Friday, August 30, 2013

Huskies sweep SeattleU in season opener at Magnuson Park...

SEATTLE--In what was essentially a glorified tempo run over the trails of Warren G. Magnuson Park, the University of Washington opened the 2013 cross country season by sweeping cross-town rival Seattle University in the annual UW/SeattleU Open Meet, with the men winning 17-40 over a 7200 meter course (4.47 miles), and the #5 ranked women taking care of business 25-31 over 4800 meters (2.98 miles).

In the opening women's race, a wall of nine runners led from start to finish, with the Huskies' Eleanor Fulton (#2032/photo by Paul Merca), a former world junior championships competitor in 2010 in the steeplechase getting credit for the win in 17:07.

SeattleU's WAC steeple champ Hannah Mittelstaedt was second in 17:08, with unattached runners Maddie Meyers, Katie Flood, Amy-Eloise Neale, Katie Knight, and Liberty Miller getting places 3-7 in the same time.  

Unattached runner Kaylee Flanagan was eighth in 17:09, followed by the Huskies' 800 meter specialist Baylee Mires in the same time, and Haley Suarez tenth in 17:14.

The men's race followed the same script, with unattached runners Aaron Nelson, Johnathan Stevens, and Sumner Goodwin going 1-2-3 in 22:18.

Tyler King was the first scoring Husky across the line in 22:18, followed by unattached runners Andrew Gardner and Izaic Yorks in 22:19 and 22:30.

Meron Simon and Tim Cummings of the Huskies were seventh & eighth in 22:30, and unattached runners Jacob Smith (22:33) and AJ Yarnall (22:42) ninth and tenth.

Nathan McLaughlin was the Redhawks' top scorer in eleventh at 22:45.

Washington, which assembled as a team earlier this week, heads off to its annual pre-season camp.  


Both teams will see each other on September 14th at the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park, along with Washington State, Idaho, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and Oregon State.

Event 1  Women 4800 Meter Run CC
=======================================================================          
    Name                    Year School                  Finals  Points          
=======================================================================          
  1 Fulton, Eleanor              University of Wa      17:06.11    1             
  2 Mittelstaedt, Hannah         Seattle University    17:07.35    2             
  3 Meyers, Maddie               Unattached            17:07.52                  
  4 Flood, Katie                 Unattached            17:07.56                  
  5 Neale, Amy-Eloise            Unattached            17:07.70                  
  6 Knight, Katie                Unattached            17:07.75                  
  7 Miller, Liberty              Unattached            17:07.90                  
  8 Flanagan, Kaylee             Unattached            17:08.04                  
  9 Mires, Baylee                University of Wa      17:08.14    3             
 10 Suarez, Haley                Unattached            17:13.24                  
 11 Curatilo, Sophie             Seattle University    17:20.09    4             
 12 Hammerle, Lauren             Seattle University    17:29.97    5             
 13 Huschka, Breanna             University of Wa      17:38.61    6             
 14 Morgan, Megan                University of Wa      17:38.63    7             
 15 Johnson, Erin                University of Wa      17:38.66    8             
 16 Davis, Madison               Seattle University    17:45.07    9             
 17 Smith, Cassandra             University of Wa      17:45.85   10             
 18 Smith, Elena                 Seattle University    18:02.05   11             
 19 Laveaga, Taylor              Seattle University    18:05.52   12             
 20 Rice, Lila                   Seattle University    18:05.90   13             
 21 Arigo, Meghan                Seattle University    18:07.60   14             
 22 O'Connor Lenth, Moira        Seattle University    18:18.84   15             
 23 Hedberg, Emily               Seattle University    18:33.17   16             
 24 Lassere, Rebecca             Seattle University    18:40.21                  
 25 Stolle, Jennifer             Seattle University    19:03.68                  
 26 Tolentino, Amy               Seattle University    19:21.91                  
 27 Kruell, Haley                Seattle University    19:25.75                  
 28 Frederick, Lindsay           Seattle University    19:37.67                  
 29 Clawson, Amy                 Seattle University    19:45.20                  
                                                                                 
                                   Team Scores                                   
=================================================================================
Rank Team                      Total    1    2    3    4    5   *6   *7   *8   *9
=================================================================================
   1 University of Washington     25    1    3    6    7    8   10               
      Total Time:  1:27:10.15                                                    
         Average:    17:26.03                                                    
   2 Seattle University           31    2    4    5    9   11   12   13   14   15
      Total Time:  1:27:44.53                                                    
         Average:    17:32.91             

Event 2  Men 7200 Meter Run CC
=======================================================================          
    Name                    Year School                  Finals  Points          
=======================================================================          
  1 Nelson, Aaron                Unattached            22:17.88                  
  2 Johnathan, Stevens           Unattached            22:17.90                  
  3 Goodwin, Sumner              Unattached            22:17.95                  
  4 King, Tyler                  University of Wa      22:18.00    1             
  5 Gardner, Andrew              Unattached            22:18.11                  
  6 Yorks, Izaic                 Unattached            22:29.12                  
  7 Simon, Meron                 University of Wa      22:29.57    2             
  8 Cummings, Tim                University of Wa      22:29.65    3             
  9 Smith, Jacob                 Unattached            22:32.48                  
 10 Yarnall, AJ                  Unattached            22:41.04                  
 11 McLaughlin, Nathan           Seattle University    22:44.93    4             
 12 Overbay, Collin              Unattached            22:45.47                  
 13 Nelson, Blake                University of Wa      22:46.45    5             
 14 Coughlin, Jamie              Unattached            22:48.21                  
 15 Keith, Williams              Unattached            22:52.60                  
 16 Riordan, Ruben               Unattached            22:58.72                  
 17 Beattie, Aaron               University of Wa      22:58.97    6             
 18 Baklund, Jeff                Seattle University    23:08.89    7             
 19 Herrera, Caleb               Seattle University    23:15.70    8             
 20 Gilbert, Colby               Unattached            23:18.48                  
 21 Harris, Nick                 University of Wa      23:18.52    9             
 22 Flannery, Tyler              Seattle University    24:11.77   10             
 23 Dennison, Ryan               Seattle University    24:21.12   11             
 24 Hille, Miles                 Seattle University    24:22.63   12             
 25 Hayes, Connor                Seattle University    24:33.00   13             
 26 VanNuland, Peter             Seattle University    24:50.51   14             
                                                                                 
                                   Team Scores                                   
=================================================================================
Rank Team                      Total    1    2    3    4    5   *6   *7   *8   *9
=================================================================================
   1 University of Washington     17    1    2    3    5    6    9               
      Total Time:  1:53:02.64                                                    
         Average:    22:36.53                                                    
   2 Seattle University           40    4    7    8   10   11   12   13   14     
      Total Time:  1:57:42.41                                                    
         Average:    23:32.49                                                                                           

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All five Washington D1 schools open cross country season Friday and Saturday...

