Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dicey internet, and other matters from Amman...

Hello all!

Quite honestly, the internet's been pretty dicey during this entire trip, so I apologize for not posting since Friday night.

I am currently at the Amman airport, ready to board my flight to the USA in a few minutes.

When I get back to the USA, I will try and do a recap of how things went here at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Here's a link to the USA Track & Field press release, which I assisted on.

Sunday, the team took an excursion to historic Petra, perhaps one of the most spectacular natural wonders, on a par with the Grand Canyon.

Here I am after reaching the top at the Monastery...

Friday, March 27, 2009

If it's Friday, I must be in Amman (part 2)...

(in part 1, I talked about the adventure getting to Amman. In part 2, I’ll give you an overview of Friday on the job).

Friday, I hit Amman on the run, literally and metaphorically speaking.

After breakfast at the team hotel, it was off to the Al Bisharat Golf Course just outside the city.

If your thoughts of a golf course are of lush greens and pretty fairways like what you see on the Golf Channel, this was far from the truth. Let’s just say that the putting surface was not green. In fact, let’s just say that there wasn’t much high grass (or any grass for that matter).

Here’s the course description for Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, as written in the USA Track & Field release:

“The Al Bisharat Golf Course consists of a 200 meter starting area, then transitions to a left turn which starts the opening loop of approximately 1,500 meters. Following the 1,500-meter loop will be a loop of 2,000 meters, with an additional stretch of approximately 300 meters after the final lap to the finish.”

Built amongst the site of a valley, the course is one of the hillier venues in recent world championships with a mostly uphill finish.

Let’s just say that the only real stretch of grass is at the finish, and it looks like it was planted just for the sake of television and internet viewers. The majority of the course is on packed dirt that’s been driven over by a steamroller.

In the state of Washington, there are no courses that compare to the world championship course, though there are elements of the Mt. San Antonio (Mt. SAC) college course in California, where the Foot Locker West regionals are run, and the rolling terrain of the USA national championship course in Derwood, Maryland, which some of the team members here in Amman said helped in their preparation for worlds.

As far as playing on this course, Ed Torres of Boulder, Colorado said it best. “I don’t think the PGA will be playing here anytime soon, unless Tiger Woods wants a challenge.”

After the usual team photos at the finish line, it was time to scout the course and the mixed zone area at the finish, where I will be based to conduct interviews for USA Track & Field.

One tradition at world cross was maintained—the appearance of the world famous football, which has traveled with me to every world championships since 2001. Noted track & field photographer Kirby Lee from Image of Sport took this photo of me at the finish, along with a photo of me doing a Heisman Trophy pose (above) in front of the sign.

After conducting course interviews with athletes, we headed back to our hotel, where we were met by Polly Wright of the IAAF, who requested an interview with two USA athletes for one of their upcoming shows. After a bit of scrambling to round up athletes, Torres and Samia Akbar were the chosen ones.

After a scramble to grab lunch and a change from Team USA gear to business casual wear, it was off to the IAAF press conference at the Al Hussein Youth City sports complex, with USATF CEO Doug Logan, team leader Jim Estes, and German Fernandez.

Here's a link to letsrun.com's coverage of the press conference...

Once the press conference concluded, it was yet another scramble back to the team hotel to help facilitate the video interview for Stephen Klotz of Youth Runner magazine with the junior men’s and women’s teams.

All in all, a busy day to say the least!

Now comes race day Saturday…we’ll do a short recap Saturday night!

If it's Friday, I must be in Amman (part 1)...

AMMAN, Jordan--Sorry for not posting recently, as I have been preoccupied with my position as a media assistant to USA Track & Field in its coverage of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships here in Amman,

The flight from Seattle to Amman on Tuesday afternoon was surprisingly uneventful, via Paris. The Air France flight from Seattle to Paris went fairly smooth, with no hiccups.

In fact, the flight from Paris to Amman went well, as well as clearing customs. However, the ride from the airport to the Arena Space Hotel was quite an adventure,

It appeared that the bus driver got lost or received bad directions in dropping other people off at their destinations, including several staff members of the IAAF.

The real comedy began when I was dropped off at the Arena Hotel (notice I said Arena Hotel). After what I thought was checking in to the hotel, I realized that I was in the wrong hotel, and tried to flag down the local organizing committee volunteer that was riding to let them know them know I was in the wrong hotel…only problem was that the volunteer and the bus driver were long gone.

Fortunately, thanks to a local who happened to get wrong directions to the hotel I was going to, this gentleman gave me a ride to the Arena Space, of which I was grateful for, considering I was on the move for 20-something hours, and was feeling a bit cranky.

Get to the hotel to find out that I’d missed dinner at the hotel, but junior women’s team leader Francie Larrieu Smith, a five-time US Olympian bailed me out with a PowerBar and some Craysins. That, plus a quick walk to the convenience store netted me a bag of Cheetos, proving that once and for all, PowerBars and Cheetos are the meal of champions.

After taking a sleeping pill around 11:30 pm, I figured life was good and I’d sleep well…

I didn’t count on getting blasted out of bed at 430 am with the sound of prayer call from the nearby mosque. To compound matters, after hearing the sound (and saying a few expletives), I realized I was still hungry. Considering that breakfast wasn’t for another two and a half hours, I proceeded to devour the rest of the Cheetos.

My first full day was rather uneventful, with a light run on Thursday at the Al Hussein Youth City sports complex trails with Francie, who still has the wheels of a 35-year old! As we ran, I saw numerous Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Australian runners zip past us like we were standing still!

Afterwards, a group of athletes, parents and I took a cab ride to see the Roman Amphitheatre ruins in the city. Here I am at the ruins!

In part 2, I’ll talk about the cross country course!

It’s almost bed time, so I’ll finish this post in the morning!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Huskies, Cougars and Falcons to compete at Stanford Invite this weekend...

SEATTLE - Washington track and field hits the ground running this weekend as they open the outdoor season at the Stanford Invitational. The Huskies will bring a full squad to the two-day meet, which begins Friday at the Cobb Track & Angell Field.

Washington State University will also send a squad of athletes to compete in this two-day meet, led by NCAA qualifiers Trent Arrivey in the high jump, and Anna Layman, who will drop down in distance and run the 400m.

Seattle Pacific will also have athletes contesting events at the meet as well.

Several newly minted Husky All-Americans will be competing at Stanford. NCAA Regional qualifying times ought to be plentiful especially in the distance running events which feature large and talented fields.

Junior Katie Follett headlines several Husky women entered in the 5,000-meters. Follett ran the fifth-best 5k time in school history last year at Stanford, clocking 16:01.16. Follett just added two more All-America honors to her shelf, anchoring UW's eighth-place DMR then taking 5th in the 3,000-meters at NCAA Indoors two weeks ago. Also entered in the top heat of the 5k are Mel Lawrence, who placed 12th in the NCAA Indoor 3k, and freshman Kendra Schaaf, the Pac-10 cross country champion, who could make her debut on the track after redshirting the indoor season.

Freshman Christine Babcock, who led off UW's All-American DMR, is set to run in the 1,500-meters along with junior Kailey Campbell, who ran the third leg of the relay. Babcock last ran the distance in the semifinals of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

With the season moving outdoors, the 10,000-meters comes into play, and could be a major strength for the Huskies. On the men's side, senior Jeremy Mineau and junior Jake Schmitt are both entered in the top flight of the men's 10k. Both have competed at NCAA's in the 10k and are two of just four Huskies ever to run under 29-minutes at the distance. Schmitt just picked up his first career All-American honor by finishing 9th in the 5,000-meters at indoor nationals.

Junior Anita Campbell is entered in the 10k on the women's side, which would be her first effort at the distance. Campbell did not compete outdoors last season but is a two-time NCAA Outdoor competitor at 5,000-meters.

