Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pray for Raff

The holidays are upon us, and if we're not living in the spirit of the season, it's a good bet we're caught up in it. Between last-minute shopping, family and work events, and just dealing with the onset of a cold winter, it's hard to keep our thoughts on others sometimes.

However, if you could say a prayer for Duane Raffin today, hopefully it will be heard. The longtime teacher, coach, announcer, and contributor to this site has been very ill, and needs our thoughts and prayers.

Also, check out this website, www.friendsofcoachraffin.com. Raff's former athletes have set up a scholarship fund in his name and the site has some great info on Raff and touching reflections by some of the people he has guided.

That's all--you know what to do from here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Raffin Reports: EGR flourishing under Hopkins


Sometimes I wonder which is more important to the development and growth of a successful cross country or track program. Many successful programs have both great schools and famous coaches: Flint Northern and Norbert Badar, Flint Beecher and Martin Crane, Ann Arbor Pioneer and Don Sleeman and Bryan Westfield, Detroit Mumford and Bob Lynch.

Now would Badar have won all those state championships at Flint Northwestern? Could Crane win thirteen state track titles at Flint Hamady? Sleeman and Westfield at Ann Arbor Skyline? Or Lynch at Detroit Henry Ford?

The questions might be unanswerable, but those great schools and coaches came together and produced some memorable cross country and track teams.

Now emerging from a great school is a young coach making strong strides toward history: East Grand Rapids’ Nicholas Hopkins. A newer, younger coach is building another dynasty at another school.

Continue reading

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Raffin Reports: Atchoo looking unbeatable




If Michael Atchoo of Troy High School isn’t the best Division I male cross country runner or the best runner in any division this year, then there really is “something wrong in the state of Denmark.”

Okay, I know there are a core of good “K” runners: Kamyszek of Kenowa Hills, last year’s Division II champion and now a Division I contender; Karr, Kern, and Kern from powerful Pioneer; and Kaiser of Temperance-Bedford, all probable top five runners.

But Atchoo is unbeaten and unbeatable.

And as the Troy star told me, “Yea, I know I’m unbeaten so far this season, but I always knock on wood.”

For more, click here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Raffin Reports: Madrigal blazing a trail

I follow cross country meets during the season for two reasons. First, I love the sport, and second, the announcing crew at Michigan International Speedway needs all the information on contending teams and individuals at the state finals.

This year Division III boys call for close attention because six of the top nine finishers from 2008 are returning.

A year ago at MIS in Division III, Blake Allison from Harrison was runner-up; Alex Wilson from Kent City was third; Albion's Paul Lewis was fourth; Durand's David Madrigal was sixth; Blissfield's Justin Bateson was seventh; and Whitmore Lake's Zach Carpenter was ninth.

For more, click here

Monday, September 21, 2009

Raffin Reports: Linden continues its run to the top


Even Linden cross county coach Clint Lawhorne concedes his team has a lot returning this fall from a squad that easily won the boys Division 2 title last fall.

“Five of our seven state meet runners return as do four junior varsity runners who ran from 17:30 to 18:15,” said Lawhorne, who now begins his sixth season with the Eagle harriers.  “the potential is there, but last year we ran the greatest race ever run by a Linden cross country team, and some teams that were serious contenders did not run their greatest races.” 

For a young cross country coach, Lawhorne has quickly master-minded the school into a yearly Division 2 power.  The last three years the team had finished fifth, third, and first in races at the Michigan International Speedway. And with another top finish in 2009, Linden definitely looks to be the boys Division 2 team of this decade. 

Read More

Monday, September 7, 2009

Raffin Reports: Megan Goethals

Rochester High School’s Megan Goethals begins the 2009 cross country season definitely as our state’s number one high school female distance runner. Let’s hope by season’s end in December (for those elite runners), Goethals will again rate as one of the nation’s best.

Last year as a junior, Goethals won the Michigan Division 1 cross country championship at the Michigan International Speedway in 17:10, the fastest time ever run for a female in a state final race. In addition, on the track last spring, Goethals won the 1600-meters in 4:51.2 and the 3200-meters in 10:37.50 at the Division 1 finals. Two weeks later at the Nike Outdoor Nationals ran, she covered the one mile in 4:51.53 and the two mile in 10:20.25 And last fall she won the regional Foot Locker title in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and placed third in the Foot Locker national finals in San Diego, California. That gave a lot of championship running for one girl from Michigan.

For more, follow this link

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Check out Usain Bolt the high schooler

No more drugs talk, please! I don't blame people for having their faith in great athletes eroded by all the scandals we have had in sports. But remember there's not a shred of evidence (or even what we call "reliable rumors") associating sprint great Usain Bolt with drugs.

And I'd be surprised if there ever is. Here's why. When an athlete goes on drugs, one outward sign is a bump in performance that is not otherwise explainable. That is, an athlete suddenly jumps up to a new level.

Bolt, however, is a freak of nature. He has always been ungodly fast. Let me show you what I mean by sharing his times when he would have been in high school (had he gone to school in Michigan). Keep in mind, we have a state where a kid who can break 22-seconds in the 200 is considered a stud. And remember. All Bolt's times are FAT timed, wind-measured and legal.

Usain Bolt as a 15-year-old ninth grader:
Doesn't run 100. But runs 20.58 for 200. A world youth record. Wins gold at the World Junior Championships (the same one where Mumford's Kenneth Ferguson won silver in the 400 hurdles by breaking the national high school record). Bolt also clocks 47.12 for 400.

Bolt as a 16-year-old tenth grader:
No 100m. Sets world junior record of 20.13 in 200, winning Pan-Am Games gold medal against adults. Also clocks 45.35 in the 400!

Bolt as a 17-year-old eleventh grader:

Runs 19.93 world junior record in 200m in his third race of the year in April. Then he is badly injured. Can't race again until Olympics, where he limps through a 21.05 heat.

Bolt as an 18-year-old senior:
No 100m still. 19.99 in the 200m. Places last in the World Championships, injured. No 400m time.

By all reports, not until his senior year was he even training seriously, and even he admits he had a problem with being lazy. Times of 20.13 and 45.35 at age 15?? Truly this is an athlete we have never seen the likes of on earth before. Stop the doubting and just enjoy watching him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ritzenhein 6th in world at 27:22.28!

Dathan Ritzenhein put together a terrific race at the World Championships in Berlin tonight, cruising to a 6th place finish in 27:22.28. Ritz ran a controlled, disciplined race, with negative splits of 13:43.40 and 13:38.88. His final time is the fastest ever clocked by a Michigan native.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Raffin: East Kentwood's girls on the rise

It is Monday evening, and Wednesday will be the first official day of cross country in Michigan, and already I am anticipating the Division I girls’ race on that Saturday in November at the Michigan International Speedway.

If you remember, last year Traverse City won that D1 title with 129 points and will return four of its top five and five of its top seven. Grand Haven scored 148 points graduated its top two runners, but returns five of its top seven. Rockford with 195 points finished fourth and returns six of its last year’s runners. Brighton finished fifth with 220 points and returns five of its runners with two talented frosh ready to step in. Five teams within a hundred points is a close meet, and the race could be closer this fall

You know those teams will be at MIS on that Saturday in November along with at least 23 other teams, including my prediction for this year’s winner—East Kentwood.

Ray Antell’s Falcons (or are they the “Falconettes”?) scored 189 points last year and have everyone returning this year. So a few days ago I placed a phone call to coach Antell so I could find out about his team.

Well, one thing about Antell, he is not bashful; he likes to tell you what he thinks, and one of his first long sentences was,” I know we will be contenders this year; we won’t sneak up on teams this year; and we are going for the title.”

And East Kentwood has the girls to take that crown.

Last year East Kentwood’s one – two punch consisted of Alissa Williams and Krista Parks, who in most meets ran together; and in the Foot Locker regionals in Kenosha, Wisconsin, late last November, Williams and Parks finished 13th and 14th. Williams, now a junior, and Parks, a senior, could both be top ten finishers in the team score this fall.

Williams now holds the school record of 18:16 and dethroned former Falcon ace Molly Lori, who was a state champion on that 80 degree day on a tough University of Michigan course in Ann Arbor in 1990. Williams may not duplicate Lori’s feat, but if she can run as fast as Molly Lori, she will receive a single digit place at MIS.

Parks had a problem in the state track championship last spring and faltered yards before the finish line. Antell told me Parks was suffering from a glucose problem, and “we have to monitor it.” Last fall Parks placed 23rd in team scoring, and in the two invitationals in which I saw her, she was a top five finisher.

Leah Shepherd, now a junior, was all-state as a frosh, but as a sophomore placed 36th in team scoring as she had problems with ligaments on her knee cap, but Antell claims, “Shepherd is on the mend.”

Sophomore Casey Westveer, East Kentwood’s number four runner will surprise this fall. She is an outstanding soccer player who does not run track. And Antell says, “She will not be in travel soccer as she was last fall. Casey might be the team’s best athlete.” Westveer placed 43rd in team scoring last season.

Number five runner Jessica Dippel is a senior from a good senior class that so far has accomplished a lot in sports for East Kentwood. Any improvement that Dippel achieves will be a great plus for the team as she placed 78th in team scoring in 2008.

Erica Parks, a very competitive sophomore, as a frosh placed in the 100’s, but Antell told me, “She will be there at the end.”

The final member of the varsity team, if the team had a meet on Wednesday, is senior Brynley Nadziejka in whom Antell has a lot of confidence.

Not only are the team members good runners, but they are intelligent as the East Kentwood squad finished second in the All-Academic D – 1 “race.”

East Kentwood girls’ team finished the season last year with 32 runners, and Antell knows he will have over 30 candidates on the team this fall.

Why am I so high on East Kentwood this season? Because Antell told me,
“We had a fantastic summer.” And, usually if a team has a fantastic summer, it will have a fantastic fall.

This summer East Kentwood had a “captain’s practice” Monday through Friday at the high school that began at 9:00 A.M. Every morning there were at least 12 to 20 runners. Because Antell believes in the Paavo program, the captains selected long runs, short runs, recovery runs, slow intervals, or whatever the Paavo program called for.

