Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Washington Huskies head to Notre Dame for Notre Dame Invitational...

The Washington Huskies will run in the Notre Dame Invitational this Friday, one day before the Huskies and Fighting Irish square off on the gridiron. The top-ranked Husky women and 22nd-ranked men will get a major early season test, running against numerous ranked opponents.

The race goes over the Notre Dame Golf Course, located just west of the football stadium. After two small college races and an open race, the highlighted "Blue" races get underway with the women's 5,000-meters at 1:15 p.m. Pacific time, 4:15 local. That will be followed by the men's 8,000-meter run, at 2 p.m. Pacific, 5:00 local.

The Notre Dame Invitational is one of the nation's oldest and largest intercollegiate cross country meets. The Invitational was started by former Irish head coach Alex Wilson in 1956 and regularly features runners from approximately 60 schools around the country.

UW's women's group will get an early look at a couple of the top NCAA contenders this season, as No. 3 Florida State and No. 6 Princeton will be racing to unseat the Dawgs. Additional ranked teams in the women's field include No. 12 Providence, No. 13 Arizona State, No. 15 Florida, No. 22 Penn State, No. 24 Notre Dame, No. 25 New Mexico, and No. 27 Rice. Pac-10 rivals Arizona and UCLA will also be on hand. The Seminoles' Susan Kuijken has been the NCAA runner-up the past two years and should be the individual favorite.

Six ranked men's teams will lineup on Friday, including 11th-ranked Tulsa, No. 15 Providence, the Huskies at No. 22, 24th-ranked New Mexico, No. 28 Notre Dame, and No. 30 Princeton. Similar to the women, the UW men will see conference foes Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA as well.

This Friday will mark the first time the Husky women have run their full group since last year's NCAA Championships. At the season-opening Sundodger Invitational victory, Christine Babcock, Katie Follett, and Kailey Campbell did not compete, but all three will be in action this Friday, along with NCAA returners Kendra Schaaf, Mel Lawrence, and Lauren Saylor who all have one race under their belts already. Junior Kenna Patrick, redshirt freshman Allison Linnell, and freshman Lindsay Flanagan round out UW's nine competitors.

The men, who moved up two spots in this week's USTFCCCA rankings, will be led by Sundodger Champ Kelly Spady, and senior track All-American Jake Schmitt, who will be making his season-debut. Senior Colton Tully-Doyle will look to build off his excellent third-place Sundodger run.

Also ready to run for UW is junior Jordan Swarthout, sophomores Cameron Quackenbush, Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and David McCary, redshirt freshman Joey Bywater (above/photo by Paul Merca), and freshman James Cameron who will run attached for the first time after taking eighth at the Sundodger in his first college 8k.

Back home in Seattle, those Huskies not heading to Notre Dame will be at Lower Woodland Park to run in the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle U. The women's 6,000-meter run will start at 10:30 a.m. with an 8,000-meter run for the men taking off at 11:15 a.m.

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two good reads on a Monday night...

While perusing the world wide web Monday, I found two good articles on Washington affiliated athletes.

First off, gohuskies.com has an article written by Northwest Runner colleague Joe Darda on All-American steeplechaser Mel Lawrence and Lauren Saylor (left/photo courtesy gohuskies.com), two long-time friends, and two of the key cogs to the Husky juggernaut that's rated the number one NCAA D-I cross country team in the nation, and the defending national champions.

You can read Darda's article here...

Meanwhile, Universal Sports' Joe Battaglia, a talented writer whom I got to know real well this summer in Berlin, has a great in-depth article on Bernard Lagat and his plans for 2010, which includes a greater emphasis on the 5000 meters.

You can read Battaglia's article here...

Usain Bolt at ESPN Monday...

Just received a press release from Kim Jessup from ESPN noting that sprinter Usain Bolt (left/photo by Paul Merca) will be at ESPN headquarters Monday to shoot a commercial and appear on several ESPN-family shows.

For those of you tracking Usain, here's his schedule:

9-noon - commercial shoot
Noon - lunch/break
12:45 - ESPN.com chat
1:00 - Scott Van Pelt Show (taped)
2:20 p.m. - SportsCenter - LIVE
2:40 p.m. - ESPNEWS - LIVE

3 p.m. - ESPN, Outside the Lines
3:30 p.m. - ESPN, College Football Live
6 p.m. - ESPN, SportsCenter

UPDATE: Here is video of his day at ESPN (note that it may be gone after a certain number of days, so don't snooze on it).


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday in the park (with apologies to Chicago)...

With apologies to the great band Chicago, there was action Saturday in the parks across the United States involving the Cougars from Washington State, the Seattle Pacific Falcons, and even the consummate pro track athlete Bernard Lagat.

Here's paulmerca.blogspot.com's whip around the USA:

COUGS GET FIFTH AT GRIAK INVITE; WOMEN SIXTH

The Washington State men's cross country team took fifth place and the women's team took sixth place in the Div. I Gold Races at the Roy Griak Invitational Saturday at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Cougar men scored 108 points and were led by the 11th place finish of senior Sam Ahlbeck (Renton) who finished the 8000m race in a time of 25 minutes, 7 seconds. The rest of the WSU scorers included freshman Andrew Kimpel (above/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information), 19th (25:18), senior Mark Moeller, 23rd (25:22), sophomore Jono Lafler, 25th (25:23) and senior Dan Geib, 30th (25:29). Cougar men competing but not scoring were sophomore Justin Englund, 44th (25:49) and junior David Hickerson, 60th (26:12).

Iowa State was the top squad among the 18 men's teams with 71 points, and Minnesota's Hassan Mead was the top individual with a time of 24:37.5.

