Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tentative time schedule for Washington state track & field athletes competing in the Olympics...

Courtesy of the IAAF, here's the tentative time schedule for the nine track & field athletes with state of Washington ties competing in the Beijing Olympics.

Note that all times listed are local Beijing time, which is 15 hours ahead of Pacific time (Seattle), and as always, times are subject to change.

15 August

9:00 am—W Heptathlon day 1 100 hurdles (Diana Pickler)
9:45 am—M 100 meter heats (Anson Henry)
11:10 am—W 800 meter heats (Haley Nemra)
7:10 pm—M 1500 meter heats (Bernard Lagat)
7:45 pm – M 100 meter second round (Anson Henry)
7:55 pm (flight 1) or 9:20 pm (flight 2) —W discus qualifying (Aretha Thurmond)

16 August

9:50 am – W heptathlon day 2 long jump (Diana Pickler)
10:40 am (flight 1) or 12:05p (flight 2) –M discus qualifying (Mart Israel, Ian Waltz)
7:30 pm – W 800 meter semis (Haley Nemra)
8:05 pm – M 100 meter semis (Anson Henry)
10:30 pm – M 100 meter finals (Anson Henry)

17 August

9:55 pm – M 1500 meter semis (Bernard Lagat)

18 August

7:00 pm – W discus finals (Aretha Thurmond)
9:35 pm – W 800 meter finals (Haley Nemra)

19 August

9:00 am (flight 1) or 10:30 am (flight 2) – W javelin qualifying (Kara Patterson)
9:00 pm – M discus finals (Mart Israel, Ian Waltz)
10:50 pm – M 1500 meter finals (Bernard Lagat)

20 August

8:15 pm – M 5000 meter heats (Bernard Lagat)
8:40 pm – M pole vault qualifying (Brad Walker)

21 August

7:20 pm – W javelin finals (Kara Patterson)
8:20 pm – M 4 x 100 meter relay semifinals (Anson Henry)

22 August

7:55 pm – M pole vault finals (Brad Walker)
10:10 pm – M 4 x 100 meter relay finals (Anson Henry)

23 August

8:10 pm – M 5000 meter finals (Bernard Lagat)

In the upcoming days, paulmerca.blogspot.com will have a preview of the Olympic Games competition as it pertains to the nine athletes with ties to Washington state.

Steve Kelley column on Aretha Thurmond...


Here's a link to Wednesday's column by Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times on Aretha Thurmond (right/photo by Paul Merca), the former Renton High School and University of Washington discus thrower, who is headed to Beijing.

You can read it here...

While you are at it, don't forget to stop by Aretha's web site, arethathrows.com, and follow her journey to China, and the adventures of being a mother to one-year old Theo and wife to Husky throws coach Reedus while training for this event full time, and oh-by-the-way, buy a t-shirt to support Aretha.

I admit to having a personal bias toward Aretha, as I've been honored to travel and work with her on several national teams over the years, and that she's a Husky! :-)

Here's one other link to her bio on nbcolympics.com...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Miscellaneous ramblings on the site...

Three items:

a) There is an informal, unscientific poll set up on the right hand side of the blog asking you whether or not USA Track & Field made the right choice in hiring Doug Logan, which will run until the end of the month;

b) We've set up a mini slideshow of the nine track & field athletes from the state of Washington or who have ties to the state who are competing in the Beijing Olympics;

c) In case you have not noticed, below the poll box is a box allowing you to subscribe to the blog by email. We hope that you take advantage of this new feature.

We are constantly experimenting with new features to give you, the reader, the best experience possible whenever you visit the site.

If there's any features you would like to see or delete, please don't hesitate to drop us a line!

Follow-up to Haley Nemra post...


On July 15, paulmerca.blogspot.com posted an article on Marysville-Pilchuck's Haley Nemra (left/photo courtesy University of San Francisco), who will participate in the Beijing Olympics in the 800 meters as a member of the Marshall Islands Olympic team.

The country will participate in the Olympics for the first time at these Games, after gaining National Olympic Committee status in 2007.

Here's two links to articles on Nemra, who was fifth at the Washington state 4A meet in the 800 meters, and will attend the University of San Francisco this fall.

The first one is from the University of San Francisco's web site, and the second one is from the the Everett Herald...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bernard Lagat withdraws from Monte Carlo...

The IAAF reports that Bernard Lagat has withdrawn from Tuesday's Herculis Super Grand Prix meet in Monte Carlo.

Lagat, the reigning world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters, was entered in the 1500.

No athletes with Washington affiliations will be entered in Tuesday's meet, which can be viewed online at wcsn.com beginning at 10 am, pacific time.

Team USA to have a local touch on its staff...

Here's a link to an article in the Monday edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Team USA physician Monique Burton, who is one of two doctors from the Seattle area who will work in Beijing with USA Track & Field, along with Dr. Bob Adams from Redmond, who is my personal physician.

Others with Washington ties on the staff include sports psychologist Ross Flowers, a former hurdler at Garfield HS & UCLA; and former University of Washington men's and women's coach Orin Richburg, who is one of the relay coaches.

Administrators include USA Track & Field president Bill Roe from Bellingham, and men's track & field chairman John Chaplin from Pullman.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Brad Walker finishes third at London GP...

Mountlake Terrace resident Brad Walker tied for third with Germany's Alexander Straub at 18-9 1/4 (5.72m) in Saturday's Aviva London Grand Prix meet.

Russia's reigning world indoor champion Yevgeniy Lukyanenko won the event at 19-7, with Australia's Steve Hooker second, also at the same height.

This was the first time that two men had jumped 19-7 in the same competition.

Afterwards, Walker told Matthew Brown of the IAAF, “I had some good jumps but didn’t quite get it together today. It’s going to take a 6 meter (19-8 1/4) jump to win the Olympics.”

A full recap of the meet is available here
, courtesy of the IAAF...

Complete results of the Aviva London Grand Prix are available here...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Snickers television commercial...

Something to keep you entertained on a Friday afternoon!



As the great American philosopher George Peppard once said, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Lagat's undefeated streak snapped in London...

LONDON--Bernard Lagat suffered his first loss this season in a final Friday night at the Aviva London Grand Prix meet, as he finished third in the mile run.

With 200 meters to go, it appeared that the former Washington State All-American was in good position to make his move exiting the final turn, with Great Britain’s Andy Baddeley and Shedrack Korir of Kenya leading after a fairly pedestrian first three laps, as the field elected not to run with the designated pacesetters.

As the field entered the homestraight, Lagat, who may have been experimenting with new tactics, according to the commentators on the Eurosport feed, was forced to swing wide to get running room, and appeared to close on the duo, but ran out of real estate.

Korir won in 3:54.68, with Baddeley second in 3:54.76. Lagat’s time of 3:55.20 was a season best, though nowhere close to his PR of 3:47.28.

Former Auburn High school standout Chris Lukezic finished eighth in 3:56.03, also a season best.

Lagat’s next scheduled competition is Tuesday, when he’ll run the 1500 meters at the Herculis meet in Monte Carlo.

The Aviva London Grand Prix resumes Saturday, with pole vaulter Brad Walker of Mountlake Terrace matched up against Australia’s Steve Hooker, and the reigning world indoor champion, Yevgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia.

Results from the Aviva London Grand Prix are available here

Rick Sloan & Diana Pickler chat online...

On Friday morning, Rick Sloan, the head coach at Washington State, and Olympian Diana Pickler held an online chat at wsucougars.com.

This is what I asked:

Paul (Seattle): Two part question--the first for Diana: Was this part of the plan to skip meets going into the Olympics (notice there's a meet in London where they're doing a quadrathlon) Second part is for coach Sloan--has Ebba Jungmark been selected for Sweden's team based on her mark from last year & from this indoor season?

Diana Pickler: Paul, impressive stuff knowing about the quadrathlon! There was a good rest period before and following the Olympic Trials, both emotionally and physically, and we felt it was more important to re-establish a training base prior to the Olympic Games. If I am well-prepared in my training, I have always competed well. The London meet was just going to be too close for when I had to leave for Beijing.

Rick Sloan: With regard to Ebba, as of today, I've still have not heard. But it doesn't appear likely that she will be selected.

They will report to Dalian on August 2nd, go to Beijing for the opening ceremonies, then stay in the Chinese capital and train until the start of the competition on August 15th at 9 am.

Here's the link to the full transcript on the WSU website...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

World champs Lagat & Walker set to compete in London...

LONDON--Current world champions Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) & Brad Walker are among the featured attractions of Friday and Saturday's Aviva London Grand Prix at the famed Crystal Palace track in the English capital, where athletes are competing for a prize pool of $800,000 USD.

Lagat, the world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters, will run the mile on Friday against a field that includes British hope Andy Baddeley, Australia's Craig Mottram, and fellow Americans Alan Webb, and Auburn High grad Chris Lukezic.

