Sunday, January 13, 2019

Garrett Heath and David Elliott help lead Team USATF to team title at Great Stirling XCountry International Challenge

In Stirling, Scotland, Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts and Bellingham resident David Elliott (above/photo by John Nepolitan/Dyestat.com) helped Team USATF earn the victory in the Great Stirling XCountry International Challenge Saturday.

The international competition, featuring athletes from the U.S., Great Britain and other European countries, changed venues after being held in Edinburgh for several years.

In the first lap of the men’s 8k race, the pack stayed together. At the nine minute mark, 2016 US Olympian Leonard Korir appeared to put himself in position to run away with his third straight title.

In the latter part of the race, Korir and teammate Hillary Bor broke away from the pack and looked to have the first two spots locked up until Bor momentarily took a wrong turn, which put Heath back in contention with 600 to go.

Bor outran the field over the last 200 to take the win in 23:48, just ahead of Team Europe’s Napoleon Solomon, who was credited with the same time.

Korir was fourth in 23:49, with Heath fifth in 23:56, and Elliott sixth in 24:00, becoming the fourth and final scorer for the American squad.

Team USATF won the title with 16 points ahead of the European squad with 20 points, and Great Britain, which finished third with 44 points.

In the women’s 6k race, Pasco native Marisa Howard finished 14th (4th scorer) in a time of 21:01, as former University of San Francisco standout Elena Burkard of Team Europe took the win in 20:01.

The European all-stars won with 17 points, with Great Britain second at 19, and Team USATF was third with 50.

USATF’s recap of the race is available here, while results of the Great Stirling XCountry Challenge are available here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kejelcha shocks the house by running 3:52.61 in the mile to highlight the UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE—Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha (left/file photo by Paul Merca) pulled an out of the blue mark in the men’s mile to electrify the crowd assembled at the Dempsey Indoor for the UW Indoor Preview on the campus of the University of Washington Saturday.

Kejelcha, the two-time IAAF world indoor champion at 3000 meters, who trains as part of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project, ran a Dempsey Indoor facility record of 3:52.61, easily the fastest time in the world this season, and the fastest mile ever run this early in the calendar year.

In the process, he towed four other runners under the magical 4-minute mile mark, including Georgetown alum Amos Bartelsmeyer, who was second in a personal best 3:55.32, which was under the previous meet record of 3:56.72 set by US Olympian Nick Symmonds; Sam Atkin of Great Britain, who ran at Lewis-Clark State, and finished third in 3:57.97; Southern Oregon alum Eric Avila, who was fourth in 3:59.43; and Cedarcrest HS alum and current Portland Pilot Logan Orndorf, who ran 3:59.94 to take fifth.

UPDATE:  Here's the link to the video of the race, courtesy media partner Flotrack (this may not be available for free very long).

To put some perspective on Kejelcha’s mark, it came about 50 minutes after he   won the 1000 meters in a Dempsey Indoor record 2:18.34, holding off Oregon Project teammate and 2016 Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who ran 2:18.64, and Brannon Kidder of the Brooks Beasts, who was third in 2:19.18.

All three were under the previous Dempsey Indoor record of 2:19.53 set by 2016 Olympic 1500m champ Matthew Centrowitz in 2015.

Ducking under 2:20 was Husky volunteer assistant coach Sam Prakel, as the first year pro and Oregon alum ran 2:19.87.

All four ran under the previous fastest time in the world this season of 2:21.05 by Konstantin Kholmogorov of Russia, set five days ago.

New Husky Mick Stanovsek, the transfer from Oregon ran 2:21.25, the fastest time in Washington history.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhöfen, Kejelcha’s teammate at the Nike Oregon Project, made an impressive debut, winning both the 1000 and the mile, except that hers was done with only a 25 minute break.

Klosterhöfen won the 1000 in a time of 2:43.07 to beat Oregon’s Susan Ejore (2:44.84) and Husky alum Baylee Mires (2:45.62), then turned around to win the mile in a world leading 4:29.06 to beat Husky alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts, who ran a US leading 4:30.02.

In fact (pending the outcome of other meets from around the world), Canada’s Lindsey Butterworth (4:33.08), Washington alum Mel Lawrence (4:33.74), and Canada’s Regan Yee (4:36.11) all went under the previous world best this year of 4:37.43, set by Yolanda Ngarambe of Sweden on Friday at Clemson.

Katie Rainsberger of the Huskies in sixth ran 4:37.30, the fastest collegiate time so far this season.

Pullman’s Katie Nageotte (above/photo by Howard Lao) set a new facility record in winning the women’s pole vault with a best of 15-3 (4.65m).

She needed two tries to make her opening height of 14-9 (4.50m) before clearing 15-3 (4.65m) on her second attempt.

After making 15-3, which was a season opening personal best for her, she then went and attempted 15-7.25 (4.76m), with only her third attempt being the best.  She said in a social media post that she blew through the biggest pole in her arsenal, which translates to more confidence and higher jumps as the season progresses.

Other highlights:

—In the women’s 3000, Washington alum Eleanor Fulton held off a late charge by Nike Oregon Project’s Shannon Rowbury to win in a personal best 9:02.84, the second fastest time by an American this season, with Rowbury second in 9:03.00.

Alaska Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat ran 9:07.05 to take third, with the mark a new NCAA Division II record.

—In the men’s 35 pound weight throw, Alex Young, a 2017 world championships team member, threw 75-2.5 (22.92m).

Complete results of the UW Indoor Preview are available here.

In Moscow, Idaho, Eastern Washington’s Keshun McGee scored a double victory in the men’s long and triple jumps at the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Open meet at the Kibbie Dome Saturday hosted by the University of Idaho.

McGee jumped 24-1 (7.34m) to win the long jump, and followed it up with a mark of 51-1 (15.57m) to take the triple jump.

Central Washington’s Mariyah Vongsaveng won the women’s 60 hurdles in 8.77, while teammate Erykah Weems won the women’s 400 in 57.97. Weems anchored the Wildcats to victory in the 4 x 400 relay in 4:00.98.

Dominique Butler from Eastern Washington won the women’s pentathlon Friday with a school record score of 3549 points.

Complete results of the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Open are available here.

In Nampa, Idaho, athletes from Washington State saw success in the sprints at the Bronco Invitational hosted by Boise State University Saturday.

The Cougars took wins in both men’s and women’s 60 dashes, both 200 dashes, and the 400 dashes.