“I am hands-off in the summer,” claims Antell. “I show up at the end of the ‘captain’s practice’ once a week with watermelon or any fruit in season. The team members know the Paavo program and believe in it because I believe in it.”

Most of the runners were up to 45 to 50 miles a week as the season now begins. In June the girls went to a camp with the Hopkins girls’ team and coaches; now, for the first week of the season, Antell will take the boys to camp with the Wayland, Saugatuck, Hastings, and Bridgman teams and coaches. While Antell is at camp this week, his assistant coach will run the girls’ practices in Kentwood.

Antell is no rookie coaching good teams. He is in his fourth season at East Kentwood. Before he came to Kentwood, he was the coach at Wyoming Kelloggsville from 1992 to 2005. It took him only three seasons at Kellogsville to win a regional, and in 2000 Antell guided Nicole Bush and that team to the D3 state championship.

Antell is into running. While he was a senior at Benzie Central under coach Pete Moss, Antell put in a thousand miles of running during the summer. He learned the sport from a legendary coach and ran on great high school teams.

This past week-end Antell participated in his 29th Crystal Lake Marathon Relay, a five person relay where the first four runners cover five miles and the anchor leg goes 6.2 miles. In addition, he just finished his 13th summer of guiding the Wayland (where Antell lives) summer running club, which meets one night a week for ten weeks and has 80 to 110 runners show up weekly. Antell borrowed the club idea from the Traverse City summer running program.

And Antell has been a part of the rise of East Kentwood’s track and field and cross country programs. He is the boys and girls distance coach; he guides the boy and girl 800, 1600, 3200, 4 x 800 relay runners during track season.
The head coaches in track at East Kentwood, Dave Emmeott for the boys and Stephanie Stephenson for the girls, have individual sprint, hurdle, jump, throw, vault, distance coaches. It is no secret why East Kentwood has been a rising D1 power for the last four or five years.

I do not doubt the ability of coach Lisa Taylor of Traverse City Central and her Trojan runners, for Central has a reputation for track and field and cross country excellence. Or the young girls returning from Grand Haven (three juniors and two sophomores). Or the accomplishments since the 1990’s of Rockford High School in all sports. Or the talents of coach Gary Meehan and his Brighton athletes.

But, when I go to the betting window at MIS on that first Saturday in November, I’m going to put all my meager retiree’s money on coach Ray Antell and his East Kentwood Falcons team to capture that D1 cross country championship.

(Any question or suggestions, contact draffin13@yahoo.com. Look for article about Megan Goethals of Rochester High School early next week.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baisden State Record in 400.... wow.

Finals
1 Baisden, Kendall 14 Detroit, MI 53.05N
2 Allen, Adriana 14 Miramar, FL 55.24
3 Patterson, Paige 14 Detroit, MI 55.98
4 Williams, Regine 13 Miramar, FL 56.25
5 Terry, Tiffany 14 League City, TX 56.41
6 Richardson, Bryiana 14 Terrytown, LA 57.20
7 Nelson, Katara 14 Balch Springs, TX 57.23
8 Barnes, Aaliyah 14 Columbus, OH 1:03.78

That pretty much says it all. I'm speechless, and need a vacation.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Baisden blitzes national JOs

Kendall Baisden, the 8th grader from Bloomfield St Regis School, made a big mark nationally this weekend when she won the sprint double at the USATF National Junior Olympics in Greensboro, North Carolina. On Saturday, she won the 200m with a meet record clocking of 23.69, into a -0.7 wind. Only one Michigan prep has ever gone faster, Shayla Mahan of Detroit Mumford (23.49).

On Sunday, Baisden captured the 100 title in 11.93, running into another headwind. She had clocked a legal PR-tying 11.73 in the heats. Only two Michigan high schoolers have bettered that mark, Mahan (11.37) and Jordan Clark (11.58 this summer). Coincidentally, Baisden reportedly trained this summer with Brandon Jiles, who coached Mahan, while Clark trained with Fermon Tate, Baisden's former coach.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Owens-Mitchell wins bronze; Clark 5th in 100


(photo courtesy of Joy Kimani - Dyestat.com)

Bridgette Owens-Mitchell became the first Michigan high schooler to win a medal at the World Youth Championships, capturing bronze in the 100-meter hurdles. Her time of 13.39 is a new state record, breaking her own 13.46 from the semis. Running with a 0.3 (legal) wind, Isabelle Pederson of Norway won the gold at 13.23, and Kori Carter of the United States took silver in 13.26. Owens-Mitchell needed all of her lean to grab the bronze, as Finland's Lotta Harala placed 4th in 13.41.

In the 100, surprising Jordan Clark of Southfield Lathrup finished 5th in the world, clocking 11.76. In the quarterfinals she had stunned with an amazing 11.58. Teammate Ashton Purvis grabbed the bronze in the final in 11.48, as Britain's Jodie Williams won in 11.39.

Tomorrow the only remaining Michigan entrant, Max Babits, will compete in the pole vault qualifying round.

Dyestat coverage of meet, click here.

Clark makes World Youth 100 finals

Jordan Clark placed third in her semi, running 11.63 (0.4 wind) to safely make the finals at the World Youth Championships. She ranks 4th in the field based on those semi times, behind clockings of 11.40, 11.49, and 11.53. In other words, in order to stand on the medal podium, she will need to run the race of her life. The final will be in about two hours from this posting. Cross your fingers!

Owens-Mitchell makes World Youth finals

Bridgette Owens-Mitchell produced the second fastest time in the semifinals of the 100 hurdles this morning at the World Youth Championships in Sudtirol, Italy, comfortably making the finals later today. Her clocking of 13.46 with a 1.0 wind will stand as a new state record. The event is basically a return to an old category for Michigan high school stats, as the IAAF has the hurdlers running at the 30-inch height, not the 33-inches we are accustomed to. Prior to 1984, Michigan girls ran 30-inch hurdles. I'll have to do some digging on times, but the fastest I know of is a 13.6 by Kim Turner (McKenzie) in 1979--she went on to become an Olympic medalist. Owens-Mitchell's time of 13.46 betters her own PR of 13.69, and is faster on the clock than the state 33-inch record of 13.66 held by Candice Davis.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jordan Clark 11.58!!!

Wow. I take a break from reporting on Michigan track and look what happens. We have three fine athletes representing us at the World Youth Championships in Italy: Jordan Clark of Southfield Lathrup, Bridgette Owens-Mitchell of Southfield, and Max Babits of Fowlerville.

I'll have more updates soon as I get back up to speed, but the big headline belongs to Clark. Injured in the spring, she didn't even race the 100 at the state finals. She clocked 12.26 at the Oakland County Meet. Then she showed up in Ypsilanti for the World Youth Trials, and ripped an amazing 11.82 to become the fourth fastest sprinter in Michigan history.

I just got a message from Steve Underwood at Dyestat to say that Clark is on fire in Italy, ripping a wind-legal 11.58 in her semi. That makes her No. 2 in state history behind only four performances by the legendary Shayla Mahan. The next fastest performer on the list is Vivian McKenzie of Detroit Chadsey with a 11.74 from 1982. Clark is truly in special territory now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

List mysteries - boys

Every year around this time, I go through the Michtrack lists with a fine-toothed comb and try to make sure I have grades for every athlete. I just finished with the boys. Here's who I am missing. Can anyone help fill in the blanks?

D’Angelo Stevenson (Kal Central) - SOLVED - Jr - Thanks, Dan
Derrick Neal (Detroit Cooley) - sprints
Ricco Hall (Wyoming Park) - sprints
Scott Hoffman (Detroit Catholic Central) - 800
Jack Friedel (RH Lutheran Northwest) - hurdles
Ryan McElyea (Flint Carman-Ainsworth) - hurdles
Dave Brown (Northville) - HJ
Marcus Harrell (Jackson)-- SOLVED - Mario, soph--thanks Goz
Casey O’Brien (Auburn Hills Avondale) - LJ

Girls to come in a few days...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Watch out for bad words!!!

Whatever. I keep trying to chime in on an MLive discussion of the coaching at Temperance Bedford High School (where I think they're doing a great job, by the way). But MLive keeps rejecting my post as containing offensive language. I sure wish I knew what the bad word is, so I can avoid saying it in church...

It's hard to argue with the success that the Bedford boys have had. Here's more on their coach and his (impressive) credentials: http://tinyurl.com/m6yeql

Also, any longtime observer can attest to the fact that how fast a coach was in his running life has hardly anything to do with how well he/she coaches. Sure, fast PRs can impress teenage boys, but most of the great coaches come from the middle or the back of the pack. The view is better there :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday: Goethals 2nd in mile - state record for Hill

Highlights from Saturday...
Sitting at 65-3.5 after five rounds of the shot, Zack Hill knew he needed a big one. He gave it all he had, and the Allendale grad ended up with a state record 67-1.25 that placed him 5th in one of the toughest shot put fields ever assembled in U.S. history.

Megan Goethals got her second runner-up performance of the meet with her 4:51.33 performance in the mile. That converts to 4:49.65 for 1600m. She lost by over 10 seconds to the stunning performance of Texas junior Chelsey Sveinsson (4:40.24).

VIDEO OF GOETHALS IN MILE



VIDEO OF GOETHALS' STATE RECORD TWO MILE


Only a sophomore still, Nick Kaiser of Temperance Bedford ran 1:50.47 in the third heat of the 800, beating all but one time in the final (fast) heat. He shattered his own soph state record by over 1.3 seconds. Meanwhile, Tommy Brinn placed 5th in the fast heat at 1:51.81.

VIDEO OF KAISER'S RACE


VIDEO OF BRINN'S RACE


The girls 800 also didn't match what many had predicted. Becca Addison of Grand Haven was unable to match her runner-up performance from last year, finishing 5th in 2:08.23.

