Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday: Michigan report

THE NOISE! The loudest noise I have heard in my life at a track meet erupted when Oregon's hometown favorites swept the men's 800m. Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating, and Christian Smith--all of whom train in Eugene, finished like maniacs in the last 100 and grabbed the three spots for Beijing.

In the women's 800, the crowded field of 12 (yes, MHSAA, more than 8 is considered too crowded for an 800 final) changed the nature of the race significantly. The athletes raced out much faster than usual so they wouldn't get buried in the pack. Katie Waits hit the 200 in 27.0, in third place. At 600m, however, Waits clocked 1:28.0 and visibly hit the wall. The team spots went to the athletes who could survive the anaerobic pain the best. Geena Gall finished 7th in 2:02.35 (0.11 slower than her PR), Becky Horn 8th in 2:03.87 (0.14 off her best), and Waits--who ran the brave race she had to run--faded to 9th in 2:04.60.

Nicole Bush looked great in breaking away from the pack in the steeple heats to run alongside Lyndsey Anderson in the lead, easily qualifying. She broke her own best time (and Michigan alumni record) with a 9:49.52.

Joe Cebulski stayed in the decathlon, despite no-heighting in the vault. He finished 18th with 6629 points.

Gwen Wentland leaped 5-11.5 to make the finals of the high jump.

Brian Richotte, a Royal Oak Shrine grad competing for Oregon, finished 16th in the hammer qualifying at 219-5. Lela Nelson leaped 20-1 in the long jump qualifying, missing the final by 9 inches. Mandi Zemba finished 10th and last in her 5000 heat at 16:15.72.

Age group stuff

Some results have trickled in from the first day of the weekend's AAU Junior Olympic meet in Southfield:

Brittany Mann, 8th grade 41-4.25, 119-7 DT
Dynasty McGee 35-1.75 TJ

The link:

And from Charlotte, NC, we had a few Michigan results at the USA Youth Championships:

Ariel Roberts 5-7, 17-4, 1:04.60, 62.21 @ 400H
Amanda Maher-Balduf 15.52, 1:07.03
Christina Wade 26.48
Demetrius Addison 14.60, 14.32w, 55.01, 57.04
Xavier Parnell 22.34, 50.99

Notes from Raff: Sunday

Duane Raffin is the former Holly coach, an astute observer of the sport, and a terrific writer. He, too, is at the Trials, and is sharing his observations:

Sunday: Michigan puts 3 athletes in the women’s 800 finals. After two ultra-competitive qualifying heats, Cadillac’s and the University of Michigan’s Katie Erdman Waits, Grand Blancs and U of M’s Geena Gall, and Battle Creek’s and Western Michigan University’s Becky Horn are finalists.

A dozen are finalists because four women tripped and fell during a semi-final heat, including Horn, and were added to the finals.

Chances are one Michigander will be in China representing the United States as an Olympian.

If you have ever been to Eugene’s historic Hayward Field, you would be impressed by the major additions. The new “Mondo” track has produced scorching times during 90 degree and humid conditions. The temporary bleachers create a seamless transitional blend into the historic east and west Hayward grandstands. “I would love to watch one 100 meter final from the Bowerman balcony.” The revisions to the field events venues enhanced the neatness of the infield.

Sunday: Tyson Gay sprinted 9.68 seconds for 100 meters, the fastest ever run in history; however, the 4.1 aiding wind negated any world record. If the wind had been legal (a 2.0 wind), Gay’s time would have been 9.76, which would not have broken Usain Bolt’s pending world record but a 9.68 100 meter performance was a fitting way to end a day of track and field.

Becky Breisch, another Michigan connection from Edwardsburg and the University of Nebraska finished fourth place in the discus at the Olympic Trials. Breisch first spun her way into second place with a fling of 198 feet, and improved to 200-3 feet, and was in third place as she began her final three attempts. Breisch looked the fittest of her life in her Olympian attempt, and let’s hope she continues the pursuit of her dream.

Another of my favorite Michigan track and field athletes is Steve Manz, who has given Michigan high school coaches many informative tips at his presentations at MITCA clinics. The former Spartan threw 63 feet – 3 inches, good for 15th place and inches short of qualifying for Saturday’s high powered shot put final. The sub 5 foot - 10 inch athlete always shows solid competitive spunk as he competes against much taller and muscular shot putters.

