Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brie Felnagle talks about the recruiting process...

With Wednesday National Letter of Intent day for high school track and field athletes to sign with colleges, we thought that we would post another in a series of videos, courtesy of adidas, with Tacoma's Brie Felnagle (left, in green/photo by Paul Merca).

In this short piece, Felnagle talks about the recruiting process, and the help she received from her parents, along with coaches and teachers at Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep HS in finding the balance between her athletic career and academic growth.



As the local schools release the names via their sports information offices, we will post them. We do know that Northwest School's Maddie Meyers, the national high school record holder in the 2000 meter steeplechase whom we interviewed last week at the Seattle Sports Star of the Year Awards show, is expected to sign her national letter of intent with the University of Washington.

NOTE:  adidas America contributed to this post.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Some thoughts and numbers on Katie Flood...

Having been around the sport since my days at Seattle's Sharples Junior High School in 1972 (holy crap, that's forty years!), I feel like I've seen it all from the way Henry Rono made the steeplechase look so effortless when he ran 8:05.4 on a rainy day in Seattle at Husky Stadium in 1978; Joan Benoit's historic marathon run in 1984 in Olympia; Rick Noji's first appearance at the world championships in Tokyo in 1991; the mano-a-mano duel at the Chicago Marathon in 2010 won by the late Sammy Wanjiru; all the way to Usain Bolt's powerful display in the 100 and 200 at the Berlin world championships.

Sometimes, you get inspired by efforts made in defeat.

Such was the case when Washington's Katie Flood (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) ran a scintillating 3000 meters Saturday at the Dempsey, finishing second in a time of 8:55.31 to Kenya's Sally Kipyego, who was the silver medalist in the 10000 at last year's IAAF world championships in Daegu, and was a nine-time NCAA national champion at Texas Tech.

Kipyego set a Dempsey Facility record with her winning time of 8:47.91, currently the third fastest time in the world this year.

Flood maintained her patience and composure through the first two kilometers as Kipyego broke away from the gun, running her own race.

In the race within the race, Canadian Olympian Malindi Elmore led the chase pack before yielding to North Carolina State alum Julia Lucas, Kipyego's teammate at the Oregon TC Elite/Eugene.

With 1000 meters to go, the Husky sophomore made a break from the pack of Elmore, Husky alum Katie Mackey, world championship steeplechaser Bridget Franek, and former NCAA cross country champ Angela Bizzarri, and gave chase to Lucas, who was running an inspired race after a series of injuries suffered over the past several years that threatened her professional running career.

At the 500 meter mark, the Des Moines, Iowa native passed Lucas, and began pursuing Kipyego, running an unofficial time of around 66 seconds for the last 400 meters to come up 7.4 seconds short, but consoled by the fact that she had run the fourth fastest time in the world this season (Hellen Obiri of Kenya and Great Britain's Helen Clitheroe ran 8:42.59 and 8:45.59 earlier in the day in Glasgow at the Five Nations Challenge Match).

You can watch the replay here, courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com:



Here are the superlatives (or stat geek stuff) on Flood's performance, courtesy of Sieg Lindstrom of Track & Field News:

--In collegiate history, she's the number six performer, with the eighth fastest performance ever under any conditions indoors, including on oversized tracks (the Dempsey is 307 meters);

--She's run the eighth fastest time ever by a collegian, and the fifth by an American collegian indoors or outdoors;

--Among Americans that Flood passed on the all time list: Margaret Groos of Virginia, who ran 8:55.6 in 1981; Lisa Koll, who ran 8:56.09 two years ago; and Stephanie Herbst of Wisconsin, who ran 8:57.12 in 1986.

The list of collegians ahead of Flood include: Jenny Barringer of Colorado (8:42.03 in 2009); Vicki Huber of Villanova (8:47.35 in 1988); Kipyego (8:48.77 in 2009); Kim Smith of Providence (8:49.18 in 2004); Stanford's PattiSue Plumer (8:53.54 in 1983); Kathy Butler of Wisconsin (8:54.07 in 1997); and Kara Grgas-Wheeler of Colorado (Kara Goucher), who ran 8:54.82 in 2000.

Of that list, everyone ahead of Flood has competed in an Olympics except for Kipyego, who medaled at last year's world championships.

While interviewing both Kipyego and Flood on the public address system at the Dempsey, I couldn't help but notice Flood's calm demeanor as I asked the questions that I'm sure the fans standing and watching the race wanted to ask her, even after running the race of her life.

The one thing that she was happy about when talking to me wasn't the fact that she gained status in a very elite sorority of fast women, or broke the Washington school record of 9:08.50 held by current teammate Mel Lawrence, but that she got her NCAA qualifier out of the way, and punched her ticket to Boise for what looks to be a potential showdown with Oregon's Jordan Hasay, and Villanova's Sheila Reid, among others.

Afterwards, Washington head coach Greg Metcalf said, ""Katie Flood was incredibly special tonight, that's just one of the most impressive showings I've ever seen from a track athlete in the purple and gold."

"Of course the most memorable performances come in NCAA Championships and that will be the focus for her moving ahead. Katie is phenomenally talented and can do big things, but this is just the start of her season and we just want to keep things in perspective and get better each day."

Courtesy of the University of Washington, here's the post-race interview with Flood.



A belated "BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA" to you, Katie, for a truly outstanding and inspiring effort!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cougars sweep UCLA, Idaho, Montana and Utah State, plus pro recap...

PULLMAN--The Washington State men's and women's track and field teams swept the dual meet scoring and four more meet records fell Saturday in the second day of the Cougar Indoor meet at WSU's Indoor Facility.

The Cougar men's team had dual scores of 90-32 over UCLA, 95-27 over Idaho, 103-19 over Montana, and 94-27 over Utah State. The Cougar women's team also grabbed four dual wins with scores of 68-51 over UCLA, 78-40 over Idaho, 86-35 over Montana, and 76-45 over Utah State.

"Throughout the meet we had some areas where we didn't get the job done but other people stepped in a picked up the slack. It was a total Coug effort all the way through," Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "This is only the third meet of the season and I like where we are. We'll go back to the drawing board now and re-ignite and get back out and compete."

WSU junior Stephan Scott-Ellis (above/photo courtesy WSU) was a double winner, claiming the men's triple jump with a meet record and lifetime-best leap of 52-feet, 5 1/4 inches (15.98m), the 10th-best mark in school history, and bettering Cougar Jamil Smith's 2005 meet record of 50-6 3/4 (15.41m). Friday night Scott-Ellis long jumped a PR and meet record distance of 24-8 1/2 (7.53m) to win that event.

