Thursday, October 31, 2013

Washington's five NCAA Division I schools begin championship season with conference crowns on the line...

Washington's five NCAA Division I schools begin the road to Terre Haute this weekend as they head out compete at their conference cross country championship meets.

The University of Washington and Washington State University travel to Louisville, Colorado for the Pac-12 championship meet, hosted by the University of Colorado.  The men's 8k race is scheduled for 9:40 am, PST, and the women's 6k is slated for 10:40 am.

While the majority of runners in the field may have done some altitude training at various points, there is a real possibility that racing at a mile-high distance could be troublesome to those not accustomed to it.

On the women's side, USTFCCCA #1 ranked Arizona looks like the clear favorite to win the team title, with Oregon, Stanford, Colorado, Stanford, and Arizona State looking to unseat the nation's number one team, after they convincingly won the Wisconsin adidas meet two weeks ago.

The Huskies will be led by 2011 conference champ Katie Flood (left/photo by Mike Scott), who showed flashes this season of retaining the form that made her one of the country's top collegiate runners.

Washington State will have Ruby Roberts leading the pack, along with Courtney Zalud.

USTFCCCA #1 ranked Colorado looks to defend their conference title at home, and make it a three-peat as Pac-12 champs.  The Buffaloes are coming off a win at the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, led by Blake Theroux and Morgan Pearson.

#4Oregon, #13 Stanford, and the fast-rising #25 Washington Huskies are the teams with the best shot of unseating Colorado as Pac-12 champs.

Washington's Aaron Nelson has had a breakout season, after winning at Sundodger and the Dellinger Invitationals, and placing fourth at Wisconsin.  He looks to lead a Husky squad that's nationally ranked for the first time since 2009, when they last made the NCAA championship meet.

It may be a battle for the Cougs to get out of the conference basement in this year's meet.  They will, however, have 2012 NCAA cross country championship competitor Todd Wakefield leading the squad, though he's had an inconsistent season so far.

The Pac-12 championship meet will be televised on a delayed basis on the Pac-12 Networks on a delayed basis with the first airing on Monday, November 4 at 6:30pm.


Eastern Washington heads back to Bozeman, Montana for Saturday's Big Sky Conference meet at the Bridger Creek Golf Course, hosted by Montana State.

“This is a really exciting week we look forward to each year,” said head coach Chris Zeller, “It will be a real opportunity to see who can step up and push through.”

In last year's meet, the Eagles finished ninth in the men's race, and the women were 11th.

The women's 5k race begins at 9 am, and the men's 8k starts at 10 am.


The Gonzaga Bulldogs head to California to run in the West Coast Conference meet in Malibu at Alumni Park, hosted by Pepperdine University.

On the men's side, the Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs, as they face two of the country's top teams in BYU and defending conference champion Portland.

The women face nationally ranked San Francisco, the conference's four-time defending champion.

The men's 8k race gets underway at 9 am, with the women racing at 10 am.

The WCC meet will be webcast live via YouTube and TheW.tv.


Seattle University will host the Western Athletic Conference meet Saturday at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill, the same venue that hosted the Pac-10, USATF Club Cross Country, and NCAA West Regional championships.

According to Redhawk coach Trisha Steidl, “To be able to bring everyone over here to host this event, and to be the first team to host a WAC championship contest, is important to us. We want it to be great for the other schools, our campus community, and other supporters. Rain or shine, it will be an incredible meet, and it is a spectator-friendly course.”

In the conference pre-championship coaches' poll, SeattleU was picked to finish second in the men’s competition and third in the women’s event. Steidl believes that both teams are ready to go and will be competitive as long as they run like they are capable of.

The men's 8k race gets things started at 9am, with the women's 5k to follow at 10am.


Finally, the four Washington NCAA Division III schools--Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound, Whitman, and Whitworth, compete in Spokane at the Northwest Conference championship meet at the Downriver Golf Course, with the women's 6k underway at 11am, and the men's 8k at noon.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sacramento to host 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships...

USA Track & Field announced Tuesday that the 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be staged at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento on June 26-29.

The announcement marks the return of big-time track & field to the Sacramento area, as it hosted the 2000 and 2004 US Olympic Track & Field Trials, along with the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2003, and 2005-2007 (photo of Washington's Ryan Brown at 2007 NCAA Championships in Sacramento by Paul Merca).

“I’m thrilled to welcome Track & Field back to Sacramento,” said Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA guard.  “Sacramento has some of the most passionate sports fans in the United States and I have no doubt that this community will support the event and the athletes like no other region in the country could.”

The Sacramento Sports Commission will serve as the local organizing committee for the 2014 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, to be held at Cal State University Sacramento’s Hornet Stadium (capacity 21,195). Site of record attendance during the Olympic Trials, the stadium has undergone significant upgrades since the 2004 Olympic Trials including new public entrances, resurfacing of the infield and track, and a new scoreboard.

Numerous track & field insiders attending this year's USA championships in Des Moines had heard rumors that Sacramento was making a push to get back in the big-time track & field game. An agreement by the city to build a $1.2 million, state-of-the-art track to replace the one used for the last two Olympic Trials, helped win the day for the California state capital.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the cost of the track will be put up in part by the Sacramento Tourism Marketing District, and by the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Sacramento Sports Commission will also host with Sacramento State the NCAA Western Regional cross country championships on November 15th at the Haggin Oaks Golf Club.

WESTERN WASHINGTON MOVES TO #16 IN LATEST USTFCCCA NATIONAL POLL

After a strong showing in which they nearly knocked off defending GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage at last week's conference championships, the Western Washington men's cross country team moved six spots up in the national Division II poll of coaches.

