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, 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 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, 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!

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