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

Tyler Sorensen broke the American Junior record for the 10k walk at last summer's World Youth Champs and hopes to shine again in Spain. He is also the only member of Team USA who competed in the 2010 World Juniors. 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:

Men’s 100 Meters

WJR: 10.01, Darrell Brown, 2003

AJR: 10.01 Jeff Demps FL, 2008

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

2010: Dexter Lee, JAM, 10.21 (2-Charles Silmon, 4-Michael Granger)

2008: Dexter Lee, JAM, 10.40 (3-Terrell Wilks, DQ-SF2-Antonio Sales)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 10.28 / 10.71

2008: 10.45 / 10.59

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

1. Adam Gemili, GBR, 10.08 (+0.8w)

2. Aaron Ernest, USA/LSU, 10.17 (+1.2w)

3. Abraham Hall, USA/S. Grand Prairie TX sr, 10.19 (+1.3w)

3. Tyreek Hill, USA/Coffee Co. GA sr, 10.19 (+1.7w)

3. Julian Forte, JAM, 10.19 (+0.1w)

Analysis: With two-time champ Dexter Lee JAM finally having moved on, the meet will have its first new winner since 2006. Team USA fortunes have gradually improved each of the past two WJCs and maybe this will be the first gold since 2004. The top contenders are pretty light on international experience, with none “lighter” than Tyreek Hill – who was unknown beyond Georgia before his breakout marks at Golden South in late May. Hill and LSU frosh Aaron Ernest should each be medal contenders, along with Adam Gemili and Julian Forte. Also watch out for 2011 World Youth silver winner Oseto Kazuma JPN, who’s improved to 10.23 this year. It’s a shame that 2011 Pan Am Jr champ Marvin Bracy – the Florida prep who ran 10.06w this year before injury – won’t be here, too. Team USA has won gold three times here, the first two meets in 1986 and 1988, then in 2004 with Ivory Williams.

Men’s 200 Meters

WJR: 19.93, Usain Bolt, JAM, 2004

AJR: 20.13, Roy Martin TX, 1985

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

2010: Shota Iizuka, JPN, 20.67 (3-SF1-Oliver Bradwell, 5-SF3-Eric Harris)

2008: Christophe Lemaitre, FRA, 20.83 (4-Curtis Mitchell, 6-Antonio Sales)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 21.00 / 21.12

2008: 20.96 / 21.02

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

1. Tyreek Hill, Coffee County GA sr, 20.14 (+1.8w)

2. Julian Forte, JAM, 20.38 (+1.0w)

3. Delano Williams, TKS, 20.53 (+2.0w)

4. Aaron Ernest, LSU, 20.54 (+0.5w)

4. Zhenye Xie, CHN, 20.54 (+0.5w)

Analysis: The cast will be similar to the 100, with Tyreek Hill, Julian Forte (who may or may not double), Aaron Ernest and Adam Gemili (20.61) all contending for medals. But the US storyline is dramatically different. First, this is the event where Hill really made jaws drop at Golden South in May with his 20.14, just .01 off the WJR. He wasn’t as fast at US Juniors, but his 20.57 win was still very impressive. Like in the 100, if this newbie to the big time can maintain fitness and composure, a medal – possibly gold – could be his. The other thing is that this was a rough event for Team USA two years ago with no finalists. In fact, Team USA athletes won gold here in 1986, 1988, and 1994, but have had a dismal medal drought since Wes Felix's bronze in 2002. That drought could well end in Barcelona.

Men’s 400 Meters

WJR, AJR: 43.87, Steve Lewis, USA, 1988

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

2010: Kirani James, GRN, 45.89 (3-Errol Nolan, 5-Josh Mance)

2008: Marcus Boyd, USA, 45.53 (3-O’Neal Wilder)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 46.36 / 47.02

2008: 45.76 / 47.13

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

1. Luquelin Santos, DOM, 44.45

2. Aldrich Bailey, Mansfield Timberview TX sr, 45.19

3. Bafetoleng Mogami, BOT, 45.46

4. Steven Solomon, AUS, 45.54

6. Arman Hall, St. Thomas Aquinas FL sr, 45.59

Analysis: Goodbye, Kirani James; hello, Luquelin Santos. The 2011 World (Senior) champ James had four straight years of winning silvers, then golds in IAAF World Youth and World Junior meets, finally ending with his 2010 WJC gold, before moving on to the elite. But Santos, who was sixth at the 2010 WJC, exploded to 44.71 late last fall, then has hit 44.45 this summer (plus three more times at 45.29 or better) to become the #3 junior ever. So that’s what US prep Aldrich Bailey TX, the WJ#2, is up against in Spain. He’ll likely have to achieve his sub-45 dreams to earn gold. 2011 World Youth Champ Arman Hall is certainly a medal contender as well, part of a group of several between 45.4 and 45.7. Americans have won three of the last five WJC 400s, with the last being Marcus Boyd’s 2008 victory.

