Thursday, September 30, 2010

Huskies face first major test at Notre Dame, plus college preview...

SOUTH BEND, Indiana--The University of Washington men's and women's cross country squads get their first serious test at Friday's Notre Dame Invitational on the Notre Dame Golf Course, where they return as defending champs from 2009.

Both the Husky men and women won the Notre Dame Invitational in 2009, with the women sweeping the top four places, and the men winning in what was a surprise to some, though not to the Huskies themselves. This year, both the men's and women's fields feature a number of early-season contenders, and will provide a great measuring stick for both UW teams.

Much of the focus nationally will fall on the women's race, which starts at 1:15 pm, pacific time, where the third-ranked Husky women's team will be pitted against top-ranked Villanova, the defending NCAA Champs, as well as No. 2 Florida State, and Pac-10 rival and fifth-ranked Oregon. Seven additional teams ranked in the top-30 are also set to line up in the women's race, making this a postseason-caliber field, though the distance will be 5,000-meters instead of the typical 6,000 run at NCAAs.

UW All American Mel Lawrence (left/photo by Paul Merca), who has not raced so far this season, traveled with the team, according to the school's preview release; Lawrence, who finished third in this race last year, may make her season debut Friday.

The men's race, scheduled for 2 pm, pacific time, is not quite as top heavy, but does feature eight top-30 teams, led by No. 3 Oregon and No. 5 Alabama, as well as ranked Pac-10 squads from Arizona State (18th) and UCLA (30th).

In other action involving area schools, Western Washington travels to Louisville, Kentucky for a preview of the NCAA Division II championship course when they compete in Saturday's Greater Louisville Classic at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

The Vikings are currently ranked sixth in the men's national D2 rankings, and seventh in the women's national poll. Western will run women's NCAA D2 cross country runner-up Sarah Porter, along with 2009 cross country All-Americans Lauren Breihof, Bennett Grimes, Blake Medhaug, and Jordan Welling.

Seattle University hosts the annual Emerald City Open at Upper Woodland Park Saturday, which will also have several UW runners who didn't make the travel squad to Notre Dame run. The women's 6,000-meter race will go off at 10:30 a.m., and the men's 8,000-meter run is set for 11:15 a.m.

Seattle Pacific, along with the nationally ranked squads from NCAA Division III Whitworth heads to Salem, Oregon for the Charles Bowles Invitational at Bush’s Pasture Park adjacent to Willamette University Saturday. The meet traditionally features teams from all three NCAA Divisions not only in the Northwest, but also from along the West Coast, as well as some NAIA schools.

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and Washington State will head to Missoula to compete in Saturday's Montana Invitational at the University of Montana Golf Course; while the Zags and the Eagles will send a full men's and women's squads, WSU coach Pete Julian will only travel a full women's team, plus freshman Mack Young from Redmond, opting to rest his men's squad until the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute in two weeks.

NOTES: The November issue of Track & Field News has a feature story on former University of Washington standout Kendra Schaaf, written by senior writer Jon Hendershott.

In the article, Schaaf says that while there wasn't one main reason why she left the UW, "Seattle was too big for me. Chapel Hill is a smaller college town."

She also praised Tar Heel distance coach Peter Watson's approach to training.

Watson notes that Schaaf, who is picked by the magazine as the favorite to win the NCAA title, has given the Tar Heels a big boost, adding that, "Her presence has just raised the level in every way."

UNC head track coach Dennis Craddock adds, "Kendra is a great athlete and a great person and is developing into a great leader. It reminds me of the days when Shalane Flanagan was here."

Unfortunately, the article isn't posted online, so you'll have to either subscribe to the magazine or find a place that sells it.

In the same issue, the magazine picks the Husky women's team to win the NCAA title, and Megan Goethals (6th) and Christine Babcock (8th) to finish in the top ten.  Curiously enough, Mel Lawrence isn't picked by the publication to finish in the top 20.

Media partner Flotrack has a great interview up with Western Washington All-American Sarah Porter on its site, written by Cara Hawkins, who is one of the blog's five loyal readers.

You can read her interview here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday's hot links--could we see Bernard Lagat on the roads?

Joe Battaglia of universalsports.com has a great interview up with WSU hall of famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) on life past the 2012 London Olympics.

This season, Lagat set American records in the 3000m outdoors and the 5000m both indoors and outdoors. He also won a record eighth Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games, the World Indoor title in the 3000m, a U.S. title in the 5000m, and IAAF Continental Cup titles in the 3000m and 5000m.

In his third appearance at the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in New York on Sunday, Lagat finished second to Amine Laalou of Morocco.

"2012 will not be the end of competition for me, but the end of my track competitions almost for sure," Lagat said. "If I was to go back in 2013, it would be like a farewell tour, just having fun going through places like London and Berlin and waving to the crowds that have blessed me with their support in my career."

"After 2012, I want to go into the road circuit and see what comes out of it," he said.

"I would like to run a marathon," Lagat said. "Anything is possible. It's a matter of mentally, if you're ready you can do it. Obviously, my body won't be that of a 21-year-old. By 2013, I will be 38 years old. Maybe my body will say, ‘Hey, take it easy big boy.'"

To read Battaglia's post, please click here...

In other hot links, the USTFCCCA national Division I cross country poll was released Tuesday, and the Washington Huskies remain in third in the national women's poll.

The Huskies will face their first big test on Friday, as they face defending national champs Villanova, along with #2 ranked Florida State, #5 Oregon, and #8 Princeton at the Notre Dame Invitational Friday.

The Husky men's squad is lurking just outside the national top 30 in the latest poll.


The USTFCCCA national poll is available here.

Finally, for the 50-and-over crowd that reads this blog, here's a link to a story in USA TODAY on Joan Benoit Samuelson, who will celebrate the 25th anniversary of her American record in the marathon of 2:21:21 by running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10th, and oh by the way, try to earn a qualifying time for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston.

"I would love to run another sub-2:50. I've never run a marathon in more than 3 hours. So I want to keep it under 3 hours. If I can keep it under 2:50, I would have run the three biggest marathons under 2:50 after the age of 50. I did it in Boston in 2008 and did it in New York last year."


To read the full story, please click here.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Chicago to cover the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's go time for SPU assistant track coach Carly Dockendorf at Commonwealth Games...

Here's a link to a great feature on former University of Washington and current Seattle Pacific University volunteer track coach Carly Dockendorf (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), who is heading to New Delhi, India to compete in the pole vault as part of Team Canada at the Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games, an Olympics-style event, take place every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle. They’re open to the 54 sovereign member states of the Commonwealth of Nations – most of which formerly were part of the British Empire. Also taking part are other dependencies and overseas territories that still have ties to the British crown. The last Commonwealths were 2006 in Melbourne, Australia. Previous Games have been in Vancouver, B.C. (1950) and Victoria, B.C. (1994).

For Dockendorf, the women's pole vault qualifying is on October 10th, with the finals two days later.

Dockendorf, a native of Pt. Moody, British Columbia, had an opportunity to be on the 1998 Canadian Commonwealth Games team as a gymnast, but said that "I wasn't loving gymnastics anymore."

In talking about the Commonwealth Games, she says, “I’m setting myself a goal to potentially medal there,” she said. “I’m going to just treat it as I would any other meet. The hard work is done, and the pressure of making the team is over. This is my reward, to go and have the best opportunity of doing well there.”

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Amine Laalou of Morocco overtakes Bernard Lagat to win 5th Avenue Mile...

NEW YORK--Bernard Lagat (in purple, behind Amine Laalou/photo courtesy NY Road Runners) ended his 2010 season with a second place finish at the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile on the streets of New York City.

Running in a field of twenty men, the field crossed the quarter mark in 60 seconds, and roughly 2:00 at the halfway mark with former Texas Tech runner Haron Lagat and steeplechase specialist Dan Huling leading.

Former Arkansas standout Alistair Cragg took the lead after the half way mark crossing the 3/4mark under 3 minutes, with a bevy of runners still in contention.

