Thursday, June 24, 2010

The real junior nationals

I love the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. It is the best high school meet in the country, period. If an athlete has aspirations for a good end-of-year ranking from Track & Field News, or a better shot at Michigan athlete of the year (and the cover of my yearbook), they should compete there.

I also love the Junior Olympics, both USATF and AAU varieties. Their state qualifying meets drive me nuts, being statistical and organizational nightmares, but they do it right at the national level. However, in the grand scheme of things, the JOs are kid stuff.

Let's talk about the USA Junior Nationals, going on in Des Moines right now. Sponsored by USATF, it's the qualifying meet for the World Junior Championships, which will be held in Moncton, Canada, in late July. The top two Americans in each event will go to Worlds (if they meet the standards).

The term "Junior" internationally means teenager (roughly--they can't turn 20 before the end of the year). So the vast majority of high schoolers are eligible, and about half of college freshmen.

How good is the competition at the World Juniors? It is the best. Winning a medal at the WJs is a very good indicator of medal potential at the Olympics. From Haile Gebrselassie to Usain Bolt, many of the greats have run at the WJs. Check out these meet records: 10.09, 20.28, 44.66, 1:44.77, 3:35.53, 13:08.57, 27:30.86, 7-9.25, 18-8.75, and so on. Get the picture?

So who's in Des Moines going for it? Kendall Baisden, for one. She competed in the 100 today, finishing 7th in 11.76 (after an 11.75 heat). I haven't talked to her coaches yet, but I'm guessing she ran the 100 so she could be considered for the 4 x 100 relay pool--the U.S. will be a medal favorite at Worlds. She will also be running the 400 (she scratched the 200). There she not only has a chance to make the team but a chance to medal if she improves on her 53.05 PR. The meet record is 50.62, and in only three of 12 years has 53.05 been fast enough to medal.

Nick Kaiser is also there, running a PR 1:50.13 to make the final. That makes him the 5th fastest in Michigan history, and also betters the World Junior time standard of 1:51.00. (Even if a U.S. athlete wins at Des Moines, they must have a performance better than the IAAF standard to be entered at Worlds. This is real elite international competition, not the Caribbean Invitational.) (Hey, if you look at that link, you might also note that no sprint/LJ marks are accepted by the IAAF as qualifiers unless they have legal wind readings--which means no Michigan marks are acceptable unless I'm at the meet. Pretty pathetic--our officials need to get with the program on how our sport works.)

Other Michigan names I've spotted so far: Mumford's Debonie Lofton, 2:12.41 in the 800 heats. Ex-Portage Northern thrower Andrew Evans won the discus at 193-11 (in Junior competition, the men throw implements heavier than HS but lighter than college/Olympics). Also notable was Zack Hill (3rd at 63-6.75, 5th at 179-9). Jordan Clark, who apparently did not compete for Lathrup this year, ran 12.12 in the 100 heats. Samantha Lockhart, ex-Sexton, finished 12th in the shot at 45-8.5. Ariel Roberts (ex-Pioneer) placed 5th in the heptathlon at 4862.

I should also note that Saline's Brooke Pleger attempted to get into the Junior Nationals. Last week, in trying to reach the qualifying standard of 158-feet in the hammer, she reached 149-6 at Hillsdale. She may have been disappointed, but she should be very proud that she broke the all-time state record.

More on the U.S. Juniors meet in the next few days.

East Kentwood and Goethals rule Nationals

More on this later. I did not give them their due. East Kentwood (excuse me... KP Athletics in case anyone from Lansing is reading) won the national title, broke two state records in the relays, and absolutely rocked. And Megan Goethals! What can I say? The nutcases on MLive have already started ranting about cross country. NEWS FLASH: NO ONE CARES IF YOUR XC TEAM MIGHT MAKE TOP 10 AT STATE$ THIS FALL! I mean, I love XC as much as the next guy, as long as the next guy is sane. I even coach it, for gosh-sakes! I have 100+ munchkins on my middle school team! But really, you'd think that at least one person on MLive would watch the Goethals video and figure out that in winning the national title, she passed through 3200m in 9:58.1!!!!!!

Someone needs to start a facebook fan club for her.

Boo on the NSSF!

