2015 World Youth Champs: Deep Girls Preview

by Steve Underwood

Overview:  In 100/200 dasher Candace Hill and 400 hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, Team USA has not only two of the true superstars of the meet, but two of the greatest Youth athletes of all-time.  The duo are huge favorites in the 100 and 400H, respectively, with Hill having a great chance to double up in the 200, too.  That’s just the start of strong medal contenders, though, as Symone Mason (400), Sammy Watson (800), Alexis Duncan (100H), Brandee’ Johnson (400H), Sophia Rivera (shot), Tara Davis (LJ), Carson Dingler (PV), Josephine Schaeffer (DT) and possibly others could mine medals of some color.

Girls’ Sprints:  Hill looks great for one, maybe two golds

100m Dash
Team USA Meet History:  This has been an ultra-successful event at the WYCs for the U.S., with 5 golds in the previous 8 editions and 1-2 finishes in both 2011 (Jennifer Madu, Myasia Jacobs) and 2013 (Ky Westbrook, Ariana Washington).  Other Americans who topped the podium have included Allyson Felix (2001), Jessica Onyepunuka (2003) and Bianca Knight (2005).

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Candace Hill, USA, 10.98
5. (2) Khalifa St. Fort, TTO, 11.43
6. (3) Hannah Brier, GBR, 11.44 (11.37w)
9. (4) Kimone Shaw, JAM, 11.52
11. (5) Tristan Evelyn, BAR, 11.54 (11.48w)

(14) Jayla Kirkland, USA, 11.69 (11.33w)
(Not in WYC 100: 2. Zaria Francis USA, 3. Lauren Rain Williams USA, 3. Kaylin Whitney, USA, 7. Lynna Irby USA, etc.)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  There’s no doubt, Hill is a heavy favorite and should join the esteemed and lengthening list of U.S. 100m WY Champs.  St. Fort, who once competed for St. Thomas Aquinas, FL and now trains in Florida with Ato Bolden, leads contenders for the other two medals.  As for Kirkland, her seasonal wind-legal best puts her down the list, but with PRs of 11.53 and 11.33w, she has a great chance to make the final and perhaps compete for a medal, too.

200m Dash
Team USA Meet History:  Medals haven’t been as plentiful here as in the 100 or 400, that’s for sure.  LaShauntea Moore and Angel Perkins won the first two golds in 1999 and 2001, and there hasn’t been a gold medalist since.  Chalonda Goodman won the last silver for Team USA in 2007 and in 2013 Ariana Washington and Hannah Cunliffe took the bronze and 4th place.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
2. (1) Salwa Eid Naser, BRN, 23.03
3. (2) Candace Hill, USA, 23.05
5. (3) Lauren Rain Williams, USA, 23.16
7. (4) Shaniel English, JAM, 23.38
8. (5) Brianne Bethel, BAH, 23.47
(Not in WYC 200: 1. Kaylin Whitney USA, 4. Zaria Francis USA, 6. Symone Mason USA)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  Again, 200 gold could be harder to come by than in the 100, with Bahrain’s Naser a formidable foe – she won Youth Olympic silver in the 400 last year.  But Hill still has a great chance to make it a double and Williams could well join her on the medal stand – giving Team USA 2 medals here for the 1st time since 2003.

400m Dash
Team USA Meet History:  A very good event for Team USA, with Monique Henderson (1999), Stephanie Smith (2001) and Natasha Hastings (2003) winning the first three editions of the WYC.  Ebony Eutsey FL and Michelle Brown NJ went 1-2 in 2009, and in the two meets since, it’s been Robin Reynolds 4th in 2011 and Olivia Baker 2nd in 2013.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
3. (1-tie) Symone Mason, USA, 52.80
3. (1-tie) Salwa Eid Naser, BRN, 52.80
5. (3) Roxana Gomez, CUB, 52.95
9. (4) Catherine Reid, GBR, 53.34
10. (5) Lynna Irby, USA, 53.36
(Not in WYC 400: 1. Sydney McLaughlin USA, 2. Sammy Watson USA, 6. Hannah Waller USA, 7. Kamryn McIntosh USA, 8. Junelle Bromfield JAM)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  This kind of says it all: The top 2 girls on the World Youth list (McLaughlin, Watson) are running OTHER events here for Team USA and we still have the co-favorite for gold.  Mason had the race of her life at the WY Trials (52.80) and has been running great sprint times at every distance for years – both as a prep and age-group star before that.  Naser – as mentioned, the Youth Olympic silver medalist – has also run 52.80 this year after 52.74 in ’14.  Gomez, who achieved her 52.95 PR in winning the Caribbean Scholastic Invite last month over Team NSAF’s Lauryn Ghee, makes it three girls in the high 52s to battle for the medals.  Reid or Irby – who was tabbed for this event over the 100 after she was 2nd in both at the Trials – are also threats to make the stand.

