Thursday, August 31, 2017

All five Washington D1 schools in action Friday in cross country season openers...

All five of Washington’s Division I schools will be in action on Friday at various meets around the Northwest as the 2017 collegiate cross country season opens.

In Seattle, the University of Washington will host the annual non-scoring meet against Seattle University at Warren G. Magnuson Park in the Sand Point neighborhood, just a few miles north of the UW campus, with the women starting at 4 pm, and the men going 30 minutes later.

The women will run two 1.5 mile loops (3 miles total) of a moderately flat course, with the only significant hill the famed Kite Hill about 800 meters into the loop, while the men run three loops (4.5 miles total). The course starts and finishes next to the swim beach on the east end of the park.

The Huskies, who assembled on campus on Monday, will run most of their upperclassmen in uniform, while their underclassmen, including prize freshman Shona McCullough (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won the Brooks PR meet in the two mile in 2016, and represented Canada at the IAAF world cross country championships this spring in the under-20 race, will compete unattached.

The Redhawks will counter with senior Johanna Erickson, their top returning finisher in last year’s WAC championships (she was 7th), and junior Olivia Stein, who was tenth in the WAC last fall.

On the men’s side, Washington’s Colby Gilbert leads the charge along with Andrew Gardner, and redshirt freshman Gavin Parpart, who represented the USA at the IAAF world cross country championships this spring in the under-20 race.

Most of their incoming freshman class will run unattached. The most significant runner running without a UW jersey Friday is 2016 NCAA competitor Fred Huxham.

The Redhawks will be led by Eli Boudouris, who was 11th at last year’s WAC championships at Jefferson Park, which SeattleU hosted.

Friday’s meet marks the debut of SeattleU head coach Kelly Sullivan, the former Oregon State mentor who replaced Trisha Steidl, and faces the challenge of energizing a program that had not qualified a single athlete in cross country, indoor, or outdoor track for the NCAA championships in the five years that it’s been a Division I school.

Adding some spice to the meet is a dual meet between Seattle Pacific and NAIA Northwest University of Kirkland, with the women’s race starting at 5, and the men’s race at 5:30.

The Falcon women will be led by senior Mary Charleson, an NCAA qualifier indoors and outdoors, while Northwest is led by NAIA cross country nationals qualifier Sarah Estabrook.

On the men’s side, Kyle Cole, who was 28th at the Cascade Conference championship meet, leads the Eagles, while senior Ben Halladay leads the Falcons.

In Missoula, Montana, both Gonzaga and Eastern Washington open their season at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet at the University of Montana Golf course.

The women get things underway at 5 pm local time, with a 4k race, while the men go 45 minutes later over a 6 k course. The women will run two loops of 2k, while the men will traverse the course three times.

Besides host Montana, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington will be joined in the race by Idaho, Lewis-Clark State, and Whitworth.

In Colfax, Washington State opens with a low key meet with their alumni runners, with the men getting things going with a 6k race at 5 pm, and the women running 4k at 5:30 pm.

The Cougs will race on the Colfax Golf Course, which hosted the Pac-12 championships two years ago, and will host the 2019 NCAA West regionals.

ALLEN SET FOR DIAMOND LEAGUE FINALS IN BRUSSELS

Former Puget Sound resident Devon Allen will run in the men’s 110 hurdles Friday at the Ivo Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels, Belgium. 

The Van Damme Meeting is the final stop of the 14-city IAAF Diamond League tour that began in May in Doha, Qatar.

Entering the Van Damme meet, Allen finds himself in seventh place in the event with 11 points. Former world champion Sergey Shubenkov, who finished second at the recent London world championships, is the series leader with 29 points accumulated over six qualifying meets during the Diamond League circuit.

While Allen’s chances for a series top 3 finish are almost nil, a strong race could propel him to a possible fourth place series finish, as four athletes are within five points of Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi’s 15 points. Pozzi is not in the field for this race.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Washington alum Tyler King named assistant track/XC coach at SeattleU...

SEATTLE—Seattle University track and cross country coach Kelly Sullivan announced Tuesday that the Redhawks have hired University of Washington alum Tyler King (left/photo by Paul Merca) as an assistant coach.

In a release from the school, Sullivan said, "We are really excited to add Tyler to the Redhawk staff, he has a real passion to coach at the collegiate level." 

"He was highly recommended by head coach Greg Metcalf and the University of Washington, who I respect and trust. Tyler will bring a new and refreshing perspective to assist me with both the men and women distances. This is truly a great opportunity for everyone."

King graduated from the University of Washington in 2016 where he was a standout distance runner in track and cross country. King was a NCAA cross country All-American in 2014, an NCAA qualifier in the 10000 in 2016 and a team captain of the 2015 University of Washington cross country team that finished eighth at the NCAA championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

After graduating from the UW, King, who graduated from Coupeville HS, worked for Nike at their world headquarters in Beaverton.

“I'm very excited to be starting my coaching career here at SeattleU,” King said. “Coach Kelly Sullivan's vision for the program, as well as the athletes' desire to compete is inspiring, and I'm looking forward to continuing to grow this program into contending for WAC championships and qualifying athletes for the NCAA championships.”


NOTE:  The sports information office of Seattle University contributed to this report.

Cougar men ranked #11; Husky women #13 in USTFCCCA pre-season national XC poll...

