Meet America’s Pre-Teen Prodigy, Meet Those Who Said “No Thanks” To Wearing The Team USA Uniform (And A Potential Free Lap Dance), And Thank You Germany For Caring About The Sport’s Integrity

July 29, 2015

Our weekly recap – the Week That Was – appears below.

The biggest action last week took place at the 2015 London DL meet. If you missed that coverage, go to our 2015 London special section or check out our London Diamond League Photo Gallery – 110 Photos).

London Photo Gallery

London Photo Gallery

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Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.

2015 Pan Am Games – Andrew Wheating and Others Get Gold, Others Bypass Chance

The 2015 Pan American Games were held last week in Toronto. The event was a big success – so much so that some are urging Toronto to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Congrats to the following mid-d/distance runners for bringing home gold for Team USA – Clayton Murphy (800), Andrew Wheating (1500), and Ashley Higginson (steeple).

Representing Team USA is a goal for most runners. Doing it at the Olympics and Worlds is obviously the ultimate dream for most but if you can’t get there, then Pan Ams is a great alternative. (LRC may be a bit biased as co-founder Weldon Johnson represented the US on the track only at Pan Ams (DNF in 10,000 in 2003, he also ran in the World Road Champs)).

We did a little research to see if any runners not in the top 3 at USA turned down a spot to Pan Ams.

The Pan Am team was selected by order of finish at USAs. Those in the top 3 at USAs could go to Pan Ams but since they are going to Worlds, many of those in the top 3 declined. We were a little surprised there were quite a few runners not in the top 3 at USAs (or 4 in the case of the women’s 1500) who didn’t declare for Pan Ams.

We can understand it in the marathon where moneymaking opportunities are few and far between (although Craig Leon and Tyler McCandless both desperately wanted to represent the USA in Toronto), but for most track runners you’d think it would be worth it to race Pan Ams.

Here is the US mid-d/distance lineup at Pan Ams, how they finished at Pan Ams and where they placed at USAs.

Team USAs Mid-d/Distance Lineup at Pan Ams
Event / Place at Pan Ams Place at USAs
Clayton Murphy – Gold 4th
Ryan Martin – Bronze 5th
Alysia Montano – Silver 1st
Phoebe Wright – 7th 6th
Andrew Wheating – Gold 5th
Kyle Merber – 7th 6th
Cory McGee – 4th 11th
No 2nd US entrant – Kerri Gallagher withdrew 3rd
Cory Leslie – Bronze 6th
Donnie Cowart – 4th 8th
Ashley Higginson – Gold 5th
Shalaya Kipp – Silver 6th
David Torrence – Silver 5th
Garrett Heath – 4th 4th
Kellyn Taylor – Bronze 7th
Alisha Williams – 5th 11th
Aron Rono – Silver 6th
Shadrack Kipchirchir – 4th 4th
Desi Linden – Silver 6th
Liz Costello – 4th 7th

Based on that, here is a list of eligible US runners who didn’t declare for Pan Ams but could have raced if they had.

Molly Ludlow*
Chanelle Price*
Ben Blankenship*
Rachel Schneider*
Treniere Moser*
Heather Kampf
Mary Cain*
Sarah Brown*
Shelby Houlihan*
Andy Bayer*
Stanley Kebenei*
Tabor Stevens
Leah O’Connor*
Katie Mackey*
Brie Felnagle
Amanda Mergaert
Amy Cragg
Emily Sisson*

*Ran at a DL Meet

Chasing the Olympic standard so you can get that out of the way might be one reason you’d decline the spot. Along those lines, USA 5th-placer in the 1500 Rachel Schneider did pick up two PRs in Europe (4:07.88 on July 15, 4:06.90 on July 18) but still came up short of the 4:06.00 standard. That being said, in Rio next year, the IAAF will fill the fields in the 800, 1500 and steeple just as they are doing this year in Beijing so Americans likely won’t need to have the standard if they are top 3 as they are likely to be in the top 45 in the world for 1500 and steeple and top 48 for the 800.

Another reason for skipping Pan Ams might be to pick up a nice payday in Europe. Chanelle Price no doubt made some nice coin for rabbiting Genzebe Dibaba to her world record. Some of the people above were racing at Diamond League meets and had the chance to make some money, but others weren’t.

If the IOC wants to encourage participation at its regional championships, it could start giving automatic Olympic qualifiers to medallists. A lot more people would be putting on the red, white and blue of Team USA.

