Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cougar frosh Holly Parent gets NCAA provisional qualifying mark at Texas A&M...

COLLEGE STATION, Texas--Washington State high jumpers Trent Arrivey and Holly Parent won their events with NCAA qualifying marks Saturday at the Texas A&M Challenge Meet at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium at the McFerrin Athletic Center in College Station, Texas.

Arrivey, a senior from Woodinville, Wash., won the men's high jump with a clearance at 7-feet, 1/4 inch (2.15m), which is an NCAA Provisional Qualifying height but Arrivey reached automatic qualifying last weekend with his leap of 7-4 1/4 (2.24m). WSU's Ryan Deese tied for sixth place in the high jump with a leap of 6-7 (2.01m) and Ramsey Hopkins cleared 6-4 3/4 (1.95m) for 11th.

Freshman Holly Parent (Victoria, British Columbia) won the women's high jump with an NCAA Provisional Qualifying mark of 5-10 (1.78m), and Cougar freshman Christine Rice (Ridgefield, Wash.) tied for fourth after clearing the bar at 5-6 1/2 (1.69m). Parent becomes the first WSU woman to reach qualifying standards this year.

Lisa Egami (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished third in the women's mile with a season-best time of 4-minutes, 47.92 seconds, just 92/100s of a second off the NCAA PQ time. Egami also ran on the Distance Medley Relay with Veronica Elseroad-Wall, Courtney Zalud and Caroline Austin for sixth place with a time of 11:41.53.

Jeshua Anderson, currently on the "Watch List" in the Bowerman Award race for 2010, finished seventh in the men's 400m dash (47.83).

"This was a good experience for us to get on a great facility and to put ourselves up against teams that we don't see very often. Some of our kids competed up and did a nice job performing here. I think this experience will be helpful to us as we move forward now in the season. This meet sets a tone and people understand what their world is now, competing in the NCAA," said WSU head coach Rick Sloan.

The Cougars will compete in the Moscow Kibbie Dome next weekend for the Vandal Indoor Meet, Friday, Feb. 5, and at the Runners Soul Open, Saturday, Feb. 6.

Complete results from the Texas A&M Challenge can be accessed here.


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

Pixler wins mile run at UW Invitational to highlight stellar distance races...

Once again, the distance races were the highlight of an always stellar University of Washington Invitational indoor track & field meet that concluded its two day run at the Dempsey Indoor facility on Saturday.

Local track and field fans were treated to a spectacular solo run by Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler, as she shattered her own SPU and Great Northwest Athletic Conference mark by more than four seconds on, cruising around oval in 4 minutes, 33.46 seconds, just missing the facility record of 4:31.87, set by Canadian Courtney Babcock in 2006.

I’ve had shingles the past couple weeks, so I wasn’t quite sure whether it was a good idea to run or not,” Pixler said. “My plan was to see how I felt running on Friday and how I felt this morning. I still wasn’t completely sure, but I said I was just going to go for it. It was only a mile, and if I had a bad race, there wouldn’t be too much suffering.”

It felt awesome. I felt really relaxed and strong,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to go that fast at all. I was hoping to at least faster than the 4:37 for my PR. I thought a 4:35 would be awesome.”

Moments after Pixler's effort, 2009 USA world championship team members Galen Rupp and Chris Solinsky duked it out in the men's mile run, with Solinsky breaking the old facility record of 3:56.00 set two years ago by Steve Sherer, as the Wisconsin alum led four men under four minutes in the race, winning in 3:55.75.

Rupp was second in 3:56.22, with Arizona's Abdi Hassan, a former Nathan Hale HS product third in 3:59.76, and Southern Utah's Cameron Levins fourth in 3:59.80.

Less than two hours later, Rupp returned to the Dempsey oval and won the 3000 meter run in 7:51.48, a time that is currently the second fastest mark in the world this season, pulling away from Scott Bauhs (7:51.65) and surprising Aaron Braun (7:51.68) of Division II Adams State, who led going into the last lap.

After his race, Rupp told me that his day wasn't quite done yet, as he was getting ready to go outside to Husky Stadium and do an interval workout, then finish with a weight training session.

It took a photo to decide the winner, as former Arizona State All-American Amy Hastings won the women's 3000 meter run over Mammoth Track Club training partner and 3-time US Olympian Jen Rhines (left/photo by Paul Merca) in 8:58.45, with Rhines running 8:58.47.

The duo traded pacing chores for each other; however, with 200 to go, Rhines appeared to pull away from Hastings, but Hastings covered the move on the final straightaway, and snuck through on the inside to garner the victory.

Afterward, a gracious Rhines acknowledged that she didn't feel that she quite have the victory as she knew of her training partner's foot speed. "I train with Amy every day, so I know what kind of wheels she has."

High schooler Ashton Purvis won both the 60 and the 200, running 7.43, and 23.79.

Other standout performances:

Oregonian Ryan "Zeus" Bailey, who currently holds the second fastest time in the world over 60 meters, won his specialty in 6.67, just 4/100ths off former Husky Ja'Warren Hooker's facility record, and 6/100ths off his time of 6.61 set last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On the field, Canadian Olympian Ruky Abdulai won the women's long jump in 6.27m (20-7), a day after winning the pentathlon. Former University of Connecticut standout Deirdre Mullen, the fourth place finisher in the 2008 US Olympic Trials, won the women's high jump with a jump of 1.84 meters (6-0.5), just off the facility record of 1.87m (6-1.5).

Former University of Florida All-American Michael Morrison, who transferred to the University of California, won the two-day, seven-event heptathlon with a final score of 5710 points, a NCAA automatic qualifying mark, which would have been the best collegiate score in the country, except that Oregon's Ashton Eaton scored a collegiate record of 6256 Saturday at the Texas A&M Challenge meet.

A pair of Canadians--former University of Washington NCAA placer Carly Dockendorf, and Mike Mason--won the women's pole vault (4.32m/14-2), and men's high jump (2.25m/7-4.5), respectively, in their chase to earn selection for their country's World Indoor Championships team in March in Doha, Qatar.

2009 World Championships hammer throw competitor Michael Mai, currently based at Fort Lewis, won the 35-pound weight throw with a toss of 23.05m/75-7.5.

Complete results from the UW Invitational can be accessed here.

Quick and dirty notes from Friday's action at Millrose, UW Invite, & Pole Vault Summit...

A quick and dirty note to post before bed time, as we've just arrived at the domicile after announcing day 1 of the UW Invitational from the Dempsey Indoor.

Bernard Lagat won his eighth Wanamaker Mile title at the Millrose Games at New York's Madison Square Garden., running 3:56.34 to defeat 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who ran 3:58.03.

Lagat shot past Kiprop on the final lap and continued to extend his lead over the final lap before crossing the line in 3:56.34 with Kirpop coming in second (3:58.03). With his historic eight win, Lagat collected all of the night's hardware, including Team USA Athlete of the Meet, presented by Visa, which comes with a $2500 bonus. Lagat has decided to donate this, and all bonus monies he might earn this indoor season, to the Haiti Relief Fund.

Lagat's coach, James Li afterwards talked to paulmerca.blogspot.com here in Seattle, and said that he was pleased with his athlete's effort in New York. Li watched Lagat's race in UW coach Greg Metcalf's office, and spoke to Lagat.

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell finished third in the women's 60 meter hurdles, clocking 8.07, behind Olympic bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (8.01) of Canada, and former Michigan standout Tiffany Ofili (8.04).

At the UW Invitational, sophomore Kelly McNamee of Spokane placed fourth overall with 3,524 points, just off her PR. Close behind her was Lindsay Kirschman (left/photo courtesy University of Washington), a former mid-distance runner that has now ventured into the multi-events in her senior year.

Kirschman moved up 10 places to sixth overall on the strength of her outstanding 800-meter run to close the pentathlon. Her time of 2:12.76 was the best by six seconds over anyone else in the field, and she won her heat by seventeen seconds. That pushed her up to sixth place with 3,381 points, good for ninth in UW history.

Freshman Sarah Schireman now sits 10th right behind Kirschman, as she posted 3,284 points in her first collegiate multi.