The start of last year's SeattleU/UW non-scoring meet
at Magnuson Park (photo by Paul Merca)

SEATTLE--The 2013 collegiate cross country season begins Friday for two of Washington's five NCAA Division I schools, as Seattle University will run in a non-scoring meet with the University of Washington at 4pm at Magnuson Park.

The women will run 3 miles, while the men's race will be contested over a 4.5 mile distance.

Coach Trish Steidl's Redhawks, who have been together as a team for almost two weeks so far, will have to overcome the loss of last year's WAC champ Erik Barkhaus, and Matthew McClement, both of whom graduated, plus the fact that Steidl plans to redshirt Collin Overbay.

Nonetheless, Steidl expects a wide-open competition for spots on her men's squad.

“If everybody does what they are capable of doing and continues to build while staying healthy, we have a shot of doing something really good this season. There are guys who should be in the top seven, but most of them are fairly close together. I like that those spots are up for grabs, because it keeps everyone hungry. If they are being smart, doing the little things, taking care of themselves both in and out of practice, and then racing with heart and soul, someone can come on and take one of those top spots,” said Steidl.

On the women's side, SeattleU will have a trio of seniors leading the team, with Hannah Mittelstaedt, last year's conference champ in the steeple, along with Lauren Hammerle and Jennifer Stolle.

With the Redhawks hosting the WAC championship meet at Jefferson Park on November 2nd, Steidl expects the competition from within her women's team to be as intense for the seven spots on the championship meet roster.

The Redhawks will run everyone who is healthy Friday.

Across town, the Huskies assembled as a team for the first time on Tuesday, and will run everyone on their squad who is healthy, with some running out of uniform and unattached Friday.

After Friday's meet, the Dawgs will head to Seabrook Monday for their annual week-long training camp before they host the Sundodger Invitational on September 14th at Lincoln Park.


Across the state, the other three Division I schools--Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State--will see each other Saturday at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet at Mead HS outside of Spokane, with the men running 6k and the women 4k.

In addition, all three schools will see the University of Idaho, along with D3 schools Whitworth University and Whitman College.  Adding to the intrigue of the meet is the fact that there will be dual-meet scoring between the four D1 schools racing.



QUICK NOTES:  With the college football season also getting underway this weekend, the Daily Relay has a list of its preseason track football team.

The Daily Relay's Jesse Squire picked the team at each of the standard positions by their single best mark of the 2013 track season, as determined by the IAAF scoring tables, and only considered athletes who competed in NCAA track last season.

Eastern Washington's Cody Humphrey, a 53-9 3/4 (16.40m) shot putter for the Eagles, is on the squad as a tight end, as is the Huskies' Danny Shelton, a defensive lineman who doubles as a 53-1 1/2 (16.19m) shot putter.


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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Huskies ranked #5 in USTFCCCA pre-season coaches' poll...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington women's cross country team is ranked number five in the USTFCCCA's pre-season poll, released Tuesday.

The Providence Friars are the country's #1 team in the pre-season polls, gaining 11 of the 12 first place votes from the national panel.

Washington's Liberty Miller & Katie
Flood at the 2012 Pac-12 meet.
Photo by Paul Merca
The top three scorers from the Friars’ runners-up effort a year ago return in sophomore Sarah Collins, who finished 10th overall as a freshman last year; and seniors Emily Sisson (15th) and Laura Nagel (35th).

No. 2 Florida State has been knocking on the door of a national team title for the last six years, having finished fourth the past two seasons, runner-up in 2009 and 1010, and third in 2007 and 2008.

Reigning champion Oregon lost many of its scorers from last year — its top three scorers, to be precise — but the Ducks enter the season at No. 3 in the country.  Junior transfer Lindsay Crevoiserat, who finished 42nd overall last year while at Connecticut, will join returning Ducks Allie Woodward (44th) and Annie Leblanc (68th) in the title defense effort.

Expectations are high for #4 Duke, which will rely on the experience its top three returning scorers to build on a 2012 season that saw the Blue Devils record a seventh-place finish — the program’s best since a third-place showing in 2005.

No. 5 Washington likewise improves from its ninth-place showing at NCAAs in 2012 behind the return of four returning scorers from last year — all of whom are seniors who experienced the Huskies’ narrow runners-up finish to Georgetown at the 2011 NCAA Championships. A strong crew featuring Megan Goethals (48th), Katie Flood (t89th), Justine Johnson (t89th) and Liberty Miller (152nd) will get one final shot at bringing the program its first title since 2008.

The Huskies also add heralded in-state freshmen Amy-Eloise Neale (Glacier Peak HS) and Katie Knight (North Central HS), both of whom competed at the IAAF world cross country championships in the junior race in March.

Besides the Ducks and Huskies, Arizona (#7), Stanford (#8), and Colorado (#14) gives the Pac-12 five teams in the national pre-season top 30.

In the national men's poll, Oklahoma State, Northern Arizona, Colorado, BYU, Arkansas and Tulsa are ranked by the voters as the country's top five teams (Arkansas/Tulsa tied for fifth).

The top team in the West region goes to the Portland Pilots at #8.  Besides Colorado (which is in the Mountain region), Oregon at #12, UCLA at #13, and Stanford at #16 are the other three teams from the Pac-12 ranked in the national pre-season top 30.

Washington opens the 2013 season with a low-key non-scoring meet Friday at Magnuson Park in Seattle starting at 4 pm, featuring Seattle University and invited unattached runners.


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bernard Lagat returns to winning ways in Linz, plus links...

LINZ, Austria--In his first race since finishing sixth in the 5000 meters at the IAAF world track & field championships, Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the 3000 meter run Monday night at the Gugl Games.

Lagat ran a time of 7:46.39 to outlast fellow American Will Leer, who finished at 7:46.69.

Tacoma's Matt Scherer was the pace setter in the featured 1000 meter run, won by Paul Robinson Ireland of Australia in 2:18.29.


One of the key meets we neglected over the weekend was the Pan Am Junior championships in Medellin, Colombia, where Tacoma's Marcus Chambers finished fourth in the 400 in 46.75, and won a gold medal in the 4 x 400 relay for Team USA in 3:06.57, running a opening split of 46.1.

In the finals of the men's 800, Marcus Dickson, who graduated from White River HS and completed his freshman year at Brigham Young, finished fifth in the 800 in 1:52.00.

University of Washington volunteer jumps coach and Seatown Express head Eric Metcalf was the jumps coach for Team USA in Colombia.



Smith will also serve as an assistant to the cross country team, under Falcon head coach Karl Lerum, who was elevated to program director for both track and cross country after Erika Daligcon stepped down as head cross country coach and distance assistant coach after the end of last season.

