Steve Ritchie, who covered the USATF Outdoor Champs for RunblogRun by reviewing the NBC Gold package and NBC TV coverage was given the task of covering the Track Summer Series opener. Here is his commentary on the fine opening meeting.
TrackTown Summer Series Off and Running
By Steve Ritchie for RunBlogRun
The three meet TrackTown Summer Series got underway on Thursday evening at Stanford University with nine events contested by professional athletes on teams representing four different cities.
The athletes were clearly enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and the small but appreciative crowd at the Cobb Track and Angell Field. At times the team competition was a little hard to follow, at least if you were watching from home, but, especially in the distance races, there were some high-quality performances.
The highlight of the meet, which was streamed live on Facebook, was the final event – the women’s 1500. The stellar field included Alexa Efraimson, Amanda Eccleston, Lauren Johnson and Emily Lipari. But Hannah Fields, who brought a modest PR of 4:11 into this meet, pulled the upset as she out-kicked Efraimson and Eccleston in the last 60 meters of a quick race. A graduate of tiny Oklahoma Baptist University, Fields is a 19-time NAIA champion and now runs for the Brooks Beasts training group. Her winning time of 4:05.30 – a 5.70 second lifetime best – nipped Eccleston by .14 seconds, with Efraimson in third in 4:06.16, her best 1500 since 2015.
The first and third place finishes by Fields and Efraimson, San Francisco Surge teammates, lifted San Francisco past the Portland Pulse to win the meet with 90 points. Portland finished with 86, the New York Empire team was third with 84 and the Philadelphia Force trailed with 69.
Paul Chelimo, coming off his sensational solo meet record performance in the 5000 meters at the U.S. Championships last weekend, continued his hot streak by winning the 3000 in 7:48.58. Chelimo, running for Portland, broke a close race open with a surge on the last lap, finishing the circuit in 56.3. Graham Crawford (NY) was second in 7:49.93 and Lopez Lomong (Portland) third in 7:51.20.
Six-time world champion Brittney Reese (NY) was upset by Quanesha Burks (SF) in the long jump. Burks led throughout the competition and put the exclamation on her performance with a jump of 22-2 1/4 on her last attempt. Reese’s best mark of 21-6 also came on her last jump.
The meet got underway with a combined gender competition in the hammer throw. Each team had one male and one female thrower, and their combined best marks figured in to the team scoring. The Portland Pulse won a closely contested event behind Gwen Berry’s 239-0 best and Colin Dunbar-Hatton’s 233-1.
Other winners were Ricky Robertson Jr. (SF) in the high jump (7-4 1/4), Aaron Mallett (NY) in the 110 meter hurdles (13.37), Queen Harrison (NY) in the 100 hurdles (12.73), and Sanne Verstegen (NY) in the women’s 800 (2:01.20). Australian Steve Solomon, running as an unattached “guest,” won the 400 in 45.19.
One of the best races of the meet was the high school boys mile race. Cooper Teare and Luis Grijalva waged a stirring battle and nearly pushed each other to a sub-4 minute mile. Teare won in 4:01.92, with Grijalva recording a 10-second PR in 4:02.64.
The TrackTown Summer Series moves on to Portland on Sunday, July 1, and then wraps up in New York on Friday, July 6. The Portland meet will also be streamed live on Facebook, and the New York finale will be televised on ESPN.