Week That Was: Molly Huddle and Emma Coburn Open Up Fast, NCAA Regional Flops and Kim Collins Breaks 10 at Age 40

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The Week That Was In Running – May 23 – May 29, 2016

By LetsRun.com
June 3, 2016

Considering it’s Friday, we thought about blowing off our Week That Was, but as distance runners we know that taking days off for no good reason isn’t a good habit to start. So here it is – just a little bit late and abbreviated (we need to get ready for the NCAA Champs).We already broke down the 2016 Pre Classic as it happened.

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

Performance of The Week/Year?

9.96 – PR set by Kim Collins, the 2003 World Champ at 100m, before he turned 40.
9.93 – PR run by the 40-year-old Kim Collins last week in Bottrop, Germany.

Collins had said he wasn’t going to retire until he broke 10.00 this year but the fact that he set a lifetime best (Collins also ran a windy 9.92 in 2003) is pretty amazing. Yes, the conditions were totally perfect. The wind was almost as high as possible (1.9 m/s) and 7 of 8 people in the field set seasonal or personal bests (2 pbs, 5 seasonal bests).

1 Kim Collins SKN 9.93 NR PB
2 Joe Morris USA  10.15 PB
3 Adam Gemili GBR  10.19 SB
4 Gavin Smellie CAN 10.28 SB
5 Maximilian Ruth GER 10.47 SB
6 Kevin Ugo GER 10.47 PB
7 Simon Schlebach GER 92 10.82
8 Carlo Weckelmann GER 96 10.90

That being said, to run 9.93 at age 40 is mind-boggling, perhaps even more mind-blowing than the fact that Collins won Worlds in 2003 with a 10.07: MB: Sprint historians, how could the 2003 Paris World Champs be won in 10.07 and 20.30?

More: MB: Kim Collins became the first Master ever to go sub-10 yesterday

NCAA Regionals Are In The Books

The fields for the NCAA D1 Championships are now set now as the two regionals were held last weekend. Some people are ripping regionals because they aren’t spectator-friendly but that’s never bothered us. We’ve never felt the preliminary round of any championship, whether’s it’s the regionals or a morning heat of the Olympics, was something we’d ever encourage a non-die-hard track fan to attend. If a random person walked up to us in Eugene and asked us what day they should go the NCAA Championships – we’d say, “The final day.”

The idea that the regionals should be cancelled because it’s not riveting for spectators is a dumb one. Under that logic, almost the entire regular season of track should be cancelled as it’s basically one giant exhibition except for the conference meets and the Penn and Drake Relays. To be honest, the simple fact that the Power 5 conferences are for cancelling regionals makes us want to keep them. The athletic director of a Power 5 once begged us to advocate for cancelling regionals. They told us if regionals wasn’t cancelled, track and field programs might be cut as it’s expensive. We laughed and said, “That will never happen. If the small schools can find the money for regionals, so can you. Track and field is never going to be cut at your school. That would be embarrassing and make you look like a JV athletic program. If you are worried about paying for track, why don’t you pay your football coach $1 million less?”

Anyways, regionals do insure that only in-form people compete at the NCAA Championships. Who were the biggest casualties of regionals this year?

Below we list the people in the mid-d and distance events that entered regionals with a top-10 national mark that didn’t advance as one of the 24 qualifiers to Eugene.

Men’s 800
#4 Andres Arroyo, JR-3 Florida 1:45.78 – Didn’t run well at SECs (8th) or regionals (15th).

Men’s 1500
#8 Justin Brinkley, SR-4 Stanford 3:40.31 – A scoring place at nationals was a long shot anyways as he was 4th at the Pac-12s.

Men’s Steeple
#7 Meron Simon, SR-4 North Carolina St. 8:39.26 – Ran 8:46 at regionals but had to run 8:42 to make it.

Men’s 5000 
None – All of the top 10 entrants advanced.

Men’s 10,000
#2 Andrew Ronoh, SO-2 Arkansas 28:36.20
– Ronoh’s DNF wasn’t a big shocker as he was only 5th at SECs.
#8 Joel Reichow, JR-3 South Dakota St. 28:55.84 – Regional qualifier came on April 1.
#9 Timo Goehler, SR-4 Portland 28:57.27 – Regional qualifier came on April 1.
#10 Evan Landes, SR-4 Kansas 28:58.43 – Regional qualifier came on April 1.

Women’s 800
None – All of the top 10 entrants advanced.