More: 2016 Rio Olympic Track and Field Qualifying Standards
*MB: Good news for Americans – 2016 Olympics will fill the fields in 8, 15 and steeple so you don’t necessarily need standard

Video of Final Lap of Wheating’s Gold Medal Run Below


The other thing that caught our attention mid-d/distance wise at Pan Ams was the poor showing of the Cuban women in the 800. Rose Mary Almanza went into Pan Ams ranked #2 in the world thanks to her 1:57.70 in Paris, but left without a medal (4th in 2:01.82). The other Cuban, Sahily Diago, is 22nd in the world this year at 1:59.91 and ran 1:57.74 last year but she didn’t make the final (2:13.72).

Tweet of The Week

Speaking of the Pan Am Games, winning at the Pan American Games earned athletes more than just a gold medal.

Adam Kszczot Celebrates Silver at World Indoors

Adam Kszczot Celebrates Silver at World Indoors

Stat of the Week

26 – 19 – head to head record at 800 between Polish 800 runners Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski according to after last week’s victory by Kszczot over Lewandowski at the Polish champs (1:46.70 versus 1:47.32).

Kszczot’s advantage has come in the last few years as since the start of 2014, Kszczot leads 14 to 4. That being said, the 25-year-old Kszczot has never beaten the 28-year-old Lewandowski at an outdoor Worlds or Olympics (but did beat him at World Indoors in 2014). A few weeks ago in Monaco, both men ran their seasonal bests (1:43.45 for Kszczot and 1:43.72 for Lewandowski).

Child Prodigy Of The Week

11-year-old Alayna Szuch was 7th at the 2015 USA Mountain Running Championships last week and missed qualifying for the 31st World Mountain Running Championships in Wales on September 19 by just 31 seconds in the 8.2 km race (the top 6 men and top 4 women qualified).

That result intrigued us and we were pleased thanks to a search to find a great profile on Szuch by John Meyer in the Denver Post in April:

Evergreen’s Lanie Szuch is a running prodigy at age 11

Results from 2015 USA Mountain Running Champs (via Race Results Weekly).

MEN (3 loops/12.3 km) –

  1. Patrick Smyth, 28, Nike                   46:11  $1500 + 1000c
  2. Andy Wacker, 26, Rocky Mountain Elite     46:21    975
  3. Joseph Gray, Club Northwest               46:52    675 +  750c
  4. Andrew Benford, 27, Team Run Flafstaff    48:22    450
  5. John Donovan, 28, Unattached              48:54    350
  6. Josh Eberly, 34, Brooks                   49:21    250
  7. Ryan Bak, 33, Central Oregon Running Klub 49:30    200
  8. Zach Miller, 26, Team Colorado            49:31    150
  9. David Laney, 26, Nike                     50:08    100
  10. Kenyon Neuman, 28, Unattached             50:58     75
  11. William Milam, 23, Bowerman TC            51:01    600c
  12. Josh Glaab, 32, Unattached                51:12
  13. Mario Mendoza, 29, Unattached             51:14

WOMEN (2 loops/8.2 km) –

  1. Morgan Arritola, 29, Salomon              36:21  $1500 + 1000c
  2. Kasie Enman, 35, Green Mountain AA        37:32    975
  3. Kimber Mattox, 26, Team Run Eugene        38:18    675
  4. Allison Grace Morgan, 32, Brooks          39:12    450
  5. Brandy Erholtz, 37, Team Colorado         39:19    350
  6. Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 29, Unattached   39:36    250
  7. Alayna Szuch, 11, Unattached              39:43    200
  8. Laura Haefeli, 47, Team Colorado          40:17    150
  9. Megan Lund-Lizotte, 31, Montrail          40:36    100

Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)

#1 – This US marathoner desperately wanted to wear the Team USA singlet in Toronto

“I never thought that accepting a nomination to the Pan Am Games would end in heartbreak. When selected to the Games, I deferred a full-time job offer by a month, pushed back my PhD dissertation defense by a month and dedicated nearly two months of intense training for the Pan Am Games Marathon – foregoing other racing opportunities as well. My mom even even pushed back a necessary hip replacement surgery to see me compete in Toronto!”

– American Tyler McCandless writing after he was deselected by the team by an arbitrator after it became apparent that USATF incorrectly put McCandless on the team over Craig Leon in a bureaucratic mistake.

More: Marathoner Tyler McCandless Responds To His Removal From US Team
*MB: USATF accidentally gives Craig Leon’s Pan Am spot to Tyler McCandless. Should TrackTy give up slot?

#2 – It’s ok for a female running star to eat ice cream (at least in high school)

“[In high school] there were girls there who were already running like professionals. I remember going out for ice cream the night before the [Foot Locker] race and everybody else was on their strict diets.”