VIDEO OF ADDISON'S 800



Kendall Baisden was the youngest girl (by two years) to make the elite 200m final, and she performed admirably by blasting 24.06 (wind-legal -0.6). That makes her =6 on the all-time Michigan list. It also breaks the 8th-grade state record of 24.95 held by Dynasty McGee, and is more than a second faster than any other girl in the state has run this season. Earlier Baisden had zipped a wind-aided 23.76 in the heats. On a combined legal/windy list, that's the 8th-fastest 200 in state history. Only Shayla Mahan has run faster.

VIDEO OF BAISDEN'S 200 FINAL


VIDEO OF BAISDEN'S 23.76w HEAT


Running in the fast heat of the mile, Mike Atchoo placed 5th in 4:11.63 (converts to 4:10.18). Steven Walker placed 8th in 4:17.74.

VIDEO OF THE BOYS MILE FAST HEAT


Mumford's Aisha Osborne, injured at the state finals, showed a return to form with a near-PR 55.55 to place 14th overall in the 400m.

Kari Prena placed 13th in the discus at 128-11. Kelsey was 17th at 126-7.

Michigan Center junior Michael Parker placed 9th in the 400 hurdles at 55.06.

Runnin' Gear (Mott) placed 8th in the DMR at 12:04.22, the No. 8 time in Michigan history.

Final Boss (Monroe) places 9th in the 4 mile relay, clocking a list-leading 18:06.91. KP Athletics (East Kentwood) clocked 1:32.34 in the 800 medley, the No. 3 time in state history. That placed them 7th in the nation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday: state record for Goethals!


The highlight of Friday's action in Greensboro, so far, was the second-place finish and state record in the two mile by Rochester junior Megan Goethals: 10:20.25. For 3200m, that converts to a 10:16.66. It betters the old record set by Jenny Morgan of Clarkston on the same track four years ago, 10:24.23. On the way, Goethals narrowly missed another state record. In 4th place at 3000m, she timed 9:43.82, No. 3 in state history. The record is 9:41.6 by Sharon Van Tuyl in 1997. Goethals' FAT splits: 1:18.92, 1:19.86 [2:38.77], 1:17.21 [3:55.98], 1:18.40 [5:14.38], 1:20.19 [6:34.57], 1:19.24 [7:53.80], 1:17.90 [9:11.70], 1:08.56. (5:14.38/5:06.87). [Note-these are correct FAT splits for 440y--amazing job by Tom Jennings and his timing crew!]


Running in the first (slower) section of the 2M, Alex Leptich clocked 10:55.26 (2nd), and Michelle Morriset (11:04.61). Official 2M results
First section video (Leptich/Morriset):


Bridgette Owens-Mitchell surprised many non-Michiganders with her runner-up finish as well. The Southfield junior clocked a PR 13.87 in the 100 hurdles into a 1.1 headwind. Official 100H results


The East Kentwood relays had mixed fortunes. Their 4x8 ran 7:59.88 to place 3rd in the "emerging elite" section. Then they blasted 1:27.80 in the 4x2 to capture 5th and All-America honors. However, in the heats of the 4x1, a troubled hand-off left them at 42.75 and they failed to qualify for the finals.

Motor City/Mumford ran 42.26 to miss the finals by only 0.15. However, in the 1600 sprint medley, Mumford clocked a list-leading 3:29.78 to place 8th. It's the sixth-fastest time in state history, and the first five were all run by Mumford!
SPRINT MEDLEY VIDEO


Eighth-grader Kendall Baisden of Bloomfield St Regis clocked 11.93 into a 1.6 headwind to win the emerging elite 100m, after a 11.89 heat. That 11.89 leads the state high school lists for the year (yes, we include middle schoolers, if they're fast enough).
VIDEO: Baisden's 100 win.


A foursome from Waterford Mott (Runnin' Gear) clocked 9:10.03 in the girls' 4x8 to improve on their own-list-leading time. They finished 9th in the fast heat. Brighton, running in the slow heat, clocked 9:29.84, also in 9th. In the boys 4x8, Motor City placed 9th in 7:55.07, and Final Boss (Monroe) placed 9th in the slow heat at 7:59.54.

In the discus, Andrew Evans of Portage Northern placed 6th (All-American) with his 181-2. Zack Hill threw 165-2 for 10th, after his favorite disc was not allowed by officials.

Rockford's Rachel Herald cleared a season-best 5-4.5 in high jump qualifying. Teammate Sarah Birkmeier tied for 10th in the vault at 11-5.25.

Anzelone breaks soph record for 5000

Gabrielle Anzelone of Grand Blanc placed 4th in the nation last night in the 5000 at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her time of 17:27.00 broke the state sophomore record of 17:28.69 set by Portage Northern's Sharon Van Tuyl at the USA Junior Championships in 1996. Anzelone's mark also makes her the No. 4 5000m runner in state history.
VIDEO:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bigger than Nike? Ice Cream Mile finally gets coverage

Finally, Pinckney's Ice Cream Mile gets the elite news coverage it has long deserved. Click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nike Outdoor Championships--the big show

In Greensboro, North Carolina, this weekend, some of the best of our Michigan athletes will be competing against the best in the nation. You've probably heard of the Nike Outdoor Nationals (NON), but if you're new to the scene you might not know why they're such a big deal. When the best athletes from Michigan meet the best from the other 49 states, something magical happens. Take a look at our current list of state records: 17 of them (!) were set at Nike (the meet had different names in past years: adidas, FootLocker, etc).

Athlete of the Year honors are up for grabs. While MITCA names its own Mr. and Ms. Track (seniors only, heavily based on state meet performances), I name the Athlete of the Year awards after the NON meet. The athletes (one male, one female) can be from any class, and any event. I value quality over quantity, meaning that a 13-foot female vaulter who is restricted to one event has as good a chance as a sprinter/long jumper/hurdler who wins 14 different events at State. What else do I look for? Dominance--self-explanatory. History--does the athlete stack up well against past stars in the event (records, all-time list)? And also, National Impact--an athlete who wins nationals has a much bigger impact than someone who stays home.

Back to NON. Another plus--the meet is announced by our own David Mitchell. Yet another great aspect of the meet is that while none of our Michigan kids wear school uniforms or otherwise represent their schools there, organizers require that relay teams must be made up of four athletes from the same school. No all-star teams, so we're seeing legitimate relay competition that matters. I know some people love the Junior Olympic-style all-star relays of the summer months, but I still maintain that's all about recruiting, and has little to do with coaching or team dynamics.

So who might we see in Greensboro this year? Organizers have sent me a listing that is "99% complete." (I'm frustrated that they send it out in a format that makes it impossible to search by state. Grrr. I needed something to grumble about today.) Mind you, this is not a complete listing--just the highlights. It does not include entrants in the "emerging elite" races.

BOYS
200-Todd Atchinson
800-Tommy Brinn, Nick Kaiser, Brendan Lagios
Mile-Mike Atchoo, Stephen Walker
5000-Christian Birky
400H-Michael Parker
LJ-Ryan Hopson
SP-Andrew Evans, Zack Hill
DT-Evans, Hill
4x1-KP Athletics (East Kentwood)
4x2-Albion, KP
4x4-Otsego
4x8-Final Boss (Monroe), Motor City (Mumford)
4x1M-Final Boss
800Medley-KP
1600Medley-MCTC
DMR-Final Boss

GIRLS
200-Kendall Baisden
400-Aisha Osborne
800-Becca Addison
Mile-Courtney Calka, Megan Goethals, Michelle Moriset
2M-Goethals, Alex Leptich, Moriset
5000-Gabrielle Anzelone
100H-Bridgette Owens-Mitchell
HJ-Rachel Herald
PV-Sarah Birkmeier
DT- Kari & Kelsey Prena
4x4-Motor City (Mumford)
4x8-Brighton, Runnin' Gear (Mott)
DMR-Runnin' Gear

Good luck to all!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Non-track: tune into Iran


Go here.

It's rare for me to go off the subject of track, but in this case the stakes are high and the reporting you are getting on TV is unbelievably incomplete. On this one, don't trust CNN, and, for God's sake, don't even think of trusting Fox News. We are seeing history happening in Iran. The question that hangs in the balance is whether the millions of protesters will be beaten down by a previously elected government that, just like Germany's Nazis, has subverted the democratic process in order to stay in power, and hasn't hesitated at turning itself into a fascist state. How this all turns out will affect the entire Middle East, as well as American foreign policy. Yes, these Islamic protesters need your prayers. Check out the Daily Dish for the most complete coverage I've found.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Owens-Mitchell and more tonight

Bridgette Owens-Mitchell, the Southfield junior who won the D1 hurdle title two weeks ago, just won the 100 hurdles at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico today. Her time of 13.95 leads the state lists (0.2 wind-legal).

Nick Kaiser broke his own sophomore state record in the 800 at the Midwest Distance Gala in the Chicago suburb of Lisle. The Temperance Bedford junior-to-be ran 1:51.83 to take three-tenths off the mark he set in winning the D1 title. Mike Atchoo placed 17th in the mile at 4:18.80, imploding after going through the 800 in 2:00.32.

Record day at the Midwest Meet

Jackson's four-year run of hosting the Midwest Meet of Champions has come to an end, but a pair of record performances by some of Michigan's best helped the meet go out with a bang.

In the 800m, Tommy Brinn blasted a 1:49.27, taking down Rick Gledhill's state record of 1:49.33 from the 1988 season. Gledhill, from Mt Clemens Chippewa Valley, ran his time at the now-defunct International Prep Invitational in Elmhurst, Illinois--a meet that once was as important as the Nike Outdoor Championships are today. Brinn's splits: 26.6, 27.8 [54.4], 27.5 [1:22.1], 27.2. He split his last 200 in 13.4/13.8.

In the 300 hurdles, Christienne Linton came through despite ostensibly being tired from winning the long jump at 18-6.5 and the 100H in 14.42 (slight headwind). She won handily in 42.49, an all-time state record that trumps the old best of 42.70 set by Nikki Bouyer of East Lansing at the Midwest Meet in 1994.

More details on the meet will be found in my news report, which I am updating at this moment. Click here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Records lost, respect won

It's always sad to "take away" a record. In reality, though, the decertification of a record is not about taking away, but about considering new evidence and realizing the record shouldn't have been called a record at all. It happens from time to time in this sport. What makes it sad is that the athletes who celebrated are perceived to have been kicked in the teeth, or "hated on" as we hear all too often.

