No Crowds, No Problem for Hammer, Javelin and Racewalk Athletes at USA Nationals…
by ELLIOTT DENMAN
Who are my special stars of the USA Outdoor Championships?
Kibwe Johnson and Amanda Bingson, Sean Furey and Kara Patterson, John Nunn and Maria Michta.
And just why?
Answer: They competed with honor, gave of their all, delivered solid gold-medal performances, and did it all in virtual privacy.
Sure, the men’s and women’s hammer and javelin throws were staged in prime time
Sacramento State University but Johnson and Bingson, Furey and
Patterson, and all their long-throwing buddies, were relegated to
distant practice fields, a considerable hike from the main stands at
You had to have a special curiosity, or a special interest in the hammer throw and the
javelin, or be friends or family of the hammer-heavers or spear-chuckers, to be willing
(a) take the long walk out to the throwing zones, and (b) be willing to
give up the chance to pass up any of the excitement going on
simultaneously with these events at the main stadium.
Unbothered by their un-audience (which, well, maybe numbered in the 100s), Johnson and
Bingson delivered some bang-bang hammer action.
Johnson led all the men with the wire-and-ball with a heave of 243-4, edging long-standing
rival AG Kruger’s 240-7.
Johnson, out of that hammer hub of Ashland College in Ohio, regained the USA crown
he held in 2008-11-12.
Maybe his mini-audience was a blessing in disguise, keeping some folks out of the way
of potential disaster. In the course of the event, two throws ricocheted off the
edges of the high cage, went over a too-short fence and plummeted down near a grandstand.
no one was injured by the flying ball and its wire was miraculous.
That officials didn’t order all spectators out of that danger zone, not
once but twice, was downright negligence. .
There certainly have been horrors – yes, even deaths – at some long throw events in the past.
Why the officials allowed those spectators to remain in that zone after the near-mishaps
went beyond credulity.
Anyway, the hammer show resumed two days later with the ladies taking over the ring,
And Bingson, out of UNLV, was sensational.
broken the American record with her 248-5 winner at 2013 Nationals in
Oregon; Not quite in that form again, she still whirled one out to 246-3
to win by a giant-sized margin over Jessica Cosby Toruga’s 235-4.
javelinists took over these practice field venues when the hammerers
were away, and they delivered two rousing good shows, as well.
Dartmouth grad Sean Furey regained the men’s National jav title he’d won in 2010 with a
hoist of 266-10. North Dakota State alum Riley Dolezal was his closest
rival at 260-0. But Tim Glover, who’d got one out to 275-7 in May,
could only reach 258-9 for third.
USA’s jav-women aren’t quite in
the league of Barbara Spotakova, the University of Minnesota alumna who
set the world record of 237-2 for the Czech Republic in 2008.
But fellow Big 10 product Patterson keeps taking aim just the same.
former Purdue star regained the U.S. title she’d won in 2009-10-11 with
a chuck of 204-9. Impressive in beating the 200 mark, too, was silver
medalist Brittany Borman, out of Oklahoma, at 203-6.
If you don’t
have a good alarm clock, it seems, you’ll never be a national-caliber
American racewalker. Both 20K (12.4-mile) races started at 7 a.m., the
women Saturday, the men Sunday.
Unlike the throwers, they at
least got to experience the inside of Hornet Stadium, their races
started with 600-meter (lap and a half) strolls around the stadium
track, proceeded with nine completions of an outer 2K loop-course route,
and finished with a final 100-meter dash back at the stadium.
Michta led off the pedestrian phase of the National program by pacing
the ladies in 1:35:55, not her best, but good enough for a decisive win
over Miranda Melville (1:38:00.)
The brilliant Long Island
Olympian – she’s on the brink of completing her doctoral studies in
microbiology at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai University medical shool – knows
her next walk will be far slower.
It will be down the aisle on
July 3 as she weds long-time beau and former Sachem North High School
classmate Joel Coffey, who these days doubles – as he puts it – as
Maria’s “waterboy and cheerleader.”
These 2014 Nationals will also be the last time you’ll see the name Maria Michta in the official sums.
She’ll re-emerge as Maria Michta-Coffey and, within a year, morph into Maria Coffey.
But, hopefully, for this soon-to-be renamed American record-setter (1:30:49 in early May in China) she’ll be even faster.
Army staff sergeant John Nunn, originally of Evansville, Indiana, now
of the San Diego area, is a 36-year-old vet of the 2004 and 2012
A quality walker at both the 20K and 50K distances, he
regained the 20K national title he last owned in 2010 with a 1:27:57
In an event that urgently needs young American talent to emerge – four of them actually did in trailing Nunn home.
Grabbing the 2-3-4-5 places were Patrick Stroupe (1:29:27), Nick Christie (1:29:53),
Alejandro Chavez (1:30:29) and John Cody Risch (1:32:50.)
The racewalkers’ sunrise audience may have been mini, but it sure was regal.
Giving vocal encouragment along the College Town Drive sidelines were Olympic icons Billy Mills and Larry Young.
50-year anniversary celebrations of Mills’ epic run to the Olympic
10,000-meter gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games will soon be underway.
again, American walk fans have been celebrating Larry Young’s two
historic bronze medals at 50K (Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972) all along.
There’s been no one like him on the American walk scene in all the years since.
Cloning, sure, would be nice but even Larry Young knows that it would be against the