Complete results of the Bronco Invitational are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF and TFRRS.org provided statistical data for this report. The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and Boise State University contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

UW Indoor Preview headlines three meets for Washington D1/D2 schools plus pros this weekend...

All nine of Washington’s NCAA Division I and II schools are in action in the first full weekend of indoor track and field action.

WASHINGTON hosts WASHINGTON STATE, GONZAGA, SEATTLE UNIVERSITY, and WESTERN WASHINGTON Saturday in the UW Indoor Preview that begins at 9 am and ends sometime after 6 pm at the Dempsey Indoor.

In addition to those schools, a number of notable Washington pros will compete at the UW Indoor Preview, led by several athletes from the Brooks Beasts, as well as defending US indoor pole vault champ Katie Nageotte.

Meanwhile, EASTERN WASHINGTON, SAINT MARTIN’S, and CENTRAL WASHINGTON will head to Moscow, Idaho Friday & Saturday for the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Open meet, named after the Pullman native and University of Utah multi-event athlete who was murdered in the fall.

WASHINGTON STATE will also send a group of sprinters, horizontal jumpers, hurdlers and throwers to Nampa, Idaho for the Bronco Invitational Saturday, hosted by Boise State University.

UW INDOOR PREVIEW

To the surprise of absolutely no one that’s attended the Huskies’ season-opening meet, with the distance races taking center stage, featuring pros from both the Seattle based Brooks Beasts and the Beaverton based Nike Oregon Project.

With the IAAF world track & field championships scheduled for the end of September/early October, not as many pros are opening up the 2019 campaign early, particularly in the sprints and jumps, as opposed to last year’s meet, which was helped by a truncated pro indoor season because of the world indoors in early March.

As a disclaimer, entries are always subject to change.

Races to watch:

Men’s & women’s 1000 (11:10/11:20) and mile (11:35/12:10):  Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhöfen makes her Nike Oregon Project debut, as the 21-year old, who was fourth in the 5000 at last year’s European Championships in the 5000 doubles in the 1000 and the mile in a span of 25 minutes.

Teammate Yomif Kejelcha (left/photo by Paul Merca), the two-time world indoor champion from Ethiopia in the 3000, is also entered by NOP coach Alberto Salazar in the same double, which goes at 11:20 and 12:10.

Klosterhöfen then goes in the mile at 11:35, where she’ll face Washington hall of famer Katie Mackey, who finished eighth at last year’s world indoors in the 3000, one spot behind Klosterhöfen, along with NACAC steeple champ and fellow Husky hall of famer Mel Lawrence.

Also in the mix in the women’s mile are UW All-Americans Lilli Burdon and Katie Rainsberger, and Canadian world championships competitor in the 800 Lindsey Butterworth from Vancouver.

In the men’s mile, Kejelcha will go against NOP teammate and Olympic 800 bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, along with last year’s world indoor championships silver medalist Drew Windle of the Brooks Beasts. Georgetown alum Amos Bartelsmeyer, who ran 3:57.53 last year, is in the field along with NC State alum Sam Parsons.

Women’s 600 (2:00):  Olympia native and Oregon alum Brooke Feldmeier, an NCAA scorer for the Ducks, goes against 2017 Pac-12 800 finalist Hannah Derby.

Men’s and women’s 800 (2:35/2:50):  Stanford alum and French Olympian Justine Fedronic, who lives and trains in Seattle is the headliner here, while the mens race features new Beast and reigning NCAA indoor mile & '17 1500m champ Josh Kerr.

Kerr goes against Cal Poly alum Derek Thomas, who ran 1:47 last year, along with the Husky duo of Devan Kirk and Connor Morello, both of whom were in the finals at last year’s Pac-12. Husky freshman 400m hurdler Cass Elliott from West Seattle HS, a finalist at last year’s USA U-20 championships, is also in the field.

Women’s 3000 (3:35 pm): Veteran Shannon Rowbury of the NOP a 2009 world championships medalist in the 1500, makes her return to the track after taking maternity leave last year. She’s slated to run against UW alum Mel Lawrence, who’s doubling back from the mile, along with new Brooks Beasts member Allie Buchalski, with UW alum Eleanor Fulton and Bowerman TC member Emily Pritt, both of whom were on the 2017 USA world cross country team, thrown in the mix.

Men’s 3000 (4:15 pm):  Could be intriguing, with Craig Engels of the Nike Oregon Project going against Canadian cross country champ Luc Bruchet from Vancouver, Washington alum Izaic Yorks, the NACAC 1500 champ, and last year’s NCAA D2 1500 champ David Ribich of the Brooks Beasts.

In addition to the distance races, perhaps the best fields of the meet are in the men’s and women’s pole vaults, with the top sections starting at 1pm (women) and 2pm (men).

WSU's Molly Scharmann
(Paul Merca photo)
The women’s vault features Katie Nageotte from Pullman, ranked #6 in the world last year, last year’s USA champion indoors, and oh, by the way, the newest member of the American 16-foot club.

She faces new Husky and defending NCAA champ Olivia Gruver (who will compete unattached), along with Germany’s Anjuli Knasche, who is training with Nageotte in Pullman; WSU commit Chloe Cunliffe from West Seattle HS, one of the nation’s top prep vaulters; and four of the top five finishers in last year’s Pac-12 championships—Stanford’s Kaitlyn Merritt (2nd) and Erika Malaspina (3rd); Washington State’s Molly Scharmann (4th); and Washington’s Annika Dayton (5th).

The men’s pole vault features five 18-foot vaulters in Texas A&M alum Audie Wyatt; Samford University alum Olen Oates; Princeton alum Adam Bragg, Arizona State alum Garrett Starkey, and current Husky Chase Smith, who is competing unattached.  They’ll go up against reigning Pac-12 champ Sander Moldau of Washington State, who could be knocking on the door of 18 feet this season in his second year under Cougar jumps coach and American record holder in the pole vault Brad Walker.

The start lists for the UW Indoor Preview are available here.  Washington's release is available here.

LAUREN MCCLUSKEY MEMORIAL OPEN

The University of Idaho hosts the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Friday and Saturday, with the women’s pentathlon and the first day of the men’s heptathlon contested Friday, and the main portion of the meet Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.

Eastern Washington, Saint Martin’s, and Central Washington will send full squads to Moscow.

Start lists for the Lauren McCluskey Memorial are available via the University of Idaho track web site.

BRONCO INVITATIONAL

A group of athletes from Washington State who are not making the trip west to Seattle will instead head east to Nampa, Idaho for the Bronco Invitational, hosted by Boise State University.