Also on the oval, WSU's Andrew Gonzales (sophomore, Kennewick) won the 3000m in a PR and meet record time of 8:18.11, erasing the 2005 time of 8:20.31 run by Utah State's Mike Nielson. Utah State's Daniel Howell finished second in this year's 3k with a time of 8:18.54, also surpassing the Aggie alum's meet mark.

On the field, a pair of Cougars won events with PR marks: Shawn Swartz (junior, Port Coquitlam, B.C.) won the high jump with a height of 6-11 (2.11m) which is an indoor PR for him, and Joe Bartlett (senior, Reno) won the shot put with a heave of 57-7 3/4 (17.57m).

Chanel James led a one-two-four Cougar scoring finish in the women's 200m. Carly Fitzpatrick (junior, Sumner, Wash.) became the 10th Cougar woman to break the 12-foot threshold in the pole vault as she cleared exactly 12-0 (3.66m) Saturday for fifth place.

Complete results from the Cougar Team Scoring Meet are available here, while Washington State's release is available here.

PRO HIGHLIGHTS

The professional track & field circuit got into full gear Saturday night with the first running of the US Open Track & Field meet at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat overtook Washington State alum Bernard Lagat with one lap remaining and held off the six-time American record holder to win the Visa men’s mile. Kiplagat survived a strong final push from Lagat to win in a time of 4:00.65, just ahead of Lagat’s time of 4:00.92.

“Inside the race I knew I was going to have to change my strategy to win. I was a little disappointed with the time today. The atmosphere was the same (as the Millrose Games). I didn’t feel anything different. The crowd was amazing. For Silas to come in and win his first meet is very good. That tells you how good he is.”

In the women's 50 meter hurdles, Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford finished fourth in her 2012 debut in a time of 6.90, as Lolo Jones took the victory in 6.78.

Results from the US Open are available here.

In Glasgow, Scotland, University of Washington alum Scott Roth, competing in his first meet in a USA uniform as a senior, failed to clear a height at the Five Nations Challenge, opening at 16-10 3/4 (5.15m).

Karsten Dilla of Germany won the event with a personal best jump of 18-9 1/4 (5.72m).

Results from the Five Nations Challenge are available here.

In the middle of our coverage of the UW Invitational, one result from Friday completely overlooked was Brad Walker's victory in the pole vault, as the former Husky and current American record holder outdoors won his event at the University of New Mexico Collegiate Invitational, clearing 18-8.25 (5.70m).

Results from the UNM Collegiate Invitational are available here.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kenyan Sally Kipyego wins 3000m at UW Invitational as Katie Flood runs collegiate leading time in second...

SEATTLE--The distance races at the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor Facility lived up to the hype, as they provided the most excitement for those in attendance at the all day track and field extravaganza.

In the women's 3000 meters, Daegu 10000 meter silver medalist Sally Kipyego of Kenya and the Oregon TC/Eugene, who is no stranger to the Dempsey from her days as a collegian at Texas Tech, ran a solo effort in winning the event in a meet and facility record time of 8:47.91.

What was surprising to the crowd was the performance of Washington sophomore Katie Flood (left/photo by Paul Merca), who surprised the strong field of professionals by finishing second behind Kipyego in an NCAA leading, and Washington school record time of 8:55.31.

After settling in around fifth or sixth place and letting former Stanford star Malindi Elmore, Penn State alum Bridget Franek, and NC State grad Julia Lucas set the pace, the Husky made a strong move in the final kilometer to reel all three in and give chase to Kipyego.

Canadian Elmore finished third in 8:59.95, and Lucas ran one of her best races as a pro, finishing in 9:01.16.

Washington alum Katie (Follett) Mackey was sixth in 9:05.73, while Husky sophomore Megan Goethals finished tenth in 9:26.51.

After a dawdling first 400 meters run in 62 seconds, Georgetown alum Andrew Bumbalough of the Oregon TC/Portland won the mile in 3:58.46 to turn back training partner and 2008 US Olympian Matt Tegenkamp, who ran 4:03.00.

In a photo finish, Oregon TC/Eugene standout and world championships competitor Geena Gall beat Nike's Lauren Johnson 4:34.79 to 4:34.80.

Canadian Cameron Levins of Southern Utah, who won the men's 5000 Friday night, came back to win the men's 3000 in a meet record time of 7:48.25, which gives him the collegiate lead in the event. In the process, he took down several notable scalps, including Brit Chris Thompson, who finished second in 7:49.14, BYU's Miles Batty who was third in 7:49.14, and former NCAA champ Sam Chelanga, who was fourth in 7:50.52.

On the field, the highlight was clearly the performance of Eastern Washington's Keisa Monterola, as the Venezuelan, who was fifth in the Pan Am Games in Mexico last fall finished with a jump of 14-4 (4.37m). She took two decent attempts at 14-6 (4.42m), as she captured an EWU school record, and stayed in second on the current NCAA Division I performance list behind Tina Sutej of Arkansas.

In the men's pole vault, Washington alum Ryan Vu turned back Husky freshman JJ Julifs, as the 2010 Pac 10 champ set a personal best of 17-9 (5.41m) to hold back the charge of the 2011 USA junior champ, who also set a personal best of 17-7 (5.36m).

In the heptathlon, Seattle Pacific alum Chris Randolph, who was 69 points ahead of training partner Corbin Duer heading into the final event, the 1000 meter run, won the two day event, scoring 5480 to Duer's 5390.

Complete results of the UW Invitational are available here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

WSU's Stephan Scott-Ellis sets meet record in long jump at Cougar Team Scoring Meet...

PULLMAN--Washington State's Stephan Scott-Ellis (left/photo courtesy WSU Athletics), a junior from Tacoma, long jumped a lifetime-best distance of 24-feet, 8 ½ inches (7.53m), one of three meet records broken Friday night after day one of the Cougar Indoor Team Scoring meet.

Scott-Ellis, the reigning Pac-10 triple jump champion, eclipsed the previous meet record of 24-3 1/2 (7.40m) set in 2004 by Jason Romero from Cal State Northridge. Taylor Hobson of UCLA was second with a leap of 23-3 ¼ (7.09m).

UCLA's Michael Woepse won the men's pole vault with a meet record clearance of 17-6 1/2 (5.35m), which he cleared on his third attempt. Woepse had the bar raised to 18-1 1/4 (5.52m) which is 3/4 of an inch over NCAA automatic qualifying. The previous meet record was 17-3 1/2 (5.27m), held by Lucas Pope of Idaho in 2010. UI's Jeremy Klas was second Friday after clearing a height of 17-2 3/4 (5.25m).

UCLA's Alec Faldermeyer won the men's 35-pound weight throw with a toss of 67-1 1/4 (20.45m) with Utah State's Bryce Hall second at 58-9 1/2 (17.92m). WSU's Chris Baltazar finished fourth with a PR throw of 53-1 1/2 (16.19m).