In an email sent after last week's Barcelona meet, Lukezic stated to paulmerca.blogspot.com that he's excited for the opportunity to run a fast mile against a strong field.

Walker, last year's world champion in Osaka, and the current world leader at 19-9 1/4 (6.04m) will pole vault on Saturday against a strong field that includes Australia's Steve Hooker, and Yevgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia, who defeated Walker for the world indoor title back in March.

The meet will be shown both days live on a pay-by-subscription basis online at wcsn.com.

Click here to read the UK Athletics preview of the Aviva London Grand Prix...

Meet Kara Patterson...

Vancouver native Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca), a student at Purdue University, wasn’t exactly on everyone’s radar as a solid favorite to make the trip to Beijing for the Olympics.

With the javelin among the weakest events in the country, it was presumed that the overwhelming favorites to make the team were national record holder Kim Kreiner and last year’s upset national champion, Dana Pounds, from the Air Force Academy.

In fact, Track & Field News only picked Kara to finish sixth at the Trials, thanks to a sub-par performance at the NCAA championships two weeks before the showdown in Eugene.

Nonetheless, Patterson will be going to Beijing as one of the few collegians on Team USA, joining University of Oregon runners Galen Rupp and Andrew Wheating as collegians with ties to the Northwest.

One throw at the Big Ten championships in Champaign, Illinois in May changed the dynamics of the event, as the Skyview High grad let the javelin fly 202-0 to win the league championship, qualify for her second Olympic Trials meet, and most importantly, hold the Olympic Games A qualifying standard to ensure that in the event she didn’t place in the top three at the Trials, the possibility of bumping out a thrower who lacked the standard was available.

In layman’s terms, for anyone else in the field at the Olympic Trials except Patterson and Kreiner to even think about going to Beijing, they had to finish in the top three AND throw at least 198-6.

Kara made that argument a moot point, as she secured her spot on the Olympic team by winning in an Olympic Trials meet record distance of 191 feet 9 inches.

Such was Patterson’s dominance of the field in Eugene that she had two other throws over the 58-meter (190-3) mark, and no one else did.

The road to Beijing and a date to throw against the world’s best began at Skyview, where she was looking for a spring sport to participate in, as she was on the swim team in the fall, and the basketball team in the winter.

Patterson considered turning out for the golf team, but was talked into trying track by her math teacher, Ron Heidenreich, who happened to be the track coach.

During her freshman year, she tried the discus, eventually giving it up. Kara also dabbled in events as diverse as the hurdles, and the triple jump, and occasionally filled in on a leg of their 4 x 400 meter relay team when needed.

She found her calling in the javelin. In recalling her freshman season, she said, “My best throw was 133'1". I had a fifteen foot PR at the state meet that year and ended up second.”

The following year, under the tutelage of Skyview throws coach Nate Botnen, she won the first of three straight state titles (one in 3A, and two in 4A), finished sixth and fourth in the 2003 and 2004 USATF junior nationals, and qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, where she threw 139-9, good for 19th place.

Entering this season, Patterson had won two NCAA regional titles, and a Big Ten championship. After unleashing the 202-0 throw to win her second Big Ten title in May, which suddenly made her the second best American all time, and the second American woman to crack the 200-foot barrier since the change to the less aerodynamic javelin in May 1999, one would’ve thought that her confidence would be sky high entering the NCAA championships.

However, that was not the case. After winning the NCAA Mideast Regionals two weeks later in Fayetteville, Arkansas, she suffered a major slump at the NCAA championships in Des Moines, needing all three throws in qualifying to advance to the finals, then throwing a mediocre 176-11 to finish fifth in the finals.

Describing the NCAAs, she said that she was nervous and felt a lot of pressure from within herself to perform well. “I just freaked out; I over thought things, and I wasn’t aggressive because I thought I couldn’t do anything.”

Since winning the Olympic Trials competition at Hayward Field, a venue she admitted she’d never competed at despite the short distance from Vancouver, Kara’s encountered a plethora of media attention, from both her hometown, and from her adopted home of West Lafayette, Indiana, where the junior is a Nutrition and Fitness major.

After taking some down time to celebrate with her family and friends in Vancouver, she returned to Purdue to start the buildup to Beijing, under the watchful eye of coach Rodney Zuyderwyk, who competed at Washington State in the early 1990s, and who recruited her to the Indiana school.

She’s embarked on a strength training program, similar to the training cycle she was on in April and early May, designed to give her the power to throw 63 to 65 meters (206-8 to 213-3), which she figures she’ll need to even make the finals.

Due to the long collegiate season, Patterson and coach Zuyderwyk, a former Australian national team member in the hurdles and decathlon, elected to forego any overseas or domestic meets and concentrate on a long, progressive buildup to the javelin qualifying on August 19th at 9 am, Beijing time, with the finals slated two days later at 7:20 pm, local time.

Patterson leaves for China on August 2nd, stopping off in the Bay Area for team processing. She and her coach will stay in Beijing and train there instead of reporting to the training camp in Dalian, (a three-hour plane trip) as she wants to experience the Opening Ceremonies, minimize the travel to and from the camp, and soak in the atmosphere of the Olympic experience, yet knowing full well that this is a business trip.

She’ll be joined in Beijng by parents Rona and Bruce, brother Craig, and “several folks from Purdue who are either working or doing internships in China”.

Patterson is going to China with the mentality of making the finals. She plans to use the experience of struggling in qualifying at the NCAAs as fuel to “make it to the second day. If I can do that, and believe in my capabilities, I’ll be fine.”

To see her Purdue University bio, click here...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lukezic seventh in Stockholm; Powell fourth in her section...

Auburn High School graduate Chris Lukezic finished seventh in the men’s 1000 meter run at Tuesday’s DN Galan Super Grand Prix meet in Stockholm, Sweden.

In a race won by Sudanese sensation Abubaker Kaki in 2:13.93, Lukezic finished the race in 2:18.75.

In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Rainier Beach grad Ginnie Powell finished fourth in the B section of that event, running 12.88.

Complete results of the DN Galan meet are available here

A recap of the meet is available here...

QUICK NOTES: Olympian Diana Pickler and her coach Rick Sloan will conduct an online chat with fans on Friday July 25th at 10 am Pacific time.

Pickler, a 2007 graduate of WSU and four-time All-American, finished third in the women's heptathlon at the USA Olympic Trials to secure a spot on the USA Olympic team for the 2008 Games in Beijing. She will be the first American woman from WSU to compete in the Olympic Games in track and field.

Pickler will be one of four former Cougar track and field athletes who will be competing in Beijing. In addition to her, Bernard Lagat (1500m and 5000m), and Ian Waltz (discus) will be competing for the United States. Anson Henry (100m and 4x100m relay) will be competing for Canada.

For more information on the online chat with Rick Sloan and Diana Pickler, please visit the track & field page at wsucougars.com.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend wrapup: July 18-20

Washington State junior Matt Lamb (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the men's discus throw at the 2008 North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under 23 Track and Field Championships, July 18, at Toluca, Mexico.

Lamb had the winning throw of 192-feet, 7 inches (58.70m), well below his personal-record discus distance of 204-7 (62.36m), throw July 3 at the USA Olympic Trials qualifying round at Eugene…

At the USA Track & Field national club championships in Olathe, Kansas, Club Northwest’s women’s team finished 12th with 15 points, while its men’s squad placed seventh with 54.5 points.

For Club Northwest, the highlight of their two days of competition in Kansas was their victory in the men’s 4 x 800 meter relay, won in 7:41.31, with a squad consisting of former Husky Bruce Jackson, James Reed, Edward Strickler, and Arizona State freshman Nectaly Barbosa from Prosser.

Results from the meet can be found here...

Speaking of Barbosa, the Prosser HS grad, who finished second in the USA Junior Championships in the 1500, did not make the trip to Poland to compete in the IAAF world junior championships because he did not bring his passport with him to Columbus, Ohio for team processing…

On the international scene, Ginnie Powell is scheduled to compete in Tuesday’s DN Galan Super Grand Prix meet in Stockholm, Sweden in the 100 hurdles, and Chris Lukezic is tentatively scheduled to run in the men’s 1000 meter run, which is rumored to be a world record attempt by the Sudanese sensation Abubaker Kaki.

Looking ahead to Friday & Saturday’s Aviva Super Grand Prix meet in London, Lukezic will run the mile along with Bernard Lagat. Brad Walker is entered in the pole vault.

NOTE: The sports information office of Washington State University contributed to this report.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lukezic eighth in Barcelona; Arnold wins C section...

Auburn High School graduate Chris Lukezic finished eighth in the 1500 meter run at Saturday's Miting d'Atletisme Ciutat de Barcelona invitational at Estadio Olimpico in Spain.

