IN ‘YEAR OF THE YOUTH,’ CHANCES FOR US TRACK NEWCOMERS, TOO

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Possible new slogan for the U.S. Olympic track team: Higher, Faster, Younger.

There could be a youth movement underway on the track over the next two weeks.

A group of up-and-comers are angling for spots on America’s Olympic track team, hoping to duplicate the success a new crop of swimmers is making at that sport’s trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

“The year of the youth,” said 17-year-old sprinter Candace Hill, a dark horse possibility to make the U.S. squad for the Rio Olympics in the 100 meters, 200 meters or perhaps even both. “I feel like, since older people are leaving the sport, they’re passing the torch to the younger folks. We have to step up our game and show we’re ready to take over in a way.”

Hill is already the world’s fastest girl ever, courtesy of a number of youth records she set last season, including in the 200, which she ran in 22.43 seconds.

A year ago, she ran 10.98 seconds in the 100 — the first time a female under 18 had gone below 11 seconds. That kind of time would’ve earned her a share of the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed her seventh at the 2012 London Games.

Someday, she could be going for the label of fastest female in history. That honor belongs to the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, who holds both the 100 (10.49) and 200 (21.34) world marks.

Hill could be pushed by another teenager, Kaylin Whitney.

“My goal is to be one of the greatest female sprinters ever,” said Hill, who turned pro last December and signed a 10-year deal with ASICS.

Hill’s role model is Allyson Felix, the six-time Olympic medalist who Hill used to watch as a kid.

“I feel very old,” lamented the 30-year-old Felix, who will try to make the team in the 200 and 400. “But it’s a neat thing, because I remember when I was in that exact same place.”

Upon arriving at the airport, Hill became star struck after running into sprinter Tori Bowie, along with 400-meter runners Natasha Hastings and Francena McCorory.

“I’m like, ‘That’s actually them,’” Hill said. “You see them on TV and in videos, but then they’re right there.”

Last week, Hill won the 100 at the USA junior championships. She’s not the least bit tired, either.

Johnny Bailey