Fifteen Missouri athletes will compete over the next three days in Clovis, California at the USA Track and Field Junior National Championships seeking a spot on Team USA for the biennial IAAF World Junior Championships. This year’s World Championship meet will be held in Poland, July 19-24. To be eligible to compete at nationals, athletes must meet the qualifying standards or be close to it and can be accepted depending on how many entries there are. Also, athletes must not turn 20 years of age this calendar year. The top two finishers in each event will earn a spot on the U.S. team, and third and fourth-place finishers in the sprints may be considered for the relay pools.
Missourians have had a fair share of success over the last decade at junior nationals, with about ten qualifying and competing in the World Junior Championships in that time. The chances are good we’ll see several Missourians on this year’s team.
Qualifiers: Name, High School/Club/College, Event, Seed, Mark,
Chris Nilsen, Park Hill Sr, South Dakota signee, Pole Vault, 1st-18-4.75 Two-time Missouri Class 5 State pole vault champion and national record holder Chris Nilsen will be the favorite in California. Nilsen set the Missouri State meet record with a 17-00 jump last year and this year broke the 30-year old Kansas Relays record, going 17-6.5, before just missing 18-0. Then at sectionals, Nilsen broke the national record with his 18-4.75 clearance. He captured the Great Southwest Class title a week later, going 18-3, and last week won the New Balance Nationals title at 16-8.25. He’ll compete at South Dakota for three-time Olympian vaulter Derek Miles.
Sophia Rivera, Brentwood Sr, Wisconsin signee, Javelin, 1st-180-4 Rivera is one of the best shot putters and javelin throwers in the country. She won four Missouri Class 2 State titles in the discus and three in the shot put. She won the Class 2 javelin this year, in the events debut at the State meet. Rivera is a three-time national champion, having won the Indoor shot, outdoor shot, and javelin at the 2015 New Balance National meets. Rivera is the state record holder in the shot put with a best of over 53 feet.
Rivera competed twice for Team USA in 2015. She earned a silver medal in the shot put and placed eighth in the javelin at the World Youth Championships in Colombia. Then, at the Pan-American Junior Games earned the bronze medal in the shot put in Canada. This year, Rivera threw the javelin 180-4 to put her third on the All-Time US High School performance list. It also qualified her for the Olympic Trials next month. Rivera was seeded fourth in the shot put at Junior Nationals, but has scratched out of that event.
Kahmari Montgomery, Plainfield, Il., Mizzou Fr. 400 1st-45.13, 200 7th-20.86 Kahmari Montgomery is a Plainfield, Il. native who is finishing up a spectacular freshman season at Mizzou. Montgomery claimed the SEC indoor 400-meter title in February with his 45.78 clocking, which finished the season 10th on the world performance list. He followed that with an 11th place finish at the Division I Indoor national meet. Outdoors, Montgomery blasted a 45.13 to win the SEC outdoor title, a time that is currently 22nd in the world. Montgomery just missed the 400 final at the NCAA outdoor meet, tying for ninth. He’ll run the 400 and 200 at Junior Nationals, and then the 400 at the Olympic Trials next month.
Cecilya Johson, Lutheran South, Tulsa Fr. Discus 2nd-175-2.75 Cecilya Johnson was a two-time state champion in the discus for Lutheran South High School the previous two years. In 2013 she won her age group in the event at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. In 2014, she placed fourth at the USATF Youth Outdoor Championships. She has placed sixth and seventh in the event at the 2014 and 2015 New Balance Nationals. Johnson will look to improve on her 16th place finish at junior nationals last year. This year she took 2nd in the event with a personal best of 175-3 at the American Athletic Conference meet for Tulsa. She placed 18th at the NCAA West Preliminary in the event.
Ariel Okorie, Waynesville Sr, Springfield TC, K-State signee, Heptathlon 5th-4,966pts Ariel Okorie of Waynesville might be one of the best all-around track and field athletes ever from Missouri. The Kansas State signee could be a great pentathlete and heptathlete. She has bests of 14.19 in the 100 hurdles, 42.87 in the 300 hurdles, 19-6.25 in the long jump, and 5-4 in the high jump. She won the 2014 15-16 year old heptathlon at the USATF Youth Outdoor Championships. She was an 11-time individual All-State performer, including the Class 5 100 hurdles title this year. She finished second in the heptathlon at the Great Southwest Track Classic the last two years, scoring 4,966 this year.
Jasmin Barge, McCluer North, Nebraska Fr. 400 Hurdles 8th-57.94 Jasmine Barge was a star for the Stars of McCluer North High School in the 100/300 hurdles and 200-meters. She led North to State titles in 2014 and 2015. She has the state meet record of 41.79 in the 300 hurdles. Barge took second in the 300 hurdles at the Great Southwest Classic in 2014 and 2015, setting personal best of 41.43 at 2014 meet. This year, Barge finished sixth at Big 10 Championships in the 400 hurdles in 58.43, ran 57.94 in prelims for personal best. Ran 58.33 at NCAA West Prelims, taking 13th, missing trip to NCAAs by one spot and .17 seconds.
Carlie Queen, Summit Christian Academy Jr, High Jump T10th-5-9 Summit Christian Academy junior pole vaulter and high jumper Carlie Queen will compete in the high jump. Queen is the three-time Missouri Class 2 champion in the high jump. She has a personal best of 5-9.75 set in 2015, and a season’s best of 5-9. Queen placed 8th at junior nationals last year with a 5-5 clearance. She took second at this year’s Great Southwest Track Classic with a 5-7.75 clearance. Queen’s father competed in the pole vault at Kansas State.