Lagat, the Washington State University graduate made a charge and took the lead in the last 300 meters with New Zealand's Nick Willis close behind, but Morocco's Amine Laalou, who set personal bests this season of 3:29.53 for 1500m in Monaco, and 3:50.22 in the mile at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on July 3rd, shot past Lagat on his left side and passed him with less than 20 meters to go to take the win in 3:52.83.

Lagat finished in 3:53.30, with defending champion Andy Baddeley of Great Britain third in 3:53.34.

Seventeen of the 20 starters finished under 4 minutes.

Former UCLA standout Jon Rankin, who has been teaching in the Seattle area since April, finished 20th in 4:12.06.

In an interview with universalsports.com, Lagat said that he changed his strategy from his previous appearances in this race and sat back with the pack instead of going from the front.

Lagat, who has historically done well in races in New York, particularly in Madison Square Garden, but has never won the Fifth Avenue Mile, said that he wants to come back to try and win this race.

In the women's race, former Duke University and current San Francisco resident Shannon Rowbury (4:24.12) defended her 2009 title with a surge in the final meters that relegated fellow Americans Sara Hall to second place (4:24.34) and Erin Donohue to third (4:24.40).

Race video, courtesy of the New York Road Runners, is available here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cougars, Vikings dominate at Erik Anderson & Saint Martin's Invites...

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- Washington State freshman Ruby Roberts and junior Justin Englund (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the individual titles and led their Cougar teams to wins Saturday under sunny skies and 80 degrees at the Erik Anderson Memorial Invitational Cross Country meet at Plantes Ferry Park in the Spokane Valley.

Roberts, from Kingston, Wash., won the women's 5000m race with a time of 18-minutes, 27 seconds. Cougar teammate Caroline Austin (sophomore, Chehalis) was second, just 15 seconds back.

Englund, from Federal Way, Wash., won the men's 8000m in a time of 25:15, with Cougar sophomore and 2010 USA world junior cross country championships competitor Andrew Kimpel (Spokane), running unattached, second by 3 seconds.

The Cougar women's team won with a team score of 30 followed by Gonzaga (61), Whitworth (84), Lewis-Clark State (97), Spokane CC (158) and Central Washington (187). The WSU men's team won with a team score of 19 followed by Lewis-Clark State (74), Gonzaga (98), Whitworth (98), Spokane CC (130), and Central Washington (217).

"The women looked strong and in control," Cougar Head Coach Pete Julian said. "The women's team has certainly tremendously improved from a year ago. I think they are starting to get excited about their potential. It was a very good, strong showing and it was nice to be up in Spokane where we can go up and compete and be back home by the afternoon."

"On the men's side, it was a really tough week of training so we eased our way through it and by the end we had the top three. Everybody looked really strong. It was the first time I've really seen Justin Englund run with so much control and poise. He is really stepping into the role we envisioned for him to be filling this year. We are excited and we're looking forward to the next race."

Results from the Erik Anderson Memorial Invitational can be accessed here.

Meanwhile in Lacey, the Western Washington Vikings flexed their might in winning the Saint Martin's Invitational, sweeping both the men's and women's team titles, despite resting the majority of their top runners.

The Vikings' Sarah Porter, who is one of the pre-season favorites to win the NCAA Division II cross country title, took individual honors in the women's run, posting a winning time of 21:37 over the six-kilometer course.

It was the seventh time during Porter's four-year career that she has won a regular-season meet. Porter is a nine-time All-American for the Vikings, honored three times each in cross country and indoor and outdoor track.

"We held her back during the first portion, and then let her go," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (24th year) of Porter. "Both teams ran well. It was a very good effort."

Western's women finished first with 29 points, followed by Clark CC 60, Saint Martin's 76, Pacific Lutheran 89, Seattle Pacific 123, Evergreen State 170 and Olympic CC 195.

The Viking men won with 31 points, 32 better than second-place Saint Martin's (63). Pacific Lutheran was third (85), followed by Clark CC 97, Green River CC 114, Seattle Pacific 158, Olympic CC 158 and Evergreen State 216.

Saint Martin's alum John Riak, a former NCAA D2 All American, won the race in 26:07.

Western was led by Chip Jackson (R-Fr., Shoreline/Shorewood), who placed fifth, completing the eight-kilometer distance in 27:01.

All five Viking All-Americans will compete at the Greater Louisville Open on Saturday, Oct. 2, the site of this year's NCAA Division II National Championships. They are Lauren Breihof (Jr., Vancouver/Mountain View), Bennett Grimes (Sr., Sr., Pocatello, ID/Century), Blake Medhaug (Sr., Bothell), Porter and Jordan Welling (Sr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison).

The men's results from the Saint Martin's Invitational can be accessed here, while the women's results are available here.

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Erik Anderson Memorial Invite & St. Martin's Invitational highlight college harrier docket...

Washington State, Gonzaga, Central Washington, and nationally ranked Division III Whitworth are among the schools competing Saturday at the Erik Anderson Memorial Invitational at the Plantes Ferry Complex in Spokane Valley.

The Cougars have not competed since September 3rd when they were swept by Washington in the season opening dual meet in Ephrata.

Washington State coach Pete Julian said on his podcast, that he expects to run a full squad in both races, though he may hold out Andrew Kimpel (left/photo by Paul Merca), who was a member of Team USA at last spring's IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Gonzaga is coming off a fourth place finish in last Saturday's Sundodger Invitational, while Whitworth, ranked #19 in both the men's and women's Division III polls, won the men's open section and finished third in the women's open section at Sundodger.

After skipping last week's Sundodger, the #6 ranked men's squad and the #7 ranked women's team from Western Washington return to action Saturday at the Saint Martin's Invitational in Lacey, where they'll face Seattle Pacific, and host Saint Martin's.

Meanwhile, junior Erik Barkhaus and freshman Cara Talty from Seattle University were selected as Great West Conference runners of the week for last week's performances at the Sundodger, where Barkhaus finished 23rd in 24:58 in the 8k race, and Talty was 25th in the 6k women's race.

SeattleU returns to action October 2nd when they host the Emerald City Open at Lower Woodland Park.

On the professional circuit, WSU hall of famer Bernard Lagat closes out his 2010 campaign back where it started in January, as he competes in the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in New York on Sunday.

Lagat, who opened his season back in late January by winning the Millrose Games Mile in New York's Madison Square Garden, races against fellow Olympians Leonel Manzano, Nick Willis, and defending champion Andy Baddeley, as well as American mile record-holder Alan Webb.

This year, all heats will be broadcast live on nyrr.org via Livestream.com, starting at 9:00 a.m. and continuing through the professional races at 12:50 and 1:05 p.m.

In one other pro note, paulmerca.blogspot.com received an email from former University of Washington pole vaulter Carly Dockendorf reinforcing her intent to compete in next month's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India for her native Canada.

The Commonwealth Games have been plagued by a series of miscues over the last several weeks, including a collapse of the stadium footbridge, unlivable conditions in the athlete village, security breaches, and shoddy construction work at various venue, all of which has several teams and individuals thinking twice before committing.

In the last few weeks, numerous athletes selected for the Commonwealth Games have opted to withdraw from the competition, including 2009 IAAF world discus champ Dani Samuels of Australia.

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Husky women's cross country squad hangs on to third in latest USTFCCCA national poll...

Despite not running NCAA All-Americans Mel Lawrence (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Christine Babcock in either of its first two meets, the University of Washington women's cross country team held its number three national ranking in the latest USTFCCCA poll released Tuesday.

Defending national champion Villanova remained number one in the women's national poll, followed by Florida State, then the Huskies, followed by Texas Tech, which overtook Oregon for fourth, bumping the Ducks down to fifth.

In the men's national poll, Washington received 4 votes, and is outside the national top 30.

The USTFCCCA Division I national men's and women's poll can be viewed here.

In Division II, the Western Washington men's and women's squads maintained their #6 and #7 national rankings, even though both Viking squads were idol last week.

Western competes this Saturday in Lacey at the Saint Martin's Invitational.

One significant deletion from the national D2 rankings were the Seattle Pacific Falcon women's squad, which dropped out of the national top 25 after being ranked #14 in the pre-season poll.

