Friday, April 30, 2010

Cougs & Dawgs at the Moo in the Palouse Saturday!

For the first time in the history of the blog, here are our fearless predictions on Saturday's University of Washington/Washington State University dual track & field meet at Mooberry Track on the campus of WSU.

In Seattle in 2009, the WSU men's team won the dual meet, 92-70, but the UW women's team eked out an 81.66 to 81.33 win, which was the second consecutive win for the Cougar men and only the second time in 13 meetings the Husky women have won the dual.

The Huskies and Cougars first squared off in 1900, and the early years were dominated by the Seattleites. Washington won 15 of the first 17 meetings until 1932. The Cougars then strung together eight wins from 1946-53.

The biggest run in the series was from 1976 until 1995, when Washington State dominated with 22 consecutive wins, snapped in 1996 when UW scored a 104-97 win in Pullman. Since that time things have been exactly even, seven wins apiece, with UW posting its greatest Husky Stadium win over WSU in 2007, a 103-60 victory. The Cougar men have taken the last two meets.

The women have squared off 34 times prior with UW holding a 20-14 edge. The Huskies were 18-3 against their rivals from 1979 until 1997, when WSU turned it around and took 11 of the next 12 duals. The Husky women snapped a four-meet win streak for WSU last season, squeaking out the win by just a third of a point, the closest meet in UW-WSU history.

In Pullman, Washington State holds a 34-14-1 edge on the men's side, while the Husky women are 9-7 all-time in Pullman. The last road win for the UW men was in 2006 while the women last had a win in Pullman in 2004.

Now that you've read the Cliff Notes version of the history of this cross-state rivalry, here's the dope sheet, embedded as a .pdf file:

Wsu Dope Sheet

Sorry Husky fans, but it looks like the Cougs are gonna get the W, 105-58 on the women's side, and 85-70 on the men's side.

The heat sheets for Saturday's meet are available here
if you are fearless enough to dope out this meet yourself. Scoring is 5-3-1 in individual events, and 5-0 in the relays.

NOTE: Photo courtesy Washington State University. The University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Friday morning links...

We are one day away from the UW/WSU dual meet (photo courtesy University of Washington), and to get you started this morning, here's a link to the University of Washington's press release as well as Washington State's press release touting the meet.

If I had to pick one event to keep an eye on, it's probably the women's javelin, which features WSU's Marissa Tschida and Courtney Kirkwood against the Dawgs' Brooke Pighin.

Tschida leads the NCAA with a mark of 186-1, while fellow Cougar Kirkwood from Othello is ninth at 168-8, and Pighin tenth this season at 167-6.

I hope to post a dope sheet later today or early Saturday, projecting who will win this meet.

In the meantime, the heat sheets are posted here.

On the national front, USATF CEO Doug Logan posted a blog entry yesterday on the effect that Usain Bolt had on last week's Penn Relays.

As Logan writes, "What we are witnessing in Usain Bolt is a transformational athlete reaching his peak. As he engages those long levers in his legs, he accelerates down the track in a manner that always produces a "wow." Talk about a "moment!" He is Bubka over the bar; Beamon across the pit; Tiger sinking a putt; Crosby scoring a goal. Off the track, however, he is straight out of central casting. If he were a Hollywood actor searching for a stage name, he could not have selected a more appropriate surname. He has an elfin, mischievous and innocent quality to him that is so refreshing in this age of boorish and egotistical stars. He hears a few bars of music and cannot resist busting a move or two. He exudes a joie de vivre that engages young and old in these difficult and complicated times. The kid is the whole package! He makes American sprinting, and all of track and field, more exciting."

To read the blog, please click here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick links for Thursday...

Here's some quick links to get your morning started:

Former Illinois high school champion Lindsay Flanagan (left/photo courtesy University of Washington), now a freshman at the University of Washington, is profiled by gohuskies.com.

A native of Roselle, northwest of Chicago, Flanagan was the top freshman on UW's cross country squad that won the Pac-10 title and placed third at the NCAA Championships. Flanagan ran in UW's top-seven in four of the six top meets including a 27th-place effort at West Regionals.

Her cross country season then continued on into the spring, when she finished ninth at the USA Junior Championships in Spokane, qualifying for the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships held on the island of Tobago just north of Venezuela. She placed sixth at that meet, and then returned for track where she's seen steady improvement, including a 5k personal-best of 16:38.21 at the Stanford Invitational.

You can read it here...

Seattle Pacific University will split its team, with the majority heading to Lacey to compete in the St. Martin's Invitational, with a few athletes heading further south to Eugene to compete in the Oregon Relays.

The group heading to Eugene includes pole vaulter Melissa Peaslee, and their top distance runners, including senior Jessica Pixler, who has her sights set on the 2:03.50 that she needs for automatic qualification to this summer’s USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. She already has automatic marks in the 1,500 and 5,000.

Western Washington is also scheduled to send athletes to both meets, though as of 9:30 am Thursday, the school had not posted a release.

Seattle Pacific's meet preview can be read here...

Curtis Anderson of the Eugene Register-Guard has an article on WSU's Jeshua Anderson, as the newspaper begins its buildup towards the NCAA track & field championships in June.

The WSU hurdler tells the Register-Guard, “I’ve got my mind on running 47s. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but my strength and fitness level are at an all-time high.”

You can read it here...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quick links of the day...

Today's quick links of the day comes first, courtesy of 2008 Olympian Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca), who writes about her experience at last week's Drake Relays.

Patterson, a graduate of Vancouver's Skyview High School. writes about her travels to Des Moines from San Diego, where's she's based at the Olympic Training Center.

She writes, "One of my competition goals was to go to Drake and throw the World A standard (what you have to throw to be eligible for big international competitions). Since there are no outdoor World Championships or Olympics this year, there really isn't an official A standard for women's javelin, but last year it was 61.00m. I'm happy to have met a goal, and I know that fixing the technical issues listed above will make the javelin go a lot farther. I was most proud of my attitude going into Drake Relays though; I had fun and accomplished what I went there to."

To read the rest of her post, click here
...

Throughout the season, we'll post excerpts from her...in the meantime, you can visit her blog at karapatterson.blogspot.com.

UPDATE (10:15 am) Linda Chalich of WSU's sports information office informs me of an article by John Blanchette of the Spokane Spokesman-Review on Jeshua Anderson, which you can read here...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Breakfast links (April 27th)...

Here's two links to start your day:

Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times has a great feature story on 1979 NCAA javelin champion Tom Sinclair, who won the title while attending the University of Washington, and his son Brian, a senior at Lake Washington HS in Kirkland.

The older Sinclair's life was saved by his son, who called 911 after his father suffered a ruptured aneurysm.

You can read Kelley's article here...

Meanwhile, if you missed Usain Bolt and the rest of Team Jamaica as they won the men's 4 x 100 meter relay last Saturday in the USA vs. the World at the Penn Relays, you can watch it here, courtesy of USA Track & Field:



Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cougs and Dawgs--We want to hear from you!

In advance of Saturday's annual dual track & field meet between the University of Washington and Washington State University at Mooberry Track in Pullman, paulmerca.blogspot.com would like to hear from former Huskies and Cougars who competed in this annual meet!

We'd like to find out before Friday who was your biggest rival on the other team, and why?

Also, we'd like to find out what your memories were of competing against that person(s), in the dual meet, the Pac-10 championship meet, the NCAA, and beyond.

We'll publish the best ones on this very blog either Friday or Saturday before things get underway in Pullman!

If you were in Seattle last year, you'll recall the men's 3000 and the incident involving UW's Kelly Spady and WSU's Dominic Smargiassi:



Of course, please keep it clean...otherwise, let the smack talking begin!

PS--Here's the links to last year's series of memories of the UW/WSU dual meet:

Part 1: Dwight Midles recalls throwing against UW, and seeing his son compete for the Huskies

Part 2: John Chaplin

Part 3: The athletes speak out

Pair of Cougars earn Pac-10 Field Event Athletes of the Week...

The Pacific-10 Conference announced that freshman long jumper Stephan Scott-Ellis and hammer thrower Kjirsten Jensen (left/photo courtesy Washington State University) were named male and female field event athletes of the week for the week ending April 25th.

Scott-Ellis, a freshman from Tacoma, won the long jump at the 10th annual Cougar Invitational with a PR leap of 7.43m/24-4 ½.

At the same meet, Jensen, a sophomore from Arlington, placed second in the hammer with a PR toss of 56.49m/185-4. It was the fourth-best throw in Washington State women’s history.