NEW ORLEANS—The Washington State University men’s cross country team (above/photo by Paul Merca) got a jolt of positive energy Tuesday when the USTFCCCA Division I pre-season poll was released, with the Cougars finding themselves ranked number 11 in the country, after finishing 14th at last season's NCAA championships.

In the USTFCCCA era, this is the highest that a Washington State team has been ranked since 1998 when the Cougs, led by WSU hall of famer and Olympian Bernard Lagat was ranked number 10 in that year’s pre-season poll.

This is also the first time that a WSU team has been ranked in the national top 30 at the start of the season since 2012, when they were ranked #26 under former coach Tim Riley.

The men’s national top five are defending national champion Northern Arizona, followed by Stanford, Syracuse, Arkansas and defending Pac-12 champion Colorado.

Other Pac-12 schools in the national top 30 include number 9 Oregon and number 25 UCLA.

On the women’s side, the University of Washington will begin the season ranked number 13 in the national poll.

Pac-12 champion Colorado begins the year ranked number 1, followed by defending NCAA champion Oregon.  Michigan, New Mexico (which gained former Husky Charlotte Prouse), and Stanford round out the top 5 in the women’s pre-season poll.

Utah is the only other women’s team ranked in the national top-30 from the Pac-12, coming in at number 22.

Washington State opens up their season Friday in Colfax with a low-key meet featuring their alumni, while Washington opens the season Friday with a non-scoring meet at Seattle’s Magnuson Park against Seattle University.


ALLEN TAKES SECOND IN ZAGREB

In Zagreb, Croatia, former Puget Sound resident Devon Allen was second in the 110 hurdles at the Borisa Hanzekovica meet Tuesday.

Allen ran 13.19 to finish behind Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, competing as an authorized neutral athlete.  Shubenkov, the silver medalist at the London world championships, ran 13.12 to take the victory.

Vancouver native Kara Winger finished fifth in the javelin with a best of 198-3 (60.44m), as Canada’s Liz Gleadle won with a throw of 208-0 (63.40m).


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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Composite cross country schedule for all nine of Washington's NCAA D1/D2 schools...

WSU's Michael Williams was an
NCAA cross country All-American
last season (Paul Merca photo)
Just when you thought that we’re still in the middle of summer, the 2017 collegiate cross country season gets underway for the majority of the state’s Division I and II schools this coming Friday and Saturday.

All five of the state’s Division I schools will be in action this Friday, as Eastern Washington and Gonzaga travel to Missoula, Montana for the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet hosted by the University of Montana.

Washington State opens with a low-key meet with their alumni, while the University of Washington hosts Seattle University in its annual open meet at Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle after a one-year experiment at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place.

The Cougars turn around six days later to run the Oregon XC Preview meet hosted by the University of Oregon in Springfield, the site of this year’s Pac-12 championship meet.

Three of the four Division II schools are in action on September 9th when Central Washington hosts its invitational in Centralia.

Six teams are in action on September 16th at Seattle’s Lincoln Park when the University of Washington hosts the annual Sundodger Invitational, with Seattle Pacific opening its 2017 campaign at that meet. Washington State, which won the men’s Division I title at this meet the last two seasons, is skipping the Sundodger.

The following weekend, Saint Martin’s hosts its invitational in Lacey, with Central and Western Washington sending teams. However, Western’s top runners will head to Minneapolis for the Roy Griak Invitational.

One of the most significant changes to the state’s cross country schedule happens on September 29th, as the slot where the Washington Invitational would have been is taken over by Oregon’s Dellinger Invitational in Springfield, as the Huskies and Gonzaga head to the Willamette Valley. This meet will be the Huskies’ one chance to see the Pac-12 course before the championships four weeks later.

Meanwhile, Washington State heads to South Bend, Indiana for the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational as the Cougars try to pick up national ranking points.

The October regular season schedule remains the same for the state’s schools, with the only significant change being that SeattleU will not host the Emerald City Open meet at Lower Woodland in north Seattle, as the Redhawks, under new coach Kelly Sullivan, will head to California for the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational on October 14th.

Most of the schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference will meet up in Bellingham on October 7th for the Western Washington Classic, before reconvening two weeks later at the conference championships at the same Lake Padden Park venue.

Washington and Washington State sees each other for the first time on October 13th at the Under Armour Wisconsin Invitational in Madison. Eastern Washington and Gonzaga sees each other again at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville.

For the state’s four Division II schools, their West regional championship happens November 4th in Monmouth, Oregon, as Western Oregon hosts the regionals.

After conference championship weekend on October 27-28th, the five Division I schools see each other on November 10th at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill, as the University of Washington hosts the NCAA West regionals.

The season closes for everyone on November 18th with the NCAA Division I championship meet in Louisville, Kentucky, and the D2 meet in Evansville, Indiana.

A composite schedule with the schedules of all nine of Washington’s Division I and II schools is attached at the bottom of this post.



NOTE:  The sports information offices of all nine Washington Division I and II schools contributed to this report.

Devon Allen & Kara Winger entered in IAAF World Challenge series meet in Croatia...

Former Puget Sound resident Devon Allen (left/photo by Howard Lao) along with Vancouver native Kara Winger are among the entries in Tuesday’s Borisa Hanzekovica meeting, which is part of the  IAAF World Challenge series in Zagreb, Croatia.

Allen will run the 110 hurdles against a field that includes former world champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, competing as an authorized neutral athlete, and Balazs Baji of Hungary, who were second and third in this event in London.