Ida Storm from UCLA won the women's 20-pound weight throw with a meet record toss of 66-7 1/4 (20.30m), replacing former Cougar Marie Muai's 2004 mark of 59-0 3/4 (18.00m). Gabby Midles (Idaho) finished second with a best toss of 55-5 (16.89m) and WSU's Cassie Whitfield took third with a season-best mark of 54-5 1/2 (16.60m).

Tatum Souza of UCLA won the women's pentathlon with a score of 3,640 points. Utah State's Chari Hawkins finished second with 3,610 points and Lindsey Hall from Montana finished third with 3,568 points.

After four events in the men's heptathlon, Marcus Nilsson of UCLA was the leader with 2,917 points, followed by Bruin teammate Dominic Giovannoni with 2,884, and Michael Bolligar from WSU with 2,849 points.

The Cougar Indoor Team Scoring meet between WSU, Idaho, Montana UCLA and Utah State, continues Saturday, Jan. 28, at 9 a.m. with the remaining field and all the running events.

Day one results of the meet are available here.

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

Cameron Levins sets meet record in 5000 meters to highlight day one of UW Invitational...

SEATTLE--Cameron Levins of Southern Utah University (left/photo courtesy Southern Utah University) set a meet record in winning the 5000 meters in day one of the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor Facility.

Levins, the reigning Canadian cross country champion who finished fourth at the NCAA cross country championships, took the lead shortly after the first lap and was never challenged, winning in 13:42.90, almost nine seconds ahead of second place finisher Bolota Asmeron, who ran 13:51.81.

Kick started by a strong 400 meter leg by sophomore Maurice McNeal, the Husky men's distance medley relay, with Charlie Williams, McNeal, Brad Whitley, and anchor Joey Bywater, cruised to victory in 9:41.17.

In the women's 5000, Iowa State alum Lisa Uhl, who now lives in Portland, got her second straight win at the Dempsey after winning the 3000 two weeks ago at the UW preview, as the 2010 NCAA champ at 5000 and 10000 took command for a solo 15:29.85, the fastest time in the world so far this season.

BYU took the measure of the Huskies in the women's distance medley relay, winning in 11:13.62, with Washington second in an encouraging 11:18.34, with comebacking Christine Babcock making her first appearance in an indoor track race in almost two years, running the opening 1200 leg for the Dawgs.

2008 US Olympian Sharon Day used a strong performance in the long jump to overtake UC Santa Barbara's Barbara Nwaba and win the pentathlon.

The 2011 USA heptathlon champion scored 4430 to beat Nwaba, who scored 4244, as the UCSB standout earned an automatic qualifying mark for the NCAA indoor championships in Boise in March.

Seattle Pacific's Ali Worthen, the GNAC heptathlon champion, roared back in the final two events, the long jump and the 800 to finish fourth with a score of 3729 points, a personal best.

Freshman Jaleecia Roland of the Huskies finished eighth in her first ever multi-event competition wearing the purple and gold, scoring 3446 points, the eighth best score in Washington history.

After the first day of competition, Seattle Pacific alum Chris Randolph, a two time NCAA Division II champ for the Falcons, leads the heptathlon with a first day score of 3022 points.

Action resumes Saturday beginning at 10 am.

Complete day one results from the UW Invitational are available here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

WSU hosts Cougar Team Scoring Meet vs UCLA, Idaho, Montana & Utah State...

PULLMAN--Washington State hosts Idaho, Montana, UCLA and Utah State in the Cougar Indoor Team Scoring meet at the WSU Indoor Facility, along with a separate men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon competition.

Action in the multi-events gets underway Friday at 2:30 pm, and will also include competition in the weight throws, along with the men's long jump and pole vault.

For this meet, the dual meet scoring is 5-3-1 for individual events, and 5-0 relays.

Most of the Cougar distance runners will see action, as they did not travel to Albuquerque for last week's Cherry and Silver invitational.

Reigning Pac-10 triple jump champ Stephan Scott-Ellis (above/photo courtesy WSU Athletics) will be in action for WSU. On the women's side, one of the best events to watch will be the women's pole vault, pitting Utah State's Sonia Grabowska against UCLA's Tori Anthony.

To preview this weekend's competition, here is Cougar coach Rick Sloan's weekly press conference, courtesy WSU Athletics.



The Washington State University release is available here, while the start lists are available here.

NOTE: Washington State University's sports information office contributed to this report.

Distance races take center stage at this weekend's UW Invitational...

One of the biggest indoor meets of the young season takes place Friday and Saturday as the University of Washington hosts the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor Facility.

The distance races will take center stage, as several members of the Oregon TC/Portland group will run this weekend.

2010 NCAA 10000m champ Lisa Uhl, who won the 3000m at the UW Preview two weeks ago will run in Friday's 5000 against Colorado alum Renee Metivier Baillie, a veteran of several USA world cross country teams, and the 2010 USA indoor 3000m champ.

2008 US Olympians Matt Tegenkamp and Ian Dobson will face rising star Andrew Bumbalough and UCLA alum Jon Rankin in the mile.  

Lopez Lomong (above/photo by Paul Merca), an Olympian at 1500m and the flagbearer for Team USA in the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, will drop down to the 800m.

The women's 3000 is headlined by world championships 10000m silver medalist Sally Kipyego, who faces OTC/Eugene teammate Bridget Franek, veteran Malindi Elmore of Canada, the Brooks duo of Angela Bizzarri and UW alum Katie (Follett) Mackey, along with UW cross country All-Americans Katie Flood and Megan Goethals.

The men's 3000 is just as loaded as well, with OTC/Eugene standouts Chris Thompson, the Euro 10k bronze medalist, and Liberty alum Sam Chelanga facing the challenge of one of America's rising distance stars in Miles Batty of BYU.

Canadian Ruky Abdulai, a two time world championships competitor in the long jump and heptathlon, is entered in several individual events, but not in the pentathlon.

In Friday's multi-event competition, 2008 US Olympian Sharon Day is the headliner in the women's pentathlon, going against Seattle Pacific's reigning GNAC multi-event champ Ali Worthen, while Seattle Pacific alum Chris Randolph is the man to watch in the heptathlon, a field which will miss Pac-10 decathlon champ Jeremy Taiwo, who is still recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery.

In the pole vault, look for a matchup between UW alum Carly Dockendorf and Venezuelan standout Keisa Monterola of Eastern Washington and Cal alum Allison Stokke, and on the men's side, 2010 NCAA champ Jason Colwick goes against 2011 NCAA D2 champ Ryan Brown, the Western Washington alum, along with former Pac-10 champ Ryan Vu and US junior champ JJ Julifs of the host Huskies.