The Vikings are ranked #16 in the national poll conducted by the USTFCCCA.

Western State of Gunnison, Colorado is the nation's #1 ranked D2 school, followed by Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado. Grand Valley State in Michigan is ranked #3 in the poll.

The highest ranked GNAC school is conference champ Alaska Anchorage at #9.

No Washington schools are ranked in the national women's cross country poll.  The Division II poll can be accessed here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Steen takes second in GNAC championship race, while Viking men nearly pull upset...

MONMOUTH, Oregon--Western Washington's Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) earned a second place finish in the women's 6k race at the GNAC Cross Country Championship race at the Ash Creek Preserve on the campus of Western Oregon University.

Steen, the junior from Eastlake HS in Sammamish was just seven seconds behind winner and defending champion Susan Tanui of Alaska Anchorage, winning in a time of 20:25, with Steen at 20:32.

Placing in the top ten were the Central Washington duo of Connie Morgan and Dani Eggleston in sixth and seventh, respectively in 20:50 and 20:53.

Alaska Anchorage won the team title with 36 points, with Simon Fraser second at 49, and Seattle Pacific third with 94, just ahead of Western Washington's 112, and Central Washington's 127.  Saint Martin's was a distant tenth at 312.

In the men's 8k race, Isaac Kangogo led a 1-2-3 finish of UAA runners, winning in a time of 24:52.  However, Western Washington's Chip Jackson led five Vikings into the top ten with his fourth place finish in 25:04, as they nearly pulled the upset of Alaska Anchorage, losing the GNAC title by 3 points, 32-35.

Central Washington was sixth at 142, with Seattle Pacific eighth at 225, and Saint Martin's tenth at 254.

Western Washington head coach Pee Wee Halsell said, "Katelyn ran an amazing race, she's just that much stronger this year, and nobody expected that performance from the men, that was pretty cool,"


Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat had a rough day on the Bandon Dunes Golf Course in Bandon, Oregon, as he's in 25th place in the field at the World Speedgolf Championships with a score of 166.26.

Lagat, who finished sixth in the world championships in August in the 5000 meters, shot a round of 118, while completing the round of 18 holes in 48:26.  The total score is the time it takes to finish the course plus your score, which is 166:26

The leader after the first round is Rob Hogan, who shot a 77 while completing the course in 39:39, giving him a score of 116:31.

2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist Nick Willis stands sixth after the first day with a score of 130:20, as he shot an 86 and ran 44:20.

Lagat will tee off at 8:00 am Sunday.

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference and Speedgolf International contributed to this report.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Conference championship awaits state's four NCAA Division II schools Saturday...

It's conference championship time for the state's four Division II schools, as Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's, and Central Washington head to the campus of Western Oregon University for the GNAC championship meet at the Ash Creek Preserve in Monmouth.

On paper, Alaska-Anchorage heads into the conference meet as the overwhelming favorite to pick up another conference crown on both the men's and women's sides, as the Seawolves are ranked #8 and #5, respectively, in the current USTFCCCA national polls.

Western Washington is the only state of Washington school ranked nationally in the USTFCCCA polls, as their men's team is ranked #22, and the women's squad is #32.

The Vikings' Chip Jackson (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) is one of the conference's top returning runners from last year's championship race, where he finished fourth.

The GNAC conference preview of the meet is available here, which includes a link to the meet program.

After the conference championship meet, all four schools return to action on November 9th at the NCAA Division II West Regional meet at the Plantes Ferry sports complex in Spokane Valley, with a return trip to Spokane in two weeks for the NCAA Division II championship meet on the line.

Also happening Saturday and Sunday at the Bandon Dunes Golf Course in Bandon, Oregon is Washington State hall of famer Bernard Lagat's debut at the World Speedgolf Championships.

Lagat, who does not have an official handicap listed in his five years of playing golf, and who has shot an 89 in an official round of 18 holes, will probably have to rely on his running speed to be a legitimate contender.

In an interview with Spikes magazine, Lagat noted that his interest in Speedgolf was piqued by a Twitter conversation I had with him last year about who was a better golfer--him or training partner Abdi Abdirahman.

Also entered in the field is 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, who is an experienced golfer.


Here's two links to stories on University of Washington distance runners Andrew Gardner and Megan Goethals posted from the UW Daily, and ESPNw.

Gardner was part of Husky coach Greg Metcalf's outstanding recruiting class, a group that so far, has helped Washington achieve a national ranking for the first time since 2009 this season.

Goethals is out for the season with a stress fracture in her femur, and is taking classes online in her home of Rochester, Michigan, while helping take care of her mother Diane, who is battling Stage 4 cancer.


The story of Megan Goethals can be read here.

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference contributed to this story.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aretha Thurmond announces retirement from the sport and starts new career at USA Track & Field...

What began as a shout out by her mother Susan Hill on her Facebook page on October 15th ended up as an announcement that University of Washington hall of famer Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) has officially retired from the sport.

Thurmond laughed when I brought that up to her in a telephone conversation from her new home of Indianapolis, where she now works in the international teams department of USA Track & Field.

"I guess you could say that my mom let the cat out of the bag with that post," said Thurmond.

When asked what made the 37-year old decide to call it a career as one of the country's most consistent discus throwers, she said that it began when her long time coach, Jerry Clayton, was considering leaving Auburn University to go elsewhere.

She said that over the last few years, several schools had approached Clayton about coaching at their university, but he opted to stay at Auburn, until the University of Michigan hired the Midwest native to become its next men's head track & field coach in July.

