Monday, September 29, 2008

Clay, Stuczynski your choice for the Jesse Owens Award...

In a post on September 19th, we asked you to vote for your pick for USA Track & Field's Jesse Owens Award, given annually to the top male and female track & field athletes.

You folks picked pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski and decathlete Bryan Clay as your choices to win the Jesse Owens Award.

This year’s awards will be presented December 6 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno, Nev. The ceremony is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field’s 2008 Annual Meeting in Reno, December 3-7.

The Jesse Owens Award was established in 1981 as a tribute to the man whose accomplishments are forever enshrined in sports history. It is USA Track & Field’s highest accolade, and is presented annually to the individuals selected through a nominating and voting procedure as the outstanding American performers of the year in Athletics.

Thanks for voting!

Weekend wrapup: September 27th--Pixler sixth at Stanford Invitational...

Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific was the first Division II runner across the line and took sixth place overall Saturday in the Stanford Invitational cross country meet.

Pixler, a junior (Sammamish, Wash., Eastlake HS) complete the 6,000-meter (3.72-mile) course in 21 minutes, 22 seconds. The winner, Laura Olvera of UC Irvine, hit the wire in 20:42. Pixler, the defending NCAA Division II champion took 10th in last year's Stanford.

Falcons junior Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash., Cedar Park Christian HS) placed 28th among the 278 competitors in 22:13.

Seattle Pacific placed 18th among the 33 teams with 447 points. Stanford, ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division I, won with 43 points. UC Davis was second with 122.

"It was one more opportunity to run with lots of good competition around us in a big race," Falcons coach Erika Daligcon said. "I think that helps us was we focus now on the second part of the season we're going into."

Meanwhile, the Washington State men's cross country team was led to a sixth place finish by senior Drew Polley who finished 15th at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Polley was the first Cougar to cross the finish line of the 8,000m course in 24:43 at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.

"We were tied for sixth which is the highest finish we have ever had at this meet," WSU Head Coach Jason Drake said. "Drew Polley ran a great race and Sam Ahlbeck ran well which is good to see"

WSU junior Sam Ahlbeck finished 37th (25.14) and was the second Cougar to complete the course. Also scoring for the Cougars was freshman Justin Englund placing 51st (25:22) followed by junior Mark Moeller placing 53rd (25:23), freshman Jono Lafler finishing 59th (25:31). Junior Dominic Smargiassi (94. 25.59), senior Evan Blanshan (110. 26:18), sophomore David Hickerson(143. 26:37), sophomore Luke Lemenager (149. 26.45) and freshman Peter Miller (220. 29.07) ran for the Cougars but scores did not count towards the team score.

"I was impressed with how the younger guys stepped up," senior captain Drew Polley said. "The freshmen ran well and Sam Ahlbeck ran great so I was really encouraged. We were right in there with some very good teams, so we were pretty happy about it."

Adams State ranked No. 2 nationally in Division II captured the team event beating out No. 19 Iowa State 75-89 in the Men's Gold Division. No. 30 Brigham Young finished in third place with 91 points. No. 9 Minnesota placed fourth with 107 points while No. 25 Auburn finished fifth with 135 points. WSU's 215 points tied them for sixth, but WSU's total team time was one second faster than No. 15 New Mexico, placing the Cougars ahead of the Lobos.

As a team, the Seattle University men finished in 25th place with 747 points.

Michael Van Nuland (Newcastle, Wash.) was the leading runner for the Redhawk men’s team, finishing in 178th place in 27:22.5 over the 8000-meter course. Nick Cannata-Bowman (San Francisco, Calif.) crossed the finish line in 185th place with a time of 27:34.2, followed closely by Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.), who posted a time of 27:35.4 and finished in 187th place.

Next for Seattle University was Hans Heitzinger (Scottsdale, Ariz.), who finished in 203rd place in a time of 28:03.4. Matthew McClement (Bellingham, Wash.) finished in 207th place in 28:14.5, followed by Adam Kollgaard (Kent, Wash.) in 217th place in 28:59.2 and Graham Miller (Spokane, Wash.) in 222nd place with a time of 29:24.3.

The Seattle University women were once again paced by Katie Hansen (Portland, Ore.), who steadily worked her way up to a 62nd place finish in a time of 22:54.6. Rachel Yorkston (Bellingham, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 117th place with a time of 23:45.2, while Greta Stickney (Poulsbo, Wash.) finished in 151st place in 24:19.1.

Two other Redhawk women earned top 200 finishes, as Jen Hamann (Colorado Spring, Colo.) finished in 194th place in 25:31.1 and Natalie Martinez (San Francisco, Calif.) crossed the finish line in 200th place with a time of 25:47.9. Tiffany Hunter (Longview, Wash.) finished in 204th place in 26:07.5, and Sarah Bolce (Sacramento, Calif.) ran a time of 26:43.5 for a 209th-place finish.

The women’s team finished in 21st place with 582 points, finishing ahead of Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference and Northern Illinois from the Mid-American Conference. Minnesota won the team competition, followed by Arizona State, New Mexico, Duke, Portland, Adams State, James Madison, Northern Iowa, Navy, and Iowa State.

"Overall I thought the team performed well today," head coach Trisha Steidl said. "This is the biggest event we have ever been a part of, and there was a lot of energy surrounding this event, which I think took some of our younger runners by surprise. This was a good learning experience for everyone, especially against a field as fast as this one, and it will help the student-athletes in the program grow and perform better in similar situations in the future."

Seattle University will host the Emerald City Open next Saturday, Oct. 4, at Lower Woodland Park beginning with the women’s 6000-meter race at 10:30 a.m.

THIS AND THAT--Seattle attorney and long-time track & field official William Hickman was elected president of the Pacific Northwest Association of USA Track & Field, replacing outgoing president Patti Petesch, a Seattle Parks & Recreation Department official, at its annual meeting Sunday in Seattle.

Bob Bowman of Redmond, a long-time race-walking official and IAAF Race Walk committee member, announced his intent to run for the presidency of USA Track & Field, to replace current president Bill Roe of Bellingham. Bowman is one of three known candidates for the position, along with Stephanie Hightower, and Dee Jensen.

NOTE: The sports information department of Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One more Usain Bolt post...

Here's highlights of Usain Bolt appearing on the David Letterman Show Thursday night:

Cross country weekend preview...

The Washington State men's cross country team (left/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) will head east to Minneapolis for Saturday's running of the Roy Griak Invitational. The Cougs will run in the Gold section starting at 12:10 pm, central time.

The Griak is one of the key invitational meets throughout the country over the next few weeks where schools who aspire to run in November's NCAA championships compete against each other, hoping to earn enough points, combined with the school's placing in the NCAA regional championships, to get the invitation to contest for the national title.

Washington State will be led in Minnesota by seniors Drew Polley and Evan Blanshan. The Cougs will also run juniors Sam Ahlbeck, Dominic Smargiassi and Mark Moeller; sophomores include David Hickerson, Luke Lemenager and Peter Miller along with freshmen Jono Lafler and Justin Englund. Moeller is coming off an 8th place finish at the Sundodger, while Hickerson and Miller also competed in Seattle.

Seattle University, in its first year as a NCAA Division I school, will also send a group of runners to Minneapolis for the Griak meet.

Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific will send its #2 ranked women's squad down to Stanford to run in the Stanford Invitational, against a field of teams including host Stanford, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC Davis, California, Cal State Fullerton and UCLA.

Among the major state universities, Washington, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington are off this weekend, as is Western Washington.