Senior Austin Abbott will be one to watch on the men's side, whether he chooses to run the 800-meters or the 1,500-meters. Abbott broke the Washington mile record in his final home appearance a few weeks ago before placing 14th at NCAA's.

In the sprints and hurdles, All-American junior Falesha Ankton will compete in the 100m hurdles, in which she took second in the West Region last year and qualified for Nationals. The Huskies also have both 4x100 and 4x400 relays entered in each gender. The UW men are the defending Pac-10 4x100m champions.

A welcome sight for Husky fans will be an attached Scott Roth in the men's pole vault. The two-time All-American did not compete outdoors last year and then competed unattached indoors while clearing 18-feet. Roth will look to reassert himself as a national title contender this weekend while 2008 NCAA runner-up Jared O'Connor and junior Ryan Vu will also search for Regional marks.

The outdoor season also means an expanded throws program, with the javelin and discus coming into play, and the hammer throw replacing the weight throw. 2008 Regional qualifiers Kyle Nielsen and David Nyland should toss the javelin out with the best of the west this season, while Fresno State transfer Brooke Pighin makes her UW debut in the women's javelin. Pighin made Regionals as a freshman last year for the Bulldogs.

Sophomore Elisa Bryant will throw the discus and the hammer and should be brimming with confidence after the best meet of her young career at indoor nationals. Bryant PR'd in the weight throw to finish eighth and earn her first career All-American honor.

Other notable UW entrants are freshman Jeremy Taiwo in the men's high jump and hurdles, and freshman Kelly McNamee in the women's high jump and hurdles. Both youngsters are coming off the NCAA Indoor meet, with Taiwo garnering All-America honors for his efforts in the heptathlon.

Live meet results can be found at www.gostanford.com.

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Off to Amman!!!

Once again, paulmerca.blogspot.com will offer coverage of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on Saturday March 28th from Amman, Jordan.

This will be the ninth consecutive year that I've had the opportunity to cover this meet, which has been the proving grounds for many of the world's top distance runners. Runners such as Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, the USA's Dathan Ritzenhein, Asbel Kiprop from Kenya, Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands, and Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe have all made their worldwide mark on this event as a stepping stone to greater feats.

I arrive in Amman Wednesday night, and hope to post something that night or most likely, on Thursday morning. I will be assisting USA Track & Field as I've done in the past, working in media relations.

Team USA, and in particular, the men's junior squad, has a real shot at a possible spot on the podium, led by Oklahoma State University freshman German Fernandez. As many of you who follow track on the national scene know, Fernandez has been on a tear during the indoor season, having run 3:55.02, the sixth fastest time in the world this year, and a world junior best (the mile isn't recognized as a world record event indoors by the IAAF).

He'll have support from a pair of frosh that many saw indoors at the Dempsey this winter in Chris Derrick from Stanford, and Luke Puskedra from Oregon. Both finished in the top six at the NCAA indoor meet in College Station, Texas on the 14th.

Someone from either Ryan Hill from NC State or one of the Syracuse duo of Tito Medrano or Patrick DuPont will have to step up and run close to the big three in order for the Americans to have a shot at making the podium.

Oh yes, for those of you who are wondering--the world famous football is in its special place in the suitcase, ready to make yet another global appearance!

Looking forward to posting from Amman!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nine Cougs hit NCAA regional qualifiers in Los Angeles...

Nine Washington State track and field competitors reached NCAA Regional Qualifying marks at the USC Trojan Invitational, the opening track and field meet of the 2009 outdoor season for the Cougars, held at Loker Stadium and Cromwell Field in Los Angeles Saturday.

Anna Layman and Lisa Egami finished one-two in the women's 800m, both with NCAA RQ times. Layman (sophomore, Spokane Valley), a 2008 All-American in the 800m, won the race in a time of 2:09.23, while Egami (junior, Coquitlam, B.C.) finished second in a time of 2:09.58.

Three Cougar women reached NCAA RQ marks in the javelin with Marissa Tschida (above/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) tossing a PR distance of 165-4 (50.40m), Lynnea Braun (junior, Yakima) throwing 151-9 (45.25m), and Courtney Kirkwood (freshman, Othello) throwing 145-3 (44.27m). Tschida's mark is the second-best mark on the WSU all-time list.

WSU had a solid outing in the men's hurdles races. Robert Williams (senior, Riverside, Calif.) ran an NCAA RQ in the 110m hurdles with a time of 14.02, despite running into 1.4 meters per second headwind. Trevor Habberstad (sophomore, Santa Clarita, Calif.) ran a high hurdles PR time of 14.89. In the intermediate hurdles, defending NCAA champion Jeshua Anderson (sophomore, Woodland Hills, Calif.) won in an NCAA RQ time of 49.52 with Barry Leavitt (senior, Benton City) also reaching NCAA RQ with a time of 51.56. Habberstad ran the intermediate hurdles in a PR time of 53.79 and J Hopkins (freshman, Everett) made his 400m hurdles debut with a time of 53.71.

In the hammer throw competition Friday afternoon, Phil MacArthur (senior, Ione) threw an NCAA RQ distance of 199-5 (60.78m), finishing second by a mere 8 inches. WSU freshmen women, Kjirsten Jensen (Arlington) tossed a hammer PR of 169-10 (48.73m), and Cassie Whitfield (Puyallup) threw a PR of 152-9 (46.56m).

In other notable performances Saturday, Mark Presby (redshirt sophomore, Richland) had a consistent series of throws in the javelin and tossed a PR 199-0 (60.66m). Princess Joy Griffey (junior, Federal Way) ran the 100m in a time of 11.93 and the 200m in a time of 24.40.

"I thought we had a solid opening day to the outdoor season," WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "There were several bright points and good performances to be excited about, in spite of a lot of competition taking place in the early part of the day which was not an exciting environment. Next weekend we'll send the distance runners and the jumpers, with some other selected competitors, to the Stanford Invitational."

A small group of Cougars also competed at the Dusty Lane Open meet held at Spokane Community College. Freshman Emily Farrar (Bainbridge) won the women's 3000m steeplechase in a time of 11:25.20, the eighth-fastest time in WSU women's history. Two more WSU women posted wins. Maria Creech (redshirt freshman, Durango, Colo.) won the high jump (5-3 3/4, 1.62m) and Alex Huestis (sophomore, Chehalis) won the pole vault (11-6 1/4, 3.51m).

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

Cougars in LA for Trojan Invitational at USC...

The Washington State University track and field teams will compete at the Trojan Invitational, Saturday, March 21, at Locker Stadium/Cromwell Field on the University of Southern California campus with several Los Angeles area colleges and several high school events slated for the meet.

This first outdoor meets for the Cougars' 2009 season will find several events seeing competition for the first time: in the 110m hurdles, NCAA participant Robert Williams. In the 400m hurdles, NCAA 2008 Champion Jeshua Anderson, along with NCAA participants Barry Leavitt and Lorraine King are joined by letterwinners Veronica Elseroad-Wall and Caroline Hedel, and freshmen Brittnay Crabb and J Hopkins.

For the WSU long throwers, this meet is an opportunity to get off the sidelines, as in the discus, All-American Matt Lamb and freshmen Joe Bartlett, Conner Larned, Anna Albrecht and Ashley Kenney will get their first taste of competition...in the javelin, NCAA participant Marissa Tschida, Jasmine McCormack, Mark Presby and newcomers Wes Nolen, Lynnea Braun, Jennifer Hamilton and Courtney Kirkwood...hammer throwers Phil MacArthur and freshmen Kjirsten Jensen and Cassie Whitfield.

Making debuts in the steeplechase are David Hickerson, Mietra Smollack and Emily Farrar.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Huskies elect to cancel UW Outdoor Preview meet...

Due to several factors including expected inclement weather, Washington track & field has decided to cancel the UW Outdoor Preview, which was set to take place this Friday at Husky Stadium.

