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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

College Power Rankings

This week's college power rankings show no movement at the top, but some shakeups below that.  The big winners were the teams that did well at the ACC Championships.

The Superfan’s Men’s Power Rankings for April 27, 2011
(last week's ranking in parenthesis)
1. Texas A&M (1)
2. LSU (3)
3. Florida State (6)
4. Florida (2)
5. Texas (4)
6. Arkansas (10)
7. Minnesota (5)
8. Southern Cal (7)
9. BYU (9)
10. Virginia Tech (21)
11. Oregon (8)
12. Nebraska (11)
13. Texas Tech (15)
14. Wisconsin (13)
15. UCLA (12)
16. Arizona State (17)
17. Georgia (16)
18. Indiana (18)
19. Washington (22)
20. Stanford (14)
21. Ohio State (20)
22. Arizona (19)
23. Iowa (23)
24. Oklahoma (24)
25. Princeton (25)
Close, but not quite: Air Force, Akron, California, Cornell, Houston, Mississippi St., New Mexico, North Carolina, Penn State, Washington St.

ACC Champions Florida State moves strongly into third.

This week there are some good dual meets. On Saturday Washington State goes to #18 Washington and #22 Arizona goes to #16 Arizona State, and on Sunday is the big one as #15 UCLA goes to #8 Southern Cal.

The Superfan’s Women’s Power Rankings for April 27, 2011
(last week's ranking in parenthesis)
1. Texas A&M (1)
2. LSU (2)
3. Oregon (3)
4. Clemson (9)
5. Arkansas (4)
6. Texas (5)
7. Nebraska (7)
8. Arizona (6)
9. Oklahoma (8)
10. Florida State (15)
11. Arizona State (10)
12. Texas Tech (13)
13. BYU (12)
14. Stanford (14)
15. Southern Cal (11)
16. North Carolina (NR)
17. Tennessee (16)
18. Georgia (17)
19. Ohio State (18)
20. Penn State (19)
21. UCF (20)
22. California (25)
23. Minnesota (21)
24. Auburn (23)
25. Indiana (NR)
Close, but not quite: Baylor, Florida, Kansas State, Louisville, Michigan, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Southern Illinois, UCLA, Wichita State

Again, the big move up was by the ACC Champions, Clemson. Florida State and North Carolina moved up in a big way as well.

The big scored-meet showdown this weekend is between #8 Arizona and #11 Arizona State in their annual double-dual with Northern Arizona.

Who is Where

Here's my weekly roundup of where all the top college athletes are competing this weekend.  However, the heavy team emphasis this week makes it a harder task than usual.

There are essentially only six meets this weekend featuring top collegiate talent: the Penn Relays, the Drake Relays, the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, Washington State at Washington, Arizona and Northern Arizona at Arizona State, and UCLA at Southern Cal.

The first two, Penn and Drake, are so relay-oriented that about 90% of the country’s best collegiate athletes in the flat running events are doing nothing but relays this week. And with relays, you don’t always know who’s running what, and even the coaches who make the lineups are still juggling things.

The last three meets on the list are two dual meets and a double-dual.  Those aren’t easy to figure out lineups either.

If I tried to make my usual list of who is where, there would be an awful lot of “I don’t know”s. That doesn’t help the fan follow what’s going on.

Instead, this week only, I’m breaking things down differently. I’m only listing the top athletes entered at Penn, Drake or Stanford, and dividing it up by meet and then by event.

Remember, the ranking refers to Track and Field News’ most recent NCAA formcharts.

117th Penn Relays
Thursday through Saturday, Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA
Website | Schedule and live results (with splits!)
Live webcast link ($$) | Flotrack coverage
TV coverage: 8:00 PM Saturday on ESPN2

Monday, April 25, 2011

Penn Relays Preview

You want a Penn Relays preview?  You bet you do.  And while I'm a fan, and a self-styled pundit, and an obsessive, there's another guy out there who is the expert.  His name is Walt Murphy.

Murphy writes the Eastern Track newsletter and does stats for USATF Visa Championship Series broadcasts.  He's the man.  ESPN Rise has his Penn Relays preview issue online.
Here we go again. For many fans of the Penn Relays, this is the best weekend of the track and field year, second to none. Anticipation starts back in the fall, during the x-country season, and builds to a crescendo during indoors and the first few weeks of April. And now it’s here, with three days of action that has something for everyone.

With the Relays falling as late in the month as possible. hopes were high that we might be treated to warm temperatures. Fans have been checking the always-changing long-range weather forecasts for more than a week and the current outlook is a relatively good one. It looks like there will be highs near 70-degrees all three days, with a possible thunderstorm on Thursday.

Penn is always great, but it will be hard to match the excitement of last year’s Relays, when Usain Bolt’s presence helped draw a record crowd of 54,130. It’s not likely that he will be back this year, but he will hardly be missed(well, maybe a little).

There is great depth in the college men’s and women’s sprint relays this year, with Texas A&M and LSU leading the way in all six events.

No less than four men’s teams have already gone under 39-seconds in the 4x100 this spring--Texas A&M(38.71), LSU(38.78), Florida State(38.87),and Florida(38.81). A&M also tops the list in the 4x400 with a great time of 3:00.45, which is better than the Relays Record of 3:01.10. LSU is the #1 seed in the 4x200 with a time of 1:20.45.

In the women’s sprint relays, A&M has run 3:27.33 in the 4x400, which is faster than the Relays Record of 3:27.64, and they also have the fastest time in the 4x100--42.87. LSU has run 1:30.88 in the 4x200.

If the Tennessee women have another good weekend(they’ve won the three long relays the last two years), Chanelle Price could emerge as the all-time Penn Relays “watch-leader”. The junior from Easton Area(Pa) H.S. already has five prized watches, which are given to each winner at Penn, in her possession and is chasing Tennessee’s Cathy Rattray and Villanova’s Kathy Franey and Michelle Bennett, who share the lead at seven.

Price is entred in the distance medley on Thursday, the 4x1500 and sprint medley on Friday, and the 4x800 on Saturday. Whichever races Price runs(she’s not likely to do all four), Tennessee will be among the favored teams.

Villanova, with Sheila Reid on the anchor, won the women’s distance medley at the NCAA Indoor Championships and is favored in that event at Penn. The Wildcats haven’t won at Penn since taking the DMR in 2006. A hoped-for rematch with Oregon, which finished 2nd at the NCs, fell apart when the Ducks suffered some minor ailments and decided to pass on the Relays this year.