Girls’ Hurdles:  McLaughlin closing in on WY record

100m Hurdles
Team USA Meet History:  Another pretty good event for Team USA, with golds from April Williams, Julian Purvis and Trinity Wilson in 2005, 2007 and 2011.  In fact, Wilson and Kendell Williams went gold-bronze in 2011, then Dior Hall and Mikiah Brisco silver-bronze in 2013.  Interestingly, then it was Williams and Hall going 1-2 at World Juniors last year.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Alexis Duncan, USA, 13.20 (13.18w)
2. Taylon Bieldt, RSA, 13.27
3. Janeek Brown, JAM, 13.29
4. Ilionis Guillaume, FRA, 13.32
5. Sarah Koutouan, FRA, 13.40

19. (11) Brittley Humphrey, USA, 13.61

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  Duncan showed us in Cuba just how deadly she could be over the 30” hurdles, running her World Youth leading time.  It’s easy to imagine her running 13.10 or faster.  She followed her Cuba win with a bit of a hiccup at NBNO, but was dominant at the Trials.  There’s obviously a good group in the 13.27-13.40 range, led by Bieldt who was a serious Youth Olympic medal contender last year.  Also, don’t be surprised if Humphrey makes the final and contends, despite ranking just 11th among entries.  Her brother Marlon was 2nd in the 110H in 2013.

400m Hurdles
Team USA Meet History:  The 400H was golden for Team USA in 2005, 2007 and 2011 with Ebony Collins (WYC record 55.96), Dalilah Muhammad and Nnenya Hailey.  The top U.S. finisher in 2013 was Samantha Gonzalez in 5th.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Sydney McLaughlin, USA, 55.28
3. (2) Brandee’ Johnson, USA, 57.63
4. (3) Xahria Santiago, CAN, 57.67
5 (tie). (4) Junelle Bromfield, JAM, 58.07
8. (5) Amanda Holmberg, SWE, 58.85
(Not in WYC 400H: 2. Reonna Collier USA, 5. (tie) Faith Ross USA, 7. Elsja Mecham USA)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  As is the case with Hill in the 100, Team USA has a truly overwhelming favorite here in McLaughlin.  She’s .08 from the 31-year-old WY (and prep national) record of 55.20 and the biggest drama will probably be Sydney vs. the clock.  She just needs to get to the starting line healthy and do her thing.  It would not be a stretch to say McLaughlin and Hill are two of the world’s greatest Youth track and field athletes ever, in any event.  In most years, Team USA’s Johnson would be the gold favorite; here she’s leading what should be a good fight for silver with Santiago and Bromfield.  Johnson won Youth Olympic bronze in the 200 last year.

Girls’ Distances:  Watson could add to rising 800 fortunes

800m Run
Team USA Meet History:  The U.S. had no finalists in the first 6 editions of the meet, but has done very well since.  In 2011, Ajee Wilson won gold with Amy Weissenbach 4th, and two years ago Raevyn Rogers grabbed silver and Ersula Farrow was 8th.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
2. (1) Marta Zenoni, ITA, 2:03.40
4. (2) Sammy Watson, USA, 2:04.27
5. (3) Ekaterina Alekseeva, RUS, 2:04.53
6. (4) Gadese Ejara, ETH, 2:05.22
7. (5) Carys McAulay, GBR, 2:05.50

(16) Amanda Thomas, USA, 2:08.43
(Not in WYC 800: 1. Hawi Alemu ETH, 3. Malin Edland NOR)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  With 2 of the world’s top 4 not competing, especially Ethiopia’s Alemu at 2:01, Watson has a great chance to win and certainly should medal.  The New York star is obviously extremely talented, but she has a certain other special quality that also distinguished Ajee’ Wilson (’11 WY champ, ’12 World Junior champ): She knows how to win.  Whether it’s in a relay or in any race above 400, Watson has been basically unbeatable this year.  The quality is instinctive, but it’s also learned and she’s showing that she has what it takes to be a champion at any level.  Thomas, like several of the other lower-ranked Team USA athletes, is someone you should not count out – Western Branch (Va.) kids know how to get it done!