"At this stage in my career I thought that it wouldn't be in the best interest to change coaches if he were to leave Auburn," she said.

After legendary throws coach Ken Shannon retired from coaching following the 2000 Olympiad at the University of Washington, Thurmond moved to Alabama to work with Clayton, regarded by many in the national track and field scene as one of the country's premier throws coaches.

The Renton HS graduate said that before Clayton's decision to accept the Michigan job, it was her intent to compete until 2016.

When asked to reflect upon her competitive career, which included making four US Olympic teams, five world championship teams, winning four USA national titles, two Pan Am Games gold medals, and being named captain of a USA world championships team and the 2012 Olympic team, she said, "Quite honestly, I haven't had time to reflect upon the highs and lows of my career. My hiring at USA Track & Field all happened within a two-week window and it's all very fresh to me the concept of being retired."

"At some point, when things slow down maybe I will have time to reflect upon my career."

She revealed that her husband, former University of Washington throws coach Reedus Thurmond, has recently accepted a position as a throws coach in Qatar.  Her young son Theo will finish the fall semester in Alabama before making the move to Indianapolis.  In the meantime, Aretha said that the first week at her new job has involved acquainting herself with the USATF staff, and trying to figure out a place to live in the Indianapolis area.

In Thurmond's new role working with national teams at USA Track & Field, she will assist athletes and staff of various teams with logistics, uniforms, travel, and team sign ups at various national championship meets, an opportunity that will allow her to stay close to the sport.

She said that her experience working in retail at Lady Foot Locker and Home Depot as part of the Olympic Jobs program, along with her one year working for the Tyee Club at the University of Washington, plus her competitive experience on numerous USA national teams, and volunteer work with USA Track & Field in various capacities, including athletes advisory, and serving on the Board of Directors, will prepare her well for her new position.

This summer, Thurmond traveled with Team USA to the IAAF world track & field championships in Moscow as an athletes' advisory representative and as a member of USATF's Board of Directors.

With her hiring as a staff member, Thurmond resigned her position on the board.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jess Riden named director of operations for UW track & field team...

While the Huskies were in Madison for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational,  University of Washington coach Greg Metcalf put out a message on his Twitter account stating:



Who is Jess Riden?

Riden (left/photo by Mike Scott) comes to the UW from Penn State where she was the director of track & field operations for the men's & women's track & field teams under Beth Alford-Sullivan.

At Penn State, the former Nittany Lion distance runner oversaw numerous administrative duties, including meet management, alumni relations, and overseeing PSU's Officials' Group, along with assisting Alford-Sullivan & the coaching staff with daily tasks involved in running a track & field program.

In a short text exchange with Metcalf, he said that Riden will become the point person for the Huskies' successful series of meets at Dempsey Indoor.

The UW has not posted anything on its athletics web site officially announcing the hire. Riden becomes the second Penn State track & field staffer to join the Huskies, after throws coach TJ Crater left State College in November 2011.

Though associate head coach Jason Drake has done most of the work of an operations director in his role as meet director, Riden's hiring makes her the first operations director of the UW track program.  That position is one that many schools in the Pac-12 have in their track & field/cross country programs, with Washington State, Oregon State, and Utah the only schools in the conference without that position on their staff.

Husky men back in USTFCCCA national rankings for the first time since 2009...

NEW ORLEANS--After this past weekend's Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, and the Wisconsin adidas Invitational meet in Madison, there was a significant move in the USTFCCCA's national Division I coaches' poll, released Tuesday.

On the men's side, the defending Pac-12 champions from the University of Colorado take the number one spot, followed by Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State, Oregon and BYU.

The University of Portland, Wisconsin, Iona, New Mexico, and Columbia round out the national top ten.

Greg Metcalf's University of Washington Huskies are ranked #25 in the poll, after their 15th place finish in Madison. The UW makes it into the national top 30 for the first time since week 5 of the 2009 season, which was the last time the Dawgs ran in the NCAA championship meet.

Stanford is the only other Pac-12 team in the men's national rankings, coming in at #13.

On the women's side, the Huskies' ninth place performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational dropped Washington out of the national top five, as they're now ranked #13 in the coaches' poll.

The top five consists of the University of Arizona, who won the Wisconsin meet, followed by Arkansas, Georgetown, Providence, and Florida State.

Rounding out the top ten are Michigan State, Butler, Iowa State, New Mexico, and Virginia.

Among the other Pac-12 schools in the national rankings, Oregon is ranked #12, Colorado is #16, Stanford is #20, and Arizona State is #16.



NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Washington's Aaron Nelson finishes fourth at Wisconsin adidas Invitational 8k race...

MADISON, Wisconsin--One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2013 collegiate cross country season has been the emergence of Walla Walla native Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Mike Scott) as a force on the national scene.

After winning both the Sundodger and the Bill Dellinger Invitationals, Nelson proved himself at the regional level, but the question many wondered was whether or not he could hold himself up with the big boys of collegiate cross country.

The answer was an emphatic yes, as Nelson finished fourth at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational 8k race against perhaps the deepest field in the country this season, as he clocked 23:26, 14 seconds behind winner Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas.

Nelson got himself positioned in the top 30 in the first half of the race, then made a strong surge in the second half, picking people off as the kilometers went by and passing all but winner Campbell, Harvard's Maksim Korolev, and North Carolina State's Andrew Colley, who had broken away from the field.

Afterwards, UW head coach Greg Metcalf said that Nelson's efforts was one of the best by a men's distance runner in recent memory.

“Aaron ran fantastic; incredibly smart, patient, his last 3k he was running past some of the best distance runners in America.”

