June 23, 2007-Saturday at the races!

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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!

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