The Falcons finished eighth in last week's Sundodger Invitational open section, won by Simon Fraser.

Seattle Pacific, which didn't run number one runner Natty Plunkett, will send a small group to Lacey as well to run in Saturday's Saint Martin's Invitational.

The USTFCCCA Division II top 25 rankings are available here.

In Division III, Spokane's Whitworth College jumped up to #19 in the national poll after winning the open section of the Sundodger last week. Its women's team, which finished third at Sundodger, dropped to #19 after being ranked #11 in the previous poll.

The USTFCCCA Division III national rankings are available here.

In other college news, the University of Oregon will host the 2011 NCAA West Regional track & field championships on May 26-28th at Hayward Field, while Indiana University will host the East Regionals at the same time.

As was the case last May in Austin, the regional championships serve as a preliminary round to the NCAA championships, which will be held two weeks later in Des Moines, Iowa at Drake University.

Finally, Jessica Pixler, a 12-time NCAA cross country and track champion from Seattle Pacific, who now has started her graduate work at the University of Colorado, was named the NCAA Division II Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.

The release from Seattle Pacific University can be read here.

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

A toxic mess--Doug Logan vs USA Track & Field board gets uglier...

I don't know about you, but I get the sinking feeling that Doug Logan's (left/photo courtesy USA Track & Field) termination as CEO of USA Track & Field and the subsequent public sniping is going to get uglier before it gets any better.

First comes this shot thrown by Logan, in comments made to the New York Times, in which he calls the USATF board of directors as, "…15 people who want to be taken seriously who, for all practical purposes, are 15 bodies in funny suits stumbling out of a little car,” he said. “It’s people who have earned their credentials to sit on a board because they’ve had a whistle around their neck at regional youth meets.”

Then, Logan took another shot in an interview on runningtimes.com in which he describes his meeting with former world triple jump record holder Willie Banks at the Indianapolis Westin where Banks told Logan he was fired.

"I think there is no question the board felt it wanted to be more “hands on” despite the governance guidelines of the USOC," Logan said. "And, I had few fans among the sport’s “old guard” whose power was eroding under the reforms we instituted. The issue, candidly, was not the “performance” but the “performer.” It has gotten very personal. Both ways."

Kind of harsh to describe folks like 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor and three-time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond, both of whom are current members of the USATF Board as people "in funny suits stumbling out of a little car" when they've put themselves on the line in numerous Olympics and world championships in the USA uniform.

One of Logan's harshest critics, former Stanford University and 1984 US Olympic team coach Brooks Johnson (a former member of the USATF board of directors) fired back with a salvo of his own on his blog, spikesandflats.com.

Johnson cited that upon his hiring, Logan sidestepped USATF bylaws in his formation of the audit panel assessing the effectiveness of the HIgh Performance Panel (of which Johnson headed) and the 2008 US Olympic team's performance in Beijing by appointing Carl Lewis and Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley as athlete reps to the panel, even though they did not meet the definition of international athlete (Lewis last represented the USA in 1996; the definition of international athlete is 10 years).

Johnson also said in his blog that Logan's biggest downfall is that, "he never really respected athletes. By not knowing that athletes were a requirement and prerequisite, and a welcomed addition to any decision-making process, he chose to ignore and disrepect them."

He further states that Logan is "…too arrogant and self-absorbed to really see the innate and inherent gross contradictions in what he says and what he professes to be. This is what I intuitively knew back in 2008 and was the underlying reason I was confident Logan could/would not last the term."

No matter whose side you're on (and this blog is not taking sides), it looks bad for everyone. On the one hand, you have a fired head who is looking to make sure he gets every penny of his contract and is making himself to be a loose cannon, if you take his comments to the media at face value, and on the other hand, there is the perception (real or imagined) that the board of directors of USA Track & Field is dysfunctional.

As a side note, New York Road Runners CEO and NYC Marathon director Mary Wittenberg stated in an interview with Joe Battaglia of universalsports.com that "If I didn't have what I think is the greatest job in running, or at least one of them, I would be extremely interested (in the USATF CEO position)."

It's a toxic mess…guess I'm calling the Ghostbusters.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Video interviews with Sundodger champs Flanagan & O'Donoghue-McDonald...

Courtesy of the UW sports information office, here's a video interview with Sundodger Invitational winners Lindsay Flanagan (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald.

Flanagan took the victory in Saturday's 6k women's invitational race by pulling away from Canadian Natasha Wodak and UW freshman teammate Megan Goethals in a time of 20:35, while O'Donoghue-McDonald needed a strong last half mile, and a sprint finish to stave off defending champion Paul Limpf, a graduate of Eastern Washington University






Also below is a video interview with UW head coach Greg Metcalf after the meet.



The Huskies have the week off, then will compete on October 1st in South Bend, Indiana at the Notre Dame Invitational, where both teams are the defending champions.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bernard Lagat sneaks in a cross country race...

Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) competed in his first cross country meet in a number of years Friday night at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tuscon, Arizona.

Lagat, the reigning IAAF world indoor champion at 3000 meters, who is listed as a volunteer coach at the University of Arizona finished second behind junior college transfer Stephen Sambu of Arizona, who took the win in 20:09, with Lagat a step behind over a 4.25 mile course at the Dell Urich Golf Course.

Sambu may be one of the contenders for the Pac-10 championship meet, which will be held on October 30th at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Results from the Dave Murray Invitational can be accessed here.

Lagat will end the 2010 campaign as he has done the past several years at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York next weekend.

Meanwhile in Kawasaki, Japan, former Washington Husky pole vaulter and 2007 world champion Brad Walker is slated to compete in his specialty Sunday in Kawasaki, Japan in the Super Meet.

More information on the Super Meet can be accessed here.

Flanagan and O'Donoghue-McDonald lead Huskies to victory at Sundodger Invitational...


SEATTLE--Sophomore Lindsay Flanagan and junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald emerged victorious in the invitational women's 6k race and men's 8k race at the annual Sundodger Invitational cross country race at Lincoln Park to lead the University of Washington Huskies to yet another team championship.

Competing under cloudy skies that gave way to sunshine as the meet progressed, Flanagan (left/photo by Paul Merca), a sophomore from Lake Park HS in Roselle, Illinois, was content to let Canadian Natasha Wodak and the heralded Husky freshman Megan Goethals do most of the early work in the race.

As the runners headed down the south end of Lincoln Park for the final lap, Flanagan was gradually able to shake off Wodak, and extend her lead, cruising to a twelve-second victory, covering the 6k course in 20:35.

Wodak hung on for second in 20:47, followed by Chelsea Wishard of Pepperdine in 20:54, passing Goethals who ended up fourth in 20:55.

Rounding out the top ten were Lauren Lodge of Pepperdine in 20:58 for fifth, followed by Husky senior Kailey Campbell from Ballard HS in 21:08.  Freshman Liberty Miller from Simi Valley, California was seventh in 21:23, followed by Husky teammate Allison Linnell in 8th at 21:29.  Hannak Kiser (21:31) and Julia Veseth (21:37) from Idaho were ninth and tenth.

"I just wanted to stay with the team and run with whoever was up there," said Flanagan. "I feel like I had a good summer and I just said ... stay with them. The last lap, we work hard to get through that last (thousand meters) so I just thought about that and finishing hard."

The Huskies, ranked third in the current USTFCCCA national poll, and who had five runners in the top eight, despite missing All-Americans Mel Lawrence and Christine Babcock, took home the team title with 22 points, followed by Idaho in second at 72 points, then Pepperdine in third at 99 points.

Washington had a 54-second gap between first runner Flanagan, and fifth runner Linnell.

Coach Pat Tyson's improved Gonzaga squad was fourth at 108 points, while Eastern Washington finished sixth at 160 points.  Seattle University finished eighth with 186 points.

In the men's invitational 8k race, the outcome was still in doubt with 200 meters to go, as Husky junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald (left/photo by Paul Merca), was part of a group of about six runners as they headed into the final lap.

