DES MOINES, Iowa – Miami University rising sophomore Laura Bess will have a chance to represent Team USA at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships after advancing to the 1500m final with her run in Friday’s first round at the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium.

Bess (Brownsburg, Ind.) placed third in the first round of the 1500m, clocking 4:37.11. She was also third in her heat, as she ran in the first of two, which automatically advanced her to Saturday’s 1500m final. The top three finishers in each heat, along with the next six best times qualified for the 12-woman final. Bess will run the 1500m final tomorrow at 3:02 p.m. ET/2:02 p.m. local, with the top four finishers eligible for a spot on Team USA for the Pan-Am Junior Championships.

Sixteen women were entered in the 1500m field, while Bess finished behind only Anna Holdiman, who was first in qualifying in 4:35.13, and BYU’s Rachel Stewart, who was second in 4:36.86. Bess beat out runners from Villanova, N.C. State, Charlotte and Brown, among others.

Bess clinched her spot at the U.S. Junior Championships with her qualifying time of 4:29.72, which she clocked at the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships May 11 in Akron, Ohio. To qualify for the U.S. Junior Championships, runners had to record a time under 4:36.14 in the 1500m during the past year. Bess entered the meet seeded sixth. Participants in any of the Junior Championships must be at least 16 years old, but under the age of 20, as of Dec. 31, 2013.

The 2013 U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships are held in conjunction with the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships from June 19-23 and are hosted by Drake University. The 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships will be contested Aug. 23-25 in Medellin, Colombia, just south of Panama. The Pan-Am Junior Championships are held every other year for track and field and feature the top 16-19 year olds from countries in North, South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.

Live results and live video streaming of Saturday's final will be available on MURedHawks.com.

--MURedHawks.com--