THIS AND THAT: paulmerca.blogspot.com has been assured by UW coach Greg Metcalf that Jordan Boase isn't going anywhere to finish his final year of eligibility, because of the departure of sprint coach LaMonte Vaughn. The 'spot speculated in Wednesday's post that the possibility of Boase leaving was there, as the fifth-year senior has enough credits to graduate...

Paul Limpf of Eastern Washington was named Big Sky Conference cross country athlete of the week for winning last week's Sundodger Invitational in Seattle...SPU's Jessica Pixler was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference athlete of the week for her third place finish at Sundodger...

Pixler now has a weekly blog available on the spufalcons.com site; meanwhile, Washington's Mel Lawrence also will be blogging her thoughts throughout the season at the gohuskies.com site.

Finally, we've received word that former O'Dea High School and University of Portland standout Michael Kilburg is now a member of the Brooks-Hanson's Distance Project squad. Kilburg completed his eligibility at Portland this spring, and competed in the 10000 at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brad Walker wins Jeff Hartwig's farewell meet in Aachen, Germany...

Mountlake Terrace's Brad Walker won a special pole vault competition Wednesday in Aachen, Germany commemorating the final meet of fellow 2008 US Olympian Jeff Hartwig, who earlier this year, announced his retirement from the sport.

Walker jumped 5.70m (18-8 1/4) to turn back Germans Alexander Straub (18-4 1/2) and Lars Borgerling (18-0.5). Hartwig finished fifth with a jump of 17-8 1/2.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UW sprint coach LaMonte Vaughn no longer with Huskies...

paulmerca.blogspot.com has learned that University of Washington sprint coach LaMonte Vaughn, Jr. (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) has left his position at Huskyville as of two days ago.

Sources within the local track & field community tell us that it was by mutual agreement; an attempt to reach the University of Washington sports information office for comment was unsuccessful.

Vaughn did send a text message tonight confirming that he's no longer at Washington.

This past track season, Vaughn helped sprinter Jordan Boase break Ja'Warren Hooker's UW school record at 400 meters, as Boase ran 44.82 last April at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe. Boase qualified for the Olympic Trials at both 200 and 400 meters, despite running with a stress fracture in his femur.

Since Vaughn's hiring in 2004, he's been instrumental in slowly turning around the fortunes of the sprint and hurdles program; this spring, the Huskies won the Pac-10 title in the men's 4 x 100 meter relay

One possible ramification of Vaughn's departure is the possibility (caveat: this is only speculation) that Boase may either transfer to another school to finish his eligibility as a graduate student, or turn pro; according to this August article by Meri Jo Borzilleri of the Seattle Times, Boase has completed course work for his college degree in sociology, plus a minor in history, and has a year of eligibility left.

Boase can transfer to another school and compete as a graduate student if he so desires, according to NCAA rules.

A quick check of the track & field roster page at gohuskies.com under the coaches' links found that Vaughn's name was removed; however, his UW bio is still up when his name was typed in a Google search.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And for a bit of comic relief...

One of our readers passed this YouTube clip of Eddie Murphy, playing Carl Lewis, on a Saturday Night Live clip, featuring Joe Piscopo as himself:



Despite Carl running on the track in the opposite direction, it's still funny! Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bernard Lagat nosed at the finish of Fifth Avenue Mile...

New Zealand's Nick Willis (left/photo courtesy NYRR), the Olympic bronze medalist at 1500 meters in Beijing, used a late surge to nip former Washington State star Bernard Lagat and win the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York.

Lagat and Jon Rankin took the early lead, but Lagat pushed to the front before Willis matched his move, and they fought for a shoulder-to-shoulder race to the finish that was too close to judge by sight.

Willis leaned in at the tape and finished in 3:50.5, which beat Lagat’s best effort by one-tenth of a second. Nate Brannan, a Canadian Olympian and Willis’ training partner in Michigan, was third in 3:51.9.

Former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic finished sixth in 3:54.5.

You can click here to watch the video highlight of the race.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bernard Lagat returns to NYC to run Fifth Avenue Mile...

NEW YORK--American Olympic mile stars Bernard Lagat (left/photo courtesy New York Road Runners) and Shannon Rowbury will close out their 2008 seasons with their road racing debuts at the famed Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile on Sunday, September 21.

Lagat and Rowbury headline a deep professional field of 10 Olympians competing in the 28th running of the world-famous mile road race down Fifth Avenue, including Americans Nick Symmonds, Erin Donohue, Nick Willis of New Zealand, and Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britain.

Lagat, 33, of Tucson, AZ, was a two-time Olympic medalist for Kenya in 2000 and 2004 before becoming an American citizen and going on to win the 1500 and 5000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field in June. In 2007, Lagat captured double gold at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka. A six-time winner of the renowned Wanamaker Mile, Lagat will be aiming to become only the second man in history to win both the Fifth Avenue and Wanamaker miles in the same year. Only Isaac Viciosa of Spain in 1997 has won the Wanamaker Mile and Fifth Avenue Mile double.

Former Auburn HS standout Chris Lukezic is also entered in the field.

The race down the world-famous thoroughfare begins near East 80th Street and finishes at East 60th Street. The professional women’s race is scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m., followed by the professional men’s race at 1:05 p.m. (all times listed are Eastern).

NOTE: The New York Road Runners contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kendra Schaff & Paul Limpf break course records at Sundodger Invitational...

Kendra Schaff, the Canadian frosh phenom, proved to all in attendance at Seattle's Lincoln Park that she is indeed the real deal as she ran a Sundodger Invitational course record of 19:58 in winning the 6-kilometer race.

The freshman from Saskatchewan took command from the gun, opening a lead of 100 meters through the first lap of the 3-lap race, and never looked back as she won going away.

"My objective today was just to have fun", Schaff said in a post race interview during the awards ceremony, as Schaff became the first woman to break 20 minutes on the 6k course.

"It is definitely a confidence booster," said Schaaf. "It's good to come in and have a good race and get the year off on the right foot. The plan was to just run how I felt, and the coaches told me they expected I'd be up front. It's only my second 6K so I was getting used to that. The crowd really got behind me today, it was fun."

The previous meet record was held by Club Northwest's Sabrina Monro, who ran 20:10 in 2004.

Husky sophomore Mel Lawrence from Reno finished second in 20:23, while NCAA Division II champion Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific finished third in 20:31.

In the men's competition, Eastern Washington's Paul Limpf from Vancouver's Evergreen HS, reeled in Alaska-Anchorage's Marko Cheseto on the final lap to break Jon Harding's course record of 23:36 over 8 kilometers set last year by 3 seconds.

Cheseto, who lost the lead in the last kilometer, held on to finish second in 23:45, with the University of Washington's Jake Schmitt third in 23:48.

Schmitt, who last spring qualified for NCAA's on the track in the 10K, led the Huskies in his first official UW cross country outing. He transferred to Washington from California and ran unattached last year during the fall. Schmitt's time of 23:48 was the seventh-fastest in meet history.

"I thought it was exactly what I wanted to feel like. Today's kind of a rust-buster, shake up the nerves, see where the team is, and it played into that exactly," said Schmitt. "We were running together through 4K, feeling good and controlled and feeding off each other. It's good to get a little pain the legs to experience that. It's something good that needs to happen."

The Huskies travel to Auburn, Alabama for the Auburn Invitational in two weeks.

