Rivers leads all-American haul at national junior olympics in Kansas

Results & Interviews

The 2017 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships concluded on Sunday (30-Jul) in Lawrence, Kansas with 194 athletes from the Pacific Northwest association competing in the championships during the seven day competition held at Rock Chalk Park on the campus of the University of Kansas
The Pacific Northwest athletes competed in a total of 293 events in near ideal conditions during most of the seven days of competition.  Heavy rain and strong winds did cause some delays on days 1 and 2 but the remainder of the meet was held under blue skies and temperatures that never went above ninety degrees.  A total of 8,152 athletes competed, making the 51th anniversary event the largest USATF Junior Olympics ever.  
Teams with 10 or more athletes competing were: Cascade Striders, Federal Way TC, Flying AJS TC, High Voltage, Speed Unlimited, Team Blackout Elite, and Thriller Track & Field .  
A total of 50 all-American performances were achieved by Pacific Northwest athletes with each earning a trip to the awards podium, a championship medal, and a Nike Junior Olympic All-American hat.
Six local athletes won national titles in Lawrence with each representing a different club from the association. The national champions were: Max Berger (Rainier Beach TC), Alyvia Brown (Cascade Striders), Karlee Freeman (Team Evolution Athletics), JaiCieonna Gero-Holt (Seatown Express TC), Maceo Rivers (Top Flight TC) and Nicole Stephens (High Voltage).
Rivers earns three all-American honors
Maceo Rivers had the distinct honor of visiting the awards podium on three different occasions during the week.  His first visit was the one where he ascended to the top platform for his victory in the boys 9-10 high jump.  He entered the competition with the third best seed but was able to outlast the other 52 competitors to win with a leap of 1.36m (4-5½).  Geron White (Federal Way TC), who had defeated Rivers at the region 13 championships two weeks earlier, finished fifth with a best of 1.30m (4-3¼). Rivers also picked up a pair of fifth place finishes in the shot put and long jump.  In the shot put he came in with the 11th best seed (8.61m / 28-3) from his third place finish at the region 13 championships but in Lawrence improved by nearly 1.5 feet to 9.05m (29-8¼).  In the long jump, an event he won at the regionals he came in as the fifth seed and performed accordingly as he finished fifth in the field of 45 athletes with his best jump of 4.39m (14-5) coming in the first round.
National champions PLUS
Alyvia Brown (Cascade Striders), Karlee Freeman (Team Evolution Athletics), and Nicole Stephens (High Voltage) all won national titles and also earned one other trip to the awards podium in a second event.  On Friday, Brown finished second in the girls 11-12 800m running 2:19.72. Two days later she returned to the track and dominated a strong field in the 1500m as she ran 4:54.22.  She crossed the line more than three seconds ahead of runner-up Alissa Graham of New York. 
Freeman started the competition off on Wednesday with a third place finish in the girls 17-18 shot put as she threw 13.25m (43-5¾).  On Friday she returned as the #2 seed in the discus trailing only region 3 champion Veronica Fraley from North Carolina.  Farley took the lead in the second round with Freeman trailing in second place until she unleashed her winning throw of 52.22m (171-4) in the fifth round.  The mark established a new Pacific Northwest association record breaking the 13-year old record of 50.52m held by Aretha Hill.  She also finished ninth in the hammer throw with a mark of 43.03m (141-2).  She was just 8 inches short of a third visit to the awards podium.
Of the three double all-Americans, only Stephens got the winning event out of the way first.  On Tuesday and Wednesday she competed in the seven-event heptathlon where she was defending the title she had won in Sacramento last year.  Stephens, who will matriculate to the University of Florida this fall, scored 4821 points to win by 97 points over Timara Chapman of North Carolina.  Stephens recorded the #1 performances in four of the seven events (100m hurdles-14.42, 200m-24.97, long jump-18’9¾”, and 800m-2:18.71).  On Sunday, Stephens finished eighth in the 100m hurdles. She was also 21st in the 200m. 