The Cougars host the Huskies in the annual dual meet this Saturday at Mooberry Track in Pullman.

For more information on the Pac-10 Athletes of the Week, please click here.

NOTE: The Pacific 10 Conference contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

World champion Bernard Lagat upset in 2010 outdoor debut at Drake Relays...

Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat's (left/photo courtesy Drake University) 2010 outdoor debut turned into an upset special at the Drake Relays, as he was beaten in the men's invitational mile by training partner Boaz Lalang.

Lagat, who won his second World Indoor 3,000 title in March, couldn't hold off Lalang down the homestretch in one of the greatest mile races in Drake Relays history.

The top six finishers all broke four minutes while recording the top six fastest mile times in the world this spring.

Lalang, from Kenya, won in 3:56.14 followed by Bernard Lagat in 3:56.38, Phillip Lagat in 3:57.55, Peter van der Westhuizen 3:57.96; Rob Myers 3:58.17 and Tommie Schmitz 3:59.45.

“It was good to beat him (Lagat), but it's not like he is jus some guy,” said Lalang. “In practice I always follow him, like today. Usually in practice I don't outkick him.”

“I really wanted to give my best,” said Lagat. “But I had to run where I felt I would be comfortable. It is all part of the development you go through in a season, particularly this early.”

Former Shelton HS products Andy & Alex McClary finished eighth and ninth, respectively in 4:05.53, and 4:11.06.

In the men's discus, Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate and world championships finalist Jarred Rome won with a throw of 207-2 (63.14m). Recent Washington State grad Drew Ulrick finished second with a toss of 204-8 (62.38m).

In the women's discus, three time Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way finished third with a throw of 199-3 (60.74m).

Incoming University of Washington freshman Katie Flood made her last Drake Relays appearance memorable, as the West Des Moines Dowling Catholic senior lowered her national leading prep time in the 1,500-meter run to a meet record 4:28.30. She also ran the anchor leg on the winning 4x800 relay which set a meet record of 9:11.01.

Flood won six individual Drake Relays titles including four straight in the 3,000 and two in the 1,500.

Links to full results from the Drake Relays can be found here.

BROOKE PIGHIN CLOSES ON LIFETIME BEST IN JAVELIN

In Berkeley at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational, All-American javelin thrower Brooke Pighin dominated the competition to win her event by more than 25 feet. Pighin threw 167-6 on her second attempt, edging her previous season-best and coming within a foot of her lifetime best.

Washington continued to have a solid day in the field events. Junior Scott Roth earned another win in the pole vault, as his 17-foot, 5-inch clearance was more than eight inches ahead of the next competitor.

Freshman Logan Miller and sophomore Kelly Mudlo both cleared 12-2 ½ in the pole vault, a season-best for Mudlo. Freshman Julian Bardwell was fourth in the top long jump flight with a season-best of 23-3 ¼.

On the track, sophomore transfer Nikki Codd ran her second-consecutive stellar 800-meters. The Northern Arizona transfer placed fifth in 2:07.60, a new PR that is just .21 seconds short of the UW top-10 list. Codd moves up in the West Region rankings to 14th with the effort.

Freshman James Alaka shows no signs of slowing in the 100-meter dash. The London native took second in 10.41 seconds to professional sprinter Rubin Williams who won in 10.37. Sophomore Ryan Hamilton also ran a 10.79 in the prelims and was fifth in the open final.

One of the premiere races of the day was the women's 100-meter hurdles. Senior Falesha Ankton got to compete close to her hometown of Benicia, California, and sliced into her season-best with a third-place run in 13.53 seconds.

Lastly, the Husky men's sprinters put together easily their best 4x100m relay of the season, as Hamilton, Alaka, Colton Dunn, and Jeremy Taiwo clocked 41.02 seconds to take third.

Complete results from the Brutus Hamilton Invitational can be found here.

WSU'S JESHUA ANDERSON A DOUBLE WINNER

In Pullman, Washington State's Jeshua Anderson and Idaho's Mykael Bothum were double winners and five meet records fell Saturday at the 10th Annual Cougar Invitational Track & Field Meet at Mooberry Track.

Anderson, a junior All-American intermediate hurdler, did not run his specialty but won the 800m in a time of 1-minute, 54.45 seconds, and won the 110m hurdles in a time of 14.46w seconds.

Bothum won the women's discus with a throw of 166-feet (50.59m), and won the shot put with a meet record toss of 51-feet, 7 inches (15.72m), breaking her own meet record of 51-5 3/4 (15.69m) set in 2008.

Others breaking meet records included WSU's Dominic Smargiassi who won the men's 3000m race in a time of 8:31.87, wiping out the 2005 mark of 8:39.22 set by WSU's Ryan Freimuth. The WSU men's 4x400m relay team of J Hopkins, Joe Abbott, Luke Lemenager, and Reny Follett ran a time of 3:14.49, bettering the previous record of 3:14.74 set by Idaho State in 2000.

In the women's 1500m, Montana's Katrina Drennen (4:28.89) and Kesslee Payne (4:34.51) finished one-two for the Grizzlies and surpassed the previous meet record of 4:36.93 run by WSU's Anna Blue in 2001. A trio of Gonzaga women shattered the 3000m record of 10:26.00 run in 2006 by Ashley Puga of Northwest Nazarene. Zags Brenn Donnelly (10:15.84), Brittany O'Regan (10:18.96), and Laura Volcheff (10:20.39) all bettered the meet record.

Eastern Washington's Nicole Luckenbach won the women's hammer with a toss of 199-8 (60.85m).

Complete results of the Cougar Invitational can be found here.

Washington State hosts Washington May 1, in the annual dual meet: the 99th edition for the men's teams and the 35th meeting for the women's team. Action begins at 11 a.m. at the Mooberry Track Complex.

NOTE: The Drake Relays, the University of Washington, and Washington State University all contributed to this report.

How do you get the world's most popular track & field athlete into Franklin Field?

Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports, who is in Philadelphia covering the Penn Relays, wondered in his blog Saturday morning how you get the 6-5 Usain Bolt into a jam-packed Franklin Field?

In his column, he noted that the first race of the high school, college and professional relay extravaganza began at 7 am.

Thursday night, he asked long-time Penn Relays meet director Dave Johnson the very same question, to which he replied, "I have no idea."

Battaglia came up with ten ways to smuggle Bolt past the throngs of Bolt-a-maniacs that want to see the world's most popular track & field athlete in a rare appearance in the United States.

Here's the link to Joe's column...

My suggestion: Being that Bolt likes mascots after he nearly let Berlino, the mascot from last year's IAAF world championships upstage him, maybe he gets into Franklin Field disguised as Spike (above/photo courtesy Alison Wade), the old USA Track & Field mascot, who has mysteriously been relegated to oblivion.

Anyway, the Jamaican/USA men's 4 x 100 meter race will be featured in ESPN2's coverage of the Penn Relays starting at 5 pm, pacific time Saturday.

Here are the lineups for the various races...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kara Patterson sets stadium record at Drake Relays; UW's Kyle Nielsen leads Husky javelin sweep at Brutus Hamilton...

Vancouver native Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) unleashed a throw of 202 feet 9 inches on her third attempt, bettering the stadium mark of 194-4 by Nebraska's Denise Thiernard in 1983 to win the women's javelin at the Drake Relays Friday.

Patterson, a 2008 Olympian and World Championships team member in 2009, set a Drake Stadium record by posting the top mark by an American this spring.

"I kind of came in with no expectation because I've been battling injuries (back tightness and muscle spasms)," said Patterson, the Purdue University alum and two-time US national champion, who currently resides at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. "So, I just kind of wanted to go out there and see how it felt. And I guess I just started trusting my body more and I let if fly."

Results of Friday's events at the Drake Relays can be accessed here.

Meanwhile in Berkeley at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational hosted by California, University of Washington junior All-American Kyle Nielsen stretched his PR out once again and crept ever closer to the school record.

Nielsen won with a throw of 247-feet, 1-inch, the second-best mark in the NCAA this season. James Alaka and Jeremy Taiwo also earned wins Friday at Edwards Stadium.

Nielsen, a Langley, B.C. native who was sixth at last year's NCAA Championships, led a Husky sweep of the top three spots in the javelin throw. Freshman Joe Zimmerman was second at 224-6 and freshman James Brookman was third with a toss of 203-2. Nielsen's new PR surpassed his earlier best of 241-9, set just two weeks ago, and pulled him closer to Darryl Roberson's 1989 school record of 249-6. He set the PR on his first attempt, and passed his final three throws.

