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Rose and Saunders siblings, Mitchell lead medal haul at National Junior Olympic Championships

June 8, 2017

Greensboro, North Carolina

The 2018 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships concluded last Sunday (29-Jul) in Greensboro, NC with 169 athletes from the Virginia association competing in the championships during the seven day competition held at  Irwin Belk Track & Field facility on the campus of North Carolina A&T University.


A total of 8,812 athletes competed, making the 52nd anniversary event the largest USATF Junior Olympics ever.  The Virginia athletes competed in a total of 288 events.  


A total of 38 all-American performances were achieved by Virginia athletes with each earning a trip to the awards podium, a championship medal, and the coveted Junior Olympic All-American hat.  


Five Virginia athletes and one relay team won national titles in Greensboro.  The national titles were won by Shawn Church, Jr. (Global Transitions Academy), Donte Dent, Jr. (Global Transitions Academy), Xavier Mitchell (Tigers Elite), Michailyn Rose (Virginia Elite), Michaela Rose (Virginia Elite), and the MVP League 17-18 girls 4x400m relay team.


Rose Siblings at it AGAIN

Michailyn and Michaela Rose both won 800m titles on Saturday.  First up was Michailyn who ripped a new personal best time of 2:26.44 to win the 9-10 girls race by 2.61 seconds over Zoe Dorsey of North Carolina.  Her previous best was 2:29.03 run at last year's region 3 championships.  Less than 20 minutes later it was big sister Michaela winning the 15-16 division in 2:10.21.  This was the second national Junior Olympic 800m title in a row and third in the past four years, for Rose as she won the 13-14 division last year in Lawerence, Kansas and the 11-12 division in 2015 in Jacksonville, Fla.


Michailyn also finished second in the 9-10 girls High Jump and 11th in the 400m.  Her silver medal clearance in the High Jump was 1.30m (4'3¼") only trailing the 1.35m (4'-5") turned in by region 3 rival Sydney Harris of Maryland.  In the 400m she ran 1:05.39 in the semi-final round to secure the 11th place finish.


But wait there is another set of all-American siblings to celebrate

The Rose siblings were joined by the Saunders siblings in their collection of championship medals and all-American honors.  Jahnelle Saunders (Virginia Elite) visited the awards podium on three occasions during the week as she finished fourth (High Jump), fifth (100m Hurdles), and sixth (Long Jump) in the 15-16 division.  Meanwhile litter brother Jaymes Saunders (Virginia Elite) picked up seventh (80m Hurdles) and eight (Pentathlon) place finishes in the 9-10 boys division.


GOLD looks so good on them - Mitchell, Dent, Church wear it well

Based on the 2:18.11, a personal best at the time, he ran to win the 11-12 800m at the region 3 championships two weeks earlier, Xavier Mitchell came into Greensboro with only the 11th best seed time of the 54 competitors.  But that all changed In the qualifying round on Thursday as he lowered his personal best to 2:15.47 to qualify for the finals.  And then in the finals on Saturday he totally obliterated his personal best running a jaw-dropping 2:09.73 to win by 1.41 seconds over Ladanian Mcgrath of New Jersey.  The next day he finished second in the 400m running 55.66; just .30 second behind winner Na'Seir Samuel of Florida. 


Winning individual gold medals and the bragging rights that come along with winning a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP were Global Transitions Academy 9-10 boys teammates Donte Dent, Jr. and Shawn Church, Jr. Both competed in the High Jump and Long Jump events with each grabbing a title in one.  Dent, who finished second at the region 3 championships and entered with only the #11 seed, won the High Jump with a clearance of 1.40m (4'7"), a personal best by 3¾ inches. Church finished 20th with a clearance of 1.20m (3'11¼"). But in the Long Jump the tables turned and Church won with a leap of 4.61m (15'1½") with Dent placing 35th with a best mark of 3.80m (12'5¾").  Church also finished 18th in the 100m running 13.44 in the 1st round.


