Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cas Loxsom of Brooks Beasts sets American record in 600 at Lobo Collegiate meet...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico—The altitude training stint for members of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts is paying dividends so far this season, as Penn State alum Cas Loxsom (left/photo by Paul Merca) set a new American record in the 600-meter run Saturday at the Lobo Collegiate Open meet hosted by the University of New Mexico at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Loxsom, last year’s runner-up at the USA Outdoor championships at 800 meters, stopped the clock in 1:15.58, to take down the previous American record set by Eric Sowinski of 1:15.61 set in February 2013 at the Armory in New York.

Finishing behind Loxsom were a pair of Brooks Beasts teammates in Mark Wieczorek (1:16.20), and Curtis Beach (1:18.08).

Later in the meet, the trio combined with Matt Hillenbrand to win the 4 x 400 meter relay in 3:14.10.

Hillenbrand was sixth in the 800 in 1:52.63, while fellow Beast Riley Masters was seventh in 1:52.84.

University of Washington alum Katie Mackey of the Beasts won the mile in 4:36.22, with training partners Brie Felnagle second in 4:36.37, and Amanda Mergaert third in 4:44.51.


In Pullman, pole vaulter Kristine Felix of host Washington State highlighted competition at the 13th annual WSU Open meet at their indoor complex.

Felix, the 2013 Pac-12 champion, soared over the bar at 13-11 3/4 (4.26m), a new personal best, and places her for the moment in fifth on the current 2015 collegiate list.

“There is nowhere to go but up from here and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season because I definitely know I can do better,”  said Felix.


Courtesy of WSU, here’s a video interview with Cougar head coach Wayne Phipps after the meet recapping his team’s performance.



NOTE:  Brooks Running and the sports information office at Washington State contributed to this report.

Eagles get Big Sky qualifying mark from sprinter Tyree Fort...

MOSCOW, Idaho—Freshman Tyree Fort (left/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) was Eastern Washington’s lone Big Sky conference qualifier Friday, as the true freshman from North Carolina ran 6.97 at the Idaho Collegiate meet at the Kibbie Dome on the campus of the University of Idaho.

Fort was edged out for the win by unattached runner Arphaxad Carroll, who ran 6.92.  Carroll, who attends Idaho, also won the long jump with a jump of 25-1.25 (7.65m), the best double of the day.

The Eagles got seven individual victories on the women’s side, led by horizontal jumper Morena Mannucci, as the Italian national won both the long jump (17-8, 5.38m) and the triple jump (38-0/11.58m).

Gonzaga’s Maggie Jones won both the mile (5:09.12) and the 3000 (10:16.44) to highlight the Bulldogs’ efforts at the meet.

Central Washington’s multi-event specialist Tayler Fettig won the 60 hurdles (9.30) and was third in the high jump (5-5/1.65m) to highlight the Wildcats’ outing at the Kibbie Dome.

The recaps for Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and Central Washington are available by clicking on the school’s name.


In Pullman, Washington State newcomers Javin Nash-Harris and Kiana Davis were triple jump winners Friday during the first day of competition at the 13th Annual WSU Open indoor track and field meet at the Indoor Facility in Pullman.

Nash-Harris, a freshman from Seattle, leaped a distance of 47-feet 3/4 inches (14.34m) in his collegiate triple jump debut.

Davis, a sophomore from Longview, won the women’s triple jump with a personal-best distance of 38-11 3/4 (11.88m). 


The WSU Open continues Saturday.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Idaho, Eastern Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, and Central Washington contributed to this report.

Friday, January 23, 2015

adidas announces Ultra Boost at media event in New York...

adidas track & field athletes Yohan Blake, Tori Bowie, Ajee Wilson and
Jenn Suhr take a run in the adidas Ultra Boost on Wall Street in
New York City (photo courtesy adidas Media Relations)

NEW YORK—Two years after the company introduced the Boost cushioning system to the world, adidas introduced what it claims to be its most technically-advanced running shoe, Ultra Boost, at a media event in New York Thursday that featured the likes of sprinter Yohan Blake, pole vaulter Jenn Suhr, and marathoner Wilson Kipsang.

The new Ultra Boost features 3000 energy capsules of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in the midsole, about 20 percent more than any shoe along with a Primeknit upper to provide a precision fit & maximum breathability, while the midsole returns energy with each step.

Ultra Boost also features an entirely new heel construction that frees the natural movement of the Achilles tendon. A carefully tuned external heel counter comfortably cradles the foot and adapts to the high extension of the Achilles. A new featherweight sock liner adapts to the runner's natural foot form, for a customized fit and feel. 

Ultra Boost also boasts a new dual-density torsion system embedded into the shoe's base. This allows more independent movement between heel and forefoot for superior stability and a smooth, more controlled run.

