2012 IAAF World Junior Championships Preview: Women's Track Events

IL prep Shamier Little won the US Junior women's 400H and climbed to World#3 and medal contention for the WJC. John Nepolitan/ESPNHS


Event-by-event capsule previews of the men's track events, noting Team USA hopes and leading global contenders for the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships:

Women’s 100 Meters

WJR: 10.88, Marlies Gohr, GDR, 1977

AJR: 11.03, English Gardner, U. of Oregon, 2012

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Jodie Williams, GBR, 11.40 (2-Takeia Pinckney, 4-Ashton Purvis)

2008: Jeneba Tarmoh, USA, 11.37 (5-Shayla Mahan)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 11.56 / 11.78

2008: 11.52 / 11.60

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Athonique Strachan, BAH, 11.22

2. Dezerea Bryant, Clemson, 11.29

3. Shayla Sanders, Boyd Anderson FL sr, 11.32

15. Jennifer Madu, Plano TX sr, 11.46

Analysis: Americans have been winning the women’s World Junior 100 every other year, on the average, so 2012 might be the year after Jodie Williams GBR captured the 2010 crown. Team USA has Clemson’s Dezerea Bryant, who won 4x100 gold as a WI prep in Moncton, and Texas prep Jennifer Madu, the 2011 World Youth champ. Madu actually has a PR of “just” 11.46 and ranked just ninth among juniors from her own country, but she beat several of those ahead of her at US Juniors (including World#3 Shayla Sanders). And that underscores one of her strengths: She’s getting tougher and tougher and gets it done against faster runners. World #1 Anthonique Strachan BAH is better known in the 200, where she made the Moncton semi and then the World Champs senior semi in Daegu last year, but her PR of 11.22 is the world’s best.

Women’s 200 Meters

WJR: 22.18, Allyson Felix CA, 2004

AJR: 22.11, Allyson Felix CA, 2003

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Stormy Kendrick, USA, 22.99 (5-Ashton Purvis)

2008: Sheniqua Ferguson, BAH, 23.24 (5-Tiffany Townsend, 5-SF3-Ashton Purvis)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 23.27 / 23.51

2008: 23.52 / 23.67

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Shaunae Miller, BAH, 22.70

2. Anthonique Strachan, BAH, 22.75

3. Dezerea Bryant, Clemson, 22.97

5. Olivia Ekpone, Texas A&M, 23.18

Analysis: World #1 Shaunae Miller BAH appears to be entered only in the 400, as is #4 Ashley Spencer USA. So Anthonique Strachan BAH and American Dezerea Bryant of Clemson are the first and second seeds, just like in the 100. But then there’s Texas A&M’s Olivia Ekpone, the former MD prep who has a slower PR, but beat Bryant at the US Junior meet. The Aggie has improved sharply this year. Others expected to be in the mix are World #7 Justine Palframan RSA with a 23.22 PR and Shai-Anne Davis CAN at 23.24. The surprise 2010 champ was also from Clemson, Stormy Kendrick.

Women’s 400 Meters

WJR: 49.42, Grit Breuer, GER, 1991

AJR: 49.89, Sanya Richards, Nike, 2004

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Shaunae Miller, BAH, 52.52 (4-Stacy Ann Smith, 7-Regina George)

2008: Folasade Abugan, NGR, 51.84 (2-Jessica Beard, 7-Lanie Whittaker)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 53.17 / 53.59

2008: 52.36 / 53.78

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Ashley Spencer, U. of Ill., 50.95

