Friday, June 29, 2007

We interrupt the blog of all things track & field...


...to let you know that yes, indeed, I actually stood in line today to buy the Apple iPhone at the Apple Store at Bellevue Square!

I've anticipated this release for months, scouring over the various web sites and reading reviews from USA Today, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.

As I told someone that I was standing in line with today, the quest to get the iPhone was the equivalent of getting a pair of the limited edition Air Jordan Defining Moments Package (2 pairs of shoes: the Retro XI & the Retro VI).

The only other time I've ever done anything like this was when on a whim, I drove to Vancouver, BC to buy a pair of the first game Nike Air Zoom Generation (LeBron James' rookie shoe), which is a collector's item after the Seattle NikeTown sold out of it!

First thing I did with the phone--tried to see if it was Nike + compatible--it isn't...oh, well!

We now return to talking about track & field....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Geb breaks world record in the one-hour run


You ever try running an hour on a track? Haile Gebreselassie of Ethiopia did last night in Ostrava, Czech Republic!

Geb set a new world record in the One Hour Run. The legendary Ethiopian star covered 21,285 meters over the course of 60 minutes to break the previous best of 21,101 meters by Mexican Arturo Barrios on March 30, 1991 (in case you're not keeping track, that's 188 meters over a half-marathon in less than an hour!)

During his run, Gebrselassie also broke the world record for 20,000 meters in covering 50 laps in 56:25.98, well within the previous 56:55.6 also set by Barrios. A two-time Olympic 10,000m champion, Gebrselassie has now posted 24 world records during his remarkable career.

I had the opportunity to meet Geb in person at the 2001 IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Edmonton (see photo above)...he's really one of the good guys in the sport.

While we're on the Ostrava meet, my boy Reese Hoffa won the shot put, with a toss of 71 feet 5.25 inches, which is the fourth best in the world this outdoor season. Reese is another good guy on the circuit...several years ago, he actually threw the shot in a meet under the name, "The Unknown Shot Putter", complete with mask over face, a la pro wrestling, of which he's a big fan! Reese cracked me up last September at the US team hotel at the World Cup meet in Athens, Greece with his wit!

When I was an undergrad at the University of Washington in 1979, we did an hour run on the track at Husky Stadium as a fundraiser for the track team...my best was 10 3/4 miles, but I was getting my tail smoked like a big cigar by some of our runners, who hit 12 miles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prep talent sign NLI's with Washington State University

release courtesy Washington State University Athletic Communications

PULLMAN, Wash. - Four outstanding men prep distance runners from the state of Washington , and two accomplished women hurdlers have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for Washington State University in the 2007-08 season, Head Coach Rick Sloan announced Wednesday.

Signing NLIs and joining the Cougars men's team are Sean Coyle, a from Spokane Valley, Wash., David Hickerson and Peter Miller from Spokane, Wash., and Jeremy Swenson, from Shoreline, Wash. Veronica Elseroad-Wall, a hurdler from Casper, Wyoming, and Jalisa Williams, a heptathete from Pasadena, Calif., have signed NLIs and will join the WSU women's team.

Coyle, a graduate of Central Valley High, was the Greater Spokane League distance runner of the year for 2007. He finished 10th in the state 4A cross country 2006 championship as his Bears team took third place. He was named to 2006 Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association all-state team after running 12th-best time in state. This spring he won the 1600m at the regional meet with a time of 4:15.17, and finished second in the state 4A 3200m race with a time of 9:10.84.

Hickerson was a four-year member of the Ferris High cross country team that won four consecutive state 4A cross country championships. He finished fifth at the 2006 state cross country meet. On the track he took third in both the 800m and 1600m races at the 2007 state 4A meet with PR times of 1:54.93 and 4:13.36. Hickerson was named first team All-Greater Spokane League for the 800m and 1600m. He was named to 2006 Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association all-state team after running seventh-best time in state.