The shoe releases to the public on February 11th with a MSRP of $180.00.

NOTE:  adidas Media Relations contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alex Donigian & Mikel Smith honored by GNAC; Indoor action heats up in Palouse with meets at WSU & Idaho...


Donigian set GNAC records in both the 60 meters and 200 meters at the University of Washington Indoor Preview, qualifying automatically for the NCAA Division II national meet in the latter event with a time of 6.72.  That time ranks second nationally.  In the 200 he ran a time of 21.67 erasing the longest standing GNAC record of 21.77 by Mike Hinshaw of  Western Oregon in 2002.  Donigian’s time ranks eighth In NCAA Division II.

Smith high jumped 7-0.5 (2.15m) at UW becoming the first athlete in GNAC history to clear the seven-foot mark indoor or outdoor.  The previous GNAC indoor record was 6-10.25 (2.09m) by Brett Watson of Western Washington last year.

THIS WEEK ON THE TRACK

All of the indoor track & field action involving Washington’s Division I and II schools occurs in the Palouse region beginning on Friday, as Washington State hosts the 13th annual WSU Indoor Open at their indoor facility, while eight miles away, the University of Idaho hosts the Idaho Collegiate meet.

Friday’s Idaho Collegiate meet at the Kibbie Dome features teams from Eastern Washington, Gonzaga and Central Washington, while Washington State’s features several small schools, and Saint Martin’s from the GNAC.

The WSU Indoor Open marks the home debut for the new Cougar coaching staff led by head coach Wayne Phipps, formerly the head coach at the University of Idaho.

According to releases posted by the participating schools, many of their athletes who were not able to compete at last week’s UW Indoor Preview meet in Seattle will get their opportunity to compete in this weekend’s meets.


Here are releases from GonzagaEastern WashingtonCentral Washington, and Saint Martin’s (click on the name of the school)...

Track & Field News magazine has its early season lists available.  You can access the national lists here.

UPDATE (9:20 AM, 1/23) Here are the start lists for Friday's Idaho Collegiate, and Saturday's WSU Indoor Open (click on the link).

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and the sports information offices of the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Western Washington, Central Washington, and Saint Martin's contributed to this report.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Camille Moseley named interim distance/XC coach at Eastern Washington...

CHENEY--In a release posted on the Eastern Washington web site, the school announced that former Eagle distance runner Camille Moseley (left/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) has been hired as its interim cross country and distance coach to replace Chris Zeller.

Moseley will head a talented distance squad which combined for a total of 26 top-ten marks and scored 43 points at the most recent Big Sky Outdoor Championships, including four All-Conference performances. She will also coach the women's and men's cross country teams who placed fourth and sixth, respectively, at the 2014 BSC cross country championships – including the program's first individual cross country champion, in Sarah Reiter.

Moseley (formerly Gibb) ran at EWU during the 2003-08 seasons, where she set the school record of 4:30.33 in the 1500, which stood until Katie Mahoney broke it last season.

After graduating from Eastern in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in community health education, she accepted the position as the head girls' cross country coach at Mt. Spokane High School where she coached for three years. Moseley has been the head girls' track coach at Cheney Middle School since 2010, and became the assistant cross country coach at Cheney High School in 2012.

In other happenings over the weekend, former University of Washington standout Jeremy Taiwo, now training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, finished fifth in the Elite 2 section of the Pole Vault Summit meet in Reno on Saturday with a best jump of 16-0 3/4 (4.90m), after not competing at all in the 2014 season, due to an injury to his left knee suffered in the decathlon long jump at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.

Club Northwest's Levi Keller finished second in the open section with a best of 17-2 3/4 (5.25m).


NOTE:  Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Olympians Centrowitz and Rowbury run world leaders in the mile at UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE—The mile runs and 60 meter dashes were the highlights of the first meet of the 2015 season at the Dempsey Indoor as the University of Washington hosted the UW Indoor Preview meet.

In the men’s mile, two-time US Olympian Matthew Centrowitz (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Nike Oregon Project was content to let Japanese 10000 meter man Suguru Osako and Canadian Cam Levins take the early lead for the first 800 meters, before taking command with 450 meters to go, to win in a world leading time of 3:58.60, with Levins second at 3:58.75, and Stanford’s Sean McGorty ducking under 4 minutes in 3:59.34.

Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project ran a world leading time of 4:27.86 to set a new Dempsey Indoor facility record, beating the old mark of 4:28.41 set by Kenya’s Sally Kipyego in 2012, and taking four other women under the previous meet record time of 4:39.10 set five years ago by Reebok’s Morgan Uceny.

Seattle’s Phoebe Wright, a Nike sponsored athlete who trains with the Brooks Beasts, was fifth in 4:38.68.