2. Shaunae Miller, BAH, 51.25

3. Omolara Omotosho, NGR, 51.28

8. Erika Rucker, S. Carolina, 52.27

Analysis: The battle between meteoric American Ashley Spencer and defending champ and all-time Bahamian teen great Shaunae Miller could be one of the great battles of the meet. Miller won in Moncton as a 16-year-old (with 52.52; admittedly one of the meet’s slower years), then ruled the World Youth 400 last year with 51.84. She’s more than a half-second faster now, but the amazing Spencer, who was a good, but not great hurdler as a prep who almost never ran the 400, is suddenly the global leader after a dream NCAA championship season as a college frosh. Neither of them, though, can afford to ignore the Nigerian World #3-5 duo of Omolara Onotosho and Florence Uwakwe (52.09). The other American, South Carolina frosh Erika Rucker, should make the final and, if she can get under 52, might contend for bronze. There is more sub- or low-52 talent in the field which has not emerged with new PRs this year, too, like Chrisann Gordan JAM (51.94 last year), Bianca Razor ROU (51.96), Olivia James JAM (52.14) and Christian Brennan CAN (52.12). All were in the World Youth final last year.

Women’s 800 Meters

WJR: 1:54.01, Pamela Jelimo, KEN, 2008

AJR: 2:00.07, Kim Gallagher PA, 1982

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Elena M. Lavric, ROU, 2:01.85 (5-Ajee Wilson, 4-SF1-Laura Roesler)

2008: Elena Mirela Lavric, ROU, 2:00.06 (8-H4-Sarah McCurdy, 9-H2-Camilla Dancer

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 2:02.51 / 2:04.33

2008: 2:02.05 / 2:05.43

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Francine Niyonsaba, BDI, 1:59.11

2. Anatasiya Tkachuk, UKR, 2:00.78

3. Jessica Judd, GBR, 2:01.09

5. Ajee Wilson, Neptune NJ, 2:02.61

-- Danielle Aragon, Billings MT, 2:05.06

Analysis: It would be natural to think that after a fifth-place finish in the 2010 WJC and a victory in the 2011 WYC, NJ prep Ajee Wilson would be the favorite to win in Barcelona. But the World Junior list paints a picture of a tougher group of athletes than Wilson faced two years ago. Despite a new PR of 2:02.61, she is ranked “just” fifth. World leader Francine Niyonsaba BDI, whose 1:59.11 produced a stunning victory in her third race ever at the African Championships just a week ago, is not in the field. But another ahead of Wilson is Anatasiya Tkachuk UKR, who was a 2:00.37 performer last year, too. And then there’s World #3 Jessica Judd who was third behind Wilson in Lille last summer, but now has a 2:01.09 PR. Wilson will likely need all of her tactical wiles, as well as a sub-2:02, if she wants to medal or win. There are several others in the 2:02-03 range. The other American, MT prep Danielle Aragon has chopped five seconds off her PR in recent weeks and it wouldn’t be shocking if she kept improving. The only US medal in meet history came from Rebekah Noble with bronze in 2006.

Women’s 1500 Meters

WJR: 3:51.34, Yinglai Lang, CHN, 1997

AJR: 4:09.10, Suzy Hamilton, U. of Wis., 1987

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Tizita Bogale, ETH, 4:08.06 (4-Jordan Hasay, 7-H1-Rachel Schneider)

2008: Stephanie Twell, GBR, 4:15.09 (4-Jordan Hasay, 6-Alex Kosinski)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 4:11.04 / 4:18.90

2008: 4:17.06 / 4:21.73

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Faith C. Kipyegon, KEN, 4:03.82

2. Tizita Bogale, ETH, 4:08.48

3. Nancy Chepkwemoi, 4:09.41

11. Mary Cain, Bronxville NY, 4:14.74

21. Hannah Meier, GP South MI, 4:18.44

Analysis: For those who like to compare NY prep distance prodigy Mary Cain with the legendary DyeStat alum Jordan Hasay, this is another great opportunity. Hasay’s back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2008 and 2010 are the high water mark for Team USA runners in this event and captured the imagination of distance fans nationally each year. While Cain is ranked “only” 11th on the World Junior list, the good news is that when you take away African runners beyond each nation’s allotment of two, then her rank improves to seventh – and all but three are within a second of her 4:14.74 PR. World #1 this year is Faith Kipyegon KEN, the World Junior XC champ from 2011 with a 4:03.82 PR. But don’t forget about World #2 Ethiopian Tizita Bogale, the defending champ from Moncton and a 4:03.94 performer in 2011. MI prep Hannah Meier, whose terrific kick earned her the second spot on the US team, was ninth at the World Youths last summer and she is 13th among entrants, giving her a good chance to at least make the final. And speaking of kicks, if the final is more of a kickers’ race, as it was in 2008, Cain would stand an excellent chance; she closed in 62 during her 4:39 mile PR.