Men’s 800 Meters

WJR: 1:42.69, Abubaker Kaki, SUD, 2008

AJR: 1:44.9h, Jim Ryun, U. of Kansas, 1966

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

2010: David Mutinda Mutua, KEN, 1:46.41 (2-Cas Loxsom, 3-Robby Andrews)

2008: Abubaker Kaki, SUD, 1:45.60 (6-SF3-Elijah Greer, 8-H2-Donte Holmes)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 1:47.00 / 1:48.38

2008: 1:47.57 / 1:49.25

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 10)

1. Nijel Amos, BOT, 1:43.11

2. Mohammed Aman, ETH, 1:43.51

3. Leonard Kirwa Kosencha, KEN, 1:43.60

-- Tanner Sork, Camas Union WA, 1:48.74

-- Shaquille Walker, BYU, 1:49.41

Analysis: 2010 was an amazing year for Team USA in this event as collegiate frosh Cas Loxsom and Robby Andrews earned silver and bronze to end a 16-year-span of no Americans even making the final. The U.S. talent isn’t at the same level this time, but don’t underestimate WA prep Tanner Sork, one of the biggest surprises late this spring in any event in the country. He made a giant one-meet leap, from 1:52 to 1:48.74 in early June, and has backed it up with two more sub-1:50s. He has a solid chance to be the fifth American ever to make the final. Meanwhile, two of the three medalists from last summer’s insane World Youth final (three under 1:45) should be here. The winner of that race, Leonard Kosencha KEN, is now down to 1:43.60 but is competing at the senior level. But #1 on the WJ list is Nijel Amos BOT – fifth in Lille last summer in 1:47.28, but with a dramatic improvement now to 1:43.11 - #2 all-time on the WJ list. This WJ field will likely be much, much better than it was in 2010.

Men’s 1500 Meters

WJR: 3:36.1h, Jim Ryun, U. of Kansas, 1966

AJR: 3:30.24, Cornelius Chirchir, KEN, 2002

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

2010: Caleb M. Ndiku, KEN, 3:37.30 (12-SF2-Elias Gedyon, 6-SF3-Peter Callahan)

2008: Imad Touil, ALG, 3:47.40 (8-Evan Jager, 5-H2-Duncan Phillips)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 3:38.91 / 3:44.05

2008: 3:47.65 / 3:47.71

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

1. Geoffrey Barusei, KEN, 3:33.69

2. Hamza Driouch, QAT, 3:33.69

3. Teshome Dirirsa, ETH, 3:34.55

19. Austin Mudd, U of Wisconsin, 3:40.87

-- Izaic Yorks, Lakes WA, 3:46.67

Analysis: Since the East Africans took over, this (and the other distances) have been tough for the U.S. to crack. The best-ever finishes by Team USA were fifths by Jason Pyrah (1988) and Gabe Jennings (1998) and just making the final is seen as an accomplishment. Collegiate frosh Austin Mudd, though, has a good chance of advancing and finishing in the top half, especially if it’s a kicker’s race. WA prep Izaic Yorks will be hard-pressed to make the final, but don’t count out this super talent. World #1 Geoffrey Barusei KEN did not try out for his team, but #3 Teshome Dirirsa ETH was the World Youth champ in 2011 and #2 Hamza Driouch QAT has made WJ and WY 800 finals the past two years, and was second in the Youth Olympic 1k in 2010.

Men’s 3000 Meter Steeplechase

WJR: 7:58.66, Saif Saaeed Shaheen, KEN, 2001

AJR: 8:33.8h, John Gregorek, Georgetown, 1979

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

2010: Jonathan M. Ndiku, KEN, 8:23.48 (10-Jared Berman, 15-H1-Dakota Peachee)

2008: Jonathan M. Ndiku, KEN, 8:17.28 (9-Dylan Knight, 10-Curtis Carr)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 8:37.02 / 8:55.77

