Lawi Lalang and Elijah Greer Impress, Manzano and Webb Struggle, Farah and Rupp Get Beat But Should Be Happy + Discus & Sprint Love

The Weeks That Were In Running – May 27 – June 9, 2013

June 13, 2013

We skipped our weekly recap last week as we were working non-stop getting ready for the 2013 Prefontaine Classic, recapping Prefontaine, getting ready for the 2013 Rome Golden Gala, recapping Rome, getting ready for NCAAs, recapping NCAAs, etc.

This week, we take a quick look back at the last two weeks. For a detailed analysis, see the links above as they should take you to our extensive coverage.

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This week we start by asking a very simple question, “Who had a good two weeks / bad two weeks?”

We give you three answers for each.

We’ll start with the bad:

Who Had A Bad Two Weeks?

1) The NCAA Track And Field Meet

For the second time in three years, there was a scoring fiasco where people were left wondering who the hell had won the men’s team title.

How that happens is beyond us.

Two years ago, the fans in the stadium in Iowa left having no idea who won. This year, the viewers on TV had no idea.

Look, we know keeping track of the team score isn’t easy but it’s not that hard to do if you assign 1-2 people to do that and that only. Our suggestion is if the NCAA / TV executives / /stadium announcers insist on focusing on the team score, then they need to 100% stay on top of it and also include projected scores so the average fan can know what to expect.

This seems like a really long time ago

This seems like a really long time ago

2) Leo Manzano

If showing up at the spiritual home of Nike, Hayward Field, without a Nike contract behind him even though he won the first Olympic 1,500 medal for the US in 44 years wasn’t bad enough, Manzano then went out and had a nightmare of a race.

It was so bad that the timers seemingly wanted to leave him out as he initially was listed as a DNF (PS – If you want to get it right, hire flashresults), but in reality he ran a 4:00.04 and finished last.

Don’t write off Leo as we fully expect him to make the Worlds team. Leo is known for having really bad races and then really good ones. Leo last year heading into USAs, Leo had run 3:36.08 for 1500m and was 12th a Pre (granted in 3:53 which is equal to 3:36). This year heading into USAs Leo has run 3:37.08 for 1500m and was 16th at Pre.

More: LRC Revised Bowerman Mile Results From The Prefontaine Classic: Leo Manzano No Longer A DNF He finished last in 4:00.04.

*MB: Any explanation for Leo Manzano’s DNF at Pre this weekend?

3) Alan Webb

Much like Manzano, Webb had to endure a blow to his ego before running awful.

If the fact that the American mile record holder was running in the “C” race at Pre wasn’t bad enough, then Webb went out and ran 3:45 for 1,500 in the race to make it even more depressing.

And the 3:45 didn’t even tell the whole story, as the formerly famously aggressive Webb went out near last. It was almost as if someone had gone up to him and said, “We’ll give you $1,000 if you beat 5 people in this race.”

That being said, we came very close to putting Webb in the category of “Those who had a good two weeks” just to be a bit of a contrarian, and because after the race, we’ve never seen Webb seem so mature, level-headed and happy.

If you listen to our post-race interview with him (embedded on the right), you’ll see that he’s finally found a home / coaching situation that he enjoys. And he has a happy baby girl and a happy (and fast) wife – a good life. In fact, how about a big Thumbs Up to his wife Julia for running a 20-second PR in the steeple at 9:55.36 in Portland to qualify for USAs.

A 20-second PR at age 30 and done while she’s still breast-feeding their little girl.

Screw it – we’ll unofficially move Webb to the “had a good week” category as he seemed so level-headed we were stunned. But only because he was so level-headed that we’re hopeful he’ll soon realize his days as an elite runner might be over and embark on our pet project – a triathlon career. Remember, Webb was a great swimmer before turning to running.

Alan, if you don’t run 3:35 or 13:20 by the end of the summer, please start training for the 2016 Olympic Triathlon.

Who Had A Good Two Weeks?

Will the duo be getting another 'black' page in 2013?

Will the duo be getting another ‘black’ page in 2013?

1. Galen Rupp And Mo Farah

We know many of you are thinking, “What are you talking about? At Pre, Mo lost his first race on the track in two years and Galen Rupp had one of his worst finishes in recent memory.”

But that’s short-term thinking. In the long term, the last two weeks have gone very well for them.

Think about it this way. Who were the two guys in the world who if they are on 100% and at their peak may be able to beat Farah and Rupp no matter what they do?