Women’s 3000 Meters

WJR: 8:28.83, Zola Budd, GBR, 1985

AJR: 8:57.27, Ceci Hopp, Stanford, 1982

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Mercy Cherono, KEN, 8:55.07 (9-Jordan Hasay, 10-Emily Sisson)

2008: Mercy Cherono, KEN, 8:58.07 (6-Laurynne Chetelat)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 8:55.33 / (straight final)

2008: 9:03.76 / (straight final)

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Nancy Chepkwemoi, KEN, 8:56.52

2. Gotytom Gebreslase, ETH, 9:00.97

3. Purity C. Rionoripo, KEN, 9:06.20

16. Lindsay Crevoiserat, UConn, 9:21.88

-- Aisling Cuffe, Stanford, 9:07.79 (indoor)

Analysis: As has been the case before, the World Junior list in this event does not reflect what we’ll see in Barcelona as World #1 Nancy Chepkwemoi is entered only in the 1,500 and others are not entered at all, either because they were beaten in their trials races or are competing at the senior level. This group of absentees includes 2011 WY champ Gotytom Gebreslase ETH. World #4 Miyuki Uehara JPN is the top seed at 9:06.91 and while US Junior champ Aisling Cuffe, the former prep superstar from NY, is listed only with her 3k PR from outdoor 2011, she has an indoor mark of 9:07.79 that would seem to put her smack in the medal battle. Amazingly, none of the Kenyans or Ethiopians entered have PRs under 9:10 – though don’t doubt there is sub-9:00 talent in the field. Also in the hunt could be the British duo of Emelia Gorecka (11th in Moncton; 9:10.31 best) and Laura Muir (9:12.80 best).

Women’s 3000 Meter Steeplechase

WJR: 9:20.37, Birtukan Adamu, ETH, 2011

AJR: 10:00.08, Shelby Greany, Providence, 2010

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Purity C. Kirui, KEN, 9:36.34 (10-Shelby Greany, 12-Eleanor Fulton)

2008: Christine K. Muyanga, KEN, 9:31.35 (6-H2-Elizabeth Graney, 9-H1-Rebecca Wade

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 9:43.71 / 10:35.58

2008: 9:37.81 / 10:23.88

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Evdokiya Bukina, RUS, 10:05.73

2. Daisy Chepkemei, KEN, 10:06.6h

3. Stella Ruto, KEN, 10:07.4h

15. Brianna Nerud, North Shore NY, 10:19.91

-- Courtney Frerichs, UM-KC, 10:34.48

Analysis: Amazingly, no one is under 10:00 on the World Junior list so far – and none of the Kenyan and Ethopian talent entered has a career PR under that mark. Still, don’t be surprised to see a winning time under 9:50 or even 9:40. NY prep Brianna Nerud, who has run this event several times due to chasing an Olympic Trials qualifier all spring, should make the final and, if she can cut another 5-8 seconds off, could be in the medal conversation if it turns out that sub-10 is beyond most of the talent. Nerud, of course, was seventh in the World Youth 2k ST last summer with the second best US time ever. The winner of that race, Norah Tanui from Kenya, doesn’t appear to have contested the race this year and only two who beat Nerud in that race are in Spain for this one.

