Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was May 11 - May 17, 2009
This week, we try to make sense of the big-time NCAA track and field conference action by comparing Oregon's distance prowess at the PAC-10 meet to Arkansas' at the SEC meet and sympathizing with sub-4 guys and 17-foot vaulters that can't score at conference. We also pause to read an email from one of the greatest legends in track and field history who apparently is a LetsRun.com visitor in addition to being a two time Olympic champ. Along the way we also admire Galen Rupp's kick and ponder, "Is there something wrong with Jacob Hernandez and is there something really special about LaShawn Merritt?" All that and much more.
Power Conference Action
Thoughts On The Big 12 Meet
SEC - The Best In The Land?
44-second 400s are impressive, but so was Trindon Holliday's 10.01 in the 100 meters and Johnny Dutch's 48.58 in the 400 hurdles. And the depth is staggering. How about 6 guys at 21.00 or better in the 200, 7 sub-14.00s in the 110hs, 5 25-footers in the LJ and on and on?
Holliday's 10.01 is significant as he now officially is the fastest 100-meter man who is active in football. Last year, LSU gave that title to Holliday after he ran 10.02, but then HSer Jeff Demps went out and ran 10.01. Holliday has now tied Demps, who also was at the SEC meet but running terribly. Demps pulled up and ran over 11 seconds in the final.
On the women's side, Florida junior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili set a new SEC shot put record of 59'2.75"/18.05m.
In the fall, it was easy to take shots at Arkansas' new head coach Chris Bucknam as the Razorbacks' 34-year streak of conference XC titles came to an end. But if you are going to get the heat, then you have to get the credit when things go well and things did go well at the SEC outdoor meet, as the Hogs knocked off the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators to win their 15th SEC outdoor title and 93rd conference crown overall. Not only did the Hogs win, but they did it in a way that would make John McDonnell smile, as they racked up a staggering 83 points in the mid-d and distance events thanks to stellar performances by workhorse Scott MacPherson, who scored 21 points (1st in the steeple, 3rd in the 10k, 4th in the 5k) and Dorian Ulrey (16 points thanks to a win in the 1,500 and a 3rd in the 800). Altogether, the Razorbacks won the 800, 1,500, steeple, and 5k. The only mid-d or distance event that they didn't win was the 10k.
Here's how it broke down:
We loved Bucknam's post-race quote, which was a classic - Our Quote Of The Week #1: "It's in our DNA that these guys rise to the occasion in the SEC championships. It was just a great performance all the way around."
It's certainly true that it has been in the Hogs' DNA - at least for the guys that McDonnell recruited. Can Bucknam bring in similar caliber guys? We'll soon find out, as Bucknam now has the tough task of continuing the tradition with his own guys.
PAC-10 - Quite A Homecoming For The Ducks
As for PAC-10s, the Ducks got dominating wins on both the men's and women's side. The highlight came in the men's 1,500, where - in a scene reminiscent of last year's US Olympic Trials at 800 meters, when 3 Eugene-based athletes made the team - the Ducks went 1-2-3 with Matt Centrowitz in first, Galen Rupp in second and Andrew Wheating in third. Once again, the crowd went ballistic but we were stunned that US Olympian Andrew Wheating said the following about the 1,500 - Our Quote Of The Week #2: "The Trials were great, but when you have three of us in a row wearing Duck jerseys, right there, that was the best race I've had since I got here."
Wheating certainly is a character. The ultimate Vermont hippie? Maybe one of the reasons he's so good is he equates getting third in a conference meet 1,500 when his team won by 41 points as the same as getting 2nd in the Olympic Trials. He just runs and doesn't overly pressure himself. Remember this is the guy who, after losing NCAAs by the narrowest of margins outdoors last year, acted like he won when he said, "I might have spotted him a little too much, but I don't really care because second is just as good. When you finish right next to that guy, it might as well be first."
But that relaxed attitude also may cost him some wins. Over the weekend, we were having a conversation with 5 or 6 fairly accomplished college athletes at the IC4A track and field championships about who would win the PAC-10 1,500. Nearly everyone was in agreement with the following sentiment: "Wheating should win but we doubt he will as it won't be an obsession of his to win. He probably views himself as more of an 800 guy and he'll either wait too late to kick or he'll be content to get 2nd or 3rd if a teammate wins."
And that's exactly what happened. His quote about the 1,500 shows our sentiment was right, as he clearly didn't care at all whether he won or finished third in the 1,500 as long as only fellow Ducks finished ahead of him.
