What a night of track & field! When I did not think it could get any better, we have distance geek heaven-rounds of 1,500 meters, 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter final, hammer final and high jump final? And then, the one and only Ian Stewart preceeds the 10,000 meter introduction, speaking about racing against Pre?
Afterwards the Villard Street gathering was superb. Steve Jones, Alberto Salazar, Jenn Rhines, Terrance Mahon, Jorge Torres, Galen Rupp all joined the festivities.
Saucony had sponsored the Friday night party, so even Fred Doyle came out of the woodwork.
First, finish up Day five
Women's Pole Vault
The women's pole vault final should be one of the highlights of this already highlighted meet! Jenn Stuczsynski, the current American record holder, Stacy Dragila, the former world record holder, Olympic gold medalist and World Champs gold medalist Stacy Dragila, who has weathered a series of injuries over the past three years. They cleared 4.30 m or 14-1.25.
In the second heat, Jillian Schwartz, Chelsea Johnson, and Lacy Janson all cleared 4.30 m to make it. Tracy OHara and Linda Owen all cleared 4.20 m.
My picks for the team are Jenn Stuczynski, Stacy Dragila and Chelsea Johnson.
Men's 1,500 meters, round 1
Gabe Jennings, the 2000 Olympic Trials champion, is in his best form in eight years. The last couple of years he has surprised people. Jennings lead the first round and won that in 3:44.39. He literally ran off the track afterwards.
Lopen Lomong and Leonel Manzanare were he top two here, running 3:43.38 to 3:43.41, leading eight qualifiers in this round.
In round three, a nervous Alan Webb kept himself out of trouble, and won, with the fastest time of the evening in 3:41.27. Said Ahmed, Chris Lukesic and Beranrt Lagat were next, with Grant Robison in attendance.
My take on round 1-Alan is looking to the rounds to bring him to racing fitness, and Gabe Jennings is trying to pull an upset. Bernard Lagat, Chris Lukesic, Leonel Manzana and Lopez Lomong are biding their time.
Men's Steeplechase qualifying
Anthony Famiglietti, looking like painter James Ensor ( Belgium's famous painter-song by They Might be Giants, he painted Jesus in Rotterdam, attended his own funeral in 1944-they thought he died, lived five more years), went for the A standard. The true classic distance runner, with world class times from the mile to the 10,000 meters, if Fam decides to focus on this event, the man will run 8:10 or better. He looked good tonight, hurdling and running for the A standard himself. Bill Nelson ran a eight second pb, with Fam running 8:25.17 to Nelson's 8:26.17. Steve Slattery, in sixth, did not look good, but he may have been holding back. Josh McAdams, last years champion, looked great, moving with 600 meters to go.
Second heat was won by Benjamin Bruce, in 8:32.57. Brian Olinger in sixth, ran 8;34.83.
My picks: Anthony Famiglietti, Josh McAdams, Bill Nelson, with Brian Olinger to spoil.
Day Six--Track & Field Geek Heaven
Women's high jump
Chaunte Howard and Amy Acuff gave the field a lesson in strategic jumping. Chaunte cleared 1.84 on her second, then 1.89, 1.91, 1.93, 1.95, 1.97m on her first attempts. Her jump at 1.97m or six feet, five and one half inches, was the deciding factor.
Amy Acuff, cleared 1.79m, 1.84m, 1.89m, 1.91m, 1.93, 1.95 on her first. He missed at 1.97 on her first attempt, passed the next two attempts at 1.95m, and missed on her remaining two jumps at 1.97, taking second on her clearance of 1.93m or six feet, four inches.
Sharon Day, who cleared 1.79 and 1.84 on her first attempts, , also cleared 1.89 and 1.91 on her second attempts, with the 1.91 clearance, or six foot, three and a quarter, giving her the bronze.
Men's Hammer Throw
I love the hammer throw. I have loved it since I first saw Ken Flax foul one into the sector at Mt. Sac and turn a small ice chest , stuffed with a watermelon, into one fountain of pink juice. It was a zen moment, and the crowd applauded.
I loved watching Lance Deal, and teared up when he medaled in 1996 with that brilliant last round throw!