MEN'S RESULTS

1-Paul Limpf, Eastern Washington, 23:33
2-Marko Cheseto, Alaska-Anchorage, 23:45
3-Jake Schmitt, UW 23:48
4-Alex Smyth, East Wa 24:03
5-Jeremy Mineau, UW, 24:08
6-Uli Steidl, Germany 24:11
7-Alfred Kangogo, AK Anch 24:13
8-Mark Moeller, WSU 24:27
9-Eric Garner (ex UW) 24:28
10-Jonathan Marcus, West Valley TC 24:38

Huskies win both team titles; men win with 41; AK Anch 2nd 54; Eastern WA 3rd 68;
women's team scores (top 3) 1, Washington 24; 2, UC Davis 67; 3, Oregon State 75;

WOMEN'S RESULTS

1, Kendra Schaaf, UW, 19:58 (course record); 2, Marie Lawrence, UW, 20:23 3, Jessica Pixler, SPU, 20:31 4, Lauren Saylor, UW, 20:41 5, Kim Conley, UCD, 20:45; 6, Kailey Campbell, UW, 20:47; 7, Lisa Egami, WSU, 20:52; 8, Kaitlin Gregg, UCD, 20:54; 9, Sylvia Veal, OSU, 20:54 10, Casey Masterson, OSU, 20:59

Friday, September 19, 2008

Paul's notes--Sundodger Invitational cross country meet at Lincoln Park...

For those of you who are planning to attend the Sundodger Invitational cross country meet Saturday morning at Lincoln Park, I've compiled a list of leading contenders in the men's and women's invitational races.

These notes are the same notes that the race announcer (me!) will use in calling the four races. With the large field in the two open races, I did not compile hero notes...sorry about that!

For fans of cross country, the women's race at 10:25 am will be the debut of the heralded Canadian freshman, Kendra Schaaf (far left/photo by Paul Merca) of the University of Washington, who finished 20th at the world junior cross country championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, and seventh in the 5000 at the world junior championships in Poland this summer.

MEET SCHEDULE
9:00 am Women's 6000m Open Race
9:40 am Men's 8000m Open Race
10:25 am Women's 6000m Invitational Race
11:00 am Men's 8000m Invitational Race

Hope this helps your enjoyment of the meet!

New poll up...

We have a poll running on the right hand side above the links section to see who you folks in cyberland think is deserving of USA Track & Field's Jesse Owens Award!

This year’s awards will be presented December 6 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno, Nev. The ceremony is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field’s 2008 Annual Meeting in Reno, December 3-7.

The Jesse Owens Award was established in 1981 as a tribute to the man whose accomplishments are forever enshrined in sports history. It is USA Track & Field’s highest accolade, and is presented annually to the individuals selected through a nominating and voting procedure as the outstanding American performers of the year in Athletics.


The poll will be up until Sunday September 28th!

David Kinsella interview on Trackshark.com...

Here's a link to an interview with David Kinsella (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the University of Portland, courtesy of Trackshark.com.

After the departure through graduation of Olympic Trials 10000m qualifiers John Moore and Michael Kilburg, both of whom were Western Washington prep runners, Kinsella, who competed at Bothell High School, carries on the proud Portland Pilot torch.

Portland has been the dominant program in the West Coast Conference, and has recruited and most importantly, developed runners with solid but not outstanding prep credentials, under the tutelage of coach Rob Conner.

Over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how Portland and Gonzaga, with Pat Tyson, and Seattle, with Trish Steidl, carves up the talent pool.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Greg Metcalf gets his deal extended to 2011...

The University of Washington has extended the contract of cross country and track & field coach Greg Metcalf (left/photo courtesy UW Sports Information) through the 2011 track season, director of athletics Scott Woodward announced today.

Metcalf, who is entering his 12th season as the head cross country coach and his seventh in charge of the Husky track & field program, signed a deal that will carry through June 30, 2011.

"Greg Metcalf is one of the top young coaches in collegiate track and field and we are thrilled to have him here at Washington," said Woodward, who was named the UW's new director of athletics on Wednesday. "He has taken our program to a new level and I am confident that, under his leadership, Husky track and field will continue to rise to a place among the nation's elite."

"In my time here at Washington, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great people, coach great athletes, and help Washington track & field reach new heights," Metcalf said. "It is my firm expectation that in the coming years, this program will go onto even larger successes.

"I am obviously ecstatic about the opportunity, not only from a coaching standpoint, but also because of what it does for me as a person," he continued. "I have been a Husky all my life, and this situation allows for me and my family to remain in Seattle, as well as aids in the continuity and progress I believe we have established here. Given the great combination of academics, athletics, and an international city, exciting times lay ahead for past, current, and future Washington track & field athletes."

Metcalf has led the women's cross country squad to the NCAA championships in nine of his 11 seasons, including six top-20 finishes. Last season, the Husky women finished eighth at the NCAA meet, the highest finish in program history. The UW men have competed in the national meet three times in the last five years, including a 12-place finish in 2006.

In track & field, Metcalf led the UW men to a 16th-place finish at the 2008 NCAA outdoor meet, the team's second straight top-20 finish. The men also finished seventh at the NCAA indoor championships.

In addition to their athletic prowess, Metcalf's teams have been among the brightest at a school renowned for its high academic standards. His teams are eight-time recipients of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honor, including the men's team being named the 2008 Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year. UW placed 44 athletes on the Pac-10's All-Academic cross country or track teams in 2007-08.

Metcalf, a native of Ephrata, Wash., was a two-time All-American and four-time Academic All-Pac-10 honoree as a distance runner at Washington. He earned his bachelor's degree from the UW in 1993.

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

Cross country preview: THE BEST OF THE REST...

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams concludes with a look at the best of the rest in Washington state.

All information provided in this post and in previous posts in the series were provided by the sports information departments at the various colleges and universities. We thank those people for their help in making this series possible.

Saint Martin’s University
returns GNAC men’s champion John Riak, while Annie Lawreyson is their top returning women’s runner…coach Kevin Adkisson faces a rebuilding year at Central Washington, as the Wildcats have two runners returning from the team that finished fourth in last year’s GNAC meet in sophs Jeff Knutson, and Scott Power. Senior Marcie Mullen is their top returning runner…

Junior Emily Timmer from the University of Puget Sound is the Loggers’ top returning runner. Timmer won the college-division race at last year’s Sundodger Invitiational…at Evergreen State, the Geoducks return three letter winners to their women’s team, including Emily Uhlig, and welcome double state 1B champ Karissa Carlson from Pateros.

Besides the Sundodger Invitational, some key meets around the state this fall include the Western Washington Invitational on October 11th, the Cascade Conference preview meet at Lincoln Park and the Eastern Washington University Invitational on October 18th, and the GNAC Championships in Yakima on October 25th.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cross country preview: PACIFIC LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we head south to Tacoma.

Today's cross country preview features the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, coached by Heather Kreier.

NCAA Division III Pacific Lutheran returns four of the top five runners from last year’s women’s team, which finished 12th in last year’s regional championship meet after a fifth-place finish in the Northwest Conference title event.

Among the top returnees to the 2008 squad are senior Lexie Miller, junior Katie Choate and sophomores Corrine Gogert and Mary Wuest. Gogert was PLU’s top finisher in six of eight meets in 2007, while Choate led the Lutes in the other two meets.

The Lutes are ranked #10 in the USTFCCCA pre-season poll.

On the men's side, the team appears to rely on a small group of freshmen and sophomores.

Last Saturday, the Pacific Lutheran men placed seventh and the Lutes women were eighth in the 10-team Lewis & Clark Invitational cross country meet in Estacada, Oregon.

This weekend, the Lutes will compete at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

NOTE: The sports information office at Pacific Lutheran University contributed to this report.

paulmerca.blogspot.com concludes its series on Washington's collegiate cross country teams Thursday with the best of the rest of Washington's schools.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cross country preview: WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we head north to Bellingham.

Today's cross country preview features the Western Washington Vikings, coached by Kelvin "Pee Wee" Halsell.


Coach Pee Wee Halsell’s Viking men's cross country team enters the 2008 cross country season ranked 12th in the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II pre-season polls.

