Saturday, December 31, 2011

And now...the 2011 edition of the Mercanator Awards!

Well, we made it through another twelve months here at the mighty paulmerca.blogspot.com, as you--the readers of this blog--have contributed to another banner year by getting the word out about this little corner of the world wide web and by consuming the content.

As publisher, editor, and designated gofer for the blog, I must give thanks to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for helping expand the readership. Those of you who are friends/followers on those three outlets are receiving notices every time a new post comes up.

I must also give a special tip of the hat to Martin Rudow, the publisher of Northwest Runner magazine, as he has done a lot through the magazine and nwrunner.com to help expand our readership.

Track & Field News, and various blogs too numerous to name (but you know who you are) also get thanks for linking stories we posted this year.

I also want to give a special shout out to the readers and contributors to the blog who gave us news tips and produced photos and content during the year.  Your contributions are very valuable to this site, and I thank you.

In 2011, paulmerca.blogspot.com ventured to several places around the country and around the world to give you what I feel is the best coverage of Washingtonians competing at the highest levels of the sport.

The major events covered this year included the entire indoor and outdoor home meets at the University of Washington; the USA cross country championships in San Diego; the Harry Jerome indoor meet in Richmond, British Columbia; the IAAF world cross country championships in Punta Umbria, Spain; the final Pac-10 track & field championships in Tuscon; the Nike Prefontaine Classic and USA Outdoor Championships in Eugene; the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, Korea; the ING New York City Marathon; the NCAA West Regional cross country championships in Palo Alto; the Nike Border Clash in Beaverton; and, The Bowerman Trophy presentation in San Antonio, Texas.

As we did to end 2010, we'll end 2011 with the presentation of the "Mercanator" awards in recognition of some of the performances and performers that we covered this year.

To some of the athletes receiving this award, winning a “Mercanator” award may not necessarily get you an extra bonus from your shoe company contract, but you will get the recognition from the readers of the mighty blogspot for a job well done this season, and a “BOOM! SHAKA-LAKA!” from yours truly.

For those of you who don’t get an award or feel you’ve been jobbed out of a “Mercanator”—there’s 2011!

Enjoy, and thank you to all the readers for your support of this site!

Here are the disclaimers: Mercanator awards are generally limited to athletes who have affiliations with the state of Washington—either they were born in this state, currently reside in the state, or attend(ed) school in the state. Also, not all categories from previous editions were awarded this year…publisher's decision.

Media relations award--Blogs like this don't exist without the help of folks in the media relations business. This year's award goes to the usual suspects--Mike Bruscas (University of Washington); Linda Chalich (Washington State University); Greg Walker (University of Oregon); Megan Saalfeld/Heidi Burgett/Morgan Shaw (Nike), along with a couple of newbies--Caitlin Albaugh (adidas); Tom Lewis (USTFCCCA); Richard Finn (ING NYC Marathon); and Dani Quintero Rodriguez (Punta Umbria LOC/IAAF WXC).

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Sprints: Glad to finally give a sprints award, which in its previous two incarnations, was combined with the hurdles. Michael Berry (left/photo by Paul Merca) gets the award, as the Rainier Beach HS grad was the Pac-10 400 meter champion ran 44.91 to break the 51-year-old University of Oregon school record set by Olympian Otis Davis. Was third in the 400 at the NCAA Championships and fifth at the USA Championships. Captured a IAAF World gold medal as a member of Team USA's 4x400 meter relay squad, running the fastest split in the semifinals.

A honorable mention in the sprints goes to Washington's James Alaka, as the Flash Man won both the 100 and 200 at the Pac-10s, and the European U23 title in the 100.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Distances: Bernard Lagat. Who knows whether the Washington State alum might have caught Great Britain's Mo Farah after getting boxed and bumped around on the final lap of an exciting men's 5000 meters at the world championships in Daegu, where he finished second. Nonetheless, Kip had an outstanding season, winning the US title in the 5000, lowering the American record in the 5000 to 12:53.60, and finally winning the Fifth Avenue Mile title.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Throws: Märt Israel (left/photo by Paul Merca). The former Husky from Estonia was an unexpected fourth place finisher in the discus in Daegu, throwing 213-11 (66.08m) in the penultimate round at the world championships. Israel also won the discus title at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Hurdles: Jeshua Anderson. The Washington State senior only lost once in the 400 hurdles against collegiate competition at the Texas Relays. Anderson was money everywhere else in the collegiate season, winning his fourth straight Pac-10 400H title, his third NCAA championship, and a USA title with a dive across the line in his pro debut, earning a spot at the world championships. Anderson was a finalist for The Bowerman Award for the top collegiate track & field athlete of 2011, and won the World University Games 400H title.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Vertical Jumps: Scott Roth. The Husky senior won both the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in the pole vault. He set a season best of 18-1 (5.51m) during the indoor season and an overall personal best of 18-9¼ (5.72m) to take the victory at the Mt. SAC Relays. At the end of the collegiate season, Roth's season’s best mark ranked among the world’s top five.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Distances: Ingvill Måkestad, 1500 meters. The former Husky from Norway finished sixth at the world championships, running 4:06.85, achieving her goal of placing in the top six at worlds.

An honorable mention goes to the University of Washington's Katie Flood, who won the Pac-12 cross country title, and placed in the top 10 at the NCAA championships.


TOP PERFORMER--Women's Vertical Jumps: Ebba Jungmark (left/photo by Paul Merca), high jump. The former Washington State jumper from Sweden, who won an NCAA indoor title in her one season on the Palouse in 1988, competed at the world championships in Daegu, and also set an outdoor personal best of 6-4 1/4 (1.94m) in Zagreb, Croatia in September, and an indoor PR of 6-5 (1.96m) at the European Championships in Paris.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Throws: Aretha Thurmond, discus. Although the former Husky might not admit that her 2011 season was one of her best, she was a model of consistency, finishing second at USAs, second at Lausanne, second at Birmingham, and garnering third place finishes in Birmingham and the adidas GP in New York. She also got second at the Pan-Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico to end 2011.


After all of that, the nod for my Washington state track & field athlete of the year goes to Jeshua Anderson!

With 2012 an Olympic year, the competition for the Mercanator awards will be even more intense, as there will be athletes coming out of the woodwork to vie for those coveted Olympic team spots! You'll have to return to this very blog at the end of December to see who gets these awards!

Before I end this post, I'd like to give a shout out to both Jessica Pixler, and Katie Follett, who were involved in the 2010 race of the year in the 1500m at Mt. SAC, as they both got married within the last few days--Jessica to Matt Tebo, who ran for Colorado, and whom I had the pleasure of traveling with in 2007 to the world cross country championships in Mombasa, Kenya; and Katie to former Colorado State distance runner Danny Mackey…congratulations to all (disclaimer--Katie gets married a few hours after this posting)!

PS--There are only two weeks until we get things rolling indoors at the Husky Preview meet!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas greetings, all!

Happy holidays from all of us at paulmerca.blogspot.com!



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Olympic 400m legend and former Washington Husky coach Lee Evans has brain tumor & no insurance...

While reading my usual news sources on Christmas Eve, I came upon a very distressing report that a former University of Washington assistant track coach, and one of the greatest athletes to don the USA jersey in Olympic competition, Lee Evans (center/photo courtesy US Olympic Committee), was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, and no health insurance.

Evans, who won the Olympic 400 meter title in the 1968 Mexico City Games, was visiting his sister in the San Francisco area when the tumor on his pituitary gland was discovered, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

According to a post written by Dave Zirin, who co-authored "The John Carlos Story", the prognosis for the 63-year old Evans isn't good. Carlos recently sent out an email to his fellow Olympians stating, “All of our teammates want to go out and say some prayers. All there is left to do is pray.”

