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Heat Plagues US Jr. Championships at Drake Stadium

HOT CONDITIONS PLAGUE USA JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

DES
MOINES, IOWA, USA (20-Jun) — Throughout day-one of competition here at
the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, one major factor was
impacting nearly all participants: the heat. Beaming down above the
14,557-seat Drake Stadium was the bright sun, causing temperatures to
climb into the upper-80’s Fahrenheit (30C) and humidity to increase to
53%.

Over the five-day meeting in Iowa’s state capital, the sun
is sure to affect times and competition, as shown early Thursday in the
Junior races. With events going throughout the morning and afternoon,
it was evident that the conditions had taken their toll on the young
athletes.

“It is hot! The sun was just draining me out there,”
said Olicia Williams moments after timing 2:08.88, the fastest
qualifying mark of the women’s Junior 800m. The rising sophomore at
Baylor University –a school located in Texas, one of the hottest
states in America– was even surprised by the temperatures.

“Baylor
is cooler than this right now,” she said with a laugh. Learning from
today, Williams said she’d focus more on hydration for tomorrow’s
final, to be run at 7:20 p.m. just as the sun will be setting.

Making
matters worse for athletes is that their is no overhang above the
stadium, providing zero shade on the blue all-weather track.

Brigham
Young University’s Marcus Dixon, winner of the first section of the
men’s junior 800m, hadn’t yet adjusted to the temperatures, though was
confident going into his race.

“It is so dry and humid, I was
sweating before the race,” he said, sweat still dripping from his brow.
“We were in Texas for [NCAA] Regionals four weeks ago and I thought it
wasn’t going to be as bad as that.”

Christina Melian of the
State University of New York at Stony Brook came in with a qualifying
mark of 9:37.59 for 3000m. Today she ran 9:45.06 for the win, a very
credible mark considering numerous athletes ran far off their personal
bests due to the heat.

“I tried not to focus on it ’cause I’m
not really used to the heat like this,” she said. “It was definitely
pretty challenging, but that’s what running is all about.”

The
only ones to get sort of a break from the temperatures were contestants
in the Junior men’s 3000m steeplechase, splashing through the water pit
each lap. Though winner Tate Schienbein dealt with the temperatures
with ease, many were not as lucky. A total of eight athletes didn’t
record marks under 9:53.

Walking through the mixed zone
following their races, nearly all athletes clutched large jugs of water
and Gatorade, while a few wore ice cooling vests in hopes of keeping
their core temperatures down.

The next three days look to
provide little solace from the current conditions. According to the
National Weather Service, Friday calls for a high of 90F with a chance
of thunderstorms, while Saturday tops out at 92F and Sunday 89F.

PHOTO:
Drake Stadium on the first day of the 2013 USA Outdoor Track &
Field Championships

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