In a race that finished up after 10 p.m., senior Jake Schmitt set a new outdoor PR in the 5,000-meters, running 13:59.26 to take seventh overall. Schmitt was the top collegiate finisher in a field of mostly pros including Olympian Galen Rupp who won in 13:32.53. Schmitt moves up to ninth on UW's all-time Top-10 list with the run. Sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald was 15th in 14:21.73.

The freshman Alaka continued his winning ways, as he ran 21.09 in the 200-meters for the victory, just off his season-best. Sophomore Ryan Hamilton was fourth in 21.81.

Sophomore Jeremy Taiwo, coming off an excellent decathlon last week at Mt. SAC, won the open section of the long jump with a mark of 22-7 ¼. He also had a season-best high jump clearance of 6-6.

Action resumes Saturday with UW All-Americans Scott Roth, Brooke Pighin, and Falesha Ankton in action.

Live results from the Brutus Hamilton meet can be accessed here.


In Bellingham, Michael Hoffman (So., Bellingham/Sehome) set a school record in the men's hammer, highlighting Western Washington University performances Friday at the 10th annual Viking Twilight Track and Field meet at Civic Stadium.

Hoffman won with a toss of 194-9, just two feet and one inch short of the NCAA Division II automatic national qualifying standard. Hoffman had already achieved the provisional standard, but his heave Friday which was nearly 10 feet farther all but clinches him a spot at nationals.

"It started raining just as our flight began, and I scratched on the first throw which would have been a 204, but then I got the 194," said Hoffman, who also won the discus, improving on his provisional qualifying mark with a toss of 163-7. "It was awesome, but there's still a lot of room to go." Hoffman broke the school record of 187-2 set in 1991 by Dennis James.

For the Western women, Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum) and Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson) each achieved their third qualifying standard of the season. Olson won the 800 meters in 2:13.89 to reach the provisional qualifying standard. She had already reached the provisional mark in the 1,500 meters and 3,000 steeplechase, both in school-record times.

Porter won the 5,000 in 17:00.69 to reach the provisional standard. She has already reached the automatic standard in the 10,000 in school-record time, and has hit the provisional mark in the 1,500.

Olson and Porter helped an outstanding effort on the track for the women, as the Vikings won six of the 11 events. The other winners were Sarah Brownell (Jr., Yelm) in the 400 (57.85), Rachael Johnson (Jr., Yakima/West Valley) in the 1,500 (4:39.72), Michelle Howe (Jr., Lakewood) in the 100 hurdles (14.76), and the 4x100 relay team of Howe, Brownell, Joana Houplin (Jr., Olympia) and Megan Zukowski (Jr., Maple Valley/Tahoma) (48.38).

In addition, Emily Warman (So., Sedro-Woolley) won the long jump (16-8 3/4).

Western's men had a total of 10 triumphs. Besides Hoffman's two victories, Ryan Brown (Jr., Bellingham/Squalicum) won the pole vault (16-8 3/4) and the Vikings had seven victories on the track, including all of the flat events of 400 meters or less.

Alex Tilley (So., Edmonds/Kamiak) won the 100 (11.17), Shane Gruger (Jr., Shoreline/Shorewood) triumphed in the 200 (22.48), Toby David (Jr., Cathlamet/Wakiakum) claimed the 400 (50.19), Jordan Welling (Burlington/Burlington-Edson) won the 3000 (8:24.61) and Kyle Johnson (So., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside) was victorious in the 3,000 steeplechase (9:47.7).

The Vikings claimed both the 4x100 (41.72) and 4x400 (3:27.20) relays.

Western Washington's press release can be accessed here
(complete results were not available at 11 pm on their site; a link to results will be posted later).

NOTE: The Drake Relays, the University of Washington, and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Morning links for breakfast (April 23rd)...

Here are a couple of links passed along by the readers this morning:

First is a link to a story from the Daily Evergreen on Washington State 800 meter runner Anna Layman (left/file photo by Paul Merca) who was an NCAA qualifier two years ago, and the personal travails she's endured over the last several months, including the passing of her mother last August...

Next is the USA Today story on world champion LaShawn Merritt's impending suspension for DHEA, a steroid, not because of anything related to athletic performance but because the drug is contained in an over-the-counter male enhancement product Merritt used after the 2009 season.

Pending a USADA hearing and outcome, Merritt agreed not to compete.

In a prepared statement, USATF CEO Doug Logan said, "Mr. Merritt has been an integral part of Team USA and the sport in this country. He has now put his entire career under a cloud and in the process made himself the object of jokes. In this day and age, a professional athlete should know better. Personally, I am disgusted by this entire episode."

Here's a link to the International Olympic Committee's web site on the funeral of former IOC head Juan Antonio Samaranch, who passed away on Tuesday at age 89 from heart failure. There are also tributes to Samaranch on the site.

Samaranch headed the IOC until 2000, and was responsible for the financial turnaround of the organization after three successive boycotts (Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980, and Los Angeles 1984).

Finally, here's a link from the University of Washington on the progress of some of their incoming freshmen this season, including hurdler Kayla Stueckle of Emerald Ridge, and distance runners Megan Morgan of Torrey Pines HS and Chloe Curtis of Redondo Union HS.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hot links for the weekend in advance...

Here are a series of links to what's ahead in the local world of collegiate & post-collegiate track & field this weekend…

The University of Washington will send a large contingent of athletes to the campus of the University of California in Berkeley for the two-day Brutus Hamilton Invitational at Edwards Stadium, which will be the site of next month's Pac 10 Championships.

A small contingent of Huskies will also compete Friday afternoon at Western Washington University's Viking Twilight meet at Civic Stadium, along with athletes from 12 schools including British Columbia, Central Washington, Concordia, Everett CC, Evergreen State, Northwest, Saint Martin's, Seattle U., Seattle Pacific, Skagit Valley CC, Washington and the host Vikings.

Across the state, Washington State University hosts the tenth annual Cougar Invitational at Mooberry Track in Pullman. The meet comprises of teams and individuals from the Inland Northwest, with field events beginning at 10 a.m. and running events beginning at 1:15 p.m

Diana Pickler cruises to Drake Relays heptathlon title; incoming Husky freshman Katie Flood wins prep 3000...

DES MOINES, Iowa--Washington State University graduate and two-time World Championships team member Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the two-day heptathlon competition at the Drake Relays Thursday.

Pickler, a Beijing Olympian, who led after day one with a score of 3585 points, recorded the best heptathlon mark by an American this spring with 6,040 points. It ranks as the second best in world, just trailing the mark of 6,086 points by Canada's Ruky Abdulai at Mt. SAC Relays last Saturday.

Pickler won all three events on the final day, capturing the long jump at 20 feet 1.75 inches, the javelin at 135-9, while winning the 800 in 2:16.73.

"That makes it fun, the history of the Drake Relays, to be on the board," said Pickler, who was 11th in the 2009 World Championships. "I was shooting for that going into the 800, so it made it exciting. I'm honored to get that and kind of move forward from here."

It marked the third straight year the Drake Relays heptathlon mark has been broken. Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson set the 2009 record of 6,020 points bettering the previous meet record of 5,788 points by Fiona Asigbee from Columbia, Mo., in 2008.

Meanwhile, incoming University of Washington freshman Katie Flood of Dowling Catholic in Des Moines ran the fastest high school outdoor girls' 3,000 time in the United States this year of 9:43.39, bettering previous the 2010 prep best of 9:45.71 by Emily Lipari, Roslyn, N.Y.

It also was a Drake Relays record, bettering her mark of 9:44.96 set as a sophomore in 2007.

Flood became just the third high school athlete in Drake Relays history to win an event four times, joining Debbie Carroll of Collins, who won the 100 yard dash from 1971-74 and Abby Emsick from Lewis Central of Council Bluffs who won discus from 1999-2002.



In her last appearance at Drake Stadium, Flood ran the nation's top high school girls time in the 1500 at 4:31.38 April 10 at the Jim Duncan Invitational.

"When I hit that one last lap mark, I was feeling pretty tired," said Flood, who was clocked in 69 seconds in her last lap. "But I thought there was one more and I'd just put it all out there.

"The Drake Relays is my favorite meet," said Flood. "The state meet is kind of the most important for us as high school athletes, but I really like running here."

Competition resumes Friday at the Drake Relays. For more information, please visit godrakebulldogs.com.

NOTE: Drake University and the Drake Relays contributed to this report.

Numerous Washington Olympians head to Des Moines for Drake Relays...