The night's top performance came courtesy of professional Molly Huddle, who ran the second-fastest 5,000-meters in Dempsey history. She streaked around the 307-meter oval in 15-minutes, 20.05 seconds to win by over 50 seconds.

The men's 5,000-metres was won by a U.S. Olympian, as Billy Nelson of the Oregon Track Club finished in 14:00.93. Washington junior Jordan Swarthout placed second overall in 14:40.64, four seconds ahead of the third-place finisher. American 5000 meter record-holder Dathan Ritzenhein withdrew from the meet early in the day.

The lion's share of competition comes on Saturday, with the first running events beginning at 9 a.m. The first finals come in the 11 o'clock hour with 60m dash and hurdle finals. The fastest heats from 200-meters up will then all be contested in a row starting at approximately 3:15.

ROTH WINS NATIONAL POLE VAULT SUMMIT


After thrilling the home fans two weeks ago with a new lifetime-best pole vault clearance, junior Scott Roth headed to Reno's annual National Pole Vault Summit where he captured the elite men's title. Roth's win came over one particular athlete he'll hope to defeat later this season, as he outjumped 2009 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion Jason Colwick of Rice. Roth was the runner-up to Colwick at the outdoor meet last year.

Roth cleared 18-feet 1/2 inch (5.50m) on his first attempt and wound up being the only vaulter over the bar at that height to seal the win. He had the bar raised to a would-be PR of 18-8 3/4 (5.71m), but missed his three attempts.

NOTE: The University of Washington contributed to this report.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ginnie Powell to face Canadian duo in Millrose Games 60 hurdles...

NEW YORK--Hurdler Ginnie Powell (left/photo by Paul Merca), formerly from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle is among the entrants in Friday night's Millrose Games at New York's Madison Square Garden, where she is entered in the 60 meter hurdles.

The former NCAA champion from the University of Southern California made her third world championship team last year, finishing sixth in the finals in Berlin, and earned a #9 world ranking (#4 in the USA), according to Track & Field News.

She's entered in a field which includes 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Pricilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada, one of Powell's rivals while competing at the University of Nebraska, and fellow Canadian Perdita Felicien.

Fans can watch the Millrose Games on ESPN2 Friday from 5-7 pm, Pacific time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPhone users: Follow the UW Invitational live using Live Results!

iPhone users wishing to follow Friday and Saturday's UW Invitational track & field meet from the Dempsey Indoor may now do so using the Live Results application.

This app, designed by Big Fish Software, is designed to easily navigate web results produced by the Hy-Tek Meet Manager software, which is the software most all of the major track & field and swimming meets in the country used to seed and process results.

The application costs 99 cents, and can be accessed through Apple's iTunes site or directly from the App Store application on your iPhone.

A great video and read on Bernard Lagat in advance of the Millrose Games...

In advance of Friday's Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York, former Washington State University standout Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) has been doing several public and media appearances promoting the Wanamaker Mile, where he's racing to claim his eighth win at Madison Square Garden.

Lagat has seven Wanamaker Mile wins and is tied with Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan for the most wins ever in the prestigious event. The Millrose Games will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m. PT with the Wanamaker Mile set to race at 6:50 p.m. PT.

Beijing Olympic 1500 meter champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya will be Lagat's primary opponent, after Ethiopia's Deresse Mekonnen withdrew from the meet.

Courtesy of 1050 ESPN in New York, here's a video interview with Lagat, conducted by host Brandon Tierney.



Meanwhile, here's a link to an excellent piece on Lagat written by former Sports Illustrated writer and 1972 Olympic marathon 4th place finisher Kenny Moore, who in my honest opinion is still one of the best writers in the sport.

In Moore's classic style, he writes, "Bernard Kipchirchir ("Call me Kip") Lagat is now in his 12th season of being ranked among the finest milers and middle-distance runners in the world. You cannot retrace the Kenyan-born American's magnificent career without crying out, ever more jealously: Just how? How can he still compete at the highest level when his bronze in the 1500 meters in the Sydney Olympics was a decade ago? How can he still be a threat when he ran his best time, 3:26.34, the second fastest 1500 ever, back in 2001? How could he not be sated after he took silver in the 1500 at the 2004 Olympics in Athens? How does he continue to win the Wanamaker Mile, the most famous indoor mile in the world, year in, year out (seven straight and counting), when younger runners with younger legs are chasing him? How on earth did he keep right on after becoming a U.S. citizen and winning the world 1500- and 5000-meter championships in 2007? How does he stay so eager when the champions he battled, including the most notable, Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, have long since quit?"

To read the full article, please click here.

Cougars off to Texas A&M; Huskies host UW Invitational...

It's a busy weekend for the state's collegiate track and field teams, as many of them are in action in various venues.

Washington State University takes its show to College Station, Texas as one of three teams competing in the Pac-10/Big 12/SEC Challenge meet on the campus of Texas A&M.

Each conference will feature three schools in a meet that will score the top eight places for each event, including a pentathlon and heptathlon. The Big 12 is represented by Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas. The SEC will contend with Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina, while the Pac-10 brings in Oregon, Stanford and Washington State.

"Of the meets I've been involved in, and I've been involved in a whole lot of indoor meets, this might be the best field I've seen, ever, at one site during the regular season," Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said.

"Having a meet where we score it between the Big 12, SEC and Pac-10 is a fun concept. It worked well last year when we had a Big 12 versus SEC Showdown. There is some pride in being in the Big 12 as well as the SEC and Pac-10. It is a different scenario and makes for a great competition."

Of the nine teams competing at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium this weekend, eight of the men's teams and six of the women's squads are ranked among the top 25 this indoor season. Nine of the programs (five men and four women) are currently ranked in the top 10.

Washington State's entries for the Pac-10/Big 12/SEC Challenge are posted here, along with WSU's press release.

Most of the state's other teams will convene at the Dempsey Indoor Facility for Friday & Saturday's UW Invitational.

The two day meet, which is one of the country's biggest indoor meets gets underway Friday night, and will feature the 5,000-meter runs, distance medley relays, and the beginning of the pentathlon and heptathlon events.

The men's 5000 Friday night is one not to miss for local track fans, however, as American 5,000-meter record-holder Dathan Ritzenhein (far left/photo by Paul Merca) will lead the field. Ritzenhein, ninth in the Beijing Olympics marathon, ran 12:56.27 last year to set the new American mark at the Zurich Weltklasse meet. He'll be joined in that race by another 2008 U.S. Olympian, Billy Nelson, who competed in the steeplechase.

Saturday's portion of the meet is structured so that the slower heats will be run in the morning and early afternoon. Then, beginning at approximately 3:15 p.m., the fast heats of each event will go off, making for nearly three solid hours of top notch racing on the track.

In the latest national rankings, the Husky women checked in at 13th, while the men moved up to No. 25. On the team front, joining the Huskies this weekend will be a number of Pac-10 teams and Top-25 groups from farther east. BYU's third-ranked women's team will be on hand, as will 17th-ranked Arizona and 25th-ranked UTEP. 8th-ranked Arizona State leads on the men's side, while Arizona is ranked 20th. Squads from California, USC and UCLA will also make the trip, as will Colorado, Tulsa, Princeton, Cal State Northridge, and Portland to name just a few more.

Seattle Pacific, Seattle University, Western Washington, and Eastern Washington are some of the top schools from this state entered in the UW Invite.

As always, the distance races will provide a lot of excitement, with the men's 3000, featuring U.S. Olympian and American indoor 5k record-holder Galen Rupp (above, leading Ritzenhein), and top pro Scott Bauhs.


Three-time US Olympian Jen Rhines (left/photo by Paul Merca) is the headliner in the women's 3000, which will feature several members of UW's third place NCAA women's cross country team.

The men's 800-meters should be especially strong, with pros Evan Jager, Tim Bayley, and Tyler Mulder all competing.

Several Husky long distance runners will drop down to run the mile including Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Cameron Quackenbush. Rupp is also entered in the mile as is Chris Solinsky, the 2009 U.S. runner-up at 5,000-meters and a World Championships participant.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler is entered in both the 5000 and the mile, but will make a day-of-race decision on which event to run. Western's Sarah Porter is also entered in the mile.

