Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nick Symmonds wins another national 800m title & tows teammate Cas Loxsom to third...

Nick Symmonds reacts as he approaches the finish line
to win another USA outdoor 800m title
(Paul Merca photo)
EUGENE--At last week’s Brooks PR Invitational, Nick Symmonds told the assembled media that it wasn’t enough to get to the USA national championships, but it was “about making teams.”

Symmonds’ words proved prophetic, as on Sunday at Hayward Field, he won yet another USA national championship at 800 meters, and in the process, helped pull teammate Cas Loxsom to a third place finish and a spot on the plane to Beijing.

After Duane Solomon took out the early pace with Loxsom tucked behind Solomon up front, Symmonds, the 2013 world championships silver medalist was tucked in towards the back of the pack, as they went through 400 meters in 49.76, with Symmonds at 51.27.

Symmonds made his move exiting the south turn, picking his way through a 26.24 third 200, then turned the jets on as they exited the Bowerman Curve to win in a season best 1:44.53.

“Last year, I watched this meet from my couch and contemplated retirement.  But Brooks Running said that we need you and that coach Danny Mackey said, ‘we can get you back on the podium’”

“If Duane Solomon goes out in 49 and 1:16, he’s gonna take some people that might not be able to hang on to him.  So if Duane is gonna make the race honest, it helps me out.”

Loxsom, who was especially pleased at making his first major international team, said, “I think that Danny did a great job preparing us for this meet.”

Asked to elaborate about Mackey, he said, “He’s such an underrated coach.  He is really one of those guys who is a student of the sport.  I think that our team is moving in a positive direction.”

Father time caught up to the ageless wonder, Bernard Lagat, as he finished tenth in the men’s 5000 on the final day of competition at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field.

The 40-year old Lagat was in striking distance for most of the race, but in the last 350 meters of the race, the final gear that fans were used to seeing was not there.

When asked about what it would be like to not be on a national team, Lagat broke down for the first time that I’ve covered his career, saying that he wanted to make the national team for his kids.

Garrett Heath of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts finished fourth in a time of 13:51.61.

One spot in front of Lagat was Riley Masters of the Beasts in 13:58.23.

In the women’s 5000, Katie Mackey of the Beasts was in position with 700 to go when she was knocked down.  She got up after spotting the field about 15 meters, and actually took the lead with less than a lap to go before being overtaken with about 200 to go, fading to sixth in 15:16.96.

Tacoma’s Brie Felnagle was ninth in 15:45.35, followed by Amanda Mergaert of the Brooks Beasts in tenth at 15:46.32.

In the finals of the women’s 800, Phoebe Wright took the early lead, taking the field through 400 meters in 58.14, before finishing sixth in 2:01.12.

Former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral, who returned to the East Coast last year, finished second in the 3000 steeplechase in 8:13.37.

Washington’s Kristina Owsinski failed to clear the opening height of 13-11.25 (4.25m).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Brad Walker earns yet another trip to the world championships...

EUGENE—University of Washington alum Brad Walker (left/photo courtesy Drake University) secured yet another spot on the world championship team by finishing second in the pole vault on day 3 of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

Walker, whose 2008 mark of 19-9.75 (6.04m) at the Nike Prefontaine Classic remains the American record, fell short in his bid to win a sixth USA outdoor title, only clearing 18-4.5 (5.60m).

After passing the opening height of 17-8.5 (5.40m), he made 18-0.5 (5.50m) and 18-4.5 (5.60m) on his first attempt to lead through those heights.

Eventual winner Sam Kendricks turned the tide of the competition with his first attempt clearance of 18-8.25 (5.70m), a height which Walker missed on his first.

After that miss, Walker elected to pass to 18-10.25 (5.75m), which he missed on his two remaining attempts, while Kendricks cleared on his third and final attempt.

In other action:

—Marcus Chambers of Tacoma thought that he had missed making the finals in the 400 yesterday with his fifth place finish in the semis of 44.95.  However, he got into Saturday’s finals when Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry was disqualified for a lane violation after finishing second in Chambers’ heat in 44.81.

Chambers finished sixth with a time of 45.38, which potentially puts him into the 4 x 400 meter relay pool for Beijing.

--Washington State grad Jeshua Anderson was fifth in the finals of the 400 hurdles, running 49.22;

—Spokane native Britney Henry finished ninth in the women’s hammer with a toss of 217-6 (66.29m);

—Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara was 10th in the finals of the men’s 1500 in 3:42.69;

—Club Northwest’s Jamie Cheever was 12th in the finals of the women’s 3000 steeplechase in 9:56.74;

--University Place resident Andrea Geubelle was a disappointing 13th in the long jump with a best of 20-9 (6.32m);

—Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford was seventh in the semis of the 100 hurdles in 12.88.

