Monday, December 31, 2012

And now...the 2012 edition of the Mercanator Awards...

ORLANDO, Florida--Greetings from sunny Orlando, where I'm writing the final blog post of 2012 at the airport.

If you're wondering why I'm here, it's because I'm doing a mileage run from Seattle to accrue enough miles to maintain elite mileage status for 2013 on Alaska Airlines, which will come in handy for two overseas trips.

In 2012, I did accrue platinum status traveling via Toyota Corolla, which doesn't get me anything but an 'attaboy' -- it doesn't get me a cup of coffee either, so here I am after flying on a red eye to Atlanta, and changing planes to go to Orlando.  

You guys and gals help make the blog what it is--a trusted source of information on  Washington state's collegiate and professional track and field athletes.

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. We've also started up an Instagram account for the blog this year, as well as a Pinterest account.  Those of you who are friends/followers on those three outlets are receiving notices every time a new post comes up.

I must thank publisher Martin Rudow and editor Heather Romano of Northwest Runner for their support, as this blog is really an extension of what I do for them.

We've been fortunate enough to have numerous web sites link to us whenever we've run stories of significant importance, and I'd like to thank all of you.

The many writers and photographers who contributed pieces to the blog are to be thanked as well, as their input and contributions are very valuable.  I'd like to give a special shout out to Randy Miyazaki of along with Mike Scott for letting me use their photos from various meets.

Thanks go to the many media relations folks who were of immense help this year, including Greg Walker at Oregon, Linda Chalich at WSU, Mike Bruscas at the UW, Megan Saalfeld and Heidi Burgett at Nike, Angelique Chondi at Nike Hellas, Caitlin Albaugh at adidas, and Tom Lewis at the USTFCCCA.

As always, Jill Geer at USA Track & Field along with her staff, including Katie Branham and Jared Slinde deserve special mention, as well as Nick Davies' staff at the IAAF.

In the Olympic year, most of our travels were to Eugene, Oregon for the Nike Prefontaine Classic, the Pac-12 championships, and of course, the US Olympic Trials.

We also took trips to St. Louis for the USA cross country championships, Santa Clarita, California for the Pac-12 cross country championships, Pullman for the UW/WSU dual meet, Richmond BC for the Harry Jerome Indoor meet, and Athens, Greece for the We Run Athens 10k.

We also covered all of the indoor track meets hosted by the University of Washington at the super-fast Dempsey Indoor oval.

And now…the Mercanators for 2012!

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.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Sprints:  Rainier Beach HS grad Mike Berry, competing for the University of Oregon again gets the nod, based on a solid second place finish in the NCAA 400 meter finals, running a personal best 44.75 in Des Moines.  He also finished second in the Pac-12 400, and third in the NCAA indoor 400.

Washington's James Alaka gets an honorable mention for winning the Pac-12 title in the 200, and achieving the Olympic A standard in Eugene, running a PR 20.45.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Distances:  The wily veteran from Washington State, Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) gets this award again for finishing fourth in the finals of the Olympic 5000 meter run, and second in the US Olympic Trials, and earned a #5 world ranking from Track & Field News.

In a very tactical final, Lagat and Kenya's Isiah Koech bumped into each other entering the homestretch, losing momentum and real estate, running 13:42.99, .32 away from a third career Olympic medal.

Lagat also won yet another world indoor 3000 meter title, running 7:41.44 to outkick eventual Olympic 5/10k champ Mo Farah of Great Britain.

An honorable mention goes to Stanford alum and Bellingham native Jake Riley, who won the USATF club cross country title earlier this month, and helped Team USA to a third place finish in the Chiba Ekiden in November.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Throws:  Marysville-Pilchuck alum Jarred Rome earns the nod by making his second career Olympic team with a sixth round toss and season best of 207-10 (63.35m) to finish second at the US Olympic trials.  He was also ranked #4 in the US by Track & Field News.

TOP PERFORMER--Men's Vertical Jumps:  Spokane native Brad Walker swept both the US indoor and outdoor national titles, and finished third at the world indoor championships in Istanbul, marking the third time he's medaled at that meet, winning in 2006 in Moscow, and taking second in 2008 in Valencia.  He also jumped a season best of 19-4 1/4 (5.90m) in Chula Vista in July.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Sprints/Hurdles:  Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford (above/photo by Paul Merca) gets the nod with an oh-so-close fourth place finish at the US Olympic Trials.  Despite that fourth place finish, she was ranked #4 in the world by Track & Field News, running a best this season of 12.59.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Distances:  There was two ways to go about this--either take Washington's Katie Flood based on winning the NCAA 1500 crown and anchoring the Huskies to an NCAA distance medley crown indoors, or take Washington alum Katie Mackey for making the finals of the US Olympic Trials, and getting a #9 US ranking in the 1500.

While winning the NCAAs was impressive, I had to go with Mackey, as her 4:06.67 was the 7th fastest time in the country this season, while Flood's 4:11.38 was good for #26.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Vertical Jumps:  Former WSU Cougar Ebba Jungmark gets the nod, based on a second place finish in the high jump at the world indoors in Istanbul, jumping 6-4 3/4 (1.95m), the 12th best jump in the world this season.

TOP PERFORMER--Women's Throws:  Another wily veteran, Aretha Thurmond gets the honors again, more for her consistency this season, after making Olympic team #4, throwing 204-2 (62.23m) in Eugene, and a season best of 208-2 (63.44m), the 20th best mark in the world in 2012.

Vancouver's Kara Patterson gets my courageous performance award for competing in the Olympic javelin qualifying round despite a torn ACL suffered in finishing second at the US Olympic trials with a toss of 196-2 (60.49m).

While it's been clearcut in the past, my pick for Washington state track & field athlete of the year goes to Bernard Lagat and Ginnie Crawford.

Congratulations to the two of you!

Oh by the way, we are not very far away from the start of the 2013 indoor track & field season!

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