Miller graduated from Shadle Park High and was named first team All-Greater Spokane League for 3200m. He finished 10th at state 4A track championships in the 3200m after a 20th place finish at the state cross country meet last fall. Miller was named to the 2006 Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association all-state team after running 26th-best time in state. Miller's PR times include 9:14.47 for the 3200m, and 4:18.5 for 1600m.

"Coyle, Hickerson and Miller are all part of the Spokane revolution," WSU Cross Country Head Coach Jason Drake said. "They were the three most consistent distance runners all spring out of the Spokane area and we are very excited to have some local kids coming to WSU and keep them on this side of the state."

Swenson, a graduate of Bishop Blanchet, finished fourth in the state 3A cross country championships as his team placed fifth. In previous state cross country championships, Swenson finished 10th in 2005, and competed at in 2004 when Blanchet won the state 3A title. He was named to the 2006 Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association all-state team after running 25th-best time in state. On the track, Swenson took eighth place in the 1600m and 14th in 3200m at 2007 state 3A track championship and placed seventh in the 3200m in 2006. His PR for 3200m is 9:19.35.

Elseroad-Wall is a graduate of Casper's Kelly Walsh High. At the 2007 Wyoming state 4A track championships, she won the 400m title and repeated as the 300m hurdles champion in addition to taking third places in both the 100m and 200m dashes. The Trojans finished second by 1/2 point in the team 2007 standings. Elseroad-Wall also captured the 200m and 400m state indoor titles in 2007. Her PR times include 12.53 seconds for 100m, 25.69 for 200m, 57.59 for 400m, and 43.76 for 300m hurdles.

Williams, from Muir High in Pasadena, Calif., won the 100m hurdles at the CIF Southern Section Division 3 meet with time of 14.34 seconds. Williams went on to run a PR time of 14.10 seconds in the 100m hurdles prelims at the state championships meet and finished eighth in the final. She has also run a 300m hurdles time of 42.90 seconds.

"We're pleased to announce the signing of a new group of future student-athletes for Washington State University," Sloan said. "Veronica Elseroad-Wall comes to us from Wyoming and is an outstanding intermediate hurdler who we have seen hurdle on videotape and she will develop to be a very good intermediate hurdler, serve on our 4x400m relay and run the 400m for us as well. Jalisa Williams comes to us from Pasadena, California, where she had a notable finish in the hurdles at the state championships and brings other good marks across the board. She comes to WSU as a heptathlete and there are a few areas where she'll need development but that is why she's coming here. We're looking forward to having Jalisa and Angela Jensen joining our program as two new heptathletes and think both are going to develop and be outstanding for the Cougars."

Also committing to join the Cougars track and field team are the following talented incoming freshmen: Amanda Stewart, a high jumper from Decatur High in Federal Way, Wash., took sixth place at 2007, fourth in 2006, has a PR of 5-7; Ashlee Wall, a distance runner from Walla Walla, Wash., a WSU Regents Scholarship winner who finished 10th in state 4A 3200m with time of 10:59.11; and Trevor Sodorff, a pole vaulter from Woodinville, Wash., placed fourth in 2007, has a PR of 15-feet.

A pair of football recruits are also slated to compete for the Cougars during the track season. Jeshua Anderson, a wide receiver from Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif., is the national prep record-holder in the 300m hurdles with a time of 35.28 seconds. He set the low hurdles mark in winning the event at the CIF State Track & Field Championships in Sacramento and also finished fourth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 13.82. Steven Ayers is an offensive lineman from Sehome High in Bellingham, Wash., who won the 2007 state 3A shot put with a PR toss of 64-7 1/2 and also added the discus title where he has a PR of 190-1.