Robby Andrews, a freshman at the time, provided one of the great thrills at last year’s Relays when he ran down Oregon’s Andrew Wheating on the anchor leg of the 4x800 relay to give Virginia the victory. He missed the indoor season with a foot injury, but showed he’s back in top form after finishing 2nd in the 1500-meters at this past weekend’s ACC Champinships(running a 53.5 last 400). It’s not known at this time if he will run in all three events, but, in addition to the 4x800, Andrews is also entered in the sprint medley and distance medley.

Brigham Young has never won a relay at Penn (Clint Larsen won the men’s high jump in 1917!), but the Cougars are among the favorites in the men’s distance medley(they won the NCAA Indoor title) and the women’s 4x800.

Another team looking for a rare win at Penn is Indiana, one of the favorites in the men’s 4-mile relay. The Hoosiers haven’t won at Penn since they won the same event in 1954!

As always, Jamaica will be strong in the high school sprint relays, led by Munro College in the boys 4x100(39.92) and 4x400(3:10.66) and Vere Tech in the girls 4x400(3:33.17).

Bernard Lagat, Allyson Felix, and Sanya Richards-Ross are among the U.S. and international stars expected to be on hand for the 11th edition of the USA vs the World Series.

My thanks to Penn Relays Director Dave Johnson, Tim Hickey, Jack Pfeifer, Jim Spier, and for their help in putting together this preview.

Following is an event-by-event look at the 117th running of the Penn Relays. Bib numbers/letters are listed where available, as well as 2011 bests. Be sure to buy the Penn Relays program--it’s the best in the sport.

Really, there's a preview of every event. About 36 hours' worth of running events plus at least 50 field events. The mind boggles.

Read on...and on and on...

Monday Morning Decathlete

What did we learn this week?

The Boston Marathon discussion won't die down. Last Monday, Geoffrey Mutai won the annual Patriot's Day race in an astounding 2:03:02, followed closely by Moses Mosop in 2:03:06. Both were well under the official World Record of 2:03:59. But, due to Boston's course quirks (point-to-point and overall downhill) it won't be approved by the IAAF as a world record.

This hasn't stopped the Boston Athletic Association from submitting an application, though. It will be rejected. From the perspective of the larger sports media, this all seems very silly. No one has to submit an application for a record in Major League Baseball or the NFL or NBA; when a record is set there, it's just a record. Why does track and field have to have such rigamarole?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Who Did What (Women)

Here's the roundup of the weekend's action for the top collegiate women athletes in each event.

100 meters
1. Jessica Young (TCU) - 2nd at Michael Johnson Classic (11.22w) behind McGrone (Okla)
2. LaKya Brookins (SoCar) - idle
3. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - see 200 meters
4. Semoy Hackett (LSU) - won LSU Alumni Gold (11.08w)
5. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - see 200 meters
6. Marecia Pemberton (FlSt) - 3rd at ACC Championships (11.52w)
7. Shayla Mahan (SoCar) - idle
8. Terra Evans (TxT) - won 200m at Texas Tech Open (23.59w)
9. Dominique Booker (UCF) - idle
10. Amber Purvis (Ore) - see 200 meters

200 meters
1. Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) - won LSU Alumni Gold (22.18w)
2. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - 2nd at Michael Johnson Classic (23.09) behind Young (TCU)
3. Shanequa Ferguson (Aub) - won 100m at Mississippi Open (11.41)
4. Amber Purvis (Ore) - won Oregon Relays (23.13)
5. Dominique Duncan (TAMU) - 4th at Michael Johnson Classic 100 meters (11.33)
6. Auriyall Scott (UCF) - idle
7. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - 4th at Michael Johnson Classic (23.25)
8. Candyce McGrone (Okla) - 5th at Michael Johnson Classic (23.34)
9. Semoy Hackett (LSU) - see 100 meters
10. Shavon Greaves (PennSt) - won Jesse Owens Classic (23.70)

Who Did What (Men)

Here's the weekly rundown of the weekend's action by the top ten men in each event (as projected by Track and Field News).

In my mind, the biggest development of the weekend is only included here as a footnote: Florida State's Ngoni Makusha ran 9.97 (+2.0) to win the 100 meters at the ACC Championships.  That stamps him as a major player in the event on a national level, which not only has implications in the 100 meters but for the team championship as well.

100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - idle
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - 2nd (1st collegian) at LSU Alumni Gold (10.04w)
3. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - false start at Michael Johnson Classic
4. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - 2nd at ACC Championships (10.03) behind Makusha (FlSt)
5. Keenan Brock (Aub) - idle
6. Prezel Hardy (TAMU) - won Michael Johnson Classic (10.13)
7. Woodrow Randall (Bay) - 3rd (2nd D-I) at Michael Johnson Classic (10.23)
8. Harry Adams (Aub) - idle
9. Charles Silmon (TCU) - false start at Michael Johnson Classic
10. Michael Granger (Miss) - 3rd (1st collegian) at Mississippi Open (10.27)

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - won ACC Championships (20.19)
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - idle
3. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - 2nd at ACC Championships (20.57)
4. Horatio Williams (LSU) - won LSU Alumni Gold (20.32w)
5. Antonio Sales (SoCar) - idle
6. Charles Clark (FlSt) - 3rd at ACC Championships (20.78)
7. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - idle
8. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - see 100 meters
9. Dentarius Locke (Tenn) - idle
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - won Musco Twilight (20.87m)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Exchange Zone: Rob Myers

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The Exchange Zone with Jesse Squire
In Episode 2, I sat down with miler and 3 time indoor US champion Rob Myers.  Rob is scheduled to open up his outodoor season this weekend at the Jesse Owens Classic and will participate in the Drake Relays invitational mile next weekend.  The former Ohio State Buckeye talks frankly about his career up and downs, his current goals going into World Championship and Olympic Trials and his future off the track.

Taking Track (and Field) to the People

The special downtown "street shot" put held last night as part of the Kansas Relays was well-received.  The reports are that over 2,500 people came out to see it.  The photo might not reflect that, but think about the vantage point of the photographer--a second- or third-story window--and that many of the adjacent businesses are restaurants or bars with balconies, and you've got yourself a nice little stadium.

Tonight they're trying it again with a street long jump.  This follows a general trend we've seen lately, which is to take an event or two out of the stadium and into other kinds of spaces.  It allows people to see the athletes compete in a far more intimate atmosphere than would otherwise be possible.  And when they see them close up, the insanity of the speed or strength of these athletes becomes much more appreciable.