Recent IAAF World Indoor 3000 meter champion and Washington State Hall of Famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) heads a contingent of Washington state Olympians and World Championships competitors heading to Des Moines, Iowa for this weekend's Drake Relays.

Lagat, who won his second World indoor 3000m title in Doha, will lead a strong field in the mile in his 2010 outdoor debut. Among Lagat’s challengers will be Americans Rob Myers and Jon Rankin and Pablo Solaris of Mexico who boast sub-3:55 career bests.

In the men's discus, fellow Cougar Olympian Ian Waltz heads a list of the top four nationally ranked men’s discus throwers in the United States who will compete at Drake.

Training partner and fellow world championships competitor Jarred Rome from Marysville, Waltz and Adam Kuehl, who were ranked Nos. 2,3 and 4 in the U.S., respectively, last year, also will compete, along with #1 American Casey Malone, Rashaud Scott and recent WSU grad Drew Ulrick who were ranked Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, last year.

In the women's discus, three-time U.S. Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way headlines the Drake Relays women’s invitational discus field, where she goes head-to-head with Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton.

Thurmond was 10th at the 2009 World Outdoor Championship and won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials with a throw of 213 feet 11 inches.



Thurmond, who owns a personal best of 216-1 in 2004, is a three-time Olympian, competing in 1996 and 2004, while placing 10th at the 2008 Olympics at 196-2. She was ranked No. 6 in the world in 2006, No. 7 in 2004, No. 8 in 2003 and No. 10 in 2002.



Reigning U.S. national champion and 2008 Olympian Kara Patterson from Vancouver will compete in the Drake Relays women’s javelin.

Patterson, who won the 2009 Drake Relays university-college title, set a personal best of 209-10 at the 2009 U.S. Championship.

Patterson made her first Olympic team by winning the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.

As a senior at Purdue, Patterson was second in the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championship while winning her third straight Big Ten Conference title.

WSU graduate and 2008 Olympian Diana Pickler is currently competing in the heptathlon, which began Wednesday.

For more information on the Drake Relays, including free live streaming video of the event, please visit GoDrakeBulldogs.com.

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

Diana Pickler grabs day 1 heptathlon lead at Drake Relays...

DES MOINES, Iowa--Former Washington State University standout Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca), the reigning U.S. national champion, grabbed the first-day lead in the Drake Relays heptathlon Wednesday, tallying 3,585 points.

Pickler, a 2008 US Olympian, opened the grueling two-day affair by winning the 100 hurdles in 13.63 seconds and the high jump at 5 feet 10 inches. She was third in the shot put at 39-7.75 and closed out the day by winning the 200 in 24.48.

"I really wasn't going to do heptathlon this early," said Pickler, who was 11th in the 2009 World Championships. "I wasn't thinking about it until probably like two weeks ago. I was hoping for at least a 37 (hundred) first day, but it wasn't quite that. I'm very, very fit right now, but I'm not as sharp, so I just didn't let it go and let it happen like I should have."

The heptathlon competition resumes Thursday with the long jump, javelin, and 800 meter run.

NOTE: Drake University and the Drake Relays contributed to this report.

Track & field and its relevance in the media...

I just came across a very thoughtful piece written by former USA Today track & field beat writer Dick Patrick on how media coverage of this sport must evolve in the era of the internet, the contents of which you can read here.

At the same time, I read Ken Goe of the Oregonian's thoughts on whether or not newspapers are still relevant in this age of "I want my results and video now".

Back in my youth, my interest in this sport was piqued by the writing of folks like Bert and Cordner Nelson at Track & Field News, Jim Dunaway (who actually wrote a how-to book on the running events for Sports Illustrated that I bought while I was in junior high school), and in the Seattle area by guys like Georg N. Meyers at the Seattle Times, and Jack Pfeifer, who published a weekly high school track & field newsletter on a ditto or mimeograph machine!!!

Folks like Hal Higdon and George Sheehan at Runner's World, and even just retired world class runners like Kenny Moore at Sports Illustrated were very influential in my following this sport as a teenager all the way to the present.

Of course, I must also thank my high school journalism teacher Barbara Nilson at Franklin HS in Seattle for helping set up the first interview I ever did with a major track & field athlete--shot putter Brian Oldfield (above/cover photo courtesy Sports Illustrated)--yes, the same cigarette smoking, Speedo swim trunk wearing Brian Oldfield who threw the shot 75-0 in an International Track Association pro meet!

If it weren't for the Nelsons, Dunaway, Meyers, Higdon, Sheehan, Pfeifer, Moore, and many others, I seriously wonder if I'd follow the sport today with the same passion I did as a kid (then again, I was blessed to have very influential coaches in my life like Shig Tsutsumi at Sharples Junior High, and Don Bundy at Franklin HS, who steered me towards this sport, but that's another story).

Don't get me wrong--the video sites like Flotrack and RunnerSpace do a great job, especially with their ability to post race video and interviews almost instantaneously from whatever meet they're attending in the USA.

However, the one thing I don't see any of the web sites do--and I count myself as being guilty of it as well--is provide some sort of balance to a story.

Classic example of my guilt--UW's Katie Follett's win over Jessica Pixler from SPU in last week's Mt. SAC Relays 1500m race.



If you watch the video, you'll notice that Jessica seemingly had command of the race, but with 100 meters to go, Pixler inexplicably swung to the outside of lane 1, giving Follett enough of a gap to shoot through the inside to get the win.

After watching the video, I felt Pixler committed one of the cardinal sins of track & field--never, ever let an opponent pass you on the final straightaway on the inside.

Had I watched the video of the race before posting the story, or if I had been at the meet, I would've asked the question of Pixler of why she let Follett pass on the inside instead of making her take a few extra strides and pass on the outside. Conversely, I would've asked Katie about how she was able to take advantage of that gift-wrapped Christmas present.

Unfortunately, there was no balance; I ran with what both SPU and UW's sports information folks wrote, with the emphasis being on both beating their school records.

If the "mainstream media" is willing to invest resources in covering track and field the way it once was 25-30 years or so ago, and not shove it aside during non-Olympic years, and if those reporters who are covering the sport are as Goe puts it, "smart enough and agile enough to adapt to changing circumstances, and willing to work hard to give our readers something that is timely, insightful and unique", then yes, there is a place for daily newspapers in this sport.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Former Washington State runner Drew Polley finishes 16th in Boston Marathon...

Former Washington State University standout Drew Polley (left/photo courtesy Washington State University) finished 16th in Monday's running of the Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Boston.

The ex-Cougar stopped the watch in a time of 2:16:36, earning him a spot on the line for the 2012 Olympic Trials race in Houston.

Polley, who attended South Kitsap High School. and now trains out of Rochester Hills, Michigan as part of the Hansons/Brooks Distance Project, was the fifth American finisher in the race.

According to Polley's coach, Kevin Hanson, he ran a negative split (second half faster than the first) on a course that is much more different in the first half than the second half.

In Polley's marathon debut in November of last year, he ran 2:20:59 to finish eighth at the Rock 'n Roll San Antonio Marathon. He made his professional debut last June with a fourth place finish at the Rock 'n Roll Seattle Half Marathon, clocking 1:06:44.

PAC-10 NOTES: Washington State's Jeshua Anderson and Washington's Katie Follett were named by the Pacific-10 Conference as its male and female track athletes of the week for the week ending April 18th.

Anderson won the men's Invitational 400m hurdles at the Mt. SAC Relays in a season-best and world-leading time of 49.11 seconds. The defending NCAA and Pac-10 Champion is undefeated in the 400 intermediate hurdles this season.

Follett won the invitational heat of the 1,500-meters at the Mt. SAC Relays on Friday night and took over the NCAA lead with a time of 4:10.66. That run broke the Washington school record, and is the second-fastest in the world this year. Follett, the NCAA runner-up in the mile indoors, lowered her personal-best by more than four seconds in the victory. The seven-time All-American in cross country and track ranks second in the world behind only Kenya's Ann Karindi Mwangi who has run 4:09.41. She currently leads the NCAA by more than two seconds.

NOTE: The Pacific 10 Conference contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Maybe I should actually pay attention...

Maybe I should look at the counter in the archive section of this blog.

What began as a whim back in March 2007 with my first post on University of Washington sprinter Alex Harcourt has now evolved into post number 1000, which went up earlier Sunday night.

Appropriately enough, post number 1000 was on former Husky discus thrower Aretha Thurmond, who has amazed even a lot of people who have followed her career from Renton High School to the UW, and through the world class track & field circuit with her longevity in this sport.