Women’s 5000 Meters

WJR: 14:30.88, Tirunesh Diababa, ETH, 2004

AJR: 15:36.95, Molly Huddle, Notre Dame, 2003

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Genzebe Dibaba, ETH, 15:08.06 (6-Emily Sisson)

2008: Sule Utura, ETH, 16:15.59 (11-Catherine White, 12-Ashley Higginson)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 15:17.39 / (straight final)

2008: 16:27.96 / (straight final)

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Buze Diriba, ETH, 15:11.53

2. Magdalene Masai, KEN, 15:17.75

3. Beatrice W. Murigi, KEN, 15:21.77

-- Cayla Hatton, Andover Acad. MA, 16:14.99

-- Allison Woodward, U. of Oregon, 16:15.27

Analysis: This race will feature the top current Ethiopian junior talent, but not the best from Kenya. World #1 Buze Diriba ETH has run 15:11.53 and has the top PR in the field by 13 seconds. But top Kenyan entrant Caroline Chepkoech has run only 15:49 this year (though 15:24.66 last year). After those two, the next best “proven” talent is Emelia Gorecka GBR who has run an excellent 15:34.21 (also entered in 3k). MA prep Cayla Hatton is one of the most intriguing stories of the year, emerging from injury at a small prep school to run all-time list-makers at 1,500 to 10,000 meters. Her runner-up finish at US Juniors was somewhat spoiled by an insanely fast mid-race surge. Oregon frosh Allison Woodward won that race in 16:15.27 in very warm conditions, but she has run 32:56 for 10k at the NCAA champs. In summary, it would seem both Hatton and Woodward have sub-16 potential, which could lead them to at least a top ten spot, though medal contention is probably out of reach. MO prep Emily Sisson ran an epic prep USR 15:48.91 two years ago to place sixth, breaking the mark set by Caitlin Chock in the same meet six years earlier while taking fifth.

Women’s 10000 Meter Racewalk

WJR: 42:59.48, Elena Lashmanova, RUS, 2011

AJR: 49:43.85, Maria Michta, CW Post, 2005

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Elena Lashmanova, RUS, 44:11.90 (No USA)

2008: Tatyana Mineeva, RUS, 43:24.72 (No USA)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 45:56.15 / (straight final)

2008: 44:24.10 / (straight final)

2012 IAAF World Top 3 Track

1. Ekaterina Medvedeva, RUS, 44:30.49

2. Olga Dubrovina, RUS, 44:42.28

3. Sandra Arenas, COL, 45:11.2h

No Team USA

2012 IAAF World Top 3 Road

1. Nadezhda Leontyeva, RUS, 44:32

2. Ekaterina Medvedeva, RUS, 44:46

3. Sandra Arenas, COL, 45:17

Analysis: For the third straight WJC, no Americans qualified, time-wise. Russia will seek to add to its title collection with World #1 (track) Ekaterina Medvedeva and the road event leader Nadezhda Leontyeva. But Sandra Arenas COL, #3 on both lists, and Alejandra Ortega MEX beat both for the IAAF Walking Cup title earlier this year. It should be a great four-way battle for gold.

Women’s 100 Meter Hurdles

WJR: 12.84, Aliuska Lopez, CUB, 1987

AJR: 12.95, Candy Young PA, 1979 and Cinnamon Sheffield, LSU, 1989

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Isabelle Pedersen, NOR, 13.30 (6-Evonne Britton, 5-SF1-Donique’ Flemings)

2008: Teona Rodgers, USA, 13.40 (6-H2-Vashti Thomas)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 13.46 / 13.76

2008: 13.49 / 13.56

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Ekaterina Bleskina, RUS, 13.11