Tacoma native Andrea Geubelle makes a rare appearance at the Dempsey, as the University of Kansas All-American will contest both the long and triple jumps.  Arkansas alum Nkosinza Balumbo highlights the men's triple jump.  Canadian Olympian Mike Mason and Pac-10 scorer Obum Gwacham from Oregon State, along with Princeton alum and NCAA scorer Justin Frick are the ones to watch in the high jump.

Friday's action gets underway at 2pm with the pentathlon 60 hurdles, and ends at 8:15 with the pentathlon 800.

Saturday action gets underway at 10 am, with the top sections of the meet getting underway at 2:45pm.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hurdler Jeshua Anderson and prep distance star Maddie Meyers walk the red carpet at Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards...

SEATTLE--Washington State's four-time Pac-10, three time NCAA, and reigning USA 400 hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson (left, with ROOT Sports' Jen Mueller/photo by Paul Merca), along with University of Washington commit Maddie Meyers from Northwest School, represented the local track and field community at Wednesday night's Sports Star of the Year show at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.

As Meyers and Anderson walked through the red carpet to join many of the area's elite professional and amateur athletes, both were gracious enough to talk to paulmerca.blogspot.com about their outstanding 2011 seasons, and what 2012 has in store for them.

Gonzaga basketball standout Courtney Vandersloot won the Female Sports Star honors, while University of Washington running back Chris Polk took the male honors.

Seattle Sounders FC goalie Kasey Keller won the Professional Sports Star of the Year award.

Here's our interview with Anderson.



UPDATE (11:00 PT): As promised, here is our interview with Maddie Meyers:

Scott Roth named to Team USA for Five Nations match in Glasgow...

Reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champion Scott Roth (left/photo courtesy Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com), who won the pole vault at the Husky Preview meet two weeks ago, will take his talents to Glasgow, Scotland for this Saturday's Five Nations Match.

Roth, who finished his eligibility at the University of Washington, and was ranked #5 in the USA last year by Track & Field News, was originally entered in this Saturday's UW Invitational before being selected to Team USA for this Saturday's meet.

The Five Nations Match is a unique competition between countries where one member from each team competes in select events and the winner is determined by total points. In 2011 the United States placed fourth in the competition with a total of 52 points to finish behind Germany (61), Great Britain & N.I. (56), Commonwealth Select (56) and ahead of Sweden (29).

The squad for the United States includes six athletes that were a member of Team USA for the 2011 World Outdoor Championships including Ivory Williams, Jamaal Torrance, Natasha Hastings, Danielle Carruthers, Amanda Smock and Funmi Jimoh.

The complete roster for Saturday's match is available here.

Former Washington State University head coach John Chaplin will serve as the men's team leader for the Five Nations Match.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Lagat set to aim for American record in 5000 at Millrose...

Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) will take aim at the American record in the 5000 meters of 13:11.44 currently held by Galen Rupp at the Millrose Games on February 11th at the Armory in New York.

According to meet director Ray Flynn, he's also assembled a field that could potentially challenge the collegiate and high school records, as well as the meet record of 13:20.4 set way back in 1981 by Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania.

Joining Lagat in the 5,000m event will be five of the country’s premier collegiate runners, each with an excellent chance to surpass Rupp's college mark of 13:18.12. Those runners are Lawi Lalang, the NCAA cross country champion from the University of Arizona; Leonard Korir, the NCAA indoor 5,000m champion from Iona; Elliott Heath, the NCAA indoor 3,000m NCAA champion from Stanford; NCAA cross country runner-up Chris Derrick of Stanford; and first-team All-American Steven Sambu of Arizona.

Brits Andy Baddeley and Mark Draper are also in the field, along with former NCAA champ Sam Chelanga, who is scheduled to tune up for the matchup with Lagat in Seattle with a 3000-meter race at the UW Invitational on January 28th against Great Britain's Chris Thompson.

"Kip (Lagat) and Lawi are all training really well, doing some of the best workouts I have seen them do," said James Li from the University of Arizona, coach of both Lagat and Lalang. "They are both very excited about coming to New York to run in the 5000m at Millrose."

Information about the Millrose Games is available here.

Lagat will open his 2012 campaign this Saturday at the US Open at New York's Madison Square Garden, as he will run the mile in a venue which he has been successful.

Also opening her 2012 season is Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford, who will run the 50 meter hurdles in a field that includes reigning Olympic champ Dawn Harper.

Wednesday night is the Seattle Sports Star of the Year Awards dinner and show at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.

For the second straight year, paulmerca.blogspot.com will cover the event, as Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson, and University of Washington commit Maddie Meyers of the Northwest School will represent the track and field community and be honored.

In the Female Sports Star of the Year category, Meyers, the American high school record holder in the 2000 meter steeplechase is going against a field that includes Gonzaga basketball star Courtney Vandersloot, UW softball player Jenn Salling, SeattleU soccer coach Julie Woodward, and boxer Queen Underwood.

In the Male Sports Star category, Anderson, who was a finalist for this award in 2009, goes against UW running back Chris Polk, Husky golfer Chris Williams, UW basketball star Isaiah Thomas, and Cal swimmer Nathan Adrian.

Sportspressnw.com will be streaming the festivities live beginning at 6pm, pacific time with hosts Art Thiel and Steve Rudman, formerly from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which sponsored the event before the paper folded.

Information about the Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards show is available here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cougs open with solid marks in Albuquerque; J Hopkins runs second best 400h time by American indoors...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--Solid performances and good marks were produced by the select contingent of Washington State track and field competitors Saturday at the University of New Mexico Cherry and Silver Indoor Track & Field Invitational at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Leading the Cougar women in field events, sophomore Kelsey Bueno from Kent, was the runner-up in the pole vault with a lifetime-best clearance at 12-feet, 3 1/2 inches (3.75m); the ninth-best mark in school history. Mary Barnett (claimed third place in the shot put with a season-best throw of 44-6 3/4 (13.58m). Christine Rice tied for third in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5-6 (1.68m).

The Cougar men made noise on the track with Jacob Sealby's 400m dash time of 47.85 being a PR for the sophomore from Wenatchee and the second-best on the day.

The WSU men's 4x400m relay team of J Hopkins, Sealby, Brandon Dawson and Rashaun Dawson ran a time of 3:18.03 for second place.

Friday night's opening session was highlighted by J Hopkins (above/photo courtesy WSU Athletics), who ran the fastest time ever recorded on American soil in the rarely contested 400 meter hurdles indoors, winning in a time of 52.27

Some research by paulmerca.blogspot.com revealed that his mark is the 11th fastest time ever in this event, and is the second fastest recorded by an American, only behind Reuben McCoy's mark of 49.78, set last year in Birmingham, UK.