Pole vaulting has done this for a long time, with street vaults and beach vaults and whatnot.  Next week the Drake Relays is reprising one of their more popular stunts, in which a pole vault competition is held inside Des Moines' biggest shopping mall.

High jumpers have done these kinds of things from time to time, too, even in their high-jump only tours held in basketball gyms.  Over in England, they've done some on-street sprint and hurdle races, bringing in big names like Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Allyson Felix.

Road racing, of course, is the original "outside the stadium" sport.  The Boston Marathon is estimated to have half a million live spectators, and going out to see it in person is a major Hub tradition.  ESPN's "Sports Guy", Bill Simmons, explains it in his usual entertaining fashion.

The people who put these on are well aware of the novelty of their acts.  They don't like to wear out their welcome.  The mall pole vault in Des Moines was only brought back due to huge public demand for it.

If there's one part of track and field that gets left out of this, it's the long throws.  I joked about waiting to see a street javelin.  If we do want to keep on taking track and field to the people, what are some new ideas?  And how can we incorporate the hammer, discus and javelin?

Hammer throwers have already figured this out in Germany.  The Sparkassen Hammerwurf-Meeting in Fränkisch-Crumbach is an all-hammer competition in a park in a small German village, complete with beer and bratwurst and a party atmosphere.  Friend of the blog Martin Bingisser has thrown there and says it's the best hammer meet in the world.  Here in the USA, it wouldn't be too hard to add a hammer competition to an outdoor summer German/Polish/Russian/whathaveyou ethnic festival.  Toledo has a German-American festival, and has the space, and I may try to get together with local throwers and the festival organizers and see what we can do.

We need to keep on doing these in whatever way we can.  I joked about the street javelin, but I have an idea for something kind of like it.  Take the javelin to a minor league baseball game.  Either before or after the game, put down a temporary foul line between home plate and the mound and throw to the outfield.  The jav does the least damage to turf, and doesn't require a cage, so it's an easier sell than the discus.  You just have to make sure that the athletes aren't good enough to put it in the stands...

Who is Where This Weekend

Want to know where all the college stars are competing this weekend?  Here's a listing of where the top ten in each event (as determined by Track and Field News) are scheduled to compete.

As you can see, many of these are still up in the air as of now.  I'll update as the weekend goes along.


100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - idle
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - LSU Alumni Gold
3. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Michael Johnson Classic
4. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - ACC Championships
5. Keenan Brock (Aub) - idle
6. Prezel Hardy (TAMU) - Michael Johnson Classic
7. Woodrow Randall (Bay) - Michael Johnson Classic
8. Harry Adams (Aub) - unknown, team at Mississippi Open
9. Charles Silmon (TCU) - Michael Johnson Classic
10. Michael Granger (Miss) - unknown, team at Mississippi Open

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - ACC Championships
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - see 100 meters
3. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - ACC Championships
4. Horatio Williams (LSU) - LSU Alumni Gold
5. Antonio Sales (SoCar) - idle
6. Charles Clark (FlSt) - ACC Championships
7. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - idle
8. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Michael Johnson Classic
9. Dentarius Locke (Tenn) - idle
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - unknown, team at Musco Twilight

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kansas Relays Downtown Shot Put: Armstrong!

From the Kansas Relays website:
The Kansas Relays took their show to downtown Lawrence Wednesday night to much success. An estimated crowd of at least 2,500 gathered around a man-made shot put area on the corner of Eighth and New Hampshire Streets and witnessed some of the best in the world perform in a fun, excitement-packed setting.

Armstrong's winning distance is quite good, just 6 centimeters off his own Canadian Record.

If 2,500 is an accurate number, it's among the 25 best-attended "track meets" in the USA this year.

Christian Cantwell had been announced as an entrant when the lineups were first made public, but apparently he's not recovered from shoulder surgery yet.

For more, such as that the event was popular and well-received despite Larry Rawson's announcing, check out this Kansas City Star article.

1. Dylan Armstrong (CAN), 70-07.25 (21.52m)
2. Reese Hoffa, 69-03.50 (21.12m)
3. Adam Nelson, 68-05.25 (20.85m)
4. Corey Martin, 67-11.75 (20.72m)
5. Ryan Whiting, 67-11.00 (20.70m)
6. Dorian Scott (JAM), 66-00.50 (20.12m)
7. Noah Bryant, 65-11.00 (20.09m)
8. Dan Taylor, 62-07.25 (19.08m)

Penn Relays Press Conference #1

The Penn Relays is such a big deal in Philly that they have two press conferences.  The first one took place today, and the second will be on Monday.

Today's presser included head coaches from Florida, Villanova, Tennessee and BYU.  Yes, BYU is coming.  I'm not sure if they've ever come to Penn before.

The coaches tipped their hands as to which relays they're entering and how they think they'll do.  Florida's men, the elephant in the room, is running the 4x100, 4x200, sprint medley and shuttle hurdles, but no 4x400, as they've got a few banged-up runners.

For the others, read on.

LSU Coach Dennis Shaver on subdividing D-I track

Recently I listened to a portion of the audiobook version of Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants.  It's just as funny and insightful as you'd expect out of such a brilliant comedy mind.

One of the more interesting bits is about the "Rules of Improvisation" that she learned at Chicago's famed Second City. "The rules of improvisation appealed to me not only as a way of creating comedy, but as a world view. It set me on a career path toward Saturday Night Live. It changed the way I look at the world."  She explains how those rules are a good way to interact with others in the workplace or in personal relations.
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you're improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we're improvising and I say, "Freeze, I have a gun," and you say, "That's not a gun. It's your finger. You're pointing you finger at me," our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, "Freeze, I have a gun!" and you say, "The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!" then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.

Now, obviously in real life you're not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to "respect what your partner has created" and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. "No, we can't do that." "No, that's not in the budget." "No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar." What kind of way is that to live?

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then
add something of your own. If I start a scene with "I can't believe it's so hot in here," and you just say, "Yeah..." we're kind of at a standstill. But if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here,"...and you say "I told you we shouldn't have crawled into this dog's mouth," now we're getting somewhere.

There's a lot more to this.  There are several more rules, and all of it really makes sense.  I won't put them here because this is about track, not Tina Fey, and also I might end up breaking copyright laws.

Anyway, it is with this mindset that I respond to an item in a Track and Field News interview with LSU head coach Dennis Shaver.

