Saturday, January 6, 2018

And now...the 2017 Mercanator Awards!

While December was a slightly busier month for the blog than in past years (there were 13 posts that month, the most since 2010), we were able to take some time off to enjoy the holidays.

As many of you long time readers know, I tend not to post much in December, as I focus on family, my job, and my free lance gig covering NFL football for the television networks.

That said, it is now time to hand out the Mercanator Awards for the top performers and performances of the 2017 season, as chronicled by this blog.

In addition to covering almost all of the home indoor and outdoor meets of the University of Washington in 2017, the blog traveled to Bend, Tucson, Eugene, Sacramento, Lacey, Bellingham, Madison, and Louisville for various meets.  We also took two international trips to Kampala, Uganda for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and to London for the world track & field championship meet, where yours truly was recognized as one of six Americans who have covered at least ten world championship meets.

And now, the 2017 Mercanators!

Here are the disclaimers:  Mercanator Awards are 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:  Former Renton native Devon Allen (left/photo by Howard Lao) gets his second award in this category, over a field that includes Foss HS grad Marcus Chambers, and Washington State’s CJ Allen.

Allen had a solid season, competing in five IAAF Diamond League meets where he placed no lower than fourth in four finals (he was DQ’d in Paris, after running a season best 13.10 in the heats). He won three meets in Lucerne, Warsaw, and the TrackTown finals in New York, and finished second in three IAAF World Challenge series meets in Kingston, Berlin, and Zagreb.  

The University of Oregon alum was third at the USATF championships in Sacramento, and got to the semis at the world championships in London. He was ranked #5 in the world by Track & Field News.

Chambers was 6th at the NCAA championships, and ran a personal best of 44.92 in the semis at the nationals.  He also finished second in the 400 and the 200 at the Pac-12s in Eugene, and earned a #10 ranking from Track & Field News in the 400.

WSU’s CJ Allen was second in the 400 hurdles at the Pac-12s, and missed the finals at the NCAA championships despite running a personal best of 49.40, the 15th fastest time in the US in 2017.

Drew Windle (Paul Merca photo)
TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Middle Distance: Those in contention in this category include a pair of athletes from the Brooks Beasts, Drew Windle and Shaq Walker.

This was an easy one to pick, with Drew Windle having the best year of his professional career, charging to third at the USATF championships, winning the TrackTown Summer Series final in New York, where he ran his personal best of 1:44.63 in the 800m, and finished fourth in the Monaco Diamond League meet, then advanced to the semis at the world championships.

Windle was ranked #3 by Track & Field News in the 800, while the now-retired Walker was ranked #8 by the publication at that distance.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s Distance:  Another easy one, as former Emerald Ridge HS standout Hassan Mead, who competes for the Nike Oregon TC Elite gets the nod, based on his national championship in the 10000, and his 15th place finish at the world championships, where he ran a personal best 27:32.49.

Mead also ran 13:11.20 in the 5000 in 2017.  He was ranked #2 in the 10000 by Track & Field News, and #5 in the 5000.

One name missing from the list in the men’s middle and long distances is Bernard Lagat, who retired after the 2016 season, but is still competing on the road racing circuit.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Sprints:  Despite another injury filled end to her outdoor season, Federal Way native Hannah Cunliffe gets the nod here.

Cunliffe ran 11.11 in the 100 and 22.53 indoors in the 200. She won the NCAA 60 meter title, and took second in the 200, and broke the collegiate record in the 60, running 7.07.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Middle Distance:  This category was the most competitive, with plenty to choose from.  Nominees included Hannah Fields and Alexa Efraimson in the 1500, and Mel Lawrence (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Marisa Howard in the steeplechase, all of whom were ranked by Track & Field News.

Once again, this category was close, but in the end, the finish of the USATF championships was the deciding factor.  University of Washington alum Mel Lawrence gets the nod over Pasco HS grad Marisa Howard. While Howard ran faster last year (9:30.82 to 9:34.94), Lawrence finished ahead of Howard at nationals.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Hurdles:  University of Washington alum Gianna Woodruff gets the award here, as the Panamanian set a national record in the 400 hurdles, running 55.76 at the Tucson Elite meet, and making it all the way to the semis at the world championships in London.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Horizontal Jumps:  University Place resident Andrea Geubelle would be the first to admit that she had a down year, despite placing third in the triple jump at the USATF national championships.  She had a wind-aided best of 45-9.75 (13.96m), and a best legal of 44-8.25 (13.62m), but did not make the world championship standard after competing in the Olympics in 2016.  Nonetheless, she gets the nod here.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s Throws:  The nod goes to Vancouver’s Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) here.  Winger, a regular in this category, won yet another national title in the javelin, making it seven crowns in her career, and competed in her fourth career world championship meet.  The Skyview HS grad was seventh in the IAAF Diamond League finals in Z├╝rich, but missed the finals at Worlds.

Winger was ranked #1 in the country again by Track & Field News.

The 2017 Mercanator Awards for the best track & field athletes from Washington as selected by the editor of paulmerca.blogspot.com are Devon Allen for the men, and Kara Winger for the women…congratulations to the two of you!

Now on to the 2018 season!

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