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Jessica Beard leads 400m qualifying at USATF Championships

June 26, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
SACRAMENTO – The first full day of action at the USATF Championships had Jessica Beard leading the field in the women’s first round of the 400 meters while a future Aggie earned a berth on Team USA for the World Junior Championships next month.

Beard ran in the first heat of the 400m on the Sacramento State track and produced the fastest time of the opening round with a 51.14, which is her fastest time of the season. The first heat also produced the top three times of the round as Oregon’s Phyllis Francis (51.25) and Briana Nelson of Texas (51.39) placed second and third behind Beard.

Other heat winners in the women’s 400 included Natasha Hastings in 51.48 and Francena McCorory with a 51.64. The semifinal of the 400 will be on Friday at 9:40 p.m. (CT) and the final is scheduled for Saturday at 3:05 p.m. (CT).

Incoming freshman Shaina Burns improved her career best in the heptathlon by 200 points to finish in second place during the USATF Junior competition held in the multi-event. Her score of 5,363 points ranks her No. 8 on the all-time high school list and earns her a spot on the United States team for the IAAF World Junior Championships that are being held in Eugene, Oregon, from July 22 to 27.

Burns, of Lakeville South High School in Lakeview, Minnesota, scored 5,163 points earlier this month to win the New Balance Nationals high school meet in Greensboro, NC. Her previous best score prior to this season was 4,722 points from 2012. Burns improved that score to 4,908 points in April when she placed third in Arcadia, California.

Ashlee Moore, who is headed to Oregon, won the USATF Junior heptathlon title with 5,418 points, which ranks No. 5 on the all-time high school list. Burns finished 55 points behind Moore and 59 points ahead of third-place finisher Emily Godwin of North Carolina.

Scoring 3,317 points on the first day Burns ran 14.33 in the 100 hurdles (932 points), cleared 5-6.5 in the high jump (842), produced a shot put mark of 45-7.25 (787) and ran 26.48 (787) in the 200 meters. On the second day Burns had a 17-6 (651) long jump, threw the javelin 119-11 (601) and ran the 800 in 2:22.19 (794) to add 2,045 points to her score.

In the women’s javelin final Texas A&M volunteer assistant coach Ariana Ince placed ninth with a mark of 168-6 (51.37) while the top eight finishers competed in three more rounds. Ince opened her series with the 168-6 effort, had a foul in round two and reached a distance of 160-0 (48.77) in the third round. A mark of 181-0 claimed eighth place following the first three rounds.

Aldrich Bailey, Jr. wasn’t able to finish his opening round race in the men’s 400m as he started to pull up at the 270 meter mark in the first heat. Gil Roberts won the first heat in 45.16, which was the top time overall as LaShawn Merritt won another heat in 45.19.  

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