Thursday, November 29, 2007

Off to Hawaii!


paulmerca.blogspot.com is off to Honolulu for the USA Track & Field Annual Meeting!

The USA Track & Field Annual Meeting is the forum for athletes, officials, race directors, agents, and others involved in the sport to gather ideas, hear progress reports, vote on legislation, etc.

I hope to post some reports and hopefully post interviews with athletes while I'm over there. I am also doing some work on Saturday night for ESPN at the Washington/Hawaii football game.

In the meantime, aloha!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Huskies Anita Campbell, Katie Follett, and Mel Lawrence named to all Pac-10 cross country team...


WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The Washington women's cross country team placed three runners on the All-Pac-10 team, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced today. Junior Anita Campbell (right) made the seven-member first team while sophomore Katie Follett (center) and freshman Marie Lawrence (left) earned second team honors.

The three honorees in one year is the most in the program's history, fitting for the team which just last week finished an all-time best 8th at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Campbell and Follett both earned All-American honors for their top-20 finishes at NCAA's.

For Campbell, it is her second conference award, as she was named to the second team in 2006. She led the Huskies with a sixth-place finish at last month's Pac-10 Championships in Corvallis, Ore. Follett placed ninth and Lawrence was 13th, earning placement on the seven-member second team. It is the first career honor for both Follett and Lawrence.

"The Pac-10 on the women's side this year was as strong as I've ever seen it," said UW head coach Greg Metcalf. "For us to place three women on the team with that level of competition is terrific. Each of the three women ran great at Pac-10's and then went on to lead us to a top-10 national finish."

Oregon junior Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and Stanford senior Arianna Lambie were named the men's and women's Pac-10 Athletes of the Year after winning the conference meet. Oregon took both Newcomer of the Year awards, with freshmen A.J. Acosta and Alexandra Kosinski capturing the hardware.

Oregon's Vin Lananna was named Pac-10 Men's Coach of the Year and Stanford's Peter Tegen picked up his second-straight Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year award. The Duck men and Cardinal women both won NCAA titles on November 19th in Terre Haute, Indiana.

2006 Pac-10 Cross Country Honors
Women's First Team: Arianna Lambie, Sr., Stanford; Teresa McWalters, Sr., Stanford; Alexandra Kosinski, Fr., Oregon; Nicole Blood, So., Oregon; Jenna Kingma, Jr., Arizona State; Anita Campbell, Jr., Washington; Ali Kielty, So., Arizona State

Women's Second Team: Isley Gonzalez, Sr., Washington State; Katie Follett, So., Washington; Lauren Centrowitz, Sr., Stanford; Sarah Cocco, Fr., USC; Kari Hardt, So., Arizona State; Marie Lawrence, Fr., Washington; Kate Niehaus, So., Stanford

Athlete of the Year: Arianna Lambie, Sr., Stanford
Newcomer of the Year: Alexandra Kosinski, Fr., Oregon
Coach of the Year: Peter Tegen, Stanford

Men's First Team: Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott, Jr., Oregon; Galen Rupp, Jr., Oregon; Russell Brown, Sr., Stanford; Austin Ramos, Sr., UCLA; Hari Mix, Jr., Stanford; Neftalem Araia, Sr., Stanford; Yosef Ghebray, Jr., California

Men's Second Team: Mark Matusak, Jr., California; David Torrence, Sr., California; Kyle Alcorn, Sr., Arizona State; Scott Wall, Jr., Oregon; Andrew Acosta, Fr., Oregon; Kenny Klotz, So., Oregon; Andrew Wheating, Fr., Oregon

Men's Athlete of the Year: Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott, Jr., Oregon
Men's Newcomer of the Year: A.J. Acosta, Fr., Oregon
Men's Coach of the Year: Vin Lananna, Oregon

NOTE: The Pac-10 media relations staff and the University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tyson Gay & Meseret Defar World Athletes of the Year for 2007

Tyson Gay (above, /photo by Paul Merca) was selected as the World Athlete of the Year for 2007, bolstered by his two individual victories in the 100 and 200 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Osaka in August.

Monte-Carlo – During the celebrations of the World Athletics Gala on November 25th hosted by International Athletic Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and IAF & IAAF President Lamine Diack in the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté Monte Carlo, 25-year-old American Tyson Gay and Ethiopia’s 24-year-old Meseret Defar were crowned as the male and female World Athletes of the Year.

A three-time World champion Tyson Gay, the 2007 Male World Athlete of the Year commented:

“To follow in Carl Lewis's footsteps (the first winner of the IAF Athlete of the Year) is just a great honour.

"I think for this year (winning the World Championships) makes me the fastest man in the world, but I honestly think that I need to have the World record like some of the other great sprinters like Carl Lewis, Maurice Greene. I think that sets you apart, having medals and having the world record."

Winner of all her races this season, including two World records and a World best, Meseret Defar (#410, /photo by Paul Merca), the 2007 Female World Athlete of the Year commented: “I don’t have words to describe how happy I am.