Before the mile, Rowbury won the 1000 in 2:40.45 over Nike Oregon Project teammates Jordan Hasay (2:41.08) and Treniere Moser (2:41.50), with Stanford frosh Elise Cranny fourth in 2:42.39, and 2012 US Olympian Geena Lara at 2:44.29.

Like Rowbury, Centrowitz won the 1000 in 2:19.53, over American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager, who ran 2:20.39.

(disclosure: Because Washington's 307-meter track is oversized, marks in lap races will not count for record purposes).

The women’s 60 meter dash saw USC’s Ky Westbrook put down a 7.21 in the qualifying round, then had a stirring battle with Oregon’s Jasmine Todd in the finals, with Todd taking the victory in a collegiate and world leading time of 7.15.  Westbrook finished in 7.18, as the duo currently have the two fastest times in the world so far this season.

2012 Olympic 100 meter finalist Ryan Bailey set a new meet and Dempsey Indoor record by running 6.57 in the preliminaries, only to be disqualified in the finals for a false start.  Bailey’s training partner Joe Morris took advantage of Bailey’s misfortune in the finals, winning with a new facility record time of 6.55, the third fastest time in the world so far this season.

In other meet highlights:

—Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry, now competing for Nike, won the men’s 200 in 21.44, over Oregon’s Marcus Chambers from Tacoma; 

—American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager won the 800 in 1:50.13; 

—Washington’s Jax Thoirs won the pole vault by clearing 18-0.5 (5.50m) over teammate Lev Marcus (17-10.5/5.45m); 

—The women’s pole vault saw Pac-12 champ Diamara Planell Cruz of Washington win with a leap of 13-3.5 (4.05m);

—Former Husky Norris Frederick won the men’s long jump with a best of 24-7 (7.49m).


In Nampa, Idaho, Washington State’s Dino Dodig won the heptathlon at the Ed Jacoby Invitational and Multi-Events, hosted by Boise State University.

Dodig, a sophomore from Novi Sad, Serbia, won the seven-man heptathlon competition with a score of 5,297 points after ending the first day in second place. Saturday Dodig ran the 60m hurdles in 8.44 seconds, pole vaulted 14-feet 3 1/4 inches (4.35m), and ran the 1,000m in a time of 2 minutes 46.93 seconds.

The Cougars’ Kristine Felix won the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 13-1 1/2 (4.00m), just six inches below her PR height.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UW Indoor Preview kicks off Saturday with several intriguing matchups...

American 3000m steeplechase record holder Evan Jager
makes his 2015 season debut Saturday at the Dempsey
(Paul Merca photo)
The Dempsey Indoor facility at the University of Washington opens its doors to the hundreds of track and field athletes itching to get their run, jump, and throw on as the Huskies host the UW Indoor Preview Saturday beginning at 9 am, with the final event slated for approximately 5:45 pm

All nine Washington Division I and II schools are slated to have entries in the Saturday extravaganza.  In addition, squads from Hawaii, USC, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford will have entries, while members of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project and the Bowerman Track Club will make their 2015 season debuts.

Some of the best action on the track may occur early, with a stacked women’s 60 meter dash featuring Oregon’s Pac-12 champ Jenna Prandini potentially facing off against Pac-12 scorers Tynia Gaither and Alexis Faulknor of USC, along with world junior champs relay gold medalist (4 x 100) Ariana Washington of Oregon and Washington State alum Princess Joy Griffey.

The men’s 1000 meter run features American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager of the Bowerman Track Club in a matchup against two time world championships 1500m medalist Matthew Centrowitz of the Nike Oregon Project and Indiana alum Andy Bayer.

The women’s kilometer features Olympians Shannon Rowbury and Geena Lara, with Treniere Moser and Oregon alum Jordan Hasay of the Nike Oregon Project in the field with world junior 1500m 4th-place finisher Elise Cranny of Stanford thrown in the mix.

Lara is also entered in the mile, where she’ll face Camas HS senior and US junior 1500m champ Alexa Efraimson, who now competes as a pro for Nike, along with Seattle’s Phoebe Wright.

Canadian Olympian Cam Levins of the Nike Oregon Project headlines the mile, against WSU’s MPSF 800m champ Jesse Jorgensen, and Stanford’s Sean McGorty and Erik Olson.

World junior 3000m champion Mary Cain drops down in distance to run the 600 meters.

There’s plenty of action in the field events as well: The long jump features UW alum and Dempsey fan favorite Norris Frederick; high jump field is led by Canadian Olympian Mike Mason; both pole vault fields features the Huskies’ Pac-12 champs Diamara Planell Cruz and Jax Thoirs; and in the men’s shot, NCAA D2 scorer Frank Catelli, formerly of Western Washington, makes his Husky debut.




