June 2007 Archives

Craig Mottram of Australia, with his bronze medal in the 5,000 meters in Helsinki, Finland in 2005, became the first non-African to win a medal at 5,000 meters in a World Championship since 1983. Can "Buster" Mottram win the big one, the Osaka World Champs 5,000 meters? This writer this so, and explains why.

The Trials for the Osaka team, aka, the AT&T Outdoor Championships, were one of the toughest meets in the world. In fact, the team will leave several potential gold medalists, as well as other medalists, at home. While the system is cruel, it is also the only honest way to go, in this writer's mind.

Sunday, June 24, 2007 was the last day of the AT&T Outdoor. The women's pole vault, the 200 meter races, and especially the men's 1,500 meters showed what is great about our sport! Competition!

Saturday was a strange day. It started out with rain, and I came in to see the Men's shot put. The folks at AT&T sure were smart, as they must have given out 3,000 AT&T blue rain coats for the fans. And they were used.

The rain came down hard for the guys warming up for the shot put on Saturday. Christian Cantwell did not look good in his warmup, and he proceeded to have one of his worst competitions in years. He just did not look good! The ring was wet and it had to be hard for him to get any footing. He protested a foul, which did him no good and he did not make the team. Cantwell finished fifth, in 65-11.50 or 20.10 meters.

Adam Nelson made two throws, one which gave him third place. His hamstring was quite sore, so he was holding off. Nelson finished in third in 57-04.75 or 20.54 meters.

Dan Taylor surprised a few with his fine 21.00 meter throw, for 68-10.75 and second. Reese Hoffa, who had the five longest throws of the day, pounded out a 21.47 meters or 70-5.25 for the win! And Noah Bryant of USC took fourth in 66-01 or 20.14 meters.

Hoffa continued his domination of the event in meets that count.

In the men's 400 m hurdles, it was James Carter, Kerron Clement and Derrick Williams. Carter ran 47.72 to Clements 47.80, the two fastest times in the world. Carter is a man of strength who hurdles very well. Clement is a coach's dream, a kid of inestimable talent, who still can not master the last three hurdles. He hesitates over the last several barriers. He does not seem able to manage his speed and his hurdling technique. My humble suggestion? Get him to work out with Jim Hiserman from Sonoma State for a few weeks and see if this can be overcome.

In the mean time, James Carter knows how to race, and gets the job done. He made a strong move over the last few hurdles and his focus and his hurdling gave him the win.

My two other fave events for the day were the Junior men and women's 1,500 meters.

In the guys, Matt Centrowitz, Jr. Craig Forys, and AJ Acosta were the main factors. The pace was strong and the race was exciting. Craig Forys took the pace after 800 with Matt Centrowitz, Jr and AJ Acosta, the defending champion in tow. The pace was strong from the beginning, these guys were not fooling around! 61 seconds, then 2:03, then 2:52 at the bell. Forys, Centrowitz and AJ Acosta. Centrowitz made his move with the young runner from Yellow Springs made a furious move, which Centrowitz covered. With 200 meters to go, Centrowitz was flying, and AJ Acosta was right on him. The experience of Acosta, holding back until the last second, on the final stretch, when Acosta went by Centrowitz, 3:49.53 to 3:49:54! With Acosta already at Oregon and Centrowitz now going to Oregon, the Ducks just get stronger and stronger!

Now, the junior women's 1,500 meters was also an amazing race. Most of the runners were college freshman, with the exception of senior Michelle Tauro and sophomore Jordan Hasay.

Jordan has been a distance prodigy. Good or bad, most of her races as an eighth grader and freshman were time trials. She is that good. Her coach, Armando Siqueros, a distance runner who started coaching at the request of his son, has been trying to put her in races where she learns to race, learns to get out of packs, learns new skills, and in many cases, those attempts are thwarted. Well, his dreams came through in this race.

Jordan is about 4'10" and her competition had about three to six inches on her. She put herself on the rail twice and was boxed in, and figured out how to get out of it. Hitting the half way in 2:22, after a 71 first lap. Jordan began a long drive, as suggested by her coach, with 700 meters to go. With 300 to go, the pace was telling and it had come down to Michelle Tauro, menacing and Jordan Hasay in full running. Around the last turn, Jordan put on the pressure and got five meters on Tauro, then on the final straightaway, Jordan made the big break! Jordan went on to win in 4:16.98, breaking the sophomore class record ( was 4:27) and now only ranks behind the late Kim Gallagher, 4:16.1, and Francie Larrieu-Smith on the 1,500 meters list!

As Hasay was finishing, Tauro collapsed and dropped from second to sixth in the race.

The signifigance of of this race for Jordan is huge! She was able to get into a tough race, and use veteran tactics to run an exceptional race! We look forward to seeing her race in the World Juniors in the Czech Republic in mid July ( she may race in Lisle, Illinois in early July).

Angelo Taylor surprised a few with his excellent 44.05 in the 400 meter finals. Taylor took La Shawn Merritt on and Merrit finished in second in 44.06, with Lionel Larry of USC in third in 44.54 and Darold Williamson in 44.97 in fourth.

This was the year of the 400 m hurdlers in the 400 meters, as Taylor, who has been running hard since April, ran the second fastest time in the world. The 2000 Olympic champion at 400 meter hurdles ( from lane !) had a rough time in the early part of this decade and has just been coming around. Rising above his personal problems, Taylor has focused on the 400 meters and is showing the speed of a 400 meter runner with the endurance of the 400 meter hurdles. Bershawn Jackson, fellow 400 meter hurdler, was fifth this year in 45.55.

The 400 meters is a difficult event, period. The human body can sprint all out for about 30 seconds before the absolute pain of muscle overload comes crashing down. Speaking of missing their Kreb cycles, the women's 400 meters was one of the big surprises of the meet.

Sanya Richards is the best in the world, at 400 meters. She has had a little problem this year with her health, and opened at Nike Pre with a good 50.61. She then went halfway around the world and won in Oslo at the Bislett Games.

At the AT&T Outdoor, everything is on the line and reputations matter little. It is this cruel fact that proves our sport is a sport. Reputations be damned, if you are a college senior and are ready to prove yourself, and you beat the world record holder, you make the team, period.

In the semis, Sanya blazed a 50.02, the fastest time in the world. The next day in the final, Sanya got out well. But so did De Dee Trotter, Mary Wineberg and Natasha Hastings.

Coming off the turn, with less than 300 meters to go, Sanya Richards was in trouble, she was running out of gas. De Hashia Trotter was not, and running with true abandon, Trotter ran a personal best of 49.54, and the world's fastest time to take first. Natashia Hastings of South Carolina, ran 49.64, her personal best, to take second. Mary Wineberg ran 50.24, her personal best, to take third and Sanya Richards ran 50.65 and was relegated to fourth.

Richards did come back that night and made it through the first rounds of the 200 meters, but she will not be on the 400 meter team.