"This is very special for me. This is very special for Ethiopian women. Those who struggle very hard and who don't have very many opportunities to achieve the highest levels of athletics. So I dedicate this award to them."

The 2007 Performances of the Year award was presented to Asafa Powell for his World record breaking performance in Rieti and Blanka Vlasic for her 2.07m (6-9 1/2) third all-time best clearance in Stockholm.

NOTE:
The IAAF media relations staff contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Almost a year later, and no check in the mail?!?


My good friend David Monti, the publisher of Race Results Weekly, has an article posted on the winners of last year's Las Vegas Marathon, Kenyans Joseph Kahugu and Jemima Jelagat, who have not been paid their prize money, according to their agents.

The full story can be read here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Washington finishes eighth at NCAA cross country championships, while David Kinsella earns eighth place...



Katie Follett was the Huskies' top finisher at the NCAA cross country championships in Terre Haute, crossing the line 19th in 20:43. /photo by Paul Merca

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana
—The University of Washington women’s cross county team earned its highest team finish in school history, as the Huskies finished eighth at the NCAA cross country championships in Terre Haute, Indiana on Monday, scoring 358 points, and one point behind seventh-place Northern Arizona.

The Huskies were led by sophomore Katie Follett, who continued her meteoric improvement this season, with her 19th place finish (15th team), finishing the 6000-meter course in 20:43, and catching her teammate Anita Campbell (20th, 16th team), who was also credited with the same time.

Following Campbell was junior Amanda Miller in 108th (79th team), finishing in 21:36, followed by freshman Mel Lawrence in 117th (85th team) with a time of 21:42.

There was a 44-second gap between Lawrence, and the Huskies’ final scorer, senior Trish Rasmussen, who crossed the line 201st (163rd team) in 22:26, which was a significant difference in the Huskies’ eighth place finish and a higher placing on the podium.

Rounding out the Huskies were junior Dani Schuster in 236th (198, team) running 23:07, and freshman Lauren Saylor in 253rd (215 team) with a time of 24:25.

Among significant runners with Washington ties in the women’s race, North Carolina’s Brie Felnagle, the 2007 NCAA 1500m champ from Tacoma, finished 11th in 20:29, and junior Mattie Bridgmon from Eastern Washington placed 64th in 21:17.

Texas Tech junior Sally Kipyego took command of the race early, and cruised to victory, winning in a time of 19:31, winning by 17 seconds over Colorado junior Jenny Barringer, with sophomore Susan Kuijken third in 19:58.

Stanford successfully defended its team title, led by senior Arianna Lambie’s ninth place finish in 20:19. The Cardinal scored 145 points to beat second place Oregon’s 177 points. Florida State was third with 236.

Rounding out the top eight were Arizona State (251) in fourth; Michigan State (321) fifth; Illinois (331) sixth; Northern Arizona (357) seventh; and the Huskies in eighth at 358.

In the men’s race, Liberty’s Josh McDougal used a strong final mile to defeat Oregon’s Galen Rupp and win the mens individual title, in a time of 29:23, holding off Rupp by one second, with Northern Arizona’s Lopez Lomong a distant third in 29:46 over the ten-kilometer course.

Rupp’s second place finish (1st team) propelled the Ducks to its first NCAA cross country team championship since 1977 as the Ducks scored 85 points to outlast Iona (113) and surprising Oklahoma State (180), coached by former Olympia high school standout Dave Smith.

Rupp was UO's highest finisher since his personal coach, Alberto Salazar, placed second in 1979. UO's other four scorers also earned All-America honors, and included junior Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (ninth), sophomores Diego Mercado (30th) and Kenny Klotz (37th), and redshirt freshman Daniel Mercado (41st).

The University of Portland, ranked number 8 in the final pre-championship polls, and bolstered by three Washington prep standouts among their top three, David Kinsella, Michael Kilburg, and John Moore, finished a disappointing 14th with 424 points.


Kinsella (Inglemoor HS) finished eighth in 29:53, while Kilburg (O’Dea HS) finished 66th in 30:51. John Moore from Olympia HS finished 169th in 31:41, running most of the way with a side stitch which hampered his performance.

Kinsella (left, /photo by Paul Merca) was in the lead at the halfway point of the 10K LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course and stayed in the lead pack from start-to-finish.

“I was thrilled with my performance,” Kinsella said. “I didn’t want to downplay my potential coming in, and it’s not like I lacked confidence, but I did better than what I had initially anticipated. On any given day a lot of people can be in top 10, and fortunately things went my way. The pace was a little slower out of the gates than I expected, which benefited the way I run. Everyone knew as the race went on that it was going at the kickers’ pace; I’m not a kicker, so to just hang around and create some separation from the rest of the pack really was beneficial. Hopefully next year I can be up there at the end as well.”

The Pilots had three other Washington prep standouts running Monday, including Justin Houck (Ferris/Spokane), who was 130th in 31:33; Woodinville’s Colin Longmuir, who finished 158th in 31:36; and Gig Harbor’s Tommy Betterbed who was 194th in 31:59.

