The Week That Was In Running - June 21 - June 27, 2010
June 29, 2010
This week, we focus our weekly recap primarily on a look back at the 2010 US Track and Field Championships. We start things off, however, by praising the NCAA's move to rotate the NCAA cross-country championships. Then we get into a very lengthy praise of Galen Rupp before analyzing the US champs, during which we take a break to contemplate how Matt Tegenkamp stacks up against Kenenisa Bekele. Along the way, we also once again try to infuriate the LetsRun.com faithful by praising ourselves and denigrating a message board poster.
NCAA Cross-Country To Rotate
Other than the US Champs last week, there wasn't a whole lot going on in terms of track and field (except for a few other countries' national meets), but there was one big development that didn't get as much notice on the LetsRun.com homepage. The NCAA announced last week that it will start rotating the cross-country nationals and this makes us very happy.
NCAA cross-country nationals have been held for seven straight years and eight of the last nine years at Indiana State. Indiana State has done an amazing job of hosting the event and their cross-country-only complex is basically a revolution in the sport. Spectators can watch the whole race unfold while barely having to move at all. That being said, it's boring for the die-hards, whether it be fans, coaches or athletes, to have the race in the same place each year. Moving it around is a good idea.
Oregon will host in 2011, Louisville in 2012 and Indiana State in 2013. As a result, we certainly think an East Coast or Southern bid should be considered for 2014. Lehigh (Paul Short) or Van Cortlandt anyone?
More: *NCAA Cross-Country Nationals Changing Courses *Message Board Thread On NCAA Rotation
Comments About USAs
Before we start talking in depth about the action at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track and Field champs, let us take a minute to praise Galen Rupp. Rupp has taken a lot of flack over the years on the LRC message boards for being pampered by Nike/Oregon/Alberto Salazar. Well, Rupp in our minds is one of the hardest workers in the sport and has dealt amazingly well with an unreal amount of pressure over the years. And we just want to start our week that was by saying, "Thank you Galen for showing up in Des Moines when so many other stars skipped out on USAs and thank you for taking care of business and winning yet again."
Rupp took care of business and in our minds if he can somehow find a European 10,000, he very well could be the #1-ranked US 10k man in 2010 (and quite honestly, we hope he does end up with the #1 US ranking, as he showed up at USAs). We are adamant on one point. If Rupp breaks Chris Solinsky's 26:59 later this year, he, not Solinsky, deserves the #1 US ranking. In that case, Rupp would be the US champ and twice have run under the old US record and end the year as the US record holder.
Speaking of Solinsky, he - along with Tyson Gay, Andrew Wheating and Khadevis Robinson - were a few of the bigger names that didn't run in Des Moines. Even some of those who ran, like Sanya Richards, didn't run the final. Look and see how soon these stars return for paydays to see how legit their reasons for not running were. For example, we assumed Khadevis was injured since he had run recently in NY, but now we see he's rabbiting the 1000m world record attempt at Pre this weekend. Now that we've praised those that showed and expressed our frustration with those that didn't, let us give you a few interesting takes on USAs.
Junior Women's 800: Ajee Wilson Is For Real
Last week we praised high school sophomore Ajee Wilson for splitting 2:00 at the New Balance HS national meet. Well, she more than lived up the hype at junior USAs as she won in 2:05.75, defeating Oregon signee Laura Roesler in the process (Roesler is the girl who competed at the Olympic Trials and won 20 high school state titles from 100-800).
Something Doesn't Look Right Here
Speaking of junior 800s, we think a Thumbs Up is in store for Penn State freshman Cas Loxsom, who spanked Robby Andrews to get the win. Loxsom has had a great year and it's good to see him get some notoriety as he's already run 1:46.75 this year. We also think the loss for Andrews was probably the best thing that could happen to him. Instead of being viewed as the second coming, he can just focus on getting ready for world juniors. More: Andrews got DESTROYED by Loxsom! *Robby Andrews: 2010 World Junior Championships 800m could he win
Women's 1,500: Erin Donohue Turns Heads And Christin Wurth Is Overshadowed
In the women's 1,500, which was the race we were most excited about at all of USAs, Anna Pierce won the battle with sub-4 performer Christin Wurth and 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury and for that she deserves praise. We loved how, Pierce talked about what her 8th-place showing at the adidas meet meant to her: "Sometimes I think maybe it's good to get your ass kicked." In that race, Pierce was only the 5th-fastest American. Apparently, getting your ass kicked does work, as Pierce got the win.