A day of great highs and some huge suprises, but Saturday is anti climactic. With some juggling, this writer suggests that the meet either goes Friday, Saturday, Sunday, not four days, to smooth this meet out!

Next piece, the finals on Sunday, June 24!

This day, Friday, June 22, was a glorious day for track and field. The Finish Line Junior Meet had a strong crowd, the weather cleared up, turned sunny and in the evening, was as perfect as perfect could be for ....competition! Incredibly competitive races, with wonderfully diverse set of athletes, who gave us two great 5,000 meters races and two superb 100 meter sprints!

In the afternoon, the steeplechase heats did not disappoint. It was clear that Daniel Lincoln, who is ensconced in medical school, has not forgot how to steeple. He took a commanding lead with 600 meters to go and there was no other story. Steve Slattery ran well, and we should have a torrid race for second and third.

Lincoln is a an exceptional story. A walk on at Arkansas, he developed into one of the most versatile of all the Arkansas distancemen-the steeplechase, and 10,000 were two of his NCAA titles. Last summer, at the Golden Gala, Daniel broke the heralded American record in the steeplechase, with his fine 8:08.52, for fifth place. His next few years are to be focused on medical school, so workouts are a break in the back breaking and soul draining process of developing a medical practitioner.

The men's 1,500 meter heats were also stacked. Alan Webb, looking a little shaky, took his heat, rushing the finishers just before the finish. Bernard Lagat and Gabe Jennings made his heat, as did Rob Myers and Chris Lukesic.

In the 800 meter heat Khadevius Robinson showed he is focused and took the race from start to finish. In the second heat, Nick Symmonds provided some excitement and went from back of the pack to first, to take that heat. Completely a series of just sub par races, David Krummenacker ran like a freshman, and did not advance.

In the 400 meter heats, La Shawn Merritt ran 44.48 to declare war in this one. He dominated the second heat. Andrew Rock, last year's champion, while running his fastest of the year, 45.40, faded with 50 meters to go and did not advance. A tough season for Rock, who just was not coming around this season. After his impending nuptials, this will give him something to concentrate on this year.

The women's 100 meters started off the night of finals. With a head wind of -.9 meters per second, Torri blasted out of the blocks, and did not look back, taking the race in 11.02. In second, Lauryn Williams, the 2005 Helsinki champ, had her best race in one year with a fine mid-race to take second place in 11.16. Carmelita Jeter ran 11.17 for third place with Allyson Felix in fourth in 11.25, Mechelle Lewis in 11.26 and Mikele Barber, Stephanie Durst and Muna Lee all at 11.27!

The next event was the women's 5000 meters. And this event was loaded with talent. Shalane Flanagan, who has set the 3,000 m indoor AR, broke the 5,000 meter AR at Mt. Sac this spring, was on. Shalane has come back to health and races sparingly. She set out to win this race and that was her goal.

Jennifer Rhines is one of the most underrated distance runners in our country. Her versatility shows, from the mile to the marathon, with world class marks. Terrance Mahon, her coach, and husband, and Jenn have agreed to focus her on the 5,000 meters.

Michelle Sikes, the NCAA 5,000 meter champion, is just fun to watch run. She has this great stride and classic distance stance and when she runs fast, she seems to fly just above the track!

Then there is Lauren Fleshman. Newly moved to Eugene, Oregon. Newly engaged, and newly the focus of a strong Nike marketing campaign ( TV and print-Objectify me), probably the best advertising to come out of Nike in a decade, this series speaks to the women runner, or women who want to be runners, asking them to question what it is to be an athlete, to be feminine and of course, to buy Nike products. Lauren ran a 15:38 under hot and humid conditions in New York on June 2 and followed that up with a 4:10 1,500 meters. Before the race, she looked to be quite nervous, almost as if she was trying to catch her breath.

The race was off, with Ariana Lambie of Stanford, Shalane next taking the lead, and Jenn Rhines, Michelle Sikes and Lauren Fleshman in tow. The pace for the first couple of laps was about 15:20 pace, and then Shalane decided to move right after the first kilometer, and the race was on. Lambie dropped to fifth and there she stayed.

Flanagan, with her classic form, pumping her arms like a sprinter, strong stride, pressing ever so much, lap after lap. Jenn Rhines shuffling is such a ironic comparision to Michelle Sikes floating along, Sike's grimace looking almost like a smile ( saying " I know something that you don't?) and Lauren Fleshman running right behind.

The pace quickened, the first kilometer passed right at three minutes, two seconds, and then Flanagan pushed a strong 2;55, where she stayed. Sara Slattery dropped out a six minutes, probably not recovered from her 10,000 race last night.

The two mile was passed by Flanagan in 9;37 and Rhines, Sikes and Fleshman continued to follow Shalane, as she grounded out some serious laps, getting closer and closer to her American record pace.

At 12:33 into the race, Lauren Fleshman let Michelle Sikes and Jennifer Rhines go and looked to be in some distress, and stopped running! About 20 seconds later, she took off again and moved past Ariana Lambie and made a huge charge to regain Sikes and Rhines, but they were too far ahead!

Shalane Flanagan continued to look strong, and finished in a fine 14;51.75! Michelle Sikes tried gamely to go by Jenn Rhines, but Rhines would have none of it. Jenn sprinting over the last 50 meters to hold onto second in a fine 15:08.53 and Michelle Sikes' exceptional effort rewarded with a fine 15:09.28.

Lauren Fleshman pulled it together and took fourth in 15:24.60 with Ariana Lambie in fifth in 15:38.83.

Later that evening, I met Michelle Sikes and what a positive young runner! She did not have any problem with the heat ( she trains in tougher conditions), but she is quite excited about her run and her chance to go to Osaka! Best wishes to Michelle Sikes. Many will remember Michelle as the exciting runner in the NCAA 5k, who charged back to the front 14 times before she took her unexpected 5,000 m championship.

What can we say about Shalane Flanagan? I believe we can say this. Shalane has learnt the fine art of keeping healthy and running at an elite level. She limits her racing, she is focused and she is making her dreams reality. Her race on Friday night was a race to behold, the race of an athlete who has the talent to challenge the best in the world.

Jen Rhines continues to show that a truly talented athlete who has raced from the mile to the marathon can focus on an event such as the 5,000 m and turn some heads. Her finish held off the NCAA 5k champion and her pace is like a metronome!

Michelle Sikes? Full of energy and that positive spirit that comes with just graduating, Sikes will be around for a long time to come.

Lauren Fleshman? Lauren showed us today that she is truly a competitor, and while today was a tough race, Fleshman will have her highs as well.

The men's 5,000 meters was a chess game. It pitted some tough distance runners, Matt Tegankamp, the new two mile record holder, Chris Solinsky, two time NCAA champ, Jonathan Riley, former Stanford standout and 5,000 m specialist, Dan Browne, always a threat, Adam Goucher, who was having an up and down spring, and Bernard Lagat.

