Thursday, December 31, 2009

And now...the 2009 Mercanator Awards!!!

2009 was yet another banner year for paulmerca.blogspot.com, as the readership continues to expand, thanks to all of you loyal readers who have passed along the word about the blog.

As publisher, editor, and designated gofer for the blog, I must also give thanks to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter for helping expand the readership. Those of you who are friends/followers on those two outlets are receiving notices every time a new post comes up.

I must also give a special tip of the hat to Martin Rudow, the publisher of Northwest Runner magazine, as he has done a lot through the magazine and nwrunner.com to help expand our readership.

Track & Field News, and various blogs too numerous to name (but you know who you are) also get thanks for linking stories we posted this year.

In 2009, paulmerca.blogspot.com ventured to several places around the country and around the world to give you what I feel is the best coverage of Washingtonians competing at the highest levels of the sport.

The major events covered this year included the USA cross country championships outside of Washington DC; the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan; the Nike Prefontaine Classic and the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene; the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany; the Nike Spring 2010 running summit in San Francisco; the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships from Eugene; and, the NCAA Cross Country Championships from Terre Haute, Indiana.

As we did to end 2008, we'll end 2009 with the presentation of the "Mercanator" awards in recognition of some of the performances and performers that we covered this year.

To some of the athletes receiving this award, winning a “Mercanator” award may not necessarily get you an extra bonus from your shoe company contract, but you will get the recognition from the readers of the mighty blogspot for a job well done this season, and a “BOOM! SHAKA-LAKA!” from yours truly.

For those of you who don’t get an award or feel you’ve been jobbed out of a “Mercanator”—there’s 2010!

Enjoy, and thank you to all the readers for your support of the mighty blogspot!

Here are the disclaimers: Mercanator awards are generally limited to athletes who have affiliations with the state of Washington—either they were born in this state, currently reside in the state, or attend(ed) school in the state. Also, not all categories from 2008 were awarded this year…publisher's decision.

The "Thanks for the Memories" award--To recently retired miler Chris Lukezic. Chris was a true friend of the blogspot, and was always very accommodating whenever we requested an interview. After several years of competing at the sport's highest level, including a spot on the 2005 world championships team in Helsinki, the former Auburn High School and Georgetown University standout decided to hang up the Reebok spikes to join a start-up company in the Bay Area.

I'll always remember the photo I took of him receiving his award from the Nike Border Clash from none other than Bernard Lagat, who is still ticking!

Former Washington women's distance coach Kelly Strong also gets this award for her help and cooperation during her tenure at Huskyville. She will be missed!

Media relations award--A tie again between Jacie Prieto (Nike), Mike Bruscas (UW), and Linda Chalich (WSU), with Seattle Pacific's Dan Lepse thrown in the mix. All four were helpful this year for various projects.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Distances: Another Mercanator award to Bernard Lagat, 1500/5000 meters. Lagat bounced back from the disappointment in Beijing to earn a bronze medal in the 1500 and a silver medal in the 5000 at the world championships in Berlin. He ran 3:32.56 for 1500, 3:51.34 indoors in the mile, 7:33.15 for 3000, and 13:03.06 at 5000.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Throws: Jarred Rome, discus. The former Marysville-Pilchuck HS standout returned to the finals at the world championships, and had the third best throw by an American this year at 214-11 (65.51). He unseats training partner Ian Waltz for the award.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Vertical Jumps: Brad Walker, pole vault. While the 2007 world champion may admit that 2009 was a disappointment in that he didn't get to defend his world title thanks to an injury suffered in Monte Carlo weeks before the world championships, he did win the USA outdoor title, and cleared 19-0 1/4 (5.80m).

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Sprints/Hurdles: Jeshua Anderson, 400 hurdles. Anderson successfully defended his NCAA championship in the intermediate hurdles, running 48.47, then finished fifth in the USA championships, missing a spot on the world championship team.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's distances: (tie) Kendra Schaaf, cross country & Mel Lawrence, steeplechase. Husky teammates Schaaf and Lawrence get the award which Schaaf won outright in 2008. Schaaf finished second in the NCAA cross country championships, won the NCAA west regionals, and won the Canadian senior harrier title.

Lawrence finished third in the NCAA steeplechase title race, running a school record 9:40.98, then followed it up with a fifth place finish in the USA Championships.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's throws: Aretha Thurmond, discus. The former University of Washington All American made the finals in the discus at the world championships, placing tenth with a mark of 196-6 (59.89m). She threw a season best 205-1 (62.51) at the USA championships in Eugene.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's multi-events: Diana Pickler. Another easy choice, as the Washington State grad scored 6290 points to win the national title in Eugene, and placed 11th at the world championships with a final score of 6086 points. She also scored 5998 to get sixth at the Decastars heptathlon in France.

Finally, we can't end 2009 without giving a special "Mercanator" award recognizing Berlino as clearly the best mascot of this year! Months after the conclusion of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, Berlino still gets raves for his performance during the nine days of competition at the Olympiastadion.

The IAAF should seriously consider making Berlino the organization's official mascot, or at least travel him to all the Diamond League meetings around the world in 2010!

Who will get the "Mercanator" awards for 2010? You'll have to follow the blogspot for a full year to find out!

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