For all family, friends, and fans of Husky track and field, the next opportunity to follow the Dawgs will be at the 2009 Stanford Invitational on March 27-28 in Palo Alto, Calif. The UW will be sending full men's and women's squads for its first outdoor competition of the spring.

Washington will still compete twice more in Husky Stadium this season, beginning with the 94th edition of the UW-WSU Dual Meet, hosted on May 2, 2009. Washington will also put on the Ken Shannon Invite on May 8.

On the heels of the NCAA Indoor championships last week in College Station, Texas, plus the combination of finals week at the University, and the possibility that the athletes would be competing in cold conditions (snow and hail marred the 2008 UW Outdoor Preview at Husky Stadium), the decision to cancel the meet was not a surprise to this observer.

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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brooks Johnson on Jeff Atkinson and jazz...

For those of you who have followed track & field in the US for more than 20 years, you'll remember Jeff Atkinson, who was one of the premier 1500-meter runners in the late 1980s and early 1990s out of Stanford University.

His coach, Brooks Johnson, has a very interesting piece on his blog on how he coached Atkinson, and on the art/science of coaching track & field athletes, and how it relates to one of his outside passions, jazz.

He writes, "The coach should know and have a complete command of the basic left hand chord patterns, which consist of the basic science(s) of the sport, especially the applicable and relevant laws of physiology, physics and bio-mechanics. With the right hand there should be played out an improvised melody that is consistent with what is going on mentally at the time immediate before, during, and right after a workout. The left hand science provides the structure, foundation and basis of the work, with the right hand interpretations of what is needed and possible, expressed and reflected in the quality and/or quantity of what the coach requires and asks the athlete to do in any given workout."

To read the 1984 US Olympic coach's piece, click here...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pixler earns two wins; Krissy Tandle from CWU & Emily Warman from WWU win national titles...

HOUSTON, Texas--First, it was a three-peat in the mile. Then, Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler went out and made it a title double at the NCAA indoor track and field championships on Saturday, winning the mile once again and claiming her first crown in the 5,000 meters.

The Falcon junior took the lead just a few strides into the mile and led all the way, combining with fellow Falcon junior Jane Larson for a 1-2 finish for the second straight year. Pixler stopped the watches in 4 minutes 43.69 seconds at Yeoman Field House on the University of Houston campus.

Larson came across the line in 4:48.87.

Then in the 5,000 meters, it was top-seeded Pixler, Western Washington’s Sarah Porter and Mary Ballinger of Southern Indiana running within a stride of each other through the first half of the race. With eight laps to go, Pixler kicked it up a notch and pulled away to win by nearly 11 seconds, clocking a 16:22.64. Larson was seventh in 17:04.01.

Pixler also was top-seeded in the mile coming into the meet, but Larson posted the fastest time in Friday’s prelims, going 4:55.45. Pixler had a 4:56.07. Both won their respective heats, and were among a group of six runners who came into Saturday’s final within 1.01 seconds of each other.

The times of both Pixler and Larson were faster than what they ran a year ago in Mankato, Minn., when Pixler won in 4:47.79, and Larson was second in 4:51.74.

Senior Krissy Tandle (left/photo courtesy Central Washington University) from Wenatchee became the first Central Washington University student-athlete to win a national championship at the NCAA Division II level, winning the women's shot put championship.

Tandle, the four-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion in the shot put, matched her season's best mark in the event with a throw of 48 feet, 9 1/2 inches. That is the same mark that she had posted in winning the GNAC title on Feb. 21, and is also the same mark that earned her the top spot in the nation entering Saturday's championship meet.

Tandle was nearly a foot better than second-place finisher Kayla Muyskens of Central Missouri, who had a throw of 47 feet, 10 inches.

Western Washington University's Emily Warman became just the second freshman in school history and the 10th individual overall to win a national championship as she placed first in the women's triple jump Saturday at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Warman broke her own school record by almost a foot, posting a winning mark of 39-3 on her second attempt to earn All-America honors.

Warman had efforts of 39-2, 39-3 and 39-1 on her first three tries, the only competitor to reach 39 feet in the prelims. She won the competition by two inches.

Also earning All-America honors for Western were Sarah Porter, who placed sixth in the women's 5,000 meters with a time of 17:00.14, and Rachel Johnson, who was seventh in the women's 800, breaking her own school record for the second straight day with a time of 2:11.82.

Jordan Welling finished 10th the men's 5,000 with a 14:45.60 clocking, and Ryan Brown placed 13th in the men's pole vault with a mark of 15-11.

Seattle Pacific, thanks to Pixler's 20 points in her two wins, finished sixth in the NCAA team standings with 35 points. The Viking women placed ninth in the team standings with 20 points.

Falcon freshman Ali Worthen took fourth place in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 7½ inches.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II championships from Houston can be accessed here...

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, and Central Washington all contributed to this report.

Boase repeats 2008 third place finish at NCAA Indoors...

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Washington sprinter Jordan Boase (left/photo courtesy University of Washington sports information) repeated his third-place finish in the 400-meter dash today as the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships concluded at Texas A&M.

Running in the second heat of the two heat timed final, Boase knew he had to beat the time of 45.69 set by Michael Bingham of Wake Forest who won the first heat. That time was the fastest run in the world this year.

Assigned to the outside lane, Boase got out quickly, but was beaten to the inside lane when the lanes converged, and subsequently boxed in. As Florida's Calvin Smith faded in front of him, Boase had to move wide to go around, and Texas Tech's Gil Roberts pulled away to win the heat in 45.71. Boase passed LSU's Robert Simmons to place second in the heat and third overall in 46.20 seconds. Boase was third at last year's meet as well when the winning time was only 46.19.

Despite falling short of the title, Boase will add a fifth All-America honor to his collection that ties him with teammate Austin Abbott and Steve Anderson (1928-30) for sixth-most in Washington history.

"Jordan had plenty of juice to run a great time, he just got stuck in place a little and couldn't accelerate when he wanted," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "It's unfortunate but that's why the 400-meters indoors is a bit of a roll of the dice. We still believe his time is coming."

Less than an hour later came the women's 3,000-meter run, featuring junior Katie Follett and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence. Despite being seeded just 13th and having run the DMR last night for UW, Follett crossed the line in fifth-place in 9:15.73. Lawrence placed 12th in 9:19.02, and was second among freshman finishers. Follett earns her second All-American award of the meet, and the fifth of her career counting two in cross country.

Earlier in the day, freshman Jeremy Taiwo became the first Husky All-American ever in the seven-event heptathlon, as he placed 12th with 5,389 points. All-America honors are awarded to the top-eight finishers, with additional honors handed out until eight American-born athletes are honored. Five foreign-born athletes placed in front of Taiwo. Taiwo lost ground as he struggled in the pole vault, but came back strong to win the final event, the 1,000-meter run, in 2:43.90.

The Husky men's and women's teams each scored six points, with the men tying for 33rd and the women tying for 35th. The Oregon men took the team title with 54 points while the Tennessee women beat the host Aggies with 42 points.

"The meet was not everything we were hoping for, and we certainly left some points out there we'd like to have had, but at the same time there were some outstanding performances," said Metcalf. "Jordan and Katie it goes without saying are terrific and will look to win some titles outdoors, then we had a number of freshmen--Christine Babcock, Jeremy Taiwo, Kelly McNamee, and Mel Lawrence who's a redshirt freshman--they got their first taste of Nationals and came away with a couple All-America honors."

Washington State high jumper Trent Arrivey and the men's 4x400m relay team both finished eighth in their respective events Saturday at the NCAA Div. I Track & Field Indoor Championships at Gilliam Indoor Stadium on the Texas A&M campus.

