Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Outdoor Nationals: Day 4

Did I mention that it's been hot here?

I was looking forward to Saturday's shorter day; while it was only about 10 hours on the track, the temperature peaked near 100. Took advantage of the girls' 200m semi cancellation to run back to the dorm and stand under the shower yet again. The other officials thought I was nuts, but I didn't care.

First up; a Sunday morning jog thru Hendricks Park. It's not flat. At all.

I wound thru the park and ended up at Pre's Rock. Good place to take a break and think about why we all do this...

On the way back to the dorm, I rolled downhill to Market of Choice for the morning sports section. Eugene's Register-Guard does an outstanding job reporting on track and field. Of course, when I dumped the classifieds and inserts in the store's garbage can outside, I also dumped my $18 in change. I'm not too proud to go diving...

Then it's a very quick shower and breakfast, because we have to watch over the 20k race walk on Agate Street. 12.4 miles....of walking. Heaven help me!

I gained a new and very healthy appreciation for race walkers. These folks put out the effort; every single one of them was completely drenched after only 20 minutes.

Big thanks to Nick Christie, 2nd place finisher. When he spent 100 yards giving back his breakfast (that must have been lime Gatorade and kiwi fruit), he didn't hit me at all. Of course, I jumped like I was on hot coals. Yes, race walkers put out the effort, all right.

And a spectator/coach was out there, yelling, "Looking STRAWNG, Nick!" With his Jersey accent, I could have sworn I was in my old neighborhood again.

In an effort to avoid the horrific heat, the two 5k races were rescheduled to the morning before the full schedule began. The stands were half-full, and someone commented online that "Hayward just can't pack them in."  Really? Meanwhile, a bunch of youngsters took Shalane to the cleaners with a 2:16 final half mile. However, Ms. Flanagan is a marathoner, so it was a solid tempo workout in preparation for next winter's marathon trials in LA.

Men's 5000m ended with a ridiculous sprint, Galen barely getting that third place. Slow race, furious finish, like the women's 1500.

Maggie Vessey tripped and fell in the 800; must have been those baggy boxer shorts she wore. Ajee got stepped on and lost a shoe with 200 left, but still ended up in the money. I'm guessing she has some blisters today. And Alysia FINALLY ran an evenly-paced race, which gave her a national championship about 11 months after giving birth.

Georganne Moline was running the hurdles well until she clipped the crossbar in the adjacent lane, then demolished her own hurdle and went down hard. Never saw that before; coming up to flight #8 where the hurdles are about a foot or two apart, she was hugging the line too close and had the unfortunate carom. Since she wiped out two lanes worth of hurdles, the woman in lane 2 didn't have to jump; she squeezed into 3rd place after having jumped only 9 of the 10 hurdles. 4th place must be very upset...

And then there was the women's 200m final.

Jenna got her usual ok start, then accelerates coming out of the turn with daylight. With 50m to go, it looks like she's losing ground. One quick glance at the video screen proves otherwise; NATIONAL CHAMPION!!! The crowd was not quiet.

I leave the 200m starting line and am walking clockwise to get to my next post at the finish line. When I get near, she is being interviewed, so I wait. Then the photogs get all their victory shots.
Once that's done, I continue walking. She then starts coming past me toward the podium. As we passed, I said, "good wheels" and she slapped me a low five! But the video cut out a split second right before we slapped hands. Bummer!

Here are the world-class starters: I've learned so much from them.

And my motley crew...

By the way, I did get my three showers on the last day, even with the (slightly) cooler weather. So that's 12 in four days. With about 42 hours on the track, most of it in direct sunlight, I needed every minute I could find under a shower head.

As always, a great experience at Hayward Field! And while I was exhausted on the drive home, I was somehow able to stay awake.

I love track.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Outdoor Nationals: Day 3

A decent night's sleep, though a bit warm.

Walking to the grocery store for a paper and ice (beer cooler), I pass a big guy who has:

1) a 16 oz coffee
2) a 20 oz Rockstar

and he's alternating slugs from each. It's 0715 in the morning.

Caffeine, anyone?  Or maybe a bladder stone...

The newspaper has a great shot of the women's 100m finish: Torie Bowie, English Gardner, Jenna Prandini, Carmelita Jeter....4 runners.

in 3 lanes.