2008: 8:25.14 / 8:55.28

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

1. Conseslus Kipruto, KEN, 8:08.92

2. Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui, KEN, 8:11.27

3. Jaouad Chemlal, MAR, 8:25.98

-- Edward Owens, Princeton, 8:53.55

-- Darren Fahy, La Costa Canyon CA, 9:03.15

Analysis: In no event has one country been as dominant as Kenya has been in the steeple, with victories in all 13 WJCs. Like in the 100, a 2-time champ has moved on in Ndiku, but one of his countrymen will surely fill the spot. World #1-2 Conseslus Kipruto and Gilbert Kirui were last year’s 1-2 finishers in the World Youth 2k steeple and they have 14 seconds on the rest of the world list. The best U.S. finish ever was fifth by Chris Dugan in 1998 and it’s unlikely that will be bettered this year. CA prep Darren Fahy is unlucky that his WJC year comes when he’s a HS senior instead of a collegiate frosh; it will likely take an improvement of several seconds for him to make the final. Collegian Eddie Owens, who lost to Fahy in the US Junior race but has a PR 10 seconds faster, should make it if he’s fit and on top of his game.

Men’s 5000 Meters

WJR: 12:52.61, Eliud Kipchoge, KEN, 2002

AJR: 13:25.46, German Fernandez, Okla. State, 2009

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

2010: David K. Bett, KEN, 13:23.76 (11-Trevor Dunbar)

2008: Abreham Cherkos, ETH, 13:08.57 (11-Matt Centrowitz, 16-Ryan Collins)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 13:28.92 / (straight final)

2008: 13:11.97 / (straight final)

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

1. Hagos Gebrhiwet, ETH, 12:47.53

2. Isiah Kiplangat Koech, KEN, 12:57.63

3. Yigrem Demelash, ETH, 13:03.30

-- Kirubel Erassa, Okla. State, 13:47.26

-- Kyle King, U. of Virginia, 13:55.80

Analysis: A new world junior record in the event was set just Friday (July 6), but don’t expect the Ethiopian Gebrihiwet (or the World #2 and #3) to be in Barcelona, but rather the Olympic Games or Diamond League circuit. That doesn’t mean the race will be much easier. Kenya’s team will be led by 2011 World Youth 3k champ William Sitonik, who won the Kenyan Trials 5k. Team USA, which has never had an athlete finish higher than ninth in this event (most recently Galen Rupp in 2004), will counter with collegians Kirubel Erassa and Kyle King.

Men’s 10000 Meters

WJR: 26:41.75, Samuel Wanjiru KEN, 2005

AJR: 28:15.82, Galen Rupp OR, 2005

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

2010: Dennis C. Masai, KEN, 27:53.88 (6-Parker Stinson, 16-Graham Bazell)

2008: Josphat Bett Kipkoech, KEN, 27:30.85 (17-Donn Cabral, 19-Dan Dunbar)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 28:14.55 / (straight final)

2008: 28:07.98 / (straight final)

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

1. Geoffrey Kirui, KEN, 27:08.44

2. Charles Ndirango, KEN, 27:58.02

3. Enoch Omwamba, KEN, 28:18.93

-- Ryan Pickering, U. of Oregon, 30:56.77

-- Jacob Kildoo, Notre Dame, 31:04.61

Analysis: He may have finished “just” sixth and been lapped by the winner, but TX prep Parker Stinson’s 29:32.23 (#6 all-time HS) at the 2010 WJC was a spectacular PR and an effort that resounded in the prep distance community. This year’s US entries, collegians Ryan Pickering and Jacob Kildoo, are unlikely to top that – but then no one thought Stinson would run 29:32 two years ago, either. Meanwhile, in this event the world’s top junior distance runner IS expected to run this meet instead of the next level, so Geoffrey Kirui KEN – whose PR came at the Pre Classic (Kenyan Olympic Trials) last month – is the heavy favorite.

Men’s 10000 Meter Racewalk

WJR: 38:46.4h, Viktor Burayev, RUS, 2000

AJR: 41:23.14, Tyler Sorenson CA, 2011

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

2010: Valery Filipchuk, RUS, 40:43.17 (7-Trevor Barron, 15-Tyler Sorensen)

2008: Stanislav Emelyanov, RUS, 39:35.01 (No USA)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 40:50.37 / (straight final)

2008: 40:29.57 / (straight final)

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

1. Benjamin Thorne, CAN, 40:26.0h

2. Takumi Saito, JPN, 40:32.74

3. Pavel Parshin, RUS, 41.14.73

-- Tyler Sorensen, Torrey Pines CA sr, 44:11.35

2012 IAAF World Top 3 (Road)

1. Takumi Saito, JPN, 40:14

2. Ihor Lyashchenko, UKR, 40:35

3. Alexander Ivanov, RUS, 40:48

Analysis: 2010 was the best year ever for US walkers at this meet as Trevor Barron and Tyler Sorensen were seventh and 15th, with Barron setting the American Junior Record. Sorensen reset that mark last year at World Youths, where he was fifth, and has a chance to return here and improve his position. The only problem is that he was injured this winter and has only been training healthily for a few months. If he can match his 41:23.14 PR, he has a good chance to be in the top five or better. The favorites include Benjamin Thorne CAN, Takumi Saito JPN, and 2011 WY Champ Pavel Parshin RUS.

Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles

WJR: 13.12, Liu Xaing, CHN, 2002

AJR: 13.08, Wayne Davis NC, 2009

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

2010: Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, FRA, 13.52 (5-Caleb Cross, 4-SF2-Jonathan Cabral)

2008: Konstantin Shabanov, RUS, 13.27 (2-Booker Nunley, 4-SF2-Ron Brookins)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 13.59 / 13.77

2008: 13.51 / 13.62

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

1. Yordan L. O’Farrill, CUB, 13.27 (0.0w)

2. James Gladman, GBR, 13.30 (1.2w)

3. Artie Burns, Miami N’Western FL jr, 13.35 (-1.4w)

7. Dondre Echols, Potomac MD sr, 13.56 (-1.8w)

9. Joshua Thompson, Pitt, 13.59 (-1.8w)

Analysis: It’s too bad injuries cut short Artie Burns’ campaign as the Florida prep would have been a gold medal contender had he stayed healthy and made it to Spain. But don’t sell Dondre Echols MD or collegian Joshua Thompson short. Both could make the final and be in the medal mix. Echols has progressed sharply in the past few months after a fine indoor season. Thompson, of course, is readjusting to the lower hurdle height after his collegiate season. The World #1-2 are relatively inexperienced at this level, but World #4 Nicholas Hough AUS won the Youth Olympic title in 2010 over the shorter hurdles.

Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

WJR, AJR: 48.02, Danny Harris, Team USA, 1984

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

2010: Jehue Gordon, TRI, 49.30 (7-SF2-Sheroid Evans, 4-H5-Steven White)

2008: Jeshua Anderson, USA, 48.68 (2-Johnny Dutch)

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 50.22 / 51.22

2008: 49.56 / 51.48

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

1. Felix Franz, GER, 50.48

2. Shota Madokoro, JPN, 50.62

3. Egor Kuznetsov, RUS, 50.62

4. Eric Futch, Penn Wood PA sr, 50.73

11. Gregory Coleman, Texas A&M, 51.01

Analysis: After enjoying global domination in 2006 and 2008 – with gold/silver sweeps – Team USA was shut out of the 400H final in 2010. PA prep Eric Futch hopes to lead the way back on to the medal stand after his PR at US Juniors rocketed him up to World #4. So little time separates the top dozen, that the medals are really up for grabs. World #3 Egor Kuznetsov RUS was the World Youth champ in 2011 over the shorter barriers.

Men’s 4x100 Meter Relay

WJR, AJR: 38.66, Team USA, 2004

Recent Champs

2010: USA, 38.93

2008: USA, 38.98

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 39.72 / 40.07

2008: 39.70 / 40.40

2012 IAAF World Top 3

1. Japan, 39.16

2. US All-Stars (Great Southwest), 39.93

3. Jamaica, 39.39

Analysis: Team USA has grabbed four of the last five titles and three in a row. They certainly have the speed for another sub-39 with Tyreek Hill, Aaron Ernest and relay pool picks Arthur Delaney (Oregon frosh) and Cameron Burrell (Texas prep). Could the 38.66 World Junior record by Team USA from 2004 be threatened? Meanwhile, the world list means little with most national squads not having marks yet, but Japan (second in 2011 WY medley relay) is a serious threat now and Jamaica is always dangerous (DNS in 2011 WY medley).

Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay

WJR, AJR: 3:01.09, Team USA, 2004

Recent Champs

2010: USA, 3:04.76

2008: USA, 3:03.86

Recent marks to medal / make final

2010: 3:06.49 / 3:08.32

2008: 3:06.47 / 3:09.23

2012 IAAF World Top 3

1. Trinidad and Tobago, 3:05.95

2. Poland, 3:08.81

3. Bahamas, 3:09.23

Analysis: Team USA is nearly as dominant here as the Kenyans are in the steeple, with the last five titles in a row and 11 of 13 overall. Preps Aldrich Bailey TX and Arman Hall FL not only have World Youth relay experience, but also two of the world’s top five times. So victory not only seems really likely, but Team USA’s World Junior record of 3:01.09 from 2004 could be under siege. Collegians Chidi Okezie and Quincy Downing, both 46.10-20 performers, are the relay pool members. The toughest competition could come from Trinidad and Tobago, which has run 3:05.95 this year.