OXFORD, Ohio – Miami University rising sophomore Laura Bess will attempt to punch her ticket to Colombia Friday, when she competes at the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. The top finishers in each event will represent the United States at the 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Medellin on the northern edge of South America.

Bess (Brownsburg, Ind.), the lone member of the RedHawks’ women’s track and field team at the meet, will run in the 1500m. The first round is set for 2:10 p.m. ET/1:10 p.m. local on Friday, with the final slated for 3:02 p.m. ET/2:02 p.m. local on Saturday. Bess is one of 16 competitors to qualify for the U.S. Junior Championships in the 1500m, and will run in the first of two heats Friday. The top three finishers in each heat, along with the next six best times, advance to Saturday’s 12-woman final. The top four finishers in the 1500m final are then eligible for a spot on Team USA for the Pan-Am Junior Championships.

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. At that meet, the then freshman finished seventh in the 1500m final after qualifying fourth in prelims. Her time already ranks her sixth in school history in the event.

To qualify for the U.S. Junior Championships, which is only open to athletes between the ages of 16-19, runners had to record a time under 4:36.14 in the 1500m during the past year. Bess enters the meet ranked sixth among the entrants in the 1500m and will be running against women from schools such as Stanford, Villanova, N.C. State, BYU, Penn and Brown, among others.

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 at Drake Stadium and are hosted by Drake University. 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 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, which were originally scheduled for Aug. 2-4 in Lima, Peru, will now be contested Aug. 23-25 in the neighboring country of Colombia, just south of Panama. The Pan-Am Junior Athletics 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.

--MURedHawks.com--