Californians Win and Advance on Day One of U.S. Indoor Championships, by Mark Winitz

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Berian_BorisQ-USAInd16.JPgBoris Berian, photo by PhotoRun.net

Rowbury_Shannon-USAInd16.JPgShannon Rowbury, photo by PhotoRun.net

Boris Berian and Shannon Rowbury were two of the many athletes who call the Golden State their home. In light of our publication, California Track & Running News, we asked Mark Winitz, our long time contributor to many of our media, to write a daily update on the USA Indoor Champs.

Sorry for the delay on posting this, as I spend most of the champ days posting via social media at RunBlogRun.com and our Live coverage on RunBlogRun!

Watch for Mark Winitz coverage tomorrow!

Californians Win and Advance on

Day One of U.S. Indoor Championships

By Mark Winitz

March 11, 2016 - Californians turned in solid performances on the first day of competition at the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships at a newly refurbished Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Berths on the U.S. team heading into next weekend's IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships--in the very same facility--are on the line. The top athletes in each event qualify for a slot on the U.S. team for Worlds provided that they meet the IAAF's qualifying standards for the competition.

In an important Olympic year, a number of top Americans have elected to compete indoors to hone their skills for outdoors while others focus entirely on the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and a ticket to Rio for the Olympic Games.

Native San Franciscan Shannon Rowbury has chosen the indoors route and has demonstrated that a memorable year is in the making. The two-time Olympic Games finalist at 1,500m who now trains in Oregon under coach Alberto Salazar defended her title at the Millrose Games Wanamaker Mile last month before grabbing the 3,000m win in Portland. Rowbury ran conservatively, in 6th place through 2,000m behind leaders Emily Infeld, eventual second placer Abbey D'Agostino, and others. With 400 meters to go, Rowbury shot to the lead and proceeded to a convincing 8:55.65 win. She has the qualifying standard for World Indoors so we'll be seeing her next weekend.

"It was quicker early on than I expected," Rowbury said. "The plan was to get a good, hard close. With 400 to go I decided enough waiting. By the last 100 meters I felt really great. I'm excited about my fitness. "Now that I've made the team I'll let Coach (Salazar) decide if I compete in the 1,500 tomorrow."

Other athletes with California ties: Garrett Heath, a 9-time NCAA All-American while at Stanford University, placed 5th in the men's 3,000m final in 7:41.26, three seconds behind winner Ryan Hill.

In the men's 35-pound weight throw, Colin Dunbar (age 27, Long Beach, Calif.) heaved a huge 5th round throw of 23.96 meters/78 feet-7/12 inches, a 3-foot personal best, to win the competition. Wearing a black T-shirt with a slogan "Crush Your Goals," the former All-American for Long Beach State topped three-time Olympic hammer thrower A.G. Kruger who finished in second at 23.24m/76-3. Dunbar's ultimate goal is to represent the U.S. in the hammer throw at this year's Olympic Games.

Prior to his win in Portland, Dunbar's best performances were a third place finish at the 2013 U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships in the weight throw and a sixth place finish at the 2013 U.S. Outdoor T&F Championships in the hammer throw. A broken foot in 2014 put him on the sidelines that year. Most recently, Dunbar won a silver medal as a member of Team USA at the 2015 NACAC Senior Area Championships in Costa Rica. He qualified for that competition with a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships.

The 35-pound weight throw is not recognized by the IAAF as an official event, so it is not conducted at the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships. It is the winter indoor equivalent of the hammer throw, which can't be held indoors because of space restrictions.

Long jumper Jeffrey Henderson, the 2015 Pan American Games gold medalist, grabbed second place in the men's long jump final with a leap of 8.05/26-5 behind winner Marquis Dendy (8.41m/26-7.25).

In the men's pole vault final, Adam Bragg (Lake Forest, Calif.) tied for third with three others in 5.50m/18-5. Bragg, 22, who set an Ivy League record (5.42m/17-9.25) for Princeton last year, has a promising future.

In the women's triple jump final, April Sinkler (Chula Vista, Calif.) grabbed 5th and top Californian in 13.36m/43-10 behind winner Christina Epps, 14.05m/46-1.25.

In the first round of the 60m dash competitions, four Californians advanced to the semi-finals: Men's 60m: Jeffrey Henderson (Chula Vista) 6.58, Carlin Isles (Chula Vista) 6.68. Women's 60m: Jenna Prandini (Clovis, CA), 2ndplace, 7.24, Women's Heat 3: Lekeisha Lawson (West Covina, CA), 2nd place, 7.30.

In the prelims of the women's 400m, Kendall Baisden (Coronado, Calif,) recorded a fifth-fasted time of 53.20 to advance. Olympic and World Champion Natasha Hastings had the fastest time of the day (51.79) and will be the favored contender in the final.

Other Californians who advanced to their finals: Men's 800m: Boris Berian (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), 1:48.96.

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