On October 18,1968, Evans was the first man to break the 44 second barrier, running 43.86 in Mexico City to win the Olympic title within an hour of Bob Beamon's titanic leap of 29-2 1/2 (8.90m).

UPDATE:  For those of you too young to remember Evans, here is video of his epic race in Mexico City:



Beyond his two Olympic medals, Evans was one of the catalysts along with Tommie Smith and Carlos of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, a group that brought to the forefront the protest against racism and oppression both at home and abroad, punctuated by the raised-fist salute by Smith and Carlos on the victory podium after their 1-3 finish in the 200m.

Evans wore a black beret on the medal stand after winning the Olympic title, in a nod to the Black Panthers.

He was recently working for the United Nations after resigning from the University of South Alabama in 2008 as its track and cross country coach, and trying to build a school on 13 acres of land he purchased in Liberia.

En route to California, Evans was in Kentucky to visit his Olympic teammate Tom Lough, who helped introduce him to local farmers, as Evans planned to start a farm on his land in Liberia in addition to the school

Evans coached at the University of Washington from 2000-2001, and played a part in the development of sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker, who was a finalist at the US Olympic Trials in 2000 in the 400, and traveled to Sydney where he was a member of the USA 4 x 400 relay pool at that year's Olympics.

Evans is a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, and was inducted in 1983.

An account and donation page are being set up for Lee Evans but until then, checks can be sent to Lee Evans, 49096 Valeria St; Dos Palos, California 93620.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Porter, Knight, Weitz & Gardner on Team USA squad for BUPA Challenge in Edinburgh...

INDIANAPOLIS--Four athletes with ties to the state of Washington will represent the USA on January 7th at the second annual BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge meet.

Teams from the United States, Great Britain and Northern Ireland and a select European team will compete in men’s and women’s junior and senior races. Each country competing in the International Team Challenge will consist of nine athletes per team (six on the junior teams) with the first six athletes per team scoring. In cross country, the team with the lowest overall score wins.

NCAA Division II 10000 meter champ Sarah Porter, who recently completed her eligibility at Western Washington University and made her pro debut at the ING New York City Marathon, will be on the senior women's squad.

Three runners from Spokane will be on the USA junior squad, including Katie Knight (left/photo by Paul Merca), Nathan Weitz, and Andrew Gardner. Weitz recently finished 3rd at the Foot Locker Championships while Gardner took 6th.

Knight won the Nike Border Clash in Beaverton last month, and was third at the Nike Cross Nationals at Portland Meadows earlier this month.

Brie Felnagle and Katie Follett, who finished 1-3 at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at Seattle's Jefferson Park, declined their spots on the team.

The USA Track & Field release is available here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jessica Beard & Ngoni Makusha win The Bowerman...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard and Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha were named winners of The Bowerman on Wednesday night. The Bowerman is bestowed to year’s best collegiate track & field athletes.

Beard won NCAA crowns both indoors and out in the 400 meters and 4×400 relay in 2011. Makusha joined Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens in winning the 100 meter-long jump double at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.

Beard (Euclid, Ohio) became the just the third female in NCAA Division I history, and first since 1999, to win both 400 national titles in the same year and run on both winning 4×400 relays at the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Championships. Beard, a four-time Big 12 indoor 400-meter champ, recorded the world’s fastest time over the 400-meter distance indoors with a 50.79 clocking to win the national crown. Outdoors, Beard clocked 51.10 for the NCAA win and split 49.13 for the Aggies as anchor of the NCAA-winning 4×400 relay.

Makusha (Seke, Zimbabwe) won NCAA outdoor titles in the 100 meters and long jump, joining Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, and Michigan’s DeHart Hubbard as only the fourth man in NCAA Division I history to claim such a double at a single championship. Makusha also claimed the NCAA long jump title during the indoor season, becoming the first since 2006 to sweep the event’s two titles (Arturs Abolins, Nebraska). The Seminole notched a third NCAA outdoor championship title as second-leg of 4×100-meter relay.

Washington State's Jeshua Anderson (above. with WSU coaches Debra Farwell & Mark Macdonald /photo by Paul Merca), the three time NCAA champion in the 400 hurdles, was one of the three men's finalists for this award along with Florida's Christian Taylor, which is track & field's equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy.

Longtime Seattle Pacific coach Ken Foreman was also inducted into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame at tonight's presentation.

Here is Anderson's conversation with emcee Lewis Johnson of NBC/Universal Sports.



NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Behind the scenes at The Bowerman...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--A few hours before the start of the Bowerman awards ceremony at the JW Marriott Hill Country, I had a chance to catch up with Washington State 400 meter hurdler Jeshua Anderson and Cougar assistant coach Mark Macdonald (left/photo by Paul Merca) as Anderson went through a workout on a hill outside the hotel resort.

Anderson ran 6 x 120m uphill (guestimate) , averaging around 18-19 seconds per run.

Here is Anderson's last two runs up the hill on a cloudy day after the rains earlier in the morning stopped.



The Bowerman awards ceremony will be webcast by Flotrack beginning at 4 pm, pacific time on Wednesday.

Here's who I picked for The Bowerman, and why...

SAN ANTONIO--It is an honor to make the trip from Seattle to San Antonio to attend the presentation of The Bowerman, the award given to the outstanding collegiate male and female athlete of 2011.

As many of you regular readers know, I was selected again by the folks from the USTFCCCA as a voting member for the second year in a row. I do take this very seriously, and try not to have fan popularity sway my decision making.

I did skip the 2011 NCAA outdoor championships, so I was not able to see in person pole vaulter Tina Šutej of Arkansas, who went undefeated in every meet competed in except for the NCAA outdoor championships in Des Moines.

MEN

Florida State's Ngoni Makusha (left/photo by Paul Merca) got my first place vote, based on the strength of his 100 and long jump double victory, running 9.89 for a national record for Zimbabwe and a collegiate record, as well as jumping 27-6 3/4 (8.40m), also a national record.

As much as I wanted to give Washington State's Jeshua Anderson my first place vote for winning his third NCAA title in the 400 hurdles, Makusha's double was too much to overcome, so he got my second place vote.

Christian Taylor of Florida's windy 58-4 3/4 (17.80m), which was the #1 collegiate performance of all time under any conditions was only good enough to get third.

Having said that, had the deadline for the ballots been AFTER the world championships, I would have gone Taylor-Makusha-Anderson, as Taylor ended up winning in Daegu.

WOMEN

Jessica Beard of Texas A&M was by far the most dominant collegiate track & field athlete this season, winning individual titles in the 400 indoors and outdoors, along with being on the Aggies' 4 x 4 relay squads that won national titles.

LSU's Kimberlyn Duncan just as easily got my second place vote, based on winning the NCAA titles at 200 meters both indoors and outdoors, as well as being the high point scorer in the outdoor championships.

Folks in the pole vault community are going to be irate with me, but you know what? That's fine.

As much as Tina Šutej went undefeated for almost the entire season, and despite setting a collegiate record in the pole vault of 15-1 1/2 (4.61m), and tying the NCAA championship meet record of 14-7 1/4 (4.45m), there is one minor problem--she didn't win the NCAA outdoor title.

The common denominator with the other five finalists: all of them have a NCAA outdoor title in their pocket. In my book, a NCAA outdoor title should be a prerequisite for being in the final three.

As the great American philosopher Charlie Sheen noted, "Winning!" matters, not how many records you break. Šutej's season is similar to what the New England Patriots did a few years ago, going undefeated, but losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, or in her case, Melissa Gergel of Oregon.

I'm in agreement with several folks who cover college track & field and who probably know more than me who believe that Villanova's Sheila Reid, the winner of both the 1500 and the 5000 in Des Moines, should have been a finalist for this award.

