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World Juniors Watch List: Decathlon and Heptathlon

World Juniors Watch List: Decathlon and Heptathlon

| On 20, May 2014

If you’re like me, you’re excited about this summer’s World Junior Championships. They’ll be in the USA for the first time, at historic* Hayward Field, the first IAAF outdoor stadium championships of any kind ever held here.

(*I hear that Nike goons come ’round your house if you fail to call it “historic” Hayward Field.)

But if you’re like me, you also have basically no idea who the contenders for the US team are or who their international foes might be. Until I started working on this series, I knew Mary Cain, Trayvon Bromell, and a handful of high school girls distance runners and that was it. I didn’t really know what to be excited about.

This is the first of a series of posts about who to watch in various events. These athletes will be competing in meets over the next month or so that get a lot of attention–the NCAAs and state and national high school championships–and you’ll want to keep an eye on them amidst all the other hubbub at those meets. Some of them might be right in your area.

The Basics

The IAAF World Junior Championships will be held at historic* Hayward Field from July 22 to 27. Get your tickets here. Eligible athletes are those born in 1995 through 1998.

The US team will be chosen at the USATF Junior Championships, held on July 5 and 6 at historic* Hayward Field. Nations get a maximum of two entries per event and those entries must meet qualification standards. Basically, the top two at the US Juniors who meet the standard will make the team. The same is true for the Canadian team; their Junior championships are on July 4 to 6 in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec.

Note that as host nation, the USA may enter a single athlete in any event in which no US athlete has met the qualifying standard. So if no American makes the mark in an event, theoretically the US junior champion would make the team. However, USATF’s selection criteria specifically says that the IAAF qualifying mark must be met in order to gain selection for the team…but it would hardly be unprecedented for USATF decision-makers to ignore the organization’s own rules.

Now, on to the athletes!

Decathlon

Qualifying standard: 6875 points

Six American decathletes have met the standard and another one hasn’t officially but almost assuredly will. The decathlon actually has two standards, one for the “senior” hurdles, shot and discus and one for the “junior” versions (7090 points). Making this even more complicated is the fact that the long-established weights the shot and disc in US high schools aren’t the same as the IAAF junior weights, so a “high school” decathlon doesn’t qualify at all.

Mitch Modin
PR: 7457
Hometown: Bend, OR

The Oregon freshman finished third at the Pac-12 Championships a little over a week ago and will qualify to the NCAA Championships. He’s relatively new to the decathlon and has an outside shot at scoring at the NCAAs. If he makes the US team for the Worlds he’ll have big crowd support–not only because he’s a Duck but because he’s an Oregon native. He ran at Mountain View High School, and if that sounds familiar it’s because it’s where another decathlete named Ashton Eaton went. Modin is a possible World Juniors medal contender, and is a rare high school basketball star who chose to pursue track instead; he was a nominee for McDonald’s All-American status in hoops.

Harrison Williams
PR: 7525 (high school hurdles/implements)
Hometown: Memphis, TN

Williams is a senior at Memphis University School and is the reigning Tennessee state champion (yes, they have the decathlon at the Tennessee state meet). His PR score of 7525 at this year’s Arcadia Invitational puts him at #3 on the all-time high school list. But this doesn’t meet the qualifying standard because the competition used the high school shot and disc, which are just a little lighter than the junior shot and disc. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble hitting the standard at the US Junior Championships. He’s heading to Stanford next year, so there could be many Williams-Modin battles over the coming years at the Pac-12 Championships.

Scott Filip and Hunter Veith
PRs: 7045 and 7027
Hometowns: Bloomingdale, IL and Cheney, KS

Filip and Veith are freshmen at Rice and Wichita State respectively and both have topped 7000 points with the college/international hurdles and throwing implements, but both appear out of the running. Filip was a DNF at last weekend’s Conference USA Championships after hurting a leg in the high jump, and Veith’s season ended with injury in April.

Ibn Short and Charlie Foss
PRs: 6942 and 6963
Hometowns: Hershey, PA and Appleton, WI

Short (Kentucky) and Foss (Wisconsin) both hit the qualifying standard last weekend at the SEC and Big Ten Championships, but neither will qualify to the NCAAs. Their next decathlons are likely to be at the USATF Junior Championships.

Tim Duckworth
PR: 6953
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

The senior at Arcadia High School just scored 7133 with the high school shot and disc and also scored 6953 with the college implements. If the latter stands up to scrutiny, then he’s got a qualifier.

John Lint
PR: 7081 (high school hurdles/implements)
Hometown: Gahanna, OH

The senior at Columbus Academy was on the US team for the 2013 World Youth Championships but doesn’t yet have a qualifying mark for this year’s World Juniors.

International competitors
The gold medal favorite is Russia’s Yevgeniy Likhanov, who won last year’s European Junior Championships and was fourth at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Amongst his challengers will likely be Germany’s Tim Nowak (bronze at ’13 Euro juniors, ninth at ’12 World juniors) and Fredreich Pretorius, a fast-improving decathlete who does not appear to have ever competed outside of his native South Africa.

Heptathlon

Qualifying standard: 5250 points

No confusion over standards here, as women’s hurdle height and shot and discus weights are standardized across the age groups. Two Americans and one Canadian have achieved the mark.

Kendell Williams
PR: 6018
Hometown: Marietta, GA

The Georgia freshman has been breaking junior records all season. She set the world junior pentathlon record while winning the NCAA indoor title and broke the US junior heptathlon record in April. Those records were held by the two greatest heptathletes of all time, Carolina Kluft and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Williams is a heavy favorite to win the NCAA title in June and is as much of a lock to make the US team as a multi-eventer can be. Despite those records, right now she’s probably not the gold medal favorite at the World Juniors.

Aaron Howell
PR: 5416
Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI

The Michigan freshman finished sixth in the heptathlon at last weekend’s Big Ten championships. She’s 24th on the collegiate list and will just barely make it to the NCAAs. As only the second American with the qualifying mark and several hundred points better than anyone else, she’s likely to make the US team as well.

Georgia Ellenwood
PR: 5400
Hometown: Langley, BC

The Wisconsin freshman beat Howell at the Big Ten meet. Since there are no multis at the Canadian Junior Championships, she pretty much only has to complete the formalities in order to make the team. She’s right on the bubble for qualifying to the NCAAs and will have to wait until Thursday to see if she makes it. Ellenwood was 18th in the heptathlon at the 2012 World Juniors.

International competitors
The gold medal favorite is Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodríguez, the defending champion. She’s #9 on the all-time world junior list (#4 in the post-Eastern Bloc era) and was 12th at the senior Worlds in Moscow last year, topping more than half the field (and 2/3 of the US team). Others to watch include Sweden’s Sofia Linde, who won silver at last year’s Euro juniors, and 16-year-old Brit Morgan Lake, who won Florence’s Multistars competition two weeks ago over experienced senior heptathletes.

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