Bernard Lagat is a handsome runner to watch. His stride is efficient, his speed is blinding and his drive is unquestionable. Alas, Bernard is human. The 1,500 m heats, 90 minutes before, were fast and clean, and he ran 3:39. Bernard got off his feet for a while and took about ten minutes warming up.

As a former coach, and sitting with coaches at our designated spot on the backstretch, it always pains me when runners do not use their racing skills. If you have a kid who can not break 60 for a 400 meters, you do not have him wait and kick against Bernard Lagat. If you
can not break 52, then you better go with 2k to go, 1.6k to go, but you better put as much
junk into a kickers legs so that with 600 to go, they just want to find a nice job making frieds at a fast food joint.

This race needed some music, and my pick would be Stranglehold, by Ted Nugent. Early on,
Ian Dobson and friends were up front, making it a reasonable pace, then a young runner from Cal took over.

But the players stayed still. Matt Tegankamp sat in sixth, with Lagat nearby and Solinsky in tow. The race went from 13:50 pace to 13:20 pace to 13:40 pace. No one but a kicker could stay with this one.

I love watching Jonathan Riley run. He does not get into trouble. He can kick from just about anywhere and he understands the 5,000 meters.

With 1,600 meters to go, I expected Chris Solinsky to move. He did not. His patented four minute hurting mile would have changed the direction of this race a bit, but it was his former teammate, Matt Tegankamp who took off at the 4k mark. When Tegankamp is in full flight, he looks like a hawk coming down to grab its prey. He runs hard, and his form is great. The first lap in his charge was a 58, and this woke up the crowd. There were only six guys who could even have a chance. The second 58-so a 1:56 800 meters, put some junk in everyones legs.

With 200 meters to go, Riley was moving and Lagat was hesitating. But behind him, at about 300 meters, Adam Goucher was executing a perfect charge from the pack. Goucher is a 5k runner extraordinaire, and his sub four speed was moving him through the pack of wannabees to the final three. As they hit the turn, Goucher was on the outside, Riley was beginning to erupt, Lagat was starting to awaken and Teegs was in first!

Coming off the straightaway, Goucher, arms flying, as he tore at the air around him, and dug into the track with all of the neurons he possessed and willed himself into third place, as Jonathan Riley was also in full flight.

Bernard Lagat was in full sprint, and he caught a collapsing Matt Tegankamp who had pulled the perfect Murray Halberg ( New Zealand, 1960, 5000 m, won with 3/4 mile out surprise lap), impersonation! Lagat got Teegs about ten meters out and a closing Goucher just about grabbed him as well. Solinsky finished well, but while the race belonged to the challenger, Teegankamp and the victor, Lagat, Adam Goucher gets the ATF performance of the race for showing so much guts and moving throught the crowd. Winning time: 13:30.

As the stands were coming down from the 5,000 meters, in the best programming of the weekend, the men's 100 meters was about to start.

How many supurlatives can one say about Tyson Gay? I have seen him run 9.79 this season and 9.76 this season, both wind aided. So the guy gets an okay start and just hammers the last 50 meters to run a legal 9.84! The fastest time in the world this year. No one else under 10 seconds! Walter Dix in third!

The junior 10,000 meters was to be a pacing effort for Kenny Klotz. Kenny, an Oregon freshman, and former Central Catholic, Portland, Oregon runner, had taken a close second the night before in the junior 5,000 meters. His dad had told us that he was just hoping his boy would get a championship, after having run so many tough and close races. Well, the dream came true as Kenny found himself winning and ran a smart 30:51 to take his first USATF title!

This was going on as the stands were clearing out, and Jenn Stuczysnki, the pole vaulter, was warming up for an evening workout. She competes on Sunday!

It is early afternoon, and the skies still seem a bit ominous here in Indy. I spent the morning interviewing Jenn Stuczynski and Rick Suhr, the athlete/coach team who have achieved two American records in the last three weeks. Jenn's enthusiasm is infectious-she loves her event, she is relaxed talking about her event and she is ready to roll.

So far, the junior women's 1,500 rounds have been cancelled, so Jordan Hasay, one of our top juniors, will move on to the final on Saturday. On the boy's junior side, AJ Acosta won his heat-he is the defending champ and a frosh redshirt at Oregon. Matt Centrowitz, Jr, slowed down at the finish, but moved on. Centrowitz, according to one fan, " looks effortless."

A few more comments about the distance races last night. A couple of coaches told me how much they enjoyed the men's 10,000, but the women's is the same race for the past three years. Deena went out hard, and she won. Kudos to Molly Huddle who let the artist part of her running, not the tactician part push her last night. She ran a spirited race, but did not make the team. Her new coach, Ray Treacy, should be able to help her with her tactics.

Abdi ran a smart, consistent first half, then cut the pace down to make it impactful, and he hurt his competitors so much that it was all about surviving. About thirty years ago, in an interview, Frank Shorter described a the pain from a good effort in a distance race
as being slowly cut by a very sharp knife. After a period of time, the pain is excruciating. That was the field in the 10,000 Men's race last night after Abdi made the 10k his race.

One final thought here. As David Frank and I were driving into town, we were contemplating all of the supplemental work that goes into being a great track athlete. Its not just the miles, but the medicine ball, the weight work, the plyometrics, the exercises that promote hip flexibility and posture.

All of this goes into a race that helps make the victor the victor. In those last few seconds before the final rush to the finish begins, or the gentle roll back of torso and arms avoid the vault standard as vaulter clears the height, or the control of the shot putter, to leave the ring legally and not foul on a great throw. This is why some run 4000 miles a year, throw the shot 10,000 times a year or finish that last set of pull ups at the end of the day. Simple actions, simple steps build, and if nurtured, will develop the complete track & field athlete.

Great session tonight! Watch it on TV!

I had an amazing day. First, a good friend and his son flew in from Portland, Oregon and stayed at the house. I gave them the tour of our new home and new home town, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. David Frank and his son, Jackson have a dream--actually is it nine year Jack's dream, shared by Frankie-to visit as many college basketball arenas as he can, and to spend a few minutes playing hoops on their hallowed floors. Today we visited the home of the Badgers, Kohl Arena. Without much fanfare, we got on the floor, Jack played some b-ball, and we left.

Jackson's enthusiasm in getting Badger shirt and shorts, and then dribbling and making a couple of shots on the Kohl Arena floor got me thinking. This kid was in sports heaven! That three minutes of dribbling and making baskets kept him excited for an entire six hour trip in the car with his father and friend!

After our ten minutes in the arena, we made the six hour drive to Indianapolis, for his dad's and my sports heaven-the US outdoor championships, namely, Thursday night at the distance races. Dave wanted to make it there to see one of his former athletes in the Junior 5k.

Our constant speeding got us there ( I want to personally thank a rural duo of sherriffs who smiled as they passed us about a half hour from the Indiana border) with about fifteen minutes to spare.