Grand Blanc high school has three Michigan athletes at the trials. Sharon Dickie, the former Tennessee All-American, competed in Friday’s 10,000 meter run. Monday Gall will be in the 800 finals, and later high jumper Gwen Wentland will make her fourth attempt at Olympic birth. Wentland inspired Mid-West Meet of Champion’s athletes as she served as the Meet’s Grand Marshall and speaker at the Meet’s banquet. Wentland told the seniors about her role as a wife, a mother, and an athlete. Many of the three state’s girls mobbed Wentland after the banquet for an autograph and personal conversation.

Paul Terek was not a participant in the decathlon today. Many wondered about the Livonia and Michigan State athlete.

Forty-seven Michigan fans from across the state are staying together at Springfield’s Village Inn and are seated directly across from the finish line in the East stands. Former Jackson coach Charles Janke arranged the housing that includes a daily breakfast buffet, free newspaper, ice-cold water for the track, an entertainment room; all for $100 a room.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday update: Michigan athletes

The heartbreaker for Michigan fans was the fourth place by Becky Breisch in the discus. Second after her first throw of 198-0, she improved to 200-3 in the third round, but dropped to 3rd place. When Stephanie Brown Trafton threw 205-6 in the next round, that knocked Breisch off the team. Breisch was unable to respond, and ended up 4th for the second straight Olympic Trials. Katie Corner threw farther than her qualifying round best on all three of her throws, and finished 9th at 175-6. That's puts her in the running for a Track & Field News U.S. ranking position at the end of the year.

Joe Cebulski finished the day at 3769 in the decathlon, which is holding down 17th place. He high jumped 6-6.25, and ran the 400 in 50.93.

Sherita Williams finished 9th in the triple jump with a leap of 43-7.25, missing making the final three jumps by 2.25 inches. Still, her leap was the third-best of her career. Not bad.

Yes, bad wind readings can happen to good people

Wow. Tyson Gay just blasted a 9.68. The crowd roared, thinking it had just witnessed a new world record. Then all eyes turned to the wind gauge operator. A few seconds later, the digital sign at the gauge flashed "+4.1", more than double the allowable wind for a record. So the crowd had to settle for talking about the fastest 100m run under any conditions.

No matter what the wind speed, a thrilling race.

Sunday: Cebulski in decathlon

Paul Terek might have scratched from the decathlon competition, but Joe Cebulski, a graduate of Grand Rapids Baptist, made it in. He has started out the day fairly well, with marks of 11.68, 21-6.75, and 44-2.

I'll have more updates tonight. The buzz is that we may likely see Tyson Gay run a world record in the 100m. This is the fastest "soft" track (ie. non-Mondo) that I have ever seen, and the sprint times so far have been stunning.

Today we'll also see Becky Breisch and Katie Corner in the discus, and Sherita Williams in the triple jump. It should be a good day.

We also can recommend the sourdough French toast at the Glenwood.

I crush Flanagan

This is me running with Shalane Flanagan on the bike path through Baker Park. I am not in the frame anymore, because I just crushed her with a monster surge.

That'll teach her a lesson.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday: Waits, Gall and Wade impress

Katie Waits (2:02.38) and Geena Gall (2:03.03) snagged 3rd and 4th to grab the last two qualifying spots in the 800 final. However, Becky Horn ran into trouble she didn't expect in the first semi. A massive pile-up knocked half the field to the ground. It looked from my vantage point as if Horn hit the ground first. She got up and finished 6th in 2:15.72. A flurry of activity at the protest table ended up letting Horn into the final on appeal.

The photo of the fall.

In the heptathlon, the key event for Bettie Wade would be the long jump, where she has a best over 20-4. Here she had trouble, jumping only 18-4.5. Her javelin was a decent 114-2, and her 800 was 2:22.24. She ended up in 9th place at 5723, just 15 points shy of her lifetime best.

Friday report on Michigan athletes

The women's 800m was the highlight last night. Both Katie Waits (2:03.73) and Geena Gall (2:05.04) looked to be in top form, and ran like potential Olympians. And Becky Horn came fighting back after nearly losing contact in the first lap. Her 2:05.10 made her the last time qualifier.

Sherita Williams came here meaning business. Considered a long-shot in the triple jump, she opened up with the best leap of her life by nearly six inches, a Michigan-alum record 44-4.25. She will be in the final.

Our discus throwers also did well, both Becky Breisch (198-2) and Katie Corner (174-4) making the finals.

In the heptathlon, Lela Nelson ran into problems. She hit 13.46w in the hurdles, 5-5.25 in the high jump, and 38-10.5 in the shot. However, she did not show up for her 200 heat, and is out. I suspect an injury but I haven't heard anything specific. Meanwhile, Bettie Wade is tearing it up, at 13.85, 5-11.25, 42-9, and 24.72w. She is currently in 5th at 3633, 356 points behind leader Hyleas Fountain.

