Saturday, February 28, 2009

Huskies find a star in Jeremy Taiwo...

In a conversation I had close to a year ago with head track and cross country coach Greg Metcalf, he told me that the University of Washington was looking for a talented in-state, multi-faceted athlete that could contribute to the Husky program in several events the way that jumper Norris Frederick contributed.

Newport High School product Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo courtesy UW) was the anointed one, after he won the 3A state triple jump and high jump titles as a sophomore, and set the sophomore state triple jump record with a mark of 48-3 1/2, then placed second in the triple and high jumps at the 2008 state meet after coming back from a foot injury that cause him to miss his junior year.

The anointed one went a long way to fulfill Metcalf’s wish, as in his second heptathlon, the freshman won the MPSF conference heptathlon title in his first meet.

The mark is a strong NCAA Provisional qualifier, and currently ranks sixth in the NCAA so Taiwo could be on his way to the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks.

On Friday, Taiwo ran 7.19 in the 60 hurdles (816 points), then long jumped 23-3 1/2 (838), threw the shot 41-1 (638), and high jumped 6-7 (813).

Before the start of Saturday’s competition, Jeremy and I chit-chatted about when I first met him (in 1993, when father Joseph, a two-time Olympian for Nigeria competed on my Club Ballard track club), and concluded by me telling him to jump 14 feet in the pole vault, a height he had never cleared.

After a strong showing in the 60 hurdles, where he ran 8.36 (893 points), he exceeded expectations by clearing 14-3 1/4, worth 716 points.

In the concluding 1000-meter run, Taiwo ran 2:42.58, worth 845 points to get to 5559 total points, 91 points short of the NCAA automatic qualifying standard of 5650 points.

All that in spite of the Washington public address announcer’s insistence during the call of the 1000 that he needed to run 2:43 to get the auto-qualifier, when in reality he needed to run at least 2:34.

Jordan Boase once again lowered his school record in the 400-meters, winning his second-straight MPSF title in 46.09 seconds, defeating Washington State's Jeshua Anderson, who ran 47.01. That also lowered the Dempsey facility record, and is the fastest in the NCAA and the fastest run by an American so far this year.

Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence blew past the 3,000-meter school record set just two weeks ago by teammate Katie Follett, running 9:08.50 to place second. The time is well under the NCAA Auto mark of 9:15.00, and would have been an MPSF meet record had Stanford's Laurynne Chetelat not finished just in front of Lawrence in 9:08.15. Lawrence is now assured of a berth at NCAA Indoors and ranks fifth in the NCAA at 3k.

As a team, the 22nd-ranked Husky men placed sixth, but were only four points out of second in a very tightly packed men's competition. The UCLA men jumped to the front thanks to 28.5 points in the final event, the men's pole vault, and won the title with 83.5 points. Cal and Washington State tied for second with 78.5 points, with No. 1-ranked Oregon finishing fourth with 78. 11th-ranked Arizona State was fifth with 76.5 points, and the UW was next in the pecking order with 75 points.

The men's high jump provided 18 points to the WSU team total. Trent Arrivey was the runner-up in the high jump with a PR and improved NCAA PQ mark of 7-feet, 3 inches (2.21m), the same height cleared by the winner, California's Ed White. Cougar freshman Shawn Swartz was third and sophomore Ryan Deese finished fifth after both Cougs cleared 6-10 3/4 (2.10m).

The 21st-ranked Husky women had three second- and three third-place finishes on Saturday to wind up in fifth in the team standings for the second year in a row. The 25th-ranked Stanford women broke Arizona State's two-year reign, finishing first with 115 points. No. 3 Oregon was second with 91.5 points, followed by No. 8 ASU (78), UCLA (75.5), and Washington with 72.5.

Lorraine King, a senior from Fontana, Calif., won the women's 60 hurdles with a lifetime-best time of 8.46 seconds, just missing the NCAA PQ time of 8.43. King also took fourth place in the women's 400m dash with a PR time of 54.95. King's 60m hurdles time is the fifth-best in school history and eclipsed her previous PR time of 8.53.

Lisa Egami ran a school-record and improved NCAA Provisional Qualifying mile time of 4-minutes, 44.92 seconds to finish fifth, followed by Marisa Sandoval in sixth place with a PR time of 4:53.36. Egami ran the previous SR time of 4:45.49 on this track just two weeks ago.

Sara Trané took sixth place in the women's 3000m with a PR and NCAA PQ time of 9:28.54, the third-best time in WSU women's history and broke the indoor school record, surpassing Haley Paul's 2006 time of 9:39.31. Amanda Andrews ran a PR time of 9:53.17 (18th) and Michelly Foley ran a PR time of 9:56.80 (20th).

To read the complete UW news release, please click here; and, to read Washington State’s meet recap, please click here…

Announcer notes--MPSF Championships/Day 2...

Posted below are the announcer notes for day 2 of the MPSF Championships at the Dempsey Indoor Facility at the University of Washington.

Please note that these are only for the women's events; start lists for the men's events are available by clicking here...

To access the MPSF Championships home page, please go here...

Mpsf Women Day2

Friday, February 27, 2009

Huskies win MPSF title in distance medley; Jake Schmitt wins 5000...

In what was projected on paper as a battle royal between the Washington Huskies, Stanford Cardinal, and Oregon Ducks in the women's distance medley relay (all three teams entered the meet with NCAA automatic qualifying marks) turned into no contest, as Washington easily won the DMR, running 11:16.57.

Freshman Christine Babcock got the Dawgs a lead it never relinquished on the opening 1200-meter leg, and Falesha Ankton, Katie Follett, and anchor Kailey Campbell extended the lead, as the Huskies were never pressed for the MPSF title.

Stanford, running essentially a "B" unit finished second in 11:22.70, while California overtook Oregon for third, clocking 11:41.10, against a Duck squad which was a "B" unit.

Washington junior Jake Schmitt won his first MPSF title at 5000 meters, taking command after 1500 meters and never relinquishing the lead, winning in a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 13:57.49.

In the women's pentathlon, Husky senior Daria Amiad-Pavlov finished fifth, scoring 3853 points, only one point short of her personal best.

Senior Lara Jones, a transfer from Duke, set a new personal-best with a clearance of 13-feet, 5 ¼ inches that tied for the second-best clearance by any vaulter but was fifth based on the tiebreak. Husky Andrea Peterson also PR'd, clearing 13-1 ½ to take eighth in the always loaded field. Jones and Peterson became the sixth and seventh vaulters in school history to clear 13-feet indoors.

Washington State's Kendall Mays tied for fifth at 13-5 1/4 in the women's pole vault, while Cougar Phil MacArthur captured third place with his opening attempt in the men's 35-pound weight with a throw of 65-7 3/4 (20.01m).

To read Washington's day one release, click here; to read Washington State's day one release, please click here...

The meet continues Saturday, beginning at 11 am.

Videos from the MPSF Championships are available at media partner runnerspace.com. To watch highlights from the MPSF, including an interview with Paul Merca, please click here...

MPSF Championships on tap at Dempsey Indoor Friday & Saturday...

Washington track and field once again plays host to the annual Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships this weekend at the Dempsey Indoor. The two-day meet is the indoor conference championship for the West Coast's top track teams and one of the last and best chances to qualify for the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships just two weeks away.

The meet begins Friday, Feb. 27, at 12:30 p.m. and runs until approximately 7 p.m. Events on day one include finals in the men's and women's weight throws, 5,000-meter runs, 200-meter dashes, distance medley relays, long jumps, and the women's pole vault. The majority of the multi-events also will be held Friday.

Action resumes Saturday morning at 11 a.m., with conference champs crowned in the majority of the sprints and distance events, plus high and triple jumps, the shot put, and men's pole vault. The men's and women's 4x400m relays bring the meet to a close at around 3:30 p.m.

The field is made up of Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, California, Oregon and UCLA out of the Pac-10, plus Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge from the Big West. The Duck men are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by the USTFCCCA and are the defending conference champions, while the Oregon women are the top-ranked women's team in the field at No. 3. The Arizona State women are ranked eighth and are the defending MPSF as well as NCAA Indoor Champions. Additional ranked men's squads include Arizona State (11th), UCLA (15th), Washington (22nd), and Stanford (25th). The Arizona women are ranked 10th, followed by Washington (21st), and Stanford (25th).

Both Husky teams placed fifth at last year's MPSF meet. The Washington men won the conference title in both 2006 and 2007, while the women have won once before, back in 1995. Last season the Huskies had MPSF wins from Jordan Boase in the 400, and Norris Frederick in the long jump.

To read the full release, please click here, and to go to the meet's home page, you can click here, or click the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation logo above...

Here's the link to the MPSF video coverage by our media partner runnerspace.com.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pro news: Lagat out of USA Indoor Championships; Frederick ninth in Athens...

In a post on Trackshark.com, David Monti from Race Results Weekly reports that Bernard Lagat will not run the 1500 at the USA Indoor Championships in Boston this weekend.

According to a text Monti received from Lagat's agent, James Templeton, the reigning world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters injured himself in last week's Aviva Indoor Grand Prix meet, in which his indoor winning streak was snapped by Augustine Choge of Kenya. "He went over heavily on his ankle on the curb only 20 meters after the start in Birmingham," said Templeton.

This was to have been Lagat's first ever appearance at the USA indoor championships.

Meanwhile in Athens, Greece, former Washington Husky Norris Frederick's woes on the European indoor circuit continued, as he finished a distant ninth in the long jump Wednesday night at the Athens IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, jumping a sub-par 22-3 3/4 (6.80m).

In a conversation that paulmerca.blogspot.com had with Frederick several days before the Athens meet, he revealed that he was having problems with his left knee, which he apparently injured in Glasgow, Scotland in the Five Nations Challenge meet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some thoughts on the current state of professional track & field in America...

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak to former University of Washington long jumper Norris Frederick , who is competing in Wednesday's Athens IAAF permit meet in Pireaus, just on the edge of the Greek capital.

As many of the readers of the mighty blogspot know, I have a special place in my heart for Athens and Greece, having spent a lot of time there between attending track meets, including the Olympics and World Championships, and visiting my friends.

I talked to Norris just to see how he was adjusting to Greece, and to see if he had made contacts with some of my friends (he had!).

Over the course of the 30-minute conversation (thank goodness for Skype!), the conversation eventually steered towards how the shoe companies, the IAAF, and the major meet promoters seem to have the power over the athletes, and how that's the difference between staying/not staying in the sport at the highest level.

A common frustration shared by many athletes is the fact that under current IAAF advertising rules, the only logo that can be displayed on the jersey or shorts are the manufacturer's logos. Athletes cannot wear patches of secondary sponsors in IAAF competition.

I just finished reading Conway Hill's blog, called "The View From the Finish Line", where he published a letter written by an unnamed US athlete who is a 2007 world champion and 2008 Olympian to USA Track & Field chief executive officer Doug Logan.

This letter struck a nerve with me, as many of the points this world champion makes are many of the concerns that an up-and-coming athlete like Norris Frederick makes--that is, how do you expect the best of the best to survive in this sport financially under the current system that we have?

Here's the link to Conway's post--I hope to hear some feedback from the readers on your take on this post.

Incidentally, I've posted below a copy of the IAAF Advertising Regulations as an appendix.

IAAF Advertising Regulations

SPU women win yet another GNAC indoor title...

It was a record-setting day -- and yet another indoor track title -- for Seattle Pacific’s women on Saturday.

Jane Larson set a meet record in the 5,000 meters, Ali Worthen did likewise in the high jump, and Latasha Essien three-peated in the 60-meter dash, leading SPU to its sixth consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship.

The Falcons, who have won every GNAC indoor crown since the conference began offering indoor track in 2004, racked up 181 points. Western Washington, expected to give Seattle Pacific a run for it, was second with 137_.

“Every championship is different. But this one, it was fun to see some different faces who haven’t contributed in the past or who were brand-new to the team and who carried some serious loads,” Falcons coach Karl Lerum said. “They just performed great. We had a team performance.”

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

For her efforts over the weekend, SPU freshman Ali Worthen was named GNAC co-athlete of the week after winning both the long jump and high jump, and scoring 38 points for the Falcons at the conference meet.

You can read the full story here...

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

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WSU trio improve on NCAA provisional qualifying marks; freshman McNamee sets high jump PR...

MOSCOW, Idaho -- A trio of Washington State track and field competitors improved their NCAA Provisional Qualifying marks and several Cougars reached lifetime-best marks Saturday at the Vandal Collegiate Indoor Track Meet at the Kibbie Dome on the University of Idaho campus.

Reaching improved NCAA marks and winning their events were Kendall Mays in the women's pole vault, Phil MacArthur in the men's weight throw, and Robert Williams in the men's 60m hurdles.

Mays, a junior from Spokane, won the pole vault after clearing a lifetime-best height of 13-feet, 3 1/2 inches (4.05m), which is the second-best vault in WSU women's history. Mays also had a credible attempt at the next height of 13-9 1/4 (4.20m). Sophomore Alexa Huestis (Chehalis, Wash.) equaled her PR by clearing 12-9 1/2 (3.90m) for third place.

"This was a great meet for Kendall," WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "She cleared 13-3 1/2 on her first attempt and then went on the 13-9 1/4 and was very, very close to clearing. She was up and over but just didn't have enough height and barely knocked the bar off. It was a very good attempt and her second attempt was good as well. She has moved to that level now and could get an automatic qualifying mark in Seattle next weekend."

MacArthur, a senior from Ione, Wash., won the 35-pound weight throw with a toss of 65-feet, 11 inches (20.09m), an improvement of nearly two feet from his throw two weeks ago. MacArthur's mark is fifth-best in WSU all-time records.

"Phil has been consistent in throwing very well the past few weeks and we're excited to see him throw at the Mountain Pacific meet with some good competition and throw a mark that will get him to the NCAA Indoor meet," Sloan said. "I think 67-feet can get him in and he's nearly there now."