If you watch the videos of either the 800 or 1,500, you'll see that Wheating certainly loves to kick late. How he won the 800 is beyond us. He is so far back with 20 meters to go, it appears to be 100% over but somehow Wheating wins. Don't tell that to USC's Irek Sekretarski, who clearly thought he was the winner. In the 1,500, it looks like there is no chance that he gets 3rd but somehow he does that as well.
We also urge you to watch the 1,500 video if you want to see why Oregon dominates in recruiting. The crowd reaction is insane. Who wouldn't want to expereince a crowd like that? Combine Vin Lananna's recruiting magic with a crowd like that and it's no wonder that so many people want to run track for Oregon even if it isn't the best of schools academically. That 1,500 finish should just be the official Oregon recruiting video.
Speaking of kicks, how about the kick of Galen Rupp? The guy runs a 54-second last lap in the 10k while looking over his shoulder and shutting down early - very impressive. Please watch the video as it certainly doesn't look like he's running that fast. So smooth. Admittedly, Geb or Bekele would likely close in 52 in a race that is a minute faster, but Rupp's kick is definitely improving. Don't believe us? Okay then, watch the finish of the 1,500 if you haven't already done so as Rupp ran the fastest 400 of his life - a 52.2 or 52.3. Not too shabby.
Rupp's coach Alberto Salazar summed up Rupp's weekend perfectly, "Not bad for a kid who can't kick."
One last thing about the 1,500 in the PAC-10 - in contrast to the Big 12, it was loaded with talent. The field had 16 guys in the prelims at 3:46.38 or better, including a ridiculous 6 sub-3:41s, and the Ducks still go 1-2-3. Major props to them. Someone like Cal's Michael Coe, who is #6 on the national list at 3:37.98, doesn't even score.
Earlier, we stated how the Arkansas men scored 83 mid-d and distance points. Guess how many the Oregon men scored? Stop, and guess more or less than Arkansas?
Altogether that is 89 points. Like the Hogs, the Ducks are going to be hurt by graduation, as Galen Rupp, Shadrack Kiptoo Biwott and steepler Chris Winter will all be gone next year. The Ducks will therefore lose 44 of their 89 points. Nothing to worry about, as Lananna is a proven recruiter at the top level. Plus it's already known that the Ducks will be adding AJ Acosta, who is redshirting this year (if he's not still suspended) and 13:41 transfer Michael Maag of Princeton next year.
Who had the best meet in terms of mid-d and distance performance at PAC-10s on the women's side? We thought we'd take a look at that to see if it would give any indication as to who will win next year in cross-country, as last fall the Washington women dominated (1st) with Oregon 2nd and Stanford 9th. Interesting that it was the Stanford Cardinal who scored the most at PAC-10s with 60 points.
2009 PAC-10 Women's Mid-D & Distance Points
Other things of note at PAC-10s. The men's pole vault was sick as 9 guys cleared 17 feet. Our sympathies go out to Cal's Ryan Shuler. He vaults 17 feet at conference and doesn't even score.
Let Us Ignore The Big 10
Finally, we wanted to give a Thumbs Up to Albany for winning the IC4A championships. They might have the most underrated track team in the country. We've noticed how good they were all year long and their victory against many of the top East coast teams proves it.
adidas Track Classic
Anyway, here's what impressed us about the meet. Clearly, the elder statesmen Bernard Lagat and Hazel Clark and Dwight Phillips, all of them over age 30, aren't done yet as they all got wins.
In the men's 1,500, other than Lagat's win in 3:36.38, the real story was the impressive run by Canadian Nate Brannen. After battling for the win at Penn Relays, Brannen battled for the win in Carson and finished second in 3:37.03. Looks like he's poised for a big year.
The other big news was how poorly many of 1,500 meter runners ended up running in the windy weather. Pablo Solares, Jon Rankin, Rob Myers, Adam Perkins and David Krummenacker all ran over 3:42.00 but the real shocker was Leonel Manzano. We thought the 2008 Olympian had dropped out as he was so far back, but in reality he ran 3:57.55. Not sure if he was sick or what? Email us if you know the deal but it was shocking. We'd been hearing his body fat percentage was way down and he was in great shape. Let's hope he was sick or something and hasn't overtrained like Alan Webb did last year.
Speaking of Webb, the meet also provided some optimism for Webb fans, as the man whom Webb has already defeated twice this year in South Africa's Peter van Der Westhuizen finished 3rd in 3:38.29. Of course, if you put Webb a half second ahead of van Der Westhuizen, that means he would be battling it out with Nate Brannen - not exactly what Webb fans would have envisioned two years ago when Webb practically ruled the world.