"The WSU football program has signed two outstanding track and field athletes as well as very good football players," Sloan said. "Jeshua Anderson, the greatest intermediate hurdler in prep history after breaking the national record this year with a time of 35.28 seconds in the 300m hurdles and we expect him to make the transition quite easily to 400m hurdles and really be an outstanding competitor there. He is also a great high hurdler at 13.82 seconds so Jeshua will help us in both areas at the Pac-10 and at the national level as a freshman. Steven Ayers is from Sehome High in Bellingham and has developed this year into an outstanding thrower with solid marks in the shot and the discus. With his size, strength and athleticism, Steven will transition to the bigger implements in college and do an outstanding job for us as well. Good track and field athletes coming in but football also contributing with outstanding athletes. These student-athletes, along with those we signed earlier in the year, creates what is shaping up to be an outstanding recruiting class for Washington State University."

Following are the eight track and field recruits from earlier signing periods this year with updates on their spring accomplishments:

Women
Amanda Andrews, a distance runner from Gig Harbor, Wash., finished fourth in 3200m at state 4A meet with time of 10:51.56
Maria Creech, cleared 5-8 in high jump from Durango, Colo.
Alexa Huestis, cleared 12-0 in pole vault from Chehalis, Wash., finished second at state 2A meet at 11-9
Angela Jensen, heptathlete from Tacoma, Wash., with PRs of 12.24 (100m), 14.09 (100mH), and 44.17 (300mH), won the 100m hurdles (14.30) and 200m hurdles (44.93) at state 2A meet
Ebba Jungmark, cleared 6-3 1/2 (1.92m) in high jump from Sweden
Marissa Tschida, thrown 158-5 in javelin from Missoula, Mont., fifth-best nationally; will be competing at the US Juniors National meet in Indianapolis later this month.

Men
Trevor Habberstad, a decathlete from Canyon Country, Calif., with PRs of 13.93 (110mH), 10.8 (100m), 22.1 (200m), 49.3 (400m), 37.61 (300mH), 6-0 (high jump) 12-6 (pole vault) and 21-10 (long jump), won the CIF Southern Section Division 1 high hurdles with a time of 13.93, and won the intermediate hurdles with a time of 37.74
Ayodeji "Deji"Adebayo, a 10.55, 21.48 sprinter from Spokane, Wash., and Community Colleges of Spokane.

Walker, Thurmond Lead 16 Huskies to USA Track Championships


Javelin thrower Rob Minnitti, seen competing for Team USA at the IAAF World Cup in Athens last year, is one of 16 athletes with ties to the University of Washington competing at the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships (Paul Merca photo)

release courtesy of Brian Beaky, University of Washington Athletic Communications


SEATTLE--The buildup to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, begins in earnest this week as three-time USA Track and Field champions Brad Walker and Aretha (Hill) Thurmond lead 16 current or former Washington track and field athletes to the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, beginning Thursday at IUPUI's Michael Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.

The list of Huskies competing includes seven Pac-10 champions, three NCAA champions, two USA Track and Field champions and one world championships gold medalist.

The top three finishers in each senior national event who have met IAAF qualifying standards will compete for the United States at the 2007 IAAF World Outdoor Track & Field Championships, August 25-September 2 in Osaka, Japan, while the top two finishers in each junior event will qualify to compete for Team USA at July‚s Pan-American Junior Athletics Championships in Brazil.

The world's top-ranked vaulter in 2007, and one of just 12 vaulters in world history to top the elite six-meter mark, Spokane native Walker enters this week's meet seeking his fourth-career U.S. national pole vault title. The 2004 Washington graduate and two-time NCAA indoor champion swept U.S. indoor and outdoor titles in 2005, and was the indoor champ in 2006. Walker, who still trains at UW's Dempsey Indoor, also won the gold medal at the 2006 IAAF Indoor World Championships in Moscow, Russia, and was the silver medalist at the 2005 world outdoor meet in Helsinki.