Washington finished 15th out of the 35-team field that featured 20 of the nation's top 30 squads.  The Huskies scored 428 points, just behind 28th-ranked Notre Dame, but finishing ahead of eight higher-ranked teams including No. 12 Indiana, No. 14 Texas, No. 30 Arizona State, No. 27 Dartmouth, No. 26 Florida, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 24 Georgetown, and No. 21 UCLA.

Following Nelson on the men’s squad was sophomore Meron Simon who had maybe his best big meet performance according to Metcalf, as he was 84th overall in 24:15. Sophomore Izaic Yorks suited up for the first time today and came through third on the team in 91st-place in 24:18. Junior Aaron Beattie then crossed in 122nd and freshman Andrew Gardner capped the team scoring in 137th-place in 24:32.

Redshirt freshman Blake Nelson had a nice top-seven finish for the Huskies; he was 167th in the huge field in 24:42. Sophomore Tyler King finished at 188th to round out the top-seven. Also running was freshman Sumner Goodwin, who was 222nd overall and sophomore Jacob Smith who was 225th.

Northern Arizona won the meet with 121 points, followed by BYU with 174, and Portland with 216.  Spokane native Nathan Weitz was 39th overall (23:55) to help NAU with the win, while Seattle Prep grad Charlie McDonald was 61st in 24:07.

The UW performance Saturday may get the Dawgs into the USTFCCCA national top 30 when the rankings come out early next week.

The fourth-ranked Husky women's squad had a bit of a rough go over the 6k course, as they finished ninth with 308 points, a big drop from their fourth place finish in last year's meet.

Arizona took the team title with 117 points, followed by Arkansas at 136, and Providence at 191.

NCAA championship meet favorite Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth took the win in 19:31, followed by Providence's Emily Sisson (19:44) and Marielle Hall of Texas (19:46).

Katie Flood led the Huskies with her 23rd place finish in 20:15.  Sophomore Maddie Meyers was the No. 2 Husky in 47th-place in 20:37, just ahead of freshman Amy-Eloise Neale who was 50th in 20:39.

Justine Johnson was critical to the Husky effort, as she was 81st overall in 20:57. Freshmen Kaylee Flanagan and Katie Knight finished up side by side, with Flanagan getting the final scoring spot in 107th-place and Knight finishing 109th. Sophomore Baylee Mires finished the top-seven, as she finished her first ever 6k in 21:31, finishing 157th in a field of nearly 300. Senior Liberty Miller and sophomore Eleanor Fulton had tough days as they finished 185th and 194th, respectively.

“Our women came here to win a cross country race and obviously that didn’t happen, so we can have a much better day and we will,” said Metcalf. “It was the first really big meet for some of our youngsters and I thought we just didn’t go out and engage in the race and challenge the Arizona and Arkansas runners.”


COUGAR MEN, EAGLE WOMEN PREVAIL AT INLAND EMPIRE CLASSIC

In Lewiston, Idaho, Washington State's Andrew Gonzales finished fourth and led the Cougars to the Division I team title at the Inland Empire Classic meet hosted by Lewis-Clark State at the Lewiston Orchards.

Gonzales finished the 8k course in a time of 23:29, as Greg Montgomery won in 23:11, followed by Lewis-Clark State's Sam Atkin in 23:25, and Andrew Kimpel, who only has track eligibility left at WSU, third in 23:27.

Todd Wakefield crossed the finish line in 23:43 to take sixth overall. Following were Forrest Shaffer ninth (24:00), John Whelan 10th (24:06), Lee George 17th (24:27), and Jackson Haselnus 30th (24:57).

The Cougar men wrapped the meet with 24 points. The team finished ahead of Gonzaga (39) and Eastern Washington (63).

Gonzaga's Willie Milam was their top finisher in 23:41, while Chris Schroll was Eastern Washington's top runner in 12th in 24:13.

In a bit of an upset, the Eastern Washington women won the team title, scoring 26 points to upend Washington State (33), Gonzaga (65) and Idaho (99).

Hillary Holt of the College of Idaho was the overall winner in 16:42 over the 5k course, followed by Washington State's Ruby Roberts (16:58), and Spokane CC's Jessica Mildes (17:06).

The Eagles were led by Katie Mahoney's 4th place finish in 17:17.  Following Mahoney were Sarah Reiter (17:32), Berenice Penaloza (17:35), Paula Gil Echvarria (17:42), and Caite Arrigoni (17:50).

Gonzaga, which held out several runners, was led by Maggie Jones, who finished 16th in a time of 17:50.


EMERALD CITY OPEN

In Seattle, Club Northwest's Kimber Lemon won the women's 6k race at the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle University at Lower Woodland Park in 22:02, followed by teammate Kristi Houk in 22:15, and the University of Washington's Megan Morgan in 22:17.

SeattleU's Lauren Hammerle was fourth in 22:20.

Colby Gilbert, a UW runner competing unattached, won the men's 8k race in 25:21, followed by SeattleU alum Matthew McClement in 25:26, and Washington's Nick Harris in 25:38.

Nathan McLaughlin was SeattleU's top runner in 11th in 26:15.


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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Huskies head to Madison for Wisconsin adidas Invite, while other squads stay close to home...

The University of Washington cross country teams travel to Madison, Wisconsin for Saturday's Wisconsin adidas Invitational at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course, one of the country's few cross country specific race venues.

The Husky women, currently ranked #4 in the current USTFCCCA coaches' poll, is one of five top-10 teams racing the 6k distance, and one of 18 squads in the national top-30.

