Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Washington women ranked #3 in national USTFCCCA poll...

The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's (USTFCCCA) 2010 national preseason poll was released Tuesday morning, with the University of Washington women's squad (left/photo by Paul Merca) ranked third.

Reigning NCAA champion Villanova received all twelve first place votes and 360 points, with Florida State garnering second in the poll with 339, with Washington third with 337 points.

While Washington loses NCAA runner-up Kendra Schaaf (transfer to North Carolina) and Katie Follett (graduation) from last year's NCAA third-place team, the Huskies reload with what is touted as one of the best freshman recruiting classes in recent memory, with Foot Locker champ Megan Goethals from Michigan, and Nike Cross Nationals champ Katie Flood leading that group.

Washington returns NCAA All Americans Mel Lawrence and Christine Babcock to the squad.

On the men's side, Stanford is the organization's pre-season number one team with 349 points, despite only picking up four first place votes. Reigning national champ Oklahoma State is second with 339 points, but has seven first place votes. Northern Arizona and Oregon are tied for third with 329 points.

The University of Washington opens the season on Friday with a dual meet against Washington State in Ephrata at Ephrata High School on the surrounding soccer fields, then has its home opener or September 18th at Lincoln Park when it hosts the Sundodger Invitational.

Washington will host the Pacific-10 Conference championships on Saturday October 30th at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle.

The USTFCCCA release is available here.

The link to the USTFCCCA pre-season poll is available here.


Meanwhile in Zagreb, Croatia, the European season begins winding down with the Zagreb meeting on Wednesday, and former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad is entered in the women's 800.

Måkestad earlier claimed the Norwegian national record in the 800, running 2:00.82 on August 10th in Goteborg, Sweden at the Folksam Grand Prix meet.

Another former Husky, three-time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond, is entered in the women's discus in Zagreb, where she will go against a field that includes Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who is one of the meet's headline attractions.

The star headliner of the Zagreb meeting is Tyson Gay, who is entered in the 100m, where he is on a collision course to meet Jamaica's Nesta Carter, the co-world leader this season with Gay at 9.78.

The IAAF's meet preview is available here.

The start list for Wednesday's Zagreb meet are available here.


The IAAF announced the addition of Chinese petroleum supplier China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) to its roster of sponsors.

In a deal brokered by Dentsu, the IAAF Marketing Agency, Sinopec becomes the first international Chinese corporation to be involved with the IAAF at an international level.

The addition of Sinopec as an IAAF partner, although currently for only a limited number of competitions, is the latest step in the international diversification of the IAAF’s portfolio of sponsors following the integration of Korea’s Samsung and Russian bank VTB in recent years.

You can read the IAAF release here...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Husky women's squad ranked #1 in USTFCCCA West Regional pre-season poll...

The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released the first regional rankings of the 2010 cross country season, and the Washington Husky women's cross country team is ranked number one in the West Region's pre-season poll.

The regional rankings are a reflection of a team's strengths entering the year based on returning and new runners on each squad as selected by a representative in each region. A total of 15 teams in each region are ranked. The Huskies rank No. 1 in the West Region, ahead of a Pac-10 heavy group including No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Arizona, and No. 5 Arizona State. The Huskies have won the last two NCAA West Regional Championship titles.

On the men's side, the Huskies were ranked eighth out West, a bit of a surprise considering they placed fourth at Regionals last year and were 18th at the NCAA Championships. But Washington did lose three seniors from the top of their lineup, so voters may want to see how it responds with new personnel.

Washington State's men's squad is ranked #14 in the West Region pre-season poll, as the Cougars are expected to be led by Andrew Kimpel, who was 54th at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships in March in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The Huskies and Cougars face off against each other on Friday in Ephrata.

The national rankings will be released Tuesday. You can read the USTFCCCA's regional rankings here…


For those of you who were watching Italian television's online feed of the Rieti meeting, you well know that you didn't see the final event of the meet, the men's 3000 meter run, as the meet ran slightly behind schedule and didn't make the two-hour television window, as a soccer match involving FC Barcelona took precedence.

Anyway, thanks to the power of YouTube, you can see Washington State University grad Bernard Lagat run his 7:29.00 to supplant Bob Kennedy as the American record holder in this event.

The video is below:


Finally, here's Seattle Pacific's release on their season opening meets in Fairbanks, Alaska on Thursday and Saturday against Northwest Nazarene & Alaska Faribanks, and the Lake Padden Relays Saturday in Bellingham, hosted by Western Washington.

On the women's side, the Falcons graduated five of their top six women from their 2009 squad, including three-time NCAA champ Jessica Pixler, who is now attending graduate school at the University of Colorado.

Included in the men’s group are sophomores AJ Baker (AuGres, Mich) and Andrew Van Ness (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue Christian HS), who were among the Falcons’ five scorers at last fall’s GNAC Championships. Sophomores Will Harrison (Tucson, Ariz.) and Gavin Brand (Suwanee, Ga.), who rounded out SPU’s top seven at conference, also are heading to Alaska, as are junior veteran Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, Mont.) and freshman Evan Bradford (Santa Barbara, Calif.)

All of them will be in pursuit of their Northwest Nazarene counterparts who finished ahead of them at the 2009 GNACs.

Junior veteran Natty Plunkett (Bellevue, Wash./Newport HS) heads the SPU women’s contingent. Plunkett was 11th at the GNAC meet last October, out-leaned at the finish line by Northwest Nazarene’s Jacelyn Puga for the 10th and final spot on the all-conference team. Puga is back for her senior season.

Joining Plunkett will be fellow juniors Kelsey Brown (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Krysta Carrick (Tokyo, Japan) and freshmen Allison Cutting (Sequim, Wash./Sequim HS) and Robyn Zeidler (Plymouth, Minn.) Cutting won the Washington state high school Class 2A title as a Sequim jumior in 2008.

Northwest Nazarene will be a strong test for the Falcon men. In last year’s GNAC championships, the Crusaders finished fourth with 99 points, one spot ahead of SPU (138 points). A top-four finish at conference would have guaranteed SPU a trip to regionals. Seattle Pacific finished well ahead of Fairbanks (eighth with 219).

On the women’s side at conference, NNU was fourth (114) and Fairbanks was seventh (196). SPU, anchored by five now-graduated standouts, was second with 48.

The full release from Seattle Pacific can be read here...

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bernard Lagat finally takes down American record in 3000m...

RIETI, Italy--It was a week later than he wanted, but reigning IAAF world indoor champion and Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) finally took down Bob Kennedy's 1998 American record of 7:30.84 in the 3000 meter run at the Rieti 2010 meeting Sunday afternoon.

Tariku Bekele from Ethiopia improved his own world seasonal best, set in last week's ISTAF meet in Berlin for 3000m from 7:28.99 set in Berlin last week to 7:28.70 holding off Lagat who smashed the American record dipping under 7:30 for the first time in his career with 7:29.00. Edwin Soi from Kenya also went under 7:30 finishing third in 7:29.75 in another great race for depth with John Kipkoech, fourth in 7:32.72 and the Oregon Track Club/Portland's Chris Solinsky, fifth in 7:34.32.

On his Twitter page, Lagat wrote after the meet
, "Today was a productive day at the office. Love it when I can check things off my 'to do' list."

Lagat will compete in next weekend's IAAF Continental Cup (formerly World Cup) in Split, Croatia.

Former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad once again lowered her personal best in the 1500 meter run, as the Norwegian finished fifth in a time of 4:02.20, a two second drop from her previous PR of 4:04.22, set in the Paris Diamond League meet on July 16th.

