Rose siblings and MVP League highlight action at junior olympic nationals in Kansas


The 2017 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships concluded on Sunday (30-Jul) in Lawrence, Kansas with 14 athletes from the Virginia association competing in the championships during the seven day competition held at Rock Chalk Park on the campus of the University of Kansas
The Virginia athletes competed in a total of 31 events in near ideal conditions during most of the seven days of competition.  Heavy rain and strong winds did cause some delays on days 1 and 2 but the remainder of the meet was held under blue skies and temperatures that never went above ninety degrees.  A total of 8,152 athletes competed, making the 51th anniversary event the largest USATF Junior Olympics ever.   
A total of 11 all-American performances were achieved by Virginia athletes with each earning a trip to the awards podium, a championship medal, and a Nike Junior Olympic all-American hat.
Gold, silver and bronze for the Rose family 
The brother-sister tandem of Michaela and Michail Rose (F.I.A. Ambassador Lions) each won a national title and earned a second trip to the awards podium for another all-American hat and medal.  Older sister Michaela ran to an impressive victory in the girls 13-14 800m as she ran 2:12.14 to win by 1.67 seconds over Daphne Matthews of Oklahoma.  The time lowered her career best by .81 seconds.  She then ran 55.31 in the 400m to finish third in a race that saw the national record lowered to 52.54 by Kayla Davis of North Carolina.
Younger brother Michail won his gold medal in the boys 11-12 80m hurdles as he blazed across the line in 12.00. He defeated Bryce Tucker of New Jersey by just .03 seconds. His career best coming into the championship was 12.59 which he lowered to 12.30 in the first round and then again to the 12.00 run in the finals.  In the high jump he cleared 1.55m (5-1) to finish second in the field of 51 athletes.  The event winner Miles Roberts of California also cleared 1.55m but had few misses at lower heights than Rose and was declared the winner.  Rose also finished ninth in the long jump with a best mark of 4.94m (16-2½). He missed eighth place and all-American honors by just .75 inches.
The youngest Rose sibling Michailyn Rose picked up the fifth visit to the awards podium for the family as she finished fifth in the 9-10 girls 800.  Her time was 2:33.60.  She also finished 12th in the 1500 in 5:30.68.
Trio of silver medals
Zoi Betties, Jahnelle Saunders, and the MVP League 1600m relay team all earned silver medals for second place finishes.  
Betties (unattached) walked to an impressive 16:24.66 in the 15-16 3000m race walk.  Her time was a career best by 18.34 seconds.  
Saunders (F.I.A. Ambassador Lions) scored 3263 points in the 13-14 pentathlon for her silver medal. In two of the five events she had the best performance of the 23 competitors.  Those #1 marks came in the 100m hurdles (14.67) and the long jump (5.38m / 17-8). Her performances in the other three events were: 10.69m/35-1 in the shot put; 1.65m/5-5 in the high jump; and 3:02.58 in the 800m.  The shot put and high jump performances were the second best in the competition. Tierra Hooker won the event with a new national record of 3556 points. 

In the always action-packed 1600m relay the MVP League’s girls 17-18 team put on a show tthat thoroughly entertained the loud crowd.  Outfitted in neon yellow uniforms that accented their speed on the track the foursome entered the competition with the #4 seed time, based on the 3:51.86 they ran to win the region 3 championships two weeks earlier.  In the qualifying heats they ran 3:47.48 to finish second in their heat behind the 3:46.29 by the Texas Storm Track Club.  Those would be the two fastest times run in the four qualifying heats with three other teams, all from Texas, running under 3:50.00.  “I knew going into the finals that we had a really good chance to win but also knew the teams from Texas were all incredible,” offered MVP League coach Maurice Hutton. In the finals Natalie Barnes (55.75) and Mikajah Hayes (56.75) ran the first two legs and setup the team up for a run at the title as there were in third place but just .69 seconds off the lead.  Indie McNeill ran 56.30 on the third leg which was over a second faster than the third legs run by North Texas Cheetahs and Texas Storm TC and she handed off to Marjanae Coley who held a slight lead on the two Texas teams.  Coley was able to hold the lead for through the last turn but the anchor for the North Texas Cheetahs was just a bit stronger down the homestretch and hit the line in 3:43.29 just .26 seconds ahead of a leaning Coley.  Coley ran 54.66 on her anchor leg.  “I am so happy for these young ladies,” Hutton said following the race.  “They are an incredible group of women who came out here and put it all on the line.  Many of them sacrificed competing in individual events so they would be 100% ready for the relay."  Three of the athletes will matriculate to college in the fall (Hayes - Boston University; McNeill - Iowa Central, Coley - Charlotte University) while Barnes will be a junior at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn.
Put a hat on them and medals around their necks
Three other all-American performances were turned in by Virginia athletes during the seven days of competition. 
Natalie Barnes (MVP League) finish third in the girls 17-18 400m hurdles running 1:01.19.  The time was a career best by over a second.
During days 1 and 2 of the meet Erin Higgins (unattached) picked up a fifth place finish in the girls 17-18 heptathlon competition that included 29 competitors.  She accumulated 4404 points during the two-day seven-event competition.  In the shot put where she threw 10.62m (34-10¼) she had the second best performance in the competition.  
Also picking up a fifth place finish was Ariyana Van Irvin (F.I.A. Ambassador Lions) who ran 2:59.12 in the girls 7-8 division.
A complete set of Virginia performances can be viewed here.
Next year’s national championships are slated for North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina July 23-29.

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