But true athletes strive for records in the knowledge that a record represents the ultimate. A record represents value and hard work and respect. And no true athlete wants a cheap, phony, or suspicious record. For our records to carry real value, they must be beyond reproach. No one wants whispers that they didn't run far enough, that the wind was blowing too hard, that the field sloped downhill, that the timers were sloppy, etc. It is the most important responsibility of meet management to ensure that the competition is fair and the resulting marks are reliable to the best of our ability. That means that for our most prestigious competitions, the facilities must be top-notch, the timing must be fully-automatic, and the wind gauges must be used in accordance with the rules.

And occasionally, when meet management slips up and those requirements aren't met, something is declared a record despite the fact that it doesn't measure up. Those are the breaks... "When in doubt, throw it out." That's because a record that's not quite right robs three groups: past record holders, who have had their achievements unfairly erased; future record challengers, for whom the bar has been wrongly placed too high; and the supposed current record breakers themselves, who may spend the rest of their careers trying to live up to the expectations of a bogus performance.

Two current cases are on my desk. Both are unfortunate, but both are also tribute to the honesty of our meet officials and the classiness of the athletes involved:

At Grand Rapids West Catholic High School, Zack Hill threw what was called a state record 67-11.25 in the shot put at his regional meet. However, some of the attendees noted what appeared to be a sloping landing area. The rule, incidentally, is that the landing area in the throws is allowed to slope by no more than a 1:1000 ratio. That's 0.1 percent. The officials at West Catholic brought in a professional surveyor afterward and found that the field slopes by a bit more than one percent. Doesn't sound like much, but it's 10 times the allowable. The state record reverts to Hill's earlier 67-0.5. Are there other fields in the state with illegal slopes? I'm sure there are, but no one has the time and the money to check them all out. In the meantime, we rely on the honesty of people like those at West Catholic.

The reaction of Zack and his family was refreshing. Said his mom when she was informed, "That is a bummer! Although understandable... We will pray that he throws big next weekend and then this will all be irrelevant." She passed on to us an exchange she had with his coaches, in which one of them added, "Zack is a great kid. This is no big deal, and it changes nothing. God has a plan for even this. Perhaps he will use it to give Zack a sense of perspective that records are made to be broken, and lost, no one should live for records. Really, there ought to be a record for most humble, and mature thrower with a positive attitude and a servant heart."

Here's hoping that Zack pops the big one in Jackson on Saturday!

The second unfortunate record situation happened in the D1 Finals at East Kentwood. The two-lap stagger in lane five appeared to some knowledgeable officials to be in the wrong place. That's the mark from which an East Kentwood boys foursome demolished the 24-year-old state record in the 4 x 100 with their amazing 41.47. The MHSAA had some remeasurements done by the meet director and found that lane to apparently be 38-inches short. A minuscule difference. My math shows it to be a tenth of a second, meaning their "actual" 41.57 still would have slammed the old record by two-tenths. But it didn't. Whether it's a inch short or 38 inches, it still can't be a record, even converted (though the converted version will appear on the Michtrack all-time lists).

You might think the East Kentwood athletes took this pretty badly. Sure, it was a hard pill to swallow, but coach Dave Emeott made it clear that his guys will accept the verdict. And in truth, we might not yet know the eventual verdict. The firm that originally certified the track reportedly maintains that the track is correct, however, they will be unable to confirm that for some time. Their chief guy is undergoing open heart surgery, and can't revisit EK until he recovers. However, the East Kentwood sprinters aren't sitting around feeling sorry for themselves and waiting for vindication. They're reportedly making plans to race at the Nike Outdoor Championships to prove to the world that they're fast. "Yeah, they can run faster," says Emeott.

It's often been said that records are made to be broken. Maybe so, but records have a higher purpose. They are meant to be honest and true and to motivate our athletes to become the best people they can be, whether they break them or not. Zack Hill and the East Kentwood sprinters are shining examples of the kind of success we truly want for our young people.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

D3 Wind Readings

For the record, here are the wind readings from the track events at D3, courtesy of Blake Hagman. We haven't yet gotten them from D2 and D4, but we're hoping.
(anything over 2.0 is wind-aided)
Prelims--
G100 0.4, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0
B100 0.0, 0.0, 0.6, 0.4
G200 0.0, 0.1, 0.6
B200 0.0, 0.9, 1.0
G100H 2.1, 0.0, 0.0
B110H 0.9, 0.0, 0.1

Semis--
G100 1.4, -0.7
B100 -0.5, -0.7
G200 -0.1, 0.0
B200 -0.1, 0.0
G100H 0.4, 0.0
B110H -0.1, 0.0

Finals:
G100 1.2
B100 0.7
G200 1.6
B200 0.4
G100H 1.2
B110H 1.2

Monday, June 1, 2009

D1 Girls Photo Report

Sorry for the delay. The girls report is ready, and I hope you find it worth the wait. Please let me know if you spot any errors, no matter how small. Several people found problems in the boys results that I fixed. Some of them were problems with the MHSAA's version of the results, and I've passed those on to the authorities. But I want my version to be as perfect as possible--it will end up in the Michtrack Yearbook, and that will end up on Amazon.com for many years. In practical terms, it will be the historical record.

Click here for complete D1 girls coverage.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boys Division I Coverage

You'll have to wait a day more for the girls. This is more work than I remembered! But I strongly feel it's worthwhile. Other sites were faster with the results and photos, but no one covers a meet like this more comprehensively. You'll find key splits, series, and all kinds of information that won't show up anywhere else. Plus, as an added treat, you get my unvarnished opinions on all things under the sun. (Pray for me, the how-dare-I-call-something-windy people are out to get me...)

The link to the coverage.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

State meet shatters records


What a day! At Division I, despite nasty winds, the athletes came through big-time. We saw two all-time state records: Sarah Birkmeier vaulted 13-0, and East Kentwood's boys blasted 41.47 for the 4 x 100. [Note: this is the time of year where you hear people using the term "state records" very loosely, or when you hear it stated as a rule: "state records can only be set at the state meet." Nonsense--state records can be set at any legit meet. State meet records can only be set at the state finals.]

I also noticed at least two other class records, in addition to Birkmeier's (an 11th grade state record). Drake Johnson of Pioneer clocked 14.44 into a headwind for a 9th grade hurdle record, and Nick Kaiser's 1:52.13 in the 800 is the new 10th grade record. There may be more, but I have a lot of results to sift through. Surprisingly, Mike Atchoo's 4:07.71 is not an 11th grade record--Dathan Ritzenhein was a junior when he clocked his state record 4:05.9.

I'll have more on the state finals tomorrow--right now I am far too tired to make any sense at all. Tune in tomorrow for more of the story behind the results. We have tons of photos, and athlete interviews by David Mitchell.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goethals blasts 4:47.04 at Oakland County


But the Rochester junior wasn't the only star at the 50th running of the Oakland County Championships. Full report here, with photos:

Also, much more news to come, along with list updates. More than a little significant: Ashlyn Gulvas of Standish Sterling, after only finishing third in her regional, won the Northeast Michigan Conference shot put on Wednesday at 47-0.5, moving to No. 7 in Michigan history.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Regional Highlights

More as they filter in--keep checking back...

Zack Hill breaks state record in shot: 67-11.25 at Grand Rapids West Catholic on Friday. Series--
62-11.75, 67-11.25, scratch, 64-10.25, 65-0.5, scratch...

Best team? I haven't done any math on this, but East Kentwood won its regional (boys) by 89.5 points, and girls by 57.5. Check out the boys relay times: 42.2, 1:26.8, 3:24.0, 7:57.9. The EK staff has developed one of the best-rounded teams I have ever seen, on the track and on the field.

Sprints: Paris Horgrow blazes at Saline: the Pioneer senior won the 400 in 48.7, and he demolished the host school with a blazing anchor on the 4x4 (3:22.8)...

Distances: Mike Atchoo anchored an 8:01.6 for Troy, then won in 4:13.7 and 1:58.4...at the same regional, Ben Miller of DeLaSalle ran 9:23.8... Reed Kamyszek ran a 9:13.0 at Caledonia... Pinckney's Matt Wines won at Milford in 4:18.7... Kyle Roche of Walled Lake Central clocked 1:55.2... Shannon Osika hit 4:54.1 and 10:45.2... There are reports that Bedford soph Nick Kaiser won his regional at 1:53; the sophomore state record is 1:52.87...Sara Kroll (Churchill) topped Courtney Calka (Stevenson) as both timed 4:57.4... Stephen Walker cruised a 4:16.1, 9:21.9 double... Becca Addison put together a monster double: 4:53.8 & 2:10.6; however, there's no sign of Grand Haven in the 4x8 results. I assume there's a story there... DQ? Injury? In any case, it means Addison will be be fresh to race Megan Goethals & Company in the 1600 at the state finals...

Hurdles: Drake Johnson of Pioneer blitzed a 14.2--he's a 9th grader, and that's the fastest hand time we've ever seen for a frosh. We've heard a report that Saline used FAT... just the camera for sorting the finish, or are the times actually FAT?... Ali Arastu of Northville ripped a 37.9...

Jumps: Keyandria Rohelia of Saginaw leaped 17-7 at Cadillac... Chanel Payne of Westland Glenn flew to an 18-5.75...

Throws: Andrew Evans of Portage Northern threw a 58-1 /192-7 double. That discus is a state leader that takes him to No. 5 in Michigan history... 9th grader Brittany Mann (Country Day) threw 137-5 at Seaholm Friday. She's 10-feet away from the class record of 147-9 set by Alana Robinson of Grosse Ile... Alex Rose of Ogemaw Heights hit 56-10 at Cadillac... Victoria Buhr of Cheboygan threw 42-5... Lindsay Karpowicz of Grandville extended her state leader to 144-5...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fire, Barbed Wire & Tacks


Whew! Three years of hard work and my novel is done: Fire, Barbed Wire & Tacks. The first thing my track buddies say is, "It's about running, right?"

