CORVALLIS, Ore. – Rising Oregon State sophomore Melissa Ausman and incoming freshman McKenzie Byrd will travel to Eugene this weekend for the 2014 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. Both will compete on the second day of the event, Sunday, July 6, with Ausman in the women’s discus at 2:15 p.m. and Byrd in the women’s javelin at 5 p.m.
The prestigious meet showcases the future of USA Track & Field as the best athletes under the age of 20, including high school standouts and the nation’s most promising college freshmen, face off on the campus of the University of Oregon.
The 2014 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships will serve as a qualifier for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. Top performers will be part of the American team that will have the unique opportunity to return to Eugene from July 22-27. The 2014 edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships marks the first time the event has ever been held in the United States.
Ausman qualified for the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships thanks to a school-record discus mark of 168’ from the OSU High Performance Meet on May 2, which was nearly 13 feet better than Beth Nygren’s 155’ 2” set in Corvallis on May 7, 1988 – the previous Oregon State record. That throw was 42nd in the west in 2014, eighth in the nation among freshmen and sixth among U20 collegians.
It also earned Ausman a berth at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. in late May, where she became Oregon State’s first female thrower at an NCAA meet since 1987. Ausman finished fifth among the 16 in her flight and 30th in the competition overall with a mark of 158’ 6”.
McKenzie Byrd, from Hermiston HS in Eastern Oregon, signed with the Beavers in early February. She owns a javelin PR of 143’ and won back-to-back 5A javelin titles in 2013 and 2014. At this year’s state championships, she also came in second in the high jump and fifth in the shot put after finishing second in both in 2013. Byrd will be one of OSU’s first heptathletes since the re-establishment of the program and sports personal bests of 41’ 10.75” in the shot put, 119’ 6” in the discus and 5’ 5” in the high jump.
Ausman is one of 14 declared athletes in the discus while Byrd is one of 18 in the javelin. Top finishes will earn trips back to Hayward Field for the IAAF World Junior Championships at the end of the month. A maximum of two athletes from any one country can compete in each event at those World Junior Championships.
OSU has previously had two United States Junior National Champions. Joni Huntley won the high jump in both 1974 (6’ 0”) and 1975 (6’ 2”) and Carina Westover won the pentathlon in 1979 (3,707). Huntley’s 1974 title and Westover’s in 1979 both came before their freshman years at Oregon State.