Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's USA National Championships week in Eugene!

paulmerca.blogspot.com heads down to Eugene, Oregon for its coverage of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships beginning Thursday June 25th through June 28th.

As always, we’ll focus on those athletes with ties to the state of Washington who are doing battle for spots on Team USA for this summer’s IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Two athletes who don’t have to worry about making the team are are former Washington State standout Bernard Lagat in the 1500 and 5000, along with Mountlake Terrace’s Brad Walker in the pole vault.

Both Lagat and Walker are automatically on Team USA as defending world champions in their events from 2007. The only requirement for the two of them to punch their ticket to Berlin is show up and participate in the national championships.

Lagat, who recently ran 13:03.06 for 5000 at the Reebok Grand Prix meet in New York, is entered in both the 800 and the 5000.

Walker, who normally competes in a full slate of indoor meets during the winter months, and spring domestic meets, opens his 2009 season with the national championships. Walker’s laid low and concentrated on training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California after a disastrous showing at the Olympics in Beijing where he no-heighted in qualifying.

2008 Washington track & field Olympians Ian Waltz & Aretha Thurmond (discus); Kara Patterson (javelin) and Diana Pickler (heptathlon) roll into Eugene as favorites to earn spots on this year’s world championship team.

While not competing as much this spring as he has in the past, Waltz, the former Cougar, has thrown 206-0 this season at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

Thurmond has been a globetrotter this spring, competing in New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil, with a season best of 202-5, the third best throw in the country.

Kara Patterson will make her professional debut in Eugene as the defending national champion thanks to her victory at the Olympic Trials last year. The Vancouver native has a season best of 192-1.

After the 2008 season, which ended with an injury at the Olympics in the first event of the heptathlon, the 100 meter hurdles, former Washington State All-American Diana Pickler moved back first to Austin, Texas, then joined twin sister Julie in Manhattan, Kansas. Diana won the USA indoor pentathlon championships in March, but hasn’t attempted a heptathlon in 2009.

Some other significant post collegians to watch in Eugene include 2004 Olympian Jarred Rome from Marysville-Pilchuck HS in the discus; former Husky long jumper Norris Frederick, now a first year professional; Chris Lukezic from Auburn High School, a 2005 world championship team member at 1500 meters; and, 2007 national champion and world championship team member Ginnie Powell from Rainier Beach High, who was slowed by an injury last year that kept her off the Olympic team in the 100 meter hurdles.

Recent Washington grad Jordan Boase makes his professional debut in Eugene, as does NCAA All-American Austin Abbott. Current Huskies Scott Roth, Katie Follett, Mel Lawrence are among the top Dawgs entered in the meet. For Washington State, two-time NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson has the best chance of making Team USA among the Cougs entered in this meet.

Here’s the link to the declared entries to this week’s national championships.

The meet will be on TV on both ESPN and NBC, with the following air times:

Friday, June 26, 5-7 p.m. PT, ESPN
Saturday, June 27, 4:30-6:30 p.m. PT, ESPN
Sunday, June 28, 1-3 p.m. PT, NBC

Additionally, select senior events, along with the junior championships will be shown online through our media partner, flotrack.org.

Here’s a link to Washington State University’s release
for this week’s championships.

The USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships are happening in Eugene concurrent with the senior championships. The Junior Championships will serve as the selection meet for the 2009 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, July 31-Aug. 2, at Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Some of the most significant entries include Washington high jumper Kelly McNamee, Washington State’s Courtney Kirkwood in the javelin, Seattle Pacific’s Natty Plunkett in the 5000, Washington state 2A 800 meter champ Becca Friday from Bellingham, WSU’s Joe Abbott in the 800, Curtis HS sophomore Rahmel Dockery in the high jump, and former Mt. Rainier HS standout Ray Prentice, who attends Oklahoma State.

Here's the link to junior entries...

Look for our coverage of the championships throughout the week. Don’t forget to check our Twitter page (twitter.com/paulmerca70601) or the Twitter feed on the right side of this web site for periodic live tweets during the meet as well!

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