Thurmond, too, returns to defend her 2006 U.S. outdoor title, less than three weeks after giving birth to her first child, a boy. A 1994 graduate of Renton (Wash.) High School and 1998 UW alum, Thurmond has been America's pre-eminent women's discus competitor for the last decade, winning U.S. titles in 2003, 2004 and 2006, and earning top-five finishes at the USA Championships every year since 1996. A two-time U.S. Olympian who works currently as the director of UW‚s Big W Alumni Club, Thurmond captained the U.S. team at the 2005 world outdoor championships and the 2006 IAAF World Cup, but has been unable to compete thus far in 2007 while pregnant.

Walker and Thurmond are among nine former Huskies in this week's national championships, including three who concluded their collegiate careers earlier this month with All-America performances at the 2007 NCAA Championships in Sacramento.

Included among that group are two of the most decorated athletes in UW track and field history, including two-time NCAA champion and nine-time All-American Ryan Brown, and six-time All-American Ashley Lodree. Both will begin their post-collegiate careers this week, with Brown competing in the event where he has dominated the college track landscape over the past 12 months, the 800 meters, and Lodree entered in her featured event, the 100-meter hurdles.

Also among the group of nine former Huskies entered in this week's meet are All-America javelin throwers Rob Minnitti and Justin St. Clair, 2005 NCAA champion and five-time All-American pole vaulter Kate Soma, two-time All-American hammer thrower Martin Bingisser, and discus star Will Conwell, who boasts the nation's sixth-best mark in 2007.

In addition, two of Washington‚s assistant coaches -- distance coach Kelly Strong and throws coach Reedus Thurmond --will lace up the shoes this weekend, as will five returning members of the UW track and field team.

Strong is one of America‚s top steeplers, boasting the nation‚s seventh-fastest mark all-time in the event, while Thurmond ˆ husband to Aretha and father to the couple‚s infant son -- was a three-time collegiate All-American at Auburn, and competed in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Representing the 2007-08 Husky track and field squad will be five-time All-American senior-to-be Norris Frederick (long jump), two-time All-Americans Amanda Miller (1,500 meters) and Carl Moe (steeplechase), and sophomores-to-be Cameron Elisara (shot put) and Scott Roth (pole vault). All but Elisara and Roth will compete at the senior national level, with the latter duo joining the nation's top under-20 athletes in the junior national event.

Track fans will be privileged to a record amount of television coverage of this year's meet, with at least some portion of each of the final three day‚s events to be broadcast live on either ESPN2 (June 22 & 23, 5-6 p.m. PDT) or NBC (June 23, 11-1 p.m. PDT & June 24, 10-12 p.m. PDT), potentially including all or some of the competition by Walker, Brown, Frederick, Lodree, Soma, Miller, Conwell, Moe and Reedus Thurmond. For start times and channels in your area, check your local TV listings.

Complete recaps will be posted to GoHuskies.com at the conclusion of each day's events. For more information on this or any other USA Track and Field event, visit www.usatf.org.

2007 AT&T USA National Track and Field Championships
June 21-24, Michael Carroll Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.

Name Event Date Time (PDT)
Martin Bingisser Hammer Fri., June 22 3:00 p.m.

Ryan Brown 800m Run Thurs., June 21 3:05 p.m. (Prelim)
Fri., June 22 5:30 p.m. (Semi)
Sun., June 24 12:00 p.m. (Final)

Will Conwell Discus Sun., June 24 10:20 a.m.

Cameron Elisara* Shot Put Thurs., June 21 10:30 a.m.

Norris Frederick Long Jump Fri., June 22 4:00 p.m.

Ashley Lodree 100m Hurdles Fri., June 22 2:45 p.m. (Prelim)
Sat., June 23 11:40 a.m. (Semi)
Sat., June 23 12:52 p.m. (Final)

Amanda Miller** 1,500m Run Thurs., June 21 3:50 p.m. (Prelim)
Sat., June 23 12:26 p.m. (Final)

Rob Minnitti Javelin Thurs., June 21 5:00 p.m.