I'm back! I should mow my lawn more. That's where I start to thinking about track things and the next thing you know I'm furious about some mundane little issue that would take hours to explain to my innocent neighbor who is mowing his (better-looking) lawn at the same time.

For instance, today I want to share my excitement about the US Junior Nationals. But before I even go there, I have to vent about the whole "international meet in Puerto Rico" concept that is sponsored by the otherwise good folks at the National Scholastic Sports Foundation.

Here goes: the NSSF is a terrific organization that has done a TON for high school track in America. They created the indoor nationals, as well as the meet that is currently known as the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. They have also worked hard to provide international competitive opportunities for American preps. All good.

However, they now also put together a team to compete at the Caribbean Invitational in early June. They called it Team NSSF, and the kids get uniforms that look like real USA uniforms. This year, they put kids on the team even though it would cause them to miss their state finals. Bad. Very bad.

That happened with two top Michigan athletes. One is Dynasty McGee, and her story is complicated. She started the season competing for Lincoln High, and at the end of the season she wasn't on the team. I don't know the whole story and I honestly don't want to, so DON'T EMAIL ME!!! The other Puerto Rico athlete is Kyra Jefferson, another phenomenal athlete. According to NSSF sources, athletes with conflicting state meets weren't put on the team unless their high school coaches gave them permission.

I don't know the details of Jefferson's case, but there's some troubling flags flying. For starters, had she been at the D1 state finals, the results would have been considerably different. Her team, Cass Tech, finished tied for 45th place with three points. With her present, I think we would have seen her score a double win in the sprints, add a win in the 4 x 2, and possibly a win or a high placing in the 4 x 1 (they were in the fast heat). Let's say Cass Tech scores 40. They would placed 4th overall, lowering the scores of Rochester and Rockford but not changing the order. Perhaps the biggest losers were the Cass Tech relay members who didn't get to celebrate a victory.

Why would an athlete voluntarily skip the state finals? I can't imagine why an athlete would do so, and I hope we never see it again. To better their scholarship potential? Garbage. What a college coach sees in a situation like this is someone who is not there when their team needs them.

Or maybe it's the honor of representing the United States of America in international competition. Again: garbage. Only USA Track & Field is authorized to send true national teams abroad. That's why they pick the Olympic team--federal law mandates that. A team that is put together by the NSSF--while at no cost to the athlete--is about as official as the old sports tour scams ("give us $5000 and we will put you on an international track team competing in Europe"). Heck, give me $500 and I'll make you a Team USA jersey and find some Canadians in Windsor to race you. And guess what... the competition in Windsor will be about as good as what they faced in Puerto Rico (which is part of the United States anyways, but that's another rant).

So, Jeff, you're thinking... been drinking caffeine today? Under a lot of stress at home? Wife making you do dishes? Gave up caffeine... on vacation... and my wife's been very nice to me lately. I think I'm just ticked off at people who think it's somehow good for kids to tear them away from their state meets so they can compete against a team of Caribbean JV all-stars. Shame on them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

MHSAA bullies Kaddurah & Company

Track fans can scratch that hoped-for mile record tomorrow night. According to various sources, Omar Kaddurah and several other key Michigan athletes have withdrawn from the Midwest Distance Gala because the MHSAA has reportedly threatened their eligibility.

Disclaimer: I have not directly communicated with any of the parties involved at this point. My opinions here are based on years of past experience with similar stories.

My stomach turned when I got this news. This is what happens when ADs ask the MHSAA for interpretations on summer competitions: they never get a simple yes (or no). Instead, they are often given verbal discouragements, with written responses slow or non-existant. And even though summer competitions like the MDG are perfectly fine within MHSAA rules as we know them (as long as no school checks, uniforms, or transport are involved), the organization somehow feels it gains by scaring athletes away from such meets.

We all lose when this happens. And while I am thankful for all the MHSAA does for student athletes in this state, it would be ridiculous to think that we couldn't do better. Where are the foes of big government when we need them? Here is a quasi-governmental organization with great power, and it is only answerable (in a distant way) to athletic directors and principals. Not to the people the organization purports to serve: student athletes and their families. And yet this organization supports itself with funds raised on the backs of our student-athletes. When they overule the parents and dictate what students can and can't do on their summer vacations, it feels wrong to me.

