COLUMBUS, OH -- As the collegiate season came to a close last weekend, the summer circuit begins in earnest this weekend (June 20-22) with the USATF Junior Championships hosted on the Ohio State University campus at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Four current Aggies and an incoming freshman will compete in the three-day meet seeking a berth onto the U.S. Junior team that will travel to Bydgoszcz, Poland, for the IAAF World Junior Championships in early July.
Texas A&M’s contingent for the under-20 meet includes Jessica Beard (400), Melvin Echard (110H, triple jump), Bryan Miller (400) and Tyron Stewart (triple jump). Vashti Thomas, an incoming Aggie frosh from California, will contest three events – 100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump.
Beard enters the meet in her home state of Ohio seeking a third consecutive title in the 400 meters. In the past two years Beard has earned trips to Beijing, China, for the 2006 World Juniors and Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2007 Pan American Juniors.
In her first season with the Aggies, Beard earned four All-American honors as well as a pair of Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors for winning the Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles in the 400. She was also the only freshman to reach the final of the NCAA Championships in the 400, placing third at the indoor meet and fourth at the outdoor version.
Beard’s career best mark of 51.09 seconds set in winning the Big 12 title in Boulder ranks No. 2 on the 2008 world junior list, trailing only a 50.89 by Sade Abugan of Nigeria. The next best U.S. runner on the list is Joanna Atkins of Auburn with a 52.94. Of the top 15 junior performances recorded this season Beard has seven of the marks.
Stewart heads into the junior meet as the top ranked U.S. triple jumper with his best of 53-3.75 (16.25) from the Midwest Region meet. He is currently sixth on the world junior list.
Miller ranks second in the world and the U.S. in the 400 with his 45.85 that placed fourth at the Big 12 meet. His mark trails a 45.54 from O’Neal Wilder of Mississippi State.
In the triple jump, Echard ranks 16th in the world and is the third best American with a 51-10 (15.80). He also has a season best of 14.25 in the 110 hurdles.
Thomas, of Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose, California, recently achieved a rare triple victory at the California State meet when she won the 100 hurdles as well as the long and triple jumps.
The stellar effort earned Thomas a pair of Northern California Athlete of the Year honors from CalHiSports.com and the San Jose Mercury News. The 30 points scored by Thomas in the state meet garnered second place for Mt. Pleasant in the team scoring behind the 39 points totaled by Long Beach Poly.
With a 100 hurdle best of 13.44 this season, into a -2.7 wind, Thomas ranks ninth in the world and fifth among Americans on the junior list. She broke the national high school record with a 13.03 winning time at the California State meet a year ago.
A national high school leader in the long jump (20-5 / 6.22) and triple jump (43-1.5 / 13.14) this season, Thomas ranks 14th and 16th, respectively, on the world junior list this season. She is second in both events on the U.S. junior list.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.