James Olivier of Augusta, a rising sophomore at the University of Maine, placed sixth Saturday night in the men’s 800-meter run at the 20th Pan American U20 Track and Field Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Olivier started on the outside of the field in the eighth lane and went on to finish in 1 minute, 54.21 seconds.
Mexico’s Raul Neri Franco won the gold medal in 1:49.10, edging the other American in the field, Rhode Island prep runner Darius Kipyego, who finished second in 1:49.46.
The top four finishers all were timed within 0.79 seconds of each other.
The 18-year-old Olivier, a 2018 graduate of Cony High School, finished third in his semifinal heat Friday evening with a time of 1:52.15.
That was good for the fourth-fastest time among the 18 semifinalists, trailing only Heat 1 winner Agnaldo Barboza Gonzaga of Brazil (1:51.67) and the top two finishers in Heat 2, Tyrice Taylor of Jamaica (1:51.99) and Neri Franco, who nipped Olivier by one-hundredth of a second.
Kipyego, a rising junior at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, finished second in Heat 1 at 1:52.16, one-hundredth of a second behind Olivier’s semifinal time.
Olivier, who had never consistently competed in the 800-meter run until last winter, qualified for the Pan American U20 competition by winning the USA Track & Field U20 championship at that distance last month in Miramar, Florida.
In that meet, Olivier took control midway through that final and finished in a time of 1:50.67. Kipyego was second in 1:51.26.
Olivier’s personal best for the 800 is 1:50.16 set last winter at the IC4A/ECAC indoor championships.