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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Superfan Daily: New Balance Boston Preview and Picks

Time to help you along in USATF's Pick N Win game.

"Help" may not be the word here. I flat-out sucked at picking winners at last week's Millrose Games. I think I would have done better if I'd made my backup picks my real picks. But here's what I have for this week...

Men's 60 meters
Trell Kimmons was third at Millrose, a race which put together pretty much all of the world's top sprinters who compete indoors. With neither of the two who beat him entered, Kimmons is the favorite. Of the other entrants only Ivory Williams could be considered a threat.

Women's 60 meters
Lauryn Williams looked pretty good last week at Millrose, showing that she's come back well from her 2010 layoff. In the absence of any truly strong competition, she's the pick to make. Make Lisa Barber your backup pick.

Men's 300 meters
With only four competitors entered it's hard to go too wrong.  Calvin Smith is probably not only the best 300 runner in the field, he's probably one of the best in the world.

Women's 400 meters
Natasha Hastings is riding a two-meet winning streak.  There's no reason to believe she won't stretch it to three.

Men's 600 meters
Last week we were supposed to get Bershawn Jackson against Renny Quow, and this should be a real barn-burner (assuming that Jackson is over whatever took him out of Millrose).  Quow is a strong closer in the 400 meters, which is why he's so good at the Millrose 600 yards.  This is about 50 meters further than that, and Jackson is a strong closer in the 400 hurdles--which is a level higher in terms of difficulty as compared to the 400 meters.  Take Jackson with Quow as your backup pick.

Women's 800 meters
Pheobe Wright ran very well at the Armory two weeks ago, winning with 2:00.39. That's faster than the indoor PR of any active American runner save Alysia Johnson, who is not entered. Maggie Vessey is probably the second-best athlete in the race, but is not terribly consistent, so I'd say Morgan Uceny is the safest backup pick.

Men's Mile
Who do you go with? Nick Willis, the Olympic silver medalist, or Leo Manzano, the hotshot American? Or Alan Webb, who was recently re-added to the field?  Both Willis and Manzano are sharp, as Willis ran 3:58 at Michigan's 200m flat track two weeks ago and Manzano ran a good 1000m time trial in training. Both are wily competitors and great kickers. Webb is, as always, a big question mark.  He's quiet capable of winning, but also quite capable of bombing, and in a points-for-place prediction contest he's a big risk.  I'm taking Manzano but it's admittedly a coin toss.

Women's Mile
This is a good race too. The headliners are Sheila Reid, Villanova's NCAA cross country champion, and Carmen Hussar, runner-up at Millrose.  Reid's recent 8:52 is more impressive than either of Hussar's recent mile races, so with that in mind I'll pick Reid.

Men's 3000 meters
The big name entered in this race is Britain's Mo Farah, who is moving into place as one of the world's very best runners. His biggest obstacle to victory is likely to be Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel, who sports PRs of 7:40 and 12:53. And then there's Nixon Chepsaba, who already has a 3:35 in Europe to his credit. Farah has a few races under his belt this season, and Gebremeskel doesn't, so in my mind that tips the scales to the Brit--but not by much. Liberty's Sam Chelanga, the two-time NCAA cross country champion, is also entered but is clearly running behind the top three.

Women's 3000 meters
The interesting matchup here is between Jen (Barringer) Simpson and Kalkidan Gezahegne, the defending world indoor champion at 1500 meters. Simpson is a very good runner, possibly the best in the USA at distances less than 5k, but the operative phrase here is world champion. Noting my Ethiopian rule--"they always show up ready to race"--which held true in the Wanamaker Mile last week, I have to go with Gezahegne.

Women's Pole Vault
With only four vaulters in the field, and Fabiana Murer not being one of them, Jenn Suhr is an overwhelming favorite.  This being the pole vault, though, no-heights are always a possibility, so your backup pick really matters here, and I'd advise to pick Becky Holliday.

Yesterdays' Results
Dessau GER

What's On
Correction: the Moscow High Jumps Cup takes place today, not yesterday, in the Russian capitol. The biggest name competing is Russia's Ivan Ukhov, who jumped 2.38m in his season opener and twice barely missed at the world record height of 2.44m.

News Links
Runner's World's Racing News has all the headlines, including Bernard Lagat's 2-mile American Record attempt.

Let's Run previews this weekend's Boston meet.

Bob Marley's daughter will design Jamaica's 2012 Olympic uniforms. Track and field, meet marketing. Where have you been all these years?

The stat nerds at Track and Field News have a compilation of every sub-10.00 ever run. All 435 of them. 16 pages. NERDS!

Ashton Eaton is USATF's Athlete of the Week.

Spiked up Psyched Up's preview of the women's races at this weekend's USA Cross Country Championships.

Ken Goe at The Oregonian notes that David Klech could be a game-changer for the Ducks.  But we have meets, not games...

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