In the 10,000, Sharon Dickie Thompson ran a game first half (16:24), but then faded in the heat and ended up 20th in 34:10.46.

Michigan's 400 hurdlers did not fare well, with none advancing to the next round. Kathleen LaValley was 4th in her heat in 59.62. Danielle Brown was also 4th, at 58.62. And Kenneth Ferguson finished last in his with a lackluster 53.13.

In the men's 800, Abraham Mach finished far out of the running at 1:53.92. In the shot, Steve Manz threw a decent 63-3.25, but finished three spots away from the final.

Paul Terek has withdrawn from the meet with a knee injury, so no Michigander will be in the decathlon.

Finally, in our best-lessons-for-high-school-runners-department, after the 10,000m race, and the victory lap, and the interviews, and the award ceremonies, Shalane Flanagan could be seen all alone on a practice field, following a vigorous stretching routine, while Kara Goucher ran laps around the field, cooling down. Most people, having just made the Olympic team, would be kicking their feet up and celebrating. The pros got that good because they do the right thing. It pays off.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The toaster controversy of 2008

Okay, so I take an easy run on Pre's Trail, nursing my Achilles tendon, which is on fire right now. I'm kind of ticked off that the London bookies have increased the odds on me not breaking 7:00 in the mile next week. And when I limp back to the hotel, I go straight to the complimentary continental breakfast room. And I put my English muffin halves in the toaster. And when they pop out, some lady takes them!

Now maybe I'm old school, but isn't there supposed to be some kind of etiquette about hotel toasters? The track meet starts tonight, but after my experience this morning, it had better be good.

Ritzenhein's in!

Dathan Ritzenhein, who was unexpectedly on the bubble in the 10,000m, has been told he will be able to run in the 10,000m. According to one of his agents, he successfully appealed and was allowed in on the basis that his qualifying time was set last year, in which his only two 10,000m races were hot weather, championship affairs--the USA Champs and the World Champs (in which he placed 9th). Allowing him in seemed like a reasonable proposal to all involved, especially since most of the automatic qualifiers achieved their times in cool weather "time trials," as opposed to the challenge of an international championship race.

And moving from reliable information to the realm of rumors, word is that one of our 800m stars (I'm not saying whom) has said that they will be running the 1500 next year in order to be competitive at the top level. No hints on whom, but if you send me money or gift certificates to Nina's Tacqueria in Battle Creek, I'll consider spilling the beans.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Michigan's chances at the Trials

Okay, here it is. My honest assessment of how we might do in Eugene. Note I said "honest." Not necessarily "nice." I don't want to hurt any feelings, but these are my feelings based on years of watching the sport. Underdogs don't win in real life anywhere near as much as they do in Disney movies. So here goes, our entries in the order of the schedule. (And keep in mind these are just predictions--nothing I would love better than to be proven wrong!)

A word about automatic and provisional qualifying. The dual setup is just to make sure we have the right number of athletes in each field. Once the final list of qualifiers is published, there is no such thing as “provisionally qualified.” An athlete is either a qualifier or a non-qualifier. A number of Michigan athletes with provisional qualifying marks did not bother to even enter, after seeing the numbers of faster entries already confirmed.

Athletes listed only by their high school, because that’s all that matters in my world.

Friday, June 27
Lela Nelson (Det. Mumford), Bettie Wade (Farmington) - Nelson has a chance to make the team. Let’s say a 50-50 chance to be third. Wade would need a huge breakthrough to get to that level.

6:30 400mh quarterfinal
Danielle Brown (Kalamazoo Central), Kathleen LaValley (Forest Hills Central) – Both relative rookies to this level. What would be important this time around is getting experience that can help them in 2012.

7:05 pm 400mh quarterfinals
Kenneth Ferguson (Det. Mumford) - Going out on a limb here. Ferguson has been laying low this year, but he is apparently training in LA with Bobby Kersee. The recent death of his father may give him extra motivation. I think Ferguson is going to shock a lot of people.

7:50 discus throw qualifying
Becky Breisch (Edwardsburg) – Don’t get thrown off by huge qualifying marks. Most of them in this event have come in crazy wind conditions. Breisch is one of the nation’s top five throwers. She will need to be totally on to make top three. Also watch Katie Corner (GR Catholic Central) - the Calvin grad is ranked #13.

