After going through my posts from the 2013 season, I've come to the realization that I didn't bother to post the Mercanator awards!
With that in mind, I'm going to recap the 2014 year in Washington track & field by reviving the Mercanator awards for the top performances as chronicled on the blog.
As many of you long time readers have noted, I tend not to post much in the month of December, as I tend to focus on my family, many of whom don't see me much during the other eleven months of the year, as I'm either blowing off a family outing, not answering the phone, or ignoring texts/emails. In addition to my job (the blog is not my full time occupation), I've been caught up with that little thing called the NFL, as the playoffs begin to ramp up.
This blog was started back in 2007 as an extension of the writing that I do as a columnist for Northwest Runner magazine, as a way to help chronicle the exploits of Washington's collegiate and professional track and field athletes.
I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to thank some of the folks who have contributed text and photos in 2014, including the sports information offices at Washington State University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington, Central Washington, Western Washington, Saint Martin's, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific, and the University of Washington; photographers Kirby Lee (Image of Sport), Randy Miyazaki (trackandfieldphoto.com), and Michael Scott; the media relations departments at Brooks, Oiselle, Nike, and adidas; and the countless number of individuals who have either Facebooked, tweeted, Instagrammed, or emailed me with tips, news, complaints, etc. It's the readers of this blog who help keep this baby going, and I thank you!
A special thanks also go out to the media relations staffs at the IAAF and USA Track & Field for their assistance throughout the life of this blog, as well as to the track and cross country SIDs at Cal, Stanford, and Oregon for help with credentialing.
In 2014, the blog traveled to Boulder, Palo Alto twice, Pullman twice, Eugene twice, Sacramento, Berlin, and Oakland to cover events including the Pac-12 track and cross country championships, the USA outdoor track and cross country championships; the NCAA outdoor track championships; the annual UW/WSU dual meet; and the BMW Berlin Marathon, where we witnessed the first sub 2:03 marathon by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya.
We also got the opportunity to hang out with the area's premier pro track & field group, the Brooks Beasts, and toured the world headquarters of adidas in 2014.
That said, here we go with the 2014 Mercanators!
Here are the disclaimers: Mercanator awards are generally limited to athletes who have affiliations with the state of Washington—either they were born in this state, currently reside in the state, or attend(ed) school in the state. Also, not all categories from previous editions were awarded this year…publisher's decision.
TOP PERFORMER--Men's Sprints/Hurdles: Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry gets the nod again after winning the Pac-12 title, finishing second in the NCAA championships, and taking sixth in the USA championships in Sacramento. He ran a season best outdoors of 45.05. I give the nod to Berry in a close call over Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson, who was fifth in the USA championships at 400 hurdles, and ran 49.10 in 2014.
TOP PERFORMER--Men's Middle Distances: There were three guys in contention for this one: Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts, who ran 1:45,80, and finished second in the USA championships; Bernard Lagat, who won yet another USA national title indoors at 3000 and outdoors at 5000, and finished second at the world indoors in Sopot; and Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts, who started the 2014 season on fire after winning the 4k cross country race in Edinburgh over a great field, then ran 3:35.89 over 1500m outdoors.
In the end, Lagat, who turned 40 last month gets the nod, not so much for what he did outdoors, but the fact that a world championship silver medal trumps everything.
TOP PERFORMER--Women's Distances: A pair of University of Washington alums contended for this honor in 2014--Ingvill Måkestad Bovin and Katie Mackey.
Måkestad Bovin sat out the 2013 season after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury suffered before the Olympics, and then was on maternity leave, while Mackey began her rise as one of America's top middle distance runners.
Both Måkestad Bovin and Mackey raced against each other once, with Måkestad Bovin finishing third in 4:07.64 and Mackey fourth in 4:08.44 in Montreuil, France in July. Måkestad Bovin finished ninth in the European championships, while Mackey was third at the US outdoors, and competed in two big international meets--the IAAF World Relays meet in the Bahamas, and the Continental Cup.
Mackey gets the award based on her 15:04.74 mark over 5000m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal meet, which was the 17th fastest time in the world, and the third best by an American.
TOP PERFORMER--Women's Throws: This was pretty clear cut, as Vancouver's Kara Patterson roared back from the knee injury suffered at the 2012 US Olympic Trials, winning yet another US national title, throwing a season best of 206-4 (62.90m), and placing in the top six at two Diamond League meets in New York and Lausanne.
This is the last time I'll use the name Kara Patterson, as she married Idaho alum and national class thrower Russ Winger in September, so it's Kara Winger moving forward!
If I had to pick out three standout performances for 2014 that I witnessed in person, it's A) Dennis Kimetto's world record in Berlin; B) Derrick Daigre's inspirational victory in the Pac-12 800 meter championship race in Pullman; and C) the season-long improvement by the Central Washington women's cross country team, cumulating with an appearance at the NCAA Division II cross country championship meet for the first time since 2000.
The best mano-a-mano race witnessed in 2014 goes back to the Pac-12 1500 finals in Pullman as Arizona's Lawi Lalang and Oregon's Edward Cheserek, both of whom were finalists for the USTFCCCA's Bowerman Award as the country's top collegiate track and field athlete, with Lalang winning in 3:36.34 in a thrilling stretch drive.
The 2014 Washington state track & field athletes as selected by the editor of paulmerca.blogspot.com are Bernard Lagat and Katie Mackey…congrats to both of you!
In case you're not paying any attention, the 2015 indoor season is literally around the corner!