Friday, July 29, 2016

SPU alum Jessica Tebo wins women's 4-mile road race for New York, but San Francisco wins team title...

EUGENE—In what organizers hope is the first big domestic meet that will eventually create a summer circuit leading up to the 2021 IAAF World Track & Field Championships, Hayward Field hosted the first TrackTown Summer Series, as Team San Francisco walked off with the victory and a check for $36000.

Despite Team Philadelphia’s victory in the climactic co-ed 4 x 400 relay, Team San Francisco took the team title by a 179-173.5 margin over New York.

Portland finished third with 166 points, with Philadelphia finishing fourth with 155.5 points.

Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Team New York got things started in the 4-mile road race by getting the win in 19:50 over Jordan Hasay of Portland in 20:08.

Tebo took the lead as the field headed south on Agate Street on the last of 4 1-mile loops around the Hayward Field area.

Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts finished fifth in the men’s 4-mile race, representing Portland, running 18:54, as former NCAA champ Sam Chelanga of New York won in 18:24.

Washington alum Mel Lawrence of San Francisco was fifth in the 3000 steeple, running 9:55.21, as Stephanie Garcia of New York won in 9:39.81.

In the women’s 800, Seattle Pacific grad McKayla Fricker made a key contribution to San Francisco’s winning cause, finishing fourth in 2:01.86, as Canadian national champ Melissa Bishop, representing San Francisco, won in 1:59.74.

Seattle’s Phoebe Wright finished sixth in the race, representing Portland, in 2:03.74.

In the men’s 800, Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts, representing New York, was fifth in 1:48.17, in a race won by Olympian Erik Sowinski, representing San Francisco, in 1:45.38.  Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara, representing Portland, was eighth in 1:52.87.

In a special match race, former Puyallup native Devon Allen, the reigning NCAA and Olympic Trials champ from the University of Oregon, won the 110 hurdles in 13.15 over training partner and fellow Oregon alum Johnathan Cabral, who will represent Canada at the Olympics.  Cabral ran 13.36.

UW alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts, running for New York, lost a close 1500m race to Olympic Trials 800m champ Kate Grace of Portland, as the Oiselle-sponsored athlete ran 4:09.92 to Mackey’s 4:09.97.

In the climactic co-ed 4 x 400 relay, Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry, ran the third leg for Portland’s team that finished fourth in 3:15.68.

SPU grads Tebo and Fricker embraced the concept of a team scored meet,with both liking the fact that they don’t have to travel overseas to compete after the national championships.

Fricker and Mel Lawrence will walk away with an extra $1000 for being on the winning San Francisco team.

The payout for the meet was $4000/3000/2000/1000/750/500 for the top six places, and the team scoring was 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, with the final co-ed relay worth double points.  Each member of the winning team received $1000, while athletes who were drafted last month got additional money based on what round they were picked.  Undrafted free agents got $500 in addition to whatever prize monies they win Friday night.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bevy of Washington athletes set for TrackTown Summer Series meet in Eugene...

Friday night, the last major domestic meet takes place at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon as TrackTown USA hosts the first TrackTown Summer Series, starting at 6:30 pm on the track.  The four-mile road race around Hayward Field kicks off the meet at 5:15 pm.

The TTSS features four teams from Portland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York, with each squad comprised of 36 men & women split evenly across gender lines, competing for a total prize purse of about $500,000, according to a release from meet organizers.

Last month, the four teams held a draft of athletes who declared their intent to compete in the meet, while the remaining spots on the four teams were filled by free agents who were not drafted.

The payout for the meet is $4000/3000/2000/1000/750/500 for the top six places, and the team scoring is 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  Each member of the winning team will receive $1000, while athletes who were drafted last month got additional money based on what round they were picked.  Undrafted free agents receive $500 in addition to whatever prize monies they win Friday night.

The first-round draft picks were  Matthew Centrowitz and Brittney Reese (New York); Erik Kynard and Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco); Will Claye and Queen Harrison (Portland) and Boris Berian and Brenda Martinez (Philadelphia).

A bevy of athletes with Washington ties are competing in Friday’s meet, including Riley Masters in the 4 mile road; Michael Berry in the 400m; Jordan McNamara in the 800; and Phoebe Wright in the 800 for Portland.

Running for New York are Jessica Tebo (above in center/photo by Paul Merca) in the 4 mile road race; Cas Loxsom in the 800; and Katie Mackey in the 1500, while McKayla Fricker runs the 800, and Mel Lawrence runs the steeple for San Francisco.