In the national junior championships, Chinne Okoronkwo was second in the women’s triple jump with a best of 41-10 (12.75m). Brooke Feldmeier of Tumwater & Ole Miss finished fifth in the 800 in 2:10.57. Kristen Garcia of Sedro Wooley finished seventh in the steeplechase with a time of 11:15.31.

Washington State’s Brock Eager was third in the junior men’s hammer with a toss of 221-0 (67.37m). Gonzaga’s Brandon Pollard was fifth in the junior men’s 1500 in 3:59.47.  Washington’s Jack Lembcke was seventh in the discus at 171-8 (52.33m).  Blaise Black of the Huskies was eighth in the pole vault at 16-0.75 (4.90m).

Friday, June 26, 2015

Winger wins national title number six in Eugene...

EUGENE—Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) won her sixth career national javelin championship on a warm and muggy Friday evening at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

Winger, who has been the dominant javelin thrower in the United States ever since winning the US Olympic Trials here in 2008, took care of business in round 1, getting the spear out 213-1 (64.94m), and making the competition anti-climactic, with Brittany Borman the only other thrower to throw 200 feet, with a best of 202-9 (61.80m) in round 6, after two tosses in the first three rounds of 200-5 (61.08m).

Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo by Mike Scott) made his second straight world championship team in the decathlon, finishing second in the two day, ten event competition with a final score of 8264 points, his second highest score this season, as former world champion Trey Hardee won with a final score of 8725 points.

Taiwo began day 2 with a 14.40 clocking in the 110 hurdles, then threw 135-0 (41.15m) in the discus.

After a solid effort in the pole vault of 16-2.25 (4.95m), he threw the javelin 157-10 (48.11m), before running 4:29.27 in the 1500 meters.

In one of the biggest surprises of the meet so far, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson finished fourth in her heat of the 1500 meters in 4:15.21, and did not advance to Sunday’s finals.

Other highlights:

—Cas Loxsom of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts ran the fastest time in the semifinals of the men’s 800, winning his heat in 1:44.92.  Teammate Nick Symmonds advanced to Sunday’s final with a season best 1:45.95 to take third in his heat.

In that heat, Mark Wieczorek of the Beasts was seventh in 1:47.16, followed by WSU alum Joe Abbott in 1:48.46.

Pac-12 champ Jesse Jorgensen of WSU was the fastest non-qualifier, as he ran a personal best 1:45.76 to take fifth in heat 1, which Loxsom won.

—In the women’s 800, Seattle’s Phoebe Wright ran 2:00.61 to advance to Sunday’s final, as she finished third in heat 1.  Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker ran a personal best 2:00.81 to finish sixth in heat 2.

—The men’s 400 hurdles saw WSU alum Jeshua Anderson advance to the finals on Saturday with a third place finish in 49.42;

—In the first round of the women’s 400 hurdles, Washington’s Gianna Woodruff was sixth in her heat in a time of 60.87; 

—The first round of the women’s 100 hurdles saw Rainier Beach HS alum Ginnie Crawford advance to Saturday’s semis as a time qualifier, running 12.90 to finish fifth in heat 2; 

—Former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral had the fastest time in the semis of the men’s 3000 steeplechase, running 8:36.80;

—In the women’s triple jump, WSU alum Blessing Ufodiama was ninth with a wind-aided best of 43-5.25 (13.24m);

--The men's high jump saw Dakarai Hightower finish 12th with a best of 7-0.5 (2.15m).

In the junior competition, Brooke Feldmeier of Olympia, a freshman at Ole Miss, qualified for the finals in the 800, running 2:09.71 to take fourth in her heat to highlight a day that saw 11 athletes with Washington ties compete Friday.

Complete day 2 results from the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE: The post was corrected to reflect that Winger has won six national titles, and not seven.  We apologize for the error.

Jeremy Taiwo leads decathlon at USA Outdoor Championships after day 1...

EUGENE—University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) finds himself in the lead after the first day of competition in the decathlon at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon Thursday.

Taiwo, the Newport HS grad who is looking to make his second straight world championships team, began day 1 with a 10.89 clocking in the 100, worth 885 points, followed by a mark of 24-9 (7.54m) in the long jump to collect 945 points.

He then won the first of three events on the day, taking the shot put with a toss of 48-11.75 (14.93m) for 785 points, then followed with a victory in the high jump, leaping 6-11.5 (2.12m).  He then won the 400 in a time of 47.83, good for 917 points and a first day score of 4447 after original heat winner Curtis Beach was disqualified for a lane violation.