Lukezic ran 3:38.03 in a race won by Juan Carlos Higuero, who clocked 3;34.51.

In other results from the Barcelona meet, American record holder and WSU grad Dominique Arnold won the C section of the 110 meter hurdles, running 13.62. Another WSU grad, Arend Watkins, finished seventh in the A section of the 110 hurdles, clocking 14.19.

Olympic Trials discus champ Ian Waltz was on the start list but did not compete.

Complete results from Barcelona are available here...

Chris Lukezic's thoughts going into the Barcelona meet, and the Trials post-mortem...

While doing my daily skimming of news on the sport, I took a peek at Chris Lukezic's blog, fifteenhundred.wordpress.com.

He's posted his thoughts going into Saturday's Barcelona meet, along with an analysis of the Olympic Trials race, and his season.

Click here to read it...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ian Waltz leads four Washingtonians into Barcelona...

Olympic Trials discus champion Ian Waltz leads a small contingent of Washington-affiliated athletes into Barcelona’s Estadio Olimpico Saturday for the Meeting Ciutat de Barcelona track meet.

The former Cougar, who won his second berth on the US Olympic team a few weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, is the top seeded thrower going into Saturday’s competition.

Also competing in Barcelona are former Auburn High standout Chris Lukezic in the men’s 1500, and former WSU standouts Dominique Arnold and Arend Watkins, who are competing in the men’s 110 meter hurdles.

The Meeting Ciutat de Barcelona is a European Athletics permit meet and is a test event for the city, leading to its hosting of the 2010 European Championships.

The start list for Saturday’s meet is posted here, and results will be available upon the conclusion of the meet here.

Doug Logan meets the press...

New USA Track & Field chief executive officer Doug Logan spoke for an hour to members of the national media Friday on a conference call.

In his opening remarks, the former commissioner of Major League Soccer, who is contracted by the national governing body until 2012, addressed his goals for the first sixty days.

"In the first 30 to 60 days, I'm going to be a huge sponge. Those of you who know me know I'm a pretty quick study. I'm going to take track on one-on-one and I've got some good teachers. I've got probably 100 volunteers on my PC screen right now. I will talk to fans, coaches, athletes, officials, members of the press and sponsors - everybody involved in the sport at one level or another. It would be a disservice for me to jump in and be presumptuous that I have answers before I undergo that process. Beyond that, we've got a wonderful Olympic Team that I hope to be joining early in the process in Beijing, and hopefully we will come out of that competition with a number of medals greater to or equal to what we've had in the past. I think we've got a great team, and I look forward to that competition and supporting our team in the best way we know how."

On the issue of growing the sport through event creation and television outreach, Logan emphasized that track & field must be in a regular television spot. Additionally, he feels that the United States must eventually avail itself of a series of track & field-specific stadiums, using the same model that Major League Soccer has.

“(The sport) needs more dramatic competitions linked in the form of a circuit,” he said.

In the months to come, he hopes to work with athletes, agents, meet directors, and others to ensure that the vision becomes reality.

Speaking of track specific stadiums, he noted that he attended the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, stating that it was the first time he’d attended a meet there. In talking about the experience, he said that the Trials were as big a spectacle as any Super Bowl, World Cup, or US Open event he’s attended.

“There was great character and authenticity of what happened in Eugene, and it taught me a tremendous lesson.”

Much as Masback did during his first months in office, Logan, who presently lives in Florida, will contact the various constituents of the organization, including its volunteers, coaches, administrators, media, athletes, office staff, etc., in order to get a solid idea of the challenges and opportunities that USA Track & Field, with an $19 million annual budget, will have in the next four –plus years of his contract.

On the fact that there are 30 million runners participating at all levels of the sport, from the grass roots (“If road running is the grass roots, then I’m in the dirt roots” he joked about his running, which is about 2-3 miles every third day),, Logan said, “We must find a way to keep them interested, stating that the sport in the USA doesn’t give those 30 million participants a good reason to watch track & field."

Logan is confident that track & field will be an easier sell than his previous sport, pro soccer.

USATF president Bill Roe stated that in selecting Logan as the man to replace Craig Masback, the selection committee, and ultimately, the board of directors of the federation looked at his leadership qualities, his imagination and vision of the future, and his “thick Rolodex”, as factors in ultimately hiring him over a field of 100 prospects.

What will remain to be seen is how the present constituents of USA Track & Field take to a man who is a relative outsider, and how Logan is able to move the sport in the United States forward while potentially battling and/or embracing the multi-headed monster, which includes youth, masters, officials, race walking, mountain running, and trail running, that want a bigger slice of the pie and/or protect the piece it has now.

As Logan stated in the USATF press release on Thursday, “I will act as a fair but firm agent for change as the organization goes through a stressful restructuring, and I believe we can improve on our impressive grass-roots membership numbers.”

The excerpts of his teleconference can be read here

Ginnie Powell sixth in Paris Golden League meet Friday...

Rainier Beach graduate Ginnie Powell finished sixth in the Paris Golden League 100-meter hurdle race Friday in a time of 12.89.

Running in lane one, Powell, the two time US national champion in 2006 and 2007 who struggled at the Olympic Trials with a left hamstring pull, got out of the blocks stronger than she did in the Rome Golden League meet last week.

Doreen Ennis-London of Jamaica won the event in a time of 12.66. Defending Olympic champion Joanna Hayes of the USA was second in 12.76, and Dawn Harper, who will go to Beijing in this event as a member of Team USA, got third in 12.79.

For complete results from the Paris Golden League meet, click here…

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doug Logan named CEO of USA Track & Field...


Here's the release from Jill Geer of USA Track & Field in its entirety announcing Doug Logan (left/photo courtesy USA Track & Field), the former CEO & Commissioner of Major League Soccer as its new chief executive officer.

On the bright side, looks like Bill Roe won't have to make as many trips to Indianapolis...

INDIANAPOLIS - The USA Track & Field Board of Directors on Thursday approved top sports executive Doug Logan, the former Commissioner, President and CEO of Major League Soccer, as its next CEO. A bilingual sports and entertainment leader with a proven track record of generating long-term sponsor partnerships, television outreach and high fan attendance, Logan and MLS in 1996 were named Sports Industrialist of the Year by Sports Business Daily.

Logan led MLS during its enormously successful 1995 start-up through 1999. He orchestrated the launch of the league's inaugural season, averaging attendances of over 17,000 per game, highlighted by two single-game attendance figures over 85,000. With an annual budget of $90 million, MLS under Logan's leadership generated $120 million in multiple-year sponsorship commitments from Nike, AT&T, adidas, Puma, Umbro, Honda, MasterCard, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch and Bic.

Considered the country's highest-ranking Hispanic-American in sports management, Logan transformed MLS television contracts from a time-buy to co-ventures, negotiating five-year broadcasting agreements with ABC, ESPN and Univision that more than doubled the number of national MLS games on the air. He also directed the expansion of the league in 1998, increasing the asset value of the league from $5 million per team to $20 million per team.

"We have said since we started the process of hiring a new CEO that it was more important to do it right than to do it quickly," USATF President Bill Roe said. "In Doug Logan, we know we have found the right CEO to take us into the next phase of growth. We are so pleased to get a person of his caliber to lead our organization, and we are excited to welcome him to the USATF family."

"I was honored to have stewardship of another major sport, soccer, for four years," Logan said. "The opportunity to play a meaningful role in a second one was irresistible. The strength of the sport is based on the ubiquity of athletics and the fact that everyone has 'played' at one time or another. Everyone has raced their brother or sister. To a large degree, it is a marketer's dream."

Logan was selected unanimously by USATF's CEO Selection Committee after a three-month search that narrowed a potential candidate list of 100 down to a semi-final list of 23. Through interviews and a winnowing process, Logan emerged as the clear choice to lead USATF as it undergoes a restructuring of its board and seeks to expand on the tremendous growth and television programming expansion of the last decade.

Kicking off his tenure on Monday, Logan will initially devote his time soliciting feedback from people in all areas of the sport, including athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, professional staff, the media and fans, developing an action plan for his first months as CEO.

"I believe the sport is poised for a major leap of growth," he said. "It may seem presumptuous for me to express goals at this early juncture. However, I will devote my energies to maintaining and improving the U.S. position at the top of the medal charts in World Championships and Olympic Games, and I will be a passionate messenger in our battle against Performance Enhancing Drugs. I will act as a fair but firm agent for change as the organization goes through a stressful restructuring, and I believe we can improve on our impressive grass-roots membership numbers.

"With my experience in international business and sports, I hope to foster better relations with the IAAF and IOC. I believe there is a vast potential for growth in sponsorship sales, event creation and television outreach. Finally, I will institute a 'customer service culture' in the National Office in its relations with volunteer leadership and membership."