Women’s 1500
#2 Megan Moye, JR-3 North Carolina St. 4:11.91 – food poisoning resulted in her being a DNF.
#10 Malika Waschmann, JR-3 Stanford 4:16.53 – Not a huge surprise as she was the 16th-fastest NCAA D1 1500 runner on the year (6 of top 15 entered other events).

Women’s Steeple
None – All of the top 10 entrants advanced.

Women’s 5000
#4 Liv Westphal, SR-4 Boston College 15:44.28– Scored last year at NCAAs (8th) but ran 16:22 at regionals.
#7 Katie Knight, JR-3 Washington 15:52.70 – easily qualified in 10k (3rd) and then likely didn’t put forth an effort in her 17:10 5000.
#8 Bethan Knights, SO-2 California 15:52.91 – 13th at Regionals.

Women’s 10000
#8 Molly Grabill,  SR-4 Oregon 33:13.64 – Pac-12 runner-up was 13th in the region (12 make it) but was more than 13 seconds behind 12th.

It should be pointed out that the second-fastest 10,000 runner on the year, Harvard sophomore Courtney Smith, who has the Olympic standard at 32:08.32, won’t be competing at NCAAs. She’s injured and didn’t enter regionals as she hasn’t raced since running 32:08 on April 1st.

Stat of the Week I

Below you will find the time and date of Molly Huddle‘s season opener at 5000 for the last five years.

2016: 14:48.14 May 27
2015: 14:57.23 June 13
2014: 14:55.90 June 5
2013: 15:05.56 May 17
2012: 15:15.91 April 20

Huddle seems to very likely be in the form of her life. We hope in addition to the Olympic Trials, she takes one crack at the AR this summer.

More: LRC  Friday Night At Pre – The King Mo Farah Survives A Scare In The 10,000m, Mom Power From Alysia Montaño And Hellen Obiri 

Stat of the Week II

70 – percent of head-to-head matchups between Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury at 1500/mile that Jenny Simpson has won according to Tilastopaja.org after Simpson finished ahead of Rowbury last week in Eugene (Simpson has won 26 of 40 races at all distances).

More: LRC Prefontaine Recap

Stat of the Week III / Someone Buy These Two People A Plane Ticket

3:30.87/3:58.48 – altitude converted winning times in the 1500 (using the NCAA’s altitude converter) that were put up at the 2016 Kenya Athletics Championships last week by 22-year-olds Vincent Letting, who won the men’s race in Nairobi in an actual time of 3:37.03, Judy Kiyeng, who won the women’s race in 4:05.43.

Letting has been running in the 3:36-7 range in Kenya since 2012 but has only had a tiny cup of coffee on the European circuit according to Tilastopaja.org. In 2014, he ran an 8:09 3000 in Ostrava and then a 3:57 mile in Dublin. Kiyeng has never raced outside of Kenya and her pb is 4:05.43 (4:11.46 was her pb coming into the year). It’s quite possible that the NCAA altitude converter is too generous for altitude-born athletes like these two but we sure hope they both get a chance to race on the circuit in Europe this sumer.

Ridiculous Performance Of The Week / Our Nightmare Has Become Reality

Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than two weeks after the Obama administration issued a decree stating that it believes students should be allowed to “participate in sex-segregated activities” that are “consistent with their gender identity,” we received our first case study in Alaska as Nattaphon Wangyot, who was born with male anatomy, placed third in the girls’ 200 and fifth in the 100 at the Alaska 3A high school track and field championships.

It’s unclear whether Wangyot still has her male genitalia or whether she’s elected to undergo voluntary hormonal treatment (she and her coach refused to comment for the KTVA story below). Alaska has no statewide policy on whether transgender athletes can compete as the gender they identify with and leaves it up to individual school districts to decide. That means that it’s entirely possible for an athlete born with male anatomy to compete in the women’s division without undergoing hormonal treatment.

The local CBS station KTVA produced a good feature on the meet in which they interviewed one of the women denied a spot at states by Wangyot, which you can watch below.

Saskia Harrison, a runner for Fairbanks’ Hutchison High School, who just missed out on going to states, summed up our feelings perfectly when she said, “I’m glad that this person is comfortable with who they are and they’re able to be happy in who they are, but I don’t think it’s competitively completely 100-percent fair.”