This blog was started as an extension of my writing for Northwest Runner magazine, knowing that not everything that I submit will ever grace the pages of that magazine. After all, the majority of readers pick it up to find out where the next local road race is, and not necessarily because they want to know what our local elite athletes are up to.

In starting the blog, I was constantly reminded of a quote attributed to the late Billy McChesney, a contemporary of mine who ran at the University of Oregon in the late 1970s, and was on the ill-fated 1980 US Olympic team in the 5000 meter run.

In describing his running, he said that he didn't "want to be the biggest fish in the smallest pond, nor be a small fish in a big pond. I want to be the biggest fish in the biggest pond!"

While my focus on the blog has always been on Washington athletes competing at the collegiate and post collegiate levels (I leave the coverage of Washington preps to capable sites like dyestat.com, and other similar sites; similarly, even though I am of masters age, I don't have the time, resources or the passion to cover masters track & field, road running, and cross country), it's always been with an eye towards the biggest prizes in the sport--NCAAs, USAs, IAAF World Championships, and the Olympics.

As those of you who read the blog can attest, it's the biggest stars from Washington state--the Brad Walker, Bernard Lagat, Aretha Thurmond, Jeshua Anderson, Jessica Pixler, Kara Patterson, Kendra Schaaf, Ginnie Powell, Diana Picklers of the track world who will command most of the space, though we will occasionally highlight an up and coming national prep star like a Kasen Williams.

Since starting this blog three years ago, I've found out what Facebook and Twitter are, and am grateful that those two major social media outlets have helped drive up the readership numbers. I am also grateful that members of the mainstream media have found confidence in the blog to use it as a source for information when writing their stories. I'm thankful that those people have steered readers to this site.

Before signing off, I want to thank a few people who have been a source of inspiration and help to the blog, including: Charlie Mahler, whose Down The Backstretch blog on Minnesota track & field was the impetus for my starting this blog; Martin Rudow, the publisher of Northwest Runner; the media relations staffs at the University of Washington, Washington State University, the University of Oregon, USA Track & Field, the IAAF, Nike, adidas, Asics, Puma; and, Larry Eder, the publisher of American Track & Field, RunBlogRun, and the Running Network. My journalism teacher at Seattle's Franklin High School, Barbara Nilson, and my long time mentor, Lisa Fortini-Campbell, also deserve praise and thanks.

Most importantly, I wish to thank the athletes, officials, coaches, managers, agents, administrators of the sport, along with YOU, the readers of this blog, for your support. Without the athletes, there is no blog to read, and without the readers, there is no reason to publish the blog.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to writing another 1000 posts!

Three time Olympian Aretha Thurmond wins discus at War Eagle Invitational, plus weekend recap...

Former University of Washington standouts Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Will Conwell each emerged victorious in the discus competition at the War Eagle Invitational on the campus of Auburn University on Saturday.

Thurmond, the three time Olympian, easily took the victory, throwing a facility record 199-8 (60.86m) on her fifth attempt of the competition.

Thurmond opened her 2010 season on April 3rd at Auburn, throwing 194-10 (59.39m) in another low-key setting.

Thurmond's next competition is at this weekend's Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

Courtesy of arethathrows.com, here is footage of Aretha's winning throw, along with commentary from Aretha's son, Theo:



Conwell, an Olympic Trials finalist two years ago, won the men's competition with a throw of 185-3 (56.47m), nearly ten feet better than his nearest competitor. Conwell recently left the Seattle area to train full-time at Auburn University under the tutelage of Auburn coach Jerry Clayton, who also coaches Thurmond.

Results from the War Eagle Invitational can be accessed here.


JESSICA PIXLER DOES IT AGAIN!

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler broke yet another long-standing school record Saturday as she won the 800m run at the Beach Invitational in Cerritos, California, running a scintillating time of 2:04.89, crushing Susie Griffith's old school record of 2:06.6, set in 1977.

On Friday at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., Pixler ran 4:11.06 in the 1,500 meters. That beat the SPU record of 4:13.12 set by Gitte Karlshoj in 1988 and also broke her own GNAC record of 4:17.68 from last season.

So from early Friday evening to mid afternoon on Saturday -- a span of about 20 hours -- Pixler rewrote a combined 55 years of Falcon track history. She now owns school records in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000. (She set the 5,000 mark of 15:44.07 at the Stanford Track & Field Invitational on March 26.)

Pixler wasn't the only Falcon shining in the 800. Senior Lisa Anderberg (Edmonds, Wash./Kamiak HS) was ninth in 2:11.03, just five-hundredths of a second off her personal best. Senior Jane Larson did run a personal best, taking 11th in 2:11.03. And senior Kate Harline (Orem, Utah) became a GNAC automatic qualifier with a 2:16.83, finishing 27th and beating her previous best by more than three seconds.

Junior Crystal Sims (Portland, Ore.) posted two career-bests for the Falcons on Saturday. She went 25.51 for 20th place in the 200 meters, and took her first run of the season in the 100, hitting the wire in 12.50, making her an automatic qualifier for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships. She already was on the GNAC automatic list in the 200.

Adam Stewart of Eastern Washington tied for first in the men's high jump, as he and Brandon Sheppard of Nebraska each cleared 6-9 1/2 (2.07m).

Complete results from the Beach Invitational can be accessed here.


HUSKIES COMPETE AT MONDO INVITATIONAL IN SACRAMENTO

While a select group competed at the Mt. SAC Relays, another group of Husky track & field athletes participated in the Mondo Invitational meet, hosted by Sacramento State University at Hornet Stadium, which has hosted both the US Olympic Trials and the NCAA Championships.

Fleet-footed freshman James Alaka got the win in the 200-meter dash, and put his name up on another Husky top-10 list in the process. Alaka won in 20.94 seconds, becoming just the eighth man in UW history to break 21-seconds. Alaka now ranks eighth all-time in addition to ranking fifth in the 100m dash with his time of 10.32 seconds from last Saturday.

Sophomore Ryan Hamilton matched his PR in the 100-meters, where he placed fourth in 10.76 seconds. He then came back to place fourth in the 200m in 21.85.

Senior Falesha Ankton had a good day of work, taking fourth in the 100-meters in 12.04 seconds, and running fifth in the 200-meters in 25.06. Nikki Codd was very strong in the 800-meter run, taking second in 2:08.31 which would rank her in the top-40 nationally heading into the weekend.

The Huskies got a win from senior Syreeta Martin, who took two seconds off her previous season-best in the 400-meter hurdles, winning in 1:02.44. In the same event on the men's side, junior Miles Timpe earned a win in 55.57 seconds.

All of Washington's three women's triple jumpers had season-bests, and in the case of Nicole Vielma, a big career-best. Vielma jumped 38-11, more than a foot past her old best mark. She was third, right behind sophomore Taylor Nichols, who closed in on the 40-foot mark with a season-best 39-7 ¾. That mark will get Nichols into 10th on the all-time Top-10 list. Sophomore Lindsey Fleishman was also fifth with an outdoor PR of 37-10. Nichols also placed third in the long jump with a season-best 18-1 ½.

Redshirt freshman Clayton Johnson had a major PR in the triple jump despite jumping into a headwind, as he won the event with a best of 47-feet, 8-inches, ten inches farther than his previous best. In the men's long jump, freshman Julian Bardwell was second with a best mark of 22-11 ¾ coming on his first attempt into a slight headwind.

Yet another win came from sophomore Richard Anderson in the shot put, who equaled his career-best at 52-6 on his first throw of the day. Anderson also had a big PR in the discus, throwing 155-8 to take third. Senior Zack Midles was second at 157-11, while the win went to sophomore Conner Larned, competing unattached, who threw 161-2. Midles also got the victory in the hammer throw, winning by more than 30 feet with a best of 200-7.

Here's a link to results from the Mondo Invitational.


The Huskies will be back in California next weekend for the Brutus Hamilton Invitational, hosted by Cal-Berkeley.

FALCONS & VIKINGS AT SPIKE ARLT INVITATIONAL IN ELLENSBURG

Emily Quatier and Ryan Endresen keep going faster. Natalie Nobbs keeps going farther.

All three of those Seattle Pacific athletes, along with veteran Jennifer Pike, found the win column on Saturday in their respective events at the Spike Arlt Invitational on the campus of Central Washington University.

Here's a link to SPU's release from the Spike Arlt meet.

Western Washington had five winners at the Spike Arlt meet, along with numerous GNAC Championship meet qualifiers.

