Sunday, June 29, 2014

Loxsom and Mackey earn podium finishes for Brooks Beasts on final day of USA championships...

SACRAMENTO--Back when the Brooks Beasts were formed in 2013, one of the big hopes that many of the sports marketing folks of the Seattle-based company had for the team was that someday, people in the Seattle community would embrace the team in the same way that the city embraces the other professional sports teams.

While it may be unrealistic at this point for the Beasts to be like the city's pro squads, they may have taken a big step on a hot day in Sacramento on the final day of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Cal State Sacramento.

In the men's 800, Penn State alum Cas Loxsom, who took a chance on his pro career by moving to Seattle after graduation to train under Beasts coach Danny Mackey, finished second behind winner Duane Solomon, running 1:45.97 to Solomon's 1:44.30.

A conversation paulmerca.blogspot.com with Brooks sports marketing manager Jesse Williams Saturday proved prophetic, as Williams stated that throughout the rounds, Loxsom gained more and more self confidence, partly due to being around 2013 world championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds, who is a member of the Beasts.

In the final, Loxsom took a chance and tucked in behind Solomon, with Solomon going through 400 at 49.66, and Loxsom the only other to break 50, with 51.04 the split for eventual third place finisher Erik Sowinski.

Solomon went through 600 in about 1:16, with Loxsom behind, and his willingness to go with Solomon was rewarded with his runner-up finish.

“I’m so happy. I really held off on trying to close until the last 70. We had talked about if it was real hard to kind of back off and have something left at the end. It's one of the best track and field moments of my career so far and I’m really happy with it,” said Loxsom.

In the women's 1500, University of Washington alum Katie Mackey got the Brooks Beasts its second podium finish, as she took a solid third in a time of 4:07.70, behind winner Jenny Simpson (4:04.96),  and runner-up Mary Cain (4:06.30).

Like Loxsom, Mackey stayed near the front and stayed out of trouble for most of the race, maintaining contact with the leaders.

In other events, former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral, who has relocated to the East Coast, finished third in the 3000 steeplechase, running 8:20.04.

Washington alum and American record holder Brad Walker finished fifth in the pole vault, clearing 18-0 1/2 (5.50m).

Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson finished fifth in the 400 hurdles, running 50.24.

Complete results from the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are available here.

In Moncton, New Brunswick, University of Washington alum Kyle Nielsen placed third in the javelin at the Canadian Track & Field Championships on Saturday.

Nielsen launched a throw of 243-1 (74.11m).


In Birmingham, England, current Husky and reigning Pac-12 champ Jax Thoirs finished eighth in the British national track & field championships in the pole vault Sunday, clearing a best of 17-2 3/4 (5.25m).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rainier Beach HS alum Michael Berry takes sixth in USA champs at 400 meters...

SACRAMENTO--On a hot day in the California state capital city, it was a light day of action for athletes with ties to the state of Washington as the fourth day of competition at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships concluded at Hornet Stadium.

Oregon grad and Rainier Beach HS alum Michael Berry (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished sixth in the finals of the 400 meters in 45.12, as the Seattle native began showing the effects of the long collegiate season.

Gil Roberts powered to the victory in 44.53.

In other finals involving Washington based athletes, Spokane native Britney Henry was fifth in the hammer at 226-1 (68.93m).

The men's high jump saw Curtis HS grad Dakarai Hightower, who attends Lane Community College in Eugene finish in a tie for ninth at 7-2 1/2 (2.20m).

In the men's 1500 finals, Garrett Heath of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts led early, but faded to ninth in 3:40.28.  Teammate Riley Masters was seventh in 3:40.05.

University Place resident Andrea Geubelle was ninth in the women's long jump at 20-5 1/4 (6.23m).

In one of two semifinal races, Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson finished fourth in his heat to advance to Sunday's final in the 400 hurdles, running 50.54.

The USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships conclude Sunday.

The ageless Bernard Lagat claims yet another USA national title...

SACRAMENTO--Different age, same results.

Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat (above/photo by Paul Merca) won yet another USA national championship in the 5000 meters, using his patented sit-let the other guys do the work-and kick tactic to win going away in 13:31.41 Friday night at  Hornet Stadium on the campus of Cal State Sacramento.

The 39-year old was in a group of about six at the front as the pace started off moderately, then gradually picked up as the race went on.

With about a mile to go, Andrew Bumbalough decided he'd had enough of the slow pace and took to the front, going with laps of 65-66 seconds, before dropping to 61 seconds on the penultimate lap.

As everyone who's raced Lagat has found out the hard way, 61 seconds isn't going to cut it, as he answered with a 54.76 last 400 to take the victory.

“I feels so good. I came over here and have been training really well. I didn’t run really well at the Prefontaine so I vowed to come back and had to races before here because I needed the races.

“The training I’ve done, if it had been 64–64 (seconds) it would have been okay, but it was 66–67. It was slow. I knew it was going to be a tactical race. I had to know where everybody was and stay out of trouble. I felt really good going into the last 800 meters.”

In other action Friday night:

--WSU alum Jeshua Anderson qualified for the semis of the 400 hurdles, running 50.54;

--Former Bellingham resident and 2012 Olympian Donn Cabral had the second fastest time in the 3000 steeple, running 8:34.77;

--In one of the most anticipated head-to-head matches of the meet, Camas HS junior Alexa Efraimson was a non-factor in the same heat as Mary Cain, with Cain finishing third in 4:09.08, and Efraimson seventh in 4:12.89.

Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts was second in the other heat of the 1500, running 4:09.89 to move on to the Sunday finals; 

--Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry of the University of Oregon qualified for the finals in the men's 400, running 45.43; 

--Brooks Beasts Jessica Tebo and Angela Bizzari were 10th and 11th in the 5000 in 15:43.84 and 15:59.02; 

--In the men's 800 semis, Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts had the second fastest time in 1:45.80, with teammate Mark Wieczorek finishing fifth in his heat in 1:48.16.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Vancouver's Kara Patterson wins fifth national title in javelin...

SACRAMENTO--Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) is back.

The graduate of Skyview HS in Vancouver, on the comeback trail after surgery on her left knee after the 2012 London Olympics, won her fifth career USA national title, throwing 204-10 (62.43m) on the first full day of competition at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Cal State Sacramento.

The two time US Olympian opened with a toss of 185-11 (56.67m) then followed with a throw of 196-2 (59.79m) to take the lead in round two.  

After Brittany Borman took the lead from her in the third stanza with a personal best of 203-7 (62.05m), Patterson retook the lead with her eventual winning toss of 204-10 (62.43m) to seal the victory.

In the finals, Borman fouled twice before throwing 198-7 in the sixth round, while Patterson threw over the 200-foot stripe on her final attempt, getting the spear out 204-4 (62.28m).

Patterson, who announced that she and Idaho alum and national class shot/discus thrower Russ Winger are engaged, stated that she will throw in at least four meets this summer--Lausanne, Harry Jerome in Burnaby, Lucerne, and Monaco.

On the bulky brace that she's worn all season to protect her left knee, she will continue to wear it until the end of this season. 

In other finals, Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama finished fourth in the triple jump (44-2, 13.46m), the same mark as defending champ Andrea Geubelle of University Place for fifth.

Sequim HS grad Stephanie Dinius was seventh in the women's 10000 in 32:56.14, while Bellingham native Jake Riley was ninth in the men's 10000 in 29:06.07.

Western Washington's duo of Katie Reichert (159-1, 48.50m) and Bethany Drake (155-8, 47.44m) are 13th and 15th overall in the javelin.

Those who advanced in qualifying Thursday included Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry in the 400 (45.43); Riley Masters (3:43.02) and Garrett Heath (3:44.98) of the Brooks Beasts in the men's 1500; Cas Loxsom (1:47.92) and Mark Wieczorek (1:47.62) of the Brooks Beasts in the 800.



The USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships continue at Hornet Stadium until Sunday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The show goes on--USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships get underway Wednesday...

With 2014 a non-Olympic/world championships year, there is very little incentive for athletes with Washington ties to make the trip to Sacramento for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that begin Wednesday with the shot put on the grounds of the California state capitol, and the meet proper on Thursday through Sunday at Hornet Stadium (photo courtesy USA Track & Field)

…unless you're using the meet as a springboard to getting into better meets on the summer European circuit, you've missed the last five national championships with injuries like Jessica Tebo, or you're looking to mix it up with the big boys and girls of track & field in this country, like collegians Derrick Daigre, Liberty Miller, Bethany Drake, and Katie Reichert.

And oh yes, this is a big deal for the city of Sacramento, which put up some money to have the track at Hornet Stadium, site of the 2000 & 2004 US Olympic Track & Field Trials, and a slew of NCAA track & field championships, resurfaced.  USA Track & Field is dangling the 2017 national championships as a carrot for the city if it can get a decent crowd these next five days.  Sacramento wants to prove that the national championships deserve to go to other places in the USA besides Eugene and Des Moines, and that it's moved on from the disappointment of losing out the 2008 Olympic Trials to Eugene.

Three athletes with Washington ties--5000 runner Bernard Lagat, pole vaulter Brad Walker, and triple jumper Andrea Geubelle--roll into Sacramento as defending champions in their events.

There is one other storyline going into the national championships, and that's in the women's 1500 where Camas HS junior Alexa Efraimson is entered as a prologue to next week's USA junior championships and the big showdown with fellow teen Mary Cain, who skipped her senior year of high school this year and turned pro.  Both are entered in Sacramento.

Here are the list of athletes with Washington ties entered in the meet:

MEN

400 Michael Berry
800 Mark Wieczorek, Cas Loxsom, Derrick Daigre
1500 Garrett Heath, Riley Masters, (Jordan McNamara scratch)
5000 Bernard Lagat*, Riley Masters
10000 Jake Riley
400H Jeshua Anderson
3000 ST Donn Cabral
PV Brad Walker*

WOMEN

800 Phoebe Wright, Erica Moore
1500 Brie Felnagle, Alexa Efraimson, Katie Mackey, Angela Bizzarri
5000 Katie Mackey, Jessica Tebo, Angela Bizzarri
10000 Stephanie Dinius
100H Ginnie Crawford (entered/qualified, not declared)
3000 ST Liberty Miller
LJ Andrea Geubelle
TJ Andrea Geubelle*, Blessing Ufodiama
HT Britney Henry
JT Kara Patterson, Bethany Drake, Katie Reichert

One of the most notable athletes missing is Nick Symmonds of the Brooks Beasts, who is nursing a minor injury.


