Sorensen uses Olympic Trials 20K race walk as a tune-up for World Juniors in Spain

Tyler Sorenson achieved a new personal best in the men's 20-kilometer race walk, placing sixth in 1:34:24.52. John Nepolitan/ESPNHS


EUGENE, Ore. -- Tyler Sorensen knows that his time is coming to make an Olympic team in the race walk.

Saturday at Hayward Field, at age 18, wasn't his time.

The senior from Torrey Pines, Calif. is still on the mend from a sports hernia surgery in February and has only been back to training since late April. That long lay-off prevented him from arriving at the Olympic trials in tip-top condition, but he is hoping to salvage his year with a strong effort at the World Junior Championships.

Sorensen finished sixth in the men's 20-kilometer race walk in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 24.52 seconds.

"Today I was looking for a decent place and I wanted to get a PR," Sorensen said after navigating 50 laps of the track. "I want to save myself for Barcelona in two weeks."

Sorensen is one of the bright young hopes for U.S. race walking and was the ninth high school athlete to compete at this year's trials.

Trevor Barron, 19, is further ahead in his development (he's a year and a half older), and his Olympic dream came true in record-breaking fashion. Barron finished in 1:23.00.10 and broke the American record by 40 seconds.

Sorensen and Barron are both coached by Tim Seamen, 40, who finished second in Saturday's race and made his third Olympic team.

For the bulk of the race, Sorensen tucked behind fellow competitor Benjamin Shorey and walked just behind him. With 1,000 meters to go, Sorensen accelerated and passed Shorey and separated from him by more than 20 seconds.

"It's more fun to walk with someone," Sorensen said. "Walking 50 laps alone is boring."

Sorensen knew that Shorey could keep him on track to run about 1:35 pace and that's what he wanted. Then he used the final few laps as speed training for Barcelona, where the race will be 10,000 meters.

"It was a tempo workout basically, but also a rare opportunity (to compete at the trials)," he said.

Barron and Sorensen both wore the singlet of the New York Athletic Club, though they are essentially based in San Diego with Seamen. Barron attends college in Colorado so there isn't much opportunity for Sorensen to train with him except in the summer.

Sorensen was fifth at the World Youth Championships last year in Lille, France, and says he expects to be about "90 percent" fit compared to 2011 when he goes to the starting line in Barcelona. He is aiming for a top-10 finish there.

Barron's victory is another step forward for American walkers in general and another shot of motivation for Sorensen, who wants to stay on the same trajectory.

"I'm very impressed and excited for (Barron)," Sorensen said. "He's the guy I'm always chasing after. (The record) is great motivation to try and be up there next to him at nationals next year, and looking forward, to 2016, and making my first Olympic team."