Since leaving MLS, Logan has run Empresario, LLC of New York, a sports consulting and entrepreneurial firm that in 2001 was a consultant in the creation of the National Rugby League.

From 1993 until 1995 Logan served as Director General of OCESA, SA, the largest concert promotion company in Mexico, and he was Senior Vice President of Ogden Entertainment Services from 1985 to 1993. Logan served as the General Manager of the Rockford (Ill.) MetroCentre from 1979 to 1985, where he was the promoter of the first commercial Arena Football League game in 1985. He was a founder, regent and lecturer at the Public Assembly Facility Management School in Oglebay, W.V.

Logan also has been a member of U.S. delegations to many international sporting events, including the 1996 Olympic Games, 1998 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Copa Confederaciones in Mexico in 1999.

Logan grew up in Cuba, and Spanish is his native language. He has been a lifelong competitive road runner at distances from 10 km to the marathon, where he has clocked a personal best under 4 hours. A Vietnam veteran twice decorated with the bronze star, he replaces Craig Masback at USATF, who resigned in January after 10 years as CEO.

Cathy Griffin of The Griffin Network administered USATF's CEO search in conjunction with the Selection Committee, comprised of former VISA Chief Marketing Officer John Bennett, two-time Olympic medalist Adam Nelson, four-time Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs, 1996 Olympic head coach Deanne Vochatzer and former USATF Board member Cynthia Doyle.

"I was impressed with Mr. Doug Logan's experience as a leader, his vision and desire to make an immediate impact for Team USA and USA Track & Field as a whole," Clark Diggs said. "As a four-time Olympian and a businesswoman in the sports and entertainment industry, I am confident that Doug' s character, commitment, compassion and competence will help to direct and invigorate our sport."

Bennett echoed those sentiments. "After an extensive search,the Search Committee unanimously and enthusiastically sent Doug Logan's name forward to the Board of Directors," Bennett said. "Doug's experience and qualifications are unique among all the possible candidates we saw and interviewed. He has an entertainment and sports background, negotiating, booking, promoting,and managing events both in the US and in Central and South America, and he restructured the governance of MLS and handled controversial issues with aplomb. USATF will be proud of their new CEO."

"It was an honor to work with the USATF Search Committee members, and was I most impressed with their dedication and performance in the process," Griffin said. "Although they live in disparate areas of the country and have busy lives apart from their service to the Committee, they came together countless times to interview candidates and discuss the process. They did an outstanding job for USATF."

USATF is the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.

Ginnie Powell entered in Paris Golden League meet Friday...

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell is one of nine athletes entered in Friday's Gaz de France Golden League meet in Paris in the 100-meter hurdles.

Powell, a former NCAA champion at the University of Southern California, and a two-time USA national champ, finished a disappointing sixth place at the recently concluded US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Among those in the field are the reigning Olympic champion Joanna Hayes, and Dawn Harper, the third place finisher in the Olympic Trials.

Live video of the Gaz de France Golden League meet will be available Friday in the United States starting at 2 pm eastern/11 am pacific, by clicking here...

Start lists for the meet are available here...

Results for the Gaz de France meet will be available here upon its conclusion on Friday.

Questions for Bill Roe...

Bill Roe is the only person to be elected to 20 years as an officer with USA Track and Field, the national governing body for the sport. He's been on the group's board since 1986 and won his second term as president in 2004. Mr. Roe was named its acting chief executive when Craig Masback said in January he would leave for Nike.

I must say that I've been one of the few people that have known Bill since I started in the sport in the early 1970s, having tasted track & field through his summer all-comers meet series, first at Husky Stadium, then at West Seattle Stadium, and over the years as an adult, at Bellevue High School, Edmonds Stadium, and now at its present location at Shoreline Stadium on Wednesday nights.

As the years have gone, he's gotten myself and countless other men and women around the country involved in the big picture of the sport, including projects like the national club track & cross country championships; the open athletics committee of the Pacific Northwest Association; and, on an international level, traveling as a part of USATF national teams, particularly at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

True to his roots, the Wednesday night all-comers track meets remain the cornerstone of everything he does for the sport. Wednesday night, between heats of the 200 meters that he seeded and I helped time, we talked briefly about what's going on with the CEO search ("We expect to name a new CEO shortly"), the success of the recent US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field, and other topics of the day.

The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Bill posted on its website (disclaimer--it may not be up very long, so if you miss it--sorry, we can't help you; subscription may be required), which is an interesting read.

Here's the link...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mart Israel wins in Joensuu, Finland...

Former University of Washington discus thrower Märt Israel won his specialty at the Finnish Federation’s Elite Games Series in Joensuu Wednesday.

In very difficult wind conditions, the Estonian, who's been named to its Olympic team for Beijing, and Finland´s Frantz Kruger were the only ones to throw over 60m.

Israel had a best of 63.30m (207-8) in the 3rd round and won by 92 centimetres from Kruger (62.38m/204-4). Ukraine´s super-talented youngster, 17-year-old Mykyta Nesterenko produced 61.68/202-4 to take third place.

The full story can be read here...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

High schooler Haley Nemra from Marysville-Pilchuck in Olympics at 800m...

In a post on nbcolympics.com, Travis Pittman of Seattle affiliate KING TV writes that Haley Nemra, who just graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School, will be competing in the Olympics as a member of the Marshall Islands' track and field team.

"The Marysville-Pilchuck high school graduate will be one of five athletes competing for the Marshall Islands. She'll run the 800m.

Haley's father is from the Marshall Islands and Haley just recently obtained citizenship so that she could participate at the Olympics."

In doing some research, Haley ran in this year's state 4A meet, where she finished fifth in the 800, running 2:17.30, after running a PR of 2;13.83 in the prelims.

At this year's state meet, she also finished sixth in the 1600, running 5:00.62, and a leg on Marysville-Pilchuck's 4 x 400 team that finished third at state.

As a junior, she competed on M-P's 4 x 400 meter relay that finished third; sixth in the prelims of the 800 as a sophomore in 2:17.85; and, finished sixth in the finals of the 800 as a freshman, running 2:20.12, against future NCAA champions Rebekah Noble and Brie Felnagle.

In cross country, she finished 20th in the 2007 4A meet. Nemra finished 27th in the Nike Border Clash last November in Beaverton.

Nemra will attend the University of San Francisco this fall, according to a release from the school's athletic department.

The IAAF "A" and "B" standards for the Olympics in the 800 are 2:00.00, and 2:01.30, respectively. However, the IAAF does make provisions for NOCs (national Olympic committees), where countries without qualified athletes may enter a maximum of 1 male and 1 female in accordance with the specifications of the qualification system.

The first round of the women's 800 is Friday August 15th at 11:10 am, Beijing time (8:10 pm Thursday August 14th in Seattle).


Monday, July 14, 2008

Washington to ditch Nike?

In the Husky Football blog, the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta writes that the University of Washington, which currently is contracted to Nike until July 1, 2009, is thinking of going with either Under Armour or adidas when the contract expires.

This will have an effect on just about all teams that Washington sponsors, including track and cross country.

You can read the blog here...

Jarred Rome sixth in Crete...

Marysville-Pilchuck grad Jarred Rome, still stinging from his inexplicable failure to make the final eight at the US Olympic Trials in the discus, finished sixth today in a meet in Rethymno, Crete in Greece.

Rome threw 200-5, in an event won by Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna, a two time Olympic champion, who threw 232-6 to defeat last year's world champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia (225-6).

Complete results of the meet are available here...

USA Track & Field announces Olympic team...

INDIANAPOLIS - An experienced American team featuring 15 Olympic medalists, 31 World Outdoor Championships medalists and 10 individual outdoor American record holders will represent the United States in track & field competition at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic Committee on Monday announced a 126-athlete track & field squad that will be led by multi-time medalists Allyson Felix, Lauryn Williams, Sanya Richards, Bernard Lagat, Tyson Gay, Adam Nelson, Bryan Clay and Jeremy Wariner.

Six athletes with ties to the state of Washington are on the Olympic squad led by Lagat in the 1500 & 5000 (WSU), and Brad Walker in the pole vault (UW). The Olympic team includes veterans Ian Waltz (WSU) and Aretha Thurmond (UW) in the discus, along with newcomers Diana Pickler in the heptathlon (WSU) and Kara Patterson in the javelin (Skyview HS/Vancouver).

To read the full release, click here...

Katie Follett's post-Olympic Trials thoughts...

In a post on July 3rd, we turned the reins of paulmerca.blogspot.com over to University of Washington sophomore Katie Follett (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki of trackandfieldphoto.com) to give readers a true insight of what competitors go through before such a big event as the US Olympic Trials.

A week removed from the final event of the Olympic Trials in Eugene, we caught up with Katie, who is enjoying her summer break from the UW in her hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado, and slowly starting her preparation for this fall’s cross country season, where the Huskies are potentially one of the country’s top teams, and return all but one runner from the squad that finished eighth in last year’s NCAA meet.