"We are upset we did not place higher today but being 35 points out of winning the whole thing, and be 100 points better than last year, that is a little frustrating for the guys," WSU coach Pete Julian said. "The top five teams were very close. We are dramatically better than last year and we are not a developing program anymore. I think we could have won today and it was an opportunity that got away. We are the real deal now and we will watch the teams ahead of us move up in the rankings and so this leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. Individually, Sam ran a very smart and controlled race and led the team. That was nice to see and to have the other individuals come through. We had a true freshman, Andrew Kimpel, finish in the top 20 and you don't see that very often in a major invitational. That is exciting for the future of the Cougar program."

The Washington State women's team scored 200 points with senior Lisa Egami (Coquitlam, B.C.) leading the Cougs with a 21st place finish in the 6000m with a time of 22:28. Other Cougar scorers included senior Chelsea VanDeBrake, 28th (22:36), sophomore Emily Farrar, 46th (23:23), freshman Alyssa Andrews, 52nd (23:33), and junior Amanda Andrews, 53rd (23:35). WSU women competing out of the scoring were junior Ashlee Wall, 71st (23:59), and senior Marisa Sandoval, 79th (24:15).

Iowa State won the 18-team women's competition with 31 points and Minnesota's Megan Duwell was the individual winner in a time of 21:00.4.

"The women had a strong but not outstanding day," Julian said. "They put themselves in a position for success and they ran strong. I am fully confident that this team will only get better. This is the best performance the women's team has ever had at this meet. Across the board, both men and women, we are significantly improved. We are pleased with our effort today and pleased with the direction the program is going but at the same time, to not win at a meet like this is a little bit frustrating but will be a great motivator for the next three to six weeks."

The Cougar cross country teams next competition is Oct. 17 at the Pre-National Meet at Terre Haute, Ind.

STANFORD INVITATIONAL

Meanwhile in Palo Alto, California, Jessica Pixler was the fastest college runner on the course at the Stanford Invitational cross country meet.

With the temperature in the 80s and approaching 90, the Seattle Pacific senior cruised along the 6-kilometer Stanford Golf Course layout in 20 minutes, 21 seconds, leaving her just one second behind winner Tara Erdmann, who was running unattached, and well ahead of everyone else.

The performance by Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) was a jump of five spots from last year’s sixth-place finish and helped the Falcons make a big jump, as well. SPU checked in 12th with 334 points, a marked improvement from their 2008 total of 447 points and an 18th-place finish.

“Everyone who ran here last year had a substantial PR,” Seattle Pacific coach Erika Daligcon said. “They were very determined today, and I don’t think it was any cooler this year than it was last year, either. We were blessed with having that week of warm weather in Seattle to train in.”

Pixler, Erdmann and a group of runners from Stanford, the No. 6-ranked team in NCAA Division I, were bunched together approaching the midpoint of the race. Pixler went to the lead near the 4K mark and was still in front about 200 meters from the finish when Erdmann started to close.

Erdmann caught up, then edged ahead and fended off Pixler as both runners kicked for the finish line.

Pixler finished 14 seconds ahead of Stanford lead runner Kathy Kroeger, who was third in 20:35.
“Jessica was really pleased, and I’m really pleased,” Daligcon said. “This group was really focused today on staying in the present. This is coming at the right time.”

Senior Jane Larson ran 31st for SPU in 21:57; senior Lisa Anderberg was 76th in 23:04; sophomore Mary Williams took 111th in 23:54; and senior Kate Harline was 115th in 23:58.
Chico State, which replaced Seattle Pacific atop the West Region rankings this week, was fifth with 187. No other Division II schools were between the Wildcats and the Falcons.

FIFTH AVENUE MILE CONCLUDES 2009 SEASON FOR LAGAT

At the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in New York, former Cougar Bernard Lagat finished fourth, clocking 3:52.7 for the 20-block race from East 80th to East 60th.

Lagat, last year’s runner-up, controlled the downhill first quarter-mile, but had plenty of company as the course climbed uphill in the second quarter.

Lagat and 20-year-old Boaz Lalang of Kenya attempted to make it a two-man race, but couldn't shake off the rest of the field.

Great Britain’s Andy Baddeley started his kick with just 50 yards remaining. At the tape it was all Baddeley at 3:51.8, with Lalang second at 3:52.0 and US Olympian Leonel Manzano third in 3:52.2.

NOTE: Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, and the New York Road Runners all contributed to this report.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Patterson sixth in Daegu, South Korea...

DAEGU, South Korea--Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca), fresh off a victory two days ago in Kawasaki, Japan, finished sixth in the javelin at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting in the Korean city.

The 2009 world championships team member threw the spear 53.10 meters (174-2) on her first attempt, which was her only fair mark of the competition, as she fouled her other three throws.

Russia's Maria Abakumova, the bronze medalist in Berlin last month, won the competition with a first round throw of 66.37 meters (217-9), and had two other marks over the 60-meter mark that would have won the competition.

Complete results from the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting, the final meet of the Asian international circuit, can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pro news: Lagat to end 2009 season at Fifth Avenue Mile; Patterson set to toss spear in Daegu...

As he has done the last few years, Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) will close out his 2009 season at the Continental Airlines 5th Avenue Mile Saturday in New York.

The race’s 29th running will include a deep professional field of 15 Olympians, including Americans Christin Wurth-Thomas, Matt Tegenkamp, and Lopez Lomong.

Lagat, 34, a current resident of Tucson, AZ, who was inducted into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame last week, has a distinguished career that includes two Olympic medals, seven World Championship medals, and seven wins in New York’s renowned Wanamaker Mile.

Lagat will aim to become only the second man in history to win both the Fifth Avenue and Wanamaker miles in the same year; Isaac Viciosa of Spain captured both titles in 1997. A five-time USA champion in the 1500- and 5000-meter distances, Lagat has a personal best time of 3:47.28 for the mile.