After an impressive showing last Saturday at Central Washington University, the Vikings have moved into the #10 spot in the most recent USTFCCCA polls.

Halsell led the Vikings to their third Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship in five years and was named the conference's men's cross country coach of the year, and Western took second in the NCAA Division II West Regional meet.

The Vikings return five of their top seven runners from last year's team that placed 11th at nationals last fall.

Leading the returnees for Halsell, beginning his 22nd season as Western's head coach, is sophomore Bennett Grimes who earned All-America honors as he placed 43rd at nationals.

Also back are sophomore Daniel Phillips, sophomore Blake Medhaug, senior Jon Skelton, and sophomore Jordan Welling.

Sarah Porter is the top returning runner for the Vikings, as she finished 45th at nationals and earned all-star honors by finishing 13th at regionals and ninth at GNAC. Porter was the GNAC freshman of the 2007 season.

The Vikings also return juniors Valerie Matthews, Courtney Olsen and Danielle Slaughter, sophomore Maeve Sayres, and senior Shellane Jensen from their team that finished seventh in the GNAC meet.

"On the women's side, Sarah Porter's going to be out in front, it appears," Halsell said. "We're going to have a gap there behind the lead runner - that's not really a bad thing - but we're closing that gap, and beyond that I think we're going to be a real close group.

"It's pretty exciting. I think we're going to be better teams than we were last year."

They’ll also compete at the Sundodger Invitational Saturday at Lincoln Park.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Huskies ranked #3 in USTFCCCA women's pre-season rankings...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington women's cross country team will begin the season ranked #3 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's pre-season polls, behind Oregon and Florida State.

The Ducks return four of the five runners from last year’s team, led by junior All-American Nicole Blood and sophomore All-American Alexandra Kosinski. Oregon opens their 2008 season at home on October 4th when they host the 2008 Bill Dellinger Invitational.

The Seminoles of Florida State are ranked second behind Oregon and received one first place vote in this week’s poll. FSU, the top ranked team in the South Region, took part in the Covered Bridge Open a couple weeks ago and placed five runners in the top five slots to sweep the meet. The Seminoles will head to Blacksburg, Virginia this weekend for the Virginia Tech Invitational.

Three Pac-10 foes follow the Seminoles beginning with third-ranked Washington, followed by fourth-ranked Stanford, and fifth-ranked Arizona State giving the Pac-10 Conference four ranked teams in the top five to begin the season.

Third-ranked Washington enters the 2008 campaign following a landmark season by the Huskies. Led by senior Anita Campbell and junior Katie Follett, the Huskies look to improve upon their eighth place finish from ’07 and make it to the podium in 2008.

Stanford has won the past three NCAA team titles; however, they lose several key contributors from those teams including their coach, Peter Tegen, who retired after last season. Despite their losses, the Cardinal has reloaded with young talent and could surprise by year’s end.

Completing the top five in the women’s poll is Arizona State which returns six runners from last year’s NCAA fourth place finish, and also adds six transfers including two Division I All-Americans. With their depth and experience the Sun Devils could push for the NCAA title come November.

Editor's note: Curiously enough, Washington is ranked #3 in the USTFCCCA West Regional rankings behind Oregon & Stanford. We have to assume the voters are different for the regional and national rankings?

The voting panel for the USTFCCCA Division I Women’s National Poll consists of the elected executive committee and regional representatives of the USTFCCCA and is conducted by Jesse Rosen.

The Huskies open their season on Saturday at Lincoln Park when they host the Sundodger Invitational--here's the tentative time schedule:

9:00 am Women’s 6000m Open Race
9:40 am Men’s 8000m Open Race
10:25 am Women’s 6000m Invitational Race
11:00 am Men’s 8000m Invitational Race

NOTE: The University of Washington & the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cross country preview: SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we stay in Seattle.

Today's cross country preview features the Seattle Pacific University Falcons, coached by Erica Daligcon, the first year head coach who was promoted to replace long time Northwest coaching and running legend Doris Heritage.

Daligcon's Falcons are ranked #2 in the NCAA Division II women's team rankings, thanks to a strong showing at the St. Martin's Invitational a week ago. The Falcons will get a severe test this Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational in West Seattle, featuring all five of Washington's Division I teams.

The 2008 season marks the beginning of the Erika Daligcon era, as the former SPU runner takes over the helm of the Falcons from Northwest running and coaching legend Doris Brown Heritage.

The women’s team enters 2008 with a very large target on their backs, as the defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champs and NCAA Division II runners-up enter the season ranked #2 in the USTFCCCA pre-season polls behind defending champion Adams State.

Heritage didn’t leave the Falcons’ cupboard bare, returning junior NCAA D-II harrier champ Jessica Pixler, and junior Jane Larson, the 2007 GNAC runner-up, and an All-American in the steeplechase. Senior Suzie Strickler, junior Kate Harline and junior Lisa Anderberg are back after finishing fourth, 10th and 16th, respectively, in last year’s conference race.

In contrast, depth may pose a problem for the Falcons’ men’s squad as they are relying on a bevy of young runners. However, the Falcons return their top runner from 2007, Chad Meis from Renton, and Brian Cronrath, who according to their web site, returns after being red-shirted last season.

The Falcons have added three freshmen seeing significant action so far this season, in the form of Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, MT., Sentinel HS) , Andrew Hamilton (Seattle, WA., Ballard HS) & Tom McKay (Oakland, OR., Oakland HS).

Seattle Pacific finished fourth in the Apple Ridge Invitational in Yakima on Saturday, and their women's squad, which was missing several of their front-line athletes, took third.

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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walker second, Thurmond sixth in World Athletics Final...

STUTTGART--Pole vaulter Brad Walker from Mountlake Terrace, and discus thrower Aretha Thurmond finished second and sixth respectively in their events at the IAAF World Athletics Final today at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Germany.

Walker cleared 18-8.25 (5.70m) to finish behind US Olympic Trials champion Derek Miles, who cleared 19-0.25 (5.80m) under cool conditions, with temperatures in the mid-50s.

Thurmond spun the discus 186-11 (56.99m) to capture sixth place, as winner Yarelis Barrios of Cuba, the silver medalist at last month's Olympics in Beijing, threw 212-10 (64.88m) for the victory and the $30,000 first prize.

Competing as a late addition, Bernard Lagat, who won the 3000 meters Saturday, finished sixth in the 1500 meters, running 3:38.79 in yet another tactical race. The race was won by Haron Keitany of Kenya in 3:37.92.

For their efforts this weekend, Lagat earns $34,000; Walker will come home with $20000, while Thurmond will leave Stuttgart with $4000.

The IAAF World Athletics Final made its final showing in the German city, as the track will be removed to make the stadium an all-soccer venue. Next year's edition of the meet will be held in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lagat wins 3000 at IAAF World Athletics Final; Katie Hansen wins Pier Park XC meet...

STUTTGART--After a dawdling pace through 2600m, Bernard Lagat broke from the pack with about 250 metres to go to kick to a decisive victory in the 3000, clocking 8:02.97 at the first track final of the 6th IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final.

After a pedestrian first kilometer of 2:50.05, the pace picked up marginally through 2000 meters, as the pack, led by Kenya’s Mike Kigen crossed the mark in 5:36.98.

Lagat, the WSU alum, who has his summer training base in nearby Tubingen, used his 1500-meter speed to outkick Beijing Olympic 5000 meter silver medal Edwin Soi, who finished in 8:03.55, with American Matt Tegenkamp third, just 1/100th of a second behind Soi.

