Bydgoszcz, Poland -- American sprinters and jumpers fared very well in the morning session of the opening day at the 12th edition of the World Junior Championships.
Both entrants in the 100 and 400 for the men and women moved on to the next round while a pair of men’s long jumpers qualified for the final.
That group included Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard, who won a heat of the 400 in 53.65 seconds for the second fastest time in qualifying. Zambia’s Rachael Nachula posted a leading mark of 52.65 while current world junior leader Shade Abugan of Nigeria had the third best effort at 53.71.
“In the semifinals I’ll have to run faster and I intend to,” Beard noted. “I want to win my heat again and get the best lane there is for the final.
“I felt like I got out the blocks well. While I wish I could have run faster I was hoping someone would be in my race to push me more so I could have a stronger finish. I kind of shut down early instead. I won my heat so I know I’ll get a decent lane in the next round.”
Part of the preparation for competition in the World Junior meet included doing workouts on her own when Beard remained in her home state of Ohio following the U.S. Junior Championships a couple of weeks ago.
“After not having as many practices with Coach (Vince) Anderson, since I’ve been at home, it’s been up to me to get my workouts done from the practices he sent me.
“I made sure to do everything I was expected to do. As a result I felt strong out here today. My coach gave me a task and I fulfilled it. That made me happy since I ran well for the first round.”
A&M signee Vashti Thomas of San Jose, California, tried to overcome a recent illness to contend in the triple jump, but only managed a 39-8.5 (12.10) in qualifying and did not reach the final.
A&M Consolidated product Duncan Phillips contested the 1,500 meters at the World Junior Championships, placing fifth in his heat with a 3:55.80. Phillips recently completed his first season with Arkansas.
While setting himself up for a kick, extra bumping on the final lap knocked Phillips off stride enough to allow the top four runners to pull away.
“It’s more of a good experience than anything,” Phillips stated. “Coming in I wasn’t in the best of shape due to injuries. It’s been a lot of fun and the other guys on the team are pretty cool. I’ve been making some friends and I’m planning on plugging away until 2012.
“The pace was where I wanted it to be. Coming in with a lap to go everybody was elbowing each other. It started getting pretty rough and one of the guys tripped in front of me. He gave me a spike on the knee and that slowed me down a bit. It happens to everybody, but I lost it mentally for about 50 meters and by that time it was too late.”