Måkestad was in the back of a lead group of six runners for most of the race, maintaining her position and staying in striking distance of the leaders until the final 250 meters, when winner Maryam Jamal of Burundi and countrywoman Mimi Belete broke away. Jamal took the win in 3:58.93, while Belete held on for a personal best of 4:00.25 in the runner-up spot.

Hind Dehiba of France was third in 4:01.07, while San Francisco's Shannon Rowbury was fourth in 4:01.63, ahead of Måkestad.

Afterwards, Måkestad told paulmerca.blogspot.com, "I felt great today, feel like I getting to know my body better for every meet!" She hopes to take a shot at breaking 2 minutes in the 800 in Zagreb, Croatia on Wednesday.

Once again, Kenya's David Rudisha stole the show, setting his second world record over 800 meters in seven days, lowering it to 1:41.01.

Rudisha went through 600 meters in the lead in 1:14.56 and continued to push the pace with his smooth stride. His run in the final straight was a triumphant race against the clock.

“I just knew I was in good shape. The conditions were perfect. I expected to break two records in seven days,” said Rudisha. “I want to return to training for next year because 2011 will be a World Championships record,” continued Rudisha.

Here's video of the race:

Complete results from the Rieti 2010 meeting can be accessed here.

AROUND THE TRACK--Over the weekend, former Washington State University high jumper Ebba Jungmark from Sweden took home the victory in her specialty in the Sweden/Finland dual meet in Helsinki at Olympic Stadium.

Jungmark, who in her one year at WSU won the 2008 NCAA indoor high jump title, won with a modest mark of 6-0 (1.83m).

Results from the Sweden/Finland dual meet can be accessed here (in Finnish).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tyson Gay nabs Diamond Race Trophy; Huddle gets 5000m AR; Thurmond sixth in discus...

BRUSSELS, Belgium--Tyson Gay (left/photo by Paul Merca) put on another strong but not unchallenged display of speed as the inaugural Samsung Diamond League series came to an end at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme in Brussels Friday.

Despite the unseasonable chill and wet track, another sell-out crowd of 47,000 fans at King Baudouin Stadium were treated to the season’s second fastest 100m run courtesy of Gay who for the second consecutive meeting simply defied the conditions.

The conditions weren’t much better in the Belgian capital than it was in London two weeks ago when he ran 9.78, but the result was nearly the same, a 9.79 clocking which secured the Diamond Race Trophy, and a $40000 check.

Jamaica's Nesta Carter set a personal best in finishing second in 9.85, while fellow countryman Yohan Blake was third in 9.91.

The unseasonable chill benefited former Notre Dame standout Molly Huddle (left/photo by Paul Merca), as she took .04 seconds off Shalane Flanagan's previous American record in the women's 5000 meter run when she finished tenth in Brussels in 14:44.76. Her time is also an Area and NACAC record.

Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot took home the victory and the Diamond Race trophy for the season long series, in a time of 14:34.13.

Allyson Felix picked up her second Diamond Race trophy when she won the women's 200m in 22.62. Felix also won the prize for the women's 400m.

In the women's discus, former University of Washington standout Aretha Thurmond finished sixth with a best throw of 202-0 (61.58m).

Croatia's Sandra Perkovic took the win, spinning the disc 219-7 (66.93m). However, Cuba's Yarelis Barrios locked up the Diamond Race Trophy by winning four of the seven meets during the Samsung Diamond League season, which began in May.

Barrios finished second in Brussels with a throw of 216-5 (65.96m).

Complete results from the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme meeting are available here.


Here's a link to a story in the Wenatchee World about next week's Apple Cup cross country dual meet between the University of Washington and Washington State University in Ephrata, where UW head coach Greg Metcalf grew up.

“We’re excited about the intimate atmosphere, and I’m excited to take my team to my hometown,” said UW head coach Greg Metcalf, who still holds Ephrata track records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

It’ll be a big day for Ephrata sports, as the Tigers harriers will compete in a three-team jamboree before the UW-WSU matchup. After the dual, the Ephrata football team will play Quincy at Kiwanis Field.

You can read the full story here...

NOTE: The IAAF, USA Track & Field, the University of Washington, and the Wenatchee World all contributed to this report.

Friday links to pass along...

We start the Friday quick links with a story from the University of Washington on its first day of cross country practice with its teams, featuring the number one women's recruiting class in the country, including heralded frosh Megan Goethals and Katie Flood.

The first day of practice gives the coaching staff a chance to gauge how the athletes have improved their strength and fitness over the summer. The biggest leap for many runners often comes between the first and second years, as they've learned what it takes to compete at the Division-I level.

"It's fun watching the kids that were freshmen last year come back and they're much better at doing our circuit, doing the hurdle drills, they've become more proficient. Then seeing closer to the finished product in the juniors and seniors who have it figured out," said Husky head cross country coach Greg Metcalf. "I think we've got a good group of young people, we are pretty healthy, so there's a lot of excitement to see what the next 12 weeks holds."

The Huskies open their season September 3rd with a dual meet against cross state rival Washington State in Ephrata at 5 pm. Metcalf stated at the pre-season media gathering earlier in the week that he would not run his heralded freshmen against the Cougars.

You can read the rest of the story here.

The next link is from the Orange County Register, as former University of Washington runner Scott Reid writes a tribute on stat guru and track announcer Scott Davis, who passed away last week.

Reid writes,"He also knew no equal as a meet announcer, Davis’ infectious enthusiasm echoing through track and field stadiums from Seville to Osaka to Eugene back to Westwood as he provided the sport’s soundtrack for more than a quarter-century.

"'That passion is what made him the best announcer, I think, in the world,'said Tom Jordan, the longtime meet director of Eugene’s Prefontaine Classic, this country’s premier track event."

You can read the rest of the story here.

NOTE: Above photo of UW men's cross country team running up Husky Stadium stairs courtesy University of Washington.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Van Damme meeting ends Samsung Diamond League series of meets...

BRUSSELS, Belgium--The Samsung Diamond League series of meets winds down Friday at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme meeting with sixteen Diamond Race winners awaiting to receive their trophies and $40000 paychecks for maintaining consistency over the course of the season.

Sprinter Tyson Gay and new world 800 meter record holder David Rudisha from Kenya are the star attractions in this meet of stars, as Gay looks to lower his American record time of 9.69 in the 100 meters, and Rudisha aims to race past a strong field that includes two-time world indoor champ Abubaker Kaki of Sudan.

The lone Washingtonian who will compete in the Van Damme Meeting is three-time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond in the discus. Thurmond is currently in a three-way tie for third entering the meet with 3 points; however, Cuba's Yarelis Barrios has all but clinched the Diamond Trophy, as she holds an 8-point lead over Sandra Perkovic of Croatia.

Even if Perkovic wins and Barrios fails to place in the top 3 (double points are awarded for the top three finishers in each event; 8-4-2), Barrios wins the Diamond Trophy on the basis of four wins this season.

Despite competing in five of six Samsung Diamond League meets offering the 100 hurdles this season, and scoring in Doha and New York, Rainier Beach HS graduate and two time world championships finalist Ginnie Powell Crawford said on her Twitter page on August 23rd that she did not receive an invitation to compete.

"…Brussels won't give me a lane even though I have points and in the top 8!"

The start lists for the Belgecom Memorial Van Damme meeting are available here.