1,500m Run
Team USA Meet History:  The U.S. has had some great, young distance running phenoms in the past several years and just about all who have run here have done well: Jordan Hasay silver in 2007, Chelsey Sveinsson 4th in 2009, Cami Chapus 5th in 2011, then Alexa Efraimson bronze two years ago.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Janeth Chepngetich, KEN, 4:13.8h
4. (2) Beatha Nishimwe, RWA, 4:17.37
7. (3) Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa, BRN, 4:19.48
8. (4) Adanech Anbesa, ETH, 4:20.61
8. (4-tie) Wakana Kabasawa, JPN, 4:20.61

(12) Julia Heymach, USA, 4:23.51
(Not in WYC 1,500:  2. Marta Zenoni ITA, 3. Hawi Alemu ETH, 5. Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei KEN, 6. Janat Chemusto UGA)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  Heymach is not quite at that Hasay/Efraimson level when it comes to being a World Youth medal contender, but look for her to perform higher than her seed, make the final, and challenge for at least the top 5.  She can run 4:18-20, no doubt, and has a good enough kick to do well in a tactical race.

3000m Run
Team USA Meet History:  The best U.S. girls’ distance runners have either not contested the Trials or opted for the 1,500 – hence, not only no medals over the years but only two team selections ever, both in 1999 (32nd and 34th places).

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Yuka Mukai, JPN, 9:04.81
2. Emily Chebet Kipchumba, KEN, 9:08.8h
3. Sheila Chelangat, KEN, 9:11.38
5. (4) Kanami Sagayama, JPN, 9:13.60
9. (5) Janat Chemusto, UGA, 9:15.38

(14) Destiny Collins, USA, 9:41.53

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  For only the 2nd time ever, Team USA has selected an athlete for this event at World Youth – and she’s a great one: Collins has run 9:53.79 for 3,200m which means that even though she’s seeded just 14th with her 9:41.53 3k best, she has 9:12 potential or better, and definitely belongs in the conversation for the top 6 – with a shot at a medal.  Cracking that top 6 will be tough, though, with 6 girls (all from Kenya or Japan) having run 9:11 or faster in the field.

2,000m Steeplechase
Team USA Meet History:  This event was first included at WYC in 2007 and Team USA had success in 2009 with Eleanor Fulton taking 6th, and in 2011 with Maddie Meyers and Brianna Nerud going 6-7 and running the fastest two times in U.S. prep history.  No one, however, was selected in 2013.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei, KEN, 6:16.19
2. Celliphine Chepteek Chespol, KEN 6:24.27
5. (3) Agrie Belachew, ETH, 6:32.80
6. (4) Beletu Hailu, ETH, 6:33.22
11. (5) Alondra Negron, PUR, 6:37.93

17. (9) Rylee Bowen, USA, 6:41.26

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  As is almost always the case, this event will be dominated by Kenyans, and then Ethiopians.  But Bowen, though “just” a freshman, is a good bet to extend the history of frequent U.S. success.  Her 6:41.27 at the Trials was a big breakthrough and if she can shave a few more seconds off of that, she’s in contention for 5th or 6th, at least.

5,000m Race Walk
Team USA Meet History:  Team USA has had no entrants in this event since Maria Michta was 10th in 2003.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
2. (1) Olga Eliseeva, RUS, 22:18.00
3. (2) Margarita Kolesnichenko, RUS, 22:18.16
7. (3) Jemima Montag, AUS, 23:06.80
8. (4) Clara Smith, AUS, 23:08.42
10. (5) Valeria Ortuno, MEX, 23.12.44

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  No Americans entered.  Expect Russia to add to its total of 6 golds here. 