The Vikings' winning efforts were Haida Ikeda (Fr., Issaquah) in the 800 meters (2:21.4), Danielle Slaughter (Jr., Spokane/Shadle Park) in the 1,500 (4:54.0), Tanya Bjornsson (Fr., Ferndale) in the 100 hurdles (15.42), Amanda Overdick (Fr., Lynnwood) in the high jump (5-5) and Elsa Couvelier (Sr., Bellingham) in the pole vault (11-3 3/4).

Here's a link to WWU's release from the meet.

Host Central Washington had three athletes-- freshman Anthony Wright (Lakewood/Lakes HS), sophomore Manuel Santos (Yakima/A.C. Davis HS), and junior Torrie Self (Kent/Kent-Meridian HS) -- who were double event winners on Saturday, including Wright, who won both the 100 and 200 meters with season's-best times. His time of 10.65 seconds in the 100 meters tied his mark from last weekend's meet at Spokane, while his handheld time of 21.5 seconds in the 200 was also victorious.

Santos, meanwhile, took victories in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs. He won both races by narrow margins, taking the 5K by just 2.5 seconds over former Wildcat Trevor Kulvi and then earning an eight-second win in the 10K.

Self again led the Central women on Saturday, winning the discus and hammer events. Her toss of 170 feet, 9 inches in the women's hammer improved upon her NCAA Division II provisional national qualifying mark. She also won the discus with a toss of 139 feet.

Central's release can be accessed here.


Complete meet results from the Spike Arlt Invitational are available here.

NOTE: Seattle Pacific, the University of Washington, Western Washington, and Central Washington Universities all contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jeshua Anderson wins Mt. SAC Relays 400h title in world leading mark; Norris Frederick & Jarred Rome also winners...

WALNUT, California--Washington State's Jeshua Anderson won the men's Invitational 400m hurdles race at the 52nd Annual Mt. SAC Relays, contested at Hilmer Lodge Stadium at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.

Anderson, a junior from Woodland Hills, Calif., won the men's Invitational 400m hurdles in a season-best time of 49.11 seconds, a healthy distance ahead of USC's Reggie White who ran 50.45.

Anderson's mark is currently the fastest time in the world in this young outdoor season, surpassing Danny McFarlane of Jamaica and Cornel Fredericks of South Africa, who both ran 49.12 earlier this year.

Courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com, here's the video of Anderson's world leading race:



WASHINGTON POST-COLLEGIANS FREDERICK & ROME WIN THEIR EVENTS

Former Husky All American Norris Frederick won the invitational mens' long jump with a first round leap of 26-4.25 (8.03m), besting Mexico's Luis Alberto Rivera, who jumped 26-0.25 (7.93m).

Former Marysville-Pilchuck HS standout Jarred Rome (left/photo by Paul Merca), a member of last year's world championship team, won the invitational discus with a throw of 209-3 (63.77m). Former Cougar Drew Ulrick took third place with a throw of 196-1 (59.76m).

Washington's Scott Roth finished in a tie with USC's Brandon Estrada for second in the invitational pole vault with a jump of 17-8.5 (5.40m), as Mexico's Giovanni Lanaro won with a leap of 18-8.25 (5.70m).

Former Tacoma prep standout Craig Everhart finished fourth in the invitational 400m, running 46.19.

The men's invitational hammer throw was littered with numerous athletes with Washington connections, as Kibwe Johnson, who trains with former Husky Martin Bingisser in Kamloops, BC finished second with a throw of 248-4 (75.70m). 2009 world championships team member Michael Mai of Ft. Lewis was fourth at 237-2 (72.29m), and former Eastern Washington standout David Paul was fifth at 224-5 (68.40m).

Bingisser was seventh at 216-2 (65.88m), and former Spokane Falls CC & University of Wyoming standout Jake Shanklin was 11th at 207-4 (63.20m).

Describing his series, Bingisser said, "I started off slow today, but ended up getting the extra distance after I found my rhythm. But again, I know there is more there. I had three throws over 65 meters and was very close to a bigger toss. The last one was close to what I wanted, but I pulled the release a little and that launched it out of the sector. It was still around 67 meters, so that's my new target for my next meet."

"I'm slowly improving in each meet an know I can make my way up to 70 meters this year. My technique has been getting better every day, and it'll happen when the pieces come together in a meet. I've got plenty of time for that though. This is just the start of a long season; the Swiss championships are in mid-July and I'm also hoping to qualify for the European Championships in August."

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY RECAP

Anna Layman, a junior from Spokane Valley, won the women's Olympic Development 800m race in a time of 2-minutes, 6.80 seconds. Joe Abbott was the runner up on the men's 800m Olympic Development race with a season-best time of 1:49.12. Luke Lemenager finished 10th in the same race in a time of 1:52.73.

Princess Joy Griffey ran a season-best non-wind-aided time of 11.79 for eighth place in the women's 100m Invitational 100m dash. She also ran the second leg of the women's 4x100m Invitational relay that ran a time of 46.55 for fourth place. Cindy Robinson, Griffey, Jasmine Johnson-McKeown and Angela Jensen ran the first short relay for the Cougar women this season.

The WSU men's 4x100m relay team of Brett Blanshan, Nate Washington, Greg Hornsby, and Stephan Scott-Ellis ran a season-best time of 40.94 for fourth place in the men's Invitational race.

In the Olympic Development men's 400m hurdles race, J Hopkins placed third with a time of 53.07.

High jumper Trent Arrivey struggled in the men's Invitational event Saturday, clearing 7-0 1/2 (2.15m) for seventh place.

Late Friday night, Lisa Egami finished 15th in the 5000m Invitational race in a PR time of 16:30.89, the fifth-fastest time in school history. In the men's 5000m University/Open "B" race, Jono Lafler ran a PR time of 14:10.54 for fourth place.

In field events Friday night, Courtney Kirkwood threw the javelin a season-best 168-8 (51.42m) for third place. Hilary Moore tied for ninth in the "B" section of the pole vault with a season-best clearance at 11-9 3/4 (3.60m). It was not a good night for hammer thrower Kjirsten Jensen who threw a distance of 156-1 (47.57m) for 33rd.

Complete results from the Mt. SAC Relays can be obtained by visiting mtsacrelays.com.

NOTE: The Mt. SAC Relays, the University of Washington & Washington State University all contributed to this report.

Friday, April 16, 2010

UW's Katie Follett wins epic metric mile battle with SPU's Jessica Pixler at Mt. SAC...

WALNUT, California--In an epic battle, Washington senior Katie Follett (left/file photo by Paul Merca) defeated cross-town rival Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific to win the top section of the 1500 meter run at Friday night's running of the Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium.

Follett's school record time of 4:10.66 (old UW school record was 4:10.93 by Courtney Inman, set in 2003) is currently the second fastest time outdoors in the world, behind Kenya's Ann Karindi Mwangi.

Pixler's runner-up time of 4:11.06 broke the SPU school record of 4:13.12, set by Gitte Karlshoj.

Here is the video of the race, courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com:



In one of the last premier events of the night session, junior Colton Tully-Doyle turned in the second-fastest 5,000-meter run in Washington history, as he was one of fourteen men to break 14-minutes in his section of the 5k. Tully-Doyle set the indoor school record just a few weeks back, but had run the 1,500-meters in his first two outdoor appearances.

Tully-Doyle churned around the track in 13:52.40, faster than all Huskies in history save for school record-holder David Bazzi, who ran 13:40.61 in 2001. Prior to this season, Tully-Doyle's personal-best at the distance was 14:26.27, more than a 30-second improvement in just one year.

Close behind Tully-Doyle was senior Jake Schmitt, who was just off his personal-best in the 5k with a time of 14:04.20.

In the women's 5,000-meter invitational, senior Anita Campbell carve about 30-seconds off her time from just one week prior, as she ran 16:17.85, a big step forward as the defending Pac-10 10,000-meter champ gets herself back up to speed for the longer distance.

More excellent efforts were turned in by the underclassmen tonight. Freshman Justine Johnson had a big PR in the open heats of the 1,500-meters, as she ran 4:31.34. Under the stars, sophomore Kayla Evans showed again what a difference a year can make, as she ran 16:43.01 in the 5,000-meters.

Sophomore Ryan Soberanis had a PR as well in the men's 1,500-meters as he crossed in 3:48.61. Fellow sophomore Ryan Styrk also had a five-second personal-best of 3:52.17.

The highlight of the field events was senior Ryan Vu, who went up and over 17-feet in the pole vault for the first time this season. Vu cleared 17-0 ¾ to be precise, making the bar on his second attempt.

