Sunday, January 31, 2016

Brooks Beasts' Garrett Heath continues roll indoors at Camel City Elite meet...

Garrett Heath (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts won the 3000 meter run at the Camel City Elite indoor meet in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday at the JDL Fast Track complex.

Heath ran 7:48.48 to beat Lawi Lalang, who ran 7:50.07, making a move with one lap to go and covering that lap in 27 seconds, to set a new facility record.

“I had planned on going earlier, but you never know how you’re going to feel during a first race back on the track. But, every time I came around the curve I heard someone yelling at me and it got me moving,” Heath said afterwards.

For his efforts, Heath took home $5000, including a $1000 bonus for a facility record.

Teammate Cas Loxsom was fifth in the 800 in 1:52.99.

In the women’s 3000, Katie Mackey was fourth in 9:07.66.

Phoebe Wright was third in the 800 in 2:04.72.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Solid marks from both collegians and pros across the board highlight UW Invitational ...

SEATTLE—A good mix of collegians and pros took center stage during the second day of competition at the UW Invitational Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor on the campus of the University of Washington.

From a national perspective, the best mark of the day came out once again in the heptathlon, as the University of Arizona’s Pau Tonnesen, the reigning Pac-12 decathlon champion threatened the 6000 point mark, winning the two-day, seven event competition with a final score of 5972 points, which is the second best mark in the world so far this season.

A mild surprise came out of the men’s 3000, as David Elliott of Boise State (left/photo by Paul Merca), who attended Squalicum HS, won in a time of 7:53.15, the fourth fastest collegiate time this year.  In doing so, he towed Gonzaga’s Troy Fraley to a new school record of 7:59.00, good for fifth place and second collegian.  Fraley’s mark puts him #10 on the current collegiate list.

Washington’s Izaic Yorks finished second in the 800 behind BYU’s Shaquille Walker, running  a time of 1:47.89, as Walker ran 1:46.97.

Another Husky, Colby Gilbert, became the sixth man in school history to break four minutes in the mile, winning the event in 3:59.84.

The Huskies’ Jax Thoirs won the pole vault with a leap of 17-11 (5.46m), tied for third on the national collegiate list

On the women’s side, new Seattle resident Natalja Pillisuina of the Brooks Beasts won the 800 in 2:04.71 over teammate Megan Malasarte.

In the women’s mile, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson held off a late charge by Seattle resident Jamie Cheever, winning in 4:34.35 to 4:35.92.

Washington alum Mel Lawrence won the women’s 3000 in 9:14.13.

On the field, University Place resident Andrea Geubelle only took three jumps to win the women’s triple jump in 43-5.25 (13.25m) to qualify for the USA championships in Portland next month, while Kristina Owsinski of the UW won a spirited pole vault competition over teammate Diamara Planell Cruz 14-2 (4.32m) to 14-0 (4.27m).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kim Conley runs world leading time in 5000m to highlight first day of UW Invitational...

SEATTLE—Making her second appearance in a span of three weeks at the Dempsey Indoor, world and American indoor mile leader Kim Conley (left/photo by Paul Merca) ran a world leading time of 15:09.31 to highlight day 1 of the UW Invitational on the campus of the University of Washington.

Training partner Kate Grace paced the 2012 US Olympian at 5000 meters for the first part of the race before stepping off the track to let Conley move on.

Conley motored through the race, crossing the line in 15:09.31, setting a new meet record, eclipsing Molly Huddle’s old mark of 15:20.05 from 2010.

Freshman Allie Ostrander of Boise State made a huge impression in her first collegiate race at this distance, running 15:21.85, the best time in the collegiate ranks so far.

Washington’s Maddie Meyers powered the Huskies to victory in the women’s distance medley relay, anchoring the squad of Eleanor Fulton, Krista Armstead, and Baylee Mires to a time of 11:04.14, easily outdistancing the Husky B team of Anna Maxwell, Hannah Derby, Amy-Eloise Neale, and Katie Knight, who ran 11:26.25.

The Husky men’s squad of Colby Gilbert, Andrew Brown, Andrew Prentice & Izaic Yorks ran 9:37.72, to take the national lead in the distance medley relay.

Eastern Washington’s Kaytlyn Coleman won the women’s weight throw with a toss of 60-8.5 (18.50m).

Lindsay Lettow of the Santa Barbara TC won the women’s pentathlon with a five-event score of 4148 points.

The meet resumes Saturday at 9:30 am.


In Portland, Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker (left/photo by Howard Lao) won her season debut at 800 meters at the TrackTown USA High Performance Meet at the Nike House of Track.

Fricker ran 2:05.97 to defeat Treniere Moser of the Nike Oregon Project, who ran 2:06.08.

Galen Rupp of the Nike Oregon Project, who days earlier announced his intent to run in the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles in two weeks, running 7:57.39, just under the qualifying standard of 8:00 for the USA indoor championships in Portland at the Oregon Convention Center in March.

Gonzaga alum Willie Milam was a distant second in 8:27.23.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson & 2016 world mile leader Kim Conley heads UW Invitational field...

2008 Olympic gold medalist
Dawn Harper is among the top entries
at the UW Invite (Paul Merca photo)
A strong field is entered in Friday and Saturday’s UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor, with all nine Washington Division I and II schools participating this weekend.

Additionally, a bevy of top professional athletes will make their way to Seattle to compete on one of the nation’s fastest tracks as they try to get their qualifying marks for the USA indoor championships in Portland.

As always, the distance races promise to be uber-competitive, with the women’s 5000 on Friday and the women’s mile Saturday having the best fields.

2012 US Olympian Kim Conley, who ran a world leading 4:27.88 in the mile in New York last week, returns to the Dempsey to face her training partner Kate Grace in the 5000, where the fastest time in the world this season is 15:45.66.

Other notables in the women’s 5000 field include Gig Harbor native Brenna Peloquin, Allie Ostrander and Minttu Hukka of Boise State; Pasco native Marisa Howard of Oiselle; and 2014 USA cross country champ Amy Van Alstine.

The women’s mile is led by 2012 Olympian Geena Gall of Team Run Eugene, who will go against Camas’ Alexa Efraimson; Hannah Fields of the Brooks Beasts; Oiselle’s Lauren Wallace; and the Husky quartet of All-American Maddie Meyers, along with Baylee Mires, Eleanor Fulton, and Anna Maxwell. 

Some of the other top women entries include 2008 Olympic 100 hurdles champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, who will run both the 60 and 60 hurdles; Rainier Beach HS alum Ginnie Crawford (60 dash, bypassing the 60 hurdles); multi-event specialist Barbara Nwaba (60 hurdles, 800, long jump, shot put, bypassing the pentathlon); Kori Carter (400); Megan Malasarte and Natalja Piliusina of the Brooks Beasts (800); Kristina Owsinski and Diamara Planell Cruz of the Huskies (pole vault); Eastern Washington’s Kaytlyn Coleman (weight); and, former NCAA champ Andrea Geubelle of University Place (triple jump).

While the men’s distance races don’t quite have the sizzle of the women’s races at this year’s UW Invite, Dorian Ulrey and Travis Burkstrand of the Brooks Beasts are the top entries in the mile along with the Huskies’ Colby Gilbert, while Canadian Luc Bruchet leads the way in the 3000.

All-American Izaic Yorks of the Huskies drops down in distance to 800 meters, where he’ll face Mark Wieczorek and Shaquille Walker of BYU, while WSU alum and 3-time NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson will run in another heat of the 800.

Jax Thoirs and Lev Marcus of the Huskies will go against UW alum JJ Juilifs in the men’s pole vault.

An interesting matchup in the men’s long jump pits UW alum Norris Frederick against UC Riverside alum Ted Hooper, while in the weight throw, Brock Eager of WSU goes against Long Beach State alum Collin Dunbar.

The UW Invitational will have a strong field in the pentathlon and heptathlon.  Friday’s pentathlon has four 4000-point scorers, led by Lindsay Lettow, a former NCAA D2 multi event champ from Central Missouri, as she returns to defend her title from last year.

In the two-day heptathlon, Arizona’s Pau Tonnesen, who was second in the NCAA decathlon and competed at the world championships in Beijing for Spain, goes against Japanese Olympian Keisuke Ushiro, and former NCAA hep champ Miller Moss.

Washington looks to put its mark on the national list in both men’s and women’s distance medley relays Friday night, an event in which the Dawgs have been regular qualifiers for at the NCAA championships.

The heat sheets for Friday and Saturday’s UW Invitational are available here (as always, subject to change; note the top 8 entries in the 60/60 hurdles have a bye to the second round & are not listed).


Flotrack.org will provide live streaming coverage of the UW Invitational ($).

BEASTS HEAD TO NORTH CAROLINA

Several members of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts will head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for Saturday’s Camel City Elite meet at the JDL Fast Track.

Washington alum Katie Mackey and Jessica Tonn will run the women’s 3000, while Garrett Heath leads the field in the men’s 3000.

In the women’s 800, Seattle’s Phoebe Wright goes against Oregon alum Laura Roesler, while Cas Loxsom goes against Duane Solomon in the mens’ 800.

The Camel City Elite’s release announcing their field is available here.

RunnerSpace will provide live streaming coverage of the Camel City Elite ($).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Washington men's and women's squads remain in national top-25 indoor rankings...

Washington's Kristina Owsinski is ranked
#4 in NCAA Division I so far this season
(Paul Merca photo)
NEW ORLEANS—The Washington Huskies, who were idle this past weekend, took a slight drop in both the men’s and women’s national computer rankings released by the USTFCCCA on Monday.

The Washington men are #9 in the national indoor computer rankings, down one spot from its pre-season listing at #8.

The top five teams in the rankings are Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and Oregon.

Men’s teams from the MPSF that are ranked include #12 Colorado, #14 Stanford, and #18 USC.

The Husky women’s squad are listed as #24 in the computer rankings, from its pre-season #18 spot.