Portions of the meet will be televised as follows -- Friday, beginning at 7 p.m. on NBCSN; Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. on NBCSN and at 3 p.m. on Universal Sports; on Sunday, beginning at noon on Universal Sports and at 1 p.m. on NBCSN. All portions of the meet not on television will be live streamed at USATF.TV.

One other note--the decathlon and heptathlon portions of the USA junior championships will be held Wednesday and Thursday in conjunction with the senior championships.  Holy Names HS grad CeCe Jackson, competing for Portland State University is entered in the heptathlon.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be on site for the national championships beginning Thursday.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Alexa Efraimson tunes up for possible showdown with Mary Cain by winning 800 at Brooks PR meet...

RENTON--Camas HS standout Alexa Efraimson (left/photo by Paul Merca), fresh off a tenth place finish at last week's IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York, tuned up for a possible showdown with Mary Cain by winning the 800 meters at the Brooks PR Invitational meet at Renton Stadium.

After what appeared to be a slower than normal start, partly due to the wind on the backstretch, Efraimson, the national record holder indoors at 3000 meters, powered away to a national prep-leading time of 2:03.26, winning by nearly three seconds over Hannah Parker from New Hampshire (2:06.12), and University of Washington commit Rose Christen of Central Kitsap HS (2:06.35).

Efraimson said afterwards, "We were able to take it out in the pace I wanted in the first 400, and then it was a race for the finish.  If feels really good to have a new PR with great competition."

In the girls' mile, Washington commit Anna Maxwell from San Lorenzo Valley HS in California  finished third in 4:44.07, while fellow Husky commit Megan Beauchane from Kamiakin HS was eighth in 4:52.06.

Another Husky commit, Hannah Derby from Bellarmine Prep HS in Tacoma, was fourth in the 400 in 57.69.

On the boy's side, Husky commit Drew Schreiber was fifth in the mile in 4:09.28, while future Dawg and California state 3200m champ Fred Huxham was ninth in 4:10.53.

Washington State commit Jonnie Green from Ephrata was fifth in the 100 meters in a wind-aided 10.63.

In the day's first event, Northport HS from New York came close to taking down the long-standing national record in the 4 x 1 mile relay, as they ran 17:06.92, just missing the 1976 mark set by South Eugene HS of 17:06.6.

However, sharp-eyed observers at the meet noticed that the cones lining the track (Renton Stadium does not have a curb on its track) may not have been spaced or placed properly.  paulmerca.blogspot.com was not on site at the beginning of the meet and can not vouch for the accurate placement of the cones during that race.

Bethan Knights of Northwood HS in Irvine, California set a national record in the girls 2-mile, running 9:53.54 to take down Aisling Cuffe's three year old best of 9:54.22.


NOTE:  Brooks Running contributed to this report.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Country's best preps set to race on Renton oval at Brooks PR Invitational Saturday...

Normally don't write about high school track on the blog, but Saturday's Brooks PR Invitational meet at Renton Stadium is one of the few exceptions, as many of the country's top high school talents flock to the Renton oval next to the Boeing plant, beginning at 1:30 pm.

The biggest name in the Brooks PR meet is Camas HS standout Alexa Efraimson (left/photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport), the IAAF world youth championships bronze medalist at 1500m last year, who is entered in the 800 as she tunes up for next week's USA outdoor championships in Sacramento.

Efraimson ran 4:07.05 at last week's adidas Grand Prix in New York, which was the second fastest time ever run by an American high schooler, and three seconds behind the American junior record of 4:04.62 set by Mary Cain last year.  

With Cain also entered at next week's senior nationals, this sets up the first of potentially two head-to-head meetings between the two teen titans in Sacramento, and the following weekend's USA junior nationals in Eugene, where spots on Team USA for the IAAF world junior championships in mid-July in Eugene are on the line.

Also entered in the Brooks PR meet is her world youth championships teammate and Washington state 4A sprint champ Hannah Cunliffe, who is entered in the 100 meters.

Six athletes (2 men, 4 women) who have signed national letters of intent with the University of Washington are entered in the meet--Drew Schrieber of Eisenhower HS, and Fred Huxham of Redwood HS, the California state champ in the 3200m, who are both entered in the mile.

Also among the six future Huskies entered are Hannah Derby of Bellarmine Prep (400m); Rose Christen of Central Kitsap (800m); Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley HS, and Megan Beauchene of Kamiakim HS (both in the mile).

Washington State incoming frosh Jonnie Green of Ephrata HS is entered in the 100.




NOTE:  Brooks Running contributed to this report.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lagat becomes oldest man to break 7:40 for 3000 in Ostrava...

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic--In his final tune up race before next weekend's USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished fourth in the 3000 meters at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet Tuesday night.

Competing in one of the meet's featured races, the 39-year old ran 7:38.30, becoming the oldest man to ever run under 7:40 for 3000 meters.

Kenya's Caleb Ndiku, the reigning world champ indoors at this distance, took the win in a world leading time of 7:31.66, with world youth champ Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia second in 7:36.28 and New Zealand's Nick Willis third in 7:36.91.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lagat to run 3000 in Ostrava...

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic--Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat will compete in the 3000 meter run at Tuesday night's Golden Spike meeting.