We are grateful that Katie’s sharing with you her thoughts on her season, the Olympic Trials experience, and what lies ahead for her and her University of Washington teammates.


Here’s Katie’s diary entry:


The excitement and anticipation in the air was tangible as Abdi Abdirahman and Galen Rupp were running their final laps of the 10,000 meters at Hayward Field on the Fourth of July. Fireworks were exploding in the background, and the energetic crowd was standing and clapping as runners passed. It was an atmosphere unlike any I had ever experienced…it was an atmosphere that had only existed previously in my imagination.

Knowing that I had raced on that track with my teammates just an hour or so earlier, and that we would be racing on that very same track again next year at the Oregon Invitational caused me to reflect. The goal of making it to the Olympic trials was one that had endured since the beginning of my fall season, back when all my ‘if’s’ needed to become ‘have’s’. If I stay healthy and train hard…if I can get into a meet where I run a fast time.

The way in which all of that would happen I could not have predicted, and true to track and field form not everything was perfect but it was all an adventure. Winning PAC 10’s, going 1-2 at NCAA Regionals with Michelle, barely missing finals at nationals and now the trials were all valuable experiences to take with me into my final two years at Washington.

I reflect not only on the season that now lies behind me, but also desire for what lays ahead. There is a quote that comes to mind, “To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.” Although we are all in many ways the same, this was a perfect opportunity to watch women who have done things I have never done.

Warming up and going through the pre-race routine with so many other talented ladies, 1500m runners the caliber of Shannon Rowbury and Erin Donahue, gave me a chance to watch first hand the precision and strength with which they completed their drills.

Racing with them in the semi-finals, after one race had already been run, allowed me to see the ease of their strides and their competitive and confident demeanor. Honored to end my season at this meet and grateful for the glimpse of what could be, I feel somewhat like a student as I observe and take mental notes. Hopefully I will get a chance to return in four years, and everything I learn between now and then is another stepping stone towards future personal bests.

Now that I have had a week to spend time resting, reflecting and talking with teammates and coaches, the cross country season couldn’t come soon enough. Michelle Turner, Amanda Miller and I will all return and be joined by Christine Babcock, who we all agree will fit right in because she was already giving coach Greg Metcalf a hard time on the way over to the track while at the trials.

Amanda, the toughest runner I know, will have time to recover from her slipped disc and come back strong for her final season. Michelle, who we like to fondly refer to as the ‘greyhound’, will also be using her final season of eligibility. Joined by everyone who competed at cross nationals last year except Trisha Rasmussen, you can bet that Huskies will be on the prowl this fall! :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walker wins Athens Grand Prix meet...

ATHENS--Pole vaulter Brad Walker from Mountlake Terrace scored his second straight win on his current European tour, as he jumped 19-4 1/4 (5.90m) to win the Athens Grand Prix meet Sunday at Olympic Stadium in the Greek capital.

Walker, sporting a Mohawk style haircut with the sides completely shaved, which he debuted in Karlsruhe a few days earlier, opened with a make at 18-8 1/4, then followed it up with his winning jump on his second attempt.

He then took three unsuccessful attempts at a new American record and personal best of 19-10 1/2 (6.06m), or two centimeters above his personal best of 6.04m/19-9 3/4.

Russia's Igor Pavlov was second at 18-10 1/4 (5.75m), while Olympic Trials champ Derek Miles and Fabian Schulze of Germany tied for third at 18-8 1/4 (5.70m).

Former University of Oregon vaulter Tommy Skipper was eighth at 18-2 1/2 (5.55m). Reigning Olympic champion Tim Mack, who won it at this venue, was 11th, also at 18-2 1/2.

Walker said afterwards, "This is the second time I am coming to Athens and my second meeting abroad this year. I am very satisfied cause this is the first time I've jumped over 5.90 (19-4 1/4) outside USA. Now I will go to London and after that in Beijing where I hope I will win with an Olympic record of 6.06 m (19-10 1/2).

Among other athletes with Washington ties competing in Athens, former Washington State hurdler Arend Watkins was fifth in the B section of the 110 hurdles, running 13.80.

Complete results are available here...

Jeshua Anderson anchors Team USA to victory at World Juniors...

Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson anchored Team USA to victory in the men's 4 x 400 meter relay at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Anderson teamed with Marcus Boyd, Bryan Miller, and O'Neal Wilder, as the American foursome ran a world junior leading time of 3:03.86.

This is Anderson's second gold medal earned at the world junior championship, as he won the 400 meter hurdles on Friday, running 48.68.

During the first three legs of the relay, Great Britain and Germany were in contention, but Mississippi State's O'Neal Wilder's split time of 45.4 seconds, and WSU's Anderson's split time of 46.1 seconds, completed the work put in by the first two legs by Baylor's Marcus Boyd (45.7) and Texas A&M' s Bryan Miller (46.7).

Afterwards, he told USA Track & Field, "I just wanted to stay relaxed on the anchor leg and keep the lead so we could bring home some medals. I was still a little too tight from the 400 hurdles."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A semi-humorous look at the Olympic Trials...

There are some of you out in cyberland who are suffering from post-Olympic Trials letdown syndrome.

You can't seem to function, because you're not running on Pre's Trails, parking your car at Autzen Stadium, then taking the shuttle bus to Hayward Field, going through the hassle of security, walking through the FanFest, and finally finding your seat to watch the greatest national track & field championships in the world.

Fear not--the boys at RunnerSpace.com have produced a short video recapping what happened over the ten days of the Trials.

Here it is...

A possible summer circuit for next year in the Northwest?

The Oregonian reported last Monday of a proposal by Vin Lananna of the University of Oregon to put together a meet or a series of meets for 2009 and beyond.

Vin Lananna, University of Oregon's director of track and field, said he is working on bringing a national-caliber meet back to Hayward on July 27, presumably as a sendoff for athletes from Eugene heading to Beijing.

The Oregon Track Club's Nick Symmonds, the winner of the men's 800 at the Trials, would presumably be involved in the July 27th meet, as will Oregon's Andrew Wheating, and the OTC's Christian Smith. Symmonds announced earlier in the week that he was not running in Europe, opting to stay at home to train for the Olympics.

"It won't be a great, big monstrosity, but we'll have a couple events," Lananna said. "We'll try it out. But when we do it (in 2009), we're going to blow it out."

Lananna said he envisions an annual summer circuit of three West Coast meets starting next year. His preferred rotation: Eugene-Portland-Eugene. Lewis & Clark College or Lincoln High School are possible venues for the Portland meet, Lananna said.

Bill Roe, USA Track & Field's president and acting chief executive, said he supported the summer circuit concept.

"If Vin's interest was to have one here, we would definitely put one here," Roe said of Hayward. "I don't see it as being any detriment to having nationals here. I see it as more opportunities we have to put our athletes in front of these fans. Obviously, our athletes respond in front of these fans."

You can read the full article here...


IAAF preview of Athens Grand Prix meet...

As many of you know, I have an avowed affection for Athens, Greece...it's one of my favorite cities in the world to visit...not only that, but several of my good friends live there, and I always enjoy myself whenever my travels take me to the Greek capital.

Having said that, here's the IAAF preview of Sunday's Athens Grand Prix meet at Olympic Stadium, featuring Brad Walker, who is 1 for 1 on the current pre-Olympic European tour, having won in Karlsruhe, Germany, clearing 19-4 1/4 (5.90m).

The World champion came third in the US Trials and so goes to Beijing and is currently the best vaulter this season. Derek Miles (5.80) who won the national title also jumps as does Australia’s Steve Hooker (6.00 this year), Ukraine’s Denys Yurchenko (5.83m) and Maksym Mazuryk (5.82), and the Germans Tim Lobinger and Bjorn Otto.

To read the full article, click here...

Friday, July 11, 2008

ESPN mini-documentary on James Li...

ESPN has a very good mini-documentary on former Washington State University distance coach James Li, who is now the head cross country coach and associate head coach at the University of Arizona in Tuscon.

Li has perhaps the most important job on the US Olympic track & field staff, as he's the head team manager.

He's been the man most responsible for setting up the team's pre-Olympic camp in Dalian, about 300 miles from Beijing.

Li will have one other major responsibility--coaching Bernard Lagat in the 1500 & 5000 meter runs, where Lagat is a heavy favorite to medal.

You can watch the mini-documentary here...

Ginnie Powell ninth at Golden Gala in Rome...

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell was ninth in the 100 meter hurdles at the Golden Gala meet in Rome, clocking 13.17.

Powell, positioned on the outside in lane 9, was never a factor in the race, still getting over the effects of a left hamstring pull suffered in May which set her training back and led to a sixth place finish at the Olympic Trials.