However, the person who we were most impressed with was 2008 Olympian Erin Donohue. In case you aren't familiar with Donohue, she was the athlete that was basically dropped by coach John Cook even though she was a 2008 Olympian, as he didn't feel she was talented enough to be a sub-4 player on the world stage. And while Cook's sentiment actually may be true, we here at LetsRun.com are always amazed by Donohue's toughness. She brings it every time she laces up the spikes and she almost stole the race with a bold kick. In the end, she ended up with a much deserved second-place showing. As we were watching the race, a friend of ours said, "That's all about combining Gags' (her new coach Frank Gagliano) toughness and her competitiveness."
Rowbury ended up third and Christin Wurth ended up fourth. It certainly was a bit of a surprise that Wurth was only fourth, but when we saw this message board thread the morning of the 1,500 final - Christin Wurth - Complaining Again About Being Overshadowed - we figured she'd either win the thing or do worse than expected.
Men's 800 - Nick Symmonds
Nick Symmonds absolutely dominated. Kudos to him for destroying the competition. We just wish Andrew Wheating or Khadevis Robinson or even Robby Andrews were in that race. Regardless, it was nice to see Duane Solomon get 2nd, as we were dumbfounded at Millrose as to how someone that good could be without a contract (he has since signed with Saucony). Also kudos for Jacob Hernandez for getting third, as his early season results had us earlier in the year doubting if he'd have a successful first year as a pro.
Men's 1,500: Matt Tegenkamp Vs. Kenenisa Bekele
While some jerk on the LetsRun.com message board is calling the men's 1,500 one of the worse races he'd ever seen, we think just the opposite and think he (or she) must be just baiting people into commenting on the race. The race was fantastic. Tactical, championship races are always better than boring time trials and in this race you had the 5,000 meter stud in 12:58 man Matt Tegenkamp going towards the lead with 200 left as up-and-coming collegian Matt Centrowitz tried to show he belonged with the big boys before top US 1,500 men Lopez Lomong and Leo Manzano showed them how truly elite 1,500 runners can really throw down, as Lomong got the win thanks to a 51.29 last 400. Yes, you read that right. 51.29. Very impressive.
The stretch duel between Lomong and Manzano was really a joy to watch, as was much of the race. In the end, Lomong and Manzano showed the rest of the field why they are World Championships finalists, as third place was .72 in arrears of the runner-up Manzano. Now, .72 may sound like it's close, but in a sit-and-kick race where the entire top 12 finished within 2.24 seconds of each other, .72 seconds is a killing. To prove our point, please realize that third placer Will Leer was actually closer to finishing 7th than he was to first.
As for Tegenkamp, he got his doors blown off a bit over the last 200 but he still managed to finish in 8th and he should be pretty proud of his 53.12 final 400 and even more proud of the fact that he didn't just sit and wait like everyone else in the field seemingly did until the final 150. A 53.12 final 400 is very impressive for any mortal 5k or 10k man. We say mortal because we looked up what Kenenisa Bekele ran over his final 400 to win Olympic gold at 5k and 10k in 2008.
Pause and think about it for a minute.
Go ahead and guess.
Ok, now we'll tell you.
In the 10,000, Bekele ran 53.42 to win. In the 5,000, he "only" closed in 53.87, but remember ... his winning time was 12:57 and we called that race the greatest 5,000 ever run. So for Tegenkamp to beat Bekele, he needs to figure out a way to close a 5,000 where he runs faster than his current PR in the same pace that he closes a tactical 1,500. Good luck on that one!!!
Women's 800: Should Morgan Uceny Move Up Permanently?