The top five women’s teams as ranked by the USTFCCCA are Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Kansas State, and Oregon.

Other teams from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation that are ranked in the top 25 include #7 USC, and #14 Stanford.

Washington returns to action Friday and Saturday when it hosts the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor facility.

The National Team Computer Rankings are complied by a mathematical formula based on national descending order lists. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race. Rankings points do not equate with NCAA Championships team points.


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

adidas to terminate sponsorship of the IAAF, according to BBC report...

The track at Adi Dassler Stadion, on the campus of
adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach
(photo courtesy adidas)
In what could potentially have major implications on the events put on by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), including the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Portland in March, the federation’s top sponsor, adidas, has informed the IAAF that it will terminate its global sponsorship early, according to a report from the British Broadcasting Company.

The BBC report says that in the wake of the doping scandal sweeping the sport, along with the reports of corruption within the organization under former president Lamine Diack, adidas told IAAF officials that it would terminate their sponsorship agreement, which was scheduled to end in 2019, immediately.

The adidas sponsorship was for all IAAF World Athletics Series events, including the world indoor championships in Portland.  According to an IAAF release written in November 2008,adidas will be the official IAAF athletics sponsor and licensee product supplier for the next decade. The partnership incorporates every aspect of athletics, from product creation, to grassroots development and retail distribution.”

Among other things that adidas does for the IAAF is that it provides uniforms, shoes, and bags to the volunteers, staff, and officials at every World Athletics Series event, which the Portland meet falls under. 

The BBC report stated that adidas considers the accusation of corruption within the IAAF as a breach of their sponsorship deal, and are prepared for legal action should the organization challenge the termination of the sponsorship deal in court.


adidas made headlines recently when the company, along with several other sponsors, spoke out about the corruption within soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, but stopped short of joining other sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Budweiser in calling for the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.


If indeed adidas is out as the IAAF sponsor, it potentially opens the door for Beaverton-based Nike (or for that matter, any other sportswear manufacturer) to replace adidas, assuming a deal can be reached with the IAAF and Dentsu, who would be the group that would sell the sponsorship rights on the IAAF's behalf.

Nike is one of the major contributors to TrackTown USA, the Eugene-based group organizing the Portland world indoor championships, as well as this year’s US Olympic Track & Field Trials, and the 2021 IAAF world track & field championships in Eugene.

My take is that hopefully, cooler heads at adidas, Dentsu and the IAAF can prevail, and that they can make the rest of the contract work. Making it work is probably a lot cheaper than going through the courts, not to mention the public relations mess a long court battle will put on all parties.

paulmerca.blogspot.com has reached out to adidas officials for comment and to confirm the BBC report.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Portland's track is ready for the world...

PORTLAND—I attended Friday night’s high performance meet at the Nike+ Run Club House of Track not so much to see great competition, but rather to see how the track that will be used for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field championships would perform when put to the test by great athletes.

While the results from the first two meets are only a small sampling, the feedback from the athletes who competed Friday night indicate that when the track is moved across town to the Oregon Convention Center for the world championships, the athletes from all around the world traveling to Portland will find themselves competing on a world class track.

The athletes and the 1200 spectators who attended the meet at the House of Track didn’t mind the fact that they were competing inside an abandoned warehouse owned by the city of Portland with very little spectator-friendly amenities.  They were happy just to see high-caliber indoor track and field in a city that once had an annual indoor track meet at the old Memorial Coliseum.

Two-time US Olympian and Oregon alum Andrew Wheating (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won the men’s 1500 in a world leading time of 3:39.82, to beat former Ducks Trevor Dunbar (3:40.77) and Will Geoghegan (3:41.08) said afterwards, “The crowd was just phenomenal. I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Laura Roesler, the Oregon alum and 2014 Bowerman Award winner as the top college track & field athlete, won the women’s 800 in 2:04.04, after missing the 2015 outdoor season with a partially torn right Achilles tendon.

Commenting on the track, which was built by Beynon Sports, the same company that surfaced the tracks at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, as well as Husky Track on the campus of the University of Washington, Roesler said, “It has the perfect amount of bank, the perfect amount of springiness. It even smells good.”

Jenna Prandini, the 2015 Bowerman Award winner who won the women’s 60 in 7.28, said, “The track was awesome. I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. It’s definitely fun to run on.”

Of the warehouse that’s holding the 1400 piece, 2000 ton track before its move across town to the Oregon Convention Center, Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, and head coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic track and field team said, 

“It’s low budget, but it’s high energy, high excitement, and it gets high marks from the athletes. I think they love the track, and they love the atmosphere.”

Before it gets moved, the community will get to run on the track, as local youth teams, along with members of the Portland Nike+ Run Club will do workouts at the venue over the next few weeks.

The House of Track will host two more high performance meets on Friday January 29th, and February 5th, featuring a slew of elite level athletes looking to test themselves on the track before the nationals and world championships.


For more information on the House of Track, visit houseoftrack.com.

