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.


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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sarah Porter finishes 22nd in pro marathon debut in New York...

NEW YORK--Running in her professional debut over the marathon distance, Western Washington University graduate Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy New York Road Runners) finished 22nd at the ING New York City Marathon in a time of 2:44:25.

Porter started conservatively, staying around 6:00 mile pace, crossing the half marathon mark in 1:18:19, a projected pace of 2:36:38.

At the 30 k mark, she went through in 1:33:40, slowing down slightly to 6:02 mile pace.

As it seemed inevitable, especially with neophyte marathoners, the wheels slowly began to fall off the wagon, as Porter ran the last 12-plus kilometers in 1:10.45.

Until the 20 mile mark, which many runners call the half-way point of the 26+ mile distance, she was on 6 minute pace pace, when it dropped to around 6:52 at the 21 mile mark. She was able to rally slightly, running the last mile in approximately 6:49.

Porter, by virtue of her track 10000 time, had a qualifying mark for January's US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, but was intrigued by the notion of actually running the race.

Former University of Washington steeplechaser and two-time Swiss Olympian Christian Belz finished 26th in the elite men's race, running 2:33:36.

In an epic women's race, Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia caught early leader Mary Keitany of Kenya, who had at one point built a lead of over two minutes, to win in a time of 2:23:15, as Keitany was also caught in Central Park by Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia, finishing second in 2:23:19.

Keitany hung on for third place in 2:23:39.

In the men's race, Boston Marathon champ Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya powered to the victory, running a course record of 2:05:26, defeating compatriot Emmanuel Mutai (no relation), who crossed in 2:06:28.

Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia was third in 2:07:14.

Results from the ING New York City Marathon are available via ingnycmarathon.org.

Welcome to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of!

12:20 pm--Former Husky Christian Belz crossed the finish in 2:33:36, finishing 26th in the men's race.

Hope to post a recap, and interviews in a few hours.  We leave for Seattle in 6 hours, so it's gonna be tight!

12:10 pm--We had to make a change...with the distance between the finish line and the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Columbus Circle, decided to stay instead of heading to the finish.

Porter finished 22nd in a time of 2:44:25, slowing down significantly.

11:30 am--Prepare for an epic finish; please follow the rest of the way on my Twitter feed!

11:23 am--Uh boy, Mary Keitany's lead is now down to 30 seconds as she enters Central Park!

11:10 am--Sarah Porter is at 1:52:37 at the 30 mark, a 6:03/mile marathon pace, currently in 23rd place.

11:00 am--At the half-marathon mark, former Husky Christian Belz is 28th at 1:12:30, exactly 2:25 pace!

10:48 am--At 25k, Porter is at 1:33:40, slowing down slightly to 6:02 mile pace.

Mary Keitany has lost about 20 seconds of her 2:20 lead, but she's still moving.  Can she hang on?

10:40 am--At the half marathon mark, Sarah Porter is at 1:18:19, 2:36:38 pace...she is in 24th place.

Christian Belz is in 29th place in the men's race, going through 15k is at 51:10, 5:30 mile pace.

10:35 am--We are going to be leaving for the finish line momentarily, which is about a half mile away at Central Park.

Please follow us the rest of the way via our twitter feed (twitter.com/paulmerca70601).

10:26 am--Sarah Porter is still maintaining the same pace of 5:58 through the 20k mark, which she crossed in 1:14:10, in 24th place.

Meanwhile up front, Mary Keitany has a 2:16 lead on the second place runner...still on world record pace.

Joe Battaglia of universalsports.com described Keitany's effort, "to use a term first coined by @atoboldon in reference to @usainbolt, the marathon has officially entered age of "video-game times"

10:08 am--Sarah Porter is now in 24th at 15k in a time of 55:37, a pace of 5:58, picking up the pace.  That's about 2:36 and change.

FYI, Mary Keitany is on world record pace, boys and girls!

BTW, former Husky Christian Belz is in 30th at the 5k mark at 16:58.

9:51 am--Sarah Porter just went through the 10k mark at 37:13, in 25th place...she's the fifth American, running 6:00 mile pace, or 2:37:19.

 9:33 am--Mary Keitany is at 20:35 at 4 miles, and she's on a roll....meanwhile, Sarah Porter went through the 5 k mark in 29th at 18:54

9:15 am:  The women's pro race is now underway!