Well, clearly, 5,000 and 10,000 WR holder Kenenisa Bekele. Then we’d add Hagos Gebrhiwet, who ran 12:47 last year at age 18. And both of them showed major signs of weakness during the last two weeks.

While Bekele won the Pre Classic 10,000, we were far from amazed by it and noted his last lap wasn’t very fast by Mo Farah standards. Then eight days later, Bekele dropped out of a 13:04 race in Hengelo (not sure who thought it was a good idea to have the injury-prone 31-year-old try to run a 5k just 8 days after a 10,000. Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens is in charge of putting on the elite fields for Hengelo so there are financial reasons for Bekele to run). Clearly, Bekele is still looking for his old track form. And once Haile Gebrselassie lost his track form, he never quite got it back. Is the same true for Bekele?

As for Gebrhiwet, he was beaten in the 5,000 in Rome.

So clearly, neither man is unbeatable.

And given the resources and coaching behind Farah and Rupp, there is a high likelihood that they will be on their game when the World Champs roll around. Can the same be said about the Ethiopians?

The Ethiopians are in disarray in terms of picking their 2013 Worlds team. If the Ethiopian Federation really goes by time yet again (remember the Pre Classic initially was going to be the 10,000 selection race but that idea was scrapped), the Ethiopians are likely to run themselves into the ground between now and August.

So while Farah and Rupp were beaten, so were their two biggest potential rivals and more importantly, those rivals may be racing themselves dry all summer. As a result, it’s been a great two weeks for Rupp/Farah.

2. Justin Gatlin And LaShawn Merritt

You could have won a lot of money if you bet that both of them would beat the kings in their events (Usain Bolt and Kirani James), but that’s what happened for Merritt at Pre and Gatlin in Rome.

3. Lawi Lalang (And All NCAA Favorites)

Sure, we fully expected Lawi Lalang to win the NCAA 10,000 and 5,000 titles but he made it look so easy. After running away with the 10,000 title, he doubled back to the 5,000, where two sub-13:20 guys in Northeastern’s Eric Jenkins and NAU’s Diego Estrada were waiting fresh for him.

What did Lalang do? Just run away from them and everyone else the old fashioned way – from the front.

We know it’s easy for the casual fan to think, “Oh that Kenyan is unbeatable at the NCAA level,” but it’s wrong to do that and not appreciate Lalang. The fact of the matter is Lalang didn’t win last spring at NCAAs and he didn’t win last fall at NCAAs either. Yes, he’s a supreme talent but he learned a lot from last year and kept his form perfectly this year. No burnout this year. Two NCAA records indoors and then two dominating victories outdoors.

Winning four NCAA individual titles as a mid-d/distance runner is extremely rare as shown by the following:

Winner of 4 NCAA Men’s Individual Mid-d/Distance Titles In A Given Year
1980/82 – Suleiman Nyambui, UTEP (mile/3k indoors)
2009 – Galen Rupp (*won 5 with DMR, 3k/5k indoors)
2013 – Lawi Lalang (mile/3k indoors)

If Lalang or his coach James Li are reading this, consider this fact: no one has ever won the NCAA 1500 title and NCAA 5000 title in the same year. The events are less than an hour apart. Maybe Lalang should go for that double next year.

Overall, the NCAA meet was a good one for the favorites as in addition to the men’s 5,000 and 10,000, the favorites also took home the titles in the men’s 800 (Elijah Greer), women’s 800 (Natoya Goule), women’s 1,500 (Natalja Piliusina), women’s steeple (Emma Coburn), women’s 5,000 (Abbey D’Agostino), and women’s 10,000 (Besty Saina).

High Praise To Elijah Greer For Winning The NCAA Indoor & NCAA Outdoor Title In The Same Year

Plenty of reason to celebrate

Plenty of reason to celebrate

Speaking of NCAA favorites, we’re sure many of you when reading about the NCAA 800 win by Elijah Greer had a thought similar to the one you may have had about Lalang of, “Big deal, the guy who won indoors won outdoors.”