On the field, Canadian Olympian Ruky Abdulai is entered in the pentathlon and the long jump. Look for fellow Canadian Olympian Mike Mason in the high jump against former Oregon standout Kyley Johnson and Sri Lankan Olympian Manjula Kumara Wijesekara from USC.

Former Husky Carly Dockendorf highlights the women's pole vault field, that includes Cal's Allison Stokke, and Olympian Leila Ben-Youssef.

In the men's weight throw, look for US world championships team member Michael Mai, a captain in the US Army based at Fort Lewis. Cal State Northridge's Reindell Cole highlights the men's long jump field.

A possible NCAA Division II battle between reigning indoor champ Emily Warman of Western Washington and Seattle Pacific's frosh sensation Amanda Alvarez in the triple jump is worth watching.

The entry list for the UW Invitational is posted here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The official NCAA performance lists are up and running...


The official NCAA indoor track & field results reporting system web site is now up and running.

TFRRS.org, which is backed by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association is the official site where results from all of the collegiate meets from around the country are uploaded by meet directors from the various schools.

The technology behind the TFRRS system is powered by DirectAthletics.

The system will be a searchable database that collects and tracks complete results from meets across the country. Both NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II will use TFRRS as their Proof of Performance systems for indoor and outdoor national championships in 2010.

"The committee is very excited about the Track and Field Results Reporting System," said Holly Sheilley, chair of the Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee.

"It will provide NCAA Division I track and field with a central performance database for all athletes from all competitions allowing for not only a meaningful measure of athletic achievement, but an integral key to NCAA championship qualifying and future studies of data to improve the sport. The U.S. Track & Field & Cross Country Coaches Association, in collaboration with the NCAA track and field committee, is moving the sport forward by leaps and bounds," said Sheilley.

"The Track and Field Results Reporting System of the USTFCCCA will serve as a valuable time-saving tool for both coaches and administrators in track and field," said Kim Duyst, chair of the Division II Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee.

"This new procedure for reporting results will provide a performance list with verifiable results for coaches and meet administrators to review and use for selections to both Invitational and Championship meets. We look forward to launching this new system for the 2010 track and field season," said Duyst.


As the indoor season progresses, please check that site often for the most recent rankings.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Trent Arrivey gets NCAA indoor auto qualifier to highlight Cougar Indoor Invitational...

PULLMAN--WSU's Trent Arrivey (left/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information), a senior All-American from Woodinville, Wash., won the men's high jump with an NCAA Automatic Qualifying, meet record, and lifetime-best height of 7-feet, 4 1/4 inches (2.24m) to highlight the Cougar Indoor Invitational Track & Field meet, a two-day, seven-team scoring meet held Saturday at WSU's Indoor Track Facility.

Cougar teammate Ryan Deese finished second with an NCAA Provisional Qualifying mark of 7-0 1/4 (2.14m) which equals his PR height. Utah State's Clint Silcock also reached an NCAA PQ height of 7-0 1/4 for third place. Arrivey surpassed the meet record set in 2004 by California's Teak Wilburn of 7-2 1/2 (2.20m).

Kyle Schauble won the men's heptathlon with a PR score of 5,062 points. During the three events contested Saturday, Schauble ran the 60m hurdles in a time of 8.41 seconds, cleared 14-5 1/4 (4.40m) in the pole vault, and ran the 1000m in a time of 2-minutes, 50.13 seconds. Freshman teammate Ramsey Hopkins finished sixth (4642 points).

Freshman Holly Parent led a one-two finish in the women's high jump with her meet record clearance at 5-8 3/4 (1.75m). Freshman Christine Rice took second place by clearing the bar at 5-5 (1.65m).

Other Cougar women winners included: Princess Joy Griffey, 60m dash (7.53); Cindy Robinson, 200m (25.33); Shawna Fermin, 400m (57.85); Lisa Egami, mile (5:03.54); Anna Layman, 800m (2:14.54); and the 4x400m relay of Brittnay Crabb, Brianne Brown, Courtney Zalud, and Veronica Elseroad-Wall (3:54.91).

In the Friday portion of the meet, Washington State junior Angela Jensen won the women's pentathlon and freshman Stephan Scott-Ellis won the men's long jump.

Jensen won the pentathlon with a personal-best of 3,525 points. She opened with a 60m hurdles PR time of 8.60 seconds, high jumped 5-feet, 2 1/2 inches (1.59m) and threw the shot put 32-0 3/4 (9.77m). Jensen equaled her best long jump at 17-1 1/2 (5.22m) and ran the 800m in a time of 2:32.66.

Scott-Ellis won the men's long jump with his final leap of the night measuring 24-3 1/2 (7.40m).

In the women's long jump, Eastern Washington's Brianna Okoro won with a leap of 18-3 (5.56m). Teammate Nicole Luckenbach won the women's weight throw with a toss of 58-2.5 (17.74m).

Alex Smyth won the mile run for the Eagles with a time of 4:14.00 to pick up Eastern's only individual victory in the men's competition.

"I'm very pleased with the outcomes of both today's and yesterday's competition and I think some of the performances exceeded my expectations," Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "Trent Arrivey and Ryan Deese both looked very strong in the high jump. I like the way we competed, especially in the sprints. Princess Joy Griffey was within 6/100s of a second of her lifetime best and had good, controlled races. Marlon Murray opened his indoor season by equaling his lifetime-best and freshman Greg Hornsby made a significant drop in his PR, running 6.84. Those two looked strong and with freshman Brett Blanshan I think we have some very strong sprinters. Stephan Scott-Ellis' long jump was just seven centimeters away from the freshman school record set in 1983, and his triple jump will be coming around quickly so that is promising. Reny Follett, men's team captain, opened his season with a strong 400m time of 49.17 and I think the indoor season will be bright for him when we move to larger tracks. The men's milers and pole vaulters are making good progress. Holly Parent did well in the opener and had some nice attempts at the provisional qualifying mark in the high jump today. Weight thrower Cassie Whitfield is making steady progress, reaching the 57-foot mark this week."

The Washington State men's and women's team will be competing in the Texas A&M Challenge meet, Jan. 29 and 30, in College Station, Texas, against teams from the Pac-10, Big 12, and SEC.

Complete results from the Cougar Invitational Indoor can be accessed here
.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Julia Lucas writes about losing a shoe contract...

Hammer thrower Martin Bingisser, who is a good friend of the mighty paulmerca.blogspot.com or "the big blower" recently tweeted a link to this blog written by Portland pro runners Ian Dobson and Julia Lucas (left/photo by Paul Merca).

I've gotten to know both of them, as I traveled with them on USA junior national cross country teams while they were undergrads at Stanford and North Carolina State, respectively.

Julia was a member of the 2003 world junior cross country team, along with Amy Hastings, Angela Homan, Clara Horowitz (now Peterson), Laura Hodgson, and Rebecca Walter, that I still consider--hands down--the best group of people I've ever traveled with on any of the national teams I've been a part of. Collectively, they were a joy to be around with in Lausanne, Switzerland!

Both Ian, who was a 2008 Olympian in the 5000, and Julia, are going through a bit of a bump in the road, as their contracts with adidas (Ian) and Reebok (Julia) were not renewed after the 2009 season.

Julia writes about the reality of losing a pro track & field athlete's major source of income, and how they are coping with it.

Click here to read Julia's blog entry!

WSU hosts Cougar Indoor Invitational meet this weekend...

PULLMAN--The Cougar Indoor Invitational meet is set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, in the Indoor Track Facility featuring teams from Idaho, Eastern Washington, Utah State, Montana, Whitworth and Community Colleges of Spokane and host Washington State in the two-day meet that includes a men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon.

Friday's events includes all five women's pentathlon events, the first four men's heptathlon events, both men's and women's weight throws, and the men's long jump and pole vault, with action underway at 2:30 p.m., and the remaining events beginning Saturday at 9 a.m.

Trent Arrivey (above/photo courtesy Washington State University) holds the meet record in the men's high jump at 2.20m/7-2 1/2 (2009) and will be competing this weekend. Returning champions from 2009 meet include: Princess Joy Griffey (WSU, 60m), Lauren Schaffer (Idaho, 800m), Breeana Chadez (Idaho, high jump), Mykael Bothum (Idaho, shot put), Marlon Murray (WSU, 60m), and Luke Lemenager (WSU, 800m).