Defending champion and Sundodger course record holder Paul Limpf made a move to try and shake up the gang of six, but O'Donoghue-McDonald, a graduate of Seattle Prep HS countered the surge with a move on his own, shortly after running past Washington head coach Greg Metcalf.

"I heard Metcalf yelling at me, saying 'you can't lose the freaking Sundodger meet on your home course', so I had to come back with a move of my own," said the winner in the post-race interview.

As the runners came down the final straightaway, Limpf, a graduate of Eastern Washington University, who is training for the Twin Cities Marathon next month, made one last shot at running down O'Donoghue-McDonald, falling one second short as the Husky stopped the watches in 24:04.

Chris Reed of Western Oregon was a close third in 24:05. Unattached runner Friesen (no first name listed in results) was fourth in 24:09, and Washington junior Cameron Quackenbush was fifth in 24:11.

Barry Britt of Idaho was sixth in 24:13, and David Laney of Southern Oregon was seventh in 24:13.  Former Husky Mike Hill was eighth in 24:16, followed by Washington sophomore Joey Bywater in 24:21, and 2007 world championships marathon competitor Uli Steidl from Seattle was tenth at 24:28.

The Huskies, who ran close to a full squad Saturday, took the team title with 27 points, and a 29-second gap between winner O'Donoghue-McDonald, and fifth runner Gareth Gilna.

Southern Oregon finished second with 75 points, followed by Idaho in third at 78 points.

Gonzaga was fourth with 140 points, while Eastern Washington ended up sixth with 160 points.  Seattle University finished eighth with 185 points.

In the men's open 8k race, Kyle Van Santen of St. Martin's took the victory in 28:48, while NCAA Division III Whitworth College, currently unranked nationally took home the team title with 47 points, and will certainly get noticed when the next national poll comes out.

The women's open 6k race was won by Jessica Smith of Simon Fraser in 21:52.  Smith and teammate Angela Shaw's 1-2 finish led Simon Fraser to the women's open team title with 35 points.

The link to complete results from the Sundodger Invitational, along with the UW's media release can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Huskies prepare to host Sundodger Invitational Saturday...

The University of Washington cross country team prepares to host the Sundodger Invitational Saturday morning at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, with close to a thousand athletes participating in a series of eight races.

Kicking off the morning is the women's 6k open race at 9am, followed by the men's open 8k at 9:40am. 

The number 3 ranked Washington women's team springs into action at 10:25 am, with several of its highly regarded freshman class running their first race as Huskies, including Foot Locker national champion Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca), along with true frosh Liberty Miller and Mackenzie Carter.

A large host of Husky women are expected to run Saturday, led by senior Kailey Campbell, who picked up her first career win in the dual meet against the Cougars. Sophomore Allison Linnell, seventh at the Sundodger a year ago, and sophomore Kayla Evans will both compete. They along with Campbell all ran at the 2009 NCAA Championships, where UW brought home the third-place trophy. Sophomore Lindsay Flanagan was 10th last year as a true freshman and a frequent member of UW's top-seven a year ago. Justine Johnson, coming off an excellent spring on the track, leads a group of five redshirt freshmen.

Upperclassmen Mel Lawrence, Christine Babcock, and Kenna Patrick are being held out of the Sundodger.


At 11:00 am, the men's invitational 8k race gets underway, with the Dawgs planning to run close to a full team.

Washington will be led by juniors Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Cameron Quackenbush, and sophomore Joey Bywater. Those three ran as a pack in Ephrata, finishing within a second of each other to help UW defeat the Cougars. All three have NCAA Championships experience coming off UW's 18th-place finish a year ago, as does senior Jordan Swarthout, a two-time NCAA participant who is expected to compete.

Redshirt freshman Gareth Gilna showed major progress as UW's No. 4 runner vs. WSU and looks to build on that this Saturday. James Cameron was eighth at the Sundodger a year ago as a true freshman, and junior David McCary looks to break in the top-10 after placing 13th last year. Redshirt freshman Taylor Carlson could be another to watch as he has made major improvements from one year ago.

All of Washington's NCAA Division I schools--Seattle University, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington--will be in attendance, with the exception of Washington State University, which is taking the weekend off.

Other NCAA D-I schools expected to run include Pepperdine, Nevada, Idaho, and Portland State.

Seattle Pacific will run a full squad, along with the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.

After the men's invitational race, four high school races are on the docket over a 5k course starting at noon and running every half hour. Prep teams in attendance include Bellarmine Prep, Cascade, Davis, Garfield, Juanita, Kent Meridian, South Kitsap, and Wahluke.

LINKS:  Here are a couple of links that may be of interest to readers...first is an interview with former Seattle Pacific standout Jessica Pixler, courtesy of runcolo.com, with an update on how she is progressing at the University of Colorado.

Pixler is attending graduate school at Colorado, and has NCAA eligibility left in outdoor track.

You can read the story here...

Next is a link from Track & Field News via longandstrong.com in which former Gatorade and Oakley executive Bill Schmidt was asked on his thoughts about the USA Track & Field CEO position (this was written before Doug Logan was terminated).  You can read it here...

Here's a piece written in 1999 in soccertimes.com, in which Logan was characterized as one who tried to fit in with the soccer crowd, but was in the wrong sport.

Logan's reign as commissioner of Major League Soccer ended partly because, "he had a habit of making enemies with people he really needed to work with."

You can read it here...

UPDATE (11:45 am)--Here's letsrun.com's Weldon Johnson with his analysis on why Logan is gone...

Finally, here's an interview in RunningTimes.com with USATF Chief Public Affairs Officer Jill Geer on the end of the Logan era, which spanned just over two years.  You can read it here...

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

Monday, September 13, 2010

Doug Logan terminated as USA Track & Field CEO...

After two years of a very hands-on management style, USA Track & Field CEO Doug Logan (far left with 2010 Team USA women's cross country squad/photo by Mike Scott) was shown the door by the board of directors of the non-profit organization after a meeting in Las Vegas over the weekend.

In a press release issued by USA Track & Field, president Stephanie Hightower said, "We sincerely thank Doug for his efforts and his passionate focus on our sport. After undertaking an evaluation over the course of the past few months, our Board has decided it is in our best interests to engage different leadership to move the sport forward."

"The Board is committed to a thorough, thoughtful CEO search process," Hightower said. "Although our goal is to complete the search process quickly, we will not compromise the quality of the search and candidate evaluation. The Board is fully supportive of the USATF staff, and we know they will do a tremendous job as we enter this new phase for the organization."

Hightower stressed that the USATF Board will continue to vigorously pursue its strategic plan, developed in July 2009 and approved by USATF membership last December. 

"We simply need to accelerate our realization of this vision and plan," she said.

Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune, one of the most respected writers on the Olympic sports beat, spoke briefly with Logan, who said, "Discussions related to the terms of my separation are ongoing, and I can't comment further on them at this point.''  

"I have spent 26 months investing my soul in this sport and this federation.  Some remarkable transformation has taken place in that time.  I am extremely proud of what the staff and I have been able to accomplish."

Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees will assume the day-to-day leadership of the organization while the board begins its search for a new CEO. 

The last time the CEO position was vacated, when Craig Masback resigned in January 2008, former USATF president Bill Roe from Bellingham was thrust into the role of acting CEO until July 2008, when Logan was selected.

In any event, the influential Athletes Advisory Committee backed the dismissal of Logan by the USATF board, as AAC chair Jon Drummond said on the web site of the Track & Field Athletes Association (of which he is a board member of and a liaison to TFAA), "The AAC appreciates the actions of Board of Directors for being sensitive to the needs and requirements to and for the athletes.  It is unfortunate that Mr. Doug Logan did not observe our sport and serve the needs of the athletes."

The big question is what's next?  What are the qualities the board of directors want in a chief executive officer?  Now that the federation is on the hook for severance payout to Logan (according to the post by Joe Battaglia on universalsports.com, he cites an Associated Press report stating that Logan is owed $1.8 million if he was fired without cause), how are they going to raise the money to finance the programs they want to undertake in order to meet the goals set going into the London Olympics, and what, if any programs will see a cut in funding to help pay Logan's severance?

