July 9, 2018
UPDATED July 10
MOTrackFanatic @ outlook.com
Every two years the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), the global governing body for track and field, or as the rest of the world calls it “Athletics”, holds a world championship track and field meet for athletes that are 16-19 years old. Athletes can’t turn twenty years old until after December 31 of the meet year to be eligible. Each country can send two athletes per individual event and one relay squad in each of the two relays, per gender, if they meet the qualifying standard times or marks. The meet is often a preview for future Senior World Championships and the Olympics, with many of the athletes competing at the Under-20 meet, later going on to compete at the Senior global championships. Just making #TeamUSATF is a big accomplishment, and might mean even bigger things to come in the future. Five of the 10 Missouri athletes to compete at the World Junior/Under 20 Championships have gone on to compete in the Red, White, and Blue for USA at the World Senior Championships and or Olympics.
With their performances at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships in Bloomington, In. June 15-17, St. Louis natives Rayvon Allen and Justin Robison secured berths to make the US Team competing at the IAAF Under-20 World Championships in Tampere, Finland, that begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday. The pair appear to be the 12th and 13th Missourians to compete for Team USA at the meet, which was first held in 1986, making this meet the 17th edition. The meet was rebranded in 2016 from the “World Junior Championships” to the “World U20 Championships”.
Allen was a horizontal jumps and 300-meter hurdles and 4×400 star for the St. Louis Blues Track Club and Rockwood Summit High School. At the 2017 Missouri Class 4 State Track and Field Championships, Allen won the long jump title with a PR of 24-0.25, as well as the triple jump with a 50-4.5 mark. Allen took fourth in the 300-meter hurdles and has a personal record of 38.04. Allen capped the meet with a huge anchor leg in the 4×400 to give Rockwood Summit the event title and the team title.
Last summer, Allen jumped to a US High School the best wind-legal triple jump of 51-7.25, in taking second at the USATF National Junior Olympics in Lawrence, KS. Allen followed that up the next week with a victory at the AAU Junior Olympics Games in the 17-18 age group triple jump with a 49-5.
This year as a freshman for the Shockers, Allen had passed the 25-foot barrier in the long jump in his outdoor season opener with a wind-aided 25-1.25. A week later, Allen posted a season best 51-3.75 +4.1 mph/wind-aided mark in the triple jump. At the American Athletic Conference Championships in mid-May, Allen launched to a 25-3.5/7.71m wind-legal jump to place 4th, while going 49-45 in the triple jump to take fifth. Allen’s qualified for the NCAA Division I West Preliminary meet where he went in tied with the 23rd best mark of the season in the long jump and was the 38th seed in the triple jump. Allen elected to concentrate on the long jump and skip the triple, at the West Preliminary in Sacramento. Allen took 20th with a best jump of 24-5, missing a trip to nationals by eight spots and just under eight inches. Allen also got his 200-meter wind-legal PR down to 22.02 this Spring as well.
In Bloomington, at the USATF Junior Championships, Allen entered the meet as the 2nd seed with his 25-1.25 season and personal best. He jumped to a 24-10 best mark on his third attempt, which tied the him for second, and Allen won the tie-breaker with his second-best jump of 24-8.5, almost 9-inches better than North Carolina State’s Ja’Von Douglas to take second and make the US Team.
A few days later Allen took questions and was quoted on the Wichita State University Athletics website goshockers.com.
Allen spoke about his mindset before big meets and great competition. “Going in I am just focusing on myself. I’m not too worried about the other competitors. I know what I am capable of doing, so I just want to go and compete well to make everybody proud.” Allen said he was able to treat the USA Track and Field Junior Championships like any other Meet, “In my opinion, the meet felt just like any other experience. There weren’t many people there and the mood just felt mellow. I went in with very little pressure, wasn’t nervous, just did what I do best and came away finishing second.”
Allen was asked about his second-best jump of the competition being the tie-breaker and said, “Ever since my freshman year of high school I’ve been told that every jump counts. I approach every attempt with that mindset and always finish it strong, I’m happy it went in my favor.”
Allen added what it would be like to compete in the USA uniform and to represent St. Louis and Wichita State on the international stage, “This has been my dream since I was eight years old, to wear USA across my chest is a dream come true. I can’t even describe how it feels, it still hasn’t sunk in yet that I am actually on the USA team…I’m excited to represent USA, as well as being able to represent my school and St. Louis. It is a great thing, hopefully me doing this will bring more exposure to St. Louis and Wichita State.”