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

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some good stuff on Flanagan, Lagat, and Midles...

The track season is well underway, and as always, good stuff is crossing the desk and laptop at paulmerca.blogspot.com.

With about three weeks to go before the USA Cross Country Championships in Spokane on February 13th, Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports writes that 2008 Olympic 10000 meter bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won the US half-marathon title in her debut over the distance in Houston on January 10th (1:09:39), is hinting that she may show up in Spokane and contend for the national harrier title.

Flanagan won the 2008 USA championship in San Diego in her last cross country race.

Flanagan is now coached by Jerry Schumacher, the former University of Wisconsin mentor now working alongside Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project in Beaverton.

You can read Battaglia's article here.

Washington State graduate and 2009 world championship silver medalist at 5000 meters Bernard Lagat announced that he'll participate in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games on February 6th at the Reggie Lewis Center, where he'll face Olympic & World Championship teammate Galen Rupp in the 5000, as well as Bekana Daba and Ali Abdosh, two sub-13:00 5000m runners from Ethiopia. While Lagat holds the US indoor records at 1500m, the mile and 3000m, Rupp is the US indoor record holder at 5000m, having set the current record of 13:18.12 last February.

You can read the full release here.


Next is a series of questions fired at University of Washington senior hammer thrower Zack Midles, a graduate of Capital HS in Olympia.

Midles placed third in the hammer at the Pac-10 meet last year, and is aiming for a conference championship in that event this season.

He says, "Obviously you want to go into every meet with the mindset to win, but realistically I do think that I have a good chance of winning Pac-10's this year in the Hammer. I placed third last year and the year before and we have a couple seniors graduate, so that's probably the main goal right now. Then NCAA's it will be nice because I'll be in Eugene and I'll be really close to home and family will come down and support me and hopefully I will do really well there. My dad (Dwight, who competed for Washington State in the 1980s) placed fourth at NCAA's , so if I could place higher than that that would be ideal. But obviously winning NCAA's is always the goal and just try and do what God can give you."

You can read the full interview here.

WSU coach Mark Macdonald writes about Jeshua Anderson...

Very few of us who are in this sport as a coach for an extended period of time (disclaimer: I actually coached at the high school and post-collegiate levels regularly from 1983 to 2002, and returned to coaching high school in 2008) are fortunate enough to work with world class level athletes.

Linda Chalich at Washington State University's sports information office is gracious enough to let us post this blog written by Cougar hurdles coach Mark Macdonald on prize pupil Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Paul Merca), the reigning two-time NCAA 400 meter hurdles champion.

Macdonald talks about what Anderson's been up to after deciding to leave the football team after the Hawaii game at Qwest Field in Seattle in September to concentrate full-time on track, and Anderson's hiccup at last spring's Mt. SAC Relays.

Enjoy this read!

http://wsucougars.cstv.com/ot/cougar-track-blog.html


---

It has been nearly four months since Jeshua decided to hang up his football cleats and focus only on his track career. In those 4 months, not many people have heard much from, or about the Cougar track star. After the WSU football game in Hawaii, when Jeshua made his decision, he took 2 weeks off from both football and track. He took that time to rest his tired body and settle in with his stressful decision.

But since his return to track training in late September he has been training extremely hard. He has been approaching every training session with a passion. Every run he does, within every training session, he is attacking with this passion. It is impressive and inspiring to see how he is approaching his training. To visualize what it's been like for Jeshua this fall, picture this story: a couple weeks ago Jeshua went to do repeat 300m runs with the distance runners. That sounds easy enough, but the 300m runs were at 7:30 a.m. and it was 15 degrees in Pullman that morning with ice covering one end of the track. What does it say about a sprinter from Southern California who will get up before class to run with distance runners in 15 degree weather? Oh, and by the way....it was his idea.

Right now he is better than ever and he knows it. In fact, yesterday in practice he said to me, `my confidence is at an all time high.' That's coming from a two-time NCAA champion.

This is my third year coaching Jeshua, so I have a good perspective on where he is in his training right now. I've been telling Coach Sloan for the past month that Jeshua is better now than ever. I've seen him win two NCAA titles, but the level of training right now is so good that it makes me laugh (literally within a training session I will laugh and think, "this guy is unreal." For example, last week in practice we ran a 500m - 450m - 350m set. In the 500m, I wanted him to come through the 400-meter mark in 51 or 52-seconds and finish strong. He came through in 48.5 seconds and finished strong! After about 5 minutes of jogging, I saw him by the start line dancing, ready for the next run. When Jesh knows he's killing a workout, it only fuels his fire. He feeds off his own success and it snowballs. And because he doesn't act like he's tired he makes it look easy.

One big reason why he's so good right now is the track-specific training that he's been doing. He's spent the last 3 1/2 months doing Pullman hills and stairs, running workouts like 20x200m or 12x300m; stuff he's never done before. For the first time in his life he is focusing only on track. What most people don't know is that Jeshua did not do one step of track training until mid-January the last two years. That is unheard of for a world class 400m hurdler. Last year, he was even more limited. Very few people know the true story of last year's NCAA title season.

Midway through the outdoor season (his 4th meet) Jeshua strained his hamstring at the Mt. SAC Relays. It was an idiot coaching move by me to let him run at Mt. SAC because I saw him rubbing his hamstring and knew something was up. He tried his best to lie to me about it because he wanted to run in front of his friends and family in Southern California. Anyways, he ran and fell in the race and stained his hamstring. He did not train on hurdles the rest on the season! We had one goal from that point on, and that was to get to the Pac-10 Championships feeling healthy. All of his training was slow, safe, strength work with no hurdles. We knew Pac-10s would be easy: he just had to stay on his feet to win. But the hammy got sore again before NCAA West Regionals. It was sore to the point where it was questionable if he could even run. So again the plan was to just get to NCAA's feeling good at the line. He did and he won. I guess my point is, Jeshua won another NCAA title without being able to train. That is why this year is so exciting.

For the serious track fan out in the Cougar Nation Blogosphere, I have another piece of insider information that very few people know about. Jeshua has been working in practice and matching the 400m hurdle stride pattern of Kevin Young when Young set the world record in 1992. Jeshua has been running 12 strides between hurdles (all other world class hurdlers take 13 or 14). He is doing this easily and it is very fast. The rest of the track world will get to see this when he makes his 2010 outdoor debut at USC in March.

But for now it's indoors. His high hurdles are going great and he's more excited about the 800m this year. His goal is to win the Bowerman Award (award given to the top collegiate track athlete) so he knows a good indoor season is important. He would like to get on the NCAA list in the 200m, 400m, 800m, 60m hurdles, 4x400m relay and Distance Medley Relay.

All-American high jumper Trent Arrivey had a great quote in practice today, saying, "If you have $5 in your pocket and Jeshua has $5 in his pocket, he's got more money than you." That's just how it's been going for Jesh lately.

Mark Macdonald WSU Hurdles Coach

P.S. One last story from the week: Because of Jesh's world ranking, he is subject to unannounced drug testing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). This week in practice, the drug testing agency showed up right before practice. Since Jesh was all warmed up and ready to run, he couldn't "produce a sample." The testing agent said he could do the workout but he could never leave his sight. On this day we were outside doing some hill runs. Because the tester couldn't keep up, he was in his car driving up and down the hill with his pee cup waiting for Jesh to "produce a sample." Just another day in the life of a world class track and field athlete.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seattle-based Brooks Sports announces DNA Smart Cushioning System...

Brooks Sports, Inc., a Bothell, Washington (Seattle suburb) based- footwear & apparel company marketing exclusively for the runner, continues its pioneering history in the performance running industry by announcing the launch of Brooks DNA, an innovative, first-of-its-kind cushioning system that adapts to the unique needs of each runner, offering customized cushioning and protection every step of every run.

Available now in the new Brooks Glycerin® 8, Brooks DNA automatically and physically adapts with each foot strike to the ever-changing amount of force placed on the foot during the run. The result is the perfect balance of cushioning and stability in response to the varying biomechanics, weight, pace, gait, and environment of each and every runner worldwide.