The group of Cougars heading to Jackson’s Track is comprised of sprinters, horizontal jumpers, throwers, and hurdlers.

Washington State’s release with their rosters for both meets is available here, while the start lists for the Bronco Invitational are available here.

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Husky volunteer assistant coach Matthew Centrowitz moves to Nike Bowerman Track Club...

Jonathan Gault of letsrun.com writes that University of Washington volunteer assistant coach Matthew Centrowitz (left/photo by Paul Merca) will be coached by Jerry Schumacher of the Nike Bowerman Track Club.

Gault and letsrun.com cite an anonymous source confirming that the reigning Olympic champion will run for the Bowerman TC moving forward.

While both the Bowerman TC and Centrowitz’ former club, the Nike Oregon Project share the same training facilities at Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, there is a rivalry between the two teams.

Centrowitz, who last year won his fifth US 1500-meter title, will become one of the few athletes to have trained under both Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar and Schumacher, two of the most successful coaches in American distance running.

The Olympic champ trained in Washington, DC under his father Matt in 2018. Centrowitz won his fifth US national title, and ran a season best of 3:31.77 at the Herculis meeting in Monaco on July 20th, one week after he was announced by UW director of track and cross country Maurica Powell and Husky head coach Andy Powell as a volunteer assistant for the 2018-19 season.

Over the last few days, there had been some speculation about Centrowitz’ move to the Bowerman TC, after team member Marc Scott posted on his Instagram account a photo of Centrowitz on a training run with team members Ryan Hill, Matt Hughes, and Scott in Colorado Springs (below).  According to Scott's post, the Bowerman group will spend the next five weeks training at altitude.



A few days ago, JDL Fast Track had announced that Centrowitz had withdrawn from the Camel City Elite meet on February 2nd, citing that he was behind with his training.  He broke away from the Nike Oregon Project late last year and competed in a standard Nike pro kit at the USATF 5k road championships in New York in November. Centrowitz was entered at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane in December, but did not run.

How this move affects his role as a volunteer assistant coach at the UW remains to be seen.

The letsrun.com article is available here. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Former champ Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts leads three Washington athletes into Scotland Saturday...

Garrett Heath (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts will lead three Washington athletes into action at Saturday’s SimplyHealth Great Stirling XCountry invitational in Stirling, Scotland.

The race, which was formerly in Edinburgh, features Team USA against Great Britain and a European all-star team in the men’s 8k, the women’s 6k, and a 4 x 1k co-ed for both junior and senior athletes.

Puyallup native David Elliott will run with Heath in the men’s 8k race, while Pasco native Marisa Howard will be part of the USA women’s team in the 6k race.

All three earned their spots on Team USA for this meet by finishing in the top ten at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships last month in Spokane.

Heath was fifth in the 10k race last month in 29:30, with Elliott, a Boise State grad who now lives in Bellingham, sixth in 29:35.

Howard was ninth in the women’s 6k race in Spokane in 19:57.

Heath won three Great Edinburgh XCountry races at its former location.

A live webcast of the race will be shown on USATF.TV+ ($) starting at 5:15 am, pacific on Saturday.

The USA Track & Field release announcing the team is available here.

Meanwhile, University of Washington senior Olivia Gruver is one of ten women announced by the USTFCCCA on its Bowerman pre-season watch list.

Gruver joins Oregon’s Jessica Hull (distance), and Colorado’s Dani Jones (distance) as representatives of the Pac-12.

The USTFCCCA release is available here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Brooks Beasts add four to 2019 roster...

The Brooks Beasts will start the 2019 season with four new faces on their roster, according to a note passed on to paulmerca.blogspot.com from Brooks’ media relations staff.

The Seattle-based pro track club adds to the mix Allie Buchalski (left/photo by Paul Merca), along with David Ribich, Josh Kerr, and Kirkland native Dillon Maggard.

Buchalski, a recent graduate from Furman, finished second in the 5000 meters at last year’s NCAA outdoor championships, and was ninth in the 2017 NCAA cross country championships. She also finished tenth at the USATF national road 5k championships in New York in November.

She finished ninth at last month’s USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane Valley, running 19:49 for 6k.

Kerr is the collegiate record-holder in the men’s 1500-meter run with his time of 3 minutes, 35.01 seconds, set at the Bryan Clay invitational in April.

Kerr, originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, competed at the University of New Mexico where he was a three-time NCAA Division I national champion. He won the indoor 1-mile run in 2017 and 2018. Outdoors, he was the 2017 1,500 champion, and was third at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene in June.

Ribich won two NCAA Division II outdoor 1500 titles at Western Oregon, and also was part of two national championship teams in the distance medley relay.

He was 41st at last month’s USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane Valley, running 30:51 for 10k.

The final new member of the Beasts for the 2019 season is Dillon Maggard, a graduate of Lake Washington HS and Utah State University.

He was a nine-time All-American at Utah State, who finished sixth at the NCAA cross country championships in 2017.

At the NCAA outdoor championships in Eugene, he placed third in the 10,000 meters with a school-record time of 28:38.36. Just two days later, he finished sixth in the finals of the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:57.40.

Maggard was ranked number 8 by Track & Field News in the 10000 for 2018.

Returning to the Beasts on the men’s squad for the 2019 season are Garrett Heath, Izaic Yorks, Drew Windle, Henry Wynne, Ryan Vail and Brannon Kidder.

One significant change in the Beasts’ roster is that besides Buchalski, Washington alum Katie Mackey is currently the only other woman on the team, as several members of the 2018 squad either did not have their contracts renewed or elected to leave the team.

Several members of the Beasts have announced on their personal social media accounts that they will open the 2019 season Saturday at the UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor on the University of Washington campus.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

And now...the 2018 Mercanator Award winners!

Refreshed and rarin’ to go after an extended break over the Christmas and New Years holiday, it’s time to put a bow on 2018 with the presentation of the blog’s annual Mercanator Awards for the top performers and performances of the year.

In 2018, the blog covered all of the University of Washington’s home indoor and outdoor track & field meets. In addition, the blog travelled to Moscow (Idaho, not Russia), Tucson, Stanford, Eugene, Portland, Spokane, Vancouver BC, Ellensburg, Madison, and Sacramento for meets, while the only air trip out of the country was to Toronto for the NACAC championships.

And now, the 2018 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.

WOMEN

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s middle distance: For a category that you’d think would have a lot of athletes in consideration given the depth of folks with Washington ties, it really came down to a pair of Washington alums in Katie Mackey and Mel Lawrence (left/photo by Paul Merca).