Girls Jumps:  Davis, Dingler in the running for medals

High Jump
Team USA Meet History:  Team USA has never won a medal in this event, with the best finish having been Shanay Brisco’s 8th in 2009.  Two years ago, Alexa Harmon-Thomas was 10th.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
2. (1) Michaela Hruba, CZE, 6-2.75 (6-3.25i)
3. (2) Mona Gottschammer, GER, 6-1.25
4-tie (3-tie) Lada Pejchalova, CZE, 6-0.5 (6-0.75i)
4-tie (3-tie) Selina Schulenburg, GER, 6-0.5
4-tie (3-tie) Elodie Tshilumba, LUX, 6-0.5i
4-tie (3-tie) Alisa Presnyakova, RUS, 6-0.5
4-tie (3-tie) Tatyana Ermanchenkova, RUS, 6-0.5

(16) Madison Yerigan, USA, 5-10

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  If World Youth leader Vashti Cunningham had elected to do this meet instead of Pan-Am Juniors, then Team USA would quite likely have had not just its first gold medalist, but medalist at all.  Yerigan will need to jump in PR range to make the final, then surpass it by a few inches to contend in the final.

Pole Vault
Team USA Meet History:  Team USA has never medaled in this event, but its best have been in the mix.  A handful have finished in the top 10, led by Morgan LeLeux’s 5th in 2009.  A year before she took down both indoor and outdoor HSRs, Desiree’ Freier was 9th in 2013.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
4. (1) Carson Dingler, USA, 13-6
5-tie. (2) Stina Seidler, GER, 13-5.75
7-tie. (3-tie) Tamara Schassberger, GER, 13-5.75 (13-7.25i)
7-tie. (3-tie) Elizaveta Bondarenko, RUS, 13-5.75 (13-7.25i)
7-tie. (3-tie) Elienor Werner, SWE, 13-5.75 (13-7.25i)

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  Leave no doubt, Dingler is in strong contention for a medal or even gold, especially since the World Youth leader Gunnarson (13-11.25) and two others are bypassing this meet.  Dingler has gone higher outdoors this year (13-6) than any other contender, but it bears remembering that three of the girls here with outdoor bests slightly inferior have done 13-7.25 indoors.  It will be very close with the top 4-5 and it’s going to be whoever has a good day at the right time.  If she’s at least in Trials form or better, Dingler has a great medal chance.

Long Jump
Team USA Meet History:  With Keturah Orji winning silver and Courtney Corrin taking 5th, Team USA set a new standard in this event in 2011.  Jennifer Clayton had been the previous standard-bearer with her bronze in 2009, and three others had been top-8 over the years.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Lisa Maihofer, GER, 21-0.75
3. (2) Maja Bedrac, SLO, 20-7
4. (3) Tara Davis, USA, 20-6.25
5-tie (4-tie) Viyaleta Skvartsova, BLR, 20-5.25
5-tie (4-tie) Milica Gardaševic, SRB, 20-5.25
5-tie (4-tie) Georgiana Iuliana Anitei, ROU, 20-5.25

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  While she wasn’t in top form at the Trials, jumping just beyond 19 feet, Davis has a 20-6.25 PR that puts her right in the mix for the medals here – and has jumped over 20 enough times so her best doesn’t appear as an outlier.  She has a great chance to join Orji and Clayton as U.S. medal winners here.  Also, watch out for Ilonis Guillaume of France, who doesn’t have a big outdoor mark but has done 20-6.5 indoors.

Triple Jump
Team USA Meet History:  Keturah Orji rocked the prep track and field world with her 44-11 for bronze here in 2013, barely missing Brittany Daniels’ HSR.  Michelle Sanford also won bronze for Team USA in 2001 and Daniels herself was 5th here in 2003.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Yanna Anay Armenteros, CUB, 44-3.25
3. (2) Georgiana Iuliana Anitei, ROU, 43-8 (44-7.5i)
4. (3) Mariya Ovchinnikova, KAZ, 43-0.25
6. (4) Alisa Kuznetsova, RUS, 42-9.5
7. (5) Ilonis Guillaume, FRA, 42-8 (43-1.5w)

16. (12) Tara Davis, USA, 41-10.75
(15) Lajarvia Brown, USA, 41-7.75

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  Davis isn’t quite as strong here as in the long jump and will possibly need to be right around her PR to make the final – and well into the 42s to contend.  Same scenario with Brown, except more so since her PR is a bit shorter.  Top seed Armenteros was 2nd behind her Junior-age countrywoman at CSI.

