Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jenny Barringer steals show at UW Invitational...

Colorado's Jenny Barringer (left, competing at the US Olympic Trials/photo by Paul Merca) stole the show, as the reigning American record holder in the 3000-meter steeplechase and 2008 US Olympian won the women's 3000 meter run in a Dempsey Indoor record and world-leading time of 8:53.88 to highlight the two-day UW Invitational.

Washington's women's distance runners continued to excel and freshman Jeremy Taiwo set a new school record in the heptathlon as the two-day UW Invitational came to an end Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor facility. Husky track and field athletes combined to hit eight NCAA qualifying marks, and picked up ten total for the weekend.

Five members of UW's NCAA Champion women's cross country team chalked up NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the mile and the 3,000-meters. Junior Katie Follett took second in the mile in a time of 4:41.73, less than 24 hours after she anchored UW's NCAA-leading distance medley relay. Close behind Follett were junior Kailey Campbell, also a DMR runner Friday night, in 4:45.29, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, who ran 4:46.07 to go under the provisional qualifying mark in her first collegiate track outing.

In the wake of Barringer's outstanding performance in the 3000, which included two more NCAA automatic marks, and fourteen more provisional times, personal bests were set by junior Anita Campbell (9:24.45) and sophomore Lauren Saylor (9:31.24).

The men's heptathlon concluded with freshman Jeremy Taiwo from Newport High School scoring a Washington school record 5,317 points to take fifth place and earn himself a provisional qualifier. His highest-scoring events came in the 60m hurdles which he ran in 8.47 seconds and the 1000-meter run, completed in 2-minutes, 41.76 seconds. Oregon's Ashton Eaton ran away with the overall victory. The 2008 NCAA decathlon champion broke the Dempsey record with 6,174 points.

To read the full release, please click here...

Norris Frederick fifth in long jump in Glasgow...

In his first meet as a senior member of Team USA, former University of Washington standout Norris Frederick finished fifth in the long jump at the Aviva Five Nations International indoor meet in Glasgow, Scotland Saturday.

Frederick jumped 24-11 (7.59 meters) in round two to take the lead but was not a factor in the later rounds.

Michel Torneus of Sweden won the competition with a jump of 26-1 (7.95 meters).

Complete results of the meet can be accessed here

UW Invitational notes--men

Here are some notes on key competitors in Saturday's UW Invitational, focusing on the men.

UW INV 09 Mens Startlist

UW Invitational notes--women

Here's the first of two posts featuring notes for Saturday's UW Invitational.

This set of notes has key competitors in the women's competition.

UW INV 09 w-track

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lagat ties Eamonn Coghlan's Millrose record with seventh Wanamaker Mile win...

Former Washington State Cougar Bernard Lagat kept 11,543 fans on their feet Friday night at the 102nd Millrose Games.

Lagat tied Eamonn Coghlan's record with his seventh Wanamaker Mile victory, while Hooker posted the best indoor pole vault in the world since 2002, breaking several records in the process.

In tying Coghlan's seven victories, Lagat became the "Co-Chairman of the Boards," but it wasn't without a fight in the evening's climactic event. With a pacesetter towing Lagat through a 56.9 quarter mile and 1:57.8 half-mile, the pace slowed to 3:00.2 at three-quarters, with Lagat leading Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis by a stride.

Owning six Wanamaker titles, a pair of 2007 world championships and two Olympic medals, Lagat knew to expect a move by Willis. That move came with 1 1/2 laps to go on the 145-meter track, when Willis burst past Lagat on the backstretch. Lagat appeared momentarily stunned but quickly responded and got on the New Zealander's shoulder.

Just after the bell lap, Lagat began his move, and he passed Willis on the backstretch. He won in 3:58.44, with Willis second in 3:59.48 and Pablo Solares third in 4:00.85.

Afterwards, Lagat told USATF, "The race was good. I was prepared coming in. I had been training very well. I feel fast, I feel fresh. It's good to come back and win. Ending up the season not winning a lot last year because of the injury I had, to start the year with the win, this is not another race for me. This race means a lot. I have a lot of respect for Eamonn Coghlan. Today, winning seven like him means a lot to me. He is a man who was rooting for me today. He wanted me to win today, so that means a lot. He told me he had no doubt that I was going to win. Today when he was coming into the track, he said 'I will be at the finish line to give Lagat the trophy.'

Commenting on Willis' move, he said, "I didn't want to go all out. I knew it (Willis' move) was going to happen, it was just a matter of if it would be with 3 laps to go or 2 laps to go. My coach (James Li) and I had discussed to take advantage of the last backstretch. I took advantage of that to come back and win. It is tough to pass on the turn. It is really wide."

Portland's Kara Goucher, who won the mile and 3000 two weeks ago at the UW Indoor Preview meet, defended her Millrose mile title, winning in 4:33.19.

NOTE: USA Track & Field’s Jill Geer contributed to this report.

Dawgs take NCAA lead with school record in distance medley relay...

Junior All-American Katie Follett (left/photo courtesy UW Sports Information) ran a blistering final leg of the women's distance medley relay, leading the Huskies to an NCAA Automatic qualifying mark to highlight the first night of the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor. The UW women's DMR, comprised of freshman Christine Babcock, junior Falesha Ankton, junior Kailey Campbell, and Follett, are now the NCAA leaders.

The first night of the two day meet featured mostly heptathlon and pentathlon competitions, but ended with dramatic performances in the 5,000-meter runs and the distance medley relays.

Each of the final races featured an NCAA Automatic mark, culminating with Washington running a school-record 11:05.80 in the DMR. After the first two legs, BYU opened a large gap with Stanford in second and the Huskies running third, but Ballard High's Campbell closed the gap on the 800-meter leg, running a 2:08 split.

She handed off to Follett who passed Stanford early on and continued tracking down BYU, eventually pulling past the Cougar on the final turn. Follett's 1600-meter leg was approximately 4-minutes, 34-seconds.

"I just tried to keep my eyes up and looking ahead at the BYU runner," said Follett. "Coming around on the last lap, with about 200-meters to go I thought I'd be able to catch her so I just said okay let's turn on the jets. It's a really great feeling that my starting point this season is already better than my PR from last year. That's a testament to our workouts and everyone is in really good shape right now."

A Dempsey record would be broken just a few minutes later in the men's distance medley relay, as the men from No. 1-ranked Arkansas defeated an Oregon relay that featured a pair of 2008 Beijing Olympians. Arkansas' Andy McClary overtook NCAA Cross Country Champion and 10,000-meter Olympian Galen Rupp of Oregon in the final lap, powering Arkansas to an NCAA-leading time of 9:28.35. Oregon also eclipsed the former facility record, finishing in 9:29.39.

The Ducks took the lead on the 800-meter leg thanks to U.S. Olympian Andrew Wheating. The Huskies placed sixth in 9:52.12 but had the lead after the first two legs thanks to senior Austin Abbott and junior Jeff Gudaitis.

Senior Lindsey Scherf became the first Oregon woman to run a sub-16:00 indoor 5,000 meters when she ran 15:55.67 in her first 5K of the season. Scherf’s mark was nearly :09 seconds better than the previous Duck record, Magdalena Sandoval’s 16:04.40 from 2004. It was also an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships for the Scarsdale, N.Y., native, who won the Friday’s race by nearly :17 seconds.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler finished second with an outstanding time of 16:12.65, while fellow SPU All-American Jane Larson was ninth at 16:55.02.