We walked to the 1,500 meter start at IUPUI Stadium and the group was there. This is the place where the distance geeks sit. Asics Aggies, coaches, athletes, are there for one reason, to watch the 10,000 meters and the junior 5,000 meters.

We missed the 100 meter heats, but I can tell you that Tyson Gay continues his dominance of the sprints ran a fine 9.98 and Me'Lisa Barber ran 10.95 to make a statement to women sprinters. As we were watching the junior 5,000 meters, Breaux Greer showed his global status in the javelin, upping the American record to 299-6, just over 91 meters and just six inches from the 300 foot barrier! Breaux is healthy and this single throw sent a message worldwide. Breaux had this to say after his record:

"I didn't hit it hard but I hit it clean. I think the biggest thing is staying healthy. If you are healthy it's going to be fun and it's going to be easy. If you're healthy everything is fun. And I know there is still more there. I don't think I'll ever be satisified. I don't know if an Olympic gold or world record would satisfy me, but I want to find out."

The javelin had even the distance geeks excited. But the junior 5k, or as our photographer, Victah Sailer called it, the Oregon 5k, due to the number of 5k runners in it from the state of Oregon, was a stunner.

The pace was strong, and tough, in this hot and humid weather ( about 85 degrees at the start, with just a bit of wind. Kenny Klotz, a freshman at Oregon, and former Central Cathlolic ( Portland, Oregon) athlete, looked poise for the win. He stayed out of trouble for the first 3k, moved up a bit in the 4th kilometer and began to check out the field over the last 800 meters. By 600 to go, Kenny was making a hard move and had broken most of his followers. Well, with one exception.

As Kenny came down the final stretch, maybe it was the humidity, maybe it was the hard last 400 meters, but he had no energy left. Elliot Heath, from Winona, Minnesota, who had run a fine 8:46.12 for two miles the weekend before, where he took third in the Nike Outdoor, ran a perfectly timed last 200 meters. Elliot caught Kenny Klotz with 60 to go and the race was over. Elliot Heath took the lead with 40 to go and he went on to win in 14:36!

The next race was the men's 10,000 meters. And what a field! Abdi Abdirahman, Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jorge and Eduardo Torres, Alan Culpepper, Dan Browne, Ryan Shay, Fernando Cabada, Ryan Shay, Josh Rohatinsky--who was missing?

The pace was calculated, the first 400 meters hit in 71.4, two miles in 9:16, so it was interesting to see a long line of distance runners showing much more strain than the pace should have suggested. The humidity, the heat, all were there.

This was a challenging field. Good long kickers, great marathoners, good short kickers, how to win it?

Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein, Ryan Hall and Galen Rupp were in the first group, with Jorge Torres, Jason Hartman and Dan Browne, with Alan Culpepper in attendance. The leaders hit the 5k in 14;17. And then Abdi started to pick it up. From 5k to 7k, Abdi and Dathan would run 400 to 800 meters and then switch. By 7k, the race was Abdi, Galen and Dathan, with Galen looking the roughest. Rupp dropped back about 7,600 meters and began looking behind him, as the field was all toughening out the hardest part of this race. Abdi, who had run 27:31 in Hengelo at the end of last month, and Dathan Ritzenhein, who had run a tough 28:08 road 10k in NYC about the same time, were really upping the ante.

Abdi had alot to prove. He had looked great last year, in a similar race, only to cramp up and drop out at 8k. This year, he looked ready and methodical. A good, consistent pace, and it was taking its toll. Matt Downin dropped out, someone who just does not drop out of races.

Jorge Torres, Alan Culpepper, who both had fallen back, had gathered themselves and were moving back up. Galen Rupp seemed to wake up and about 9k was moving up again, as Dathan looked to be struggling.

With 400 to go, Abdi Abdirahman was in the lead and he was running hard. Dathan was nearly wincing with the effort and began to falter with 300 meters to go. Galen Rupp caught Ritzenhein just after the last curve and went on to take second. Dathan held on, just barely, too third, as Alan Culpper and Jorge Torres ran the fastest 200 meters of the race, with Culpepper taking a close fourth and defending champ, Jorge Torres taking fifth. Winning time was 28;23. Abdi Abdirahman, who has run a 2:08:57, made it quite clear where his focus is, after this race:

"I'm not ready to hand it over yet. I was ready for this race. I will talk to my coach about Osaka (World Championships) but the Olympic trials are my main focus. It never gets old winning national championships."

The women's 10,000 meters was a time trial for Deena Kastor. Deena, the American record holder at the marathon, and the 10,000 meters, showed why she is the best the US has to offer. After three slow laps, Deena was on her own. Molly Huddle, surprisingly, went with her and after a few laps dropped back to the chasing pack of Kellie Goucher, Alicia Craig, Katie McGregor for the rest of the race.

Deena was on. Running sub five minute miles to catch up on her goal of a sub 32 minute pace, Kastor was on tonight. The announcer, Scott Davis, told the crowd that Deena was chasing an old Indiana record, 31:57, by Lynn Nelson, from 1988! The crowd of 5,000 cheered Kastor, lap after lap.

Deena just made it. Running a superb last lap, Deena ran 31:56.69, to barely break the record of Lynn Nelson. But she did it, in warm and humid conditions and with a lethargic early pace.

The second pack race came down to the last lap. Kellie Goucher, who had run a fine 9:41 for two miles on May 20 and a 4:12 1,500 meters at the Prefontaine two weeks ago, took off with 600 to go and had second place in control and finished the best race of her career with her second place in the 10,000 meters. Katie McGregor ran a furious last 200 meters to distance herself from Alicia Craig, who was running her best race in a few years!

It took us a few minutes to soak in the great races as Deena took her victory after the race. The AT&F official meeting center, the Rock Bottom Brewery was the site of a nice, long and relaxing discussion of the night's events, the upcoming races and loud applause as Abdi Abdirahman came into the restaurant, and Terrance Trammell walked by the restaurant with a film crew filming his every move!

A surreal ending to a surreal evening of distance running!

In praise of Allyson Felix

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Allyson Felix may have set the record now for the most covers in our seven various titles. We have had her as a high schooler, an Olympian, a World Champ qualifier, and now, as a professional athlete.

Allyson was an increadible athlete as a prep. On our old Caltrack.com/prep site, our former editor and Cal prep deity, Doug Speck, would write pages about her sprinting! She was queen of the California prep meet from her sophomore year on! Her under 20 records for 200 meters, the unratified 22.11 ( at the Old Stadio Olympico in Mexico City in 2003), and her ratified 22.18 for the best ever by a women under 20, in Athens in 2004, surpassed all before her.

Allyson is perfectly built to run 200 meters, and showed it again this season with her fine 22.18 at the adidas Track Classic on May 20. Alyson's start is okay, but as she gains momentum, coming around the turn, her form is near perfect and her focus on the line is clear-she means business!

