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.

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
4x8-Final Boss (Monroe), Motor City (Mumford)
4x1M-Final Boss
DMR-Final Boss

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!

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