2004 Olympic champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic holds the world best in this event at 49.73.

UPDATE (January 24th) Courtesy of the University of New Mexico, here is video of the race:



And here's another view of the race, courtesy of Washington State University:



The current all-time list in the indoor 400 hurdles is available here at 4hindoor.fr.

Complete results from the Cherry & Silver Invitational are available here.

NOTE: The sports information office at Washington State University and 4hindoor.fr contributed to this report.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brad Walker opens up 2012 campaign by winning elite section of UCS Pole Vault Summit...

RENO, Nevada--Though it's only the first meet of the young 2012 season, University of Washington alum and current American record holder Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) isn't letting people write him off yet.

The 2007 IAAF world champion opened his 2012 campaign with a jump of 19-0 1/4 (5.80m) to win the men's elite section at the UCS Pole Vault Summit at the Reno Livestock Event Center.

Walker got off to an inauspicious start, running through the pit at his opening height of 18-1 1/4 (5.52m), before clearing the bar on his second attempt.

Walker easily cleared 18-5 1/4 (5.62m) on his first attempt, then cleared 19-0 1/4 (5.80m) on his first attempt, before missing all three attempts at 19-4 3/4 (5.91m), which would have been a 2012 indoor world leader.

Courtesy of YouTube, here is video of Walker's jump:



Walker's jump is the second best in the world so far this season, only behind Russia's Dmitry Starodubtsev, who cleared 19-4 1/4 (5.90m) on December 29th. Starodubtsev, who finished fifth in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, also has a clearance of 19-0 1/4 set on January 14th.

Since setting the American record at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in 2008, Walker's career has seen a series of ups and downs, including no-heighting in the qualifying round at the Olympics in Beijing, and a crash at the 2009 Herculis meeting in Monaco, in which he was injured, and couldn't defend his world title in Berlin a few weeks later.

Walker's 2011 best was 19-2 (5.84m) in a low-key meet at the US Olympic training center in Chula Vista, California.

University of Washington grad Scott Roth, the 2011 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion, along with training partner Jason Colwick, the 2010 NCAA champ from Rice, were scheduled to compete in Friday's elite pole vault competition, but were unable to leave Seattle due to the snowy conditions.

Cougars head to New Mexico; Roth and Colwick stuck in Seattle...

Washington State University travels to Albuquerque to compete in the UNM Cherry & Silver Invitational at the Albuquerque Convention Center, hosted by the University of New Mexico, site of this year's USA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

The meet will feature a rare event in the indoor track world: 400m hurdles races. Friday evening field schedule shows men's pole vault plus men's and women's long jump, high jump weight throws with 200m dash, 600m and 400m hurdles races.

The remaining events take place Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., with collegiate teams from WSU and California joining host New Mexico, who are using their series of home meets to show the NCAA that they are worthy of hosting the collegiate championships in 2014.

Courtney Zalud (left/photo by Paul Merca), a Pac-10 finalist last year for the Cougars, will run the 800 meters Saturday.

“They have an outstanding venue", said WSU head coach Rick Sloan of the Albuquerque Convention Center venue.

"They have held collegiate meets there over the years but they have also hosted the US Indoor Championships. We are looking forward to seeing different colored uniforms. This should be a good competition for us. We are only taking 26 athletes, men and women, and its at altitude so it favors the sprints and maybe the jumps but not the distance runners and we aren’t taking any to this meet."

Here's more with Sloan, courtesy of WSU Athletics.



WSU's complete release is available here, along with the list of athletes competing.

Former Husky Scott Roth, along with his training partner, former NCAA champ Jason Colwick, were the victims of the snow storm that hit Western Washington, as they were unable to leave Seattle to compete in Friday's elite section of the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada, according to Becca Peter of polevaultpower.com on the site's Twitter page.

However, Mountlake Terrace resident, and current American record holder Brad Walker will make his 2012 season debut, as he looks to rebound from a disappointing 2011 season.

polevaultpower.com will post play-by-play of Friday night's elite section on its web site.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The tease is over; Nike announces FuelBand movement measuring band...

NEW YORK--The tease is over.

As many observers in the running and athletic performance industry speculated, Nike announced Thursday the release of its FuelBand, a wristband that measures everyday movement, and encourages people to be more active, whether the activity is running, basketball, skateboarding, tennis, pickleball, etc.

In a glitzy press gathering hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon featuring Nike athletes Lance Armstrong, world 100m champ Carmelita Jeter (left/photo courtesy Nike), and former Seattle Supersonic Kevin Durant, Nike CEO Mark Parker stated, "“The NIKE+ FuelBand is a way for Nike to further evolve the exciting possibilities of merging the physical and digital worlds”. “Nike has always been about inspiring athletes, and the NIKE+ FuelBand will help motivate them in a simple, fun and intuitive way.”

In a tweet posted shortly after the announcement, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell stated, "January 19, 2012: The day Nike became a tech company."


Designed to be worn throughout the day, the ergonomic, user-friendly NIKE+ FuelBand uses accelerometry to provide information about different activities through movement of the wrist via a LED dot matrix display. Four metrics are available: Time, Calories, Steps and NikeFuel. Unlike calorie counts, which vary based on someone’s gender and body type, NikeFuel is a normalized score that awards equal points for the same activity regardless of physical makeup.

Users set a daily goal of how active they want to be, and how much NikeFuel they want to achieve. The NIKE+ FuelBand displays a series of 20 LED lights that go from red-to-green as the user gets closer to their goal. The FuelBand syncs with the Nike+ website through a built-in USB, or wirelessly through Bluetooth to a free iPhone app, to record activity and track progress every day. The app interface also provides encouragement and motivation as goals are achieved.

Activities can now be measured through a new metric called NikeFuel: the more active you are, the more NikeFuel you earn.

According to a Nike media release, the device will retail for $149, and will be released to the public February 22nd. Nike's retail web site began pre-selling the device shortly after the announcement.

One of the few activities that the band will not track is swimming, as it's not waterproof.

paulmerca.blogspot.com looks forward to taking the Nike FuelBand out for a spin before its release.

The question becomes whether this device will make users, particularly those trying to lose weight by burning more calories, become more obsessive with their fitness activities?

The other question is, where's the stop watch feature?

Here's a video, courtesy of Nike, touting the device.



Here are several different takes on Nike's Fuel Band--one by runner Caitlin Chock, who once was part of the Nike Oregon Project; another by social media specialist Amy Jo Martin; and a third, courtesy of the web site blisstree.com.

Darren Rovell's piece on the product from CNBC is also linked here.

NOTE: The media relations department at Nike contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1.19.12--What is it?

In keeping with the news on the athletic footwear front, Nike has been teasing the public about a huge launch scheduled for 1.19.12 (why, that's Thursday!).

