Aggies Win Five Medals During Pan-Am Junior Championships

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Sao Paulo, Brazil – The final day of action during the track and field portion of the Pan-American Junior Championships included three more medals for the Aggie crew competing for Team USA.

Jessica Beard attained a gold medal when she anchored the U.S. 4 x 400 relay squad to a winning time of 3:29.67, which broke the meet record. Zuheir Sharif claimed silver in the men’s triple jump while Ashika Charan came away with a bronze medal in the women’s triple jump.

Sharif, the U.S. men’s team captain, led the triple jump competition for a couple of rounds as he produced a pair of career best marks. Sharif finished with a silver medal in the event from his personal best of 53-3 (16.23) as he moved to equal No. 3 on the Aggie all-time performer and performance list.

In tying Bashir Ramzy on the Texas A&M all-time list, Sharif currently trails only Kendrick Smith (54-6.75) and Francisco Olivares (54-0).

Two fouls among his first three attempts left Sharif with only one mark to count as the field was trimmed from 16 to eight for the final three rounds. A leap of 52-6.75 (16.02) had given Sharif the overall lead in round two as he went past the mark of 51-5 (15.67) set by Cuba’s Hector Fuentes in the opening round.

In the third round Fuentes improved to 51-11.75 (15.84). In the finals Fuentes jumped one position ahead of Sharif after jumping one spot behind the Aggie in the first three rounds.

Fuentes posted a mark of 53-1.5 (16.19) in the fourth round to regain first place. Sharif responded with the same exact mark, notching a personal best over his previous career mark of 52-8.25 from the NCAA Championships held in June.

Fifth round fireworks had Fuentes bounding out to a distance of 54-6 (16.61), which was just off his career best of 54-6.75 (16.63) he set in winning the 2005 World Youth title. Sharif responded again, hitting a career best of 53-3 (16.23).

No changes occurred between the two in the final round, when Sharif jumped 52-0.5 (15.86) to a 51-8.5 (15.76) for Fuentes.

Fuentes moved to No. 3 on the current 2007 world junior list while Sharif slid into the No. 7 position on the world list and became the top American triple jumper for the current season.

Beard, an Ohio prep who becomes an Aggie in August, anchored the U.S. relay squad to the third fastest time ever among American 4 x 400 relays and fifth fastest on the World junior all-time list with its 3:29.67 winning time in Brazil.

It was the fastest time set by a Team USA crew outside of a World Junior Championships, bettering the 3:32.80 set in 2002 during a tune-up meet for the World Juniors and the 3:32.82 run by a U.S. squad during the 2005 Pan-Am Juniors held in Canada.

In smashing the Pan-Am Junior meet record of 3:32.70 the U.S. crew enjoyed a five-plus second cushion over Trinidad & Tobago (3:35.28) and Jamaica (3:35.36). Joining Beard on the relay were Brandi Cross, Latavia Thomas and Brehanna Jacobs.

Beard ran her second-fastest 400 time of the season in taking third place with a 51.91 clocking. Jamaica’s Bobby-Gaye Wilkins won the final in a meet record 51.72 seconds. Canada’s Jenna Martin also ran 51.91 for second place. The other U.S. entrant, Brandi Cross, placed fourth in 52.32.

Beard and Cross were both second in their respective races during the semifinals. Beard clocked 52.88 to a 52.78 run by Wilkins. Cross ran 53.23 behind a 52.87 for Martin.

Charan recorded her best triple jump mark of the day in round two, reaching a distance of 42-2.75 (12.87) to secure third place. U.S. Junior champion Ke’Nyia Richardson won the gold with a best of 44-5.5 (13.55). Jamaica’s Kimberley Williams was runner-up at 43-10.75 (13.38).

In the long jump, Charan just missed out on a bronze medal when she lost a tie-breaking situation for third place. Charan matched the mark of 20-0.25 (6.10) achieved by Arantxa King of Bermuda. However, King had a second best mark of 19-10.25 (6.05) compared to the next best mark of 19-2.5 (5.85) for Charan.

American Jamesha Youngblood won the event with a leap of 21-0 (6.40) while Bahamas’ Bianca Stuart earned the silver medal with a 20-1 (6.12) jump.

Aggie Khrystal Carter finished fourth in the 200 meters, running a season best of 23.68 seconds with a +0.5 wind. It bettered the 23.79 Carter ran in the prelims of the Big 12 meet as well as the windy 23.73 she recorded in the finals of the U.S. Junior meet this season. Her career best is a 23.61.

Mississippi prep Bianca Knight claimed the Pan-Am Junior 200 in 23.17 seconds and was followed by the Jamaican pair of Shillone Calvert (23.23) and LSU’s Samantha Henry (23.26). Carter ran 23.87 in the 200 semifinal behind a 23.53 by Henry while Knight won the other semi in 23.21 over the 23.57 by Calvert.

Jamaican Julian Reid, who also joins the Aggies in August, jumped a personal best of 24-9.25 (7.55) for runner-up honors in the men’s long jump. Puerto Rico’s Jorge McFarlane won the event with a leap of 24-11 (7.59).

After establishing a career best of 24-5.75 (7.46) during the Jamaican Championships, Reid improved his long jump best to 24-9.25 in the second round of competition at the Pan-Am Juniors. It pushed Reid into the lead until McFarlane reclaimed it with his third round effort of 24-11.

Reid continued to produce a solid series with four more jumps past 24-3, including a 24-7.25 in round five.

Competing against future teammate Sharif in the triple jump, Reid was fourth after the first three rounds and slipped to sixth in the final round of jumps. His best mark of the day, a 49-7 (15.11), came in round four.

Aggies win five medals during Pan-Am Junior Championships

Gold – Jessica Beard, U.S. 4 x 400 relay

Silver – Julian Reid, men’s long jump
Silver – Zuheir Sharif, men’s triple jump

Bronze – Jessica Beard, women’s 400
Bronze – Ashika Charan, women’s triple jump