[W]e need to develop a model like what they have for the NCAA football championships. The Bowl Championship teams need to have their own… we need to have our own track meet. The Division I-A teams need to have their own track meet. You understand where I’m coming from? 

Wallace Spearmon on Mythbusters

A quick heads up: Wallace Spearmon will be on the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" show tonight. Apparently they're looking into walking on water or something like that.

Like they always say, check your local listings for time and channel.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

College Power Rankings: Women

There's a new Number One in the rankings.

For the first time since January, Oregon is not the #1 team.  This week that honor goes to the Aggies of Texas A&M, matching the #1 ranking of their men's team.

The Superfan’s Women’s Power Rankings for April 19, 2011
last week's ranking in parenthesis
1. Texas A&M (2)
2. LSU (3)
3. Oregon (1)
4. Arkansas (5)
5. Texas (4)
6. Arizona (8)
7. Nebraska (6)
8. Oklahoma (10)
9. Clemson (7)
10. Arizona State (13)
11. Southern Cal (9)
12. BYU (14)
13. Texas Tech (12)
14. Stanford (18)
15. Florida State (11)
16. Tennessee (16)
17. Georgia (17)
18. Ohio State (15)
19. Penn State (19)
20. UCF (24)
21. Minnesota (21)
22. Florida (NR)
23. Auburn (NR)
24. South Carolina (20)
25. California (NR)
Close, but not quite: Baylor, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, Ole Miss, UCLA, Wichita State

As the indoor season fades further into the past, Oregon's dominance of that portion of the year becomes less and less important.  A&M dominates the current portion of the year.

Major scored-meet action this weekend included Stanford beating Cal, and Indiana winning a quad.

Scored-meet action coming up this week includes the ACC Championships (with #9 Clemson and #15 Florida State) and Missouri at #17 Georgia.

College Power Rankings: Men

The top team stays the same, but there’s some shuffling behind them.

The Superfan’s Men’s Power Rankings for April 19, 2011
last week's ranking in parenthesis
1. Texas A&M (1)
2. Florida (3)
3. LSU (2)
4. Texas (6)
5. Minnesota (13)
6. Florida State (4)
7. Southern Cal (7)
8. Oregon (9)
9. BYU (8)
10. Arkansas (5)
11. Nebraska (10)
12. UCLA (12)
13. Wisconsin (17)
14. Stanford (21)
15. Texas Tech (24)
16. Georgia (23)
17. Arizona State (16)
18. Indiana (11)
19. Arizona (19)
20. Ohio State (22)
21. Virginia Tech (14)
22. Washington (15)
23. Iowa (18)
24. Oklahoma (NR)
25. Princeton (20)
Close, but not quite: Air Force, Akron, Cal, Houston, Mississippi State, New Mexico, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Washington State

Florida had a stronger weekend than LSU, propelling them into the #2 spot. Florida State’s mostly idle weekend dropped them a few sports. Big Ten indoor champ Minnesota is starting to crank up the outdoor season, as is rival Wisconsin.

Major scored-meet action included Oregon and UCLA in a tie, Stanford beating Cal, Indiana winning a quad meet, and Ohio State beating Michigan in some truly horrid weather. (How bad? It was 40 minutes away and I didn’t go.)

Major scored-meet action this coming week includes the ACC Championships and Missouri at Georgia.

Monday Morning Decathlete (Special Tuesday Edition)

The Boston Marathon's traditional Monday date pushed this week's column back a day.

What did we learn this week?

NBC/Universal has shown its true colors.I planned on starting off this column writing about what happened in the Boston Marathon—and A LOT happened. From the perspective of a fan, though, the biggest news was not about the athletes or what they did.

The biggest news was the tremendous difficulty many of us had in seeing the greatest Boston Marathon of all time. The fact that one of the USA's biggest Olympic-oriented events was so difficult to watch tells us a lot about NBC/Universal, specifically that the corporation is harmful to domestic Olympic sports such as track and field and road running.

The race has, in the past, been on national television. To say that this year's race was on national television is an exercise in semantics. It was on Universal Sports TV, which is not regional, but it most certainly not available everywhere in the country. NBC has not put its full force behind getting the channel wide distribution. The majority of fans simply do not have television as a viewing option for the race.

The only real viewing option for the majority of fans is the companion website,, which can only be described as amateur at best. There is no end to the list of problems the site has at almost any time a track fan wants to watch one of their webcasts. Monday was even worse than usual.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who Did What (Women)

Again the weekly roundup of the top collegiate action, this time for the women.

Top ten rankings are according to the latest Track and Field News formchart.

100 meters
1. Jessica Young (TCU) - 3rd at Tom Jones Memorial (11.23w) behind Scott (UCF) and Collier (TAMU)
2. LaKya Brookins (SoCar) - won War Eagle Invitational (11.10)
3. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - see 200 meters
4. Semoy Hackett (LSU) - see 200 meters
5. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - idle
6. Marecia Pemberton (FlSt) - idle
7. Shayla Mahan (SoCar) - did not qualify to finals at War Eagle Invitational (11.56w)
8. Terra Evans (TxT) - 5th (2nd collegian) at Mt. SAC Relays (11.46)
9. Dominique Booker (UCF) - 3rd in heat at Tom Jones Memorial (11.58w)
10. Amber Purvis (Ore) - 4th (1st collegian) at Mt. SAC Relays (11.42)

200 meters
1. Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) - 2nd (1st collegian) in 100m at Hurricane Alumni Invitational (11.19w)
2. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - 2nd at Tom Jones Memorial (23.26w)
3. Shanequa Ferguson (Aub) - 2nd in 100m at War Eagle Invitational (11.17)
4. Amber Purvis (Ore) - see 100 meters
5. Dominique Duncan (TAMU) - won Tom Jones Memorial (22.79w)
6. Auriyall Scott (UCF) - won 100m at Tom Jones Memorial (11.17w)
7. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - idle
8. Candyce McGrone (Okla) - won John Jacobs Invitational (22.86w)
9. Semoy Hackett (LSU) - 2nd (1st collegian) at Tom Jones Memorial (22.92)
10. Shavon Greaves (PennSt) - did not qualify to 100m finals at War Eagle Invitational (11.86)

Who Did What (Men)

Some meets going late yesterday kept me from posting this until today.

Rankings within each event are the same as those in the latest Track and Field News formcharts.