Is anyone else out there troubled by this? I would love to see an athlete challenge the MHSAA on this. Look up your history, on the great running legend Gerry Lindgren challenging the NCAA to run in national championships and the USA vs USSR track meet in 1965. They threatened to take away his eligibility. His stand took guts, and it was the right thing to do. Where are those heroes today?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Division I wind readings

In an ideal world, the complete wind readings for all the affected events at all of the state finals would be on the official results, as the NCAA does. This year, the MHSAA required all state finals to use wind gauges. I'll be trying to get readings from the other sites, but for now, here's Division 1:

(All headwinds)
B100 heats: -1.2, -2.2, -2.3, -2.0; semis: -2.2, -2.1
G100 heats: -1.6, -2.0, -2.4, -1.6; semis: -2.2, -3.4
B110H heats: -2.1, -1.9, -1.5; semis: -2.5, -2.4
G100H heats: -2.4, -2.3, -2.3; semis: -3.2, -2.0
B200 heats: -1.8, -2.2, -1.3, -1.8; semis: -2.4, -0.9
G200 heats: -0.9, -1.5, -0.9, -1.7; semis: -2.2, -1.1

B110H -3.0
G100H -3.4
B100 -3.7
G100 -2.7
B200 -2.8
G200 -2.8

Long jump: gauge present, actual readings weren't recorded. All jumps had a crosswind/headwind.

If for no other reason, wind readings like these need to go on the official results, so that when we refer to the historical record in years to come, we have some understanding of why the times were so slow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kaddurah to run Midwest Distance Gala

Anyone hoping to see Grand Blanc star Omar Kaddurah go after the state record in the mile will be well advised to pay attention to the Midwest Distance Gala, set for this Saturday at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. A top-flight national class field will be competing. Last year, winning time in the mile was 4:02.70 (that's for a full mile, not 1600m).

Also competing in the mile will be Swartz Creek's Jeremy Dickie, who impressed at D1 with his 4:11.53; and Zach Kughn of Grand Blanc. The two mile will feature Morsi Rayyan of St Johns, David Madrigal of Durand, and Austin Whitelaw of Monroe. Brave Chad Machinski of Temperance Bedford will be attempting the 2000m steeplechase. Kyle Roche of Walled Lake Central will be in the 5000.

The meet's play-by-play announcing will be handled by our own David Mitchell, so it should be a good show. But where are the Michigan women? None are on the entry lists at this point. Our best seniors will be at the Midwest Meet of Champions on Saturday, but we have some underclasspeople who are definitely worth highlighting. Meier twins, are you listening?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How Goethals did it

Megan Goethals' stunning 8-laps last night at the Oakland County Championships made history, establishing a record that may last for many, many years--that is, unless she breaks it herself at Nationals next month.

How did she do it? The splits (all 400m times, none including the last 18.69 meters)
1:17.3 [2:27.3]
1:16.8 [3:44.1]
1:15.9 [5:00.0]
1:16.9 [6:16.9]
1:16.3 [7:33.2]
1:16.5 [8:49.7]

Her last two 200s were 35.8/34.7
Her 800s: 2:27.3, 2:32.7, 2:33.2, 2:27.0
Her 1600s: 5:00.0/5:00.2

Her 3000m split of 9:25.5 broke Sharon Van Tuyl's 1997 state record of 9:41.6, which she had set at the National Scholastic Outdoor that year en route to the 2-mile win.

Her 3200m time of 10:00.15 broke her own state record of 10:20.25, set last year at Nike Nationals. While the 10:20.25 was a 2M time, organizers did not time her at 3200m itself. Since her time was faster than any 3200 a Michigander had recorded (and longer), it stood as both the 3200 and 2M record. Remember, in the big leagues (world, American, and high school) records are not converted. That 3200m time ranks her No. 7 in U.S. history among all 8-lappers, including converted 2-mile races.

Her 2-mile time of 10:03.2 (there were 8 official timers on that!) is the second fastest two-mile race ever by a U.S. girl. It narrowly missed the record of 10:01.08 set by Molly Huddle in 2002.