According to TransAthlete.com, Alaska isn’t even one of the most progressive states in the country. In Alaska, there is no statewide policy. They just follow whatever decision is made at the local level on a case-by-case basis.  The following states already let people with penises compete in women’s sports statewide without hormonal treatment – California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Only six states – Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Texas – forbid it (either by requiring a birth certificate or hormonal treatment which TransAthlete.com calls discriminatory).

Check out how your state stacks up here.

Women’s sports were created because it was clear to anyone with a brain that people born with penises (we don’t want to say men as some might identify as women) on average have huge genetic advantages in sports over those without penises. To let an athlete with a penis compete as a woman without hormone treatment makes zero sense. Honestly, this argument has nothing to do with what bathroom they use. It’s just common sense. Do you think it would be fair if Bruce Jenner had competed in the 1976 Olympics in the women’s division? Of course not.

That got us to thinking. How many gold medals could Ashton Eaton win in the women’s division in Rio?

MB: If Ashton Eaton decided to compete in the 2016 Olympics as a woman, how many gold medals could he win?

Just looking at his PRs, it’s clear the sprint events and hurdles would be easy for Eaton so that’s the 100, 200, 400, 100h, 400h. He wouldn’t have much of a problem with the pole vault, high jump or long jump either. Oh yeah, he’d obviously easily win the women’s heptathlon. That’s nine golds. Given how fast he is and how good he is in the long jump, we assume he could win the triple jump as well but maybe he should hold off until 2020 to try to learn this new event.

In the throws, it’s hard to compare his PRs to the winning marks at the Worlds/Olympics as the implements are different sizes but we’re definitely giving him gold in the shot put. So that’s 11 (if you count the TJ). We forgot about the relays. Give him two more golds for the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 as the U.S. would be unstoppable with him on the team.

In the javelin, his PR of 66.64m is close to the 67.69m winning mark from 2015 Worlds and the women’s javelin is 25% lighter (21 ounces versus 28) so it seems like he’d have a good shot there. That being said, a throws coach we talked to said in some ways it’s harder to throw a women’s javelin than a men’s as it’s like throwing a paper airplane and thus he’d have to learn a totally new throwing technique. We’re not sure about the discus, where his 47.36m pb is way off the 69.28m it took to win Worlds last year but the women’s discus is half as heavy as the men’s.

We think it’s very safe to say Ashton Eaton could win at least 10 gold in women’s track and field alone.* Even if he slipped up in one of the events where we think he could win gold, he’d have a shot at a medal in the 800 as well. And why should Eaton’s dominance be limited to track and field? Do you not think he’d be dominant in boxing, rowing, weightlifting, and wrestling? We even think he’d make an excellent winger in soccer. Even if his skill isn’t the best, he’d make an amazing offensive sub with his speed as he could get a breakaway or finish set pieces.

*We’re assuming unlimited rest. If Eaton had to follow the actual Olympic schedule, competing in nine events plus a heptathlon in 10 days, the cumulative fatigue could lower his totals (though as a decathlete, he is uniquely prepared for competing in multiple events each day).

When you add it all up, 15, maybe 20, gold medals isn’t out of the question. Of course, he might once again be playing second fiddle to Michael Phelps as Phelps would win virtually every women’s gold medal in swimming.

What do you think?

Tell us here: MB: If Ashton Eaton decided to compete in the 2016 Olympics as a woman, how many gold medals could he win?

If you are a swimming expert, please tell us how many women’s gold medals Phelps could win in swimming.

Let’s be clear: we’re not in any way advocating that Eaton or Phelps try to self-identify and compete as women. This was just a simple thought experiment.

More: MB: It Begins: Transgender girl at Alaskan State Meet
MB: Obama Issues Decree Ending Sex Segregated Sports in All Schools

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

#1 A Good Problem To Have

“Who will they pick? We’ve got four of the 13 fastest [1500m] runners in NZ history in action. Fortunately, I’ve already got my qualifying time, and I was the pace-maker for theirs, so they can’t be complaining at me.”

Nick Willis talking to nzherald.co.nz about the ‘problem’ New Zealand’s selectors may have in picking their 1500 team. Of course it may not be a problem as right now only two Kiwis have the 3:36.20 qualifying time – Willis and Julian Matthews (3:36.14). Hamish Carson (3:36.25) and Eric Speakman (3:37.85) are both close.

More: Nick Willis Says It Will Be “A Nightmare For The Selectors” Picking The New Zealand Olympic 1500 Team

#2 Age is Just A Number

During the week he trains alone and is up at 3am every morning to train before work. This means getting to bed at about 8pm each night. On weekends he trains with his ultra-distance compatriots in the Nedbank Running Club.