Other significant finishers with Washington ties included Jeff Helmer (Everett HS), who finished 91st in 31:05 for Arizona State.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jessica Pixler wins NCAA D-II harrier championship...

JOPLIN, MO – Victorious by 13.6 seconds over her next closest competitor, Jessica Pixler won her first ever NCAA DII Cross Country national title in a blistering time of 20:29.1 over a 6,000 meter course, helping lead her team to a 2nd Place finish overall.

Pixler, who ran a faster 19:53 at the West Regional race, averaged a 5:30 mile pace on the National stage, and was joined in the top 10 overall in the women’s race by fellow sophomore teammate Jane Larson, who finished eighth in 20:55.5. Pixler’s time was a course record, in conditions both her and Head Coach Doris Heritage described as, “Perfect.”

“It was the nicest running weather ever,” Pixler said. “Perfect warmth” she added.

Pixler’s time was 10.9 seconds faster than last year’s nationals in Pensacola, Fl, where she finished 10th overall in 20:40. The 2nd place team finish marks the Falcons' highest ever, having finished sixth in last year's NCAA D-II, and besting their previous record of 3rd in the 1986 season, which was also under Heritage's lead.

The victory did not come without drama, as Pixler and another lead runner stumbled and fell midway through the race, due to both runners clipping heels with each other and losing their balance. Heritage claims Pixler’s soccer history to have aided her in recuperating from the fall, which is customary in soccer matches.

Suzie Strickler, who was fighting off a cold and was not even cleared by her doctor to race until five minutes before the meet deadline, finished in third for the Falcons, 47th overall, in 22:04.7. Senior Karin Rohde was fourth for the women and 53rd overall in 22:15.0, with Kate Harline rounding out the top five for SPU in 69th place at 22:39.7.

“They were the heroes of the race because they were all facing adversity and they made the difference in the end,” Pixler said of her teammates who finished fairly bunched together. Pixler added that her teammates passed other runners at the right time towards the end and surged towards the finish, which made all the difference.

SPU was without two members of the 2006 Nationals team, Mary Moriarty and Megan Wrightman, but added sophomore Lisa Anderberg and Senior twin Kaitlin Rohde to their team this season. Anderberg finished sixth for the Falcons, 83rd overall in 23:03.2, while Rohde rounded out the seven women team in 92nd place overall, at a time of 23:08.9.

The top 30 finishers receive All-American status, which Pixler and Larson will be credited with, and this second place finish has only spurred the Falcons’ confidence, desire, and determination for the number one spot next season.

“Everyone had faith and everyone gave it their all,” Pixler said. “Everyone had the confidence to come out and fight, and God was behind it.”

Adams State ran away with the team title, finishing with 63 total points, while the difference between SPU’s second place finish (178 points) and Western State’s sixth place finish (191 points) speaks loudly of the immense competition the Falcon women faced. Fellow West Region teams Chico State University and Cal State Los Angeles finished fourth (183) and fifth (185) respectively. UC San Diego, the fourth and last team to make it to Nationals from the West Region, finished 11th overall with 293 points.

Each team in the top eight overall at the National meet provides the Region with another bid for the meet in the coming year, which means there may possibly be five slots for West Region teams next season.

NOTE: The sports information office of Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jessica Pixler leads SPU Falcons into NCAA D-II harrier championships...


Seattle Pacific University, led by NCAA West Regional harrier Jessica Pixler (left, /file photo by Paul Merca), travels to Joplin, Missouri for Saturday’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.

Pixler, who successfully defended her Great Northwest Athletic Conference title at the end of October, cruised to a 33-second victory at the West Regionals in Boise on November 3rd over teammate Jane Larson.

At the West Regionals, Seattle Pacific placed three runners in the top six to claim its first regional title since 1996. Coach Doris Heritage's Falcons scored 45 points to defeat pre-meet favorite Cal State L.A. for the title.

For their accomplishments, Pixler, a sophomore from Sammamish, Washington, was named the West Region’s athlete of the year, and Heritage was named coach of the year.

In last year’s NCAA title meet, Pixler, who is among the favorites to win the NCAA championship, finished tenth.

The Falcons are currently ranked #4 in the USTFCCCA coaches’ poll entering Saturday’s national championships.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Indoor Visa Championship Series to head west with USA vs. The World at Run for the Dream...


FRESNO, Calif. - The Visa Championship Series, USA Track & Field's signature series of domestic track meets, will include an indoor stop in California for the first time next Martin Luther King Day (Monday, January 21) when USA vs. the World at Run for The Dream kicks off the 2008 Indoor Visa Championship Series.

The USA vs. The World event will feature top U.S. and international athletes competing in seven individual events each for men and women, plus the 4x400m relay, in a scored, team competition. Team USA athletes will take on a squad of International All-Stars in the first team-scored meet in Visa Championship Series history.

First held in 2006, Run for the Dream will take place at the Save Mart Center on the campus of Fresno State University. A new, 160-yard track is being built specifically for the facility and will make its international debut at Run for the Dream, a meet organized and directed by USATF's 2003 Nike Coach of the Year and Fresno State head coach Bob Fraley.