In Reno, Nevada, American record holder and Washington alum Brad Walker makes his season debut Friday night at the UCS Spirit National Pole Vault Summit, where he’ll face a field that includes defending world and Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France.

The link to the Pole Vault Summit is available here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Track & Field News releases US rankings in latest issue of magazine...

Kara Winger was ranked #1 in the USA
by Track & Field News
(Paul Merca photo)
Track & Field News magazine revealed its 2014 world and national rankings in its annual issue mailed out at the end of December.

Among those with ties to the state of Washington making the US top ten in 2014 on the men's side include: Michael Berry (ranked #8 in the 400, with a best of 45.05); Cas Loxsom (ranked #5 in the 800 with a best of 1:45.80);  Garrett Heath (#6 in the 1500 at 3:35.89); Jordan McNamara (#7 in the 1500 at 3:37.39); Bernard Lagat (#3 in the 5000 at 13:06.68); Jake Riley (#10 in the 10000 at 28:32.59); Jeshua Anderson (#6 in the 400 hurdles at 49.10); and Brad Walker (#3 in the pole vault at 18-5.25/5.62m).

On the women's side, athletes earning US top 10 rankings from the magazine include: Katie Mackey (#6 in the 1500 at 4:05.74; #4 in the 5000 at 15:04.74);  Andrea Geubelle (#8 in the long jump at 21-8.25/6.61m and #5 in the triple jump at 44-11/13.69m); Blessing Ufodiama (#6 in the triple jump at 44-2/13.46m); Britney Henry (#5 in the hammer at 228-8/69.70m);  and, Kara Winger (#1 in the javelin at 206-4/62.90m).



HOT LINKS

Over the next few weeks, we'll give you some links provided by the state's nine Division I and II schools previewing their school's indoor and outdoor track & field season.

The University of Washington released the first two previews of their team, focusing on the sprints and throws groups.

The Husky throwers are led by javelin standouts Quinn Hale and Carson Fuller, both of whom advanced to the NCAA championship meet, with Hale capturing a fifth place finish.

Returning NCAA participants in the sprints group include Gianna Woodruff, the outstanding 400 meter hurdler, and 400 meter man Maurice McNeal, who has battled injuries the past two seasons.  

Added to the mix for Washington is Italian Jacopo Spanò (left/photo by Paul Merca), who ran at the world junior championships in Eugene last summer.

Washington's preview of the sprints is available here; the throws preview is available here.

Finally, Seattle based Brooks announced a track & field initiative to help underfunded high school teams around the country through its Brooks Booster Club.

This needs-based grant program will provide gear and funds to 25 under resourced high school cross country and track teams across the U.S. and Canada.

“Through our Inspiring Coach of the Year Award, we’ve been able to honor dozens of amazing coaches who build the foundation of our sport and inspire young kids to run, but we discovered there were many schools in need of help in ways that go beyond the award. The Brooks Booster Club is how we plan to provide that assistance,” said Brooks Team Brand Manager Steve DeKoker.

The Booster Club will support 25 high school teams by outfitting athletes with training and racing shoes, racing uniforms, and sweats. Additionally, the schools will receive with $2,000 in cash to help with expenses including pay-to-play fees, meet entry fees and transportation costs.


Speaking of Andrea Geubelle, she recently revealed to paulmerca.blogspot.com that she has a patellar tendon tear in her right knee and won't compete indoors.

NOTE:  Track & Field News, the University of Washington, and Brooks Running contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Garrett Heath of Brooks Beasts successfully defends Great Edinburgh Cross Country 4k title...

EDINBURGH, Scotland--If the 4k distance were still part of the IAAF world cross country championships, you'd have to put him in as one of the favorites to medal in Guiyang, China in March.

Garrett Heath (above/photo by Jeff Holmes via Twitter) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts successfully defended his title in the men's 4k invitational race at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country meeting at Holyrood Park Saturday.

Competing against an all star field that included reigning world cross country champ Japheth Korir of Kenya, Olympic 1500 meter champ Asbel Kiprop, Heath took command before the start of the second lap of the 2-kilometer loop,  opening up a 30 meter lead in the third kilometer, to win in a time of 12:11, eight seconds ahead of Korir.

Former Portland resident Dathan Ritzenhein, fresh off a victory on Tuesday at the Campaccio Cross Country 10k race in Italy, was third, followed by Kiprop.

Washington State hall of famer Bernard Lagat, competing in his first cross country race since September 2010 at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tuscon, was never a factor, finishing 15th in 13:07 under cold and windy conditions that got worse as the day progressed.