2008 U.S. Olympic high jumper Sharon Day won the women's pentathlon, competing for Asics. Day set another Dempsey record with 4,276 points. She was followed by Oregon's Brianne Theisen, who eclipsed the auto standard with 4,181 points. Washington senior Daria Amiad-Pavlov hit the NCAA provisional mark right on the head, scoring 3,700 points for a fifth-place finish.

In the first day of the heptathlon, Ashton Eaton, the reigning Pac-10 and NCAA decathlon champion, had the leading 60 meter time, 6.84 seconds, which ranked fourth on the UO list. The junior from Bend, Ore., also won the high jump in 24-11, which was yet another NCAA provisional mark for the Ducks.

He then tied for first in the high jump at 6-10.25, which was a PR by 2.5 inches.

Eaton held a sizable first day lead in the heptathlon with 3,394 points.

Results of day 1 are available by clicking here...Video of Friday night's races are available here, courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com.

NOTE: The University of Washington and University of Oregon sports information offices contributed to this report.

Friday afternoon notes for UW Invitational indoor meet...

In preparation for this weekend's UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor, we've compiled some notes to help spectators follow the progress of the multi-events, the distance medley relays, and the 5000 meter runs.

The women's pentathlon features 2008 US Olympian in the high jump Sharon Day against former NCAA scorer Amy Menlove of BYU, who currently leads the 2009 performance list.

Two of the top decathletes in America go head to head in the two-day heptathlon, as Oregon's Ashton Eaton, the NCAA champ goes against former Seattle Pacific multi-eventer Chris Randolph.

In the women's 5000, former Harvard All-American Lindsay Scherf, now competing as a grad student at Oregon is the headliner, while Stanford's freshman sensation Chris Derrick, who finished seventh at the NCAA cross country meet leads the field.

Both distance medley relays promise to provide some fireworks, with the host Huskies opening up their women's DMR with freshman Christine Babcock, and junior Katie Follett, the reigning Pac-10 1500m champ and Olympic Trials qualifier on the anchor, against the usual suspects of Oregon, Brigham Young, and Stanford.

On the men's side, can anyone beat Arkansas, with Dorian Ulrey, who ran 3:57.60 in the mile last weekend, and the McClary twins (Andy & Alex) from Shelton? Teams from Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and Washington will give it a shot.

In what may be perceived as a bit of gamesmanship, Oregon has not announced lineups for either the men's or women's DMRs; they have in their arsenal Olympians Galen Rupp and Andrew Wheating, and Nicole Blood and Alex Kosinski to call upon.

Updated start lists, results and time schedules are posted on the track & field site at GoHuskies.com.

Notes for the remaining events will be posted later this evening or early Saturday morning.

UW INV 09 Fri Notes

Cougar Indoor Team Scoring Meet this weekend...

While all the hype has been on this weekend's UW Invitiational, Washington State University hosts the Cougar Indoor Team Scoring meet Friday and Saturday in Pullman, featuring teams from Eastern Washington, Idaho, Sacramento State and Utah State.

Results will be posted on the track page at www.wsucougars.com.

Courtesy of Linda Chalich from WSU Sports Information, here's the complete press release about this weekend's meet.

1-28release

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts from Bernard Lagat on the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games...

The promoters of Friday night's Millrose Games hosted a press conference in New York featuring former Washington State standout and two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat (#1113/photo by Paul Merca).

Lagat is in the 'Big Apple' where he is aiming for a seventh straight Wanamaker Mile title, which would tie Irish legend Eamonn Coghlan for the most wins at the Millrose.

He'll face a field that includes 2008 Olympic medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand; former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic; and, Steve Sherer, who ran two weeks ago at the UW Indoor Preview.

Special thanks to USATF communications director Jill Geer for assistance with this piece:

"You know it's always fun coming to New York. I've been here for quite some time now. The people in New York always cheer for me, they always support me. I have to believe they really love the Wanamaker mile. I get a lot of support from so many fans at Madison Square Garden."

"Like Nick (Willis) said, it's going to be hard this time around. Let me go back to 2008, I started well and beat him (the first three meetings), then he got the best of me at the end. Hopefully that will start the same way this week and I will win again. It's going to be tough. I am looking forward to that for sure."

"These races have had so many meanings in my life. This is a special race for me. I've run so many times and I've been able to win a few. Trying to tie the record of Eamonn Coghlan is really something that has been in my mind. I remember crossing the line last year and I thought man, this is the sixth one. The seventh one is going to be another challenge. At the press conference, I said I am the first one to confirm my participation in 2009. I am here because I know that I need to see if I can get to where the respected athlete, Eamonn Coghlan, did. It is a privilege for me to be here again and be able to run and try to push to see if I can get that record. It's not going to be easy but I will try my best."

"From here I'm going to run in Stuttgart, the 3000m, I am hoping to run something close to the American record of 7:32. Then another race in France, Lievin, the 1,500m. On the 21st I run in Birmingham, UK, and I want to close the season by running in Boston in the U.S. indoor nationals (at 1,500m). I thought why not do it (run nationals)? I've been training so well, I hope I can win all my races."

"I am running 45 miles a week right now, that's half what Kara (Goucher, who was also at the press conference) is running. But it's what I feel like I can handle now, and every mile is a quality mile, every time when I run on the road. The shorter the things I do, the better."

The Millrose Games will be shown live on ESPN2, on January 30th, from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., Eastern time, then shown on a tape delayed basis on NBC the next day from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., Eastern time.

Dawgs ready to rumble Friday & Saturday at UW Invitational...

One of the biggest and best track meets of the year is set to go off in the Dempsey Indoor this weekend, with the Husky track and field teams out in full force for the UW Invitational.

The two-day meet begins Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. with multi-events and distance runs, then picks up at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning and continuing throughout the day. The marquee sections in the running events are scheduled to start at approximately 1 p.m. Admission is free for all spectators.

The Huskies will have their largest contingent of the season competing over the weekend, including many members of the 2008 NCAA Champion women's cross country team making their track season debuts. All-Americans Christine Babcock and Katie Follett are entered in the distance medley relay on Friday evening along with top sprinter Falesha Ankton (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Kailey Campbell. Follett will also run the mile on Saturday, along with Mel Lawrence, the UW's No. 3 finisher at cross country NCAA's.

The women's 3,000-meter run is also loaded with talent, including 2008 Olympian Jenny Barringer of Colorado, who represented the U.S. in the steeplechase in Beijing, placing ninth and setting the American record. Former U.S. champion Lisa Galaviz is also entered alongside top Huskies Anita Campbell, Lauren Saylor, and Kenna Patrick.

In addition to the Buffaloes of Colorado, several top teams will be heading to Seattle including the current No. 1-ranked men's team Arkansas. One Razorback to watch for is Dorian Ulrey, who turned heads last week by running a 3:57.60 mile time. Ulrey is entered in the 3,000-meters on Saturday along with UW's Jake Schmitt and Jordan Swarthout, two of the top-three Husky finishers at NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.

Also at the Dempsey will be teams from Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, BYU, Cal St. Northridge, SMU, Hawaii, Long Beach State, New Mexico State, Oral Roberts, Portland, Portland State, San Francisco, SMU, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and Seattle Pacific.