Goethals said the plan was to go out in 72, and that she perhaps blew her chances for a sub-10 in the first lap. "I was so excited. I felt good, and I went for it. I wasn't thinking about laps 5 and 6 when I would be regretting it. I know I gave my best, though. I couldn't have done it without the crowd. I'm so happy that at Nationals I will have someone else to race with."

For now, though, she has to refocus on the state finals, where she will be running the 4x8, the 1600, and the 3200. The biggest challenge there may be her 1600m match-up with surprising frosh Hannah Meier of Grosse Pointe South, who has reeled off times of 4:45.0, 4:46.1, plus a 2:12.9 this spring.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Egads! Computer nightmares!

As if everything else going on in this crazy life weren't enough of a distraction, I'm having big problems accessing my own website from my own (new) computer. I'm really not liking technology these days. I've had to throw together a temporary website just to get my lists out there:

It's not pretty, but it's probably more effective than using masking tape to put the lists on my garage door for everyone to see...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kaiser runner-up in state record

Temperance Bedford junior Nick Kaiser cranked a 1:51.34 to shatter the state record in the 800m by nearly a second and a half today, finishing second at the Nike Indoor Championships. Kaiser's time tops the 1:52.80 standard set by Mumford's Isaiah Ward two years ago.

To watch the video, click here.

Owens-Mitchell second in squeeker

Southfield's Bridgette Owens-Mitchell placed second in the nation at the Nike Indoor as both she and the winner, California's Kori Carter, clocked 7.40. The actual margin turned out to be infinitesimal: just four one-thousandths of a second. Carter clocked 8.396 and Owens-Mitchell 8.400.

In the semis earlier today, Owens-Mitchell clocked 8.39, second only to her state record 8.35 at MITS. However, organizers had a second FAT camera set up, and caught her passing 55m in 7.81. That mark breaks the state record of 7.89 (set similarly en route) by Candice Davis in 2003. The two are pictured here together after Owens-Mitchell broke Davis's 60H mark at the MITS meet.

To watch the final, click here.

More Baisden: 23.89 state record in third

The headline says it all. Just 90 minutes after her historic 400 record, ninth-grader Kendall Baisden came back and placed third in the 200 finals, clocking 23.89. That nips Shayla Mahan's state record of 23.90 set on the same track three years ago.

Kendall Baisden national champ: 53.23!!

Stunning. Kendall Baisden, the 9th grader from Detroit Country Day, hammered the state record in the 400 by 1.35 seconds and destroyed the field at the National Scholastic Championships, clocking 53.23 to win by 0.87 seconds. If we get a video link on this we'll let you know. At this point, live coverage of the meet is being sold for $5 by the folks at

Just how good is 53.23? It makes her the No. 6 high schooler in U.S. history indoors (the record is 51.93). Only three Michiganders have ever done faster in college and beyond: Alexandria Sprueil, Janeen Jones, and Delisa Walton Floyd. It currently ranks her No. 51 on the world list and No. 21 in the United States (among adults). And it's frightfully close to her outdoor best, 53.05.

Goethals and Baisden hammer records

Megan Goethals proved once again that she is a ferocious racer, coming back from a three-second deficit on the last lap of the Nike Indoor 2 mile to nail Emily Sisson at the wire, 10:10.14 to 10:10.21. That's a state 2M record, and she passed through 3200m in a state record 10:07.1. It makes her the #5 2-miler in U.S. prep history. En route she broke her own 3000m state record with a 9:34.74.

Watch the video by clicking here.

Meanwhile, in New York, Kendall Baisden led the heats of the 400 with a 54.58, breaking the 54.79 set by Mumford's Jessica Jones on the same track in 2005. Earlier, she ranked 3rd in the 200 heats with her 24.13 (=#3 in Michigan history).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kendall Baisden: All Speed

The game of sportswriting is that you write about fantastic people all the time, and you tend to use superlatives liberally: the fastest, the best ever, the best since, and so on. And then once in a great while you find yourself writing about a young athlete you know is going to outstrip every superlative you can generate.

Many years ago, I remember talking to a coach in California for an interview on one of his sprinters who was considered the best in the country. At the end, he said something like, “But we’ve got a young one coming up who’s going to be way better.” And then he started telling me about a kid named Marion Jones.

To read more, click here.