"Since the Visa Championship Series began in 1999, we have been looking for our best strategic opportunity to have a leg of the indoor series in California," said USATF CEO Craig Masback. "When Coach Fraley started Run for the Dream, we immediately recognized it as the chance we had been searching for. His history of staging successful events and drawing top talent makes this a great opportunity to join forces."

In addition to his long history of success at Fresno State, Fraley has served as chair of men's pole vault development for USATF. In 1989 he created the Pole Vault Summit, now held in Reno, Nevada. Featuring competitions and an exchange of knowledge about pole vaulting, the event each year attracts more than 2,000 male and female athletes, from teen-agers to Olympic gold medalists.

Run for the Dream this year will feature three meets on MLK Day, from high school through professional. The morning session will stage a four-way meet between Fresno State, Hawaii, Cal Poly, and Cal State-Stanislaus. In the afternoon, a high school "dream team" showdown will be followed by USA vs. The World. In addition to the relays, events to be contested at USA vs. The World include men's and women's 55m, 55m hurdles, 600 yards, pole vault and long jump; men also will contest the mile and shot put while the women have the 800m and high jump.

"We are excited to team up with USA Track & Field to make Run for the Dream a world-class event," said Fraley. "For years people have seen these Visa Championship Series meets on television, but you had to travel east to see this kind of event in person. To have a meet like those here in our community is just awesome."

For more information on Run for the Dream, Coach Fraley and Fresno State track and field, visit gobulldogs.com.

About the Visa Championship Series

Now in its 10th year, The Visa Championship Series is a prestigious series of USA Track & Field competitions featuring top track & field athletes from Team USA, the World's #1 Track Team, as they prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games. It brings the speed, strength, excitement and fun of track & field directly to fans around the country, allowing them to experience it all first-hand.

In addition to providing more than $1 million in prize money and athlete-support dollars, the Visa Championship Series crowns the male and female athlete with the top overall performance in the Visa Championship Series as Visa Champions. The men's and women's Visa Champion each receive bonus money.The full schedule for the 2008 Visa Championship Series will be announced soon. For more information, visit http://www.visachampionshipseries.com .
NOTE: USA Track & Field's Jill Geer contributed to this report.

Agents won't represent banned athletes...


Saw this release from the web site of the Association of Athletics Managers, a group of agents that represent a great number of world class track and field athletes, stating that they won't represent banned athletes:

MIAMI BEACH (Nov. 9, 2007) –An agreement has been reached by the Association of Athletics Managers (AAM) that its members will not represent any athlete who tests positive and is convicted of a doping violation for which he or she serves a two-year ban or longer. It is believed to be one of the first such agreements in any sport.

The association, whose 29 members represent virtually all of the top track-and-field athletes in the world, reached the decision at its annual meeting in Miami Beach, which ended Thursday.

Also attending the AAM-hosted industry summit were seven members of the Euromeetings group, the members of which conduct track-and-field meets on the European circuit; the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF); and representatives of the major shoe companies.

Among other issues discussed were ways to streamline meet payments to athletes and to improve conditions for athletes on both the World Athletics Tour and at major championships.

The full text can be read here...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great blog entry on Brian Sell from Larry Eder...

Brian Sell finished third in the US Olympic Team Trials-Men's Marathon in New York on November 3rd. /photo by Paul Merca

Here's a link to a blog entry by Larry Eder on 2008 Olympic marathon team member Brian Sell.

To access it, go here...

NCAA Cross Country Championships to be shown live on CSTV...


The 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships will be shown live on Monday, November 19th on CSTV, starting at 9 am pacific time (noon, eastern time).

This marks the first time that the NCAA harrier title race will be shown live.

"The 2007 Division I championships will be historic because of the live coverage," said Mark Bockelman, NCAA assistant director of championships. "The NCAA is committed to creating ways to make our championships exceptional for our student-athletes and fans. Adding live television coverage is an exciting step in reaching that goal and in promoting collegiate cross country."

The championships will be held at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center and be hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana on Monday, November 19. The men's race will start at 12:00 eastern time, with the women's race to follow. The 2007 championship will be the fourth straight held by Indiana State.

The link to the air dates and times of the NCAA Cross Country Championships can be accessed here...the link to the USTFCCCA release is here...



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Husky women earn NCAA at-large bid to nationals...


As expected, the University of Washington women's cross country team earned an at-large bid to compete in the NCAA cross country championships on Monday November 19th in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Huskies, who were fourth in the NCAA west regionals on Saturday, are joined out of the west region by third place finisher Arizona State, along with fifth place finisher UC Santa Barbara.

Washington State's squad, which finished sixth, was not selected by the NCAA for an at-large berth.

Advancing to the NCAA championships as an automatic individual qualifier was Eastern Washington's Mattie Bridgemon (left, /photo by Paul Merca), a junior from Laramie, Wyoming, who finished 20th at the regional championships in 21:02.

