World Champs berths on line @ '22 USATF Under-20 Champs

Under-20 World Championships in Cali, Colombia Aug 1-6

USATF Under-20s Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon, Thursday-Saturday, June 23-25

The second and third quarter of 2022 has brought a return to normalcy in track and field. After dealing with multiple waves of the Covid-19 virus and it's variants, USA Track and Field is set to hold it's first Under-20 Championships (called "Junior Championships" until 2019) since 2019. The meet also marks a return to familiarity, as it will be held in conjunction with the senior championships for the first time since 2017, as it had been for more than a decade, except in Olympic years.  

The meet is for athletes 16-19 years of age, that don't turn 20 until January 1, 2023, or after. Athletes must meet qualifying standards to be eligible for the meet or be close and be accepted into the meet to provide an appropriate competition field. This year's meet is being held the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, which hosted the NCAA Division I Championships two weeks ago, the NSAF Nike Outdoor high school nationals last week, and hosts the World Championships next month.  

Most competitors in the meet tend to be high school seniors and college freshman that don't turn 20-years old until next year. More than a handful of Missourians are scheduled to compete. The meet acts as the qualifying meet for the U.S. Team at the World Under-20 Championships that will be held in Cali, Colombia, the first week of August. The Under-20 World Championships are held every two years. In yeas that are odd numbers, the USATF Under-20 meet acts as a qualifying meet for the Pan-Am Junior Games.

Missourians have regularly qualified for the US Team at the Pan-Am Junior and Under-20 World Championships. This year marks the first time the U.S. will send a team to either meet. The 2020 World Under-20 Championships was postponed until 2021. The U.S. didn't send a team to Africa for the 2021 meet.

Ten Missourians are scheduled to compete at the meet and there is a good chance a few of them finish in the top-2 in their respective events and qualify for Team USA.

Johnny Brackins was a superstar athlete at Lee's Summit High School in the long jump, triple jump, and 110-meter hurdles. Brackins signed with USC as a senior, but last June USC head coach Caryl Gilbert left for Georgia. Men's sprints coach Quincy Watts took over and made a change at jumps coach. Johnny Brackins ended up at Baylor, where he had a great freshman year, earning 1st-Team All-American honors indoors in the long jump. This Spring he jumped a wind-aided 26-9''+ and a wind-legal 26'+. Two weeks ago, he competed in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships, coming up short of another top-8 trophy finish.

Now, it appears Brackins is again headed to USC. Start lists show Brackins representing "USC". He's scheduled to compete in both the long jump and 110-meter hurdles.

Southeast Missouri State University freshman Marshall Swadley will compete in the hammer throw and shot put. Swadley's 66-11''+ state record shot put last year prompted a roar from the crowd as the Willard senior nearly tossed it out of the end of the sector at the state meet.

Raytown South junior Zaya Akins is looking to add to her amazing resume. Last week she captured the New Balance Nationals Outdoor 400-meter national title, three months after her NSAF Nike Indoor Nationals title in the same event. In between that was a phenomenal school season, becoming one of the fastest all-around sprinters in the country, and All-Time Missouri great, blazing tracks all over in the 100, 200, and 400-meters.

Southern Boone County junior Connor Burns became the 15th high schooler to break 4-minutes for the mile earlier this month at The Festival of Miles. Burns ran 3:58.83 while clocking 3:41.96 at the 1500-meter mark. Last week, Burns ran 8:45 for 2-miles, winning the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle. Burns will race in the 1500-meters in Eugene, where he ran to a big PR of 1:51 to finish 6th in the NSAF Nike Outdoor Nationals 800-meters last Sunday.


Brock Wooderson was one of the best distance runners in the state his final 3 years at Blue Springs High School. Now a freshman at NCAA Division II power Grand Valley State in Michigan, Wooderson has qualified for USAs in the 3,000-meters.  

As seniors last year, Chelby Melvin and sister Cheyenne Melvin led an amazing turnaround as STEAM Academy at McCluer South Berkeley captured the Class 2 state track and field title. Chelby did so in the hurdles and long sprints, while Cheyenne did so in the long sprints/middle distances. Now both freshman at Arkansas State, Chelby will compete in the 400-meter hurdles. Chelby qualified with a best of 59.30-seconds.

Two Missouri women will compete in the javelin in Eugene. Ste. Genevieve native and Ste. Genevieve High All-Stater Marysa Flieg will compete for coach Eric Crumpecker and Southeast Missouri State University. Flieg won the conference title at the OVC championships and finished 33rd at the NCAA DI West Preliminaries. She has a PR of 49.18m/161-4'' for the RedHawks.

Mizzou freshman Taylor Ciccolini (Lewiston, Pa) will toss the spear at USAs. Ciccolini has a best of 46.57m/152-9''. She finished 14th at SECs and 42nd at the NCAA DI West Preliminaries. Another University of Missouri freshman will throw at the championships. Manhattan, KS. native Ames Burton will throw the discus. She red-shirted this year, but has a 53.39m qualifying mark.


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