I'm not on the Bowerman panel that picked the six finalists, but I have to believe that the only reason Sutej is a finalist is that they have to have a field event athlete in there, and she was the most dominant female field event athlete last season.

The results of the fan poll that was conducted by the USTFCCCA is available here.

Media partner Flotrack will cover the Bowerman awards ceremony and, for the first time, an hour-long preview show beforehand. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. PT, with the "Flotrack Red Carpet Show at The Bowerman" hosted by Ryan Fenton and Alex Lohr featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the USTFCCCA Convention and the ceremony.

Finalists were chosen by the ten-person Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2011 track & field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are used in consideration. Voting for the The Bowerman includes members of the Advisory Board, media personnel, statisticians, collegiate administrators, along with past winners and online voting by fans and USTFCCCA members.

Following the presentation of The Bowerman, the USTFCCCA will induct six coaches into its Hall of Fame, including legendary Seattle Pacific mentor Dr. Ken Foreman.  Flotrack will also webcast the Hall of Fame ceremony.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tacoma native Brie Felnagle takes national club harrier title at Jefferson; ex-Husky Katie Follett third...

Tacoma's Brie Felnagle (left/photo by Mike Scott) won the featured open women's 6-kilometer title at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at the Jefferson Park Golf Course Saturday in South Seattle.

Under cold and cloudy skies at Jefferson, Felnagle, the Bellarmine Prep and University of North Carolina alum, who is coached by her high school coach Matt Ellis, took control of the race, winning by a four second margin (19:54-19:58) over reigning NCAA Division II cross country champ Neely Spence of Shippensburg (PA).

Just as surprising was that University of Washington alum Katie Follett, running for host Club Northwest, took third in the race in a time of 19:59.

Felnagle and Follett were in a group of five runners, but the Tacoma native pulled away from Spence with 1000 meters to go to take the win.

adidas/Team Rogue Elite out of Austin, Texas, led by Natalie Picchetti's 17th place finish, won their first ever team title over two-time team champions Boulder Running Company. Follett's third place finish gave host Club Northwest a third place team finish.

The open men's 10k race saw Jonathan Grey of Team USA Minnesota take command of the race at 6 km, quickly opening a 20 meter lead over a field that included defending individual champion Aaron Braun and World Championships 1,500 meter bronze medalist Matt Centrowitz (Eugene, Ore.).

Grey cruised to the individual title in 29:38 for a 10 second win over Braun while he edged Phillip Reid of the Asics Aggies as they finished in the same time of 29:48. Centrowitz took fourth in 29:50.

Braun's second place finish helped defending team champions McMillan Elite retain their title from 2010.

The top three finishers in the senior men's and women's races are eligible to run for Team USA at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country race in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 7th.

A record 1226 athletes competed at the 14th annual event, which featured America’s top post-collegiate club teams from across the United States vying for top honors and bragging rights as the nation's top cross country team. The championships offered a total prize purse of $30,000, with $25,000 going to the top open teams.

Complete results of the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships are available here.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

USATF National Club Cross Country Championships set for Saturday in South Seattle...

Defending individual champion Aaron Braun (left/photo by Mike Scott) of Flagstaff, Arizona along with his teammates and two-time men’s team titlists McMillan Elite will join more than 100 USATF club teams Saturday at the 2011 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at the Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, using the same course as the 2010 Pac-10 championship meet.

The 14th annual USATF National Club Cross Country Championships features America’s top post-collegiate club teams from across the United States vying for top honors and bragging rights as the nation's top cross country team. More than 1,100 competitors are entered in the event, which features a 10-kilometer men’s race and a 6-kilometer women’s race. Clubs will compete for a total prize purse of $30,000, with $25,000 going to the top open teams.

In the women’s 6k team race, the Boulder Running Company/adidas will toe the line looking for their third team title but will face three-time team champion Boston Athletic Association, as well as teams from the New York Athletic Club and New Balance Silicon Valley.

Contenders for the individual title will include Julie Culley of the New York Athletic Club, Sara Vaughn of the Bowerman Athletic Club and reigning NCAA Division II cross country champ Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Pa.) and Bellarmine Prep alum Brie Felnagle of Tacoma, running unattached.

Washington alum Katie Follett is also entered in the meet.

The race for the individual title will feature defending champion Braun and McMillan Elite teammates Brett Gotcher and Nick Arciniaga. Joining the race for individual honors will be Max King and Ryan Bak of the Central Oregon Running Klub; Phillip Reid and Sergio Reyes of the Asics Aggies; and local favorite Mike Sayenko of Club Northwest.

Arciniaga, Reyes & Sayenko all represented Team USA this summer in the marathon at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Daegu.

Former Stanford star and 2008 US Olympian at 5000 meters, Ian Dobson, is also entered in the field.

A minimum of three athletes from Saturday's senior men's and women's races will select themselves for inclusion on Team USA at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country race in Edinburgh, Scotland based on descending order.

Club teams will not be subject to the logo and uniform regulations that were a big source of contention at  last week's USATF convention in St. Louis, after an agreement was reached between USATF and the Athletes Advisory Council.  Teams will be required to wear similar looking attire.

Meet entries in the open races are available here.

The championships get under way at 9 am with a community race, with the disabled club championships at 9:45. The masters women's 6k goes at 10:45, followed by the masters men's 10k an hour later.

The open women race over 6k at 1:00, followed by the open men's 10k at 1:45 pm.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Washington State's Jeshua Anderson & Husky commit Maddie Meyers nominated for Seattle Sports Star award...

Washington State University's three-time NCAA champion, USA national champion and World University Games champ Jeshua Anderson, along with Maddie Meyers (left/photo by Paul Merca), the American high school record holder in the 2000-meter steeplechase, were announced as nominees for the 77th annual Sports Star of the Year award by the Seattle Sports Commission.

The Sports Star of the Year awards show, presented by ROOT Sports, will be held Wednesday January 25th at Seattle's Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, which honors the athletes, coaches, media figures, stories, sports executives and others in Washington state for their achievements during the previous year or season.

Tickets for this event are $75, which includes the pre-show reception with complimentary beverages and heavy appetizers and the opportunity to mingle with the sports celebrities, or $35 for the show.

In 2011, Anderson won his fourth straight Pac-10 400 meter hurdles title, and went undefeated against collegiate competition during the 2011 outdoor season en route to winning his third NCAA title in the event. He also won the USA national title in Eugene with a thrilling stretch run that saw him dive across the line for the victory.

Anderson was named the Pac-10's male track athlete of the year, and was a member of Team USA at the IAAF world track & field championships in Daegu, Korea. Anderson will travel to San Antonio next week as one of three finalists for the USTFCCCA's Bowerman Award, given to the nation's top collegiate track & field athletes.

Meyers, the Northwest School senior who just recently posted on her Facebook page that she plans to attend the University of Washington next fall, broke the American record in the 2000 meter steeplechase twice this season, first at the USA World Youth Trials in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on June 28th, running 6:33.01, then lowering it again at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, running 6:29.20 en route to a sixth place finish.

Meyers, who was the subject of an article in Track & Field News in its October issue, recently won her fourth straight WIAA state 1A cross country title to go along with her eight career state championships on the track. She finished fifth at the Nike Border Clash in Beaverton last month, after winning the title last year.

Nominees for the Male Sports Star of the Year include University of Washington running back Chris Polk; Husky guard Isaiah Thomas; Husky golfer Chris Williams; and University of California swimmer Nathan Adrian.

Nominees for the Female Sports Star of the Year include Gonzaga basketball player Courtney Vandersloot; Husky softball player Jenn Salling; SeattleU soccer coach Julie Woodward; and boxer Queen Underwood.

