Vikings runners headed back to Eugene

The cream of the crop of American junior track athletes gathered in Eugene to fight for the opportunity to represent their country at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships on Saturday.

This meet consists of the top 20-years-old and under track and field athletes in the country, looking to wear the team USA jersey and advance to the International Associations of Athletics Federations World Junior Championships, where historic Hayward Field will host the top junior track and field talent this world has to offer. The World Junior Championships will be back in Eugene from July 22–27.

Four Viking freshmen qualified, three of them representing the women’s team. Whitney Diggs qualified in both the 200 and 400-metersprints. Heading into the 400 on Saturday, Diggs had a season-best time of 55.54 seconds, but managed to shave off nearly half a second when she edged Texas Christian University Tiffany Terry by a margin of .03 for the eighth and final spot to advance. Diggs and Terry were in different heats for the 400-meter dash, and fortunately for Diggs, Terry ran .97 seconds slower than her season best.

Freshman CeCelia Jackson placed seventh in the heptathlon with a total score of 4,839, despite the 11th-place seeding headed into competition. Jackson also managed to qualify in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles. Of the seven events in the heptathlon, the freshman standout set four personal records. The four consisted of shot put, 200, long jump and 800. Jackson also had a solid race in the 100-meter hurdles, taking fourth.

Over an amazing weekend, Jackson continued to break her personal bests with another in the 400-meter hurdles, where she found a way to break the one-minute mark and finish with a 59.53. Jackson is double trouble in both the 100 and 400-meter hurdles and is definitely worth keeping your eye on later this month where she will look to establish new personal bests at the IAAF in Eugene.

Baileh Simms was the only Lady Viking representing the Portland State jumps team at junior nationals, where she placed 12th on a 19-foot jump, coming up just short of her 5.84-meter personal record.

Also representing the PSU jumps team was Giften Okoronkwo, who competed in the triple jump, but unfortunately couldn’t match the 14.54-meter leap he had at an invitational in late January. His top jump of the day, at 14.21 meters, was good enough for a 12th place finish.
Despite the lack of personal bests from the two jumpers, the Vikings definitely made some noise at Hayward Field. Diggs and Jackson will look to continue to do so back at the same location next week.