If a surprise world indoor bronze medal didn't do the trick, then Alysia Johnson's win in the 800 should certainly prove to everyone once and for all that she is 100% back in the form she showed in 2007 and also is America's top 800 runner. If Anna Pierce isn't going to consistently run 800s, Maggie Vessey is probably America's #2 and she was 2nd, although we must admit it was shocking to see Hazel Clark not make the final.
The other thing that jumps out at us in this event was Morgan Uceny in 5th. We guess if she ran the 1,500, she might only have finished 5th there as well, but it just seems to us that the 1,500 is her event at the 2012 Trials - so why was she in the 800? Uceny was 4th in the 1,500 at the 2008 Trials when she was truly an 800 runner and she's been taking the scalps of top US 1,500 runners ever since. If you've been running the 800 and haven't broken 2:00 by the time you are 25, move up to the 1,500 if you want to be a factor at the Olympics. At the adidas Grand Prix, Uceny crushed the 1st, 2nd and 4th place finishers at USAs in the the 1,500. She beat Wurth-Thomas by 1.55 seconds, she beat Pierce by 1.95 seconds and she beat Donohue by 3.21 seconds. The only Americans to beat her were the bronze medallist Rowbury, who beat her by .01, and Barringer, who beat her by .38.
Women's 5,000: Lauren F And Molly H Impress
Just as it was a bit surprising to see Uceny in the 800 at USAs, it was surprising to see Olympic steeplechaser and sub-4 1,500 meter runner Jenny Barringer in the 5,000 (Barringer certainly would have won the steeple had she run that and maybe the 1,500 as she was the top American at adidas this year). But what was even more shocking was that Barringer lost and actually was beaten by two Americans in race winner Lauren Fleshman and runner-up Molly Huddle.
Fleshman pulled THE biggest shocker of the meet - certainly in the mid-d or distances - as a scant .2% of LetsRun.com visitors picked her to win the 5,000 in our prediction contest. Fleshman has been through a lot of late and she deserves big time props and praise for pulling off the huge upset. Huddle, the American junior record holder, came into the year with only a 15:17 PR but she lowered that to 15:05 at Mt. SAC and is now the USA runner-up. Jen Rhines, who broke 15:00 in both 2007 and 2008, deserves praise for going for it and putting down a big surge with five laps to go that gave her an 8-second lead with 1,600 remaining. This certainly was another fun race to watch.
LetsRun.com Prediciton Contest: We Rock
Conspiracy theorists who think that those who have connections to LetsRun.com do better in the prediction contest than others probably are steaming yet again after our 2010 USA contest. Why? Because LetsRun.com co-founders Robert and Weldon Johnson tied for 12th. Had Rojo not been a moron and inexplicably left Lopez Lomong off of his 1,500 predictions, he would have won the contest. Meanwhile, 2009 Penn Relays high school 3k champ Bobby Micikas, who now runs for Rojo at Cornell, was one point better in a tie for 5th. No wonder people think they are allowed to change their picks after the fact.
Others Deserving Props
Unheralded Greg Nixon picked the perfect time for a huge 400m PR (a world-leading 44.61). Debbie Dunn became the first women in the world under 50 seconds this year (49.64). Bershawn Jackson had a world leader in the 400m hurdles, as did Hyleas Fountain in the heptathlon, but the biggest accomplishments of the meet was Chaunte Lowe breaking her own American record in the high jump and David Oliver's 12.93 in the hurdles. Distance-wise, Dan Huling got his first USA title and Lisa Aguilera won for the first time since 2006. Speaking of Aguilera, she also is a former ace of the LetsRun.com prediction contest. Bernard Lagat also deserves props for showing up and winning the 5,000 and since the women's 10k is the only mid-d or distance event we haven't mentioned, let's give props to Amy Begley for winning for the 2nd straight year and to Iowa States's Lisa Koll for leading most of the race.
Lastly, we'd like to give props to Phil Hersh and the Chicago Tribune. Besides the guys we constantly praise out in Oregon and occasionally Amy Shipley of the Washington Post, he seems to possibly be the only sports columnist left in the land that consistently writes about track and field. Hersh was actually sent to the US meet to cover it and for that the Tribune deserves major props. Keep up the good work, Phil.
More: Phil Hersh Web Page
Attendance Woes In Des Moines?