Within the last few hours, TrackTown announced a special match race in the 110 hurdles between Oregon’s Devon Allen, the winner of the US Olympic Trials in that event, and former Oregon standout Johnathan Cabral, who will run that event for Canada at the Olympics next month.  Allen grew up in Puyallup before moving to Arizona to compete in high school.

The TrackTown Summer Series is the first of what TrackTown president Vin Lananna hopes will be a series of meets around the United States where pro track & field athletes can compete in the summer and earn money without having to travel to Europe.

The start lists and rosters for the TrackTown Summer Series are available here.  ESPN will provide coverage of the meet starting at 6:30 pm.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Alexa Efraimson finishes fifth in 1500m at world U20 champs...

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland—Camas native Alexa Efraimson (above/photo by John Nepolitan/ moved up one spot from her 2014 world under-20 championship placing in the women’s 1500, as she finished fifth on the final day of the IAAF World Under 20 Championships at Stadion Zawisza Sunday afternoon.

Efraimson, who entered the meet with the fastest personal best of the field at 4:03.39, was content to sit behind Great Britain’s Bobby Clay as she led through the first two laps.  Efraimson took the lead at the kilo mark, then yielded the lead to Ethiopia’s Adanech Anbesa. 

Efraimson moved to take the lead with 200 to go, but Anbesa and teammate Fantu Worku pulled away to go 1-2 in 4:08.07, and 4:08.43, respectively.

Meanwhile, Montana prep star Christina Aragon, who will be an incoming freshman at Stanford, charged past Efraimson, along with Kenya’s Winfred Mbithe, as they went 3-4 in 4:08.71 and 4:09.25, respectively.  Aragon earned the USA’s first ever medal in this event at the world U20 championships.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jeshua Anderson notches second win over 400H at American Track League's Houston stop...

HOUSTON—Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Paul Merca), overcoming the disappointment of not qualifying for the US Olympic team, notched his second win of the series over the 400 hurdles at the American Track League stop at Wendel Track & Holloway Field on the campus of Rice University Saturday night.

Anderson, who won the first stop of the ATL series in Atlanta last month, ran 49.48 to easily turn back Nigeria’s Miles Ukaoma, who ran 49.77.

In other events involving Washington affiliated athletes, Seattle Pacific grad McKayla Fricker was third in the women’s 800 in 2:01.29, as US Olympian Ajee Wilson won in 1:59.98.

University of Washington alum Diamara Planell Cruz, competing in her last meet before heading to Rio as a member of the Puerto Rican team, failed to clear the opening height in the pole vault of 13-9.25 (4.20m), as another US Olympian, Sandi Morris won in an American record 16-2 (4.93m).

Lagat takes third at London Diamond League meet Saturday...

LONDON—In his final tuneup before the Olympics in Rio, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished a solid third in the 5000 meter run at the Müller Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, running a season best and new masters (40+) world record time of 13:14.96.

The meet, which was the tenth stop of the IAAF’s Diamond League tour, and the final stop before the Olympics, attracted many of the world’s top competitors as they readied themselves for the Olympics next month.

Defending world and Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain, who is a member of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project, won the race in a world leading time of 12:59.29.

Lagat was in a large group of about six runners that were in a pack, as Farah and designated pace makers Hillary Maiyo and Vincent Rono pulled away from the group early.

In the final stretch, Great Britain’s Andrew Butchart nosed out Lagat for the runner-up spot, running 13:14.85 to Lagat’s 13:14.96, which is a season best for the 41-year old.

In an interview with media partner Flotrack afterwards, he expressed confidence in his last lap finish Saturday, and likes his chances in Rio if the finals has a scenario where the pace starts slow, and ramps up dramatically over the last 2000m.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Prouse sets Canadian & North American junior steeple record at world U20 champs...

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland—University of Washington rising sophomore Charlotte Prouse (above/photo by John Nepolitan) set a personal best in the 3000 steeplechase Friday night at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships at Stadion Zawisza.

Prouse, who entered the meet with a personal best of 9:59.15, set at the NCAA Championships last month, obliterated that mark by nearly 15 seconds, running a Canadian and North American U20 record of 9:44.62 in finishing sixth.

That mark is the second fastest time in UW history behind Mel Lawrence’s 9:40.98 set in 2009, and breaks the Canadian Junior record set by Geneviève Lalonde of 9:57.74 set on July 22, 2010 in Moncton, Canada at the World U20 championships.  