Moving on up for Gero-Holt and Berger
Two years ago both JaiCieonna Gero-Holt (Seatown Express TC) and Max Berger (Rainier Beach TC) competed at the national championships in Jacksonville in the 9-10 division.  Geri-Holt finished ninth in the high jump and Berger was third in the javelin. Fast-forward two years to Lawrence, both now competing in the 11-12 division, each athlete was able to use their prior experience to catapult themselves to the winners platform in Lawrence.  
Gero-Holt, who had finished second at the region 13 championships two weeks earlier and was ranked #7 in Lawrence, outlasted the other 42 competitors and won the high jump with a clearance of 1.50m (4-11).  She also finished 26th in the 80m hurdles.
Berger came into the competition with the seventh best entry mark but took the lead in round one and never looked back as he won by over 13 feet.  His winning mark of 41.95m (137-7) came in round two.  Berger’s four best throws were better than the second place mark of 37.95m (124-2) by Kash Bates of Nebraska.  Berger also finished 21st in the shot put.
Double deuces for George and Smith
Speed Unlimited teammates Luke George and Julia Smith each earned silver medals in two events each.  George ran 1:54.31 on Saturday in the 800m to  finish a close second in the 17-18 division.  He was just out-leaned at the finish by Britt Sease of Arkansas by .19 seconds.  The following day he ran 3:59.29 in the 1500m to only trail the strong performance by Luis Soto of Nevada who won in 3:56.65.
At last year’s championships in Sacramento Smith finished sixth in both the 1500m and 3000m races in the 13-14 division. This year she moved up to the top of the age division and also moved up a few levels on the awards podium in both events.  In the 1500m she ran 4:40.30 to finish second to Sophie Atkinson of Texas.  While George moved down to the 800m for his second event, Smith moved up to the 3000m where she ran 10:05.50 for to pickup her second all-American hat in Lawrence.  The time established a new Pacific Northwest association record, breaking Rachel Blair’s mark of 10:05.83 from 2015..  In December Smith also earned all-American honors as she placed 14th at the cross country championships in Alabama.  She is now a six-time junior olympic all-American.
Double the trouble
Like George and Smith, Ella Borsheim (Federal Way TC) and Ginny Mehl (Tahoma TC) each earned two trips to the awards podium.  
At last year’s championships Borsheim, competing in the 11-12 division, finished seventh in both the 800m and 1500m.  This year, having moved up to the 13-14 division and coming in with the #8 (1500m) and #11 (800m) entry marks, it seemed to be a long shot for her to return to the awards podium in both events.  But the scrappy runner from Tacoma did just that as she finished fourth in the 1500m running 4:41.11 and eighth in the 800m in 2:19.46.  In December she finished third at the national cross country championships in Alabama.  She is now a six-time junior olympic all-American.
Mehl, competing in the girls 17-18 division, finished seventh in both the javelin and shot put.  In the javelin she came in as the #7 seed and matched that with her seventh place finish but in the shot put, an event she finished 12th last year in Sacramento, she was entered with the #13 seed and used a  huge first round throw of 13.10m (42-1¾) that held up for seventh place, far exceeding her ranking coming into Lawrence.
There is silver in that thing they call a silver lining
In addition to the second place finishes by Brown, George, and Smith, five other athletes picked up silver medals - Lexi Lewis (Flying AJS TC), Cass Elliott (unattached), Cassandra Lemus (unattached), Logan Roberts Jr (Thriller TF) and Gabriel Shouman (Tahoma TC).
Ellis, who finished sixth in the triple jump at the USATF Junior Championships in June, was looking to improve on her fourth place finish at last year’s championships in the 17-18 triple jump.  She did just that placing second with a (wind-aided) mark of 12.67m (41-7).  The rising senior at Curtis High School won the Washington 4A title in May.  This is her third all-American honor having finished second in 2015 while in the 15-16 division and fourth last year.
Like Ellis, Elliott had competed at the USATF Junior Championships where in placed ninth in the 400m hurdles against competitors mainly in college.  His time of 52.07 at the junior championships is #7US in 2017 for preps.  He came to Lawrence with the #2 seed, trailing only Charles Brockman III of Texas who had run 50.98 earlier this year.  In the finals Elliott ran 52.14 to just miss his career best as he finished second to Brockman as he set a career best of 50.79.