Tegenkamp, 27, of Portland, OR, became the third-fastest American in history at 5000 meters when he ran 12:58.56 earlier this month at the Golden League meet in Brussels. A two-time USA indoor 3000-meter champion, Tegenkamp won the 5000 meters at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships.



Lomong, 24, of Colorado Springs, CO, was the U.S. flag bearer during the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He became a U.S. citizen in 2007 through the Lost Boys of Sudan program, which rescued nearly 3,800 children from Kenya. Lomong won his first career USA Outdoor title earlier this year in the men’s 1500 meters. His personal best time in the mile is 3:53.97.



The Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile begins near East 80th Street and finishes at East 60th Street. The wheelchair and handcycle race will kick off the event at 9:00 a.m. After that, entrants will run in heats according to age and gender. The professional women’s race is scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m., eastern time, followed by the professional men’s race at 1:05 p.m. A total prize purse of $30,000 for the men’s and women’s professional races will be offered with the top men’s and women’s professional finishers each receiving $5,000.

More information on the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile can be found here.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Vancouver's Kara Patterson will compete in the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting in Daegu, South Korea, site of the 2011 IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Patterson, a 2008 Olympian, and two-time USA national champion, is expected to face a field that includes Maria Abakumova, the bronze medalist in the javelin at last month's world championships in Berlin.

The start list for the Daegu meeting can be accessed here.

NOTE: The media relations department of the New York Road Runners contributed to this report.

Cougars off to Griak Invite in Minnesota; Falcons to run at Stanford Invite...

The Washington State University cross country teams travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saturday, September 26, for the Golden Gophers' Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota's golf course.

The Cougar men will compete against top teams, including No. 17 Minnesota, No. 25 Iowa State, Missouri, Duke, and Michigan State. The WSU women's team will be racing against No. 8 Minnesota, No. 28 Iowa State, Connecticut, and Oklahoma along with other top teams.

"As a team, and that's really what we are focusing on, we have been working quite hard and I expect the men to do quite well," WSU Coach Pete Julian said. "We may surprise a few people and I'd like to believe of the 30 teams we could potentially be in the top five. We may even do better than that. This is a very competitive invitational. We are not running Dominic (Smargiassi) and Peter (Miller), who are two of our top five, but we are deep and I'm trying to give other guys the opportunity to compete. Sam Ahlbeck (above/photo by Paul Merca) is not only our team captain but is running quite strong. Marl Moeller, David Hickerson and Andrew Kimpel are all capable of breaking into the top 10.

The women's team is not at full health right now although we are coming close and by Pac-10s we should be where we need to be as far as full health. But it is a tough group of women I expect the women's team to do quite well at Griak. Individually Lisa (Egami) and Chelsea (VanDeBrake) have been running quite well and I think they can run with anyone at this meet."

For more information and results, visit www.gophersports.com.

The Cougars will send a group of redshirts and unattached runners to Spokane Valley for the Runner's Soul/Erik Anderson Invitational at the Plantes Ferry Complex Saturday. Gonzaga is expected to enter a full squad at that meet as well.

Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific will send a select group of women to Palo Alto for the annual Stanford Invitational, including reigning NCAA D2 champion Jessica Pixler and All-American Jane Larson.

The rest of the Falcon squad will run at the Pete Steilberg Cross Country Classic in Olympia, hosted by The Evergreen State College.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, Gonzaga & Evergreen State College all contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kara Patterson gets first international win in Japan...

KAWASAKI, Japan--Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned her first international victory Wednesday afternoon at the Super Track & Field Meeting in the Japanese city.

The two-time USA national champion out of Skyview High School threw the javelin 189-7 (57.80m) on her fifth attempt to earn the victory at Todokori Athletics Stadium, after Japan's Yuki Ebihara took command in round 3 with a toss of 182-7 (55.65m).

Other highlights of the meet, held during a national holiday in Japan, included American Tyson Gay's victory in the 100m in a modest time of 10.13, and three-time world 200m champ Allyson Felix's win in the 100m in 11.22.

The meet recap can be accessed here, while complete results from the Super Track & Field Meeting can be accessed here.

Patterson moves on to Daegu, South Korea on Friday for the last major meet on the Asian circuit, the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting at Daegu Stadium, the site for the 2011 IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kara Patterson set to compete Wednesday in Kawasaki...

USA Track & Field reported in its release Tuesday that Vancouver native Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) will compete in the Super Track & Field Meet on Wednesday in Kawasaki, Japan.

Patterson, a 2008 Olympian and a member of this year's world championship team, will compete in the javelin. This will be her first meet since the world championships in Berlin, where she didn't make the finals.

Patterson is one of two foreigners named on the start list for Wednesday's meet.

The Purdue University alum and two-time USA national champion is also scheduled to compete in Friday's Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting in Daegu, South Korea at the venue for the 2011 IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

USATF reports that Seattle native Ginnie Powell, the sixth place finisher in last month's world championships is entered in the meet; however, she does not appear in the current start list.

For more information on Wednesday's Super Track & Field Meet, please visit the official meet web site, located here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pickler finishes sixth in Decastar heptathlon meet in France...

TALENCE, France--Washington State All American Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished sixth in the two-day Decastars heptathlon competition Saturday and Sunday in the French city.

On Saturday, Pickler, the reigning USA national champion, had a great start, running 13.60 to place second overall in the 100 meter hurdles, worth 1036 points, then followed it up with another 1000 point performance in the high jump, clearing 6-0 (1.83m), worth 1016 points.

In the shot put, historically one of her weaker events, she threw 39-0 1/2 (11.90m), worth 654 points, then finished day 1 with a 25.09 clocking in the 200, worth 879 points, and fifth place after the break.

Rainy conditions greeted the competitors Sunday, and the long jump results were sub-par for all the competitors, including Pickler. She jumped 20-0 1/4 (6.10m) worth 880 points, then threw the javelin 129-5 (39.45m), worth 657 points and almost two meters short of what she threw in Berlin last month.

