NSAF @ IAAF World U20 Champs! Day 6: Tia Jones, w4x4 earn US golds in finale

by Steve Underwood

Those two, plus Men's 4x4 silver brings USA medal total to 18

Here is our recap of Sunday at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Women’s 100 Meter Hurdles Final

American Tia Jones (Walton HS, Marietta, GA) has won razor-tight hurdle races before; in the NBNI 60H title race this past March, she edged Grace Stark by .003 seconds. Here, the 2016 World U20 bronze medalist had two competitors pushing her every step: Teammate Cortney Jones (Florida State) and Jamaican Britany Anderson. Cortney Jones, who qualified with 13.24 but has a PR of 12.86, had a slight edge early in the race, while Tia Jones and Anderson were together almost stride for stride.

At the final hurdle, Cortney Jones’s hamstring appeared to cramp or pull and she stumbled the final steps as Tia Jones and Anderson moved ahead. Tia crossed the line, and seeming certain that she had won, raised her arms in the air and clapped. But it was really, really close. Both Tia Jones and Anderson were timed in 13.01 – actually 13.002 – but Tia won by less than a thousandth of a second.

Cortney Jones held on for the bronze in 13.19 and had to be helped from the track in a wheelchair. She emerged for the medal ceremony using crutches. Tia Jones’ gold was the first (and only) individual gold for Team USA in the meet. The 2-time NBNO 100H and 2018 NBNI 60H champ still has another year of high school left!

Women’s 4x400 Meter Relay Final

What turned out to be the final gold of the week for Team USA came in this race, as the they dominated for the first two legs, withstood a challenge by Jamaica, and then came home with room to spare. The Americans went with the same opening two legs as they did in the semifinals, and Symone Mason (U. of Miami) and Shae Anderson (Oregon) delivered again, with splits of 51.2 and 51.6 At this point, Team USA had about a 30-meter lead.

Julia Madubuike (Texas A&M), running her first race of the meet, took the 3rd leg and went 54.3 as Jamaican counterpart Shiann Salmon close the gap to a few strides. Madubuike then handed off to Taylor Manson (Florida), the 400 bronze medalist who’d been held out of the prelims. She held the margin, expanding it a little, for about 250 meters, then – as opposed to the open 400 where she faded a bit in the stretch – Manson kicked home powerfully (51.6) to anchor the WU20-leading 3:28.74 triumph by more than two seconds.

Australia caught Jamaica for the silver, 3:31.36 to 3:31.90, with Canada close behind at 3:31.93. Team USA has won this event in 9 consecutive championships, starting in 2002.

Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay Final

Once again, Team USA suffered a major blow with a dropped baton, just as had happened in the women’s 4x100 prelims. This time and with the more forgiving 4x400 distance, they recovered enough to take the silver medal. Elija Godwin (Newton HS, GA) took the opening leg in his first race of the meet. After his 46.1 carry, the first exchange was fumbled and by the time second leg Nick Ramey (Brookwood HS, Snellville, GA) had the stick and was accelerating into the curve, the Americans were in 6th place.

Ramey with 48.6 (including the drop) and Justin Robinson with 45.3 (West HS, Hazelwood, MO) gradually closed the gap, and by the time anchor Trey Fields (Baylor) got the baton, they were in a 3-way battle for silver – but surprising Italy had a 15 meter lead. Fields ran a strong 45.2, but Italian Edoardo Scotti closed in 45.43, refusing to give up any significant ground. The 3:04.05 for Italy was that nation’s first-ever triumph in this event. Team USA, 3:05.26 for silver, did not win gold for the first time since 2000 – breaking a 9-meet 4x400 winning streak. Great Britain was 3rd with 3:05.64. Jamaica, tabbed as the favorite with two sub-45 runners, was DQ’d in the prelims.

Women’s High Jump Final

American Shelby Tyler (Noblesville HS, IN jr) had an impressive qualifier Saturday morning, nailing 1.84m (6-0.5) and easily making the final. On Sunday, however, she was unable to negotiate that bar and had to settle for 11th place in the final. She cleared 1.75m on her first attempt, then 1.80 (5-10.75) on her second try. Just 17 and with another year of high school, Noble will have a few more Junior opportunities.