Cellphone Chespol of Kenya won the event in a meet record 9:25.15, after being on pace early to break the current world U20 record of 9:20.37 set by Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu in 2011.

Courtesy Athletics Canada, here's a video clip from their Instagram account of Prouse's reaction after crossing the finish line:

Earlier in the meet, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson, who was sixth in this meet two years ago in Eugene,  cruised to an easy second place finish in the semis of the women’s 1500, running 4:13.12 to advance to Sunday’s final at 7:45am, Seattle time (4:45 pm in Bydgoszcz).

Mountlake Terrace’s Chinne Okoronkwo was eighth in her flight in the triple jump, with a best of 40-6 (12.34m) and did not advance to Saturday’s finals.

In Dublin, Ireland, Katie Mackey of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts won the mile at the Morton Games, running 4:25.48.  The mark was a new personal best for the University of Washington grad.

A pair of new additions to the Brooks Beasts took third in their events, as BYU grad Shaquille Walker was third in the men’s 800, running 1:46.79.  In the women’s 800, UW grad Baylee Mires was third in 2:02.60.

In the men’s mile, Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara was seventh in 3:56.91, while Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts was ninth in 3:58.39.

In London, former Husky Ingvill Måkestad Bovin finished 11th in the women’s 1500 at the Müller Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, the tenth stop of the IAAF’s Diamond League tour, and the final Diamond League meet before the Olympics.

Måkestad Bovin ran a season best of 4:05.35, as Great Britain’s Laura Muir won in a British record 3:57.49.

The Müller Anniversary Games resumes Saturday, as Washington State hall of famer Bernard Lagat runs the 5000 in a field that includes reigning world, Olympic champion and hometown hero Mo Farah of the Nike Oregon Project.

In Houston, UW alum Diamara Planell Cruz jumps in her final competition before the Olympics at the American Track League stop at Wendel Track & Holloway Field on the campus of Rice University.

Planell Cruz faces a field that includes US Olympian Sandi Morris.

Also competing in Houston are WSU alum Jeshua Anderson in the men’s 400 hurdles, and Seattle Pacific grad McKayla Fricker in the women’s 800.

The meet will be shown on ESPN starting at 6pm, pacific time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Even with Rio Olympic berths, these Washington athletes need help paying for training & related expenses...

Way back in December, we ran a post on decathlete Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo by Paul Merca) and his plight to raise money by setting up a GoFundMe account to help him train for a spot on the US Olympic team, especially since he didn’t have a contract with a shoe company.

Fast forward to July, and the Newport HS & University of Washington graduate is now on the US Olympic team after finishing second at the Olympic Trials, and has a small sponsorship deal with Seattle-based Brooks, who currently does not make specialty field event shoes.

Wednesday, GoFundMe announced that Taiwo won a $10000 grant from the web site to help pay for his training, travel and medical costs for being the Olympian that’s raised the most money—to be exact, $33,000 from nearly 300 individual donors (at the time of this post, the total has gone up to over $50000, including the $10000 grant).

In a press release, Taiwo said, “I am so grateful, and amazed, that GoFundMe is awarding me this, after being the platform and reason I could achieve my goal in the first place.” 

“It takes a village to raise a decathlete, and I am so proud to be a part of this community, and for the continued support from my home state of Washington, for making this all possible.”

“I’m thrilled that a dedicated, world-class athlete like Jeremy Taiwo has won this GoFundMe competition,” said Rob Solomon, GoFundMe’s CEO. “To attain his level of athletic achievement in the face of financial challenges takes tremendous sacrifice, hard work, and community support. Campaigns like Jeremy’s show what GoFundMe is all about: empowering people to help people achieve their dreams.”

Courtesy of GoFundMe, here’s a video from Taiwo:

At least two other track & field Olympians with ties to this state are using crowd funding to help raise money to send their personal coaches and support staff to Rio.

University Place resident Andrea Geubelle, who was third in the triple jump at the Olympic Trials, is using AthleteBiz with a goal of $15000 to help send her coach Nate Wilford to Rio as well as to pay training, medical and associated expenses.  

With help from family and friends, they’ve sold t-shirts (left/photo courtesy Andrea Geubelle) with the triple jumper’s name on the front, and a drawing of her on the back with the hashtag #GeubelleforGold.

Finally, Seattle’s Justine Fedronic, who will run the 800 meters for France at the Olympics, started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay travel expenses for her personal coach and physical therapist while in Rio.

