Princeton rising sophomore Eddie Owens finished 11th in the steeplechase at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, running a personal-best 8:51.44, far behind Consesius Kipruto’s championship record time of 8:06.10. It was the 13th straight time a Kenyan had won the steeple at the WJC.
“It feels good to PR,” Owens told Tom Lewis of the USTFCCCA. “This (race) was ridiculous. I could not have foreseen the competition that was going to be here. It took 8:36 to score points (finish in the top eight), that’s unheard of. This is far and away the most stacked final in meet history. I ran about as well I could for right now. These guys went out in 64, and I went out in 67 — that’s about Olympic ‘A’ standard pace — I’m not running that. For me to go out and hold my composure, I really left it out on the track.”
These were remarkable Championships for the U.S., which won 20 medals for just the second time in history.
Perhaps the best representation among high schoolers came from the contingent from the New York City area. Among four girls — each of whom starred again and again at The Armory during the indoor season* — there were a gold medal, a silver medal and two national high school records.
Ajee Wilson — who is heading from Neptune, N.J., to Florida State in the fall — won her second world gold medal, this time running 2:00.91 for 800 meters. Only Kim Gallagher — 30 years ago now — ran faster as a high schooler.
Kadecia Baird — a rising senior at Medgar Evers High — took silver for Guyana in the 400 meters. Her time of 51.04 was better than the Olympic A standard, the fifth-fastest high school time ever and the best mark by a high school in 10 years (when Sanya Richards-Ross set the national mark at 50.69).
Mary Cain — the 16-year-old rising junior at Bronxville High — then took down the high school record in the 1,500-meter run… by a wide margin. Her 4:11.01 was three-and-a-half seconds faster than the old mark of Oregon Duck Jordan Hasay and would have won the NCAA Championship this past June.
And finally, Brianna Nerud of North Shore High and soon-to-be Syracuse University, twice broke the national high school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Her team in the final — 10:00.72 — was 16 seconds better than the national record entering the World Junior Champs.
* Disclosure: A complete plug for my place of work!