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...

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.