The Golden Gala was highlighted by a world record clearance in the pole vault by Yelena Isinbayeva of 16-6 (5.03m).

For complete results from the meet, please visit the Golden League page at iaaf.org.

Jeshua Anderson wins world junior title at 400 hurdles...


Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson's (center/file photo by Paul Merca) amazing first year running the 400 meter hurdles was capped off Friday night as he won the IAAF world junior title in the event, running a personal best and WSU school record time of 48.68 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Anderson, who won the Pac-10, NCAA West Regional, NCAA national, and USA junior titles this season, lowered his previous personal best by 1/100ths of a second, set in winning the NCAA title in Des Moines, Iowa in June.

In Friday's race, he defeated South Carolina freshman Johnny Dutch, an Olympic Trials finalist, who ran 49.25 to lead an American 1-2 finish.

In quotes posted on the USA Track & Field site, he said, "I wanted to come in strong and stay focused. I knew Johnny was going to be right on me, so I wanted to finish strong and keep my composure. Plus I wanted us to go 1-2 and bring some medals back.

"I'm glad it's over with now, because I'm tired. Initially I just wanted to go to the Trials and compete there, which I was able to do. I had a really good year and wasn't expecting all of this to happen.

"Nothing really crossed my mind as I finished. I just wanted to hurry up and get done with the race. I'm glad we finished 1-2. I'm really appreciative about that."

Anderson is not done at the World Junior Championships as he will run on the men's 4x400m relay team in preliminary heats Saturday, aiming for the Sunday final.

For complete results from the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, click here...

Schaff misses finals in 1500 at world juniors...

Incoming University of Washington freshman Kendra Schaff finished sixth in the third of three heats in the semifinals of the women's 1500 meter run Friday morning at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships, running a time of 4:22.29.

The Canadian finished less than two seconds behind US high school record holder Jordan Hasay, who earned one of the three time qualifying marks for Sunday's finals, running 4:20.82.

In Friday's evening session, Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson faces off against American rival Johnny Dutch in the finals of the men's 400 meter hurdles, which is one of the marquee events of the world junior meet.

For complete results from the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, click here...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aretha Thurmond & Diana Pickler receive $5000 grant bonuses from USATF Foundation...

USA Track & Field Foundation awarded additional $5,000 bonuses to recipients of their Elite Athlete Development Grant program, USATF Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic announced Wednesday.

Discus thrower Aretha Thurmond & heptathlete Diana Pickler received these bonuses as a result of earning berths on the US Olympic team during the first weekend of the Trials.

Shani Marks (triple jump), Stephanie Brown Trafton (discus), David Oliver (110 hurdles), Mike Hazle (javelin), April Steiner (pole vault), Loree Smith (hammer throw) and Leigh Smith (javelin) also received the bonuses to assist with expenses associated with training for the Olympic Games in August.

"It is very exciting to see so many of the athletes that we support through the elite grant program excel at the Olympic Trials," said USATF Foundation Director Ashley Wright. "It's truly an honor to further support these athletes as they fulfill their Olympic dreams." stated

The USATF Foundation Elite Athlete Grant program contributes to the pursuit of world-class performances by American post-collegiate track and field athletes. Athletes must meet minimum performance and income standards to be eligible. The Foundation assists people of all ages, all walks of life, and all ability levels in finding enjoyment and accomplishment and achieving fitness through the sport.

In a post on letsrun.com, USATF Foundation board member Jack Wickens stated that, "The USATF Foundation decided to reward ALL athletes that have received individual grants from us since 2006 with a "bonus" if they made the Olympic team (regardless of their current financial position). We felt that this action visibly reinforced the mission and purpose of our elite athlete support. These athletes, in a sense, made great use of our investment in them."

Anderson headed towards finals of world junior championships...


Washington State University freshman Jeshua Anderson (above/photo finish shot courtesy Seiko/IAAF) won his semi-final race in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles Thursday at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Running in the second of three semi-final heats, Anderson posted the fastest time of the day, clocking 49.90.

Anderson, the reigning Pac-10, NCAA West Region, and NCAA champion is headed on a collision course to meet South Carolina freshman Johnny Dutch in Friday night's final. Dutch, a Olympic Trials finalist, clocked 50.40 to win heat one.

Afterwards, he told USA Track & Field' s on site media relations team, "I wanted to get out hard and have a smooth race. It was real windy, so I wanted to see how it would feel to run hard and then ease up at the end a bit.

"I just want to go 1-2 in the final. However it plays out it doesn't matter as long as the USA is the top two. We want to take some medals back home."

Incoming Husky freshman Kendra Schaff, who finished seventh in the women's 5000 earlier in the meet, returns Friday in the semifinals of the women's 1500 meter run. The Canadian will run in heat three against the US national high school record holder in the 1500, Jordan Hasay, who was a finalist in that event at the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field in Eugene, Oregon.

For complete results from the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, click here...

Anson Henry & Märt Israel named to Canadian & Estonian Olympic teams

Former Washington State sprinter Anson Henry from Canada and former University of Washington discus thrower Märt Israel from Estonia have been named to their country's Olympic teams.

Henry, the Cougar school record holder in the 100, the 2002 Pac-10 champ at 100 & 200 meters, and a 2002 All-American in that event, will compete for Canada in the 100 meters and on their 4 x 100 meter relay team.

Israel, who competed for the University of Washington in the 2007 season, joins a formidable Estonian discus squad that includes reigning world champion Gerd Kanter and Aleksander Tammert.

Israel opted not to return to the UW for 2008, but instead elected to train in Estonia with Kanter.

Here's the link to the Athletics Canada release naming Henry to their squad...

Brad Walker wins in Karlsruhe...

Pole vaulter Brad Walker from Mountlake Terrace began his pre-Olympic European tour on Wednesday with a victory in a street vault competition in Karlsruhe, Germany, clearing 19-4 1/4 (5.90m).

Walker heads to Athens to compete in the Athens Grand Prix meet on Sunday the 13th, then to London on the 25th to complete his pre-Olympic competitions in Europe.

Here are the results:

1. Walker, Brad (USA) 5,90
2. Clavier, Jérôme (FRA) 5,75
3. Hartwig, Jeff (USA) 5,70
4. Straub, Alexander (LG Filstal) 5,60
5. Lobinger, Tim (LG Stadtwerke München) 5,60
6. Czerwinski, Przemyslaw (POL) 5,40
7. Otto, Björn 1977 (LAV Bayer Uerdingen/Dormagen) 5,40
7. Skipper, Tommy 1984 (USA) o.g.V.

Here's his jump, as posted on YouTube...note that he's sporting a Mohawk!


The full story of the meet can be accessed here (note--the story is in German)...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jeshua Anderson wins first round heat at world juniors...

Qualifying rounds in the 400 hurdles highlighted the morning session of the second day during the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships led by Washington State's Jeshua Anderson.

Anderson, the 2008 NCAA 400 hurdle champion from Washington State, claimed the first heat in a comfortable 51.13 while South Carolina's Johnny Dutch, who placed fifth at the Olympic Trials, won his heat in 52.21. Anderson posted the top qualifying time while Dutch ranked 12th.

Afterwards, Anderson told USA Track & Field media staffers, "I'm just a little tired running this early today. I just wanted to come out and get into a steady pace and run a good race. It wasn't my best, but I did what I had to do.

"This was like running at Washington State, there was a lot of wind and the temperature was pretty cool. It was a lot more wind than I expected.

"I'm looking to having a good meet, but I haven't had much rest since football season after competing during indoor and outdoor track. This is a big step for me and I feel blessed to have avoided any injuries."

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kendra Schaff 7th at World Juniors in 5000...


Incoming University of Washington freshman Kendra Schaff (#90/photo courtesy IAAF) from Lumsden, Saskatchewan in Canada, finished seventh in the women's 5000 meter run at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, clocking a time of 16:37.79.

Sule Utura of Ethiopia led her country to a 1-2 finish, winning the world junior title in 16:15.59 over world junior cross country champion Genzebe Dibaba, who ran 16:16.75.

For complete results of the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships, please visit the world juniors home page at iaaf.org.

Kendra Schaff & Jeshua Anderson compete at IAAF World Junior Championships...

Incoming University of Washington freshman Kendra Schaff (left, in red/photo by Paul Merca) and Washington State's NCAA champion at the 400 meter hurdles Jeshua Anderson bring their talents to the world stage, as they run in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The highly heralded Canadian junior champion, who enters the meet with a personal best of 16:05.16, runs in the women's 5000 meter finals Tuesday night.

Schaff, who finished 20th in the world junior cross country meet in March, will compete against a formidable field which includes two Ethiopian runners with personal bests under 15:10, led by Genzebe Dibaba, the reigning world junior cross country champion, and younger sister of Tirunesh Dibaba, the current world champion at 10000 meters, and world record holder in the 5000.