Action in the IAAF World Athletics Final continues Sunday, with former University of Washington track athletes Brad Walker & Aretha Thurmond competing in the pole vault and discus, respectively.

PIER PARK HIGHLIGHTS

Seattle University’s Katie Hansen returned home to Portland and won the Pier Park Invitational on Friday, covering the 6K course in 22:19. The Portland Pilots won the team title with 23 points. Spokane CC was third with 103 points, and Seattle (112 points) was fifth, with Evergreen State (156 points) sixth,

Greta Stickney (Poulsbo, Wash.) finished in 27th place with a time of 24:37.46, followed by Jen Hamann (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in 35th place in 24:51.88. Junior Rachel Yorkston (Bellingham, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 39th place with a time of 24:58.75, with Tiffany Hunter (Longview, Wash.) finishing in 47th place in 25:05.18.

In the men’s competition, former Bothell High standout David Kinsella won the men’s 8K race for the University of Portland, clocking 25:06. Former Pilot and Seattle resident Uli Steidl finished second in 25:37.

Hans Heitzinger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was the Redhawks’ top finisher, crossing the finish line in 27th place with a time of 26:59.39 over the 8,000-meter course. Michael Van Nuland (Newcastle, Wash.) finished in 32nd place in 27:09.64, followed closely by Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) in 37th place with a time of 27:21.53. Nick Cannata-Bowman (San Francisco, Calif.) was the next Redhawk runner to finish, earning 51st place with a time of 27:40.69, while Adam Kollgaard (Kent, Wash.) was right behind him in 53rd place in 27:42.23.

The Pilots won the men’s competition with a score of 45 points, with Santa Clara second at 60 points. Spokane CC was third at 85, while Seattle U was fifth at 172 points.

The Redhawks will run at the Sundodger Invitational next Saturday, at Seattle’s Lincoln Park.

NOTE: Seattle University's sports information office contributed to this report.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cross country preview: UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we finish up in Seattle.

Today's cross country preview features the University of Washington Huskies, coached by Washington alum Greg Metcalf.

There are very high expectations for the Dawgs, with perhaps one of the best recruiting classes in recent history on the women's side.

One person who deserves special mention is assistant coach Kelly Strong. You've read about her on this site for her running accomplishments, but her rapport with the young women on the Washington squad is a very key component to their success.

Washington hosts the Sundodger Invitational on September 20th, featuring all of the state's NCAA D-I schools.

Next week, we will focus on the state's small colleges.


Coach Greg Metcalf’s Huskies return on the women’s squad six of their top seven runners from the 2007 team that finished eighth at the NCAA championships, including junior Katie Follett and senior Anita Campbell, who were 19th & 20th in Terre Haute.

Seniors Amanda Miller and Michelle Turner will end their college careers with a final cross country season. Miller was UW’s No. 3 finisher at NCAA’s last year. Miller, Turner, and Follett all ended their seasons at the U.S. Olympic Trials, running in the 1500-meters.

In addition, the Huskies return sophomores Mel Lawrence & Lauren Saylor, both of whom competed as recent members of the US junior cross country teams.

Heading the incoming group of freshmen are Canadian Kendra Schaaf, who competed at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country and Track championships this year, and the Californian Courtney Babcock, who set the national high school federation record in the 1600 meters, and competed in the US Olympic Trials at 1500 meters.

Additions to the freshman class are Kayla Evans of Tacoma, who was the runner-up at the Washington state cross meet last year, while Adrienne McGuirk was the Oregon state champ at 3000-meters. Allison Linnell from New Jersey was a prep All-American, and Courtney Lightfoot had two Top-10 finishes at the California state cross country meet.

On the men’s side, the Huskies who finished sixth in the Pac-10, and missed a berth in the NCAA meet for only the second time in the last five seasons, return their top runner, senior Jon Harding from Issaquah, along with past NCAA 10000 meter track competitors Jake Schmitt, who transferred to UW from Cal and senior Jeremy Mineau.

The biggest challenge the Husky men’s squad faces entering the 2008 season is keeping healthy, as injuries during the 2007 season kept Mineau on the sidelines, and made Harding ineffective at the end of the year.

To that end, the Husky distance program took a page from the Nike Oregon Project and purchased an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill for its runners, as a way for its runners to stay healthy, and to aid in injury rehabilitation.

While 2007 frosh sensation Max O’Donoghue-McDonald is sitting out the 2008 season with an injury, incoming freshmen Joey Bywater from Lake Stevens and Rob Webster, Jr. from Puyallup will have the opportunity to crack the Huskies’ top seven.

Summing up his expectations of the Huskies, Metcalf said, “Making the national meet is always the expectation, and I see great potential in these athletes. Realizing that potential depends on our group working together and having a great collective attitude, staying healthy, and firing on all cylinders once the calendar turns to November.”

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

Thurmond, Walker & Lagat in Stuttgart for IAAF WAF...

Discus thrower Aretha Thurmond, pole vaulter Brad Walker, and middle distance runner Bernard Lagat are on the provisional qualifying list for this weekend's IAAF World Athletics Final at the Mercedes Benz Arena (formerly the Gottlieb Daimlerstadion) in Stuttgart, Germany.

Former Washington State star Lagat will run in the men's 3000 on Saturday, while ex-Huskies Thurmond and Walker will contest their specialties on Sunday.

For updated news on the World Athletics Final, you can click the logo to visit the IAAF's WAF site.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cross country preview: SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we move west into Seattle.

Today's cross country preview features the Seattle University Redhawks, coached by Trish Steidl, whose name is very familiar to Seattle area runners.

Besides being married to German World Championships marathoner Uli Steidl, a multi-time winner of the Seattle Marathon, she's the lady who compiles the road racing stats for Northwest Runner, and is an accomplished runner in her own right, having won Seattle as well.

In 2007, Seattle University competed at the NCAA Division II level in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with Seattle Pacific, but now makes the jump to Division I. For the 2008-09 season, the Redhawks (almost typed in Chieftains) will compete as an independent, with hopes of getting admission into a conference (most likely the West Coast Conference, with Gonzaga and Portland).

In the 2007 GNAC meet, Seattle finished fifth in the women's team competition, while their men's squad took sixth. The Redhawks finished sixth in the NCAA D-II west regionals, while the men's team finished 14th.

The Redhawks will run Friday at the Pier Park Invitational in Portland, then compete the following week at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, which is shaping up as the unofficial state of Washington championship meet.

Senior Katie Hansen from Portland returns as Seattle U’s top runner, as she won their Green Lake Time Trial race on August 30th against Everett Community College, clocking 17:12.

In the time trial, senior Rhiannon Cadelinia finished second with a time of 18:42, followed closely by junior Greta Stickney in 18:48 and junior Rachel Yorkston in 18:56.

On the men’s side, freshman Erik Barkhaus finished just ahead of sophomore Michael Van Nuland over the 4.3-mile course, with Barkhaus posting a time of 22:51 and Van Nuland crossing the finish line in 22:56. Sophomore Hans Heitzinger with a time of 23:09 finished third in their time trial.

Sophomore Adam Kollgaard finished fourth in 23:15, with freshman Matthew McClement posting a solid time of 23:26 in his first collegiate race.

In talking about her group at Seattle University, Steidl said, “This incoming class of distance runners is going to help us be stronger and deeper at all the distances than we’ve been before.”

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A follow up on our story on Ivan Ukhov...

British track & field writer Tom Knight, a good friend of paulmerca.blogspot.com, has a follow-up story on high jumper Ivan Ukhov, who made himself famous for competing in the Lausanne Athletissima meet last week while drunk on vodka and Red Bull.

The Russian federation will discuss his case later this month and he could face a one-year ban.