8:00 pm W800m quarterfinal
Katie (Erdman) Waits (Cadillac), Geena Gall (Grand Blanc), Becky Horn (Battle Creek Central) – Waits has lost some training time, but is one of five women in the field who already have the Olympic qualifier. She is very dangerous in big meets. I’d give her a 50-50 chance. Gall is also a terrific racer, but will need to break through to sub-2:00 to make the team. Horn is a promising up-and-comer; let’s hope she sticks with it to 2012.

8:20 pm 800m quarterfinal
Abraham Mach (East Lansing) – Far, far outside chance. Should be happy if he makes the semis.

9:00 pm shot put qualifying
Steve Manz (Ogemaw Heights) – I like this guy’s attitude. I think he would need a big breakthrough, but I’d like to see it happen.

9:20 pm 10,000m run final
Sharon (Dickie) Thompson (Grand Blanc) – Hasn’t been racing much track, and it’s hard to come in from road racing and compete at this level.

Saturday, June 28
Heptathlon - Nelson

3:55 pm 400mh semifinals

4:10 pm 400mh semifinals
Brown, LaValley

4:25 pm 800m semifinal
Gall, Erdman, Horn

4:40 pm 800m semifinal

4:40 pm shot put final

5:40 pm triple jump qualifying
Sherita Williams (Det. King) – Everyone seems to have forgotten the MSU grad after she moved to Boston. She’s done a great job sticking with the sport, and may be able to make the finals.

Sunday, June 29
Paul Terek (Livonia Franklin) – A strong chance to make the team, but I think we’ll know in the first few events if he’s “on” or not.

2:25 pm triple jump final

3:15 pm discus throw final
Breisch, Corner

4:02 pm 400mh final
Brown, LaValley

4:17 pm 400mh final

Monday, June 30
Decathlon – Terek

7:05 pm long jump qualifying
Lela Nelson (Det. Mumford) – On a great day, she could do it. But she hasn’t focused on this event as much as some of the other top contenders, so she’s not as consistent.

7:15 pm high jump qualifying
Gwent Wentland (Grand Blanc) – The greatest high jumper in state history is coming back after a few down years. An outside chance to make the team, if she can put her experience to use.

7:40 pm 3000m steeplechase semifinal
Nicole Bush (Wyoming Kelloggsville), Andrea Parker (Livonia Stevenson) – Bush is my darkhorse pick to make the team. Her 9:49.92 in recent weeks was a breakthrough. Put that together with her 4:14 in the 1500 (which would have qualified her in that event), and she’s very, very ready. Parker is on the bubble, and may only get in if several people scratch from the event.

8:15 pm 800m final
Gall, Erdman, Horn

8:25 pm 800m final

8:50 pm 5000m run semifinal
Mandy Zemba (Menominee) – An outside chance, but even though the race might be slower than 15:00, count on the fact that it will take 15:00 fitness to qualify.

Thursday, July 3
7:20 pm long jump final

8:25 pm 1500m run quarterfinal
Steve Sherer (Saline) – Why has everyone in the nation forgotten Sherer? He has come on like gangbusters this year, and his 3:36.81 in recent weeks is truly amazing. I’d say he has a good outside shot in a race that’s wide open.

9:10 pm 3000m steeplechase semifinal
Corey Nowitzke, and it looks like both Jordan Desilets and Tom Chorny will make it in by the skin of their teeth. To make the team, it will take at least a 10-second PR.

9:45 pm 3000m steeplechase final

Friday, July 4
7:30 pm high jump qualifying

8:05 pm 1500m run semifinal

8:55 pm 5000m run final

9:20 pm 10,000m run final
Dathan Ritzenhein (Rockford) scratched from the 5000, hoping to run this as a marathon tune-up. But he can only get in if one person ahead of him on the list scratches. Good chance he’ll be watching from the stands.

Saturday, July 5
11:00 am 100m hurdles qualifying
Candice Davis (Ann Arbor Pioneer), Tiffany Ofili (Ypsilanti), Landria Buckley (Romulus) – Davis has a strong chance to make the team. She’s doing everything right. Ofili has all the tools, but a collegian is at a disadvantage after a long season. Buckley is the rookie—watch our for her in 2012.

1:15 pm 100m hurdles quarterfinal
Davis, Ofili, Buckley

2:45 pm 3000m steeplechase final
Nowitzke, Desilets, Chorny

Sunday, July 6
3:35 pm 100m hurdles semifinal
Davis, Ofili, Buckley

5:40 pm 100m hurdles final
Davis, Ofili, Buckley

5:50 pm 1500m run final

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In praise of cheap

[Stay tuned for Olympic Trials reports. Right now I'm just stuck in the Portland airport, and I've been meaning to write about this issue for a while...]