100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - won Tom Jones Memorial (9.96w)
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - won John Jacobs Invitational (10.33)
3. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - see 200 meters
4. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - idle
5. Keenan Brock (Aub) - 3rd in 200m at War Eagle Invitational (20.77)
6. Prezel Hardy (TAMU) - 4th (2nd collegian) at Tom Jones Memorial (10.18w)
7. Woodrow Randall (Bay) - idle
8. Harry Adams (Aub) - did not qualify to final at War Eagle Invitational (10.42w)
9. Charles Silmon (TCU) - 5th (3rd collegian) at Tom Jones Memorial (10.19w)
10. Michael Granger (Miss) - won War Eagle Invitational (10.49)

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - idle
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - won John Jacobs Invitational (20.27)
3. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - idle
4. Horatio Williams (LSU) - 7th (1st collegian) at Hurrican Alumni Invitational (10.49w)
5. Antonio Sales (SoCar) - 2nd at War Eagle Invitational (20.73) behind Lawrence (Ga)
6. Charles Clark (FlSt) - idle
7. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - won collegian heat at Tom Jones Memorial (20.51)
8. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - 4th at Tom Jones Memorial (20.78)
9. Dentarius Locke (Tenn) - won 400m heat at Sea Ray Relays (47.61)
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - did not qualify to 100m final at War Eagle Invitational (10.53)

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Open Letter to Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby
P.O. Box 4049
Santa Monica, CA 90411

The Brokaw Company
9255 Sunset Boulevard
Suite 804
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Dear Mr. Cosby,

Let me start by saying that I have always been, and always will be, a huge fan of yours. I believe you belong on the short list of the greatest Americans of this generation or any other.

A few years ago I was asked who my childhood hero was. I couldn’t think of one. I didn’t worship any one athlete or actor or celebrity. The people I really looked up to were in my family, my neighborhood and my school. This is, of course, how it should be for our children.

But as I revisited the idea from time to time, I realized there was one celebrity I respected more than any other, one William H. Cosby, Jr. He had always been there; comedy routines and albums, the Fat Albert cartoon, Captain Kangaroo, The Cosby Show, and so on. The latter was without a doubt the most important cultural happening of the 1980s.

The Cosby Show, coming along in my junior high and high school years, had a huge impact on my life in particular. There were the situations and jokes that everyone in my school found hilarious and repeated until we were sick of them (which took a very long time). One of my high school classmates even got dubbed “Bud”. It gently portrayed the American family life we all wanted—not one without struggle or conflict, but one with clear ideas of right and wrong, and one where everyone cared for each other.

Two episodes in particular were important to me, “Back to the Track, Jack” and “Off to the Races”, which showed Cliff getting back into shape to run masters 4x400 relays and relive his college exploits. They helped shape the impression that track and field is A Big Deal, and encouraged me to join my high school team. The day I began to run was the day my life changed. I continued on my college team and beyond, and I coached track and worked as an official, and now announce meets and write about track and field. It is my passion, probably running over into an obsession. I owe this in part to you, and your portrayal of it as a highly competitive but still friendly affair.

Track is not my job, though. For pay, I am an educator. And it is in that way that I really appreciate what you have done for America. Your work has always sought to educate in some way as well as entertain. Fat Albert always had a lesson. Picture Pages on Captain Kangaroo was explicitly educational. Other work, like The Cosby Show, often illustrated how we should treat each other.

A generally unknown piece, Bill Cosby on Prejudice, was part of my 8th grade English curriculum and I have never forgotten it. The message that hatred inevitably leads to isolation has stayed with me, encouraging me not to return hatred when it is directed towards me. That is at times a very difficult task, but it's the lesson of the 20th century.

In two weeks I will finally get to attend the Penn Relays, an event I’ve always wanted to go to since seeing it on your show twenty-five years ago. I’m going with my old high school coach, Bob Hayton, a man who has spent the last forty years teaching and inspiring and generally making life better for the youth of Toledo’s rough neighborhoods. I know that he is at least as big a fan of yours as I am.

I also know that everyone wants some of your time and attention. Despite that, I’d like to ask if we could meet you sometime during the Penn Relays weekend. If I met The Cos at the Penn Relays with my high school coach, it would be the greatest moment of my life. I’ll still tell my wife it was our wedding day, because she’s Italian and I’d like to keep on living. But I’d know what it really was.


Jesse Squire, aka “The Track & Field Superfan”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who is Where This Weekend

Another roundup of where all the top college talent is competing this week.

Webcasts are all over the place this weekend.  Mt. SAC Relays live on Runnerspace on Friday and Saturday, Dogwood Sea Ray Relays live at on Friday and Saturday, Cal at Stanford for The Big Meet live on Flotrack on Saturday, and then Oregon at UCLA live on Flotrack on Sunday.

For previews of the distance races at the Mt. SAC Relays, check out Flotrack.

Very few start lists have been released as of yet, so much of this is incomplete.  I'lll update this as I get more information.


100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - Tom Jones Memorial
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - John Jacobs Invitational
3. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - idle
4. Keenan Brock (Aub) - War Eagle Invitational (200m)
5. Prezel Hardy (TAMU) - Tom Jones Memorial
6. Luther Ambrose (ULM) - unknown, team at NSU Invitational
7. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - see 200 meters 
8. Harry Adams (Aub) - War Eagle Invitational
9. Michael Granger (Miss) - War Eagle Invitational
10. Charles Silmon (TCU) - Tom Jones Memorial

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - idle
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - John Jacobs Invitational
3. Charles Clark (FlSt) - War Eagle Invitational
4. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - idle
5. Horatio Williams (LSU) - Hurricane Alumni Invitational 100 meters
6. Antonio Sales (SoCar) - War Eagle Invitational
7. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - Tom Jones Memorial
8. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Tom Jones Memorial
9. Dentarius Locke (Tenn) - idle (injured)
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - War Eagle Invitational 100 meters

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

College Power Rankings: Women

Oregon stays at #1

Unlike the men's rankings, the women's saw very little movement from last week.  All of the top five spots remain unchanged.

In the only major scored-meet action of the weekend, Oregon defended its #1 ranking by winning the Pepsi Team Invitational over Nebraska, Stanford and Washington.