Winger, fresh off a victory in Finland on Saturday, will throw in a field that includes reigning Olympic champion Sara Kolak of Croatia and world championships finalists Liz Gleadle of Canada and Martina Ratej of Slovakia.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Kara Winger wins javelin at Lappeenranta Games in Finland...

Vancouver’s Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the javelin competition Saturday afternoon at the Lappeenranta Games in Finland.

Winger threw a best of 201-10 (61.53m) to easily outdistance the competition under cool conditions.

She has one more meet in her 2017 campaign in Zagreb, Croatia before coming home.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kara Winger finishes seventh in Zürich and eighth in overall Diamond League javelin...


ZÜRICH—Skyview/Vancouver graduate Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished seventh in the women’s javelin at Thursday’s Weltklasse Zürich meet, the next to last stop on the season-long IAAF Diamond League tour.

Winger threw 203-5 (62.01m) in the fifth round, topping her first round toss of 190-0 (57.91m) and two other throws in the 56-meter range, and a foul in round 3.

World champion Barbora Spotáková of the Czech Republic took the victory with a best of 215-0 (65.54m). Her victory also gave Spotáková the overall Diamond League championship with 28 points accumulated over the series that began in May.

Winger collected 9 points over the course of the Diamond League season, giving her an eighth place finish for the season.

The IAAF Diamond League tour concludes next week with the Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kara Winger set to throw at Weltklasse Zürich meet Thursday...

Despite the disappointment of not qualifying for the finals at the London world championships, Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) will compete in Thursday’s IAAF Diamond League women’s javelin final at the Weltklasse Zürich meet.

Winger will compete against a field that includes world champion Barbora Spotáková of the Czech Republic, and Olympic champ Sara Kolak of Croatia.


On the lighter side, here’s a link to an interview Kara did with theringer.com where she analyzes the Night King’s javelin throwing technique from the HBO “Game of Thrones” series.

Action at the Weltklasse Zürich gets underway on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Gold Pass ($) beginning at 11 am Thursday.  The women’s javelin starts at 10:25 am Seattle time, before the television window begins.

Washington's Izzi Batt-Doyle finishes seventh in 10000m at World University Games...

TAIPEI, Taiwan—The University of Washington’s Izzi Batt-Doyle (left/photo courtesy FISU) finished seventh in the 10000 meters Wednesday evening at the FISU World University Games.

Batt-Doyle, representing her native Australia, ran 34:32.13, her third fastest time over that distance this year.

Daria Maslova of Kyrgyzstan won the race in 33:19.27, ahead of surprising Sanjivani Jadhav of India’s 33:22.00, and early leader Ai Hosoda of Japan’s 33:27.89 in a race that was contested in 83-degree temperature and 83% humidity.

Batt-Doyle now will report to Seattle for the start of the UW’s cross country season, and the start of her senior year.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Huskies' Izzi Batt-Doyle to compete in 10000m at World University Games Wednesday...

With the start of the collegiate cross country season right around the corner, the University of Washington’s Australian import Izzi Batt-Doyle (left/photo by Paul Merca) will have one track race left before she reports to the UW for the start of the fall season.

Based on her performance at the NCAA championships in June, where she finished 12th in the 10000 meters in a time of 33:49.61, and the Pac-12s, where she ran 33:35.19, the Australian federation selected Batt-Doyle to compete in that event on Wednesday, August 23rd, which is the opening day of track and field at the FISU World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan.

Batt-Doyle will race at 7:45 pm, local time (4:45 am in Seattle) on Wednesday.

The track & field home page for the FISU World University Games is available here.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Mead 7th in Birmingham DL; Fields wins Falmouth Elite Mile...

In Birmingham, England, former Puyallup resident Hassan Mead finished seventh in the 3000 meters at the Müller Birmingham Grand Prix Sunday, the twelfth stop on the IAAF Diamond League tour.

Mead ran 7:51.09, as Mo Farah of the Nike Oregon Project ran to the victory in 7:38.64, in the British legend’s final track race on home soil.

The IAAF Diamond League tour resumes on August 24th with the Weltklasse Zürich meet in Switzerland, and the AG Memorial Van Damme meet on September 1st.


Saturday in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Hannah Fields (left/photo by Mike Scott) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts won the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile race.

Fields ran 4:28.32 to set a personal best to outkick Nicole Sifuentes (4:28.51) and Lauren Johnson (4:29.21) over the last 75 meters.

Katie Mackey of the Beasts, a three time winner of the Falmouth Mile, was sixth in 4:31.58, as she raced for the first time since missing the USATF national championships in June with an injury, while Beasts teammate Natalja Piliusina was eighth in 4:54.02.

In the men’s mile, Craig Engels of the Nike Oregon Project snuck past two-time Olympic 1500m medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand to win in 4:00.19 to Willis’ 4:00.47.

Willis had raced six days earlier in the world championships at 1500 meters.

Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts was fourth in 4:00.86.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

News and notes for this weekend--August 19th & 20th...

After some time off from the blog to rest and recover from the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in London, glad to say that we are back!

Some news items:

Former Puyallup resident and reigning USATF 10000 meter champion Hassan Mead (left/photo by Paul Merca) competes in Sunday’s 3000 meter run at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Mead will run in a field that is headlined by Nike Oregon Project’s Mo Farah, the reigning world and Olympic champion at 10000 meters, who is running in his final track race on British soil, as he makes the transition from the track to the roads.