In reality, winning the NCAA indoor and NCAA outdoor 800 title is a much rare occurrence than you might think. Andrew Wheating never did it. In fact, no one had done it in more than ten years, since 2002 when South Carolina’s Otukile Lekote won indoors and outdoor. The last American accomplished the feat way back in 1994 when Jose Parilla 1999 when Derrick Peterson did it for Missouri. Even if you include the 21 years (1965-1985) when the NCAA offered both 800 and 1k races indoors and look for an 800 or 1k win indoors and 800 win outdoors, it’s only been done by eight twelve people ever:

American Men That Have Won NCAA 800 Title Indoors and Out
1971 – Mark Winzenried, Wisconsin
1975 – Mark Enyeart, Utah St.
1979/80 – Don Paige Villanova* (*1k/800)
1985 – Earl Jones, E. Michigan
1990 – Mark Everett, Florida
1994 – Jose Parilla, Tennessee
1999 – Derrick Peterson, Missouri

Foreign Men That Have Won NCAA 800 Titles Indoors and Out
1981 – Sammy Koskei, SMU                         
1985 – Freddie Williams, Abilene Christian
1989 – Paul Ereng, Virginia
1996 – Einars Tupuritis, Wichita St.              
2002 – Otukile Lekote, South Carolina

Email / Facebook Post Of The Week

The best part about running the website is interacting with you, the visitor. Our visitors are the most passionate and knowledgeable track and field fans on the planet.

While we always love checking the email inbox, we particularly like it when we get an email from an Olympic silver medallist. Last week, we got an email from 2008 Olympic 1,500 silver medallist Nick Willis, who wanted to let us know about a great Facebook post from one of his training partners, Luke Pawlacyzk, a former NAIA runner for Sienna Heights, who was just a 1:50 guy in college. Pawlacyzk got down to 1:49 last year but 1:49 post-collegiately isn’t very much, so the 26-year-old was getting ready to hang them up, until – well, his Facebook post says it all:

For the past couple weeks I had been coming to terms with the fact that I might be a 1:49. guy. I had a speech typed out thanking everyone that supported and believed in me. It explained how I was
ready to move on to the next stage in my life and how stressful it was
to chase a dream that seemed to be out of my reach. I turned down an
opportunity to make 60k to chase a dream and do what I love. Now, it
looks like all the hard work I have put in, every drop of sweat, every
broken heart, every sleepless night, and everything I have sacrificed
was justified last night.

There is a good possibility that my 1:47.68 will get me into USA’s; I
will declare tonight and then it will be a waiting game. I am very
grateful to everyone that has been there for me and believed in me; I
can’t express how much it means to me that I have people in my life
looking after me and helping me go after my dream, but right now it’s
time to get my head out of the clouds because my work isn’t done here.”

In looking at the USATF entry page, it looks like Luke is a lock for USAs as he’s the 24th entrant, but hey you never know as John Chaplin has been known to needlessly crush the dreams of many over the years (like by taking 30 and not 32 in the 800).

Say It Ain’t So, Robert Harting’s Discus Streak Comes To An End

Just when we start paying attention to a field event, our love affair is crushed. Recently, we’d been impressed by 2009 and 2011 World and 2012 Olympic champ Robert Harting‘s discus win streak, which had reached 35 meetings in a row and dated to August 8, 2010.

Well, it’s back to zero now as Harting lost in Hengelo.

But he didn’t lose the streak by not throwing well and putting up a great fight. In the fifth round in Hengelo,  Poland’s Piotr Malachowski, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist,
threw a massive pb of 71.84 (previous pb of 69.83) – the 5th farthest throw in history.

Harting responded with a seasonal best of 69.91 and actually had three throws better than Malachowski’s second but Malachowski was your winner.

More: Harting defeated by Malachowski’s massive WL 71.84m

Links You May Have Missed Over The Last Few Weeks As Everything Was Focused On Prefontaine, NCAAs And Rome

Recommended Reads

How Alberto Salazar’s Unlikely Quest To Reintroduce America’s Long Distance Runners To The Podium Is Beginning To Show Results

Morgan Uceny, Trying To Bounce Back From London Heartache, Gets Long Profile On IAAF

Quotes Of The Day & The Last Two Week’s Homepages:

Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date. The hyperlink below the date on the quotes will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.

Monday 6/10:

“I’m watching the video board, and they’ve got on white and we’ve got on white, and all of a sudden I saw one of the whites disappear and I thought, ‘Oh, my God.’ Then I see two headbands and I know it’s not us. And then when I realized it was them I was, ‘Oh, my God, what happened?’ And then it didn’t hit me until midway through the third leg that if they didn’t catch anybody we were going to tie for the national championship. …”

“There’s the old saying (about ties), it’s like kissing your sister. I love my sisters. What it comes down to for me is that we came in here, performed at a high level and, regardless of whether we’re national champions or co-national champions, when you look in the book 30 years from now, it’s going to say Florida beside the NCAA championships. We’re very pleased and we’re very proud.”