Pickler came close to her lifetime best set last month of 2:15.80 in the 800, running 2:16.20 for 876 points and a final score of 5998 points.

Natallia Dobrynska of Ukraine, the fourth place finisher in the world championships las month, won the Decastar title with a final score of 6485 points. Countrywoman Lyudmyla Yosypenko was second with 6423, and Tatyana Chernova of Russia was third at 6306 points.

US teammate Sharon Day was fifth with 6013 points, beating Pickler by 15 points.

Complete results of the Decastar heptathlon competition can be accessed here.

You can visit the official site of the Decastar meet here.

Kendra Schaaf & Kelly Spady win Sundodger titles at Lincoln Park...

SEATTLE--For the second straight year, the University of Washington's Sundodger Invitational lived up to its title billing, as the sun managed to dodge Lincoln Park Saturday.

Continuing where she left off in 2008, Washington's Kendra Schaaf motored around the wet Lincoln Park course Saturday to win her second straight Sundodger Invitational cross country race at Lincoln Park, destroying her own course record in the process.

There was no doubt who was going to win this race, as the sophomore from Craven, Saskatchewan took command from the gun and ran unchallenged.

Another Husky All-American, junior Mel Lawrence, placed second for the second-straight season behind Schaaf, clocking 20:06 which is 17 seconds faster than last year. Seattle Pacific's D-II champ Jessica Pixler was third, a full 20 seconds behind Lawrence.

“It was OK, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for,” said Pixler, who ran third last year in 20:30.99. “I wanted to go out fast and hold on as long as possible, and maybe try to kick a the end. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

“The Stanford Invitational is next week, and I’m definitely going to go for the win in that one,” Pixler added.

Western Washington All-American Sarah Porter grabbed fourth in 20:38, and demonstrated that she may be a factor for a top 20 finish at the NCAA D2 championships in November.

Next up for the Husky women was Lauren Saylor in fifth-place, then redshirt freshman Allison Linnell with perhaps the day's most pleasant surprise, as she grabbed seventh in 21:06. Last year Linnell was 40th in 22:14 but some hard work has clearly paid off for the New Jersey native. Junior Kenna Patrick placed eighth in 21:15, and true freshman Lindsay Flanagan was 10th in 21:18, giving the Huskies six in the top-10.

"First day you're not 100-percent sure what you're going to get," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "With the women we got what we kind of expected. Kendra, that's a great start to her season again. Today was a more calm, cool effort than a year ago and she ran faster. Mel Lawrence is way better than she was a year ago. She was on her game today. Then Lauren, Kenna, Allison, and Lindsay were out doing their thing and they ran together and were patient. So we have some newfound depth there. It was a great place to start."

Senior Kelly Spady (left/file photo by Paul Merca) took a more patient approach to Saturday's invitational men's race, preferring to sit back and let a host of runners do the work over the first few laps.

While he maintained contact with Alaska Anchorage's D2 All-American Micah Chelimo, Spady pulled away on the final lap to garner his first win over 8K as a Husky, stopping the watch at 23:54.

Chelimo was second in 24:03. Husky senior Colton Tully-Doyle was very impressive taking third in 24:08, though he ran unattached. Redshirt freshman Joey Bywater was sixth in his second Sundodger but first with the UW jersey on. At 24:16, Bywater was 30 seconds faster than his 2008 time.

James Cameron from Lake Forest, Calif. was the top UW freshman, placing eighth in 24:23 while competing unattached. Sophomores Cameron Quackenbush and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald crossed ninth and tenth, respectively, in 24:26 and 24:31. O'Donoghue-McDonald is fighting back from a redshirt year lost to injury. His last cross country race was the 2007 West Regional meet.

The Huskies sat out senior Jake Schmitt, who is expected to be the leader of this team this season.

"Our men have a few question marks but I think today some of those questions were answered," Metcalf said. "Kelly Spady coming out here and getting his first 8k victory to run 23:50 I think is a great run out here. He was completely controlled. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Joey Bywater had a great start to the season. Colton ran unattached but we'll definitely put a uniform on him. David McCary ran better than he ever had before. So top to bottom our men showed some depth and with what we've done in training I think that was a really good start to our year and we're excited to go test it for real in a couple weeks."

Washington will have the next week off before embarking on the first road challenge of the year. The Huskies will be in South Bend, Indiana for the Notre Dame Invitational on October 2nd.

Complete results from the Sundodger Invitational can be accessed below:

Men's Invitational 8k

Men's Open 8k

Women's Invitational 6k

Women's Open 6k

NOTE: The University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pickler entered in Decastar heptathlon in Talence...

TALENCE, France--Two-time World Championships competitor Diana Pickler is entered in this weekend's Decastar heptathlon meeting in the French town.

Pickler, a former Washington State University All-American who finished eleventh at last month's world championships in Berlin with a score of 6086 points, will face a field that includes a Ukrainian trio of heptathletes: Olympic champion Natalya Dobrynska, Hanna Melnychenko and Lyudmyla Yosypenko, who filled the complete podium in the Austrian town of Götzis earlier this year will look for some comfort after missing the podium in Berlin, where they were placed 4th, 5th and 6th.

Live results are posted throughout the weekend at http://www.decastar.info, where you click on the words Résultats en direct (in French).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dawgs set to host Sundodger Invite Saturday at Lincoln Park...

SEATTLE--The 2009 season opens this Saturday as the Huskies host their only home meet of the season, the annual Sundodger Invitational, at West Seattle's Lincoln Park. The top-ranked Husky women will be setting off on their first ever national title defense, while the No. 24 men's team is seeking its third NCAA trip in the past four years.