The Müller Birmingham Grand Prix is the final opportunity for invited athletes to earn points towards the two final meets in the IAAF Diamond League series, the Weltklasse Zürich meet on August 24th, and the AG Memorial Van Damme meet on September 1st.


Saturday, three time winner Katie Mackey of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts will run at the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Mackey, who became the first man or woman to win the Falmouth Mile three times, will face a field that includes fellow Beasts Natalja Piliusina and Hannah Fields, along with Canadians Nicole Sifuentes and Kate Van Buskirk; South African Olympian Dominique Scott, and last year’s third place finisher Heather Kampf.

Yorks faces a field that includes New Zealand’s Nick Willis, a two-time Olympic medalist at 1500m who competed in the 1500m at last week’s IAAF world track & field championships; American rising stars Craig Engles and Colby Alexander; and fellow Beast Garrett Heath.

For the first time, the races will be streamed on the New Balance Falmouth Road Race Facebook page. The link is available here.


From a few days ago, both British Athletics and USA Track & Field issued a joint press release announcing that the two federations will contest a dual meet at London Stadium next year.

Entitled ‘The Meet’ and hosted by British Athletics, the event will be staged July 21, 2018 at the London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, site of the wildly successful 2017 IAAF World Championships. 

It will feature a new, fast-paced format designed to appeal to new audiences at one of the most celebrated athletics stadiums in the world in a two-hour format that will have a blend of running, jumping, hurdles, and relay events.

“USATF is thrilled to collaborate and innovate with British Athletes on ‘The Meet,’” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “Team competition captures the attention of fans in a way that brings excitement, attention and focus to our sport. ‘The Meet’ will bring track and field back to the future by reviving dual-meet team competition in a way that caters to modern fans.”

“‘The Meet’ will provide audiences with a fantastic head-to-head match between British Athletics and USA Track & Field, and promises to be one of the biggest events in athletics in 2018,” said Niels de Vos, British Athletics Chief Executive Officer.


NOTE: The Falmouth Road Race, British Athletics, and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Howard Lao's photo of the day--August 13th...

LONDON—Throughout the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, former University of Washington hurdler and current photographer Howard Lao will be contributing photos and offering his thoughts on the competition.

As the world championships conclude, paulmerca.blogspot.com wishes to thank Howard for his work over the ten days here in London.



I followed the team around on their victory lap, and caught this photo of Allyson with flag. It's a gamble though because once you are track side you are met with signs, and a distracting background. Luckily there was a gap and with the prime Canon 400 lens I was able to capture this image. It's one of the biggest images from this meet as I was only 15-20 feet away from her with the lens. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  As we leave London, Howard and I wish to thank both Canon (Howard) and Nikon (Paul) Professional Services for their assistance over the ten days of competition. Both Howard and I were able to use some of their best equipment to supplement our cameras and lenses to bring you these images from the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Bellevue native Katie Burnett finishes fourth in first women's 50k race walk at world championships...

LONDON—Bellevue native Katie Burnett (left/photo by Kim Spir) finished fourth in the first IAAF world championship race walk contested over 50 kilometers Sunday as the IAAF World Track and Field Championships concluded its ten-day run.

Unlike the other events that were contested at London Stadium, the race walk was contested near Buckingham Palace on a clear, sunny day with temperatures cool enough for both the 20 and 50 kilometer walks.

Burnett set an American record of 4:21.51, obliterating her previous mark of 4:26:37 that she set in March in Santee, California.

Burnett, who attended Skyline and Newport High Schools before finishing her senior year in Arizona, walked with the lead group before she lost contact. She was dropped from medal contention at around the 30 kilometer mark.

There were seven starters in this event, which was added to the world championships program four weeks earlier. Erin Talcott of the USA was a late addition after threatening to take the IAAF to arbitration on the basis of her being an area champion, despite not meeting the time qualifying standard of 4:30:00,

Ines Henriques of Portugal won the initial world title in a time of 4:05:56, which also was a new world record. Henriques earned $60,000 for the victory as well as a world record bonus from the IAAF.

Hang Yin (4:08:58) and Shuqing Yang (4:20:49) of China took the silver and bronze medals, with Burnett 62 seconds away from a medal.

Despite the fourth place finish, Burnett, who attended the University of Arizona for one year before transferring to William Penn University in Iowa, will go home with a fourth place check for $15,000.

Afterwards, Burnett told reporters in the mixed zone,  "The crowd was outstanding. This has been such a supportive and incredible opportunity, and I'm just so glad I got to race here. I got a call four weeks ago, ‘would you do this?’ That's all the preparation I had, so to smash my PR and get a new American record, that's all I could ask for. This is just the start of a new trend. This will be the first of many 50 km championships and we're just the first of many athletes who will compete in it.”

On how she felt, she said, “I definitely started hurting after 35 km, my hips and feet were starting to hurt. It's not the softest surface, that road. The finishing carpet felt nice."

Later Sunday night, Team USA’s foursome of Quanera Hayes, Allyson Felix, Shakima Wimbley and Natasha Hastings set a world leading time of 3:19.02 to easily win the women’s 4 x 400 relay, with Great Britain second at 3:25.00, and Poland third in 3:25.41.