While Stanford grad Fedronic (left/photo by Paul Merca) has a contract with Nike, she missed ten months of training and racing, due to a torn hamstring and adductor in September 2014, and did not compete during the 2015 season.  The nature of her Nike contract resulted in her not receiving any money from the company for last season, and left her on the hook for medical bills and other costs of training at an elite level.

Readers interested in contributing to these athletes may do so by clicking the link attached to their names.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Novy gets second at NACAC U-23 meet in El Salvador; IAAF World U-20 champs underway...

A bit late on this, but on Friday the 15th, Montesano native Tera Novy (above/photo by Mike Scott) finished second in the discus at the NACAC Under-23 championships in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Novy, who recently graduated from USC, threw a best of 182-9 (55.70m), as Shelbi Vaughan, who recently made the US Olympic team, won the competition with a best of 187-8 (57.20m), setting a meet record.

In Bydgoszcz, Poland, the IAAF U-20 (formerly the world junior) Championships began its six-day run at Zawisza Stadium.

Three athletes with Washington ties are competing in the meet—Camas native Alexa Efraimson in the women’s 1500; Mountlake Terrace HS grad Chinne Okoronkwo in the women’s triple jump, and UW rising sophomore Charlotte Prouse in the women’s 3000 steeple.

In Tuesday morning’s session, Prouse ran 10:06.91 to finish fourth in her heat and earned a spot in Friday’s final as an automatic qualifier.

Efraimson and Okoronkwo begin competition on Friday with the semis of the 1500, and the finals on Sunday.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fricker places second in 800m in Edmonton; Mackey runs US leading 3000 in Monaco Diamond League meeting...

EDMONTON—Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished second in the women’s 800 meters at the TrackTown Classic at Foote Field Friday night.

Fricker ran 2:01.71, as Melissa Bishop of Canada set a new national record, running 1:57.43, breaking her old national record of 1:57.52, set at the world championships in Beijing last year.

Megan Malasarte of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts was fourth in 2:03.64.

In other events, Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson finished third in the 400 meter hurdles, running 49.70, as his long time collegiate and pro rival Johnny Dutch, who still felt the sting after missing a spot on the US Olympic team on Sunday, won in a meet and stadium record 49.02

The first four finishers in the race dipped under the old stadium record of 49.89.

Federal Way’s Jordin Andrade, who is going to Rio as a member of the Cape Verde delegation, was sixth in 51.09.

Cas Loxsom of the Beasts was fourth in the men’s 800 in 1:47.05, as Duane Solomon of the USA won in 1:45.51.  Drew Windle of the Beasts was sixth in 1:52.74.

Hometown heroine and Washington State assistant coach Angela Whyte, who is going to Rio as a member of Team Canada, was sixth in the women’s 100 hurdles in 13.44, in a race won by Jacqueline Coward of the USA in 13.02.

The meet was delayed for an hour due to adverse weather conditions.

At the Herculis Meeting in Monaco, Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts set a personal best and ran a US leading mark of 8:46.58 in finishing seventh in the women’s 3000 Friday night, while her fellow Beast Gabe Grunewald was tenth in 8:59.72.

Hellen Obiri of Kenya destroyed the field, running 8:24.27 for the victory and leading two other Kenyans under 8:30.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Pro track circuit resumes for Washington athletes with meets in Monaco and Edmonton...

Now that the US Olympic Track & Field Trials are clearly in the rear view mirror, the pro track & field circuit returns, with two meets involving Washington athletes.

The Fontvielle district of Monaco hosts the annual Herculis meeting Friday, which is always one of the best Diamond League meets of the year.  If you’re looking for world record holders, World and Olympic champions galore, the Herciulis meet has it.  Here’s the IAAF’s preview of the meet.

Washington alum Katie Mackey (left/photo by Paul Merca) will try and shake off the disappointment of a sixth place finish in the 5000 at the Olympic trials, as she runs the 3000 along with Brooks Beasts teammate Gabe Grunewald, who was 12th in the 1500 at the Trials.  They’ll face a field that includes the Kenyan trio of Mercy Cherono, Hellen Obiri, and Janet Kisa, along with NCAA 5000/10000 champ Dominique Scott of Arkansas & South Africa.

Also on the docket Friday evening is the TrackTown Classic (the meet formerly known as the Edmonton International) at Foote Field in Edmonton, where a number of athletes with Washington ties will compete.

Federal Way resident and Cape Verde Olympian Jordin Andrade squares off in the 400 hurdles against Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson and 2015 world champs team member Johnny Dutch.