Courtesy of SPU Athletics, here's a video interview with Smith:


Finally, the Donn Cabral experiment in Bellingham is over, as the 2012 US Olympian in the steeplechase has moved back to the East Coast.

In a release, Cabral, who graduated from Princeton, will join the NJ*NY Track Club, coached by Frank Gagliano, after being coached this season by his high school coach, Peter Oviatt, who lives in Bellingham.

"I am so excited to be coming back to the east coast and to be part of this wonderful training group led by such a renowned coach as Coach Gagliano," stated Cabral. "I left Washington like I arrived last year; knowing that Coach Oviatt is a close friend and an outstanding coach. I just felt like I needed more of a structured group to train with and the east coast was pulling me back. I have many friends and family here and it is where I feel I can best develop as an athlete."


NOTE:  The sports information department at Seattle Pacific, along with the NJ*NY Track Club and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Audra Smith moves cross-town to Seattle Pacific...

SEATTLE--University of Washington track & field strength and conditioning coach Audra Smith (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) has been named as an assistant track & field coach at Seattle Pacific University.

Although the school has not posted a release on its web site, the hire was confirmed by Dan Lepse, SPU's sports information director on Thursday.

At Washington, Smith was the strength and conditioning coach for three seasons, after starting at UW as an assistant coach for multi-events in 2009-10.

As the multi-events assistant coach, Smith helped coach sophomore Jeremy Taiwo to the best decathlon performance by a Husky in 24 years, as he scored 7,521 points to take second at the Pac-10 Championships. Taiwo was in All-America position at the NCAA Championships after day one, but was unable to finish after a fall in the hurdles. On the women's side, freshman Sarah Schireman also had the eighth-best heptathlon score in school history, scoring 4,623 points.

Smith was a multi-events specialist during her competitive career at Idaho State, taking second at the 2007 Big Sky meet, scoring 5085.  She also scored for ISU in the 100, 200, 100 hurdles, and javelin, and was a key component to the Bengals winning the conference title in 2007.

The native of Pima, Arizona, who earned a masters degree in health education from ISU in 2007, is expected to work with Falcon head coach Karl Lerum in the sprints and multi events.


NOTE:  Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WSU head coach Rick Sloan announces retirement following 2013-14 season...


"This will be my final year as a head coach at Washington State," Sloan said. "I’m not done coaching as I feel like I still have more coaching in me but I don’t know what direction that will take me. At this point in time, with my wife Sandy’s illness a couple of years ago, we need to move on with our life and spend some time together."

Sloan has been with the Cougar track and field program for 40 years, including the last 18 as head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs and one additional year as the head coach for the men’s team. During his tenure as the Cougar track program's mentor, Sloan has seen Cougar men set 22 school records and Cougar women set 84 school records. He has directed 42 WSU athletes to NCAA Outdoor All-American status 76 times, and directed 33 athletes to NCAA Indoor All-American status 47 times.

When Sloan was named the head track and field coach at Washington State in June of 1994, he had already invested 21 years of service to the program and the university as an assistant coach. From 1973 until the summer of 1994, he had been an assistant coach, directing WSU athletes in field events, hurdles, sprints, and decathlon. 

Sloan, who was raised in Southern California, graduated from UCLA, and was a 1968 US Olympian in the decathlon, where he finished seventh, and had coaching stints at Cal Tech, Pasadena City College, and Mt. SAC before coming over to WSU in 1973 to work with John Chaplin.


He continues to coach the multi-events competitors and fulfill the duties of head coach. Sloan is well-known internationally in the multi-events circuits because of his 14 years as coach for three-time world decathlon champion, Olympic champion and former world record-holder Dan O’Brien (above/photo by Paul Merca) and his mentoring of Olympic heptathlete Diana Pickler.

"The job of head track and field coach at Washington State or at any Division I school requires a large time commitment. And I have been willing, over the 40 years that I have coached at Washington State to put that time in,” Sloan said. 

“I’m very proud of what I have accomplished over that time. I’m proud of the relationships and the work that I’ve done with young people and the direction their lives have taken. I couldn’t have been in a better place to spend those 40 years and for the most part my entire coaching career. I am very thankful to Washington State and the athletic department for giving me the opportunity to experience what I did over that period of time. I have a lot of very, very fond memories of the 40 years and the people that I’ve worked with. I’ll always look back at those with fondness and hopefully that people that I worked with also have those same impressions."

The conference's longest tenured track & field coach, Sloan and the Cougars will host the 2014 Pac-12 track & field championships at Mooberry Track in May.

NOTE:  The sports information office at Washington State University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to the real world--final observations from Moscow...

In my semi-sleep deprived state on Monday's flight from Moscow to Amsterdam, and on to Seattle, I managed to put together some random thoughts and observations on the IAAF world track & field championships--some may be valid, and others may just be off the wall. You can take it and thank or rip me later!

When you go to a big event like this, you go knowing what you signed up for, and that includes the fact that six hours of sleep is a luxury, and that you'll be at the stadium early before the gates are open to the public, and that you'll most likely be out of there after the last fans have left--then again, those super-fans are the ones standing outside the press entrance waiting for their heroes to come out of the stadium to be transported to their hotel or to drug testing; curiously enough, the press entrance to Luzhniki Stadium and the exit for athletes to go to their hotel after their press conference or drug testing were next to each other.

Here we go:

--Crowds improved over the course of the meet, but was surprised by the number of empty seats for the 100m final with Usain Bolt.  Maybe because of Moscow's size, the meet got lost in the shuffle--I don't know the answer.


--The Ukrainians brought it to the meet.  Really loved the fact that Ukrainians bought at least four sections of seats for every session of the meet, and you knew where they were sitting, as all of them had plain yellow and blue shirts, and when all in their section, formed the flag of the Ukraine.

--It seems as if a lot of younger Muscovites look like super hot models, and guys you'd hire as bouncers at your bar, an observation made by Jason Henderson of Athletics Weekly, who I met after picking up my credential the day before the meet.  There was a lot of quality sightseeing during my time in Moscow, and I'm not referring to Red Square, the Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb, or the GUM department store!

This is not the Russia your mom & dad and the pre 1990s US  media taught you to hate. I don't know if its a cultural thing, but they could learn to smile more.

--There are a lot of folks driving around in nice cars, including Mercedes, BMW, Lincoln Navigators, Lexus, etc.

--At least in Moscow, there aren't a lot of obese folks. Having to walk fast to get to subway stops helps.  I must say that I did a lot of walking in and around Moscow, whether it was in & out of the subway, and certainly in the Luzhniki Olympic complex.

--The Moscow subway system is amazingly efficient. However, you really need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet & Russian. It's not foreigner friendly.  The Moscow city guide I bought before the trip did not get much use.