PIERSON SETS MEET RECORD AT WSU OPEN

In Pullman on Saturday, Washington State’s Thane Pierson cleared 7-1 (2.16m) to break the meet record at the WSU Open indoor track & field meet at their Indoor Facility on the school campus.

The host Cougars won ten events with limited entries, with Liz Harper winning two events, taking the 60m hurdles in a personal best 8.56, and winning the long jump in 18-7 (5.66m).

Brock Eager of WSU won the 35-pound weight throw with a toss of 63-2.75 (19.27m), the seventh best throw in school history.

Eastern Washington’s Kaytlyn Coleman, last week’s Big Sky field athlete of the week, won the women’s weight throw, leading a 1-2 Eagle finish with a distance of 61-4.75 (18.71m).  She also won the shot put with a best of 47-6.25 (14.48m).


NOTE:  Special thanks to the TrackTown USA staff for their help in the coverage of the meet Friday evening.  The sports information office of Washington State University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nick Symmonds and Run Gum go after the USOC and USATF...

In a move that could potentially have large ramifications on this summer’s US Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Nick Symmonds (above/photo by Paul Merca) of the Brooks Beasts and his company, Run Gum, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Eugene against the US Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field.

In the lawsuit, Run Gum, which Symmonds started, claims that the USOC and USATF violate the Sherman Antitrust Act restricting sponsor advertising at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene.


At last year’s USA national championships in Eugene, several athletes who did not have shoe/apparel contracts, competed in Run Gum competition uniforms without restriction from USA Track & Field.  Symmonds also wore temporary tattoos with the Run Gum logo on his arms at the nationals last year, where he won yet another national title at 800 meters.

Among the athletes Run Gum, a caffeinated gum product marketed towards athletes sponsors include Washington alum Katie Mackey, who had a Run Gum temporary tattoo on her leg at last year's nationals.

However, since the Trials fall under the jurisdiction of the US Olympic Committee and not USATF, the only logos permitted on an athlete’s competition attire are those that belong to apparel and equipment manufacturers approved by the USOC, according to Run Gum’s release.  

Run Gum contends that they want to sponsor athletes at the Trials in exchange for logo exposure on the athletes’ competition gear, subject to the same limitations on logo size, placement, quantity and size that, for example, Nike, adidas, New Balance, Asics, Brooks, and other athletic wear manufacturers have.

This litigation also affects non-athletic apparel categories that aren’t sponsors of the USOC, such as food and beverage companies, automobile manufacturers, etc., who might wish to sponsor an individual athlete, but may be scared off by the USOC’s policies on what an athlete can wear at the Trials.

Symmonds, co-founder Sam Lapray (his coach at Willamette University), and Run Gum are being represented by Hausfeld LLP, the same law firm that represented UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon in his anti-trust suit against the NCAA after his likeness was used on a video game without his permission.

Neither the USOC nor USATF have publicly commented on the pending litigation.


BOARD GAMES

There are two major indoor track meets happening in the Pacific Northwest this weekend—one in Pullman, and the other in Portland.

Friday & Saturday, Washington State hosts the 14th annual WSU Open meet at their indoor facility on the WSU campus.  The discus, weight throws, triple jump and women’s pole vault take place Friday, with all other events contested Saturday at 9:30 am, with running events starting at 10 am.


Meanwhile, TrackTown USA hosts the second of four high performance meets Friday night on the new oval built for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships at the abandoned warehouse at 2400 NW Front in Portland known as the House of Track.

Significant entries for Friday night’s meet include the last two Bowerman Award recipients in 2014 winner Laura Roesler (800m) and Jenna Prandini (60m) of Oregon; Olympic long jump champ Brittney Reese (60m); Olympian Andrew Wheating (800m), Olympic triple jump silver medalist Will Claye (60M), 2012 Olympian Geena Lara (800m), and 2012 Olympic steeplechaser Bridget Franek (mile).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Olympian Kim Conley cruises to victory in the 3000 to highlight UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE—Saturday’s University of Washington Preview at the Dempsey Indoor continued to live up to its billing as one of the premier early season meets in the country, as many of the best track & field athletes got the rust out after not competing for several months.

2012 US Olympian Kim Conley, who originally planned to run 2000 meters in an effort to help her teammates, instead ran to a winning time of 9:01.31 in the women’s 3000, to get her qualifying time for the USA indoor championships in Portland.

Conley’s winning time is the second fastest time in the world so far in this young season (there are three marks that are superior but all were set in a mixed race), only topped by Shannon Rowbury’s 8:53.52 set Friday night in Portland.

University Place resident Andrea Geubelle who has battled injuries for most of the last two seasons after graduating from Kansas set a meet record in the long jump, winning with a mark of 21-1.25 (6.43m), the sixth longest in the world this season, to get her qualifying mark for the USA indoors in March in Portland.

In the women’s 60 hurdles, defending world indoor champion Nia Ali ran 8.12, which is the fourth fastest time in the world this season.

Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama made a return to the Pacific Northwest and won the triple jump with a best of 43-5 (13.23m) to earn a qualifying mark for the national championships in Portland.

Washington’s Kristina Owsinski, the two-time MPSF and reigning Pac-12 champ, got off to a good start, winning the pole vault with an indoor personal best of 14-2 (4.32m).

In the women’s 60 meter dash, Oregon’s Jasmine Todd, who holds the Dempsey record of 7.15 set in this meet last year, won again in 7.24, the second fastest time in the world so far. In the other section of the 60 dash, Federal Way native Hannah Cunliffe, now representing Oregon, won in 7.31, with the Huskies’ Kennadi Bouyer second in 7.35, just ahead of reigning Olympic long jump champ Britney Reese at 7.40.  Both times are among the fastest in the world so far this season.

In the rarely contested 600 meters, reigning NCAA outdoor 800 meter champ Raevyn Rogers of Oregon win in a facility record 1:26.34 over Tumwater’s Brooke Feldmeier who ran 1:28.21. Rogers’ mark is superior to the existing collegiate record of 1:26.56 set by Delisa Walton-Floyd of Tennessee in Pocatello, Idaho in 1981.

Best men’s performance of the day was Oregon alum Trevor Dunbar’s mile/3000 double win, running 4:01.41 and 8:00.68.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Huskies open the doors to the Dempsey for UW Indoor Preview meet Saturday...

All five of Washington’s NCAA Division I schools, along with Division II Western Washington and Seattle Pacific will have entries competing at Saturday’s UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor.

In addition, several athletes with aspirations of competing and or making the podium at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will make their 2016 season debuts Saturday.

Brianne Theisen-Eaton (above/photo by Paul Merca), the Canadian and Oregon alum and world championship silver medalist in the heptathlon, is entered in the women’s 400 meter dash, where she’ll face reigning Pac-12 400 hurdles champ Jaide Stepter of USC.

Reigning Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese makes her season debut by running the 60 meter dash where she'll potentially face Oregon's Jasmine Todd, who won a relay silver medal for the USA at the world championships in Beijing last summer.

Defending world 60 hurdles champion and USC alum Nia Ali is scheduled to make her season debut in her specialty

US Olympian Kim Conley is slated to run in the women’s 3000, where she’ll face a field that includes Canadian world championships competitor Natasha Wodak and Canadian Olympian Nicole Sifuentes.

The women’s 600, which is contested indoors infrequently, features Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker against reigning NCAA 800 champ Raevyn Rogers of Oregon, and 2015 SEC 800 champ Brooke Feldmeier from Tumwater, who transferred to Oregon.

On the field, the last three Pac-12 champions in the pole vault are scheduled to battle, including Kristine Felix of Washington State (competing unattached), and the Huskies’ Diamara Planell Cruz and Kristina Owsinski.

A good battle is scheduled in the long jump, featuring former NCAA national champion Andrea Geubelle of University Place goes against Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama, and reigning world indoor 60 hurdles champ and former USC multi-event specialist Nia Ali.

On the men’s side, the Dempsey’s reputation as one of the most prolific producers of sub-4 minute miles will be put to the test featuring Oregon alum Trevor Dunbar, who faces Canadian Luc Bruchet.  Both are also slated to run the 3000.

The high jump features Canadian Olympian Mike Mason against Pan Am junior champ Randall Cunningham II of USC, while the pole vault features Washington’s Jax Thoirs, an NCAA scorer indoors last year, along with fellow Dawgs Lev Marcus and Chris Williams.

Washington alum Norris Frederick makes his 2016 season debut in the long jump.

Husky cross country All-Americans Izaic Yorks and Colby Gilbert make their 2016 debuts in the 1000 meters, while Maddie Meyers is scheduled to run on the Huskies’ 4 x 800 meter relay.

One major change spectators need to be aware of is that a $5 admission fee will be charged for all indoor meets.


The time schedule for the meet, which starts at 9am is available here.  Note in both instances, the schedule, heats, and entries are subject to change.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Double the distance no problem, as Heath wins for the third time at Edinburgh...

EDINBURGH, Scotland—On a very wet and blustery day, Garrett Heath of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts (above/screen grab via BBC telecast) won the men’s 8k race at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge Saturday at famed Holyrood Park.

Heath, the two time Great Edinburgh 4k cross country champ and reigning USATF club cross country champion, stayed comfortably in the lead group, then went to the front briefly at the 14 minute mark, with Great Britain’s Mo Farah of the Nike Oregon Project lurking, as the double Olympic and world champion entered his first cross country race in five years.

Before the final lap, Farah took the lead, with Heath on his hip, along with two other British runners in the made for TV race, and Portland alum Scott Fauble.

Heath took the lead before the final hill with 400 meters to go, getting a three-step lead and maintained that lead as the duo made the final hard right turn down the hill with 200 meters to go. 

Farah appeared to slip making the hard right hand turn as Heath charged down the hill, but the Olympic champ recovered and made a late charge, but could not completely close the gap on Heath, as Heath took the victory in 25:29 to Farah’s 25:31.

