14 of California's Best Compete in Peru at Pan-Am Juniors This Weekend

The Pan-American Junior Championships get under way tomorrow in Trujillo, Peru, and California will be all over the meet! Internationally, "junior" competition means under the age of 20, and so this meet gathers the top athletes ages 16-19 from North and South America for a weekend of top-flight competition. The Golden State has 14 athletes on Team USA for the event, including current high schoolers, recent graduates from the Class of 2017, and a handful of rising college sophomores who are still young enough to be eligible.

Here are some of the key athletes to watch:

Tara Davis, Agoura

The only athlete among the 84 on Team USA that qualified in two events, Davis is looking to cap off a stellar senior season with a pair of international titles before heading to Georgia in the fall. She will have a busy day Friday, with semis and finals of the 100 Hurdles as well as the Long Jump finals all on Day 1! Tara does have a World Youth (Under 18) title in the long jump, from back in 2015, so these two would go very nicely in her trophy case! She is the #2 seed in the hurdles based on lifetime PR's, with Tia Jones having set the all-time US high school record in 2016, but Davis has run faster this year and won head-to-head at Junior Nationals. In the long jump, she enters trailing Ecuador's Barbara I Espinoza Torres by 4 cm (less than 2 inches), so both events should be challenging for her.

Joseph Anderson, Upland

This guy has only lost ONCE this whole season in the 110 Hurdles - and it was at Junior Nationals, the qualifying meet for this weekend's event. You have to think that has been motivational for the Upland senior, who is off to Oregon to continue his career in college. Using his season best Anderson is the top seed in the meet, but fellow Team USA member Eric Edwards (who won their last match-up) will be his chief competition. Cuba's Yaon A Villa Rendueles could also be in the mix on Friday, as the hurdles have both semifinals and finals on Day 1.

(photo courtesy of Okstate.com)

Michelle Magnani, Moorpark/Oklahoma State

For some reason Magnani is seeded at her mile PR instead of her best 1500 time, but if you take her 4:23.32 from Junior Nationals she would be 3rd entering this meet, just ahead of teammate Madeleine Reed. Michelle was All-Big 12 in her freshman cross country season, but did not race outdoors until junior nationals. It will be interesting to see how she races in Peru!

Zach Shinnick, Damien

He told me after the CIF State Meet that he believed he had a 45 in him this season, but I don't think even Zach expected the 45.20 that he clocked at Junior Nationals! That makes him the top seed, with Josephus Lyles and Jamal Walton (competing for the Cayman Islands) as his chief competitors. (Yet another US resident, North Carolina's Chantz Sawyers, is competing for Jamaica in this meet.) Lyles has a PR of 45.42, and Walton has run 45.70 - they are the only 3 athletes in the meet that have broken 46. Semifinals and finals for the 400 will both be on Friday, which is a tough schedule.

Rachel Baxter, Canyon (Anaheim Hills)

The all-time best from our state will be an overwhelming favorite when she jumps Friday, and the biggest question may be whether Team USA can go 1-2 with Baxter's good friend Carson Dingler seeded 3rd. Canadian Makiah Hunt and Venezuelan Carmen Villanueva stand in the way of the sweep, both having seed marks of 4 meters.

TJ Brock, Chaminade/USC

Brock is seeded 4th with his wind-legal PR of 10.30, but the 100 field is LOADED and he will have his work cut out for him. USA's Maxwell Willis tops the list of 7 sub-10.40 sprinters with his 10.18, but Brazil's Paula A Camilo de Oliveira has the same time. The 100 will be Friday as well, with the semifinals in the morning and the finals in the afternoon.

Tierra Crockrell, Calabasas

Although she focuses on the sprints and relays during much of the spring season, this sophomore superstar is one of the best Heptathletes of her age in the world! Crockrell is seeded 4th behind fellow Team USA member Ariel Okorie (3rd), top seed Tyra Gittens (Trinidad & Tobago), and Dallyssa Huggins (Canada). The two-day competition starts Saturday, and it is notoriously unpredictable - and that means any of the top 5, who have all scored over 5000 points, could come away with gold.

Tate Curran, Redondo Union

There's a decent chance that California can bring home two golds in the pole vault this weekend, but Curran has a bit of an uphill battle to get on top of the podium. He is seeded 2nd at 5.26 meters, with USA teammate Cole Riddle holding the top spot at 5.36 - 4 inches better. With the third seed listed at 5.10, there's an even better chances that our men will sweep the top two spots than our women (see above).

Cooper Teare, St. Joseph Notre Dame

Like Magnani, Teare's seed time may be deceiving; he is entered at his mile PR, but his 1500 time of 3:47.89 ranks him fourth, right in the thick of competition for the gold. If you convert his mile time to 1500 (a dicey proposition, but fun to look at), you get 3:42.44 - which would be the top time coming into the meet. Teare is capable of winning, but so is Team USA's Eric Van Der Els, as well as Canadians Kevin Robertson and Kyle Madden. Should be great races in both the semifinals Friday and final on Sunday!

(photo courtesy of UCLABruins.com)

Isaiah Holmes, Oakmont/UCLA

Holmes was a three-event star during high school and continued to compete in all three in college, although he has narrowed his focus to long jump and high jump as the spring has progressed. It's the latter event that has him in Peru, after clearing 7' 1.75" at Junior Nationals (his best is 7' 2.5" from earlier this spring). Isaiah should be in contention in a field where the top 3 are at 2.20 meters (equal to his PR), plus there are 4 more at 2.19 or 2.18 - which means that he likely has to jump a new PR to win. He will be one of the last of California's athletes to compete this weekend, jumping on Sunday afternoon.

More California Athletes on Team USA

  • Rhesa Foster, Clovis North/Oregon: Long Jump
  • Quincy Hall, Sequoias College: 400 Hurdles
  • Dennis Hicks, Liberty (Bakersfield)/CSUN: Triple Jump
  • Laulauga Tausaga-Collins, Mt. Miguel/Iowa: Discus