The Superfan’s Women’s Power Rankings for April 12, 2011
(last week's ranking in parenthesis)

1. Oregon (1)
2. Texas A&M (2)
3. LSU (3)
4. Texas (4)
5. Arkansas (5)
6. Nebraska (7)
7. Clemson (8)
8. Arizona (9)
9. Southern Cal (6)
10. Oklahoma (10)
11. Florida State (14)
12. Texas Tech (11)
13. Arizona State (16)
14. BYU (15)
15. Ohio State (12)
16. Tennessee (13)
17. Georgia (24)
18. Stanford (17)
19. Penn State (19)
20. South Carolina (21)
21. Minnesota (18)
22. Baylor (NR)
23. North Carolina (22)
24. UCF (23)
25. Louisville (NR)
Close, but not quite: Auburn, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ole Miss, Sacramento St., Southern Illinois, UCLA, Wichita State

Scored meet action this coming week includes Cal at #18 Stanford.

College Power Rankings: Men

The only top-level scored action this past weekend were a couple of quad meets, the Pepsi Team Invitational and the Big West Challenge Cup.

All four teams in the Pepsi meet -- Oregon, Nebraska, Washington and Stanford--are now in the top 25. Oregon's win shot them up eight places, into the top ten for the first time since February 15. By finishing ahead of Stanford, Washington enters the top 25.

Idle Florida slips a spot, while Florida State has shown some real power outdoors and has moved to fourth.

The Superfan’s Men’s Power Rankings for April 12, 2011
(last week's ranking in parenthesis)

1. Texas A&M (1)
2. LSU (3)
3. Florida (2)
4. Florida State (8)
5. Arkansas (4)
6. Texas (9)
7. Southern Cal (6)
8. BYU (7)
9. Oregon (17)
10. Nebraska (11)
11. Indiana (10)
12. UCLA (16)
13. Minnesota (5)
14. Virginia Tech (14)
15. Washington (NR)
16. Arizona State (24)
17. Wisconsin (13)
18. Iowa (15)
19. Arizona (19)
20. Princeton (20)
21. Stanford (12)
22. Ohio State (18)
23. Georgia (25)
24. Texas Tech (22)
25. Houston (NR)
Close, but not quite: Akron, Cornell, Long Beach St., Michigan State, Mississippi St., North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Washington St.

Scored meets coming up this week include Cal at #21 Stanford, #22 Ohio State at Michigan, and #9 Oregon at #12 UCLA.

Included in the rankings, albeit only in a small way, is performance in the non-standard relay events that are often held at relay carnivals. They are definitely part of college track, and success in them is valued, even though they are not part of championship meets. There are many ways to evaluate success in college track , and these rankings are an attempt to summarize all of them together.

Women's rankings will hopefully be posted later today, but if not they'll definitely be up tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Toledo is the capital of...

There is an interesting article in the AP today about Eastern Michigan distance runner Austin Hendrix. It's linked to the "Quote of the Day" header at, which is how it came to my attention.

Hendrix is one of an extremely small number of openly gay athletes on the college or pro level. He didn't come out just now; there was an article at last December, and Hendrix hasn't hid his sexual orientation since midway through high school.

Though accepting of him, his parents were fearful of how their community would treat their only son. Their hometown of Sylvania, Ohio, is small, less than 20,000 people, and word of mouth travels fast.
. Actually, no, no it doesn't. You know why? Because I live in Sylvania. Less than half a mile away from the high school Hendrix ran for. While I don't personally know the kid, I know his coaches and a lot of people who train with him. I never knew this about Hendrix.

Sylvania is not a small town. It once was, and where I live is a vestige of that, but it's a sprawling new-money suburb of decidedly blue-collar Toledo.

Interestingly enough, the only current or former NBA player who is out of the closet is John Amaechi. He's quoted in the story. Amaechi also went to high school in Toledo.

Considering the extremely small number of openly gay college and professional athletes, this might be more than a coincidence.

Unless you're from the Rust Belt, you probably don't understand. You'd think blue-collar cities wouldn't be accepting of people different in that way. I don't think it's any easier here than anywhere else, but there is a trump card. What we care about here more than anything is if you can get the job done.

Eastern Michigan is the blue-collar school down the street from the U of Michigan. It's where you go if you can't afford Ann Arbor. And what did his teammates say? More or less, you get the job done and that's what matters to us.

Monday Morning Decathlete

What did we learn this week?

Texas A&M is the best relay squad in the country.  At the Texas Relays this weekend, the Aggies won a meet-record six relay events. The only relays the Aggie men didn't win were the 4x1500 and distance medley, and the 4x200—in which they dropped the baton and still finished fourth. The Aggie women won two relays (4x100 and 4x400) and in the 4x200 they were second behind LSU's meet record.

Most impressive to me is how A&M capped the weekend, with a meet-record 3:00.45 in the men's 4x400. It's not the fastest a college team has ever run in April, but under the circumstances I'd argue it's the best a team has ever run this early. Austin's usual windy conditions on Saturday were less than ideal conditions for fast 400 running. These guys weren't fresh either, as all ran two or three races in two days.

Why did the Aggie men rack up so many more wins than the women? They have two highly unusual and versatile weapons in Michael Preble and Joey Roberts. Both sport 800 meter PRs of 1:47. Preble has run a 45.2 split for a 400m relay leg on multiple occasions, while Roberts has split 46.5. Guys that fast are quarter-mile stars on any other squad, whereas at A&M they're B-team material.

Roberts is a junior and Preble a sophomore, and their 800 improvement curves have been eye-popping. Roberts went from 1:49.46 last year (his first in the event) to 1:47.54 this winter; Preble from 1:51.92 to 1:47.27 in the same time frame. Transfer those to an outdoor track, give them another two months to improve, and 1:46 this year seems likely. If they both manage to do something big at the NCAA Championships—and the 800 is always an unpredictable race—the Aggies could be in the championship hunt.

Preble was a quarter-miler in high school, and while Roberts ran the 800 as a prep it was definitely not his area of emphasis. I don't know who convinced them to move up to the 800, but it has worked out very well for them. They should be an example to other young quarter-milers.

The USA has always produced vast quantities of top 400 runners, yet the ranks of our top 800 runners have always been rather thin. It's always been a mystery as to why some of the former don't become the latter. I think it's because our obsession with relays makes top 400 guys valuable, plus reluctance of both coaches and athletes to try something new.

The NCAA Championships men's 5000 meters is going to be an amazing race.  The indoor championships 5k was off-the-charts fast and deep, with four runners under 13:30 and nine under 13:40. For comparison, the meet record was 13:28.93; the first three runners all beat that.

Sitting out the indoor season, and somewhat unnoticed for doing so, was Florida State senior Ciaran O'Lionaird. The transfer from Michigan was a three-time age-group Irish cross country champion, but in Ann Arbor he struggled with injuries and illness. Apparently having time to do nothing but train during the winter sat well with him.