In the women’s 800, Ajee Wilson ran towards the front for most of the race, but could not overcome the late charge of Olympic champ Caster Semenya, who won in 1:55.16, with 2016 world indoor champ Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi second at 1:55.92, and Wilson third in 1:56.65.

The final race of the meet found Team USA’s men’s 4 x 400 relay team of Will London III, Gil Roberts Michael Cherry and Fred Kerley, the reigning NCAA champ from Texas A&M the victim of a mild upset, as Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago ran Kerley down in the last 40 meters as the two countries reversed places from the Beijing world championships.

From an American perspective, Team USA set a team record for most medals at the world championships, earning 30, surpassing the previous high of 28 set in Daegu in 2011.

After the squad’s 32 medal performance at last year’s Rio Olympics, the London world championships marked the first time the 1952 & 56 Olympics that a USA track & field squad had won 30+ medals.

Howard Lao's photo of the day--August 12th...

LONDON—Throughout the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, former University of Washington hurdler and current photographer Howard Lao will be contributing photos and offering his thoughts on the competition.

Here’s his take and a salute to the most recognizable track and field athlete of today, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt as he ran the anchor leg for his country’s 4 x 100 meter relay team that did not finish when he pulled up:

I shot this in the morning (back lit the shot / 400mm Canon lens) and created this image of Bolt taking off during his leg of the 4x1. Sadly this was his actual final race as later in the day he pulled up before the finish line and DNF (did not finish).

Here's to you Usain, you are legendary!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The conclusion of the Farah & Bolt farewell tour doesn't end well in London...

LONDON—Saturday night was supposed to be the crowning achievement on the 2017 farewell tour for the two most recognizable people in track and field, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, but someone forgot to tell the athletes competing against them that they were supposed to be the Washington Generals, while Bolt and Mo were supposed to be the Harlem Globetrotters at the penultimate night of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at London Stadium.

In the script, Mo Farah (center/photo by Paul Merca), who trains most of the year in Beaverton with the Nike Oregon Project, was supposed to win the men’s 5000, while Usain Bolt was supposed to anchor Jamaica to victory in the meet’s final event of the Saturday night session.

The men’s 5000 saw Farah go to the front early and control the pace, slowing it down to 2:48 for the first kilometer, and being content to stay up front but not be at the point.

Occasionally, someone else would try to take the front, but ultimately, the leader would drop it back and blend in with the rest of the pack.

At the 3000 meter mark, Australia’s Patrick Tiernan, the reigning NCAA cross country champion from Villanova who won the Washington Invitational at Jefferson Park Golf Course a few years ago, tried to inject some pace, knowing that there was no way he’d survive a fast last 800. 

While he opened up a ten meter gap on the field, he ultimately got swallowed back by the pack with less than two laps to go.

Farah and British teammate Andy Butchart went to the front to run the sting out of the three Ethiopians who were parked behind the two Brits as they came to the bell.

In the action packed last lap, Muktar Edris of Ethiopia and teammate Yomif Kejelcha opened up a slight gap, which they would hold as they exited the final turn, but Farah found some room on the inside to pass Kejelcha, while Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo of Team USA, who was thought to be dropped in the last lap, charged back to get third.

Edris took the win in 13:32.79, with Farah second at 13:33.22, and Chelimo third in 13:33.30.

In the men’s 4 x 100 meter relay, Jamaica was down to both Great Britain and the USA entering the final leg, so Usain Bolt would have had to pull something out of the 2008-09 archives to even have a chance to run down either the Americans or the Brits.

While Bolt pulled up with a hamstring cramp almost halfway down the final straight, a battle royale was going on between Great Britain’s Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake, who ran collegiately at Louisiana State, and reigning NCAA sprint champ Christian Coleman of Tennessee.

Mitchell-Blake, who was fourth in the 200, somehow fought his way to catch Coleman, who had edged to the front halfway down the stretch, giving the Brits the win in a world-leading time of 37.47 to the USA’s 37.52, with Japan third in 38.04.

In what probably was one of the most awkward moments of the meet, Maria (Kuchina) Lasitskene, the reigning champion in the women’s high jump, successfully defended her title, clearing 6-8 (2.03m).

With the Russian Federation still under suspension from the IAAF, Lasitskene had to apply to the IAAF to compete as an authorized neutral athlete. Instead of wearing a national team uniform in competition, she wore the 2017 Nike sponsored athlete kit.

When it came time for her victory ceremony, they played the IAAF anthem instead of the Russian anthem.  The organizers may have been better off playing nothing.

In other finals, the USA women’s team won the 4 x 100 relay in 41.82; Australia’s Sally Pearson took the women’s 100 hurdles (12.59); France’s Kevin Mayer won the decathlon with 8768 points; and Germany’s Johannes Vetter won the javelin at 294-11 (89.89m).

50-kilometer race walker Katie Burnett is the final Washington athlete competing in the meet, going at 7:30 am local time (11:30 pm Saturday night in Seattle).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Howard Lao's photo of the day--August 11th...

LONDON—Throughout the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, former University of Washington hurdler and current photographer Howard Lao will be contributing photos and offering his thoughts on the competition.

Here is his take on last night’s historic women’s 3000 meter steeplechase race, won in an American record 9:02.58 by Colorado grad Emma Coburn, with Bowerman TC’s Courtney Freirichs taking second, also under the former American record, running 9:03.77.