Hundreds of athletes will be running the trails at Lincoln Park with eight races taking place. The day's first race will be the women's 6,000-meter open race, set for 9 a.m., and featuring many local college and club teams. The open men's 8,000-meter race is scheduled for 9:40 a.m. Following that will be the first race for the Huskies, the 6,000-meter women's invitational at 10:25. The UW men will then compete in the 8,000-meter invitational at 11 a.m.

For the first time the Sundodger will include a high school invitational meet as well, with top area high schools such as Bellarmine Prep, Seattle Prep, Eastlake, Juanita, Mt. Rainier and others running in 5,000-meter varsity and junior varsity races beginning at 12 p.m.

Challenging the Huskies on Saturday will be a collection of local universities including Oregon State, Seattle Pacific, Seattle U., Idaho, Portland State, Western Washington, and Alaska Anchorage.

At least four 2008 All-Americans – including Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler (two-time defending D-2 champion) and Jane Larson (12th at nationals last year), along with UW’s Kendra Schaaf (above/photo by Paul Merca) who was 12th at D-1 nationals and Mel Lawrence (25th) are expected to be on the Lincoln Park trails at the same time.

Additionally, Western Washington's Sarah Porter, the GNAC cross country athlete of the week last week and a NCAA D-2 All American will be in the field.

"This will give us a glimpse of where our team is right now," said head coach Greg Metcalf, beginning his 13th season. "We want to go out and give a solid effort and nothing more than that. It's fun to run in front of the home folks and you get a chance to sit down as a coach and see what we did last year and what we did this year to compare where we are. It's the first time in a while that the athletes gets to go through the routines, the stresses, getting up and putting the uniform on, and it's nice to do that at home."

“This being her senior year, I know (Pixler) really wants to put her stamp on this course,” SPU head coach Erika Daligcon said. “And why not? It’s a great one to run on and race on. Jane, too -- she’s really excited and is feeling better and better every day.”

Beyond SPU’s established standouts, Daligcon sees Sundodger as an opportunity for the rest of the Falcons to get a real feel for what postseason meets will be like when October and November arrive on the calendar.

“When we were asked to move our entire (women’s) team to the D-1 meet, I met with the runners and said, ‘This is an honor and a testament to your hard work. You deserve to be there, and you’re going to be challenged.’"

“Being in a big meet like Sundodger is great because you learn to race with people around you, and that’s critical down the road,” Daligcon added. “The men are excited to get in there and see what they can do. It’s really fun to watch them race and moving as a pack. It’s only going to continue to get better as they learn how to race together.”

The Husky women, ranked a unanimous No. 1 in the USTFCCCA preseason poll released this week, will send a trio of women to the starting line that competed at the 2008 NCAA Championships when the Dawgs won the program's first national title. 2008 Pac-10 Champion and defending Sundodger Champion Kendra Schaaf is expected to compete, as is All-American junior Mel Lawrence, second at this meet a year ago, plus junior Lauren Saylor, an All-Pac-10 Second Teamer last year.

Most of the returning men are expected to run, though as always lineups can change during the week. The Huskies have a number of seniors eager to make the most of their final season. Senior Jake Schmitt, UW's top finisher at NCAA's last year and an All-American on the indoor track at 5,000-meters, should get the start as will senior Kelly Spady, an All-West Region performer last year. Redshirt freshman Joey Bywater will compete in his first official cross country race after an excellent first track season in the spring, and sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald should get on the course after redshirting in 2008.

Washington also has seven freshmen on both the men's and women's sides that will get to show what they can do over the longer distances. The plan is to redshirt most of the large group at least through the early races, but one exception will be Lindsay Flanagan, a native of Roselle, Illinois and a Top-10 finisher at the Foot Locker National Championships last year.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jeshua Anderson commits to track full time...

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University junior wide receiver Jeshua Anderson (left/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) has decided to leave the Cougar football team and focus solely on his track endeavors.

"This is a decision I have been thinking about for quite a while and at this point I want to focus all my attention on track," said Anderson. "I love the game of football and appreciate all the support from (WSU Head Football) Coach (Paul) Wulff, the entire coaching staff and my teammates. This team is really headed in the right direction and I would like to be a part of it, but I can't give 100 percent to both and still reach my goals."

Anderson has played in both games this season, catching four passes for 66 yards. For his career he has played in 26 games, 13 as a starter, catching 48 passes for 743 yards and four touchdowns. He posted a career-best 127 yards receiving as a freshman at Oregon, his first career start, and capped that season with a 28-yard touchdown reception against Washington in the 2007 Apple Cup.

"I support Jeshua 100 percent in his decision and wish him nothing but the best," said Wulff. "We're dealing with a once in a lifetime athlete and he has had so much success on the track that I know it was a very difficult choice for him. If you want to be the best in the world you have to commit to that year-round and I fully respect his decision."

On the track Anderson has dazzled during his first two seasons in a Cougar uniform. He is a two-time Pacific-10 Conference, NCAA West Regional and NCAA champion in the 400-meter hurdles. He earned outdoor All-America honors twice and indoor All-America recognition once, and holds the school record in the 400m hurdles (48.47 seconds) and 4x400m indoor relay (3:06.74). Anderson was also the 2008 USA Junior Outdoor and IAAF World Junior intermediate hurdles champion. He finished ninth at the 2008 Olympic Trials and fifth at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships.

paulmerca.blogspot.com spoke to Anderson briefly before last week's Hawaii/WSU game in Bellevue, where he stated that he was bothered by a hamstring injury that hampered him in the finals of the USA Championships, a meet where his long-time rival Johnny Dutch of South Carolina earned the spot on the world championship team.

Needless to say, between Anderson, Dutch, and USC freshman Reggie Wyatt, who broke Anderson's national high school record in the 300 hurdles last spring, this event gets even more interesting for the 2010 season.