Williams, a senior from Riverside, Calif., won the 60m hurdles by edging out Idaho's Paul Dittmer at the finish line, both in a time of 7.84 seconds. Williams' PR time of 7.84 is tied for seventh-best in WSU men's history.

"Robert ran under eight seconds in both races and in the final race he looked really strong," Sloan said.

Princess Joy Griffey (junior, Federal Way, Wash.) was a double-winner Saturday capturing the women's 60m (7.59) and 200m (PR 24.33) dashes.

Cougar women who won events at the meet include Lorraine King (400m, 55.30), Ashlee Wall (3k, 10:40.91), and Kjirsten Jensen (weight throw, 54-0 1/2). WSU men taking titles include André Jennings (60m, PR 6.98), Luke Lemenager (800m, PR 1:51.34), Devin Timpson (triple jump, PR 44-6 3/4), and Matt Lamb (discus, 173-4).

The University of Washington sent a handful of athletes across the Cascades to compete in the Vandal Collegiate, highlighted by freshman Kelly McNamee’s victory and personal best in the high jump of 5-11 1/2, a NCAA provisional qualifier.

Senior Daria Amiad-Pavlov set a personal best in winning the triple jump in a personal best of 41-0 1/4.

Other winners for the Huskies included Jeremy Taiwo in the long jump (22-9); Jared O’Connor in the pole vault (16-6 3/4); and Taylor Nichols in the women’s long jump (18-4 1/2).

Complete results from the Vandal Collegiate can be accessed here…

Both Washington and Washington State will compete next at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation meet in Seattle on Friday-Saturday February 27-28th.

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lagat's winning streak falls in Birmingham...

Washington State alum Bernard Lagat's winning streak in the 2009 indoor season came to a halt in Birmingham, England, as Kenya's Augustine Choge won the 1500 meter race at the Aviva Grand Prix meet in the British city Saturday.

Choge, the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion at 5000 meters, and a former IAAF world junior cross country champion did more than enough to hang onto the lead and to breast the tape first (3:38.52), while Lagat, the reigning World 1500 and 5000m champion, came past Britain's Neil Speaight on the final bend (2nd 3:38.69) and 2001 World Indoor gold medallist Rui Silva (3:38.99) came late also passing the local lad in the final straight.

Speight, who challenged Choge on the final lap, ran 3:39.17 to finish fourth.

Lagat's next race is at the USA Indoor Championships in Boston next week, where he'll contest the 1500.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bernard Lagat set to run 1500m at Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham...

2007 double world champion Bernard Lagat continues his undefeated 2009 indoor season, as the former Washington State Cougar competes in the Aviva Grand Prix meet Saturday in Birmingham, England.

Lagat, who has won meets this winter in New York, Stuttgart & Lieven, goes against a field that includes Kenya’s Augustine Choge (7:34.37 at 3000 this winter) and Portugal’s Rui Silva, the former World Indoor champion in the 1500m field.

After the Aviva Grand Prix, Lagat will return to the US to compete in the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston next week.

Here's the USA Track & Field release announcing Lagat's participation in the meet:

BOSTON - There are athletes who are competitors, also-rans, contenders, ham-n-eggers, winners, whiners, losers and champions, but it's the history-making stars in all sports that we never forget. American middle-distance runner Bernard Lagat belongs in that exclusive community.

A native of Kenya, Lagat has been making history his entire career, and has set a new standard for American runners since becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004. Coming up February 28-March 1 in Boston, fans will be treated to witnessing Lagat as he competes in his first USA Indoor Championships, held at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College.

Winning medals at championship events is one of the prerequisites for any aspiring track athlete wanting to be considered an all-time great.

A two-time Olympic medalist, Lagat became the first man in history to win gold medals in the men's 1,500m and 5,000 meters at a World Outdoor Championship in 2007 in Osaka, Japan, in the first major championship in which he ran as an American. In the 1,500m final, Lagat charged to the front and crossed the finish line first in 3 minutes 34.77 seconds in winning Team USA's first Olympic or World Championships 1,500m gold medal since 1908, when Hall of Famer Mel Sheppard won the Olympic title.


In the Osaka 5,000m final, Lagat used his devastating finishing kick to sprint past the field to win in 13:45.87 in becoming the first American to win a World Championship medal of any kind at 5,000m.

"The double means a lot to me," Lagat said when his work in Osaka was finished. "I'm the first one to accomplish the double, and I feel I'm going to set an example for the young ones. There will be other kids in America who will do what Bernard Lagat did in 2007, no matter how long it will take."

Lagat also made history in becoming the first man to win both the 1,500m and 5,000m at a USA Outdoor Championships, in 2006.

Earning immortal status in the world of track and field may also be accomplished by rewriting the record books, and Lagat has become an accomplished author in the U.S. He began his one-man assault on American records by setting the standards in two events in the same race at the 2005 Tyson Invitational indoor meet in Fayetteville, Ark. Lagat set the U.S. Indoor record in the 1,500m (3:33.34) en route to winning the mile in 3:49.89, which also became the American record. Elsewhere indoors, Lagat set the U.S. 3,000m record of 7:32.43 in Birmingham, England in 2007. He invaded the U.S. outdoor record book on August 28, 2005 in Rieti, Italy, when he finished the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes 29.30 seconds, breaking the longstanding U.S. record of 3:29.77 set by Sydney Maree in 1985.

Lagat has found a comfy home away from home at the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Lagat entered the 2009 Millrose Games looking for his seventh career win in the prestigious Wanamaker Mile, which would equal the all-time Wanamaker win total first established by Ireland's legendary "Chairman of the Boards," Eamonn Coghlan. Lagat held the lead with 1 ½ laps to go when New Zealand standout and Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis passed Lagat and took the lead. Just after the bell lap Lagat retook the lead and held on for the win in 3:58.44.

"This is not another race for me. This race means a lot," Lagat said following his Wanamaker win. "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."

Lagat will attempt to win his eighth consecutive Wanamaker Mile in New York next year.

A devoted family man, Lagat is frequently seen with his three-year old son Miika on his lap when he speaks with the media. Miika, whose sister Gianna was born November 2, 2008, was granted a lesson in the family business when he joined his father for a cool down jog in the bowels of Madison Square Garden following dad's post-race Millrose press conference. But before Miika begins his own running career and takes over as chief operating officer of the Lagat family legacy, his father has more history to write.

Look for the next chapter to be penned at the 2009 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships. It will be Lagat's first ever appearance at a USA Indoor Championships, and with his uncanny knack for achieving greatness at every turn, when the men's 1,500 meters toes the line in Boston be sure to keep your eyes on Lagat and the clock. It could be history in the making.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Huskies enter USTFCCCA top-25 in both men's and women's polls...

Thanks to outstanding performances at last weekend's Husky Classic, the unranked University of Washington men's and women's track teams cracked the top-25 in the current U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll for the first time this indoor season, with the men ranked number 20, while the women are now ranked 22nd.