Carmelita drifted into English's lane at the finish; no foul, because she didn't impede. Ms Jeter ended up far behind the winners...never seen that before!

And oh by the way: the newspaper reported that Jenna Prandini got a bad start in the 100 final yesterday. Where else might you have heard that, I wonder? After you re-read my comments from that entry, please notify me of any coaching opportunities you might find. Or any announcing jobs....good thing I don't get tired of being right.

I'm all out of incident report sheets, so I ask for another handful. I'm in a writing kind of mood...the head referee hears me and says, "Great. More work for me."

Aries Merritt is one buttery smooth hurdler. So is Emma Coburn. Seems like they gain momentum while everyone else is losing. Aries really needs to clip his fingernails, though; they are Howard-Hughes like.

Duane Solomon is predicting a world record in the 800m tomorrow, and Nick Symmonds says he's steal it in the last 100. Guys, please save your talking until after the race.

In the men's 200m prelims, the announcer says that "the top two advance to Sunday's final." There are five heats, and eight lanes. Unless we're going to double up a few lanes, he's mistaken. He meant to say "the top two in each heat plus the next six fastest advance to Sunday's SEMI-finals."  Same announcer introduced a University of Texas runner as being from Texas A&M. In Austin, you could get shot for that.

Remember that thing about being right? Just sayin.'

The schedule is bad today from a lunch standpoint. We need 25 minutes or so to run to the cafeteria and back, but every other event is such that we need the full crew. And I'm a growing boy.....

Ned, the lap counter, notices my dilemma and realizes that the starters have ordered too many box lunches (they can't leave the track at all). So he produces a spare, and I shovel down a chicken wrap while under the stands.

It's good to know the right people!

While I'm there, the women steeple runners are assembling with the clerks. I see Jaime Cheever, who I recently found out is a friend of a co-worker. Unfortunately, she scoots for the starting line while my mouth is full, or I would have introduced myself.

Talking with Nancy; she hands out cold towels and ice water to the athletes at the starting line. In our conversation, she mentions that her husband is the Facility Director for the track. I ask her last name.


As in Lance Deal, Olympic Silver Medalist and 4-time Olympian in the hammer throw. I've seen him many times at the track but never had opportunity to speak with him. I asked Nancy if she was in Atlanta '96 when he won his medal. She said, "Not only was I there, but he owes that medal to me."

Explain, please.

After the 3 rounds of qualifying throws, Lance was tied for the 8th and last spot. Normally, the tiebreaker goes to the thrower whose next best effort is longer. But not in the Olympics; they'll bring all nine to the final.

Ok, good. Except Lance's 4th and 5th throws are fouls. He's one throw away from going home empty, so he goes to the bathroom to collect his thoughts. Nancy sees him and says, "Lance, really? You KNOW how to throw far."  In a tone that only a spouse knows.

Bingo. He nodded, smiled, and said, "I got this."

He got back into the ring and absolutely uncorked one. The leader was shown on camera watching the weight fly as he mouthed "Oh F.........k."  Lance's throw ended up 4" short, though plenty for 2nd place.

But there's more....

Nike had just come out with their first line of sunglasses, and they had sponsored Lance for awhile. The contract stated a bonus for every picture published in which Lance was wearing the shades.

As he began his victory lap, his wife screamed, "THE GLASSES!"

He put on the shades and paraded around the track. Later, Nancy went to the library and documented every news picture she could find and sent the results to Nike. They were rewarded with a check for $2500 (in 1996 money), that she used to buy herself a very nice piece of jewelry.

Did I mention that I love track?

During the 400m hurdles, I see one of the starters absolutely dropping the hammer on the photographers who feel it necessary to shoot pix a split second before the gun is fired. Tiger Woods never stood for that...

As the hurdlers approach the finish en masse, I hear the best announcing ever: "It's the race to the line.....BATMAN!"  

Translation: Bershawn "Batman" Jackson out-nudges the other two for a big win.

In mid-afternoon, with the temperature approaching triple digits and muggy, my body is dripping wet. I see Facility Director Lance Deal, so I introduce myself. Then I say, "I'd like to complain about the effectiveness of your air conditioning." He laughs.