Arrivey garnered his second All-America certificate with his eighth-place finish in the men's high jump. Arrivey, a junior from Woodinville, Wash., cleared the first bar of 6-feet, 10 1/4 inches (2.09m) on his first attempt but did not clear the next height of 7-0 1/4 (2.14m) on any of his three attempts. His lifetime-best leap of 7-3 (2.21m) was accomplished at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships last month in Seattle. Scott Sellers, a senior at Kansas State, won the event after clearing the bar at 7-4 1/2 (2.25m). Arrivey earned his first All-America status at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships when he finished ninth.

"Trent warmed up great and looked good clearing his opening bar. He just missed his take-off at 2.14m and on his third attempt the bar almost stayed up. He is disappointed with this missed opportunity," said Matt McGee, Cougar jumps coach.

"I think Trent came in to win this meet and he just didn't have his best day of performance," WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "I'm sure he's disappointed but you look across the board only one guy cleared 2.19m and the next six places after that cleared 2.14m. So it wasn't a really great competition and nearly everyone jumped poorly."

The Cougar men's 1600m relay team of Barry Leavitt, Reny Follett, Justin Woods and Jeshua Anderson, finished third in the second heat and eighth overall with a time of 3:08.97. Last weekend in Iowa the Cougar men ran a time of 3:06.74, the fourth-best in WSU all-time records. The Baylor relay team won the NCAA title with a time of 3:05.81.

Cougar coach Mark Macdonald reported the split times as 47.8 seconds for Leavitt, 47.05 for Follett, 47.6 for Woods, and a time for 45.9 Anderson on the anchor leg.

"I think the WSU guys did a great job," Sloan said. "When you look at the teams we were racing - Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Baylor - all the perennially great 4x400m relay teams and the Cougars are in there heads-up with them. I think the team competed very well. Our best time of 3:06.74 came on an oversized track and for the first time this year they raced on a banked 200-meters track today and had to make an adjustment. Jeshua ran a strong anchor leg and put us in third place in our heat."

Tennessee won the women's team title with 42 points and Oregon won the men's team title with 54 points while the Cougar men's 2 points in the team standings was tied for 53rd.

Former Tacoma high school standout Brie Felnagle, a senior at North Carolina, earned her 12th All-America honor as she clocked a 4:37.00 for fifth place in the mile.

Former Eastern Washington runner Mattie Bridgemon, now competing for Oregon, finished 14th in the women's 3000, clocking 9:26.32.

All told, UW athletes earned a total of nine All-America awards, six for the women and three for the men. The six for the women equals the most they have ever had at a single meet, matching the 1988 NCAA Outdoor meet.

Complete results from the NCAA Championships in College Station are available here...

Washington opens the outdoor season on Friday March 20th with the UW Outdoor Preview at Husky Stadium, while Washington State opens with the USC Trojan Invitational in Los Angeles.

NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University and the University of North Carolina contributed to this report.

Jordan Boase post-race interview...

Courtesy of media partner runnerspace.com, Jay Hicks of preracejitters.com has an interview with Washington's Jordan Boase after Friday's 400m semifinals at the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Western Washington's Christy Miller gets fourth in pole vault at NCAA D-II championships...

HOUSTON, Texas--Western Washington University's Christy Miller (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) earned All-America honors by placing fourth in the women's pole vault Friday at the NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championships.

Miller matched her school record by clearing 12-5 3/4. She entered the competition ranked eighth nationally.

The Western women's distance medley relay team finished ninth with a 12:01.79 clocking. Making up that quartet were Courtney Olsen, Ellie Siler, Rachel Johnson and Sarah Porter.

In the women's mile qualifying rounds, Seattle Pacific's Jane Larson posted a 4:55.45 in her preliminary run on a day when most runners simply want to run quick enough and well enough to make finals.

Falcon teammate Jessica Pixler, the two-time defending champion in the mile, led her prelim heat in at 4:56.07. The top six times runners enter the finals within 1.01 seconds of each other.

The only other Falcon in action on Friday was sophomore pole vaulter Melissa Peaslee. She had a rough day, clearing just 11-9¾ to finish 13th.

Johnson advanced to Saturday's final in the women's 800, placing fifth in her heat and eighth overall. She broke her own school record with a time of 2:13.08. Siler was unable to advance in the women's 400, finishing fourth in her heat and 11th overall with a 58.06 clocking.

Besides Johnson, four other Vikings will compete Saturday. They are Ryan Brown in the men's pole vault, Emily Warman in the women's triple jump, Porter in the women's 5,000 and Jordan Welling in the men's 5,000.

Porter was an automatic qualifier in the 5,000 as was Brown in the pole vault.

For SPU, Larson and Pixler will do double-duty on Saturday. They’re both running in the 5,000 meters, which does not have prelims. Pixler is the top seed in that event, while Larson is seeded eighth.

Falcon freshman Ali Worthen will compete in the high jump on Saturday. She comes in seeded third, having cleared 5-8½ to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship on February 21st.

Look for Twitter updates on the right hand side of the blog throughout Saturday's competition, plus a recap of Saturday's competition.

NOTE: The sports information office of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Elisa Bryant scores UW school record in weight throw; Boase advances to finals at NCAA Indoor...

COLLEGE STATION, Texas--Washington's track and field teams raked in six All-American honors today on day one of the NCAA Indoor Championships hosted by Texas A&M. Senior Jordan Boase also moved on to the 400-meter dash final by winning his preliminary heat.

Sophomore Elisa Bryant (left/photo courtesy UW Sports Information), a Seattle native and Inglemoor High grad, started the meet with a bang for the Dawgs, as she broke her own school record in the weight throw to finish eighth. Bryant threw 65-feet, 8 3/4-inches to become Washington's first ever All-American in the weight throw. She is the first Husky female to earn All-America honors in any throwing event since Megan Spriesterbach in 2004.

Junior Jake Schmitt earned his first career All-America honors as well, placing ninth in the 5,000-meter run. Schmitt finished his run in 14:04.20. He is Washington's first ever 5,000-meter All-American indoors.

The women collected four more All-America honors all at once, as Washington's distance medley relay placed eighth in 11:06.81. That marks the best-ever finish for the women's DMR at nationals. Freshman Christine Babcock held the lead for much of the 1,200-meter leg despite hesitating at the gun and needing to sprint right away to catch up. She handed to senior Falesha Ankton for the 400-meter leg, who kept the women in the top-eight. Kailey Campbell ran a solid 800-meter leg, and junior Katie Follett ran the 1,600-meter anchor leg.

All four legs of the DMR collected All-America honors for their efforts. It is the first for Ankton and Campbell, the second for Babcock and fourth for Follett counting their cross country honors.

Senior Anita Campbell placed 13th in the 5,000-meter run in her first NCAA Indoor track appearance, while freshman Kelly McNamee tied for 14th in the high jump with a best clearance of 5-feet, 8 ¾-inches. McNamee, the only freshman in the field, just missed a clearance at 5-10 ¾.

Boase put himself in great position for the 400-meter dash final on Saturday. The finals are split into two heats and based purely on time, but Boase made sure he would be in the second heat on Saturday, thus knowing the time to beat. Running in the second of four prelims, Boase held off Florida's Calvin Smith for the win in 46.64 seconds. That was the second-fastest time posted, just barely behind Robert Simmons of LSU who ran 46.63.

Boase's path to the national title was made easier when NCAA leader Gakologelwang Masheto of Illinois was surprisingly eliminated in the semis.

After four events, Husky freshman Jeremy Taiwo stands seventh in the two-day heptathlon competition with 2324 points.

Former Bellarmine Prep standout Brie Felnagle, representing North Carolina, advanced to Saturday's final in the women's mile, running 4:41.08. Shelton's Alex McClary ran on Arkansas' distance medley relay which finished second to Oregon, clocking a 800m split of 1:49.24.