And today, I was able to see, courtesy of the Historic Hayward Field monitor, Kevin McMahon, make his third team! Kevin is a teacher at both of our alma maters, Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, California. His high school coach, Terry Ward, was the first coach I had the honor of coaching under for half a decade. Terry had the forethought of taking athletes like Keven and getting them into the hammer. Two of his athletes made world and Olympic teams, and this is on a team where his mile runner, the brother of a hammer thrower won the Cal state meet! A true judge of athletes, and man who developed four generations of athletes, Terry retired this spring after 40 years as one of the most respected coaches in the Bay Area.
Kevin is his own man, and shows it. He teaches in the religious studies department, along with my sister, Kathy. Kevin found the time to train and took second in the trials behind AG Kruger, who threw 75.81m. Kevin threw 74.79m and Thomas Freeman threw 73.59m for third.
I look at young men like Kevin and am in awe. He has used the hammer throw not as an athletic event, but as way to understand himself much better. It is athletes like Kevin that give our sport honor and help me make sense out of not only the world, but also, the activities we make important, running, jumping and throwing.
So, your Zen moment, my friends, is to consider the hammer throw. A sixteen pound ball, with a short cord and hand grip, it is a event to master. The masters, AG Kruger, Kevin McMahon, Thomas Freeman, are athletes who take years, like distance runners, pole vaulters, and sprinters, to master their craft. Most in isolation, under an overpass, with a small cage, and perhaps, if they are lucky, a coach to help work out the kinks.
Men's 1,500 meter round 2
Alan Webb ran a 200 meter sprint before his heat, timed it, and went back to the line, looking a bit skittish. However, his running, while using a bit of energy moving around the pack, got him through to the final. The pace was 61.95, with Webb, Robison, Lagat, Myers in the hunt. Then the 800 meters was passed in 2:05.07, again with Webb in conrol. Hitting the 1,100 meters in 2;49.1, Webb and Sherer were at the top of the pack, as Lagat won the heat in 3;43.83, with Rob Myers, William Lear, Steve Sherer and Alan Webb and Andrew McClary. Note that Lagat ran his last 700 meters in 1:38, or a 1:54 800 meters.
Gabe Jennings story here. Jennings won in 3:40.07, with Lopez Lomong, Leo Manzano, Chris Lukesic and Jon Rankin in tow. Jennings took a run off the track into the mixed zone. Pace was 59.92, 1:59.33, and bell at 2:45.7. Jennings too lead at 1,100, hit 1,200 in 2:59.30 and moved to the finish. He had pushed himself through a box in lap two, so Jennings is using his smarts.
Women's 1,500 meter rounds
The idea of the rounds is to mimic the Beijing Games. It is a weeding out process and, if the athlete is prepared, it helps them build toward the Games. The Trials are a difficult situation for the best of athletes.
In the first heat of the second round of the 1,500 meters, Shannon Rowbury showed why she is the class of the event at this time, staying out of trouble as the pack hit 68.28 for 400 meters, 2:16.86 for 800 meters and 3:07.1 for 1,100 meters. Running a relaxed 64 second last lap, Rowbury won the round in 4:11.75. Tiffany McWilliams, Treniere Clement, Amy Mortimer, Sarah Bowman also moved on. Mary Jane Reeves collapsed at the finish, and did not move on.
In the second heat, the pack went through 68.81 for 400 meters, 800 from 2:17.68 and 1,100 meters from 3:06.71. Lindsey Gallo, Morgan Uceny, Sara Hall, Christin Wurth were running well, when the roar began. Jordan Hasay, who had been back with Christine Babcock, the other prep runner, began to move from ninth to eighth, to seventh! On the final stretch, Jordan continued to fly, passing Jenelle Deatherage, former US national champion, to hit the finish line in 4:14.50 to not only qualify for the final, but break the high school record for the 1,500 meters! She is now fourth on the US Junior list, behind ONLY Suzy Favor Hamilton, Jan Merrill, Linda Goen and Ariana Lambie!).
This morning, Women's Performance Chair Stephanie Hightower told ATF that Jordan's ticket to Poland for the World Juniors had been moved to Monday in order to give her time to race here on Sunday! Armando Siqueros, the coach of Jordan told ATF that they had planned to get Jordan here a year ago, " In order to give her some great racing experience and just to have some fun!" Some fun!