Lagat, who is using this race as a tuneup for next weekend's USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, will run against a 20-man field that includes Kenya's Augustine Choge and Caleb Ndiku, Uganda's Moses Kipsiro, and New Zealand's Nick Willis.

The start list for the meet, along with a link to live results is available here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Brooks Beasts' Cas Loxsom wins 800 over Jordan McNamara at Portland Track Classic...

PORTLAND--Cas Loxsom (left/photo courtesy Brooks Sports) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts took the victory in the high performance section of the men's 800 meter run at the Portland Track Classic Sunday night at Griswold Stadium on the campus of Lewis & Clark College.

Loxsom ran 1:46.74 to take the victory over Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara, who dropped down in distance to run 1:47.16.

In the women's 800, Beasts Erica Moore (2:02.22) and Katie Mackey (2:02.49) went 4-6 with training partner Phoebe Wright taking fifth in 2:02.47, as the first six finishers broke the old meet record of 2:02.63 set by Mackey in 2011.

Kate Grace of Oiselle took the win in 2:02.00.

Seattle Pacific's NCAA D-2 champ McKayla Fricker was seventh in the second section of the 800, running 2:06.29.

The women's 1500 saw Angela Bizzarri of the Beasts take second in 4:11.63, as Jordan Hasay of the Nike Oregon Project won in 4:11.23.

Bellingham native Becca Friday was 11th in 4:17.12, while Oiselle's Laura Carlyle was 13th in 4:17.73.

In the women's 3000 steeplechase, Amy-Eloise Neale, who redshirted her freshman year at the University of Washington, ran 10:16.18 to finish 13th, as US Olympian Bridget Franek won in a meet record 9:41.21.

Gonzaga grad Lindsey Drake finished third in the women's 5000 in 15:44.93, as Hasay won her second event of the night in 15:28.56.  

Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch was eighth in 15:53.73, and Deborah Maier of the Brooks Beasts was ninth in 15:55.09.  Wenatchee native Hannah Kiser was 13th in 16:06.88, and Sequim HS alum Stephanie Dinius was 14th in 16:07.85.

In the men's 5000, reigning Olympic and world champ Mo Farah won in a time of 13:23.42, while Bellingham native Chris Kwiatkowski was 13th in 13:58.67.


In scrambling to leave Eugene for Seattle from the NCAA championships, we completely missed Camas HS junior Alexa Efraimson's tenth place finish in the women's 1500 at the adidas Grand Prix in New York.

Efraimson, the new national high school record holder at 1600 meters when she ran 4:33.29 at the WIAA state meet in Tacoma a few weeks ago, ran a personal best 4:07.05 as Abeba Aregawi of Sweden, the reigning world indoor and outdoor champ at 1500, won in a meet record time of 4:00.13.

With current American junior 1500m record holder Mary Cain opting to run the 800 at the adidas meet Saturday, this sets up perhaps one of the most anticipated junior races at any distance in recent memory at the USA junior championships in Eugene July 5-6, with berths for the IAAF world junior championships back at Hayward Field three weeks later on the line.

Efraimson is one of the headliners competing in the Brooks PR invitational meet for the country's top high school runners on Saturday at Renton Stadium from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.  As a tuneup for the USA juniors, she'll run the 800 at the Brooks PR meet against a field that includes University of Washington commit Rose Christen of Central Kitsap.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

UW's Quinn Hale finishes fifth in javelin at NCAA championships...

EUGENE--University of Washington javelin throwers Quinn Hale (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Carson Fuller finished fifth and 20th as the NCAA track & field championships concluded its four day run at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon Saturday.

Hale, who at one point early in the season, was the national leader, threw 232-4 (70.82m) in the third round out of flight 2 to advance to the finals for three more tosses, but could not improve as Sam Crouser of the University of Oregon won with a final round throw of 252-7 (76.98m) to the delight of the hometown crowd of 11,344 on the final day.

Fuller got his best mark of 205-1 (62.51m) in the opening round.

Courtesy of the University of Washington, here's a post-competition interview with Hale:



Darian Brooks of Stanford, a grad of Kennedy Catholic HS in Burien & the reigning Pac-12 champ, finished  21st in the men's triple jump with a best of 51-0 1/4 (15.55m)

The final team standings saw Oregon win the men's competition with 88 points, and in the women's race, Texas A&M won with 75 points.

The meet drew a four-day total attendance of 40516.

Complete results of the NCAA track & field championships are available here.

In New York, Vancouver native Kara Patterson finished fourth in the javelin with a best mark of 202-11 (61.85m) as Germany's Linda Stahl won with a throw of 220-10 (67.32m).

University Place resident Andrea Geubelle finished eighth in the triple jump with a best of 42-1 1/4 (12.83m).  Kimberly Williams of Jamaica won with a leap of 46-11 (14.30m).

In the women's 3000, Jessica Tebo of the Brooks Beasts was 15th in a personal best time of 9:01.25.

Complete results of the adidas Grand Prix are available here.

NOTE:  The University of Washington and the University of Oregon contributed to this report.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Michael Berry's stretch run falls short in 400 finals at NCAA championships...

EUGENE--Oregon senior Michael Berry (above on left/photo courtesy University of Oregon) gamely tried to hang on to the lead he built but it wasn't quite enough as the Rainier Beach HS grad was 5/100th of a second short of winning an NCAA 400 meter title in his final home meet as a Duck on day three of the NCAA track & field championships at Hayward Field on the Oregon campus.