Former world champion Trey Hardee stands second with 4369 points, followed by Zach Ziemek of Wisconsin with 4336 points.

In other highlights:

—Nick Symmonds (1:46.37), Mark Wieczorek (1:47.72), Joe Abbott (1:48.04), Cas Loxsom (1:47.76), and Jesse Jorgensen (1:48.14) all advanced to Friday’s semis in the 800; 

—Phoebe Wright (2:02.47) and McKayla Fricker (2:02.75) advanced to Friday’s semis in the women’s 800, while Megan Malasarte of the Brooks Beasts (2;04.09) missed out; 

—The women’s 10000 finals saw Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver finish eighth in 33:11.43; 

—In the women’s 3000 steeplechase semis, Club Northwest’s Jamie Cheever (10:02.71) advanced to Saturday’s finals.  Pascoe native Marisa Howard of Boise State took a fall in the water jump and ran 10:26.49, while WSU grad Collier Lawrence failed to finish;

—Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 1500 by running 3:44.92, while Bellingham’s David Elliott of Boise State (3:45.93) and Dorian Ulrey of the Brooks Beasts (3:46.24) did not do so;

—The men’s 400 saw Tacoma’s Marcus Chambers of Oregon (45.27) and Rainier Beach grad Michael Berry (45.13) advance to Friday’s semis; 

—In the 400 hurdles, Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson easily advanced to Friday’s semis, running 49.80; 

—In the men’s 10000 final, Bellingham native Jake Riley was 22nd in a time of 29:53.10;

—Washington’s Curtis Clauson was 17th in the men’s javelin with a best of 213-11 (65.21m).

The concurrent USA junior championships saw reigning Washington state champion Hudson Keffer of Central Kitsap HS finish fifth in the javelin with a toss of 192-10 (58.79m).

In the junior men’s decathlon, Aaron Pullin of Centralia is ninth with 3547 points, while James Rodeman of McKenna stands tenth with 3454 points.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Questions that hopefully will be answered in Eugene...

As we head down Interstate 5 to Eugene for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that begin Thursday, here is a list of things that I will be interested to see in the four days of competition.  Note this all has to do with the senior competition; the junior nationals will also be contested in Eugene, and as always we will do a recap at the end of each day.

—IS JEREMY TAIWO ALL THE WAY BACK?  Two years ago, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) suffered a knee injury in the long jump at the world championships in Moscow that was severe enough to remove him from competition in 2014.

This year, Taiwo won the USA indoor heptathlon title, and scored a personal best 8303 points at the prestigious Götzis decathlon.

In Eugene, Taiwo, the current American leader in the event, will have to face the likes of former world champion Trey Hardee and Curtis Beach to get one of the three spots to Beijing (Ashton Eaton, the defending world champion, has an automatic spot).  As long at Taiwo places in the top three, he’s good to go for Beijing.

—WHO FROM THE BROOKS BEASTS STEPS UP?  At a press conference the day before the the Brooks PR High School Invitational, Nick Symmonds stated to the assembled media that “Aspiring to make USAs is not enough,  It’s all about making teams.”

Of the athletes from the Seattle based Brooks Beasts that are entered at this week’s national championships, I’m of the opinion that based on the marks from the last two years, Cas Loxsom is probably the runner from that group that has the best shot to earn a spot on the plane to Beijing, with Symmonds, Garrett Heath, and Katie Mackey the next three with strong shots.

Is Nick Symmonds back to the form that earned him a medal two years ago in Moscow? How strong will Mackey and Heath be in the 5000, particularly if it comes down to a tactical race and, in the case of Heath, a sub-4 minute final mile with a final 400 under 56 seconds?

—IS ALEXA EFRAIMSON READY FOR THE BIG TIME?  It’s one thing to have the IAAF qualifying mark in hand, as Efraimson (left/photo by Paul Merca) does. But can the Camas resident and first-year pro string together a strong semi-final race, and be ready to counter any moves that the likes of a Shannon Rowbury, Jenny Simpson, Treniere Moser, or even fellow teen sensation Mary Cain throw at her assuming she makes the final?

—HOW WILL THE COLLEGIANS FARE?  Among those with Washington ties who competed at Hayward Field two weeks ago at the NCAAs that are returning for the USA championships include Tacoma’s Marcus Chambers of Oregon in the 400; Washington State’s Jesse Jorgensen in the 800; Washington’s Curtis Clauson in the javelin; the Huskies’ Gianna Woodruff (400H) and Kristina Owsinski (PV); and Pasco’s Marisa Howard of Boise State in the steeplechase.  The collegians have had a long season, while for the pros, this is early-to-mid season.