Washington won the women’s team title back in 2011 led by a seventh-place finish from Katie Flood (left/photo by Paul Merca), who aims for another strong effort on Saturday. Last season the women finished fourth in another excellent field. Seniors Justine Johnson and Liberty Miller will be on board, both looking to get rolling after missing some time with some aches and pains. Sophomores Eleanor Fulton, Maddie Meyers, and Baylee Mires will travel, along with freshmen Katie Knight, Kaylee Flanagan, and Amy-Eloise Neale, who led UW at Dellinger two weeks ago in her collegiate debut.

The men's squad, led by Aaron Nelson, looks to jump over some ranked squads and put themselves in the national conversation when it comes time to select the at-large teams for the national championship meet in Terre Haute, Indiana next month. Twenty of the top 30 teams are appearing in Madison, led by #3 Northern Arizona, #5 BYU, #6 Arkansas, #7 Portland, and #8 Columbia.  Arizona, No. 30 Arizona State, and UCLA will also be on hand for the 8k race.

Besides Nelson, Washington will run a lineup of junior Aaron Beattie, sophomores Tyler King, Meron Simon and Jacob Smith, redshirt freshman Blake Nelson, and true freshmen Andrew Gardner and Sumner Goodwin. Also suiting up for the first time will be sophomore Izaic Yorks, who has run unattached at the past two races.

Several Huskies who aren't making the trip to Madison will run in Saturday's Emerald City Invitational, hosted by Seattle University at Lower Woodland Park, with a 6k for women at 10:30 am, and the men racing 8k at 11:15 am.

Three of the four Washington NCAA Division II schools will take this weekend off and prep for next weekend's GNAC championship meet at Western Oregon, with only Saint Martin's in action, as they'll compete in Seattle at the Emerald City Invitational meet.

Washington State, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington will all travel to Lewiston, Idaho for Saturday's Inland Empire Classic, with the women racing 5k and the men racing 8k.

IS PORTLAND LOOKING TO HOST THE 2016 WORLD INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS?

According to a story posted by friend of the blog Ken Goe of OregonLive.com, there's a move by a group led by former Oregon head track coach Vin Lananna to bid for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships and stage it in Portland.

In a separate story posted by the Daily Telegraph, Birmingham, England was originally the only city willing to bid for the event, but the IAAF allowed USA Track & Field some extra time to submit a bid.

Both Birmingham and Portland will put together a presentation to the IAAF Council on November 15th.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the proposed venue for the World Indoors is the Moda Center (formerly known as the Rose Garden), which is owned by Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, though the Memorial Coliseum and the Oregon Convention Center are also being mentioned as a proposed site for the meet.


NOTE:  The University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle University, and the University of Wisconsin contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WWU's Chip Jackson leads Vikes to perfect team score at WWU Classic...

BELLINGHAM--Western Washington University won the men's competition with just the fourth perfect score in meet history and placed sixth in the women's division at the 40th Viking Classic held Saturday at Lake Padden Park.

Canadian Luc Bruchet was the overall winner of the men's 10k race with a time of 30:57, followed by Point Grey TC teammate Keir Forster in 31:41.  

Western's Chip Jackson (left/photo courtesy WWU Sports Information) was the first collegian across the line in fifth in 32:03, with Nathan Richards 6th in 32:15, Tanner Boyd 7th in 32:18, Dylan Peterson 8th in 32:22, and Isaac Griffith 9th in 32:23.

British Columbia was second with 60 followed by Trinity Western with 85.

Central Washington was 4th in the field with 181 points, led by Rudy Spencer, who was 18th in 32:50.

In the women's 6k, the Greater Bellingham RC won by a three-point margin over Simon Fraser 75-78, with Trinity Western third at 80.

Western Washington was sixth with 139, and Central Washington was 8th with 181.

Sarah Inglis of Trinity Western won in 21:31, with teammate Alison Jackson second in 21:48.

The Vikings' top finisher was Katelyn Steen in fifth at 22:04.

Connie Morgan was the Wildcats' top finisher in 13th at 22:33.



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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nieto Hollas at Thurmond; Taiwo blogs about Moscow & light cross country weekend...

Retired high jumper Jamie Nieto (left/photo by Mike Scott), who spent his early childhood in the Seattle area before moving to Sacramento, then on to Eastern Michigan, before making the 2004 and 2012 US Olympic teams, has kept himself busy by working as an actor and as a producer of short films and videos, through his production company, Raising The Bar Entertainment.

One of Nieto's projects is a series of interviews with leading track and field athletes called "Holla Atcha Boy".

In the latest segment of "Holla Atcha Boy", he interviews University of Washington and Renton HS alum Aretha Thurmond, and asks her questions about last year's Olympics, how she's managed to compete at a world class level for all of these years, and advice to give youngsters looking to compete in track and field.

Courtesy of Nieto, here's his interview with Thurmond.


Readers are encouraged to visit jamienieto.com and view the archive of interviews with many of the world's top track and field stars.

Although his world championship experience didn't end the way he wanted it to, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo blogs about his experience with Team USA, beginning with the training camp in Linz, Austria, all the way to Moscow.

On the final day of competition at Luzhniki Stadium, Taiwo sat near the coaches' area on the backstretch to watch the finals of the men's triple jump, an event that his father Joseph competed in as a two-time Olympian and a world championships finalist in Rome in 1987, where he finished sixth.

After France's Teddy Tamgho joined the 18-meter and 59-foot clubs with his 59-2 1/4 (18.04m) jump, Tamgho's coach suddenly found himself swamped by journalists wanting to know his reaction to his athlete's big jump, when Taiwo, who was sitting behind him during the competition, realized that the coach didn't speak French, but was speaking Spanish.