Nationals: Saturday highlights

This morning in Boston (actually, it's Roxbury), the Detroit Chargers placed third in the 4 x 200. The Cass Tech foursome clocked 1:30.33, led off by Dior Mathis and anchored by Kishon Wilcher. Hopefully this helps make up for their disappointment at apparently winning the MITS title, but being DQed by three officials for a lane violation. Their NIN time ranks #5 in state history. Fifth place in the race went to KP Athletics in 1:30.96, all four of the runners from East Kentwood.

Friday, March 12, 2010

NIN: Breen/Troy breaks DMR record

At the Nike meet, the foursome from Troy High School running as the Breen TC broke a state record in the distance medley that was a third of a century old. Clocking 10:09.20 for 5th place, they shattered the old best of 10:17.1y set by Grosse Pointe North in 1977 at the Spartan Relays.

The all-senior squad of James Yau (3:08.7), Brian Murphy (50.8), Brad Pienta (2:02.0)and Mike Atchoo (4:07.6!) were just 1.62 seconds away from the win in a very close finish. Atchoo came up from 8th place, splitting 60, 63, 64, 60.

Watch the video by clicking here.

Michigan at Nationals - Anzelone scares record

This just in from Boston: Gabrielle Anzelone, after leading the Nike Nationals 5000m most of the distance, finished second in 17:04.48, just missing Marissa Treece's state record of 17:04.32. Watch the video: click here.

Also, Hannah Meier and twin Haley Meier took 1-2 in the 9th grade mile, Hannah clocking 4:56.91 (full mile, not 1600m), with Haley at 5:00.01. Hannah broke Shannon Osika's 9th grade mile record, and got the 1500 standard to boot (4:38.39 FAT). Watch the video: click here.

Austin Whitelaw ran the 5000m in 15:47.31, shy of the 15:19.04 he ran last year, but since he's the first junior we know of to run the event, that's an 11th grade record. Watch the video: click here.

In New York, at the other national championships, Alysha Johnson added more than a foot to her shot best to place third with a toss of 43-5.25.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The oversized track controversy

I blame the NCAA. And football. In an era where track & field needs to be simpler, not more complex, in order to attract fan interest, things are getting just too complicated.

Case in point, raised by Don Passenger: now that we have a 300-meter track in Allendale, do we need to reconsider the topic of “legal record tracks”?

It’s not a simple question by any means. For a lot of folks in the Grand Rapids area, it’s a no-brainer. However I suspect few there cared about the issue at all more than two years ago, when the only oversized track marks that came up were from Detroit-area track clubs travelling to Ohio and Kentucky. (Incidentally, in all those years, with all those great oversized marks coming from Detroit kids [1:52.21 by Isaiah Ward or even Stan Vinson’s 47.2y in 1971—which would have been a national record at the time], I never heard a complaint from any of the coaches about the marks not being called records).

However, times change. To make sense of the arguments involved, one must step back and understand the history and tradition involved. Here goes. Back in the old days—1960s and earlier, the standard indoor track in North America was usually a board affair that was 10 or 11 laps per mile. A few fieldhouses, like Jenison in East Lansing and Yost (yes!) in Ann Arbor, featured 220y tracks. Indoor track was basically unknown in Europe; it was an American sport.

Back then, indoor record keeping was mostly left to track writers, such as the ones at Track & Field News. For years, they attempted to keep records based on a confusing array of track sizes: 11-laps, 10-laps, 8-laps, etc. That eventually disappeared because it was just too confusing and convoluted. Fans didn’t care. So all the records were lumped together.

As far as I know, the first oversized track was built at the University of Illinois around 1970. Yes, it was notably faster. Since it was the only one of its kind, the track world determined that it was “oversized” and would not count for lap records. Obviously, marks set there in the dash and the hurdles would be acceptable. (Ironic sidenote: the new Illinois track is 200m.)

That was the state of indoor track when I ran my first indoor race in 1977, a two-mile run at the AFL-CIO meet in Cobo Hall, on an 11-lap to the mile banked wooden track that bounced when athletes ran on it. I clocked 11-minutes or so, but who knows. I’m sure I lost count of the laps. I got dizzy running on it, and was scared to death that if I accidentally stepped off, I would snap my ankle. That night, I saw a kid running a 440 (I think) in an outer lane fly off the high part of the curve. Medical attention was needed! Running on the boards was an art form unknown to our current athletes—it took a special combination of agility and fearlessness. In that world, Stan Vinson, one of the all-time greats from Chadsey High and Eastern Michigan, had godlike powers.