Karyna Taranda (Belarus), the European U20 runner-up, cleared a PR 1.92m (6-3.5) on her 2nd try for the win. Sommer Lecki (IRL) and 2017 Pan Am Junior champ María Fernanda Murillo (COL) both reached 1.90m (6-2.750, with Lecki earning silver on misses.

Women’s Triple Jump Final

4-time NBN champ Jasmine Moore (Lake Ridge HS, Mansfield TX) had medal aspirations here, having a wind-aided PR that showed her to be a contender. Jumping first in the order, she leapt 13.09 (42-11.5) in the first round and 13.06 in the second, to stand 8th at that point. But Moore fouled in the third round and watched two others pass her, pushing her down to 10th and out after three attempts.The 2017 Pan Am Junior bronze medalist will be back, though, with another year of high school and a few more opportunities at the Junior level.

Bulgarian Aleksandra Nacheva, last year’s World U18 runner-up and still not 17, popped a huge U20 world-leading 14.18m (46-6.25) on her second attempt and would pass her final three attempts. She stands #4 all-time among U18s. Mireli Santos (BRA) passed Cuba’s ’17 Pan Am Jr champ Davisleydi Velazco on the 5th attempt for the silver, 13.81 to 13.78.

Men’s Discus Final

Amerian Elijah Mason (U. of Washington) was plagued a bit by fouls, with two in the prelims and two more in the finals – but he hit 57.96m (190-2) in the second round for 8th place, which got him those final three throws. His other fair throw in the 6th round, 56.77m, was not enough to advance him. Mason, who was a Class of ’17 standout at Desert Vista HS (AZ), redshirted this past spring and has four years of eligibility remaining as a Huskie.

Jamaican Kai Chang threw a huge PR 62.36m (204-7) on his 2nd attempt to move from 6th to 1st and that’s where he stayed – despite a 58-meter 3rd throw and three fouls in the final. Chang was also the Penn Relays champ this past April. Yauheni Bahutski (BLR) had the silver after 2 throws and then improved to 61.75m (202-7) on his 4th, while Claudio Romero (CHI) – the ’17 World U18 champ – hit 60.81 (199-6) on his 1st throw and took the bronze.

Women’s 1,500m Final

After two rounds of the 800m earlier in the week, then a PR 4:18.40 in her 1,500m semifinal, Caitlin Collier (Bolles HS, FL sr) did not have it Sunday when the pace picked up in the 1500m final. The first two laps were very pedestrian, with almost the entire field hitting 800 around 2:20. By the bell lap, however, the race was a battle between the two Ethiopians, two Kenyans and Delia Sclabas of Switzerland – the bronze winner in the 800 (and European U20 winner at 3k).

At the end, it was Alemaz Samuel (ETH) and X pulling away, then Samuel – just 3rd in the U20 African Champs – triumphing in 4:09.67, her last lap 61.04. Miriam Cherop (KEN) took silver in 4:10.73 and Sclabas bronze in 4:11.98. Collier finished 12th in 4:26.61, but still had a fantastic year, leading U.S. preps at 800 (2:00.85), 1500 and the mile (4:38.48). She’s headed to Stanford.

Men’s 800m Final

Kenya looked as if they had a good shot at going 1-2 here and that’s what happened, as Solomon Lekuta outkicked teammate Ngeno Kipngetich, 1:46.35 to 1:46.45. Eliott Crestan (BEL) won bronze in 1:47.27.

No Americans made the final, with Josh Hoey (Bishop Shanahan, Doylestown, PA sr) and Ray Rivera (Georgetown) both eliminated in the semifinals. Hoey, with an outdoor PR 1:48.07, had been just .10 outside of the automatic qualifying top 3 Saturday. He’s headed to Oregon after a season that also included a U.S. indoor prep record at 800m.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Final

Leonard Kipkemoi Bett, the only Kenyan in the final, led through the first two kilos at an 8:36 pace, burning off most of the other non-East-African contenders, then the pace ratcheted up from there. But it was Ethiopian Takele Nigate who finished fastest for the gold – 8:25.35 to Bett’s 8:25.39 – the closest-ever finish in this event at these champs. Nigate’s teammate Getnet Wale earned bronze with 8:26.16 to give their country two of the three medals. Albert Chemutai (UGA) was 4th at 8:28.63, then it was 22 seconds back to 5th. No Americans were in the final.

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