Her forays into the 100 meters and 400 meters this year have been exciting to watch. At Doha, she ran the 100 meters in 11.32 and 50.6, and won both! This was two days after jumping a plane first to London, then to Doha, after a Spanish final at USC! " I took the final and slept on the planes, you just have to get down to business!" was the comment from Ms. Felix after her adidas triumph.

At the Reebok Grand Prix, Allyson took third in the 100 meters, running her personal best of 11.01, and then won the 400 meters, coming from behind, in 50.4!

At the AT&T Outdoor, Allyson will run the 100 meters and 200 meters. That should be something this weekend. But, the race I want to see is Sanya Richards and Alyson over 400 meters. Earlier this season, when I asked Alyson's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, he smiled and said, " That will be a race!"

This evening, just as I was closing my computer down, I found a well written and researched article by David Woods of the Indianapolis Star newspaper. The article suggested that our sport still does not know how to market itself. While it has made some progress, and they noted, for example, USATF's Ivan Cropper and his success with Nike, AT&T, VISA and Hershey's, it was also noted that the sport does not have the money nor attention of other sports. Then, David quoted Carl Lewis, who has very little good to say about anything in the sport but himself. Look I think Carl Lewis was an amazing athlete, and his 1996 Long Jump medal is still, in my mind one of the most underrated medals in all of track and field, but he does get a bit of the old ego in the stories. He deserves his praise, he was a trail blazer both on and off the track. But, he continues to play the same broken record.

Here is my two cents:

The sport of track & field ignores its strengths and salivates on its weaknesses. Our strengths are the ties to the Olympics, competition, and the quality of the athletes and people in the sport.

Until recently, we have spent so much time criticizing everything that is wrong with the sport, that we scare potential fans away. The three meets this spring, adidas Track Classic, Reebok GP, and Nike Prefontaine were three of the best meets in the world in the past year. Why? Focused format, great competitions, TV focusing on the competition, great meet management, interested sponsors and strong crowds in the right size facilities.

Carl Lewis did change the sport, with the Santa Monica Track Club, and hats off to Joe Douglas for getting out the money for his athletes at that time. But the sport has changed, and athletes who are no longer on the scene criticizing the sport, it just does not make sense. Some agents have become professionals, some have not. Most of the have nots do not survive anymore. Their athletes are college educated, focused in their sports and in their goals, and they just won't have it. They, the athletes want someone who will work for that ten or twenty percent fee. And the top firms and agents do work for their money.

Sanya Richards, Jeremy Wariner, Yelena Isinbayeva are elite athletes and business people at the same time. When they go to a meet in the UK, they are there early, they do Pr events, just like they do at meets on the elite circuit this spring. They get interviewed, on TV and in print. The do the job and they do it well. If they don't do their job, they don't get invited back, it is that clear and that simple.

For sponsors to find our sport worth investing in, they need to see fans, they need to see interest from the media, and they need to see people who they want to buy products-Latinos, African Americans, teenagers, families, etc. Track & Field has all of that, we just have not figured out how to truly market our sport. Our strengths are in our diversity. Our diversity is not only color, but events, sprints, throws, middle distances, jumps, an event for most fans to check out or be curious about. That is the challenge.

As the board of directors for USA Track & Field, and the CEO for USA Track & Field, there must be a contrarian spirit about their own championships. First of all, the years in between championships make for some boring meets, and the length of the meets, from heats to rounds to finals, make it a challenge even for the geeks of geeks to watch the entire thing.

Starting back in 1998, with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Meet in Edwardsville, Illinois (Metro St.Louis), it became increasingly clear to me that we needed to modernize our meet management to get out track fans. Meets would never start on time, athletes did not show up, local media did not promote, and we did not have TV for much of the time. My major memory from JJK was all of the cars driving into the fields by the track facility, there were at least 8,000 people and the stands were loaded! Some great, end of summer competitions were seen by the strong MO/Illinois track community, and hopefully, the inspiration for some more coaches, athletes and officials in our sport!

This elite season proved to us, that great meet management ( Congrats to Global Athletics & Marketing and Tom Jordan), great athletes, great fans and a two to three hour format lead to, you guessed it, great track meets! Heck, any of our three meets in North America could compare to the Oslo Bislett Games on June 15, which was quite disappointing ( except for one little world record!).

Now we get to the AT&T USA Outdoor Champs and the Finish Line Junior Champs, held concurrently in Indy this coming weekend! In truth, it is the best way to showcase the junior and open elite parts of our sport. It comes after state meets, NCAA's, Nike Outdoor, Golden West, and athletes are either primed or burnt. Fans, who include parents, coaches, and track fans have five straight days of track and field to choose from.

Last year, due to the peculiarities of the summer weather, we had a fanstastic Friday night with sprint finals and distance finals. Just as the 100 meters ended, half of the crowd left. But the throw fans and the distance fans were treated to a great night of track and field. I was standing with Fast Trak Meet Director Ian Stewart and he commented on how challenging it was to do a national championship, but that there must be a way to shorten and focus an evening program on finals only.

And that is my wish. TV likes crowds. Sports fans like competition. The World Champs Trials, which is what the AT&T is this year, should have good crowds. The 2008 Olympic Trials are virtually sold out already. But we need to find a way to, even in these combined meets, focus the finals, one after another, in the evenings to attract even the casual track fan. There is not going to be sprints every night, but maybe it is a sprint fans night, Throw Fans nights, etc.

The challenge for the board and for the CEO is the size and stratification of USA Track & Field, from masters, to youth, from roadies to track, the sport has many disciplines. While the AT&T may be long, may be exhausting, it may also be the best way to get the most fans in one place at the end of a long, long season.

Watch for our daily blogs from Indianapolis, starting Wednesday night! For the Running Network's detailed, event by event coverage of the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships at http://www.american-trackandfield.com/news/usoutdoorchamps07list.html

I have been watching Matt Centrowitz, Jr race now for a couple of years. Those in the know, like our John Nepolitan, the creator of our Athletes Of the Week program (www.atf-athlete.com), have seen this young man develop for the past four years into one of the best young distance runners in America.

Like father, like son. Matt Centrowitz, Sr was one of our top distance runners in the 70s and 80s, while a runner at the University of Oregon. Matt, Sr. was a top prep runner and he was an Olympian at 1,500 meters in 1976 and won the 5,000 meters at the 1980 Olympic Trials. In 1981, Matt Centrowitz, Sr., set the then American Record for 5,000 meters. Matt, Sr. has become one of country's top distance running coaches.

At the Reebok Grand Prix, when Matt Jr ran in the Reebok men's mile, he ran a fine 4:04.1, just short of his family prep record, set by his father with his 4:02.7 prep mile. Just before the race, I had a chance to say hello to Matt Sr, and he was just like any other dad, a little nervous, just wanting his kid to run well. When we asked how did he feel before his son raced, Matt deadpanned, "Nervous." An honest comment from a father if there ever was one.