2. Alina Galitskaya, RUS, 13.12

3. Morgan Snow, U. of Texas, 13.13

14. Dior Hall, G. Washington CO, 13.45

Analysis: Team USA won golds in 2004 and 2008 in this event and, with no clear favorite, it’s possible an American could again top the medal stand. Texas frosh and World #3 Morgan Snow won the US Juniors and is just .02 off the World Junior lead. She also has a windy 13.04 which is an all-conditions global best. CO prep super soph Dior Hall continued a great year that included her New Balance Nationals Indoor 60H title with the runner-up spot in Bloomington, beating older stars like 2011 World Youth champ Trinity Wilson CA and US#1 prep Sasha Wallace CA. Hall is only ranked 14th, but has a 13.31w best, too, and don’t be surprised if she makes the final. World #1 Ekaterina Bleskina was the 2010 Youth Olympic champ, while #2 Alina Galitskaya is not on the team. Also watch for Noemi Zbaren SUI, who was second behind Wilson in Lille last summer and is World #4 now.

Women’s 400 Meter Hurdles

WJR: 54.40, Xing Wang, CHN, 2005

AJR: 54.7h, Lashinda Demus, USA, 2002

Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)

2010: Vera Rudakova, RUS, 57.16 (2-Evonne Britton, 7-Cristina Holland)

2008: Takecia Jameson, USA, 56.29 (7-H2-Kori Carter)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 57.35 / 59.18

2008: 57.08 / 58.04

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)

1. Janieve Russell, JAM, 57.04

2. Adekoya Kemi, NGR, 57.22

3. Shamier Little, Lindblom Prep IL, 57.44

7. Kaila Barber, Notre Dame, 57.70

Analysis: Team USA won golds in this event in 2002 (Lashinda Demus) and 2008 (Takecia Jameson) and could do so again in 2012. IL prep Shamier Little had a big PR at US Juniors with her 57.44 (World #3) and the sky seems the limit for this fast finisher. Kayla Barber, after a super career as an OH prep, had a good frosh year at Notre Dame and has a solid shot to medal, too. World #1 Janieve Russell JAM is an all-around athlete who has competed in other events at this level, but has never been in as great a position to win as now. #2 Adekova Kemi NGR is less experienced. The field also includes Aurelie Chaboudez FRA, the 2010 Youth Olympic champ and now at 57.99 (World #8) and Australian Sarah Carli, who was second behind American Nnenya Hailey in the 2011 WYC.

Women’s 4x100 Meter Relay

WJR, AJR: 43.29, Team USA, 2006

Recent Champs

2010: USA, 43.44

2008: USA, 43.66

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 44.09 / 45.41

2008: 44.61 / 44.45

2012 IAAF World Top 3

1. Young Achievers A (US preps), 44.39

2. Great Britain & N.I., 44.48

3. Jamaica, 44.51

Analysis: Team USA has won the last four titles and six of the last eight. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue. It doesn’t hurt that Clemson’s Dezerea Bryant has won American relay gold in 2010 at this meet, and that the relay pool includes Boyd Anderson FL teammates Shayla Sanders and Kali Davis-White. Texas prep Jennifer Madu, of course, helped bring the stick around for the World Youth medley runner-ups last summer. Only a dropped stick – which doesn’t seem to happen here like it does at the elite level – would seem to have a chance at derailing Team USA and a world record attempt (though the Jamaicans can’t be counted out).

Women’s 4x400 Meter Relay

WJR, AJR: 3:27.60, Team USA, 2004

Recent Champs

2010: USA, 3:31.20

2008: USA, 3:30.19

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 3:32.24 / 3:38.96

2008: 3:34.20 / 3:37.84

2012 IAAF World Top 3

1. Jamaica, 3:34.27

2. Colombia, 3:36.78

3. Jamaica II, 3:37.21

Analysis: Team USA has been dominant here, as well, winning the last five titles. It’s been awhile, though, since that 3:27.60 world record has been challenged. This could be the group that does it, with mega-talented 400 favorite Ashley Spencer, fellow collegian Erica Rucker, and MI prep Kendall Baisden and VCU frosh Kiara Porter taking it around. Baisden and Porter have run 52.59 and 53.07, adding to the 50.95 and 52.27 PRs of the first two. Again, Jamaica could challenge, along with Nigeria and The Bahamas.