More importantly, what individual in the United States is willing to work for this federation, unless they are already tied in closely to the sport and the volunteer-driven membership base, and have the proven ability to raise money in a tight economy?  And if that person is already in place, why was that person not considered by the original professional search firm two years ago?

As they say in television, stay tuned...

NOTE:  Here is a link to a post by Larry Eder approving the move on runblogrun.com, and a post by Alan Abrahamson on 3wiresports.com giving his take on Logan's termination...also, here is an article by Washington Post Olympic writer Amy Shipley in which Logan admits that he made some people in the volunteer-driven organization "uncomfortable", particularly with his brusque management style.


Finally, here is a quote from agent Ray Flynn, posted on letsrun.com: "While Doug Logan was successful in making structural changes within USATF that will likely make it easier with it's inner functioning, he had very little knowledge of our sport. In order to lead well, he would have needed to understand the many different groups and factions that constitute USA Track and Field. He sequentially alienated so many of these groups and it was only a matter of time before he had to go. I hope that our governing body will have learned from it's mistake in coming up with better search criteria for Doug Logan's successor."

University of Washington releases 2011 indoor track schedule...

SEATTLE--The University of Washington released its 2011 indoor track schedule, featuring six meets over five weekends, highlighted by the Husky Classic on February 11-12, and the MPSF Championships on February 25-26.

The Dempsey only continues to increase in prestige as does the level of athletes and performances that take place within. Last season, fans witnessed U.S. Olympians and World Championship participants such as Nick Symmonds, Shannon Rowbury, Jesse Williams, Jen Rhines (left/photo by Paul Merca), Billy Nelson, Galen Rupp, Evan Jager and current American 10,000-meter record-holder Chris Solinsky.

The Dempsey also witnessed the fastest distance medley relay in history when the Oregon Track Club clocked 9:21.77 led by Symmonds.

Once again, the Dempsey sent dozens if not hundreds of athletes to the NCAA Championships, as it dominated the descending order lists for every event from the mile to 5,000-meters. Looking at the Top-10 times nationally in the mile, 3,000m, and 5,000m, 20 of the 30 best times came from the Dempsey on the men's side, while 14 of the top-30 times on the women's side were posted on the Dempsey oval.

The indoor season kicks off with the UW Indoor Preview on Saturday, January 15. Two weeks later comes the UW Invitational, held over Friday and Saturday, January 28-29.

The biggest meet of the year is the Husky Classic, which expanded to two days last season and remains that way for 2011. The meet begins Friday, February 11, with the bulk of the events on Saturday, February 12. The following day, February 13, brings the annual UW Indoor Open meet.
The Huskies will once again host the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships this season, which is set for February 25-26. The MPSF meet features eight of the 10 Pac-10 schools which sponsor indoor track as well as entries from the Big West.

The season wraps up with the UW Final Qualifier on March 5, one of a handful of official qualifying meets around the country held one week prior to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Nationals are located in College Station, Texas this year on March 11-12.

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seattle Pacific frosh Allison Cutting wins Apple Ridge Run 4k cross country title...

YAKIMA--Both Western Washington and Seattle Pacific were in athlete development mode Saturday as they rested their top runners while competing at Saturday's Apple Ridge Run on the site of the GNAC cross country championships on November 6th.

Seattle Pacific freshman Allison Cutting (left/photo courtesy SPU sports information) finished the abbreviated 4-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 45 seconds, well in front of runner-up Mary Rogers from Western Washington (16:05).

Cutting joined the SPU program after an outstanding career at Sequim High School. She won the Class 2A state cross country title in 2008 as a Wolves junior, then capped her senior year this past spring by winning 2A state crown in the 3,200 meters.

Her effort, along with the tight pack running of the next four SPU runners across the line, helped the Falcons place second in the team standing with 64 points. Western Washington won easily with 20 points.

After Rogers, Western's Rachael Johnson was third in 16:06, followed by teammates Phoebe Hartnett in 16:15; Kristi Fairbanks in16:35; and Jessica Boyer in 16:39.

“She was in control of the race, and she wasn’t scared to take it,” Falcons interim head coach Letiwe Patton said of Cutting's victory. “If she’d had someone to fight with (for the lead), she would have gone much better. About halfway through, she was all by herself, and she looked very good.”

"It was very encouraging, especially on the women's side with just 34 seconds separating our first group of runners," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "We were trying to get our younger runners some real competitive experience."

Led by winner Rigoberto Jiminez, who ran 19:34 over the 6k course, Great Falls (MT) won the men's team title with 19 points, as they placed four runners in the top five.

Western Washington was second with 68 points, followed by host Central Washington in third with 76 points.  The Falcons finished fifth with 129 points.

Western's Graham Armstrong was sixth in 20:27. Tanner Boyd  placed 12th for the Vikings in 20:41, and Kyle Johnson was 18th in 20:47.

Jacob Wahlenmaier was one of three Seattle Pacific men who stayed within visual range of each other during their race, as he finished 24th. Close behind him at the finish were junior Nate Sleight placing 28th in 21:10 and freshman Josiah Sherwood taking 34th in 21:26.

The Falcons will race at next week's Sundodger Invitational in West Seattle, while Western takes the week off and races at the St. Martin's Invitational on September 25th in Lacey.

Complete results can be accessed here.  Meanwhile, you can read Seattle Pacific's release here, and Western Washington's release here.

In Portland on Friday, Seattle University's Hans Heitzinger and freshman Hannah Mittelstaedt led Seattle University to place in the middle of the pack in both the men’s and women’s races at the Pier Park Classic.

Heitzinger ran the men’s 8k race in 26.17 to place 16th and lead the Redhawk men to a fourth place finish in the eight-team meet. Joash Osoro from the University of Portland finished first in 24:43, fronting a 1-3-5-8-10 winning finish for Portland.

Seattle U placed fifth on the women’s side with 117 points. Portland also won the women’s with just 20 points, lead by Kellie Houser’s 17:51.37 first place finish. Willamette placed second again with 64 points, Northwest Christian third with 77, Clark College fourth with 111, and Seattle U was followed by Mt. Hood CC (186), Clackamas CC (190), and Highline CC (211).

Mittelstaedt was 20th in the 6k race in 19:20, as Portland's Kellie Houser too the win in 17:52.

SeattleU will also run at next week's Sundodger Invitational.

You can read SeattleU's release here.



NOTE:  The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, SeattleU and Western Washington all provided content for this post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Måkestad gets fourth in Milan, plus notes...

MILAN, Italy--Former University of Washington middle distance runner Ingvill Måkestad (left/photo courtesy runingvill.wordpress.com) of Norway finished fourth in the 800 meters at the Notturna di Milano meeting Thursday night.

Reigning world champion Caster Semenya of South Africa set a meet record, leading after the pacemaker dropped out, powering to a clocking of 1:58.16 on a cool night in the Italian city.

Måkestad, who set her personal best of 1:59.83 last week in Zagreb, Croatia, crossed the line in 2:00.68, behind France's Hind Dehiba (1:58.67) and Fanjanteino Felix (2:00.18).

Complete results from the Notturna di Milano are available here.

A tentative roster has been announced for the Super Meeting on September 19th in Kawasaki, Japan, which includes former University of Washington pole vaulter Brad Walker, who has vaulted sparingly this season.

You can see the list of invites here.

Most of the state's Division II schools, including Seattle Pacific and Western Washington, are heading to Yakima for the Apple Ridge Run Invitational, hosted by Central Washington University on Saturday.

The meet is significant for the Division II schools, as the Wildcats will also host the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship meet on November 6th.

Seattle University will head to Portland for the West Coast Preview on Friday, hosted by the University of Portland. The Redhawks are the only Washington NCAA Division I school in action this week, as Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington are off.

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and SeattleU will compete in next weekend's Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle hosted by the University of Washington.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some links for a Thursday...