“Brooks DNA is a game-changing technology in the world of running,” said Jim Weber, president and CEO of Brooks. “Traditional cushioning systems attempt to work for runners of all shapes and sizes, even though each person’s weight and gait are vastly different from the next. DNA offers a real solution to this challenge; it continuously tailors the levels of cushioning and resiliency to each runner’s specific, changing needs throughout their run.”

Because of its unique ability to adapt, Brooks DNA also solves a gender cushioning conundrum that has existed in the market for centuries.

“With traditional cushioning systems, a shoe that works for a male runner will be too firm for a female runner with the same shoe size because she weighs on average 10 to 15 percent less,” said Brooks Director of Footwear Merchandising Andre Kriwet. “Because Brooks DNA adapts to accommodate the different forces these two runners produce, it delivers both genders a customized fit and ride mile after mile. Likewise, two runners of the same gender and shoe size who have varying weights and/or paces also enjoy the benefits of Brooks DNA adaptation. It truly is an intelligent system.”

The patent-pending development was lead by Brooks’ Future Concepts team through years of trial formulations and in-depth performance and biomechanical testing.

“Brooks DNA is made up of a highly viscous non-Newtonian liquid, meaning it doesn’t react to stress as expected. It adapts to the force applied to it—not what you’d expect from a typical liquid,” explained Future Concepts Manager Derek Campbell. “It was engineered to perform at the molecular level like millions of resilient ‘nanosprings’,” added Campbell.

When examined through a microscope, Brooks DNA is comprised of polymer chains, or individual molecules connected in strands. These strands and chains react to the amount of force placed on the foot and allow Brooks DNA to disperse pressure and provide resiliency as needed. Such molecules will never break down or wear out in normal use. According to Campbell, this physics solution delivers a tailored degree of cushioning suited to each runner’s individual weight, pace, gait, biomechanics, and running environment.

In addition to its adaptable properties, Brooks DNA also maximizes the underfoot performance of running shoes, providing:
• 30% better cushioning than standard gel or EVA materials at baseline impact levels, and even better at higher impacts;
• Twice as much energy return with maximum force applied;
• Better efficiency across a range of impact forces—great performance under different weights and paces;
• Enhanced forefoot flexibility ensuring a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off.

Brooks DNA debuted in the new Glycerin® 8 neutral running shoe released on January 1, 2010. Available at retail stores and online at www.brooksrunning.com, the Glycerin® 8 features Brooks DNA in strategic locations in the rearfoot and forefoot of the shoe, in addition to the brand’s eco-friendlier full-length BioMoGo midsole. Runners can select from the Glycerin® 8’s two men’s and two women’s color options, as well as regular, narrow, and wide widths.

Underscoring excitement for the shoe and DNA in both the specialty running and national account retail channels, spring 2010 bookings of the Glycerin® 8 are up 27 percent and 43 percent, respectively, relative to that of the Glycerin® 7 for spring 2009. Suggested retail price of the Glycerin® 8 is $130.00.

Different from the running company’s patented HydroFlow® cushioning technology, Brooks DNA is the only cushioning system required in the Glycerin® 8 to deliver peak performance. Consumers will soon see Brooks DNA come to more Brooks shoes, including franchise styles Beast®, Ariel®, Trance™ 10, and Adrenaline™ GTS 11.

The launch of Brooks DNA also represents another chapter in the brand’s ongoing, industry-leading commitment to environmental responsibility. Brooks DNA is completely recyclable in the manufacturing process. As opposed to typical cushioning systems that include four materials, making them difficult to recycle and more energy-intensive to produce, Brooks DNA consists of only one material, and all leftover, post-process material waste goes back into Brooks shoes. This requires half as many steps and much less energy in production compared to that of traditional cushioning systems. Additionally, the manufacturing process of Brooks DNA also uses less adhesive, reducing the amount of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) involved in making shoes with Brooks DNA cushioning.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2010

adidas Launches Personal Training Platform With Real-Time Audible Coaching...

Here's a news release we recently received from adidas concerning the new miCoach training platform, which was released to the public last week.

If you are a gear head, this may be for you!

adidas, a global leader in running, kicked off its worldwide New Year’s Resolution to help you become a better runner with the launch of the miCoach training platform.

adidas showed how miCoach simplifies the science of running and showcase the importance of personalized coaching.

The new miCoach interactive training platform, featured on micoach.com, completes the adidas promise to make you run better. Not only does adidas provide the most innovative footwear and apparel to perform in, the company now offers personal coaching services so athletes of all levels can get fitter, run faster and simply be better in 2010.

The miCoach offering features two separate products:

**The miCoach Pacer - a small, lightweight device that delivers real-time audible coaching as a user exercises via headphones or combined with their own MP3 player. During a run, the miCoach Pacer verbally coaches the runner (i.e. speed up to green zone, slow down to blue zone, etc.) to ensure that they are staying within their targeted heart rate zone and keeps them running at the right personal level.

**The miCoach Zone – an easy to read color-code LED display on a wristband device provides accurate, real-time information making it easy to train at the right intensity with the help of a heart rate monitor.

“miCoach makes it easy for anyone at any level to get personal coaching. The instant progress reports help you get the most out of your run and achieve your personal goal,” says Bernd Wahler, chief marketing officer of adidas Sport Performance. “The audible coaching feature of the miCoach Pacer provides a new dimension to any workout experience allowing users of any level to discover their true potential. This product is really about offering our consumers a personal way to train.”

"This is all about reaching your next level, whether you want to improve your personal best time, lose weight or want to train for your first marathon,” said Christian DiBenedetto, program director, digital sports products, adidas Groups’ adidas Innovation Team. “miCoach acts as your own personal coach who is there with you on every run. It practically does all the thinking for you and knows exactly what you want to accomplish and exactly how to help you get there.”

At www.micoach.com, a user can create personalized training plans, set goals and proactively monitor and manage their progress over time. The miCoach platform includes six goal-based categories: Learn to Run; De-Stress; Be Fit; Lose Weight; Run a Race; and Finish Faster. Based on this personal information, miCoach creates an individualized training program that's tailored to a users heart rate zones and will help them achieve their fitness goals more efficiently than traditional exercise regimens. miCoach listens to a runner’s heart to determine their personal training zone ranges, each represented by a distinct color for easy-to-understand and effective training - blue, green, yellow and red. miCoach helps runners set goals and then reach them by monitoring their heart rate and telling them when to slow down or speed up to meet their personal goal.

The Suggested Retail Price for the complete miCoach Pacer system is US $139.99 and the Zone is available at a SRP of US $65.99. Both products can be purchased at any adidas Sport Performance Store or online at shopadidas.com.

paulmerca.blogspot.com hopes to test the miCoach system for a future story.

NOTE: Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations contributed to this report.

Jeshua Anderson gets two wins at WSU Open Indoor...

Washington State junior Jeshua Anderson (left/photo courtesy Washington State University) won the 60m hurdles and the 800m run while freshman Andrew Kimpel, competing unattached, won the men's mile in a meet record time of 4-minutes, 17.03 seconds Saturday at the Eighth Annual WSU Open Indoor meet.

Over 525 athletes dove into the track and field season at the two-day meet held at WSU's Indoor Performance Facility. Many Cougars did not compete, having just one week of school and training under their belts in the new year, and other Cougars competed unattached in the meet.

Anderson (Woodland Hills, Calif.) won the men's 60m hurdles in a time of 8.10 seconds after running 8.08 in the prelims, and won the 800m run in a time of 1-minute, 54.34 seconds.

Kimpel (Spokane) made his indoor debut by besting Andrew Jones' (WSU) 2007 mile time of 4:18.72. David Hickerson (Spokane) also bettered the mile time with his second-place finish in a time of 4:18.46.

Idaho had two women reach NCAA Provisional Qualifying marks. K.C. Dahlgren won the women's pole vault with a height of 13-feet, 1 1/2 inches (4.00m) and Mykael Bothum won the shot put with a throw of 50-8 3/4 (15.46m).

Washington State women claiming wins Saturday included Chelsea VanDeBrake (Yakima) in the mile (5:18.66), Amanda Andrews (Gig Harbor) in the 800m (2:26.35), and Emily Farrar (Bainbridge) in the 3000m (11:07.81). Cougar men with victories included freshman Brett Blanshan (Selah) in the 60m (6.87), freshman Wesley McCann(Puyallup) in the 200m dash (22.60), and Dan Geib (Reno) in the 3000m (8:34.69).