Nominees for the Professional Sports Star of the Year include Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks; Brandon League of the Seattle Mariners; hydro driver Dave Villwock; Seattle Sounders FC goalie Kasey Keller; and Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle Pacific middle distance runner Jessica Pixler was the winner of the 2010 Female Sports Star of the Year.

Fans can vote once a day by going to this link.

NOTE: The Seattle Sports Commission contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Progress and chaos at USATF Athletes Advisory Committee meeting in St. Louis...

ST. LOUIS--Friday's meeting between the USA Track & Field Athletes Advisory Committee, USATF executives and shoe company reps about the organization's restrictive uniform guidelines started off well, with Bob Hersh, who is on the IAAF Council, telling the athletes that they can have a second corporate logo on their jerseys for the 2012 season, which doesn't necessarily have to be that of a shoe/apparel company.

The chaos at the meeting started when some of the speakers from the shoe companies got wind that someone in the room was streaming the meeting online via ustream, with the video embedded by Flotrack.

According to a post on letsrun.com, "Nike's John Capriotti, who was one of the people from Nike at the meeting. got word it was being streamed live on the internet without his knowledge. He got upset, walked out, the meeting was stopped, and everyone not on the AAC was kicked out of the meeting. That is when the athletes posted like crazy on twitter and people following the convention on twitter went nuts, although apparently not that many people (42 according to this tweet, not sure if that is a joke or not) were actually watching the live stream."

USA Track & Field will not enforce the uniform rules at next week's USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course, a move hailed by many of the clubs that plan to bring teams and individuals.

A recap of Friday's happenings in St. Louis can be read here, and here.

A good video with shot putter Adam Nelson, with some background of what the issues are facing the athletes in St. Louis, is available here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UW coach Greg Metcalf named Pac-12 harrier coach of the year...

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - For the third time in the past four years, University of Washington head coach Greg Metcalf (far left/photo by Mike Scott) was named the Pac-12 Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year, the conference office announced Tuesday.

Conference awards are based on a vote of the Pac-12 head coaches. Metcalf led the Washington women to second at the Pac-12 Championships, and then on to a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships, falling just a few points shy of Georgetown for the national title. The Huskies also won the NCAA West Region title for the fourth year in a row, and had a big win at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational.

Metcalf was also named West Region Coach of the Year for the fourth year in a row. His previous Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors came in 2008 and 2009.

The Pac-12 release can be read here.

The University of Oregon's Matthew Centrowitz (left/photo by Paul Merca), who earned a surprise bronze medal in the 1500 meters at the IAAF world track & field championships in Daegu this summer, announced Tuesday that he will forego his final season of collegiate eligibility and turn pro.

Centrowitz will be represented by PACE Sports Management, the UK based athlete management company headed by Ricky Simms. PACE Sports Management’s roster includes triple Olympic Champion Usain Bolt, triple World Champion Vivian Cheruiyot, World Champions Mo Farah, Linet Masai, Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu & Jana Pittman.

“We are honored and delighted to work with Matthew and help continue his development as a professional athlete. Matthew was extremely impressive in 2011 and has the ability to be a major force in the event for years to come”, commented Simms.

The release from PACE can be read here.

Finally, according to a social media post, Northwest School senior Maddie Meyers, the reigning American high school record holder in the 2000 meter steeeplechase at 6:29.20, announced her intent to attend the University of Washington next fall.

Meyers, who won the Nike Border Clash in 2010 and was a Foot Locker cross country championships finalist that season, finished fifth in this year's Border Clash on November 20th in Beaverton on the Nike campus.

In 2011, Meyers finished sixth at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Villeneuve d'Ascq, France in the 2000 steeple, where she set her American high school record.

Keep in mind that this is not official until the school receives a national letter of intent, and the school cannot announce or comment on Meyers until the national signing date of February 1, 2012.

NOTE:  PACE Sports Management and the Pac-12 Conference contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ex-Husky Schaaf wins second Canadian harrier title; UW's Johnson fourth...

VANCOUVER, BC--Former University of Washington standout Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Mike Scott) now competing for the University of North Carolina, won her second national cross country title in three years at Saturday's Canadian Cross Country Championships at Jericho Beach Park.

Schaaf, a native of Craven, Saskatchewan, took an eight-second victory over Megan Brown of Guelph, Ontario, running the 7-kilometer course in 25:00.

Dayna Pidhoresky of Tecumseh, Ontario finished third in 25:47, followed by University of Washington sophomore Justine Johnson of Victoria in 26:03.

Johnson was the first British Columbia finisher across the line.

Both Schaaf and Johnson earlier in the week ran at the NCAA cross country championships in Terre Haute, with Schaaf finishing 15th for North Carolina in 20:01 over 6k, and Johnson placing 65th in 20:46.

Schaaf, a standout in Canadian running circles as a junior (19-under), won her first senior cross country title two years ago, after finishing second in the 2009 NCAA cross country championships. That race that turned out to be her final collegiate cross country race as a member of the Washington program.

Complete results from the women's senior race at the Canadian national cross country championships are available here, while links to the other championship races are available here.

NOTE:  Athletics Canada and the University of Washington contributed to this report.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Katie Flood finishes seventh as Huskies narrowly miss second national title...

TERRE HAUTE--Led by Pac-12 champion Katie Flood's (left/photo by Paul Merca) seventh place finish, the University of Washington Huskies finished a close second to Georgetown University at the NCAA cross country championships on the Lavern Gibson course.

Flood ran 19:48 over the 6k course as she was part of a large group of women that stalked early leader Silje Fjortoft of Southern Methodist, as the Norwegian faded to a 13th place finish.

Flood's seventh place finish made her the fifth Husky all-time to crack the top ten in the national title meet (Regina Joyce, Tara Carlson, Kendra Schaaf & Christine Babcock were the other four).

Also finishing in the top 20 was redshirt freshman Megan Goethals, as the Michigan native placed 18th in 20:07.

Washington's other scorers included senior Christine Babcock in 62nd at 20:44; Justine Johnson in 65th at 20:46; and, Lindsay Flanagan in 92nd at 20:58.

Eleanor Fulton was 130th in 21:16, and Liberty Miller rounded out the Husky seven at 21:28 in 163rd place.

"Katie Flood, to finish seventh-place as a sophomore, that was a great run and she ran fast," said Washington coach Greg Metcalf. "Megan Goethals has made meteoric improvement from the Wisconsin meet until now and for her to earn her first cross country All-American award is great."

Eight places was the difference between the Huskies winning their second national title, as the Hoyas won with 162 points to Washington's 170.

The eight point margin between first and second marked the closest finish since 2003, and the eighth-closest margin in the 31 year history of the meet. The narrow deficit was tough for Metcalf to bear, but he knew the Huskies left it all out on the course. "Eight points, shoot," Metcalf said, "but we were in it and put forth a championship effort. I couldn't be more proud of our women today and for how they have carried themselves all season."

"At the beginning of the year I thought our group could be pretty good, but it's about staying healthy and staying focused and building to the end," said Metcalf. "They got better every week and preseason rankings mean nothing. They fire the gun with 31 teams on the line and you find out who the best teams are and that's what's great about our sport."

The Hoyas, who were ranked as the pre-season #1 team in the country, were led by Emily Infeld's fourth place finish in 19:45.

Defending national champion Villanova finished third with 181 points, while pre-meet favorite Florida State was fourth at 189 points.

Defending champion Sheila Reid of Villanova took the victory in 19:42, outkicking Oregon's Jordan Hasay for a 6/10th of a second victory (19:41.2 to 19:41.8; cross country times are rounded up to the next whole second).

Former Husky Kendra Schaaf, now at North Carolina, finished 15th in 20:01, while Sequim native Stephanie Marcy of Stanford earned All-America honors with her 32nd place finish in 20:23.

The Washington State men's squad, in their first appearance since 2006 finished 21st with a team score of 512 points, as Wisconsin took the national title with 97 points.