Five-time All-American Austin Abbott will run the 800-meters for the first time since placing seventh in the event at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Abbott will also lead off the men's distance medley relay, which features Regional qualifier Jeff Gudaitis on the 400-leg, Brian Govier on the 800, and Kelly Spady on the 1600. They will challenge top DMR entries from Oregon, Stanford, BYU, UCLA, and Arkansas, which currently has the nation's top time.

The Huskies will have a strong entrant in the 4x400m relay with Gudaitis, Pac-10 4x1 champ Joe Turner, and Sam Rucker, with freshman Adam Long anchoring. Long is one of three UW football players currently bolstering the men's sprints group. Jordan Polk and Alvin Logan will also be running in the 60m dash on Saturday. Syreeta Martin in the 200m and NCAA hurdles qualifier Falesha Ankton in the 60m hurdles are two noteworthy women's entrants.

In the field events, school record-holder Elisa Bryant will compete in the weight throw alongside 2008 U.S. Olympian Loree Smith. Duke transfer Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson will head the women's pole vault, while Husky All-Americans Jared O'Connor and Scott Roth headline the men's vault. In the first full multi-event competition of the season, Andrew Ferleman and Jeremy Taiwo will lead the men's effort, while Daria Amiad-Pavlov and freshman Kelly McNamee put their all-around talents on display in the women's pentathlon.

Canadian Olympian Mike Mason competes in the high jump, as well as fellow Maple Leaf Olympian Ruky Abdulai in the long jump.

The start lists are accessible here, while the meet schedule is available here...

NOTE: Mike Bruscas of the University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ducks envious of Texas A&M indoor facility...

The Oregon Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon's student newspaper reports that head track coach Vin Lananna visited the campus of Texas A&M University two weeks ago to inspect the school's new indoor track facility.

Lananna and Kilkenny visited Gilliam Indoor Track and Field Stadium at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas during the week of Jan. 17. Both were impressed by the new facility, which boasts music, a video screen and grandstands close to the track, said Texas A&M spokesperson Shawn Price.

Lananna told The Eugene Register-Guard on Jan. 24, "We could use a good place dedicated to being able to get accustomed to competing indoors."

Texas A&M will host the NCAA Indoor Track & Field championships on March 13-14.

Kilkenny and Lananna were invited to visit Gilliam Stadium by Bill Byrne, who was athletic director at Oregon between 1984 and 1992, when he was called "Bill the Builder" because of his enthusiasm for large building projects.

Oregon athletic department spokesperson Greg Walker said an indoor facility would add one more piece to having a complete track program at the University. He said it is "definitely on the wish list."

Currently, the Ducks compete indoors primarily in Seattle at the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor facility, which has a 307 meter Mondo track that is among the fastest venues in the country.

To read the full story, click here...

Lagat seeking record seventh Wanamaker Mile title at Millrose Games...

Bernard Lagat will be looking for a record-equalling seventh Wanamaker Mile win in the 102nd Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden, New York on Friday 30 January.

The Millrose Games is the first of ten IAAF Indoor Permit Meetings in 2009.

A victory would tie Lagat with Irishman Eamonn Coghlan, the ‘Chairman of the Boards’ for most Wanamaker Mile wins.

In 2005, Lagat clocked 3:52.87 to eclipse Coghlan’s meet record of 3:53.0 set in 1981 on the tightly banked 160-yard oval. Lagat has won the last four Wanamakers as well as wins in 2001 and 2003.

The Wanamaker field will also include Nick Willis (NZL), winner of the Beijing Olympic 1500m bronze medal that ended New Zealand’s 36-year-old medal drought in the event, and Americans Steve Scherer and Chris Lukezic and Pablo Solares (MEX). Willis finished third to Lagat and Craig Motram (AUS) in the 2008 Wanamaker but out-duelled Lagat to win the Fifth Avenue Mile in September in their last meeting in New York.

The Wanamaker Mile is the traditional concluding event of the Millrose Games which is the first stop on the USA Track & Field Visa Championships Indoor Circuit that will culminate with the USATF Indoor Championships in Boston on 28 Feb - 1 Mar.

Beijing Olympian Kara Goucher from Portland, who won the mile and the 3000 at the UW Indoor Preview two weeks ago, will run in the women’s Mile, hopes to continue her good fortune in her birthplace of New York City. Last year, Goucher won the Millrose Mile and finished third in the New York City Marathon in 2:25:53 for the fastest debut by American woman. The 2008 Millrose Games marked Goucher’s first race on an indoor banked track since 1999.The women’s Mile start list also includes Marina Muncan (SRB), Barbara Parker (GBR) and Korene Hinds (JAM).

To read the full story, click here...

NOTE: The IAAF contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Arkansas to appear at UW Invitational this weekend...

Just did some snooping around, and it appears that this weekend’s UW Invitational meet at the Dempsey Indoor in Seattle will be chock full of track and field talent.

Although entries are still open as of Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm, a University of Washington source informs us that among the teams sending squads to Seattle are the University of Oregon, Stanford, California, UCLA, USC, BYU, Oral Roberts, and the University of Arkansas, which plans to send a distance medley relay team.

For the Razorbacks, the UW Invitational comes off the heels of last weekend’s Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, in which Dorian Ulrey punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships.

Ulrey clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 3:57.60 in the mile, good for a second-place finish, behind German Fernandez of Oklahoma State’s 3:56.50, surpassing the previous world junior indoor best of 3:58.34 set by Kenya's Boaz Lalang in 2008.

Utley’s time ranks second in the NCAA, first in the SEC and No. 8 on the Arkansas all-time list.

While start lists have not been posted yet, an appearance by the Razorbacks would mean a possible appearance by former Washington state prep standouts Michael Chinchar (Kentwood HS) and twins Andy & Alex McClary (Shelton HS).

Start lists for the UW Invitational are projected to be posted on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Universal Sports now available on Comcast in Seattle area...

If you follow track & field (and I presume most of you who read this blog do), you'll love the fact that Universal Sports is now available in the Seattle area on Comcast channel 115.

Universal Sports, which got its start in 2005 as wcsn.com before being bought by NBC Universal, will be offered on some local cable networks, and also over-the-air as a digital channel. Universal Sports was quietly slipped into the channel listings about 10 days ago.

Here's where to find it in the Seattle area:

Comcast channel 115
Click! Network channel 171
Hood Canal Communications channel 52
Rainier Connect channel 115
Wave Broadband channel 82
NBC over-the-air digital channel 5.2

Last summer, numerous meets on the IAAF Grand Prix circuit were offered on Universal Sports and/or universalsports.com on a live or delayed basis. Please check their web site for details on available indoor and outdoor meets.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Trent Arrivey gets NCAA provisional qualifier at WSU Open Indoor...

Washington State high jumper Trent Arrivey (left/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) was one of three competitors to reach NCAA Provisional Qualifying marks Saturday at the Seventh Annual WSU Open Indoor, a two-day meet held at WSU's Indoor Practice Facility.

Arrivey, a junior All-American from Woodinville, Wash., high jumped 7-feet, 1/4 inch (2.14m) to win the men's event. Idaho had two women reach NCAA PQ standards. K.C. Dahlgren won the pole vault after clearing 12-11 1/2 (3.95m) and Mykael Bothum won the shot put with a toss of 51-7 1/4 (15.73m) which also broke the meet record she set last year (49-9 1/4).

Cougar Moreno Zapata (Lakewood, Wash.) tied the meet record with his winning triple jump of 50- 1/2 (15.25m).