--The distance between main press center and stadium was at least 600 meters, which is fine unless you're lugging cameras and a laptop.  I went as far as to use my Nike GPS Sportwatch to time and measure how far I walked from the stadium to the press center to check out and return my Nikon camera gear.

--American middle distance running is certainly on the rise. Centrowith/Martinez/Simpson/Symmonds all earned medals in the 800 and 1500 meter races.  You can argue that with better tactics, the name Montano could easily be substituted for Martinez, as she led the finals of the 800 for almost all but the last 80 meters.

--Could this be Bernard Lagat's last worlds?  At 38 years of age, he is still the best America has to offer, but in the last 100 meters of the men's 5000 finals, the youngsters took a page out of Lagat's kick-and-win manual and turned the tables on him, despite the fact that he was perfectly positioned exiting the final turn.

--The youngsters like Mary Cain (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Ajee Wilson are the real deal. Unless she really wants the college experience, Cain is better off not running for an NCAA institution.

--The Brad Walker case (NY Times) goes to demonstrate that the shoe companies and the IAAF have way too much power over the athletes. Unless you are at the very top in the sprints and distances and maybe certain jumps, chances are you aren't making much money as a pro track & field athlete. 

As folks like Nick Symmonds brought to light last year, it's hard to market yourself within the current framework (i.e, working with non traditional sponsors). The shoe companies aren't going to allow a second sponsor's logo on their kits.

--Choco Pies are the greatest Russian snacks!


--Finally, it's nice to get recognized for the work you do with the web site, especially by foreign peers. At the media hotel on the final evening of the meet, I was approached by a random foreign journalist who has followed the blog for several years, and complimented me.  And oh, by the way, asked if I knew how to get in touch with Alberto Salazar for an interview :-)

Before wrapping up Moscow, I must give a shout out to the media and photo folks at the Moscow 2013 organizing committee, along with USA Track & Field and the IAAF for a great job.  I also want to thank the folks at Nikon for the use of the pro level D4 camera and lenses that helped bring some of the great images captured.

Finally, I'd like to thank the many reporters, writers, photographers, and fans that I met during my stay in Moscow.

Spasiba!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Centrowitz and Martinez earn medals on final day of world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--Team USA got contributions from Matthew Centrowitz (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Brenda Martinez in the men's 1500 and women's 800 as the squad earned five medals on the final evening of competition at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Luzhniki Stadium.

Oregon grad Centrowitz, a member of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project,  bided his time, staying in the top half of the pack and running as high as second place as the pack moved along at a measured but honest pace of 1:59.24 at 800 meters. 

At the bell, the pack remained relatively tightly bunched, with Centrowitz patiently sitting on the rail. When the field broke down the final straightaway, Centrowitz was in third and seized an opening, running three wide to move up to second in 3:36.78. 

Asbel Kiprop of Kenya defended his title and took the gold in 3:36.28, with Johan Cronje of South Africa third in 3:36.83. Centrowitz joins Bernard Lagat as the only U.S. men to win two medals in the 1500m at the World Championships.

Martinez won the first ever World Championship medal in the 800m for an American woman. She started conservatively, running eighth at 200m and 7th at 400m. Martinez managed the traffic well as five women sprinted to the line in a race for second place behind Eunice Sum of Kenya. Martinez found a spot on the rail to nab the bronze in a personal best of 1:57.91, behind Sum (1:57.38) and Mariya Savinova of Russia (1:57.80). 

Alysia MontaƱo bolted to an early lead, splitting 56.06 for 400m, but her lead disappeared with 150 meters to go, and she dove across the line in fourth 1:57.95. 19-year-old AjeƩ Wilson set an American Junior record of 1:58.21 in sixth.

Triple jumper Will Claye repeated his bronze medal performance from the 2011 World Championships with his mark of 17.52m/57-5.75.  Defending Olympic and World Champion Christian Taylor opened with a jump of 16.99m/55-9 to place him fourth, and improved on his final attempt to 17.20m/56-5.25, but was unable to move onto the medal stand.


In the men’s 4x100, Charles Silmon led off for Team USA and handed off even with Jamaica.  A strong second leg by Mike Rodgersput the Americans in the lead at the second exchange, which Jamaica slightly bobbled. Mookie Salaam ran hard around the turn on the third leg. 

As Justin Gatlin took off for the final exchange, he stumbled and struggled to recover and get the baton from Salaam. Once he did, he ran home to silver behind the Usain Bolt-led Jamaicans (center/photo by Paul Merca), who won in a world-leading time of 37.36. The U.S. was second in 37.66 with Canada third in 37.92 after Great Britain (37.80) was disqualified.

In the women’s 4x100, anchor Octavious Freeman snatched a second-place finish from the jaws of defeat in a reshuffled Team USA relay order. With Allyson Felix (hamstring) and Carmelita Jeter (quadriceps) out with injuries suffered or exacerbated in Moscow, Team USA presented a brand new lineup. Jeneba Tarmoh got out well in the first leg, handing off to Alexandria Anderson  who ran a blazing second leg and approached English Gardner in the lead for the second exchange. 

Gardner took off well in front of Anderson and had to slow almost to a stop in the exchange zone to complete the pass as Anderson also slowed. Gardner ran a hard turn and handed off to Freeman, who ran from seventh to third in an amazing final leg. 

The final results have Jamaica first in a World Championships record 41.29, with Team USA second in 42.75 and Great Britain and Northern Ireland third in 42.87.



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

Bowerman finalists Rollins and Barrett shine on penultimate day of world champs...

MOSCOW, Russia--Two collegiate athletes in the running for this year's Bowerman Award, given to the top female and male track & field athletes in collegiate track & field proved that they are more than ready to take on the world at the biggest stage of track and field.

Brianna Rollins (left, with Brigetta Barrett/photo by Paul Merca), who competed at Clemson, overcame a slow start out of lane 6 to come from behind on Olympic gold medalist Sally Pearson of Australia in lane 5. The NCAA and USA champion, Rollins overtook Pearson over the eighth and ninth hurdles, keeping her cool as she cruised to a well-executed victory in 12.44, adding the World title to her belt. Pearson clocked  season-best 12.50. Tiffany Porter of Great Britain was third in a personal-best 12.55, with Olympic silver medalist Dawn Harper fourth in 12.59 and Queen Harrison fifth in 12.73.

Olympic silver medalist Brigetta Barrett from the University of Arizona sailed over the bar on her first attempt at her opening height of 1.89m/6-2.25, then 1.93m/6-4, 1.97m/6-5.5, and 2.00m/6-6.75 to sit in first heading into 2.03m/6-8. Barrett failed to clear but Russian Svetlana Shkolina made her first attempt, giving Shkolina the gold and Barrett the silver. With her clearance, Barrett tied the best height ever by an American at the Worlds.