Mattie Bridgemon, formerly of Eastern Washington, and a grad student at Oregon, finished 16th in the 5000 at 16:20.95.

The news wasn't as good for senior Austin Abbott, the new UW school record-holder in the mile run. Abbott took seventh in the first heat of the mile, and will not advance to Saturday's final.

Saturday, Boase will compete for the Huskies, along with Follett and Mel Lawrence in the 3000, while high jumper Trent Arrivey and the 4 x 400 meter relay team of Barry Leavitt, Reny Follett, Justin Woods, and Jeshua Anderson are in action for Washington State.

Look for Twitter updates throughout the day on the right hand side of the blog, plus a recap of the day's highlights after Saturday's competition.

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

NCAA Indoor Championship links...

The NCAA Division I, II, and III indoor championships get underway on Friday in College Station, Texas (D I); Houston, Texas (D II); and Terre Haute, Indiana.

Here are links to follow the action from the various national championships:

NCAA Division I

NCAA Division II

NCAA Division III

The NCAA Division I meet will be streamed on espn360.com, with a highlight show shown on Monday March 23rd on ESPN2 beginning at 2:30 pm, eastern time. Please check with espn360.com for streaming requirements.

The NCAA Division II & III championships are being streamed live as well; go to the links set up above for the two championships, and click on the live streaming video links.

As promised, here's the link to Washington State's press release announcing who's competing at the NCAA Championships--they'll send high jumper Trent Arrivey from Woodinville, along with their men's 4 x 400 meter relay team, led by the reigning NCAA, US junior, and world junior 400 meter hurdle champion Jeshua Anderson.

Speaking of Arrivey, here's a link to a feature story on the high jumper from Woodinville written by Caitlin Bonney, the daughter of former University of Washington women's track coach Alan Bonney...

We'll have a recap of day 1 action late Friday night...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hot Links...


Here are some links to the start lists for this weekend's NCAA Division II track & field championships in Houston, TX.

Men's declared entries can be accessed here...

The women's declared entries can be accessed here...

Here is Seattle Pacific's press release for this weekend's meet, as the Falcons will be led by Jessica Pixler (above/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) and a release from Western Washington on pole vaulter Ryan Brown, who is an automatic qualifier, and was named USTFCCCA West Region Indoor Male Track Athlete of the Year...

Here's a press release from Central Washington, as shot putter Krissy Tandle was named USTFCCCA West Region Indoor Female Field Athlete of the Year...

Here is the University of Washington's release on the NCAA DI championship meet in College Station, Texas. Once Washington State's release is up, we'll link to it...

Diana Pickler named USATF Athlete of the Week...

Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca) has been named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week after winning the women's pentathlon over the weekend at the 2009 USA Indoor Combined Events Championships, held at Eddie Smith Field House on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

A 2008 Olympian, Pickler, formerly from Washington State University, brought home her second consecutive women's indoor pentathlon crown with 4,391 points. Pickler's competition began with a win in the 60-meter hurdles (8.24). She then had the second-best marks in the high jump (1.79 meters/5 feet 10.5 inches) and long jump (6.14m/20-1.75), the third fastest time in 800m (2:20.05) and threw 11.59m/38-0.25 in the shot put.

Now in its eighth year, USATF's Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Monday, March 9, 2009

NCAA Indoor competitors list...

Here's the links to the list of athletes accepted into this weekend's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas:

To see the men's entries, please click here...

To see the women's entries, please click here...

Here's the press release, courtesy of the NCAA:

The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee announced today the participants in the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The championships will be held March 13-14 at the McFerrin Athletic Center in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M University will serve as the host.


A total of 568 participants will compete in the championships. Student-athletes qualified for the championships by reaching the automatic or provisional standards established for each event.


ESPN360.com will stream portions of the championships live both days. Remaining coverage will be available on www.NCAA.com. Additionally, ESPN2 will air a 90-minute show at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, Monday, March 23. For more information regarding the indoor championships, please visit www.NCAA.com.

Trackshark in trouble...

paulmerca.blogspot.com was just tipped off about this a few hours ago...this piece of news is very distressing to those who love, and support the sport of track and field in the United States.

Tom Borish has worked his tail off to ensure that trackshark.com is one of the country's premier destinations for elite college and professional track & field. Trackshark has been a resource to those in the track and field community, particularly to those who follow it at the collegiate level. In fact, before the USTFCCCA took over the rankings, Trackshark was the publisher of the weekly national rankings.

Borish, who sold trackshark.com to Wasserman Media Group, was informed that he and his staff were being let go.

We are publishing editor Tom Borish's open letter in hopes that you, the readers of this blog, drop Tom a note of encouragement and support.

Trackshark Fans and Members,

This is very difficult for me to type right now, but you deserve to know everything.

I was informed by the Wasserman Media Group on Friday, March 6 that our services are no longer needed at Trackshark. Many of us within the company have lost our jobs, including myself.

I sold Trackshark.com to the Wasserman Media Group in May 2008. It was a tough decision, but they can no longer support me nor the rest of the staff here at Trackshark.

There are several options available, including finding a new buyer, but in today's economy it appears very unlikely. There are sites out there that have been born with cash and some without. Trackshark was born in 2002 out of hard work, dedication and all of you who have supported it from day one.

I am working every hour of the day to keep that alive, which is why you haven't seen the front page updated since Friday, March 6.

Whether we're born into a new site or this continues to move forward as is, I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you. I can't even type all of the names since the list would be too long.

Either way, you should know that I am going to do my best to keep coverage of college track & field alive with our philosophy of coverage. If this site is shut down -- due to powers that I can not control -- next week, then you'll know the reason why.

Please email me at tborish@gmail.com for any questions, inquiries or if you just wish to keep in touch. I appreciate all of your efforts and communication through the years. Thank you for taking the time to read this and best of luck.

Weekend roundup: March 7th...

Normandy Park's Ryan Prentice, a freshman at Oklahoma State University, finished second in the junior men's race at the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Titusville, Florida, covering the 6k course in 18:01, six seconds behind winner Ryan Hill, a freshman at North Carolina State University.

The University of Washington's Joey Bywater from Lake Stevens finished twelfth in 18:42.

Saturday, Washington State men's 4x400m relay team consisting of Barry Leavitt, Reny Follett, Justin Woods and Jeshua Anderson, ran a school indoor record and NCAA Provisional Qualifying time Saturday at the Iowa State Qualifier meet in Ames, Iowa.

The Cougar men's 1600m relay team finished second to national leader Florida State with WSU's time of 3-minutes, 6.74 seconds the fifth-best collegiate time nationally this season, and the fourth-best in WSU all-time records. FSU's men ran an NCAA Automatic Qualifying time of 3:05.48.

WSU sprints coach Ellannee Richardson reported that Leavitt (senior, Benton City, Wash.) opened the race with a split time of 47.6 seconds and handed off to Reny Follett (junior, Lewiston, Idaho) who ran a split time of 46.4. Woods (senior, Buena Vista, Calif.) ran the third leg in a time of 47.2 and Anderson (sophomore, Woodland Hills, Calif.) ran the anchor leg in a time of 45.5. Last weekend at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championships in Seattle, the Cougs ran the previous school indoor record time of 3:08.80.

"Every leg was solid today and they all competed very well," Richardson said. "Now we hope to get in the fast heat at the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend."

In other races in Iowa Saturday, Cougars ran well but did not improve on already established NCAA marks. Anderson ran the 400m dash in an NCAA PQ time of 46.95 for sixth place and Robert Williams (senior, Riverside, Calif.) ran a time of 7.88 for fourth place in the 60m hurdles.

In South Bend, Ind., Lorraine King ran a PR time in the 400m dash of 54.89 Saturday for ninth place in the Notre Dame University Alex Wilson Indoor Invite, but did not reach an NCAA qualifying time. Friday night she ran on the women's DMR that set a WSU school record.