By the way, you can go to INGNewYorkMarathon.org and track your favorite runners.  You can also watch the race live on universalsports.com.

8:45 am:  Hello and welcome from the media work room at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for paulmerca.blogspot.com's semi-live blog coverage of the ING New York City Marathon.

The professional women will get started in about 30 minutes, and the focus of our coverage will be on Western Washington grad Sarah Porter, as the reigning NCAA Division II champion in the 10000 will make her professional marathon debut.

Also of note, former University of Washington standout Christian Belz from Switzerland will be running in the race today.  Belz is a two-time Olympian in the steeplechase and the 5000 meters.  Belz, who retired from competitive running back in December, but is looking to run about 2:30 or so, according to one of the Swiss journalists sitting near me in the press room.

If there's any questions that any of you may have during the race, the best way is via my Twitter page (twitter.com/paulmerca70601), and I'll do my best to answer them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Western Washington squads, Ballard HS grad Bridget Berg & Kyle Van Santen qualify for NCAA D2 nationals...

SPOKANE VALLEY--Western Washington University's nationally ranked cross country squads successfully earned a return trip to the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex for the NCAA Division II championships in two weeks by placing among the top four at the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country Championships.

The Viking women finished third and the men fourth. It is the fourth straight year that both teams are going to nationals, and the fifth consecutive trip for the men.

Alaska Anchorage successfully defended its title in both divisions with Chico State second. The teams entered the day with the positions reversed in the respective regional polls.

UAA dominated the six-kilometer women's run, 27-66 over Chico State. WWU was third with 148 points and Alaska Fairbanks placed fourth by seven points, 164-171, ahead of Cal Poly Pomona in the 24-team field.

In the men's race, the Seawolves edged Chico State by two points, 37-39, and Western Oregon was third at 126, two ahead of the fourth-place Vikings in the 17-team field.

UAA's Ruth Keino was the women's individual champion, winning by 27 seconds in 20:51; and the Seawolves' Micah Chelimo was the men's titlist, prevailing by one second over teammate Isaac Chavez in 30:19.

Speaking afterwards about his squad's performance, Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell said, "I'm very excited about what we can do after two very solid efforts today."

The Vikings were the only one of  Washington's four Division II team to qualify for the national championships.

Qualifying for the national championships as individuals were Kyle Van Santen of Saint Martin's, who finished seventh in a time of 31:10 for the 10k distance, and former Ballard High School standout Bridget Berg (above/photo courtesy Humboldt State University) of Humboldt State, who was second in the women's 6k race in 21:18.

“Finally Kyle makes Nationals. He has been close the last two years and now makes it as a senior,” said SMU head coach Julie Sullivan. “He ran himself out today; he wanted it so bad.”

Complete individual results are available here, while the GNAC recap of the meet and a link to team results are available here.

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

Sara Hall & Chris Thompson win NYRR Dash to the Finish to kick off marathon weekend...

NEW YORK--To kick off marathon weekend, the host New York Road Runners put on a 5k race for 5000 runners called the Dash to the Finish Line, which finished inside Central Park.

Stanford grad Sara Hall, fresh off the victory in the steeplechase at the Pan Am Games last week in Mexico, capped off her 2011 season with a winning time of 15:56, four seconds ahead of Julie Culley, and seven seconds over world championships 10000 bronze medalist Sally Kipyego, who trains part of the year in Eugene as part of the Oregon TC Elite.

In the men's race, Great Britain's Chris Thompson, yet another member of the Oregon TC Elite out of Eugene, took the victory in 13:53, nipping Aaron Braun of Arizona's McMillan Elite in the same time.

Dathan Ritzenhein (left/photo by Paul Merca), who trains in Beaverton with the Alberto Salazar Nike Oregon Project group, and has been injured for most of the 2011 season, finished third in 13:56.

Afterwards, Ritzenhein said that "symbolically, this was a pretty important race for me. It was awesome for me to be back competing, and so thankful to be back racing in New York. That is the fastest I've really gone in a while, so that was, for me, it was just awesome to be back out there. That feeling of competing again, I miss that so much. So to be able to come back here and do it again on this weekend, it was important for me, because I have a huge crush on this race."