Washington State hosts the Cougar Indoor Invitational meet Jan. 22-23 with teams from Idaho, Eastern Washington, Montana, Utah State, and Spokane CC joining the Cougars.

Complete results from the WSU Open Indoor can be accessed here.

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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Washington's Scott Roth jumps American leading 18-6.75 (5.66m) to highlight UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE--The 2010 indoor track & field series at the Dempsey Indoor facility kicked off in grand fashion Saturday at the UW Indoor Preview meet, thanks to outstanding performances by Washington's Scott Roth (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) in the pole vault, and on the track by Alistair Cragg of Ireland, and Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific, among others.

Roth, who jumped 18-0.5 at last month's Purple/Gold intrasquad meet, cleared 5.66 meters/18-6.75 on his first attempt to become the American leader in this young season. and jump the second highest mark in the world, behind France's Renaud Lavillenie, who has cleared 5.82/19-1.

Roth then took three shots at 5.71/18-8.75, with his second being the closest.

Roth, the 2009 NCAA runner-up, cleared 18-1 on his second attempt and as the last remaining competitor had the bar raised to 18-6 ¾.

He went over on his first try, just grazing the bar and celebrated mid-air. His mark is also the ninth-best in Pac-10 history in a conference that has produced some of the world's best. Only two-time World Champion and Olympian Brad Walker has gone higher as a Husky.

"I felt pretty loose when I got on the runway," Roth said, thanks possibly to having run the 60-meter dash earlier in the day. "I can't ask for a better way to start the season. I'm feeling healthy, in really good shape, and I'm vaulting well, so I'm excited."

UPDATE: Here's a link to the video of his clearance, along with an interview.

On the track, Ireland's Alistair Cragg, a former NCAA champion from the University of Arkansas, and a two time Irish Olympian in the 5000, led former Iona All American Tim Bayley across the line in the men's mile, winning in a time of 3:59.42, with Bayley making a late charge at Cragg. Bayley clocked 3:59.58 in the runner-up spot.

Here's the video, courtesy runnerspace.com



Later in the meet, Cragg won the 3000 in a time of 7:54.88, defeating Michael Nicks (8:03.37) and former Stanford standout Jonathan Pierce (8:03.76).

In the women's distance medley relay (1200-400-800-1600) Jessica Pixler, the reigning NCAA Division II indoor mile champ and two time NCAA D II cross country queen, stormed the anchor leg to lead Seattle Pacific to victory over Stanford, as the Falcons ran a school record time of 11:32.23 to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA D II championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March.

Jane Larson, Crystal Sims, and Lisa Anderberg preceded Pixler on their school record run.

“That was our goal was to get the automatic qualifying mark,” Falcons head coach Karl Lerum said. “That was an outstanding first effort for Jessica on the track after coming down from the cross country distance. Lisa looked great, Jane had a strong start for us, and it was fun to see Crystal in her first event as an SPU athlete.

“We’re obviously pleased,” Lerum added. “But we’ve almost come to expect that from this bunch.”

The complete results from the University of Washington Indoor Preview meet can be accessed here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

UW Indoor Preview kicks off exciting series of meets at Dempsey Indoor...

The University of Washington plays host to the UW Indoor Preview Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor, with nearly 1000 athletes expected to run, jump, and throw in the all day extravaganza.

The UW Indoor Preview will consist of athletes from the area, with a heavy sprinkling of runners, jumpers, and throwers from local colleges and clubs.

However, there will be a bevy of national and international caliber athletes making their 2010 season debuts Saturday, led by Ireland's Alistair Cragg (left/photo by Paul Merca), a two time Olympian at 5000 meters.

Cragg, a standout during his collegiate days at the University of Arkansas, is entered in both the mile and the 3000, where he has indoor personal bests of 3:55.04, and 7:38.59, and set an outdoor PR of 7:37.84 at last year's Nike Prefontaine Classic.

He's expected to meet former Indiana standout John Jefferson and former Iona All-American Tim Bayley in the mile. In the 3000, he's matched up against Jon Pierce, formerly of Stanford, who was a member of Team USA at the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, as well as former Washington runner Eric Garner, and University of Portland freshman Trevor Dunbar, one of America's top prep distance runners in 2009.

Oregon's defending NCAA indoor and outdoor multi-events champ Ashton Eaton, a member of Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in the decathlon last summer, is entered in the pole vault, high jump, shot put and the 4 x 400 meter relay. He'll face Washington's Jeremy Taiwo, a NCAA indoor championships qualifier in the heptathlon in the shot put.

Another outstanding multi-eventer to watch is Oregon's reigning NCAA heptathlon champ Brianne Theisen, who is entered in the shot put.

Others to watch include Washington's Scott Roth in the pole vault, who cleared 18-0.5 in last month's Purple/Gold intrasquad meet; Canadian Olympians Ruky Abdulai, who competed in Beijing in the long jump, but is entered in the high jump, shot put and 60 hurdles, and Mike Mason (high jump); and former Cornell All-American Morgan Uceny, who finished fourth in the 2008 US Olympic Trials in the 1500 and 6th in the 800. She's entered in the mile, 800, and 600.

For most of the collegians entered in Saturday's meet, the goal is to register qualifying marks for the NCAA Division I and II championships in March.

While Division I schools Washington, Oregon, and Stanford will not have their full complement of athletes competing (particularly in the distances), there will be a host of athletes looking to score qualifying marks Saturday.

Division II schools Seattle Pacific and Western Washington will have a large contingent competing Saturday, with the women's 3000 meter run a race of special interest, as it matches the top two finishers in the Division II cross country championships, Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific and Sarah Porter of Western Washington, who made a late run at Pixler before falling short. Washington's Lindsay Flanagan, a frosh who was on the Huskies' 3rd place NCAA team is entered in the race, as is NCAA D-2 All American Lauren Breihof from Western, who won November's Seattle Marathon a week after the NCAA championships.

Western's defending NCAA indoor champion Emily Warman is entered in the triple jump.

Results from the UW Indoor Preview will be posted on the Huskies' web site, which you can click here. Runnerspace.com and Flotrack.org will post video highlights from the meet.

NOTE: Parts 3 and 4 of the 2010 UW track & field team preview is now available. Part 3 talks about the sprinters, led by 2008 NCAA qualifier Falesha Ankton and NCAA qualifier Jeff Gudaitis. Part 4 talks about the throwers, led by hammer throwers Adam Midles and Elisa Bryant, along with javelin throwers Brooke Pighin and Kyle Neilsen.


You can read about the Husky sprinters here, and the Husky throwers here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cougars open 2010 season Friday with WSU Open Indoor Meet...

Washington State University's indoor track and field teams open the 2010 indoor season with the Eighth Annual WSU Indoor Open.

WSU Indoor Facility's Mondo track features racing at 60m, 200m, 400m, mile, 800m and 3000m with 60m hurdles as well as a co-ed 4x400m relay.

Jumping and throwing field events will be contested on the turf inside the oval. The men's 35-pound and women's 20-pound weight throws take place Friday, Jan. 15, at 4 p.m, while the remaining field events will begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with running events set to start at 10 a.m.

The Cougars will be led on the track by Bowerman candidate Jeshua Anderson, the two-time NCAA champion in the 400 meter hurdles. On the women's side, 2008 NCAA qualifier Anna Layman and pole vaulter Kendall Mays (competing unattached) will lead the Cougs.

The full release can be read here. The entries for the WSU Open are posted here.

RIP Teddy Pendergrass...

Diverting away from track & field for just a moment, Teddy Pendergrass, one of the most successful R&B singers of the 1970s and ’80s, passed away on January 13th after a battle with colon cancer. He was 59.

Pendergrass was diagnosed with cancer last year and had a difficult time recovering from surgery; he died at Bryn Mawr Hospital outside of his native Philadelphia.

The five-time Grammy-nominated singer had chart-topping hits in three different decades with 1978’s “Close the Door,” 1988’s “Joy” and 1991’s “It Should’ve Been You,” plus well-known songs like “Love TKO,” “Two Hearts” with Stephanie Mills and “Hold Me,” a duet with Whitney Houston that featured on Houston’s 1985 debut album.