– Florida head coach Mike Holloway talking about tying for the 2013 NCAA team title with Texas A&M after A&M dropped the baton and finished last in the 4 x 400m relay. Great quote, but we still think the NCAA should break a tie for a national championship. Also worth noting that Holloway figured out the point totals in his head in the heat of the moment, but the ESPN-paid analysts had no idea who won.

Sunday 6/9:

“You know I’m not going to go out a sore loser. I’ve been second, I’ve been third, I’ve been fourth, I’ve been fifth, but not first. I was consistent, it’s just there was a (always) a better guy than me. I hope I made everyone proud.”

“I’m not satisfied. I’m not frustrated. My whole family drove out here. I’ve got about 12 people in the stands – my fiancee, everyone – I dedicate this race to them. Time to move on. I never won in high school – highest finish was fourth. Highest finish in college was second. Maybe I’ll win the Olympics.”

– Northern Arizona’s Diego Estrada talking after finishing third in Saturday’s 5,000 at the NCAA Championships, which was won by Lawi Lalang in 13:35.19.

Saturday 6/8:

“I was trying to believe in storybook endings. But that’s life. You can script it all you want, but it doesn’t always work out the way you would like it to.”

“It’s kind of bittersweet. I would have liked to have ended on a win, but this is just the beginning for me in terms of my running career. … Certainly, this has been one of the best weeks of my life, thinking of all the different memories I’ve had as a Duck. These past four years have been an experience like no other. I feel really blessed.”

– Oregon’s Jordan Hasay after finishing third in Friday’s 5000 at the NCAA Championships which was won by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino in 15:43.68.

Friday 6/7:

“On Saturday, whatever these guys [in the 5,000] are ready for, I’m ready for it … Actually, I’m not worried of anything right now, that’s the first thing. I’m not worried about anyone. I just want to race with them. They have fresh legs, but I think in over 24 hours, I’m going to be just as fresh as them. It’s just like going for a tempo run.”

– Arizona’s Lawi Lalang after winning the 2013 NCAA 10,000m Championships in dominating fashion yesterday at Hayward Field. As good as Lalang looked, we understand why he’s not worried about two other guys with sub-13:20 seasonal bests.

Thursday 6/6:

“You watch a lot of sports that have top competitors that go head-to-head and they have to talk, they have to get the crowd excited to come and see it. You see us for nine seconds and then we are off the track, we’re gone to the next meet and you see us for another nine seconds and we’re gone. I like talking about it, I like getting into the feel of it so I’m sorry Usain.”

– Justin Gatlin explaining why he’s been trash talking prior to facing Usain Bolt today in Rome.

Wednesday 6/5:

“I don’t think there’s ever been a story quite like Isiah’s. From dead last in high school to the Olympics and now a good chance to win the NCAA sprint championships. You couldn’t make it up. People wouldn’t believe you … I value him like an art collector would a Picasso. His athletic ability, combined with his work ethic and humility is something very rare. I am blessed. As a coach, you don’t get a chance to work with many like him.”

– Ole Miss coach Brian O’Neal talking about NCAA 100m favorite, Isiah Young, who has run 9.99 despite finishing dead last at the state meet in high school.

Tuesday 6/4

“If Walt Disney is writing the script, this race ends with Oreon favorite Jordan Hasay capping her collegiate career with the first NCAA outdoor title of her career in front of the adoring home-town crowd. After all her trials and tribulations, the former prep star would be rewarded with a much deserved title.”

“But the real world isn’t often like a Disney movie and we just don’t think that’s likely to happen. Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino, who became a star indoors when she dominated the 3000 and 5000, seems like a dominant victor here. D’Agostino is the NCAA leader at 15:11.35 and if she is beaten it seems that Iowa State’s Betsy Saina, with her 15:12.05 pb, would be the victor not the 15:37 Jordan Hasay.”

– Excerpt from our 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track And Field Championships Women’s Preview. Men’s preview is here. *Men’s Start Lists *Women’s Start Lists

Monday 6/3:

“(Dr. Cain) said he would like his daughter to maintain a balance between academics and athletics and sees advantages in being part of a college track team. Even talk of college, he said, has been shelved until the NCAA’s recruiting window officially opens July 1.”