Hall said that her win here, which was the fastest time ever run in New York City, was a great way to end the season, especially after beginning the season with a win at the Millrose Games.

"It feels great. I started my year with New York City, so it feels like a good completion, a good finish to finish with a win here. I love racing here. I've had a lot of good experiences. I've been here in the marathon the last six -- this is my sixth year here, and I've seen the finish every year and how exciting it is. So I couldn't wait to come to this finish line."

"I knew it probably wouldn't be quite as packed and loud as marathon day, so I'll save that full experience for one day in the future. But I got a little taste of it this morning which was really fun."

Results from the NYRR Dash to the Finish are available here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's go time for Western, SPU, Saint Martin's, and Central at NCAA Division II West Regionals...

SPOKANE VALLEY--With the goal of advancing both its men's and women's teams to nationals for the fourth consecutive year, Western Washington University competes in the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane Valley.

Athletes and teams from St. Martin's, Seattle Pacific, and Central Washington will also participate for the right to return to the Spokane Valley in two weeks for the NCAA Division II national championships on the same course.

The women's six-kilometer race begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at 11:30 a.m. The top four team finishers in both the men's and women's races and the top two individuals not on one of the qualifying teams will return in two weeks for the NCAA Division II National Championships.

In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA II Top 25, the Vikings are ranked No.16 in the women's poll and No.20 in the men's ratings.

The WWU men are led by two newcomers who earned GNAC all-star honors by placing among the top 10 at the league championships. Tyler Cannon, a transfer from Brigham Young, finished fifth and Dak Riek, a transfer from CC of Spokane, was 10th.

The WWU women are paced by Lauren Breihof, who earned GNAC all-star honors for the second straight year as she finished ninth.

Others to watch include Saint Martin's Kyle Van Santen (left/photo courtesy Saint Martin's University) and Spencer Hunt, as well as Seattle Pacific's Natty Plunkett and Heidi Laabs-Johnson.

The meet program is available here.  The team rosters and bib numbers for Saturday's races are available here.

NOTE: Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, Saint Martin's, and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference contributed to this report.

Olympic bronze medalist John Carlos speaks about the 1968 Olympics, civil rights movement, etc...

The Northwest African American Museum was packed with nearly 250 guests Thursday night as 1968 Mexico City Olympic bronze medalist John Carlos (left/photo by Paul Merca) spoke about his life before and after his defining moment, where he and teammate Tommie Smith raised their black gloved fists in the air during the medal ceremonies after the 200 meter dash.

Carlos, in town as part of a nation wide tour to promote his book, "The John Carlos Story", talked about the events leading up to the moment on the podium, as well as meeting some of the key figures of the 1960s civil rights movement, including Malcolm X, Dr. Harry Edwards,  and Dr. Martin Luther King.

During his talk, he made a point of acknowledging the contributions of Australian silver medalist Peter Norman, who was ostracized by his countrymen for wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights button, and was never asked to play any part in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Earlier in his visit to Seattle, Carlos, who spoke at Occupy Wall Street, and has made a point of visiting Occupy camps around the country, was part of a very awkward interview with CNN's Kyra Phillips, which never got past the anchor's questions about the Mexico City Olympics, because Carlos corrected her assertion that he and Smith were stripped of their medals. a fact that simply isn't true.

While International Olympic Committee boss Avery Brundage booted the two away from the Olympic Village, their medals remained intact.

Here are excerpts from USA Track & Field hall of famer Carlos' talk Thursday night...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Western grad Sarah Porter set to make marathon debut in New York Sunday...

Most runners go into race weekend with an anticipated time, strategy, and list of athletes against whom they plan to compete.

Western Washington graduate Sarah Porter (left/photo by Paul Merca) is running her marathon debut at the ING NYC Marathon, and says she’s idolized some of this field’s runners since she was 12, so she isn’t targeting a pace or another runner. This race is about her.

“It’s about going out and finding myself in this race,” she said at Wednesday’s media session. “At the end of the day … as long as I can cross the finish line and say I love that, I want to do this again, then I’ll be happy with my race.”

She’s fast, with a time of 32:57.15 in the 10,000 meters at the 2011 USA Track & Field Championships, and she's also the reigning NCAA Division II 10000-meter champ.