Others competing in Edmonton include Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker and Megan Malasarte of the Brooks Beasts in the women’s 800; Cas Loxsom and Drew Windle of the Beasts in the men’s 800; and, Edmonton native, Washington State assistant coach and Canadian Olympian Angela Whyte in the 100 hurdles.

The start list for the TrackTown Classic is available here.  Media partner will have live streaming coverage starting at 5:30 pm Pacific.


According to numerous sources in the local track & field community, University of Washington sprints coach Raul Sheen has left the school.

Sources told that his departure happened sometime last week, and was a topic of discussion among several club coaches attending the Region 13 USATF Junior Olympic championship meet last weekend at the Southwest Community Center track in West Seattle.

Neither UW head coach Greg Metcalf nor anyone from the school has commented on this personnel matter; however, Sheen’s name and bio was removed from the UW website. 


Montesano native Tera Novy competes Friday in the NACAC U-23 discus competition Friday in San Salvador, El Salvador as part of the Team USA U-23 delegation competing this weekend.

The start lists and results for the NACAC U-23 meet are available here, while USA Track & Field's roster is available here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Five with Washington ties officially announced on Team USA roster for Rio...

INDIANAPOLIS—One day following the conclusion of the US Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, USA Track & Field announced Monday the 126 athletes who will represent the country at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next month.

The roster includes 47 athletes (24 men, 23 women) who already have individual and/or relay global medals, with three who are individual world record holders, and 19 American record holders.

84 athletes on the roster are first-time Olympians, including Renton’s Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) in the decathlon, University Place resident Andrea Geubelle in the triple jump, and former Puyallup resident Hassan Mead in the 5000.

Those three join Olympic veterans Bernard Lagat (5000m) and Kara Winger (javelin) on the squad headed to Rio. The 41 year old Lagat is the veteran of Team USA, as he makes his fifth appearance at the Olympics (2 for Kenya, 3 for USA).

Whyte finished third at the Canadian championships on Sunday in Edmonton in 13.06, but had the Olympic qualifying standard of 12.85, which she ran in Edmonton on June 26th.

Other athletes with Washington ties already selected by their federations for the Olympics include Justine Fedronic of Seattle (France, 800m), University of Washington grad Diamara Planell Cruz (Puerto Rico/pole vault), and Federal Way’s Jordin Andrade (Cape Verde/400H).

Monday, July 11, 2016

Rough final day for Washington athletes at US Olympic Track & Field Trials...

EUGENE—It was a tough day for athletes with Washington ties on the final day of the US Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon

In the men’s 1500 meters, University of Washington grad Izaic Yorks (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara entered the race knowing that a top-3 finish wasn’t good enough to secure an Olympic team spot, as they hadn’t achieved the qualifying standard of 3:36.20. 

Almost from the gun, both Yorks and McNamara went to the front, with McNamara taking the field through 400 in about high-57 seconds.

Shortly afterwards, McNamara, whose reputation as a sit-and-kick specialist was well known by the rest of the field, ceded the lead to Southern Oregon alum Eric Avila, with Yorks close behind.

Yorks moved up to the front in an attempt to keep the pressure on the veterans like world championship medalist Matthew Centrowitz of the Nike Oregon Project, and Robby Andrews, the former University of Virginia standout.  

Ben Blankenship of the Nike Oregon TC Elite jumped on Yorks just before the bell, knowing that was his best chance to steal the win.

However, Centrowitz took care of business over the last 250, using a 53.95 last 400 to win in a new Trials meet record of 3:34.09, with Andrews second in 3:34.88, and Blankenship third in 3:36.18, just in front of 2012 Olympic silver medalist in this event Leo Manzano, who was fourth in 3:36.62.

Yorks faded to tenth in 3:40.34, while McNamara was last in 3:49.44.

In the women’s 5000, UW grad Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts was in contention with 400 meters to go, but could not find the final gear, as she mustered a 75.85 last 400, finishing in sixth in 15:18.60, while Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo was 11th in 15:41.02.

Molly Huddle, the winner of the 10000 last week, took the win in 15:05.01, using a 63.23 last lap, followed by Arizona State alum Shelby Houlihan in 15:06.14.  Kim Conley, who shocked the US track & field world by unexpectedly making the team four years ago, was a solid third in 15:10.62.

The Nike Bowerman TC’s Emily Infeld, who is already on the Olympic team in the 10000, was fourth in 15:13.87, followed by Dartmouth alum Abbey D’Agostino in 15:14.04.