After Friday's Van Damme meet, the European season winds down with Sunday's meeting in Rieti, Italy, plus the IAAF Continental Cup (formerly known as the IAAF World Cup) next week in Split, Croatia.

In Rieti, reigning world indoor 3000m champ and Washington State grad Bernard Lagat, who finished a disappointing seventh in the 3000, will run against a field that includes current world leader Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia, along with Portland residents Chris Solinsky and Galen Rupp.

Former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad from Norway is entered in the women's 1500 in Rieti.

The start list for Sunday's Rieti meeting can be accessed here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eastern Washington adds fifteen athletes to its track teams...

The Eastern Washington University track and field team presents a stellar lineup of newcomers for the 2010-11 school year as 15 new Eagles join the roster.

Athletes include Junior Olympic national champion in the hammer throw, Olivia Midles and Italian triple jumper Morena Mannucci (left/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University), whose personal records already exceed marks in the Eagle record book.

Coming from a family whose bloodlines flow rich in the excellence of the hammer throw, Midles broke records left and right in that event during her career at Capital High School in Olympia, Wash. Midles’s best toss in the hammer was 175-10 at the Centralia Twilight meet. She shattered the state record of 173-7 previously held by her cousin Gabby Midles, who currently throws for Idaho. Midles dominated the state meet in the hammer, winning in 2008 and 2010, breaking the meet record in 2010. She placed first at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in 2007 and in 2010. Her best throw would already place her fifth on EWU’s all-time outdoor best list.

Hailing from Rome, Italy, Mannucci’s best mark in the triple jump was 40-9, a leap that would earn her EWU’s school record in the event. While competing for Fondiaria SAI Athletica, Mannucci performed at the Italian Junior Championships, finishing third indoor and fourth outdoor. Mannucci will come to America to join her brother, Eugenio, who throws for Idaho.

The complete list of newcomers to the Eastern squad can be accessed here.

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

Western Washington Vikings ranked sixth, seventh in USTFCCCA preseason polls...

NEW ORLEANS--The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Wednesday preseason national cross country rankings for NCAA Division II. Adams State was selected as the leading team on both men’s and women’s sides and both squads are the defending national champions.

Western Washington University, which finished fourth in last year's NCAA Division II championship meet, is ranked number six in the men's pre-season poll.

On the women's side, Western Washington, led by Sarah Porter (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com), is ranked number seven in the pre-season poll. The Vikings finished eighth last year.

Seattle Pacific's women's squad is ranked number 14 in the pre-season poll. The Falcons finished fourth in last year's meet, but lose two key runners to graduation in Jessica Pixler and Jane Larson.

The USTFCCCA Division II pre-season poll can be accessed here.

The next poll will be released September 21st.

Western opens its season on September 4th as it hosts the Lake Padden Relays, while Seattle Pacific opens on September 2nd with a dual against Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks. The Falcons are tentatively scheduled to send a squad to the Lake Padden Relays as well.


The Seattle University men's cross country team was picked to finish second and the women picked fourth in the 2010 Great West Conference pre-season coaches polls, the conference announced Wednesday.

Coaches selected Utah Valley as the favorite to win both the men's and women's titles. UVU will defend their titles from 2009, when they lived up to preseason expectations by finishing first at the championship meet in New York.

In 2009, Seattle U's men's team placed second at the Great West Conference Championships, and the women fourth, exceeding the preseason expectations.

The cross country teams will kick off their 2010 season at the University of North Dakota's Ron Pynn Classic on September 4.

Seattle University is in its second season as an NCAA Division I school.

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

Illinois grad Angela Bizzari & UW grad Katie Follett sign with Bothell's Brooks Sports...

BOTHELL--Brooks Sports announced partnerships with five accomplished female runners turning heads on the professional track. Leading the pack is Angela Bizzarri (left/photo courtesy Brooks Sports), 2010 NCAA indoor 3,000 meter champion, 2009 NCAA outdoor 5,000 meter champion, and 2009 NCAA cross country champion.

Bizzarri, a 2010 graduate of the University of Illinois, broke five school records in 2008 and 2009, and was awarded the 2008 and 2009 Dike Eddleman Award as the University of Illinois Female Athlete of the Year. Already making a splash on the professional running scene, she recently placed fifth in the 2010 USATF National Championships in the 5,000 meter.

“It is such a great honor to join the Brooks team,” said Bizzarri, age 22. “This partnership isn’t just about wearing their gear; they’re like a passionate cheering section rooting for me every step of the way.”

Bizzarri will keep pace with four more competitive female runners who joined the Brooks family earlier this summer, including recent University of Washington graduate Katie Follett, who signed with Brooks earlier this summer.

Rounding out their signings are distance runners Shayla Houlihan and Gabriele Anderson, along with 400 hurdler Fawn Dorr.

“At Brooks, we’re always looking to partner with rising stars who match our brand values and inspire other runners to set and reach for their own goals. These five athletes are doing just that,” said Jesse Williams, sports marketing manager at Brooks, which is based in the Seattle suburb of Bothell. “We’re excited to have these women represent Brooks, and to watch and help them develop as professional runners.”

NOTE: The media relations department at Brooks contributed to this report.

University of Washington cross country media day (part II)...

On Tuesday, the University of Washington hosted media day featuring head cross country and track coach Greg Metcalf, along with juniors Christine Babcock and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald (left/photo by Paul Merca), who are expected to be among the leaders of the team.

After finishing seventh at the NCAA cross country championships in 2008 and helping lead the Huskies to their first national title that season, Babcock, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 1500 as a high schooler, finished 34th at last year's meet, and was the fourth finisher on the squad that finished third in Terre Haute.

O'Donoghue-McDonald, a product of Seattle Prep HS, was the Huskies' number five finisher at last year's NCAA cross country championships, helping the Dawgs to an 18th place team finish.

In part two, Babcock and O'Donoghue-McDonald talk about what they learned as underclassmen from graduates Katie Follett and Jake Schmitt, along with some thoughts on the upcoming season, and a reflection by Babcock on the 2009 NCAA championship meet, in which the Huskies finished third.

The Huskies open the season on Friday September 3rd with a dual meet against Washington State University in Ephrata. Their home opener is September 18th when they host the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, and host the Pacific-10 cross country championships on October 30th at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

University of Washington cross country media day (part 1)...

On Tuesday, the University of Washington hosted media day featuring head coach Greg Metcalf, along with juniors Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald, who are expected to be among the leaders of the team.

After finishing seventh at the NCAA cross country championships in 2008 and helping lead the Huskies to their first national title that season, Babcock, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 1500 as a high schooler, finished 34th at last year's meet, and was the fourth finisher on the squad that finished third in Terre Haute.

O'Donoghue-McDonald, a product of Seattle Prep HS, was the Huskies' number five finisher at last year's NCAA cross country championships, helping the Dawgs to an 18th place team finish.

In part one, head coach Greg Metcalf gives his outlook on the upcoming season, and the incoming group of freshmen. which Flotrack ranks as the number one recruiting class in the country. He talks about the expectations for both squads, and about hosting the Pac-10 cross country championships on October 30th at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Usain Bolt extends Puma sponsorship deal to end of 2013...

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany--Jamaican sprint world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt (left/photo courtesy PUMA) announced Tuesday he has renewed his contract with long-term sponsor PUMA until the end of 2013. While the specific terms of the contract are undisclosed, the figure is by far the largest ever given to a track & field athlete, positioning Bolt as a top earner in the world of sport, a further acknowledgement of his astonishing achievements over the past two years.