The rankings are based on a formula which assign points to individuals based on their standing in their individual events, to try and approximate scores at the NCAA Indoor Championships should the standings hold.

Washington added major points thanks to Jordan Boase's world-leading (all-conditions) time in the 400, where he ran 46.15 on the 307-meter Dempsey oval.

On the women's side, the Dawgs got major contributions to their totals from freshman Christine Babcock in the mile, senior Anita Campbell in the 5000, and sophomore Elisa Bryant in the 20-pound weight throw.

Washington returns to action at the MPSF Championships on February 27th & 28th, although a select number of athletes from the UW, along with Washington State and Eastern Washington will compete at the Vandal Collegiate meet on February 21-22nd at the Kibbie Dome on the campus of the University of Idaho.

Aretha Thurmond finishes third in 2009 season debut in New Zealand...

Federal Way’s Aretha Thurmond finished third in her 2009 discus debut Friday at the Waitakere Meeting in Waitakere, New Zealand, just outside Auckland, under heavy rains that made the throwing circle slick.

The three-time Olympian threw 179-0 to finish behind local favorite Beatrice Faumuina who threw 190-8. Becky Breisch from the USA finished second with a toss of 188-5, with the lead in the competition changing hands several times.

Thurmond’s tour of New Zealand and Australia continues as she will throw in Sydney, Australia on February 28th.

Here’s how the former Husky described her day:

“The weather did not want to act right. We had a rain storm all morning and just when we thought it was going to let up it poured again. At least it was warm rain. The hard part about throwing in the rain is the grip of the ring and the grip of the discus. During warm ups we thought we would only get 1 or 2 legal throws and then be stopped due to the weather.

I felt pretty good technically in the ring but I had a hard time with the grip. I wasn’t able to put the spin on the discus it needed to fly far.”

Here’s video of one of Aretha’s throws, courtesy youtube.com.



NOTE: Aretha’s web site, arethathrows.com, and the IAAF contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

USA Track & Field announces its new Board of Directors...

Here's the complete release from USA Track & Field announcing 14 of the 15 members of its newly appointed Board of Directors.

President Stephanie Hightower was elected by the constituency in Reno back in December, as were athlete members Deena Kastor, Philip Dunn, and Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond. Bob Hersh is on the board by virtue of being on the IAAF Council.

The demographics of the board reflect the diversity of the sport: seven of the 14 members currently named are African-American and five are women; of those with world-class athletic backgrounds in the sport, the sprints/hurdles, jumps, middle distances, long distances, race walks and throws are represented. Nearly all are established businesspeople.

INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field on Wednesday announced its newly constituted Board of Directors. Among what will be 15 members of the board are respected business executives, National Track & Field Hall of Famers, attorneys, officials, coaches and Olympic athletes.

The new board includes National Track & Field Hall of Famer and sports consultant
Willie Banks; National Track & Field Hall of Famer and the first acting President of USATF's predecessor organization, The Athletics Congress (TAC), Dr. Evie Dennis; former world-class athlete and business executive Steve Holman; USATF official and youth track and field activist Kim Haines; businesswoman and former USATF women's long-distance running chair Elizabeth Phillips; international sports executive and former business professor Steve Miller; NASCAR executive and entertainment executive Max Siegel; longtime USATF official and practicing CPA Kenneth Taylor; and retired health-care industry executive Jack Wickens.

Athlete members include a trio of three-time Olympians: four-time USA 50km race walk champion and 1999 Pan Am Games bronze medalist Philip Dunn; 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist and two-time World Cross Country silver medalist Deena Kastor; and four-time national discus champion and 2003 Pan Am Games gold medalist Aretha Hill Thurmond.

Board members already specified by USATF bylaws are President Stephanie Hightower and IAAF Council Member Robert Hersh. USATF's "5E" member organizations, including the NCAA, NAIA and National Federation of State High School Associations, will name their collective board member by early March, which will bring the board size to 15 members.

"It is an honor to serve on the Board of Directors as USATF President," Hightower
said. "This is an accomplished group in the personal, professional and athletic realms. They will bring their high standards of excellence to their work with USA Track & Field, to the benefit of everyone who loves the sport."

"I am extremely optimistic about working with the new board," USATF CEO Doug Logan said. "All are strong, independent-minded individuals who see the big picture. With their collective capacity to put the best interests of the sport first, we have
a bright future."

The demographics of the board reflect the diversity of the sport: seven of the 14 members currently named are African-American and five are women; of those with world-class athletic backgrounds in the sport, the sprints/hurdles, jumps, middle distances, long distances, race walks and throws are represented. Nearly all are established businesspeople.

In sweeping bylaw changes overwhelmingly approved by USATF membership at its Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, on December 13, the Board was reduced in size from 31 members to 15. The USATF President, IAAF Council Member, 5E representative and three athlete representatives are selected directly by their constituencies. The six seats nominated by USATF's High Performance, Long Distance Running, General Competition, Youth, Coaches and Officials divisions, as well as three independent seats, were vetted and ultimately selected by USATF's Nominating and Governance Panel.

Each USATF Division nominated three candidates for each seat, with the Panel choosing the board member from among the nominated candidates. The Independent board members were selected by the Panel from nominations gathered nationwide. The board will meet for the first time on March 7 in Orlando and will elect its own officers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekend wrapup: February 13-15th...

While most of the action in the Northwest focused on Saturday’s Husky Classic, some notable collegians and pros with Washington ties competed at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Bellarmine Prep standout Brie Felnagle, competing for North Carolina, finished third in the women’s mile in 4:32.17, behind Olympic steepler Anna Willard (4:30.69) and multi-time NCAA champion Sally Kipyego (4:32.01).

Former Auburn runner Chris Lukezic finished second to Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis in the men’s mile at Tyson. Lukezic, trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2008 season, ran 4:03.87 behind Willis’ 4:02.70…

Speaking of pros, Aretha Thurmond announced on her blog, arethathrows.com, that she will open her 2009 season with meets in New Zealand and Australia.

She writes, “I am heading to Auckland, New Zealand for a meet on February 20th and it sounds like the top 4 US women discus throwers which includes our current Olympic Gold Medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton will be there as well as Former World Champion Beatrice Faumuina of NZ and Olympic Finalist Dani Samuels of AUS. For an opening meet it will be a super strong field and of course I am excited and ready to rumble. It’s always fun to get in some early meets and better evaluate your training. After the New Zealand meet I’ll have 2 more competitions, 1 in Sydney, Australia and the other in Melbourne, Australia.”

Chatted briefly with pole vaulter Brad Walker at the Husky Classic as he watched girlfriend Carly Dockendorf compete. Walker, the former Husky, is now based at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista after coach Dan Pfaff moved there after the Stockton-based training group disbanded when their funding dried up.