Yes and no. It's about a runner in his last semester of high school. But he's no champion. And there are races in it, but they're not exactly triumphant celebrations of the human spirit, a la "Running Brave."

You see, someone has to be the guy who goes home without the medal. Perhaps I wrote that part from experience :) Anyway, it's a humorous novel about high school, and the things we dream about--we may not get what we want, but sometimes we learn some cool things along the way.

Here's the jacket blurb: "A victim of the barbarous social scene at Shiawassee High School, Riley Matthew dreams only of a normal home life, a decent mile race, and perhaps a date. Instead, Riley’s final semester is marked by a mom on the brink of a breakdown, a school stunned by the bloodthirsty Kult of Fatality, and a collection of the scariest misfits in the school: mutant halfwit wrestlers, jailbirds, emo porn girls, slashers... not to mention his usual assortment of geekish friends. Can he make it to the finish line in one piece?"

Available at Amazon.com: click here.

Or if you see me in person anywhere, you can save yourself the shipping cost, and maybe get a snazzy, inspirational, signed copy.

Please DON'T send regional marks!

What's this? Hollobaugh's asking you not to send results?! That's because it's that one special time a year when virtually every athlete on the lists--as well as hundreds of others--will produce seasonal or lifetime bests. And I'll be drowning in a flood of amazing track results.

The only sane way for me to get through it (and it will take days--be patient!!) is for me to process complete regional results, one by one. So only send me the results if you are sending official results of the entire meet. They'll all be on the MHSAA site by Monday or Tuesday anyway, but getting some of them early will help.

However, I am anticipating throwing many of the regional sprint/hurdle/LJ marks on the wind-aided list. Let's not get too stoked about some of the 10.2s and 10.3s we might be seeing. Legal wind is 4.4 miles per hour. The weather reports for this evening in my part of the state are for winds 7-15mph, gusting to 21mph. And with Google Earth I can tell how the sprint straightaways are aimed at any track in the state (dang, I love technology sometimes!). So if you want to give me a heads-up on any crazy wind situations, or bad timing, please do so.

And coaches and athletes--good luck this weekend. I think it's going to be a great one.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Weekend Update for May 8-9

Great weather on Friday gave us a slew of great marks. Saturday meets weren't so lucky. Here, in somewhat random order, are the individual marks that stood out. I'm sure much is missing from the lists, since the conference meets have in general been horrible in reporting results. It's not hard. Just submit them to the Michigan Cross Country and Track and Field forum.

Tec Adams may have been having a great outdoor season all along, but track fans and newspapers of the region have all taken a vow of silence this season. Finally, our spies have gotten some information out (though we fear one has been captured and maple-syrup-boarded). This week the Harbor Springs senior ran a 9:26.0 in a quad meet on Monday, then came back at Thursday's East Jordan Invitational to run a 4:16.5/9:24.9 double. He's ready.

Megan Goethals ran 4:52.2 & 10:40.3 at a dual meet on Tuesday. I'm 99% sure that 1600 is the fastest dual meet time in state history. The 3200 would have been, if Becca Addison hadn't have run 10:37.0 the week before. In any case, the Rochester junior can probably claim the best dual double of all-time. Then she came back at the OAA Red meet on Friday to clock 4:51.9 & 10:37.9.

Avery Evenson scored a notable double on Friday. Running at the Pinckney Middle School Invitational, the Hartland eighth grader won the 3200 in 11:22.4 and came back with a 5:22.6 in the 1600. The state records for 8th-graders are 5:04.00 (Shannon Osika) and 10:59.4 (Bekah Smeltzer).

Ali Philman of East Lansing took over the state lead in the 100 with a 10.74 at the Nugent Invitational in Bath. That's FAT, our reports say, and far superior to the weekly 10.4s and 10.5s that are being reported by the overexcited on MLive.

Bridgette Owens-Mitchell of Southfield is stamping herself as the hurdler to beat. At the OAA White, the junior won the hurdles in 14.4 & 45.2. Meanwhile, at Flint's wind-blown Coca-Cola Classic on Saturday, Jillian Sledge of Flint Southwestern edged Grand Blanc's Brittany Calhoun, 44.7 to 44.8.

Mike Atchoo came out on top in a 1600 duel with Joe Reynolds at the OAA Red meet. The Troy junior hit 4:14.0 to Reynolds' 4:16.9. Earlier, Reynolds' relay squad from Rochester Adams got the best of the Troy foursome, 7:54.6 to 7:59.2.

Becca Addison had a great OK Red meet on Friday. First she anchored a 9:30.7 state leader. Then she ran 5:05.24, 2:13.23, and anchored the winning 4x4 for Grand Haven.

Sarah Birkmeier's been quiet for a while, but a 12-1 pole vault clearance at the OK Red meet reassured her fans... Zack Hill won OK Silver with throws of 65-1 and 185-0...

Correct times, please!

What's going on all of a sudden with people reporting marks in round seconds? This isn't cross country here. One major conference reported its 800m relay times as such (1:30, 1;31, etc). More and more I'm seeing distance times reported to the papers that way: 2:00, 4:16.

I'm not the only one getting frustrated. Marvin Goodwin of the Oakland Press, arguably the best track reporter in the state, says, "I've noticed at many of the dual track meets I've covered that timers, officials and even coaches appear to be lackadaisical about the 10ths of a second when recording or reporting times. It's worse this year than any I've seen..."

Of course, a stat geek like me will get frustrated. But consider the unfairness of the situation, and a lot more people should be upset. Usually, something reported as 1:29 will actually be 1:29-point-something... even maybe 1:29.9. And that team just jumped ahead on regional seedings, and perhaps qualified additional people to the regional meets unfairly. Whether the intention is bad or not, when the rules aren't followed, it often creates an unfair advantage.

Remember: the rules are FAT times get reported to the hundredth. Hand times get rounded up to the next tenth, in all cases. [Coaches, the Nate Hampton/MHSAA 2009 rule is that everything gets reported to the hundredth for regional qualifying purposes, even hand times. Of course, that is an insane directive, one that hopefully will be gone by next year. Please do not pass those numbers on to the newspapers, and on your official results sheets, please be kind enough to indicate if the meet was hand timed or automatically timed.]

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Weekend Update for May 1-2


West Ottawa Relays on Saturday: Zack Hill finally nailed it, throwing 67-0.5 to break the all-time Michigan state record in the shot put. The big one came on his fourth and final attempt, after a 63-10, 64-3.5, and a foul. The mark he broke was TJ Duckett's 67-0 from the Big 8 meet in 1999. On hand at the meet was Loy Norrix coach Ted Duckett, TJ's father, who congratulated Hill afterwards.

Allegan Invite, Friday: Tommy Brinn wanted to try a dry run of a possible 400/800 double at the state finals. So he blasted one lap in 47.9. Then 31 minutes later he ran a 1:53.1 in the 800. As if that weren't enough, he anchored a 3:23.3 relay with a 49.4. According to his father, the double is on. Not to be overlooked: Jeff MacMillan of Mattawan ran on an 8:12 4x8, then put together two more wins (4:20.2 & 9:24.1). (Kalamazoo Gazette article link)

Golden Triangle, Saline, Friday: Monroe and Pinckney tangled in the boys distances, and points-wise, Pinckney came out on top, winning the DMR (10:36.3 to 10:39.5), the 1600 (Wines 4:23.2, Whitelaw 4:29.3) and the 800 (Lotz 1:57.8). Whitelaw came back and won the 3200 in 9:36.4. Best field events went to Quinn Dawson (53-4 & 187-7) and Tyler Grob (15-0.25). Ypsi Lincoln did damage on the women's side, winning the sprints (Jefferson 12.7 & 25.9) and three fast relays (49.3, 1:43.1, 4:03.4).

Other highlights...
Mike Atchoo
ran an interesting double against Troy on Tuesday: 51.4 and 9:38.0.
Becca Addison tried her first-ever 3200 in an effort to get the school record. She did, pacing 5:26 and 5:10 to end up at 10:37.0 in a dual vs. Grandville. GH coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer told the local Tribune, "She's never run two miles on the track. Obviously, with how well she did, she has a chance to do things, but I'm sure she'll run the mile, the 800 and the 3,200 relay at state."
Nick Kaiser, the sophomore 800 star at Bedford, further enhanced his credentials with a great day at the Knights Relays in Toledo. He jogged in a 4:24 anchor on the DMR--they timed 10:31.42, the fastest outdoor time in the state this year. Then he lost on the lean in the 1600, clocking 4;16.64, again, the fastest outdoor time of the year. Then he ran 49-point to anchor the 4x4, nearly winning (3:29.36).
Jeff Burd of Vermontville-Maple Valley--talk about range. He's on the lists at 22.24 and 49.8 in the long sprints, and this week he added a 4:25.5 in the 1600. He's sounding like he might be a scary prospect in the 800.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zack Hill now No. 2 ever

Tonight in a dual meet at Kelloggsville, Allendale senior Zack Hill improved his shot put best from 66-2.75 to 66-6. That vaults him past Mike Sargent (66-3.5) and Ron Gatheright (66-3.25) on the all-time list, making him No. 2 ever in Michigan history. Now Hill is just six inches away from the all-time state record of 67-0 set by T.J. Duckett of Loy Norrix in 1999. More details later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Weekend Update for April 24-25

Fantastic weather on Friday brought a host of great marks. Saturday was a mixed bag, with storms striking many meets while they were in progress. The highlights:

JDs Invitational in Jackson on Friday.
Tyrone Green won the 100 for East Kentwood in 10.77. The depth we are seeing from East Kentwood makes me wonder if we aren't seeing a team that will dominate on the boys side the way Pioneer has dominated on the girls side. In the 4 x 200, EK clocked 1:27.74. In the 4 x 100, an apparent FAT timing malfunction forced officials to go with the backup hand times. EK had an eye-opening clocking of 41.5 (state record is 41.77 FAT). It is clear that East Kentwood has the depth and quality to be chasing records this season. Also, EK's Deonte Hurst took second in the 110s (14.97 to Scott Sansovich's 14.96) then won the 300s going away in 38.33... Catholic Central edged EK in the 4 x 4, 3:21.25 to 3:22.15... Jackson's Jaelynn Pryor doubled in state-leading hurdle marks of 15.17/44.80.