According to Knight, Valentin Maslakov, Russia’s head coach, said: “By competing in such a condition he has disgraced all Russian track and field athletes.

“I will ask our athletics federation to suspend Ukhov for a year.”

In a YouTube posting that has received more than a million hits, Ukhov is shown having difficulty removing his track suit and pushing aside a track official.

He then ambles towards the bar, attempts a half-hearted take-off much too soon, falls under the bar and flops onto the bed.

You can read the full story here...

You can watch Ukhov stumble and bumble his way to the high jump pit below...



Cross country preview: WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we stay east of the Cascade Mountains.

Today's cross country preview features the Washington State Cougars, coached by Jason Drake.


In what arguably was one of the country's toughest conferences, the Cougar women's team finished fifth in the Pac-10 meet, behind four teams that placed in the top ten at the NCAA meet--national champ Stanford, runner-up Oregon, fourth place Arizona State, and eighth place Washington.


The Cougs, like all the other D-1 teams on the east side of the Cascades, opened up at the Clash of the Great Northwest meet in Spokane last Saturday, with the women winning decisively, and the men finishing second by six points behind Eastern Washington.


Washington State will appear a week from Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational at Seattle's Lincoln Park.


The Cougar women’s squad returns Swedish junior Sara TranĂ©, as the Pac-10 steeplechase champ was a consistent top finisher, including the first Cougar woman to cross the line at the Griak Invite, Pre-Nationals, and NCAA West Regionals.

Also returning for the women are Amanda Andrews, Lisa Egami, Marisa Sandoval, Chelsea VanDeBrake, Ashlee Wall, all of whom ran at the Pac-10 Championships, where they finished fifth, just behind the Huskies.

Joining the Cougars this fall are Mietra Smollack from Oak Harbor, who won the state 4A meet at 1600 meters (4:56.44), and finished second in the 800 meters, and Michelly Foley, from Crook County HS in Prineville, Oregon, who was the 5A state champ in the 3000 (10:04.97), and finished second in the 1500m (4:43.72). Emily Farrar from Bainbridge High, who was sixth in the state 3A 1600 adds depth to the Cougs.

Cougar cross country coach Jason Drake’s top returning runner from the squad that finished seventh in the Pac-10 Championships is senior Drew Polley, who finished 25th at the NCAA West Regional Championship, earning All-West-Region honors.

Washington State returns Sam Ahlbeck, Daniel Geib, David Hickerson, Luke Lemenager, and Dominic Smargiassi, all of whom competed at the Pac-10 Championships. Drake felt that the younger runners gained experience and posted finishes that show promise for the 2008 cross country squads.

The Cougars add to their roster Jono Lafler from Tahoma High in Maple Valley, who finished second in the state 4A 3200 meters (9:18.61), along with Justin Englund from Decatur HS, who finished behind Lafler (9:19.83).

On the men’s side, Drake feels that leadership will be a key to how the 2008 Cougars fare this fall. He feels that the Cougars have the talent and the experience to succeed this fall, if one of their veterans can help rein the group together.

“The women’s team lost four of the top five runners from last year,” said Drake. “So it’s a rebuilding year for the women.” With a league as tough as the Pacific 10 Conference, it is going to take depth in order for the Cougars to continue their improvement from the 2007 season.

NOTE: The sports information office at Washington State University assisted with this report.

Wonder what it's like to hang out with Usain Bolt in Kingston?

Videographer Matt Taylor of "Chasing Kimbia" fame is now doing the "Chasing Bolt" series for Puma, and he put together this clip for RunnerSpace.com of Usain's welcome home to Jamaica.

As you can see, Bolt's as big, if not bigger than Michael Jordan!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cross country preview: EASTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we stay east of the Cascade Mountains.

Today's cross country preview features the Eastern Washington Eagles, coached by Chris Zeller.

In this year’s Big Sky Conference preseason polls recently released, Eastern’s women’s team ranked fifth and the men’s team was tied for fifth place with Sacramento State. Northern Arizona’s team was picked to sweep both men’s and women’s titles.

The Eagle men's squad won their own Clash of the Great Northwest meet last Saturday, while their women's squad placed third.

Eastern Washington will appear a week from Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational at Seattle's Lincoln Park.

Paul Limpf from Vancouver, Washington leads the Eagles in the 2008 season. Limpf finished fifth in the Big Sky Conference championships in 2007, helping the team to a seventh place finish, and was 45th at the NCAA West Regional championships.

On the women’s side, senior Amber Nickelson from Lake Stevens is Eastern’s top returning runner. Nickelson placed 26th at the Big Sky Conference Championships (19:04.10), helping the Eagles to a fourth place team finish, and was 118th at the NCAA West Regional Championships (22:37.25).

Joining Nickelson will be returners Lauren Matthews (Sammamish, Wash.), Amanda Weaver (Marysville, Wash.) and Brittney Williams (Colville, Wash.).

Among their new teammates are Kelly Downey (Omak, Wash.), Laura Friese (Lebam, Wash.), Stephanie Dye (Chatteroy, Wash.) and Tera Klein (Kalispell, Mont.).

"The women are coming off their best finish since going to NCAA Division I," said coach Chris Zeller. "However, we only return one runner from that squad’s top five in Amber Nickelson. She has already proven herself to be a great leader on this year’s team. She put in a great summer and would like to do some neat things this fall in her final cross country season.

"Joining her are a fun group of freshmen: Brittney Williams, Stephanie Dye, Kelly Downey, and Tera Klein," added Zeller. "They will be a great nucleus to form the team around as they develop into the fine runners they will become. The future is bright for this group."

Zeller’s squads will rely on youth to carry them through the season, as the Eagles lost key performers from the 2007 squad to graduation, particularly on the women’s side. On the men’s team, Limpf is the lone senior.

The top incoming freshman for Eastern Washington is Kyle King, the state 1A 3200 meter champion from Coupeville High. He’ll be joined by 4:28.9 performer Cody Barton from Ridgefield High, Isaac Kuula from Cheney HS, and Brandon Nobach from Marysville Pilchuck HS.

Joining Limpf will be returners Cody Bradwell (Kingston, Wash.), Calvin Clark (Prosser, Wash.), Bowe Ebding (Walla Walla, Wash.), Tyler Justice (Ridgefield, Wash.), Alex Smyth (Sequim, Wash.) and Graham Vaux (Yakima, Wash.).

"The men finished seventh last season, just two measly points from fifth place," said Zeller. "We return our top five from that team and add a gem in freshman Kyle King. Everyone comes into the season healthy and hungry. This is an incredible group of guys."

“I like the fact that we weren't ranked real high as the target won't be on our backs and we can surprise some people," said head cross country coach Chris Zeller. "NAU, Weber, and MSU are going to be really tough this year. Weber has five runners who finished in the top 21 last season at the conference championships. MSU returns their top five and adds Patrick Casey, the Montana State Champion and Junior National Champion."

NOTE: The sports information office at Eastern Washington University assisted with this report.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cross country preview: GONZAGA UNIVERSITY

paulmerca.blogspot.com begins a series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams.

We begin our preview with the Gonzaga University Bulldogs, led by first-year head coach Pat Tyson.

The biggest question surrounding Tyson is whether or not the magic that marked his successful run at Mead High School will follow him across town to Gonzaga.

Tyson, who had a short stint as cross country coach at the University of Kentucky, and most recently coached at South Eugene High School, was lured back to Spokane with the goal of challenging perennial West Coast Conference powerhouse Portland.

Tyson looks to improve upon the men’s seventh place finish in the conference, and the sixth place finish of the women’s squad.

