Monday, July 7, 2008

Notes from Raff: Sunday

The Olympic Trials feature the prime events for the last day. Today the short hurdles, the metric mile (the 1500 Race), the 200 dash, women’s pole vault, discus, javelin, and triple jump took place within a three hour time period.


Two Michigan hurdlers attempted advancing to the finals. Michigan’s Tiffany Ofili and Southern Cal’s Candice Davis were in two separate semi-final heats. Ofili, a two-time NCAA champion, placed fifth in 12.76 just inches from making the finals. Davis, an Ann Arbor Pioneer grad, was more fortunate and placed fourth in the second semi-final also in 12.76.

In the finals Davis placed fifth in 12.66. Both Davis and Ofili can look to Trial hurdling champion LoLo Jones, who was not an Olympian four years ago. Both Washtenaw county athletes have bright futures, and advancing to the final day of competition should give both hurdlers confidence for 2012.


The women’s pole vault brought about personal and American records and also a frightful few moments.

Erica Bartolini cleared two personal best heights of 14-7 ¼ and 14-11 to become an Olympian headed for China with a third place finish.

April Steiner Bennett, formerly from Arkansas, vaulted 15-1, placed second and also is now an Olympian.

Jennifer Stuczynski missed two attempts at 15-1, her opening height where a third miss would have devastated the record crowd of 21,176.

Next the New York native vaulted 15-7 ½ for a new Olympic Trial record, cleared 16-1 ¾ for a new American record, and just missed two times at 16-5 ½ , which would have been a new world record. She passed her last attempt.


In the 1500 race for men, the meet’s final race, our country’s three best milers became our candidates for Olympic medals. Bernard Lagat (3:40.37), Leonel Manzano (3:40.90), and Lopez Lomong (3:41.00) took the Trial’s first three places.

The race began as a “jog,” but former Stanford ace Gab Jennings leaped to the front after the opening 300, as the 12 starters crossed the first lap in 61 – 62 seconds. Jennings increased the second lap to 58.5 seconds, but as always Lagat, Manzano, and Lomong followed the leaders.

Said Ahmed literally pushed his way to first place for a brief moment, but the three Olympians dominated the race’s final lap, which took 54 seconds.


The University of Michigan’s Lindsey Gallo ran 4:15.06 in a tactical 1500 meter final as Sharon Rowbury, the pre-meet favorite, strong running Erin Donahue (4:08.20) and Christin Wurth (4:09.48) took the Olympic places.

Spectators always hope for fast 1500 races, but no miler wants to set a fast pace and end up in sixth or seventh; therefore slow-paced, tactical miles take place.


The Trials are now history, and I don’t know who is more tired: the athletes or the every-day spectators?

Many of our new tour group members rated the meet as an “A” and many veteran members appreciated the cooler Oregon weather, the knowledgeable fans, historic Hayward Field, and the morning Oregon newspaper accounts of the previous day’s events.

Above all, the athletes appreciated the enthusiasm of the track and field fans.


Place 2012 on your track and field calendar of events.

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