Taiwo found himself translating questions from the French media sitting by Tamgho's coach, who turned out to be none other than former Olympic champion Ivan Pedroso from Cuba.


Finally, it's a light weekend for Washington's Division I and II cross country squads, with only Central Washington and Western Washington in action Saturday at the WWU Invitational at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham, with the women's 6k starting at 10 am, and the men's 10k an hour later.

For the Vikings, this will be the final tune-up race before the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship meet on October 26th.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

AROUND THE TRACK: Ex-Husky Jake Schmitt gets 7th in marathon debut: UW women ranked #4...

University of Washington grad Jake Schmitt (left/2008 file photo by Paul Merca) earned a qualifying time for the 2016 US Olympic marathon trials with his seventh place finish at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota on October 6th.

Running in his debut, Schmitt, who currently lives in San Francisco, ran 2:15:09 as he was part of a group of ten athletes in the lead group.  Shortly after the half marathon mark, a group of five broke away, with Schmitt part of a second group of three chasing the leaders.

Nick Arciniaga from Flagstaff, Arizona took the victory in 2:13:11, with Josphat Boit second three seconds behind, and former Oregon standout Shadrack Biwott third in 2:13.26.

The UW alum earned $3000 for his seventh place finish, which served as the USA national championship race at this distance.

Seattle's Uli Steidl finished second in the men's master's race in 2:25:01.


After a big weekend of racing across the country, the University of Washington women's cross country team moved back into the top five in the latest USTFCCCA national cross country poll.

The Huskies are currently ranked #4 after winning the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Saturday in Springfield, Oregon, after defeating previously ranked #5 Oregon on its home course.

Providence remains the #1 team in the nation, followed by Florida State, Arizona, Washington and Georgetown.

Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 30 include Oregon (#6), Stanford (#11), and Colorado (#12).

The men's national top five are Oklahoma State, Colorado, Northern Arizona, Oregon, and BYU.

Other Pac-12 teams in the top 30 include UCLA at #21, #29 Stanford, and #30 Arizona State, with the Huskies receiving a vote.



Washington next competes at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational on October 19th in Madison.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Add Angela Bizzarri to the Brooks Beasts mix!


In a post on Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey's Twitter account, he announced that University of Illinois alum Angela Bizzari (above, with new teammate Brie Felnagle at 2012 Nike Prefontaine Classic/photo by Paul Merca) will make the move to Seattle and run as part of his group.

Bizzari was a three-time NCAA champion, winning crowns over 5000 meters outdoors, 3000 meters indoors, and the 2009 cross country title.

Bizzarri finished third in the 2011 USA Championships in the 5000m, running her personal best of 15:16.04 in Eugene.  She didn't get to go to the world championships in Daegu, as she was just short of the A standard of 15:14.00, which winner Molly Huddle had, along with eighth placer Lauren Fleshman.  Under the 2011 IAAF world championships qualifying rules, countries were allowed two A standard athletes and one B standard athlete, which meant second place finisher Amy Hastings got the nod.

In 2010, Bizzarri was fifth in the 5000 at the USA championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

When Bizzarri turned pro after the 2010 collegiate season at Illinois, she was coached by Terrance Mahon at the Mammoth Track Club in California, and signed a sponsorship deal with Brooks.

According to Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey, she was injured for most of the 2012 season, though she competed at the US Olympic Trials in the 5000, running 16:05.01 in the semis, where she was 11th in her heat.  When Mahon left the Mammoth TC to take a coaching position with the British federation, she moved to San Diego, where she was coached by former Columbia University coach Jon Clemens.

The current training group consists of Brooks-sponsored runners Katie Mackey, Deborah Maier, Jamie Cheever and Jessica Tebo, along with Nike runners Phoebe Wright, Erica Moore & Lindsay Allen, and adidas runner Brie Felnagle.

On the men's side, the group consists of Cas Loxsom, Mark Wieczorek, Riley Masters, and Matt Scherer.


In an email, Mackey said that he's allowed non-Brooks runners like Felnagle and Allen to train with the team this past season because their presence has helped the group dynamics.

Monday, October 7, 2013

800m runner Phoebe Wright & steepler Jamie Cheever make move to Seattle...

Seattle's elite middle distance running scene just got interesting with the announcement on various social media outlets that University of Tennessee alum Phoebe Wright and University of Minnesota alum Jamie Cheever will move to Seattle to train under Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey.

Wright (left/photo courtesy USA Track & Field), who is currently sponsored by Nike, comes to Seattle with a personal best over 800 meters of 1:58.22 set in 2010.  She won the 2011 USA indoor championship at 800, and won the 2010 NCAA indoor and outdoor titles at Tennessee.

At the 2012 US Olympic Trials, she was third with 100 meters to go, and finished fifth in 1:59.72.

This season, Wright didn't finish the semis at the USA championships in Des Moines. but ran a season best of 2:00.20 in Lignano, Italy on July 16th.


Cheever (above/photo by Mike Scott) had her most successful season in 2013 as she finished fourth in the USA national championships in the steeplechase, running 9:53.01.  She comes to Seattle with a personal best of 9:29.13, set this spring at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford.   Cheever, who ran for Team USA Minnesota before making the move to the Pacific Northwest, was tenth at the USA Cross Country Championships in St. Louis in February.

The two join a training group that includes Katie Mackey, Jessica Tebo, Deborah Maier, Lindsey Allen, and Brie Felnagle.