Emily Infeld talking in a Runner’s World profile of her. A 4-time Ohio state champ at 800, Infeld has found great success as a pro under the tutelage of Jerry Schumacher after some overtraining missteps that had her contemplating quitting the sport. At Worlds, Infeld will run the 10,000 for Team USA.

#3 – Not all agents are slimy

“To many people in the athletics business, ‘athlete-manager’ is a term of abuse, belonging in those nether regions infested by politicians, corporate bankers and second-hand car salesmen. But Zane elevated the term to a stratosphere few could aspire to. As a manager, he was solicitous to a fault.”

Pat Butcher writing in a great tribute to Zane Branson, who died of a heart-attack last week in Kenya at the age of 57. As Davor Savija wrote, “Athlete Management in East Africa was not only a business for Zane, it was a calling and a platform for a rich life, sacrifice and dreams.” Branson was so respected a father of an athlete once bicycled 60 miles to thank him for his work with his son.

More: Pat Butcher’s Tribute To Zane Branson
*Rest In Peace: Athlete Manager Zane Branson Dies Suddenly In Iten, Kenya
*Zane Branson To Be Buried In Kenya
*Kenya’s Marathon Stars Patrick Makau And Wilson Chebet Are Struggling With The Loss Of Their Mentor Zane Branson

#4 – Not every great runner loves the sport from the first step

“OK, so when I started running, maybe I was about 6, I liked to hang out in my room and paint. My family always went out for runs and I’m like, ‘That’s fine.’ Then one day they brought me out and I started screaming: ‘I’m not like you guys! I’m an artist, not a runner!'”

– 11-year-old Lanie Szuch talking about how she got started in running. Now she loves the sport. The first time she ever ran on a track, she banged out a 5:40 mile.

More: Evergreen’s Lanie Szuch is a running prodigy at age 11.

#5 – Chanelle Price says she could tell by looking at Genzebe Dibaba that she was determined before her 3:50 1500 WR

“I had very little conversation with Dibaba herself [before the race]. I just gave her a handshake before the race and we just looked at each other. I could see in her eyes that she was determined. And hopefully she could see in my eyes that I was confident—slightly nervous—but confident that I could do good.”

Price talking to Runner’s World about her excellent rabbiting job in Monaco. Some on the messageboard criticized Price’s rabbiting but not us. We thought it was incredibly smooth which is exactly what Dibaba’s coach wanted. He told Price he didn’t care what times she hit – just make it smooth.

Chanelle Price Talks About Pacing Genzebe Dibaba; Says It Was A “Dream Come True”
MB: Chanelle Price: yet another poor women’s pacing job.

#6 – Aisha Praught Explains Why She’s Now Running For Jamaica

“I grew up knowing I was Jamaican, but I really didn’t know my father until I was an adult. I sort of just grew up with the knowledge that he was there, but I didn’t meet him until the summer of 2013 when I was in Europe, and he lives in Berlin. Our meeting was really life-changing; just looking into his eyes for the first time was really incredible. It’s like there was no time, like we always knew each other.

“It sort of felt serendipitous, it was like, all of a sudden, that was my identity. It was such a warm and welcoming feeling; it felt real and genuine and I felt like a part of myself that had been missing was suddenly there, and it just felt right,” she said of her subsequent decision to represent Jamaica.”

– Oregon based Aisha Praught talking to the Jamaica Gleaner about her decision to run for Jamaica at Worlds.

Drug Testing Moves To eSports (Computer Games)

We hope the following story convinces people that PEDs help improve perfromance in all sports: eSports drug testing to commence after Pro Player brazenly admits juicing.

Drug testing will now be done at computer gaming contests because Cory “Semphis” Friesen admitted last week that he and members of the Cloud9 team used Adderall during a $250,000 ESL tournament.

At Least The Germans Care About The Integrity of The Sport

Last week, for the second straight year, Markus Rehm had the longest jump at the German champs but isn’t the German champ as he has a prosthetic leg and actually jumps/springs off of that leg.

Rehm, the Paralympic world record holder, is certainly an inspiration but common sense tells us that people with artificial legs should be competing in the Paralympics. Given the fact that in the past the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was convinced by faulty science to allow Oscar Pistorius to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, and this week that CAS is allowing someone with (internal) testes to compete in the women’s events, the Germans should be commended for sticking to their beliefs.

More: Good decision: For 2nd straight year, Markus Rehm had longest jump at Germany champs but isn’t the German champ as he has a prosthetic leg

Video: Watch Rehm Jump The Longest At 2014 German Champs

Recommended Reads

Previous Recommended Reads from other weeks can be found here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the actual quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.