When the world’s young stars gather for the IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., later this month, two Heps stars — Harvard’s Jade Miller and Penn’s Brendan Shearn — will be wearing the Red, White & Blue of Team USA.
Miller — a rising sophomore from Temecula, Calif. — qualified in an unusual way, taking third in the 400-meter hurdles in 57.22. Only the top two qualifiers advance, but runner-up Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic High in New Jersey is only 14 years old, which is too young to compete by IAAF rules. So it will be Miller and NCAA champion Shamier Little of Texas A&M — who made it to the 2012 World Juniors final — in the Team USA uniforms at Worlds.
Shearn — a native of Ashland, Pa. — advanced with a solid strategy, taking a close second to Georgetown’s Jonathon Green. It wasn’t the fastest Shearn had ever run, in fact, his time of 30:55.52 was more than a minute off his season best (when he ran 29:49 at the Penn Relays). But early in the race he stayed with the frontrunners and then ran second to Austin Wells of Texas A&M much of the race. While the leaders changed in the late laps, Shearn stayed in second much of the time.
Running second to Green when the bell rang, those two had a lot of energy remaining. They sprinted the final lap in 62 seconds, opening a six-second gap on all the challengers, to take the coveted berths to the World Juniors. Amazingly Shearn wasn’t sure it was going to happen.
“It kind of (went) back and forth for the first mile. We ended up settling in at a little bit slower pace,” he said. “It was really tough because my season has gone on for a long time. I was starting to really feel it toward the end of the race. I didn’t even know if I would be able to finish the race. Since I was in a good position I had to keep going and see what I could do at the end. I knew I had to give it everything just to get in (to worlds). I tried to make a move on Jonathon, but he had a bit of a gap on me, so I tried to just finish out strong.”
Five other Leaguers — and another soon to join them — competed in finals at the U.S. Junior Nationals on Sunday. In the hammer throw, Harvard’s Josh Whitener was seventh (62.45 / 204-10) and Dartmouth’s Tim Brennan ninth (61.52 / 201-10).
In the 1,500-meter finals, the League had two runners in each. Kieran Gallagher of Harvard was eighth (4:38.13) with Brown’s Lucy Vankleunen right behind in ninth (4:38.86) in the women’s race. Another Brown Bear — Martin Martinez — was ninth in the men’s race in 3:54.91 while his soon-to-be teammate Michael Wyman was on his heels in 10th (3:56.52).
Miller and Shearn will be joined by Harvard rising sophomore Nikki Okwelogu at the World Juniors (and possibly other Ivy foreign competitors). Two weeks ago, Okwelogu — from Fresno, Calif. — competed in the Nigerian National Championships and qualified for the World Juniors in both the shot put (15.40 / 50-6 1/4) and the discus (53.31 / 174-11). UPDATE – We have received word that Cornell hurdler Jordan Sherwood and Princeton pole vaulter Allison Harris have been selected to compete for Team Canada for the World Juniors.