Walker has not set his 2009 competition schedule yet, but is certainly happy that he does not have the pressure of having to earn a World Championships team spot in June at the USA Championships in Eugene, by virtue of being the defending world champion (remember that reigning world champions receive automatic byes), a position that Bernard Lagat has as well in the 1500 and 5000…

One significant result we completely missed from the previous weekend was Jordan Boase’s 2009 debut on February 6th in Nampa, Idaho at the United Heritage Invitational hosted by Boise State University.

Boase won the 200-meter dash in 20.85 seconds, the second-fastest time in the NCAA going into this past weekend’s meets, and second all-time at Washington.

Here’s the link to the UW press release about Boase’s performance in Idaho.

Finally, here’s the link to the results from Sunday’s UW Indoor Open meet, featuring many of the region’s smaller schools and club teams, with a mix of high schoolers thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jordan Boase breaks UW indoor 400m school record at Husky Classic...

Washington's Jordan Boase (left) puts his stamp on the Husky Classic as he runs down Washington State's Justin Woods to lead the Huskies to the victory in the 4 x 400 meter relay (photo by Paul Merca)

Washington’s Jordan Boase ran the fastest 400-meter dash time in the world thus far in 2009, highlighting a remarkable Husky Classic track meet Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor facility.

Four school records were broken and four more Dempsey facility records were shattered on Saturday, with Boase's 46.15-second sprint counting for one of each.

Entering the weekend, David Gillick of Ireland held the world’s fastest time indoors this season with a 46.18 clocking in Dusseldorf on Friday the 13th.

Boase, a native of Bothell, Wash., had not contested the 400-meters since the semifinals of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials last June. He began his season last weekend with the second-fastest 200-meter dash in school history in Boise, then topped that with the fastest indoor time run by anyone in 2009.

Boase's previous best indoors was 46.34 seconds, run at last season's NCAA Indoor Championships in which he placed third.

After the race Boase was not shy about his goals heading into the meet.

"I wanted to run a world leading time," Boase said. "I was hoping to hit 45-seconds, but I'm happy with it. I didn't come off the corner with the lead but I just sat in behind (Washington State's Jeshua Anderson) and then knew I could make a move on the straightaway. With 300-meters I knew I was going to win. The goal now is to go score points in two weeks at Mountain Pacific and then get ready for NCAA's."

Anderson, the reigning NCAA, USA junior, and world junior champion at the 400 hurdles, hung on for second in a time of 46.75 seconds.

Here's the video of Boase's race, courtesy of media partner runnerspace.com.



Later that night, Boase finished the track meet by homing in on Washington State's Justin Woods to give Washington the victory in the 4x400-meter relay. Woods had a 20-meter lead on Boase on the backstretch, as the Cougars put Anderson on the third leg, but on the final straightaway Boase blew past the cross-state rival as the UW's foursome of Sam Rucker, Jeff Gudaitis, Joe Turner, and Boase won in 3:11.11.

Washington’s Christine Babcock, the Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year, and the national high school 1600m record holder displayed her incredible talents in the first mile run of her college career, running 4:38.00 to hit the NCAA Automatic qualifier right on the dot, in finishing fifth in the fast section of the mile, just behind Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler, who was fourth in 4:37.83.

Three more UW school records on the women's side fell, as junior Katie Follett lowered her own 3,000-meter indoor record by nine seconds, running 9:16.01 to make the NCAA Provisional mark and fall just shy of the 9:15.00 AQ. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence was just behind Follett, running 9:16.89 to put her name second in the record book in her first collegiate 3K.

At 5,000-meters, senior Anita Campbell crushed Sabrina Monro's six-year-old school record, finishing in 16:09.26, nearly thirteen seconds faster than the old record of 16:22.13.

Sophomore Elisa Bryant also rewrote her own school record in the weight throw, with a top effort of 64-feet, 8-inches that ranks in the Top-10 nationally based on marks heading into the weekend.

For Washington State, freshman Shawn Swartz became the 30th man in WSU history to clear 7-feet in the high jump when he cleared the bar at 7-0 1/2 (2.15m) Saturday. Swartz, who joins teammates Trent Arrivey and Ryan Deese with NCAA PQ 7-foot-plus high jump marks this season, did not miss a bar until he reached 2.15m when he cleared on his third and final attempt to finish in a tie for fourth. Swartz had cleared his previous PR height of 7-0 1/4 (2.14m) at the 2008 Husky Classic.

Other highlights of the Husky Classic included Beijing Olympian Andrew Wheating, winning his first 800 race of 2009 in a facility and University of Oregon indoor record 1:47.03. He was nearly a second faster than Tevan Everett of Texas, who finished in 1:47.82.

Oregon’s Matthew Centrowitz broke the 4:00 barrier in the mile for the first time in his career to win Saturday’s race in a school-record 3:57.92. He finished just ahead of David Torrence of Golden Bear Track Club, who ran 3:58.15. Those marks are the third and fourth fastest times in Dempsey history.

In a bit of trivia, Centrowitz joins his father Matt as what is believed to be the third father/son combination to break four minutes in the mile joining Kip & Martin Keino, and Barry & Darren Brown.

Probably one of the most impressive runs of the day was the solo effort by Colorado’s Jenny Barringer, as the University of Colorado Olympian broke her second Dempsey Indoor record in two weeks, in obliterating the field in the 5000, clocking 15:01.70, the third fastest time in the world this season.

Complete results from the Husky Classic can be accessed here.

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Field event notes--Husky Classic...

Here are announcer notes of the field events for Saturday's Husky Classic track meet at the Dempsey Indoor...notes of key running events to watch will be up later.

Husky Classic Field Events

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Husky Classic promises to be a barnburner at the Dempsey...

Here's the link to the University of Washington release on Saturday's Husky Classic meet at the Dempsey Indoor.

This meet has quickly gained status as one of the premier indoor meets in the country, with over 50 college teams and more than a thousand athletes on the track and in the field events in a meet that annually produces some of the fastest times in the nation and churns out more than a hundred NCAA qualifying marks.

Things will be underway early on Saturday, as the first running events are scheduled for 7:30 a.m., with the field events beginning at 10 a.m. However, the top heats in each running event are conducted separately beginning at approximatley 2:45 p.m., giving fans a chance to watch dozens of the nation's elite college track athletes in one high-quality heat after another. Admission is free for all spectators.

Last year's Husky Classic produced 14 NCAA Automatic qualifying marks and 98 more Provisional marks, and with the caliber of teams in attendance both of those numbers could be surpassed this year. On the men's side, nine of the Top-25 teams in the USTFCCCA rankings will be in attendance, including No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Oregon, No. 6 Florida State, and No. 7 Texas. BYU (ranked 12th), Michigan (13), Stanford (16), Arizona (22), UCLA (23), Oklahoma State, Colorado, Alabama, Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Washington State and many other teams will also be sending large or small groups on the men's side.

The women's field will feature seven ranked teams, led by No. 3 Oregon, No. 6 Florida State, No. 9 Penn State, and No. 10 Arizona State. Additional ranked teams include Arizona (12), BYU (18), and Stanford (19). Rounding out the stellar field will be women from Colorado, Georgia Tech, California, Oklahoma, Nevada, Utah, and Washington State.