Fauble, competing in his first international as a senior, finished third in 25:38.

“I didn’t expect it. Mo’s such a great runner and I wanted to be out there and run with him.  My teammate Scott Fauble came up to me with 800 to go, and I can tell you he was feeling good. I just kept waiting for Mo to kick past me.”

The win over the 8k distance gives Heath his third straight win at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

In the women’s 6k race, Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver finished tenth in 21:53, as Great Britain's Kate Avery, who won an NCAA cross country title at Iona, took the win in 21:05.

Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts was part of Team USA's 4 x 1k co-ed relay team.

Complete results will be posted shortly at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge web site.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Heath travels to Edinburgh to compete in Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge...

Garrett Heath (left/photo by Mike Scott) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts travels to Edinburgh, Scotland to compete in Saturday’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge meet at Holyrood Park.

With the 4k race, which Heath had won the last two years no longer part of the program, the Stanford alum moves up to the 8k race, where he will face Great Britain and Nike Oregon Project’s Mo Farah, the defending world and Olympic champion at 5000 and 10000 meters.

Heath will be part of a Team USA squad that’s comprised of several individuals who ran at last month’s USATF national club cross country championship race.

Also competing for Team USA in Edinburgh is Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver in the women’s 6k race, and Riley Masters of the Brooks Beasts, who will run in the 4 x 1k relay race.

Saturday’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge will be webcast on usatf.tv beginning at 5 am, pacific time.  The link to the webcast is available here.


TRACKTOWN USA ANNOUNCES WINTER SERIES

TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for both the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Portland, and the US Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field in Eugene this summer, announced a series of high performance and developmental indoor meets in Portland beginning on Friday January 15th.

The meets will be held at the House of Track, a warehouse in Portland housing the track that will be used for the world indoor championships.

The dates for the meets are:  January 15-16, January 22-23, January 29-30, and February 5-6th.

The House of Track is located at 2400 NW Front Avenue in Portland.

After the four meet series is concluded, the track will be disassembled and moved across town to the Oregon Convention Center, where a temporary arena will be built to host both the USA indoor championships and the IAAF World Indoor Championships.


NOTE:  USA Track & Field, the Great Edinburgh Cross country Challenge, and TrackTown USA contributed to this report.

Thursday's quick hits...

--The venue for this Saturday's (9 January) fundraiser to benefit Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo's (above/photo by Paul Merca) Rio Olympic training fund has changed.

Instead of the venue first announced in the post on December 29th, the new venue is in Renton.

The address of Taiwo's Tamalada featuring an array of tamales is 2421 Meadow Avenue North in Renton.  The time remains from 4 to 7 pm.

More information on Taiwo's fundraiser is available on his Facebook page.

--University of Washington track & field operations director Jess Riden announced on social media that she is leaving her post at the UW to take a similar position at Stanford University.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Both Husky squads in the top 25 in pre-season USTFCCCA computer rankings...

Pole vaulter Jax Thoirs
(Paul Merca photo)
NEW ORLEANS—Both University of Washington track & field teams are ranked in the top 25 in the USTFCCCA pre-season computer rankings released Wednesday.

The Washington men are ranked #8 in the pre-season rankings, with five athletes ranked in the top ten in their events, based on 2015 indoor marks—Izaic Yorks (#6) in the mile; Colby Gilbert (#2) in the 3000; Aaron Nelson (#7) in the 5000; and pole vaulters Jax Thoirs (#3) and Lev Marcus (#7).

On the women’s side, the Huskies are ranked #18 in the pre-season rankings, with three athletes ranked in the top ten based on last year’s marks—Maddie Meyers (#9) in the mile, and pole vaulters Diamara Planell Cruz (#3) and Kristina Owsinski (#5).

The National Team Computer Rankings are complied by a mathematical formula based on national descending order lists. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race. Rankings points do not equate with NCAA Championships team points.  Information on how the rankings are calculated by the USTFCCCA are available here.

The nation’s top five men’s teams according to the USTFCCCA computers are Florida, Texas, Oregon, Virginia Tech, and Alabama.

Men’s teams from the MPSF ranked in the top 25 include Colorado (12), and Stanford (13).

The top five women’s teams are Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Kansas State, and Oregon.

Women’s teams ranked in the top 25 from the MPSF include USC (7), and Stanford (13).


The Huskies open the 2016 indoor season with the UW Preview on January 16th at Dempsey Indoor.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sixteen athletes with Washington ties earn Track & Field News US top-10 rankings...

Track & Field News revealed its 2015 world and national rankings in its annual issue mailed out to its subscribers Monday.

Sixteen men and women with ties to the state of Washington received a national top-10 ranking by the magazine, based on honors won, win-loss record, and sequence of marks. Some of the major shoe companies use the magazine’s rankings as part of their criteria when paying bonuses to athletes.