WSU's Robert Williams (Riverside, Calif.) edged out All-American teammate Jeshua Anderson to win the 60m hurdles. Williams ran a personal-record time of 7.95 seconds and Anderson also PRd in a time of 8.00 in the final. In the hurdles prelims, Cougars Barry Leavitt (8.21) and Trevor Habberstad (8.39) also PRd.

Other WSU men winning events were Marlon Murray in the 60m dash (6.86 after running a PR in the prelim of 6.85), Joe Abbott in the 400m dash (49.93), David Hickerson in the 800m (1:57.0), and Justin Englund in the mile (4:24.26). Abbott and Englund are freshmen who made their collegiate debuts with wins in crimson uniforms.

Besides finishing second in the 60 meter hurdles, NCAA 400 meter champion Jeshua Anderson finished second in the 800m, running 1:58.63, behind Hickerson.

Cougar women seeing victories Saturday included Brianne Brown in the 400m dash (1:01.09), All-American Anna Layman in the 800m (2:14.42), Amanda Stewart in the high jump (PR of 5-7, 1.70m), and Jessica Yates in the triple jump (37-2 1/2, 11.34m).

Other notable performances for the Cougs included Amanda Andrews' second place in the mile with a PR time of 5:05.41, Kendall Mays' runner-up finish in the pole vault after clearing a PR of 12-7 1/2 (3.85m).

"I'm really happy with the way we competed. Some people aren't happy with their performance but I always want them hungry for more. For the most part I would say we were pretty good today," WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said.

Next weekend the Cougars will host the Cougar Indoor Invitational meet with team scoring. WSU will be joined by teams from Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Sacramento State.

Complete results of the meets can be viewed by clicking here…

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ghanaweb reports ex-WSU triple jumper Francis Dodoo in line to become sports minister of Ghana...

Ghanaweb.com reports that former Washington State University triple jumper Francis "Padigo" Dodoo is in line to possibly become the next sports minister of Ghana.

The ex-triple national jump champion is certainly qualified, as a former athlete he has the knowledge foundation and experience to fill the position, but he comes with one small problem - he is not a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) inner circle.

In December 1980, he accepted an athletic scholarship to attend Washington State University in the US. In 1982, Dodoo became the national triple jump record holder. In August 1987, he went on to break the African Games Record, which remains the oldest standing continental record today; 21 years and counting.

Dodoo is a Full Professor of Sociology and Demography and is the current director of the United Nations Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana.

Here's the link to the story...

Bear designated as official mascot of Berlin 2009...

The bear is the symbol of Germany’s capital Berlin. So obviously the mascot of the IAAF’s World Championships, which will be staged in the city from 15th to 23rd August, had to be a bear. Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit presented the mascot to the public in a national TV programme on Thursday evening.

“This sporty and friendly bear fits to Berlin and to the World Championships. He will successfully present the world’s biggest sports event of this year,” said Klaus Wowereit. “This mascot will make people look forward to the World Championships even more. I am sure that athletics fans will like the mascot,” added Clemens Prokop, President of the German Athletics Federation DLV.

By presenting the mascot organisers also started a public search for the name of the bear. Any suggestions are welcome and can be put forward on the web page of the local organising committee at: www.berlin2009.org.

NOTE: The IAAF contributed to this report.

WSU hosts Open Indoor meet Friday & Saturday...

Washington State University will host the seventh annual WSU Open Indoor meet Friday & Saturday at the WSU Indoor Facility's Mondo track in Pullman.

The meet will feature racing at 60m, 200m, 400m, mile, 800m and 3000m with 60m hurdles as well as a co-ed 4x400m relay. Some of the teams contesting the meet include Idaho, Central Washington, and Spokane CC.

All jumping and throwing field events will be contested on the turf inside the oval. The men's 35-pound and women's 20-pound weight throws take place Friday, Jan. 23, at 4 p.m, while all remaining field events will begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with running events set to start at 10 a.m.

Complete results will be posted at www.wsucougars.com, following the meet's completion.


The Cougars' reigning Pac-10 & NCAA 400m hurdles champ, Jeshua Anderson, will open the season by running the 60 hurdles, and the 800.

Here's the link to WSU's press release, and the link to the start lists.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Norris Frederick named to Team USA squad for Five Nations meet in Glasgow...

Former University of Washington standout Norris Frederick (left/photo by Paul Merca) was named Wednesday to USA Track & Field's roster for the Five Nations Match, January 31 at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Five Nations Match will feature one athlete in each event from five nations: the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth Select team. It is a unique country vs. country format that will feature athletes from the different nations battling against each other to earn points towards their teams overall match total.

Frederick, who will compete in the long jump, will be joined on Team USA by 2008 Olympians David Payne, Lolo Jones, Andra Manson, Funmi Jimoh and Amy Yoder Begley, who, like Frederick, opened her season Saturday January 17th at the UW Indoor Preview in Seattle.

Frederick won the long jump at the UW Indoor Preview, jumping 25-8 1/4 (7.83m).

To read the full release, please click here...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on Barack Obama...

In all honesty, the first time I’d even heard of Barack Obama was in Mombasa, Kenya while working with Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2007.

Upon the conclusion of the senior women’s race, several athletes on the team, most notably Princeton grad Cack Ferrell (left/photo by Paul Merca), said to several staff members that whenever they ran by a particular point on the Mombasa Golf Course, where the race was held, numerous Kenyans would yell at the Americans, “Obama! Obama! Obama!”

During the first laps of the race, many of our gals were thinking as they ran, “Osama!”, as in Osama bin Laden, the founder of the Al-Qaeda terrorist movement responsible for masterminding the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

That was not a good thing for the American women to be thinking about during the 8-k race, as Team USA traveled everywhere around Mombasa with an armed escort of the team bus, consisting of Kenyan military personnel vehicles in front and behind the team bus, and armed State Department personnel on the bus itself, especially in light of the murder of the wife of a State Department employee in Nairobi several weeks before our appearance.

However, as they ran by the fans in the subsequent laps, it became apparent that they were yelling “Obama” instead, noting that the new President’s father is originally from Kenya.

As I returned to the US from Kenya, I had the opportunity to read up on the man who is now our President on this very historic day in America, and the reason why the Kenyans attending the race yelled “Obama” to our athletes.

Speaking of our new President, here's a video, courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com of his appearance at Hayward Field in Eugene last year during the campaign:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jeshua Anderson & UW women's cross country team honored at Seattle P-I sports banquet Tuesday

NCAA, US junior and world junior 400m hurdle champ Jeshua Anderson from Washington State University, along with the University of Washington women's cross country team will be among those honored Tuesday January 20th at what may possibly be the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's last annual Sports Star of the Year awards dinner at the Westin Seattle.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer may possibly fold if a buyer can't be found in the next sixty days.

Anderson, a sophomore from Mission Hills, Calif., went undefeated in the intermediate hurdles during his freshman season, an astounding streak that included victories at the Texas Relays and the Pac-10, NCAA West regional and NCAA championships, winning the latter in a WSU school-record time of 48.69 seconds.

The Huskies went undefeated in 2008, capping a perfect season by winning the NCAA championships in November.

Five runners earned All-America status, and the Huskies dominated at the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind., beating runner-up Oregon by 52 points. The Huskies also scored an unprecedented sweep of the Pac-10 championships. Freshman Kendra Schaaf won the Pac-10 title and broke the conference record, but the Huskies also won the regional meet without her, and another freshman, Christine Babcock, was the team's top finisher in the national championship race.