The Cougs were led by Andrew Kimpel in 59th at 30:28, followed by Jono Lafler in 79th at 30:39.

Justin Englund ran 31:21 for 162nd place, followed by Andrew Gonzales in 164th at 31:23, and Todd Wakefield in 186th at 31:35.

Andrew Jordan crossed the finish in 220th at 32:06, followed by Lee George at 32:17 in 232nd.

"The guys ran their absolute hearts out. I am so proud of them," WSU Cross Country Head Coach Pete Julian said. "Every one of these teams are superstar teams: only 31 advance to the championships unlike other sports that take 64 teams. These are the very best teams and the very best runners in the country and really the world. We could have a great day and yet finish where we were ranked (27th nationally) coming in. I told the team my expectation was for them to battle while in 150th place - somewhere they are not used to being. I told them to fight, don't panic and not lose sight of the team race. But this team has never been here and every guy came off the course saying this was the hardest they have ever run."

Arizona's Lawi Lalang capped off an undefeated season, winning in 28:45. Wisconsin won the men's team title with 97 points, followed by Oklahoma State (139), Colorado (144), BYU (203), and Stanford (207) in the top five. Other West Region men's team finishes included Portland eighth (259), and WSU 21st (512), and Cal Poly 28th (680).

Bellingham's Jake Riley of Stanford earned an individual All-America honor, finishing 18th in 29:46.

Complete women's results are available here, while the men's results are available via this link.

NOTE:  The University of Washington, Washington State University, the USTFCCCA and the NCAA contributed to this report.

Quick links before the NCAA cross country championships...

With less than an hour to go before the NCAA cross country championships, here's some updated information and some links:

Washington will go with Liberty Miller as its #7 runner replacing Sammamish native Chelsea Orr. Orr ran for Miller at the West Regionals.  Washington's roster will comprise of Katie Flood, Megan Goethals, Lindsay Flanagan, Justine Johnson, Christine Babcock, Eleanor Fulton & Miller.

The Huskies will start out of the #1, meaning that on your computer screen, they will be on the far left.

Here's a quick link to what the Huskies did before and after their course preview run Sunday, along with a link to an article in the Seattle Times on Christine Babcock.

Finally, the link to the live streaming video of the NCAA championships is available here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ballard High School alum Bridget Berg earns NCAA D2 All-America honors at nationals...

SPOKANE VALLEY--Competing in snowy 29-degree weather, Ballard High School of Seattle alum Bridget Berg (left/photo courtesy Humboldt State University) earned NCAA All-America honors with her 24th place finish at the NCAA Division II cross country championships at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex.

Berg, who runs for Humboldt State in California, crossed the line in 22:02 over the 6-kilometer course.

"I had hoped to finish higher, and I was disappointed at first," said Berg, a junior with one more cross country season of eligibility remaining. "After I thought about it, I understand this is a special experience. This is nationals, and who knows if this is the only chance to get here. I feel special."

Berg, whose training was restricted to biking and swimming most of the season due to a history of injuries, made her break through at the regional meet two weeks ago, when she placed second, earning the trip to nationals. Though the nationals race was run on the same course, conditions were quite different Saturday then they were on that occasion.

"It was a tougher race. The pack went out a lot faster, and it was really cold," Berg said. "I didn't feel as strong as I did two weeks ago. I had to be much tougher mentally."

The Western Washington men's team finished tenth, while their women's squad finished twelfth overall.

The Vikings, making their fifth straight appearance in the national title meet, were led by Dak Riek and Tyler Cannon. Riek, who was battling bronchitis, placed 58th, covering the 10-kilometer course in 32:38 and Cannon was 63rd with a 32:42 clocking.

Nick Abraham (32:51), Eric Brill (33:09), and Tanner Boyd (33:32) were the other three WWU scorers, placing 69th, 83rd, and 101st, respectively.

Saint Martin's Kyle Van Santen finished 84th in 33:09, behind Brill.

Western's women were led by freshman Katelyn Steen, who ran 23:09 over the 6k course to finish 70th.

Lauren Breihof was 73rd in 23:15, followed by Rachel Johnson in 92nd at 23:34, Mary Rogers in 114th at 23:53, and Haley O'Connor in 116th at 23:57.

Individual champion was Shippensburg's Neely Spence, who was timed in 20:53 to win her second straight NCAA D2 title, while Augustana of South Dakota won the women's team title.

Western State (Colo.) was the men's team title, led by individual champion Ryan Haebe, who ran 30:46.

Complete results of the NCAA Division II national championships are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Humboldt State and Western Washington contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WSU legend Bernard Lagat to headline US Open Indoor meet at Madison Square Garden...

Interesting to receive a release from USA Track & Field Thursday announcing that the sport in its indoor form will return to New York City's Madison Square Garden (left/photo by Paul Merca) on Saturday January 28th for the US Open Track & Field meet to kick off the indoor Visa Championship Series, after the Millrose Games announced back in May that it would move out of the Garden to uptown Washington Heights.

Garden legend and Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat will headline in the men’s mile in a USA Track & Field meet that promises to showcase the best of the sport’s tradition in a streamlined in-stadium and broadcast presentation. 

The U.S. Open will be the first track meet to be held in The Garden following the completion of the first phase of the building’s historic, top-to-bottom, three-year Transformation, and will be the first major professional meet in the United States as the 2012 Olympic Year gets under way.

"Madison Square Garden feels like home to me, and I am so happy to be coming back in 2012," said Lagat, a 2-time Olympic medalist and the American record holder who has won eight 1-mile races in the Garden. "I can't think of a better place to kick off the Olympic year. I look forward to seeing the New York track fans who have supported me for so many years, many new fans in the new Garden."

"The U.S. Open will provide the fast-paced, exciting meet expected at every MSG event," USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees said. "This will be a tightly scheduled meet featuring the 'best of the best' from past Garden meets while providing a fitting kick-off to the 2012 Olympic year. We are excited about our partnership with The Garden and are especially glad that everyone from kids to families to VIPs will be able to access the meet."

"Track and field has a long standing history at Madison Square Garden spanning nearly 100 years and has played an important role in the building's status as The World's Most Famous Arena," said Scott O'Neil, president, MSG Sports.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with USA Track & Field and launch the U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden. This new event will kick-off the 2012 Olympic year and provide fans with a look at some of the top athletes in the sport, including legendary runner and Garden crowd favorite Bernard Lagat, as they begin their race toward London."

You can read the full release here.

The question that must be asked is why would the Millrose Games, the premier indoor meet in the country, move out of Madison Square Garden, and why would USATF want to pour money into an indoor meet at MSG, especially with declining attendance at the Garden, and the high rent to use the Garden (then again, a discount may have been given, especially with the chances of a 2011-12 NBA basketball season looking very slim, and arenas around the country scrambling to fill dates).

USA Track & Field spokeswoman Jill Geer told the New York Post, “USA Track & Field has operated the Millrose Games for the Armory Foundation. Within the past year, they clearly stated their intent move to the Armory. We feel strongly the Garden is the site for world-class, elite track and field in New York,’’ Geer said. “As committed as they were to move the event, we were equally committed to having a meet in the Garden.’’

The Armory, which owns the Millrose Games, is moving the meet to the New Balance Track & Field Center, formerly known as the 168th Street Armory.

Ironically, the Millrose Games announced recently that sprinter Allyson Felix, whose image currently hangs above the Footaction USA store located next door to the Garden, was signed to run the 60 meter dash.

USATF uniform logo regulations could come to a head at Club XC nationals in Seattle...

If you've followed the Facebook page set up by US Olympian Nick Symmonds called "I'm tired of USATF and IAAF crippling our sport", you'll know that the central issue the the fact that athletes are restricted in the size and number of logos allowed to wear on competition clothing.