Among the many highlights Saturday will be Husky senior sprinter Jordan Boase making his first home appearance since last February. The four-time All-American and Olympic Trials semifinalist is set to run the 400-meters for the first time since the Trials last summer. Boase opened his season last week in Boise, Idaho with the third-fastest 200-meter time in the NCAA this year. He will have NCAA Regional finalist Jeff Gudaitis running with him in the final heat of the 400m. The two are also scheduled to run on UW's 4x400m relay in the day's last race.

Boase will have his hands full in the 400, as he faces Washington State's NCAA, world and USA junior 400 hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson.

The final heat of the men's 800-meter run should also be an incredible race, as 2008 NCAA Champion Jacob Hernandez of Texas is entered with the person he edged out for the title last year, Oregon's Andrew Wheating, a 2008 Beijing Olympian. Washington's senior Austin Abbott, who was seventh in the NCAA final last year, will look to play a spoiler role. Fast times could also be turned in from Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters and Joseph Turner in the top heat of the 200-meter dash.

Junior Katie Follett, a three-time All-American, will as usual be one to watch among the Husky women. Follett will run the 3,000-meters against defending NCAA Champion Susan Kuijken of Florida State in a field that also includes Husky cross country All-American Mel Lawrence. The women's mile run features UW freshman Christine Babcock, the national high school 1600m record holder, in her first collegiate mile run against a field loaded with All-Americans and NCAA finalists.

On the field, Olympians Mike Mason (high jump), Ruky Abdulai (long jump), and Sharon Day (competing in long jump instead of her specialty, the high jump) are the ones to watch, along with Oregon's Ashton Eaton, the reigning NCAA decathlon champ.

In the pole vault, watch for Washington's Scott Roth and Jared O'Connor in a matchup against Stanford alum Graeme Hoste.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bernard Lagat runs world leader in the mile..

Washington State graduate Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) won his third straight indoor meet this season, clocking a 2009 world best in the mile in winning at the 20th Meeting Pas de Calais in Liévin, France.

In an event that's rarely run indoors on the European circuit, Lagat beat home country favorite Mehdi Baala who, remarkably, was making his debut at the distance, 3:51.34 to 3:52.51. That's the 9th fastest time ever posted indoors, a meet record, and the fastest in the world since Lagat's own American record 3:49.89 recorded in Fayetteville, Ark., in 2005. Baala's mark was a French indoor record.

Lagat's indoor season continues in Birmingham, England, on Feb. 21, where he'll run the 1500m, then conclude by running the 1500 at the USA Indoor Championships a week later in Boston.

Here's a link to a story written by Bob Ramsak of TRACK PROFILE Report on Lagat posted on media partner Trackshark.com.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Project 30 report critical of USATF's operations...

While Team USA won the most number of medals (23) at last year's Beijing Olympics, most observers of elite track and field were of the opinion that the 2008 US Olympic track and field team underperformed.

If gold medals are the standard by which a team is judged, the Beijing version of Team USA only produced seven medals, the least since the Eastern Bloc dominated 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

After witnessing first hand the failure, particularly in the technical and relay events of Team USA, new USA Track & Field chief executive officer Doug Logan appointed a blue-ribbon panel of former coaches, administrators, and Olympians, including nine-time gold medalist Carl Lewis, marathoner Deena Kastor, and Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond, to examine the woes of the 2008 US Olympic track team, and to recommend changes to help the organization reach its goals of 30 clean medals in the 2012 London Olympics.

Its report was critical of what it considers a poorly structured federation and athletes who have not made winning Olympic medals and developing their sport their top priority.

“Through benign neglect, USATF has allowed shoe companies and agents to take over management of the sport,” the report states. “It is long overdue for USATF to take it back.”

It was critical of distance running coaches across the country who failed to utilize cutting-edge sports science to help maximize performance.

Quoting the report, "In one coach's words, American distance runners and coaches focus almost exclusively on physiology and endurance training, while it is biomechanics that is the difference between winning a medal and not making a final. Sport scientists confirm this reticence on the part of most American distance coaches. (It should be noted that two of the most successful distance coaches in the last three years have been the two coaches most often cited as applying sports science and biomechanics. At least one of them consults regularly with sprint coaches to discuss and analyze the biomechanics of his runners.) "

The committee recommended hiring a professional general manager entrusted with a high performance program designed to strengthen Olympic performance, preferably someone from outside track and field. That person would be responsible for fixing problems with Olympic coach selection and team operations, as well as charting a comprehensive preparation plan for the 2012 Olympics.

Key findings of the Task Force include:

* Overall, there is a lack of accountability, professionalism and cohesion in the areas the Task Force studied.

* The International Team Staff selection system lacks transparency and accountability, creating a culture of mistrust for coaches and athletes alike.

* International staffs need more managers and fewer coaches.

* The criteria for selecting track and field's U.S. Olympic Team should not change, but the Olympic Trials themselves should.

* Excessive travel and poor long-term planning on the part of athletes, their coaches and agents appear to be the greatest controllable factors negatively affecting Team USA performance in Beijing.

* Spending more than $1 million in the last six years, and with as many as 173 athletes taking part in it each year, the National Relay Program has failed to produce results that justify the costs of the program.

* Lack of communication between coaches and athletes, poor management of the relay pools and questions over which coaches were responsible for relays resulted in the 4x100m relay failures in Beijing.

* American coaches and athletes under-utilize the facilities and USATF sport science available to them.

* Inroads have been made into catching and punishing doping cheats, but more must be done to strengthen the anti-doping culture.

* American athletes as a group do not conduct themselves as true professionals, and USATF does not hold them to professional standards.

Based on its findings, the Task Force makes the following 10 Recommendations:

* Hire a professional General Manager of High Performance.

* Create a transparent, criteria-based Team Staff selection system.

* Restructure the composition of Team USA staffs.

* Shorten the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field to five days.

* Terminate the National Relay Program.

* Establish a comprehensive 2012 team preparation program.

* Target technical events for medal growth and develop those events.

* Create a well-defined Professional Athlete designation.

* Establish a more stringent anti-doping reinstatement system.

* Promote and foster a self-sustaining professional athletes' union.

One interesting tidbit from the report was the fact that athletes who were independent-minded, and had the ability to take care of themselves in the chaotic situation that is the Olympics tended to fare better than those dependent on entourages, and the personal support system, many of whom had limited access to Olympic facilities in Beijing (i.e., practice track access, athlete support credentials, etc.).

"For instance, Stephanie Brown-Trafton did not have personal coach access in Beijing and did not expect any special treatment. She won the first gold medal in the women's discus since 1932.

Similarly, Walter Dix's personal coach was not on hand at the stadium, yet he was the most successful American short sprinter at the Games. Athletes who can 'roll with the punches', and make decisions for themselves are best prepared for the Olympic Games and its specific, off-track challenges."

The complete 69-page report can be accessed here by clicking this link, courtesy of USA Track & Field.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bywater leads Washington finishers at USA Junior Championships...