It was a strong night for Team Russia, as they picked up wins from Svetlana Shkolina in the women's high jump (6-8/2.03m), the women's 4 x 400 meter relay (3:20.19), and a bronze medal from Dimitri Tarabin in the men's javelin (282-11/86.23m).

Tarabin's clutch sixth-round throw shot down any hopes of Kenya's Julius Yego (above/photo by Paul Merca) obtaining a medal of any color, as he stood third at 280-2 (85.40m) with two throwers remaining in the last round.

Yego's story is just as amazing, as he taught himself how to throw the javelin with the help of videos posted on YouTube, as Kenya doesn't have the coaching and equipment resources.

In 2012, Yego qualified for the Olympics, and made the finals, finishing 12th with a throw of 253-1(77.15m).

Yego entered the world championships with a previous personal best of 269-4 (82.09m).

The Bolt show continued, as he cruised to victory in 19.66, with countryman Warren Weir second in 19.79, and American Curtis Mitchell third in 20.04.

The world championships conclude Sunday with finals in the women's javelin, 800, and 4 x 100, and the men's triple jump, 1500, and 4 x 100m.


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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lagat's medal streak at world championships end with sixth place finish...

MOSCOW, Russia--Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Paul Merca) bid for a fourth straight world championships medal in the 5000 meters as a member of Team USA fell short, as the veteran finished out of the podium in sixth place.

Lagat, the reigning USA national champion who entered the meet with a season best of 13:07.76, was reluctantly up front and led for about 500 meters before ceding it to Kenya's Isiah Koech, who took the field through the first kilometer in 2:45.12.

Defending world and Olympic champion Mo Farah then took the group through the next kilometer in 5:38.11, slowing it down to 2:52.99.

The pace picked up marginally as Koech went to the front, leading the field to a 2:45.68 third kilometer.

Ethiopia's Hagos Gebrhiwet ramped up the pace in kilometer number four, running 2:36.91, with all the known kickers, including Lagat, positioned perfectly as they exited the turn for the final two laps.

In that last kilometer, Farah and the rest of the field began shuffling around for position, knowing that the last lap would be fast.  Lagat was positioned in around third or fourth as they entered the final lap.  

Down the backstretch, Farah and a group of three opened up a gap on Lagat that he could not recover from.

Farah successfully defended his world championship, running 13:26.98, with Ethiopia's Gebrihwet second at 13:27.26, and Koech third at 13:27.36.

Lagat crossed the line in 13:29.24, with American teammates Galen Rupp eighth at 13:29.24, and Ryan Hill tenth at 13:32.69.

"I was perfectly positioned, but my legs just didn't have it," said Lagat in the mixed zone.

"I have no injury, and I have no excuse.  The race went better than I expected, but there are guys running better than me right now, and I gave it my best."


When asked if missing time with the injury that caused him to drop out in Monaco last month may have affected him, he said that it wasn't a factor, but instead it helped him.

WSU grad Shawna Fermin runs leadoff leg for Trinidad & Tobago at world champs...

MOSCOW, Russia--Washington State University alum Shawna Fermin (left/photo by Paul Merca) ran the opening leg for Trinidad and Tobago's 4 x 400 meter relay team that finished fifth in the second of three heats Friday morning at Luzhniki Stadium.

The Trinidad & Tobago squad ran a time of 3:33.50, as Great Britain won in 3:25.39, followed by Nigeria in 3:27.39, France in 3:27.75, and the Bahamas in 3:32.91.

In the mixed zone afterwards, Fermin, who was an NCAA qualifier for the Cougars during her career in Pullman, said that she felt pretty strong, but I struggled a little bit more than normal over the last 100 meters.

She said that the experience competing for Washington State University helped prepare her for what to expect at the sport's biggest stage.  

"When you compete at the collegiate level, you compete against some of the best in the world who are at the same age group as you."

Fermin plans to continue competing but is not sure where she will train at next season, as she is applying to several schools for graduate studies, including Washington State.  

Later this evening, Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat will run in the finals of the men's 5000 meters.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brad Walker announces he's been dropped by Nike...

MOSCOW, Russia--Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) is hot.

In a post on his Facebook fan page, the University of Washington and University HS/Spokane grad announced that he had been dropped by long time sponsor Nike after a fourth place finish in the pole vault here at Luzhniki Stadium Monday night.

As we reported at the USA championships, Walker had competed without a sponsor for most of the 2013 season, after his contract expired at the end of the 2012 season.

He said that the Beaverton based company offered him a contract  for the 2013 season that "would allow me to purchase about a used 2008 Prius. And if you don't know what that value is, lets just say that it is well below the poverty line."

Walker competed for most of this season unattached, while shopping around for a better sponsorship deal, knowing that the deal Nike offered if nothing new came up.

This is a blown-up version of the photo above, and the
source of Walker's beef with Nike.  
He writes, "I reluctantly signed (before the world championships), and I was on my way. Now my shoes are made especially for me. I have a carbon plate inserted into the shoe because the base pv light shoe is not nearly stiff enough. Its a bit of a hassle to get new ones because they come out of Beaverton, and need a window of a few weeks to be made and shipped. And since I hadn't signed my used Prius contract, I didn't feel it was right for me to asked for new shoes heading into worlds."

In the finals, Walker put tape on the arch of his shoes,  to reinforce the velcro strap on top (which has a large swoosh logo), and that was perceived as a huge no-no by the Nike sports marketing folks.  In fairness, there is also a swoosh also in the front of the shoe. 

"I received an email from my manager stating that the man in charge was absolutely furious with me. He stated that if I needed new shoes I should have ordered them. And then frankly said 'We no longer want Brad, tell him to look elsewhere.' And there you have it."

"I am no longer a NIKE athlete because while trying to use one of their products, I had to use tape to hold together a shoe that shouldn't break down within 6 months."

Nike has not commented on Walker's situation.


In Thursday night action here at Luzhniki, Team USA’s 400m hurdles crew came through in intense competition, winning a combined three medals in the women’s and men’s races, while Jenny Simpson nearly pulled off a wire-to-wire win as she got silver in the women’s 1,500m.

In the 400 hurdles, Olympic silver medalist and defending world champion Lashinda Demus got out strong, leading the first 250 meters. Demus stretched for the tenth hurdle, but Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova took the lead coming into the home stretch making her move and extending the gap to win in a world-leading time of 52.83. 

Demus' training partner Dalilah Muhammad passed her just before the line to take the silver in 54.09.

Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley was next on the track for the men’s 400m hurdles, where he battled Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon, the 2010 World Junior champion. Tinsley blasted from the blocks in lane 3 and was well in the lead over the first three hurdles. Gordon came back on him around the curve, and a battle was on in the homestretch. Gordon took the early advantage, but Tinsley seemed to inch ahead of  Gordon with one stride left. That final stride made all the difference; however, and Gordon took the win as both men dove through the line, with Gordon clocking a world-leading 47.69 to Tinsley’s personal-best 47.70.