Joining Babcock and Schaaf as All-Americans were sophomores Mel Lawrence and Katie Follett and senior Amanda Miller.

A total of 10 athletes will win awards and the audience will pick the 2008 male a female Sports Stars of the Year.

Some of the nominees include Washington basketball standout Jon Brockman, Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum and USC safety Taylor Mays.

Female award winners are Olympic champion rowers Anna Cummins and Mary Whipple, the entire UW women's national championship cross country team, Olympic champion soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, Seattle Pacific soccer player Meredith Teague and Emerald Downs jockey Jennifer Whitaker.

Tickets cost $75 at 206-448-8066.

To read the full story, please click here...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goucher gets two wins at UW Indoor Preview...

2008 US Olympian Kara Goucher, leading Ari Lambie & Jessica Pixler (photo by Randy Miyazaki/trackandfieldphoto.com) highlighted Saturday’s UW Indoor Preview meet by winning the mile, then surprising those in attendance by jumping into the 3000 meter run 45 minutes later and stealing the victory away from training partner and Olympic teammate Amy Yoder Begley.

In the mile run, Goucher, the Olympian at 5000 and 10000 meters in Beijing last year, and 2007 world championship bronze medalist, let former Colorado standout Sara Vaughn take the lead, before taking command around the 700 meter mark, to win going away in 4:39.51.

45 minutes later, Goucher was entered in the women’s 3000 by her coach Alberto Salazar. In the 3000, she let training partner Amy Yoder Begley go ahead, while running in a pack that included former Stanford star Ari Lambie, and Seattle Pacific’s two time NCAA Division II cross country champion Jessica Pixler.

With approximately 1000 meters to go, Goucher, who ran the fastest debut time by an American in finishing third in last November's New York Marathon, separated herself from the pack and chased down Yoder Begley, forging ahead to win the 3000 in a time of 9:03.47, almost five seconds ahead of Yoder Begley, who ran 9:08.01.

It turned out that coach Salazar originally had Goucher run a track workout after the mile at Husky Stadium consisting of 5 x 1600 meters, but after some negotiating between coach and athlete, Salazar entered his charge in the 3000, with the understanding that she would run 2 x 1600 after the 3000.

Afterwards, Goucher told paulmerca.blogspot.com that she's currently running around 90 miles per week, and that after races at the Millrose Games and the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, the mileage will increase as she prepares for the Boston Marathon in April.

In an otherwise ordinary meet, one of the better marks of the day was set by two time US indoor champ Akiba McKinney in the long jump, as she jumped 21-0 to repel the challenge of Oregon’s Jamesha Youngblood, who jumped 20-6 1/2.

Former Husky Norris Frederick opened his 2009 season on a strong note, winning the long jump with a mark of 25-8 1/4. 2008 NCAA high jump runner-up Grant Lindsey won his specialty with a clearance of 7-2 1/2.

If there was one disappointing race, it was in the men’s mile, as Olympian Galen Rupp’s attempt at breaking four minutes in the mile was sabotaged by a 67 second first lap, and a lack of a pacemaker.

Rupp, the University of Oregon senior won the race in 4:10.13 over Dempsey Indoor facility record holder Steve Sherer, after Sherer’s game attempt to put the race back on sub-4 pace failed. For his effort, Sherer, who ran 3:56.00 at the Dempsey last year, was rewarded with a sub par 4:10.17 mark.

To Rupp's credit, he ran a personal best of 1:51.33 and finished fourth in the 800 meters an hour earlier -- driving eight seconds off a long-standing time from high school in an event he hasn't run since he was at Central Catholic. His previous best was a pedestrian 1:59.7

To see the complete results, please click here.

To read the University of Washington’s meet recap, please click here.

Here's the preview that I did for media partner runnerspace.com at the beginning of the meet and the link to their UW Indoor Preview page:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Link to Kara Goucher story at trackandfieldnews.com...

In doing prep work for Saturday's UW Indoor Preview, we came upon this article written by Sieg Lindstrom of Track & Field News:

"Mapping out goals for the Olympiad just begun, U.S. distance running’s fastest couple, Adam and Kara Goucher, are talking 10K, marathon and an even bigger personal aspiration: parenthood.

Kara Goucher (left, competing at 2006 World Cup in Athens/photo by Paul Merca), who ran the fastest-ever debut marathon by an American woman (2:25:53) as she placed 3rd in New York last fall, says their baby wish set in motion her plan to race the 26-miler this spring at the Boston Marathon, rather than wait for a fall race.

Alberto Salazar, coach to both Gouchers, believes track skills and experience are crucial for marathon development and prefers a one-marathon-per-year schedule for maximum results and career longevity. But he made an exception in Kara’s case.

"Originally we weren’t going to run another marathon for at least a year," Kara told Sieg Lindstrom of Track & Field News, "but Adam and I kind of want to start a family so we just decided it would be better to get another marathon in at Boston and get that experience in and then we’ll see what happens from there: maybe take the spring off."

Kara is entered in the mile at Saturday's UW Indoor Preview meet at the Dempsey Indoor, where she'll face Seattle Pacific's 2007 NCAA 1500 meter champ Jessica Pixler, and University of Oregon All-American Nicole Blood.

Goucher added that she will run a few indoor track races, including the Millrose mile, as part of her buildup to the big race in Beantown. Adam Goucher is back in training 3 weeks after an operation to remove a surgical screw from the navicular bone in one of his feet

To read the full story, click here...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Olympian Kara Goucher entered in the mile...

According to a release posted at gohuskies.com, 2008 US Olympian Kara Goucher (left, trailing Amy Yoder Begley/photo by Paul Merca) is the headliner competing in Saturday's UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor.

Goucher, who was third at the 10000 at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, and ninth in the 5000 and tenth at the 10000 at last year's Beijing Olympics, is entered in the mile run, where she'll face NCAA All American Nicole Blood of the University of Oregon, and NCAA Division II cross country champ Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific at 3:24 pm.

Goucher turned in a history-making American performance by finishing third in the 2008 NYC Marathon. Crossing the line in 2 hours 25 minutes 53 seconds, it was the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman; it was the fastest time ever by an American at the ING New York City Marathon; and it marked the first time in 14 years that an American woman placed in the top three in New York

Her training partner and fellow Olympian at 10000 meters, Amy Yoder Begley will run the 3000 against Pixler and recent Stanford grad Arianna Lambie at 4:00 pm.

As reported earlier this week on paulmerca.blogspot.com, Olympian Galen Rupp of the University of Oregon will run the mile, where he hopes to break four minutes for the first time in his career at 3:37 pm.

Rupp will run in a field that includes 2006 NCAA cross country champ Josh Rohatinsky, 2007 NCAA 800 meter finalist Tim Bayley, current UCLA standout and Mead High School grad Laef Barnes, and Rupp's Oregon teammate Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott.

The complete meet schedule is posted here, while the entry lists are posted here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unleashing the "beast" within the UW sprint corps...

The University of Washington Daily has a feature on new sprint coach Raul Sheen, who was hired in October to replace LaMonte Vaughn.

