Gamecocks Begin Competition at World Junior Championships
July 9, 2008
BYDGOSZCZ, Poland - Three South Carolina rising sophomores enjoyed strong first rounds as competition began at the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships being held at Zawisza Stadium for the world's top 17-19 year-old athletes.
Shayla Mahan, a 2008 Outdoor All-American in her first season at South Carolina, advanced to Wednesday's final round where she placed fifth overall in the 100-meter dash. Mahan's road to the final began in the qualifying round where she ran an 11.61 to win her heat and place fourth overall. Early this afternoon Mahan ran an 11.66 in the semifinals where she placed eighth before running the same time in the finals for a fifth place finish. She next competes as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team beginning Friday.
"My form was all messed up," Mahan said of her semifinal race. "I think I was trying a little to hard. It's satisfying to know I advanced to the final."
Johnny Dutch advanced to the semifinal round of the 400-meter hurdles after winning his heat in a time of 52.21 to place 12th overall in the qualifying round. Dutch, the SEC Freshman Runner of the Year, flew to Poland from Eugene, Ore., where he placed fifth in the finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials after running a 48.52 in the final last Sunday. The semifinal begins Thursday at 11:40 a.m. EST (5:40 p.m. local time). Dutch entered the World Juniors as the world's number two hurdler behind teammates Jeshua Anderson. The duo placed first and second at the NCAA Outdoor Championships this season in the 400-meter hurdles.
"It was a very controlled race," Dutch said. "I just wanted to stay relaxed, not think about anything and run my race. I just feel blessed to have had a season like this, finishing fifth at the Olympic Trials and now competing at the World Juniors. I want to have a fun meet because it's been a hard season. I almost made the Olympic team, but I have four years to prepare for the next one. It's great to be on such a high level in this event and have my teammate and myself rank as the top two hurdlers in the world coming into this meet."
The final Gamecock that competed Wednesday was Antonio Sales, the USA Junior National champion in the 200-meter dash. Competing in the 100-meter dash, Sales won his qualifying round heat and placed third overall at 10.49 but false started in the semifinals and will not advance to the final round. Sales will still compete in the 200-meter dash beginning with the qualifying round Thursday at 4:35 a.m. EST (10:35 a.m. local time). He is also entered in the 4x100-meter relay that begins Friday.
"Shayla Mahan and Johnny Dutch made it through the first round and Johnny won his heat so we had a good first day," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "Shayla had a good experience for someone finishing that strong as an under 20 athlete. It is a good experience for our kids to go and compete. It's another step in the direction of continuing to have a strong program at Carolina."
In addition to the three Gamecocks that have already begun competition, rising sophomores Gabby Glenn and Porche Byrd will begin competition this weekend. Glenn is a member of the 4x100-meter relay team that runs Friday while Byrd is a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that begins Saturday. Incoming freshman Booker Nunley is also in Poland and begins competition Friday in the 110-meter hurdles.
American athletes qualified for the World Championships through top three showings at the USA Junior Championships that were held in Columbus, Ohio, from June 19-22. Given the limited number of qualifiers, South Carolina has enjoyed tremendous success at the World Junior Championships over the years. Held every two years, current and former Gamecocks have won 16 medals at the event since 1998, 12 of those being gold medals. Brandi Cross brought home the lone gold medal at the 2006 World Junior Championships (Beijing, China), but the Gamecocks earned seven medals in 2004 between Natasha Hastings, Keith Hinnant, Ronnetta Alexander, Stephanie Smith and Shalonda Solomon.