I had some success in the morning session by going up high with my 400mm lens which I decided to try again for the evening session. I narrowed my shooting locations down and decided that a head on location of the steeplechase would make for the cleanest shot. It paid off! This was the last water jump showing the two Americans that went 1-2! A very historical night for track and field indeed!

Colorado grad Emma Coburn wins USA's first women's steeple gold at world champs...

LONDON—With apologies to 70's music icons Kool and the Gang, Friday was ladies’ night, and the feeling was right for the women of Team USA, as they took home two victories in a fairly light night of finals at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at London Stadium.

Depending on how you look at it, Emma Coburn’s (left/photo by Paul Merca) win in the 3000 meter steeplechase can be construed as either an upset or a steady upward progression by the University of Colorado graduate as one of the world’s elite in this event, after winning the event in a new championship and American record time of 9:02.58 on a comfortable night that had a little bit of rain going through the middle of the stadium.

The event had a bit of early drama, as early leader Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya appeared to get bumped from behind approaching the water jump.  

No matter what happened, she ended up running wide of the barrier, and had to go back and clear the barrier before eventually rejoining the lead group.

There were some other athletes who got jostled and bumped around, but in the last lap, it came down to defending champion Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya, Coburn, and surprising Courtney Frerrichs, the former UM/Kansas City and University of New Mexico standout, who competes for the Beaverton-based Bowerman Track Club.

On the final water barrier, Coburn shot on the inside, while Frerichs passed the reigning world champ on the outside.  

Coburn came through to finish in a new American record of 9:02.58, obliterating her previous American record of 9:07.63, set in earning a bronze medal at the Olympics last year in Rio, while Frerichs also ducked under the previous American record, in running 9:03.77 to take the silver medal.

Jepkemoi did well to hang on for third place in 9:04.63, while Chepkoech, who had to go back and clear the water jump early, worked her way to a fourth place finish in 9:10.45.

Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet, the reigning Olympic champion, finished fifth in 9:13.96, after appearing to put pressure on the two Americans entering the final laps.

“I’m so grateful to the support from all the people here,” said Coburn in the immediate aftermath of her bold run. “It felt almost like I was a British athlete, I felt so much energy. This is better than I could ever have imagined.”

“Seeing Emma sprint down the home straight got me going for the silver rather than the bronze,” Frerichs said. “I was just hoping to finish in the top five or six.”

For the Bowerman TC, this marks the third medal won at these world championships by its athletes, as Evan Jager (men’s steeple) and Amy Cragg (women’s marathon) have won medals for coach Jerry Schumacher’s group that trains out of the Nike campus.

Britney Reese, the multi-time world and Olympic champion, who missed some time earlier in the summer due to the death of her grandfather, won her fourth world championship in the long jump, leaping 23-0.5 (7.02m) in the third round, while USA teammate and defending world & Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta was third at 22-10.5 (6.97m), with neutral athlete Darya Klishina second at 22-11.75 (7.00m).

In the mixed zone afterwards, the winner said, “I’m real ecstatic today. I came out here with a mission, that was to get gold for my grandfather, and I’m glad I did that. My grandfather (King David Dunomes) passed away a couple of weeks ago. He’s the reason I’m running track today. It was an emotional time for me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out here and get him a gold medal. He was my #1 fan. He was the type of person that will call a whole family to let them know I was on TV. To have him in my heart, I’m glad I came out with the gold. It was tough because I thought that wasn’t going to be enough. I know my competitors, and I know on any given day 7 meters is the mark and that any of them can go 7 meters.”

The only athlete with Washington ties that competed Friday was former Washington State University assistant coach Angela Whyte of Canada in the women’s 100 hurdles.

The veteran was never a factor, running 13.23 to finish sixth in her heat.

The final athlete with Washington ties competing is 50k race walker Katie Burnett, who goes Sunday.

Howard Lao's photo of the day--August 10th...

LONDON—Throughout the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, we will post photos shot by former University of Washington hurdler Howard Lao, who is assisting us here.

Here is his photo of the day from last night’s competition:



Sitting close to the track is a bitter sweet thing. On one hand you get to witness everything up close and in front (like seeing Shannon Rowbury getting spiked in the women’s 5000 heats), however you are bound to the same spot for hours (whole night) as everyone is packed into the area & backgrounds aren't as clean. 

I knew I had to try at least one session in that area, I did - I didn't love it. Moving on.

To see more of Howard's work here at the world championships, don't forget to follow him on Instagram at @howlaophotography.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Team USA's Christian Taylor wins third career world triple jump title...

LONDON--With no Washington athletes competing tonight, day 7 of the 10-day track and field extravaganza known as the IAAF World Track and Field Championships concluded with three finals on the docket, and a few surprises along the way.

In the men’s triple jump, two time world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor (left/photo by Paul Merca) got all that he could handle from fellow University of Florida alum and Team USA member Will Claye, as Taylor won his third career world title with a leap of 58-0.25 (17.68m), topping Claye’s 57-10.25 (17.63m).

Taylor thus became the first man to ever win three career triple jump crowns, having won in Beijing two years ago, and in Daegu in 2011.

In the women’s 400 hurdles, it was a 1-2-6 finish for athletes with Pac-12 ties as Stanford grad Kori Carter, running all by herself in lane 9 to beat USC alum and reigning Olympic champ Delilah Muhammad 53.07 to 53.50.

Canadian Sage Watson, who won the NCAA crown in this event in June for the University of Arizona, was sixth in 54.92.