About Sunday’s marathon, Porter, who has moved to North Carolina & is training with the Zap Fitness group, says she’s not scared of the distance, and consults her mom, Laurie, a nationally ranked masters runner, on how to handle fluids, the feeling to resist going out too fast at the start, being patient. “It’s the marathon—any way that you break it up in your head, it’s not like a 10K or a 5K, and a lot of the intensity of the track race is missing … and for that reason I feel like I’ll use this as an experience. I would be happy with anything under 2:38.”

Porter ran the NYRR New York Mini 10K in June, so says she’s familiar with the last part of the route. She’s not nervous about the course, she says, but a little unsure of herself if she may need to use the bathroom. “I’ve been told by my mom to drink coffee the morning of, and to remember to be patient going out in the first half of the race … if I pee, I pee.”

NOTE: Kristine Smith of the New York Road Runners contributed to this story. paulmerca.blogspot.com will be on site for coverage of the ING NYC Marathon.

Olympian John Carlos to appear at Northwest African American Museum Thursday night...

The Seattle area track & field community is invited to hear 1968 Mexico City Olympic 200 meter bronze medalist John Carlos (#9, photo courtesy johncarlos.org) speak and read from his new autobiography, The John Carlos Story, on Thursday, November 3rd at 7pm at the Northwest African American Museum, located at 2300 South Massachusetts Street in Seattle near I-90

In his illustrious career, Carlos, who competed for San Jose State University, went on to equal the world record in the 100 yard dash and beat the 200 meters world record (although the latter achievement was never ratified). In 2003, he was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.

The raised black gloves and bowed heads in silent protest on the medal podium of Carlos and Olympic champion Tommie Smith remain one of the most vivid images of that generation.

Carlos will be joined by Dave Zirin, who writes and speaks about the politics of sports. UTNE Reader named him one of ”50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World” and Press Action has twice named him Sportswriter of the Year. Robert Lipsyte says he is “the best sportswriter in the United States.” He is author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games We Love published by Scribner, A People’s History of Sports in the United States, part of Howard Zinn’s People’s History series for the New Press, and others.

On his web site, edgeofsports.com, Zirin said about Carlos, "For years, as John said to me, even when their gesture was remembered with respect instead of derision, he felt like an Olympian in exile. "

"As he said to me in 2003, 'I don't feel embraced, I feel like a survivor, like I survived cancer. It's like if you are sick and no one wants to be around you, and when you're well everyone who thought you would go down for good doesn't even want to make eye contact. It was almost like we were on a deserted island. That's where Tommie Smith and John Carlos were. But we survived.'"

In describing the book, Zirin says, "The book as well has a message markedly different from typical sports memoirs, which are normally an exercise in: “Look how awesome I am. You can now proceed to genuflect.” Instead its thesis is that not everyone can run 100 yards in under nine seconds. But anyone can lead a committed life dedicated to principles of social justice. This is certainly a special moment in our collective people's history."

Carlos and Zirin have been on a national tour promoting the book for the last several weeks.

Here's a link to Seattle Times' columnist Jerry Brewer's piece on Carlos, posted on Wednesday.

Tickets for the event are $10/$8 students, and can be purchased via this link.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wisconsin & Florida State the top cross country squads in USTFCCCA poll...

NEW ORLEANS--After last weekend's conference championships, the latest USTFCCCA Division I national polls showed some adjustments as teams begin to position themselves for the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

On the men's side, Wisconsin takes over as the new No. 1 team in the land. The Badgers won the Big Ten Championship on Sunday, and for the 13th-consecutive time, with a commanding performance, in scoring just 17 points. Wisconsin claimed seven of 12 first-place votes in the poll and are on top of the national poll for the first time since September 25, 2007.

Washington State, after being ranked #22 in the country, dropped out of the top 30 after their sixth place finish in the Pac-12 championships.

On the women's side, No. 1 Florida State dominated the ACC Championships in scoring just 20 points for their fourth-straight league crown. No. 2 Villanova, the two-time defending NCAA Champs, jumped up two spots after claiming the Big East title, 54-63 over No. 5 Providence.

Washington, which was ranked #2 going into last weekend, dropped to #6, while Pac-12 champ Colorado leapfrogged to #3 from #16.

The complete rankings are available here.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

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