The rule also applies to things like temporary tattoos, an area that cost Lauren Fleshman valuable warmup time at the ING New York Marathon a few weeks ago when she had her body parts scrubbed with alcohol to remove a temporary Picky Bar logo.

Why is this relevant?

It's because this may all come to a head at next month's USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at the Jefferson Park Golf Course, conveniently in the 'hood of this web site.

According to USA Track & Field in its uniform policy page for the club championships, "Any advertising or manufacturer’s marks on athlete uniforms in the Open races must be in compliance with the USATF Uniform Policy found here. Any club logo that does incorporate a manufacturer’s logo will be subject to the size and number restrictions applicable to such logos." (note:  underlined and boldfaced words from USATF)

Yet in the sentence before it, USATF states, "The 2011 edition the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships therefore will not impose size restrictions on club logos that do not incorporate or contain manufacturer marks."

So, what is it?

This is an area that is creating a lot of confusion for many of the open clubs from around the country that plan to converge on Seattle next month.

Naturally, host Club Northwest (photo of women's cross country team above courtesy CNW) is very concerned about this issue, as their team manager, Becca Gillespy Peter, has spoken out over this, in a series of emails to USATF interim CEO Mike McNees, which is posted at trackandfieldnews.com.

For the clubs affected, this would mean they would have to buy new uniforms to comply with the logo size regulations, taking away money that could have been used to travel athletes to Seattle.

For Club Northwest, this potentially has double consequences, as they have a small sponsorship deal with Brooks, in which their logo is prominently on the jersey along with the CNW logo. If their athletes are forced to tape the Brooks logo, Brooks may have a case to void their deal with CNW.

In addition, as the host club, Club Northwest is on the hook for any financial losses attributed to the meet, as they are depending primarily on entry fees paid by clubs and individuals to recoup their investment in the meet. Obviously, if teams have to cut their rosters because of budgetary constraints, Club Northwest will not have as many entries, which equals less income, which equals less support given to athletes on their membership roster.

As a former club team manager (I was the founder and team manager of Club Ballard, a team primarily composed of elite high school and post collegiate athletes from the mid-1980s to the turn of the new century), my club depended on small sponsorships to supplement the equipment deal that we had with Nike, even going as far as to sell space on our uniforms.

Take that away, and that puts the burden squarely on the clubs, many of whom are scraping by (yes, I've taken money from my own pocket to help an athlete go to nationals!).

This meet has international implications, despite the fact that there is no world cross country championships in 2012, as the top three finishers in the open men's and women's races will be selected for the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Challenge race in Edinburgh on January 7th.

Peter wrote, "We (Club NW) took on financial responsibility for this meet believing that it would be business as usual at Club Nationals. Instead you have turned this into an administrative and financial mess for everyone involved and our club is the one that will lose in the end. The money that we lose on the meet is money that we would have spent on athlete support."

"I have a simple compromise that would make everyone happy. The guidelines for the international team selection state that the athletes have to declare their interest in making the team. Therefore, only apply the uniform guidelines to those athletes."

"This is not a televised meet, it should not matter what the sub-elite athletes are wearing. This would also make enforcement much easier for our poor officials who have been blindsided by this."

Meanwhile, attorney David Greifinger, has written a resolution that will be on the floor of the USATF national convention at its annual meeting in St. Louis at the end of this moth, the contents of which can be read here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WSU's Kimpel & Lafler, plus all five UW scorers at West Regionals earn USTFCCCA regional accolades...

Washington State's Andrew Kimpel (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Jono Lafler, along with all five of the University of Washington women's scorers at the NCAA West Regionals at Stanford University last week--Katie Flood, Megan Goethals, Lindsay Flanagan, Justine Johnson and Christine Babcock, received 2011 Division I Cross Country All-Region Team honors from the USTFCCCA for finishing in the top 25.

Additionally, Husky coach Greg Metcalf received his fourth consecutive USTFCCCA West Region women's coach of the year award.

Here is the USTFCCCA release.

Wednesday, Washington State announced its roster for the NCAA championships on Monday, November 21st at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Cougars will run the same seven athletes--Kimpel, Lafler, Justin Englund, Andrew Gonzales, Drew Jordan, Lee George, and Todd Wakefield. Redmond High School product Mack Young will travel with the squad as the alternate.

Here's Washington State coach Pete Julian's weekly press conference, courtesy of wsucougars.com.



Washington State's weekly release is available here.

Washington has not yet announced their seven runners, but it's safe to assume that the five scorers from the West Regionals, led by Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, will run on Monday.

As for his final two runners, Metcalf does have some options between freshman Eleanor Fulton, redshirt freshman Chelsea Orr, and sophomore Liberty Miller, all of whom traveled to Stanford last week, with Miller sitting out in Palo Alto as the alternate.

NCAA cross country action doesn't just stop with the Division I teams, as both Western Washington squads will travel across the Cascade Mountains for Saturday's NCAA Division II championships at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane Valley.

This will be the Vikings' third appearance at Plantes Ferry, having run there in October at their pre-nationals, and also at the West Regionals two weeks ago, where the women finished third, and the men's squad finished fourth.

"Our goal (at nationals) is always to improve upon our rankings, but we'd like to place in the top 10 or as close as possible," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "I think that's very doable on both sides."

The WWU men's and women's squads have both placed among the top 10 at nationals in each of the last three seasons. The men were ninth in 2010, fourth in 2009 and 10th in 2008, and the women were 10th in 2010, eighth in 2009 and 10th in 2008. In 2007, the men finished 11th.

Here's a link to Western's release.

Saint Martin's Kyle Van Santen will compete in the men's 10k race, by virtue of finishing seventh at the West Regionals.

Another runner of local interest competing in the women's 6k race in Spokane Valley is Ballard HS grad Bridget Berg of Humboldt State in California, who was second in the West Regionals.

The NCAA will provide live streaming video of both the Division I and II races on NCAA.com.

The Division II women’s race starts at 2pm ET/11am PT. Men’s race begins at 3pm ET/Noon PT.

On Monday, the Division I men’s race starts at 12:08pm ET. Women’s race gets underway at 12:58pm ET.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA, University of Washington, Western Washington University, Washington State University, and Saint Martin's University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Huskies move up to #3, while Cougars claw back into the USTFCCCA national top 30...

NEW ORLEANS--The NCAA Regional Championships in Division I did not shift around the nation’s top three, but everything else was up-for-grabs in the USTFCCCA’s final regular-season National Cross Country Coaches’ Poll released Tuesday.

Wisconsin’s men remain the No. 1 team in the country for the second-straight voting week and will look to knock off two-time defending champion No. 2 Oklahoma State next Monday at the NCAA Championships. Florida State’s women are also No. 1 and are looking to unseat two-time defending national champion No. 2 Villanova in a few days.

On the women's side, Greg Metcalf's Washington Huskies (left/photo by Paul Merca), the winners of the NCAA West Regionals in Palo Alto, moved up three notches from #6 to #3.

Pete Julian's Washington State squad, buoyed by their fourth place finish at Saturday's NCAA West Regionals, moved back into the national top 30 with a #27 ranking in the latest poll.

The NCAA Division I national cross country championships are slated for Monday at the LaVern Gibson Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The men’s race will begin at approximately 12:08 p.m. ET, followed by the women’s race at approximately 12:58 p.m. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from noon to 1:30 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.

The complete USTFCCCA national rankings are available here.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cougar men's cross country team gets at-large invitation to compete at NCAA cross country champs...

INDIANAPOLIS--The Washington State men's cross country team was one of the 13 at-large men's teams selected Sunday to compete in the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships November 21 at Terre Haute, Indiana.

