Michael Norman is returning to Veterans Memorial Stadium this week, only with more Michael Normans.
And that tells you all you about all you need to know about the quality of the USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships, which will be staged Friday through Sunday at Buchanan.
It was at the CIF State Track and Field Championships here three weeks ago – a California event held at Clovis for the past eight of its 98 years and traditionally the elite prep meet in the land – the Vista Murrieta 200 and 400 runner was the class of the field.
This weekend, Norman – an athlete with arguably the greatest range of speed in U.S. prep history – will blend into the under-20 class, from high school and college coast to coast, even a few precocious pros.
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“Pretty special,” says Ed Gorman, longtime National Chairman of men’s track and field in the U.S. of a meet prepared for three years by Clovis Unified School District officials before being accepted by the USATF at Veterans Memorial Stadium, the jewel of California prep football/track and field venues.
Still, Clovis Unified, to accommodate meet requirements – in addition to others, such as the Mountain West Championships a couple of weeks earlier – extended long jump and pole vault runways and upgraded for hammer, javelin and steeplechase (nonprep) events.
“We did all that with the idea of getting into the market and feeling it was important to stay out front in the race to be a West Coast venue for USATF, national championships and age-group meets,” says Carlo Prandini, Deputy Superintendent of Clovis Unified. “This was all of the long-term vision, to expose track people in the Fresno and Clovis area community.”
Gorman, speaking from New York this week (he lives in New Jersey), was referring to the class of both genders who will be represented at the event that will also serve as a selection meet for Team USA in the International Association of Athletics Federations World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, July 19-24.
The top two finishers in each event this weekend will make Team USA, and Central Valley prep hopefuls are all from the Clovis Unified School District – Buchanan’s Hannah Waller (400), Paramveer Chohan (400 hurdles) and Jacob Wilson (discus/shot put), Clovis’Alexis Vincent-Walker (high jump) and Clovis North’s Rhesa Foster (long jump).
There are additional local connections, each also tied to Clovis Unified.
Mikaela Smith (Clovis North) and Lyndsey Lopes (Clovis West) return from USC to a venue common to them. Smith was a two-time state 800 champion for the Broncos; Lopes, entered in the heptathlon, excelled in multiple events for the Golden Eagles before graduating at Edison, where she did not compete as a senior.
And then there’s Janae Moffitt, a freshman from Purdue fourth-seeded in the high jump at 5-11 1/2.
The former two-time state champion of Indiana is the daughter of Michael and Latrese Moffitt. Dad is a former Fresno State and Green Bay Packers tight end (one-year pro in 1986); mom (maiden name Johnson) remains the Central Section record-holder in the high jump (then national-record 6-2 3/4, Clovis High, 1985).
20 Estimated athletes in this weekend’s USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in track and field at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium who have already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials
Poland bound, it would seem, while headlining this weekend’s field of around 500:
▪ Sydney McLaughlin, a 16-year-old junior from Union Catholic-New Jersey, won the New Balance High School Nationals 400 hurdles Sunday at Greensboro, N.C., in 54.46 – the second-best World Junior mark ever, obliterating a 14-year American Junior standard and ranking No. 5 in the world this season, regardless of age.
She’s among an estimated 20 athletes in this weekend’s meet who have already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials at Eugene, Ore., beginning July 1. The U.S. Junior and Senior Nationals run concurrently except in Olympic years. So this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials replaces what would have been the Senior Nationals.
▪ Donavan Brazier, a 19-year-old freshman from Texas A&M, broke 50-year NCAA and American Junior records in the 800 when he torched a 1:43.55 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene two weeks ago.
▪ Candace Hill, a 17-year-old junior from Rockdale Country High in Conyers, Ga., arrives top-seeded in the 100 (11.08) and 200 (22.43). She turned pro (representing ASICS) as an unprecedented American 16-year-old, when she ran a 10.98 100, setting American Junior, World Youth and national high school records.
▪ Noah and Josephus Lyles are Florida-committed siblings from T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va., who have long established themselves as international, age-group superstar sprinters. Noah, the oldest, enters top-seeded in the 100 (national prep season-best 10.17) and co-No. 1 seeded with Norman in the 200 (national-leading 20.23). A Noah Lyles vs. Norman 200 final Sunday at 6:32 p.m. is the most anticipated duel of the meet. Josephus Lyles (45.94), in the 400, will attempt to run down college-hardened athletes in Missouri’s Kahmari Montgomery (45.13) and Baylor’s Wil London III (45.28).
▪ California pole vault champion Rachel Baxter of Canyon-Anaheim is the national prep record-holder at 14-3. She returns to the pit she landed at 14-2 three weeks ago.
▪ How often the gathering of three 70-foot prep shot putters? Rare, but now, with the nation leaders Jordan Geist (74-3 1/2 ) of Knoch-Pennsylvania, Adrian Piperi (73-5 1/4 ) of The Woodlands-Texas and California gold medalist Bronson Osborn (71-7 1/4) of Esperanza-Anaheim.