Finally, here's a link to an interview from Runner's World with Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith, who attended high school in Tumwater, and was a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Washington before starting his coaching career at Texas Tech University.

Smith currently coaches Prentice, and frosh sensation German Fernandez, who will skip the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend in favor of the World Cross Country Championships later this month.

You can read the article here...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Galen Rupp breaks 4 minutes in the mile for the first time at Husky Last Chance meet...

Running in his final race at the Dempsey Indoor, University of Washington senior Austin Abbott (center, with Eric Garner (l) and Greg Gibson/photo courtesy University of Washington) picked a great time to set a new school record in the mile run, as he clocked 3:58.23 in finishing second to Oregon’s Galen Rupp at the Husky Last Chance Meet.

Rupp, a 2008 Olympian at 10000 meters, won the race in 3:57.86, the third fastest time in Dempsey Indoor history, to lead Abbott and 2000 Olympian Gabe Jennings under the sub-4 minute mark.

Rupp had help early in the race, as Nike’s Julius Achon, and Joachin Chapa took the early pacing chores to help the University of Oregon senior achieve his goal.

For Rupp, the reigning American collegiate record holder in the 3000, and the American record holder in the 5000, his clocking was his first career sub-4 mile.

The senior from Portland, Ore., now has NCAA Indoor Championships automatic qualifying marks in the mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. Rupp set the U.S. indoor record at 5,000 meters by running 13:18.12 Feb. 13 in Fayetteville, Ark., and set the American collegiate record in the 3,000 meters by running 7:44.69 Feb. 7 in Boston.

The nine-time All-American is the national collegiate leader at 3,000 and 5,000 meters, while Saturday’s time in the mile is ranked seventh nationally.

For Abbott, who made a late charge down the homestretch to nip Jennings at the line, this was the Washington senior’s second career sub-4 clocking, and in doing so, broke Eric Garner’s former school record in the event of 3:58.93, set in 2002, the first year of the Dempsey Indoor facility. Garner, who was in today’s race, finished fifth in 4:00.66.

Courtesy of media partner runnerspace.com, here is the video of Rupp’s first sub-4 minute mile:



Other highlights of today’s Husky Last Chance meet included Washington junior Katie Follett hitting the NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:38.00 on the nose in winning the mile, with Ballard High School grad Kailey Campbell close behind in 4:38.51, a mark which should get Campbell into next weekend’s NCAA championships in College Station, Texas.

On the field, Washington’s Scott Roth, who is competing unattached this winter to preserve a season of eligibility, won the pole vault in a new personal best of 18-2 1/2.

Complete results of Saturday’s Husky Last Chance meet are posted here…

Friday, March 6, 2009

Will Washington run a men's DMR Saturday (or add a DMR to the program)?

After Friday night's distance medley relay at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame, where fifteen (yes, that is correct!) schools ran under the NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 9:34.00, will Washington reshuffle its entries and run a distance medley relay Saturday?

Here's one of the heats from Notre Dame, courtesy media partner Flotrack:



Of the runners from last week's team that finished second to Cal in a provisional mark of 9:36.21, leadoff man Joey Bywater is in Florida at the NACAC Cross Country Championships; 400m man Jeff Guidaitis is entered in the open 400; Brian Govier is entered in the open 800; and, anchor Austin Abbott is entered in the open mile.

There is no distance medley relay on the schedule; however, that would not preclude the UW from adding it to the meet.

As they say in the business, stay tuned...

It's Last Chance Weekend!

The eyes of American collegiate track & field (at least in the NCAA Division I) will be focused on the Dempsey Indoor Facility, as well as tracks at LSU, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Boston University (ECAC Conference), and the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston (IC4A Championships) as it's last chance weekend for those who wish to run in next weekend's NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas.

Washington State got Last Chance weekend started Friday night, as their women's distance medley relay ran a school record and NCAA Provisional Qualifying time at the University of Notre Dame Alex Wilson Indoor Track and Field Invitational held in South Bend, Indiana.

The Cougar DMR team of Lisa Egami, Lorraine King, Anna Layman and Sara Trané ran a time of 11-minutes, 17.92 seconds, which was third place behind teams from West Virginia and Kansas State.

Egami, a junior from Coquitlam, B.C., ran the 1200m opening segment in a split time of 3:24 and handed off to King, a senior from Fontana, Calif., who ran the 400m in a split time of 53.8. Layman, a sophomore from Spokane Valley, ran the 800m leg in a split time of 2:10.7 and the Cougars were in the lead when Trané grabbed the baton for the 1600m segment. Trané, a senior from Pixbo, Sweden, went out to a speedy first 800m, running a pace of 2:14, but was up against two top milers from WVU and K-State and could not hold the lead.

Egami claimed the WSU mile record time this season (4:44.92) and Trané ran the WSU indoor 3k record this season (9:28.54).

The Cougar foursome smashed the WSU DMR record of 11:47.11, set in 1999 in an outdoor meet in Eugene by Lisa Schaures, Sharika Higgins, Alishia Booterbaugh, and Megan Maynard.

King will run in the 400 Saturday at Notre Dame in search of a qualifier.

Meanwhile, the Cougs' Jeshua Anderson (400m dash), Robert Williams (60m hurdles) and the men's 4x400m relay squad of Barry Leavitt, Reny Follett, Justin Woods and Anderson, will compete at the Cyclone National Qualifying Meet in the Iowa State Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.

The Washington Huskies will stay home and host a last chance meet at the Dempsey Saturday, beginning at 10:30 am.

The meet is of a much smaller scale than the typical meet at the Dempsey, but will still feature some very competitive races as the majority of entrants are those with a legitimate shot at NCAA's that are trying to better their standing on the national level and get off the bubble, to borrow a term from March Madness. The field events begin with the women's pole vault at 10:30 a.m. while track events kick off at 11 a.m. and will last until approximately 3:30 p.m.

Several members of Washington's 16th-ranked men's team will be looking to hit NCAA qualifying marks this Saturday or else improve their current marks. One Husky athlete currently "on the bubble" is junior Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters. Schmitt currently ranks 17th in the nation, and will try to improve his time on Saturday. In the men's pole vault, senior Jared O'Connor will look to better his provisional mark of 17-1.

The men's mile will be one of the most intriguing races of the day, with senior Austin Abbott running his first mile at the Dempsey since 2007. Abbott is one of three four-minute milers in UW history, and while he has focused mostly on the 800-meters, and has earned an NCAA trip in the 800 this indoor season, Abbott showed he still has great potential in the mile by running a blazing 1600m leg in the DMR last weekend, helping UW qualify for nationals in the relay. The field will also include former UW four-minute miler Eric Garner, and Oregon All-Americans A.J. Acosta and Galen Rupp.

Rupp's entry in the mile has created quite a bit of buzz on the message boards
, as the 2008 US Olympian at 10000m looks to break four minutes in the mile for the first time in his career, a feat already accomplished this season by teammates Andrew Wheating and Matthew Centrowitz.
Rupp, who ran a NCAA provisional time at 800m of 1:49.87, is also expected to get some help from Nike Oregon Project runners Joachin Chapa, Julius Achon, and Josh Rohatinsky.

The women's mile will feature several Huskies, three of which have earned NCAA Provisional times but will look to shave off as much time as possible. Junior Katie Follett, sixth in the mile run at last year's NCAA's, will lead the way. She currently ranks 19th nationally.

In her final Dempsey Indoor appearance, Falesha Ankton will try to run a new PR in the 60m hurdles. Ankton is tied for 40th with a best of 8.41 seconds, and while she is already qualified for nationals as part of the distance medley relay, she would like nothing better than to qualify as an individual as well.