The Bulldogs return their top two runners from last year, Colby Litzenberger from Walla Walla, and Brett Withers from Woodinville. They’ll be joined by incoming freshmen Matt Gosselin from Bellarmine Prep, the Seattle Prep duo of Cameron O’Neill and Andrew Walker, and Blanchet’s Chris Boyle.

On the women’s side, Molly Funk and Laura Volcheff, who finished 30th and 34th in last year’s WCC championship meet, return for the Zags. Their top incoming freshmen are Teresa Makowski from Jesuit High in Portland, and Elizabeth Slamkowski from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Bulldogs began their season last Saturday at the Clash of the Great Northwest meet, hosted by Eastern Washington.

Junior Brett Withers paced the Bulldog men with an 8th-place finish in 19:59.1 over the 6K course, while senior Colby Litzenberger, battling allergies, was 14th in 20:20.1.

On the women's side, sophomore Laura Volcheff got Tyson's attention with her 15th-place finish in 16:21.5 over the 4K layout. Junior Molly Funk was 21st in 16:53.4 and freshman Elizabeth Slamkowski 22nd in 17:00.7.

"We've been working two weeks and I liked the fact we ran with heart and ran with pride and didn't embarrass the Gonzaga on the jersey," Tyson said. "We have one under our belt."

He applauded Withers and Volcheff for setting the bench mark.

"Brett ran against some good runners. He could be an All-American. Colby will be huge for us and he finished near Brett. Laura set a nice bench mark for the women to be attached to. We need to get four or five others with her and close the gap a little bit if the women are to be successful."

NOTE: The sports information office at Gonzaga University assisted with this report.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Weekend wrapup: September 6-7

Bernard Lagat returned to his winning ways at the Rieti Grand Prix on Sunday in the Italian city, as the former WSU star ran 3:32.75 for 1500 meters.

Former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic took seventh in the same race, finishing with at time of 3:38.92.

At the DecaNation meet Saturday in Paris, France, former Husky discus thrower Aretha Thurmond spun the platter 193-5 (58.96m) to finish second.

Closer to home, Seattle Pacific’s Jane Larson won the women’s competition at the Saint Martin’s Invitational cross country meet, completing the 6,000-meter course in 23-minutes, 6-seconds for a 15-second victory over runner-up Joscelyn Minton of Saint Martin’s, who had a time of 23:21.5. Five Falcons followed her, led by third-place Natty Plunkett whose time was 23:26.8. Kate Harline was fourth (24:31.8) followed by Kim Beaman (24:32.2) and Kayti Krepel (24:34.0).

“Jane led the race from the start, showing that she is in true form and ready to compete,” said first-year SPU coach Erika Daligcon. “She was able to run most days while on her summer missions trip to the Cameroon and has shown that she will be a force this season.”

The Falcons took the women’s team title, scoring 19 points. Lewis & Clark took second with 69 points, and Saint Martin’s third at 85 points.

The men’s race was won by John Riak of St. Martin’s, covering the 8000 meter course in 26:17, with teammate Josiah Price second in 26:30. Chad Meis was the top Seattle Pacific finisher in 26:33.

Lewis & Clark won the men’s team title with 50 points with Saint Martin’s second at 55 points. Seattle Pacific took third with 71 points.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Eagles and Cougars win Clash of the Inland Northwest cross country meet...

Paul Limpf of Eastern Washington and Allix Lee-Painter of Idaho took individual honors at the first-ever Clash of the Inland Northwest Saturday in Spokane, Wash., at Mead High School.

The EWU men took the team title with 30 points with Washington State University second with 36, the Bulldogs third with 72 and Idaho fourth with 88 over the 6000-meter course.

WSU claimed the women's title over 4000 meters with 25 points followed by Idaho with 51, EWU with 79 and Gonzaga with 83.

Individually, Limpf won the men’s race with a time of 19:33.6. Sophomore Alex Smyth (left, #283/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University media relations) finished second with a time of 19:42.1.

In the 4,000-meter race, Painter took the victory, running 15:20.4.

WSU junior VanDeBrake (Yakima, Wash.) took third place in the women's 4k race in a time of 15-minutes, 43.4 seconds. Cougars Michelly Foley (freshman, Prineville, Ore.), Sara Trané (junior, Pixbo, Sweden), Lisa Egami (junior, Coquitlam, British Columbia), Amanda Andrews (sophomore, Gig Harbor, Wash.), and Marisa Sandoval (junior, Los Alamos, NM) followed in the next five places.

"The women looked pretty good," Cougar Head Coach Jason Drake said. "As usual we like to size up the freshmen a little bit early in the season and Michelly Foley was probably the story of the day for the women; a freshman up there in the first college race looked great just chilling with the older women runners. That was nice. On the men's side it was the same thing. Both freshmen Jono Lafler and Justin Englund looked good running up at the front of the pack with the older guys. It went well for both the men and women. Nice to get the season started and get a few scores out of the way against the Inland Northwest schools."

First year Gonzaga coach Pat Tyson applauded the efforts of Brett Withers (8th, 19:59.1) and Laura Volcheff (15th, 16:21.5) for setting the bench mark.

"Brett ran against some good runners. He could be an All-American. Laura set a nice bench mark for the women to be attached to. We need to get four or five others with her and close the gap a little bit if the women are to be successful."

All three Inland Northwest schools will run in the Sundodger Invitational in two weeks in Seattle at Lincoln Park.

The complete results of the men's race can be accessed here, while the women's results are available here.

NOTE--The sports information offices of Gonzaga, Washington State, and Eastern Washington all contributed to this report.

Do NOT try this at home...

Lost in the shuffle of last Tuesday's Athletissima meet in Lausanne, Switzerland was this report about Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov competing while drinking a combination of Red Bull and vodka.

Meet organizers refused to pay Ukhov's expenses and have been asked to supply video evidence to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"We will for sure ask for an explanation from the athlete about his behavior and ask that it is not repeated in the future,'' IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said in a statement.

Here's the video...


Friday, September 5, 2008

Cross country season kicks off for Eastern, WSU, Gonzaga Saturday...

The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin their seasons this Saturday (Sept. 6) when the Eagles host the Clash of the Inland Northwest in Spokane, Wash.

The event will take place at Mead High School with EWU competing against Gonzaga, Idaho and Washington State. The women’s race starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time and the men’s race begins at 10:30 a.m.

In this year’s Big Sky Conference preseason polls recently released, Eastern’s women’s team ranked fifth and the men’s team was tied for fifth place with Sacramento State. Northern Arizona’s team was picked to sweep both men’s and women’s titles.

Eastern returns several key performers from last year’s teams. The men’s roster includes seven returning runners and five newcomers, while the women have five returning and eight newcomers, according to coach Chris Zeller. The women had a best-ever placing of fourth in the Big Sky in 2007 while the men were seventh.

For Washington State, fifth-year head coach Jason Drake, in his eighth season as the mentor for Cougar cross country, has full rosters with 21 men and 13 women. Drake returns the most experienced teams to date.

At Gonzaga University, Saturday's meet begins the Pat Tyson era, as the long-time Mead HS coach attempts to kick-start a largely dormant and undistinguished Bulldog program in the West Coast Conference, a conference that's been dominated by the University of Portland.

Eastern's release can be read here, while Washington State's release can be read here.

On the west side, Western Washington opens in Bellingham at the Whatcom CC Orca Invitational at Lake Padden, while Seattle Pacific travels to Lacey for the Saint Martin's Invitational.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington contributed to this report.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will have a team-by-team preview of the state's Division I schools beginning September 8th.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

CATCHING UP WITH: Anson Henry

paulmerca.blogspot.com recently caught up with Canada's Anson Henry (left/file photo by Paul Merca) in Vancouver on August 31st, as the former Pac-10 sprint champion from Washington State University was on hand to lend support to several thousand runners participating in the Nike+ Human Race 10k, along with notable Canadian athletes Perdita Felicien, Gary Reed, and Simon Whitfield.