Mackey started off well, taking second in the 3000 at the USA indoors at altitude in Albuquerque to make her first world championship team, two places ahead of Lawrence.

She then finished eighth at the world indoor championships in Birmingham, then during the outdoor season, finished sixth in the 5000m at the USA outdoor championships in Des Moines. A few weeks after the US championships, Mackey set a personal best in the 3000 of 8:44.47 in taking third at the London Diamond League meet

Meanwhile, Lawrence earned her highest finish in the steeplechase at the USA outdoors, taking third at the USA championships, then setting a personal best a few weeks later, running 9:32.68 in finishing second in Liege, Belgium, then winning the NACAC title in Toronto.

You could make an argument for/against either one. In my mind, was Mackey’s eighth place at world indoors superior to Lawrence’s win at NACAC, where she got the Doha world championship qualifier by winning? Weighing the merits of those was so close that I went to the IAAF scoring tables to decide it.

Lawrence’s steeple PR of 9:32.68 is worth 1162 points, while Mackey’s 3000 PR of 8:44.47 is worth 1158 points, so I’m giving it to Lawrence, but not by much.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s distance: Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan gets the nod here, with her 2:29:25 performance at the Frankfurt Marathon, with Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch (2:32:37 in Chicago) and Tacoma's Kate Landau (2:33:29 also in Chicago) getting honorable mention here.

Flanagan’s mark, which got her a 13th place finish in Frankfurt, was #8 in the US last year, while Crouch was #14 and Landau was #17 in the US.  Crouch did earn a #10 ranking from Track & Field News for finishing sixth in Chicago.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s hurdles:  Washington alum Gianna Woodruff gets another award here, for breaking her own Panamanian national record in the 400 hurdles, running 55.60 at the Central American & Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia on July 31st. That mark was the #38 mark in the world in 2018.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s multi-events:  Easy call here, with Alissa Brooks-Johnson, who recently graduated from Washington State getting the honors.

AB-J’s season best score of 5977 in winning the Pac-12s was the #42 mark in the world in 2018, and she followed it up with a sixth place finish at the NCAAs, a seventh at the USA nationals, and a fourth place finish in the Thorpe Cup dual against Germany.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s horizontal jumps:  Despite competing sparingly, Andrea Geubelle gets another award, in spite of a season where she struggled with a hamstring injury.  She had a 2018 best of 45-2.5 (13.78m) at the USA indoor championships where she got second, and was fifth at the outdoor nationals.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s vertical jumps:  Easy.

Pullman’s Katie Nageotte (left/photo by Paul Merca) gets the nod here, as she was one of only two women with Washington ties to earn a world ranking from Track & Field News, ranking #6 in the pole vault, and #3 in the USA.

Her 2018 resume included winning the national indoor title, taking fifth at the world indoor championships in Birmingham, a third place finish at the USA outdoor championships, and winning the NACAC title in Toronto.  Oh, by the way, she joined the 16-foot club, clearing 16-1.25 (4.91m) indoors to become the third American to accomplish that feat.

TOP PERFORMER—Women’s throws:  Vancouver native Kara Winger collects another award here, as she was the only other woman with Washington ties to earn a world ranking, earning the #8 spot on Track & Field News’ world rankings.

Winger’s best of 212-5 (64.75m) in the javelin at the Zürich Diamond League finals was the number ten performer worldwide in 2018.

She collected her eighth career national title in Des Moines, then had several strong performances on the Diamond League circuit, taking fourth in Lausanne, and third in Zürich in the DL finals.

MEN

Quite frankly, 2018 was a down year in several event categories, including the sprints, throws, horizontal, vertical jumps, and multis, with no one earning US rankings from Track & Field News in those events.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s hurdles: There were only three athletes considered here--Washington State alum CJ Allen, who ran 49.40 in Heusden and was sixth at the USA outdoors in the 400 hurdles; Bonney Lake resident and 2016 Cape Verde Olympian Jordin Andrade, who had a season best of 49.39 at the Huelva Meeting Iberoamericano de Atletismo meeting in Spain in June; and former Renton resident Devon Allen (left/photo by Paul Merca), who had a season best 13.23 in the 110 hurdles at the Paris Diamond League meet.

Allen’s total body of work in 2018 made this an easy call. He won his third national title, and had a pair of second place finishes in the Diamond League meets in Lausanne and London.  He was ranked #1 in the US by Track & Field News, and was the only male with Washington ties to be world ranked by the publication, earning a #6 spot from T&FN.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s middle distance: Three runners were in the running here:  former Emerald Ridge HS standout Hassan Mead, who was third in the 5000 at outdoor nationals and won the NACAC title; Washington alum Izaic Yorks, who was second in the 1500 at outdoor nationals and won the NACAC crown at that distance; and Drew Windle (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Brooks Beasts who was second in the 800 at the world indoor championships, but wasn’t a factor outdoors due to injuries.

In the end, what Windle accomplished at world indoors despite not having much of an outdoor season (only four meets over 800m with a best of 1:46.88 in Lignano, Italy) was good enough to get the nod here, even though Track & Field News did not give him a US ranking, while Mead was ranked #3 in the 5000, and Yorks was ranked #3 in the 1500.

He had a season best indoors of 1:45.52 in the semis at world indoors, and was second at the USA indoor championships in Albuquerque before taking second at the world indoor championships.

TOP PERFORMER—Men’s distance:  Easy call here, with Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts getting the nod, based on his fourth place finish in the Payton Jordan 10000 meter race, where he ran a personal best 27:56.11, and a fifth place finish in the USA outdoor championships. Heath was ranked #3 by Track & Field News in the US.

In case anyone is wondering why both defending Olympic 1500 champ and US #1 Matthew Centrowitz, and Oregon alum Sam Prakel, who was ranked #8 by T&FN in the 1500 are not in the conversation, it’s because they had not moved to the state until after the USA outdoor championships. Ditto for UW pole vaulter Olivia Gruver, who was ranked #5 in the US after winning the NCAA outdoor title for the University of Kentucky.

The 2018 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 Katie Nageotte for the women…congratulations to the two of you!

Let’s get 2019 kick-started!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Celebration of life for long-time Seattle Pacific track & field coach Dr. Ken Foreman scheduled for January 27th...

Just received a note from Denise Anderson Foreman, the wife of long time Seattle Pacific track and field coach Dr. Ken Foreman (above/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), about the planned celebration of life for the USA Track & Field and USTFCCCA hall of fame coach, who passed away on December 23rd at the age of 96.

