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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fantasy league preview

USATF’s online pick ‘em game gets started tomorrow with the Millrose Games. Until now, I was the only online advice for the fantasy league. USATF’s Vicky Oddi has entered the fray. In a few areas, I disagree with her picks.

Super 60
A lot of fans and an athlete or two have taken offense at this contest being included in the program. I don’t, as I see it as nothing more than celebrity track. The rules and objectives of the event haven’t been changed, unlike UKA’s harebrained extreme jumping getup.

Reading between the lines, this NY Times article makes it clear who should win the race. Willie Gault was better in his prime than any of the rest of these guys, and has stayed in better shape and competed more. Being some 10 to 25 years older than the rest of the sprinters isn’t likely to make a difference. It would be almost like matching Tom Kite against a bunch of guys who used to have low handicaps but don’t play much anymore. It’s hard to say how much stock to put in reports of a recent 4.27 for the 40 yards by Gault, but if true he’d still be among the NFL’s faster men. And against this will be a butt-whuppin’ of Bolt proportions.

Men’s 60 meters
This was going to be a hard choice until Walter Dix pulled out. In his absence, I can’t see Mike Rodgers losing.

Men’s 600 yards
This is one event where I disagree with Oddi. Renny Quow is a far better quarter-miler than Bershawn Jackson, and has shown he can run on the boards. Easy pick.

Men’s 800 meters
This field is very weak. I’m going with Dmitrijs Milkevics.

Wanamaker Mile
This is the most intriguing matchup of the night. Seven-time champ Bernard Lagat is going up against T&FN’s #1-ranked Asbel Kiprop. I think Kiprop is a better runner than Lagat, but the tight board track is a factor that’s hard to figure out. Lagat has the experience and can accelerate off a dime, and Kiprop is very tall; all of these favor Lagat. On the other hand, they won’t matter if Kiprop is flat-out better that night. I’m going with the “first, do no harm” rule of fantasy leagues and pick Lagat, as I figure he’ll be second at worst.

Men’s 60m Hurdles
The only threat to Terrence Trammell will come from defending world outdoor champ Ryan Brathwaite. Trammell has a history of running at a high level in the domestic indoor season, so I’m going with him.

Men’s Mile Race Walk
Why do they make us pick this? Tim Seaman, I guess.

Men’s Pole Vault
Strangely, Oddi did not include this event in her picks. Smart players stand to pick up big points here. Renauld Lavillenie has already made heights equal to or better than the rest of the field did all of last year, but has been chosen by only 20% of Pick & Win players. He should be a heavy favorite, but apparently those Frenchy types aren’t known around these parts.

Men’s Shot Put
Oddi picked Adam Nelson. I disagree, and I think he’s far more likely to be last than first. Be smart and take Christian Cantwell, who has already thrown further than either Taylor or Nelson did all of last season.

Women’s 60 meters
This one is hard to choose. The 60 can be a crapshoot at times. Even worse, none of these athletes have raced much if at all so far this year, leaving us without knowledge of their condition. I’m taking Veronica Campbell-Brown, but any of the others could win.

Women’s 400 meters
This race is also hard to pick. Mary Wineberg has a good race under her belt, but has less upside than Monica Hargrove. Aliann Pompey has historically run well on the boards. Any of those three are serviceable picks. I don’t think Pompey will win, but I think she’s a safe pick for second or third.

Women’s Mile
There’s a dearth of good runners in this race. Sara Hall hasn’t impressed me at all in the last several years, so I think it’s going to come down to Sally Kipyego and Sara Bowman. It was a huge upset when Bowman won a similar matchup at last year’s NCAA indoor championship. I’m sure Kipyego hasn’t forgotten that and wants to even the score. I’m picking Kipyego.

Women’s 60m Hurdles
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep is head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Women’s Mile Race Walk
If it’s a domestic race walk, always go with Teresa Vaill.

Women’s High Jump
Elizabeth Patterson is the best of a weak field.

Women’s Pole Vault
Jen (Stuczynski) Suhr has withdrawn, leaving Oddi to say that Chelsea Johnson is the favorite. Sadly, no. Aleksandra Kiryashova is the best of the remaining athletes.

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