Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Notes from Raff: Monday

Sunday evening we had the honor of dining at a local Italian place with former University of Michigan middle distance star Lindsay Gallo, who began her Olympian quest on Thursday. Gallo is confident she can compete with the best for one of the three places. She told us, “Whatever the pace, I will compete, and I’ll make sure it won’t be a slow race.” The New Jersey native’s mother’s family background claims Russian ancestry and longer distance genes in combination with her father’s northern Italian spring background make her an ideal miler. Watch the women’s 1500 finals on Sunday and follow Gallo’s race to China.

Writing about Gallo reminds me of Michigan coach Mike McGuire. Where would U-M distance and middle distance fortunes be if McGuire was not the coach? McGuire’s expertise in recruiting, training, and mentoring Wolverine female athletes compares equally or surpasses any famous track coach in the United States and Canada. Let’s hope Michigan realizes his value to the University and its track and field program.


A new addition to the ranks of national caliber decathletes is the University of Oregon’s Ashton Eaton, who is only a sophomore and comes from Bend, Oregon and was this year’s NCAA champion, stood in fifth place after the first day’s competition. He began his Olympian attempt with a 10.61 in the 100, long-jumped 24-7, high-jumped 6-5, and sprinted 47.07 in the 400. The future world class decathlete’s shot put at 40-3 showed Eaton’s youthfulness in the ten disciplined events. If you have ever been to Hayward Field, you know how the crowd reacted to the performance of the host school’s entry in the pole vault when he PRed three times at 16-8 3/4. Eaton’s 8122 points was good for fifth place; not bad for a college sophomore.

You don’t know how glad I am to be in Eugene. It took me four days to arrive here because I blacked out on the plane from Detroit to Denver. When the plane landed in Denver an EMS team took me to the University Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday undergoing cardiac testing, and on Friday at noon I was given a “clean bill of health,” hopped the plane to Portland where my former manager and assistant coach Mark Corless picked me up, and we arrived at Historic Hayward Field in time for the majority of Friday’s events. I’m taking it easy and enjoying the year’s best track and field meet.


My Olympic Trial experiences began in Indianapolis in 1988, when my son Michael, then 17 years old, and I left Holly at 3:00 a.m. in an old Chevette and arrived in Indy at 9:00 a.m. in 95 degree heat. We motel sixed it for eight days at $19.95 per evening. The thrill of the Olympic Trials still exists as I sat in this stadium for the 2008 Trials.

Next update: Friday

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