At the gun, Berry charged to the lead and had the lead coming off the Bowerman Curve headed for home, but collegiate leader Deon Lendore of Texas A&M made a move and overtook Berry in the last few meters to win a thrilling race in 45.02 to Berry's 45.07.

In the mixed zone afterwards, Berry, who was going for the win, planned to make a final move with 120 meters to go.

"I was anxious," he said. "I could have waited another 10 meters, but Deon's a great opponent and it was a great race. … This was my last race as a Duck, running for these home fans. I definitely wanted to go out with a bang."

Berry's second place finish has team implications for the Ducks, who currently lead after the end of day 3 with 53 points over second place Florida.

Berry was originally slated to run along with Foss HS product Marcus Chambers on Oregon's 4 x 400 relay, but they were disqualified for a lane violation Thursday night when second leg Arthur Delaney stepped on the inside of the lane on consecutive strides.

In the men's 800 finals, Washington's Derrick Daigre, the reigning Pac-12 champ, was the first Husky to make an appearance in the men’s 800-meter finals since Austin Abbott in 2008. 

The native of Kent went out of lane seven and got to the front of the pack with an aggressive first lap, and went into the final lap in a perfect spot, sitting third. But with 300-meters to go, Daigre began to lose ground, and tied up with 200-meters left. He had to settle for eighth-place, in 1:50.83.

Pac-12 pole vault champ Diamara Planell Cruz of the Huskies finished in a tie for tenth with a best of 13-7 1/4 (4.15m).

The junior transfer and Puerto Rican product opened with a second-attempt make at 12-9 ½ (3.90m), then had a first effort clear of 13-3 ½ (4.05m). Moving up to 13-7 ¼ (4.15m), Planell Cruz missed her first two tries but came up with a clutch third attempt clean effort to stay in the mix. But going into an increasing headwind, Planell Cruz struggled at the next bar, and could not get over 13-9 ¼ (4.20m).

In the women's 3000 steeplechase, Washington junior Liberty Miller finished tenth in a personal best of 10:03.34, the third straight race that she's earned a personal best.

Miller was with the main group for the first few laps, but could not hang on with about four laps to go.

In Saturday's competition, the only athletes with Washington ties remaining at the NCAA championships are University of Washington javelin throwers Quinn Hale and Carson Fuller, who throw at 12:35 pm.


On the pro circuit, Vancouver's two-time US Olympian Kara Patterson will compete in Saturday's adidas Grand Prix in New York's Icahn Stadium, part of the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

Patterson will throw against a field that includes 2012 Olympic Games bronze medalist Linda Stahl of Germany, and Olympic finalist Kathryn Mitchell of Australia.

University Place resident Andrea Geubelle, the reigning US national champ, is entered in the triple jump, where she'll face fellow American Amanda Smock and Kimberly Williams of Jamaica, who is currently fourth in the the 2014 Diamond League standings in the triple jump.

Seattle Pacific grad Jessica Tebo of the Brooks Beasts is in the women's 3000, as she will face world and Olympic 10000 medalist Sally Kipyego of Kenya along with American Olympian Kim Conley and Mercy Cherono of Kenya, currently in third in the Diamond League 3000m standings.


Looking ahead to Sunday, several athletes with Washington ties are entered in the Portland Track Festival at Lewis & Clark Stadium Saturday and Sunday nights.

The meet is set up as a high-performance opportunity for elite and emerging elites to obtain qualifying marks, with an emphasis on middle and long distance events for the upcoming USA national championships in Sacramento.


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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Michael Berry runs sub-45 split in 4 x 400 semis; Flanagan & Goethals end Husky track career side by side...

Megan Goethals and Lindsay Flanagan
of the University of Washington (Paul Merca photo)
EUGENE--Oregon senior Michael Berry ran the fastest split of the third heat of the men's 4 x 400 meter relay as the Ducks finished second in 3:03.80 to apparently qualify for the finals of Saturday's race.

After Foss HS alum Marcus Chambers opened the relay for the Ducks, Berry, the Rainier Beach HS alum split 44.99 on the anchor to get the Ducks a second place finish behind winner LSU.

However, Oregon was disqualified for a lane violation by second leg Arthur Delaney, moving third place Arizona State into second and the auto qualifier.


In the women's 10000 meters, University of Washington seniors Lindsay Flanagan (hip 23) and Megan Goethals (hip 1) finished their track & field careers with a 14th and 15th place finish.

After the first 2000, Goethals and Flanagan were back in the second half of the field but still attached to the main pack as the field started to string out. After another five laps, the pace increased again, and the duo lost contact with the main group, and began running side by side for lap after lap. After dropping back into the last third of the field, the two began to battle back and start to work back through the field, picking off a few runners, and taking turns pushing the other forward.

In the final 400, the duo got themselves back to 12th & 13th, but were caught by Katy Moen of Iowa State and Sheree Shea of Loyola Marymount.

In the men's 1500 semis, UW redshirt frosh Nick Harris finished 12th in a time of 3:53.63, while fellow Husky Izaic Yorks was 11th in his semifinal in a time of 3:49.51.