Carl Moe Steeplechase Fri., June 22 2:15 p.m. (Prelim)
Sun., June 24 11:05 a.m. (Final)

Scott Roth* Pole Vault Thurs., June 21 3:15 p.m.

Kate Soma Pole Vault Sun., June 24 10:00 a.m.

Justin St. Clair Javelin Thurs., June 21 5:00 p.m.

Kelly Strong Steeplechase Thurs., June 21 2:15 p.m. (Prelim)
Sat., June 23 3:50 p.m. (Final)

Aretha Thurmond Discus Fri., June 22 2:00 p.m.

Reedus Thurmond Discus Sun., June 24 10:20 a.m.

Brad Walker Pole Vault Fri., June 22 3:45 p.m.

* - Indicates Junior National Championships competitor.
** - Entry is provisional.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Catching up with folks at the Nike Prefontaine Classic...


After the end of the NCAA track & field championships (at noon, no less!), it was time to bail out of Sacramento and make the trip to Eugene for the Nike Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

The only question I had was how I was getting to Eugene: Fly to Seattle as originally ticketed, then drive? See if I can get my ticket changed to fly into Eugene? Or, see if I can fly to Portland, rent a car, then drive back to Portland, then fly home?

Option C ended up being the winner, as Alaska/Horizon allowed me to change my ticket at no cost!

I got on the 1:45 pm flight (delayed until 2:15 pm--yes!), after showing up at the Sacramento airport at 1:30, thanks to Randy from trackandfieldphoto.com, who gave me a ride to the airport, and was nice enough to let me put my non-essential bag in his van, as he was driving to Eugene for the Pre! I walked onto the plane with just my laptop, research materials, toiletries, and a change of clothes!

Among the folks on the plane were agents Ray Flynn & Mark Block, along with Reebok track & field promotions director Todd Klein.

Grabbed a rental car at the Portland Hertz counter, then made the drive to Eugene, and made it just in time to catch the "B" section of the Pre meet that OTC coach Frank Gagliano organized to get some last minute qualifiers into the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis.

The fast section of the men's 1500 was exciting, as Will Leer (right) held off former UW Husky Jordan McNamara in a photo finish, with each running 3:41.13, and qualifying for nationals.

Afterwards, had dinner with fellow track TV types Fred Baer & Brian Russell at the Oregon Electric Company, where we could hear in an adjacent part of the restaurant, the athletes' agents having their meeting, and discussing lane assignments.

Had to get to bed early, as I had to be at Hayward Field at 6am, as I was the font coordinator for the world feed of the Prefontaine Classic that was aired on Eurosport and Swedish TV.

The show was uneventful, but always a bit stressful, as is the case in live television, when you're working in the control truck!

After the meet, it was great to see old friends like Geoff Hollister from Nike, whom I've known for over 30 years; Gary Dobbs, who is on the Prefontaine Memorial 10k run committee, and a Seattle resident; and Cack Ferrell, who traveled with me to Mombasa as part of Team USA at the World Cross Country Championships!

I got home to Seattle at 9pm that night, tired, but happy that I made it through four days of track & field at the NCAAs and the Pre!

Now I get to do this over again in a few days...I'm leaving Wednesday night for Indianapolis and the AT&T USA Track & Field Championships!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A bit of a tear in my eyes...

This is one of the best group of people I've had the pleasure of working with over the years--the 2003 Team USA junior squad that competed in Lausanne at the world cross country championships! From left to right are Clara Horowitz, Laura Hodgson, Amy Hastings, Rebecca Walter, Julia Lucas and Angela Homan.


Watching the NCAA track & field championships last week brought back some memories of previous junior national cross country teams that I've worked on.

In the women's steeple, there was Kassi Andersen from Brigham Young (2002), back from a biking accident and a Mormon mission, along with defending champ Jenny Barringer from Colorado (2004-05).

In the women's 5000, you had a bit of the old and new, with Julia Lucas from NC State (2003), Nicole Blood from Oregon (2006), and Maddie McKeever from Duke (2006).