Anderson, who won the NCAA 400 hurdles title for Washington State in June, will have a potential matchup against South Carolina freshman Johnny Dutch, who finished fifth in the finals at the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field in Eugene, Oregon. The duo begin their quest for a world title on Wednesday, with the finals on Friday.

Anderson enters the world juniors with a personal best of 48.69, set in garnering the NCAA title, while Dutch's pr is 48.52, set in the finals of the Olympic Trials.

US national junior 1500 meter champion Nectaly Barbosa from Prosser, a freshman at Arizona State, opted not to make the trip to Poland with the junior squad.

For more information on the IAAF World Junior Championships, please visit the world junior championship home page at iaaf.org.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The party's over...


EUGENE--As I sit in bed at the apartment outside Autzen Stadium that I've called home for the last two weeks, it's time to reflect on my stay here in Track Town, USA.

For many of the athletes, media, coaches, officials, and fans, Sunday night was a night to blow off some steam and celebrate ten days of the greatest track & field national championship meet in the world.

Our adventure Sunday night after the meet began by watching a bunch of runners compete in a "beer mile" where the objective is to run four laps while downing a 12-ounce beer before starting the next lap.

After that, the next stop was the Villard Street Pub, which was the unofficial headquarters of the Olympic Trials.

There was a who's who of track & field gathered at the Villard Street Pub, including letsrun.com's BroJos (Weldon & Robert Johnson); American Track & Field publisher Larry Eder; Olympians Lopez Lomong and Nick Symmonds, super track agent Mark Wetmore; and, a host of athletes, coaches, and hangers-on.

The process of cleaning up the area around Hayward Field begins today, including breaking down the temporary bleachers that expanded the capacity of America's greatest track stadium to 16,500 (no matter what the local organizing committee may say about 20000-plus attendance every day), removing the tents that housed the various displays, and removing the two temporary jumbotron television screens.

In a few days, the area around 15th and Agate will revert back to just another part of the University of Oregon campus.

But for ten days, America and the world saw the best of track and field.

We saw that yes, you can live and achieve the American dream through this sport, as immigrants Bernard Lagat, Leo Manzano, and Lopez Lomong did in the climactic men's 1500 meter run Sunday.

For once, the focus was steered away from the drug issues that have clouded the sport, and towards athletes scratching, clawing, and throwing their bodies onto the finish line, with Olympic team berths at stake.

We thank the cities of Eugene and Springfield, along with the University of Oregon for their hospitality this last week and a half.

The Toyota Corrolla is pointed north towards Seattle. We'll be home soon.

Jordan Boase has stress fracture in femur...

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports in Monday's edition that 400 meter runner Jordan Boase has been running with a stress fracture in his left femur.

After posting some elite-level times and a fourth-place finish at the 2008 NCAA championships, Boase is also weighing whether to return for his final collegiate season or seek a pro contract.

"I've spoken to a couple of agents about the pro option," Boase said. "Right now I'm just trying to get as much information as I can, and figure out what's best for me.

To read the full story, click here...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Final recap of how Washington state athletes fared at the Olympic Trials...

EUGENE--As paulmerca.blogspot.com prepares to leave Eugene, here is a recap of how Washington state affiliated athletes did at the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field:

WOMEN

Christine Babcock (incoming UW freshman)—ninth in 1500 meter semifinals, 4:20.00
Cecelia Barnes (former UW)—finished fifth in discus, 186-8
Lindsey Blaine (Lyle HS)--finished eighth in javelin, 168-7
Kate Burton (Evergreen HS/Clark CC) tied for 20th in hammer throw qualifying, 194-6
Kate Conwell (former UW/Club Northwest) tied for 13th, pole vault qualifying, 13-5 1/4
Brie Felnagle (Bellarmine Prep HS/Tacoma)—did not finish 1st round of 1500
Katie Follett (UW)—tenth in 1500 meter semifinals, 4:22.60
McKenzie Garberg (WSU)—17th in hammer throw qualifying, 200-7
Britney Henry (Spokane)—16th in hammer throw qualifying, 207-0
Brittany Hinchcliffe (Capital HS/Olympia)--tenth in hammer throw, 213-0
Tiombe Hurd (former Seattle resident)—19th in triple jump, 43-6
Ashley Lodree (former UW)--did not finish quarterfinals of 100 hurdles
Amanda Miller (Eastmont/Wenatchee & UW)—10th in first round of 1500, 4:24.45
Kara Patterson (Skyview/Vancouver)—won javelin in 191-9
Diana Pickler (formerly from WSU)—3rd in heptathlon
Julie Pickler (formerly from WSU)—did not finish heptathlon
Ginnie Powell (Rainier Beach HS)—sixth in 100 hurdles, 12.74
Kelly Strong (Renton/UW assistant coach)—9th in steeplechase semifinals, 10:13.70
Aretha Thurmond (Renton HS/UW)—won discus in 213-11
Michelle Turner (UW)—twelfth in 1500 meter semifinals, 4:30.59
Vanessa Wilhelm (Crescent HS/Joyce)—tied for 20th in hammer throw qualifying, 194-6

MEN

Jeshua Anderson (WSU)-fifth in semifinals in 400 hurdles, 48.92
Dominique Arnold (WSU)--false started out of 110 hurdles quarterfinals
Trent Arrivey (Woodinville HS/WSU)—15th in high jump qualifying, 7-0 1/2
Jordan Boase (Bothell HS/UW)—seventh in semifinals of 400, 46.60; didn’t start 200
Ryan Brown (former UW/Renton HS)—14th in 800-meter semifinals in 1:47.95
Will Conwell (UW/Club Northwest)—sixth in discus throw, 202-7
Eric Dudley (former WSU from Bellingham)—sixth in semifinals in 400 hurdles, 49.37
Craig Everhart (former Lincoln/Tacoma)—sixth in first round of 400, 48.08
Norris Frederick (UW)—14th in long jump qualifying, 25-2; didn’t start high jump
Allen James (Shorecrest HS/Western Washington))—sixth in 20 kilometer walk, 1:32:13
Jon Jeffreys (WSU)—twelfth in javelin throw, 210-0
Kyle Jenkins (Thomas Jefferson HS)—ninth in triple jump, 53-1 3/4
Michael Kilburg (O’Dea HS)—20th in 10000 meters, 29:26.76
Bernard Lagat (former WSU)—Won 5000 in 13:27.47; also won 1500 in 3:40.47
Matt Lamb (WSU)—tenth in discus at 194-10
Chris Lukezic (Auburn HS)--tenth in 1500 meters at 3:43.26
Andy McClary (Shelton HS)--eighth in 1500 meters at 3:42.40
Jordan McNamara (Auburn Riverside HS) 10th in first round of 1500m, 3:49.61
Adam Midles (Capital HS/Olympia)—14th in hammer qualifying, 221-1
Rickey Moody (Puyallup HS/WSU)—14th in decathlon, 7512 points
John Moore (Olympia HS)—21st in 10000 meters, 29:26.79
Shae Murray (Spokane CC)—13th in javelin throw, 228-3
Nick Owens (Shelton HS)—15th in hammer qualifying, 219-8
David Paul (Eastern Washington)—11th in hammer throw, 218-8
Chris Randolph (Seattle Pacific/Club Northwest)—10th in decathlon, 7660 points
Jesse Roberge (former Yelm HS)—13th in shot put qualifying, 63-06.75
Jarred Rome (Marysville-Pilchuck HS)—11th in discus throw, 193-5
Reedus Thurmond (Federal Way/Club Northwest)—18th in discus qualifying, 188-4
Brad Walker (former UW from Mountlake Terrace)—3rd in pole vault, 18-6 1/2
Ian Waltz (WSU)—won discus throw, 216-1
Arend Watkins (WSU)--eighth in semifinals of 110 hurdles, 13.87
Ryan Weidmann (Spokane CC coach)—19th in javelin throw, 218-8
Elvie Williams (Spanaway Lake HS/Spokane CC)—21st in long jump qualifying, 24-4 1/2

Athletes highlighted in red earned spots on the US Olympic team.

Olympic Trials day 8 recap...

EUGENE--Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned his second Olympic Trials title Sunday afternoon in the men’s 1500 meter run, the climactic event of a wildly successful eight days of competition at Hayward Field to select America’s team for next month’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

While the Washington State University alum’s winning time was relatively modest at 3:40.37, it was clear to the rest of the field that he was in control of the race, and that everyone else who expected to challenge him would have to run a perfect race to earn the victory.

NCAA champion Leo Manzano and former Northern Arizona standout Lopez Lomong, the fifth place finisher in the 800 earlier in the week, will join Lagat in Beijing.

Former Shelton High runner Andy McClary finished eighth in 3;42.40, while Auburn HS grad Chris Lukezic was tenth in 3:43.26.