In the featured men’s 200, Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev pulled off one of the biggest upsets, shooting down South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk’s attempt to win the 200/400 double, running 20.09, with Van Niekirk second at 20.11.

Friday, former Washington State University assistant coach Angela Whyte runs in the first round of the women’s 100 hurdles. Whyte will start out of lane 1 in heat 5, with the semis later Friday at 7:05 pm.

Howard Lao's Photo of the Day--August 9th...

LONDON--paulmerca.blogspot.com is proud to have Howard Lao shooting for us here in London at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Howard ran the 110 hurdles at the University of Washington, where he ran 14.45 in 2015, his senior year at the Pac-12 Championships, just missing making the finals.

Over his last year at the UW, I noticed him at meets constantly shooting pictures after his races and warmdown of his UW teammates along with other competitors.  As he knew about this blog from my coverage of the Huskies, and the fact that the blog is essentially a one-man operation, he began asking for advice on shooting, and eventually evolved into him shooting meets for various clients, including the Pac-12.

Here's his first post from the world championships:


Ivana Spanovic of Serbia takes off in her one and only jump of the night - 6.62m (21-8.25). She moves onto the next round.

I was approved to set a remote for the qualifying rounds of long jump by the management earlier today. It was my first time setting up pocket wizards for the event - This is something i've always wanted to do but never got the chance to do. Let that be the lack of gear, not knowing how to use it correctly, too many other photographers signing up, or just the weather. 

But i'm glad tonight worked out.

Don't forget to follow Howard on social media @howlaophotography

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oregon alum Phyllis Francis pulls upset in winning the women's 400 in London...

LONDON—We are at the halfway point of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships here in London, and while there were no athletes with Washington ties competing tonight, 51,130 folks were treated to some fantastic action on a rainy night that resembled a typical April evening in Seattle.

In a bit of a mild upset, University of Oregon alum Phyllis Francis (above/photo by Paul Merca) made a late charge to beat teammate and defending world champion Allyson Felix, and reigning Olympic champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, running a personal best of 49.92 to take the world title.

Francis moved well but may have spotted the field too much ground, when inexplicably with less than 50 meters to go, Miller-Uibo, who competed at the University of Georgia, stumbled and might have misjudged the finish line, or just plain ran out of gas, as Francis, Burundi’s Salwa Did Naser, and Felix all went past the fading Miller-Uibo.

Afterwards, Francis said, “It happened so fast. I told myself, top 3. Whatever happens the last 50 meters happens. I was focusing on my form and I didn't even know I won until one of my friends started screaming, 'You won!' and I was like, 'holy smokes!' I knew [the medal] was gold because they were jumping up and down and I thought, 'oh snap, this must be really serious right now!' 

When asked if she thought she could win tonight, she said, “No, I didn't think I could win this race [coming into it]. I thought I could be top 3. I try not to put too much expectation on myself because I tend to overthink that. I take it day by day and go with the flow. What I tend to do to myself is run other athletes' races so this race, I decided to do my own race and it turned out really well.”

Having gone to school at Eugene may have helped Francis in her race, as she said that the weather didn’t affect her at all. “I actually like this kind of weather, believe it our not.”

In other events, Norway’s Karsten Warholm, a former decathlete, won the 400 meter hurdles in 48.35, as Olympic champ Kerron Clement of Team USA was relegated to third in 48.52.

The only field event final contested Wednesday was the women’s shot put, as Gong Lijiao of China won the title with a toss of 65-5 (19.94m), as reigning Olympic champion Michelle Carter of the USA was third with a best of 62-9.5 (19.14m).

No Washington athletes compete until Friday; however, there are finals in the men’s triple jump, women’s 400 hurdles, and men’s 200 Thursday.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Panama and UW alum Gianna Woodruff's 400 hurdles run ends in semis in London...

LONDON—University of Washington graduate Gianna Woodruff’s (left/photo by Howard Lao) run at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships ended Tuesday night at London Stadium, as the Panamanian 400 meter hurdler finished seventh in her semifinal heat.

Woodruff, who now trains in Northridge, California, was in a stacked field that included her training partner and defending Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad, along with reigning NCAA champion Sage Watson of Canada via the University of Arizona.

After last night’s first round, the reigning South American champion and national record holder knew that she needed to run as close to a flawless race and set a personal best in order to advance to Thursday’s final.

In the end, Woodruff ran 57.32, as Muhammad won the heat in 55.00, with Watson second in 55.05.Third place finisher Eilidh Doyle of Great Britain got the final non-automatic qualifying spot into the finals, running 55.33.

paulmerca.blogspot.com attempted to contact Woodruff in the mixed zone afterwards, but was unsuccessful.

No athletes with Washington ties will compete until Friday when former Washington State assistant coach Angela Whyte runs in the first round of the women’s 100 hurdles at 10:45 am, local time (2:45 am in Seattle).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Washington alum Gianna Woodruff advances to 400 hurdles semis at world championships...

LONDON—University of Washington alum Gianna Woodruff (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished fourth in her first round heat of the women’s 400 meter hurdles at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships Monday night to advance to Tuesday’s semi-final round.

Running in the fourth of five heats, Woodruff, who is competing for Panama at the world championships, ran 56.50 to comfortably get the fourth spot in Tuesday’s semi final round, as Pac-12 rival Kori Carter from Stanford and Team USA won the heat in 54.99.