Here's a video from his days with the group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes:



The full story can be read here, courtesy Rolling Stone magazine.

Jeshua Anderson on USTFCCCA Bowerman watch list...

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday the 10 male collegiate track & field athletes named to the official preseason watch list for the 2010 awarding of The Bowerman as selected by The Bowerman Men’s Watch Committee.

Included in the preseason watch list is Washington State hurdler Jeshua Anderson, along with 2009 Bowerman finalists Ashton Eaton of the University of Oregon and German Fernandez of Oklahoma State University.

Anderson is the reigning two-time NCAA 400-meter hurdle champion, having clocked his career best 48.47 in the finals of the 2009 NCAA Championships. Anderson is also a two-time Pac-10 Champion in the long hurdles and also competes in the open 400-meter dash and as part of the Cougar 4×400-meter relay team. In 2008, Anderson won the USATF Junior Championship in the 400-meter hurdles and later won the IAAF World Junior Championship in the same event in Poland.

The full list of athletes on the Bowerman Watch list can be accessed here.

Pixler & Schaaf among nominees for Seattle Sports Star of the Year...

We jumped on board late, but thanks to a news release from the Seattle Sports Commission, 2009 NCAA Division II cross country champion Jessica Pixler from Seattle Pacific, and NCAA Division I runner-up Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Paul Merca) have been nominated as finalists for the Female Sports Star of the Year.

The event, formerly known as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sports Star of the Year, will be held Tuesday January 19th at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, and is sponsored by the Seattle Sports Commission.

Seattle sports fans will determine the winners in five different categories, including Female Sports Star of the Year, for which Pixler and Schaaf are competing. Also up for a fan vote are Male Sports Star of the Year, Professional Sports Star of the Year, FSN Sports Play of the Year, and Sports Story of the Past 75 Years.

Pixler won four NCAA titles during the 2008-09 school year and started the 09-10 year with her third straight Division II cross country crown.

Schaaf won the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional harrier titles last year, as well as the Canadian national championship.

The event at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle begins with a reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this are $75.00 and can be purchased online at benaroyahall.org, or by calling 206-215-4747.

Information on the nominees in each of the five categories is available by clicking on this link. Voting may require downloading Microsoft Silverlight software.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Part 2 of the 2010 UW track & field team preview...

In today's segment of the 2010 University of Washington track & field team preview, gohuskies.com previews the Husky women's distance squad, perhaps the team's greatest strength.

Washington returns NCAA cross country runner-up Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Paul Merca), along with steeplechase All-American Mel Lawrence, two-time Pac-10 1500 meter champ Katie Follett, US Olympic Trials 1500 meter run qualifier Christine Babcock, and Seattle's Kailey Campbell out of Ballard HS.

In speaking about Kailey Campbell, UW coach Greg Metcalf says, "Kailey made tremendous progress last season and had a great, great cross country season. The big goal for her senior outdoor campaign is how do we go make the NCAA final at 1,500-meters? Based on what we saw from Kailey in cross country at the Regionals and Pac-10s and her ability to go close, I think she can run very fast at 800-meters and then make big time progress at 1500 meters and a mile right now."

In the spring, the Dawgs will have NCAA All-American Anita Campbell back for her senior season of eligibility in outdoor track (she's used up eligibility in cross country and indoor track).

You can read the full preview here.

Deresse Mekonnen to face Bernard Lagat at Millrose; Preview of UW men's distance squad...

Seven-time Wanamaker Mile champion Bernard Lagat will have to defeat the man who outsprinted him for silver at the 2009 IAAF World Championships 1,500 meters when he goes for a record eighth Wanamaker title at the 103rd Millrose Games in NewYork.

The 2007 world champion and two-time Olympic medalist in the 1,500m, Lagat finished third at the 2009 World Championship in Berlin behind Deresse Mekonnen (left, leading Lagat/photo by Paul Merca) of Ethiopia in a furious final sprint. On January 29 at Madison Square Garden, Lagat will have an opportunity to seek revenge against Mekonnen, as well as Millrose history.

The 2007 World Outdoor 1,500m and 5,000m champion, Lagat won his seventh Wanamaker Mile title at last year's Millrose Games, which tied all-time Irish legend and "Chariman of the Boards" Eamonn Coghlan for the most wins ever in that prestigious event.

The reigning World Indoor 1,500m champion, Mekonnen had a strong 2009 campaign, ending the season ranked #4 in the world by Track & Field News. In Berlin last summer, Lagat was boxed in on the rail during the men's 1,500m final. He broke out in the final straightaway, moving from fifth to third to finish in 3:36.20 behind Mekonnen's sliver in 3:36.01. Lagat went on to win the 5,000m silver medal, ending the decade with a combined total of seven World Championship and Olympic Games medals.

The full release from USA Track & Field can be read here...

In advance of Saturday's UW Indoor Preview meet at the Dempsey, the University of Washington is releasing a multi-part preview of its team.

Part one previews its mens' distance squad, fresh off a 18th place finish at last fall's NCAA cross country championships.

Head Coach Greg Metcalf has a lot of depth to play with at the long distances this season, but the middle distances will feel the absence left by six-time All-American Austin Abbott, and will need freshmen and sophomores to take steps to be competitive on the conference and regional levels.

The link to the full story on the Washington men's distance squad is here.

NOTE: USA Track & Field & the University of Washington contributed to this report.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My top track & field moments of the past decade (part 2)...

In part one of my retrospect on the past decade, I covered the Maurice Greene/Michael Johnson showdown in the 200 meters; Nick Rogers’ unlikely ascent to the 2000 Olympic team in the 5000; Alan Webb’s American high school record in the mile; and the dominance in the past decade of distance runner Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, and Yelena Isinbayeva, the outstanding Russian pole vaulter.

Part 2 of our look back into the first decade of Y2K looks at several of the personalities from the state of Washington and their impact on the national and international track & field landscape.

BERNARD LAGAT’S ASCENT INTO THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE & DOUBLE WORLD TITLE

In 1999, Washington State’s Bernard Lagat won the NCAA 5000 meter title, and was ranked fourth in the world by Track & Field News after running 3:30.56 for 1500 meters,

He made the 2000 Kenyan Olympic team, but was not expected to do anything significant. However, he proved the experts wrong, as he snuck in to earn a bronze medal in the 1500 at the Sydney Olympics.

Lagat followed it up with a second place finish in the 1500 at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, and a victory in the 2002 World Cup in Madrid, Spain. He missed the 2003 world championship meet in Paris while being investigated for taking EPO, a charge that was overturned by the IAAF.

In 2004, he and Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj staged an epic battle for the Olympic 1500 title, with the Moroccan winning in the last 25 meters.



After the Olympics, he revealed that he became an American citizen, and therefore was ineligible to compete in meets like the World Cup and World Championships until August 2007. While sitting out the three-year nationality change period (the Kenyan federation wouldn’t let him compete for the USA any earlier), he remained a force on the world scene, ranking #2 in 2005 & #3 in 2006 in the 1500.

In his first meet wearing the USA singlet, Lagat won both the 1500 and the 5000 meter runs at the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japan, becoming the first man to turn the trick in world championship history.

After winning that second title, Lagat said, “The double means a lot to me. I'm the first one to accomplish the double, and I feel I'm going to set an example for the young ones. There will be other kids in America who will do what Bernard Lagat did in 2007, no matter how long it will take.”

After his stunning double in Osaka, the Washington State product struggled at the Beijing Olympics with an Achilles tendon injury suffered after the Olympic Trials, but rebounded in 2009, winning bronze in the 1500, and taking Kenenisa Bekele to the wire in the 5000, losing in the last 50 meters.

On his Facebook page, Lagat’s long-time coach James Li recently wrote, “It suddenly occurred to me that Kip must be the longest lasting top miler in the world in history. Ever since organized global racing began a little more than 100 years ago, I don’t think there had been a miler (1500m runner) who have run as fast as Kip and stayed there for as long as he has. He ran 3:30.56 in 1999. At least from this standpoint, one can argue that Kip is the greatest miler ever!”

