Nate Rayan Wins 110 Hurdles At US U20 National Championships

Nate Rayan's historic season in the hurdles continued when the recent graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High threw down one of the greatest performances by a New Jersey high school hurdler at the U.S. Under-20 National Championships on Friday at Hayward Field in Oregon.

The Clemson-bound Rayan, the sixth fastest qualifier in the 8-man 110-meter hurdle final, shocked a field stacked with college athletes by burning a wind-legal (.09 meters per second) personal best time of 13.40 out of lane one to pull off the stunning upset victory!! The race was contested over the 39-inch hurdles, the same height used in high school competition compared to the 42 inch hurdles used in the college and professional ranks.

With the victory, Rayan has qualified for the Pan American Under-20 Championships that will be held August 4-6 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The 13.40 by Rayan breaks his own state automatic time record of 13.42 that he ran in the trials at the Meet of Champions last month and is tied for No. 5 in the nation this season among high school athletes. The only hurdler in NJ history to go faster over the 110 hurdles than Rayan in high school also ran at Scotch Plains-Fanwood, the legendary Renaldo "Skeets'' Nehemiah, who ran a 12.9 hand time in 1977. That converts to a 13.14 automatic time. Nehemiah and Rayan are the only athletes from the same school (boy or girl) to be listed No. 1 and No. 2  in state history in any event. 

Rayan advanced to the final after placing fifth in his qualifying heat in 13.74 as he was the final qualifier who advanced on time. The top three finishers in the two qualifying heats automatically advanced to the final, and the next two fastest hurdlers also advanced.  Chris Serrao of Rutgers, a 2022 graduate of East Brunswick High, didn't make the final after he didn't finish in his qualifying heat.

In the final, Rayan got a rocket start to take the lead at the first hurdle. After dropping to second place at the ninth hurdles, Rayan regained took lead over the final barrier and then edged Blaise Atkinson, a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina to secure the heart-pounding victory. Atkinson, who was seventh in the 110 HH at the ACC Championships, was second in 13.42. National high school leader Alexander Chukwukelu, a 2023 graduate of North Forney High in Texas, finished third in 13.45. Chukwukelu ran a wind-aided 13.16 in the trials at the Texas Relays earlier this season and went a US No. 1 wind legal 13.32 in the final at the Texas Relays.  


In the women's 100m hurdles, Taylor Cox, who just completed her sophomore year at Union Catholic, ran a sizzling personal best of 13.52 to place sixth. Cox's 13.52 ir No. 5 in NJ history!!! Cox, whose previous PR was the meet record 13.56 she ran in the trials at the Union County Championships in May, earned a spot in the final on time when she ran 13.60 to place third in her qualifying heat. The only hurdlers in NJ history go go faster over the 100 hurdlers faster in high school than Cox are Dawn Bowles of Neptune (13.33 in 1988), Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic (13.34 in 2014), Charmaine Walker of Plainfield (13.38 in 1997), and Porscha Dobson of Kent Place (13.50 in 2003).    

Sophia Curtis, who will be a senior at Ocean City, placed sixth in the women's triple jump with a mark of 40-11.50, a quarter inch further than her previous outdoor PR of 40-10.25 that she leaped to place second overall and first among Americans at the Penn Relays in April. Curtis has an indoor PR of 41-3.50 that she achieved when she was third at the New Balance National Championships this past March.