In the women's 1500, defending world champ Jenny Simpson bolted to the lead, with 17-year-old Mary Cain on her shoulder and then tucking in behind. Simpson led through 400m in 1:05.73, followed by Hellen Obiri of Kenya. Simpson continued to lead as Cain moved to midpack. Simpson continued towing the field through 800m in 2:13.92, this time with Abeba Aregawi of Sweden on her shoulder.

At the bell, it was Simpson in 3:03.78, with 1200m passed in 3:18.91. Aregawi took the lead at 1200m but Simpson fought back, along with Obiri. In the homestretch, Simpson came back on Aregawi, but the Swede held on to win in 4:02.67 to Simpson’s 4:02.99. Obiri came third in 4:03.86, with Cain 10th in 4:07.19.

Friday, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat will attempt to win his third consecutive medal of any color as a member of Team USA in the finals of the men's 5000, while recent WSU grad Shawna Fermin will be part of Trinidad & Tobago's 4 x 400 relay pool.  As is usually the case with relays, relay compositions and order will be announced shortly before the race.


NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lagat easily advances to Friday's finals in the 5000 at world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) kept himself out of trouble for most of the race, cruising to a third place finish in Tuesday morning's 5000 meter semifinals, in a time of 13:23.59, and an automatic berth in Friday's finals.

Lagat kept himself positioned near the front but to the outside, so that he wouldn't get pinned to the rail when it was time to move.

His positioning kept him out of trouble with less than two laps to go, when Phillip Kipyeko of Uganda got tangled up with the front pack.  Both Lagat and USA teammate and fifth place finisher Ryan Hill (13:24.19) managed to avoid the mayhem and stay upright.

Ethiopia's Hagos Gebrhiwet won the semi race in 13:23.22.

"I tried to tell myself to get out of this mess. There was a lot of bumping with each other there, a lot of legs and feet flying around.  One guy might be trying to push you from behind, and you're trying to hold up so you don't trip over the guy in front of you."

"I clipped the guy from Uganda, and I told him I was sorry afterwards."

"Over the last 600, I felt good".

The 2007 world champion at both 1500 and 5000 said that training for these world championships have been going good, except for a slight hiccup with his hip that forced him to drop out of the 5000 at the Diamond League in Monaco last month.

He said that the issue with the hip was the first serious bump in the road partly due to increasing the volume in his training when he got to his summer base in Tubigen, Germany, but has been working with a physical therapist to help correct the issue, adding that at his age, trying to train through an injury is not the smartest thing to do.

All three Americans moved on to Friday's final, as Portland's Galen Rupp finished fourth in the other semifinal in 13:23,91, just ahead of his Nike Oregon Project teammate and reigning Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain.

Later this evening, finals will be held in the men's discus, women's pole vault, men's 800, women's steeplechase, and men's 400.



TRACK SHORTS:  One athlete we missed in our world championships preview is recent Washington State grad Shawna Fermin, who will be on Trinidad & Tobago's 4 x 400 relay pool.

Fermin earned second-team All-America honors as an NCAA 400m semifinalist for WSU last June. A dual citizen, Fermin will run for Trinidad and Tobago in the women’s 1600m relay prelim heats Friday the 16th at 11:30 a.m. Russian time (12:30 a.m. PT). The relay final is set for the next day at 7:30 p.m. Russian time (8:30 a.m. PT).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Washington alum Walker misses out on a medal with fourth place finish at world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--University of Washington alum Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished fourth in the men's pole vault finals at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Luhzniki Stadium on a warm Monday evening.

Walker opened the meet with a first attempt miss at 18-6 1/2 (5.65m) before clearing on his second attempt.

He made the next height, 18-10 1/4 (5.75m) on his second attempt as well, before clearing 19-1 (5.82m) on his first attempt, before bowing out at 19-3 3/4 (5.89m).

Walker was in medal contention for most of the competition, until a clutch third attempt clearance by reigning Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France at 19-3 3/4 left the University/Spokane grad out of contention.

The first attempt miss by Walker at 18-6 1/2 was the difference between the 2007  world champion missing out on a medal, as Bjorn Otto of Germany had an identical series to Walker from 18-10 1/4 on up, with a first attempt make at 18-6 1/2.

Germany's Raphael Holzdeppe won with a first attempt clearance at 19-3 3/4, followed by Lavillenie and Otto.

In events involving Americans, David Oliver ran a world leading time of 13.00 to lead a US 1-2 in the 110 hurdles, stopping the clock at 13.00, followed by USC alum Ryan Wilson (13.13) and Russia's Sergey Shubenkov (13.24).

The women's 100 saw Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price win in a world leading 10.71, with Carmelita Jeter third in 10.94.

Tuesday will see Washington State University hall of famed and former world champion Bernard Lagat run in the semifinals of the men's 5000 meters at 10:20 am local time (11:20 pm Monday in Seattle), as he tries to advance to Friday's finals.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reese and Eaton add world titles to their Olympic crowns on day 2 of the world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--Brittney Reese (left/photo by Paul Merca) won her sixth international title since 2009 and Team USA brought home gold in the decathlon for the eighth time in World Championships history as Ashton Eaton maintained his title as World’s Greatest Athlete, winning with 8809 points on the second day of competition Sunday at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships at Luzhniki Stadium.

Reese, who resides at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, became one of Team USA’s most-decorated athletes, continuing her undefeated championships streak in the women’s long jump. 

Reese, who competed this winter at the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor facility, moved into first for good on her second jump, breaking the seven-meter barrier with a leap of 7.01m/23-0. 

After good performances earlier in the day in the hurdles and discus, Eaton, the University of Oregon grad jumped a season best 5.20m/17-0.75 in the pole vault and extended his lead to 181 points. His third-round javelin throw of 64.83m/212-8, a decathlon PR, virtually assured him of gold, carrying a 168-point lead into the 1500m. A leisurely and careful 4:29.80 gave Eaton a world title to go with his Olympic gold and world record.

Shalane Flanagan was Team USA’s best finisher in the women’s 10,000m placing eighth at 31:34.83.  Flanagan took off after 250 meters and led the pack during the first 3600m, but fell off the pace and drifted back when the tempo picked up. Jordan Hasay, the University of Oregon grad, ran 32:17.93 to finish 12th and Arizona State alum Amy Hastings was 14th in 32:51.19.

Despite a thunderstorm that surrounded the skies around Luzhniki moments before the featured men's 100 meter race, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won yet another world title, scooting across the track in a Russian all-comers record of 9.77 seconds to hold off the challenge of US veteran Justin Gatlin, who ran a season best 9.85.