Until the end of 2013, PUMA will continue to be the official supplier of performance, training and lifestyle apparel and footwear for Usain Bolt. PUMA and Bolt will continue to collaborate on the development of key product lines, building on the 2010 “Bolt Collection” launch, a range of apparel, footwear and accessories that the sprinter helped develop which include graphic elements representative of Bolt.

Bolt and PUMA have forged a close relationship over his formative years. When the World’s Fastest Man was just a boy of 16 in 2003, PUMA signed the junior sprinter. The brand and the athlete have matured together and Bolt, now 24, has emerged as the one of the world’s most talented track and field athletes, winning three gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and smashing two world records in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19) at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.

“Usain Bolt has been a revelation for track & field athletics,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO of PUMA AG. “He’s shined a global spotlight on the sport; his winning personality and phenomenal physical prowess are a unique combination. The way he both engages his fans and is energized by them has helped his popularity escalate to extraordinary levels over the past two years.”

“PUMA’s been by my side since the beginning, before anyone knew what I was capable of achieving,” said Usain Bolt. “They saw potential in me and they took a chance, supporting me all the way, especially when things weren’t easy for me due to injuries I suffered in my teens. We’ve been partners in the truest sense of the word since day one, and so it’s an easy decision to re-sign with them,” continued Bolt. “PUMA gets me; we fit together. They take the business of running seriously, but we also know how to have fun, to be spontaneous. We both bring a lot of personality to the sport.”

For more information about PUMA and Usain Bolt, please visit: puma.com/running

NOTE: The media relations staff at PUMA contributed to this report.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kara Patterson rebounds from Zurich with third place finish in Berlin...

BERLIN, Germany--Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) bounced back from a disappointing performance in Thursday's Weltklasse meet in Zurich with a solid third place finish at the ISTAF meeting at the Olympiastadion.

Competing in the same venue in which she walked away with a 29th place finish at last year's IAAF world championships, the three-time US champion and national record holder out of Skyview HS had three throws over 60 meters, including a fourth round toss of 60.97m (200-0), which was her best of the day.

Christina Obergfoll, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in this event and winner of Thursday's meet in Zurich, won with a throw of 223-0 (67.97m), which was a season best for her, to lead a German 1-2 finish. Countrywoman Linda Stahl took second with a mark of 202-10 (61.82m).

Commenting on her Twitter page afterwards, Patterson said, "Better result (placing and distance) than Zurich! More consistent too...need to get some power back."

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell Crawford, who finished sixth in last year's world championships on this track, finished fourth in the 100 meter hurdles, running 12.80.

Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep continued her winning ways over the second half of the 2010 season, taking the victory in 12.57, as she appears to have the upper hand over American Lolo Jones heading into Friday's showdown for the Samsung Diamond League championship race at the Van Damme meeting in Brussels, as Jones finished sixth in 12.90.

In the men's pole vault, former Husky and Mountlake Terrace resident Brad Walker continued his comeback after injuring himself at last year's Monaco meet, finishing in a tie for sixth with a jump of 18-4 3/4 (5.61m), which was a season best for him.

Italy's Giuseppe Gibilisco won the competition, as he was the only jumper to clear 18-8 3/4 (5.71m).

Reigning world indoor champion and Washington State University grad Bernard Lagat's aim at bringing down Bob Kennedy's 12-year old American record in the 3000 meter run of 7:30.84 fell short, as he finished seventh in a time of 7:35.11.

Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele won the event with a 2010 world leading mark and new meet record of 7:28.99.

Former University of Washington discus thrower Märt Israel from Estonia placed fifth with a throw of 206-2 (62.89m).

Germany's Robert Harting, the reigning world champion in this event, took home the victory, with a throw of 223-11 (68.24m).

The ISTAF meet was highlighted by a world record run in the 800 by Kenya's David Rudisha, who eclipsed Denmark's Wilson Kipketer's 1997 mark of 1:41.11, covering two laps of the Berlin Olympiastadion in 1:41.09.

After designated pacesetter Sammy Tangui of Kenya took the field through 400 meters in 48.65, Rudisha was left to fend for the world record on his own, crossing the 600 mark in 1:14.54.

Video of Rudisha's world record run can be accessed here (audio in German)

Complete results from Sunday's ISTAF meeting from the Berlin Olympiastadion can be accessed here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lagat, Patterson lead Washington contingent onto Berlin's Olympiastadion for ISTAF Sunday...

BERLIN, Germany--One year after Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat (far right/photo courtesy ISTAF.de) walked out of the Olympiastadion with a bronze medal in the 1500, and a silver in the 5000 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, Lagat returns to Berlin aiming for the American record in the 3000 meter run at Sunday's ISTAF meeting.

Lagat is eying Bob Kennedy's 7:30.84, set twelve years ago in Monaco at the Herculis meeting, which translates to roughly 60 seconds per lap for 7.5 circuits.

The current Tuscon, Arizona resident will face a formidable field that includes Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia, the Zurich winner over 5000 meters and who has a personal best of 7:29.11; world 3000m steeple record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar, and Kenya's Isaac Songok, who has a personal best of 7:28.72.

Lagat's personal best in this event is 7:32.43, which is the American indoor record, set in 2007.

After posting on her website that she let the pressure of a really high level competition get to her in Zurich on Thrusday, javelin thrower Kara Patterson from Vancouver returns to the Olympiastadion to throw against Germans Christina Obergfoll, Kathrina Molitor, and European champion Linda Stahl, all of whom are in the top ten in the world this season.

In last year's world championships, Patterson did not get out of the qualifying round in her first summer as a professional.

Rainier Beach HS alum Ginnie Powell Crawford, who was sixth in the world championships at the Olympiastadion, will face three other finalists from last year's meet including Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien, and Jamaica's Delloreen Ennis, along with reigning world indoor champion Lolo Jones.

Former Washington Husky Märt Israel from Estonia, smarting after a ninth place finish in the Weltklasse meet in Zurich on Thursday, will throw the discus against a field that includes reigning world champion Robert Harting of Germany, who set off one of the most raucous victory celebrations at last year's championships, picking up Berlino, the meet's mascot, and twirling him upside down.

Israel did not qualify for the finals at last year's world championships, aggravating an injury he suffered earlier in the season.

Finally, 2007 world pole vault champion Brad Walker will have an opportunity to step on the Olympiastadion runway in his second meet of the 2010 season, after missing last year's world championship with an injury suffered in Monaco. Walker was in Berlin last year, but was unable to start when he tried to warm up and could not shake off the effects of the injury.

The start list for the ISATAF meeting is available at www.istaf.de.

Meanwhile at the Norwegian championships in Sandnes, former Husky Ingvill Måkestad (left/photo courtesy kondis.no) easily won her national championships over 800 meters, running 2:02.36 in a solo effort, winning by nearly ten seconds.

Results can be viewed here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oregon associate AD & head track coach Vin Lananna reacts to Michael Berry suspension...

A day after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) handed Rainier Beach High School graduate Michael Berry a three month suspension after testing positive for Carboxy THC, a metabolite of marijuana in the class of Cannabinoids, in a sample collected on June 26, 2010, at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, University of Oregon associate athletic director, and head track & field coach Vin Lananna (left/photo courtesy University of Oregon) issued the following statement regarding Berry, who will attend Oregon this fall.

"We applaud the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for the work that they do and we take all violations of their policies seriously."

"I met Michael on his recruiting trip. He’s a fine young man who’s clearly made a mistake. We have good people and systems in place within the athletic department to work with Michael and make sure that this incident is an anomaly."