WASHINGTON STATE HIGHLIGHTS


Freshman Shawna Fermin ran a lifetime-best 400m dash time of 54.99 seconds for fourth place overall and was second among collegians. Ryan Barrett ran a season-best 400m dash time of 48.07 for 10th place and Reny Follett also ran a season-best time of 49.39.

In the men's 100m dash, Greg Hornsby ran a PR time of 10.68 for seventh, Nate Washington's season-best time of 10.72 was 10th, and Brett Blanshan ran a season-best time of 10.82 for 17th. Cindy Robinson ran a 100m rime of 12.13 for 11th.

The WSU men's 4x400m relay team of Hornsby, Jeshua Anderson, Barrett and Follett won in a time of 3-minutes, 12.88 seconds while the WSU "B" team of J Hopkins, Kyle Schauble, Dana Wells and André Jennings finished seventh in a time of 3:19.12.

In the women's 200m dash, Princess Joy Griffey won her heat with a season-best time of 24.09w for fifth place while Jasmine Johnson-McKeown ran a PR time of 24.47for 10th and Cindy Robinson ran a time of 24.51w for 11th. Marlon Murray had the top time in the men's 200m at 21.57 for 13th and Blanshan ran a time of 21.65 for 20th.

SEATTLE PACIFIC HIGHLIGHTS

Besides Pixler's charge into the SPU school record books Friday, junior pole vaulter Melissa Peaslee cleared 12 feet, 5½ inches to win her flight of the pole vault open event. That was 1½ inches higher than the previous SPU outdoor record of 12-4 set by Ally Studer in 2003. That mark by Studer also was the old GNAC record, which Western Washington’s Christy Miller tied last year.

She also beat her previous outdoor best of 12-3½, set in 2008. Her all-time career best is an indoor clearance of 12-9. Prior to Friday’s performance, her best this season was 11-11¾, set just last weekend in Spokane at The War III meet.

SPU senior Latasha Essien (Portland, Ore.) made her 2010 outdoor debut with a strong run in the 100-meter dash, crossing the line in 12.35 seconds for a GNAC automatic qualifying time. That time also stands as the best in the conference so far this spring -- by the bare minimum one-hundredth of a second ahead of the 12.36 posted by Western Washington sophomore Joana Houplin on Thursday at the Cal State L.A. Twilight Open.

Senior Lisa Anderberg (Edmonds, Wash./Kamiak HS) ran fourth in her section and 14th overall in the 800 meters in 2:11.76.

In the Bryan Clay Invitational at nearby Azusa Pacific University, junior Crystal Sims (Portland, Ore.) ran a season- and SPU career-best time of 58.01 seconds in the 400 meters.

Seattle Pacific’s only other competitor in that meet, sophomore Alison Worthen (Coos Bay, Ore.), cleared 5-3 in the high jump.

All of the Falcon women who are in California except for Peaslee are set to compete at the Beach Invitational in Cerritos on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON HIGHLIGHTS

Viking hammer thrower Michael Hoffman threw a NCAA D-II provisional national qualifying mark of 185-4 (56.48 meters) which netted him a personal best and was just under two feet short of the school record.

Western's Ryan Brown (Jr., Bellingham/Squalicum) cleared 16-8 3/4 (5.10) to finish ninth in the top division of the men's pole vault, Monika Gruszecki (Jr., Edmonds/Meadowdale) placed 10th in the women's javelin, upping her provisional qualifying mark to 138-7 (42.25), and Emily Warman (So., Sedro-Woolley) placed 14th in the women's triple jump with a mark of 36-10 1/2 (11.24).

The Vikings' Sarah Brownell (Jr., Yelm) was fourth in her heat and 25th overall in the women's 400 meters (57.59), Rachael Johnson (Jr., Yakima/West Valley) was seventh in her section and 31st overall in the women's 800 (2:15.44), Michelle Howe (Jr., Lakewood) was sixth in her section and 32nd overall in the women's 110 hurdles (14.59), Alex Tilley (So., Edmonds/Kamiak) was fourth in his section and 34th overall in the men's 100 meters (11.06) and Matt O'Connell (Sr., Sammamish/Skyline) was sixth in his heat and 37th overall in the men's 400 (50.42).

The women's 4x100 relay of Joana Houplin (Jr., Olympia), Howe, Eleanor Siler (So. Spokane/Lewis & Clark) and Megan Zukowski (Jr., Maple Valley/Tahoma) placed sixth in its heat (49.02), and the men's 4x100 quartet of Justin Thomsen (Fr., Bellingham/Sehome), Anthony Zackery (Sr., Spokane/Ferris), Shane Gruger (Jr., Shoreline/Shorewood) and Tilley finished fourth in its heat (42.07).

Western's Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) ran in the men's 5,000 which began at 10:30 p.m.

Two Vikings competed at the Azusa Pacific Invitational. Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum) placed third in the women's 1,500 (4:37.27) and Ben Elder (Jr., Lake Stevens) finished 5th in the men's shot put (51-6 1/2, 15.71).

Complete results from the Mt. SAC Relays can be accessed by visiting mtsacrelays.com.

NOTE: The Mt. SAC Relays, Seattle Pacific, University of Washington, Western Washington, and Washington State Universities all contributed to this report.

Sehome grad Jake Riley third in invitational 10000 at Mt. SAC Relays...

WALNUT, California--The main portion of the three day Mt. SAC Relays track & field extravaganza go underway Thursday night at Hilmer Lodge Stadium, and numerous Washington athletes were in the mix, as the steeplechase and the 10000 took center stage.

In the invitational 10000, former Sehome HS/Bellingham standout Jake Riley (left/photo courtesy Stanford University) of Stanford took third place, running 28:54.69.

Western Washington's Courtney Olsen won the university/open division of the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. She broke her school record set just two weeks ago by nearly 19 seconds with an automatic qualifying time of 10:42.55. That was the second fastest time in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history.

Then Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson) bettered her own WWU standard in the women's 10,000, finishing second in the Olympic Development division with an automatic qualifying time of 34:30.21. That was over 18 seconds better than her record set last spring and nearly a full minute faster than the automatic standard.

Eastern Washington's Sarah Frey was 28th in that section in a time of 36:41.01.

In the university/open division of the women's 10,000, Western's Lauren Breihof (Jr., Vancouver/Mountain View) was a provisional qualifier as she placed sixth in 36:02.54.

A pair of Washington State runners were in that race as well, as Chelsea VanDeBrake was eighth in 36:10.24, and Ashlee Wall was 28th in 37:33.17.

The Vikings' Jordan Welling (Jr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) placed ninth in the Olympic Development division of the men's 10,000, breaking his own school record set a year ago with a provisional time of 29:45.92, and just behind Eastern Washington's Paul Limpf, who ran 29:44.08.

In the same race, Portland's Tommy Betterbed, formerly out of Gig Harbor HS, was 17th in 29:54.90, and Washington State's Mark Moeller was 25th in 30:18.06.

And in the men's 10,000 university/open division, Western's Bennett Grimes (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Century) and Blake Medhaug (Sr., Bothell) capped things off with a pair of provisional qualifying efforts. Grimes placed sixth in 30:05.10 and Medhaug finished 11th in 30:14.91.

The Mt. SAC Relays continues Friday and Saturday, with media partner Flotrack.org providing live streaming coverage.

NOTE: The Mt. SAC Relays, Western Washington, Eastern Washington, & Washington State Universities contributed to this report.

Jeremy Taiwo misses personal best in decathlon...

AZUSA, California--Sophomore All-American Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) was just ten points off his personal-best in his first decathlon since last year's Pac-10 Championships, and freshman Sarah Schireman completed the ninth-best heptathlon in school history, as the multi-eventers kicked off competition at the Mt. SAC Relays/California Invitational Multi-Events meet Wednesday & Thursday on the campus of Azusa Pacific.

Taiwo (Renton, Wash.) who was third at Pac-10s placed sixth with 7,289 points, finished 10 points short of his career-best of 7,299 which ranks sixth in school history.

His mark could qualify him for NCAAs, as the multis are the only events to qualify athletes straight to the finals based on their season-bests.

Taiwo stood out in the running events, as he was second in both the 400-meters and the 1,500-meters to close both days. His 400m time of 50.02 was a new PR as was his time in the 110m hurdles (14.51) where he placed third overall. Taiwo also had a big PR in the pole vault of 15-1 which tied for third.

Junior Andrew Ferleman (Bellevue, Wash.) and redshirt freshman Jake Vetter (Montesano, Wash.) also put a cap on their first decathlons of the year. Ferleman scored 6,032 points, with his highest-scoring event being the 110m hurdles in which he ran 15.57. Vetter's first decathlon ended with 5,696 points and he tied for a win in the high jump with a clearance of 6-4.