Allen competes in long jump qualification round on Tuesday July 10, at 11:20 am in Finland, which is 3:20 a.m. CST. The finals follow on Wednesday at 5:50 p.m. or 9:55 a.m. CST. Allen enters the meet with as the 10th seed based on this year’s best jumps. If he wants to be in metal contention, he’ll likely need to pull off a personal best by about a foot.
In the summer of 2015, Phil Wolbrink decided he was ready to return to a paid coaching gig after a year as a volunteer assistant track coach at Northern Illinois University. The Wentzville Holt High School graduate and former McCluer High School Head track and field coach returned to the St. Louis area and became the head boys track and field coach for the 2015-2016 school year at Hazelwood West. Lots of hard work later, the Hazelwood West boys, a program with little tradition of success, had captured a fourth-place team title in Class 5 at the 2016 State Track and Field Meet. That included a 400-meter state title by senior Isaiah Cole and a 4×400 relay state title. Cole headed to run at the University of Kansas after posting personal records and school records of 21.50 and 47.21 in the 200 and 400-meter dashes, times that would one could expect to last quite a while. Tim Levine, Sean Burris and Justin Robinson didn’t go along with that.
When Wolbrink went back to Northern Illinois after the year to take the paid sprints and hurdles coaching job for the women’s-only program, Levine added Head Boys Track and Field coaching duties to his Head Boys Cross Country Coach title. He brought in another familiar St. Louis area coach that had great sprint coaching credentials: Sean Burris. Burris had previously coached with Levine at Ladue High School and coached sprinters there and was one of the coaches on the St. Louis Lightning Tack Club before starting his own club, the Gateway City United Athletics Club. He helped guide Montene Roye-Speight and Samantha Levin to state titles and All-American honors in the 400 and 800-meters at Ladue, among many other accomplishments.
Justin Robinson walked into Hazelwood West High School just as Isaiah Cole left. As a freshman, he posted regular in high school season personal records (PRs) of 21.91 and 48.83 in the 200 and 400-meters, the latter of which put him first in the state prelims. Robinson settled for a 6th place finish in the Class 5 200-meter dash and finished 4th in the 400 final. He ran a leg on the 8th place 4×200 relay and the 4th place 4×400 relay at state. Last Summer, Robinson improved his 200 best to 21.77 with a 10th place finish at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships in the 15-16 age group, while also scoring a 3rd place finish at the meet in the 400-meter, setting a PR of 48.03 in the prelims.
Last Fall, Robinson earned 2nd-Team Offense All-Conference St. Louis Suburban XII North Division honors as a wide receiver for the Wildcats on the football field, and Robinson looks the part. Though standing just 5-9, Robinson is strong, lean. This year, Robison took his resume to a whole other level. With the cold and rainy spring in St. Louis and Missouri, Robinson and most teams and athlete’s competition schedules were thrown off and often cancelled. In his second outdoor meet of the year, Robinson went to California for the Arcadia Invitational, the premier regular season high school-only track and field meet in the country. Robinson stormed to a 47.24 400-meter runner-up finish, to give him one of the fastest marks in the country early in the season. Three weeks later, Robinson ran to 100 and 200-meter dash PRs of 10.60 and 21.39 at the Marion Freeman Clayton Invitational in late April.
At the State Tack and Field Championships in late May, Robinson started off day two of the meet with a 3rd place finish in the 100-meter dash in 10.78. Then came an epic 400-meter dash final. Robinson and Park Hill South fellow sophomore Chris Dupree, who edged out Robinson in separate prelim races, taking first in 48.59 to Robinson’s 48.70, battled to the finish. Robinson held on for the victory in 46.93 seconds to 47.19, becoming just the third Missouri male to go sub 47-seconds in the 400-meters at the MSHSAA State Track Meet. The clocking put Robinson behind just Domenik Peterson’s 46.81 and Quincy Hall’s 46.82 on the known in high school season and state meet 400-meter performance list. Robinson closed the meet with his second state title, the 200-meter crown in 21.62. Robinson capped the meet by running a leg of the Wildcats 8th place 4×400. West finished with 30 points to place 6th as a team.
Three weeks later, Robinson was in Bloomington, Indiana for the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships. In the 400-meter prelims, Robinson ran a 46.53 to break former Raytown South High School star Quincy Hall’s all-season state and sophomore record of 46.71 from the 2014 AAU Junior Olympic Games. It also qualified Robinson for the next day’s final and a shot to make Team USA. Robinson improved another 1/3 of a second when he blasted a 46.20 to take fourth in the final and qualify him for the 4×400-meter relay pool for Team USA. The time currently ties Robinson for 6th on the MileSplit.com high school national performance list, making him the second fastest sophomore on the list and only the second under-classman in the top 24 in the country. Sorry, Isaiah Cole, those records only lasted two years. Cole said he doesn’t mind though. At the 2018 NCAA Division I Championships in early June, where he earned his second 2nd Team All-American honors in the 4×400 for Kansas, Cole said he is happy for Robinson, and is now training with him in St. Louis this summer.