Among the leaders of the current crop of Husky sprinters is senior Jordan Boase (left/photo by Paul Merca), who ran a school record 44.83 over 400 meters last year, finished third in the NCAA indoor, fourth in the NCAA outdoor meet, and advanced to the semi-finals at the US Olympic Trials, despite a stress fracture in his left femur that developed two months before the Trials.

Reporter Ben Foutz writes, "In just his first year coaching at Long Beach State, Raul Sheen led four of LBSU’s sprinters to the NCAA Outdoor Championships this past spring. Realizing the potential of the young coach, the UW made an immediate priority of bringing Sheen to Seattle — a move that Husky sprinters couldn’t be more excited about.

“The way he motivates us, I think it’s going to be a really great year,” said senior sprinter/hurdler Falesha Ankton. “I have a lot of confidence in him. He had so much success at Long Beach last year and I think he can work with our teams and make sure we have a lot of success.”

Sheen plans on doing exactly that.

Aside from the beautiful weather, the new Husky sprints coach says that he’s excited to return to his native Northwest because of the undeniable surge of energy at the University of Washington.

“Across the board — but especially in the track and field program — this is an exciting time for the University of Washington,” said Sheen. “The staff is really young and energetic. They’re passionate about the sport. They’re passionate about being good. Just to be a part of a progressive program that can be a top-10 national power for a long time, it’s amazing. This is where I want to be.”

The Huskies will compete at home Saturday as they host the UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor facility.

To read the full article, please click here...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Galen Rupp to run at UW meet on Saturday...

Doug Binder of the Oregonian reports on the paper's track & field blog that University of Oregon senior Galen Rupp (far left/photo by Paul Merca), the US Olympian at 10000 meters and reigning NCAA cross country champion, will run at Saturday's UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor facility.

Binder writes, "Rupp has been working on his speed and might double Saturday in the 800 meters and the mile -- events he has rarely competed in since high school. The races represent an opportunity for him to lower two personal bests (1 minute, 59.7 seconds and 4:01.8) that have remained frozen since he was at Central Catholic High School."

The article also states that the Ducks' other Olympian, 800 meter runner Andrew Wheating, will not run Saturday.

To read the full article, please click here...

Jeshua Anderson featured in Trackshark profile of sprinters to watch...

Washington State sophomore Jeshua Anderson (center/photo by Paul Merca) is one of twelve sprinter/hurdler types to watch in 2009, according to an article posted on media partner Trackshark.com.

Scott Bush writes about the Olympic Trials semi-finalist, who also was the 2008 world junior champ and NCAA champ at the 400m hurdles, "It's rare for a freshman to win a NCAA Outdoor title. It's even more rare for it to happen on the men's side. Last spring Washington State's Anderson took home the men's 400m hurdle title, winning the event in 48.69, showing that he'll be a force in the NCAA for the next three years."

During the recently completed football season, Anderson was the Cougars' second leading receiver, with 33 receptions for 305 yards and two touchdowns, despite an injury that slowed him down early in the season.

To read the full story on Trackshark's sprinters and hurdlers to watch this season, please click here...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brooks Johnson's take on Steve Roush's resignation...

A few days ago, we posted an item about US Olympic Committee Sports Performance chief Steve Roush's resignation in light of the incident involving four US cyclists at the Beijing Olympics last summer.

Shortly after his resignation, former USA Track & Field high performance chairman Brooks Johnson, and a former US Olympic track team head coach (1984) posted his thoughts on Roush on his blog, spikesandflats.com.

"For some time Steve Roush and his immediate subordinate, Jay Warwick, have lead the fight to have more input into the programmatic aspects of USATF overall operations and high performance projects. This was generally done under the banner of the Sports Partnership Program of the USOC. The genesis of the USOC Sports Partnership Program was to basically assist the various sports federations ( NGBs ) make a more organized and effective presentation to the USOC for funding. Not satisfied or fulfilled with this function, Warwick, and others sought an ever greater input and participation in providing and designing performance programs for sports and federations ( each Sports Partnership administrator had up to 6-8 sports to assist ) about which they had very little background and/or knowledge. This would allow them to take more credit for the success of the programs that fell under their umbrella, assuring themselves of being more valued and more likely kept on board by the USOC."

To read the full contents of his blog, please click here...

2009 update to Dempsey Indoor sub-4 club...

As we prepare for yet another exciting indoor track & field series at the Dempsey Indoor facility on the campus of the University of Washington, here's the updated list of runners who have run under four minutes in the mile at the Dempsey.

This list updates the post from last year on this site....

The 2009 indoor series at the Dempsey resumes Saturday January 17th with the UW Indoor Preview. The meet schedule for the UW Indoor Preview can be viewed here...

Here's the honor roll of sub-4 minute milers:

3:56.00 Steve Sherer (left/photo by Paul Merca) 2/2/2008

3:56.72 Nick Symmonds 1/13/2007

3:58.52 AJ Acosta 3/8/2008

3:58.54 Chris Estwanik 1/14/2006

3:58.68 Russell Brown 2/16/2008

3:58.71 Garrett Heath 2/16/2008

3:58.83 Gabe Jennings 2/16/2008

3:58.93 Eric Garner 3/2/2002

3:58.95 Grant Robison 3/8/2003

3:59.05 Sean O’Brien 1/14/2006

3:59.05 Peter van der Westhuizen 3/8/2008

3:59.08 Jonah Maiyo 2/26/2005

3:59.16 Kyle Perry 2/2/2008

3:59.23 Robert Cheseret 2/26/2005

3:59.25 Mike McGrath 3/4/2006

3:59.47 Austin Abbott 2/11/2006

3:59.49 Donald Sage 3/2/2002

3:59.55 Stephen Pifer 2/11/2006

3:59.59 Brandon Strong 3/2/2002

3:59.61 Elliott Blount 1/14/2006

3:59.74 Bernard Kiptum 2/11/2006

3:59.78 Ray Hughes 3/2/2002

3:59.82 Kyle Alcorn 2/2/2008

3:59.83 Will Leer 1/19/2008

3:59.99 Nathan Robison 2/14/2004

SOURCE: University of Washington sports information, and Track & Field Writers of America All-Time World Indoor List, edited by Ed Gordon

Note: Some may have broken four minutes at the Dempsey more than once. This is the fastest time credited to that runner. List updated 1/11/2009.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sometimes, a comedy clip is what you need...

In the "what does this have to do with track & field" category comes this piece I came across on espn.com, featuring an episode of "Mayne Street" starring Kenny Mayne, the former KSTW sports anchor from Federal Way and backup quarterback at UNLV to one Randall Cunningham.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

US pole vaulters to start their own tour...

There was a story behind the story at last weekend’s 19th annual UCS Spirit Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada.

The concept of a U.S. Pole Vault Tour was proposed during a closed-door meeting with 25 of the nation’s elite pole-vaulters and embraced by the likes of 2008 (editor's note: it was actually 2000) Olympic gold medalist Stacy Dragila, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson and 2007 World Outdoor champ Brad Walker.

Tour co-founder Tye Harvey, the 2001 World Indoor silver medallist, and Jeff Hartwig, a two-time Olympian and four-time USA Outdoor champ, delivered an in depth 60-minute tour proposal.

“I’ve been a proponent of this for a while now,” Walker said. “We’ve talked about doing something like this for years. So, the opportunity to hear the whole plan was very cool.”

The U.S. Pole Vault Tour – proposed as multi-sponsored, nationally televised two-day events – is scheduled to debut in May or June in Sacramento.

