World Youth Champs - Boys Preview

by Jim Spier

The IAAF World Youth Championships gets underway Wednesday, July 19th in Donetsk, Ukraine.  Here's a look at how Team USA compares to the rest of the world.

Three athletes have been under 10.50 and appear to be the favorites:  Michael O’Hara (Jamaica – 10.39), Youxue Mo (China, 10.41) and Reynier Mena (Cuba, 10.46).  The US is led by Jaalen Jones (Thompson, Mobile, AL), the runner up of the World Youth Trials (WYT).  He was third at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational (CSI).  His legal best is 10.60.  The WYT champion is Kenzo Cotton (Papillion-La Vista, Papillion, NE) with a best of 10.64.  Cotton is Kansas Relays and Nebraska State Champion.  He finished 8th in the adidas Grand Prix meet.  US athletes rank among entrants:  Jones, =8th; Cotton =13th. The US has won this event only once, that by Prezel Hardy in 2009.  Of the 5 medals won, 1 has been gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.

Mena, at 20.72, O’Hara at 20.75 and Vitor Hugo dos Santos (Brazil, 20.91) are the only runners under 21.0 entered.  Cotton won the WYT in 21.26, albeit with a -3.9 wind.  He should be a contender for one of the medals.  Noah Lyles, who just finished his freshman year at TC Williams HS in Alexandria, VA, was third in the WYT (21.62, [-3.9], but may run in place of Ryan Clark who also qualified in the 400m.  Lyles was 4th at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor (NBNO) in 21.59 [-1.9] behind Ceolamar Ways, Trayvon Bromell and Trentavis Friday.  He had run 21.38 [-2.7] in the prelims.  Who knows how fast he can run with a favorable wind? Like the 100m, the US has only 1 win, that by Jonathan Wade in 2001.  There have been a total of 6 medals won:  1 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze.

Five are under 47.0 in this event, and include American Ryan Clark who just finished his sophomore year at Benjamin Banneker HS in College Park, GA.  Clark won the WYT in 46.89, and comes in just behind Devaughn Baker of Jamaica at 46.64.  He was 7th in both the 200m and 400m at the NBNO.  Baker’s teammate, Martin Manley, has clocked 46.95, while Kaisie Yui (Japan) has run 46.92 and Batuhan Altintas (Turkey) is at 46.97.  Jordan Jimerson (Union Catholic, Scotch Plains, NJ) comes in at 47.60, ranked 14th.   Jimerson led off Union Catholic’s 3:11.45 3rd placing team at the NBNO.  He was also part of three other podium teams at NBNO:  Swedish Medley (2nd), 1600m Medley (3rd) and 4x200m (5th). It’s hard to believe with the great stable of 400 meter runners in the US that this event has only been won once by an American.  That was Arman Hall in 2011.  Arman had a spectacular freshman season at the U. of Florida this year.  Of the 4 medals won, 1 has been gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.

This is where there are challenges for the US athletes.  There are six entrants under 1:50, let by Eritrean Tsegay Tesfamariam (1:47.89) and his teammate Hamid Sulema Ferej (1:49.85).  Kyle Langford (Great Britain, 1:49.02), Konstantin Tolokonnikov (Russia, 1:49.13), Patrick Kiprotich Rono (Kenya, 1:49.82) and Oussama Nabil (Morocco, 1:49.93) are the others under 1:50.  It’s not unusual for someone to have a 2-3 second PR in this event, so some of the medalists are likely to come from elsewhere.  Robert Ford (Johnson, San Antonio, TX) won the WYT in 1:51.13 and is the 14th ranked entrant.  He was third in the 800m at the Texas State meet where he ran his prior best of 1:51.50. He is the only American entered. (The US boys have never medaled in any event above 400m). The U.S. has never won a medal in this or any longer distance.

Ugh.  Two Kenyans have run under 3:40:  Robert Biwott (3:38.5, equivalent to a 3:56.5 mile) and Titus Kipruto Kibiego (3:39.7, or a 3:57.7 mile).  Both would have just finished their junior years in high school if they were in the U.S.  The next fastest entered is the aforementioned Tesfamariam at 3:44.29.  Blake Haney (Stockdale, Bakersfield, CA), the WYT champ with a best of 3:50.55 is ranked 11th and has an legitimate shot to make the final.  He is the California 1600m champ (4:06.91) and was 7th at the adidas Grand Prix mile (4:07.78).  Grant Fisher (Grand Blanc, MI) was second in the WYT in 4:00.95, but his 8th place mile finish at NBNO in 4:12.74 translates to about 3:54.74.  He is seeded 3rd from last but, if his 1500m conversion from a mile is used, he would be in at 19th.

The Kenyans dominate here as well.  Vedic Cheruiyot at 7:52.0 and Alexander Mutiso with 7:59.1 are the top 2.  Cheruiyot’s 3000m time converts to about 8:29 for 2 miles!  The will be challenged, as usual, by the Ethiopians.  Yomif Kejelcha has run 8:03.5 and Mogos Tuemay 8:04.4.  Blake Haney, the WYT champion,  is 6th ranked at 8:20.48, so he predicts to do well.  He is the California 3200m champion at 9:01.65.  Grant Fisher, at 8:32.65, is ranked 15th.  He is the Michigan 3200m champion at 9:04.33.

2000m Steeplechase
The Kenyans have dominated this event and will probably continue to do so.  Nicholas Kiptanui Bett (5:29.2) and Justus Kipkorir Lagat (5:29.6) and two Ethiopians, Meresha Kahsay (5:39.7) and Michaele Atsbaha (5:39.9) close by.  But Bailey Roth (Coronado, Colorado Springs, CO) has a definite shot to be close to the lead pack.  Roth won WYT and the NBNO in 5:47.42 and is 8th ranked.  He also has the possibility of breaking the high school record of 5:43.9 set by Steve Guerrini 22 years ago.

