High schooler Candace Hill only turned 16 in February, but she is the 10th fastest woman in the world this year. With state and national titles under her belt, her next target is world youth gold. We gotta get this girl to Cali.

When Candace Hill crossed the line in the 100m at the Brooks PR Invitational the clock stopped at 10.99. There was a collective gasp in Seattle’s Shoreline Stadium. Then the official time of 10.98 came in. Everyone started going crazy. People didn’t know where to look or what to say.

A world youth record. The fastest time ever recorded by an American high schooler. The fourth fastest time by any American woman this year. The 10th fastest time run by any woman this year.

Nobody expected it. Not even the 16-year-old herself.

“I’m speechless, just speechless right now,” Hill told SPIKES after her explosive performance.

“I just felt like I ran a normal race. When they said it was a 10.9 I was thinking there has to be a tailwind of 4 or 5 – something ridiculous like that!”

The wind was not ridiculous: it was a perfect +2.0m/s.

Candace Hill wins Brooks PR in World Youth Best 10.98, by John Jefferson (John Jefferson)

That moment you realise you're the fastest high schooler EVER

Hill might not have expected it, but she revealed that on the back of the 11.2 she ran in to a headwind at the Adidas Dream 100 in New York last weekend, her coach had told her she could break the 11-second barrier in Seattle.

“I was like ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about!’,” she says with her bright signature smile. Turns out he did.

The run has caught the attention of the world, and marks a dramatic rise for Hill, who only committed to track a couple of years ago after giving up colour guard – “I had to pick one and I picked track”.

Since focusing on running, the sophomore (second year) from Rockdale County High School in Georgia has excelled, and owns state titles and records in the 100m and 200m.

“Winning state and breaking those state records as a freshman gave me confidence going in to the other meets,” she says. “I’ve just taken it from there through.”

Last year she won the 100m and 200m at the USATF National Junior Olympic champs, having taken the 100m title the previous year. Her next aim is to be a world champion.

“This summer I plan on trying out for the world youths and hopefully making the team and representing the USA in Colombia. I feel like I have a shot [at a medal].”

Cali, where the World Youth Championships will be held in July, is more than 2000 miles away from Hill’s Georgia hometown. Her family has set up a donation page to help fund her travel, and it would be a travesty if someone of such startling talent was unable to test herself against the very best in her age group from around the world (donate here).

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For the most part, Hill, whose mother and sister were watching on in the stadium in Seattle, has up untill now been competing over shorter distances. But she says she hasn’t yet settled on a preferred distance.

Like Allyson Felix, one of her track heroes, she is adept up to 400m. She suggests next year she might begin concentrating on the longer sprints, though admits she doesn’t have a favourite.

For now her focus is just on carrying on what she has been doing up to this point: excelling in the classroom (she enjoys maths and science), blowing away her competitors on the track and running times that will have the seniors looking over their shoulders.

“It feels incredible [to be running as fast as seniors]. I feel like I have a bright future ahead of me and if I keep on doing what I’m doing, stay humble, I feel like I could go far.”

Photography: John Jefferson