What’s changed
Three things: the NCAA, football, and Europe.
The NCAA has long used time-based qualifying for their Division I Indoor Championships. It didn’t take coaches long to figure out they could get faster times on a big track than on a small one. So a few other schools constructed giant tracks (Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Washington, Kentucky, etc.). They made money off them because so many college coaches were willing to fly kids in from across the country to get their qualifying marks. The coaches who had budget/travel constraints pushed for adjusted qualifying standards, so that they would still have a chance to qualify their kids from a 200-m track, which is the standard for 95% of colleges. However, the qualifying standard adjustments the NCAA still uses remain too weak, and still give too much of an advantage to the big tracks. The proof: colleges are still flocking to those meets.

Most of the giant tracks have been constructed around indoor football practice facilities. In American colleges, football is the tail that wags the dog, so I don’t think the trend to pour more taxpayer money into the gridiron is going to change anytime soon (except perhaps in Michigan, see below). Combine this with college track coaches wanting to have their own giant track so that they can qualify without travelling while raking in money from visiting schools, and you may see more giant tracks being built.

(However—and this is to respond to Don’s contention that the Allendale track is now the “standard” for the state of Michigan—in our state we have between six and ten 200m tracks, so I would argue that remains our standard. And will we really see more colleges in Michigan building giant tracks? Not anytime soon, I bet, given our moribund economy, and the fact that the state is going to have to cut back even more on spending for the public universities.)

Finally, a quick look at Europe. In the 1980s, the Europeans started getting into indoor track in a big way, and so did the IAAF, with the creation of the World Indoor Championships, first held in Indianapolis in 1987. As far as I know, there are no giant tracks in Europe (for a time, there was a big one in the former East Germany, but I believe it is no longer used/in existence). The standard in Europe is the ultra-fast 200m banked synthetic track—the same kind used in New York, Boston, Fayetteville, etc. All world-class invitationals are held on these ovals now. The IAAF now has official indoor world records—modeling their guidelines on the ones that USATF uses—that is, the maximum circumference track acceptable for records is 220y. Oversized marks are not recognized. I don’t see that international rule changing in our time. Building oversized tracks is strictly an American phenomenon.

What’s fair in records
The keeping of state records (or any kind of records) is merely because of a desire to compare marks—we all want to know what was the best ever. And we try to base records on the concept of fairness and standardization, otherwise there’s no point. For instance, because excessive tailwind makes people run faster, sometimes dramatically so, and 95% of races are run with winds less than 2.0mps, then that became the standard for allowable wind. You have to apply rules to records, otherwise you end up with (bad) craziness.

We also base records on tradition. Consider this—we know that bigger tracks are faster. So why not build your next outdoor track to be 500m? Too tough to do staggers, so maybe 800m would be better? Of course, you wouldn’t because that’s not the sport’s tradition (or rules). Maybe this is a little too ad absurdum, but ever consider that your team would score more touchdowns if your football field were only 50 yards long?

There’s a point there, even if silly. However, in indoor track, the cat is already out of the bag. We have 300m tracks. Now we have to deal with them.

I am just about convinced that in the next Michigan Track Yearbook, I need to add a “300m track records” list. Wouldn’t take much more than a feather to push me in that direction, even though I see having two sets of state records as something that will only confuse fans and athletes.

However, I find that I would be terribly troubled if someone were to say “throw out all restrictions and comments on track size, treat everyone equally!” That is because everyone would not be treated equally in such a case. Most of the state’s tracks would be at a disadvantage in the qualifying game, and most of the state’s athletes would be at a disadvantage in the recognition game. More and more athletes would flock to Allendale; which would be great for Grand Valley’s finances, but no one else’s.

If more 300m tracks are built on the other side of the state, then I would gladly reconsider. Just as I would if the IAAF and USATF change their record policies.

Today, we have just one 300m track in Michigan. Yes, the kids that run on it deserve recognition. I am definitely open to suggestions.