“I’ve always thought, why can’t pole vaulting do something like what the pro bull riders did when they broke off on their own from rodeo,” said Dragila, a two-time world champion. “This is a great opportunity to get ourselves out there and show people that our sport is cool and fun to watch. I’m all for it.”

Dragila, who was heavily involved in rodeo as a youngster growing up in Auburn, Calif., paralleled the proposed USPV Tour to a similar situation in pro rodeo when in 1994 a separate organization was formed for bull riding alone.

Since the inception of Professional Bull Riding, the sport’s popularity has grown to a lofty position as the seventh most watched televised sport in the nation.

“I’d love to be a part of the tour. I’m in 100 percent,” Stevenson said. “It’s about time for something like this for pole vaulting. Either you reinvent yourself for today’s audience or you don’t exist. And that’s what pole vaulting is doing with the tour.”

Here's a link to a discussion on how the USPV tour, which appears to have many elements of pro beach volleyball's AVP Tour.

The proposed USPV seven-city tour will conclude with a Tour Championship.

NOTE: The US Pole Vault Tour and polevaultpower.com contributed to this report.

Washington, Washington State unranked in USTFCCCA pre-season poll...

The Oregon Ducks open up the 2009 season as the top ranked team in Division I men's indoor track and field the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced on Wednesday.

Oregon is led by 2008 Beijing Olympians Andrew Wheating and Galen Rupp. The Ducks also return All-Americans Ashton Eaton (Heptathlon) and Andrew Acosta (Mile runner-up in 2008). Oregon finished 19th at the NCAA Championships in 2008.

Ranked second in the preseason rankings is Arizona State. Last year the Sun Devils took home the NCAA Championship team title outdueling No. 5 Florida State 44-41 in the overall team standings. Ryan Whiting returns for his junior season at Arizona State and is the defending shot put champion. Whiting, along with transfer Brandon Bethke and senior Joel Phillip should give the Sun Devils a shot at back-to-back national titles.

Arkansas is ranked third and will be seeking its first indoor national title since 2006. The Razorbacks return several All-Americans including defending national champion Nkosinza Balumbu who took home top honors in the triple jump a year ago. J-Mee Samuels is also back for Arkansas after earning two All-American honors in the 200-meter dash and 60-meter dash.

After finishing the 2008 indoor track and field season in seventh place at the NCAA Championships, the Texas A&M Aggie women will begin the 2009 season with the No. 1 ranking in hand in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I women's indoor track and field preseason rankings.

The Aggies are led by juniors Porscha Lucas and Jessica Beard. Both Beard and Lucas picked up two All-American honors last year at the NCAA Championships. Beard is the defending 400-meter dash champion and also ran on the runner-up 1600-meter relay team. Lucas finished fourth overall in the 200-meter dash and 11th in the 60-meter dash.

A&M also will return All-Americans Sandy Wooten, who ran on the 1600-meter relay, and Ashika Charan, an All-American in both the long and triple jumps, and Jeneba Tarmoh.

LSU, last year's NCAA Championship runner-up, will begin 2009 ranked second behind the Aggies. LSU picked up 127.20 points and is led by junior LaTavia Thomas, the defending 800-meter champion. LSU also returns junior All-Americans Samantha Henry and Andrea Linton. Henry finished fifth in the 60-meter dash, while Linton placed seventh and ninth in the long and triple jumps.

No. 3 Michigan finished third in the team championship standings last year and is led by Bettie Wade (2nd in the pentathlon at 2008 Indoor NCAAs), and Tiffany Offili (defending 60-meter Hurdles champion). Michigan also placed second in the DMR behind Tennessee. Geena Gall, fourth in the 800 at the 2008 Indoor NCAA Championships, will also return for the Wolverines.

Both the University of Washington and Washington State University men’s and women’s squads were unranked in the USTFCCCA polls. Washington competes next Saturday at the UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor, with teams such as #1 men/#8 women ranked Oregon participating and #17 women Stanford, while Washington State will host the WSU Indoor Open the following weekend.

The 2009 USTFCCCA Division I Rankings will be released on Wednesdays during the indoor track and field season. Rankings are compiled by Tom Lewis.

To read the full USTFCCCA releases, click here...

The 2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held March 13-14 in College Station, Texas.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The RunnerSpace.com rundown...

Courtesy of our media partner RunnerSpace.com, here's the RunnerSpace Rundown show for the week ending January 7th, with apologies to Tom Cruise, Heidi Klum, Kobe Bryant, Tony Hawk, and Michael Phelps.

Following up on two recent posts...

Wednesday, I posted a story on Steve Roush's resignation as chief of sport performance at the US Olympic Committee, partly as a fallout from last summer's incident involving four cyclists who were forced to write a letter of apology for wearing USOC issued anti-pollution masks at the Beijing airport.

USA Track & Field communications director Jill Geer says that Roush is still on the blue-ribbon panel appointed by CEO Doug Logan to review the organization's high performance division. That group, which includes Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond, is scheduled to present its findings to Logan on January 12th.

In an unrelated note, Home Depot has announced that they will no longer be a sponsor of the US Olympic Committee and discontinue a program that offered jobs and benefits to American athletes, of which Thurmond was once part of.

Home Depot had been a USOC sponsor and provider of the Olympic Job Opportunity Program since 1992. The sponsorship was worth $15 million to $20 million in the four-year period ending in 2008.

The 86 athletes currently in the program will be offered traditional jobs at their current stores. But after March 2, they will no longer receive either full-time benefits or full-time pay for their part-time work, which they performed on flexible schedules depending on their Olympic regimens.

Tuesday's post about my good friend Sean Hartnett apparently has fired up another friend in the business, as photojournalist Patti Stirk from Pennsylvania dropped a note stating that she's about to go to Dubai for Haile Gebreselassie's world record attempt!

Hartnett was the only American to cover the Dubai Marathon last year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Eugene in the mix for Golden League status...

According to the web site insidethegames.com, the IAAF is looking to expand the number of meets in the Golden League series starting in 2010.

London and Lausanne are the two meets expected to be added to the current Golden League meetings, which currently include Oslo, Rome, Zurich, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels.

IAAF sources also indicate that they want to expand the Golden League to venues in North America, the Middle East, and Asia, with Eugene, Doha, Qatar, and Beijing the most likely candidates.

A group including Sebastian Coe, the two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion and now the chairman of London 2012, is due to meet in the first week of next month to discuss a feasbility report on the new circuit they hope to launch next year.

Among the issues are to be discussed are the inclusion of meetings in London, Lausanne and Stockholm as well as events in China, the Middle East and the United States as part of the IAAF's plans to make the sport more attractive globally and market it worldwide.

It is also believed that three major groups, including a leading European media company, are in discussions with the IAAF about bankrolling the new high-profile multi-million pound circuit.

The Statesman-Journal of Salem, Oregon reports that adding Golden League status to the Prefontaine Classic would increase the amount of prize money that could be offered and make it easier for meet director Tom Jordan to attract non-Nike athletes such as superstar sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica to Hayward Field.

To read the insidethegames.com story, click here, and to read the Statesman-Journal story, click here.

So who replaces Steve Roush on the USATF High Performance Audit Panel?

In Tuesday's USA Today and several other national publications, the US Olympic Committee announced that its chief of sport performance, Steve Roush, resigned from his position.