The celebration of life for Dr. Foreman, who also was the women’s head coach of the 1980 US Olympic team and the 1983 US World Track & Field Championships team, as well as the race director of the 1984 US Olympic women’s marathon trials in Olympia, will be held on Sunday January 27th at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the Seattle Pacific University campus starting at 2:00 pm.

Foreman is considered by Seattle Pacific as the founding father of their athletics department and served three terms as the school’s track coach, the last of which stretched from 1985 to 2000.



Following the celebration, all are welcome to participate in a lap around the Ken Foreman Track outside Brougham Pavilion, the building that he helped build.

To RSVP, please go to Denise’s Facebook page (link is here), so that the folks at Seattle Pacific may have an idea how many are attending.

UPDATE:  Here is a link to Seattle Pacific's release regarding the memorial service for Ken Foreman.

Happy and healthy 2019 (plus some reflections on 2018)...

After our break over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday to spend time with family and friends, I’d like to open 2019 by wishing each of you a Happy New and Healthy New Year!

While I don’t like talking about my own personal running much at all, I can say that unfortunately, 2019 is starting out the same way that 2018 started, with a bum right Achilles tendon that I tweaked at the end of November and aggravated in early December after taking a week off.

I’m being made to feel guilty every day not running by the constant reminder on my Apple Watch flashing the words, “Running Today?” along with the failure to complete the three rings, not to mention the shoes staring at me wondering when they get to go run.

Some reflections on 2018:

—Since her move to Pullman in mid-2017 to work with Brad Walker, the Washington State jumps coach and (still) American record holder in the pole vault, Katie Nageotte (above/photo by Paul Merca) has taken her vaulting to a new level, becoming the fourth American woman to clear 16 feet in winning the US indoor championships in Albuquerque at 16-1.25 (4.91m).

She then took fifth at the world indoors in Birmingham, got third at the USA championships outdoors in Des Moines, and won the NACAC title over world #1 Sandi Morris in Toronto. 

Nagotte was ranked #6 in the world and #3 in the US by Track & Field News.

—Drew Windle of the Brooks Beasts followed up his 2017 season of making the London World Championships team with a second place finish indoors in the 800 meters at the USA championships. 

In perhaps one of the wildest races of the IAAF world indoor championships in Birmingham, Windle finished second, was disqualified for pushing winner Adam Kszczot of Poland, then was reinstated after an hour of appeals and protests.

Unfortunately, he had some health issues after the world indoors, and could not build upon the success from the 2017 outdoor season and the 2018 indoor campaign, and ended up not being ranked in the US top 10 by Track & Field News, as his 1:45.52 at world indoors was his season best.

—2018 was the end of a long run by Greg Metcalf as head coach of the University of Washington track & field program, after taking over for Orin Richburg in 2002.

Metcalf, who was one of the longest-tenured head coaches in the Pac-12 Conference, stepped down after allegations published by the UW Daily involving physical and verbal harassment, encouraging unhealthy eating habits, weight shaming, making profane statements about team members, and creating an unhealthy team culture.

Shortly after the NCAA championships, the school hired the husband-and-wife team of Andy and Maurica Powell away from the University of Oregon to lead the Huskies.

In the short term, the move away from Metcalf has paid dividends, with both squads finishing in the top ten at the NCAA cross country championships in November, the highest combined finish in school history.

The question remains whether or not they can maintain that momentum through the indoor and outdoor track seasons, though the Huskies have picked up several high profile transfers, with the most notable being reigning NCAA pole vault champ Olivia Gruver from Kentucky, who followed her coach, Toby Stevenson, to Seattle. There are naturally going to be questions concerning the Husky sprint and hurdle crew, with Jeshua Anderson moving up from a volunteer coaching position to a full time gig replacing Eric Metcalf, along with the loss of sprinters Ryan Croson and Iman Brown, who transferred to Baylor, and Oregon.

—One of the biggest recruiting coups was pulled off by Gonzaga, who signed the number one prep distance runner in the country in James Mwaura of Lincoln/Tacoma, the national leader in the 3200 and two mile.

Mwaura won his first two races for the Bulldogs, but hung in against meaningful competition at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals, West Coast Conference, and NCAA regional cross country races, finishing tenth at the NCAA regionals, just outside of advancing to nationals as an individual.

—Two post collegians who made significant breakthroughs on the national scene in 2018 were hurdler CJ Allen and javelin thrower Bethany Drake (left/photo by Paul Merca).

Allen, who graduated from Washington State, finished sixth at the USA outdoor championships in the 400 hurdles, and matched his personal best 49.40 in Heusden to earn a #6 ranking from Track & Field News.

Drake, a former NCAA D2 champion out of Western Washington, finished fourth at the USA championships in the javelin, and threw a personal best 179-6 (54.71) to take second at the NACAC championship meet in Toronto.

I want to end 2018 by thanking several folks for their help.  Those include the sports information offices at Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, University of Washington, Seattle University, Saint Martin’s University, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State, along with the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, USA Track & Field and the USTFCCCA; photographers Howard Lao (howlaophotography.com), Kirby Lee (Image of Sport), Randy Miyazaki (trackandfieldphoto.com). Jeff Cohen (trackandfieldimage.com), and Michael Scott; as well as the media relations contacts at Nike, Oiselle, Brooks, adidas; various agents of pro athletes (you know who you are); and the countless number of individuals who have sent social media messages or emailed me with tips, news, complaints.

A special shout out to Mark Moschetti at Seattle Pacific for winning his second USTFCCCA Excellence in Communications award, along with Linda Chalich at Washington State, who retired from her position as the main sports information contact for track and cross country. Linda won’t have to put up with my requests for photos, and information on athletes anymore…enjoy retirement!

2019 is a world championship year; that said, the world championships are at the end of September/early October in Doha, Qatar, so the training and racing calendars of certain folks will be changed. Several meets on the IAAF Diamond League schedule have been pushed back; additionally, the USA outdoor championships will be at the end of July in Des Moines, Iowa.

The bow on the 2018 season will be tied on January 6th with the unveiling of the Mercanator Awards…who will get the Mercanator?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Northwest and national track & field pioneer Dr. Ken Foreman passes away...

Dr. Ken Foreman (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), who was one of the true pioneers of American track and field during his tenure as the Seattle Pacific University track and cross country coach, died Sunday at the age of 96.