--HAS FATHER TIME CAUGHT UP WITH BERNARD LAGAT?  Fortunately, the 40 year old Washington State alum only has to run a final in the men's 5000 Sunday morning, and has the IAAF world championships standard.  Lagat, who has been a mainstay on USA national teams since becoming a citizen in 2007 (remember that he won world titles at 1500 and 5000 in 2007), remains one of the most tactically sound racers on the planet, and what speed he may have lost over time he makes up in tactical knowledge.  You would think that the young guns like Galen Rupp, Ben True, and Ryan Hill, along with Garrett Heath and Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts, would find a way to get rid of Lagat early, but if he's within striking distance with a mile or less to go, look out!

The next four days of competition will hopefully answer these questions.

See you in Eugene!

Monday, June 22, 2015

List of declared athletes with Washington ties for this week's USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships...

With a few days remaining before the start of the USA Outdoor Track & Field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene on Thursday, here are the athletes with ties to the state of Washington who have declared their intentions to compete:


400 (45.50)—Michael Berry, Marcus Chambers (left/photo by Paul Merca)
800 (1:46.00)—Cas Loxsom, Mark Wieczorek, Nick Symmonds, Jesse Jorgensen, Joe Abbott
1500 (3:36.20)—Jordan McNamara, Dorian Ulrey, 
5000 (13:23.00)—Garrett Heath, Riley Masters, Bernard Lagat
10000 (27:45.00)—Jake Riley
400H (49.50)—Jeshua Anderson
HJ (2.28m)—Dakarai Hightower
PV (5.65m)—Brad Walker
JT (82.00m)—Curtis Clauson
DEC (8075 pts)—Jeremy Taiwo


800 (2:01.00)—Phoebe Wright, McKayla Fricker, Megan Malasarte 
1500 (4:06.50)—Alexa Efraimson, Katie Mackey, Brie Felnagle (left/photo by Paul Merca), Amanda Mergaert
5000 (15:20.00)—Katie Mackey, Brie Felnagle, Amanda Mergaert
10000 (32:00.00)—Mattie Suver
20K RW (1:36:00)—Katie Burnett
100H (13.00)—Ginnie Crawford
400H (56.20)—Gianna Woodruff
3000ST (9:44.00)—Marisa Howard, Collier Lawrence, Jamie Cheever
PV (4.50m)—Kristina Owsinski
LJ (6.70m)—Andrea Geubelle
TJ (14.20m)—Blessing Ufodiama
HT (70.00m)—Britney Henry
JT (61.00m)—Kara Winger, Monika Gruszecki

Note that names in bold font means that those athletes have met the qualifying standard for the IAAF world track & field championships in Beijing in August.  The standards for those events are listed after the event name.

Athletes who finish in the top three in each event will have first shots at going to Beijing, assuming that they can meet the IAAF standard before the deadline of August 9th.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Candace Hill becomes youngest runner to break 11 seconds in 100 at Brooks PR Invite...

SHORELINE, Washington—For all the pre-meet hype about the quality of the fields in the girls’ and boys’ two-mile run, it took exactly 10.98 seconds for Candace Hill (left/photo by Paul Merca) to blow up the hype at the Brooks PR High School Invitational at Shoreline Stadium Saturday.

All Hill, a 16-year old sophomore at Rockdale County HS in Georgia did was become the first high schooler to break 11 seconds in the 100, with that 10.98 clocking with the maximum allowable wind reading of 2.0 meters per second, after it was initially announced over the public address system as  a +2.7mps reading.

In addition to breaking the national high school record set by Kaylin Whitney of 11.10 at last year’s USA Junior Championships, she also broke English Gardner’s American junior record of 11.03 set at the 2011 Pac-10 championships in Tuscon, and Whitney’s world youth record.

Hill went into the Brooks meet on a bit of a roll, after running 11.21 into a head wind at last week’s adidas Grand Prix meet in New York.

Afterwards, Hill exclaimed that it was one of the best races that she’s ever run.

“I had a feeling that today was going to be a great day.  My start was good, my drive phase was good, and my acceleration phase towards the end was good.  I maintained form and stayed relaxed.”

One place where you won’t see the new national high school sprint queen is Historic Hayward Field in Eugene for next week’s USA Senior and/or Junior championships, as she is sticking with the plan to compete at the World Youth Track & Field Trials on June 30-July 1st in Lisle, Illinois, with spots on Team USA for the IAAF World Youth Championships (age 16-17) in Cali, Colombia on the line.

The top boy’s performance was by Donavan Brazier of Kenowa Hills, Michigan, who won the 800 in a national-leading time of 1:47.55.  

Andrew Hunter of Loudoun Valley HS in Virginia won the boys’ two-mile in 8:42.51, beating sub-four minute miler Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc, Michigan, who ran 8:43.57.