On their victory lap, the female hammer throwers decide to sprint across the finish line, nearly flattening the Finish Line Coordinator. It was a while before his heart rate resumed normal cadence.

Robby Andrews, as usual, was way back in the 1500m with a half lap remaining. He found his big gear and squeezed into 2nd at the line, behind Matt Centrowitz and his hellacious 51.97 last lap.

Before the 100mHH final, Lolo is focused and dialed in. I mean, she has the look of someone about to commit a felony (she was pacing back and forth about 5 feet away from me). She muffs a hurdle and is out of the race. Heck, she probably wouldn't have placed anyway. She's not at the same level as the others anymore.

The Junior girls 200m semi was cancelled, and all runners were advanced to the final. Not significant, except that this provided a 30 minute window of nothing to do. Which means I had time to run back to the dorm for another shower. By the end of today, I will have showered nine times in three days. Anything to break the heat wave...

Dawn Harper wins the sprint hurdles, and on her victory lap does a one-handed cartwheel while holding the flag.

UO's Raevyn Rogers owns the 800m. Just like two weeks ago in the NCAA Championship, she ran with the self-possession of a seasoned pro. A pedestrian 65 seconds on the first lap led to a 61 and a total destruction of the field. No one, and I mean NO ONE, negative splits an 800m race!!

A guy behind me in the stands is wearing at least half a tube of suntan lotion, and he didn't rub any of it in. He looks like a very sloppy baker.

A tiny, skinny girl enters the last lap of the Junior 1500m in 3rd place, trailing the leaders by a wide margin, when she says, "no you won't, EITHER." And she busts a 63 final lap to take it. She's a high school SOPHMORE.

The tally so far:
  • 3 days
  • 34 hours on the track
  • High-90s every day
  • 9 showers
  • 1 B-Mart sighting: 800m hopeful Brenda Martinez at the Wild Duck Pub, where she noticed the very cute daughter of some friends of mine.
I love track. But I'd really like some air conditioning, too.

Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 Outdoor Nationals: Day 2

This is gonna be work.

If it were simply another long day on a hot track, no big deal. However, I stayed up past midnight catching up with Ishmael, another umpire I haven't seen in awhile. He competed at UO back in the day and has lots of great war stories.

Then I woke up at 0500, just like I usually do. I NEED COFFEE!!!

But what works better is an early morning run. This one was prefaced by an elevator trip to the wrong floor in the dorm, then using a bathroom, then discovering that I somehow entered the other gender's facilities. Sorry, ladies!

Nice morning to shake the cobwebs loose. An easy half hour, culminating in the heinous climb up to Pre's Rock. I really wish he hadn't died, and I also wish he hadn't died UP THERE. Killer hills....

On the way back to the dorm, I notice grocery store isn't open yet, and I need my Register-Guard; the Eugene paper has great track coverage, and it's my habit to save the sports section after the big meets. I have a pretty big stack at home; hopefully that doesn't make me a hoarder.

Anyhow, I find a gas station/convenience store. They don't sell papers. Hmmmmm...this should be easier. Couple of hotels nearby....I pop into the lobby of one and see a stack of newspapers, so I ask if I can buy one. The clerk says, "they're free if you're staying here."

I say, "I'm not staying here."

Clerk: blank look.

Me: "The grocery store is closed, the gas station doesn't have any, and I NEED A PAPER!"  Ok, I didn't yell, but I did offer to pay full price. Mission accomplished.

At breakfast, I'm talking with Dan, Head Clerk and Tucson native. He attended the Olympics in Munich 72, Montreal 76, Moscow 80, and worked at the LA 84 and Atlanta 96 Games. He's got some stories, too.

Junior Men's 5000m: Bend-ite Matthew Maton is content to take a stroll for about 4k, as is the rest of the pack. Then it gets tasty; he burns a last 800 in 2:03 and his last lap in 60. But he looked like the heat took it out of him.

Yesterday, I noticed something about UO junior Jenna Prandini, the monster sprinter. When she leaves the blocks, she scrapes her toes for a couple of strides, and I can't figure out why. So I ask UO Coach Johnson; he's a sprinter and I'm not. Sure enough, he says it's to counteract those first power steps and help with the forward acceleration.

I have no idea what that means. I'm an engineer, and I know that friction is resistance to motion. How can friction be helpful if the goal is to get down the track as fast as possible?

Probably the tops of her shoes have a Teflon-like coating to minimize friction. Know what else minimizes friction? NOT SCRAPING YOUR TOES!!!

Junior women's hammer: I know one thrower's parents are named Lloyd and Patricia, because the girl's name is Lloydricia.

Forgot to mention: the dorms are full of exchange students and young kids in camp programs. They don't like to sleep like us old folks: last night, they had a nice volleyball game outside the dorm at 0100. And since it's been so hot, everyone has to open their windows (no air conditioning). Eventually, someone called the police. Fortunately, I'm on the other side of the building and heard nothing.

I went to lunch and came back to find my chair stolen by Olympic Decathlon Silver Medalist Trey Hardee. I don't care how much hardware he has.

Semis of the junior men's 800; Donavan Brazier has the 4th best HS time in history. Too bad I had to DQ him: he stepped on the line right after the start.

Women's 100m semi: I notice on the big screen that I'm blocking the USATF logo on the backdrop behind the starting blocks, so I do a sideways shuffle in real time so the sponsors are happy.

Former UO Duck English Gardner wins her semi  in a nasty 10.79. She came to Eugene by way of New Jersey, meaning that she spent the first 22 years of her life not pumping her own gas.

Junior men's 110HH final: bodies flying everywhere. I'm surprised the hurdles didn't splinter.

Trayvon Bromell qualified for the men's 100m semi with a 9.84, 4th fastest American time ever. Then he runs a wind-aided 9.76, while Tyson did a 9.79 with a similar breeze. Incidentally, all the competitors are dressed stylish, groomed impeccably. Except Tyson, whose goatee appears very Amish-like. Good Lord, man, get a trimmer.

I was stationed behind the blocks. When Tyson was set, his entire body quivered like a spaceship about to launch.

Oh yes, that was the "BMW Men's 100m Dash." Thank you very much...

Queen Harrison is waiting for the 100m HH; she has a Cleopatra pattern of tattoos on her right forearm, as well as the back of her hand. That had to hurt....Sharika Nelvis busts a wind-legal 12.34...Olympic winner and runner-up Dawn Harper-Nelson is sporting a braided high box that looks a lot like Vanilla Ice.

Just sayin'

Monster efforts in the men's High Jump. Erik Kynard, who looks a lot like Kobe Bryant, narrowly misses an American Record of 7'10 3/4".

I skipped the women's 1500m semis in favor of moving my car and getting something to eat. Got me a prime parking spot outside the dorm; it's reserved M-F until 6pm, and I was there at 6:01. Very George Costanza-like in my OCD.

In the 400IH, World Junior Champion Shamir Little is not only sporting her customary green flower in the hair; she also has electric blue k-tape. Lots of loud colors.

The coordinator of officials comes over to me. Dennis has been doing this for probably 40 years and has huge pull in who gets selected for the big events. He asks if I want to work Pac-12's next May at UW, and possibly the 2017 version at Oregon State. Uh, sure.

In the steeple semis, Donn Cabral and Cory Leslie are talking and smiling with 5 laps to go. Come on, guys: this is supposed to be a hard race.

UO Soph Marcus Chambers runs a tough 400m in the semi and misses qualifying for the final by 0.02 seconds. He's crushed, mad, frustrated. He later learns that someone who finished in front of him was running on the line and was DQ'd, so Marcus gets the final. Happy boy...

The women's 100m final has 3 past or present Ducks, and they end up going 2-3. One of the starters commented that Oregon sure has a lot of good sprinters recently.

Curtis Beach, he of the DQ'd 400m heat in the decathlon, jogged thru 3 laps of the 1500 and then ran the last 200m in 32 seconds. I think he was mad. And Wisconsin's Zack Ziemek struggles thru the 1500 before collapsing. Then the camera pretty much crawls into his grill while he's lying on the ground and barely able to that really necessary?

At least he's wearing mid-calf socks, and bright red to boot.

2 days of 95+ degree heat. 24 total hours on the track. 6 showers.

I love track.

2015 Outdoor Nationals: Day 1

Last meet of the year....happy about that; it's been a long year of track.

And also a little sad about that. Because I love track!

The forecast calls for heat, and lots of it. Ergo, my somewhat primitive (and very portable) air conditioner....

A Styrofoam cooler, a fan, and two PVC elbows. Plus ice, of course; the fan blows air across the ice and out the elbow vents. Instant psychometric bliss!!!

(ok, so the fan is a little weak. Fortunately, I brought the Home Depot receipt with me). And yes, there is also a case of beer in that cooler...I get freebies from work, and lots of the umpires are fans.

Nice drive to Eugene, over the hill and thru the woods. And a bunch of slow drivers to pass....

Arrival is followed in rapid succession by:
  • find a parking space at the dorm (30 minute max)
  • check in; get my room key
  • unload the car
  • feed the meter and get another half hour
  • get credential and shirts at the Matthew Knight Arena
  • get bag of ice at grocery store for air conditioner
  • drive car 10 blocks to friend's house and leave it there (overnight parking on campus is non-existent or very expensive)
  • walk back for pre-event briefing
  • get stipend: wait a minute, it's $300, and they told us it would be $400. Will follow up (damned right I will!)
  • back to dorm for dinner
  • blow off reception for officials; it's 8pm by now, I need to be at the track in 12.5 hours, and I want to exercise early in the morning.
Walking down Agate Street, I have my first celebrity sighting: Evan Jager, American record holder in the steeple chase, doing a little shakedown run (this pic was from a few weeks ago):

With that funky hair bun he wears, he reminds me of this guy...
John Belushi, Samurai Stockbroker
Decent night's sleep, it cooled off nicely. This morning, lots of internet connectivity issues; not sure why, it worked fine last night.
I hate campus internet!!
While waiting for the business office to open at 0700, I squeezed my workout in. Jumping rope, almost 22 minutes straight without missing! Very psyched about that; I've done longer workouts when I've missed every couple of minutes. And I figured that since I'll be roasting in high-90s temperature on the track for 12 hours, I should probably keep my workout a little shorter.
At the track for our pre-event briefing: before each day's events, we go over specifics for those particular races: positioning, fouls, things to look for, etc...

Great quote from the briefing when discussing the 800m: "Jim, you're the designated Cone Head."

Yes, umpires have their own language. In the 800m, the runners have a 1-turn staggered start; they must stay in their lanes thru the first turn. Coming into the backstretch, we place a line of cones on designated marks; the line defines the place at which runners can leave their lanes and steer toward Lane 1. Once they pass, the Cone Head will pick up the cones so no one steps on them in the second lap.

First events: Junior Heptathlon 100m hurdles. As the runners settle into the blocks, the starters ensure that all fingers are placed behind the starting line. Then I notice that the backup starters are also looking at the runners' feet. After the heat, I ask why.

It's due to the timing system. After the runners are set in the blocks, the blocks are then electronically armed. Any pressure after that point is registered as a false start. Good to know.

Especially 2 heats later, in the Junior Boys Decathlon 100m. They get set in the blocks, and the starter stands them up. An Oregon freshman didn't have full contact with rear foot on the block pad. No big.

Except they get into the blocks again, and the same kid does the same thing! At first, the starter was simply going to reiterate the issue. Then the kid protests that he wasn't doing anything wrong.


The starter's referee stands in front of the kid with a yellow card. It wasn't a flag for a false start; it was a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct. Since I'm the lone starting line umpire, my job is to raise the same color flag as the card so the press box can see it. Things have already gotten interesting!

I like making things efficient. When it's approaching 90 degrees, I seek out any shade I can find. Like this: the backdrop behind the 100m starting line....

At noon, the sun created a 2 foot shadow behind the backdrop, so that's where my chair went.

Between events, I'm holed up under there, out of sight and out of mind. I only make an occasional appearance like Bob Barker emerging from the curtain on The Price is Right.

Later, I'm at the 200m start, under that wonderful overhang that is the roof of the backstretch stands. Most of this brutally hot day, I was able to find shade. Life is good.

I also remembered that I had one of those cooling towels. Soak it in water, wrap it around your neck, and the evaporation cools you off. Works great, sort of. Every little bit helps.

Had an interesting sidebar with Rob, an experienced umpire. Next year, there will be six high level indoor meets held all on the same weekend in late winter: World Indoors, NCAA Div 1, NCAA Div 3, NCAA Div 3, New Balance, and Youth Indoors. Lots of officials will have jobs. The kicker is that  the people selected for National/World Indoors will probably also be the ones picked for the Olympic Trials....I'd better start handing out lots of free beer!

Women's 800m prelims: Maggie Vessey looks positively Republican in her black outfit; very conservative. Usually she's wearing colors that hurt the eyes. But never fear, she made up for her monochromaticity with an overabundance of lace.

Men's 800m; didn't recognize Erik Sowinsky. His shaggy mane from the World Relays is long gone in favor of a near-military cut.

Boris Berian came from nowhere this year to run with the world's best. He's rocking quite the dreadlocks, in the best manner of Yannick Noah (1980s tennis pro).


In heat 4 of the 800 prelims, a guy stumbles right at the start and steps on the inner line. My first DQ of the meet...

General observation: lots and lots of loud colors and stylish outfits among the pros. It's like they all shop at the same boutique...

Men's 400m prelim: Tony McQuay and David Verburg have their heat well in hand. So much so, they are basically having a conversation with each other in the last 30 yards. I'm sure it had to do with dinner plans. And that was the easiest 45.19 I think I've ever seen.

During a later heat, the dulcet tones of NBC color man Tom Hammond waft across the track. You'll know his voice from the Olympic Trials, Kentucky Derby, and many other events. He's recording a sound promo under a canopy while the 400m runners are set in the blocks only 20 feet away. Yes, his voice carries: almost caused a restart.

By the way, "color man" is not appropriate for Mr. Hammond. The man has no pigmentation whatsoever.

400m Hurdles; ugh. In 4 heats, I write up three fouls for hooking the trailing leg. My pen is running dry.

Note: in the decathlon 100m, all the athletes slap five and wish each other luck. In the open 100m, the athletes ignore each other.

LSU has a sprinter in the 100 named Aaron Ernest. He's the only one in his heat who's not wearing tights; he has regular running shorts. Hamstrings like bridge cables. And he looks like Snoop Dogg!

While the sprinters are in the blocks, Marquis Dendy uncorks yet another monster long jump, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Over 28' (wind aided), 7th longest American jump under any conditions.

Trayvon Bromell runs a legal 9.84; he's a college sophomore. Ryan Bailey, 2012 Olympian, makes a false start so blatant that Ray Charles could have seen it. Then he spends the next 3 minutes pleading his case to the starter, to no avail. DQ..

Andrew Wheating drops a 52 last lap in the 1500. He's getting his kick back: maybe he'll make his third Olympic Team next year.

In the women's steeple, a photographer is lying on his back just beyond one of the barriers and shooting upward. Somehow, that just seems wrong...Bridget Franek has some kind of halter top with all sorts of straps; I'm guessing she recently studied at the Maggie Vessey School of Couture.

Emma Coburn runs thru the barriers fluidly and maintains momentum, while everyone else jumps and loses speed. She's in another league.

The video scoreboard gives a quiet shot of Alberto Salazar; I notice that the camera lingers on him.

Curtis Beach ran a 47-48 second 400 in the decathlon, great time. Trouble is, he was all over the lane line and was DQ'd. That's a bummer...

Women's 10,000 final. Yes, I know it's warm, but one runner comes onto the track wearing an ice vest....and 2014 NCAA Champion Emma Bates is wearing a singlet with this picture on the front:

From the movie "Sandlot"
I kid you not. There are some things that even I cannot make up.

Who won the women's 10k? I couldn't tell you. I was banished from the track...

to eat dinner. The chicken enchiladas in Carson Hall were very good. We were cut loose in shifts for a late meal; these 12 hour days on the track can take their toll. It's all good.


Oh, and I own but one of these standard umpire shirts. While we were given two event-specific shirts for the weekend days, we were told to wear the standard shirt for Thursday and Friday. Since I only have one, it spent the last hour in my sink with laundry detergent from home.

Good day on the track.




Thursday, June 18, 2015

2015 NCAA Championships

This is a fun meet. Neat to see budding stars laying it down.

We also have to be on top of our game. Given that the meet is also a team competition, any foul can cost a team points in the overall standings, and many coaches get bonuses or larger travel stipends based on how their team performs. A single point (8th place) can be very significant.

In other words, the coaches will scream 'foul' if someone spits the wrong way.

Men's Wednesday:

Florida's Marquis Dendy wins the men's long jump for the second year in a row, the kid just has monster springs. 27'8" is a huge leap for a college kid. His coach must be very proud...

Baylor soph Trayvon Bromell, defending 100m champ, says he's not bothered by the new schedule:
Wednesday: men's semis and 10k final
Thursday: women's semis and 10k final
Friday: men's finals
Saturday: women's finals

The timing means that people doubling in sprint events (ex 100/200) have two heats on their first day and two on their second. Possibly more, if they run the 4 x 1 relay. But Trayvon is not worried.....or is he?

Oregon's Cheserek and Jenkins go 1-2 in the 10,000m for 18 points. It was a slow race in the first half, and then the Texas kid remembered that Ches has a monster kick. So Texas starts pushing thru the second half, nothing to lose.

It doesn't matter: Ches and Jenkins hammer the last lap and break everyone's legs. The home team ends the day with a 34-16 lead over Florida.
Thursday: Ladies's turn

The form charts predict a very tight race on the women's side. Probably five teams have a shot at winning.

UO Junior Jenna Prandini qualified in 4 events and starts her meet with a 2nd place in the long jump; she won it last year.

As i'm walking near the shot put competition, I see a bunch of spectators yelling, "LET'S GO EAT!"
I think, "that's a little rude." Shot putters are not prone to ignore food, but there's a bit of PC called for, no?


Southern Illinois Frosh Raven Saunders wins the shot put on her last throw. It was her teammates yelling their rallying cry. Okaaaaaaaay....

As a high schooler last year, she didn't have the money to travel from Charleston to Eugene for Junior Nationals. So she did what all good Americans do; she created a GoFundMe account. She raised enough for her and her mother to make the trip; good thing, because she won Junior Nationals. I believe that qualified her for travel expenses to come back three weeks later for Junior Worlds, where she placed second to a foreign behemoth. Raven also got a full ride to SIU out of it. You go, girl...

10k defending champ Emma Bates is the odds-on favorite, and she busts open the field with 4 laps to go, dropping a 66 or something ridiculous. I think, 'it's over.'

It sure was. After her breakout lap, she fades like an old t-shirt and finishes out of the money. She said she had no regrets....huh? I can see working on tactics, but not in a championship race.

Men's (Friday):

Cheserek/Jenkins 1-2 in the long distance double, with a bonus 4th place by Will Geoghegan, who looks a lot like a young Prefontaine.

Geoghegan in middle

Freshman Prefontaine, circa 1969

Florida's Dendy doubles in the triple jump, and but for a wisp of wind over the legal limit, would have broken the NCAA record.

USC Junior Andre de Grasse runs a ridiculous 9.75 in the 100m, then an equally ridiculous 19.58 in the 200m. Both had excessive wind. Still, those are world class times.

He's from Ontario, and says he looks forward to helping Canada compete against the US in the sprints.

I have to editorialize....

I'm all for national unity. It just aggravates the crap out of me when an athlete:
  • leaves their home country for opportunities elsewhere
  • comes to the US for college
  • partakes of benefits within US programs
  • excels under US programs
  • then competes against the US
Mo Farah didn't do much of anything until he moved to Portland to train. Yet he won two Olympic golds as a 'British citizen.'      Of course, there are recent allegations might have less to do with his Portland training and more to do with his Portland pharmacist. But I digress...

Okay, I feel better now.

The men's steeple provides a photo op for the ages. A Michigan kid hits the water barrier and tumbles ass over teakettle into the water. The photographer, on the inside of the track, snaps a shot, with the kid's entire body dry except for his head. Yes, a picture perfect dive. Since he landed in the shallow part of the pit, it's a wonder the kid didn't break his neck. 

After a couple of unexpected 2nd places in the 110HH and 400m, not to mention the 23 points from the 5000, UO puts a wrap on their 2nd straight NCAA Championship.

Late that night after the 5k final, I'm eating dinner at a Thai restaurant's patio on 12th and Oak, when I see a familiar stride go jogging by. None other than Eric Jenkins! I give him a shout-out and he returns the salute.

Saturday Women's:

Gut check time. The SEC sprinters are licking their chops with Oregon in their sights. Everyone knew the women's overall was gonna be tight. And we all said "CRAP" after the UO 4x1 team blew it in the 2nd zone. First event, too!

women's 100m. Oregon's Prandini had 3 events and needed to score lots of points.

The gun fires, and she is STUCK in the blocks. It looked like she had to dig herself out.

After about 2 steps, I said, "She's screwed."

They're heading away from me, so I don't have a good vantage point.

At 50m, i'm still shaking my head. (looking at the video screen by now).

At 70m, i'm thinking, "maybe top three."

At 90m, I'm thinking, 'top two.'

At the line, I see she got it. by 0.01 seconds, good lean. Man, that crowd was loud!!!! Very cool. She seems like a good kid

800m: Oregon's Raevyn Rogers wasn't projected for top three. The girl who led hit 200m in 24 seconds and 400 in 56; as she passed me, I said she'll fold quickly. That's an insane, suicidal pace for pros, much less college. It never works for Alysia Montano in the big international meets.

Meanwhile, the UO girl is a freshman...I was imploring her not to give in and chase, but to run her own race, and she heard me!! Except with 150 to go, another girl comes smoothly up to her shoulder and is poised to kick...

And then Raevyn takes her to the woodshed in the sprint! She maintained perfect form and just motored away....that was INCREDIBLE composure and tactics....FROM A FRESHMAN! And sub-2:00.   HUGE! that win was a complete surprise to the crowd, and an enormous lift to the UO team. very, VERY loud stadium. And a rather violent victory celebration when she crossed the line! Right before she started bawling.

Shamir Little from Texas A&M is a beast, just solid form the whole way. She stayed within herself and exploded in the last 80m when she needed to. Back to back winner, and defending World Junior Champ.

I was hoping Prandini could get the double in the 200. Just like last year, she had the lead with 50 to go and barely got nosed out. She'll get stronger as she gets older. Regardless, she contributed 26 points to her team.

FSU girl in the 400 came out of nowhere in lane 8. The two favorites in the middle were shoulder to shoulder, and this girl snuck in the back door. Photo finish and a pause while it was being sorted out, and then she started screaming!

MSU's Leah O'Connor, defending steeple champ, fell on her butt the day before while exiting the stands and was worried about a hairline fracture. Nothing that dramatic, just very sore. Due to the therapeutic effects of ice, she recovered enough to take 3rd in the final a day later.

The UO women won their first title in 30 years by a slim 9 points. Great showing on the home track!

I'm looking forward to becoming a head umpire, so my lodging will be paid and I won't have to drive right after the meet. it would be nice to chill out after the meet is done!

A couple days later, the Tx A&M coach just complained in an interview that having the championships in Oregon is 'an unfair advantage.' Interesting; he didn't say that in the years that his teams swept the event at Hayward!!!!

Dude, if you don't have runners qualifying for the finals, no venue is going to help you!!! His teams were absent in so many of the scoring events. And the homefield advantage sure didn't help the UO 4x1 relay team that was DQ'd!    He had a strong runner in the men's 400 (Lendore), but the kid pulled up on the backstretch injured. That's Oregon's fault???   Here's his own track...the VERY SPARSE bleachers are a mile away from the track!!! Come on, man: find a similar or better venue than Hayward if you want a more neutral site.

And oh by the way: after he failed to win either the 100 or 200, Baylor's Bromell complained about the schedule. Just like he said he wouldn't!
I got slapped a bit for the men's 5k; there was some bumping with about 600m to go, nothing big. I didn't write anything up, but several coaches protested. None of the protests were upheld, citing incidental contact. But I guess the referees in the big meets also want us to write up anything that could be construed as a violation, even if it wasn't a full-blown foul. That way, they could cite the umpire's non-call as further justification to let the results stand. Good to know.

Great meet.