Eighteen teams advanced to the field of 31 as automatic qualifiers, having finished in the top two at the nine regions. Another 13 at-large teams were selected from around the country based on wins and points scored against teams that reached automatic qualifying.

The Cougar men finished an impressive fourth at the NCAA West Regional Championships November 12 at Stanford, with Andrew Kimpel and Jono Lafler (left/photo by Paul Merca) taking 14th and 16th places respectively. WSU also captured a fifth-place finish at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational September 30th, which played into the hands of the selection committee.

This is the first Pete Julian-coached Cougar team to advance to the national championships, in his three seasons directing the WSU program. Washington State and Cal Poly were at-large men's teams selected from the West Region with Stanford and Portland taking the automatic bids.

Washington State last appeared as a team in 2006, when the Cougars, then coached by Jason Drake, finished 29th at the national championships.

Former University of Washington runner Kendra Schaaf, now competing for North Carolina, was invited to compete in the national championships as an individual, as she won the NCAA Southeast Regional title on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky, while her Tar Heel squad finished third, and did not earn an at large berth to Terre Haute.

The complete field for the NCAA championships in Terre Haute is available here.

NOTE:  The NCAA and the Washington State University sports information department contributed to this report.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Huskies cruise to fourth straight NCAA West Regional title; Cougar men fourth...

PALO ALTO, California--The sixth-ranked University of Washington women's squad easily won its fourth straight NCAA West Regional cross country championship on an overcast day at the Stanford Golf Course, scoring 50 points to easily outdistance second place Arizona's 98 points.

The Huskies won on the strength of placing all of its five scoring runners in the top 15, led by reigning Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, who finished fifth in 20:14 over the 6k course.

She was followed by redshirt freshman Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca) , who ran her best race as a Husky in placing eighth in 20:17. Lindsay Flanagan finished tenth in 20:27, followed by Justine Johnson's 13th place finish in 20:38, and Christine Babcock in 14th at 20:39.

Oregon's Jordan Hasay (19:44) took the individual title for the second year in a row, pulling away from early leader Tara Erdmann of Loyola Marymount, who faded to third in 19:53. Cal's Deborah Maier snuck past Erdmann for second in 19:51.

"We ran well. One to five we were twenty-five seconds. Katie Flood was in control and we told her early on to let the leaders go and the team was running great behind her and it wasn't about going after the win today," said UW coach Greg Metcalf. "I thought that was the best run of the year for Justine, Christine, Lindsay, and Megan, and a real solid run from Katie. It was a really good day and I think they walk out of here excited and with some momentum."

Washington State, which was missing top runner Ruby Roberts, finished 14th with a team score of 378 points, led by Caroline Austin's 40th place finish in 21:19. Gonzaga was one spot behind the Cougars with 399 points, led by Lindsay Drake, who finished 34th in 21:11.

Eastern Washington did not have a full team, but Tonya Turner was the Eagles' top finisher in 64th at 21:44.

Perhaps one of the happiest squads at the Stanford Golf Course were the Washington State Cougar men's cross country team, who powered their way to a fourth place team finish.

Andrew Kimpel (#556) was the first Coug across the line in 13th at 29:46 over the 10k course, followed closely by Jono Lafler (#557, photo by Paul Merca) in 29:47 for 15th.

Justin Englund was 31st in 30:14, followed by Todd Wakefield in 30;21 for 39th place, and Andrew Gonzales closed out the WSU scorers in 43rd in 30:24.

"We ran the way we knew we could and now all of our work has paid off," Cougar co-captain Lafler said.

"The guys were indestructible today. Now we wait and see if we get an at-large bid," said WSU coach Pete Julian.

"It's been a tough road for us. Even if we don't go to NCAA's, I couldn't be prouder of these guys. Kimpel and Lafler exceeded my expectations."

Speaking of his squad, he said that they've found their way in the Pac-12, the most competitive conference in the country.

Here is a video interview with Julian, followed by an interview with top finisher Andrew Kimpel.



The University of Washington finished 11th with 329 points, with Aaron Beattie leading the way in 41st at 30:23. Gonzaga was 18th with 510 points, with Tate Kelly's 81st place finish in 31:08, while Eastern Washington was 23rd with 623 points, led by Simon Sorensen, who was 93rd in 31:24.

No. 6 Stanford won the men's team title with 50 points, followed by No. 8 Portland (53), Cal Poly (122) and Washington State (141). California was a distant fifth (173) with perennial power No. 17 Oregon sixth (175).

Arizona's Lawi Lalang, the 2011 Pac-12 champion, won the West Regional title in a time of 28:34.

Among notables from the state of Washington competing at the West Regionals and placing in the top 25, Stanford's Jake Riley from Bellingham was fifth in the men's race in 28:59.

In the women's race, Sequim native Stephanie Marcy from Stanford was 11th in 20:33. Oregon's Bronwyn Crossman from Bellingham was 15th in 20:43.

Complete results from the NCAA West Regionals are available here.

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's official: Huskies announce Crater as new throws coach...

Following up on the story we broke Thursday, the University of Washington officially announced Friday that TJ Crater (left/photo courtesy Penn State University) was appointed as the new throws coach.

"I had interviewed him a few years ago and I was impressed with what he did at Central Washington with limited resources. His athletes just always continued to improve," says Washington head track & cross country coach Greg Metcalf. "T.J. has ties to the Northwest, and he understands the culture and the history of Washington and has a great appreciation for it. He has had great success at Penn State and I believe he is definitely the right man to lead our throws program."

"This was obviously somewhat of a surprise, but once the position became available, my wife and I were very excited and going through the process we couldn't wait to make the move," said Crater. "I've known Coach Metcalf for 10 years now dating back to when I was an athlete at Idaho. I can't describe how excited we are to get back to the Northwest and work in a program with a very storied history in the throws and all of the resources and people in place to help build on that tradition. I can't wait to get on campus and build the next set of great Husky throwers."

Echoing a sentiment told to paulmerca.blogspot.com from several members of the local throwing community, some of whom are actively coaching at area high schools, Crater says one of his first steps will be reestablishing UW as the number one place to go for in-state throwers. "Keeping Washington athletes at home is a high priority for me, so I'm excited to get familiar with the talent in the state and make sure we're on their radar."

You can read the official University of Washington release here.

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

TrackTown USA awarded 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships...

MONTE CARLO--Eugene, Oregon was formally awarded the 2014 IAAF world junior track & field championships by the IAAF Council during its meetings Friday.

Eugene was the only bidder for the event after the Bahamas withdrew due to lack of funding.

“It’s a very proud and exciting moment that after so many years of being in the position to host the world’s athletes in a major world athletics series event. There are challenges ahead but I know that the people of Eugene and our national federation are going to meet those challenges and do everything to make this a very successful event.”

“Because it’s in Eugene in ‘TrackTown USA’, because of where it is, in that special environment, in that stadium, and that site, we know it will be a success.”

Eugene and Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon annually hosts the Nike Prefontaine Classic, a Samsung Diamond League event, and in 2012 will host both the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field, and the first Pac-12 track & field championships.

Stephanie Hightower, President of USATF: “This will be an opportunity for us to reposition the caliber of the sport in the USA and that will have an effect on a global level, so we think it is exciting to come back (last time USA were hosts of an IAAF World Athletics Series event was the 1992 World Cross Country Championships in Boston). It will definitely reposition track and field in a way we really want to long term, and we hope that from the networks, the TV and with the marketing it will raise the sport of track and field to a different level in the USA. So we are really excited.”

The IAAF release is available here.

The major presentation at Friday's meetings is the one by London and Doha to host the 2017 world championships.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dawgs, Cougs, Zags and Eagles off to Stanford with trips to NCAA cross nationals on the line...