The complete list of teams and individuals competing in the NCAA championships are posted at ncaasports.com/crosscountry, or you may go here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quick stuff from the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships...

The University of Washington's Anita Campbell approaches the finish line at the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships Saturday in Springfield, Oregon. /photo by Paul Merca

Springfield, Oregon--Stanford's Teresa McWalters was the individual winner of the NCAA West Regional women's cross country race today, while hometown favorite Galen Rupp of the University of Oregon took top honors in the men's race.

The women's team race went to form, as Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State and Washington earned the top four spots.

The top two teams automatically earn berths to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 19th. However, it's expected that Arizona State and the Huskies will earn at-large berths to the nationals, as both teams have been in the top-10 in the USTFCCCA coaches' poll for most of the season.

The Huskies were led by Canadian junior Anita Campbell, who finished fourth.

In the men's race, Portland's David Kinsella, a Washington state high school product took the early lead, but was overtaken by Rupp, and Pac-10 harrier champ Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott. Kinsella fought back late in the race to overtake Kiptoo-Biwott for second.

Oregon, and the University of Portland, bolstered by Kinsella, and two other Washington state high school products who placed in the top ten, John Mooore, and Michael Kilgore, earned the two automatic berths to the NCAA championships.

More details later, when I return to Seattle.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NCAA West Regional cross country championships are Saturday in Springfield, Oregon...

Galen Rupp (l) and reigning Pac-10 harrier champ Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott lead #1 ranked Oregon into Saturday's NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships in Springfield, Oregon. /photo by Paul Merca

The cross country season reaches a head for the Washington, Washington State, Eastern Washington & Gonzaga men’s and women’s teams this weekend as they compete at NCAA West Regionals in Springfield, Ore. Regional finishes will determine which teams advance to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Eugene-Springfield is one of nine host sites across the nation that automatically advance the top two team finishers and top four individuals from non-qualifying teams to the NCAA Championships, scheduled for Monday, November 19 at Indiana State University’s LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Another 13 at-large teams and two at-large individuals will be added from across the nation to the 31-team, 255-runner M&W NCAA fields on the evening of Sun., Nov. 11. At-large team selection criteria is based on teams’ head-to-head records against other actual and potential NCAA qualifiers.

The Husky women’s team will be looking to secure its first NCAA bid since 2004, and will be among the top contenders in the loaded regional field. The men will be aiming for their fourth appearance in the past five years. Oregon, which boasts the No. 1-ranked men and No. 2 women, hosts the event at the Springfield Country Club.

Stanford’s Nef Araia is the returning men’s regional champion and the top NCAA returnee from last year after he took second in the collegiate finale. Oregon’s Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwoot is the reigning Pac-10 champion and teammate Galen Rupp is the American collegiate record-holder at 10,000-meters on the track, the same distance as the regionals.

Seniors Andrew Jones and Alex Grant lead the WSU men. Junior Drew Polley, sophomore Daniel Geib and redshirt sophomore Sam Ahlbeck are projected scorers for WSU, and rounding out the squad are redshirt sophomore Dominic Smargiassi and redshirt freshman Luke Lemenager

For the Huskies, coach Greg Metcalf projects running redshirt freshman Riley Booker, juniors Jon Harding and Caleb Knox; freshman Max O’Donoghue-McDonald; seniors Carl Moe & Adam Shimer; and sophomores Kelly Spady & Colton Tully-Doyle (one from this group is traveling as an alternate).

There is little room to argue at the moment that the women’s West Region is anything but the best in the country. One need look no further than the current rankings, which show four West teams in the top-seven while no other region has more than one. Top-ranked Stanford is followed by No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State, and No. 7 Washington. Also competing are No. 22 Northern Arizona, No. 27 UC Santa Barbara, the Big West champions, and West Coast Conference champions Portland.

The Husky women set a record by placing three runners on the All-Pac-10 team, led by first teamer Anita Campbell, who placed sixth in 20:10. Katie Follett earned second team honors with her ninth place finish, and Mel Lawrence joined Follett on the second team by virtue of her 13th-place run in her first Pac-10’s. Follett made the biggest leap from the previous year, going 79th to 9th. Amanda Miller also had a big day, finishing 15th, just one spot out of the conference honors.

Also projected to run for the Dawgs in Springfield are senior Trisha Rasmussen, freshman Lauren Saylor , and junior Dani Schuster

The Cougars are led by senior Isley Gonzalez, sophomore Sara Trané, and junior Meghan Leonard, who all placed in the top-25 at the 2007 Pacific-10 Championships. Senior Collier Lawrence looks to improve on recent performances, while freshman Ashlee Wall and sophomores Lisa Egami and Chelsea VanDeBrake complete the women's line-up.

Stanford claimed its eighth-straight regional title last year then followed up with an NCAA Championship victory. Also advancing out of the region was UCSB (9th at NCAA’s) and Arizona State (13th at NCAA’s). Stanford boasts the two prohibitive individual favorites in two-time defending Pac-10 and Regional Champion Arianna Lambie, and Teresa McWalters, runner-up at Pac-10’s.