DERWOOD, Maryland. - Five Husky freshmen took part in the USA Cross Country National Championships Saturday in Maryland, competing in the junior race, as Joey Bywater (left/photo by Paul Merca) led the way with a seventh-place finish in the men's race.

Held at the Agricultural History Farm Park, the junior races preceded the main cross country national championships. Bywater (Lake Stevens, Wash./Lake Stevens) covered the 8,000-meters in 24-minutes, 50-seconds. Rob Webster, Jr. (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup) placed 21st in 25:40, and Greg Drosky (Walnut Creek, Calif./Las Lomas) was 54th in 27:33.

Another athlete with Washington ties, former Mount Rainier standout Ryan Prentice, who attends Oklahoma State University, finished one spot behind Bywater, clocking 24:55.

Bywater will now be in the mix for a spot on the national team that will represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships held in Amman, Jordan on March 28. The top six finishers earn automatic spots so one runner would need to pass on the trip.

In the women's junior race, Allison Linnell (Colts Neck, N.J./Colts Neck) placed 30th overall in 23:04 for 6,000-meters. Tacoma's Kayla Evans (Bellarmine Prep) was 39th in 23:21.

German Fernandez of Oklahoma State University successfully defended his national title, as he won the men's junior race in a time of 23:20 while Neely Spence, the NCAA Division II cross country runner-up to Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler, won the women's race in 20:43.

Local track and field fans will have the opportunity to see Fernandez run at the Dempsey Indoor, as he told media members at the national championships that he will run the 3000 at the Husky Classic on February 15th.

All five of UW's competitors on Saturday redshirted during the 2008 cross country season, but all have already competed for the Huskies during the indoor track season.

NOTE: The University of Washington media relations department contributed to this report.

Lagat posts world leader in 3000 in Stuttgart...

STUTTGART, Germany--Running what essentially is a home meet for him, former Washington State standout Bernard Lagat, who has his summer training base in nearby Tubigen, won the men's 3000 at the Sparkassen Cup Saturday, clocking a world-leading time of 7:35.41.

Coming off an impressive mile win in New York last weekend, Lagat was unquestionably in good condition, and there was speculation that he might attack his own American record of 7:32.43. But the pacing was a bit slow for this kind of time, and perhaps more importantly, the contest proved to be a bit more tactical than he had anticipated. Winning, after all, is still an important part of the game.

After the final tempo-setter departed at the 2000-metre mark, Shadrack Korir of Kenya held the lead in a tight group with Lagat and Abreham Cherkos of Ethiopia. After another lap, at 2200, Lagat took over the lead and Cherkos followed, with Korir seemingly content to watch from a close distance.

That’s the way things stayed until the trio approached the bell. Suddenly, the Ethiopian bolted forward to the lead as Lagat followed suit. On the final back stretch, the American played his trump card, showing the final gear needed to pull out the win. Cherkos held second at 7:36.36 ahead of the 7:37.09 third-place clocking of Korir.

NOTE: The IAAF contributed to this report.

Lagat to take shot at American record at 3000m...

Double Osaka World champion (1500 and 5000) Bernard Lagat arrives in Stuttgart after his splendid Mile win at New York’s Millrose Games last weekend and heads up a men’s 3000m field, the distance at which he was World indoor champion in 2004.

His opposition includes Valencia bronze winner Abraham Cherkos of Ethiopia, Osaka 1500 bronze winner Shadrack Korir of Kenya, reigning European indoor 3000 champion Cosimo Caliandro of Italy, eight-time European cross country champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine, Athens 1500 bronze medallist Rui Silvia of Portugal, plus former World and Olympic 5000 silver medallist Ali Saidi-Sief of Algeria.

For Lagat, today's Sparkassen Cup is for all intents and purposes, a home meet for the former Washington State Cougar, as his summer European training base is outside of Stuttgart.

Given solid pace-setting and if he’s “feeling good”, Lagat’s manager James Templeton told Bob Ramsak of TRACK PROFILE Report, Lagat may give chase to his 7:32.43 U.S. record set in 2007.

Lagat’s last race over the distance also came here in Stuttgart, a tactical victory outdoors at last September’s World Athletics Final.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In Maryland for USA Cross Country Championships...

Just wanted to let the readership know that I am in Derwood, Maryland for the USA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, in my role assisting USA Track & Field with media operations.

Here are some highlights of the press conference Friday featuring 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi; 2008 Olympian at 10000 meters Jorge Torres; 2008 World Cross Country Championships team members Edwardo Torres, Emily Brown, and Ed Moran; and local contender Samia Akbar.

Q: How are your preparations for Saturday’s national championship race progressing?

EMILY BROWN: I feel my preparation is going real well. I ran in three races overseas, including in Edinburgh, on a slightly shorter version of the course we ran at world championships last year. I feel that I am really prepared for whatever this course throws out there.

SAMIA AKBAR: I really have not run cross country much; however, I am excited about having an event that’s nearby. I’ve run this course a few times, but every time I run it, I find something new.

ED MORAN: I’m real excited to race close to home as well. I’m hoping to get a lot of support from friends and family. You usually don’t get much of an opportunity to race in the area that you train in. The course looks great, and this is the first measuring stick to see where I am this season.

MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Glad that I’m healthy this year. I was disappointed to miss last year’s nationals in my home town of San Diego. 2003 was the last time I ran in the national championships.

JORGE TORRES: Preparation has been going ok. I’m glad cross country season is finally here. I haven’t been focusing on this season, but it was a long season last year with the Olympics. I wanted to come out here to see what kind of fitness I’m in. It looks like the course is going to be fairly tough.

EDWARDO TORRES: I’m glad cross country is here, because I’m getting sick of running long runs for the marathon.

Q: Do you feel that you are through the injuries that you’ve had?

MK: It’s been a long process back. There were so many people who helped me get to the starting line in Houston (where he won the USA Half-Marathon Championship). I feel like I turned around my training ad got over the injuries when I was in Colorado Springs for two months at the Olympic Training Center. That’s where I was committed to getting healthy and getting fit.

Here's some more with Meb, courtesy of media partner runnerspace.com:



Q: Any preferences on the type of cross country course you like to run?

MK: Cross country is unique. This course is a true course. It’s very challenging.

JT: We like cross country courses that are challenging, muddy. I don’t like flat cross country courses, as that’s not cross country.

EB: I’m sticking with tradition. Last year in San Diego, I didn’t get in until late the night before the race, but that worked out well. It’s nice that people have told me that it’s hilly, and I can be prepared for that, as those are things you want to think about when you are out racing. I’m looking forward to a more challenging course. I think you’ll see some tight packs together.

SA: With any hilly course, you have to think about what you want to do. There’s a little bit more strategy than what you normally have to think of. You have to remember that it’s several loops.

EM: I feel that cross country takes a little more physical and mental discipline than track does, with the rolling hills and the transition. That’s why I like cross country; you can’t fall asleep the way that you can on the track.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Huskies to send five athletes to USA Cross Country Championships in Derwood, Maryland...