"My coach (James Li) told me that there was no pressure [in this race], that I can run with anything that develops. The goal was to just stay out of trouble. We almost had it happen today, but we were able to get out of it," said the winner in the post-race interview area.

When asked about what it means to send a team comprised entirely of immigrants (Manzano is from Mexico, and Lomong is from Sudan), Lagat said, "It feels good. It shows that American is the place where dreams can happen. I can't find that in Europe or in my country. The three of us are living the American dream. My goal now is to do my best for this country."

"It was different for me last year [at World Championships], but in a different way. In Kenya I was wearing red and green, but now I get to wear red, white and blue."


Another Washington State standout, Ian Waltz (above/photo by Paul Merca), won the men’s discus title, throwing 216-1, to earn his second straight Olympic team spot.

Michael Robertson (209-1) and Casey Malone (205-7) will join Waltz in Beijing.

In describing the competition, Waltz said, “"I went out there in warm-up and basically took it really easy, trying to groove in some technique. I maybe had some 61 foot throws."

"I think my timing was still a little bit off because I haven't thrown hard the last week and a half. I thought I threw well and it feels good to be going to Beijing. It was a great day overall having my friends and family here."

For former Marysville-Pilchuck thrower Jarred Rome, who entered the finals with the top qualifying mark at 206-10 meters, it was a stunning fall from grace, as he finished 11th in 193-5.

As he described it, "I had three throws that slipped off my hand and went straight-up into the air. I've never in my career had that happen to me, not even in high school or college. I don't know why it was slipping off my hand. I led the qualifying and am in the best shape of my life, but I'm not on the Olympic team."

"I've never had a disappointment like this. I mean there was never a moment this year that I thought I wasn't going to make this team. I've been training for this since 2004 and have had the second longest throw this year. I don't even know what to say right now."

Former Husky Will Conwell finished sixth in 202-7, and Washington State junior Matt Lamb was tenth at 194-10.

In other field events, Washington State senior Jon Jeffreys finished twelfth in the men’s javelin at 210-0, and Thomas Jefferson graduate Kyle Jenkins finished ninth at 53-1 3/4.

In the men’s 110 hurdles, Washington State graduate Arend Watkins was eighth in his semi-final at 13.87.

Former Washington state high school champion Ginnie Powell from Rainier Beach in Seattle finished sixth in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles.

For complete results of Sunday’s Olympic Trials competition, click here, follow the date, then click on the event title.

Kelly Blair LaBounty let go at Oregon...

Kelly Blair LaBounty (left/photo courtesy University of Oregon Athletic Dept.), a two-time Olympian and two-time World Championships qualifier in the heptathlon, has been fired from her position as assistant coach with the University of Oregon women’s track and field program.

Blair LaBounty, a 1994 UO graduate, a native of Prosser, and one of the greatest athletes to compete for the Ducks, said she was told last Wednesday that her contract, which expired June 30, would not be renewed.

“They told me they were going in a different direction,” said Blair LaBounty, a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. “They showed me the new reorganization chart for coaches.

She is married to former Seattle Seahawk Matt LaBounty.

Here's the link to read the rest of the story...


Interesting story on how the media is covering the Trials..

Here's a link to a story in Saturday's Eugene Register-Guard on how the media is covering the Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene.

The advent of "new" media, of which this blog qualifies as, has greatly expanded the number of people covering this event.

Click here to read the story...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Olympic Trials day 8 preview...

EUGENE--Olympians Bernard Lagat, Ian Waltz & Jarred Rome lead a contingent of eleven athletes with state of Washington affiliations into Sunday’s final day of competition at the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field at Hayward Field.

Lagat, a graduate of Washington State University, and the reigning world champion, will shoot for his second Olympic team berth in the men’s 1500 meters at 5:50 pm. He already has a spot on the US Olympic team by virtue of his victory in the 5000 meters earlier in the meet.

He will be joined in the 1500 finals by former Auburn HS graduate Chris Lukezic (left/photo by Paul Merca), a 2005 world championship team member, and Andy McClary, a Shelton HS product.

In the men’s discus, 2004 Olympians Ian Waltz, formerly of WSU, and Jarred Rome, who attended Marysville-Pilchuck, will vie for their second straight Olympic team at 2:20 pm.

They’ll be joined in the discus finals by former Husky Will Conwell, and current Cougar Matt Lamb.

Arend Watkins will run in the semi-finals of the men’s 110 hurdles at 3:15 pm, with the opportunity to compete in the finals at 5:30 pm.

Two-time US national champion Ginnie Powell, formerly of Rainier Beach HS will run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meter hurdles at 3:35, with the finals at 5:40 pm if she places in the top four.

At 4 pm, Thomas Jefferson HS grad Kyle Jenkins will be one of twelve finalists in the men’s triple jump.

At 4:15, Washington State University senior Jon Jeffreys will throw in the finals of the men’s javelin.

Here’s the complete schedule of athletes competing on Sunday with their Washington connection, and the link to the start lists.

WOMEN:
Ginnie Powell (Rainier Beach HS) 100 hurdles

MEN:
Will Conwell (UW/Club Northwest) Discus throw
Matt Lamb (WSU) Discus throw
Jon Jeffreys (WSU) Javelin throw
Kyle Jenkins (Thomas Jefferson HS) Triple jump
Bernard Lagat (WSU) 1500 meters
Chris Lukezic (Auburn HS) 1500 meters
Andrew McClary (Shelton HS) 1500 meters

Olympic Trials day 7 recap...

EUGENE--Ginnie Powell (left/photo by Paul Merca), the Rainier Beach HS graduate, advanced to Sunday’s semifinal round of the women’s 100 meter hurdles, finishing second in 13.12 in the first round, and fourth in the quarterfinals, running 12.87.

In the opening round, former Husky Ashley Lodree qualified for the quarterfinals, running 13.39, but failed to finish the next round.

Dominique Arnold, the American record holder in the 110 hurdles, advanced to the second round as a time qualifier, finishing fifth in 13.59, but false-started out of the quarterfinals.

Former Cougar Arend Watkins advanced to Sunday’s semifinals, running 13.48 for fifth in the first round, and 13.53 for fourth in the quarterfinals.

Allen James, a former Shorecrest HS and Western Washington standout, and a two time Olympian in 1992 and 1996, finished sixth in the men’s 20-kilometer walk, clocking 1:32:13. James originally retired from full-time competition in 1997.

Former University of Oregon thrower Brittany Hinchcliffe, a product of Capital HS in Olympia, placed tenth in the women’s hammer throw, with a toss of 213-0.

For complete results of Saturday’s Olympic Trials competition, click here, follow the date, then click on the event title.

Olympic Trials day 7 preview...

EUGENE--As the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field roars to the climactic final two days of competition, the short hurdlers take center stage, led by defending national champion Ginnie Powell, formerly from Rainier Beach High School in south Seattle.

Powell, who finished fifth in last year’s world championships in Osaka, looks to make her first Olympic team in one of the most unpredictable events.

Powell has not raced much in the lead-up to the Trials, and will face a formidable group of talented hurdlers, including defending Olympic champ Joanna Hayes, world indoor champion LoLo Jones, and two-time world champion Michelle Perry.

Former University of Washington hurdler Ashley Lodree will also compete in the women’s 100 meter hurdles.

A pair of former Cougars, led by American record holder Dominique Arnold, and Arend Watkins, will do battle in the men’s 110 meter high hurdles at 11:25 am.

Arnold’s 2007 season came to a screeching halt at the world championships in Osaka, where he was forced to withdraw with an injury suffered shortly before the first round of his event.

All four hurdlers will run a first round in the morning, then finish with a quarter-final round two hours later.

Saturday’s competition gets underway at 7 am with the men’s 20-kilometer walk, featuring Shorecrest HS and Western Washington graduate Allen James, a two-time Olympian, who was the dominant American race walker of the 1990s, and is making a comeback after retiring from full-time competition in 1997.

On the field, Brittany Hinchcliffe, formerly from Capital HS in Olympia, will throw in the finals of the women’s hammer throw at 1:10 pm.

Here’s the complete schedule of athletes competing on Saturday with their Washington connection, and the link to the start lists.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

7:00 20 kilometer race walk men
Allen James (Shorecrest HS/Western Washington)

11:00 100m Hurdles women qualifying (32)
GINNIE POWELL (Rainier Beach HS)
Ashley Lodree (Univ. of Washington)

11:25 110m Hurdles men qualifying (32)
DOMINIQUE ARNOLD (WSU)
AREND WATKINS (WSU)

1:10 Hammer Throw women final
Brittany Hinchcliffe (Capital HS/Olympia)

1:15 100m Hurdles women quarterfinal
GINNIE POWELL
Ashley Lodree

1:45 110m Hurdles men quarterfinal
DOMINIQUE ARNOLD
AREND WATKINS

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