Quotes Of The Week #1 & 2 (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)
"What was billed here as a national championship meet was really nothing more than a glorified exhibition before the elite athletes chase the big money in Europe."
- The Oregonian's Ken Goe writing in an article about the disappointing attendance in Des Moines.
"It's not unusual in the sport of track and field to not have full
crowds at times. But it's something that's unusual in Des Moines. So from
that perspective, I'm a little bit surprised."
- Mark Kostek, a co-meet director of the 2010 USA Outdoor Champs for Drake University, talking in a Des Moines Register article about attendenace in Des Moines where it was incorrectly noted the attendance in Des Moines was bigger than in Eugene..
All we'll say is that the key to small sports is perception. Was attendance really that small?
The figures reveal that attendance was actually higher than Eugene last year. Now maybe the numbers aren't accurate, but to us, the problem was the stadium was way too big for a smallish turnout. And as for the fans, we don't blame them too much for not going to a meet that was devoid of the top stars and run in oppressive heat over four days. Correction: A LRC viewer has written us to show that the attendance in Eugene was 38,451 which was bigger than the 32,048 fans in Des Moines which seems right. However, comparing the attendance figures from 2009 to 2008 is like comparing apples to oranges. 2009 was a World Championship year and all the top stars showed up. 2010 had many of the top stars missing in Des Moines, so one could assume attendance in Eugene would have dropped from the 38,451. As great as Track Town USA is, None of the 2009 USATF sessions sold out in Eugene. The sport needs to keep growing no matter where the national meet is held.
More: LRC Editorial: "Moving The Needle - Let's Take A Step Forward"
Once A Cheat ... Continued
A few weeks ago, we pondered whether the amazing sprint times put up at a meet run by drug cheat Dennis Mitchell were possibly fishy. Let us remind you what we are talking about. Back in early June, at Mitchell's Star Athletics Sprint Series 1 meeting in Clermont, Florida, Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad & Tobago took a full .10 off the 2010 world-leading time and her own PR by running 10.84 seconds. 2nd placer Shalonda Solomon also took a huge chunk off her PR and ran 10.90 as compared to her previous best of 11.04.
Just three weeks ago on June 8th, we wrote in The Week The Was that "we're not saying that the athletes didn't run the times in question as a meet for sprinters and hurdlers in warm weather with nice tailwinds should produce excellent times, but we'll be very suspicious if later in the year, they don't recreate them. And to us, Mitchell has zero credibility in the sport.
So can we tell you anything more? All we can say is the verdict is still out.
Solomon ran at USAs. And she didn't even make the final, as she ran 11.31 in the prelims and 11.46 in the semifinal. Admittedly, those times were run into huge headwinds (her 11.46 into a -3.3 headwind "converts" to a 11.19, whereas her 10.90 with a 1.8 tailwind "converts" to a 11.00).
On the plus side, Solomon did come back and finish 2nd in the 200 in 22.47.
And as for Baptiste, she also ran last weekend and ran pretty well. She won the Trinidad & Tobago champs with a 10.98. That's still a far cry from 10.84.
Vin Loves AJ
Quotes Of The Week #3 & #4 (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)
"I would hate for him (AJ Acosta) to read this, because I still have to work with him another year, but A.J. is one of the more exciting and dynamic athletes that I've ever had. He's fabulous and he'll never know just how much I think of him."
- director of Oregon Track and Field Vin Lananna talking about AJ Acosta, who has resurrected his career in 2010. The big compliment comes from a very good article in the Eugene Register Guard on Acosta by Curtis Anderson, in which Acosta emphatically states there is no way he let Andrew Wheating beat him at NCAAs. Lananna's compliment was then followed up by the following quote:
"A.J. is a strong-willed individual. He has his own ideas and his own view of things and with that comes its share of challenges."
Man Of The Week - Geoff Roes
The course record at the Western States 100.2 Mile ultra went down last week, as Geoff Roes destroyed it by more than 29 minutes. The crazy thing is he had to come from behind to just get the win, as he was 15 minutes behind with 22 miles to go (admittedly, that's almost a marathon). With the win, Roes remains undefeated in 100 mile races for his life - a perfect seven for seven.