In the mixed zone, an emotional Mackey said, “I just thought it was going to be me. I just was feeling good and so confident,” Mackey said. “I’m just heartbroken. There’s only three girls that can walk away achieving the goal that everybody else out there has seen themselves achieving a thousand times. You have to believe it’s gonna be you, with all of your being.

“And when it doesn’t happen, the elation from celebrating your goal is like equal to the devastation of it slipping through your fingers.”

Alexa Efraimson from Camas was in contention with a lap to go, but finished sixth in the women’s 1500, running 4:07.34, as Jenny Simpson ran 4:04.74 to make yet another US Olympic team. Veteran Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project was second in 4:05.39, while Simpson’s New Balance teammate Brenda Martinez avenged her fall in the 800 earlier in the meet, and took third in 4:06.19.

Gabe Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts was 12th in 4:18.73.

Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson finished sixth in the men’s 400 meter hurdles in a time of 49.41, before being disqualified for a lane violation.

Tacoma’s Dakarai Hightower cleared a best of 7-3 (2.21m) in the men’s high jump, finishing sixth, as Brand Jordan’s Erik Kynard, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist won a ho-hum competition as the only jumper to clear 7-6 (2.29m) under wet and slick runway conditions.

Hightower, who did not have the Olympic standard of 7-6 (2.29m), curiously didn’t pass at least one attempt after missing at 7-5 (2.26m), knowing that a clearance at that height would do him no good regardless of the final placing.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lagat brings 22,847 at Hayward to its feet with thrilling stretch run to win 5000m at US Olympic Trials...

EUGENE—With a screaming crowd of 22,847 at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) overcame not only Father Time, but a plethora of runners in the men’s 5000 meter run to take the victory in one of the most thrilling races of the entire US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

After a slow opening kilometer, Portland’s Woody Kincaid and Saucony’s Brian Shrader, who did not have the Olympic standard, broke away with a 59 second lap, knowing that it was their only chance at making the team.  Meanwhile, the rest of the field was content to let the duo break away, with Lagat content to sit in around 8th to 10th place.

With 2000 meters to go, Shrader and Kincaid continued to lead, but the field began to close on the duo, with the racing beginning with 1600 to go, as the pack dropped the pace to 63 seconds.

One lap later, Galen Rupp of the Nike Oregon Project, already on the Olympic team in the 10000 and marathon, went from fourth to first with a 61.6 lap and threatened to run away with the race.

There was no panic from the field with two laps to go, as Paul Chelimo and Hassan Mead were leading the group of five chasing Rupp.  

The fireworks began on the last lap as Chelimo chased down Rupp, with Mead, Ben True, Eric Jenkins, and Lagat in hot pursuit.

Chelimo opened a gap on his pursuers with less than 200 meters to go. but could not shake off Mead and Lagat as they exited the Bowerman curve.  

Lagat moved to the outside of lane 1 and shot past Chelimo with less than 50 meters to go, taking Mead with him as Chelimo began fading.  

Lagat’s final time was a modest 13:35.50, with Mead second in 13:35.70, and Chelimo third in 13:35.92, just holding off the fast charging Eric Jenkins, who ran 13:35.98.

Proving that in his case, age is no matter, Lagat’s final 400 was a lightning-fast 52.82 seconds.

An emotional Lagat said afterwards, “It wasn’t about the last lap but it was about reacting when everyone else made the move. (Coach James Li) said that it was about relaxing, especially after overcommiting in the 10k.  He said that the last 200 meters was going to be the most important, and that you’re going to make the team.”

“I train with young guys, and I don’t believe that I’m old. I’m (training in Arizona) with Sam Chelanga, Stephen Sambu and Lawi Lalang—all these young guys in Tucson, and we’ve got the smartest coach in the world.”

He noted that at last year’s Nike Prefontaine Classic, he failed to finish, and that he was ashamed of his performance, and that it wasn’t the image he wanted to portray to the rabid fans of Eugene.

Before the Olympics, he plans to run the 5000m at the Diamond League meeting in London.

He had a bit of pressure from his two children, Miika and Gianna, with his daughter telling him, “I want you to go to the Olympics so I can watch gymnastics!”

Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts finished 13th in 13:55.58, while teammate Riley Masters was 16th in 14:18.49.

Here's a link to video of the final lap of the 5000m, courtesy NBC Olympics.