The tease includes two videos on YouTube, including the one below, along with notable athletes, including Paula Radcliffe and Portland resident & world 5000-meter champion Mo Farah tweeting over the last few weeks with the hashtag (#) and the phrase #makeitcount.



What is it?

Speculation has run rampant from a new shoe that was introduced before Christmas and given away on Jimmy Fallon's show, a revamp of the popular Nike+ system for running to track other sports activities, such as soccer, and basketball, much like adidas' miCoach system; and a collaboration with Apple on technical apparel that uses elements of the Nike+ system.

When an athlete like 2011 world champion Carmelita Jeter starts Tweeting about flying to New York for the launch, and noted social media expert Amy Jo Martin posts a photo of a cryptic note, it's gotta be huge!

Stay tuned!

adidas Releases adizero Rush running shoe, plus videos featuring Brie Felnagle...

Our friends at adidas USA in Portland passed on some items of interest to folks in the running and track & field communities.

First is the debut of the adidas adizero Rush running shoe, which weighs in at 7.5 ounces.

“We’re really proud of the adizero Rush and excited to get the shoe in the hands and on the feet of athletes who run to get faster for their sport,” said Mikal Peveto, director of running for adidas America.  “The adizero Rush shaves ounces from a typical running shoe, helping athletes as they work to stay faster than their competition.”

Combining a super light shoe with maximum cushioning and support, the adizero Rush features adiPrene+ midsole technology for resilient cushioning in the forefoot to ensure a responsive ride.  The shoe’s SprintWeb provides lightweight support while the unique nylon mesh construction is breathable and keeps the foot locked in place for stability and speed.  The SprintFrame™ helps return energy to each stride and the shoe’s Lightstrike™ EVA reduces midsole weight by 15 percent.

The adizero Rush retails for $100.

adidas has also produced a series of videos featuring Tacoma's Brie Felnagle on its YouTube channel (youtube.com/adidasrunningtv). paulmerca.blogspot.com will run several of them throughout January.

The first one is about running the mile, and what it takes to race the distance…enjoy!



NOTE: Special thanks to Caitlin Albaugh & staff at adidas USA.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Washington alum Norris Frederick opens season with eight-meter jump to highlight UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE--The 2012 indoor track & field season got off to a strong start as the University of Washington hosted the UW Indoor Preview meet on the newly resurfaced Dempsey Indoor facility.

Former Husky Norris Frederick (left/photo by Paul Merca) had one of the top marks of the meet, jumping 26-3 (8.00m) to easily outdistance the field.  Frederick's mark is the best in the world so far this season.

In the men's pole vault, Washington alum Scott Roth opened his season with an easy victory, winning with a mark of 17-9 (5.41m) to outlast ex-UCLA standout Dustin DeLeo and Western Washington alum Ryan Brown (16-11/5.16m), and Husky freshman JJ Julifs (16-5.25/5.01m).

The women's pole vault was won by Eastern Washington's Keisa Monterola, as the Venezuelan cleared 13-7.75 (4.16m) to beat former Husky Carly Dockendorf and current Husky Logan Miller (13-1.75/4.01m).

Oregon alum Jamesha Youngblood won the women's long jump with a mark of 20-8.5 (6.31m) to beat former Stanford star Brittni Dixon-Smith (19-9.75/6.04m).

Another former Stanford star, Erica McLain, began her comeback bid by winning the triple jump with a mark of 43-8 (13.31m).

On the track, Tennessee alum Jackie Areson won the women's mile, as the former NCAA champ ran an easy 4:43.13.

In the women's 3000, Dempsey Indoor facility record holder Lisa Uhl won in a solo effort, as the Iowa State alum and 2010 NCAA 10000m champ ran 9:10.36.

The top men's mark on the track was turned in by Dempsey facility record holder Josh Norman, as he won the men's 60 meter dash in 6.66, just off his record time of 6.58, set in last year's UW Indoor Preview.

Complete results of the UW Indoor Preview are available here.

In Pullman, four meet records were broken and two more were tied Saturday at the 10th Annual Washington State Open Indoor track and field meet at the Indoor Facility on the Pullman campus.

A trio of Cougar men broke the mile meet record in a first through fourth sweep. Drew Jordan won the event with a lifetime-best time of 4:15.36, besting teammate Andrew Kimpel's 2010 time of 4:17.03. Andrew Gonzales' 4:16.36 and Justin Englund's 4:16.79 were also faster than the record while Jono Lafler finished fourth in a time of 4:19.51.

WSU's Stephan Scott-Ellis won the long jump with a meet record of 23-10 1/4 (7.27m), erasing the 2008 record held by Idaho's Kevin Pabst of 23-9 (7.24m).

Idaho's Jeremy Klas broke his own pole vault meet record set last winter by three inches with a leap of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m). Vandal teammate Ben Ayesu-Attah won the 400m dash with a record time of 49.75, surpassing the 2004 time of 49.88 run by Alex Moon from Eastern Washington University.

Former Whitworth University competitor Cody Stelzer won the men's high jump equaling the meet record height of 7-0 1/2 (2.15m) leaped by Thad Hathaway, a former Idaho jumper and now a WSU Athletics academic advisor, in 2003.

On the women's side, Idaho's Kelly Jacka won the women's 200m dash equaling the meet record time of 25.39, run in 2004 by WSU's Nicole Hatcher.

WSU alum Jeshua Anderson, the reigning NCAA and USA champion in the 400 hurdles, opened his 2012 campaign by winning the 60 hurdles in 8.01.

Complete results from the Washington State Open are available here.

OLYMPIC MARATHON TRIALS RECAP

In Houston, Washington State alum Drew Polley was the first Washington state athlete to cross the finish line at the US Olympic Marathon Trials, as he set a personal best time of 2:14:58 in finishing 21st.

World Championships competitor Mike Sayenko of Bellevue placed 30th in a time of 2:16:40. Mercer Island HS grad Donnie Fellows was 38th in 2:17:30, and Tacoma native Alex Crabill was 52nd in 2:20:17.

Courtesy of media partner Flotrack, here's a post-race interview with Polley:




In the women's race, former Eastern Washington and Oregon standout Mattie Suver, who qualified for the race with a half-marathon mark, completed her first marathon, running 2:50:23 for 122nd place.

Ruth Perkins and Susan Empey did not finish.

A little over two months after setting a personal best in the ING New York City Marathon, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi cemented a spot on his third Olympic team as he took the victory in the Trials race, running 2:09:08.

Ryan Hall (2:09:30), and Abdi Abdirahman (2:09:47) took the other two men's spots on the plane to London for this summer's Olympics with their efforts.

On the women's side, 2008 Olympic 10000m bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan of Portland set a new Olympic Trials race record, winning the Trials in 2:25:38, with Arizona State alum Desiree Davila second in 2:25:55, and Flanagan's training partner Kara Goucher third in 2:26:06.

