Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will the men's 400 be the best race of the Pac-10 championships?

Last month, Washington’s Jordan Boase made the Pac-10 conference 400 meter dash even more interesting with his 44.82 run at the Sun Angel Classic.

Besides the victory, and claiming the third fastest time in the country (as of this writing), he took down a number of key competitors, including Arizona State’s Three J’s (Joel Phillip, Jimmie Gordon, and Justin Kremer).

Add to the mix USC’s Lionel Larry, who made the World Championship team last year, and Arizona’s Bobby McCoy, you have a race that could potentially be as good, if not better, than the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in June.

Here’s the low-down on each of the six runners, courtesy of the University of Washington, University of Southern California, University of Arizona and Arizona State University sports information offices:

Jordan Boase (Washington)-- Boase used the April 12th Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz. to shock the track world with a NCAA-leading time of 44.82. The time came against a strong field including ASU's Joel Phillip who placed just ahead of Boase in second at NCAA indoors. Boase broke the school-record outdoors, held for eight years by UW legend Ja'Warren Hooker, who previously held every significant sprints record. His time also tied 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner for second-fastest in the world this year, though Wariner has since retaken the world lead.

Boase backed up his 400m time at the UW-WSU dual, running solo for the first time since the Sun Angel and clocking an NCAA-leading 20.37 in the 200-meters. The run broke Hooker's dual meet record, and was just 0.14 seconds shy of Hooker's school record. Boase has achieved the U.S. Olympic Trials "A" standard in the 400-meters, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Olympic trials this summer in Eugene, where he figures to have a legitimate shot at making at least the relay pool.

Lionel Larry (USC)-- Senior Lionel Larry ran his first 400m race of the season on April 20 at Mt. SAC and finished third in the Invitational 400m race as the only collegian with a time of 46.24. Larry finished second in the 400m race at the 2007 NCAA Championships (by .02) and has a PR of 44.67 in the event, which ranks third all-time at USC. He set that mark in the semi-finals at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last June, where he placed third.

He was a four-time winner at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet, running a 45.04 time in the 400m race (the fourth-fastest time in the world this season), the anchor on both the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams and capturing the 200m dash in his first 200m race as a Trojan with a regional-qualifying time of 20.65.

Bobby McCoy (Arizona)—The senior from Houston, Texas ran 45.60 in Tuscon in the annual dual meet against the Arizona State Sun Devils on May 3rd. He preceded that performance with a strong second leg in UA’S 39.51 victory in the 4 x 100 meter relay.

If that wasn’t enough, McCoy made jaws drop as he pulled off an incredible comeback in his anchor leg of the 4 x 400-meter relay in which his competitor from ASU had nearly twenty steps on him before McCoy even had the baton. McCoy ran a split of 44.60 seconds to pass ASU on the home stretch and the team finished with a national top-20 time of 3:07.88. That time would have given him the fastest time in the country had it been an open 400m.

“I saw my teammates give it their all and so I came out with a lot of heart and ran to the best of my ability,” McCoy said after the race. “It just brings a lot confidence that I’m capable of those times and now I just have to go out and run them in an open race.”

Joel Phillip (Arizona State)—Philip, the junior from St. Paul’s, Grenada, ran his season best time of 45.34 in finishing second to Boase at the Sun Angel meet in April. His time is currently the fourth fastest time on the current NCAA list.

Phillip has also run 51.44 in the 400 hurdles, which makes him a factor in that event as well. Though he did not compete in that event at the Pac-10 Championships last week, he has scored 6799 in the decathlon, winning the NJCAA title for Central Arizona CC last year.

Phillip was second in the NCAA indoor meet, running 46.27, and ran a 45.47 anchor leg on the Sun Devils’ 4 x 400 relay team that placed third in March.

Jimmie Gordon (Arizona State)—Gordon, a senior from Arlington, Texas, has laid low since his fifth place finish at the Sun Angel race, where he ran 46.78. He improved his season best to 46.60 in finishing 3rd in the dual meet against Arizona.

In the Arizona dual meet on May 3rd, he finished sixth in the 200 meters, running 21.54.

Has a personal best of 46.29, set in the semi-finals of last year’s NCAA Championships in Sacramento.

Gordon finished eighth in the NCAA indoor 400, running 47.47, and ran the leadoff leg for the Sun Devils on their 4 x 400 relay team that placed third.

Justin Kremer (Arizona State)—Like teammate Jimmie Gordon, the sophomore from Grand Canyon, Arizona has laid low since the Sun Angel race, where he ran 46.26, a time currently ranked #16 on the NCAA performance list heading into the conference championships.

He set his personal best in the 200 meters of 21.17 on May 3rd in the Arizona dual meet, where he finished third.

Kremer ran a 46.02 third leg for the Sun Devils on their 4 x 400 relay team that placed third.

The semi-finals of the men's 400 meters is Friday night at 6:25 pm. Larry and Phillip are in heat one, while the other four are in heat two. Note that the winner plus the next seven fastest times will move on to the finals on Saturday night.

Heat sheets for the Pac-10 Championships can be accessed here...

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