Eastern has three athletes with a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Paul Limpf, Mattie Bridgmon and Samantha Modderman all earned All-Big Sky Conference honors by finishing in the top 10 at the BSC Championships on Oct. 27.

Limpf is a junior from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash. and graduated in 2005. Bridgmon is a junior from Laramie, Wyo., who graduated from Laramie HS in 2005, while Modderman is a senior from Walker, Minn., who graduated from Kenowa Hills HS '04 and transferred from Cedarville Univ.

"Paul Limpf, Mattie Bridgmon, and Samantha Modderman hope to be one of the top four individuals and qualify for the National Championships," said EWU cross country coach Chris Zeller. "More teams will qualify in the men's race, which will help Paul's chances a bit. All three are incredibly fit and feeling good right now."

The Bulldogs of Gonzaga will be led by Colby Litzenberger (20th), and Molly Funk(30th), who were the top finishers in the West Coast Conference meet two weeks ago.

For the first posting of results, please visit www.ncaasports.com.

NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, the University of Oregon & the NCAA all contributed to this report.

Mike Scott's analysis of the NCAA D-I coaches' poll...

Here's a link to Mike Scott's analysis of the NCAA Division I women's cross country poll, as voted on by selected members of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

http://miscott.home.att.net/wxcanal/xc2007/wxc1105.htm


This weekend is NCAA regionals weekend, with nine regional meets around the country, including the West regionals in Springfield, Oregon, hosted by the University of Oregon.

The top two teams, plus the top four individuals, automatically advance to the NCAA Championships on November 19th in Terre Haute, Indiana.

A preview of the NCAA West Regionals, featuring the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, and Gonzaga will be up later today.

Funeral arrangements for Ryan Shay, courtesy Walt Murphy...


Ryan Shay (l) finishing at the 2005 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. /photo by Paul Merca


For those of you interested, here's a link to some information on Ryan Shay's funeral on Sunday, November 11th in Michigan, courtesy of Walt Murphy, posted on Larry Eder's blog, RunBlogRun.com.

Larry is the publisher of American Track & Field, and runs the Running Network, which is a group of several regional & national running publications, including Northwest Runner.

Click here for more information on Ryan Shay's funeral...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ryan Shay--May 4, 1979 - Nov. 3, 2007

Ryan Shay in action at the 2005 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. /photo by Paul Merca

Like many people in the running community who were in attendance on Saturday, or who followed the progress of the runners at the US Olympic Team Trials-Men's Marathon in New York, I was positively stunned at the passing of Ryan Shay at the 5.5 mile mark of the race.

My race day in New York started off well. I opted not to shoot the start at Rockefeller Center, but instead walked from the Sheraton Manhattan to Tavern on the Green to get myself set up.

Once the race got started, I ran with my camera and saw some familiar faces from Osaka! It was cool hanging out during the early part of the race with Adam & Kara Goucher, who were getting hassled by the overzealous NYC cops for not having credentials...great shooting the breeze.

I had to leave them as the runners entered the west side of Central Park to run to the east side and shoot them. After I left Adam & Kara, ran into Bernard Lagat & his coach James Li, and Sean Hartnett of Track & Field News (one of my cohorts in Osaka at the Hotel Chuo). We all found out at the same time what happened to Ryan...it was spooky when we saw the ambulance leading the pace truck around the 10k mark.

As the race progressed it was more running from one side of the park to the other to catch the progress of the race. The race between spectators from one side of the park to the other was just as fun to watch as the race on the pavement of Central Park! I should've turned on my iPod Nano and counted my mileage running with my camera.

About 1 1/2 hours into the race, I ran into Dena Evans, who went to Mercer Island HS, then ran & coached at Stanford, and was running the NYCM the next day. She helped coach Alicia (Craig) Shay, Ryan's wife at Stanford. I felt bad that I had to break the news to Dena about Ryan.

After the field finished the race, and did the post race interviews with Mike Sayenko and Sean Sundwall for Northwest Runner, I went inside Tavern on the Greem for the post-race press conference, which was quite awkward.

Apparently the top 3 guys were told about what happened to Ryan (turned out only Ryan Hall & Dathan Ritzenhein knew, but not Brian Sell), but were asked not to say anything until Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of the NYRR made the announcement; however, Ryan Hall started to say in his opening statement words to the effect of his sorrow over what happened when his mike conveniently went out.

The press conference went on for close to 30 minutes, until someone asked the runners to comment on Shay...Richard Finn, the NYRR pr guy tried to deflect the question away, but Ryan Hall answered it anyway...and that's when Mary Wittenberg made the announcement.

The video of the press conference is here...


While the team members were talking, I was going thru my photos to see if perchance I had any shots of Shay (I didn't think I did).

Although I'd known about his death for at least 90 min., I didn't want to call back to Seattle until there was official confirmation. After Mary announced it, I was on the phone to Martin Rudow, as we had some decisions to make on how we were going to do the story...

Here's part of what I wrote:

I worked with Ryan as a member of two United States national teams, as Team USA’s media liaison at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Edmonton in 2005, and at this year’s World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya.