According to the entry lists posted at usatf.org, five University of Washington freshmen will enter Saturday's USA Cross Country Championships in Derwood, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC.

At stake for the top six finishers are berths to run in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan on March 28th, and in the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Orlando, Florida on March 7th.

On the men's side, the Huskies will run Greg Drosky, Joey Bywater and Rob Webster, Jr (left/photo by Paul Merca) in the 8-kilometer championship race. He ran 8:34.63 at the UW Invitational on January 31st for 3000 meters.

All three frosh were redshirted this fall. Drosky, from Walnut Creek, California, finished fourth in the Emerald City Invitational, and twelfth in the Cascade Conference preview meet last fall. Drosky ran 8:34.64 at the UW Invitational on January 31st.

Bywater, from Lake Stevens, finished 23rd in the Sundodger Invitational in September, the top unattached UW competitor in the field. This indoor season, he's run 8:16.39 for 3000 at the UW Indoor preview meet on January 17th, and 4:14.04 in the mile on January 31st.

Webster, a product of Puyallup HS, ran 8:27.13 for 3000 on January 31st, an improvement over his previous clocking of 8:34.29 two weeks earlier.

Last fall, Webster, the son of former UW 800m school record holder Rob Webster, won the Emerald City Open at Woodland Park in second race. He opened the year with a 43rd-place finish at the Sundodger Invite, and also ran the 6K at the Cascade Conference Preview.

On the women's side, Washington will be represented by Kayla Evans from Tacoma, and Allison Linnell from Colts Neck, New Jersey.

Evans, who ran for Bellarmine Prep, ran 10:33.22 for 3000 at the UW Invitational.

Linnell ran 5:08.06 at the UW Invitational last weekend. Linnell, a prep All-American steeplechaser, finished 40th at the Sundodger Invite, then placed fifth at the Emerald City Open at Woodland Park, and ran at the Cascade Conference Preview, finishing 11th overall.

The junior men’s race may potentially be one of the most exciting races in recent memory, as Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez, the 2008 USA junior cross country champion and owner of the world junior best indoors at one mile (3:56.50, set on January 24th), faces a loaded field which includes Stanford freshman Chris Derrick, who finished seventh in the NCAA cross country championships, and ran 13:44.01 for 5000 meters in Seattle last week; Oregon freshman Luke Puskedra, who was fifth in the NCAA cross country meet; and University of Oklahoma freshman Kevin Williams, who was a member with Fernandez of last year’s Team USA junior squad at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In the junior women’s race, Shippenburg freshman Neely Spence, the daughter of 1991 World Championships marathon bronze medalist Steve Spence, and the runner-up at the NCAA Division II cross country championships last fall to Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler, enters the meet as a slight favorite to win the national crown.

Highlights of the USA Cross Country Championships will be shown in conjunction with the Tyson Invitational indoor meet on February 15th on ESPN.

For more information on the USA Cross Country Championships, click here...

Huskies lose out on Jordan Hasay...

As reported on several web sites, including Trackshark and the Eugene Register-Guard, high school phenom Jordan Hasay (left/photo by Paul Merca) from California announced Tuesday that she will attend the University of Oregon this fall.

Hasay won the Foot Locker national cross country title in San Diego in December, making her one of a handful of prep athletes to win the Foot Locker twice in her career.

Hasay broke the national high school record by running 4 minutes 14.50 seconds to place fifth in the semifinal and qualify for the final at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene this summer. Her performance broke the previous record of 4:16.42, held for just under three weeks by current Washington Husky Christine Babcock, by nearly two seconds. Slated to leave almost immediately for the World Junior Championships in Poland, Hasay delayed her trip to run in the final, where she finished tenth in 4:17.36.

Hasay began her year by winning the USA Junior Cross Country Championships on February 16, in San Diego, Calif. She covered the 6 km course in 20:32 and was 13 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

At the 2008 USA Junior Track & Field Championships, Hasay repeated her performance from last year and won the women's 1,500m, outkicking Oregon's Alex Kosinski down the final stretch to win in 4:18.44. It was that performance that qualified her for the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.

Hasay placed fourth at the world junior championships in Poland, crossing the line in 4:19.02. It was the best ever finish for an American woman in the 1,500m at World Juniors.

Hasay dominated on the high school level as well. At the CIF Finals, she held off Davis Senior High School senior Laurynne Chetelat down the home stretch to win the 3,200m state title in a meet record 9:52.13, the second fastest 3,200m time ever run by a high school girl. On October 23, Track & Field News named Hasay the 2008 Girls High School Athlete of the Year.

While officials at the school cannot comment on a recruit under NCAA rules, Hasay took an official visit to the University of Washington on the weekend of January 24th, where several viewers spotted her in the crowd at the televised UW/UCLA basketball game sitting near the Washington bench.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Five meet records fall at Cougar Team Scoring meet...

Five meet records fell and 11 NCAA Provisional Qualifying marks were achieved at the Cougar Indoor Track & Field Invitational team scoring meet held at WSU's Indoor Practice Facility Friday and Saturday.

WSU's Robert Williams won the men's 60m hurdles in an NCAA PQ and personal-best time of 7.88 seconds after breaking the meet record and blowing his one-week old PR out of the books with a 7.85 time in the prelims. Cougar sophomore Jeshua Anderson finished second in the high hurdles final with a time of 8.00, which equals his PR. The previous 60m hurdles meet record was 7.89, set by Justin Wickard, Utah State, in 2005.

The Cougs’ Trent Arrivey finished second the men's high jump with an indoor PR and improved NCAA PQ mark of 7-2 1/2 (2.20m) as Utah State's Clint Silcock won the event at the same height on fewer misses. Both men tied the meet record set by Cal's Teak Wilburn in 2004.

The Utah State men's 4x400m relay of Zack Hevner, Brandon Waller, James Allred and Nick Karren, won in a meet record and NCAA PQ time of 3:16.34, erasing the 2004 time of 3:17.09, run by California. Karren also broke his 2008 meet record with his 400m dash winning time of 48.56.

Utah State's John Strang won the men's heptathlon with an NCAA PQ mark of 5,443 points and added an NCAA PQ in the heptathlon high jump, clearing 7-0 1/4 (2.14m). In the heptathlon, WSU freshman Sean Harris was in third place after the first day of the heptathlon. Saturday, Harris ran the 60m hurdles in a time of 8.89, pole vaulted 12-1 1/2 (3.70m), but did not run the 1000m so did not complete event.

The women's pole vault was an action-packed event with Utah State's Sonia Grabowska winning during a three-woman jump off after clearing the NCAA PQ height of 13-3 1/2 (4.05m). WSU's Kendall Mays finished second with an NCAA PQ and PR height of 12-11 1/2 (3.95m). Idaho's K.C. Dahlgren took third place after also clearing 12-11 1/2. Cougar sophomore Alexa Huestis finished fourth with a PR of 12-5 1/2 (3.80m).

To read the full release and complete results, please click here...

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