2012 NCAA 1500 champ Katie Flood took the lead for the first two laps of the second semifinal but dropped to fifth entering the bell and finished eighth in 4:20.43 and was the odd woman out of the finals, as both of the time qualifiers for Saturday's finals came from her heat.

In the men's 3000 steeplechase semis, Washington State senior Andrew Gonzales finished a disappointing 12th in a time of 9:05.24, well off his personal best of 8:47.14 set two weeks ago to qualify for the national championship meet.

Eastern Washington's Jordan Arakawa struggled with two early fouls before getting a mark of 181-7 (55.36m) to finish 23rd.

Looking ahead to Friday action, Michael Berry will attempt to win his first NCAA outdoor 400 title at 5:50 pm.  The Huskies will look to pick up some points as Diamara Planell Cruz goes in the pole vault at 3:15 p.m., Derrick Daigre runs in the 800-meter final at 5:15 p.m., and then Liberty Miller runs in the women’s steeplechase final at 5:35 p.m.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, University of Oregon, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Thoirs named to Scottish Commonwealth Games team...

In a press release posted by Scottish Athletics Thursday, Scottish Athletics officially named University of Washington pole vaulter Jax Thoirs (left/photo by Paul Merca) to its squad that will compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in late July.

"I want to personally congratulate all those selected and I’m sure those good wishes comes from everyone at Scottish Athletics and indeed all those associated with athletics in Scotland," said chief executive Nigel Holl of Scottish Athletics.

"It is a large team and one we feel can represent Scotland in the right way".

"'Perform on the day,' is a key message from us and that's what the performance team and individual coaches will be working on now with each and every one of these athletes."

This season, Thoirs finished eighth in the pole vault at the NCAA indoor championships, and won the Pac-12 title.  He cleared a lifetime best of 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) at the Ken Shannon Invitational in Seattle last month.

Thoirs finished 13th at the NCAA outdoor championship meet in Eugene Wednesday, clearing a best of 17-8 1/2 (5.40m). After missing twice at 18-0 1/2 (5.50m), the Scottish national record holder gambled by passing his last attempt to go for a do-or-die attempt at 18-2 1/2 (5.55m) that would have put him in at least a tie for third.

The track & field portion of the Commonwealth Games will be contested July 27-August 2nd at Hampden Park in Glasgow.


NOTE:  Scottish Athletics contributed to this report.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Berry, Daigre & Miller among advancers at day 1 of NCAA championships...

EUGENE--A pair of former Washington prep standouts were among those who survived the qualifying rounds on Wednesday as day 1 of the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships concluded under sunny skies at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

University of Oregon senior Michael Berry ran the third fastest time of the day in the men's 400, as the product of Rainier Beach HS ran 45.41 to win his heat and avoid a repeat of last year's failure to reach the finals.

Kent native Derrick Daigre from the University of Washington qualified for the finals of the men's 800, as he secured an automatic qualifier, finishing second in heat 2 of the 3 national semifinal heats.

Daigre, the reigning Pac-12 champ, got out well, and stayed out of trouble, surviving a late charge from the field, running 1:48.77.

Daigre will run in Friday's finals at 5:15pm.  He's the first Husky to make the 800 final since Austin Abbott finished seventh in the 2008 meet in Des Moines.

“This could be your last race so you just give it your all no matter what happens,” said Daigre. “I did feel like I was in control though. Being in that third spot, coming through in 52-seconds, I’m really not concerned with those kind of fast laps. So I felt that with 150, 200 to go I’d still feel pretty good, and luckily I did, and was able to pass a couple guys and get through. You work out and practice every day to get into a race like this, so I’m very excited.”

In heat 1, Jesse Jorgensen of Washington State finished fourth in a time of 1:50.01.

In the women's steeple, Washington's Liberty Miller (above/photo by Mike Scott) ran a personal best time of 10:05.40 to finish fifth in her semifinal heat to advance to Friday's final, where she'll look to become the second Husky to score in this event along with 2009-10 scorer Mel Lawrence.

“The whole time I was thinking, ‘be aware of where you are and what moves you need to make,’ said Miller. “With two laps to go I made a little move, and some girls caught me and I thought don’t freak out, stay relaxed, you still have a full lap to go and a lot of energy to burn. So that last lap I just gave it all I had to cinch that fifth spot.”

In the same heat, Big Sky champ Catie Arrigoni of Eastern Washington finished ninth in a time of 10:24.66, while in heat 1, Inglemoor HS grad Tansey Lystad of the University of Portland was tenth in 10:20.02.

In the women's 400 hurdles, Washington's Gianna Woodruff and Kayla Stueckle finished 11th and 16th overall with Woodruff missing her personal best of 57.72 by 2/100ths of a second, and Stueckle running 58.84.

Woodruff said that she hit the ninth and tenth hurdles, which may have cost her a spot in the finals.

On the field, Washington's Pac-12 champ Jax Thoirs finished 13th in the pole vault with a leap of 17-8 1/2 (5.40m).  After missing twice at 18-0 1/2 (5.50m), the Scottish national record holder gambled by passing his last attempt to go for a do-or-die attempt at 18-2 1/2 (5.55m) that would have put him in at least a tie for third.

Eastern Washington's Emma Murillo finished eight inches short of the personal best she set two weeks ago at the NCAA West Preliminary round, throwing 156-3 (47.63m) to finish 16th overall.