He is noticed now. Two weeks ago he was the top collegian in the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational with 28:32.30, which is second on the '11 college list. On Friday he won the 1500 meters at the low-key Seminole Invitational in 3:41.02, which leads the '11 college outdoor list.

That kind of versatility in races so different from each other does not happen very often, in college or anywhere else. Good 10k + good 1500 = kickass 5k.

O'Lionaird will run the 10k at the NCAA Championships, I'm sure. Florida State is in a good position for a top team finish there and will want to get all the points they can. But he won't win the 10k because no one is going to beat Chelanga.

By the way, Track and Field News' initial formcharts for the NCAA Championships predicts a final score of 68 points for Florida to Florida State's 56. But they don't have O'Lionaird down for any points at all.  Given that, the NCAA team championship competition may be a tight one.

O'Lionaird will run the 5k, which will be the second-to-last men's event in the meet, and he is the only one expected to be in the race whose team will desperately need his points. But you need only look at the indoor championships to know that he'll be facing probably the deepest championship field ever assembled. It will be a wild ride.

If there's a formula for successful television track broadcasts, it was displayed on Saturday. Comcast Sportsnet Northwest did a live two-and-a-half hour HD broadcast of Oregon's four-team Pepsi Invitational. It was also available online (for a fee) at the Ducks' website, which is how I got to see it. It was good.

One thing that always rankles me about the VISA Championship Series coverage is the format. The cycle is talking heads, a race, a breathless and incoherent post-race interview, a dissection of said race, and then commercials. Repeat this ten or twelve times and that's the show. That's less action per minute than you get in baseball, a remarkable achievement.

CSN, however, showed several races back-to-back before cutting to commercial. Post-race interviews were not obligatory, but took place only when something unexpected happened, like an upset. Team scores were constantly updated. The announcers were not brain-dead.

If there's a criticism to be leveled, it's (as always) about coverage of the field events. Admittedly, it's not an easy task, with sixteen events (eight each for men and women) taking place in a short period of time. Merely making the production staff aware of what's going on in all of them is a very hard thing, let alone transmitting that knowledge to the viewers.

But in this instance it was an important thing. The men's competition was expected to be close between Nebraska and Oregon; I thought the Huskers had the upper hand. Their strength is in the field events. Oregon neutralized that advantage just enough to come away with a narrow victory. Even if a camera can't be spared to rove around the field events, a person can be, and they can send info about an impending upset or down-the-line heroics to the booth to be announced.

CSN did very well with what they were given, but meet management deserves at least as much credit for what they gave CSN. This was a made-for-TV event. The scheduling was tight. Each school was represented in every race. It was team competition, and not a blowout either. In an era of ever-increasing amounts of cable sports TV, it's what college track needs to have all the time.

That word doesn't mean what you think it means.  This weekend, Georgia hosted the Spec Towns National Team Invitational. Does the word "team" indicate to you that "teams" would be an important part of the competition? I guess not. It was the usual split-squad crap with no "team" scores. I guess by "team", meet management meant "this is not a spectator event, nothing to see here folks, move along". Sigh...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who Did What (Women)

On to the roundup of the weekend's action for college track's top women athletes.

100 meters
1. LaKya Brookins (Clem) - won Spec Towns Invitational (11.34m), ran on 4x100
2. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - 4th at Texas Relays (11.09w), ran on 4x100 and 4x400
3. Jessica Young (TCU) - 3rd (only collegian) in Invite 100m at Texas Relays (11.13w), ran on 4x100 and 4x400
4. Takeia Pinckney (LSU) - idle
5. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - won Texas Relays (10.94w), split 52.5 (4x400), ran on 4x100
6. Kenyanna Wilson (LSU) - did not qualify at Texas Relays, ran on 4x100
7. Amber Purvis (Ore) - won 400m at Pepsi Team Invitational (52.80), ran on 4x100 and 4x400
8. Auriyall Scott (UCF) - idle
9. Gabby Mayo (TAMU) - ran on 4x100 at Texas Relays
10. Shanequa Ferguson (Aub) - see 200 meters

200 meters
1. Jeneba Tarmoh (TAMU) - see 100 meters
2. Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) - 3rd in 100m at Texas Relays (11.07w), ran on 4x100 and 4x200
3. Tiffany Townsend (Bay) - see 100 meters
4. Candyce McGrone (Okla) - ran on 4x100 at Sun Angel Classic
5. Semoy Hackett (LSU) - 2nd in 100m at Texas Relays (10.98m), ran on 4x100 and 4x200
6. Nivea Smith (Aub) - 2nd in 100m at Seminole Invitational (11.57), ran on 4x100
7. Amber Purvis (Ore) - see 100 meters
8. Shanequa Ferguson (Aub) - won Seminole Invitational (22.92), ran on 4x100
9. Dominique Duncan (TAMU) - 7th in 100m at Texas Relays (11.20w), ran on 4x100 and 4x200
10. Jessica Beard (TAMU) - see 400 meters

Who Did What (Men)

Want to know what all the top collegians did this past weekend?  It's all here.

This week I've broken up the men's and women's results into two different posts.  The top ten in each event below are as listed in the most recent Track and Field News NCAA formcharts.

100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - idle
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - ran on 4x100 at Mesa Classic
3. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - won Seminole Invitational (10.28), ran on 4x400
4. Keenan Brock (Aub) - 4th in 100m (10.50), 6th in 200m (21.37) at Seminole Invitational
5. Prezel Hardy (TAMU) - 6th in 100m (10.29), ran on 4x100 and 4x200 at Texas Relays
6. Luther Ambrose (ULM) - did not qualify to finals at Texas Relays
7. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - won 100m (10.06), ran on 4x100 and 4x200 at Texas Relays
8. Harry Adams (Aub) - won 200m (20.84), ran on 4x400 at Seminole Invitational
9. Michael Granger (Miss) - won 100m (10.22w), 3rd in 200m (20.98w), ran on 4x100 at Ole Miss Invitational
10. Charles Silmon - ran on 4x100 and SMR at Texas Relays

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - see 100 meters
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - see 100 meters
3. Charles Clark (FlSt) - 2nd in 200m (21.00), 10th I 400m (49.16) at Seminole Invitational
4. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - idle
5. Horatio Williams (LSU) - 4th in Invite 100m (10.26w), ran on 4x100 at Texas Relays
6. Antonio Sales (SoCar) - 2nd in 100m (10.45), 2nd in 200m (20.81), ran on 4x100 and 4x400 at Spec Towns Invitational
7. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - idle
8. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - see 100 meters
9. Dentarius Locke (Tenn) - idle
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - idle

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Who is Where This Weekend

It's time once again for my rundown of where all the top collegians are competing this weekend. Let's get to it!