While it wasn’t the prettiest way to get the job done, Vancouver native Kara Winger took third place in the javelin with a toss of 189-11 (57.90m) to make her third Olympic team.

Winger took the lead in the first round, throwing 185-10 (56.65m) then had three straight fouls before throwing 189-11 (57.90m) in round 5, and finished with a foul in the final round.

Texas A&M’s Maggie Malone won the competition with a throw of 199-7 (60.84m).

Athletes with Washington ties competing in Sunday’s finale include Tacoma native Dakarai Hightower in the men’s high jump at 3pm. UW alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts and Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo in the women’s 5000 at 4:28 pm.

Washington State alum and former USA and NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson goes in the finals of his specialty at 4:51 pm.  Nine minutes later, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson and Gabe Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts will contest the finals of the women’s 1500, while Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara and recent UW grad Izaic Yorks will run the finals of the men’s 1500 at 5:20 pm to close the meet.

The complete final day’s schedule is available below.

All except Hightower, McNamara and Yorks have the requisite Olympic qualifying standard in their events, thus, regardless of their finish in the finals, all three must go under the Olympic standard Sunday in order to be on the US Olympic team.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jeshua Anderson & Izaic Yorks impressive in their semi-final races at the Trials...

EUGENE—Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished third in the second semi of the men’s 400 hurdles, to advance to Sunday’s final on a very wet Friday at the United States Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

Running in the second heat that included Anderson’s long time college rival Johnny Dutch, and the two time world champion Kerron Clement, Anderson ran a solid 49.84, with Dutch winning in 49.20, and the veteran Clement second in 49.28.

The rain was crazy today but I worked nine months in it out in Seattle, so I’m just excited to get a day off, and I’m really good at recovering, so look forward to the race on Sunday,” he said.

“It’s a blessing. Really driven me a lot this year. This whole year, being able to come back and my coach, Mark Macdonald gave me a lot of confidence. I know I’ve put in the work, and I’m gonna definitely show it on Sunday.”

University of Washington alum Izaic Yorks looked impressive in winning his semi-final heat of the men’s 1500 Friday at the US Olympic Track & Field Trials, as he advanced to the finals on Sunday.

While his time wasn’t the fastest of the day, the Lakewood native changed things up on a rainy Friday afternoon at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, as the notorious front runner demonstrated that he can run from the back if necessary.

Yorks ran 3:47.67 to win the first of two semi-finals, finishing with a 53.39 last 400, while letting the others do the work.

In the mixed zone afterwards, he said, “I really like that round, got to play with some tactics and the rain is treating me really nice. I got out and closed that last lap hard, letting everyone know that I’m not just a leader from the gun. I can play both games. I’m hoping the other heat goes faster. The time we ran wasn’t that fast. I would like to see most of the time qualifiers come from that heat." 

In the second heat, which, as Yorks predicted, was significantly faster, Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara advanced to the final, after originally being announced as disqualified for impeding a runner. McNamara ran 3:45.01 to finish seventh, while Dorian Ulrey of the Brooks Beasts was tenth in that heat in 3:46.61, and did not advance.

In an event that was clearly affected by the rain, only one height cleared was needed to advance to Sunday’s finals. Dakarai Hightower from Tacoma, the reigning Northwest community college champion from Eugene’s Lane CC, was one of 14 high jumpers that cleared the unusually low height of 7-0.25 (2.14m), while Washington State’s Thane Pierson, and University HS/Spokane’s Noah Martin failed to clear the bar.  

In he women’s 1500 semis, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson finished third in the first heat, running 4:10.49.  Also in that heat, Gabe Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts was sixth to advance to Sunday’s finals as a time qualifier in 4:11.86. 

Looking ahead to Saturday’s action, Kara Winger, who was the top qualifier in the javelin on Thursday, goes for her third US Olympic team berth. She’s one of three Americans (Brittany Borman and Maggie Malone) who own the Olympic standard of 62 meters (203-5).

Bernard Lagat will attempt to make his third US Olympic team at 5000 meters, after dropping out of last week’s 10000 finals.  Also in the field are Garrett Heath and Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts, as they look to make their first team.

The complete list of athletes with Washington ties competing Saturday is below:

At the European Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, former Husky Ingvill Måkestad Bovin qualified for Sunday’s finals in the women’s 1500 Friday, running 4:11.54 to take sixth in her heat.

The 2012 Norwegian Olympian, who has battled a series of injuries, is looking to run the Olympic standard of 4:07.00 or faster in order to be selected for Norway’s team.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Andrea Geubelle repeats third place Trials finish, but this time she get to go to the Olympics...