I’ve seen a bunch of summer running schedules floating around, but none of them focus on what is the number one criterion for me: cheap.

Now, despite the fact my wife accuses me of being an actual cheapskate, hear me out. We have a family of four runners. And for all of us to participate in the same running event, the cost is usually around $100. Ouch. Especially this year. I imagine I’m not the only runner who’s in dire financial straights. Wife laid off a year ago, buried with student loans, and negotiating with my good friends at Countrywide for a short sale of our house, in hopes of avoiding a worse alternative.

So $100 for a road race really hurts right now. Yet the attraction of running—versus so many other sports—is that it can be a very inexpensive family activity. Except around here, it sometimes seems. I basically live near Ann Arbor, and this town hosts oodles of races. However, they’re all fundraisers for great causes—either that or for the shoe store putting them on.

Charity’s wonderful, and I must admit I feel a little scrooge-like when I look about for low-cost alternatives. They’re hard to find! And yet, there needs to be a place for them. There have to be other runner families like mine, and I know there are plenty of student runners who are operating on minimal funds. So where do you go to find the cheap races?

Wayland: We all need to live near Wayland. That’s my conclusion. The Wayland Road Runners, thanks to Ray and Jennifer Antel, have been putting on cheap races for years on Wednesday nights. Says Ray, “My wife wanted to double the entry fee this year but I thought we should keep it at 50 cents.” You have to love the guy. And his wife. Here’s their schedule:

Linden: Wednesday nights until July 23, the folks at Linden are putting on great family oriented cross country races at Linden County Park. They start at 6p.m. with the munchkins, running a 0.75M loop. Then the middle schoolers run 1.5M, and the high schoolers and adults run 3 miles. They give out ribbons for awards, and the entry fee is $2 per individual, or $5 per family. Lots of fun, nice people, and anyone of any speed should feel comfortable making a race or a workout out of this.

Grand Ledge: Wednesday nights (except July 4 week), starting at 6:30pm, the folks here have been putting on all-comer track meets for the past 35 years, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Kim Spalsbury and friends. $5 entry fee, athletes of all ages and speeds (the championship meet is $10). Very professionally done and lots of fun—they give out popsicles!! Their schedule:

Ann Arbor: Tortoise & Hare running store has two more track meets coming up at Huron High School. Cost is $5. Information:

Ionia: This just in from John Carlson: One more site for cheap track meets - Ionia HS on Thursdays - $5 limited race schedule (no meet on July 2nd); last meet is $10 on July 23rd.

Northville: U-D coach Guy Murray puts on two XC races for $5 at Northville's Cass Benton Park (fun course). "I have 2 the Tommy Titan Tune-up on 8/13/08 and the Running Fit-Detroit Titan Invite Open 5k on 9/6/08 both are $5. You can get the details at the sidebar at "

Saline: From Tom Micallef: "Come out and have some fun! Thursday July 10 and Tuesday, July 29 at Saline High School Track 5:00 pm start. Field Events - High Jump and Long Jump only. Track Events - in this order of competition...110 / 100 Hurdles, 800 M Run, 100 M Dash, 300 M Hurdles, 1600 M Run, 400 M Dash. $3.00 entry fee for spectators and athletes. No pre meet entry. Races will be set up ability levels. No awards - just fun! Contact Coach Mick 734.649.2091 for more details."

I missing any other opportunities out there for $5 or less? Let me know and I’ll try to spread the word. If you’re really lucky, I’ll make a special guest appearance! (The folks at Linden got to see my 14-year-old daughter outkick me for the first time... ouch!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Live from the Olympic Trials!

Starting Wednesday or Thursday, check in here regularly to get at least daily updates from the Olympic Trials. I'll be there helping Track & Field News cover the action. And because so many existing media outlets are going to be doing such a great job of covering the action on the track, that won't be my primary focus. Instead, you'll see me covering things from a Michigan angle, and presenting some of the stories that aren't fit for mainstream media, like "Will running on Pre's Trail help Hollobaugh's Achilles problem?" or "Can Hollobaugh break 7 minutes in the mile in the all-comers meet on the rest day?" or "Has Nike paid enough to put a swoosh on the Oregon state flag?"

In the meantime, the process of fine-tuning the Michigan high school lists continues, but you won't see any updates there until I get back. I do have the results of the USATF state JO meet, however. Be patient.