Bolt put behind him the nightmare false-start in the final in Daegu two years ago which saw him default his title to teammate Yohan Blake. Blake was absent injured from Moscow, but there is little doubt the result would have been the same had he been here.

He has now extended his span of domination in the 100m to five years, a match for pretty well any other sprinter in history. Carl Lewis did better in one aspect, winning every global title at 100m from the first World Championships in Helsinki in 1983 through to Tokyo in 1991, but Bolt has an edge for impact. His 9.69 in Beijing and 9.58 in Berlin took the event to a new dimension.

Monday night, University of Washington alum Brad Walker, who won a world title in 2007 in Osaka, but hasn't appeared in the world championships since, looks to find the magic in the pole vault finals, which begins at 7 pm local time (8 am in Seattle).

Complete day 2 results are available here.

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

The world's most popular track & field athlete takes center stage tonight...

MOSCOW, Russia--It's an action packed evening Sunday as the second evening session begins in a few minutes at Luzhniki Stadium.

The world's most popular track athlete, Jamaica's Usain Bolt (left/photo by Paul Merca) begins and ends the session with the semis and finals in the men's 100, assuming of course, he gets through the semifinal round.

For American fans, Olympic champs Brittney Reese and Jenn Suhr go in the final of the women's long jump, and qualifying in the women's pole vault.

On the track, there are semis in the men's 800 and women's 400 with a strong presence by the red, white and blue.

In the women's 10000 finals, veteran Shalane Flanagan, along with the world championship debut of Oregon alum Jordan Hasay, will make the race interesting.


paulmerca.blogspot.com will have a recap of the day's activities later today.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Knee problems force Jeremy Taiwo out of decathlon at world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) appeared to be on his way to a solid meet, especially after setting a personal best in the long jump on the first day of the decathlon.

But it wasn't to be.

Taiwo surprisingly did not start the high jump, the fourth event, and the event in which he briefly held the world heptathlon event record in.

The long collegiate season may have caught up with the Newport HS and University of Washington graduate apparently hurt himself on his second attempt, in which he jumped 24-0 1/2 (7.32m) after scoring a personal best of 24-8 1/2 (7.53m) in round one.

After the second jump, Taiwo passed his attempt due to pain on the inside of his left knee, and the jump held up for the victory in his group.

Taiwo started the day by running 10.96 to take second in his heat, scoring 870 points.

In the shot put, he threw 42-7 1/2 (12.99m) to score 667 points.

"My knee started bothering me to inside of my left knee during the long jump, so then I rested and didn’t take my last jump. After the break I came back to the high jump and when I took my first practice jump, I didn’t even get off the ground. I just felt like I didn’t have anything in my leg," said Taiwo in quotes gathered by USA Track & Field.

"Walking over to my coach (Atanas Atanassov) I realized that it hurt really badly on the outside of my knee and it was really unstable. I tried to jog on it and it kept giving out and the pain got worse. So I went in to the medical staff and that’s all."

"I feel like my next world championships is going to be fine. I got out here and felt relaxed, like it was just another meet. I ran fast, I had a good long jump, and I was excited to have a really good meet. I guess my body wasn’t ready for the whole thing.”

paulmerca.blogspot.com talked to both Taiwo and Atanassov afterwards, and they stated that Taiwo initially hurt the knee at the Pac-12 decathlon in May in Los Angeles, and tried to manage the injury by not high jumping as much in training, and by working with the medical staff at the UW athletic department.  Taiwo said that he hopes to get an MRI on the knee here in Moscow.



NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Washington alum Brad Walker advances to pole vault finals...

MOSCOW, Russia--University of Washington alum Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) needed only one jump to qualify for the finals in the men's pole vault Saturday morning as the IAAF World Track & Field Championships opened at Luzhniki Stadium.

Walker cleared 18-2 1/2 (5.55m) as one of thirteen men to advance to Monday's finals.

Afterwards, Walker said, "I had a pretty good feel for the runway.  It seems like a fast track.  I really didn't get a chance to get into a real groove in the competition.  I think that if we had kept jumping, my steps would have moved back.  It's a great stadium; I like how it's built up around the top to keep the wind out."

University of Washington grad Jeremy Taiwo sits in 17th with 2479 points after three events in the decathlon, with the high jump starting at 3:30 pm local time.

A complete recap of Taiwo's day will be posted later on after the conclusion of day 1 of the decathlon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's almost time to go at the IAAF world championships...

MOSCOW, Russia--We have finally arrived in Moscow to begin paulmerca.blogspot.com's coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital.

Arrived in Moscow late Thursday, and did a walkthrough of the stadium, including the mixed zones, and the photo areas, which is where we will be during the nine days of competition.

This view is from just past the finish line.

Saturday, both University of Washington alums Brad Walker and Jeremy Taiwo will begin competition, with Walker in the pole vault qualifying and Taiwo beginning the two day, ten event decathlon.

This world championships marks one of the smallest number of Washington based athletes competing, and it was made smaller with the withdrawal of Washington State standout Ebba Jungmark from the Swedish team in the high jump due to a nagging injury with her takeoff foot.

We will, however, have daily posts on our activities here in Moscow, focusing primarily on Team USA and other breaking stories.

As we have for the the last three world championships, we've created a Scrib document that you can download with brief information on the three athletes with Washington ties competing here in Moscow.




Thursday, August 8, 2013

Huskies announce 2013 cross country schedule...

SEATTLE--The University of Washington announced its 2013 cross country schedule Thursday, with a full slate of meets on the road to the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Indiana in November.

The season opens for the Huskies on August 30th at Magnuson Park (photo of last year's meet by Paul Merca) with a low-key open meet co-hosted by Seattle University.

Washington's annual Sundodger Invitational is set for September 14 at its usual spot at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. From there the Huskies will be on the move every two weeks, heading first down to Eugene for Oregon's annual Bill Dellinger Invite on October 5.

For the third year in a row, UW will head to Wisconsin for the adidas Wisconsin Invitational, which has featured the year's largest fields the past two years. The race in Madison is set for Oct. 19, while back in Seattle on the same day, the Huskies have the option of sending competitors to the Emerald City Open at Woodland Park.

The University of Colorado hosts the Pac-12 Championships in Louisville, Colorado., outside of Boulder, for the first time since joining the conference. That race is set for November 2.

The NCAA West Regionals will be in Sacramento, Calif. this year on November 15, with the qualifying teams converging on Terre Haute, Ind. and the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on November 23.

GOETHALS FAMILY NEEDS YOUR HELP

On our way to Moscow, just saw a link to a story on media partner Flotrack on Diane Goethals, who is battling breast cancer.

Diane is the mother of University of Washington runner Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca).

In an effort to help the Goethals family, a bunch of family friends from Goethals' home town of Rochester Hills, Michigan are hosting the Goethals 24 Hour Challenge at Rochester HS, where hundreds of soccer players, runners, and walkers will play and run.