Mount Spokane HS senior John Dressel, a member of Team USA at the IAAF world junior cross country championships in Guiyang in March, finished third in a time of 8:50.07.

NOTE:  Special thanks to Brooks Sports for their assistance.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Garrett Heath of Brooks Beasts runs sixth fastest 1500m time in the world at Portland Track Classic...

PORTLAND—Garrett Heath (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts may have solidified his chances to be one of the three men going to Beijing this summer, as he finished second to American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager of the Nike Bowerman TC in the 1500 meters Sunday at the Portland Track Classic at Griswold Stadium on the campus of Lewis & Clark College.

Jager took the victory in 3:32.97, the second fastest time in the world this season, while Heath stopped the watch in 3:34.13, the sixth fastest time in the world this season, and 1/100th of a second short of his personal best.

Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara was third in 3:37.84.

Sunday’s Portland Track Classic was set up as a last chance opportunity for middle distance runners to try and qualify for the USA outdoor championships in two weeks, as the deadline to try and qualify is Sunday, though USA Track & Field reserves the right to fill the field if there isn’t enough entries.

In the women’s 800, Washington alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts finished fifth in the top section, running 2:01.20, well under the US championship standard, but short of the IAAF world championships standard of 2:01.00.

Washington State volunteer coach Liga Velvere won heat 2 in 2:02.79, while Washington’s Baylee Mires was seventh in 2:06.73.  WSU’s Abby Regan won heat 3 in 2:05.64.

2012 US Olympian Shalaya Kipp, who runs for Oiselle, won the women’s steeple in 9:45.90, while UW alum Mel Lawrence was fourth in 10:05.04, outside the USA qualifying standard of 9:53.00.  Seattle native Lucy Cheadle of Washington University, the reigning NCAA Division III champ, was 12th in 10:35.18, behind WSU alum Caroline Austin, who ran 10:32.14.

Pasco native Marisa Howard finishes fourth in NCAA steeple finals...

EUGENE—Pasco native Marisa Howard (above/photo courtesy Boise State University) finished fourth in the steeplechase on the final day of the NCAA track & field championships at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

Howard, who finished second in this race in 2014, was in contention for most of the race, sticking with a group that included eventual winner Colleen Quigley (9:29.32) of Florida State, second place finisher Courtney Frerichs (9:31.36) of UM/Kansas City, and pre-race favorite Leah O’Connor (9:33.38) of Michigan State, before being gapped with two laps to go.

Howard finished the race with a new school record and personal best time of 9:37.84, well under the IAAF world championship standard of 9:44.00.

In the women’s high jump, Washington State’s Audrey Ketcham finished in a tie for 21st with a best of 5-7.75 (1.72m) on her second attempt, as she battled the swirling winds throughout the competition.

In the women’s 5000, Washington’s Maddie Meyers finished 21st in a time of 16:44.94, while Kirkland native Tansey Lystad of Portland was 24th in 17:13.37.

Up the road in Portland, Brie Felnagle of Tacoma finished third in the women’s 5000 at the Portland Track Festival at Lewis & Clark College, running 15:37.17, as Emily Infeld of the Nike Bowerman TC won in 15:07.19.

In the women’s 10000, Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch finished seventh in 33:57.93, while Washington alum Megan Goethals was eighth in 34:00.37, as both were chasing the USA Championships standard of 32:58.00.

The Portland Track Classic continues Sunday as a host of athletes with Washington ties will try to achieve marks on the final day before entries close for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene.

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

Friday, June 12, 2015

Marcus Chambers finishes surprising second in 400 as Oregon Ducks claim national title...

EUGENE—Tacoma native Marcus Chambers (left,with Oregon coach Robert Johnson/photo by Paul Merca) provided some big points for the Oregon Ducks as he finished a surprising second in the 400 meters at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

Chambers, a former Washington state champion from Foss HS,  stayed relaxed through the first half of the race, riding easily through the back stretch before finishing with a furious kick down the home stretch, passing Illinois senior DJ Zahn and making a run at eventual winner Vernon Norwood of LSU, who clocked 45.10 to Chambers’ 45.59.

Chambers’ eight points in the 400 helped the Ducks secure their second straight national team title, as the Men of Oregon scored 85 points to easily outdistance runner-up Florida’s 56, and Arkansas’ 53.

In the men’s 1500, Boise State’s David Elliott from Bellingham finished eighth in a tactical 3:55.86, while Washington’ Izaic Yorks, who was added to the field after he was interfered with by Seattle Prep grad Joe Hardy of Wisconsin in the semis Wednesday, was 13th in 3:56.76.  Former Duck Chad Noelle, who transferred to Oklahoma State, won in 3:54.96.