Lisa Rainsberger (#4) at 1991 Osaka Ladies' Marathon
Thanks to Down The Backstretch publisher Charlie Mahler for this first link to a story posted on GaryCohenRunning.com on former Redmond resident Lisa (Weidenbach) Rainsberger, who now does private coaching and is based in Colorado Springs.

Rainsberger finished fourth in three consecutive US Olympic Marathon Trials (1984, 1988, and 1992), making her perhaps one of the most snakebitten Olympic Trials competitors.

In this interview with Cohen, she brings up an interesting point about the 1984 US Olympic Marathon Trials in 1984, which were held in Olympia.

She says, "I had a love-hate relationship with the Olympic Trials that started back I 1980 when I was in high school and qualified for the Trials as a swimmer but it was the year of President Jimmy Carter’s Olympic boycott. At the 1984 Olympic Trials Marathon I was in third place until the 25-mile mark. The race pre-dated the use of electrolyte replacement drinks along the course and it was tough at five feet, ten inches and 130 pounds to run a marathon while only drinking water. If I knew what I know now about hydration and nutrition it would have been a whole different story."


"On a side note, the runner who placed second failed a drug test, but a lack of policy by the U.S. governing body didn’t stop her from competing in Los Angeles. She raced poorly in L.A. and shouldn’t have been representing our country due to that failed drug test."

The top three finishers in Olympia were Joan Benoit, Julie Brown & Julie Isphording. Benoit went on to win the Olympic title a few months later in Los Angeles.

You can read the full interview with Rainsberger here.

Meanwhile, javelin thrower Kara Patterson returned from two months in Europe, and writes about last weekend's IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split, Croatia, where she finished a disappointing sixth place.

In her post, she admits that the training that she did in the run-up to the USA Championships in Des Moines was only supposed to last for about seven weeks.

"Seven weeks post-USA Championships put me right at Zurich, which is where things started to decline a little bit!"

"How cool to know why things happened the way they did, and to know that we can change plans for next summer in order to be ready to throw far when we want to. Yay! I'm excited to have real focus next year instead of going meet to meet just, you know, seeing how things go."


You can read the rest of her post here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lagat earns another USATF Athlete of the Week honor, plus other news & links...

Bernard Lagat, the Washington State University hall of famer was named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week after winning the men's 3,000 and 5,000m over the weekend at the IAAF Continental Cup in Split, Croatia.

The 2007 1,500 and 5,000 World Outdoor champion, Lagat kicked a 51-second final lap to win a tactical men's 5,000m Saturday in 13:58.23. It was more of the same Sunday night, as he surged over the final 80m to win the 3,000m in 7:54.75, making him the only individual double winner in Split. Along with his 1,500m win at the World Cup in Madrid eight years ago, Lagat became the first athlete to collect victories at a World or Continental Cup in three different events.

In some news that we missed over the last few days, former Washington Huskies Mike Sayenko and Jake Schmitt (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished ninth and eleventh in the USA 20K road championships in New Haven, CT on Labor Day.

Sayenko finished ninth in a time of 1:01:00, while Schmitt, who returned to the Bay Area after graduating from the UW, finished eleventh in 1:01:42. Schmitt is currently training for next month's Chicago Marathon.

Complete results from the USA 20K championships can be accessed here.

For former Husky Ingvill Måkestad, the outdoor season isn't over yet, as she will race in the Notturna di Milano meet Thursday, where she will run the 800 meters and look to lower her personal best and Norwegian national record of 1:59.82, set last week in Zagreb, Croatia.

The meet's web site can be accessed here.

Finally, here's a link to an Associated Press story on USA Track & Field CEO Doug Logan, whose job is reportedly on the line as the USATF board of directors meets this weekend in Las Vegas.

Multiple Olympic champion Carl Lewis spoke out in support of Logan, telling AP writer Eddie Pells, "I love Doug Logan. He's the best thing they ever could've done for the sport.  But the reality is, when you have a dysfunctional organization, you can see the difficulty people can have turning it around. If the volunteers would get out of the way, let Doug do his thing, let his vision push forward, it would happen. But we have a dysfunctional organization and it's hard to get anything done."

He said volunteers in key positions at USA Track and Field keep the organization from functioning the way it should.

"There's no plan," he said. "The plan is to stay where we are because it's fun, it's OK and I'm important," Lewis said. "And they see someone like Doug, who has everything to take it to the next level, and they say, 'Wait a minute here. There's actually somebody doing something right. What are you doing?'

"The key to that is it's being run by people who don't understand anything outside their own zip code."

You can read the whole story here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lagat gets another victory for Team Americas in 5000 meter run...

SPLIT, Croatia--The calendar said it was Sunday, a day when banks are closed.

Try telling reigning world indoor 3000 meter champion Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) that.

With a scintillating display of tactical acumen accumulated from racing for over a decade on the international circuit after graduating from Washington State University in 1998, Lagat used his patented kick and took advantage of an opening on the rail to grab the victory in the 3000 meter run at the IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup, and another $30000 check to go with the one he earned Saturday in the 5000 meter run.

Already the winner of the 5000 meter run on Saturday, Lagat was content to let Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele, Uganda's Moses Kipsiro, and Kenya's Vincent Kipsegechi Yator do the majority of the pacesetting.

After cruising through the first 2000 meters in a rather forgettable 5:30.08 or 66 second pace, the three members of Team Africa worked to try and run the sting out of Lagat's kick, led by the younger Bekele, who set a 2010 world leading time of 7:28.70 last week in beating Lagat, and Kipsiro, who fell victim to Lagat's 51-second final 400 in Saturday's 5000m.

In third with 135 meters to go, Lagat used patience and took advantage of Bekele's gift on the final straightaway, as the Ethiopian swerved to the outside of lane 1, allowing the former Cougar enough of a gap to shoot past Bekele, and the rest of the field, crossing the finish in a winning time of 7:54.75, significantly slower than his American record time of 7:29.00, set last week.

Kipsiro, positioned on the outside of lane 2 exiting the last turn, had an unexpected battle with Lagat's Americas teammate Bayron Piedra of Ecuador, but held on to take second again in 7:54.98, with Piedra getting third in 7:55.52. Bekele finished fourth in 7:55.79.

Lagat became the first man to win three individual titles over three different events in the history of the World or Continental Cup, winning the 1500 in the 2002 World Cup in Madrid.

Afterwards, Lagat said, “This is great because I was running against the best in the world,” Lagat said after kicking, for the second straight day, to a convincing victory. “I was running against Tariku (Bekele) tonight. Last night I was running against some of the best guys in the world, and I won it.”

“They kind of went the same,” Lagat said. “But yesterday was more clear. There was just one person I was chasing. Today we were about five of us still together with about 300 metres to go. But I was composed. I know when I have plenty left, and I had plenty left. Yesterday I did too.”

“In terms of strategy they went about in a similar way but this one was a bit more because I had to look at all the other guys because we were still all together with 80 meters to go.”

Before heading off to doping control, Lagat had some words of advice to those who criticized him for doubling instead of giving one of his races to another American:

“And a message for those people who thought I was a bit selfish because I ran two races. You know what, I wanted to come here and do the best that I could. And I’m happy that I did this. The Americas Team got 18 points and I’m very pleased with that.”

While Team Americas held the lead in the four-continent competition for most of the two days, Team Europe won the meet thanks to hometown star Blanka Vlasic's win in the high jump, leaping a world leading mark of 6-8 3/4 (2.05m), and giving Europe enough of an edge to win the meet with 429 points to 419.5 for Team Americas. Africa was third with 292, and Asia-Pacific took fourth with 286.5.

Complete results from the IAAF Continental Cup can be accessed here.

Cross country weekend roundup (September 4th)...

Here is our roundup of the first full weekend of cross country action in the state of Washington:

WESTERN WASHINGTON--2009 NCAA cross country runner-up and 2010 NACAC under 23 10000m champ Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) of Western set a meet record on her one lap around the Lake Padden Park course, running her opening 2.59 mile leg in 13:53 in the relay-style format, and leading her squad to victory, as Porter, Lauren Breihof, Phoebe Hartnett, and Sierra Brisky ran 1:01:27, defeating Western's "B" squad.