Roush, 50, has held the position since March 2003 - first on an interim basis and then full time beginning in May 2004. He joined the USOC in July 2000 as a Sport Partnership Director after serving as Assistant Executive Director of USA Swimming from 1994-2000.

As Chief of Sport Performance, Roush oversaw the various USOC divisions responsible for providing benefits and services to America's athletes and National Governing Bodies. During his tenure, United States Teams achieved unprecedented success in the Olympic Games, including record-setting performances at the 2008 Beijing Games (110 medals, the most ever for a U.S. Team in a full-participation Games) and the 2006 Torino Winter Games (25, the most ever for a U.S. Winter Team competing outside the United States).

Roush made headlines last summer in Beijing for all the wrong reasons--he was the USOC administrator who publicly reprimanded and demanded apologies from four US cyclists for wearing USOC issued air-filtering masks in the Beijing airport upon their arrival from the USA.

"He put a very big negative mark on my Olympics," Bobby Lea--one of the four cyclists, said of Roush, "and you don't want to ever wish hardship on someone — especially in these kind of economic times — but it seems that for every action there is a reaction. Maybe this was a little karma coming back around."

After the Olympics, Lea, Mike Friedman, Sarah Hammer, and Jennie Reed, hired an attorney to force the USOC to apologize to them for Roush's actions. When the four met with Roush in Beijing after the incident, an athlete ombudsman was not present in the room, which is generally standard procedure.

The USOC also instituted changes last fall that would allow its athlete ombudsman to more directly and independently advocate for athletes at future Olympic Games. Lea called those changes "the bigger step in the right direction."

"It feels like we were positively reinforced for standing up for our rights," Lea said. "Hopefully other athletes presented with similar situations will take something away from our experience and not let themselves be trampled by people who are basically playground bullies."

To read the full article from USA Today, please click here...

In USATF CEO Doug Logan's blog on October 13th, Logan named Roush and two other USOC executives to the select panel analyzing Team USA's performance in Beijing.

The bigger question from a track & field perspective is who replaces Roush on USA Track & Field's select High Performance Audit panel? Or does the panel go on without Roush?

Either way, it's my feeling that USA Track & Field removes Roush from the panel, or asks him to step down. It's my understanding from attending the USATF convention in Reno last month that the panel is to report their findings to Logan by January 12th, which is next Monday. It might be too late to remove him, but we'll see.

NOTE: The US Olympic Committee contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mr. Marathon Sean Hartnett...

Every so often, I like to deviate from the format of the mighty blogspot, and give a pop to some of the folks who cover the sport on a regular basis.

One of the premier experts on the marathon and distance running in general is my good friend Sean Hartnett (left, with Haile Gebreselassie after 2008 Berlin Marathon/photo courtesy Sean Hartnett), who in real life is a geography professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

I've had the privilage of rooming with Sean at the 2003 & 2005 IAAF world track & field championships in Paris & Helsinki, and have traveled and covered numerous other meets around the world with him as part of a small group of journalists I like to call the "American Track Mafia".

Sean's covered many of the world's top marathons as a writer and photographer, and over the last few years, has picked up a new side gig helping advise Ethiopia's Haile Gebreselassie. His expertise as a geographer has been utilized by some of the major marathons, as he's helped race directors with course elevation maps.

For the upcoming Dubai Marathon on January 16th, in which Gebreselassie will take a shot at his own world record of 2:03:59, set in Berlin in September, he's advised the race management to remove some turns and change the direction of the out-and-back course so that the winds are at the back of the runners during the second half of the race.

To read more about Sean's role in Gebreselassie's upcoming world record attempt in Dubai, click here...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thoughts on paying America's top ten athletes in each event...

While perusing Trackshark.com, I came upon a video posted from the Beijing Olympics, where Olympian Gail Devers gave her thoughts to the Associated Press on paying the top ten Americans in each event a stipend to cover basic needs in order for them to continue training.



Just wondering what the readership thinks of Gail's idea? It's not new...

A Kara Goucher interview to start the new year...

According to stats cranked out by Feedjit, it seems one of the most popular hits the mighty blogspot's taken are articles on Portland resident Kara Goucher (left wearing hip 1 at the Prefontaine Classic/photo by Paul Merca).

Courtesy of Runner's World, here's an interview with Kara, who will compete in this April's Boston Marathon.

Last season, Goucher ran 4:06.17 for 1500m, 8:57.53i for 3000m, 14:58.10 for 5000, 30:55.16 for 10000, and made her marathon debut in New York, running 2:25:53, the fastest debut by an American.

In the recently released Track & Field News rankings, she was the number one American at 5000 meters, and number two in the 10000.

To read the interview with Kara, click here...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And the awards keep piling up for the Huskies...

In addition to going undefeated, winning the Pac-10, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Championship, and a Mercanator award, media partner Flotrack named the University of Washington women's cross country team as its 2008 Team of the Year.

Here's the video, along with an interview with Husky coach Greg Metcalf.

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flotrack's most dominating performance of 2008...

Courtesy of media partner Flotrack is the most dominating performance of 2008, as captured by their video crew...enjoy this clip of the University of Washington's performance on Halloween at the Pac-10 cross country championships!

Before anyone asks about why Usain Bolt's double at the Olympics (or even his first world record in New York) was not considered the most dominating performance, or the 1-2-3 finish by the Oregon TC/U of Oregon crew of Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating, and Christian Smith at the Trials, keep in mind that Flotrack didn't have video rights to those events--so in reality, the category should read "most dominating performance captured on Flotrack in 2008".

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bernard Lagat interview, courtesy runblogrun.com...

As part of Nike's Cross Nationals promotions last fall, Bernard Lagat (#1113/file photo by Paul Merca) answered a few questions posed by The Running Network's Larry Eder about his start in the sport and his days running in high school and in college at Washington State University in Pullman.

1. What was your first experience in cross country?

Lagat: It was during an inter-class tournament at our High School way back in 1992.

2. What was training like in high school?

Lagat: Training was not coordinated. There was nothing set for a particular day. A games master could just think of anything for that particular day and we could do it without asking any questions. We did mostly long runs and fewer track sessions. A few hill sessions were sometimes put in plan for a particular day.

3. When did you make a commitment to running?

Lagat: I made a commitment to pursue running during my sophomore year in HS. This was in 1992. A few boys my age had never seen a training shoe and ,since I was privileged enough to own a pair, thanks to my older sister Mary's generosity and encouragement, I then decided to incorporate running into my daily routine but making sure that my EDUCATION was my first priority.

4. What was college training like?

Lagat: CRAZY..... Seriously, it was my first time to really follow a set training programme. I had experience a little bit of a well laid out plan while training in Kenya after my High School, but when I joined W.S.U, my coach had a well structured weekly training plan, which comprised of long runs, tempo runs, hill sessions, drills, weight training, ice baths etc. Most of these were quite new to me, but I immediately got used to it and I truly enjoyed everyday I went out training.

5. What is difference between running in high school and running in college?

Lagat: For me, HS running was something I didn't take it seriously. I could skip training and still be ranked very high in my school, but when I joined college, I realized right away that in order for me to be anything useful in this, then I must be serious and dedicate more time to making sure that I prepare myself well for races/competitions. I also realized that in order to make it in college; first; I needed to have some goals for the season. And second, once I knew my goals, all I could ask of myself is the discipline and hard-work necessary to achieve those goals.

To read the full interview with Bernard, click here...

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