Henry advanced as far as the second round in the men's 100 meter dash at the Beijing Olympics, and also ran the second leg on Canada's 4 x 100 meter relay team that finished sixth in the finals.

The Beijing Olympics were Anson's final meet of the season. He's currently taking some well-deserved time off before starting to train again for the 2009 season.

paulmerca.blogspot.com: Talk about the Olympic experience and your assessment of how it went for you

ANSON HENRY: Well, I have to be honest, in the beginning, I was very upset about how everything went. After just missing the final in the 100m last year in Osaka, I had set some pretty big goals for myself. I didn't feel like I was prepared well enough this season, perhaps due to nagging injuries.

But after really looking back and assessing everything, I have to be grateful with even having the opportunity to be there, and to experience everything in Beijing, and opportunity in which many people weren't lucky enough to have.

paulmerca.blogspot.com: After the 100m, you had some time to ponder, and get ready for the 4 x 100 meter relay. Give us your assessment of the sprint relay, given the "carnage" that happened in the semis.

ANSON HENRY: As far as the relay, we ran a season best with some garbage, and I mean garbage exchanges. We definitely shoulda and coulda, and needed to be cleaner with the baton. But that's the relays. That's how it goes. The guys are just gonna take every piece of knowledge from the experience of an Olympic final, and just use it to help with future performances.

I am done for the season. Got some injuries to get sorted out, and am probably gonna make some moves and changes as far as my training situation.

paulmerca.blogspot.com: Can you elaborate on your training situation?

ANSON HENRY: I've been training in Stockton, California with Dan Pfaff, who's been working with a bunch of great people, like Brad Walker, Carly Dockendorf, Amy Acuff, etc. The biggest challenge with Dan's group--and don't get me wrong, because Dan's a great coach--is that I didn't have enough sprinter types to train with.

After my break's over, I'm moving to Texas to train with a group of sprinters that include Darvis "Doc" Patton, and a Canadian sprinter, Jared Connaughton, who was in the 200m and ran on the 4 x 100 relay with me.

This group trains on the same track as Tyson Gay's training group, with their coach Jon Drummond.

All in all, I am looking forward to getting back on track for the upcoming world championships in Berlin.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brad Walker ties for third in Lausanne...

University of Washington alum Brad Walker tied for third at today's Athletissima Super Grand Prix meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Mountlake Terrace resident jumped a modest 18-4.5 (5.60m) behind Olympic champion Evgeniy Lukyanenko's winning vault of 18-10.25 (5.75m) and fellow American Derek Miles' runner-up jump of 18-8.25 (5.70m).

Complete results of the meet are available here...

Brad Walker competes in Lausanne...

Fresh off a victory in Gateshead, England on Sunday, pole vaulter Brad Walker will compete in the Lausanne Super Grand Prix Meet on Tuesday.

The reigning world champion, looking to erase the memory of no-heighting at the Beijing Olympics, faces a field that includes Yevgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia and Denys Yurchenko of Ukraine, the silver and bronze medalists at the Olympics.

He'll also face 2007 world championship silver medalist Romain Mesnil of France and Olympic teammates Jeff Hartwig and Derek Miles.

You can read the preview of the meet here...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bryan Clay gets on the Wheaties box!

The greatest names in American gymnastics and decathlon share one thing in common: a legacy of appearing on the fabled orange Wheaties box. Following competition in Beijing, the torch has been passed as two of Americas newest heroes, Bryan Clay and Nastia Liukin, become part of that legacy with their own Wheaties boxes.

Clay became the first American since Dan OBrien in 1996 to win gold in the decathlon, earning the distinction of Worlds Greatest Athlete. Clay took silver in Athens in 2004 and was World Champion in 2005. He led the decathlon competition from the start, taking first or second in five of the 10 events and third in two others. A native of Honolulu and current Los Angeles resident, Clay joins fellow decathlon gold medalists OBrien, Jim Thorpe and Bruce Jenner as Wheaties champions.

Having your picture on the Wheaties box is something all athletes strive for, Clay says. Its a mark of distinction that says youve reached the pinnacle of your career. This is a very special honor for me.



Decathlon demands excellence in a variety of events, which requires a strenuous training program. Training is difficult, says Clay. Eating right helps give you the edge, to withstand extensive workouts, provide quick muscle recovery, and guard against injury.

Clay also credits his strong support system for helping him achieve all his success, including his family and his coaches. He recalls running track with his brother in the sixth grade and speculating together on whether theyd ever be good enough to earn a spot on the Wheaties box.

Bryans performance in Beijing is certainly worthy of the Wheaties box, Jenner says. Hes a great athlete and a great competitor. Im proud to welcome both Bryan and Nastia into the Breakfast of Champions family.

The soon-to-be-released packages will be available nationally beginning in September, continuing Wheaties storied tradition of honoring great American champions dating back to Johnny Weismuller and Babe Didrikson in the 1930s.

Launched in 1924, Wheaties is the No. 1 whole-grain wheat flaked breakfast cereal in the category. The brand began its association with sports in the mid-1930s with a sign on the left field wall at Nicollet Park near downtown Minneapolis. General Mills broadcast deal with the minor league Minneapolis Millers on WCCO Radio included the large signboard that Wheaties would use to introduce its new ad slogan: WheatiesThe Breakfast of Champions. From that rather humble beginning, Wheaties has built a heritage that includes many of the greatest athletes of all time. Learn more about Wheaties history and featured athletes on the brands recently updated website at www.Wheaties.com.

NOTE: This release comes courtesy of General Mills.

Post Olympic thoughts from Kara Patterson (part two)...


EDITOR'S NOTE: After things settled down, paulmerca.blogspot.com caught up with Vancouver's Kara Patterson (above/photo by Victah Sailer, The Running Network/photorun.net), who threw 54.00m/177-2 on her first attempt in the women’s javelin, finishing 21st in her flight at the Olympics in Beijing.

Kara, who is finally back in school at Purdue University in Indiana, was kind enough to share her thoughts on the competition, and the entire Olympic experience.

She talks about the Olympic experience:

The Olympics is something I don't think anyone can be truly prepared for.

At least in my personal experience, I'd never been in a truly world class competition before; my international experience has come from Pan Am Junior Championships and NACAC Under-23 Championships, so seeing so many different athletes of so many different shapes and sizes from so many different countries all living in the same Olympic Village has been extremely eye-opening.

There are computer labs in the Village where people talk on Skype to their families, and it's so much fun for me to listen to the many different languages mixing together. As unique as individuals are when they come from different nations, it was fantastic to see that, when it comes to competition, we're all focused on realizing goals. Experiencing and becoming accustomed to the diversity that I have here, I almost worry that it'll take me a while to readjust to the good old USA!

One of the coolest things about the Olympics that I've taken note of is the fact that the whole thing is a big celebration. Anyone who watched Opening Ceremonies knows that.

I don't think I understood how MANY events are contested at the Olympic Games before coming here, and catching glimpses of medal ceremonies for such a wide array of events is really neat. Not only are we celebrating athletic success, we're celebrating such diverse kinds of athletic success that the Games truly can be an inspiration to just about anyone on the planet.

Final thoughts:

I am really, really excited to see my Purdue teammates again!!!!!! I'm so happy to be returning to Purdue for one last season and am looking forward to the success that I know Purdue Track and Field will enjoy.

After I get a little rest in, I can't wait to be cheering teammates on at fall conditioning practices and beyond. Boiler UP!


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