Foreman, who is regarded as the patriarch of the Seattle Pacific athletic program, coached track, cross country and basketball during his five decades at the school and served as the athletic director from 1952-57. He was largely behind the effort to construct Royal Brougham Pavilion, the gymnasium where Falcons athletes still compete.

During three tenures as the program's head coach – 1950-77, 1965-78, and 1985-99 – he produced 159 All-America athletes and 13 top-10 teams.

It was through Foreman's efforts that Seattle Pacific was a pioneer in establishing highly successful women's track and cross country programs. He recognized the talents and abilities of female athletes and worked to develop them into national and international-caliber performers long before other coaches and college programs were doing so.

Foreman was particularly noteworthy as a teacher of technique, and that was true not only for track events, but for field events, as well. Along with the 159 All-Americans, 26 of his athletes won national collegiate championships. Foreman-coached athletes also won 14 AAU titles, spread among cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track.

Foreman also founded the Falcon Track Club in 1955 and served as the squad’s coach until 1999. Foreman founded the SportsWest Track Club, which he directed from 1977-1998. Foreman’s Falcon TC squad captured the AAU cross country title in 1972, and he is well known for coaching USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Doris Brown Heritage who was a five-time World Cross Country champion in the late 60s and early 70s.

He was selected to the coaching staff of 14 U.S. international track teams, including his role as head women's track coach for the 1980 Olympic team. He also served as the Team USA head coach for the 1983 World Outdoor Championships and 1986 Goodwill Games. Some of the Olympians he coached through the years were former Seattle Pacific stars Pam Spencer, Lorna Griffin, and Sherron Walker. He also coached Prosser HS and University of Oregon alum Kelly Blair-LaBounty to a spot on the 1996 US Olympic team in the heptathlon.

He was the U.S. World Cross Country Team coach in 1967, 1970 and 1973, served as the AAU Women's LDR Chair from 1968-1974, and was the recipient of the AAU/USATF Joseph Robichaux Women's T&F Award 1978.

He played a key role in the staging of the 1984 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Olympia, as well as the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle.

Foreman was a charter member of the Seattle Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. Several of his Falcon athletes are also in the school's hall, led by international distance running star and coach Doris Brown Heritage, who was a five-time world cross country champion. Foreman also is a member of numerous other Halls of Fame, including USA Track & Field, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, and the Washington State Track & Field Coaches Association. The training track, which he designed on the east side of Brougham Pavilion, bears his name.

Following his retirement from SPU in 2000, Foreman relocated to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and coached the track and cross country teams at Konawaena High School. He also authored several books about track and field technique and his career in coaching.

Born on August 29, 1922, Foreman was a college All-American at the University of Southern California as a gymnast and track and field thrower. The 25-foot rope climb was a men's gymnastics event at the time and Foreman established an NCAA record on that apparatus and won two national championships before graduating in 1949.

Foreman is survived by his wife, Denise, who competed for the Falcons.

Plans for a memorial service at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the campus of Seattle Pacific University will be announced at a later date.

NOTE: The sports information office of Seattle Pacific, along with USA Track & Field and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Nineteen men and women with ties to Washington state earn US Top-10 rankings from Track & Field News...

Track & Field News revealed its 2018 world and national rankings in its annual issue emailed to its subscribers Saturday.

Eighteen men and women with ties to the state of Washington received a national top-10 ranking by the magazine, which is based on honors won, win-loss record, and sequence of marks. The magazine’s rankings are often used by the major shoe and apparel companies as part of their criteria when paying performance bonuses and offering contracts to athletes.

Out of the group of eighteen, two women—Katie Nageotte (above, center with Yarisley Silva & Sandi Morris/photo by Paul Merca) and Kara Winger, and one man—hurdler Devon Allen, each earned world rankings from the publication.

Nageotte and Allen were ranked #6 in the pole vault and 110 hurdles, while Winger took home a #8 world ranking in the javelin.

This does not count Great Britain’s Tim Duckworth, who will relocate to the Seattle area in 2019 to resume training under his former University of Kentucky coach Toby Stevenson and become a volunteer assistant coach. Duckworth, who was the NCAA champion in both the heptathlon and decathlon, earned a #10 world ranking. Duckworth's addition would make it nineteen.

The women with ties to the state of Washington receiving US rankings from Track & Field News are:

W Steeplechase
4 Mel Lawrence (9:32.68)

W 5000
8 Katie Mackey (15:18.88)

W Marathon
10 Sarah Crouch (2:32:37)

W 20K Walk
3 Katie Burnett (1:37:56)

W 50K Walk
1 Katie Burnett (4:47:50)

W Pole Vault
3 Katie Nageotte (16-1.25/4.91i)
5 Olivia Gruver (15-3.75/4.67i)

W Triple Jump
4 Andrea Geubelle (45-2.5/13.78i)

W Javelin
1 Kara Winger (212-5/64.75)
6 Bethany Drake (179-6/54.71)

W Heptathlon
6 Alissa Brooks-Johnson (5977)

Hassan Mead, who ran at Emerald Ridge HS before moving to
Minnesota, was ranked #3 in the USA by Track & Field News in the
5000 meters (Paul Merca photo)
The men with ties to the state of Washington receiving US rankings from Track & Field News are:

M 1500
1 Matthew Centrowitz (3:31.77)
3 Izaic Yorks (3:36.81)
8 Sam Prakel (3:36.84)

M 5000
3 Hassan Mead (13:19.81)

M 10000
3 Garrett Heath (27:56.11)
8 Dillon Maggard (28:38.36)

M 110 HH
1 Devon Allen (13.23)

M 400 IH
7 CJ Allen (49.40)

The 2018 US list is available on the USA Track & Field web site.

The complete 2018 world and US rankings as compiled by Track & Field News is only available to subscribers.

paulmerca.blogspot.com’s definition of athletes with Washington ties are: attended high school or college in the state, or are currently training in the state as a post-collegiate athlete.

CORRECTION:  The original post had Sabrina Southerland in the women's 800, as she was originally going to be part of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts. As it turns out, she has joined Nike Oregon TC Elite.

NOTE: Track & Field News and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

USC's Michael Norman & Georgia's Keturah Orji win The Bowerman...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—USC’s Michael Norman (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Georgia’s Keturah Orji were named by the USTFCCCA Thursday night as the men’s and women’s winner of the 2018 Bowerman Award, presented to the outstanding collegiate track and field athlete, at a ceremony at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort.