In the men's division, the Vikings ran to a 15-second victory over Western Oregon with a time of 54:38. Making up the victorious quartet were Bennett Grimes, Nick Abraham, Yonas Berhe and Chip Jackson.

Western next runs at the Central Washington Invitational next week.

You can read Western Washington's release here.



GONZAGA & EASTERN WASHINGTON: It appears that Gonzaga is a much improved team under second year coach Pat Tyson after their men placed third and their women finished second at the Idaho Cup and Clash of the Inland Northwest meet in Moscow, Idaho.

Idaho swept both the men's and women's team competitions. Markus Geiger of Idaho won the men's 8k in 24:53, while Lewis-Clark's Kelsey Klettke won the women's 5k in 17:49.

Eastern Washington finished fifth in both competitions.

Chris Boyle was Gonzaga's top finisher in fourth at 25:49, and Cody Barton finished 11th to lead the Eagles.

In the women's race, the Bulldogs were led by Kayla Lloyd's third place finish in 18:18, and Angelica Rodriguez was Eastern's top finisher in 13th at 19:11.

You can read Gonzaga's release here.

Both Eastern and Gonzaga return to action in two weeks at the UW's Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle.

SEATTLE UNIVERSITY--The Redhawks opened by traveling to the University of North Dakota for the Ron Pynn Classic against UND and South Dakota State.

Junior Erik Barkhaus finished second for SeattleU in the men's 8k race in 25:04, behind winner Michael Krsnak of South Dakota State, who ran 24:59.

Freshman Cara Talty finished third in 18:32 for the Redhawks, as Lindsay Anderson of North Dakota won in 17:51.

UND won the three team women's meet with 28 points, with SDSU second at 44 points, and SeattleU third with 48.

The men's meet was scored as a double dual with SDSU beating SeattleU 19-39. and the Redhawks beating UND 21-40.

SeattleU will run September 10th at the West Coast Preview in Portland, then again on the 18th at the UW's Sundodger Invite.

SeattleU's release can be read here.

SEATTLE PACIFIC--In Fairbanks, Alaska, sophomore Will Harrison's fourth-place individual finish led the Falcons to a low total of 41 points on Saturday at the Alaska Nanook Invitational Short-Course meet at West Ridge Ski Trails on the Alaska Fairbanks campus.

Harrison clocked 13:20 over the 4k course, as Northwest Nazarene's Matt Stark won in 13:01.

The host Nanooks were right behind with 42 points, and Northwest Nazarene was third with 43 in the 4-kilometer race.

In the women’s 4K, Seattle Pacific junior Natty Plunkett came through with another strong run, taking third place, and the Falcons also finished third as a team with 49 points. The host Nanooks won with 32, and Northwest Nazarene was second with 46.

Plunkett crossed the line in 15:27, as Raphaela Sieber of the host school won in 15:20.

Seattle Pacific will run their squad in next week's Central Washington Invitational.

You can read SPU's release here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle University, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington all provided content for this article.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lagat wins 5000 meters at IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup...

SPLIT, Croatia--Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) used a 51-second final lap to win the 5000 meters at the IAAF Continental Cup and earn the $30000 first place check and eight points for Team Americas.

After the field went through the first 3000 meters in a ridiculously slow 8:46.81, a time good enough to compete in most US high school state championship meets, Uganda's Moses Kipsiro picked up the pace marginally, taking the field through the 4000 meter mark at 11:33.47 or 2:46.66, as all nine runners remained in contention.

The final kilometer was covered in 2:24, as Lagat's miler speed took him across the line in a final time of 13:58.23, .22 seconds ahead of Kipsiro. The WSU grad took the lead for good shortly after entering the home straight.

Afterwards, Lagat said, “It’s 12 and a half laps, so that's never easy,” said Lagat who, at 35 set new U.S. records at both 3000 and 5000 metres this season. “But I felt very comfortable and felt very confident.” Particularly over the final lap, which he covered in just over 51 seconds.

Already a World Cup champion in the 1500m from 2002, Lagat will now be aiming for a double in Sunday'’s 3000m to become the first person to win titles in three different events. “I’m looking to take another tomorrow,” he said.

In the women's javelin, Vancouver's Kara Patterson, perhaps feeling the effects of a long season, finished sixth with a throw of 190-6 (58.07m) and a check for $3000; however the mark was well short of her season long goal to throw 200 feet on a consistent basis.

Russian Maria Abakumova won the competition with a meet record throw of 223-7 (68.14m).

On her Twitter page, Patterson said, "Worst meet of season to end it..my body hurt, couldn't get my mind past it, pretty frustrated."

Results from the IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup are available here.


OTHER RESULTS AND LINKS--Three time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond, a Renton HS & University of Washington graduate, finished fourth in the discus at the Meeting Citta' di Padova on Friday in Padova, Italy.

Thurmond threw 192-8 (58.72m), as Poland's Joanna Wisniewska won with a toss of 195-8 (59.64m).

Results from the Citta' di Padova are available here.

In advance of this weekend's IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup (formerly the World Cup) as a member of the Americas team, here's an article written by David Woods of the Indianapolis Star on Vancouver's Kara Patterson.

Patterson has eight of the 11 longest U.S. throws ever -- all of them this year. Track & Field News has touted her as a candidate to be U.S. female Athlete of the Year in the sport.

You can read it here…

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chris Lukezic issues statement regarding USADA decision...

One day after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued a press release stating that former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic "...accepted a two-year suspension for an anti-doping violation based on his refusal to submit a sample collection", the 2005 world championships team member put out a statement on his personal web site, giving his view on the matter.

Lukezic (left/photo by Paul Merca), who competed at Georgetown Univesity and professionally for Reebok, announced his retirement from the sport in November 2009, felt that USADA crossed the line of privacy when they demanded a sample from him on April 20th of this year. According to a post by Larry Eder on runblogrun.com, "Lukezic claims to have notified USA Track & Field of his retirement."

To further illustrate how absurd the whole Lukezic case is, Eder writes, "Chris Lukezic is prone to self-analysis. Hell, the guy ran 3:33.28, so perhaps it was too much oxygen on the brain. As Lukezic saw himself as non-elite athlete, he refused to take the test. Now, you arm-chair quarterbacks are asking, " Why, Chris, did you not just pee in the little plastic cup and get it over with?" Chris Lukezic saw himself as a private citizen, and he did not see himself as the elite athlete USADA perceived, so he decided to take a stand. RBR applauds his quiet act of defiance."

I understand that USADA has an obligation to ensure that the sport of track & field and other sports in the Olympic movement in this country is clean; however, when you start chasing folks who have absolutely no intent of ever competing at the world class level like Lukezic, the agency opens itself up to criticism from athletes, the media, and others who don't think USADA has a clue what they're doing.

Lukezic's official statement can be read here...

By the way, just wondering how much USADA spent to send the poor guy out to Lukezic's door to collect a urine sample? That money could've been spent elsewhere in USADA's battle to level the playing field.

Huskies sweep Cougars in first known UW/WSU cross country dual meet...

EPHRATA, Washington--No Kendra Schaaf? No Mel Lawrence? No Christine Babcock? No Lauren Saylor? No super freshmen?

No problem!

Schaaf, second in last year's NCAA cross country meet, transferred to North Carolina over the summer, while Lawrence, Babcock and Saylor, who were on the 2008 national championship team, were held out of the meet.

University of Washington senior Kailey Campbell (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Ballard High School in Seattle made the most of her opportunity as she took command early and cruised through the 4-kilometer flat, grassy course surrounding the Ephrata High School soccer and softball complex to take home the victory in the first known dual cross country meet between the University of Washington and Washington State University.

After bolting out of the starting gate early, Campbell stretched out her lead to as much as 13 seconds before stopping the clock at 14:01, twelve seconds ahead of WSU freshman Ruby Roberts from Kingston HS.

The Dawgs used their depth to emerge victorious in the dual 24-33, as 2010 NACAC junior team member Lindsay Flanagan finished third in 14:16, followed by Kayla Evans in 14:22 in fourth, followed by Breanna Huschka in seventh at 14:43, and Alison Ponce rounding out the scoring in ninth at 15:06.