The women's 1,500 was noteworthy in the sense that 6 women all ran within a second of each other. Six people ran 4:13. The one high school girl in the race, Jordan Hasay, ran 4:16.92.
Other than that, Anna Willard deserves a Thumbs Up for running the fastest time ever on American soil in the steeple (9:26.85). Look for her to get her American record back very shortly. And maybe the best performance of the meet- even more shocking than Manzano's 3:57 but obviously in the other direction - was Olympic 400 meter champ LaShawn Merritt's utter domination of the men's 200. He beat Xavier Carter by .64 and Shawn Crawford by .75 when he won in 20.07. How is that possible?
The day wasn't good for sprinting, as in the women's 100 Carmelita Jeter ran .13 slower than she did at Mt. SAC and Darvis Patton was .10 slower than what he ran two weeks ago in the men's 100. In the 200, Allyson Felix ran .73 slower than her seasonal best from last year. And yet, Merritt, who is known mainly as a 400 meter runner, somehow ran 20.07 to the X Man's 20.71. Either Merritt is in wicked good shape or the X Man and Crawford and company are way out of shape or there was something real screwy with the weather. Cerainly, the results had to have caught Jeremy Wariner's attention.
Speaking of Wariner, he was one of several athletes to change coaches last week. Last year, we ripped him for dumping the best 400 coach in history, Clyde Hart. Well, after losing out on the Golden League jackpot and the Olympic gold, he's apparently wised up and gone back to Hart. Honestly though, we're not sure if any coach will be able to have him beat Merritt. Merritt may just be better than Wariner.
Distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein has gone in the other direction and dumped his long-time coach in Brad Hudson.
And in other news involving runners with new coaches, Shalane Flanagan totally bombed in the 5k at adidas as she ran over 15:00. We kind of like all of the coaching changes as it certainly adds intrigue and second guessing to analyzing all of the meet results.
The 400 Hurdles Mixup - Edwin Moses Graces LetsRun.com With His Presence And An Email
The other big news coming out of Carson came in the men's 400m hurdles. The race was one of the most anticipated of the day as it featured the 2000 and 2008 Olympic champ, Angelo Taylor, against the 2004 Olympic champ, Felix Sanchez, against the world champ, Kerron Clement. Clement crossed the finish line first but the race has been invalidated as one of the hurdles was set up incorrectly. Taylor fumed after the race: "Whoever is in charge of putting up the hurdles needs to be fired. I could have stayed at home today. I feel sick, man. That race doesn't count."
We had the quote up as our Quote of the Day on Sunday and it got noticed. Proving yet again that one has no idea which Olympic champion might be visiting on a given day, LetsRun.com received the following email on Sunday from track and field legend Edwin Moses:
***Before we get into the substance email, we wanted to pause for a brief history lesson for some of our younger visitors, as LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson was stunned that his tenant - a 24-year-old grad student at Cornell who was a former scorer in the hurdles at the New York State meet - had no idea who Edwin Moses was. Moses is arguably the greatest 400m hurdler in history and one of track and field's greatest ambassadors as he helped transition the sport into a professional vocation. Moses was a two-time Olympic champ who didn't lose a 400 hurdles final over the span of 9 years, 9 months and 9 days from 1977 to 1987. During that period, he set 4 world records in the process. Yes, let us repeat that. He didn't lose a hurdles final for almost 10 straight years.
To learn more about Moses, we strongly encourage you see his website as well as perhaps the wikipedia page on him. To see him winning gold in 1976, click here. To see him winning gold in 1984, see the embedded video.***
"What's Moses up to these days?," you ask. Well, he is a motivational speaker and also the chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a great charity organization. He's going to be honored with an honorary degree at UMASS Boston on May 29th.
More: *Results *LRC: Semi-Live Blog: Our Thoughts As The 2009 adidas Track Classic Is Broadcast Live On ESPN2 *PhotoRun Photos *More Photos *IAAF Recap: Lots Of World Leaders At adidas Meet *LA Times Recap Of adidas Meet
Road Action - Big Paydays At Bay To Breakers/Healthy Kidney 10k
At the Healthy Kidney 10k in Central Park, Tadesse Tola picked up $27,500 as he got the $20,000 for breaking Dathan Ritzenhein's course record of 28:08 by running a Central Park record of 27:48. Other than the big payola, the race was notable for the fact that two big-name Americans really struggled. Both Anthony Famiglietti (29:07) and Abdi Abdirhman (29:02) finished out of the money. Not a total surprise for Abdi as he said he was only 80% coming into the race.