Berry won back-to-back Washington state 400 meter titles for Rainier Beach High School. He took the title as a junior in 2009 in 47.93, and then came back as a senior and won in 46.81. Berry added the state 200 meter title to his resume in 2010, winning in 21.83, and was the runner-up at 100 meters (11.30). He clocked his best times in the 100 (10.89) and 200 (21.59) at the Seattle Metro Championships.

This summer, he won the 400 meters at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships in Sacramento, California, in a time of 46.13, the second fastest time by a high schooler this year.

He was nearly as impressive a few weeks earlier in a fourth-place finish at the 2010 USA Junior Track & Field Championships in 46.39. However, that fourth-place finish will be wiped out after the USADA findings.

According to the story posted on Yahoo! Sports, the USADA suspension will not disqualify Team USA from its victory in the 4 x 400 meter relay at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick last month, in which Berry ran the anchor for the American squad.

World junior 4 x 4 relay champ Michael Berry handed 3-month suspension...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado--USADA announced that Michael Berry (left/photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport) who attended Rainier Beach HS, and recently signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Oregon, tested positive for a prohibited substance and accepted a suspension for his doping offense.

Berry, 18, tested positive for Carboxy THC, a metabolite of marijuana in the class of Cannabinoids, in a sample collected on June 26, 2010, at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Cannabinoids are listed as Specified Substances and are prohibited under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the WADA Prohibited List. Use of Specified Substances, under certain circumstances, can result in a reduced sanction from the standard two-year period of ineligibility.

Berry accepted a three-month period of ineligibility, which began on August 12, 2010, the day he accepted the sanction. The period of ineligibility can be suspended and reduced to time served since he accepted the sanction, upon his successful completion of a USADA anti-doping educational program.

As a result of the doping violation, Berry has been disqualified from all competitive results achieved at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships, where his sample was collected, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

The full USADA press release can be read here.

The test did not wipe out his efforts for the American relay at the world junior meet last month in Moncton, according to the story posted by Yahoo! Sports.

Berry clocked an impressive 46.13 in winning the 400 meters at the USATF National Junior Olympics Aug. 1 in Sacramento, Calif. That was the second-fastest 400 by a high schooler in the U.S. in 2010.

Berry's high school and club coach Eric Metcalf, was caught by surprise when paulmerca.blogspot.com called him, adding that "it's news to me".

Patton to temporarily lead SPU cross country teams; Dawgs ranked as #1 recruiting class...

While the emphasis over the summer has been on what's happening on the oval at various stadiums throughout the European Continent, it's hard to believe that cross country is just around the corner.

Over at Seattle Pacific comes news that Letiwe Patton (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) will temporarily take over as cross country coach of the Falcons until mid-October, as current coach Erica Daligcon is expecting the birth of her first child, and will be on maternity leave until mid-October.

Until then, Patton (her first name is pronounced luh-TEE-way), a native of Zimbabwe, who ran on their national team and who was a volunteer assistant this past spring for outdoor track at SPU, will be guiding the Falcons through their preseason workouts and their first several meets of the fall.

“I pretty much know what to expect from the athletes and what they should expect from me,” she said.

Patton, who started off at Life University just outside Atlanta, is a graduate of the University of Idaho, where she ran the steeplechase, and earned a degree in marketing and human resources, along with a masters in sports and recreation management.

Added Daligcon, “We’re really thrilled to have her on the coaching staff. She brings a lot of her expertise to this as well as being very open to doing things in a slightly different way. And the fact that she already has rapport with the returning athletes is going to make a big difference.”

The cupboard may be empty, with the Falcons graduating runners like Jessica Pixler and Jane Larson, but Patton hopes the Falcons can make a return trip to nationals in Louisville, and get the men's squat to the NCAA West Regional meet in Bellingham.

Meanwhile, the University of Washington women's cross country team was ranked by media partner Flotrack as having the number 1 recruiting class, to the surprise of absolutely no one.

The Huskies enter the 2010 season with a class that includes 2009 Foot Locker national champ Megan Goethals from Michigan, and 2009 Nike Cross Nationals champ Katie Flood from Iowa. A trio from California--Chloe Curtis, Megan Morgan, and Liberty Miller, and Mackenzie Carter from New York round out what many believe is the best recruiting class nationally in several years.

Washington will need to have several of them step up immediately to replace the graduated Katie Follett, and NCAA cross country runner-up Kendra Schaaf, who transferred to North Carolina.

The new and returning members of the Husky men's and women's cross country teams report to Seattle next week in preparation for their first meet on Friday September 3rd against Washington State in Ephrata, and the Sundodger Invitational on the 18th at Lincoln Park.

Washington will host the Pac-10 cross country championships on October 30th at Jefferson Park Golf Course, where they are the defending women's champions, and climax the season at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute on November 22nd, where they were third last year, after winning it all in 2008.

You can watch the video here…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Patterson's chase for diamond ends with ninth place finish in Zurich...

ZURICH, Switzerland--Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca), who entered the meet in position to possibly win the Samsung Diamond League trophy in her event with a win, finished a disappointing ninth in the women's javelin at the Weltklasse meet at Letzigrund Stadium Thursday night.

With Samsung Diamond League javelin leader Barbora Spotakova leading the season long series with 16 points, Patterson, who entered the day in second place with 10 points, needed to win, and hope the reigning Olympic champ and world record holder, already nursing a sore elbow, would finish out of the top three.

Neither scenarios happened, as the Skyview High School graduate threw 187-11 (57.29m) on her first attempt, then followed with a second round throw of 177-6 (57.88m).

Needing a throw of 59.78 meters (196-1) or better to advance to the finals and get three more throws and an opportunity to try and wrest the Diamond Trophy from Spotakova, Patterson fell just short of the mark, getting her best toss of 195-2 (59.50m).

Meanwhile, Spotakova safely ensured herself a spot in the finals with a third round throw of 202-8 (61.79m) to enter the final three throws in third.

Germany's Christina Obergfoll dominated the competition, winning with a fourth round throw of 220-10 (67.31m), setting a new meet record.

Spotakova made a late push in round six, throwing 214-4 (65.34m) to finish second.

In a tweet after the meet to paulmerca.blogspot.com, Patterson, who had a season long goal of throwing 61 meters (200-1) in every meet entered, said, "I'm pretty upset but that's way farther than I've ever thrown at a major 'championship' meet. Everyone brought their 'A' game for the final!"

Patterson placed second overall in the season-long Samsung Diamond League trophy race in the javelin with 10 points, as Spotakova picked up 4 points for second to take her season long total to 20. Obergfoll's win leapfrogged her to third with a season total of 8 points.

Patterson tentatively has three meets left this season--Berlin on the 22nd, Rovereto, Italy on the 31st, and the IAAF Continental Cup on September 4th in Split, Croatia.

In other events, former Washington Husky Märt Israel finished ninth in the discus with a toss of 205-6 (62.64m).

Germany's Robert Harting won the competition with a throw of 225-2 (68.64m), while Poland's Piotr Malachowski's second place finish earned him the season-long Samsung Diamond League trophy and the $40000 check, as he finished the season with 18 points.

Complete results from the Zurich Weltklasse meet are available here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Aye, aye, Captain!!" Long time track and field announcer and stat guru Scott Davis passes away...

The world of track and field lost a good man Wednesday when long time track and field announcer, statistician and friend of the sport Scott Davis (left, announcing at 2009 NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships/photo by Paul Merca) passed away Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles.

