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

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