In the senior men's 8k, Bellingham native Jake Riley finished second in a time of 25:33, two seconds behind his former Stanford University teammate Chris Derrick.  Riley was in 8th place at the end of the first of four laps, but worked his way up.  On the final straight, Riley appeared to gain ground but ran out of real estate as Derrick, the two-time USA cross country champ from Portland's Bowerman TC took the win.

The 1-2 finish by Derrick and Riley led Team USA to the men's crown with a low score of 30 to 66 for Great Britain and 81 for Team Europe.

In the senior women's 6k, Angela Bizzarri of Seattle's Brooks Beasts finished 12th in a time of 22:32, as Great Britain's Emilia Gorecka won in 21:26.  Team USA finished second with 61 points behind Europe's 44.

Seattle Prep alum Joe Hardy, who competes for the University of Wisconsin, finished 12th in the junior men's 6k race for Team USA, running 20:57, as the Americans took the team title with a low score of 14 points.  Yemaneberhan Crippa of Italy, running for Team Europe took the individual title with a time of 19:57.

In the co-ed 2 x 1k relay, Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts teamed with Heather Kampf to finish fourth in a time of 6:47, as England's B team won in 6:43.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Defending 4k champ Garrett Heath leads strong Washington contingent in Great Edinburgh XCountry...

The 2015 international season gets going this Saturday for several athletes with Washington ties, with the Great Edinburgh XCountry International Challenge meet at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Garrett Heath of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts (above/photo courtesy Brooks) leads the charge in the men's invitational 4k race, as he was the upset winner in last year's event, beating the likes of Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, and Kenya's Asbel Kiprop.

Added to the mix in the invitational 4k are the likes of former Oregon resident Dathan Ritzenhein, who won the Campaccio 10k cross country race in Italy a few days ago; Kiprop, who obviously is looking to turn the tables on Heath; a quintet of Kenyans in James Magut, Silas Kiplagat, Thomas Longosiwa, Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi; and Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat, who is making a rare appearance as a pro in a cross country race.


In the senior men's 8k race, reigning USA and defending Great Edinburgh champ Chris Derrick of the Portland-based Bowerman TC leads the field that includes his former Stanford teammate and Bellingham native Jake Riley.  They'll both be part of a Team USA squad that will race a British team and a European all-star squad.

The women's 6k race will see the Brooks Beasts' Angela Bizzarri, a former NCAA cross country champion on the USA squad with NCAA 10000m champ Emma Bates of Boise State and Tara Erdmann of the Nike Oregon Project.  They'll also face a British squad led by defending champion Gemma Steel and a European all-star team.

In the junior men's 6k, Seattle Prep graduate Joe Hardy, who currently competes for the University of Wisconsin, will be part of the USA squad.

In a unique 2k relay race, Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts will partner with Minnesota's Heather Kampf, as each will run 1000 meters.

USATF.tv, powered by media partner RunnerSpace.com, will provide live streaming coverage of the Great Edinburgh XCountry International Challenge starting at 5 am, pacific time Saturday morning.

Courtesy of Alberto Stretti, here is the start lists for the meet.


Eastern Washington University recently released its 2015 indoor and outdoor season preview. as they return 11 previous All-Big Sky Conference performers, four league champions, four school record holders, and a wealth of newcomers that creates a roster that sets them up to be one of the top teams in the Big Sky.

Eastern has a competitive schedule this year, highlighted by the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships, hosted by EWU at Roos Field in Cheney on May 13-16.

The Eagles are led by NCAA qualifiers Jordan Arakawa (HT), Emma Murillo (JT), and Catie Arrigoni (steeple), along with Big Sky cross country champ Sarah Reiter and world juniors steeple finalist Paula Gil-Echevarria.


NOTE:  The IAAF, Great Edinburgh XCountry organizers, USA Track & Field, and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The 2014 Mercanator Awards...

After going through my posts from the 2013 season, I've come to the realization that I didn't bother to post the Mercanator awards!

With that in mind, I'm going to recap the 2014 year in Washington track & field by reviving the Mercanator awards for the top performances as chronicled on the blog.

As many of you long time readers have noted, I tend not to post much in the month of December, as I tend to focus on my family, many of whom don't see me much during the other eleven months of the year, as I'm either blowing off a family outing, not answering the phone, or ignoring texts/emails. In addition to my job (the blog is not my full time occupation), I've been caught up with that little thing called the NFL, as the playoffs begin to ramp up.

This blog was started back in 2007 as an extension of the writing that I do as a columnist for Northwest Runner magazine, as a way to help chronicle the exploits of Washington's collegiate and professional track and field athletes.