Matt Jr ran a great race that day, but that was just a preview of what was to come. On June 15, 2007, at the Nike Outdoor Championships, Matt Centrowitz, Jr. ran seven laps behind Craig Forys, the young man from Howell, New Jersey who had won the 2007 Nike Indoor Champs 2 mile. Craig had set a very tough pace, but, with one lap to go a very tough group of runners still in fighting distance.

In truth, Craig Forys had to worry only about one person, Matt Centrowitz, Jr. Running a sizzling 58.2 last 400 meters, Matt ran 8:41.55, moving the late Steve Prefontaine to fourth all time on the prep list. Next was Craig Forys in 8:44.53, then Elliot Heath of Winona, Minnesota in 8:46.12, then Evan Jager of Algonquin, Illinois in 8:47.59, and Hassan Mead, of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 8:51.23. With tenth place at 8:56, this was one of the deepest prep two miles ever!

It is fitting that the race was run at the Nike Outdoor Champs, an event run by the NSSF, a group founded by Jim Spier and Mike Byrnes and friends to promote their favorite part of the sport, prep track and field. They now have the Nike Indoor, Nike Outdoor, the Great American Cross Country Festival and the Nike Team Nationals. It is also fitting that Matt Centrowitz, Jr. who has followed in his father and his sister (Lauren goes to Stanford) footsteps in distance running, will head to the University of Oregon, a place that his father spent some time at a couple of decades back. But this story is Matt Centrowitz, Jr. who has taken his own journey to becoming one of the best prep distance runners ever.

Nike Outdoor, June 16, 2007
Boys 2 Mile Finals
1. Matthew Centrowitz (Arnold, MD) 8:41.55
2. Craig Forys (Howell, NJ) 8:44.53
3. Elliott Heath (Winona, MN) 8:46.12
4. Evan Jager (Algonquin, IL) 8:47.59
5. Hassan Mead (Minneapolis, MN) 8:51.23
6. Paul Springer (Kennett Square, PA) 8:52.77
7. Sean Kevere (Brentwood, TN) 8:55.16
8. Dan Jackson (Ann Arbor, MI) 8:55.60
9. Girma Mecheso (Lawrenceville, GA) 8:56.58
10. Mark Amirault (Walpole, MA) 8:56.84

For more results on the Nike Outdoors, please check http://nikeoutdoor.nationalscholastic.org.

Last Sunday, while I watched the excellent Nike Men's 2 Mile on NBC, I could not help but cheer for Matt Tegankamp. Matt was a good runner in high school, from Lee's Summit, Missouri, and then went to the University of Wisconsin, where he has stayed after his B.S. degree was finished, to train with Jerry Schumacher.

I met Jerry Schumacher in 1999, when we sponsored the late Arthur Lydiards' tour of 20 cities across the U.S. to speak on distance running. That night, after Arthur spoke to about 50 people in Madison, Wisconsin, Jerry, Coach Joe Hanson from Edgewood, Arthur and myself headed over to the Essen Haus, a very popular German style brewery. Also there were Arthur's wife, my partner, Christine, and our son, Adam.

We spent several hours asking Arthur questions, he was full of energy after speaking to the athletes and coaches. I remember Pascal Dobert, the steeplechaser from UW, asking Arthur questions that night as well.

I just remember Jerry's enthusiasm and interest in the sport. I would see Jerry at away meets each year, mostly the Cardinal Invite or Payton Jordon Invite each year and we would say hello. I always noted that Jerry was developing a superb group of young distance runners.

Matt Tegankamp was on of his first successes, and last year, Matt exploded. First he took on Bernard Lagat at the USA 5k and made his work for the title, just holding off Tegankamp who ran sub 60 for the last lap to run his 13:16 for second. Weeks later, Matt ran 13:04 for 5,000 in Europe, and at the end of the summer, he ran a masterful, tactical 5,000 meters in Athens, Greece at the IAAF World Cup!

This spring, after his Indoor 3k USA title win, Matt kept quiet. He trained in Madison (www.kimbia.net), raced sparingly, preparing for the elite season. It is a long season this summer, Indy to Osaka, Japan, and Matt has alot on the line. Matt's blog tells it all, the racing, the training, and the focus it takes to be a great athlete.

On June 10, 2007, Matt Tegankamp ran HIS race. He stayed behind the pace, which hit 4:01.9 for the mile. Matt was in the 4:04-4:06 range. He was still behind Dathan Ritzenhein until 600 meters, when he took off. Suddenly, Teegs was flying, and with 300 to go, this observer thought he could win the race. But Mottram wanted this one and took off, flying past Taruki Bekele and the race was on. Matt stopped gaining on them, but he was running away from Ritzenheim, and into American record territory. As Mottram crossed the finish line in 8:03.51, then cam Bekele a second later, Matt came through as third, in 8:07.07. Our photographer, Victah Sailer, the man of the hour, got Matt to stand next to the Timing board with his American Record noted.

Matt earned this record over thousands of miles of training, and racing. He earned this record from listening to the suggestions of his coach, Jerry Schumacher, who has developed a culture in Madison that works for his athletes. Matt earned this record from running smart, running hard and challenging himself.

I for one, can not wait to see him in Indy next week! To see the video of his AR race and read a post race interview, check this link.

On May 20, 2007, after tiny Meseret Defar broke the world best for two miles, with her solo 9:10.57, she commented, "I am in good shape. I am focusing my training on Osaka and Beijing." Well, Ms. Defar is in fantastic shape.

On Friday evening, June 15, 2007, on a cool Scandanavian evening, Meseret Defar of Ethiopia destroyed her own world record for 5,000 meters, set one year plus one week ago in Reebok NY Games, by nearly eight seconds! Her final time was 14:16.63, to the delight of the Oslo Bislett Games fans, the first stop on the IAAF Golden League this year! What a start to the Golden League!

Defar won by six seconds over Kenyan runner Vivian Cheruiyot, who ran 14:22.51, also under the old standard of 14:24.53, set 53 weeks ago. Defar, who runs focused and with a ferocious stare, took no prisoners in this race as she raced the clock becoming the first women under 14:20 for 5,000 meters!

How monumental is Defar's world record? Meseret's time would have won every 5,000 meters in the Olympics up to and including the 1948 London Games! The 2004 5,000 meter gold medalist and 2005 silver medalist is going strong and looking amazing for Osaka!

Visit IAAF Golden League for complete results on the first of the IAAF Golden League meetings.

For more information on the Oslo Bislett Games and results, please check www.iaaf.org!

In 1995, I went to Goteborg, Sweden for the IAAF World Outdoor Athletics Championships. It was my first time outside of the United States, and I was very excited to see a world championships! I had the pleasure of sitting next to the late Don Potts, one of the developers of the TFN Track Rankings and the writer of many of the most geeky of track books. I was in track and field nirvana.