For those of you unfamiliar with Western States, it's a real beast, as it features difficult trails, high altitude and more than 40,000 total feet of climbing and descending (18,000 up and 22,000 down).
Hopefully, ultra guys start getting some more respect. Maybe the fact that two-time Olympic marathon medallist Eric Wainaina ran and won an ultra last week will help.
More: From 15 Minutes Behind With 22 Miles To Go, Geoff Roes Rallies To Win And Set New Course Record By 29 Minutes!!! Roes is a monster who is undefeated in 100 mile races for his life. Tracy Garneau won the women's race. *Full Results *WS Website *N.Y. Womean Becomes First Amputee To Finish Western States 100 Race
LRC MB: *2010 Western States Thread *Koerner / Krupicka throwdown at Western States this weekend *Geoff Roes eats frozen pizza before bed. Does nutrition REALLY matter?
2-Time Olympic Marathon Medalist Wainaina Wins Lake Saroma 100km Ultra In Kenyan National Record Time
Lots of great articles last week. One that might not have gotten the pub it should have was about Rebekah Noble, who won NCAAs in the 800 as a freshman but then disappeared.
*Rebekah Noble, Oregon's Fleeting Star, Quietly Leaves Program She Once Set On Fire Ken Goe of The Oregonian catches up with the junior phenom who got injured and burned out after a 100% pursuit of the Olympics. *Boards: Future of Rebekah Noble
*Tim Layden Of Sports Illustrated Profiles Heavyweight Inspiration Chris Solinsky
*Talented AJ Acosta Rights The Ship And Reaps Benefits
Non-Running-Related: *Paraguay's Nelson Valdez Overcomes Homelessness To Star At World Cup
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "I look at track as like a giant playground for adults, with all the events going on. One day I said, 'I really miss playing with my friends.'"
- Consuella Moore, the winner of the 200m on Sunday in a PR 22.40, on why she returned to the track in 2009 after a 2-year layoff after she hung up the spikes following failing to advance past round 1 at the 2007 USATF Champs. Now under knew coach Al Joyner, she's atop the US ranks.
Sunday: "Sometimes I think maybe it's good to get your ass kicked."
- Anna Pierce, who won Saturday's star-studded USATF 1,500m final over a game Erin Donohue, talking about her outdoor pro opener, her 8th-place finish at the adidas 1,500m.
Saturday: "There was a big part of me which wasn't sure, but there was this little part of me which felt that I might be able to win it. And that scared the crap out of me."
- Lauren Fleshman after winning the USATF 5,000m championships in a fairly big upset over Jenny Barringer (who was actually 3rd behind Molly Huddle). Fleshman has recovered from injury and won her first national title since the 5,000 in 2006.
Friday: "Winning national championships never gets old."
-Galen Rupp after winning his second straight USATF 10k title Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa.
Thursday: "I'll be sitting around the house thinking everybody is running alone,'' says Solinsky. "Then I'll find out they all ran together, but just didn't call me.''
- Chris Solinsky from a Recommended Read Sports Illustrated article by Tim Layden. Solinsky sometimes gets the cold shoulder on the easy run days because he runs too fast for Simon Bairu and company. Solinsky won't be running USAs, but you can check out our Day 1 preview, including the 10k finals.
Wednesday: "Putting the shoes on and lining up is great. There is so much I can't fuss about. Someone is not coming for me with a bullet. I'm not running in the jungle. I am running for the joy, the fans and my country."
- 2008 US Olympic 1,500 runner Lopez Lomong, who ran from civil war in Sudan when he was 6. He'll be in the USA outdoor 1,500 championships this weekend.
Tuesday: "I was keen to see an Australian back on top of the world stage, but at the moment the Africans are dominant. (Indigenous Australians) have phenomenal endurance, but we've never had a top indigenous endurance athlete. ... It's not because they don't have the talent [to run marathons]. They've just never had the opportunity or support."
- former marathon world record holder and marathon world champion Rob de Castella talking about indigenous Australians. "Deek" is trying to turn them into world beaters - starting this fall at the ING New York City marathon.