I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to thank some of the folks who have contributed text and photos in 2014, including the sports information offices at Washington State University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington, Central Washington, Western Washington, Saint Martin's, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific, and the University of Washington; photographers Kirby Lee (Image of Sport), Randy Miyazaki (trackandfieldphoto.com), and Michael Scott; the media relations departments at Brooks, Oiselle, Nike, and adidas; and the countless number of individuals who have either Facebooked, tweeted, Instagrammed, or emailed me with tips, news, complaints, etc.  It's the readers of this blog who help keep this baby going, and I thank you!

A special thanks also go out to the media relations staffs at the IAAF and USA Track & Field for their assistance throughout  the life of this blog, as well as to the track and cross country SIDs at Cal, Stanford, and Oregon for help with credentialing.

In 2014, the blog traveled to Boulder, Palo Alto twice, Pullman twice, Eugene twice, Sacramento, Berlin, and Oakland to cover events including the Pac-12 track and cross country championships, the USA outdoor track and cross country championships; the NCAA outdoor track championships; the annual UW/WSU dual meet; and the BMW Berlin Marathon, where we witnessed the first sub 2:03 marathon by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya.

We also got the opportunity to hang out with the area's premier pro track & field group, the Brooks Beasts, and toured the world headquarters of adidas in 2014. 

That said, here we go with the 2014 Mercanators!

Here are the disclaimers: Mercanator awards are generally limited to athletes who have affiliations with the state of Washington—either they were born in this state, currently reside in the state, or attend(ed) school in the state. Also, not all categories from previous editions were awarded this year…publisher's decision.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Sprints/Hurdles:  Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry gets the nod again after winning the Pac-12 title, finishing second in the NCAA championships, and taking sixth in the USA championships in Sacramento. He ran a season best outdoors of 45.05.  I give the nod to Berry in a close call over Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson, who was fifth in the USA championships at 400 hurdles, and ran 49.10 in 2014.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Middle Distances:  There were three guys in contention for this one:  Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts, who ran 1:45,80, and finished second in the USA championships; Bernard Lagat, who won yet another USA national title indoors at 3000 and outdoors at 5000, and finished second at the world indoors in Sopot; and Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts, who started the 2014 season on fire after winning the 4k cross country race in Edinburgh over a great field, then ran 3:35.89 over 1500m outdoors.

In the end, Lagat, who turned 40 last month gets the nod, not so much for what he did outdoors, but the fact that a world championship silver medal trumps everything.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Distances:  A pair of University of Washington alums contended for this honor in 2014--Ingvill Måkestad Bovin and Katie Mackey.

Måkestad Bovin sat out the 2013 season after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury suffered before the Olympics, and then was on maternity leave, while Mackey began her rise as one of America's top middle distance runners.

Both Måkestad Bovin and Mackey raced against each other once, with Måkestad Bovin finishing third in 4:07.64 and Mackey fourth in 4:08.44 in Montreuil, France in July.  Måkestad Bovin finished ninth in the European championships, while Mackey was third at the US outdoors, and competed in two big international meets--the IAAF World Relays meet in the Bahamas, and the Continental Cup.

Mackey gets the award based on her 15:04.74 mark over 5000m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal meet, which was the 17th fastest time in the world, and the third best by an American.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Throws:  This was pretty clear cut, as Vancouver's Kara Patterson roared back from the knee injury suffered at the 2012 US Olympic Trials, winning yet another US national title, throwing a season best of 206-4 (62.90m), and placing in the top six at two Diamond League meets in New York and Lausanne.

This is the last time I'll use the name Kara Patterson, as she married Idaho alum and national class thrower Russ Winger in September, so it's Kara Winger moving forward!

If I had to pick out three standout performances for 2014 that I witnessed in person, it's A) Dennis Kimetto's world record in Berlin; B) Derrick Daigre's inspirational victory in the Pac-12 800 meter championship race in Pullman; and C) the season-long improvement by the Central Washington women's cross country team, cumulating with an appearance at the NCAA Division II cross country championship meet for the first time since 2000.

The best mano-a-mano race witnessed in 2014 goes back to the Pac-12 1500 finals in Pullman as Arizona's Lawi Lalang and Oregon's Edward Cheserek, both of whom were finalists for the USTFCCCA's Bowerman Award as the country's top collegiate track and field athlete, with Lalang winning in 3:36.34 in a thrilling stretch drive.

The 2014 Washington state track & field athletes as selected by the editor of paulmerca.blogspot.com are Bernard Lagat and Katie Mackey…congrats to both of you!

In case you're not paying any attention, the 2015 indoor season is literally around the corner!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Catching up on news from the last few weeks...

After a long break for the holidays, let's catch up on several news items we've missed:

USA Track & Field announced the squad that will run in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race on January 10th in Scotland, and it will have a significant presence of athletes with Washington ties.

Bellingham native Jake Riley, the runner-up at the USATF national club cross country championships on December 13th, along with Seattle's Angela Bizzarri, who was third at the club cross meet, will compete in the men's and women's senior race at Holyrood Park.

