GREENSBORO, N.C. - If there existed an award for the area athlete who performed best across an entire year of athletic competition, one would be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving of the honor than Jordan Powers.
Yet somehow the soon-to-be Southwestern senior, who during a whirlwind 2012-2013 school year competed in not one, not two, but three New York State Public High School Athletic Association state championships, still managed to make an already sweet year that much sweeter on Thursday afternoon.
He became an All-American.
Seen competing in the Section 6 track and field championships last month, above, Jordan Powers made more news on Thursday when he placed fourth in the 17-18 men’s 2,000-meter steeplechase at the USATF?National Junior Olympic Championships. The placement earned him All-American honors. Below, Powers is flanked by Chautauqua Striders coaches David Reinhardt, left, and Travis Prejean after the former received his medal.
Photo by Tim Frank (above)
Submitted photo (below)
Competing in the 17-18 men's 2,000-meter steeplechase final at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships at North Carolina A&T University, Powers ran a blistering final lap, or, more accurately, a blistering final 500 meters, passing five competitors along the way and finishing fourth overall with a time of 6:22.37.
"We had a feeling this was going to be a good race for him," Chautauqua Striders coach David Reinhardt said on Thursday evening, "especially after the time he had at the (Region 2 Junior Olympics earlier this month). He had a really great last lap, last 500 meters, and from ninth place he moved up and up and up all the way to fourth."
The time was a personal best by a whopping nine seconds, and made Powers, who has now run the steeplechase a grand total of three times, just the fourth Chautauqua Strider (along with current teammate McKenna Maycock, and Craig Howard, Danielle Anderson and Savantuay Boyette) since 2007 to earn All-American status.
"He is just really happy," Reinhardt noted.
As he should be, especially considering that, after running the race's first lap at a furious pace with a group of anxious competitors - as is apt to happen in an event of this magnitude - he began to fade on laps three and four (of five).
"The race started off really, really fast," Powers said, "really fast and I tried to hold pace with the leaders. I dropped as low as 10th at one point, but was able to run really well the last 400 (meters)."
"They all went out a little harder than they should have," Reinhardt added, "and he went with them but fell back a little (later on). But at the end he was able to reserve a little energy, found his groove and when those guys out in front started to fall back he found the strength to catch quite a few of them (before the finish)."
Clayton Wilson, competing with a local Greensboro club, took first thanks to his time of 6:06.66.
With his solid showing at this event, Reinhardt and the rest of the Striders coaching staff have high hopes for Powers repeat at next year's USATF National Junior Olympics.
"The thing is he's at the bottom of the age group," Reinhardt said of the 17-year-old. "Next year in Houston he has a shot, if he continues with his distance work and stays committed, of making the top three - or even winning it."
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Powers wasn't the only Strider to compete on Thursday at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.
Mackenzie Swartzman has a shot at becoming the third Strider this year to earn All-American designation after she won her heat in the 13-14 Girls 1,500 meters.
Swartzman, who will be ranked No. 3 heading into Sunday's final, sped to the first-place finish in Heat 1 with a time of 4:54.30.
With only the top two finishers in each of the three heats and only 12 moving on to the finals, Swartzman, who was in the first heat, needed a quick time to guarantee advancement.
"She went in the first heat," Reinhardt said, "so we told her to finish first or second because we didn't want to be in a position where we had to wait for times. She was in command pretty much the whole race, and really didn't let anyone pass her."
Ryan Hetrick, who was making his second trip to the National Junior Olympics, was 15th in the Boys 15-16 2,000 steeplechase, crossing the finish line in 6:58.89.
Caroline Benson, of Maple Grove, was sixth in her Women's 17-18 1,500 heat. Her time, which was 5:13.97, was good for 20th overall in what was her first-ever appearance at the national meet.
Rounding out the list of competitors on Thursday was another first-time attendee, Joshua Fischer, who attends Falconer High School. He was fifth in his heat of the 110 high hurdles and 28th overall with a time of 16.10, and was .26 seconds shy of qualifying for the semifinals.