Nate Rayan put the finishing touches on a season for the ages when he finished a very impressive fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Pan American U20 Championships on Saturday at Jose A. Figueroa Freyre Stadium in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
The Clemson-bound Rayan, who qualified for the Pan Am Championships by stunning a field stacked with college athletes to finish first at the U.S. U20 Championships last month, finished with a time of 13.63.
The race was won by Blaise Atkinson, a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina, who stopped the clock at 13.46. Atkinson was seventh in the 110 HH at the ACC Championships this past season. Daniel Beckford of Jamaica was second in 13.52, and Jose Mendes da Silva was third in 13.55. 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.
Rayan, who ran 13.74 to place second in his heat in the trials on Saturday morning to earn the auto qualifier, had an epic season over the barriers.
Check out this jaw-dropping stat!!
In his 16 races over the 110 hurdles, including trials and semis, Rayan ran 13.75 or faster 15 times!!!! No one else in the state ran under 13.82.
Rayan's biggest highlight came last month when he nipped Atkinson to win the U.S. U20 national title out of lane one at Hayward Field in Oregon with a wind-legal time of 13.40!!! Atkinson was second in 13.42. Rayan's 13.40 took down his own state automatic time record of 13.42 that he ran when he broke the meet record in the trials at the Meet of Champions in June (he ran 13.48 to win the M of C title), and it was tied for the No. 5 high school time in the nation this season.
He also scored wins at the Union County Championships in a meet record 13.46, at the North Jersey, Section 2 Group 4 Championships in a meet record 13.63, and at the State Group 4 Championships in a meet record 13.45!!!
Rayan's place in NJ history and his legacy are secure as he will go down as the second best high hurdler in NJ history behind another star from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High, the legendary Renaldo "Skeets'' Nehemiah.
Nehemiah, who once held the world record and became the first hurdler to ever go sub 13 over the 42-inch hurdles when he ran 12.93 in Zurich in 1981, ran a 12.9 hand time as a high school senior in 1977. That converts to a 13.14 automatic time (.24 is added from hand to auto). Nehemiah and Rayan (pictured together above) are the only athletes from the same school (boy or girl) to currently own the No. 1 and No. 2 performances in any event in state history!