Saturday, the NCAA championships conclude with the women’s team title on the line.  Athletes with Washington ties competing included Kirkland native Tansey Lystad of Portland and Washington’s Maddie Meyers in the 5000, and Pasco’s Marisa Howard of Boise State in the 3000 steeplechase.

NOTE:  The University of Oregon contributed to this report.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Washington's Kristina Owsinski soars to school record and fourth place finish in pole vault at NCAAs...

EUGENE--University of Washington junior Kristina Owsinski (left/photo by Paul Merca) set a new school record in finishing fourth in the finals of the women's pole vault at the NCAA track and field championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

The Prairie HS grad cleared a height of 14-5.25 (4.40m) to erase the school record of 14-4.5 (4.38m) set by Logan Miller in 2012.

Owsinski had first attempt clearances at her first three heights, then missed on her first attempt at 14-3.25 (4.35m).  She then had a first attempt make at 14-5.25 (4.40m) before bowing out with three misses at 14-7.25 (4.45m).

Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin won with an NCAA meet record 15-5 (4.70m).

“Ultimately I wanted to come here and score a point for my team, and get a PR in, and I did both of those things today,” Owsinski said. “It’s crazy, I’ve been chasing this record for a while, and I was chasing 14-feet for a while as well. So to finally have it all come together at this meet that means so much made it even better. So I’m really excited but I’m also excited to move on from here and do bigger things and hopefully break my own school record.”

In other finals involving Washington affiliated athletes, Washington State's Pac-12 champion Alissa Brooks-Johnson finished 18th in the heptathlon with a final score of 5572 points.  She long jumped 17-feet 6 1/4 inches (5.34m) although struggling after a jarring landing, and then threw the javelin 135-9 (41.39m). She won her section of the 800m run with a lifetime-best time of 2 minutes 12.60 seconds, the fastest time of the 22 remaining competitors. Akela Jones from Kansas State won the event with 6,371 points.

In the long jump finals, Garfield HS grad Baileh Simms of Portland State finished 15th with a best of 20-3 (6.17m).

On the track, Pasco’s Marisa Howard of Boise State advanced to Saturday’s finals in the 3000 steeplechase, running 9:54.25, while Shelby Mills of Gonzaga failed to advance, finishing 11th in her heat in 10:39.23.

Senior Gianna Woodruff of Washington finished third in her heat of the 400 hurdles in 57.49, but did not advance to the finals.  Liz Harper of Washington State was in the same heat, but finished sixth in 58.93.  Alissa Brooks-Johnson gave it a go in heat 3 90 minutes after the heptathlon, but was last in her heat in 61.10.

In the women’s 800, Washington’s Baylee Mires was seventh in her heat of the 800, running 2:05.33, the second fastest time of her career.

Friday, Tacoma native Marcus Chambers of Oregon competes in the finals of the men’s 400 meters.  Isaac Yorks of Washington, along with Squalicum HS grad David Elliott of Boise State are in the finals of the mens’ 1500.

In Oslo, Vancouver native Kara Winger finished sixth in the javelin at the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games with a best toss of 202-2 (61.64m), as Marharyta Dorozhon of Israel won with a best of 211-9 (64.56m).

Complete results of the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games are available here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rough day for Washington athletes at NCAA track & field championships...

EUGENE—It was a rough day at the oval office for the Washington affiliated athletes competing at  the first day of the NCAA track & field championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

It all started early in the decathlon for Washington State’s Dino Dodig, as after running 11.25 in the 100 meters, he had a strong performance in the long jump, with a best of 22-5.75 (6.85m), 2.5 inches below his lifetime best.  Dodig was forced to withdraw before the shot put with a leg injury.

In the heptathlon, it was a tough one for reigning Pac-12 champ Alissa Brooks-Johnson of the Cougars, as she stands in 22nd place after four events with 3297 points.  

She started with a sub-par performance in the 100 hurdles, running 14.27 after hitting hurdle #8.  Brooks-Johnson high jumped 5-5.25 (1.66m), then threw the shot 37-9.5 (11.52m), and finished the day with a wind-aided PR of 24.63.

Washington’s Meron Simon returned to the scene of his greatest triumph in the 3000 steeplechase semis, but only finished tenth in 8:56.57.

Pac-12 800 champ Jesse Jorgensen of WSU had the ninth fastest time of the day in the 800, running 1:47.45.

Seattle Prep graduate Joe Hardy of Wisconsin and reigning Pac-12 1500 champ Izaic Yorks of Washington (left/photo by Mike Scott) were involved in some jostling, pushing and shoving in their semifinal.