In that meet, I saw Jonathan Edwards break the world record for the triple jump, Kim Batten and Tonja Buford Dailey break the world record for the 400 m hurdles among many days of spectacular track & field. I also had the pleasure of meeting many of the great European track writers, many of whom I had read their works for years.

Probably the most enlightening event of the entire World Championships was when, as I was grabbing some results, I overheard, in French, a conversation about the terrible state that track & field was in North America.

A few minutes later, someone in the conversation noticed that I was from the United States and began to ask me about the state of the sport in our country. I was incredulous. They had been told that most of our tracks were in disarray, that athletes were not participating in our sport and that the Federation was in ruin.

I told them that while I knew little about the Federation, that the high school and college parts of the sport were growing, that most towns and villages in the U.S. had track facilities, and that while the sport was not getting the attention of the professional sports, track & field was far from dying.

I have published track & field publications since 1989, and in that time, have seen great changes in the sport. We have had a renaissance in our prep distance running, as well as our technical events, especially the shot and pole vault. The 1.4 million boys and girls who competed in either cross country, indoor or outdoor track & field in the U.S. make up the largest high school sport in North America-athletics. Of the 22 million boys and girls in high school, 7.2 million compete in high school sports, and 1.4 million of them are in our sport, athletics.

At the junior high level, over 3 million 11-13 year olds competed in jr high cross country or track last year. The programs are varying in quality, but it is where most kids get their first glance of our sport.

Our federation, USA Track & Field, has also had a renaissance. Under the tutelage of Craig Masback, and the fiscal management of Jim Elias, the sport has come back from insolvency to a very strong budget. The challenge will always be how a board can control its executive director and vice versa. The CEO must be a good salesman, a good pr person and love the sport, without that, there can be no success. The goal of the federation is to put medals around the necks of US athletes at international competiton, yet it governs road running, race walking, masters and youth track, and cross country, and elite development.

Where are our challenges? Should the federation be managing track meets? Should the federation control the tv broadcasting in our sport? Should the federation continue, like the Yugoslavia of sports, where the entire sport is ruled by one strong group?

Our sport in North America, like our society, is quite complicated. On the positive side, if, as a parent, one wants their child to meet children of other ethnic groups, of other socio-economic groups, then track & field is that sport. Our strength is in our diversity. Our strength is in the contrarian approaches some coaches and clubs take to the sport. Our success is because local action begets national changes. Our success is because, with 300 million people, the U.S. has the next star in nearly every event in track & field-there is just one problem. What stops that great athlete, the kid who could run a 3.40 mile, or run a 9.6 for 100 meters, or throw the shot 75 feet, from coming out for track & field? How about the world of distractions in our society!

From computer games to professional sports, many of our best potential athletes never come out for our sport. For some it is the if one can not win right away, why come out? Or it is I do not want to work so hard.

Our sport takes 12-15 years for an athlete to mature. It takes many people, from coaches and trainers and parents to meet directors and officials and sponsors to make the sport grow. Luckily, we have had a renaissance in our sport in the U.S., people asking the right questions, people starting clubs, starting training centers, and giving their time, hearts and souls to support our sport of athletics.

The truth of athletics in North America is that we have great potential here, and we are making progress, however, the sport has to continue to change and fine tune in order to grow. We will explore more of the issues here in later columns.

Let's face it, we all have egos. We all want to be thought of in a positive manner as much of the time as possible. We also want to be thought of as doing a great job!

Yet, track and field seems to receive more of the bad press on sports than any other sport! Why is that?

The question has both reasonable and unreasonable answers. First, the reasonable answers: writers who cover track & field, love the sport and want to see it succeed. They also are the first to cast stones at the sport, finding parts that need improvement, and comparing the sport to the old days. Much of what they say is understood by the track fan, much of what they write, however, is not understood by the general sports fan.

The truth is, we live in a totally different world than track & field inhabited in the 30s-40s, and then the 50's-60's. Track & Field did not do well against the growth of professional sports, like football, basketball and baseball. A televised track meet is a whole different animal than a televised football game. How to give the TV viewer intimate viewings of a 1,500 meters, how to give the TV viewer the tension that fills the sprint start as sprinters line up, these are some of the questions that a producer and director have to ask themselves. Track & Field can be dynamic, and the stories of athletes, weaved into the comptetition, can make for some compelling Television.

A sport that is not communicated compellingly, a sport that is focussed on self hatred, is sure not going to grab the attention of sponsors. A great track & field meet on TV cost money, and unless that money is there, producers will take short cuts. A sport that focuses on drugs, even though is has done to advance drug testing, and more to catch cheaters than all other professional and Olympic sports combined, needs to say that in its defense.

The focus by many in the media on, " well, there were no records today" has hurt our sport. Track & Field is about competition, pure competition, throwing, jumping, running—that is what people want to see!

At the adidas track classic, Reebok Grand Prix and Nike Prefontaine this year, the crowds and the TV fans were treated to some great competitions, and dazzled by a few American, Chinese and World bests! But the key was the competition, and TV did a nice job in telling the story.

The web is giving track and field something to cheer about. From Flotrack.com to letsrun.com to dyesports.com to runningnetwork.com, a fan or could be fan can find stories on track and field, road running, race walking and ultra running, all to their liking!

The web has added timeliness to print media. Our publications have had to change to take the benefits of websites, however, most has been for the good. Readers check the new news on a daily basis and receive our publications with stories, and features that recommend them finding more on the web. After ten years of archiving, we have a few million pages of archived content. After ten years of web coverage, we have ten years of e-newletters updating our readers on every track meet that they want to read about!

Track & Field has a second chance, and the web will be continuing to evolve. Soon, one will be able to download every race that Jeremy Wariner ran in the season in the 400 meters. If one wants an interview with Wallace Spearmon after a 200 meter race, one will be able to download that from a podcast soon.

And sponsors? Sponsors go where they can find an intelligent, interested populace that buys things. If they see numbers improve, on the web, on TV, in print, for interest in track and field, they will spend money.

Jeremy Wariner has been on the scene since 2004, when he made everyone notice at the Olympic Games, with his victory over 400 meters. In 2005, the next year, the word on the street was how many guys were going to beat Jeremy, but Wariner proved them wrong, winning in Helsinki as well!

In 2006, Jeremy began to experiment with the 200 meters, as he considered running both the 200 and 400 meters in world competition. It was about this time that the 200 meters began to erupt. First, there was Xavier Carter at 19.63, then there was Tyson Gay at 19.71, and then there was Wallace Spearmon with some impressive wins and times. The three of them have kept the 200 meters going crazy!

I wonder sometimes if Coach Clyde Hart has Jeremy running the 200 meters to keep him grounded. While there is competition in the 400 meters, the competition in the 200 meters is excruciating!