Norman, who set the world record in the 400 meters indoors at the NCAA championships, and set the collegiate record outdoors of 43.61 at the NCAA outdoor championship, edged out teammate Rai Benjamin, and Florida hurdler/long jumper Grant Holloway for the honor.

Norman shattered records and finished unbeaten in 2017-18 across both indoor and outdoor seasons in the 400- and 200-meter runs and 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays.

After setting a world record in the 400 (44.52) and anchoring USC’s 4x400 relay (3:00.77) to a world-best mark at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Norman carried his dominance over to the outdoor season.

He went on to break and anchor Pac-12, school, collegiate, meet and Hayward Field records in the 400 (43.61) and 4x400 relay (2:59.00) in winning the events at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June. The sophomore from Murrieta, Calif., then made the decision to turn professional.

Orji (left/photo courtesy USTFCCCA), who had been to the Bowerman presentation twice as a finalist, finally captured the honor, beating out Arizona State thrower Maggie Ewen, and Kentucky hurdler Sydney McLaughlin.

The native of Mount Olive, New Jersey, left little doubt as to why she finally deserved to be named the most outstanding female athlete in collegiate track & field.

Orji scored 38 points between the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships and the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She swept the indoor and outdoor triple jump crowns and captured the first NCAA long jump title of her illustrious career with a leap of 6.67m (21-10.75) at Historic Hayward Field.

The 2016 US Olympian was was 7-0 during her 2018 indoor and outdoor triple jump competitions, including setting American and collegiate indoor records (47 feet, 8 inches/14.53m), a collegiate outdoor record (47-11.75/14.62m) and capturing the SEC and NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in the event.

Orji is the first female field event specialist to win The Bowerman and the first woman from the SEC to lay claim to the award since LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan did so six years ago.

Norman is the third men’s winner from the Pac-12 – joining Oregon’s Galen Rupp in 2009 and Ashton Eaton in 2010 – and the record seventh all-time recipient from current Pac-12 programs since the award was created in 2009.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA, the Pac-12 Conference, and the University of Georgia contributed to this report.  Publisher Paul Merca is one of the national media voters of The Bowerman.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Who received my 2018 Bowerman votes...

Thursday night, the USTFCCCA will present the 2018 Bowerman Award to the country’s most outstanding male and female collegiate track and field athlete of this season.

Since the beginning of this award in 2010, I’ve been honored to be one of the national voting media members, and take this seriously. Though I’m based in the Pacific Northwest, I try not to let any conference, regional, or fan/message board biases sway who I pick.

All voting members of The Bowerman, which includes past winners, national and regional media personnel, and track & field statisticians, received their ballots from the USTFCCCA shortly after the NCAA championships, and submitted them in July.

The criteria the USTFCCCA puts out is very specific:

“Athletes’ performances during the NCAA indoor track & field and outdoor track & field seasons shall be considered. An athlete need not have competed in both seasons to be eligible for the award.

“Performances that occur outside the NCAA seasons of indoor track & field and outdoor track & field should not be considered. The performance window for the purposes of The Bowerman runs from December 1 of the preceding year through the respective division’s NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the year in which the award is given.”

In the interest of being transparent to all of you, I am publishing my Bowerman ballot.

I saw all six Bowerman Award finalists compete in person at least once this season at the NCAA outdoor championships, though I did see USC’s Rai Benjamin and Michael Norman, along with Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen compete multiple times this season, notably at the MPSF indoor championships in Seattle and the Pac-12 championships at Stanford.  I was the stadium announcer for Ewen’s collegiate record throw in the shot put at the Desert Heat Classic in Tucson on April 28th.

MEN

Honestly, I was torn on this one between teammates Rai Benjamin (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Michael Norman from USC.

Benjamin set a collegiate record of 47.02 in the finals of the 400 hurdles at the NCAA championships, tying the great Edwin Moses for second on the all-time world list, while Norman set the collegiate record in the 400 of 43.61 at the NCAA outdoors

Both ran several sub-45 second splits on USC’s 4 x 400 relays indoors and outdoors, helping the Trojans to national championships. In both national championship titles, the Trojans set collegiate records. The Trojans set a world indoor best in the 4 x 400 at the NCAAs of 3:00.77.

Norman set a world indoor record in the 400 of 44.52, while Benjamin was third in the 200 at the NCAA indoors.

Just by a very slim margin, I thought Benjamin’s 47.02 in the 400 hurdles was better than Norman’s world indoor 400 record and his collegiate outdoor 400 record (the IAAF scoring tables rate Benjamin’s 47.02 at 1283 points, and Norman’s outdoor CR 400 of 43.61 at 1278 points; Norman’s 400 indoor world record of 44.52 is only worth 1277 points on the IAAF indoor scoring tables), thus he got my vote.

The other Bowerman finalist, Grant Holloway of Florida, won both the indoor and outdoor short hurdles championships. He became the only man in world history to go sub-13.20 in the 110 hurdles and long jump at least 8.10m (26-7) outdoors – and did so within the span of 28 hours. That came after he was just the second man to go sub-7.50 and farther than 8.00m (26-3) indoors.

Holloway set a collegiate record in the 60 hurdles of 7.47.

WOMEN

In my mind, the vote was a little more clearcut.

I went with Georgia’s horizontal jumps specialist Keturah Orji (left/photo by Mike Scott) over (in order) Arizona State thrower Maggie Ewen, and Kentucky hurdler Sydney McLaughlin.

Orji became just the third woman in NCAA DI history to complete the long jump-triple jump double outdoors and won yet another indoor triple jump crown with a meet record effort.

She bettered her own American and collegiate record in the triple jump to 14.53m (47-8). During the outdoor season, she improved her collegiate record by 3.75 inches to 14.62m (47-11.75).

Ewen won three individual NCAA crowns in 2018, taking both shot put titles, and the discus title on a clutch sixth round throw.  She broke her own collegiate record in the hammer, throwing 244-6 (74.53m), then grabbed the collegiate shot put record with a toss of 63-10.75 (19.46m) at the Desert Heat Classic in Tucson, shortly after being upset in the hammer at the same meet by Brooke Andersen of Northern Arizona.

2106 US Olympian Sydney McLaughlin set a collegiate record in the 400 hurdles, running 52.75 at the SEC championship meet in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The fan voting for The Bowerman went to Holloway and Ewen.

ESPN3 and the ESPN app will have live coverage of The Bowerman presentation from San Antonio on Thursday beginning at 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report. The IAAF provided statistical data.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Central's Halle Irvine posts number two pole vault mark in NCAA D2 this season in Boise...