The Lukens Invitational on Friday. Lansing Eastern's Leroy Green (49.29) and Tavarrio Davis (49.40) lit up the 400, and then joined together on a 3:27.04... Dynasty McGee won a 57.44 lap, and a 26.26 in the 200... Pioneer frosh Katie Hoevet claimed an impressive triple, winning the 800 in 2:19.05, the 3200 in 11:08.90, and taking second in the 1600 at 5:13.99.

The West Bloomfield Invitational on Saturday: Megan Goethals ripped a 10:29.1 in the 3200, leaving Shannon Osika a half-lap behind... Madison Heights Madison senior Ryan Aaron exploded to a 6-10 in the high jump... Pinckney's Matt Wines won the 1600 in 4:17.9.

The Shumake Scholarship Relays on Saturday: Mike Atchoo went a little nuts, easily outlegging Tommy Brinn in the 1600, 4:16.84 to 4:20.65. Then he came back and won the 800 in 1:54.09... The lady hurdlers impressed as well, Bridgette Owens-Mitchell topping Christienne Linton, 14.22 to 14.36. Later on Linton won the 300s, 44.70 to 45.63... Mumford's Aisha Osborne won the 400 in a state-leading 56.35, and added the 200 win in 25.24... the best relays went to Mumford (1:41.64) and Romulus (3:54.86)... On the boys' side, Cass Tech took over the state lead in the 4x8 (7:59.52)... Lamphere's Steven Murphy took over the list lead in the long sprints at 21.82 and 49.26.

Other meets:
Kassie Powell of Durand leaped 11-7 at the New Lothrop Relays, not bad for a sophomore.
Zack Hill and teammate C.J. Koops of Allendale teamed up for a pair of significant meet records at the Grimm Relays in Wyoming Park--186-9 + 148-7 in the discus, and 63-11 + 48-2 in the shot. The shot combo broke a record set by the Van Elst brothers four decades ago.
Derek Peterman cleared a state-leading 15-8 at the Livonia City Meet.
Kari Prena lofted the disc to a state-leading 137-0 at the Walled Lake City Meet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Zack Hill goes big: a monster 66-2.75 stunner!

The all-time state record in the shot put got its biggest scare in 10 years tonight in Allendale as hometown favorite Zack Hill boomed the 12-lb ball out to a massive 66-2.75, becoming the No. 4 thrower in Michigan history.

The state record of 67-0 by T.J. Duckett of Kalamazoo Loy Norrix in 1999 is clearly in jeopardy, as the season is young.

Throwing in a dual against Kent City, Hill opened with a 62-8.75. He added a foot to that with his second throw of 63-8. He improved again in round three with a 64-3.25. He perhaps pressed hard there, knocking on the door of the area record of 64-10.75 set by Middleville's Gary Van Elst 41 years ago. He fouled his next two throws before launching his amazing 66-2.75. That moves him to No. 5 on the yearly U.S. list.

In the discus, he started out with a scary two fouls. Then he powered a throw out to 143-0, before finishing with tosses of 181-6, 181-8, and 165-5. Our sources tell us he may be throwing college implements this weekend at Hillsdale's Gina Relays. The state records for the big stuff: 54-4.75 (Aaron Gowell-Shelby-1988) and 168-2 (Johnny Mitchell-Muskegon-1983).

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Weekend Update April 17-18

With perfect weather on Friday and Saturday, we saw the yearly lists get rewritten. What stands out the most? Hard to decide:
Sophomore Nick Kaiser of Temperance Bedford won the Mansfield Relays 800 in 1:54.30, a stunning time for this early in the season.
Stephen Walker, a senior from Midland Dow, won the Mansfield 3200 in 9:16.77 on Friday and came back Saturday to win the 1600 in 4:18.91.
Allendale senior Zack Hill threw a monstrous 64-7.5 in the shot at the Coopersville Invite, plus a 174-0 in the discus on what some say was an uphill-sloping field. Check out his blog at http://zacksthrowing.blogspot.com/.
Ashlyn Gulvas, a senior at Standish-Sterling, popped a huge 46-3 in the shot at her school's Sunrise Invitational.

Lots of great track, but maybe the most stunning performance came from Troy's 4 x 1600 relay team at the Balawajer Relays at Milford: 19:06, an average of 4:46.5 per runner. Not impressed? Consider that it was a coed relays, with two boys and two girls. Even taking into account that one of the guys was Mike Atchoo, the math still staggers the mind. They broke the meet record by 49 seconds. From Troy boys coach Eric Prowse, here are the splits: James Yau 4:21, Michelle Moriset 5:09, Mike Atchoo 4:18, Grace Green 5:18. Wow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An everything update

After long silences on the blog, sometimes I am silent even longer because I can't decide where to start. Excuses? Recent news? A summary of Facebook status updates? Whatever. I've decided to put everything together in one nonsensical blog. Go:

Cliff's doing fine, surgery went well, he's at home and the recovery prognosis is great. Our best wishes to him and his family and all of his supporters in the Fremont running community... Early season track. Has anyone else realized that the massive changes and (some say) pending collapse of the newspaper industry as we know it means we're going to have a much harder time getting results of track meets around the state? Our coaches need to step it up. No longer is it fine just to fax results to the local paper. You need to get them online. Parents are going to demand it, especially when the local newspaper stops showing up on their porches...Zack Hill will probably be one of the big stories of the year. Last night he threw 62-5.25 and 174-8... I got my taxes done on 4/15. Whew!... At 201 pages and growing, the long-awaited history of the state XC finals is nearly here. This has been a pet project of mine for many years, and I am hoping to publish it in the summer. One of the highlights is that it will include complete team results from every state meet race ever, 1922 to the present. Still some holes to fill, however, and I am glad to get help. I don't have a detailed list of what I need at this point. However, if you have access to any official meet results prior to 1997, I would be thrilled to have a chance to look at them. Photocopies welcome. Scans can be emailed. If you have a decent digital camera, taking a high-resolution photo of the results and emailing me the pic would work. Contact me if you have info you think can help... Little noticed indoors, but Pioneer frosh Drake Johnson ran 8.49 for the 60 hurdles, a state freshman record. He's a prime candidate for the record outdoors, but we don't even have a record listed yet. Does anyone know of a sub 15-second FAT time in the hurdles for a 9th grader in this state?... The outdoor lists are going now, but the results flow has been thin. The newspaper websites are worse than ever at reporting times. The Grand Rapids area has been hit the hardest, and is hardly showing up on the lists at all. Help! ... And where did I go over spring break? Nowhere, but I entered uncharted territory by publishing my first novel, "Fire, Barbed Wire and Tacks." It will be available soon on Amazon.com. For now, you can find out more if you check out the Facebook group, or visit jeffhollobaugh.com.

That's all for now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good news on Cliff

An update from Cliff himself (I hope he doesn't mind that I corrected spelling--he intentionally didn't in his email so that people could see his progress graphically: "I am doing great. The progress I have made has me pretty motivated. Typing is pretty hard and mentally tiring. Writing and spelling are also hard and tiring. Although my mom would say nothing has changed with the spelling. I thought I would know about surgery by now, could be Tues, Wed, or Thurs, at this point... Loss of feeling in right side is making good progress. Can walk just fine. Thanks for all the support I feel pretty lucky to be doing this well. Pretty bored - although it was a good way to get to watch the Spartans... "

Friday, March 27, 2009

An update on Cliff

Good news from a friend who visited today: "He is doing great, considering everything, and has made some great improvements since yesterday. I am sure he is tired of being in the hospital! He has been up walking and sat in the chair the whole time I was there. I think I said this yesterday, if you got my e-mail, but if you talked to Cliff it would be difficult to figure out that he suffered the stroke. He is doing that well!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pray for Cliff Somers

Cliff Somers, the coach of the very successful Fremont XC program, suffered a stroke today while running and is reportedly recovering. This is from his principal, Scott Sherman: "Today Cliff Somers suffered a stroke while running. He made his way to Gerber Hospital where he was found in the parking lot by a nurse. They immediately began to work on him and alerted his family. He was then transferred to Spectrum Hospital and at some point was given a clot killing drug (the one that is always advertised). 'That drug has worked miracles,' in the words of his wife Trisha. I visited with Cliff and Trisha earlier today and by the time I left, I could see vast improvements in his motor control and speech. Our last update was that Cliff was continuing to improve greatly. The family is asking that people only send cards and avoid visiting until Cliff and his family are settled..."

Our prayers are with the Somers family, as well as the entire community. Cliff is an amazingly energetic and inspirational young man. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Birkmeier flies over another PV record!

Jumping at tonight's Lake Michigan Credit Union GVSU Invitational, Rockford junior Sarah Birkmeier launched herself over a bar set at 12-8, the highest vault ever in Michigan history indoors or out. Birkmeier broke her own indoor state record of 12-6 set in East Lansing during the MITS season. She also has now gone higher than the outdoor record of 12-7 set by Dexter's Becca Pilkerton last year. On the way to the record, Birkmeier cleared 11-0, 12-0, and a record-tying 12-6.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nationals: Day Three - Mile record for Atchoo!

Nike Indoor, Boston: Tommy Brinn got the highest place of the final day in Boston, running 1:53.62 for 3rd in the 800. That makes him the No. 2 Michigan half-miler of all-time indoors, behind two performances of Isaiah Ward. Tyler Peruski finished 12th (1:57.05) and Chonsey Pogue 24th (1:59.01). Christienne Linton had a very busy day--4th in the hurdles at 8.60, 5th in the long jump at 18-9.25. She also made it to the semis of the 60 with her state-leading 7.69. Bridgette Owens-Mitchell finished 8th in the hurdles (8.81 after an 8.66 semi). Chris Hessell of New Haven placed 5th in the shot (58-5.75). Renaldo Powell finished 8th in the hurdles (8.22, after an 8.03 semi). Sarah Birkmeier cleared 12-2.5 to finish 9th in the vault. Alex Leptich took 11th in the mile at 5:02.67, and the heartbreak award goes to Noelle Bradley of Taylor Truman (Accelerators), who missed making the semis by 0.006--that's right: six-thousandths of a second!