PS--It’s clear that MITS needs to adopt a dual set of qualifying standards for lap races. If the directors of the meets at U-M, MSU, CMU and Macomb aren’t already complaining about this, they should be. The current set-up is not fair to anyone.

PPS—No matter what the consensus here, the fact is that any potential world, American, and national high school records set on a 300m track are not eligible for record status, and powers much bigger than me and Michtrack determine that.

PPPS—the GaREAT facility in Northeast Ohio is now open for business, aggressively marketing their own 300m supertrack. I couldn’t help but groan when I saw they are sponsoring their own “national championships” in March in direct competition to the other two national high school indoor championships. As if we needed three national championships, let alone two! Please don’t patronize them. If you really want to win a cheap national title, just invite a few friends and have your own national championships in your gymnasium.

Baisden stuns with oversized 53.99

Now we can put a bigger exclamation mark on my statement yesterday that Kendall Baisden is ready to take down some records. At yesterday's Rubber City Invitational in Akron, Baisden cruised around the monster 300m track in a blazing 53.99 for 400m. Put her on a regulation track, and she's surely ready to topple Jessica Jones' 54.79 state record. Baisden topped runner-up Dynasty McGee by 3.61 seconds, and also won the 60 with a state-leading 7.53.

It's a pity that Michigan athletes have to wait until Nationals to have access to a state-of-the-art 200m track such as the ones used in Boston and New York. On any size track, however, Baisden is only behind five other Michigan HS alumni, and two of them were Olympians.

Unfortunately, Dynasty McGee did not contest the jumps in Akron. It would have been great to see her confirm her Saginaw marks. Her sister China triple jumped, but fell more than four feet short of her Saginaw distance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Records Falling Indoors

Shana Flanary, competing for Monroe this year, started the record ball rolling in January by adding two feet to her state record in the 20lb weight throw (45-7.5). Ten days later she smashed it again, reaching 48-4.5 at Jenison Fieldhouse in East Lansing.

Then Dynasty McGee shocked at last Wednesday's meet at Saginaw Valley, hitting a 19-8 in the long jump that surpasses Trinette Johnson's 21-year-old record of 19-6.5. She came back in the triple jump and broke her own best of 37-4 with a 39-1. In the process, the junior improved her own PRs by eyebrow-raising margins (old bests 18-1 and 37-4). The fields at the Saginaw meet were small: five girls in the long jump and only two, the McGee sisters, in the triple. To be honest, I'll be hoping she betters the marks again at the state finals to eliminate any questions.

The record threat is certainly not over yet. Watch for possible marks from Sarah Birkmeier, who's at 12-6 now, just under her own PV record of 12-8. Bridgette Owens-Mitchell just cranked an 8.49 in the hurdles at Kentucky, second only in state history to the 8.46 by now-world class Candice Davis. Megan Goethals has hit 10:25.66 for 3200 on an oversized (non-record) track. The state 2M best is 10:22.96 for the full yard distance. Youngster Kendall Baisden might have a chance at the 200/400 bests of 23.90 and 54.79.

On the guys side, watch for Bedford's Nick Kaiser. He just ran an oversized 1:53.17 in Kentucky. The state record on a legal track is 1:52.80. And if Omar Kaddurah and Mike Atchoo keep improving, look for them to threaten the 1600 best of 4:09.0. I also wouldn't count out Max Babits, who is at 16-2 in the vault now (the record is 16-10.25).

If you want to have all the facts at your fingertips, make sure you get the 2010 Michigan Track Yearbook. Order it online, or, if my shipment gets here in time, you can pick one up at the state indoor. To order, click this link!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Revamped Track Lists now available!

More later, but for now just a plug. The Michigan Track & Field 2010 Yearbook is now ready for sale. It's entirely retooled for this year, with expanded all-time lists, and for the first time ever, indoor and outdoor records/lists in the same volume. And amazingly, I've been able to slap the lowest price ever on it, $13--for over 250 pages of great stats.

I will have a limited quantity of the books for sale at the State Indoor meet where I will be announcing. Eventually it should pop up on Amazon. For now, if you want one fast, order it directly from my virtual store, and it will be shipped to you directly from the printer. To order, click this link!