EUGENE—As she did in 2012, University Place resident Andrea Geubelle (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished third in the triple jump and made her first Olympic team as the US Olympic Track & Field Trials concluded Thursday evening at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

Four years ago, she took third at the Trials, but was short of the Olympic standard, and did not get to go to London.

The Curtis HS grad, who started eighth in the order, began her series under slightly rainy conditions not unlike what she was accustomed to with a solid mark of 45-0.25 (13.72m), then fouled in round 2, and a 44-4.75 (13.53m) in round 3, which kept her in fourth after three rounds.

She matched her third round jump in the fourth round, and then improved to her eventual best mark of 45-9.25 (13.95m) in round 5 before closing with a jump of 44-10.25 (13.67m).

With the rainy conditions, it appeared that eventual winner Keturah Orji (46-11.75/14.32m) of the University of Georgia and Geubelle would be the only two headed to Rio, as both had the Olympic qualifying standard of 46-5.25 (14.15m) in their pockets before the meet.

However, Christina Epps changed the team composition, as she came through with a jump of 46-6 (14.17m) in round 5 to go from fifth to second, and most importantly, attain the Olympic standard.

April Sinkler of Club Northwest finished sixth with a best of 43-9.25 (13.34m)

“We have some studs who are going to Rio, and the weather’s not going to hold us back,” said Geubelle, in reference to Epps’ breakthrough jump in round 5.

About having the standard before the meet, she said that it gave her confidence and that she didn’t have to worry about that, but instead, she only worried about competing today.

“At the same time, at no time at all did I feel that I had it (the Olympic team spot) in the bag.  I grabbed both of these girls and said, ‘Holy cow, we’re sending three women to the Olympics, and that hasn’t happened in a while (1996 in Atlanta to be exact).’”

“I think that (having three women on the team) shows the rise of US triple jumping, and that we are capable of doing something special at the Olympics.”

In talking about her injury filled 2014 and 2015 seasons, she said that she never gave up hope, and thanked the medical team that she worked with in Tacoma.

She touched briefly on the coaching change from Kansas, where she worked with Wayne Pate, to going home to Tacoma, where she reunited with her high school and club coach Nate Wilford of the Flying AJ’s track club. She admitted that the first phase of her jump is the longest, and that her jumping isn’t the prettiest, but it gets the job done. 

“It’s just go as fast as you can, go hard, and see how far you jump,” she said

Washington alum Mel Lawrence finished eighth in the finals of the women’s 3000 steeplechase, in a personal best of 9:36.35.

In other events, Kara Winger took only one throw and qualified with the best mark of the day, a toss of 201-6 (61.42m).  Western Washington’s Bethany Drake, and Katie Reichert threw 170-2 (51.87m) and 169-3 (51.60m) while Viking alum Monica Gruszecki tossed the spear 162-6 (49.55m).

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford, who announced that this will be her final Olympic Trials competition, failed to finish.

In the women’s 1500, Alexa Efraimson was a time qualifier, finishing seventh in her heat in 4:14.40.  Gabriele Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts, who earlier in the day was a non-qualifying 11th in her heat of the 5000 (15:58.72), bounced back and ran 4:18.07 to finish sixth in her heat and move to the semi finals.

The men’s 1500 saw Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara run 3:42.58 in heat 1 to place 4th, while Izaic Yorks ran 3:42.57 and finish 7th in heat 3 to advance to Friday’s semis.

In the women’s 5000, Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts (2nd in heat 2 in 15:26.64) and Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo (6th in heat 1 in 15:43.64) advance to the finals.  Not advancing were Grunewald (15:58.72) and Angela Bizzarri (16:21.05) of the Beasts, while teammate Jessica Tonn did not start. 

The men’s 400 hurdles saw Jeshua Anderson advance easily, as he ran 50.09 to take second in heat 3.  CJ Allen of WSU was a non-advancing seventh in heat 1 in 51.75.

Looking ahead to Friday’s action, Dakarai Hightower from Tacoma, Washington State’s Thane Pierson, and University HS/Spokane’s Noah Martin are in action in the men’s high jump qualifying.  The women’s and men’s 1500 semis will see Efraimson, Grunewald, McNamara and Yorks, while Jeshua Anderson goes in the semis of the men’s 400 hurdles.

The complete schedule for Friday's competition is below.

Complete results of Thursday’s action is available here.

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