Osborn – Less than a week after returning from Poland, where he won World U20 bronze in the shot put, Bronson Osborn (Esperanza, CA jr) claimed the USA JO 17-18 title in the same event with 62-6.75.  It probably didn’t hurt that JOs were in his home state.  Osborn had taken 3rd in the stellar NBNO shot competition before throwing even better at USA Juniors and Worlds.
  • Motor City TC’s mid-distance kings – Coaches Brandon Jiles and Robert Lynch had their boys’ crew at a strong mid-summer peak and it showed in Houston.  Oak Park, MI junior Cameron Cooper and senior De’Karyea Freeman went 1-2 in the 1,500 (3:54.45 and 3:58.42), the 800 (1:51.28, 1:52.36) and then lead the club’s 4x800 to a stellar 7:39.35 – just 0.31 off the national AAU record.  Cooper had taken 2nd in the NBNO 800 (1:49.71) and anchored their winning 1,600 SMR with Freeman. 
  • Moore leads Sprint Athletics – Coach Eric Merriweather’s Sprint Athletics crew had a fine week in Sacramento, sparked by Matthew Moore (Union Grove, GA sr).  Moore won the 110 hurdles in 13.71 into a 2.0 headwind (after a 13.59 prelim with a +1.9 wind), and keyed winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays that clocked 40.60 (40.43 prelim) and 3:11.39.  Moore had a 13.45 wind-legal PR during the season and, at NBNI, he had been 8th in the 60H.
  • Huge TJ PR for Knight – The junior year for Hasani Knight had seen the Landstown, VA junior horizontal jumper progress to 48-7.5 in the TJ at NBNO, good for 4th.  So it was eye-popping in Houston to see him take the 17-18 field with a mighty 50-11(+1.3w) – improving more than two feet and rocketing into the US#3 spot.
  • Lester more than a sprinter – It was one heck of a freshman year for Sterling Lester at Marietta HS in GA.  She roared onto the scene indoors, taking 3rd in the NBNI 400 at 54.12, and improved to 52.69 outdoors – hitting 53.68 for 4th at NBNO.  At USA JOs, though, she not only won her signature event in 53.67, but also scored an impressive PR 4,817 points in the 15-16 heptathlon – winning by 700.
  • Strong triple for Thomas – She was a do-everything soph sprinter-jumper for Rush-Henrietta HS (NY) all year, so it was no surprise that Lanae-Tava Thomas was able to triple for her Maximum Velocity Club at USA JOs in the 15-16s.  She won the 100 in 11.93(-1.9w), 200 (23.74) and long jump (19-8.75), all with room to spare.  Thomas competed at both NBNI and NBNO with her team, with a 3rd in the NBNI 200 – where she also ran on R-H’s winning 1,600 sprint medley relay.
  • Peerless almost any other year – In a world without Tyrese Cooper, Brian Herron (Lakeside, GA frosh) would have dominated any conversation of prodigal boys’ sprint talents.  As it was, his great sprint campaign came to a peak in the summer as he hit 46.29 for 400 at his Region 4 USA JO meet, then 46.30 in Sacramento.  He had set a pair of frosh class records indoors (later broken by Cooper) and won the frosh 400 at NBNI in a record 47.97. 
  • Garland adds nearly 500 points – Germantown Academy, PA soph Kyle Garland showed his all-around athleticism in the NBNI pentathlon (2nd, 3,699 pts.) and NBNO decathlon (6th, 6,351 pts.).  He had room for improvement in the latter, though, as he tallied a tremendous 6,823 in the AAU JO 15-16s to win by more than 1,000 points.  He was also 4th in the open 400H with 54.84.
  • Not too steep(le) a learning curve for Ewert – He went out way too hard in the NBNO 2k steeple and paid for it at the end, finishing 7th in 6:06.75.  So at USA JOs, Ben Ewert (Beavercreek, OH jr) showed he’d learned something and with a better-paced effort came up with an unexpected US-leading 5:54.22.
  • Lucas doubles up USA distances – After a spring that saw him become a rising star in the northern Heartland, Hunter Lucas finished off his junior year (Fargo Davies, ND) with a 3k (8:45.23), 1,500 (3:56.95) double in Sacramento.  He had progressed to 4:13.15 and 9:09.87 to sweep the 16/32 in his Class A state meet, then impressed with a 14:53.69 in the NBNO 5,000, taking 8th.
  • Taylor wraps it up – Like Brandon Osborn, Brandon Taylor came back quickly from his World U20 experience in Poland to win a USA JO title.  The Clear Brook, TX senior claimed the 100 in 10.63.  He had played a key role in the gold medal performance in the U20 4x100 a week earlier.  Taylor’s standout NBN performance came in the indoor 60, as he was 2nd behind Josephus Lyles in 6.73.
  • Imagine a sub-60 400H – Summerville, SC soph Imagine Patterson had an impressive triumph in her 4A state meet 400H at 1:00.46, but struggled at NBNO in the event, taking just 28th in 1:03.60.  She was in better-than-ever form at USA JOs, though, topping the 15-16s with a big PR 59.16.  No doubt she’ll be one to watch the next two years.


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