National Scholastic, New York: Hand the state record in the mile to Mike Atchoo. The Troy sophomore earned it with his 4:11.14 runner-up finish. The old best, held by Dathan Ritzenhein, was 4:12.4. Note this is a full mile he ran, and that's the record we're talking about. The 1600m best is still 4:09.0 by Ritz, and that converts to a 4:10.5. On a combined/converted list, Atchoo is now No. 2 all-time, and holder of the junior record. Atchoo's teammate, Michele Morriset, took 3rd in the 2 mile with her 10:54.51.

Kendall Baisden impressed in the 200, finishing 5th in the high school race at 24.61 (No. 4 all-time) (24.88 heat). She again won the 7/8 400 race, clocking 57.13 (which would have been good for 11th in the high school race). Notable 200 heats came from Jordan Clark (25.29) and Dynasty McGee (26.04). In the relays, Motor City 13th in the boys 4x8 (8:02.48).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nationals: Day Two

Nike Indoor, Boston: Ariel Roberts stole the show. The Pioneer senior tried her first pentathlon ever, and obliterated the state record by more than 600 points! Her 3617 not only topped the old best of 2996 by Tofunmi Akeredolu last year, but only eight collegians in Michigan history have ever done better. She hurdled 9.24 (a PR), high jumped 5-8, threw the shot 32-2.25, long jumped 17-9.75. That put her into the lead, but her top opponent, Shakeia Pinnick, is a solid half miler. Roberts clocked a 2:31.89, but Pinnick's 2:15.09 gave her a 10-point win over Roberts. Also notable today was the 18:22.04 in the 4 x mile that Final Boss (Monroe) put together--that was good for 6th place.

National Scholastics, New York: The highlight from a Michigan standpoint was the third place finish of the Breen/Troy girls in the 4 x mile in 21:19.47 (No. 4 in state history). The Breen B team ran 22:43.52. Also impressive was the sprinting of Lathrup's Jordan Clark. She made the finals of the 60 with her state-leading 7.70 (passing through 55 in a FAT 7.18). Dynasty McGee (57.45) and Aisha Osborne (57.39) both ran seasonal bests in the 400 but failed to make the final. The Motor City women did make the final of the 4 x 200 (1:42.93, good for No. 6 all-time in Michigan). The Motor City boys clocked 1:31.38 and missed qualifying. Also, Kellie Littlejohn (Motor City/Mumford) finished 14th in the pentathlon at 2703. The Breen/Troy boys ran 18:47.89 for 16th in the 4 x mile.

NCAA Div. 1, College Station: Tiffany Ofili conquered all amid what turned out to be a tough day for our homegrown talent. Ofili captured another NCAA crown, this time in 8.00. Geena Gall finished 6th in the 800 (2:05.39). Alexandria Spruiel finished 7th in the 400 (53.67). Josh Hembrough ran 7.94 for 8th in the hurdles, and Justin Switzer, after leading for the first half of the mile (2:05) finished 7th in 4:02.99.

NCAA Div. 2, Houston: The Grand Valley women finished second in the team standings with 48 points to Lincoln's overwhelming 100.5. Candice Wheat (ex-Pontiac Northern) took second in the hurdles with a PR 8.29. Back in 4th was frosh Raven Clay (Det. Cody/Findlay) at 8.49. The GVSU women's DMR also took second, in 11:43.03; in the 4 x 4 they finished 3rd (3:50.62). Nate Miller (ex-Trenton) high jumped into 3rd at 6-11.5. And Monica Kinney (GR West Catholic/GVSU) showed bright promise as a college rookie with her mile third in 4:48.98.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nationals: Day One in Boston, New York, and College Station

Here's the Michigan news from the first day of nationals action:
Nike Indoor, Boston: The highlight had to have been the 9th place finish of Monroe soph Austin Whitelaw, whose 15:19.04 is a state record for 10th graders. Unfortunately our top weight throwers didn't make the trip. Who would have suspected that we could have had an All-American or two in our first year in the event?

National Scholastic, New York: In finals action, Breen/Troy made All-American honors in the DMR by finishing 4th in 10:22.67, the fourth-fastest time in state history. The Breen girls finished 11th in 12:27.78. Motor City/Mumford finished 11th in the boys shuttle hurdles (31.59), 12th in the sprint medley (3:36.59). The Motor City girls finished 9th in the sprint medley (4:13.56). On the field, Chris Jimmerson tied for 4th in the high jump at 6-7.

NCAA, College Station: In the granddaddy of the big college championships, the biggest local story is that Tiffany Ofili (Ypsilanti/Mich) looked the best in the hurdles qualifying, leading the field at 8.04. Bettie Wade (Farmington/Mich) finished 5th in the pentathlon at 4252, more than 100 short of her performance last year. Nia Henderson (Livonia Churchill/Kent) finished 5th in the weight throw at 66-6.5 (she's now #2 all-time).

Justin Switzer (Wtfd Kettering/Mich) ran 4:01.55 to qualify for the mile final, but Shane Knoll (Warren Mott/MSU) just missed. Josh Hembrough (Forest Hills N/Purdue) ran 7.81 to make the hurdle final. Alexandria Spruiel (Southfield Lathrup/North Carolina A&T) made the 400 final with her 53.60. Jeremy Orr (Detroit Ford/MSU) missed his 400 final by 0.02 with his 47.12. Shayla Mahan (Mumford/South Carolina) missed the 60 final at 7.38.

Geena Gall was the second-fastest finals qualifier in the 800 at 2:04.10, and later in the evening she ran 3:21.69 to put the Michigan DMR in the lead. In the end, they finished 7th, more than 14 seconds behind Tennessee's world record 10:50.98.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's more important--times or victories?

Sometimes we get a little too carried away with wanting fast times. There--I said it. The guy who keeps all the lists and records saying that times are over-emphasized... isn't that kind of like those beer commercials where they urge people to drink responsibly?

I just read a very nice article from the folks who put on the Midwest Distance Classic. Here it is. I think they did a fine job here, so I don't want to be critical. However, one tendency I see here is what I regularly see on Dyestat and other websites (my own included): the lust for fast times and records.

As coaches we need to remember that our stars need to be "able" to run certain times to win state titles, but it is equally important to know how to run a variety of races. I've seen generations of distance runners who are enslaved by a mindset that has them aiming at PRs constantly. When they get to the NCAA, they find themselves still aiming at qualifying times. While it's a necessary evil in the sport, the fact is it sometimes hampers the development of the complete competitor. And it has certainly hurt the United States in the Olympics and World Championships, where we regularly see our runners bounced out in the heats and semis because they can't master simple tactics.

A middle distance or distance runner needs to how to race, first and foremost. How to lead. How to kick from behind. How to draft. How to move with 600 to go and how to move with 60 go. Every different tactical weapon is another tool in the toolbox, and a runner must reach into that toolbox to react instinctively to rapidly changing race conditions and respond to challenges. They learn none of that when we tell them to go for time.

Some people think they see a great race when they see a record. Sure, it has its thrills. However, I think a great race is one that is exciting even if you left your stopwatch at home and don't know how fast they ran. So I sure hope that after the indoor nationals this weekend, folks are talking about great races and not just fast races. After all, winning's not everything--but for the winners it is.

Monday, March 2, 2009

News coverage of the MITS State Finals

This is the link.

On a personal note, I have to add that I absolutely love this meet. Back when I was racing in high school, the series went by the MITCA name, as it was always organized by coaches and supported by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association. Any extra funds raised by the series always have supported the Michigan team at the Midwest Meet of Champions.

With the withdrawal of MITCA from the picture and the tightening of off-season rules by the MHSAA, the task of putting on the meets has only gotten more difficult. Extra funds still support Team Michigan, but the brunt of putting on the championship meet falls more heavily than ever on director Mike Jurasek and his daughter, Lesley Starkey.

That being said, coaches with any history under their belts can see how huge the series has grown in recent years. Michigan is pretty unusual in that our state association does not support indoor track, but we still have such a large, high-quality state meet. It's all about people--coaches, officials, etc--volunteering their time and giving opportunity to our athletes.

So here's a message to our athletes. Talk to your friends who compete in AAU basketball or volleyball, or club hockey or travel soccer. Ask them what they pay. Brace yourself. And then, next chance you get, thank someone who's volunteering at a track meet. We have the best of all worlds in our sport.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Latest bunch of state records little noticed

Of all the highlights of this past weekend--and there were many including Becca Addison's oversized 2:12.77 for 800m--the event that produced the state records got precious little attention.

That's probably because we're not used to giving discus throwers much attention indoors. Grand Valley throws coach Cory Young set up a high school discus throwing competition last Saturday, prior to the MITS meet at GVSU's new facility. It was the first indoor discus competition ever held in the state.

By default, that means that Zack Hill's 170-3 and Samantha Lockhart's 118-11 are the new state records. There were more state records along the way. They all count, even if they only lasted for a few minutes (or seconds--see below). Tanner Hardester of Zeeland East got the first state record, with his opening throw of 129-4. Then his junior teammate Lee VanKampen broke it by more than nine feet with a 138-10.

That's when Hill took over the show, throwing a first round 160-0, and a second round 167-4, both records. He went 157-3 on his third throw, and the big 170-3 on throw four. Pressing maybe too hard then, he hit 151-5 in round 5, and fouled his last toss.

On the girls side it was all Lockhart, leading off at 107-8. She followed that with throws of 106-6, 104-2, 118-11 and then two fouls. Altogether, there were seven state records in the competition.

Heck, even if only for a few minutes, holding a state record is something to crow about.