Qualifiers for Team USA Juniors headed to Poland will be furnished the same travel and competition attire as Team USA in the Olympic Games at Rio in August.
This doesn’t escape Waller, the four-time Central Section 400 gold medalist, record-holder and 2015 state champion headed for NCAA power Oregon, whose voice has an unmistakable thrill in anticipation of possibly representing her country overseas.
“This gets me a ticket to Poland,” says Waller, who will compete in Saturday’s 5:20 preliminary, three days after her 18th birthday. The 400 final is set for Sunday at 6:45 p.m. in forecasted 105 degrees. “Making this team would be really good for my career, proving I can compete on the world level.’
USATF Junior Nationals
Friday-Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium
- Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 seniors/students/children
- Parking: $5 daily
Schedule of Events (UPDATED)
- 3:30 p.m.: Men’s 100 meters (decathlon)
- 4:10 p.m.: Men’s long jump (decathlon)
- 4:30 p.m.: Men’s hammer (final)
- 4:40 p.m.: Men’s 110 high hurdles (first round)
- 5 p.m.: Men’s shot put (decathlon)
- 5:05 p.m.: Women’s 100 (first round)
- 5:15 p.m.: Women’s javelin (final)
- 5:30 p.m.: Men’s pole vault (final)
- 5:30 p.m.: Men’s 100 (first round)
- 5:55 p.m.: Women’s 800 (first round)
- 6 p.m.: Men’s high jump (decathlon)
- 6:20 p.m.: Men’s 800 (first round)
- 6:45 p.m.: Women’s 400 hurdles (first round)
- 6:45 p.m.: Women’s discus (final)
- 7 p.m.: Men’s long jump (final)
- 7:10 p.m.: Men’s 1,500 (first round)
- 7:30 p.m.: Men’s javelin (final)
- 7:50 p.m.: Men’s 110 high hurdles (final)
- 8 p.m.: Women’s 100 (final)
- 8:10 p.m.: Men’s 100 (final)
- 8:20 p.m.: Men’s 400 (decathlon)
- 8:45 p.m.: Men’s 3,000 steeplechase (final)
- 9 p.m.: Women’s 5,000 (final)
- 9:25 p.m.: Men’s 10,000 (final)
- 3:15 p.m.: Men’s 110 high hurdles (decathlon)
- 3:30 p.m.: Women’s 100 high hurdles (heptathlon)
- 3:45 p.m.: Women’s long jump (final)
- 4 p.m.: Men’s discus (decathlon)
- 4 p.m.: Men’s shot put (final)
- 4:35 p.m.: Women’s high jump (heptathlon)
- 4:55 p.m.: Women’s 100 high hurdles (first round)
- 5:15 p.m.: Men’s pole vault (decathlon)
- 5:20 p.m.: Women’s 400 (first round)
- 5:45 p.m.: Men’s 400 (first round)
- 6:10 p.m.: Men’s 400 hurdles (first round)
- 6:30 p.m.: Women’s hammer (final)
- 6:35 p.m.: Women’s 200 (first round)
- 6:40 p.m.: Women’s shot put (heptathlon)
- 7 p.m.: Men’s 200 (first round)
- 7 p.m.: Men’s javelin (decathlon)
- 7:10 p.m.: Men’s triple jump (final)
- 7:25 p.m.: Women’s 400 hurdles (final)
- 7:30 p.m.: Women’s high jump (final)
- 7:35 p.m.: Women’s 200 (heptathlon)
- 8 p.m.: Women’s 800 (final)
- 8:10 p.m.: Men’s 800 (final)
- 8:15 p.m.: Men’s 1,500 (decathlon)
- 8:20 p.m.: Women’s 100 high hurdles (final)
- 8:45 p.m.: 3,000 steeplechase (final)
- 9 p.m.: Women’s 3,000 (final)
- 9:15 p.m.: Men’s 5,000 (final)
- 7 a.m.: Men’s 10,000 racewalk (final)
- 8:30 a.m.: Women’s 10,000 racewalk
- 4:45 p.m.: Women’s long jump (heptathlon)
- 5:30 p.m.: Women’s pole vault (final)
- 5:40 p.m.: Women’s shot put (final)
- 5:45 p.m.: Men’s high jump (final)
- 6:15 p.m.: Men’s discus (final)
- 6:30 p.m.: Women’s triple jump (final)
- 6:35 p.m.: Men’s 400 hurdles (final)
- 6:45 p.m.: Women’s 400 (final)
- 6:55 p.m.: Men’s 400 (final)
- 7:05 p.m.: Women’s 800 (heptathlon)
- 7:22 p.m.: Women’s 200 (final)
- 7:32 p.m.: Men’s 200 (final)
- 7:42 p.m.: Women’s 1,500 (final)
- 7:54 p.m.: Men’s 1,500 (final)