UPDATE--Wright also posted on her Twitter account shortly after the original post that her training partner, Erica Moore, will also make the move to Seattle.

Moore is a graduate of Indiana State University, where she started out as a heptathlete and a hurdler before going to the 800 meters.

Moore, who is also sponsored by Nike, has a personal best outdoors of 2:00.05, set in 2012.  Her most significant achievement was a third place finish in the 800 at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, where she ran 1:59.97.  She was the 2012 USA indoor champ, beating Wright, 2:01.08 to 2:03.07 in Albuquerque.  

AROUND THE TRACK:  With the resignation of 1976 Olympic discus gold medalist Mac Wilkins in late August from Concordia College in Portland to take a coaching position at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, Marysville-Pilchuck HS alum and two-time US Olympian Jarred Rome was named to replace Wilkins.

In addition to his coaching duties at Concordia, Rome will manage the Concordia University Throw Center, which under Wilkins' guidance, has become a haven for many of the country's top throwers to train.

Speaking of the US Olympic Training Center, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo, who is currently rehabbing after surgery to repair a meniscus tear in the knee he injured in Moscow at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, announced on his blog that he's been accepted into the residency program at the USOTC in Chula Vista.

Taiwo will move to Chula Vista in November where he will train full-time.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Aaron Nelson and prep Alexa Efraimson win Dellinger Invite, while #7 UW women take team title...

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon--Walla Walla native Aaron Nelson (above/photo courtesy University of Washington) was a surprising winner of the men's 8k race at the Bill Dellinger Invitational hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Golf Club.

After staying with the lead pack, Nelson pulled away from heralded Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek, and multiple All-Americans Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson to win in a time of 23:55 over the 8,000-meter course.

The host Ducks took the team title with 32 points, ahead of a surprising Boise State squad in second with 39 points, followed by the Huskies in third at 87 points.

Former Seattle Prep standout Drew O'Donoghue-McDonald, competing for Boise State, finished seventh, just ahead of Gonzaga's Willie Milam, as they both clocked 24:23.

The next group of Huskies all came across in a pack between the 25th and 30th spots. Junior Aaron Beattie was first up in 25th-place in 24:48. Sophomore Tyler King was four seconds after Beattie in 26th. Sophomore Meron Simon was 28th in 24:56, then the freshman duo of Andrew Gardner and Sumner Goodwin finished 29th and 30th in 24:57 and :58. Redshirt freshman Blake Nelson (33), sophomore Jacob Smith (35), and sophomore Tim Cummings (37) all had top-40 finishes as well.

Washington’s depth was even more impressive than its final score indicated, as two unattached Huskies also finished in the top-20. Sophomore Izaic Yorks was 15th overall in a time of 24:36, and true freshman Colby Gilbert was 20th in 24:43.

For the Zags, Nick Roche in 17th (24:40), Kyle Branch in 42nd (25:15), Troy Fraley in 45th (25:23), and Matt Crichlow in 50th (25:31) rounded out their scorers, as they finished fifth with 121 points.

According to the release from Gonzaga University, their two best runners, senior Brent Felnagle and sophomore Conor McCandless, have been ruled out for the WCC championship meet. They have been sidelined all fall with injuries and will redshirt according to coach Pat Tyson.

SeattleU was tenth in the 11-team field with 274 points, led by Gus Arroyo's 72nd place finish in 26:08.

Courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com, here's a video interview with Nelson:


In the women's 5k race, the collegians were surprised by Camas HS junior Alexa Efraimson, as the bronze medalist in the 1500m at the IAAF World Youth Championships this summer out kicked Boise State's Emma Bates to win in 16:35.

Competing in her first race in a Washington uniform, freshman Amy-Eloise Neale took third in 16:48, followed by Katie Flood in fifth in 16:54.

Katie Knight and Maddie Meyers went 9-10 in 17:06, followed by Gonzaga alum Lindsey Drake in 11th in 17:09.

Eleanor Fulton rounded out the Washington scorers in 13th in 17:18, as the Dawgs took the team title ahead of Oregon, 30-52, with Boise State third at 63.

Gonzaga was seventh with 186 points, led by Lauren Bergam's 24th place finish in 17:39.

SeattleU was eighth with 223 points, as senior Lauren Hammerle led the Redhawks across the line in 40th place in a time of 17:59.


In Salem, Oregon, the Seattle Pacific women took second in the 5K Cardinal race at the Charles Bowles Invitational hosted by Willamette University with 94 points, just behind defending GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage, who scored a low of 34 points.

The Falcons were led by Sarah Macdonald's 12th place finish in 18:23, followed by Anna Patti in 13th at 18:25.

Whitworth was sixth with 139 points, with the University of Puget Sound ninth at 225.  Whitman was 11th at 327 points, while Pacific Lutheran was 14th at 398, and Saint Martin's 17th in the 18-team field with 541.

Michaela Freeby of Willamette won the race in 17:31.

In the men's Cardinal 8k race,  Alaska Anchorage took the team title in a runaway, scoring 30 points.

The University of Puget Sound was fifth with 162, with Seattle Pacific ninth at 231, Whithworth 13th at 299, Saint Martin's 14th at 300, and Pacific Lutheran 16th with 388 points.

PLU's Alan DenAdel finished eighth in 25:04, while Joshua Seekatz was UPS's top runner in 11th at 25:16.

Turner Wiley led Seattle Pacific in 16th at 25:29.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and Willamette University contributed to this report.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Mixed bag of results for Cougars, Eagles, and Wildcats in Friday harrier action...