Reminds me of the women's pentathlon event at the 1980 Olympics. In this forerunner of the heptathlon, the bronze medalist finished first in the final event, the 800m. Her score of 4875 set a new world record. Just 1.2 seconds later the silver medalist finished with a score of 4937, another world record. Then Nadezhda Tkachenko (a former steroid convict) crossed the line 0.4 seconds later, with a new world record of 5083. To any of us who have ever dreamed of holding a world record, to do so for just 4/10 of a second is a heck of a lot better than nothing!

Does the GVSU competition mean the indoor discus will be taking off soon as an event? Probably not. While plenty of manufacturers sell an indoor practice discus, I'm aware of only one other venue that offers an indoor competition, the University of Idaho. While I'm sure high schoolers have thrown before nationally, I don't have those marks at my fingertips. I'll let you know if I find them.

With the efforts of college coaches Cory Young (GVSU) and Norm Zylstra (Calvin) giving our high school throwers such a great boost on the west side of the state, fans have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Coaches give overwhelming YES to more FAT timing

At last night's business meeting of MITCA, the state's high school coaches sent a strong message to the MHSAA that they want to see the implementation of automatic timing at regionals. That was one of the proposals approved that could lead to an increase in accurate timing throughout the sport in Michigan.

To quickly summarize the voting (recall that proposals must receive at least a 70% endorsement from MITCA to be considered by the MHSAA)--Also, note that the wording I use here is not the actual wording of the proposal, but my shorthand after-midnight version:

1. Should regional hand times be rounded up to the next tenth for seeding at the state meet? AGREE 92% disagree 8%
2. Do you agree with the goal that we have all regionals FAT timed by 2014?
AGREE 93% disagree 7%
3. Should regionals be able to use FAT timing if it is available?
AGREE 90% disagree 10%
4. In cases where some regionals are hand-timed and others FAT-timed, should the hand times be converted for seeding purposes? AGREE 89% disagree 11%
5. Should the conversion factor be used be 0.4 seconds? AGREE 84% disagree 16%
6. Should we establish an early qualifying window (two weeks before regionals) in which certified meets with FAT and wind gauges can be used to qualify athletes to the state finals? AGREE 78% disagree 22%

I've never kept track of typical results of MITCA coaches surveys, but these are the most overwhelming numbers in my memory. They should send a very clear message to the MHSAA that the coaches in this state strongly support providing athletes with the best timing available. One longtime MITS officer called the margins "unprecedented" and said that they should be regarded as a "mandate" by the MHSAA.

The final proposal, about the early qualifying meets, is one of the most interesting. You can (and the coaches almost did) debate all day about what effect that might have on team dynamics at the regionals. However, the proposed early qualifying standards are so tough that the answer, really, is that this will have very little effect on regionals. What this proposal will actually do is provide huge incentive for invitationals and conference meets in this window to provide quality timing and officiating for our high schoolers.

In the end, I heartily endorse all these moves, as they are an important step in bringing our state's track program into the 21st century, and providing accurate feedback to all of our athletes. The athletes have given their coaches their best efforts, and the coaches are now doing their best to measure those efforts accurately. We're moving in the right direction, and it's heartening to see.

I hope that the MHSAA--cash-strapped and sometimes averse to change--respects the wishes of the coaches to move the sport ahead. I'll do my best to keep you posted on this.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great night for the weight throw at MSU

I'm glad to share this message from Ryan Flanary:
I am proud to report that the weight throw event in Michigan came into it's own Wednesday night at MSU. A record number of participants and some great performances were all a part of the nights success. First of all, I would like to commend the MSU coaching staff of John Newell and Walt Drenth for helping to create a fantastic atmosphere for the throws. Every time we go to MSU it's almost like a state meet in intensity and enthusiasm. There were two flights of competitors and it took 44 feet to place 7th in the boys division, a distance that well could have been first or second just a few short weeks ago!

Top 7 Results:
Boys 25#
Zack Hill (12) 59-5
Chris Hessell (12) 50-5
Austin Grant (10) 48-1 *new 10th grade record
Lee Vankampen (11) 46-3 *new 11th grade record
Tanner Hardester (12) 45-7
Alex Rose (12) 44-7
Matt Wilkenson(12) 44-0

Top 3 Results:
Girls 20#
Shana Flanary (10) 44-1
Lauren Steinhurst (11) 36-10 *new 11th grade record
Kayla Brindley (12) 35-1

Birkmeier does it again!

Rockford's Sarah Birkmeier has broken her own indoor state record in the pole vault, lofting herself over 12-6 last night in MSU's Jenison Fieldhouse. The junior bettered her own best of 12-3, set two weeks ago in Grand Rapids. The outdoor record is 12-7, set by Dexter's Becca Pilkerton last year. According to the latest Dyestat rankings, Birkmeier now is fourth nationally. Way to go!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Three new sub-four milers for our state!


In a flurry of hot activity, Michigan-raised milers are burning up the track. First it was Liam Boylan-Pett from Bath, who is now attending Georgetown University. On Jan. 30, he clocked 3:59.40 on the banked track at Penn State. Then, at last weekend's Meyo Invitational on Notre Dame's big track, Shane Knoll (ex-Warren Mott, now MSU) continued his amazing improvement by leading four others under 4:00. His time? 3:57.36, not bad for someone whose high school best was 4:14.99 over 1600m. Behind Knoll came Justin Switzer in 3:58.89. He graduated from Waterford Kettering and now runs for Michigan.

That brings the total of sub-four minute milers from Michigan high schools to 14. Eleven of them achieved the feat indoors, five outdoors (and obviously, two did both--Paul McMullen and Brian Hyde). The most prolific is McMullen, who dipped under the magic barrier 16 times. No one else comes close: Hyde did it three times, Earl Jones and Steve Sherer twice.

Now, the reason most of our guys do it indoors is simple: it's not a championship distance outdoors. If it were, we'd have at least four more because they ran the equivalent of a 4:00 mile over the shorter (by 109.34m) 1500m: Treg Scott, Tim Pitcher, P.J. Osika, and Todd Williams. In fact, Steve Sherer's 3:36.81 last season would equate to a 3:54.11 for the mile, faster than McMullen's 3:54.94 record.

In the conversion game, McMullen still leads, as his 3:33.89 record translates to 3:50.99 for the mile. I still find myself quite impressed by Tom Duits. Just after he graduated from WMU in 1979, he anchored a 4 x 1500 team in France to an American record. His split was 3:35.8, worth a 3:53.1 mile!

The Michigan mile list (indoors/outdoors combined):

o=oversized track; i=indoors
3:54.94 Paul McMullen (Cadillac-Saucony) 2001
3:55.84-i ----McMullen (Asics) 1998
3:56.00-oi Steve Sherer (Saline-Nike FT) 2008
3:56.41 Brian Hyde (E Kentwood-New Balance) 1997
3:56.60 ----McMullen (Asics) 1998
3:56.68-oi ----McMullen (Asics) 1998
3:56.87 ----McMullen (Asics) 1995
3:57.34-oi ----McMullen (Eastern Michigan) 1995
3:57.36-oi Shane Knoll (Warren Mott-Michigan St) 2009
3:57.46-i ----McMullen (Asics) 1998
3:57.79 ----McMullen (Asics) 1996
3:57.81-i ----Sherer (Nike FT) 2008
3:57.88-i ----McMullen (Saucony) 2000
3:58.60 ----McMullen (Coast Guard) 2004
3:58.21-i ----McMullen (Eastern Michigan) 1995
3:58.61-i ----McMullen (Asics) 1997
3:58.76 Earl Jones (Taylor Center- Santa Monica TC) 1986
3:58.86-oi Justin Switzer (Waterford Kettering-Michigan) 2009
3:58.94-i Mike Michno (Ink Cherry Hill-New Balance) 1991
3:58.98 ----Jones (Santa Monica TC) 1986
3:59.05-i Dan Heikkinen (Adrian-Athletics West) 1982
3:59.07 ----McMullen (Asics) 1998
3:59.16-i ----Hyde (William & Mary) 1995
3:59.1i Greg Meyer (GR W Catholic-New Jersey AA) 1978
3:59.1 Gerard Donakowski (DH Riverside-Nike N) 1991
3:59.2 Tom Duits (Hastings-Western Michigan) 1978
3:59.40-i Liam Boylan-Pett (Bath-Georgetown) 2009
3:59.62-i ----McMullen (Saucony) 2000
3:59.83-oi Jordan Desilets (Lake Orion-Eastern Mich) 2004
3:59.88 ----McMullen (Asics) 1997
3:59.92-i ----Hyde (William & Mary) 1995
3:59.93-i Brian Diemer (GR S Christian-Michigan) 1983
3:59.97 ----McMullen (Saucony) 2000

Meyo mile video

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Darn Book is done at last!!!

This one was painful to put together, but I think you're going to like it when you see it. I've just published the Michigan Outdoor Track & Field 2008 Yearbook. It's huge: 251 pages. Photos. The deepest performance lists anywhere. Expanded all-time and alumni lists. Pop-up art! (Okay, I'm lying about that.) But the book's cool. Please buy it. At 14.95, I think you'll agree it's a fantastic deal--especially if you've seen one before!

You can order online through the publisher...

http://www.lulu.com/content/5942102

Or by mail, by sending me a check--please include shipping ($3 for first book, $1 for each additional).

If you are one of my early order people who have already paid, I should have them in my hands ready to mail by late next week. If you are going to be at the MITCA Clinic, I can hand deliver it. Please let me know.

I finished the publishing process at 2 a.m. on a Sunday night after a solid two days of crunching. I don't know how the heck I'm going to teach creative writing in five hours. And my students will notice that I'm a walking zombie and assume that I had too much fun at a Super Bowl party... Sigh.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birkmeier vaults state record!

Defending D1 pole vault champ Sarah Birkmeier lofted herself over state record 12-3 tonight in a MITS meet at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. The Rockford junior topped the old best of 12-1 set by East Kentwood's Abby Shanahan at the MITS finals in 2007. Coached by Kevin Patterson, Birkmeier has steadily improved over the years and is now poised to become the best vaulter in state history. The outdoor state record is 12-7 by Dexter's Becca Pilkerton, set last season. Birkmeier's outdoor best of 11-11 is the state 10th grade record.