Robinson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s David Kvidahl that during the 400 final in Bloomington that, “I saw everyone breaking down, their forms breaking apart…I just ran my race.” Robinson was able to move up near to or last in the first half of the race, all the way up to fourth in a historic clocking. The sixteen-year old High School sophomore was competing against recent high school graduates and college freshman who are still nineteen.
Coach Burris told Kvidahl, “On the men’s side it’s not common for a kid his age to make the U20 team,” Burris said. “He’s going against kids that have competed in the NCAA (championships), Big XII (championships) and SEC (championships). We’re coming off the Missouri state high school meet. They’re coming off a Division I meet and we’re meeting in the middle.” The three athletes finishing ahead of Robinson in the race were Baylor and Arizona University freshman, and a high school senior, all two to three years older than Robinson.
Burris added, “Everybody has talent. But everybody is not going to do the things it takes to build on that ability and see things through…I think that’s his best quality. He’s tenacious and he has some grit.”
Robinson is one of six in the 4×400 relay pool, compiled of the top six finishers at nationals, including the two open 400-meter competitors. If he is 100% healthy and running well, Robinson will likely run in the 4×400 prelims and could run the finals if the US squad advances. With the US open 400-meter runners competing in the 400-meter prelims on Thursday evening, and then possibly the 400 finals on Friday evening, it seems likely that Robinson would run the 4×400 prelims Saturday morning, and the open 400-meter runners would sit out until the finals on Sunday evening. If Robinson runs well enough in the prelims, he could keep his spot for the finals and not be one of the two likely to be subbed out for the two open 400-meter runners.
The 4×400 prelims are Saturday morning at 12:15 p.m. local time, which is 4:15 a.m. Central Standard Time in Missouri. The finals will be held at 3:28 pm. local time, which is 7:28 a.m. CST.
Burris is making the trip to watch Robinson, and this may not be the only time he travels internationally to watch Robinson compete with “USA” across his chest. If the Robinson’s squad can keep the baton from hitting the track, there is a good chance he’ll come home with a medal.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s David Kvidahl’s story on Justin Robinson heading to World U20 Champs: STL Post-Dispatch Story
KSDK NBC Channel 5 Story on Robinson: KSDK Story
Wichita State Press Release on Rayvon Allen & teammate before U20 Champs: WSU
USATF Press Release with Team Roster: USATF Release
Meet Home: 2018 IAAF U20 World Champs Website
Live Commentary and Results: IAAF Link
Schedule and Live Results: IAAF Schedule & Results
Broadcast Coverage: NBCSports.com/gold or the NBC Sports Gold App only appear to be scheduled to show daily recaps. It looks like the IAAF is webcasting the meet on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/IAAFathletics, but with geography restrictions, USATF must not be allowing it to be streamed in the US.
Recent Missouri IAAF World Junior-U20 Championships
Team USA Participants & Results
World Under 20 Championships
Rayvon Allen, Long Jump
Wichita State University Freshman,
Rockwood Summit High School ’17,
St. Louis Blues Track Club
St. Louis, Missouri,
USATF Ozark Association
Justin Robinson, 4×400 Relay Pool
Gateway City United Athletics Club,
Hazelwood West High School Sophomore
St. Louis, Missouri
USATF Ozark Association
Meet was originally scheduled to be held in Kazan, Russia,
but doping scandal by Russian Federation caused IAAF to move event.
Chris Nilsen, Pole Vault
Park Hill High School Senior,
Kansas City, Missouri, University of South Dakota signee
USATF Missouri Valley Association
Finished 7th, clearing 5.35m/17-6.5,
Injured labrum in shoulder during competition.
After opening at 5.10m and clearing on 2nd att., cleared 5.20m,
then passed at 5.30m, cleared 5.35 on 2nd attempt,
passed at 5.40 and went out after three misses at 5.45m/17.10.5
Placed 13th at the 2017 Senior World Outdoor Championships
as college freshman
Kahmari Montgomery, 400, 4×400
Plainfield, Illinois, Plainfield Central High School,
USATF Illinois Association
Finished 5th in 400-meters in 46.48 in finals.
Ran 46.46 for 4th in 1st Round, Took 5th in Semis with 45.71.