Here is the link to the Seattle Times story on Anderson's departure from the Cougar football team.

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

Washington Huskies start 2009 ranked #1 in USTFCCCA women's cross country poll...

NEW ORLEANS – As Greg Metcalf's defending nationals champions well know, it's not how you start, but how you finish.

The Washington Huskies are perched at the top of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Women’s Cross Country Top 30 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the USTFCCCA announced Tuesday. The Huskies received all 12 first-place votes and earned 360 total points in the preseason poll.

Washington, last year’s NCAA Division I Cross Country National Champions, return five of their top seven runners from last year’s championship team, four of which were USTFCCCA Cross Country All-Americans, including sophomore Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca). The Huskies open their 2009 season at home Saturday with the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle.

Oregon comes in at No. 2 in the women’s preseason poll having earned 344 total points. The Ducks, last year’s runner-up at the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships, return two USTFCCCA All-Americans in Nicole Blood and Alex Kosinski.

Pac 10 Conference members Stanford (6th), and Arizona State (11th) are also ranked in the national top 30.

Oregon, last year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country National Champions, begins the 2009 season as the No. 1 team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Men’s Cross Country Top 30 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the USTFCCCA announced Tuesday. The Ducks received nine first-place votes and earned 357 total points in the preseason poll.

Pac-10 rival Stanford is ranked #3, with West Coast Conference powerhouse Portland ranked 8th. Cal Poly-SLO is #24 out of the Big West Conference. Washington is ranked 24th, while Arizona State is ranked 29th.

To view the complete rankings, please click here to see the men, and here to see the women.

NOTE:
The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thurmond seventh in Thessaloniki...

THESSALONIKI, Greece--Federal Way resident Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished seventh in the women's discus competition at the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final today.

Thurmond, the tenth place finisher at the world championships in Berlin three weeks ago, threw a best of 195-7 (59.64m) on her second attempt of the day.

World championships silver medalist Yarelis Barrios of Cuba won the competition with a throw of 216-1 (65.86m) on her second attempt.

Barrios won her second straight WAF title tonight in a competition where three of her four throws would have sufficed for victory.

For more information on the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final, please click here for results and meet recaps.

NOTE: The IAAF media relations department contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lagat outkicked by Bekele again in Thessaloniki...

THESSALONIKI, Greece--In a carbon copy of the 5000m finals in Berlin three weeks earlier, the 27-year-old Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (left/photo by Paul Merca) took the 3000m at the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final with a great effort in the last lap.

After a tactical and slow race the double Berlin world champion (5000 and 10,000 m) clocked 8:03.79 minutes and with that had once more denied Washington State graduate Bernard Lagat a prestigious victory against him.

Lagat crossed the line in 8:04.00, followed by Sammy Mutahi (Kenya/8:04.64) and Deresse Mekonnen (Ethiopia/8:05.32).

The first two kilometers were run in a very pedestrian fashion, with the first 1000 in 2:55.43, and kilometer number two in 5:40.21.

The final part of the race was almost a copy of the Berlin 5000m final. Bekele went to front and further increased his speed with 250 to go. Coming out of the final bend he was in control, but Lagat was coming through strongly. At the beginning of the home straight it looked as if the ex-Cougar could finally beat Bekele, but the Ethiopian saw the danger coming and was able to put in another gear. “Kenenisa won once again – you know he is the guy who always wins,” said Lagat.

Former University of Washington thrower Mart Israel, apparently still not over the leg injury suffered at the world championships, finished a disappointing eighth in the discus, spinning the platter 48.61 (159-5) in his one and only throw Saturday.

Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania upset reigning world champion Robert Harting of Germany to win the event with a toss of 221-10 (67.63m) to Harting's 217-9 (66.37).

Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond competes in the women's discus competition on Sunday to conclude the two-day meet, which is the last significant major international track meet of the year.

Complete results from day one of the World Athletics Final can be accessed here.

NOTE: The IAAF media relations team contributed to this report.

Western Washington sweeps at Central Washington Invitational...

YAKIMA, Washington--Despite holding out a number of its top runners, nationally ranked Western Washington University swept the team and individual titles in both the men's and women's divisions Saturday at the Central Washington University Cross Country Invitational held at the Apple Ridge Course.

The Viking men, ranked seventh in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Preseason Poll, won with a score of 19 points, 29 ahead of runner-up Seattle Pacific (48).

Host Central Washington was third (57), Alaska Fairbanks fourth (108) and Skagit Valley CC fifth (145).

Western's Bennett Grimes from Pocatello, Idaho (#233/photo courtesy WWU Sports Information) and Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell) placed 1-2, Grimes having a winning time of 19:49 on the 6-kilometer course, followed by Medhaug in 20:09.

Placing fifth for the Vikings was Nick Abraham (So., Sammamish/Skyline) in 20:47 and Yonas Berhe (So., Seattle/Roosevelt) was sixth in 20:48.

In the women's division, Western, ranked No.10 nationally, took top honors with 31 points, Seattle Pacific finishing second with 45. Alaska Fairbanks was third (65) and Central fourth (76).

The Vikings' Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson) posted a winning time of 15:13 on the 4-kilometer course, over a minute in front of second-place Kate Harline (16:15) from Seattle Pacific, which ran without NCAA division II champ Jessica Pixler and All-American Jane Larson.

Western's Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital) was fourth in 16:32 and Kristi Fairbanks (Fr., Snohomish) was sixth in 16:36.

"We knew that this wasn't going to be a big meet," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell, "but it gets us ready for next week's competition, which is one that we're gearing up for."

Among the notable Vikings not competing Saturday were Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View), Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park), Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) and Jordan Welling (Jr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison).

"They don't need to race every week and it gives our younger athletes a chance to compete, which helps their confidence," Halsell said.

Both Western teams placed 10th at last year's NCAA II National Championships.