On Thursday, Washington's 1500 meter entries--2012 champ Katie Flood, along with Izaic Yorks and Nick Harris will line up in the semifinals, as will Megan Goethals and Lindsay Flanagan in the 10000 final.  Washington State's Andrew Gonzales will run in the national semi in the steeplechase, and the final athlete for Eastern Washington, Jordan Arakawa goes in the finals of the men's hammer throw.


On the pro circuit, former University of Washington standout Ingvill Måkestad Bovin finished ninth in the women's 800 meters at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games Wednesday night in Oslo, Norway's famed Bislett Stadium.

Running in her first major track race since going on maternity leave in 2013, the 2011 world championships finalist at 1500m ran 2:02.23, as reigning world champ Eunice Sum of Kenya ran a season best 1:59.02 to strengthen her grip on first place in the 2014 IAAF Diamond League standings over this distance.


NOTE:  The University of Washington, the University of Oregon, the USTFCCCA and the IAAF contributed to this report.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The NCAA Division I championships start Wednesday!

University of Portland
steeplechaser Tansey Lystad
from Inglemoor HS
(photo by Paul Merca)
EUGENE--The stage is set for the four-day collegiate track & field extravaganza known as the NCAA Division I championships at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, beginning on Wednesday, and concluding with the men's 4 x 400 meter relay Saturday afternoon at 3:55 pm.

Washington, Eastern Washington, and Washington State will send 13, 3, and 2 athletes to Eugene for the four-day meet.  Additionally, Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry (Oregon), Marcus Chambers from Foss HS (Oregon), Inglemoor HS grad Tansey Lystad (Portland), and Kennedy Catholic's Darian Brooks (Stanford) will participate in the meet.

On Wednesday, Washington will have five athletes competing, led by Pac-12 champs Jax Thoirs (pole vault) and Derrick Daigre (800), with Thoirs going at 4 pm, and Daigre at 4:30 pm.

Also going in the national semifinals of the 800 is MPSF indoor champ Jesse Jorgensen of Washington State.

At 5 pm, Oregon's Michael Berry runs in the third of three national semifinals in the 400 meters.  Fifteen minutes later, Big Sky champ Emma Murillo of Eastern Washington will throw in the first of two flights of the women's javelin.

Husky 400 meter hurdlers Kayla Stueckle and Gianna Woodruff are running in the national semifinals at 6:30 pm.

Steeplechasers Liberty Miller of Washington and Big Sky champ Catie Arrigoni of Eastern Washington are also in action Wednesday, along with Portland's Tansey Lystad at 6:45 pm to round out the competitors with Washington ties in day 1 of the NCAA championship meet.

ESPN has broadcast rights for the championships, and will stream the first two days of action on ESPN3.com and Watch ESPN. Wednesday and Thursday will be shown via ESPN3, starting at 3:55 p.m. PT. Events on Friday and Saturday will be broadcast live on ESPNU starting at 4:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively.


paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Eugene for coverage of the NCAA championships.

On the pro circuit, former University of Washington standout Ingvill Måkestad Bovin returns to her first significant track race after missing the entire 2013 season on maternity leave, as she'll run the 800 at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games on Wednesday, the fifth stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

Måkestad Bovin will run against a field that includes defending world champion Eunice Sum of Kenya and Olympic silver medalist Caster Semenya of South Africa.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Andrea Geubelle moves training base back to Washington...

Received a note Sunday from reigning USA national triple jump champion Andrea Geubelle (left/photo by Paul Merca) informing us that she has moved back to the state of Washington after spending her collegiate years at the University of Kansas.

After a successful career at the University of Kansas where she won several national titles in the long and triple jumps, and helped the Jayhawks win the 2013 NCAA outdoor title in her final meet as a collegian, she stayed at Kansas for the 2013-14 academic year to finish her schooling, while training with the team and making the transition into pro track & field.

The University Place resident is training with her high school club coach, Nate Wilford, who runs the Flying AJ's Track Club in the Tacoma area, and using the facilities at Charles Wright Academy.

Geubelle also informed us that she is currently without a major sponsor, but is being represented by agent Caroline Feith of Pro Sports International in the Netherlands.

Geubelle has a season best of 21-8 1/4 (6.61m) in the long jump, set at the USA indoor championships in Albuquerque, and 44-11 (13.69m) in the triple jump, set at the Ponce Grand Prix de Atletismo meet in Ponce, Puerto Rico on May 17tth.

In Hengelo, the Netherlands, Washington State alum Bernard Lagat bounced back from a disappointing performance at last weekend's Nike Prefontaine Classic by finishing third in the 3000 at the AA Drink-Fanny Blankers-Koen Games.

Lagat ran 7:41.94 as he finished behind winner Cornelius Kangogo (7:41.27, 2014 outdoor world leader) and long time rival Augustine Choge (7:41.57) of Kenya.


One mark we missed from Saturday's Jim Bush meet in Los Angeles--Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama finished third in the triple jump with a mark of 43-3 1/4 (13.19m), as Amanda Smock won with a distance of 44-3 1/4 (13.49m).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Anderson wins 400H at Jim Bush meet in Los Angeles...

LOS ANGELES--Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Paul Merca) ran a season best time in winning the 400 hurdles at the Jim Bush Southern California Championships at Drake Stadium on the campus of UCLA on Saturday.

