Team USA Pan Am berths on line at USATF U20 Champs

Photo at the top: (L-R) A'Laji Bradley, Makayla Clark, Skyye Lee, Drew Rogers

Pan Am Team USA berths on the line at 2023 USATF U20 Champs

2023 USATF U20 Champs MO Preview

A handful of Missouri athletes are in Eugene, Oregon competing at the 2023 USA Track and Field Under-20 Championships. The three-day meet began Friday and is held in conjunction with the four-day USATF senior championships that began Thursday. The under-20 meet serves as the qualifying meet for the 2023 Pan American Under-20 Championships that will be held August 4-6 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Athletes needed to meet qualifying standards, including wind-legal marks in the 100, 200, 100-hurdles, and long jump, or be added to fill spots to meet desired field sizes. Athletes aged 14-19 can compete at the meet at Hayward Field, but only athletes aged 16-19 are eligible to qualify for the national team. The ages of athletes for competition purposes are not determined by age by the meet date but by the age as of the last day of the current year. Athletes turning 20 before January 1, 2024, are not eligible. While USATF has flexibility in the selection procedure, for the most part, athletes finishing in the top-2 of events will qualify for the Pan Am championships.

The Pan American Under-20 meet comprised of countries and territories in the western hemisphere. The meet is held every two years, alternating years with the worldwide Under-20 World Championships. Current Missouri preps and Missouri college freshmen will try to continue a strong tradition of Missourians to make a USATF Under-20 (formerly "Junior") Team. Last year's team included Raytown South junior Zaya Akins, Baylor/USC freshman Johnny Brackins Jr, and Mizzou freshman Ames Burton. The trio competed at the Under-20 Championships in Colombia.

Two high school juniors and two college freshmen are featured in the Missouri contingent dreaming to wear the Red, White, and Blue and represent the USA in international competition.

Skyye Lee 100H, 100 Parkway Central High School Jr. -  St. Louis Blues Track Club

Parkway Central junior Skyye Lee was part of a dream team for the Colts a year ago in 2022. She starred on a loaded team that dominated the competition in Class 4. This year, Lee's progress was phenomenal, not just shining in the 100 and 300-hurdles, but blazing tracks all over St. Louis County and beyond in the 100 and 200. At the state meet this year,

At this year's state meet, Lee broke the Class 4 and overall state meet record and overall state meet in the 100-hurdles. In the preliminary, Lee cruised to the record, running 13.46 running into a slight headwind (0.3m/s). The following day in the finals, with a 1.3-meters-per-second wind behind her, Lee ran 13.36 to lower her records in jaw-dropping fashion. Lee had chopped off the state records by 0.21 seconds, bettering Kirkwood's Genesis Dixon's 13.57, which won her the Class 5 title.

After the win, Lee had 25 minutes to turn around and race the 100-meter dash finals. Lee claimed the 100 by almost 4/10ths of a second in 11.67 with 1.7 m/s wind behind her, giving her two state titles on the day. Lee followed with wins in the 300-hurdles in 43.31 and the 200 in 24.19. It was one of the most impressive performances in state history. Lee claimed 4 state titles. Lee totaled 40 points as the Colts finished with 48.5, just 3.5 from tying Kearney for the state title and giving them the 3rd-place trophy.

Lee was entered in multiple events at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in Philadelphia last month, but was a DNS (did not start) in each of them, possibly training to focus on USAs. Lee qualified for the meet in the 100-hurdles and the 100-meter dash. Representing The Greater St. Louis Blues Track Club, her 13.36 100-hurdles mark made her the 5th seed in the event of 24 athletes while her best wind-legal mark of 11.59 makes her the 19th seed among 25 accepted athletes in the 100.

Lee toed the line today in the preliminary round of the 100-hurdles. In heat #2 of 3, Lee got a strong start, moving to first at the 2nd hurdle. She maintained that place until hurdle #6 where she dropped a spot to 2nd. At hurdle #8 she was in 3rd then held on to finish 3rd in 13.66. Her fastest split between hurdles, per PTTiming's work, was the one from hurdle #1 to #2, clocking just 0.91 seconds. Her final split from hurdle #10 to the finish was her first over 1.16, 1.33. Lee's time put her 10th overall, just two spots and 0.7 from advancing to the final.

Lee will take to the track on Saturday at 3:53 p.m. Central Time in the 100-meter dash preliminary. She races in Heat #2 of 3 and in lane #2. The top-2 finishers in each heat and the next 2 fastest finishers will advance to the final at 6:16.