Seattle Prep graduate Joe Hardy, who is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, will run in the junior men's race.

The meet organizers also announced that Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts (left/photo by Paul Merca) will defend his title in the men's invitational short-course (4k) race, and that Washington State alum Bernard Lagat will make a rare cross country appearance. 


On December 12th, Washington State held an intrasquad meet at their indoor facility to conclude the fall semester training and conditioning cycle.

Using a 5-3-2-1 scoring format with only two athletes per team scoring, the Crimson defeated the Gray squad by a 108-94 count.

The Cougars will open the 2015 campaign on January 17th in Seattle at the UW Indoor Preview meet.

Courtesy of WSU, here's video highlights and interviews from the meet: 




NOTE:  The IAAF, USA Track & Field, and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sehome HS alum Jake Riley second at USATF Club XC Champs; Bizzarri third in women's race...

BETHLEHEM, PA.--Bellingham native and Sehome HS alum Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished second in the USATF national club cross country championships Saturday on the Lehigh University cross country course.

Riley, the 2012 USATF national club champ, who finished 11th in his marathon debut in 2:13:16 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October, ran 29:10 over the 10k course to finish two seconds behind 2013 world championships team member Ryan Hill of the Bowerman TC out of Portland.

Rounding out the top five overall were Hill's Bowerman TC teammate German Fernandez in 29:10, Craig Forys of the New York AC in 29:14, and Andrew Colley of Zap Fitness Reebok in 29:15.

Other notables with Washington ties who finished in the top 100 (572 finishers) included Western Washington alum Jordan Welling in 59th (30:40); Bellingham native Chris Kwiatkowski in 67th (30:45); and Seth Bridges of Club Northwest in 70th (30:47).

Zap Fitness Reebok won the national club title with a low score of 65 points, with Club Northwest 24th in the 72-team field with 770 points.

In the women's 6k race, Seattle resident Angela Bizzarri of the Brooks Beasts moved up one spot from her finish at last year's club nationals in Bend, Oregon, finishing third in a time of 19:34, as Laura Thweatt won the title in 19:15.

Tara Erdmann of Nike was second in 19:25, followed by Bizzarri, then Alisha Williams in fourth in 19:35, then Brianne Nelson in the same time.

Bizzarri's Brooks Beast teammate Amanda Mergaert was 15th in 20:07.

Other athletes with Washington ties finishing in the top 100 (343 finishers) included Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver in 17th in 20:15;  Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch in 23rd in 20:25; Gonzaga alum Lindsey Drake in 32nd in 20:34; Katie Conlon of Club Northwest in 83rd in 221:34; Andrea Garvue of Club Northwest in 89th in 21:41; and, Lana Lacey of Club Northwest in 92nd in 21:43.

The Boston Athletic Association won the women's team title with 50 points, while Club Northwest was ninth with 330.


In Bloomington, Indiana at the Hoosier Open meet Friday on the campus of Indiana University, Pasco HS graduate and NCAA cross country All-American Marisa Howard finished second in the 5000 meters, clocking a personal best of 16:07.90, the second best time in BSU history, easily eclipsing her previous best of 16:49.04 set in 2013 at the Mountain West indoor championship meet.


NOTE:  USA Track & Field and Boise State University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bizzari, Riley lead field of Washington runners at USATF national club cross country champs...

A number of athletes with ties to the state of Washington will travel across the country to Bethlehem, PA.,  for Saturday's USATF national club cross country championships on the Lehigh University cross country course.

Leading the group of Washington athletes are Angela Bizzarri (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Amanda Mergaert of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts TC.  Bizzarri, a former NCAA cross country champion, finished fourth in this meet last year.  Mergaert joined the Brooks Beasts in September, and moved to the Seattle area from the Sacramento area.

Western Washington alum and former NCAA D2 cross country champ Sarah Crouch, who finished sixth (seventh before the disqualification of Kenya's Rita Jeptoo) in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a PR 2:32:44 in October, is also listed among the entries for Saturday's race, as are Eastern Washington alum and 2013 world cross country team member Mattie Suver, Bellingham HS alum Becca Friday, and Gonzaga University alum Lindsey Drake.

Seattle based Club Northwest will field a team in the women's race, led by Oregon alum Katie Conlon.

On the men's side, Bellingham native and Stanford alum Jake Riley, the 2012 USATF club cross country champ who now competes for the Hansons/Brooks Distance Project in Michigan, is entered. Riley is coming off an 11th place finish (second American) at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, where he ran 2:13:16 in his marathon debut.

Riley will face off against a field that includes former Stanford teammate and reigning USA cross country champ Chris Derrick, along with Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky and German Fernandex of the Nike Bowerman TC from Beaverton.