NOTE:  The University of Washington contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taking the final steps on the road to Moscow!

The road to Moscow is about to end at Luzhniki Stadium, which hosted the 1980 Olympics.

The road to Moscow began on a late night bus ride from Daegu to Incheon International Airport.

It's taken me to places near and far.

The road to Moscow has gone through the Dempsey, Lincoln Park, and the purple track built on what was once a garbage dump.

The road to Moscow has gone through the Richmond Olympic Oval, the streets of New York, the freezing cold of a park in St. Louis, a golf course in Palo Alto, and a blue oval in the middle of the United States.

It's even gone through Pullman, Washington.

The road to Moscow has gone through a freezing cold March day in a country once occupied by the Soviet Union, when six young men hoisted the American flag after winning a team medal in a sport recently dominated by Africans.

The road to Moscow has gone through what's considered the Carnegie Hall of American track & field, Historic Hayward Field.

The road to Moscow has even traveled through cyberspace, as athletes, coaches, officials and fans have shared their stories, statistics, and passion towards the sport.

And now it's here.

In a few hours, I'll board a plane for Moscow to cover my 11th IAAF world track & field championships, where over 2000 of the world's best runners, jumpers, and throwers will compete for world titles.

While my focus on this web site will be on the athletes competing with ties to the state of Washington--decathlete Jeremy Taiwo, pole vaulter Brad Walker, and 5000 meter runner Bernard Lagat, I hope to give you a taste of what it's like to be at a great event like the world track and field championships.

And, if I'm lucky, I might find the guy who opened and closed the service door that allegedly affected the results of the triple jump at the 1980 Moscow Olympics by creating a wind tunnel for the Soviet jumpers at the expense of Washington State University hall of famer Ian Campbell.


I hope you'll follow the blog while we're in Moscow!  Also, don't forget to follow the blog on Twitter and Instagram (paulmerca70601).

By the way, the viewer's guide will be posted Friday from Moscow!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Brooks Beasts' Deborah Maier wins 3000 in Gent, plus some good reads...

In Gent, Belgium, University of California alum Deborah Maier (left/photo by Paul Merca), who joined the Seattle based Brooks Beasts squad earlier this summer, won the 3000 meter run at the Flanders Cup meet Saturday.

Maier ran 9:09.03 to finish over five seconds ahead of Japan's Yukari Abe, who ran 9:14.11, with Sofie Van Accom of Belgium third in 9:32.34.

Brooks Beasts teammate and University of Washington alum Katie Mackey finished second in the 800 meter run, as she ran 2:02.00 behind Canada's Nicole Sifuentes' 2:01.84.

Victoria's Diane Cummins was third in 2:02.12.


One of the most interesting reads on doping was recently posted by University of Washington alum Brad Walker on his Facebook fan page.

It's a very fascinating post by a guy who has traveled the world during his career and witnessed the best and worst of humanity as he pursues his sport.


The other good read of the day is from the IAAF, as they profile the BBC's Steve Cram, who has gone from world class miler to one of the best commentators of the sport.

When asked about what qualities a good commentator needs, he said, "You have to have a feel for what you are watching. This gives you a good background, so you are not stressing about the mechanics of the race I don’t think anyone is born a great commentator, you have to work at it and learn about it. You have to learn about the different techniques of how to commentate on a race. You have to be able to inform the viewer and deliver a sense of excitement and build to a crescendo and climax.”

Friday, August 2, 2013

The IAAF's Moscow 2013 statistics handbook is ready for download, plus the US television schedule!

For the true track & field stats nut, the IAAF statistics handbook is now available for download in advance of the IAAF world track & field championships that begin a week from Saturday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Produced in collaboration with the Association of Track & Field Statisticians (ATFS) and edited by renowned statistician Mark Butler, the 800-page book is nothing short of a historical and statistical feast for media and fans alike.

In addition to complete results – including each round of every event – from each of the previous 13 editions of the IAAF World Championships, the book also includes important facts and figures from the championships, an analysis of performance trends, superlatives, and listings of multiple medallists and placing tables.

Also included are results from past major championships: The Olympic Games, other IAAF World Athletics Series events, and area championships. There is also a World and continental records section, all-time world lists, listings of national records, a section outlining official World record progressions as well as biographical summaries of many of the stars expected to figure prominently at the World Championships.

The publication is available in two formats--an 'e-book' format here, which makes it easy to zip through the pages on your web browser.


While we're at it, here is the television/web schedule for the world track & field championships:

Universal Sports Network and NBC will air 46 hours of premier track & field action from the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia from Saturday, August 10 through Sunday, August 18.

The broadcast team of Ato Boldon, Tom Hammond, Lewis Johnson and Dwight Stones will call the action from Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, home of the 1980 Olympic Games.

All broadcast time Eastern. Check local listings.

2013 IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Sat., Aug. 10 - 1:30 – 5:30 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Sat., Aug. 10 - 3:30 – 5:00 p.m., Evening Session on NBC
Sat., Aug. 10 - 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Evening Session (Re-Air) on Universal Sports

Sun., Aug. 11 - 1:00 – 5:00 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Sun., Aug. 11 - 12:30 – 2:00 p.m., Evening Session on NBC
Sun., Aug. 11 - 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Evening Session (Re-Air) on Universal Sports

Mon., Aug. 12 - 1:30 – 4:30 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Mon., Aug. 12 - 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. LIVE, Evening Session on Universal Sports

Tue., Aug. 13 - 1:30 – 5:30 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Tue., Aug. 13 - 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. LIVE , Evening Session on Universal Sports

Wed., Aug. 14 - 12:30 – 4:00 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports

Thur., Aug. 15 - 1:30 – 4:00 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Thur., Aug. 15 - 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. LIVE, Evening Session on Universal Sports

Fri., Aug. 16 - 1:30 – 4:00 a.m. LIVE, Day Session on Universal Sports
Fri., Aug. 16 - 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. LIVE, Evening Session on Universal Sports

Sat., Aug 17 - 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. LIVE, Evening Session on NBC
Sat., Aug 17 - 12:30 – 2:30 p.m., Men’s Marathon on Universal Sports
Sat., Aug 17 - 2:30 – 4:00 p.m., Evening Session on NBC
Sat., Aug 17 - 9:00 – 10:30 p.m., Evening Session (Re-Air) on Universal Sports

Sun., Aug 18 - 2:30 – 4:00 p.m., Evening Session on NBC
Sun., Aug 18 - 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Evening Session (Re-Air) on Universal Sports

paulmerca.blogspot.com begins its daily coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships from Moscow on Friday August 9th.

NOTE:  The IAAF, NBC Sports, and Universal Sports contributed to this report. 

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