The complete men's results from the US Olympic Marathon Trials are available here, while the women's results are available here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field, and the sports information offices of the University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Away from Houston, the indoor track season opens for the Washington schools...

While most of the country is focusing on the happenings at the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, the state's colleges and universities begin their 2012 indoor track season with two significant meets--the UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor facility in Seattle, and the WSU Open meet in Pullman.

The University of Washington plays host to most of the schools from the west side of the state, with teams from Eastern Washington and Gonzaga making the trek from east of the Cascades. Additionally, squads from Stanford, Hawaii, along with schools and clubs from the Northwest will converge on the Dempsey.

Perhaps one of the best fields of the UW Indoor Preview will be the men's pole vault, featuring three NCAA champions--ex-Husky Scott Roth (left/photo by Mike Scott), former Western Washington standout Ryan Brown, and Rice's Jason Colwick, along with Husky frosh JJ Julifs, the reigning USA junior champion.

A pair of former Huskies in Norris Frederick (long jump) and Carly Dockendorf (pole vault) make their season debuts Saturday, with the latter going up against Stanford's Katerina Stefanidi, the bronze medalist at the World University Games, and Eastern Washington's Keisa Monterola, who was fifth in the Pan Am Games last October.

In the distance races, most of the Huskies' top guns, including NCAA All Americans Katie Flood and Megan Goethals will not race, but are projected to open in two weeks at the UW Invitational. Sub-4 minute miler James Cameron is still recovering from a foot injury from the outdoor season, and will most likely be redshirted in 2012.

IAAF world youth champion Trinity Wilson is entered in the 60 meter hurdles. Former Tennessee standout Jackie Areson is entered in the women's mile against Stanford alum Lindsay Allen. Others to watch include UCLA alum Jon Rankin in the men's mile; Shayla Houlihan in the women's 3000 against the Dempsey facility record holder, Lisa Uhl (formerly Koll), the 2010 NCAA champ in the 10000 from Iowa State and member of last year's world cross country team; and, Canadian Olympian Mike Mason in the men's high jump.

The start list for the UW Indoor Preview is available here.

In Pullman, Cougar head coach Rick Sloan is anxious to get the 2012 season going with the WSU Indoor Open, stating, "We’re anxious to compete. We have been training since late August and have been working very hard."

“As an all-comers meet we’ve had 60-year-old men running the 60-meter dash and junior high kids in some events. There is a wide range of talent that comes to the Open. I like the fact that there’s no pressure and no team outcome to worry about. The kids can get in there and just perform and then start stepping it up after this weekend. This is a get your feet wet competition."

You can watch highlights of his weekly press conference here.



Reigning NCAA and USA 400 meter hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson begins his quest for a spot in this summer's London Olympics at the WSU Indoor Open, as he will run in the 60 meter hurdles and the 600.

The start lists for the WSU Indoor Open are available here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Someone has to make a pick for the US Olympic marathon team...

Ryan Hall (photo by Paul Merca)
Okay, so many of you have been wondering why I've been so quiet from my end regarding Saturday's Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston.

Unfortunately, I won't be among the plethora of reporters/photographers/bloggers attending the Trials, as I will be staying in Seattle to announce the first University of Washington indoor track meet of the season.

However, that doesn't mean I'm ignoring the event--I'll actually make my picks for the six coveted spots on the US Olympic team.

This is the first time that both the men's and women's teams will be picked in the same venue, as past trials races were contested in separate cities, including the first women's marathon trials in 1984 in Olympia, an event I hold dearly, as I was the assistant director of communications for the race.

Here's the low-down on the course--after one lap of 2.2 miles, the runners will run three laps of eight miles through the streets of Houston, making it very convenient for spectators to follow the progress of the race.

The Trials race is pretty simple--top three make the team, provided all three have the coveted IAAF 'A' standard time of 2:15:00 for men, and 2:37:00 for women.

The races begin at 8 am (men) and 8:15 am (women), local time, meaning if you're planning on following it on the West Coast, it's a 6 am start.

Unlike the 2008 trials races, which were streamed live online, there will be no live coverage of the trials; however, NBC Sports will offer a two-hour same day highlight show beginning at noon, Pacific time. In the Seattle area, the Trials will be shown on KING 5 (channel 5, or channel 105 in HD).

At the close of declarations on Tuesday, athletes from the state of Washington intending to run include on the men's side former Husky and Daegu world championships competitor Mike Sayenko, who has a PR of 2:14:27; Washington State alum Drew Polley; Tacoma native Alex Crabill; and Mercer Island HS grad Donnie Fellows.

Washington alum Jake Schmidt, who qualified for the Trials with a half-marathon mark of 1:04:51, will not run, due to an injury.

Women from Washington state who declared their intent to race include former Eastern Washington and Oregon standout Mattie Suver, who earned her way into the Trials with a 1:14:56 half marathon time; Seattle Pacific alum Ruth Perkins, who qualified with a 2:43:19 mark at the 2010 Twin Cities race; and Mercer Island's Susan Empey.

As I didn't bother to put up a poll, here are my picks for the three men's and women's spots on the plane to London:

MEN: Ryan Hall (above). You'd have to be a fool NOT to pick him. The Stanford grad and defending Trials champion is by far the class of this field, with a personal best of 2:04:58, set at last year's Boston Marathon.

Beyond Hall, my gut tells me that Meb Keflezighi, who missed some time after the ING New York Marathon with a foot problem caused by a Breathe Right strip accidentally left in his racing shoe; Dathan Ritzenhein, who appears to have shaken off his injury bug that caused him to miss most of 2011; former Oregon standout Jason Hartmann; and 2011 US cross country champ Brent Vaughn are going to be the ones battling it out for the other two spots, with Meb my pick for the #2 spot.

Having said that, the one guy no one can overlook is the Mayor of Tuscon, aka the Black Cactus, Abdi Abdirahman, who is shooting to make his fourth US Olympic team.

Desiree Davila (photo by Paul Merca)
WOMEN: The Trials may perhaps be the most competitive domestic race we've witnessed in a long time, with the Trials record of 2:28:25 set by Colleen de Reuck in the 2004 trials race in St. Louis probably going down; in fact, our friends at LetsRun.com think that someone will break 2:30, and not make the team, a great change from the 2000 Trials in Columbia, South Carolina, which was the absolute low point in American women's marathoning.

Desiree Davila and Shalane Flanagan are the two safest bets to make the team, with Davila, the Arizona State grad, turning some heads with her Boston performance of 2:28:38 last year. Likewise, Flanagan, the American record holder in the 10000, Olympic bronze medalist in Beijing at 10000, and the third place finisher at last year's IAAF world cross country championships in Punta Umbria, is just as solid a pick, despite a marathon PR of 2:28:40.