Speaking of catching up on things, who might be the Michtrack athlete of the year for 2008? On the girls' side, I think it's pretty clear. However, I don't yet see a dominating choice on the men's side...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How They Did It

Comparing Mumford's splits from the State Finals with their Nike record run:
State: G. Jackson 1:55.6, S. Dukes 1:56.2, K. Washington 1:58.5, I. Ward 1:54.5
Nike: G. Jackson 1:55.1, S. Dukes 1:55.9, K. Washington 1:54.9, I. Ward 1:52.1

And from Becca Addison, how to run a 2:05.61. First, start out as the extra (behind) runner in your lane. Then run splits of 29.2, 32.6, 31.6, 32.2, or 61.8/63.8. That should do it.

Addison blasts 2:05.61!

Becca Addison of Grand Haven finished 2nd at the Nike Outdoor meet tonight, clocking an amazing 2:05.61 that just missed Geena Gall's state record of 2:05.05 (set in the same meet three years ago). In what turned out to be a two-woman race at the end, Addison lost to Jillian Smith of New Jersey by just 0.37. For Addison, it was a PR by 4.99 seconds, as well as a state record for 11th graders (beating Ramzee Fondren's 2:06.81 from last year).

Motor City's women clocked 3:53.97 in the 4x4, a time only good for 10th. Spirit of Pre (Saline) finished 7th in the DMR, clocking 12:11.96 (#13 all-time in MI).

In the boys 800, Isaiah Ward won his section in 1:52.39. In the fastest section, Tommy Brinn ran 1:54.25 for 7th.

In the distance medley, Motor City (10:20.75) and the Jackalopes (10:30.35) clocked decent times but did not crack the top 10. Bobby Aprill came back from his 8:59 two-mile the night before with a 4:17.58 for the mile. Andrew Evans threw 58-4.5, the day after he placed 7th in the discus with his 183-7.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kinney still improving

Thank goodness Monica Kinney didn't hang up her spikes after the state finals! The Grand Rapids West Catholic senior improved her 800 to 2:12.89 at the Midwest Distance Classic, and now has won the emerging elite race at Nike in 2:12.11. That puts her in the all-time top 20. Meanwhile, Nick Thomas of Brother Rice improved his PR to 1:53.74 to take 3rd in the boys emerging elite race.

Help me with the mysteries of 2008

One of the goals I aim for in keeping my yearly lists is to save as complete as possible a record of what happened in track this year, for history's sake. Out of 3,000+ names on the lists, I have tracked down schools and grades for all but a handful. It's a grueling process, one that's helped along quite a bit by the Internet. I check results, local newspaper wesbites, school newsletters, and yes, students' MySpace pages. (Coaches, you'd be shocked at some of the school/legal violations some of your athletes broadcast!) However, I'm still missing details on a few names... Can anyone shed light on these people?

6.20 Derian DeFranco (Benton Harbor)
6.25 DeAngelo Bean (Fruitport)
6.28 Dante Williams (Lansing Sexton)
6.54 Eric Fahnenstiel (North Muskegon)?
11.11 Greg Turner (Battle Creek Central)?
11.12 D’angelo Stevenson (Portage Northern)?
14.9 Chris Stretton (Greenville)?
14-0 Aaron Moore (Kalkaska)?
21-11.5 Alex Robinson (?)
21-5 Kolin McClendon (Battle Creek Central)?
21-2 Ryan Lane (Flint Kearsley)?
21-1.75 Alex Eisenheimer (Alpena)?

60.88 Paige Patterson (Detroit MS?)?
12.86 Nicole Black (Detroit Ford)?
12.89 Christina Wade (Ann Arbor Pioneer)?
12.94 Kanisha Harris (St Joseph)?
26.14 Ang-Gaelle Renfro (Ann Arbor Pioneer)?
17-2.5 Jackie Coon (Linden)?

Nike: Saturday morning 4 x Mile

Several Michigan teams ran well this morning. On the girls side, Runnin' Gear (made up of Rochester students) placed 6th in 21:00.82. To put that in perspective, it's the #5 time in state history, behind only Rockford and Clarkston. Townsend TC (Rockford) placed 12th in 21:47.63, and Breen (Troy) ran 13th in 21:52.69.

In the boys race, the Jackalopes of Pinckney placed 3rd in 17:40.26, the #8 time in state history. Red Tide of Milford placed 6th in 17:54.05.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nike Outdoor - State Record for Motor City!!

Wow! At Rockford, Brandon Jiles told me that the Mumford guys would be going for the all-time state record of 7:40.68 at Nike. Did they ever! The Motor City foursome stormed to a 7:37.99 to win the national title, and cut 2.69 from Saline's 2004 record, set at the same meet. Mumford now ranks among the top 15 teams in U.S. history! I'm awaiting the splits anxiously, but the math is easy. Mumford's men averaged a pinch under 1:54.5 each!