The cross country squads of the University of Washington, Washington State, Eastern Washington, and Gonzaga won't be getting any air time on ESPN's "College Game Day" this Saturday when they toe the line at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto for the NCAA West Regional cross country championships.

The popular pre-game show is on the campus of Stanford University hours before the big Pac-12 North contest pitting the Cardinal against last year's BCS national championship finalists, the Oregon Ducks, in one of the country's most anticipated football showdowns.

Not very far from Stanford Stadium, 27 men's teams and 34 women's teams will be vying for two automatic spots to the NCAA cross country championships on November 21st in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The top two teams from each of the nine regional races around the country automatically qualify for the trip to Terre Haute.

After those 18 teams, 13 at-large teams are selected based on how well they’ve competed against the automatic qualifiers. For an individual to make it, they must be one of the first four individual runners to place, and finish in the top 25 overall in their region.

For the University of Washington women's squad, with senior Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca) possibly running the penultimate race of her four year career that's included a national championship in her freshman year, a solid performance Saturday should garner them their fifth straight national championship appearance after their second place finish two weeks ago at the Pac-12 championships in Arizona.

With Pac-12 champ Colorado running in another regional meet, the Dawgs enter the regionals as slight favorites to win their fourth straight West Regional championship.

The front packs of both races figure to resemble the Pac-12 Championships, although Colorado, which won the men's and women's Pac-12 titles, is in a different region. That leaves the Huskies as the top-ranked team on the women's side, followed by No. 8 Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona, and No. 26 California. San Francisco, at No. 27, is the only ranked West Region team outside the Pac-12.

The men's field is headed by No. 6 Stanford, with No. 8 Portland challenging along with no. 17 Oregon, and No. 21 UCLA.

If Washington State's men's team is to make their first appearance at the NCAA championships since 2006, they will have to run as well or better than what they did a few weeks ago at the adidas Notre Dame Invitational.

"We feel we need to run well for us to have a chance to go to the NCAAs (Championships). I’m not sure what place that is, but we feel like if we execute our race plan and the guys run to their capabilities, we have got a solid shot at being in the conversation when the (at-large) teams are announced next Monday," said WSU coach Pete Julian.

As was the case two weeks ago, Julian will be missing on the women's side #1 runner Ruby Roberts from Kingston, who is injured.

Here's Julian's press conference from earlier this week, courtesy of wsucougars.com:



While the women will run 6k, the men will run 10k, a distance that none of the teams have raced over this season.

The home page of the NCAA West Regionals is available via this link.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be on site at Stanford to provide coverage of the final step before the NCAA national championships.

NOTE: The sports information offices at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Stanford University contributed to this report.

Washington expected to name TJ Crater as its throws coach...

Sources within the Seattle throwing community have told paulmerca.blogspot.com that the University of Washington is expected to name TJ Crater, currently the throws coach at Penn State University as its new throws coach, replacing Reedus Thurmond.

In fact, former Husky hammer thrower Martin Bingisser, who runs the throwing web site mbingisser.com, tweeted late Wednesday night, "I'm keep waiting for the official announcement, but I'm excited to see TJ take over the throws program at UW."

The UW could not comment officially on this when asked, other than to state that an announcement would be forthcoming.

Crater has ties to the state of Washington, as his first coaching job after graduating from the University of Idaho was at Central Washington, where he was named the 2007 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)-Division II West Region Men's Assistant Track and Field Coach of the Year and the 2007 USTFCCCA-Division II National Men's Assistant Track and Field Coach of the Year.

At CWU, Crater coached 30 national qualifying performances from 10 national qualifiers. He also coached nine All-Americans at the Division II level and 12 Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) individual champions. Crater's throwers recorded 104 of Central Washington University's 238 points to help lead the men's track and field team to a 2007 GNAC Title.

One of Crater's top athletes at Central Washington was Cameron Neel, who finished his career as a five-time NCAA All-American, eight-time GNAC Champion, and was named the NCAA West Region Athlete of the Year in 2007. Crater also made quite an impact on the GNAC conference as Crater-coached athletes hold eight conference records.

After coaching at Central, he moved on to the University of Nevada, before taking the position at Penn State at the start of the 2008-09 academic year.

Crater also currently coaches former Arizona State standout Ryan Whiting, who finished seventh in the shot put at the IAAF world track & field championships in Daegu this summer.

Crater has also worked summers at the Iron Wood Thrower Development Camp in Spokane, one of the country's top camps for high school athletes.

People in the throwing community in this state have spoken highly of Crater, and feel that that he will make an impact, particularly in recruiting in-state talent.

Since the retirement of Husky legend Ken Shannon in 2000 after 31 years mentoring throwers, the Washington program has gone through two coaches in the shot, discus, hammer, javelin and weight throw in Bud Rasmussen and Thurmond.

Crater's bio from Penn State is available here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

News items from the world of running and track & field...

From the IAAF comes this release backtracking their position from earlier this summer stating that women's world records in road events will not be recognized if it's set in mixed competition, which would have wiped out Paula Radcliffe's (left/photo by Paul Merca) 2003 world record of 2:15:25 set in the London Marathon.

In an AP story posted on espn.com, IAAF council member Helmut Digel said the IAAF was taken aback by the vehemence of the protests, and that the rule wasn't meant to diminish previous performances.

The issue for the IAAF is that Radcliffe ran the London race with male pacemakers, which the governing body says makes for an unfair edge compared to all-women races.

In some other IAAF news, the overall event winners of each of the 32 Diamond Races in the Samsung Diamond League series will now benefit from a wild card into the world championships, with the caveat that only one or the other (the other being the defending world champion) can get the wild card if they're both from the same country (meaning the maximum of four entries remains in effect). However, the national federation has the final say on the entries.

The top 15 finishers in the senior men's and women's races at the world cross country championships will be considered as having achieved the A standard in the track 10000 for that year's world track & field championships…

The IAAF Council is meeting in Monte Carlo this week, with the big announcement in the coming days is which city will get the 2017 world track & field championships, with both London and Doha battling for the berth.

SAVE FEBRUARY 11TH ON YOUR CALENDAR...

Mark down February 11th on your calendar, as that's the date of the Husky Classic at the Dempsey Indoor.

With the NCAA recently releasing the standards for the 2012 championships, which will be held at Boise State University on March 9-10, many teams, especially in the distance events, will make the trek to Seattle for the Husky Classic to chase fast times, given that the NCAA has tightened the standards.

For the men, the qualifying standards in the three distance events--mile, 3000 & 5000 are (banked or over 200m) 3:57.90, 7:52.30, and 13:44.60.

To give you some perspective, only six, seven, and seven athletes in those events ran those times in the 2011 season.

Out of that group, two athletes got their auto qualifiers in the mile at the Husky Classic; in the 3000, it was four; and in the 5000, five achieved the marks in the Dempsey, which, over the summer was redone with a new Mondo surface.

The links to the 2012 NCAA indoor standards for men are available here, and the women's standards are available here.

The 2011 indoor collegiate lists are available here.

By the way, the Huskies are expected to announce in the next day or so their new throws coach.

Finally, one aspect of the ING New York City marathon that has numerous people in the professional ranks upset is the fact that friend of the blog Lauren Fleshman (left/photo by Paul Merca), the seventh place finisher in the world championships 5000 meter final, lost several minutes of warmup time while parts of her body were scrubbed with rubbing alcohol to remove three temporary tattoos promoting her own brand of gluten-free snack bars, Picky Bars.

While celebrity runners like Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno were allowed to run with shirts promoting Subway, runners in the elite professional field are subject to the IAAF advertising rules on uniform logos, rules which, quite frankly, are designed to protect the race sponsors, and the federation sponsors, and does not allow athletes to go out and promote secondary brands.

Fleshman, who lives in Eugene, finished 16th in a time of 2:37:23, and was the second American woman across the line.

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