110m Hurdles (36”)
Roger Iribarne (Cuba, 13.33) and Yang Lu (China, 13.45) are the leading entrants, with Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, AL) 6th ranked at 13.67.  But the time for Humphrey is a bit misleading; that’s the time for the 36” hurdles.  He is the leader in the 39” hurdles at 13.38, his US high school leading time.  So Marlon has a chance to medal, and is one of the favorites for gold.  Isaiah Moore (Cummings, Burlington, NC), 4th at NBNO and 2nd at CSI, was second to Humphrey in the WYT in 13.94, but with a -3.7 wind.  He should be in the mix to make it to the finals. Four of the five medal the US has won have been gold; the other is a silver.

400m Hurdles (33”)
Marlon Humphrey “owns” this event, having run 50.25 over the 36” version of this event’s hurdles at NBNO.  Kenny Selmon (Pace Academy, Atlanta, GA), 4th at NBNO in 51.82, was second at the WYT in 50.90.  They are the favorites for gold and silver.  Also listed is a third runner from the U.S., Taylor Mc Laughlin (Union Catholic Scotch Plains, NJ), who was third at the WYT in 51.69.  Mc Lauglin won four medals in relays at NBNO, including the gold in the shuttle hurdle relay.  The next best is Giuseppe Biondo (Italy) at 52.30. The US has won 6 medals in the 400m hurdles:  2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.  No medal has been won since William Wynne and Reggie Wyatt took 1-2 in 2007

High Jump
The leading entry is Jamaican Christoffe Bryan at 7-2.5.  Sang-Hyuk Woo of Korea is next at 7-1.5, then Jiaxu Bai (China) and Petr Pecha (Czech Republic) at 7-1.  Michael Monroe (Providence Catholic, New Lenox, IL) is the lone U.S. entrant at 6-10.75. Justin Fondren won the only US medal in this event, finishing second in 2011.

Pole Vault
Devin King (Sumner, Kentwood, LA), the NBNO runner up, is the favorite here, having jumped 17-3.  Harry Coppell (Great Britain) at 17-0.75 and Bokai Huang (China) at 16-10.75 are the next best.  Paolo Benevides (Franklin, El Paso, TX), third at the Texas state meet and WYT runner up, is ranked =11th at 16-2.75. The U.S. has scored 2 medals in the vault:  the silver by Scott Roth in 2005 and the bronze in 2011 by Jacob Blankenship.

Long Jump
We are a bit far back in the long jump, an event dominated by Russians Anatoliy Ryapolov (25-11) and Maxim Yunyakin (25-0.5).  The Chinese Peifeng Zhong (24-9.75) and Yaoqing Fang (24-9.25) are next best.  Hurdler Isaiah Moore is the lone US entrant at 23-10. Christian Taylor has the lone American medal in this event, finishing 3rd in 2007.

Triple Jump
The countries traditionally strong in this event continue to dominate.  The leader is Lazaro Martinez of Cuba at 54-2.75.  Next is the Chinese long jumper Fang at 53-6.25 and German Dimitri Antonov at 51-3.5.  Keandre Bates (Burges, El Paso, TX), the Texas Relays triple jump and part of the NSAF Triple Jump project, got his lifetime best in winning the WYT, jumping 50-2.5. Christian Taylor was the champion in 2007 in the triple jump, the only medal ever won by an American in this event.

Shot Put (5kg)
The leader is Konrad Bukowiecki (Poland) with a big toss of 73-3.25.   Then it’s Patrick Muller of Germany at 71-11 and Mohamed Magdi Hamza of Egypt at 69-7.5.  Amir Ali Patterson (Crespi, Encino, CA) the WYT winner at 65-3.25 and California state meet runner up (to Nick Ponzio) is 9th ranked and should made the finals. The US has a total of 3 medals in the shot put, the most recent of which was the 2-3 finish in 2011 by Tyler Schultz and Braheme Days

Discus (1.5kg)
Matthew Denny (Australia) heads the field with a best of 220-9.  Behind him is Domantas Poska (Lithuania) at 217-5 and Henning Prufer (Germany) at 216-1.  Reno Tuufili (Liberty, Henderson, NV), the Great Southwest discus champ at 186-5 (with the HS discus) and WYT champ at 195-3, is ranked 14th among all entrants. The US has 2 medals in the discus, both silver.

Hammer (5kg)
Joaquin Gomez (Argentina) is the leader at 268-7.  Discus leader Matthew Denny is next best at 267-2, then Humberto Mansilla of Chile at 255-5.  Colin Minor (South Brunswick, Southport, NC), 4th at the NBNO, is the WYT champ throwing 228-1 at the qualifier.  That places him at 26th ranked. The US has never medaled in the hammer.

Javelin (700g)
The Hungarian Norbert Rivasz-Toth leads the field with a best of 261-10.  Behind him is Oliver Helander of Finland (256-10) and Simon Litzell of Sweden (253-8).  Had the U.S. brought Denham Petricelli (Tahoma, Kent, WA), he would have been ranked 21st  out of the 36 current entries based on his 221-5 throw at the WYT. The US has never medaled in the javelin.

The US athletes should do well here.  The leader is Cuban Santiago Ford with 6392 points.  Jack Lint (Columbus Academy, Gahanna, OH) won the WYT with 6088 points, and Gabriel Moore (Freeport, FL) was runner up, only 10 points back. Moore was runner up to Marlon Humphrey at the 2013 New Balance Nationals Indoor pentathlon. The US has never medaled in the octathlon.

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