It will come down to four runners for one spot--Kara Goucher, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor, and Amy Hastings.

While I'm waffling on the third spot on the men's side, I'm picking the youngster, Amy Hastings, who was Davila's teammate at Arizona State, and ran 2:27:03 in Los Angeles last spring to get spot number three!

How will this all pan out?  The only thing we can do is to let the runners line up and take care of business Saturday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships move to a Saturday...

The NCAA Track & Field Subcommitee announced that the new date formula passed by NCAA Championships Cabinet will go into effect beginning this year. For the first time since World War II, the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on a Saturday. In addition, the formula places the regional championships preceding the national meet eight days earlier on a Friday.

The 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships are now scheduled to be held Saturday, November 17 at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky. Nine regional championships will be held on Friday, November 9, including the West Regionals, which will be held at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course, site of the 2010 Pac-10 championships and the 2011 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships.

The new date formula prescribes that the national meet be held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, matching what has been done in Division II and Division III for several years. By virtue of the calendar having the earliest possible Thanksgiving in 2012 (November 22), this year’s meet will be the earliest in DI history.

FEDERAL WAY HS COACH JEAN LICARI PASSES AWAY...

The local track and field community lost a friend on Sunday, as Federal Way HS coach Jean Licari passed away after her battle with cancer.

Licari taught math and also coached the Eagles cross country and track teams, with her athletes winning multiple state championships.

Licari died from a very rare form of cancer called LMS, or Leiomyosarcoma. It is a malignant cancer of smooth muscle. LMS can be very unpredictable and can remain dormant for long periods of time.

Licari is survived her husband, Pat, an assistant track and field coach on the University of Washington staff, and two daughters, Katelin and Madison. During his 15-year tenure at UW, Licari has developed some of the nation's premier pole vaulters, including world champion and 2008 Olympian Brad Walker, three NCAA champions in Walker, Kate Soma and Scott Roth, and 10 different All-Americans.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA and the Federal Way Mirror contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Spokane high schoolers Katie Knight & Andrew Gardner finish fourth & fifth in Edinburgh...

EDINBURGH, Scotland--Spokane's Katie Knight (center/photo by Mike Scott) finished fourth in the junior women's 4k race at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge meet at Holyrood Park, featuring teams from the USA, Great Britain, and a European select squad.

The North Central HS junior, who won the Washington state 3A cross country title and the Nike Border Clash crown, crossed the line in 15:24, and was the third Team USA runner, finishing behind teammates Aisling Cuffe (15:09) and Molly Siedel (15:17). Jessica Jackson was the final USA scorer in sixth (15:29).

Great Britain's Emelia Gorecka took the individual victory in 14:48.

The USA took the team title, winning with a score of 15 points (top four finishers score).

In the junior men's 6k race, Andrew Gardner of Spokane's Mead HS, the Washington state 4A runner-up, finished fifth, running 20:10.

Nathan Weitz (left/photo by Mike Scott) of Spokane's Shadle Park HS, finished 11th in a time of 20:33.

The USA's Kirubel Erassa took the win, running 19:54, as Americans took three of the top five spots to also take the junior title with a team score of 16 points.

Eddie Owens was one spot ahead of Gardner in fourth (20:08), and Michael Bradjic rounded out the USA scorers in seventh (20:19).

Western Washington grad Sarah Porter, who was originally announced by USA Track & Field as a team member for this invitational race, did not make the trip, due to a passport issue.

The USATF recap of the race is available here; complete results of the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge are posted here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nick Symmonds walks the walk by putting left shoulder up for bid on eBay...

2008 US Olympian and three-time World Championships 800 meter runner Nick Symmonds (left/file photo by Paul Merca), who garnered a lot of publicity over the last few months by taking on the USATF and the IAAF regarding its advertising policies, is walking the walk via eBay by putting up his left shoulder for bid.

Symmonds, the four time defending USA Outdoor Champion and the reigning Olympic Trials champion, created an auction to encourage corporations and fans of the sport to join in his quest for Olympic gold by bidding for a spot on his left shoulder where he's agreed to wear a temporary tattoo of the auction winner's Twitter handle.

Symmonds states that he recognizes that at many meets, specifically those governed by the IAAF, he will be forced to cover up the tattoo due to "antiquated and crippling rules put in place be the IAAF." These sentiments reflect his views previous aired in a 2011 group he created on Facebook entitled "Im tired of USATF and IAAF crippling our sport." 

Symmonds, a graduate of Willamette University in Oregon, credits much of the sport's waning popularity to the restrictive regulations on where and how corporations may advertise on an athlete and has gone as far as to say, "these regulations are the biggest problem in our sport today." His strong feelings toward this issue have been covered in recent months by many publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

The auction which began late in the afternoon of Wednesday, January 4th, is a 10 day auction and is set to expire on the afternoon of Saturday, January 14th.

To see the auction, please click this link.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, former University of Washington assistant track coach and Olympic legend Lee Evans underwent successful surgery Tuesday to remove a tumor in his brain.

The 1968 Olympic 400 meter champion, who was living in West Africa for the last four years, was visiting family in California, when he was checked into the hospital complaining of severe headaches.

Because he was living overseas, Evans did not have any health insurance when he was admitted on December 20th. When word of his plight became public, an account and donation page for his was set up to help him pay for his expenses.

The link to the story is here.

You can donate to help the family pay his medical bills here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sarah Porter tunes up for Edinburgh with second place finish at Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in New York...

NEW YORK--In a tune up for Saturday's BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Challenge race, Western Washington grad Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy New York Road Runners) finished second at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in New York's Central Park to bid farewell to 2011 and ring in 2012.

With about 5000 runners dashing through the city's most famous park, Porter, who now trains with the ZAP Fitness group in North Carolina, ran 21:17 to finish behind Stephanie Pezzullo, a North Carolina resident who represents Saucony.

Pezzullo took the victory, pulling away in the last mile to cross the line in 21:05.

The Running Times recap of the race is available here.

In other news, Croatia's Blanka Vlasic, the two time world champion in the high jump, has changed agents, going with Sweden's JRS Sports Management, run by Daniel Wessfeldt, who represents ex-Husky Ingvill Måkestad, Vancouver's Kara Patterson and former WSU standout Ebba Jungmark.

Vlasic leaves Austrian agent Harald Edletzberger.

Vlasic will join Jungmark and fellow Swedish high jumper Emma Green at a training camp in South Africa starting on January 9th in what from the outside appears to be an arrangement similar to Mo Farah training in Oregon with Alberto Salazar's Nike Oregon Project squad.

Here is the link to the story (in Swedish).

Speaking of training camps, former Husky Måkestad is currently in Iten, Kenya on her second stint there after spending part of November training there.

You can read her blog here.

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