Also right on the cusp for the women is senior Lara Jones, who joined the Huskies this season from Duke. Jones has already improved her lifetime-best clearance by six inches in just a few months working with coach Pat Licari, but may need to vault just a bit higher to make NCAA's. Jones currently is tied for 18th. Fellow senior Andrea Peterson will also look to make the jump to nationals, as she sits in a tie for 28th.

The women's pole vault is probably the meet's premier field event, as several outstanding jumpers, including former NCAA champ Ellie Rudy from Montana State, Greek World Junior Championships medalist Katerina Stefanidi from Stanford, and high school All-American Allison Stokke from Cal compete against Washington alum Carly Dockendorf and the magic 4.16m mark (13-7 1/4) which would almost assure those who clear that height a spot in the "Big Dance" next week.

Finally, University of Washington freshman Joey Bywater (second from left without shirt), along with former Mt. Rainier HS standout Ryan Prentice (right without shirt/photo by Mike Scott), now a frosh at Oklahoma State University, will represent Team USA at the NACAC Cross Country Championships Saturday in Titusville, Florida, near Cape Canaveral.

Prentice & Bywater will run in the junior men's 6 kilometer race, against squads from Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, and other countries that make up NACAC.

NOTE: The sports information office of the University of Washington and Washington State University, along with USA Track & Field assisted in this report.

Churanday Martina loses appeal to be reinstated as Olympic 200m silver medalist...

Former Texas-El Paso sprinter Churanday Martina from the Netherlands Antilles lost his appeal to be reinstated as silver medalist in the 200 meters at the Beijing Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Martina's claim that he should be listed as runner-up behind Usain Bolt, who broke the world record in the race.

Shawn Crawford keeps second place, even though the American already gave his silver medal to Martina. Walter Dix of the U.S. keeps the bronze medal.

In a post on August 20th, paulmerca.blogspot.com broke the news that USA Track & Field filed a protest after Wallace Spearmon was disqualified in the same race for the same violation.

Usain Bolt of Jamaica won that race in a world record 19.30, running into a slight headwind.

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

Jim Scherr resigns as head of the US Olympic Committee...

A few months after the resignation of Steve Roush as director of sport performance, comes the announcement from the US Olympic Committee that chief executive Jim Scherr (left/photo courtesy US Olympic Committee) tendered his resignation Thursday, which goes into effect March 31st.

The U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors appointed Stephanie Streeter, a member of the organization's Board of Directors and the former Chairman, President and CEO of Banta Corporation, as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Streeter will begin her duties immediately and will work with Scherr during the transition in March.

"The U.S. Olympic Committee is a decidedly stronger and more effective organization today than it was six years ago, and that is due in large part to the leadership Jim Scherr has provided," said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. "Jim guided our organization through a period of unprecedented challenge and change, and did so with an unwavering commitment to enabling America's athletes to succeed on the field of play. We are indebted to Jim for his outstanding service to the U.S. Olympic Movement, and wish him the very best for continued success."

Under his watch, the United States won 110 medals at the Beijing Games last summer, the most medals won by the delegation in an Olympics without a boycott. The organization also did not have to borrow money at the beginning of this four-year cycle, as it had in at least the past two decades.

Scherr's resignation comes about a month in front of the International Olympic Committee's expected visit to Chicago to evaluate that city's bid for the 2016 Games.

To read the USOC release, please click here...to read the New York Times' story, please click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

University of Washington women's cross country team named USTFCCCA Scholar Team of the Year...


Adding to the large number of accolades the team's received, the University of Washington Huskies (above/photo by Paul Merca) are the 2008 NCAA Division I USTFCCCA Women’s Cross Country Scholar Team of the Year, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced. Washington won their first NCAA Division I Cross Country team championship at the 2008 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

Washington also won the Pacific-10 Conference title and the NCAA Division I West Region title in the weeks leading up to their national championship. The Huskies earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors in both 2005 and 2006. This year’s squad sports a 3.28 team GPA.

University of South Carolina had the highest overall team grade point average (3.767). A record total of 160 Division I women’s programs received the USTFCCCA’s All-Academic Team honors this year compared to 158 schools from last season.

Over forty-five percent of all Division I institutions (394) who sponsor women’s cross country received the honor. In addition, seven of the top 10 teams and 14 of the top 20 teams at this year’s NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships were named USTFCCCA All-Academic Teams.

The Big East Conference and Big Ten Conference tied for the most conference members represented on the list with 11 teams each, followed by the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 Conference with nine teams each and the Atlantic Coast Conference with eight teams on the list.

For a team to be considered for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team award, they must have competed and compiled a team score at an NCAA Regional Meet. The team must also have a minimum 3.00 team cumulative grade point average.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Washington State University signs six athletes to National Letter of Intents...


Washington State University head track coach Rick Sloan announced Wednesday that six outstanding high school track and field athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to compete starting in the fall of 2009.

Leading the incoming freshmen are state distance standouts Andrew Kimpel from Spokane, Wash., and Alyssa Andrews, from Gig Harbor, Wash. Brett Blanshan, a sprinter from Selah, Wash., will be competing on the men's team while the women's team will add high jumpers Holly Parent, from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and Christine Rice, from Ridgefield, Wash., and distance runner Caroline Austin, a distance runner from Chehalis, Wash.

Kimpel is the leading runner for the highly acclaimed North Central High, the 2008 Nike Cross Country Team National Champions and winners of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Washington 3A Cross Country Championships, and 2008 Track & Field boys' team champs. For the past two seasons, Kimpel was the runner-up at the state 3A cross country championships, and finished 10th at the Nike national meet as a senior. He was the 2008 Nike BorderClash 10 Meet (Washington versus Oregon) champion as Washington boys swept the top 14 spots.

"(WSU Cross Country Head Coach) Jason Drake has said that Andrew Kimpel is arguably the best prep distance runner on the West Coast," Sloan said. "He will be a welcome addition to our cross country and track and field teams. Andy is going to be a very important cog in our cross country wheel and certainly on the track, as well."

Andrews is a senior at Gig Harbor High and considered the top returning girls' prep distance runner in the state. Winner of the 4A state 2008 cross country title, Andrews' time of 18-minutes flat is the third-best time in state history. She was the top Washington placer, at fifth, in the 2008 Nike BorderClash 10 Meet and was named the 2008 Washington Gatorade Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year.

"Alyssa was Coach Drake's number-one women's recruit for this year," Sloan said. "She is a strong runner who has that range to move into some different events for us. We are very, very happy that Alyssa chose Washington State and she is going to be a great addition to our program."

Blanshan, from Selah High, was runner-up in the 200m dash at the 2008 state 2A championships with a time of 21.65 and had the top time in the state in the 100m with a school-record time of 10.36, but false-started at state meet. He is a two-time state 2A long jump champion, setting the state meet and school record in 2008 with a leap of 23-feet, 2 3/4 inches

"Brett Blanshan is the top returning prep sprinter in the state of Washington and probably in the Northwest," Sloan said. "He is someone who is going to fit well into the way we develop our sprinters. He is very strong and will be a good sprinter indoors and outdoors. Brett is someone we can count on in both the 100m and 200m, and certainly in the short relay as well."

Parent is in her final year at Reynolds Secondary School and has extensive experience as an international competitor. Parent tied the B.C. provincial and national youth high jump records by clearing 5-feet, 10 3/4 inches (1.80m). As a member of the Canadian Junior National Team, Parent high jumped 5-8 1/2 (1.74m) at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Poland and took fourth place in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India. She competes for the Victoria Track & Field Club where she was the top juvenile female athlete for 2008 and was one of three finalists for the British Columbia province top youth female award. Parent also has experience as a multi-events competitor and placed fourth in the heptathlon at the 2007 Canadian Junior Games, and won the gold medal in the pentathlon at the 2006 B.C. Summer Games. Parent has earned numerous academic excellence honors.