Ryan missed his flight from Arizona to Edmonton, so he was routed through Seattle. On the Horizon Air plane for the short flight to the Canadian city, we spent the time talking about his passion for Notre Dame, where he graduated in 2001 with two degrees in economics and computer applications, and its football team, which had beaten the University of Washington in Seattle the week before 36-17 in coach Tyrone Willingham’s first game against the Irish since he was fired at the end of the 2004 season.

Here's a photo of Team USA after our sightseeing tour of Mombasa, Kenya. Ryan is standing, sixth from the left. /photo by Paul Merca

After picking up our luggage and walking to the IAAF family holding area at the airport, one of the volunteers escorted us to a courtesy car for a ride to our hotel, explaining that we would have to wait for two more passengers. The two passengers turned out to be 2004 Olympic 1500 and 5000 meter winner Hicham El Guerrouj and his agent. Shay was genuinely thrilled to sit and talk to the greatest middle distance runner of the current generation.

In Edmonton, Shay finished fifteenth in 1:03:13, the highest placing by an American in that event.
This past spring, Shay was one of the leaders of an admittedly depleted Team USA cross country squad that traveled to Mombasa, Kenya for the world championships, where he finished 99th over the 12k distance, running 41:12 over extremely hot and humid conditions.

In Mombasa, I was extremely impressed not only with the way he helped counsel and interacted with members of the junior men’s team, but also with the rest of the Team USA squad, which had may new faces competing for the first time on the international stage.


For every member of that team, the trip to Kenya was probably the most eye-opening experience of our lifetime, as we went through one of the poorest parts of Mombasa on the team bus on our visit to St Peter’s The Rock School for special needs students the day before the meet, where the team presented the students with shoes collected before the trip.


A few hours after competing, Ryan, Matt Gabrielson, and I sat in the hotel lobby talking about our week in Kenya, and how it had opened our eyes. We all agreed that we wished we had brought with us basic necessities like toothbrushes, personal hygiene and school supplies to give to the kids.

Summing up our trip, Shay said that every one of us should be grateful for the things we have in our lives.

I am grateful to have known Ryan Shay.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Here's how the guys from the state of Washington did at the US Olympic Marathon Trials...


NEW YORK--2007 University of Washington standout Mike Sayenko (above, /photo by Paul Merca) was the top finisher among runners with Washington state ties competing at the US Olympic Trials-Men's Marathon Saturday in New York's Central Park.

Sayenko crossed the finish in a personal best time of 2:18.35, good for 29th place.

Ten seconds and one place behind Sayenko was former Mercer Island High School standout Donnie Fellows, also in a personal best.

Sayenko & Fellows were two of 39 men under 2:20, the most sub-2:20 in the race since the 1980 marathon trials in Buffalo.

Sean Sundwall of Snoqualmie, who qualified for the Olympic Trials marathon four weeks earlier at the St George marathon in Utah, finished 90th in 2:30:41.

Mike Heidt from Shoreline did not finish, dropping out sometime after the 30-kilometer mark.

After the race, Sayenko said, “It was a great experience. It’s so loud out here on the west side. It really got the adrenalin going. I felt good. I loved Central Park—it's a good course”.

“I wanted to go out conservative and pick people off. I was running on pace—5:10 to 5:15 pace for the first half. I knew that people were going to come back.”



Sundwall (above, /photo by Paul Merca), who qualified for this race only four weeks earlier at the St. George Marathon in Utah with a personal best of 2:18:55, said, “Normally I would be disappointed with my time, but this is a chance of a lifetime for me. It was a thrill to be running with the nation’s best. I’m 34 years old, and this is probably it for me.”

“I really started to feel (the effects of the St George marathon) at about 17 miles. During the four-week recovery after the race (in which he qualified with a personal best of 2:18:55), I felt ok. On the last lap, I knew I was in trouble.”

When asked on preparing for the Trials with miniscule recovery time, he said that he ran about 75 miles in the first week, then dropped the mileage down to the mid-50s.

“I did a series of speed workouts, and I felt fine. I’m getting too old to do two marathons in four weeks.”

Sayenko and Sundwall each posted blogs describing the run to the Trials. You can read Mike's blog here, and Steve's here...

Paula Radcliffe wins the New York Marathon...


NEW YORK--Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder in the marathon, proved that she is well on her way back to elite world class form, winning Sunday's ING New York City Marathon in 2:23:09.

Radcliffe repelled the challenge of Ethiopia's Gete Wami, who won the real-Berlin Marathon a few weeks ago, over the final two kilometers.

The Brit had a one-second lead over Wami at 40 kilometers (2:15:40), and extended it for a 23-second advantage.

Wami finished second in 2:23:32, while defending NYC marathon champ Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia was third in 2:26:13.

Elva Dryer was the top American finisher, running 2:35:15 for sixth place.

In the men’s race, Kenya Martin Lel outkicked Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco, 2:09:04 to 2:09:16, surviving a war of attrition which cut the field from a group of 17 at the halfway point in 1:05:45.