The Vikings and Falcons next compete at the Sundodger Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 19 (9 a.m.) at Lincoln Park in Seattle.

Complete results from the meet can be accessed here.

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lagat, Israel & Thurmond compete in Thessaloniki at IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final...

THESSALONIKI, Greece--For most of the world's elite track and field athletes, the 2009 season comes to a conclusion Saturday and Sunday with the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final meeting in northern Greece.

Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat is entered in the 3000 meters on Saturday, where he will try and upset Ethiopia's double world champion Kenenisa Bekele.

Lagat last year broke the east African hold on the WAF distances when he took the 3000m title. The 2007 double World champion followed up admirably in Berlin, taking 1500m bronze and 5000m silver, the latter in an epic battle with Bekele in a race not decided until the last 70 meters.

A pair of former University of Washington discus throwers in Mart Israel and Aretha Thurmond will also participate this weekend.

Estonia's Israel is coming off a disappointing performance in Berlin last month, where he was injured during the discus qualifying round and failed to make the finals. The men's discus will be held Saturday.

The veteran Thurmond from Federal Way finished tenth in the finals of the discus last month, her best placing at the world championships. She'll throw on Sunday.

The start list can be accessed here.

The IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final will be aired live on UniversalSports.com starting at 8:15 am pacific Saturday and Sunday.

Seattle Pacific & Western Washington set to clash at CWU Invitational...

After a low-distance, low-pressure, have-some-fun meet, the Seattle Pacific Falcons are ready for some serious racing when they head to Yakima for Saturday’s CWU Invitational cross country meet.

The race will be at Apple Ridge Run just outside of Yakima, and will offer an abbreviated preview of the course that once again will be used for October’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships. The 4K women’s race on Saturday begins at 11:30 a.m., and the 6K men’s race follows at 12:10 p.m.

SPU will get an early-season look at a handful of its conference challengers. Western Washington, Alaska Fairbanks and Saint Martin’s also will be on the course at Apple Ridge.

The Falcons opened the season last Saturday at the Lake Padden Relays in Bellingham. The meet offered them a chance to do something different, and the Seattle Pacific teams took advantage of it, combining as three separate coed teams (two men and two women on each) instead of the usual separate men’s and women’s teams.

Competition steps up several notches next week at the annual Sundodger Invitational in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park. The meet typically attracts members of all three NCAA divisions from up and down the West Coast.

Four of the GNAC’s nine schools will be in Saturday’s meet, including the defending champion men’s and women’s teams from Western Washington. Leading the way for the Viking women's squad is Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University), who won last year’s Apple Ridge meet by nearly 1½ minutes.

The Falcons will give their top runners -- seniors Jessica Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) and Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) on the women’s side, and senior Chad Meis (Renton, Wash/Seattle Christian HS) and Jordan Lance (Mill Creek, Wash./Jackson HS) on the men’s side -- the day off as they gear up for next week’s Sundodger Invitational. But everyone else is expected to be in action.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has made Seattle Pacific the top-ranked team in the West Region and the third-ranked team in the nation in the NCAA Division II preseason polls. Western Washington is ranked #10 in the women's pre-season poll, and #7 in the men's preseason poll.

With four straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships and back-to-back NCAA trophies (second place in 2007, fourth place in 2008), there’s little surprise that the Falcons will be a big target for other schools this fall. And many of those will be in the GNAC, which has five of its nine women’s teams ranked in the West’s top 10, and has three teams (SPU, Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington) in the national top 10.

Information on the Central Washington University Invitational can be accessed here.


NOTE--The sports information office at Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ian Waltz fourth at DecaNation meet...

PARIS, France--Washington State University graduate Ian Waltz (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished fourth in the discus at the DecaNation meeting Wednesday night at the Stade Charletay.

Waltz, a two-time Olympian who did not make the finals at the world championships in Berlin last month, threw a best of 204-1 (62.22m) in the unique competition which pits one athlete from each country in a seven-team meet.

The event was won by Robert Harting of Germany, who threw 219-6 (66.91m). Harting won the world title before the home crowd in Berlin last month.

Team USA won the DecaNation meet, scoring 136 points over second place Germany (105) and third place France (91).

Complete results from the DecaNation meet can be accessed here.

At the Rieti meet on Sunday in the Italian city, former University of Washington standout and three-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond finished fourth, throwing 194-8 (59.35m).

The Rieti competition, which featured world champion Dani Samuels of Australia and Olympic champion Stephanie Brown Trafton, was won by world championship silver medalist Yarelis Barrios of Cuba, who threw 213-1 (64.95m).

Rieti results can be accessed here.

The 2009 international track and field season winds down this weekend with the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

NCAA D-II cross country champ Jessica Pixler impressive in low-key season debut...


BELLINGHAM--Seattle Pacific seniors Jessica Pixler (above/photo courtesy SPU sports information) and Jane Larson posted the two fastest women’s times of the meet in Saturday’s Lake Padden Relays, and, along with senior Chad Meis, helped the Falcons sweep the college coed division.

Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) covered 2.6 miles at Lake Padden Park in 13 minute, 50 seconds to lead the Captain Falcon team, which also included sophomore Kayla Wilkins (Vancouver, Wash./Evergreen HS), sophomore Andrew Hamilton (Ballard, Wash./Ballard HS) and freshman Caleb Parker (Richland, Wash./Richland HS).

Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) had the second-fastest women’s time of 14:35. That set the pace for the Pedigree Falcon team of Larson, senior Kate Harline (Orem, Utah), junior Jordan Lance (Mill Creek, Wash./Jackson HS) and sophomore Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, Mont.) Harline’s time of 15:30 was third-best for the Seattle Pacific women, and Lance’s 13:32 was No. 2 for the Falcon men.

