INDIANAPOLIS - Nearly 400 young athletes will meet this Saturday and Sunday in Bloomington, Ill. at the USATF National Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships to battle for bragging rights of national titles across six age groups.
Athletes qualified through one of four youth zone championships by placing in the top six of their event. Results from the zone championships can be viewed here.
USATF Illinois is serving as the host association and LOC for the second year in a row. The meet will be held on the campus of Illinois State University at the Horton Field House.
Eight young women who won at last year's inaugural championships are slated to return in defense of their titles. Two athletes who won in the sub-banam age group last year will see how they fare as they move up to the bantam division. 2011 55 meter hurdle champ Brooke Scullark is entered in the 400m, and Lauryn Heskin, the 2011 1500m champ, is entered in the 800m and 1500m.
In the midget age division, Olivia Thorsgaard, the 2011 midget long jump champion, will defend her title in that event. Thorsgaard is also entered in the high jump and 55mhurdles. Ashley Rulison is one to watch in the midget age group distance races. Rulison won the bantam 1500m last year, and is the top entrant in the 3,000m this year.
Nina Olshever and Gabrielle Wilkinson should have a close race for the youth girls 1500m title. Olshever is the 2011 youth 1500m champ, while Wilkinson is the reigning midget girls 800m champ. The two are the top entrants in the 1500m with marks only three seconds apart.
Samantha Noennig won the youth shot put in 2011, and is entered in no fewer than four events this weekend: 55m hurdles, long jump, triple jump and shot put. On the other end of the spectrum, Deena Gibbs is entered in the one event that she won in 2011, the intermediate girls long jump.
For the young men, three returning champions look to defend their titles. Getsemani Aguirre, the 2011 sub-bantam 1500m champ, moves up to the bantam age group where he is entered in the 800m and 1500m. Demian Lofsnes-Scott won the bantam 1500m last year and is entered in the same event as well as the 3,000m in the midget age group this year. Ellery Lassiter won the intermediate long jump last year and is entered in the same event along with the triple jump and shot put as he moves up to the young men's division.
Others to watch include Felicia Quainoo in the bantam girls 400m where she is entered six seconds faster than her nearest competitor at 1:09.66. Ethan Rice will be a strong competitor in the bantam boys 1500m with an entry time of 5:14.09. Johntavia Shaw will be hard to beat in the bantam girls shot put. Her entry mark of 5.93m/19-5.50 is nearly five feet farther than the rest of the field. Megan Paul looks to outpace the field in the young women's 400m where she is entered with a time of 56.07. Katia Matora enters the meet with a speedy top-seed of 4:45.00 in the intermediate girls 1500m.
Inaugural youth indoor champions will be crowned in the race walks. Athletes in the bantam and midget age groups will walk 1500m, while the youth, intermediate and young age groups will cover 3,000m.
For more information on the 2012 USATF National Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships, visit USATF.org.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States: USATF.org.