BRAD WALKER WINS WORLD TITLE IN POLE VAULT IN OSAKA

2007 was a great year for Washingtonians at the world championships, as Brad Walker, a product of University High School in Spokane and the University of Washington, won the pole vault in Osaka, just days after Lagat turned the trick in the 1500.

His gamble to pass at 18-10 3/4 after a first attempt miss paid dividends, as Walker won his first outdoor world championship clearing 19-2 3/4 before a packed house at Nagai Stadium.

I wrote on this blog, “The 2005 silver medalist and 2007 world leader, who attended University High School in Spokane, Walker cleared 18-1 and 18-6.75 easily on his first attempts, but missed his first try at 18-10.75 before passing on his remaining attempts at the height.

A second- or third-attempt clearance at 18-10 3/4 would have been useless, as Steven Hooker of Australia, Yevgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia and Fabio Gomes Da Silva of Brazil all made the height on their first attempts, and several others had passed the height entirely.

The gamble to pass was successful--Walker cleared 19-0.75 on his first try, putting him back in the medal hunt. Eight men remained in the competition at 19-2.75, including three others - Danny Ecker of Germany, Igor Pavlov of Russia and Romain Mesnil of France - who cleared 19-0 3/4 on their first attempts.

Describing the decision to pass after missing 18-10 3/4, Walker said, “It was one of those good misses. I knew I had the ability to clear 5.81 (19-0 3/4), and the first attempt make at 5.81 put me back in the lead. First attempt clearances in a major championship are a huge thing, and it puts stress on the other competitors. I think the 5.86 (19-2 3/4) first attempt clearance knocked the wind out of some people's sails, and I was lucky to get that jump”.


The knockout punch Walker delivered on the competition at 19-2 3/4 made him the first athlete to make the height. Mesnil was the only other vaulter to clear the height on his second attempt, but he was behind Walker based on a earlier miss at 18-6 3/4, which ultimately proved the difference between the gold and silver medals.


In an interview on Friday, Walker revealed that he had not touched a pole, and was unable to train properly between his last competition in Monte Carlo on July 25th, and Thursday’s qualifying round of the pole vault, due to a lingering problem with two bulging discs in his back. “I was gassed, and I had to dig pretty deep because my prep going into this meet wasn't exactly the way I would've liked it. I haven't lifted weights, and I'm a lot lighter than what I normally am. I have a couple of bulged discs, and it's been giving me a lot of pain, and I've had to back off the training,” Walker said after the event.

Walker set an American record at the 2008 Nike Prefontaine Classic, and made the Olympic team a few weeks later. Walker stunningly failed to make the finals at the Olympics, no-heighting in qualifying.

Last season, he won the US national title, and was poised to defend his 2007 world title, but an injury suffered in the Monte Carlo grand prix meet ended his shot at another world championship.

THE RUN BY THE HUSKIES TO THE NCAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP

In collegiate cross country circles, 2008 was the Year of the Dawg, as the University of Washington women’s cross country capped off an undefeated season by winning the NCAA title in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The seeds for the title run were planted the year before, when the Huskies finished a program-best eighth place in the 2007 NCAA championships, and the members of that squad left Terre Haute feeling that they had shorted themselves.

Bolstered by the addition of Canadian junior champ Kendra Schaaf and Olympic Trials 1500-meter semifinalist Christine Babcock, the Huskies posted the first perfect score of 15 at the Pac-10 championships in Springfield, Oregon, then followed it up with a commanding performance at the NCAA regionals in Palo Alto.

While Schaaf was the Pac-10 individual champion, it was fellow frosh Babcock who led the way for the Huskies, finishing seventh in 20:02 for 6k.

In my story for this blog, I wrote, “Fellow frosh Kendra Schaaf did not get out as hard as many cross country experts had expected and placed twelfth in 20:18.

True to the Huskies’ season long mantra of pack running, sophomore Mel Lawrence finished 25th in 20:33, with junior Katie Follett one place behind, in the same time.


Senior Amanda Miller, running her final race as a Husky, rounded out Washington’s scorers, placing 34th in 20:37, giving the Dawgs a 1-5 split of 35 seconds, one second off their season long average of 34 seconds.
Sophomore Lauren Saylor finished 41st in 20:4, and senior Anita Campbell, a 2007 cross country All American, placing 51st in 20:51.”

After their run to the title, the Huskies were selected as a finalist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s 2008 Sports Stars of the Year Award. Their hopes for a second straight national title were derailed in November, as they were beaten by Villanova and Florida State, after repeating as Pac-10 and NCAA West regional champs.

IAN WALTZ/JARRED ROME JOINED AT THE HIP

Discus throwers Ian Waltz and Jarred Rome almost deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, paragraph, etc., as it seems that the two are almost inseparable when it comes to national and international competitions.

Waltz, who graduated from Washington State University, won three national titles, made three world championship teams, and two Olympic teams in the past decade.

Rome, a graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, who still bristles over the fact that former University of Washington track coach Ken Shannon recruited Ben Lindsay over him, also has three world championship teams and one Olympic team to his resume, along with one national championship.

For both throwers, the beginning of their ascent onto the national and international scene can be traced to their decision to move to Chula Vista, California in 2004 to train together at the US Olympic Training Center, first under Brooks Johnson, then under former University of Washington throws coach Bud Rasmussen, after training together in Boise.

Rome made the finals in two world championships, with a seventh place finish in Helsinki his career best, while Waltz had a career best fifth place finish in that same Helsinki meet.

ARETHA THURMOND : THE MODEL OF CONSISTENCY

After witnessing Aretha Hill make the 1996 US Olympic team as a sophomore at the University of Washington, you sensed that barring something unexpected, she was going to be something special.

Despite winning the Pan Am Games and making the world championship team in Seville in 1999, she experienced a blip at the start of the decade, as she finished fourth at the 2000 Olympic Trials in Sacramento.

In an interview I conducted with her after the 2000 Trials competition, she said, "What being an alternate means is that I'll be sitting home, watching the Olympics on TV, that's what that means. But that's OK," she said, smile still intact.

2000 was the last time she would watch the Olympics at home, as she made the 2004 and 2008 teams, won four national championships, and made three world championship teams in the decade, and added the 2003 Pan Am Games title to the championship she won four years earlier. Thurmond also was elected a captain of the 2006 World Cup team and was a flagbearer for Team USA at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.

Even more remarkably during the decade, Thurmond nearly stole a spot on the 2007 world championship team, finishing sixth in the national championships in her only meet that season, weeks after giving birth to son Theo.

USAIN BOLT--MY TRACK & FIELD ATHLETE OF THE DECADE

I can’t end this look back at the last decade without mentioning Usain Bolt, who gets my nod as the track and field athlete of the decade (but just barely, over Kenenisa Bekele).

He first stepped on the world scene in 2002, winning the 200 meters at the world junior championships in Kingston, Jamaica as a 15 year old. He made the Jamaican Olympic team in 2004, but was eliminated in the first round.

As a senior athlete, he first made waves in 2006, finishing third in the 200 at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, then following up with a silver medal at the World Cup in Athens over 200.

While he fell victim to American Tyson Gay’s run in Osaka in 2007 (19.91 in the 200), Bolt took a bite of the Big Apple in late May 2008, setting a world record of 9.72. He then made himself an international superstar at the Beijing Olympics setting world records at the 100 (9.69) and 200 (19.30), the former despite celebrating 15 meters from the finish.

I must put Bolt’s double in Berlin last summer as one of my all-time greatest sports moment. As I wrote on this blog after the 100, “Reaching speeds that no man in this sport ever imagined, Bolt made believers of the witnesses attending Sunday night's 100 meter final as he clocked 9.58 in the sport's premier test of who can run the fastest.”

After his run over 200 meters, I wrote, “Once again, Usain Bolt of Jamaica shocked the world with 19.19 seconds that may define his status as one of the world's greatest athletes, with his dash to history, and skipping the 19.2 barrier in the process.”

What will this decade provide track and field fans? If the previous decade is any indication, I believe that someone will take the sport to heights never before imagined. With the internet providing more coverage of the sport than what traditional media can offer, the opportunity is there for a budding superstar to become even more of a household name than ever before.

Let the new decade begin!

NOTE: All photos by Paul Merca.

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