He was 67.

Davis was the longtime meet director of the Mt. SAC Relays, general secretary of the Association of Track & Field Statisticians, co-founder of the Federation of American Statisticians of Track, and meet announcer for numerous big meets in the United States and around the world, including the Nike Prefontaine Classic, the NCAA Track & Field Championships, and most recently, the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick.

It was at the World Juniors last month where he apparently contracted an infection that led to his death.

Over the last decade or so, Davis dealt with years of chemotherapy for several virulent forms of cancer.

Whenever I attended a USA Track & Field convention or track meet anywhere in the world that he was there, you knew what you were in for--a hug or a pat on the back, a story or joke so crude it would make the soles of your running shoes melt, a recollection of a meet or race with a few minor embellishments to get his point across, or an opinion about an aspect of the sport.

As he was the longtime home track & field announcer for the UCLA Bruins, he would always ask me what was going on with the Washington Huskies whenever our paths crossed over the last few years, especially after I became one of the public address announcers at the University of Washington. In turn, I'd have a question on what I can do to be a better track & field public address announcer.

I learned from Davis, among others, that the job of track & field public address announcer requires that you do your homework well before the meet even begins. I also picked up some hints from him on how to call a race when lanes are re-drawn at the last minute and information isn't relayed to you in time.

One of his lasting legacies is the annual USA Track & Field media guide and FAST annual that he's edited for over 30 years.

The annual is one of the most valuable reference guides for media, sports information directors, statisticians, announcers, and hard core fans of the sport, and something that I always travel with when working a meet anywhere in the world. The book, which is nearly 700 pages thick, holds statistical information on a database of over 1000 elite athletes, and biographical information on several hundred runners, jumpers, and throwers.

Courtesy of USA Track & Field, here's a video interview with Scott, conducted at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines in June.

Scott and I last crossed paths at the Harry Jerome Track Classic on July 5th in Burnaby, British Columbia, where he was the public address announcer. Though I had seen him a few days earlier at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, he nonetheless greeted me like a long lost fraternity brother, calling me "Captain!", and pulled out a classic story out of the archives that had me howling with laughter while I was editing a video interview with javelin thrower Kara Patterson after her victory.

I told Scott that as soon as I finished uploading the video, I'd start making the drive home to Seattle and hoped to be back by midnight.

After our goodbyes, I told him I'd see him at a meet down the road.

Scott, I will think of you every time I am fortunate enough to announce a track or cross country meet. You are the standard that everyone who announces track & field aspires to be.

Aye, aye, captain!

Morning links for breakfast (August 17th)...

Ok, folks, here are the morning links!

First off is an interview with javelin thrower Kara Patterson in advance of Thursday's Samsung Diamond League stop in Zurich.

The Vancouver native, who attended Skyview High School, has a real shot at taking home the Diamond Race Trophy (left/photo courtesy IAAF) if she can pull off a victory at the Weltklasse meeting at Letzigrund Stadium. For her to claim the trophy, she will have to win and hope that Samsung Diamond League javelin leader Barbora Spotakova finishes out of the top three places.

Entering the Weltklasse meet, Spotakova leads the Diamond Race with 16 points, while Patterson has 10. If Patterson wins, and Spotakova finishes third (the Zurich meet, which is the final meet of the seven meets in the Samsung Diamond League that offers the women's javelin, and offers double points towards the Diamond Trophy), Spotakova holds the tiebreaker, and would claim the trophy and the $40000 prize as she has three wins this season in Diamond League meets--Rome, Monaco, and London.

Revisiting the Aviva London Grand Prix meet, in which Patterson fell nine centimeters short of victory, she told Joe Battaglia, "It was a little frustrating and I am beginning to expect more of myself than I ever have before in terms of winning those big meets. One of those training and competition goals I set with Dr. (Ross) Flowers (USOC sports psychologist and former Garfield HS and UCLA hurdler) earlier this year was to get Top 3 in all of the Diamond League meets that I entered, and so far I have done that. I don't know that at the beginning of the year when I set that goal that it was really realistic, but now that I'm there it's exciting to know that I still have an outside chance at winning the whole thing. In London, I was more frustrated by the fact that I couldn't pass Barbora Spotakova even though she took one throw and stopped. When the door is kind of wide open like that, it's really up to me to throw a little farther."

To read the entire interview, please click here…

Next up is an announcement that the 2011 USA Cross Country Championships will be held on February 5th in San Diego at Mission Bay Park.

“We’re happy to have the championships back here in San Diego,” said Thom Hunt (left, with Shalane Flanagan/photo by Paul Merca) who serves as event co-director along with Paul Greer. “Anybody you talk to who was here in 2008—whether it was an athlete or a spectator—will also be glad that we have it back. The running community of San Diego is looking forward to hosting this event again in 2011.”

You can read the release here…

Finally, if you missed Tuesday night's Shaq vs. Tyson Gay race, here's the link to watch it...enjoy!

A preview of Washington athletes, including Patterson, will be up later today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Former Oregon State steepler and assistant coach Lauren Denfeld named assistant coach at Washington...

SEATTLE - Washington track and field and cross country head coach Greg Metcalf announced today the addition of assistant coach Lauren Denfeld (left/file photo courtesy Oregon State University) to the Husky family. Denfeld will primarily work with the UW distance runners, in conjunction with Metcalf and assistant coach Jason Drake.

Denfeld replaces Kelly Strong, the long time assistant coach, who resigned after the Huskies' third place finish at last fall's NCAA women's cross country championships. Strong recently was named an assistant coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Denfeld comes to Washington from Oregon State, where she helped revitalize the Beavers program as a student-athlete and a coach. After graduating in 2008, Denfeld was hired on at her alma mater in 2009 and spent the past year as an assistant coach with the Beavers.

"We are incredibly excited to add Lauren Denfeld to our coaching staff," said Metcalf. "We put a great deal of thought into this hire and the future of our program. As we got to know Lauren, the choice became increasingly more obvious. She is the perfect fit for our program. She is an intelligent, ambitious, and hard-working young woman. Lauren is full of limitless potential and I am excited to watch her career grow from here. Her primary responsibility will be to work daily with our young student-athletes, and help to build our track and field program as a whole."

A native of Bend, Oregon, Denfeld was one of the original members of the Oregon State women's track and cross country program when it was reinstated in 2004. She became just the second runner in the modern era of OSU track to qualify for the NCAA West Regional Championships, where she ran in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2007 and 2008. Denfeld was then given her first coaching opportunity by her former head coach Kelly Sullivan in 2009.

"Lauren has had the chance to work with one of the great coaches in our sport, Kelly Sullivan, so I know she has an understanding of what it takes to succeed," said Metcalf, who has a past history with Sullivan. "Coach Sullivan said it perfectly: `Lauren was meant to be a collegiate coach.' I would have to say I agree."

I am thrilled to be joining the staff here at the University of Washington," said Denfeld. "Coach Metcalf has built one of the most successful distance programs in the country and I am honored to be working with such a talented group of young men and women. I am excited to live in a beautiful city like Seattle, and to represent an impressive academic and athletic institution like the University of Washington while contributing to the continued success of Husky Cross Country and Track and Field."

Denfeld will look to help the Huskies build on a recent string of unparalleled successes over the past several seasons. The women's team has run to consecutive podium finishes at the NCAA Championships, finishing first in 2008 and third in 2009, while the men's team has posted back-to-back Top-20 finishes for the first time since 1990-91. The USTFCCCA ranked the Husky men's cross country and track and field program fifth in the nation for 2009-10 while the women finished 15th.