Among those with Washington ties making the US top ten in 2015 on the men’s side are:  Marcus Chambers (ranked #7 in the 400 at 44.95); Michael Berry (#10 at 45.13); Nick Symmonds (#2 in 800 at 1:44.53); Cas Loxsom (#4 at 1:44.92); Garrett Heath (#8 at 1500/mile in 3:34.13, and #7 in the 5000 at 13:16.31); Bernard Lagat (#5 in the 5000 at 13:14.97); Jeshua Anderson (#6 at 400H at 48.95); Brad Walker (#2 in pole vault at 18-9.25/5.72m); and Jeremy Taiwo (#3 in decathlon with 8303 points).

Vancouver’s Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) was again ranked #1 in the USA by the magazine in the javelin, with a best of 218-1/66.47m, which was the fourth furthest throw in the world last year.

Other women with Washington ties earning top-10 rankings from the magazine include: Phoebe Wright (#7 in the 800 at 2:00.61); Katie Mackey (#4 in the 1500/mile at 4:03.81 and #7 in the 5000 at 15:16.60); Mattie Suver (#8 in the 10000 at 31:54.43); Katie Burnett (#3 in 20K walk at 1:37:51); Blessing Ufodiama (#8 in triple jump at 44-4.5/13.47m); and Britney Henry (#7 in hammer at 233-2/71.08m).



On his Facebook page, longtime Track & Field News associate editor Jon Hendershott, who is originally from Seattle (he attended Roosevelt HS), announced his retirement from the magazine after 48 years.

paulmerca.blogspot.com wishes Hendershott all the best and congratulates him on his long service to the magazine and to the sport.

NOTE:  Track & Field News contributed to this report.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sequim native Stephanie Dinius wins Jacksonville Half-Marathon...

This blog normally doesn’t pay too much attention to road race results, but Sunday’s Jacksonville Half Marathon was significant, as Sequim HS and Stanford University graduate Stephanie (Marcy) Dinius (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the race, running 1:13:41 to garner a 5-second victory over Esther Atkins.

Dinius, who currently resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, led the first fourteen women across the line under the 1:15:00 half-marathon time needed to qualify for next month’s US Olympic Team Trials-Marathon in Los Angeles.

Dinius already had the standard, as she ran 1:13:28 at last year’s Houston Half-Marathon.

Puyallup’s Ruth Perkins, who has battled injuries over the last few months, finished 27th in 1:18:34.  Perkins is already qualified for next month’s Trials with a 2:40:04 at the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon.


OLYMPIC MARATHON TRIALS QUALIFIERS LISTED

Upon the conclusion of Sunday’s Jacksonville Half-Marathon, paulmerca.blogspot.com has compiled a list of athletes with Washington ties who are qualified to participate in next month’s US Olympic Team Trials-Marathon in Los Angeles.

The qualifying period for the marathon trials started August 1, 2013, and ends on January 17th.  Details on how athletes qualify for the Marathon Trials are available here.

This list also includes a column indicating the athletes’ ties to the state of Washington, whether they reside, or attended high school/college in the state.

The complete list of Trials qualifiers are available on the usatf.org site.  Please contact me directly regarding any omissions, corrections, etc.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Here we go--the 2015 Mercanator Awards...

After getting rested up over the holidays, it’s time to hand out the 2015 Mercanator Awards!

In case you new readers of the blog have not seen previous versions of the Mercanator, the Mercanator Awards are for the top performers and performances of the previous year, as chronicled by this 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 I also cover pro football on a free-lance basis.

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 2015, 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), Howard Lao, 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 the USTFCCCA.

In 2015, the blog traveled to Boulder, Guiyang, Spokane/Cheney (three times), Los Angeles, Eugene twice, Beijing, Bellingham, Louisville, and San Antonio to cover events that included the USA outdoor track and cross country championships; the IAAF world cross country and track & field championships; the Pac-12 track & cross country championships; the Big Sky track championships; the WCC cross country championships; the NCAA track & cross country championships; the GNAC cross country championships; and The Bowerman Trophy presentation.

And now, the 2015 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:  Tacoma native Marcus Chambers gets the nod over former Duck teammate and Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry.  Chambers ran 44.95 and made the finals of the USA outdoor championships. He also won the Pac-12 title in 45.21 and got second in the NCAA outdoor meet, and earned a silver medal in the 4 x 400 at the Pan Am Games

For his part, Berry might have gotten the nod over Chambers if not for a disqualification for a lane violation that negated a season best 44.81 in the USA semis.

Jeshua Anderson gets an honorable mention for running 48.95 in the 400 hurdles at the Pan Am Games, and finishing fifth in the USA finals.

Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts
gets the Washington state men's
athlete of the year award
(Paul Merca photo)
TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Middle Distances:  Four athletes were in contention for this award:  USA 800 meter champ Nick Symmonds; Cas Loxsom, who won the USA 600 meter title indoors and set the American record, helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 4 x 800 at the IAAF World Relays, and made Team USA with his third place finish in the 800 at outdoor nationals; Garrett Heath, who started off hot early by winning the Great Edinburgh Cross Country 4k title, ran a PR 13:16.31 over 5000 meters at Stanford; ran 3:34.13 for 1500 before the outdoor nationals, where he ended up fourth in the 5000m in a tactical race; and, the ageless wonder Bernard Lagat, who ran 13:14.97 for 5000m at the Nike Prefontaine Classic as a 40-year old, but had the misfortune to compete at the US nationals in Eugene banged up.