Women's 5,000 Meters-Goucher, Rhines and Flanagan!
In perhaps the best ever 5,000 meter race in the United States, the creme de la creme of women's distance running were there for the night.
The 5,000 meters went out in a pretty slow pace, with the 400 meters in 72.4, the 800 meters in 2:29.3 and the one kilometer in 3:08.36. Lauren Fleshman, Jenn Rhines, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher were in tow.
Ariana Lambi went to the front at 1200 meters, running a 71.8 between 1200 and 1,600 meters. Lambi lead Flanagan, Rhines, Goucher, Fleshman as they hit 2 kilometers in 6:09.21 (a 3:01 second kilometer, with a 72.4 for 400 meters). Ariana Lambi looked relaxed and focused, running the next lap in 73.1, and hitting 2,500 meters in 7:25.1, with the pack now Shalane Flanagan, Jenn Rhines, Kara Goucher with Sara Slattery and Lauren Fleshman in tow. Lambie took the field through a 73.4 next 400 meters, hitting the third kilometer in 9:12.68, again a slowing of the race in 3:03.
The pack in front was Ariana Lambie, Shalane Flanagan, Jenn Rhines, Kara Goucher, with a following pack of Sara Slattery and Lauren Fleshman. Slattery and Fleshman were running a pretty physical race, with Slattery giving and taking some good elbows as Slattery seemed to cut in a bit too close for Fleshman's comfort.
For three laps this stayed the same, Lambie, Flanagan, Rhines, Goucher, then a 75.3 400 meters was run. At that point, Shalane Flanagan took off and poured it on. The fastest lap of the race, a 71.2 was dropped as Jenn Rhines, who had looked tremendous the entire race. Rhines, a runner of incredible ability, from the mile to the marathon, has focused on the 5,000 meters for several years, under the watchful eye of husband and coach, Terrance Mahon (remember Ian Dobson, third in men's 5,000?), continued to run in second, with Kara Goucher seemingly just hanging on!
Flanagan, the 10,000 meter champion, looked to be in some distress in the race, but she was running fast! Flanagan dropped a 67 penultimate lap as Rhines and Goucher held on. The final lap started with Shalane Flanagan pushing the pace as she had the last two and one half laps.
As they hit the last 300 meters, Flanagan looked to be all out and Rhines was pumping, ready for the final kick, with Kara Goucher seemingly hanging on for dear life. Just as the dynamic trio hit the 4,800 meter mark, Kara Goucher sling shotted around the turn and took the lead from Flanagan, who was having a rough time holding on.
As the crowd roared, as it had been for the past three laps, Kara Goucher ran for home, avenging her loss to Flanagan in the 10,000 meters last week, with a time of 15:01.02! Jenn Rhines went by Flanagan on the straightaway, taking second in 15:02.02 and Shalane Flanagan, taking third in 15:02.81.
In fourth was Sara Slattery in 15:18.88 and Lauren Fleshmn in 15:23.18, with Ariana Lambie in sixth in 15:29.99.
Later that evening, we were able to congratulate Jenn Rhines and coach Terrance Mahon. Terrance had told us in Osaka, that he was thinking that Jenn should continue to focus on the 5,000 meters. How right he was......
Alberto Salazar, Kara Goucher's coach, told ATF that he was not really happy with Kara's kick in the 10,000 meters, so this finish was much more pleasing.
Shalane Flanagan, the American record holder at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, showed her true talent. I would be surprised, however, if either Goucher or Flanagan double in Beijing, as they both look to be better at the 10,000 meters, and even though the 10,000 is first, I am wondering how they will treat that decision. They have until Monday to make the decision.
After the two 5,000 meter races, it is apparent that AT&F needs to a drop of the hat to Terrance Mahon, coach of Ian Dobson and Jenn Rhines. Jenn was superb in this 5,000 meters. She is the consumate racer: she stays out of trouble, in the fight, in the heat of battle, she does not make bad decisions. Her leg speed is deceptive as she flew down the final straightaway after Shalane and Kara during the end of this race.
Lauren Fleshmann ran a good race, but did not seem to be able to engage. Her 15:23 did not show what she can truly do.
Again a tremendous race!