The two had dueled similarly in April at London, when Lel sprinted past Goumri (in his first-ever marathon) to win by three seconds.

This time Lel didn’t wait for the last 50 metres. With 400m or so to go, he accelerated swiftly and opened an eight-meter lead which he held to the line. More than two minutes behind Lel’s 2:09:04 and Goumri’s 2:09:16, Ramaala straggled in 2:11:25, with Italy’s Olympic champion Stefano Baldini charging up from tenth at 30km to grab fourth in 2:11:58.

Chris Charles of Seattle was the top finisher from Washington state, running 2:34:53, for 48th place.

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong finished in 2:46:43.

The IAAF contibuted parts of this report.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What should have been a celebration...

America's marathon team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (from left): Brian Sell (3rd), Ryan Hall (1st), and Dathan Ritzenhein (2nd). /photo by Paul Merca

...turned to tragedy as Ryan Shay passed away during Saturday's running of the US Olympic Team Trials-Men's Marathon in New York.

Most of the major media and sports outlets online have full details on Shay's death, so I won't repeat what is known.

I just arrived in Seattle a short while ago from the Trials in New York, and am under a tight deadline for Northwest Runner magazine. Therefore, I will hold my thoughts and observations until Sunday.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Poll results--US Olympic marathon trials...

Abdi Abdirahman is your favorite to make the US Olympic team in the marathon. /photo by Paul Merca

NEW YORK--The votes are in...Abdi Abdirahman, aka "Black Cactus" is your overwhelming favorite to earn one of the three spots on the Olympic marathon team when they run Saturday morning.

Brian Sell & Ryan Hall received the next highest votes, followed by 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Shay.

We race Saturday morning...thanks for voting!

Notes from New York City the day before the US Olympic Marathon Trials...

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong smiles as he hands out Live Strong shirts to customers at the NikeTown in New York /photo by Paul Merca

NEW YORK--Today was the last real media day in the buildup to Saturday’s US Olympic Marathon Trials and ING New York City Marathon on Sunday.

As blogged earlier, Paula Radcliffe spoke to the press this afternoon at Tavern on the Green, next to the finish line at Central Park.

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong made an appearance at the NikeTown near Central Park, where he handed out Live Strong shirts to NYC Marathon entrants. Armstrong is one of the 38000 that are entered in the race.

I had an opportunity to check out and run over part of the Central Park criterium course that will be used to select the US Olympic team. The rolling terrain through the park may make things interesting.

Just heard the weather forecast for Saturday, and looks like a chance of showers with temperatures in the low 50s. The part that may concern the runners, as noted in a brief conversation I had with Keith and Kevin Hanson, the coaches of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, is the wind. The wind may affect the race strategy, depending on the individuals.


Dinner tonight was in the Times Square area. It's changed considerably since I was last in the area in 1991.

We start things up at 7:30 am eastern time, with live coverage on NBCSports.com. A highlight show will be aired on NBC Sports.

Paula Radcliffe press conference highlights...


Paula Radcliffe talks about her preparations for Sunday's ING New York City Marathon Friday at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. /photo by Paul Merca


Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, the current world record holder in the marathon, spoke to members of the media today at Tavern on the Green in advance of Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon.

Here are some of the highlights:

On whether or not she will run another marathon before Beijing: I don’t know. I will have to play it by ear.

On combining motherhood and the demands of being a world class athlete:
So far, I am really enjoying combining the two. One important thing with me is that the happier I am, the better I run. I’ve been very lucky, as (husband) Gary Lough is really good with (Isla, born on January 17th). She’s definitely a daddy’s girl, and she’s used to traveling a lot. You have to be organized a lot with her, but the benefit is that you spend a lot less time worrying about the race.

On recovering after the pregnancy: It took me a little longer than I anticipated, because I had an injury afterwards. Having said that, I felt stronger coming back afterwards. Stamina wise, I feel a lot better, and feel like I can run longer than before.

On whether she will be cautious in the early part of Sunday’s race: I doubt it. I feel prepared to run well over the marathon distance, so I will go and run my race.

On the field for Sunday’s race: I would equate the field to that of a major championship race. With the exception of the Japanese and Deena (Kastor), this is a great stage to make a return.

On whether or not she feels recharged after the pregnancy break: Unfortunately, it’s been a longer break than I had planned because of the injury (a stress fracture of the sacrum), but at the same time, the break has refreshed my desire to come back to racing. It’s given my body a bit of down time, which isn’t a bad thing either. My core is stronger than it’s ever been.

On her pregnancy: I was really lucky. I had a great pregnancy. I ran through the first five months. Up until then, I was running twice a day. After that, the priority changed from getting the number one benefit of training to making sure the baby was fine. From seven months on, I ran about every other day based on how I felt.

On not having pacemakers in the women’s elite race: With the quality of the field, I don’t think it will make much difference. In men’s racing, the pacemakers go a long ways, but it’s very rare we have pacemakers unless it’s a mixed race. With the field as strong as it is, people are going to be listening to each other more.

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