Works moved to the front with about 2 laps to go, then got tangled up with Hardy at approximately the 600 mark.  Shortly before the bell, Yorks, who was trying to get back in position for the final lap, was tripped.  By the time he got up, he had spotted the field 20 meters.

A Husky protest led to Yorks being advanced to Friday’s final, while Hardy was disqualified for impeding Yorks.

David Elliott of Boise State, a graduate of Squalicum HS in Bellingham, ran the fastest time of the day, clocking 3:40.44.

In the men’s javelin, Washington’s Curtis Clauson finished ninth with a second round toss of 229-9 (70.04m), while Derek Eager from Tahoma HS & UCLA was 12th at 223-11 (68.27m), and sixth-year senior Kyle Stevens of WSU threw 212-0 (64.62m).

Oregon’s Marcus Chambers from Tacoma finished second in his heat of the 400, running 45.43, the third fastest time of the day.

Thursday, both Washington State women’s relay squads compete, along with Brooks-Johnson in the second day of the heptathlon.  Brooks-Johnson is also entered in the 400 hurdles, along with teammate Liz Harper.

Washington will have Baylee Mires in the 800 semis, Kristina Owsinski in the pole vault, and Gianna Woodruff in the 400 hurdles.

Also competing Thursday are Shelby Mills of Gonzaga and Pasco native Marisa Howard in the steeplechase, and Garfield HS grad Baileh Simms of Portland State in the long jump.

The link to results from the NCAA championships are available here.

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

Monday, June 8, 2015

NCAAs begin Wednesday in Eugene...

For the few remaining athletes that survived the rigors of both the indoor and outdoor seasons, it comes down to the NCAA national track & field championships that begin Wednesday at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

In order to make the meet more fan-friendly, the meet is being split into two separate meets with the men competing on Wednesday and Friday, and the women competing Thursday and Saturday.  The only exception will be the women’s heptathlon and the men’s decathlon, which both start on Wednesday.

Both Pac-12 heptathlon champ Alissa Brooks-Johnson (left/photo by Paul Merca) and decathlete Dino Dodig of Washington State will get things going Wednesday, as both qualified for the national championships by having one of the top 24 scores in the country.

On Wednesday, Washington’s Izaic Yorks and Wisconsin’s Joe Hardy via Seattle Prep compete in the men’s 1500 semifinals with berths to Friday’s finals on the line.

Also competing Wednesday are Pac-12 800 champ Jesse Jorgensen of Washington State, Washington’s Meron Simon in the steeplechase, and Tacoma native Marcus Chambers of Oregon in the 400 and in both relay semis for the Ducks.

On the field, Washington’s Curtis Clauson, Washington State’s Kyle Stevens, and UCLA’s Derek Eager from Tahoma HS will compete in the finals of the men’s javelin.

Thursday, both Dodig and Brooks-Johnson will conclude their second day of competition in the decathlon and heptathlon.

Brooks-Johnson will have about 90 minutes to rest after the heptathlon 800, before she goes in the semis of the 400 hurdles, along with teammate Liz Harper, and Washington’s Gianna Woodruff.

Also competing on the track Thursday are both Washington State women’s relay teams in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 semis; and Washington’s Baylee Mires in the 800 semis.  Gonzaga’s Shelby Mills will become the first Zag to compete in the national championship meet as she steps to the track in the women’s 3000 steeple semis along with Pasco native Marisa Howard of Boise State.

Washington’s Kristina Owsinski, the Pac-12 champ, competes in the finals of the pole vault, while Baileh Simms of Portland State, who graduated from Seattle’s Garfield HS competes in the long jump.  Simms is a two-time Big Sky champ in that event.

Friday will have finals in the men’s 400, 800, 1500, and steeple for Chambers, Jorgensen, Yorks, Hardy, and Simon assuming they survive Wednesday’s heats.

Saturday will be finals in both relays (Washington State), the 800 (Mires) and the steeple (Mills, Howard).  Additionally, the finals of the women’s 5000 featuring Portland’s Tansey Lystad from Kirkland and Washington’s Maddie Meyers will be contested.

Washington State’s Audrey Ketcham will compete in the finals of the women’s high jump.

ESPN will broadcast everyday of the meet on a variety of their platforms, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3 (all field events).  ESPN will offer 13.5 hours of live television coverage across its various platforms.

All of the broadcasts can be accessed on WatchESPN online or via the WatchESPN app on mobile devices.

A one-stop access to live results, heat sheets, and past results can be accessed via will be in Eugene for all four days of the NCAA championships.


In Burnaby, British Columbia, several professional and collegiate athletes with Washington ties competed in the annual Harry Jerome Track Classic at Swangard Stadium.