Moving on Up - MVP 4x400m relay runs to victory

At last year's championships the MVP League 17-18 girls 4x400m relay ran to a thrilling second place finish in Kansas just getting nipped at the line by a strong North Texas Cheetahs squad.  This year they returned with their eye on the top platform on the podium and run at the national record of 3:35.51 set 17 years ago.  In their qualifying heat they ran 3:40.90, 2.65 seconds faster than they ran last year and just 5 seconds off the national record.  In the finals they did run to victory but were slowed when the third baton exchange did not go to plan and the baton was dropped.  They ran 3:43.91 to defeat the Louisiana based Future Track Club by .39 seconds. The MVP quartet was Natalie Barnes, Kayla Hugg, Amaya Johnson, Pearl Nagbe.  Earlier in the day on Sunday, Barnes ran to a second place finish in the 17-18 girls 400m Hurdles running 1:00.73. She also competed in the long jump finishing 34th with a jump of 5.06m. Johnson and Hugg finished 13th and 14th, respectively in the 200m.


All-Americans x2

Three other athletes earned multiple trips to the awards podium to collect their championship medals and all-American hats.

William Spencer (Richmond Heat) finished third in the 17-18 boys 400m Hurdles running 52.68 and then picked up and eighth place finish in the 110m Hurdles.  With 600m to go in the boys 17-18 2000m steeplechase

Colin Henry Stevens (unattached) was leading with the field but fell coming off the penultima water barrier.  Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder he was able to still manage a seventh place finish running 6:26.88.  Four days later he came back to finish fifth in the 3000m.  Stevens will be a freshman at Duke Kunshan University in China. He also made the finals in the 1500m placing ninth.

Tyrell Grant (unattached) earned his all-American honors in the 9-10 boys 100m and 200m races.  In the 100m he ran 12.90 to finish sixth and placed seventh in the 200m running 26.89.  He also finished 10th in the 400m running 1:02.75.


We love our silver medalists

In addition to Rose, Barnes, and Mitchell, picking up second place finishes in their events were Naye Ron Hudson-McGlown (Virginia Elite) and Zoe Betties (unattached).  Hudson-McGlown earned his silver medal in the 9-10 boys 800m running 2:21.01.  He also finished 14th in the 1500m.  Betties finished second in the 15-16 girls 3000m Race Walk stopping the clock at 16:06.50.


Making Their Way to the Podium

And our final lists of Junior Olympic All-Americans:

Third Place

Matthew Smith (Virginia Special Forces) 15-16 boys 1500m

Jazmine Tilmon (Unattached) 17-18 girls 100m Hurdles

Keyandre Midgett (Richmond Heat) 15-16 boys Triple Jump


Fourth Place

Chase Geter (Unattached) 9-10 boys 100m

Shardonnay Nichols (Unattached) 17-18 girls 400m Hurdles

Brandon Murray (Prominent Athletes) 9-10 boys Triathlon


5th Place

Kenneth Boyd III (Prominent Athletes) 7-8 boys 100m

Kylar Crawford (Dale City Lightning TC) 9-10 boys Long Jump

Victoria Clark (Infinite Speed TFC) 9-10 girls Javelin Throw

Virginia Elite 11-12 boys 4x400m Relay

Virginia Elite 11-12 boys 4x800m Relay


6th Place

Micah Harris (PWC Panthers TFC) 17-18 boys 1500m


7th Place

Jada Hatcher (PWC Panthers TFC) 11-12 girls Pentathlon


8th Place

Langston Pridgeon (Loudoun Legacy) 7-8 boys 200m

Ashley Fuller (Virginia Elite) 11-12 girls Discus Throw

MVP League 15-16 girls 4x400m Relay
Virginia Elite 17-18 girls 4x400m Relay

The complete list of Virgnia results can be found here.

Next year's championships will be held in Sacramento, California July 22-28.

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