"Having a jumper of Holly Parent's capabilities and talent is really going to help us out at a Pac-10 and NCAA levels, especially after NCAA champion Ebba Jungmark returned to Sweden. We're excited about Holly coming in and contributing both indoors and outdoors in the high jump," Sloan said.

Rice is a senior at Mountain View HS and was the 2008 state 4A high jump runner-up on misses after clearing the meet's top height 5-8 (1.73m). As a junior, Rice won the district meet after clearing 5-6, and finished fourth at the 2007 state 4A meet after high jumping 5-4. She attended WSU summer track camps.

"Christine Rice has a great high jumper's body and is someone who we think will develop and become an outstanding jumper under Coach Matt McGee's guidance here at Washington State," Sloan said. "We're starting to build a high jump dynasty at Washington State, so it is exciting for us to look toward scoring well in the event at the championships."

Austin is a multi-sport athlete at W.F. West High, who has gained recognition in track and field as well as cross country. She finished third at the 2008 state 2A cross country meet after winning the Evergreen League girls' individual title and leading her team to the girls' championship. As a junior, Austin led the cross country team to a league title and state fourth place finish. At the 2008 2A state track championships, she placed fourth in the 1600m and third in the 800m and ran on two relays.

"She is primarily a middle distance runner, but could also compete in the steeplechase because she is strong and very athletic. Caroline is somebody we will be able to use in a variety of different ways, as well as cross country. She will be a great addition to the Cougar program."

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chalk one up for the little guys...

In an era where you generally have to have the resources to recruit high school All-Americans, the University of Portland has maintained its status as one of the country's top cross country and distance running programs by convincing good, but not great high school runners, particularly from the state of Washington, to attend the school.

David Kinsella (left, competing at 2008 NCAA West Regionals/photo by Paul Merca) was not a blue chip, high school All-American when he graduated out of Inglemoor High, just north of Seattle, yet the senior has developed into one of the country's top collegiate 10000 meter runners, and earned All-America status with his fourth place finish at last fall's NCAA cross country championships.

The method behind head coach Rob Conner is now revealed in an article in the March issue of Running Times magazine written by Chris Lear.

Lear writes, "What they are doing is producing top-shelf distance runners. Consider this: In 2007, three Pilots ran under 29 minutes for 10K, and two more ran under 29:20. Last year, the top two marks were under 28:30. None of the aforementioned athletes was a blue-chip Foot Locker finalist, and all accomplished their marks by employing a training methodology that sprang not from the stars but from the shadows. And last fall, led by Kinsella's fourth-place individual effort, the Pilots finished seventh in NCAA cross country championships, matching the 2001 team for the best in school history."

The revolution began three years ago with a book and a gaggle of fringe athletes. First, Conner spied a copy of Jack Daniels' book of training on Pilot women's coach Ian Solof's desk. He asked Solof what Daniels recommended for a 29-flat 10K guy. "And voila," says Conner, "my eyes were opened."

Conner explained his new approach to training to his guys in layman's terms. "How many of you guys played soccer?" he asked. Everyone's hand shot up. "How long is soccer practice?" he asked. "About two hours," they responded. "Exactly," he said. "An hour's worth of practice doesn't do anything for anybody."

To read the entire article, click here...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekend roundup: February 27-March 1...

While the focus in the Pacific Northwest was on the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, two athletes with Washington connections made the trek to Boston to compete in the USA Indoor Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Bellevue's Mike Sayenko, a former University of Washington standout and Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, ran 8:05.42 to finish 12th in the men's 3000.

Former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic was sixth in the men's 1500, running 3:47.51 in a clearly tactical race.

In significant conference action outside the MPSF, former Shelton High standout Alex McClary won the Southeast Conference 800 meter title, running a NCAA provisional time of 1:49.37.

Adam Stewart and David Howard of the Eastern Washington University track and field team won their respective events at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Stewart, a sophomore from Yakima, Wash., won the high jump with a mark of 6-8 1/4. His previous best jump this season of 6-7 ranked him sixth in the Big Sky coming into this event.

Howard, a junior from Spokane, Wash., won the shot put with a throw of 57-4 3/4.

The Eagles finished third in the Big Sky meet, behind Northern Arizona and Idaho State.

On the Division II side, Justin Felt of Seattle Pacific long jumped an NCAA provisional qualifier of 23-2 3/4 to win his event at the SPU Last Chance meet at the Dempsey Indoor Facility following the conclusion of the MPSF Championships.

The recap of the SPU Last Chance meet and results are posted here...

Prefontaine Classic becomes part of IAAF Diamond League meets in 2010...

In a post on January 10th, paulmerca.blogspot.com noted that the IAAF was interested in expanding the current Golden League meets from its current size of six meets, all in Europe.

The IAAF, in a worldwide conference call today, announced the formation of the IAAF Diamond League one-day meets, designed to enhance the world-wide appeal of track & field, by going outside Europe for the first time.

At present, 12 meetings have signed contracts to join the Diamond League, with 3 others on standby, which means that there will be competitions in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA.

Tom Jordan, the meet director of the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, and Mark Wetmore of Global Athletics & Marketing, the meet director of the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, have signed contracts with the IAAF to become a part of the IAAF Diamond League.

The final composition of the league will be confirmed at the end of the 2009 season.

Among the other innovations of this new league is that athletes from 32 different athletics events can take part, thanks to careful distribution of the events between the different meetings.

Starting in 2010, the IAAF Diamond League will offer more athletes, more earning opportunities. All 32 disciplines will have the same prize money with each meeting giving out $US 416,000. The biggest stars of the sport will be contracted with the Diamond League to ensure that the best athletes take part.

In each of the 32 events there will be an “IAAF Diamond Race” with points available throughout the season. The athlete with the most points at the end of the series will be awarded a 4 carat diamond (worth approximately $US 80,000)

The IAAF Diamond League will play a key role in supporting the IAAF World Athletics Series of championships, as well as track & field at the Olympic Games, by building up interest in the sport leading up to and immediately after the main events.

The international TV rights for the IAAF Diamond League will be marketed by IMG.

IAAF President Lamine Diack welcomed the creation of the Diamond League: “I am delighted that the IAAF, in close association with the meeting directors, has come up with a new professional circuit which will offer an easily understandable series of meetings to provide world class entertainment and also offer the maximum number of competition opportunities for a maximum number of athletes in different events. Thanks to the support of the meetings, we will be able to offer top class events that are based on solid financial foundations, provide the best organizational capability and serve to promote and develop the sport of athletics.”

Here are the meets that are part of the new Diamond League:

Aviva London Grand Prix
Aviva British Grand Prix
Athletissima Lausanne
Bislett Games Oslo
DN Galan Stockholm
Herculis Monaco
Meeting Areva Paris St-Denis
Memorial Van Damme Brussels
Nike Prefontaine Classic Eugene
Reebok Grand Prix New York
China Golden Grand Prix
Weltklasse Zurich
DKB ISTAF Berlin *
Golden Gala Rome *
Qatar Athletics Super Grand Prix in Doha *

(the IAAF will formally name the final three meets as part of the circuit after contracts are signed).

Below is a document from the IAAF expanding on today's conference call:



20090302095648 Http Posted File Iaafdiamondleague Summary 8970

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aretha Thurmond finishes fifth in Sydney...

Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond finished fifth at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday in Sydney, Australia, with a season's best of 193-0 (58.84m).

Australia's Dani Samuels won the competition with a toss of 204-1 (62.21m), followed by Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton at 202-6 (61.72m), then New Zealand's Beatrice Faumuina at 196-0 (59.75m), then Becky Breisch at 195-10 (59.71m).

In her recap of the meet
, Thurmond stated that she was pleased with her performance, considering that she's currently on a "heavy training phase".

She states that she's looking forward to her final meet on her tour of Australia & New Zealand on March 5th, in Melbourne.

Courtesy of arethathrows.com, here's a clip of her throwing in Sydney:

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