Anderson easily won in a time of 49.10, a mark which makes him the ninth fastest performer this season.

The Jim Bush meet doubled as the USA Track & Field West region championships and is designed as a competitive opportunity for athletes to attain qualifying marks for the upcoming USA championships in Sacramento.

Lewis & Clark HS alum Britney Henry, competing for Oiselle, finished second in the hammer with a best mark of 222-6 (67.81m) as Jessica Cosby Toruga won with a toss of 238-7 (72.72m).


In Clovis, California, incoming University of Washington freshman Fred Huxham of Redwood HS won the CIF 3200 title Saturday in a time of 8:54.24.


Friday, June 6, 2014

McNamara follows Pre performance with win in St. Louis...

ST LOUIS, Missouri--Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the featured St. Louis Track Club elite men's mile at Thursday night's Nike Festival of Miles race at Saint Louis University High School.

Before the race, McNamara addressed the crowd of 2000 attending the festival that featured mile and 800 meter races for all ages, asking for help, stating that his goal was 3:54.

The crowd obliged and so did McNamara, running a blistering last lap to finish in 3:54.27, ahead of Duncan Phillips (3:56.10) and Tommy Schmitz (3:56.45). Chris Gowell also broke four minutes in 3:58.90.

McNamara's run comes on the heels of a strong performance at last Saturday's Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, where he finished second in the international section of the mile in 3:52.89.

In the professional women's invitational 800, Erica Moore of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts finished third in a season best 2:02.34, as Heather Kampf won in a meet record 2:01.48, with Oiselle's Lauren Wallace second in 2:02.25.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Patterson finishes ninth in Rome Golden Gala javelin...

ROME, Italy--Skyview HS alum Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished ninth in the javelin at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet at Stadio Olimpico Thursday night.

The two time US Olympian finished with a best of 188-0 (57.30m), set in the second round of the competition, which is part of the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

University of Minnesota alum and two-time Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková of the Czech Republic, competing for the first time since a return from maternity leave, took the victory with a toss of 217-11 (66.43m).

Highlighting the fourth meet of the Diamond League tour was a stellar men's high jump competition won by Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar with a clearance of 7-10 3/4 (2.41m).


NOTES:  Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson, Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford, and Spokane native Britney Henry are all entered in Saturday's Jim Bush Invitational at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus.

The Jim Bush meet is one of the top USA Track & Field regional open meets in the country.


On Sunday, Washington State University hall of fame member Bernard Lagat announced on his Twitter page that he will run the 3000 meters at the Fanny Blankers Koen meet in Hengelo, the Netherlands on Sunday where he'll face long time rival Augustine Choge of Kenya.

Kara Patterson in field for Thursday's Golden Gala in Rome...

On the pro circuit, Vancouver native Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) will throw the javelin in Thursday night's Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, part of the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

She'll face a field that includes current IAAF Diamond League leader Martina Ratej of Slovenia, three-time world championship finalist Linda Stahl of Germany, and two-time Olympic champ Barbora Špotáková of the Czech Republic, who is returning to competition after a maternity leave in 2013.

The meet also features one of the best men's high jump fields, led by reigning word and Olympic champs Bohdan Bondarenko of the Ukraine, and Russia's Ivan Ukhov, along with Canada's Derek Drouin and Erik Kynard of the USA.

The men's 1500 features a rematch of last Saturday's Bowerman Mile between 2013 world champ Asbel Kiprop against Djibouti's Ayanieh Souleiman, who ran the fastest time in the world, clocking 3:47.32, a new IAAF Diamond League record.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Huskies announce 2014 team awards at Don James Center...

SEATTLE--The University of Washington held its annual track & field and cross country team banquet at the Don James Center overlooking iconic Husky Stadium and Lake Washington on a picture perfect  Monday night.

Washington coach Greg Metcalf honored the group of seniors graduating from the school and thanked them for their contributions during their careers competing for the Huskies.

Pac-12 pole vault champs Diamara Planell Cruz (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Jax Thoirs won three, and two awards, respectively in a vote of staff and members of the media that regularly cover the team.

Planell Cruz, the current Puerto Rican national record holder via San Jose City College, won the team award as the top newcomer, top field event performer, and team most valuable performer for a season that saw her win the Pac-12 championships, qualify for both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championship meets, and become the third Husky in school history to clear 14 feet with her winning jump of 14-0.5 (4.28m) at the conference championship.

Thoirs earned the award as the team's top field event performer as well as the team's most valuable performer for a season that saw him earn All-America honors indoors, as well as winning the Pac-12 title and set a new Scottish national record of 18-4.5 (5.60m) at the Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Track on May 10th.

Other awards were presented to 800/1500 runner Izaic Yorks, a transfer from the University of Portland who broke 4 minutes in the mile indoors and qualified for the NCAA outdoor championships in the 1500, along with helping the Huskies win two Drake Relays titles in April as the men's top newcomer; 800 meter runner Derrick Daigre, the Pac-12 champ in that event, as the men's top track athlete; 400 hurdler and NCAA qualifier Gianna Woodruff as the women's team's top track performer; Katie Flood as the women's top cross country athlete; and All-American Aaron Nelson as the men's top cross country runner.

Metcalf capped off the evening with a message for his outgoing seniors to stay connected with the program, noting that the connection between the alumni and the team is one of the differences between a good program and an elite collegiate track & field program.

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