“There are certain lifestyle sacrifices you need to make to run at this level, but I love running and my wife and two boys support me in this. The beauty of long distance is that, for as long as you are still feeling strong, you can keep on running competitively.”

Moshiywa started running the Comrades when he was 25: “It was the first long-distance race that I ever saw on TV and I thought: ‘I want to be there.’ And now that I have been there all these years I can say that nothing beats the atmosphere at the Comrades before and during the race. It is unbelievable.”

excerpt from a profile on 42-year-old Claude Moshiywa, before he finished sixth at Comrades last week.

#3 Should We Legalize Drugs?

“What made sense then is no longer viable, practically or idealistically. We now live in a world of technology, commerce and performance, where drugs could be safely used for recovery and performance if only the rules were relaxed…

“There are some studies which state that low doses of EPO improve cardiac function,” he insisted. “A whole generation of cyclists used a lot of EPO and they have survived to tell the tale.

“If we understood the dosages and the timing of dosages then maybe it would be relatively safe. Would an athlete mind taking a small amount of a drug that has been trialled and medically approved?”

– British lecturer (University of Stirling) and adviser to USA Cycling, Paul Dimeo,  speaking to the UK’s The Times about why he thinks EPO should be legalized.

More: MB: USA Cycling Wants to Permit EPO Use and Transfusions

#4 Coburn Had An Amazing Opener

“It’s my first steeplechase since September. We wanted to go under 9:20. But it was the best I ever felt in a steeplechase. It’s the best final 400 I felt in a long time. I’m really pleased. After I saw the (Diamond League) results from Shanghai, I knew the Kenyan women were going to run aggressively.

“On the water jump, I knew I could pass some Kenyans. For a while I was in fifth, but I started to click off people. I’m really proud of how I raced. I felt really strong on that last lap.’’

-American Emma Coburn talking to John Crumpacker for The Register-Guard after setting the American record in Eugene last week. Here is our post-race interview with Coburn.

Want more post-race Pre interviews? Go here: LRC Post-Race Video Interviews 25 videos.

Three Random Thoughts From Last Week

  1. Alexa Efraimson is a lucky young woman. She was last at the Pre Classic (4:08.81) and it barely generated a ripple of comment. If Mary Cain did that, she’d be the focus of lots of chatter. The good news for Efraimson is that up until that race she’s been having a pretty good season as she’s PR’d at 800 and won a 1500 in Jamaica in 4:08.

2. The University of Oregon and Jasmine Todd owe the fans more. Todd, who made the World Championships in two events last year (100 and LJ) ends her college career unexpectedly at regionals and no one feels like the public deserves an explanation. Really?

We guess it was to be expected as head coach Robert Johnson has said very little about the struggles of Edward Cheserek this spring.

More: MB: Jasmine Todd DNS at West Regional and no longer a duck

3, Major props to Tom “Tinman” Schwartz for speaking openly about Drew Hunter‘s plans for the Bowerman Mile before the 2016 Pre Classic last week. After Hunter ‘only’ ran 3:58 (the fastest outdoor mile by a U.S. high schooler in 15 years), some on the messageboard criticized Schwartz for talking as they thought it put too much pressure on Hunter. Please. In the major sports, pre-competition press conferences are MANDATED before the biggest events – whether it’s the NBA Finals and Super Bowl. This isn’t always the case in track and field, yet when the coach of a prominent athlete like Schwartz is willing to share details and offer a firm belief in his athlete, he gets ripped for it? Ridiculous.

Recommended Reads

A Must Read: Ross Tucker Interviews Medical Physicist Joanna Harper On Hyperandrogenism In Women’s Sports

LRC A Week With The World’s Best Miler: An Exclusive Look At Asbel Kiprop’s Last Two Workouts Before The Pre Classic

Alexi Pappas Gets Lengthy Profile Piece In The NY Times The article doesn’t just focus on running, but Pappas’ other talents in poetry, acting and film-making.
*MB: Alexi Pappas profile today in the Times

Alex Efraimson Speaks Ahead Of Pre 1,500 About Enjoying Trying To Have A “Normal Freshman Year” At The University Of Portland E

Previous Recommended Reads from other weeks can be found here.

Other News of Note

Totally Awesome: Adam Nelson, Double Gold Medalist In SP, Says He’s Coming Out Of Retirement And Will Compete At 2016 Trials

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.

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