Last summer, Jeremy got to 20.10 in the 200 meters, and 43.6 in the 400 meters. What will he do in 2007? Wariner started off May with a 44.02 in Osaka, then ran 44.40 and 44.61.

The 200 meters became more complicated this year, with Walter Dix running a 19.69 in the NCAA regionals, Wallace Spearmon winning in 19.91 and 19.81 at adidas and Reebok, and then barely loosing to Xavier Carter, 20.23-20.25 at Nike Prefontaine. Wariner was in the 200 meter race in Eugene, Oregon on June 10, where he took a sobering sixth place in 20.75.

Jeremy Wariner has the talent and strength to break Micheal Johnson's 400 meter record of 43.18, set in Sevilla, Spain in 1999. I remember that race. After his sterling 300 meters in the semi-final, I knew he could get the record.

Wariner's style is different, even with the same coach. Wariner looks like an 800 meter runner, and sometime track experts wonder how fast he could run the 800 meters? Jeremy just looks at that question and frowns. He is not interested. Wariner will bring the 400 meter record down to 42.9, and that my friends, will be a race to behold!

As luck would have it, I have been one of the few to see Jenn Stuczynski's two American records this season upclose and personal.

At the adidas Track Classic, on May 20, 2007, I was standing at the fence, speaking to meet official Jan Johnson, the 1972 bronze medalist in the pole vault and the chairman of the Pole Vault Safety Standards Committee, and Dave Nielson, the coach of Stacy Dragila. We noticed that the officials were measuring the bar for a record jump. Jenn was attempting 4.84, or 15-10 1/2 inches, one half inch higher than the current AR held since 2004 by Stacy Dragila.

As Jenny's coach, Rick Suhr, would describe later, this was an iconic moment in the sport. Stacy Dragila has been the icon in the pole vault since 1996 in North America. Her wins in 1999, 2000, 2001 at the world's and Olympics were monumental in developing a following for the event. As Stacy dealt with injuries over the past few years, the event started to loose its standard bearer.

Now, Stacy is on a comeback and Jenn Stuczynski is about to clear heights surpassed by no other American. When Jenn Stuczynski cleared 4.84, or 15-10 1/2, she became the third best performer in the world and the American record holder.

Only Svetlana Feofanove, who cleared sixteen feet, 4.88 meters in 2004, and Yelena Isinbayeva, who cleared 5.02, or 16-5 1/4 in 2006, have jumped higher.

In speaking to Jenn right after the AR in Carson City, she said, " I was lethargic today in my warmup. I did not feel that good. I had no idea it would be a record day!" The look on her face was of surprise, but also, it was clear that this young women was developing some confidence in herself and the training program of her coach, Rick Suhr.

Then comes the Reebok Grand Prix on June 2. Shuyin Gao, of China, cleared 4.64 meters or 15-2.5 for a new Chinese Record. " I did not want to go out at 4.64 meters, " noted Jenn Stuczynski to the press afterwards. So, she let her clearances do the talking. Stuczynski had the bar raised to 4.88 meters, or sixteen feet.

Her first two attempts should have been clearances, but, there were small technical glitches, and the winds in Icahn were troublesome. Her third attempt, under the lights provided by the stadium, was witnessed by the entire crowd as Jenn Stuczynski became the second equal performance ever and the second best performer in 2007 with her clearance of sixteen feet!

The signifigance of these two American records is that they happened in absolutely unkind conditions. Normally, all is perfect for records - good winds, cool, and this was just the opposite.

Rick Suhr and his athlete have created a training platform where the athlete succeeds in difficult conditions. In the old days, we called that callousing. She trains in a small quonset style barracks, with a few lights, a roll up runway and a few friends. How lucky she is...

On Sunday, June 10, I had a revelation. I was watching the Nike Prefontaine Classic on television, LIVE from Eugene, Oregon. The Pre Classic has been the beacon for elite track and field in this country for nearly 30 years. Meet director Tom Jordan has the benefits of a wonderful facility at University of Oregon, a great crowd, many who have missed only a handful of meets over thirty years and a sponsor who believes in the importance of the meet.

This year, it is quite different. While the meet had some of the best races so far of the year: the Men's 2 mile, the Bowerman Mile, the Women's 1,500 meters and the Men's 200 meters, the Prefontaine is now being challenged for supremacy in North America.

How can that be, you ask? Well, two earlier meets this season, the adidas Track Classic, in Carson City, California on May 20, and the Reebok Grand Prix, held at Icahn Stadium on Randalls' Island, in the center of New York City on June 2, had good crowds and great competitions!

Now, before the hate mail begins, re read this carefully, I said that the Pre Classic is being challenged, not overcome. Both the adidas and the Reebok GP are managed by Global Athletics & Marketing. Putting on a track meet is a thankless task. Tom Jordan of the Pre Classic spends his entire year preparing for one day. Global Athletics & Marketing spends most of the year managing four events: Reebok Boston Indoor in January, Millrose Games in February, adidas in May, Reebok GP in June. Talk about
craziness.

Track meets have been nightmeres in the past, and they will be in the future. The reasons these meets do well is that they a) run on a schedule, b) run in a two to three hour format, c) focus on great competition.

One of our problems in this sport is the obsession with records. Record chasing and record setting have nearly killed this sport and made it incomprehensible for the general sports fan.

This season has been different. There have been fast times-witness Tyson Gay running 9.79wa and 9.76 wind aided as well. There have been records-witness Breaux Greer's 90.71 meter or 297-7 javelin throw! Witness Jenn Stuczynski's two American records in the women's pole vault! And, finally, there have been great races! Witness Wallace Spearmon's come from behinds at adidas and Reebok in the 200 meters, witness Alan Webb winning the mile at Reebok and most of all, witness Craig Mottram win the Nike Two Mile in 8:03.51, after having run the last mile in four minutes flat! His waving to the crowd, pumping his arms to both sets of stands, said it all: track and field is about the competition!

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This blog has a lofty goal-to change the way you see, read, and experience the sport of athletics! Over the next several months, we will introduce to you blogs from several key players in our sport. They will have different opinions, positions and even specialties, however, they will have one theme in common: they want to change our sport for the better!

In all honesty, if done well, media, whether it be in print, electronic, radio, broadband tv or television are acts of sedition. Their goals are to challenge you, entertain you, inform you, but most of all, the dream is to get you to act.

For the next several weeks, you will see daily notes from me on our sport, my commentaries, observations, thoughts, and we ask that you consider them and respond.

So, to begin, my name is Larry Eder. I publish a group of athletics publications under the company name, Shooting Star Media, Inc. I am a former athlete, coach, and still a fan of the sport. From my vantage point in the sports publishing world, I believe that I see some of the reasons why our sport does not get the headlines, tv coverage or sponsorship many think it deserves.

Your responsibility, if you choose to get involved in this dialogue, is to read, comment, and if something makes sense, act locally.

Thanks for reading my first entry, and I look forward to writing for you
tommorow!

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