Last season with Denfeld on staff, the OSU women's cross country squad finished ninth at the West Regional Championships, matching the program's best finish since reinstatement. Four Beavers advanced to the NCAA Preliminary Rounds on the track as well.

As a student-athlete, Denfeld set the OSU school record for the 3,000-meter steeplechase, breaking it several times, before registering the final mark of 10:38.28 in her final season. Not only does she hold the record, she was also the first woman to ever compete in the event in school history during her rookie season in 2005. In the classroom, Denfeld earned the program's first CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Second Team honor, as well as multiple Pac-10 All-Academic First Team awards for track. She also was a recipient of a Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship.

Denfeld graduated from Oregon State in 2008, earning her bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a focus in marketing and a minor in Spanish.

The Husky distance runners report next week in preparation for their season opener September 3rd against cross state rival Washington State in Eprhata.

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rainier Beach quarter-miler and world junior champ Michael Berry heads to Oregon...

EUGENE, Oregon--The University of Oregon bolstered its 2010 men’s track and field recruiting class with the signing of the No. 2-ranked quarter-miler in the nation as announced Monday by Associate Athletic Director and head track & field coach Vin Lananna.

Michael Berry (left/photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport) of Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School clocked an impressive 46.13 in winning the 400 meters at the USATF National Junior Olympics Aug. 1 in Sacramento, Calif. That was the second-fastest 400 by a high schooler in the U.S. in 2010.

“We are extremely pleased to have one of the top quarter-milers in the nation coming to Track Town, USA,” said Lananna. “These additions to an already excellent recruiting class should give us great depth and talent in the 400 and the relays."

Berry recorded the second-fastest prep 400 meter time in the nation, 46.13, in winning the 400 meters at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships in Sacramento, Calif. He was nearly as impressive a few weeks earlier in a fourth-place finish at the 2010 USA Junior Track & Field Championships in 46.39.

Berry’s busy summer also included the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, where he anchored the United States’ winning 4x400 meter relay, which took the victory in 3:04.76, with a 46.0 closing leg.

He won back-to-back Washington state 400 meter titles for Rainier Beach High School. He took the title as a junior in 2009 in 47.93, and then came back as a senior and won in 46.81. Berry added the state 200 meter title to his resume in 2010, winning in 21.83, and was the runner-up at 100 meters (11.30). He clocked his best times in the 100 (10.89) and 200 (21.59) at the Seattle Metro Championships.

Berry won every race at 200 and 400 meters his senior high school season.

In a short conversation with Berry's high school and club coach, former Cleveland Browns running back Eric Metcalf, his choices included Baylor, Texas Tech, and the University of Florida.

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Talking track on TrackFocus.com...

Just wanted to give the readers a heads up to let you know that I've been invited to talk track with the folks at TrackFocus.com Sunday on their second podcast.

We'll talk about Friday and Saturday's Aviva London Grand Prix, Usain Bolt, Lisa Koll, the Bowerman, the Falmouth Road Race, and Sammy Wanjiru's decision to race the Chicago Marathon.

David Monti, the master of all things distance running and marathons from the fine publication Race Results Weekly, is scheduled to be on the panel for Sunday's podcast along with TrackFocus.com's Jim McDannald.

Not sure how long it will take for them to post the podcast once they've finished recording, so please be patient.

I've never been a part of a podcast, so we'll see how this goes!

UPDATE (9:55 pm)--The podcast is now up at TrackFocus.com; you can visit the site directly from here, then click on the blue TrackFocus Weekly 2: Very Nice Track Club link on that page.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ex-Washington Husky Märt Israel seventh in London...

LONDON, England--Former Washington Husky Märt Israel (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Estonia finished seventh in the discus Saturday on the second day of the Aviva London Grand Prix meet at Crystal Palace.

After fouling his first attempt, Israel got the discus out close to the 63-meter mark, as the platter fell to the ground 206-7 (62.97m) later.

Israel's two subsequent throws were close--206-1 (62.82m), and 205-9 (62.71m), but not far enough to put himself in contention.

Countryman Gerd Kanter took the victory, setting a meet record of 222-6 (67.82m) with his third round toss.

The top American in the competition was Casey Malone of Colorado, the reigning US champion, who threw 213-9 (65.16m) to place fourth.

Current Husky freshman sprinter James Alaka suited up for his native Great Britain to run a leg of the 4x100-meter relay. Unfortunately, Alaka's team was unable to keep the baton off the track, and the foursome did not finish.

Complete results from the Aviva London Grand Prix, part of the worldwide Samsung Diamond League series of meets, are available here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kara Patterson falls nine centimeters short of victory in London...

LONDON, England--Nine centimeters.

Nine centimeters was the difference between reigning Olympic javelin champ and world record holder Barbora Spotokova of the Czech Republic and a potential loss to Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) at the Aviva London Grand Prix meet at Crystal Palace under wet and rainy conditions.

Spotokova, throwing with a wrap around her throwing elbow, got the spear out 208-4 (63.50m) on her first and only attempt, wincing in obvious pain, to force Patterson to chase the University of Minnesota alum, after throwing 195-5 (59.57m) on her first attempt.

Patterson, a graduate of Purdue University, improved in round two, throwing 202-8 (61.77m), then rifled the spear 185-4 (56.50m) in the third round.

In the fourth and final round, the Skyview High School alum improved to 208-0 (63.41m), four inches short of the Czech's winning toss.

With the victory in London, Spotakova earned 4 points (4-2-1 for 1st-3rd) to bring her Samsung Diamond League point total to 16 points, while Patterson remains in second with 10 points.

Next week's Weltklasse meet in Zurich is the final meet of this event. With Zurich offering double points for first through third, Patterson is faced with a must-win situation if she is to claim the $40000 winner's check and the Diamond trophy.

Patterson must win the Zurich meet and hope that Spotakova finishes out of the top three places. If Patterson wins and Spotakova finishes third, they would be tied with 18 points, in which case Spotakova holds the tiebreaker over Patterson with wins in Rome, Monaco, and London, while Patterson's only win in the Samsung Diamond League series came in Eugene.

Nonetheless, Patterson's two best throws Friday were the sixth and fifteenth best performances in American history, and marked the seventh straight meet in which she's thrown 200 feet or better. According to Track & Field News, Patterson owns 14 of the 22 marks over 200 feet.

Here's a video link to see Patterson's series, courtesy of Universal Sports…

In other events at the Aviva London Grand Prix, former WSU standout Bernard Lagat ruined the homecoming of European Championships 5000/10000 double winner Mo Farah, winning the men's 3000 in 7:40.36, pulling away from Farah and Australia's Collis Birmingham on the final bend.

"My plan was just to hang back a little bit because I knew I hadn't raced in three weeks," said the 35-year-old Lagat.

"I wanted to see how I felt, and I felt good. Mo is a great athlete and I knew he was running strongly and I'm glad I was able to run with him really well today."

Former Washington Husky and three time Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way finished sixth in the discus, spinning the platter 191-6 (58.38m) as Cuba's Yarelis Barrios clinched the Samsung Diamond League title by winning the competition with a mark of 215-3 (65.62m).

In his 2010 season debut, former Husky and 2007 world outdoor champion Brad Walker from Mountlake Terrace finished fourth in the pole vault with a jump of 18-1 (5.51m) as Poland's Lukasz Michalski took the win at 18-8 3/4 (5.71m).