The Cougar scorers included Caroline Austin in fifth at 14:37, Allison Clark in sixth at 14:42, Emily Farrar in eighth at 14:54, and Sara Bobbe in twelfth at 15:11.

In contrast to Campbell's victory in the women's 4k race, the 20-plus starters in the men's 6k race ran in a tight pack for almost the first half of the race, with no one wanting to take command.

However, Washington's Cameron Quackenbush and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald, along with Washington State's Jono Lafler (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Justin Englund were positioned near the front of the peloton, poised to make a break once the racing began.

Shortly around 3 kilometers, Lafler slowly began accelerating the pace, with Quackenbush deciding to go with him, as they dropped Englund and O'Donoghue-McDonald.

Lafler, listed as a junior on the WSU roster out of Tahoma HS, began opening up on Quackenbush, and built a lead of five seconds. crossing the finish line in 18:23.

Washington's depth again prevailed over the Cougs as Quackenbush (18:28), Joey Bywater (18:28), O'Donoghue-McDonald (18:29), and Gareth Gilna (18:35) went 2-3-4-5, with Taylor Carlson finishing 11th in 18:54 to round out the Husky scorers.

Englund, who was up near the front early for WSU, faded to sixth in 18:40, while David Hickerson (7th, 18:49), freshman Kyle Boe from Vancouver's Columbia River (8th, 18:50), and freshman Mack Young from Redmond (9th, 18:53) rounded out the Cougar scorers.

"I was extremely pleased with the way everybody ran, especially with Jono winning the men's race, and with Ruby finishing second in the women's race. It was great to see," Cougar Head Coach Pete Julian said.

In assessing his team's performance against the Huskies, Julian added, "The best thing for me to take way from today was the way the freshmen ran, across the board. We recruited winners and competitors and this solidified what we considered an amazing freshman class. We saw athletes engage and not be intimidated. It was exciting."

His Husky counterpart Greg Metcalf said, "Both our teams ran well today, especially Kailey Campbell and our three veteran guys who ran a nice controlled race together."

"Kailey has come back as a senior and wants to make the most out of this year and it's always great to get that first career win. It's great to see all the progress Gareth Gilna has made since last spring, and nice to see some of the other youngsters like Taylor Carlson, Breanna Huschka, and Alison Ponce score points for us in an official race."

Both coaches were pleased with the turnout for the meet, held in Metcalf's home town of Ephrata, where he still owns school records in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.

"It was great to see the town come out and support us today and hopefully we can continue to foster a new tradition with this meet," Metcalf said.

The Huskies' next meet is the Sundodger Invitational on September 18th at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, where it's expected that the vaunted women's freshman class, led by Foot Locker national champ Megan Goethals, and Nike Cross Nationals champ Katie Flood will make their debuts.

Washington State will compete on September 25th at the Community Colleges of Spokane Erik Anderson Invitational at Plantes Ferry Park in the Spokane Valley.

The UW release can be read here,
while the WSU release can be read here (note that times listed in this article were rounded up to whole seconds per cross country scoring rules; the race was hand-timed, but recorded in 1/100ths of a second, and is published in both schools' releases in 1/100ths).

NOTE: Thanks to the sports information offices of the UW & WSU for providing information for this article.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SPU's Natty Plunkett wins in Fairbanks as Falcons open 2010 season...

FAIRBANKS, Alaska--Year one of life after Jessica Pixler began as Seattle Pacific's Natty Plunkett (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) covered 6 kilometers in 22 minutes, 30.3 seconds, and was nearly half a minute in front of her closest challenger at the finish line, leading the Seattle Pacific women to a second-place finish in the Alaska Nanook Cross Country Invitational Thursday.

In a three-way dual against Alaska Fairbanks and Northwest Nazarene, the Falcons finished with 42 points. The host Nanooks won with 27, placing all five of their scorers among the top eight, and NNU was third with 63.

Plunkett, a junior from Bellevue's Newport HS, was 25.9 seconds ahead of runner-up Raphaela Sieber of Fairbanks at the finish.

Joining Plunkett in the top 10 for the Falcons were freshmen Allison Cutting (Sequim, Wash./Sequim HS), who was fifth in 23:58.2, and Robyn Zeidler (Plymouth, Minn.,), who took 10th in 24:51.8.

Sophomore Will Harrison (Tucson, Ariz.) came up with a strong performance for the Seattle Pacific men, placing second, and the Falcons wound up third as a team. Harrison completed 8 kilometers in 26:53.3, and was joined in the top five by junior Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, Mont.), who took fifth in 27:22.6.

Seattle Pacific finished with 51 points. Northwest Nazarene, led by overall winner Barak Watson (26:30.0) won with 25, and Alaska Fairbanks was second with 48.

Results and the SPU recap from the Alaska Nanook Invitational can be accessed here.


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

European season winds down with meets in Padova & IAAF Continental Cup...

The European outdoor track & field season continues its final legs of 2010 with the Meeting Citta di Padova on Friday in Padova, Italy, and this weekend's IAAF Continental Cup in Split, Croatia.

Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way, who finished sixth in Zagreb, Croatia on Wednesday, is entered in Padova, where she will face US teammate and reigning Olympic champion Stephanie Brown Trafton in the discus.

Thurmond's season best in 2010 is 204-11 (62.47m), set in Sacramento on May 29th.

The start list for the Meeting Citta di Padova is available here.



IAAF/VTB BANK CONTINENTAL CUP THIS WEEKEND IN SPLIT...

The IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup takes place in Split Saturday and Sunday. Originally known as the World Cup, the Continental Cup is reformatted as four teams representing the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific go head to head against each other.

In the lane and field events, each Continental team is allowed two athletes per event; however only one athlete from each country can represent a continent in an event (i.e., two Jamaicans cannot represent the Americas in the 100 meter dash, etc; in the mens 100, the Americas will run Daniel Bailey of Antigua and Rae Edwards of the USA).

Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat, who set the American record in the 3000 meter run of 7:29.00 on Sunday in Rieti, is entered in both the 3000 and the 5000 meter runs.

Lagat will run the 5000 on Saturday, and the 3000 Sunday.

Individual winners are eligible for cash prizes based on $30000 for the winner, all the way down to $1000 for eighth place.

In the women's javelin, Vancouver's Kara Patterson, who finished second to the Czech Republic's Barbora Spotakova in the season long Samsung Diamond League series, is one of the two throwers on the Americas squad, along with Yainelis Ribeaux of Cuba.

Patterson will throw on Saturday.

The entry list by team for this weekend's IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup is available here.


LUKEZIC GIVEN TWO YEAR SUSPENSION BY USADA…

In the "you've gotta be kidding me" department, former Auburn HS and Georgetown University All-American Chris Lukezic was handed a two year suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for refusing to take a doping control test on April 20th.

Lukezic, who retired from the sport after the 2009 season, apparently had not filed the paperwork with both USADA and USA Track & Field indicating that he had retired from competition.

In a short note received from Lukezic, he says that his ineligibility only goes into effect if he comes out of retirement, noting that he's about 160lbs (from 125 last summer) and have only mustered about 5 runs in the past year. "I can proudly say my running days are long behind me."


Lukezic now works in the travel industry for startup company AirBnB.

The USADA release is available here.


FLOTRACK RATES HUSKIES AS #2 TEAM TO WATCH...

In its continuing series of videos, media partner Flotrack rates the University of Washington Huskies women's cross country squad as its #2 preseason pick.

Flotrack writes, "This team just missed getting the preseason top spot by one spot, but with a healthy summer of training and contributions from some of the incoming freshmen, this team could see themselves on the top of the podium...again."

Washington opens its Pac-10 title defense with a dual meet against Washington State Friday in Ephrata.

You can watch the video here...






Meantime, University of Washington freshman Megan Morgan shared her thoughts as the Huskies prepare for the 2010 cross country season at their training camp at Fort Flagler State Park.

You can read Megan's diary of cross country camp here.

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