The highlight of Thursday belonged to Tiffany Abrahamian. Always a smart racer, the Rochester senior managed to hold a solid pace to run the 5000m in 17:20.07, becoming the #3 performer in Michigan history, after Marissa Treece (16:36.34) and Emily Anderson (17:06.98). Kristen Smith of Clarkston (17:43.59) and Rockford's Katie Haines (17:46.16) also ran great. A fourth Michigan prep also broke into the top 10 all-time: Erin LaFave of Lahser clocked 18:09.32, a time that is being hailed as a world junior deaf record. She is reportedly planning to run in the World Deaf Championships in Turkey later this summer.

On Friday, Brooke Eilers of Holland Christian continued her fabulous improvement, clocking 10:37.93 for 11th in the two mile. That converts to 10:34.24, a state-leading mark, making her the #5 performer in state history behind some memorable names: Morgan, Van Tuyl, Bews, and Boyd.

In the boys two mile, Maverick Darling and Bobby Aprill renewed their rivalry, both placing well, behind German Fernandez's national record 8:34.40. Darling ran 6th in 8:57.80 (converts to a list-leading 8:54.69, moving to #6 all-time, a hair ahead of Olympian Doug Brown's 8:54.7+). And Aprill missed Dan Jackson's Dexter school record, but clocked 8:59.50 in 7th (8:56.38+), which moves him to #8 all-time, ahead of Foot Locker XC champ Brian Grosso.

I should also point out that Rochester soph Megan Goethals won the emerging elite mile in 4:59.26 (4:57.23+). The state record in the mile for sophs? Still 4:54.7 by current EMU coach Sue Parks, 36 years ago at the Drake Relays.

In the girls 4 x 800, Breen TC, made up of Troy students, ran 9:29.64 in the first heat. Then in the fast section, Spirit of Pre from Saline ran 9:13.63 for 4th (in an 8:55 race!). That ranks #11 all-time, and is 0.44 behind Mumford's D1 winning time. Motor City (all Mumford students) placed 6th in 9:15.25.

Meanwhile, at the USA Juniors, Joe Wesley tied for 5th in the vault, with his opening (and only) clearance of 15-11. Brandon VanDriel, who ran a 10.52 at the state finals that I called wind-aided (and got a lot of grief for) ended up running 10.95 in the 100 heats with a very legal 0.2 wind. I truly hope that next year there is a wind gauge at all of Sparta's meets (and all the meets of every top sprinter/hurdler/long jumper in the state), so we can all start being more honest with kids about the significant effects of wind in the speed events.

Let's not forget Irene Cooper. Two years ago she won the Oakland County shot put at 43-1 for Lahser. Today she captured the USA junior championship in the hammer throw, hitting 186-3. Only six former Michigan preps have ever thrown better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bannister's feat not unprecedented...

But still amazing. After last weekend's state finals we wondered aloud whether Albion's Amelia Bannister (right) was the first ever to win victories in the 100 and 800 in the same state finals, clocking 12.21 and 2:16.42. Reader Rob Lutz, who taught at Camden-Frontier High, remembers that a student there pulled off the double in 1989 at the Class D finals at Hillsdale. It was Jackie Clark, who clocked hand times of 12.3 and 2:19.5. Anyone remember another?

A thanks to our officials

With the end of track season and the end of the school year, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and get too busy to give thanks. But think about it. All these track meets we get so excited about would not be possible without the officials. And too often we spend our time complaining about this official or that, or this DQ or whatever our beef is.

Officials are like car engines. We only talk about them when something goes wrong. However, we all know that without them this sport would be going nowhere. I was thinking about it last weekend on the way home from Rockford, after having a very enjoyable afternoon talking here and there with Brian Macumber, Wayne MacDonald, Rudy Godefroidt, and many others. And what strikes me the most is how much these officials love track, and want to see the sport continue to improve for the sake of the kids. The officials I know are some of the most progressive, forward-thinking minds in the sport.

So here's a thought. Now is the time for those end-of-season banquets where athletes often present gifts to their coaches. Consider a show of appreciation for your local officials as well. We'd be lost without them.

The national view on wind gauges

The continuing discussion on the need for more wind gauge use in Michigan has produced some interesting responses. This one come from Mike Kennedy, who has been one of Track & Field News' national high school editors for the last quarter century. As such he is regarded as one of the nation's top experts on high school track--as well as a key voice on what high school performances are deserving of national coverage.