Another former Husky, Ingvill Måkestad of Norway finished seventh in the women's 1500 meter run, clocking 4:10.95 in a tactical race, as Kenya's Nancy Langat, the 2008 Olympic champion won in 4:07.60 after a slow first 800 meters.

In the women's 100 meter hurdles, Rainier Beach HS graduate Ginnie Powell Crawford finished sixth in the finals, running 12.85, as Canada's Pricilla Lopes Schliep, a rival of Crawford while attending the University of Nebraska, ran a world leading time of 12.52.

Crawford, a former NCAA champion while attending the University of Southern California, ran 12.92 in the heats to advance to the finals.

Former Washington Husky Märt Israel from Estonia will compete in the men's discus on the final day of the Aviva London Grand Prix.

Complete day 1 results are available here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Former world champion Brad Walker returns to big-time competition at Aviva London Grand Prix..

LONDON, England--2007 IAAF world pole vault champion Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Mountlake Terrace makes his return to big-time competition Friday on day 1 of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, part of the Samsung Diamond League series of meets.

Walker's last major competition occurred July 28, 2009 at the Herculis Meeting in Monaco, when he landed partly off the mat, causing his hips to hit the ground, resulting in trauma to his public symphis joint. That injury caused him to withdraw from last year's world championships in Berlin.

Although he was in Des Moines in June, the former University of Washington All-American opted not to compete in the USA Outdoor Championships, where he was supposed to make his 2010 outdoor debut and defend his national title. According to his management agency, Stubbs Management, Walker sat out the USA championships as a precaution.

A number of athletes with Washington ties are scheduled to compete in the two day meet, led by Vancouver's Kara Patterson, who is currently in second place in the race for the Diamond Trophy and $40000 behind reigning Olympic champ Barbora Spotakova in the javelin.

With two meets remaining (London & Zurich), Patterson has to win both meets (the Zurich meet is worth double points; top three finishers in London earn 4-2-1 points) to overtake Spotakova and grab the Diamond Trophy. Spotakova this season has wins in Rome and Monaco, while the Skyview HS grad's lone win in Samsung Diamond League competition came in Eugene at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

Here's a link to the list of winners in the Samsung Diamond League meets so far this season.

Renton HS and University of Washington grad Aretha Thurmond, who currently sits in a tie for fourth place in the women's discus, has an opportunity to leapfrog to sole possession of third place, as Croatia's Sandra Perkovic (2nd) and Australia's Dani Samuels (t4th) are not entered in the Aviva London Grand Prix.

However, a trio of throwers--American Becky Breisch, Poland's Zaneta Glanc, and Romania's Nicoleta Grasu--are nipping at the three time US Olympian's heels, as they are in a tie for sixth with two points, and can tie or overtake Thurmond by finishing in the top three and shutting her out out of a podium finish.

Samsung Diamond League leader Yarelis Barrios of Cuba, who has a commanding lead of 12 points, and third place Nadine Muller of Germany are entered.

After the London meet, the Van Damme meeting in Brussels concludes the Samsung Diamond League race in the discus.

In the women's 100 meter hurdles, the race for the Diamond trophy is now down to two runners--American Lolo Jones & Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, while Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell Crawford sits in a tie for fifth with two points after not making the finals in Stockholm. Crawford, who finished fourth in Lucerne, Switzerland Sunday, looks to rebound after two sub par performances at Diamond League meets in Lausanne & Stockholm.

Fresh off breaking a 28-year old Norwegian record in the 800 meters by running 2:00.82 in Göteborg, Sweden on Tuesday, former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad will run the women's 1500 against a strong field that includes current world leader Anna Alminova of Russia. Måkestad came close to setting her PR last week in Stockholm, running 4:04.92, just short of her lifetime best of 4:04.22 set in Paris in July.

While not a Diamond League event, 2007 double world champion and reigning world indoor champ at 3000 meters Bernard Lagat is entered in the men's 3000 on Friday. The Washington State University hall of famer is entered in a field that includes European 5000/10000 champ Mo Farah of Great Britain, former Oregon standout Galen Rupp, and US world cross country team member Bobby Curtis.

Former Husky Märt Israel from Estonia is entered in the men's discus on Saturday, where he hopes to get on the scoreboard in that event, as only six throwers have scored points in five meets this season. Israel, who finished a disappointing ninth at the European Championships, placed fourth in Lucerne on Sunday.

Online coverage of the Aviva London Grand Prix will be provided by UniversalSports.com. Same day highlights of the meet will be shown on Universal Sports (channel 115 on Seattle area Comcast).

The start lists for the Aviva London Grand Prix can be accessed here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Former Husky Ingvill Måkestad sets Norwegian national record over 800m...

GöTEBORG, Sweden--Former University of Washington middle distance standout Ingvill Måkestad from Norway (left/photo courtesy tv2sporten.no) set a national record in the 800 meter run at the Folksam Grand Prix meeting at Ullevi Stadium Tuesday night.

Måkestad, racing for the first time at 800 meters since the European Team Championships in June in Bergen, Norway, clocked 2:00.82 to finish third behind winner and US Olympian Erin Donohue's 2:00.34.

Ingvill broke the Norwegian national record of 2:01.7 set on August 28 1981 by Randi Langøigjelten Bjorn, a mark established three weeks after Måkestad was born.

After the race, Ronny Nilsen of the Norwegian athletics federation said, "I can not say I'm surprised. She has run well at 1500 meters throughout the season. And it was expected that she would reduce her time in the 800."

On her personal web site, Måkestad said, "I knew it was possible today!"

In other events at the Folksam Grand Prix, University of Washington freshman James Alaka from Great Britain finished third in the men's 200 meters in a time of 21.18. 2009 USA World Championships team member Rae Edwards took home the victory in 21.05.

High jumper Ebba Jungmark from Sweden, who won an NCAA Indoor title while at Washington State University in 2008, placed second in her specialty with a leap of 6-2 (1.88m), as she finished behind countrywoman Emma Green's winning mark of 6-4 3/4 (1.95m).

Complete results from the Folksam Grand Prix are available here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trio of ex-Huskies plus Rainier Beach's Ginnie Powell Crawford compete in Lucerne...

LUCERNE, Switzerland--A trio of former Washington Huskies were in action Sunday at the Spitzen Leichathletik meeting, led by two athletes who competed in Barcelona at last week's European Championships.

In the men's discus, Märt Israel (left/photo by Paul Merca) who threw for the Dawgs in the 2006-07 academic year and finished ninth for Estonia in the Euro Champs, placed fourth with a throw of 204-4 (62.28), as Spain's Mario Pestano won the meet with a toss of 213-9 (65.17m).

Switzerland's Christian Belz, who placed sixth in the 10000 at last week's Euro Champs, dropped down in distance, as he finished 13th in the 3000m with a time of 8:16.23, in a race won by former University of California star David Torrence in a time of 7:54.61.

The third former Husky, Renton High School grad Aretha Thurmond was seventh in the women's discus, throwing only 193-10 (59.09m). Cuba's Yarelis Barrios continued her winning ways on the circuit, capturing the title with a mark of 210-3 (64.09m).

Rainier Beach HS graduate Ginnie Powell Crawford, who failed to make the finals in the DN Galan meet two days earlier in Stockholm, captured fourth place in the women's 100 meter hurdles, running 12.94, as Australia's Sally Pearson won in 12.59.

Complete results from the Spitzen Leichathletik meeting are available here.

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