Meis easily had the best time among the SPU men, finishing his 2.6 miles in 13:01. He was the front runner on the Millennium Falcon team that also included sophomore Nate Sleight (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue Christian HS), senior Lisa Anderberg (Edmonds, Wash./Kamiak HS) and sophomore Mary Williams (Lake Jackson, Texas).

“I feel like this is a great start to the season,” Falcons coach Erika Daligcon said. “Everyone ran real strong, and I saw some good performances. It was nice to see Western Washington out there (the Vikings won both the men’s and women’s divisions) and to see Slippery Rock (which came all the way out from Pennsylvania).”

Host Western Washington University won both the men's and women's divisions Saturday.

"It was a fun, low-key start of the season," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "We saw some good things and it gives us an idea of where we are in our training, which is what we wanted most from this meet."

Placing first in the men's division was a Western foursome of Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell), Eric Brill (So., Kent/Kentwood), Bennett Grimes (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Century) and Anthony Tomsich (Jr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley), each running one lap around the 2.5-mile course for a combined time of 51:54.

Medhaug turned in the top individual clocking of 13:11.

An unattached quartet was second in 55:10.

Placing third in 55:19 was a Western team made up of Sam Bedell (Sr., Reno, NV), Kyle Johnson (R-Fr., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside), Yonas Berhe (So., Seattle/Roosevelt) and Greg Kubitz (Sr., Kelso).

Slippery Rock PA was fourth in 56:20.

In the women's division, the winning time of 1:01.12 was posted by a Viking squad comprised of All-American Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson), Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park) and Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View). Porter ran the team's best leg of 14:45.

Placing second in 1:04.44 was the Western quartet of Sierra Brisky (So., Acme/Mount Baker), Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital), Kristi Fairbanks (Fr., Snohomish) and Kendra Hedges (So., Lake Stevens).

The Falcons and Vikings will get an early-season look at some of their Great Northwest Athletic Conference competition -- and a look at the GNAC championship course -- next Saturday in the Apple Ridge Preview in Yakima. Racing begins at 11:30 a.m.

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

Lisa Egami opens season with victory at Clash of Inland NW cross country meet...

SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington State's Lisa Egami and Chelsea VanDeBrake (left/file photo by Paul Merca) finished one-two in the women's race, and Andrew Kimpel and David Hickerson were the top Cougars in the men's race, at third and fourth in the season-opening Clash of the Inland Northwest Cross Country meet at Mead High School in Spokane Saturday morning.

Egami, a senior from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, won the women's 4,000m race in a time of 16-minutes, 10.01 seconds. VanDeBrake, a senior from Yakima, took second place with a time of 16:10.02. Freshman Alyssa Andrews (Gig Harbor), running unattached, finished sixth in a time of 16:24.0.

"I was really pleased with the women's results today," first-year Cougar coach Pete Julian said. "We have pretty much overhauled their training and it's a whole new system. They ran very confident and sure of themselves and looked very strong. Chelsea was the pleasant surprise of the day. After struggling a bit for the last year, she returned back today to the athlete we all knew she was. It was good to see her up running with Lisa and that will be really helpful to us later in the year. This sport really favors the upperclassmen probably more than any other college sport. We have good team balance with seniors and freshmen Alyssa Andrews, Courtney Zalud and Caroline Austin. I think this team is going to be quite good."

Idaho's Markus Geiger won the men's 6,000m race in a time of 20:10.01 with Eastern Washington's Kyle King took second in a time of 20:28.0. Cougar freshman Kimpel (Spokane) and junior Hickerson (Spokane), both running unattached, finished in a time of 20:34.0. Dominic Smargiassi (senior, Auburn) took sixth in a time of 20:38.02.

"The rebuilding era is over for the Cougar men and we are in a position for success now," Julian said. "We held out a large majority of our guys in terms of not putting a WSU singlet on them. They ran unattached and conservative. This was an opportunity for the freshmen to shine and get the jitters out of the way. They all looked great, running at tempo and in control. I am tremendously pleased with where the athletes are right now."

The Cougars next competition will be at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., Sept. 26.

Complete results from the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet can be accessed here.

NOTE: The WSU Sports Information office contributed to this report.

Friday, September 4, 2009

WSU, Gonzaga to run in Clash of Inland Northwest meet hosted by Eastern Washington...

SPOKANE--The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams will start the season at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet this Saturday at Mead High in north Spokane with Eastern Washington hosting the event.

The Cougars will be competing against teams from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Gonzaga, with the women's 4,000m race at 10 a.m. and the men's 6,000m race at 10:30 a.m.

Saturday's race marks the debut of first-year Cougar coach Pete Julian, who came to Washington State in August 2009 after a highly successful coaching stint at Metro State in Denver. Julian takes over an experienced men's team and a young and talented women's team led by senior captains Lisa Egami (left/file photo by Paul Merca) and Sam Ahlbeck.

NOTE: The WSU Sports Information office contributed to this report.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Berlino!

If you were anywhere in the area of the Olympiastadion or the Brandenburg Gate during the recent IAAF World Track & Field Championships, you could not avoid the official mascot, Berlino (left, hanging out with the author).

He was here, there, every bloody where!

In my nine trips to the IAAF World Championships, there has never ever been a mascot who was as visible as Berlino. Berlino was on the track doing the "Lightning Bolt" pose with Usain Bolt after both of his dashes into history; he was picked up off his feet by German Robert Harting after winning the discus; and got a huge bear hug from Poland's Anna Rogowska after her upset win in the pole vault.

Berlino also became infamous for his crash into the hurdle cart while carrying Jamaica's Melaine Walker on his back after her win in the 400 meter hurdles.



Here's a great interview with Berlino, the dancing bear and official mascot, conducted by the BBC. Hart to believe that the BBC's Michael Johnson and Colin Jackson are playing straight men to Berlino...enjoy!

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