Rainier Beach HS alum Ginnie Crawford, who is on the comeback trail,  won the women’s 100 hurdles in 12.95, in front of Washington State assistant coach Angela Whyte, who clocked 13.26.  Former UW volunteer assistant coach Christie Gordon was sixth in 13.39.

In the women’s national 800, Washington State volunteer coach Liga Velvere from Latvia won the 800 in 2:04.27, while Cougar senior Abby Regan was fifth in 2:06.83.

Western Washington’s Katelyn Steen finished fourth in the steeplechase in 10:15.08.

In the men’s 1500, Matt Hillenbrand of the Brooks Beasts was 10th in 3:44.43.

Complete results of the Harry Jerome Track Classic are available here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lagat takes eighth in Birmingham as Kenya's Julius Yego shocks world with a near 300-footer...

BIRMINGHAM, England—The air may have been let out of the balloon when reigning world and Olympic champion Mo Farah withdrew from the 1500 meters at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix Sunday, a few days after the explosive BBC report accusing his Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar of using pharmaceuticals and obtaining therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to help his athletes enhance their performance.

With Farah out of the race, neither Washington State alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) nor Dorian Ulrey of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts could take advantage of Farah’s absence.

Lagat finished eighth in the 1500, while Ulrey finished tenth, as they ran 3:41.87 and 3:43.86, respectively.

James Magut of Kenya took the win in 3:37.61.

The highlight of the fifth stop of the IAAF’s Diamond League tour was Julius Yego of Kenya throwing a world leading 299-10 (91.39m, national record) in the sixth and final round to win the javelin over Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic, despite the fact that it was ruled a foul initially.

Here is Yego’s winning throw:

The IAAF Diamond League tour continues Thursday with the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, and the adidas Grand Prix meet Saturday in New York.

NOTE:  The IAAF contributed to this report.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Symmonds gets his first career outdoor sub-4 minute mile in Nashville...

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—It’s been a long wait for Nick Symmonds (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts, but the reigning world championship silver medalist at 800 meters finally got his first sub-4 minute mile outdoors at the Music City Distance Carnival on the campus of Vanderbilt University Saturday night.

Symmonds finished second in the invitational mile as he battled Georgia Tech’s Brandon Lasater over the last 100 meters, with Lasater winning in 3:59.24 to Symmonds’ 3:59.68.

The two-time US Olympian at 800 meters has a indoor personal best of 3:56.72, set at the Husky Preview meet way back in 2007.

In the women’s steeplechase, Jamie Cheever of Club Northwest took the win in a season best  9:54.96, while Washington alum Mel Lawrence of Oiselle was fourth in 10:07.27,  Cheever finished just short of the USATF qualifying standard of 9:53.00.

Washington State alum David Hickerson was sixth in the invitational 5000 in 14:37.62.

Sunday, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat along with Dorian Ulrey of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts will run in the 1500 at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix meet in Birmingham, England, which is the fifth stop on the IAAF’s Diamond League circuit.

Lagat and Ulrey will run against a field that includes the reigning world and Olympic champion at 5000 and 10000, Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Portland-based Nike Oregon Project, who drops down significantly in distance for Sunday.

Lagat is also entered in the mile at the next stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games in Oslo on Thursday the 11th.  Vancouver’s Kara Winger is also entered in the javelin at the Bislett meet.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fricker wins Adrian Martinez Classic 800; McNamara wins Nike Festival of Miles...

CONCORD, MA.—Seattle Pacific University alum McKayla Fricker (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the 800 meter run at the Adrian Martinez Classic Thursday night at Emerson Field.

Fricker, who was coming off a breakthrough performance at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, where she ran a personal best 2:01.64 on May 29th, ran 2:03.57.

In the women’s ADRO Mile, Amanda Mergaert of the Brooks Beasts finished 11th in a time of 4:34.9.

University of Washington alum Megan Goethals was 17th in the women’s 5000, running 16:06.80, one spot behind Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch, who ran 16:01.99.

In St. Louis, Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara successfully defended his title at the Nike Festival of Miles race.

McNamara, who won this race in 2011 and 2014, ran 3:58.81 to take home $2000--$1000 for the win and $1000 bonus for breaking 4 minutes.

The race was significant in that third place finisher Grant Fisher from Grand Blanc, Michigan became the seventh high schooler in American history to break 4 minutes in the mile, as he finished third in 3:59.38, matching the time Matthew Maton of Bend, Oregon ran at the Oregon Twilight meet last month.

Fisher joins Jim Ryun, Tim Danielson, Marty Liquori, Alan Webb, Lukas Verzbicas, and Maton as preps who have turned in a sub-4 mile while in high school.

Courtesy of Flotrack, here's a video interview with McNamara:

Blog Archive