Like she did Monday, Woodruff will draw lane 2 in Tuesday’s semifinal where she will face fellow Pac-12 competitors Sage Watson (Canada) of Arizona, and reigning Olympic champion Delilah Muhammad (UCLA) of Team USA.

Woodruff, who now trains in Northridge, California with a group that includes Muhammad, said afterwards, said that because she drew lane 2, she was forced to work on her first 200 meters, then concentrate on hurdles 6 and 7.  By doing so, she said it set her up well for the finish.

“This is the biggest setting in track and field that I’ve ever been a part of,” she said about the crowd, which was announced as 49,920 for Monday’s session. 

“(the crowd) gives you a lot of adrenaline, and it makes you want to run faster over the last 100 meters.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

3/1000ths of a second separates Devon Allen from a spot in 110 hurdle finals at worlds...

LONDON—Five athletes with Washington ties were in action Sunday in what was the busiest day of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at London Stadium.

2016 Olympic finalist Devon Allen (above/photo by Howard Lao) was nosed out by 3/1000ths of a second from a spot in Monday’s 110 high hurdles final.

Allen, who was born in Seattle and lived in the Puget Sound area before finishing high school in Arizona, and attending the University of Oregon, started his Sunday by winning heat 2 of the first round in a comfortable 13.26, a full tenth of a second away from runner-up Garfield Darien of France.

In what can be best described as a battle royale, Shane Brathwaite of Barbados won the second of three semifinal races in a blanket finish, running 13.26, with Hansle Parchment of Jamaica second in 13.27 (13.262), and Allen third in 13.27 (13.265), and Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi fourth in 13.28.

Drew Windle of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts ran the fastest second lap of the field in his semi-final heat of the men’s 800 meters, but it was too little too late, as he finished fifth in a time of 1:46.33.

Canada’s Brandon McBride won the heat in 1:45.53, after opening the race with a 50.85 opening 400.

Seven-time US national champion and three-time Olympian Kara Winger, who was looking to make her second straight world championship final, fell short, only throwing 201-0 (61.27m) on her opening attempt.

Federal Way native Jordin Andrade, competing for Cape Verde, finished sixth in his heat in a disappointing 50.32, despite what he described as a strong first 200 meters.

On the streets of London, University of Washington graduate Lindsay Flanagan, who was a late addition to Team USA, was 37th in the marathon in a season best of 2:39:47, as Rose Chelimo of Bahrain defeated two time world champion Edna Kiplagat by seven seconds, 2:27:11 to 2:27:18, with Arizona State alum Amy Cragg snaring the bronze medal in the same time as Kiplagat.

On Monday, University of Washington alum Gianna Woodruff is the only athlete with Washington ties competing, as she runs in the first round of the women’s 400 hurdles for Panama, beginning at 7:30 pm, local time (11:30 am in Seattle).


HOWARD LAO JOINING paulmerca.blogspot.com IN LONDON

paulmerca.blogspot.com publisher Paul Merca announced that former University of Washington hurdler Howard Lao will be joining him in London for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships as a contributing photographer.

Lao, who has been a frequent contributor to the blog, is covering his first IAAF world outdoor championships, after having shot the IAAF World Indoor Championships in his hometown of Portland, Oregon last year.

In addition to news photos, Lao will also showcase his perspective of the world championships throughout the duration of the meet.

You can follow him on Instagram at instagram.com/howlaophotography

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Drew Windle advances to semis in 800 meters....

LONDON--On a slightly drizzly afternoon that appears suspiciously like a typical spring day int the Puget Sound area, Drew Windle (left/photo by Paul Merca)  of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts advanced to the semis in the first round of the men's 800 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at London Stadium.

Windle ran 1:46.08 to take third in heat one to advance to Sunday’s semi-final.  In typical fashion, Windle was seventh at the 400 meter mark, going through in 52.89, 1.28 seconds behind leader Andreas Kramer of Sweden.

He then made up the gap, but was in sixth at the 600 meter mark, but made his charge over the last 200.  

For a brief moment in the final straightaway, Windle, who was on the inside, would get boxed in, but there was a bit of an opening created by winner Kipyegon Best of Kenya and second place finisher Kramer that Windle shot past a group of three to get third and the automatic qualifying spot.

“I felt awful going into it, but these preliminary heats come down to fitness. My fitness is there, and I relied on it to get one of those three spots.  The most important part is that I survived to tomorrow.”

On the last part of the race, Windle said that he anticipated that a gap would open up, but he battled with himself, asking himself if he should go wide or stay to the inside, but there was a gap was there for him to slip past the pack.

“I felt flat, which is typical when you’re racing rounds, so hopefully that sparks the legs up for tomorrow.”

On what to expect tomorrow, he said, “I can’t get gapped like I did today, and I need to be much closer with 300 to go so that I can respond to those moves and be in the mix with 150 to go.”

Sunday will be a busy day for athletes with Washington ties, as Federal Way resident and Bonney Lake HS grad Jordin Andrade goes in the first round of the men’s 400 hurdles for Cape Verde at 11:05 am local time (3:05 am in Seattle). 

Three hours later, University of Washington graduate Lindsay Flanagan will run through the streets of London in the women’s marathon, while Skyview/Vancouver graduate and seven-time US national champion Kara Winger throws in the qualifying round of the women’s javelin.

Windle will run in the semis at 9:15 pm local time (1:15 pm in Seattle).

Blog Archive