Others entered in the meet include Washington alum Jake Schmitt, Western Washington alum Jordan Welling, and a Club Northwest team led by Gonzaga alums Chris Boyle and Brett Winegar.

The women's 6k gets underway at 12:45pm, eastern time, while the men's 10k starts at 1:30pm eastern.  USATF.tv will provide on-demand video of the races, which features many of the country's top club teams and individuals.  The top six finishers in each of the two races may be selected to represent the USA at the 2015 BUPA Edinburgh Cross Country meet in Scotland next month.

According to USA Track & Field Cross Country Council chair Mike Scott, the entries for the meet, which includes men's and women's masters races, has topped 1800 athletes, making it the largest meet since the 2012 edition at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vikings' Steen finishes fifth at NCAA Division II cross country championships...

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky--Western Washington's Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy WWU Athletics) finished fifth to become the second runner in school history to place in the top five at the NCAA Division II cross country championships on a wet course that had to be shortened at E. P. "Tom" Sawyer Park.

The original 6k course was shortened to 5.78k due to an accumulation of 1 1/2 inches of rain from Friday on.

Steen ran 21:29, as Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State led a 1-2-3 GVS finish by winning in 21:06, helping Grand Valley State to a national title with a low score of 50 points.

Following Steen for the Vikings were Taylor Guenther in 51st (22:17), Haley O'Connor in 98th (22:48), Austin Reiter in 126th (23:10), and Makhaila Thornton in 140th (23:20) to round out their scorers.

The Vikings finished 12th with 352 points, while Central Washington, who edged out Western two weeks ago at the NCAA West Regionals in Billings, Montana,  finished 18th with 461 points.

"She went for it right from the beginning and was right with the eventual champion over halfway through the race," said Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell of Steen, who entered the race as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and West Regional champion. "She had an amazing race that capped off an incredible cross country career."

The only other Viking runner to finish in the top five at the NCAA cross country championships was Sarah Porter, who finished second in both 2009 and 2010.

Central Washington was led by Connie Morgan, who earned her second straight All-America certificate with a 28th place finish in 21:56.

After Morgan, Dani Eggleston was the next Wildcat across the line in 42nd, two spots out of All-America honors in 22:07.  Megan Rogers then followed in 89th place (22:46), followed by Hannah Dowdell in 177th (23:41), and Erin Chinchar in 203rd (24:12) to close out their scorers.

"Connie just really showed her level of running maturity," CWU head coach Kevin Adkisson said. "She got out there and ran a strong first mile, and was well positioned and gradually moved her way to the front."

Commenting on the Wildcats' season, Adkisson said, "I'm very content with the top 20 finish. That's what we said we wanted. Our ladies had a great year overall and I'm so proud of everything we did. We set this goal a year ago and they did the work over the year to make this happen. If someone told me before all of this that we would be 18th overall I would have said 'that would be awesome'".

In the men's 9.65k race, Western Washington, making its eighth straight NCAA championship meet appearance, finished 13th with a score of 332 points, as perennial powerhouse Adams State of Colorado, led by individual champion Tabor Stevens (30:02) won the national title with a low of 69 points.

The Vikings were led by Isaac Griffith in 54th place (31:46), followed by Sean Eustis in 63rd (31:54), Tabor Reedy in 74th (32:10), and Nathan Richards in 94th (32:25).


In Cheney, Jozie Kimes and Jordan Arakawa of Eastern Washington highlighted competition in the Candy Cane Invitational meet to open the 2015 indoor track & field season for the Eagles at Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.

Kimes on Friday won the pentathlon with a final score of 3359 points, missing the school record by one point, running 8.97 in the 55 hurdles (779 points), winning the high jump at 5-3.25/1.61m (747), throwing the shot 31-0.5/9.46m (494), long jumping 16-8.75/5.10m (587), and running 2:25.38 in the 800 (752).

Arakawa, the reigning Big Sky weight throw champ, won his specialty with a toss of 62-8 (19.10m).

One notable mark for the Eagles came in the triple jump as Morena Mannucci set a mark of 39-2.25 (11.94m) in finishing second, just short of the school record of 39-2.5 (11.94m).

In the dual meet scoring the Eagles fell to Montana on both the men's (58-49) and women's (46-34) side.

Eastern Washington's release is available here.  Complete results of the meet are available here.

In Boston, the University of Portland's Tansey Lystad finished fourth in the 5000m at the BU Season Opener at the Boston University Track & Tennis Center.

Lystad, a graduate of Inglemoor HS ran 15:51.12, as Sarah Disanza of Wisconsin, who finished second in the NCAA cross country championships two weeks ago won in a time of 15:20.57.

Results of the BU Season Opener are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western, Central and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

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