This was a tough one to call, but by the slightest margin, I gave it to Garrett Heath for the overall body of work during the season.

The fact there were four athletes even in contention for the award in the men’s middle distance category is a testament to Brooks’ commitment to the Beasts TC, as three of the four (Symmonds, Loxsom & Heath) came from that group.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Distances:  Easy one, as Bellingham native Jake Riley gets the nod. Riley’s highlights were a second place finish in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country 8k race, and a 27:59.37 10000m time at the Payton Jordan Invite at Stanford.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Vertical Jumps: Another easy one, as Washington alum Brad Walker was the only one who had anything of note. While it may not have been up to the standards he’s come to expect, Walker cleared a season best 18-9.25 (5.72m), and made yet another world championship team.

Washington’s Jax Thoirs gets an honorable mention for his fourth place finish at the NCAA indoor championships.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Multi-Events:  Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo easily gets this one, for winning the USA indoor title with a meet record score of 6232 points, and setting a personal best of 6344 at the UW Invitational.

Outdoors he continued his roll, scoring a personal best 8303 in the decathlon at Gotzis in late May, and took second at the USAs, scoring 8264 points. The roll ended in Beijing at the world championships when he had to drop out after seven events with a knee injury.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Middle Distances:  This was a good year for the middle distances among Washington athletes, with Phoebe Wright and McKayla Fricker knocking on the door of sub 2:00 in the 800; the youngster Alexa Efraimson running 2:01.11 and 4:03.39; steeplers Marisa Howard and Jamie Cheever both ducking under the IAAF standard of 9:45; and 2014 winner Katie Mackey’s range in 2015, running 2:01.20, 4:03.81, and 15:16.60 for 800, 1500 & 5000.

Katie Mackey’s range of marks, plus a win in the 3000 at the Stockholm Diamond League meet, a win in the DecaNations 1500, and a third in the 1500 at the London Diamond League meet gives her the nod.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Distances:  This one boiled down to two runners—Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver, and Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan.  Suver finished second at the USA cross country championships, and 34th at the IAAF world cross country championships, while Flanagan was third at the Pan Am Games in the marathon, before being upgraded to silver after the disqualification of Peru’s Gladys Tejada for a PED.  Flanagan ran 2:33:12 at last year’s Houston Marathon.

Both raced at Stanford in the 10000 with Suver ducking under the IAAF standard of 32:15.00, as she ran 31:54.43, while Flanagan ran 32:22.15 in a separate section, which got her under the Olympic Trials standard of 32:25.

Mattie Suver gets the Mercanator for the women’s distances.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Vertical Jumps:  Washington junior pole vaulter Kristina Owsinski gets the award here after a solid performance that included her second MPSF indoor title, a victory in the Pac-12 title meet, and a fourth place finish at the NCAA championships in a school record 14-5.25 (4.40m), and in the process, earned a qualifying mark to July’s US Olympic Trials.

Kara Winger from Vancouver
gets the Washington state
women's athlete of the year
award (Paul Merca photo)
TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Throws:  How can you top the season that javelin queen Kara Winger had in 2015, as she threatened her own American record just after the Olympic Trials qualifying window opened, throwing 218-1 (66.47m) in Austin on May 2nd; winning yet another national title, and finally, making a world championship final, finishing eighth in Beijing.

My three best performances of 2015 witnessed in person all happened at the world championships in Beijing:  A) Ashton Eaton’s two day performance where he scored a world record 9045 points in the decathlon; B) Christian Taylor’s 59-9 (18.21m) triple jump in Beijing; and C) Mo Farah’s 5000/10000 distance double, winning in two different ways—with a fast pace in the 10000, and a slooow tactical race in the 5000.

The 2015 Washington state track & field athletes as selected by the editor of paulmerca.blogspot.com are Garrett Heath and Kara Winger…congratulations to both of you!

Incidentally, we have two weeks to go until the first indoor meet of 2016 in the state of Washington!

Friday, January 1, 2016

List #1--Washington affiliated athletes qualified for the US Olympic Trials...

Vancouver's Kara Winger owns both the US
Olympic Trials & the Olympic standard
in the javelin (Paul Merca photo)
Below is a list of Washington affiliated athletes who have achieved qualifying marks for the 2016 US Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon starting July 1-10, 2016.

Washington affiliated athletes are those who attended high school, college or graduate school in the state of Washington, while professionals are those currently training in the state.

This list will be updated monthly, and hopefully more frequently as we get closer to the Trials.  This list does not include the marathon and the walks.

All qualifiers achieved their marks after May 1, 2015. Athletes have until June 26th to qualify for the US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

For complete details on the US Olympic Track & Field Trials qualifying procedures, please visit the USATF page, here:

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