Lamont Allen, DeSoto Jr, Jefferson County Jets TC, High Jump T15th-6-10.25 DeSoto junior and Jefferson County Jets track club member Lamont Allen will compete in the high jump. Allen is a three-time All-Stater in the event. He was the Class 4 runner-up this year with a 6-8 clearance, but has a season and personal best of 6-10.25. Allen placed third at the Great Southwest Track Classic earlier this month with a 6-8.75 mark.
Jayson Ashford, SLUH Jr, Dashers TC, 100 16th-10.72, 200 19th-21.39 Jayson Ashford was a huge part of St. Louis University High School’s runner-up finish in Class 5 at last month’s state meet. The junior won the 200, took 3rd in the 100, 5th in the 400, and helped the Junior Billikens to a fourth-place finish in the 4×400. At the Great Southwest Track Classic, Ashford won the 200 in a slightly wind-aided 21.13 (+2.2w). He also placed 4th in the 100 in a PR of 10.70 with +2.1 wind. Last weekend, Ashford placed 15th in the 200 and 24th in the 100 at the New Balance Outdoor National meet. Ashford is a member of the Dashers Track Club.
Deja Ingram, Hazelwood Central So, St. Louis Blues TC, 100 17th-11.79, 200 16th-24.06 Hazelwood Central sophomore Deja Ingram led Hazelwood Central to a runner-up finish in Class 5 last month at the state meet. Ingram won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes, while running a leg of the third-place 4×400. Ingram ran 11.80 and 24.65 to win the state titles, while setting personal bests a week later in the altitude of Albuquerque at the Great Southwest Track Classic. She improved to 11.79 in the 100 to place fifth, and 24.06 in the 200 for the victory. Ingram runs for the St. Louis Blues Track Club.
Margaret Sliney, MICDS Sr, Bucknell signee, 400 32nd-55.75 MICDS senior and Bucknell University signee Margaret Sliney will run the 400 in California. Sliney appears to have been a long and middle-distance runner for most of her career, but settled on the 400-meters this year and found lots of success. Sliney captured the Class 4 400 title last month, and anchored the 4×400 to the state title, helping the Lady Rams to the Class 4 team title. At the Great Southwest Track Classic, Sliney captured the title in a .66 second PR of 55.75
Quincy Hall, Raytown South Sr, 400 Hurdles 13th-51.88 Raytown South’s Quincy Hall is an excellent long sprinter and hurdler. He just missed Domenik Peterson’s State Record by 1/100th of a second last month at the state meet with his 46.82 400-meters. As a junior, he ran a personal best of 37.40 in the 300 hurdles. In the Class 4 State meet last month, Hall won the 400, took 4th in the 200, while also running on the winning 4×200 and 4×400 relay squads, helping South to a runner-up team finish. Hall won the 2015 AAU Junior Olympics 17-18 year-old 400 hurdles in 53.12, by more than 2.5 seconds.
Justin Hall, Blue Springs Sr, Texas Tech signee, Triple Jump T9th-49-2.5 Justin Hall was the best jumper in the Missouri prep ranks this year. Hall, a senior for Blue Springs, leaped to a 49-11 triple jump this season that puts him 10th on the national performance list. His 24-1 long jump was the best in the state and tied for 42nd nationally. Hall is also a 6-6 high jumper. After a runner-up finish in the triple jump and long jump at the Class 5 State meet last year, Hall captured the triple jump title this year, while taking 4th in the long jump, and 12th in the high jump. Hall helped Blue Springs to the team title in 2015 and a third-place finish this year. Hall will compete at Texas Tech next year.
Lance Mueller, Waterloo, Il. St. Louis U Fr. 1500 10th-3:51.62 Lance Mueller is one of the many talented freshman for St. Louis University this year. The Waterloo, Il. native was a 14th his senior year in the 2A State Cross Country Championship, while taking third in the 2A state meet 1600-meter as a senior in 4:16. This year, Mueller ran a 3:51 1500-meters at the Mizzou Tom Botts Invitational, that qualified him for junior nationals. At the Atlantic-10 conference meet, Mueller was seventh in the 1500 and steeplechase for the Billikens.
Rayce Albino, New Berlin, Wi., Mizzou Fr. Pole Vault 8th-13-3 New Berlin, Wi. native and Mizzou freshman Rayce Albino will compete in the pole vault. Albino was a Wisconsin DI state champion and had a high school best of 12-7. This year, Albino went 13-3 at the John McDonnell Invite to put her in the top 100 in Division I. Albino cleared 13-1.5 to finish 12th at the SEC championships. Albino qualified for the NCAA West Prelims where she finished 39th with a 12-6.25 clearance.
Mizzou freshman and Lutheran South graduate Maya Cody qualified in the 400 with her 54.49 but has scratched. Cody earned 2nd-team and honorable mention All-American honors at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships two weeks ago in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, setting school record in both events this year.
Also competing are St. Louis Post-Dispatch Metro Track and Field Athletes of the year from just across the Missouri River:
Jamari Ward, Cahokia, Il. Sr, Mizzou signee, Triple Jump 1st-53.7.5, Long Jump 4th-25-6.75
Lajarvia Brown, Alton Il. Sr, Texas A&M signee, Triple Jump 10th-41-0.25
Live Webcast with USATF.tv Plus subscription: http://www.usatf.tv/gprofile.php?do=videos&mgroup_event_id=7289&year=2016&mgroup_id=45365&video_id=180152