In the women's 10k was one of my favorite runners over the years, Amy Hastings from Arizona State (center), who finished fourth in Sacramento in her final collegiate race.

From a media and a personal standpoint, she's always been one of the best athletes to deal with, always willing to talk in good times and bad. I've been fortunate to call a couple of her races whenever she's competed in Seattle.

I got into a conversation with someone in Sacramento, and was asked which team was the best to deal with, and without hesitation I said the 2003 junior team in Lausanne, comprised of Hastings, Lucas, Rebecca Walter from Michigan, Clara Horowitz from Duke, Laura Hodgson from Washington, and Angela Homan from Auburn!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I've got an article published on American Track & Field!


Just wanted to let everyone know that I've got a feature article on Albuquerque, New Mexico's Matt Tebo in the spring issue of American Track & Field-Athletes Only magazine!

I interviewed Matt in Mombasa, Kenya at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships as part of a feature that I did on him for USA Track & Field's web site.

Hope everyone gets to check it out!

Friday, June 8, 2007

NCAA Friday happenings...

Some quick stuff from the press box here in Sacramento:

In the heptathlon, Julie Pickler of Washington State stands fifth after six events, with a current score of 4962 points.

Shelton HS standout Nick Owens finished second in the hammer, with a toss of 233-7. Adam Midles of USC (Capital HS, Olympia) was fifth at 225-0, and the Huskies' Martin Bingisser placed sixth at 222-1.

Don't forget to catch the meet tonight (8pm eastern) on CSTV.

More stuff later!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sacramento, here I am!



Many apologies for not posting recently...things have been crazy to say the least.

I am here covering the NCAA Track and Field Championships for both CBS Sports and Northwest Runner magazine.

Some quick highlights so far:

For state of Washington fans, Diana Pickler of Washington State, the heavy favorite, was DQ'd in the heptathlon 200 meter run, the final event of day one of the two-day event, for running out of her lane.

Washington State's John Casselman finished third in his quarterfinal in the 400 hurdles, running 51.88.

Wazzu's Justin Woods finished seventh in heat 3 of the 200m in 21.68.

In the women's javelin, Eastern Washington's Carolee Gutierrez had the day's third longest throws in qualifying for the finals with a toss of 170-1.

The University of Portland had three runners in the men's 10000 tonight, all of whom have Washington state connections. David Kinsella (Inglemoor HS) finished 12th with a time of 29:15.47. John Moore (Olympia HS) was 18th in 29:50.61, while Michael Kilburg (O'Dea HS) was 24th in 30:16.06.

Ryan Brown of the Washington Huskies cruised easily in finishing third in his semi-final (1:48.29) in the 800 meter run, where he's the defending national champion.

The Huskies' James Frederickson finished second in heat 5 of the 400 hurdles in 51.12 to move on.

Norris Frederick finished third in the men's long jump, with a leap of 25-0 1/2. Needless to say, he was disappointed, as he told me in the mixed zone, "In my heart, I felt that I was the best jumper out there, but the results don't show it."

The Huskies' 4 x 400m relay team of Kyle Still, Jeff Gudaitis, James Frederickson, and Alex Harcourt were never a factor, running 3:11.05 to finish sixth in heat 1.

In the women's 800m, Oregon's Rebekah Noble, a Spokane prep standout and the defending national champ, easily qualified for Saturday's final, running 2:04.19.

Brie Felnagle, a Bellarmine Prep standout attending North Carolina (hip #14, pictured above) won her heat of the 1500 in 4:19.86. In the same heat, the Huskies' Amanda Miller finished an oh-so-close fifth (top four automatically qualify for the finals), and had to watch the top nine runners in heat two run faster than her 4:20.58, so she doesn't advance.

I'll post some more later, including some photos that I shot tonight. Photos will be posted soon at http://paulmerca.shutterfly.com.

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