Girls Throws:  Rivera’s best shot is in shot

Shot Put
Team USA Meet History:  Team USA has had two bronze medalists here: Michelle Carter in 2001 and Ashlie Blake two years ago.  Also, Becky O’Brien was 4th in 2007 and Tori Owers 5th in 2011.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Kristina Rakocevic, MNE, 60-10.75
2. Julia Ritter, GER, 60-8.75
3. Sophia Rivera, USA, 59-4.25
4. Maja Slepowronska, POL, 57-1.5
6. (5) Yemisi Ogunleye, GER, 56-5.75

9. (10) Nickolette Dunbar, USA, 55-5.75

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  On paper, it looks pretty simple.  With her new monster PR from the Trials, Rivera is a firm pick for bronze – which would match Team USA’s high-water mark in the event.  She’s just a half-meter behind the world’s top two, though, so any improvement – or an off day by either of them – would enhance the chance of a medal of another color.  Look for Dunbar to make the final and improve from her seed spot, now having more experience training with the smaller shot.

Team USA Meet History:  Four medals have been captured by Americans, topped by Alex Collatz’s silver in 2009.  Recent NCAA champ Shelbi Vaughan was one of the bronze winners in a brutally tough competition in 2011.  Lloydricia Cameron led the efforts with 8th in 2013.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
2. (1) Kristina Rakocevic, MNE, 176-10
5. (2) Josephine Schaeffer, USA, 169-4
6. (3) Alexandra Emilianov, MDA, 167-11
8. (4) Wenjun Zang, CHN, 163-11
9. (5) Ronja Sowalder, GER, 161-10
19. (6) Samantha Noennig, USA, 161-6

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  In terms of distances, no one looked like a world-beater in the Trials, with the winning distance under 150 feet.  But the Wisconsin duo of Schaeffer and Noennig have both been over 160 – Schaeffer well over 160 – and if they return to that form, they’ll be in the hunt for medals or at least top 6.  Rakocevic – 4th at the 2014 Youth Olympics – will be shooting for a shot/discus double.

Team USA Meet History:  The best finish by an American has been in 2011, when Haley Crouser was 4th, just missing a medal.  She’s the only top 8 finisher.  Team USA selected no one in 2013.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Yuzhen Yu, CHN, 203-3
2. Nikol Tabackova, CZE, 191-3
3. Laine Donane, LAT, 189-6
5. (4) Stella Weinberg, NOR, 184-8
6. (5) Valeriya Kuchina, RUS, 179-4

19. (14) Sophia Rivera, USA, 169-3
(16) Katelyn Gochenour, USA, 167-6

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  The medal level in the 180s-190s may seem tough to grasp for U.S. throwers, but girls with HS-javelin (heavier) PRs of 175-10 and 167-7 – like Rivera and Gochenour – could get close to those marks as they become used to the lighter jav.  Throws around 170, at least, should make the final and at least compete in mid-pack – but improvement to 180 would mean at least bronze contention.

Team USA Meet History:  Not too much success here so far, with Kristen Michalski’s 10th in 2001 the best placing.  When Nyla Woods was picked in 2013, she was the first since 2003 – and she finished 21st in qualifying.  No one was picked this year.

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Sofiya Palkina, RUS, 235-2
2. Grete Ahlberg, SWE, 228-1
3. Ayamey Damiana Medina, CUB, 224-1
4. Anastasiya Borodulina, RUS, 222-3
5. Deniz Yaylaci, TUR, 219-4

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  No one picked for Team USA.  Palakina has been over 230 feet multiple times and is a solid favorite.  Medina – a firm medal contender from Cuba – competed at CSI, but she was throwing the heavier Junior/Senior hammer.

Heptathlon:  Fields, Lanovaz hope to keep improving

Team USA Meet History:  Gayle Hunter’s 6th in 2003 (5,291 pts with then-HS implements) is the top U.S. finish over the years.  Kendell Williams and Alexa Harmon-Thomas were 11th and 16th in 2011 and 2013, respectively. 

IAAF World List (rank among WYC entries when diff. than list #)
1. Alina Shukh, UKR, 6,039
2. Sarah Lagger, AUS, 6,014
3. Geraldine Ruckstuhl, SUI, 5,861
4. Adriana Rodriguez, CUB, 5,709
5. Bianca Salming, SWE, 5,644

30. Jordan Fields, USA, 5,087
33. Caice Lanovaz, USA, 5,041

Team USA Hopes/Preview:  If you score between 5,000 and 5,500 points in the hept as a U.S. prep, you’re considered absolutely superlative.  But in 2015, globally, it takes at least close to 6,000 to realistically think of gold and not much less to be in medal contention.  If Fields and Lanovaz can keep improving and get in the 5,200s, they will be at least middle of the pack in this huge field.

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