– Excerpt form an Armorytrack article on Mary Cain‘s father’s role in her life.

Our advice (and we never advise this), stop the nonsense, have Mary go pro now (not next year) and attend whatever school she wants and have her become a volunteer coach so she can run with the college team. If actually being on the team was critical to her, she’d be on her HS team this year.
PS – We’re not sure the recruitment hasn’t started already, as Cain had a “prolonged” talk with the Oregon coaches after Pre.

Sunday 6/2:

“2-low, that won’t do. I’m going to be that kid, I’m going to do it. I just hope I inspire future kids, cause now ‘The barrier’s been broken, we can do it!’ … Down that back stretch, I think I was the most determined person with 100 meters to go. I was like, ‘I am breaking 2!'”

– US teen sensation Mary Cain talking after setting the American Junior 800m record with a 1:59.51 for 5th place at the 2013 Prefontaine Classic on Saturday.

Saturday 6/1:

“I haven’t been tearing it up exactly – I realize that – but it’s not for a lack of effort. I’m trying and hopefully they (the fans) appreciate that. It does feel good (to get recognized by the crowd). It’s a special place … (As for) USAs, I haven’t qualified yet so that’s not in the plans at this point. Maybe I’ll go commentate or something. My wife has a better chance of getting into the meet than I do.”

– American mile record holder Alan Webb talking after a 3:45.89 next to last place showing in the 1,500 on Friday night.

Friday 5/31:

“I’m just going to follow the U.S. road circuit [USARC]. There’s a half-marathon in Duluth the same weekend at USATF Championships. … It’ll lead to a fall marathon. We’re going back and forth with which one we’re going to do. USARC has their marathon at Twin Cities, but Chicago and New York City are definitely in play. It presents the opportunity to tackle something I’ve seen teammates do. Depending on the day, you have either a great performance or you struggle all the way to the finish line. … The marathon is going to be a really fun new challenge, and I need to run one to see what I can do and where it’s going to take me. Maybe that will bring some life back into me in the sport.”

– Matt Tegenkamp explaining how he won’t race on the track this year, but will run the US Half-Marathon Champs in June and a fall marathon instead.(link fixed)

Thursday 5/30:

“Lauren Fleshman was saying I should start a column, called ‘Stuff Kate Doesn’t Know.’ I am clearly a newbie. After Millrose I was third, and it was my first time getting drug tested. I rush in thinking, ‘I’m going to do this and [produce a sample] right away, and get out.’ And then I realized your body doesn’t cooperate. I race into the room and end up staying there for an hour and a half, not seeing family who has come from hours away. I drink maybe 15 bottles of Gatorade and diet soda, then going home on the subway, I had to race to my hotel room because it all came much later.”

“When I came to New Jersey, I always had to lie [to my teammates], because I was so embarrassed. We were talking about Matt Centrowitz or someone that everyone knows. I remember nodding and then Googling these people afterward so I’d know who we were talking about.”

– Yale alumn and 2013 US road mile champion Kate Grace talking about some of the lessons she’s learned in her first year as a professional. With a US championship and 3rd place at Millrose to her name, apparently not knowing who Matt Centrowitz is hasn’t held her back too much.

Wednesday 5/29:

The genesis for the upstart running team was disgust. Lunching in Nike’s Boston Deli on April 16, 2001, Alberto Salazar and Tom Clarke ate, talked and listened to the conclusion of the Boston Marathon. Korean runner Bong Ju-Lee had beaten an Ecuadorean and a trio of Kenyans to win the Boston in the time of 2:09:43.”

“‘Then the commentators started gushing about an American taking sixth place,’ Salazar recalled with incredulity. ‘We started talking How can we be so bad? How can American distance runners be so bad that we’re excited about sixth place? … I told Tom that I could coach Americans to do better.'”

– Excerpt from a 1859 Oregon’s Magazine article by Kevin Max about Alberto SalazarGalen Rupp, and the creation of the Oregon Project.

Tuesday 5/28

“I don’t think there’s going to be anyone missing from the race, so it’s exciting. Every race you go to, you’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to respect the other guys. I’m really looking forward to it.”

– Double Olympic champ Mo Farah talking about this weekend’s stacked 10,000 at the Pre Classic, where he’ll clash with the great Kenenisa Bekele. Full field here.