Missed Bronzed Medal by 1.04 secs
Won Gold in the 4×400, splitting 45.27 3rd leg to help
US to 3:02.39 for victory.
Split 47.04 3rd leg in 4×400 prelims as squad cruised
to 4th place and an auto qualifying spot in finals.
Ja’Mari Ward, Long Jump
Cahokia High School Senior,
Cahokia, Illinois, Mizzou signee, USATF Ozark Association
Finished 6th with a Finals best of 7.68m/25-2.25.
Ward jumped 7.96m/26-1.25 to win the qualification
round on his final attempt, however qualification round
marks are only used for advancement, and marks are
wiped clean for the finals. Ward’s 26-1.25 qualifying
round would have placed him second in the finals.
World Junior Championships
Jazmin McCoy, Long Jump
Kansas City, Missouri
Blue Springs & North Kansas City High Schools
USATF Missouri Valley Association
Finished 6th with Final best of 6.01m/19-8.5 -.04w
on first attempt. Had just one attempt with+ wind,
all others -1.4 mph/wind except for best jump.
Jumped 6.18m/20-3.25 in qualification round to take 5th.
Landon Bartel, High Jump
Southern Boone County High School Senior,
Ashland, Missouri, Computomarx Track Club, Nebraska signee
USATF Missouri Valley Association
Placed 19th with a clearance of 2.05m/6-8.75
Gone on to Big 10 titles and NCAA All-American honors,
just finished college career at USA Sr Champs last month
Set PR of 7-3.75 indoors this year
Bryce Miller, 3k Steeplechase
Ashland, Wisconsin, Ashland High School,
USATF Wisconsin Association
Finished 19th in 9:06.17
Has gone on to be NCAA All-American and
2016 Olympic Trials Finalist in event.
Would have been one of favorites for NCAA Division I
title this year as redshirt senior but got hurt in December
and didn’t compete all year.
Michael Wells, 4×100 Relay Pool
Cleveland NJROTC High School Senior
St. Louis, Missouri, USATF Ozark Association
St. Louis Blues Track Club
Ran at Oklahoma and now at Wichita State,
Ran anchor leg on 2nd place 4×100 prelims squad in 39.43
Did not race in final as US Men won in 38.70, earned Gold Medal
Deanna Price, Hammer Throw
Southern Illinois University Freshman,
Troy High School, Moscow Mills, Missouri
USATF Ozark Association
Placed 19th with 57.82m/189-8
Now competes for New York Athletic Club,
Set USA Hammer Throw record in June,
with 78.12m/256-3=moved her to 4th on All-Time World List
Competed at 2015 (18th) and 2017 (9th) World Senior Champs,
Made 2016 Olympic team, made finals and placed 8th
Courtney Frerichs, 3k Steeplechase
Nixa High School, Nixa, Missouri,
USATF Missouri Valley Association
Placed 16th in 10:35.24
Competed at UMKC and New Mexico,
now runs professionally for Nike/Bowerman Track Club
Placed 11th in 2016 Olympics,
Won the Silver Medal at 2017 London World Champs in 9:03.77,
making her 8th fastest woman in event ever
Emily Sisson, 3,000m and 5,000m
Parkway Central High School Senior,
Chesterfield, Missouri, USATF Ozark Association
Wisconsin native, Wisconsin and Nebraska raised
until moving to Missouri in 2008.
Competed at Wisconsin and Providence,
now runs professionally for New Balance/Run Providence Club
Placed 10th in the 3k in PR 9:16.80,
Wasn’t planning on running 5k,
she didn’t run it at USATF Jr Champs,
but as only American with qualifying mark,
jumped in race and placed 6th in American High School Record
of 15:48.91. That mark has since been broken.
Made first USA Senior team in 2017
and placed 9th in the 10k at World Championships in London.
Many time USATF Junior Team member in cross country and track.
Cydney Ross of Villa Duchesne High School and
Team Missouri Track Club won the 800 at USATF Juniors,
but couldn’t get her Passport in time to be selected for World Jr Team.
Alyssa Allison of Festus High School and Team Missouri Track Club,
took third in the Steeplechase, missing Team USA by just over eight-seconds.
Jason Pyrah, 1500m
Willard, Missouri, Willard High School ‘87
Placed 5th in 1500m, in 3:47.94, missing Bronze by .64.
Football player and middle/distance record setting
high school runner at Willard High School
went on to success at Brigham Young University
before a professional career, where he made the
1996 and 2000 USA Olympic Teams.
Finished 22nd in 1500m first round in 1996 Olympics,
Finished 10th in 1500 Final in 2000 Olympics