At the Bay To Breakers, Sammy Kitwara's remarkable 2009 season continued as he picked up $40,000 by taking down Ismail Kirui's 1993 course record. He got the biggest payout possible as he got to the top of Hayes Street Hill (4.2 km) first ($5,000 bonus), overcoming the 4 minute and 40 second head start given to the elite women ($25,000 for the ING Battle of the Breakers bonus), won ($7,000) and got the course record ($3,000 bonus). Add that to the $30,000 he pocketed for winning the World's Best 10km and the untold sum he got for slaying Haile G at the City-Pier-City Half Marathon and you've got a guy who is thrilled to death that he was left of the Kenyan XC team.
The Bay To Breakers is always a crazy race with tons of people running it in costumes and they clearly have a very crazy/innovative prize structure. The battle of the sexes is fine but we gotta give them a Thumbs Down for saying someone who is leading at 4.2 km but finishes 2nd deserves more money than the person who wins the race. We guess Prefontaine would approve of that pay structure, which ended up paying 2nd place female Lineth Chepkurui $8,000 compared to race winner Teyba Erkesso's $7,000. Ekesso won in 38:29, while American Deena Kastor was third in 39:05.More: Tadese Tola Smashes Patrick Makau And Ritzenhein's Course Record To Win Healthy Kidney 10k In Central Park LRC: Top 25 Results/Discussion *Sammy Kitwara Crushes Bay To Breakers Record, Deena 3rd In Women's Race *Results *Bay To Breakers Race Video
Tadese Tola Smashes Patrick Makau And Ritzenhein's Course Record To Win Healthy Kidney 10k In Central Park In mile four, it became a battle against the clock as Tola got the win in 27:38 to pick up the $20k Zayed CR bonus. LRC: Top 25 Results/Discussion
BUPA Manchester City Games - What An Event - What A Performance By Usain Bolt
Geb didn't disappoint as he went out on near world record pace - 13:31 for the 1st 5k before slowing into a terrible headwind and running 14:08 on the way home to clock 27:39. If you don't think the wind totally dominated the race, you are a fool as check out the splits of women's race winner Vivian Cheruiyot - First 5k with the wind: 15:31. Second 5k into the wind: 16:34. So Geb's fade wasn't too bad after all.
But the story of the day on Sunday was Usain Bolt's ridiculous 14.35 150 meter world record. Bolt pulled a LaShawn Merrit and won by an absurd .7 seconds as he ran his last 100 meters in an absurd 8.72 seconds. The performance in the rain instantly should silence all the critics who have been saying Bolt hasn't been focused since winning the gold medal. Nothing fazes Bolt. A car wreck two weeks prior to the event? Nope. Rain at the event? Nope. The guy is a showman and he seemed to thrive on it all. It was his show and he was going to put on a performance for the ages.
Did you not see the event? Well, you need to watch the videos of it as the event had it all. It had the best athletes in the world and it was presented in a spectator and tv friendly way. If only we could somehow do the same in America.*Watch Replay Of Manchester Great City Games Men's 150m Final *Usain Bolt Interview *Watch Replay Of Entire Manchester City Games, Which Includes 10km As Well As Women's 150m. *The Independent Profiles Bolt Bolt: "I am not going to let anyone change me ..."
When Haile G Speaks, We Listen
Two great quotes from the distance legend in a great article on him from last week prior to the BUPG Great Manchester Run.
Haile G On Ramzi's Positive Test And PEDs
Haile G On National Federations (Athletics Kenya And Doug Logan Are You Reading This?) Trying To Totally Control National Team Members
Recommended Reads From Last Week
3) In-Depth Look At Shaheen, World's Fastest-Ever Steeplechaser
Remembering The Last Week With The Quotes of the Day - Day By Day:
is in charge of putting up the hurdles needs to be fired. I could have
stayed at home today. I feel sick, man. That race doesn't count."
Saturday: "This man sits on top of a six-billion-person pyramid. Everyone in the world knows how to run. This man is the fastest."
Thursday: "Going to the trials (last summer), I was just going out there to
have fun and see who all was there. I knew I could
probably compete with those guys, but I didn't have anything to lose. I
could gain, but I knew I had nothing to lose because I was going to
college to play football. So
I thought I would go out there and it would be a good experience for
me. When I actually got a chance to compete with all the big names, I
was thinking maybe I can have something in this track world. I saw
something, but at the end of the day, I still loved football and it's
something I had to go through. Like I said, down the road, I might have
to make a choice."
Tuesday: "It was kinda like a full bus passing you. He just shot off ... If he had fallen he may still have beaten us."