In Boise, Idaho, Central Washington’s Halle Irvine (left/photo courtesy Central Washington University), the defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference outdoor pole vault champion, won the pole vault at the Jackson’s Open Saturday, hosted by Boise State University to highlight competition involving the Wildcats and fellow Washington GNAC member Saint Martin’s.

Irvine, who was sixth at the NCAA indoor championships last season, took the win with a new Central Washington school record of 12-10.75 (3.93m) that she cleared on her second attempt.

Her mark is currently the second best in NCAA Division II so far in the 2019 indoor season.

Freshman Keshara Romain of Saint Martin’s had the top mark of the day for the Saints in winning the triple jump with a best of 39-5 (12.01m), which is currently the eighth best mark in Division II so far this season.

Other highlights:

—Artresa Nickelson of Saint Martin’s won the women’s 60 in 8.07, while reigning GNAC hurdles champ Mariyah Vongsaveng of Central lost a close race in the 60 hurdles to Dafni Georgiou of Boise State, 8.65 to 8.66; Vongsaveng came back to win the 200 in 25.87;

—In the men’s 200, Michael Russell of Saint Martin’s won in 22.44, while in the women’s 400, Erykah Weems of Central Washington won in 57.86;

—Brooke Williams of Central Washington led a podium sweep of the long jump with a best of 18-9 (5.71m), with teammates HarLee Ortega (18-3.75/5.58m) and Rose Walts (17-10.25/5.44m) taking second and third;

—Zach Whittaker of Central Washington won the men’s triple jump with a best of 47-11.75 (14.62m).

Complete results of the Jackson’s Open are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Boise State University, Central Washington University, and Saint Martin’s University contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts takes home national crown at USATF Club Cross Country Champs...

SPOKANE—Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts (above/photo by Paul Merca) pulled away from the field over the final mile to win the women’s 6k race at the USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex Saturday.

On a cold but cloudy afternoon with temperatures in the low 30s, Mackey ran alongside her Beasts teammate Allie Buchalski in the lead pack that included NACAC steeplechase champ and fellow University of Washington alum Mel Lawrence, Anne-Marie Blaney and Olivia Pratt from the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, Grace Barnett of the Mammoth Track Club and Rachel Johnson of Asics, who ran up front early.

With about 1000 meters to go, Mackey took command of the race, and pushed the pace, ultimately opening up a six-second gap over Blaney to win her second career USATF national title, crossing the line in 19:35.

Afterwards, Mackey said that today’s race was about going out and having fun.

“Cross country is all about racing. Today was like a game. After all, sport is play.”

She said that as the race went on, she felt good and kept picking up the pace.

After Blaney, NACAC champ Lawrence finished third in 19:43, followed by Barnett in 19:45.

Early leader Johnson hung on for fifth in 19:46, followed by Pratt in 19:47 and Buchalski in seventh at 19:49.

Boise State alum Emma Bates, who six days earlier, won the USATF marathon title at the California International Marathon in Sacramento in her debut at the distance, finished eighth in 19:56, with Idaho Distance Project teammate, Pasco HS alum, and 2017 world cross country team member Marisa Howard ninth in 19:57.

Katy Jermann of Team USA Minnesota rounded out the top ten in 19:58, as all of the top ten finishers crossed the line under 20 minutes.

Runners with Washington ties who finished in the top 50 besides Mackey, Buchalski, and Howard included Washington State alum Caroline Austin, who was 36th in 20:48.

The Nomad Track Club took the women’s team title with a low score of 71 points, led by University of Oregon alum and former U-20 world cross country team member Molly Grabill, who finished 17th in 20:16.

Also scoring for the Nomad TC were former University of Kentucky All-American Cally Macumber, who was 18th in 20:18, followed by Rebecca Wade in 30th place at 20:34.

Rounding out the scorers for Nomad TC were Ashley Stinson in 34th at 20:41, and Elizabeth Weiler in 41st at 20:50.

The defending women’s champion Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project finished second with 74 points, while the Idaho Distance Project finished third with 91 points.

Club Northwest was the top Washington-based team, as they finished eighth with 261 points, led by Erin Wagner, who was 28th in 20:31.

The women’s race featured 271 finishers, with 32 teams scoring.

In the men’s 10k, 2016 Olympic 1500 meter finalist Ben Blankenship of the Nike Oregon Track Club found himself in a large group of about 20 runners early on, with over 400 other runners behind the group of twenty.

As the race progressed, the lead group of twenty splintered into two groups, with Gonzaga University alum Willie Milam, competing for the Roots Running Project doing the early work in front of friends.

Among those lurking behind Milam were Blankenship, his Rio Olympic teammate Hillary Bor of the American Distance Project, Ryan Mahalsky of the Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project, Sam Parsons and Morgan Pearson of Tinman Elite, veteran Garrett Heath and Michael Eaton of the Brooks Beasts, Boise State alum and Puyallup native David Elliott, and another former world U20 team member, Craig Nowak of Asics Furman Elite.

Milam eventually faded all the way to tenth, as Blankenship took the win in 29:21, six seconds ahead of Bor.

Mahalsky was third in 29:28, with Parsons fourth in 29:29.

Heath was fifth in 29:30, with Elliott sixth at 29:35.

Rounding out the top ten were Nowak in 29:44 for seventh, Eaton eighth in 29:46, with Pearson ninth in the same time, and Milam tenth in 29:48.

In addition to Heath, Elliott, and Milam, other runners with Washington ties finishing in the top 50 were Dillon Maggard of the Brooks Beasts at 15th in 29:58; Washington alum Andrew Gardner in 20th at 30:07, three seconds ahead of former Husky teammate Izaic Yorks of the Brooks Beasts in 21st.

Ryan Vail of the Brooks Beasts was 36th in 30:45, one second ahead of Washington State alum Jono Lafler in 37th.

David Ribich of the Brooks Beasts was 41st in 30:51.

With three runners in the top 11 places, Tinman Elite staved off the challenge of the Brooks Beasts to defend its national title with 53 points.

Behind Sam Parsons and Morgan Pearson were Connor Winter in 11th at 29:50, Jeffrey Thies in 19th at 30:07, and Kyle Medina in 31st at 30:23.

The Brooks Beasts finished second with 67 points, while the American Distance Project took third with 98 points.

Club Northwest was the only other Washington based team besides the Brooks Beasts to crack the top ten, finishing tenth with 329 points.

420 runners finished the race, while 50 teams scored.

Complete results of the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships are available here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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