It was a mixed bag of results for teams from Washington State, Eastern Washington, and Central Washington, as they were in action on Friday.

In Sacramento, Washington State's Ruby Roberts (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished 17th at the NCAA inter-Regional Jamboree, as she ran 17:20 over the 5k Haggin Oaks Golf Complex to lead the Cougars to a tenth place team finish.

Following Roberts were CharLee Linton 43rd (17:44), Courtney Zalud 57th (17:56), Kiah Condos 80th (18:18), Abby Knight 85th (18:22), Abby Regan 96th (18:33), and Emily Dwyer 115th (18:53). California’s Kelsey Santisteban won the race in a time of 16:23.

The Cougars finished with 263 points behind UCLA (77), Cal Poly (78), UC Davis (88), Sacramento State (102), California (145), Oregon State (145), UC Santa Barbara (198), UC Riverside (228), and Nevada (254). A total of 19 schools competed in the 5000m race.


In South Bend, Indiana, it was a tough go for both the Cougar men's squad and both Eastern Washington teams at the Notre Dame Invitational.

In the Blue race, the Cougs' Andrew Gonzales placed 39th in 25:09 followed by John Whelan 80th (25:38)), Todd Wakefield 98th (25:47), Forrest Shaffer 103rd (25:50), and Conner Johnsen 183rd, (27:02). Lee George and Jackson Haselnus did not finish the race. WSU finished 20th with 485 points, as Columbia took the team title with 113.

UTEP’s Anthony Rotich won the race in 24:19.

Eastern Washington finished 27th in the Blue section with 705 points. Sophomore Vince Hamilton was the top finisher for EWU, placing 116th with a time of 25:58. Freshman Alex Kimsey was 120th in 26:02. Following for the Eagles was Chris Schroll  (139th, 26:15), Steven Kutsch (189th, 27:11), Isaac Kitzan (190th, 27:12) and Stephen Bottoms (192th, 27:13).

In the women's Gold section, the Eagles tied with Eastern Illinois for a 12th-place finish out of 26 teams in the gold section, scoring 320 points. They were led for the second straight meet by Montana State transfer Sarah Reiter, who covered the 5,000-meter course in 18:37 to place 41st overall. Team captain Berenice Penaloza followed closely, finishing 46th in a time of 18:43. Sophomore Katie Mahoney ran 18:50 to place 59th.

Rounding out the scoring for the Eagles was Catie Arrigoni (84th, 19:11) and Paula Gil-Echevarria (95th, 19:18). Mayra Chavez dropped from the competition due to an ankle injury.

Southern Illinois (52) and Grand Valley State (63) were the top two teams in the women’s gold section. Courtney Frerichs of UM-Kansas City (17:19) took the win.  In the prestigious Blue race, Juliet Bottorff of Duke won in 16:44, as Florida State took the team title with 77 points.


In Missoula, Montana, junior Rudy Spencer led the Central Washington University men for the fourth time in as many meets, and sophomore Dani Eggleston edged teammate Connie Morgan for the top women's finish at the University of Montana Open cross country meet.

The CWU men and women both finished fourth of six teams in the meet. The Wildcats were the lone school from outside the state of Montana to compete in the meet, as Division I schools Montana and Montana State also participated, as did GNAC foe Montana State Billings and NAIA members Carroll and Rocky Mountain.

Montana State cruised to both team titles, scoring five of the top six individual finishes in the men's race while posting four top-five finishes on the women's side.

Spencer finished 19th overall in the eight-kilometer race with a time of 26:45 to lead the Wildcats, as Trevor Polson of Montana State won in 25:23.

Eggleston beat out Morgan by just one second in the women's race, placing 12th overall in a time of 22:47. Morgan crossed in 22:48, one place behind.  Heather Demorest of Montana State won in 21.10 over the 6k course.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Washington State, and Notre Dame contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eight of nine Washington D1/D2 schools in action Friday and Saturday...

Eight of the nine Washington Division I & II schools are back in competition Friday and Saturday at various venues around the country.

Washington State will split their teams on Friday, with the women's squad flying down to Sacramento for the NCAA Inter-Regional Jamboree meet, hosted by Sacramento State at Haggin Oaks Golf Course.  The women will run over a 5 k course, where they will see Pac-12 squads from Oregon State, Cal, USC & UCLA, along with nationally ranked San Francisco.

The Washington State men, led by senior Andrew Gonzales (left/photo by Paul Merca) along with both Eastern Washington squads head east to South Bend, Indiana for Friday's Notre Dame Invitational

WSU and Eastern Washington are entered in the Blue Division 5 mile race where they will face nationally ranked teams from Colorado State (#16), Columbia (#30), Florida State (#26), New Mexico (#21), Notre Dame (#22), Tulsa (#7), Virginia (#24), and Princeton (#9).

The Eagle women's squad is entered in the Gold Division 5k race with Butler University at #20 the only nationally ranked team in the field, as most of the top teams are in the Blue Division race.

Central Washington travels east to Missoula, Montana to run in the Montana Invitational in Missoula.

In Springfield, Washington, Gonzaga, and Seattle University face their toughest test Saturday at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon.

In the men's 8k race, they'll square off against the nationally ranked Oregon Ducks (#4) and the Portland Pilots (#8).

Gonzaga and SeattleU will see two nationally ranked teams in #7 Washington and  #5 Oregon in the women's 5k.

Just north of Springfield, Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin's will race at the Charles Bowles Invitational in Salem hosted by Willamette University.  They will see conference opponents Northwest Nazarene, Western Oregon, and Alaska Anchorage.  The men will race over 8k, while the women race over 5k.

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