You can add my vote to the List. For the last 26 years I have been the Girls High School Outdoor Editor for Track and Field News.

Please inform the powers that be that Michigan is in the minority when they do not require wind gauges at regional and State meets. Those states that do not use wind gauges are just depriving their athletes of recognition that they deserve. When compiling marks the marks are divided into two groups.

Those with legal (2.0 meters per second or under) go onto one list. The second list is made up of marks that are wind aided and marks that have no wind reading (NWI). It is latter category that is in question. When you do not have a wind gauge all marks are put in this second group.

As a result, athletes, who might well have wind legal marks, do not get credit or recognition for performance that they should get credit for. In the end it is the athlete who is punished for a performance that might well deserve proper recognition.

States such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio (especially Ohio) do an outstanding job in providing wind information.

The Girls National 50 deep [list] I compile and the Boys National List compiled by Jack Shepard are divided in the manner described above. It should also been noted that the National High School Interscholastic Federation does require a wind gauge in use in order for record to be recognized.

Feel free to pass my comments on. Hope it helps.

Mike Kennedy
Women's Outdoor High School Editor
Track and Field News.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wind: innocent until proven guilty no longer applies

Not surprisingly, I’m getting a bit of email flak on my calling some sprint marks from last weekend wind-aided, even though there was no gauge at some of the meets. That’s understandable. No one wants to take anything away from a great performance.

The response that that I find most maddening is usually worded like this: “There was no gauge there, so you can’t say it was wind-aided.”

Garbage. Innocent until proven guilty applies in court, but not in the world of track records. A more applicable rule is, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

The wind rule has been in place since your great grandfathers were pole-vaulting with dinosaur leg bones into mounds of sand. National federation rules are the same as USATF, IAAF, and every other ruling body’s. No sprint record counts without a legal wind reading. Period. I know the MHSAA has done it in the past, but “we’ve always done it that way” is a lousy reason to keep breaking the rules.

The other response that I hear is, “There wasn’t any wind, I’ll swear.” The maximum wind allowable for records is 4.47mph. That’s really slow. Think about it. If the wind is blowing at an “illegal” 5mph, the vast majority of track fans at a meet aren’t likely to notice a thing. They assume that “wind-aided” must mean gale force winds, with flying houses landing on witches.

So I repeat my plea from a few days ago. Wind gauges are cheap now. Here’s one that costs $38. If we can’t get meet officials to take on this task, can we get volunteers to be at various key meets next year?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Should sprinters run cross country?

The question comes up every summer, and it seems that every year I see plenty of misinformation and opinions flying around, but little evidence. I just responded to the question on MLive, but let me expand upon it here.

The best choice for sprinters and hurdlers might be a year-round speed/sprint program. However, most HS sprinters don't have access to that. In my experience, 98% of the high school speedsters who say, "I'm going to work out on my own," don't come anywhere near an ideal program. They would be much better off running cross country.

I'm not talking about high mileage , extreme cross country. But endurance work and hillwork can only help a sprinter develop more leg strength and more endurance. That endurance gives a sprinter more capacity for greater speed workouts in the spring. It also opens more doors. What coach wouldn't want their 100 star to also be able to run an amazing mile relay leg? They might even find out that they're better at the 800 or the 300H because of this strength.

There are plenty of world-class examples of sprinters and hurdlers who used some cross country style training in the off-season to build endurance. Uganda's John Aki-Bua ran in the World XC Champs the same year he won the gold in the 400H with a world record.

An old friend of mine is Harald Schmid. Before your time, so you might not know his name, but check out his PRs: 20.68, 44.92, 1:44.83, and a European record 47.48 for the 400 hurdles. Five European golds and two Olympic medals.

A couple years ago, I asked him about sprinter/hurdlers running XC , and here's his response: "Here's one advice for the young runner: First of all it is very good to do cross country running in the fall. And speed will not disappear. 400m hurdles is a sprint event which lasts longer. So make her keep her speed exercises and let her get a good basic endurance in the fall."

Incidentally, the young girl in question chose not to do XC as a junior. The next spring she ran 47.04 and placed 12th at D1. As a senior she ran XC, and improved to 45.23 for 7th in D1. (Our best 200/400 runner, I should add, is also a cross country veteran.)

More than a few times I have heard people say that athletes lose their speed and spring with distance training. Please show me the evidence. I have only been able to find one study, and it indicated that ultra-marathon training might have such an effect. We're not talking about ultra-marathon running here...

More endurance strength means greater capacity for hard speed workouts. And for the vast majority of high school sprinters and hurdlers who are not involved with another sport, running cross country is the best choice.