Western Washington University's Alex Harrison (Jr., Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) reached the NCAA Division II provisional national qualifying standard in the decathlon as he placed second among 18 competitors in his division with the second-best point total in school history at the California Invitational Multi-Events section.

Harrison's 10-event point total was 6,625, just 65 points behind first-place Mike Powers from UC Santa Barbara, 325 better than the provisional standard, and just 118 off the school record of 6,743 set by Jeff Neubauer in 1986.

Harrison began the final day running the 110-meter hurdles in 16.18 seconds (713). He tossed the discus 127-1 (639), cleared 13-9 1/4 (673) in the pole vault, threw the javelin 191-4 (712) and ran the 1,500 in 4:57.06 (577).

On Wednesday, Harrison ran the 100 in 11.55 (742), leaped 20-8 (652) in the high jump, posted a mark of 43-9 3/4 (689) in the shot put, cleared 5-6 1/2 (536) in the high jump and had a 52.76 (692) clocking in the 400.

Harrison's previous best decathlon was 6,085 points last year at the WWU Multi-Events meet.

Schireman, out of Archbishop Murphy in Everett, was 12th out of 34 competitors in the California Invite heptathlon with 4,458 points. That ranks her sixth in the Pac-10 so far this season, and places her in the UW top-10 list. Schireman's best event was her first, where she ran 15.16 seconds in the 100m hurdles to score 821 points.

Also finishing their first career heptathlons was freshman Shaniae Lakes (Richland, Wash.) who was 16th with 4,292 points, and senior Lindsey Kirschman (Redding, Calif.) who took 20th with 4,228. Lakes was fifth in the long jump with a mark of 17-11 ¾ and seventh in the 200-meters in 26.00 seconds. Kirschman was second out of all competitors in the 800-meters in a time of 2:21.81.

For more information on the Mt. SAC Relays, please visit mtsacrelays.com.

NOTE: The Mt. SAC Relays, the University of Washington, and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

California Dreamin' for Dawgs, Cougs, Eagles, Falcons & Vikings


Washington, Washington State, Eastern Washington, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington will all send athletes to California for various meets, headlined by the Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California, east of Los Angeles.

The Mt. SAC Relays are an annual highlight on the outdoor track schedule, where a number of the world's top athletes compete along with top collegians down to high school competitors. Seventeen Huskies in all will be at the Hilmer Lodge track to compete this weekend, as will a number of American and international pros.

At the main site, four-time All-American and NCAA Indoor Champion Scott Roth will be in action in the pole vault for the second week in a row, vaulting on Saturday afternoon. Roth has won every meet this year but will be going against a few pros that have cleared 19-feet in their careers. Senior Ryan Vu will also vault in the University Open flight on Friday.

Women's field even participants include vaulters Kelly Mudlo and Logan Miller, and high jumper Kelly McNamee.

The distance events should be fast and furious. Senior Katie Follett will race a number of pros in the top heat of the 1,500-meters on Friday. Follett is also entered in the 800-meters on Saturday. Senior Kailey Campbell will be in the Olympic Development section of the 1,500, and freshmen Justine Johnson and Courtney Lightfoot will also run in 1,500m open heats.

Senior Anita Campbell is entered in both the top invitational heats of the 5k and the 10k, though she will certainly only compete in one or the other. An All-American and Pac-10 champ in the 10k last year, Campbell just opened her final outdoor season last week.

In the men's distance events, junior Colton Tully-Doyle will move back up to the 5,000-meters after consecutive runs at 1,500m and compete in the Olympic Development heat late Friday night at 11:25 p.m. Also running the 5k in Tully-Doyle's heat is senior Jake Schmitt, who ran under 29-minutes in the 10k in his last outing at Stanford. In the top open 5k heat is junior Jordan Swarthout, who just had a huge PR of 14:08 a week ago in Oregon and is clearly running the best of his career right now.

Sophomores Ryan Soberanis and Ryan Styrk, and freshman James Cameron will all run in the open heats of the men's 1,500-meters as well.

Among notable Washington-affiliated post collegians competing in the Mt SAC Relays include former Husky hammer thrower Martin Bingisser.

Among the large contingent the Cougars will send to Mt. SAC include sprinter Princess Joy Griffey, middle distance runners Lisa Egami & Anna Layman, high jumper Holly Parent, vaulter Kendall Mays & javelin thrower Courtney Kirkwood.

On the men's side, NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson, All-American Trent Arrivey (high jump), US junior champ Joe Abbott (800), and freshman triple jumper Stephan Scott-Ellis headline the Washington State entries.

Seattle Pacific’s entry list features senior distance runner Jessica Pixler in the 1,500-meter invitational on Friday night with an approximate starting time of 7:20. The last time Pixler was in California at the Stanford Track & Field Invitational on March 26, she ran the 5,000 meters in 15 minutes, 44.07 seconds, the top time in the country and the fifth-fastest in the world at this early stage of the outdoor season.

Seniors Jane Larson and Kate Harline are in the open 1,500. Senior Lisa Anderberg is entered in the open 800, seeking to drop the final 98 hundredths of a second that she needs to reach the NCAA Division II automatic qualifying time of 2 minutes, 10.00 seconds.

Senior Latasha Essien having won her fourth consecutive GNAC indoor title in the 60-meter dash in February, makes her outdoor season debut in the 100 meters. And junior Melissa Peaslee is in the pole vault, aiming for her first clearance of 12 feet this spring.

Washington will have athletes compete in a meet at Sacramento State on Saturday, while Washington State, Eastern Washington and Seattle Pacific will have athletes at the Beach Invite hosted by Long Beach State at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

A small contingent of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington athletes will stay close to home and participate in the Spike Arlt Invitational in Ellensburg, hosted by Central Washington University.

For more information, including updated heat sheets, and live results, please click here to go to the Mt. SAC Relays web site. Media partner Flotrack.org will carry a webcast of the meet.

NOTE--The Mt. SAC Relays, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, Eastern Washington, and Western Washington all contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Timetable and mascot revealed for next year's IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Daegu...

At a press conference on Tuesday, the IAAF announced the release of the timetable for next year's world track & field championships in Daegu, Korea starting on August 27th, and ending September 4th.

The marathons begin the first and final days of competition (women August 27th, men September 4th) at 9 am, which could make it slightly more humid than the 2007 version in Osaka, which had a 7 am start.

In general, the morning sessions appear shorter, with the scheduled start time of the first event and the start of the final event hovering roughly at around 2 1/2 hours (now the number of heats/flights in the final event could drag events longer; see decathlon pole vault on day 2 which has a start time of 1:00 pm), making this a more fan-friendly meet.

One welcome addition to the meet is the rest day, which is now on day 5 of the competition. The last time a rest day was on the calendar at the world championships was in 1993 in Stuttgart. However, it is not a full rest day, as the women's 20 kilometer walk finals will be contested on August 31st.

Shorter, with more impact, the main evening sessions will feature only semi-finals and finals.

All main sessions will last less than 3 hours, and there will be a balanced number of finals across all days, with qualification rounds only in the morning sessions, and relays spread over more days.

At the core of the planning has been the requirement to improve the timing to better tell the story of each event at the IAAF World Championships.

“We are delighted to present this new look timetable for Daegu 2011,” commented IAAF President Lamine Diack. “It ushers in a new era for our sport, helping to meet the demands of a world in which Athletics must compete ever harder to attract, excite and retain the public’s interest in an increasingly diverse sports and entertainment market worldwide.”

“After a phenomenally successful edition of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in 2009, for which we made changes to the competition’s presentation, it is vital for the long term popularity of our sport that we continue to adapt, while acknowledging the inherent strengths of Athletics which over the decades has provided the world with many of its most enduring sporting moments,” concluded President Diack.

To view the time schedule, please click here.

With April 14th a significant milestone for the local organizing committee, they unveiled the official mascot, which is based on the indigenous Korean dog breed, Sapsaree, according to the LOC's web site. This breed is known for its friendly personality, loyalty and intelligence.

The name literally translates into ‘Shovel’ (Sap) and ‘Misfortunes’ (Sal). The Sapsaree is from the Gyeongsan area – more specifically, Daegu – and is believed to bring good luck and fortune.

The mascot’s color scheme was developed from the ‘Colorful Daegu’ city brand and the happy facial features depict a warm welcome to Daegu.

You can read the local organizing committee's release here...

The big question--will it be able to upstage Berlino? We'll find out in 500 days!

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