Friday, July 4, 2008

Notes from Raff: Thursday

Before the evening events begin our National Anthem was sung by a local vocalist. Every night the featured singer raises “goose bumps” on the sentimental patriotic Americans in Hayward Field.

******* ******* *******

For the Michigan group, which increased by four today, the Trials are not all Track and Field. This morning, the third annual Mark Corless Open took place at the local put-putt course. Dave Miller, rookie group member and coach at Jackson Luman Christi, took the men’s championship with a solid score of 40. Becky Turbin, and Jan Janke, wife of our tour director, shared the women’s honors with solid 41s, including handicap. Tomorrow the group will celebrate the Fourth of July with an old fashioned picnic with hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and all the rest. Paul McMullin, his father, Mike McGuire, Fred LaPlante, and Bettie Wade, will honor us with their presence.

For the first half hour this evening, field events occupied our attention, but then the running began at 7:30 p.m., with the exciting 1500m heats. In the women’s trials, high school wonder from California, Jordan Hasay, finished seventh in her heat and advanced to round two; at first was to run one round and then travel to Poland to represent our country in the world junior championships Monday. However she will run in Friday’s semi-finals.

The University of Michigan’s Lindsey Gallo won heat three in 4:17.47 with laps of 70, 70, 70, and final 400 of 65. She looked smooth as she advanced to Friday’s semi-finals.

Sanya Richards, our country’s best 400 meter runner, easily controlled the 400 finals in 48.89, a new Olympic Trials record. DeeDee Trotter and Mary Wineberg captured the other two Olympic places. It looked as if Richards had two or three more gears left in her one lap victory.

******* ******* *******

The former Eastern Michigan University’s Jamie Nieto, now representing Nike, out of Chula Vista, California, easily advanced to the high jump finals by clearing 7-1 and 7-2.5. Nieto is striving for his second Olympic birth.

******* ******* *******

Jeremy Wariner was disappointed in his second place finish in the 400 with a time off 44.20, but former Indiana sprinter David Neville, running out of lane eight, excitedly celebrated his third place finish in 44.61, a fitting reward for Neville in his long quest for stardom. Saline's Steve Scherer impressed fans with his second place finish for the NowTrack Club and sped to 63, 63, 60, and a last 400 of 55 seconds to easily advance with second place 3:44.71 behind 2000 Olympic trials winner Gabe Jennings.

******* ******* *******

My favorite in the 1500 is Texas’ Leonel Manzano who finished second in heat two with a 3: 43.31 race in laps of 61, 62, 60, and last 400 in 56 seconds. Texas coach and head U.S. team coach, Bubba Thornton calls Manzano, “the University’s greatest ambassador,” with his humble personality.

Some have said that Alan Webb can’t race anymore as if Webb is a forty year old miler. But the American middle distance star looked springy in a quick 3:41.27 to lead all 1500 meter contestants with laps of 58, 61, 61, and a closing 400 of 55 seconds.

The semi-finals and especially the finals of the 1500 will offer us a few more exciting moments.

******* ******** *******

Randy Enders an Oregonian whose great-great-great- grandfather settled in Watervliet, Michigan, in 1847 told me the sunset that blazed behind the west stand of Hayward Field whas the most spectacular he has ever seen in the 44 years he has lived in Eugene.

******* ******** ********

Monroe and Eastern Michigan’s Corey Nowitzke ran a gutty 8:27.75 in the 3000 steeple chase and advanced to Saturday’s 3 p.m. finals. Nowitzke’s performance was a lifetime best. He ran most of his race in 8th and 9th place, but closed strong to finish fourth in his heat. Nowitzke’s teammate Jordan Desilets of Lake Orion also qualified with a third place 8:34.74 in the steeple's second qualifying heat. Eastern Michigan again showed its steeplechasing prominence under coach John Goodridge.

******* ******* *******

Another sell-out crowd at Hayward stadium saw the first ever official female's steeplechase Olympic trial. Former U of M middle distance ace Anna Willard won the championship and a China trip when she broke the race open with a 2:10 last 800 as she claimed the American record in 9:27.59.

Spartan Nicole Bush finished in the dreaded fourth place, but with a personal record of 9:40.27, eight seconds below her former record set in Monday’s prelims.

No comments: