Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Outdoors is here! Finally.

Well, I for one am real glad that outdoors is here. Indoors is a season that I am always really excited about, I never had the opportunity to run indoors as a youngster in Texas. I remember actually ordering a pair of Nike indoor distance spikes and being convinced they were the reason I had such a good senior year in outdoor track. Yep, they were my secret weapon. Uhhh, yeah. This year indoors seemed a bit lackluster to me. Chelsey Sveinsson skipped indoors, there was talk she was going to swim for her school team. The much anticipated NIN 2 mile match up between the Rosa twins and Lukas Verzbicas never transpired. Lukas skipped indoors as well as the Shamrock Shuffle 8k here in Chicago that he was entered in as an elite. Joe Rosa did not run indoors and Jim won NIN in a time of 9:00 meaning we are still waiting for the first sub 9 in the full deuce. Others, such as Craig Lutz, Zach Wills ran but were not at top strength. There were some great marks, Kirubel Erassa (GA) ran a 14:19.82 for #2 all time in the indoor 5000 and Alex Hatz (NY) crushed NIN with a 4:05.5 mile. Good enough to break Alan Webb's meet record. The girls 2 mile was thrilling with Megan Goethals (MI) edging Emily Sisson (MO) 10:10.14 to 10:10.21
At the NCAA's we saw some great marks from the freshman class. Jordan Hasay (Oregon) split a 4:32.55!!!! in the Distance medley in an effort that almost put Oregon past Tennessee in the race, as well as well as a 4:38.2 in the mile final for 4th (the first non-senior). Robby Andrews (Virginia) edge out Olympian Andrew Wheating (Sr, Oregon) by a mere 100th of a second for the 800 title. Oregon's other frosh mile star, Mac Fleet placed 2nd in the finals.
Of course, some upper classmen flexed some muscle. Angela Bizarri (Sr, Illinois) and Lisa Koll (Sr, Iowa State) took the 3 and 5 k's while Dorian Urley (Sr, Arkansas) and David McNeil (Jr, NAU) did the same on the men's side.
German Fernandez apparently sustained an injury in his conference mile finals and was absent from the NCAA's leaving teammate Colby Lowe as OSU's lone representative. Colby finished 8th in the 5k final as he is continuing to establish himself as a threat in any race he runs. Great to see him back up there. Interesting as German's NCAA meets have resulted in a DNF, DNR, Outdoor Mile Gold, 97th and a DNR. Good thing he has the stuff to be one of the all time greats and I hope to see him back and fully healthy for outdoors.
One last indoor mention, congrats to former Eastwood star Jessica Ubanyionwu on her 16th place finish in the triple jump. Only a sophomore, she will be back.
Outdoors is in full swing in Texas while Illinois is still winding down indoors, the Illinois Prep Top Times Classic still looms ahead. We have seen some great marks down south from Parker Stinson (Cedar Park) with a 9:06 3200 and Cedar Park clocked a 17:29 in the 4x1600.
While in high school, a meet we always looked forward to was the West Texas Relays in Odessa, TX. We all got to go as a team and stay in a nice hotel and run in a huge stadium (Ratliffe). It was quite exciting. I remember losing a close 3200 to Mike Garza in 86. Mike had run a 9:14 at the Texas Relays and I gave him all he could handle as he edged me at the line. Being there was really a great experience for us. These days, Eastwood takes it kids to the Willie Williams Classic in Tuscon, AZ. It is a great College/HS meet with top notch competition. Eastwood's Melanie Stires won the 800 with a 2:20.7 and EW's Aimee Apodaca took 2nd in the 3200 with a time of 11:44.4.
On the boys side, Juan Blanco set a new Eastwood school record in the 1600 with a 4:26.5 hanging close to Footlocker All-American Steve Magnuson. Clinton Blacksmith continued his season long improvement in the 3200 with a 10:08.1. Coronado's Zach Bassett turned in a nice 4:38/10:04 double. Nice job by all. Seems like a great time, even my good friend and Eastwood coach Mike McLain met Bernard Lagat.

I am really, really looking forward to the full outdoor season. The top prep marks are yet to come, I LOVE NCAA track and field and the pros may keep things interesting in a year with no Olympics or World Champs. This may let us see some athletes outside of the comfort zone. Here's hoping we see Allyson Felix in more open 400's. A lot of top distance guys will concentrate on the roads as the big marathon paydays await.
I'll be looking forward to the Midwest Distance Gala again this year. I'm sure this will be the earliest any of us see Lukas Verzbicas, locally or otherwise. He will surely be concentrating on his triathlon season in the spring. You know, it must work. The new harrier magazine has an article in which they talked to the vast majority of the FootLocker finalist. They asked each about one's favorite workouts as well as weekly mileage. Guess who ran fewer miles than anybody. Yep, the winner himself. Very low mileage, by the current standards, but mixed with swimming and cycling. I found this very interesting as I have been amazed at some of the weekly totals I see some of the young stars post. Just some food for thought for those who see running as the only way to get better at running, myself included. Be back soon.

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