While Sammy Watson failed to advance to the Olympic Games at the age of 16, the Rush-Henrietta rising senior showed she can still shine in a world track and field event.
Watson led a one-two finish Thursday in Poland during the women’s 800-meter dash final of the IAAF World U20 Championships. The International Association of Athletics Federation reported that it is the first time American 800 sprinters were the top two finishers in this race.
After Watson crossed the finish line in 2 minutes, 4.52 seconds, she was photographed with runner-up Aaliyah Miller (2:05.06), as they held American flags cape-style behind their backs, and also posed with bronze-medalist Tigist Ketema of Ethiopia (2:05.13).
Watson won the IAAF World Youth or under-18 women’s 800 final last summer in Colombia. She may still have another race at the world under-20 or junior championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, about 140 miles northwest of Warsaw. The IAAF also reported that Watson hopes to win another medal as part of the USA 1,600 relay.
This is one of the most notable calendar years for a high school-aged track and field athlete in the greater Rochester-area.
Watson won a Section V class race and was selected to the Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Cross Country Team. She shared or owned three sectional records by the end of the indoor track season and shared the AGR girls athlete of the year in that sport and season with sophomore teammate Lanae-Tava Thomas.
The spring outdoor track and field season included victories for Watson at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, and Loucks Games located in Westchester County. She also owns or shares four outdoor sectional records. Watson and Thomas were named co-AGR Outdoor Girls Track and Field Athletes of the Year, after both returned to Henrietta as state champions.
Watson won the Federation and New York State Public High School Athletic Association versions of the outdoor state championships in the 400 and 1,500. She won the 800 dash title at the USA Track and Field Championships in California, qualifying for the Olympic trials July 1-10 on time during the process. The MileSplit All-American placed third in her first round-heat, out of contention, but knew she would represent the United States at the World U20 Championships in Poland.