Lemus, who entered the competition with just the ninth best seed mark, finished second in the girls 13-14 long jump with a mark of 5.50m (18-0½).   At last year’s championships she was 21st while at the bottom of the age division.  The year prior she won the 9-10 title in Sacramento. 
Roberts finished second in the boys 17-18 3000m race walk stopping the clock at 15:47.25.  The time makes him the #9US prep in 2017. This was his first national junior olympic championships.
In the boys 15-16 javelin competition Shouman was entered with the #5 seed but unleashed a big throw in round 1 to take the lead early on.  His mark of 57.47m (188-6) was slightly bettered in round 2 by Teagun Glenn of New Mexico who threw 5 inches further than Shouman’s throw from the previous round.  Those two marks would remain the top throws for the rest of the competition thus earning Shouman the silver medal.
They Make Statues Out Of Bronze
Adding to the third places finish turned in by Freeman were::  
  • Erin Johnson (Rainier Beach TC) 11-12 girls Long Jump
  • Lyric Harris (High Voltage) 15-16 girls Triple Jump  
    12.31m (40-4¾) - *new association record
  • Mackenzie Sparks (Unattached) 15-16 girls Javelin
  • Alaina Brady (Tahoma TC) 15-16 girlsHeptathlon
Only at the Olympic Trials Is Fourth Place The Worst Place
Adding to the fourth places finish turned in by Borsheim were:
  • Saudia Heard (Flying AJS TC) 17-18 girls Triple Jump
  • Anvi Bhatia (Rainier Beach TC) 7-8 girls  Shot Put
  • Nathan Anderson (Unattached) 13-14 boys Javelin
  • Sara Absten (Unattached) 17-18 girls Heptathlon
Making Their Way to the Podium
And our final lists of Junior Olympic All-Americans:
Fifth place finishers
  • Geron White (Federal Way TC) 9-10 boys High Jump
  • Jaylon Jenkins (Federal Way TC) 11-12 boys Long Jump
  • Rieko Wilford (Flying AJS TC) 15-16 girls Triple Jump
  • Aliya Wilson (Tahoma TC) 15-16 girls 100m    
    11.69 - *new association record
  • Zachary Grams (Thriller TF) 15-16 boys 3000m
  • Maceo Rivers (Top Flight TC) 9-10 boys Long Jump
  • Maceo Rivers (Top Flight TC) 9-10 boys Shot Put
Sixth place finishers
  • Ian Ferguson (Cascade Striders) 13-14 boys High Jump
  • MaLu Touras (Speed Unlimited) 9-10 girls  Javelin
  • Kenzie Richards (Tacoma Spartan Sprint) 17-18 girls 2000m steeplechase
  • Kyana Thompson (Team Blackout Elite) 7-8 girls  Shot Put
  • Xtreme Speed TC (Xtreme Speed TC) 15-16 girls 400m Relay
Seventh place finishers
  • Kaiha Gayles (High Voltage) 13-14 girls 200m hurdls.
  • Reylen Witherspoon (South Central AA) 9-10 boys 200m
  • Ginny Mehl (Tahoma TC) 17-18 girls Shot Put
  • Ginny Mehl (Tahoma TC) 17-18 girls Javelin
  • Khamille Chappell (Top Flight TC) 9-10 girls  Triathlon
  • Maggie Lear (Unattached) 13-14 girls Pole Vault
  • Andrew Schulz (Unattached) 15-16 boys Long Jump
Eight place finishers
  • Ella Borsheim (Federal Way TC) 13-14 girls 800m
  • Nicole Stephens (High Voltage) 17-18 girls 100m hurdles
  • Kenyon Andrews (South Central AA) 9-10 boys 1500m
  • Hannah Ganashamoorthy (Speed Unlimited) 15-16 girls 100m hurdles
  • Azad Khan (Speed Unlimited) 11-12 boys Long Jump
  • Gabriella Frost (Tahoma TC) 17-18 girls Hammer 
  • Carly Tsuruda (Thriller TF) 17-18 girls 3000m race walk
A complete set of Pacific Northwest performances along with athlete interviews can be viewed here.
Next year’s national championships are slated for North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina July 23-29.

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