100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - idle
2. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - Seminole Invitational (100m)
3. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - Sun Angel Classic
4. Michael Granger (Miss) - unknown, team at Ole Miss Invitational
5. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Texas Relays (100m, 4x100, 4x200)
6. Marcus Rowland (Aub) - idle
7. Luther Ambrose (ULM) - Texas Relays
8. Woodrow Randall (Bay) - Texas Relays (100m, 4x100, SMR)
9. D'Angelo Cherry (MsSt) - Texas Relays (100m, 4x100, 4x200)
10. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - idle

200 meters
1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - Seminole Invitational (100m)
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - Sun Angel Classic (100m)
3. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - unknown, team at Seminole Invitational
4. Horatio Williams (LSU) - Texas Relays (100m, 4x100)
5. Demetrius Pinder (TAMU) - Texas Relays (4x200, 4x400, SMR)
6. Zye Boey (EnIl) - unknown, team at Hilltopper Relays
7. Tony McQuay (Fla) - idle
8. Charles Clark (FlSt) - Seminole Invitational (400m, 4x400)
9. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - idle
10. Justin Austin (Iowa) - Sun Angel Classic (100m, 4x400)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What happened to the dual meet?

Yesterday’s post on Ken Goe’s Oregon track blog was the summary of a chat with Duck head coach Vin Lananna about college dual meets* and why they are like the California condor: once nearly extinct, now merely critically endangered.

*I will use the Track and Field News definition of a dual meet, which is a scored meet between two, three or four teams.

As part of a preview of this week’s Pepsi Invitational, a quad meet with Stanford, Washington and Nebraska, Lananna lamented the demise of the dual. Like many (including yours truly), he says increasing scored competition is in the long-term interest of college track.

Lananna squarely placed the blame for the dual’s disappearance on tight scholarship budgets, 12.6 for men and 18 for women, as he said it makes it difficult to field a full team. “There are 21 events in track and field and 12.6 grants”, he said. “We don’t even have a starting lineup.”

I’m not sure I agree with that assessment as to why the dual meet is a rarity. First of all, women’s teams get nearly 50% more scholarships than men’s teams do, but there are quite a few dual meets where only men participate. If the scholarship issue was really the problem, then women’s teams would participate in duals to a greater degree than men’s teams. But they don’t, and the difference is significant.

Big Distance Medley matchup on tap

Ken Goe of The Oregonian reports there will be a big distance medley relay matchup on Friday, May 6 at Hayward Field. If I'm not mistaken, that's the night before the Oregon Twilight meet.

EDIT: it's during the Oregon Twilight, which is on Friday not Saturday.

The race will include A-teams from the Ducks and the Oregon Track Club. The OTC will bring out Nick Symmonds, Ashton Eaton, Tyler Mulder and anchor with either Andrew Wheating or Russell Brown. Oregon will line up AJ Acosta, Michael Berry, Matt Centrowitz and Elijah Greer.

Could the American Record be broken? Maybe. It's a tough one, 9:15.63 in one of those USA v. The World deals at the Penn Relays. That included a 1:44 leg by Khadevis Robinson and a 3:53 anchor by Bernard Lagat.

The best time ever recorded by an all-US club team is 9:21.77 by the Oregon TC, run at Washington's Dempsey Indoor last year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

College Power Rankings

Listed along with rankings are last week's scored-meet action and the coming week's scored-meet action.

The Superfan’s Men’s Power Rankings for April 5, 2011

TeamThis week’s resultNext week’s meet
1. Texas A&M1) LSU Invitational
2. Florida
3. LSU2) LSU Invitational
4. Arkansas
5. Minnesota1) Jim Click Shootout
6. Southern Cal1) vs BYU and Cal St. Northridge
7. BYU2) vs Southern Cal and Cal St. Northridge
8. Florida State
9. Texas
10. Indiana
11. Nebraska1) vs Wichita State and Northern IowaPepsi Team Invitational
12. Stanford Pepsi Team Invitational
13. Wisconsin
14. Virginia Tech Spec Towns Invitational
15. Iowa3) LSU Invitational
16. UCLAbeat Tennessee
17. Oregon Pepsi Team Invitational
18. Ohio State2) Jim Click Shootout
19. Arizona3) Jim Click Shootout
20. Princeton
21. Oklahoma
22. Texas Tech
23. Penn State
24. Arizona State
25. GeorgiaSpec Towns Invitational

The Superfan’s Women’s Power Rankings for April 5, 2011

TeamThis week’s resultNext week’s meet
1. OregonPepsi Team Invitational
2. Texas A&M1) LSU Invitational
3. LSU2) LSU Invitational
4. Texas
5. Arkansas
6. USC1) vs BYU, Cal St. Northridge and Nevada
7. Nebraska1) vs Wichita St. and Northern Iowa Pepsi Team Invitational
8. Clemson
9. Arizona1) Jim Click Shootout
10. Oklahoma
11. Texas Tech
12. Ohio State2) Jim Click Shootout
13. Tennesseebeat UCLA
14. Florida State
15. BYU2) vs Southern Cal, Cal St. Northridge and Nevada
16. Arizona State
17. Stanford Pepsi Team Invitational
18. Minnesota3) Jim Click Shootout
19. Penn State
20. Auburn
21. South Carolina
22. North Carolina
23. UCF
24. GeorgiaSpec Towns Invitational
25. Florida

A&M Deeeeep with Quarter-Milers

Last Saturday at LSU, the Texas A&M Aggies did something unusual.  Their men ran both the year's fastest collegiate time and the year's fastest American time in the 4x400 relay.

What's so unusual about that?  It happens all the time, when a team runs and gets credit for both leaders.  Here's the kicker, though--the Aggies did it with two different relay teams.

A&M's "A" team of Joey Roberts (46.5 split), Tabarie Henry (45.4), Brian Miller (45.6) and Demetrius Pinder (44.7) ran 3:02.21 for the collegiate leader.  But since Henry and Pinder are foreign athletes, that foursome can't post the American leader.

The Aggies' "B" team of Carlyle Roudette (47.3), Tran Howell (44.8), Michael Preble (45.2) and Oscar Ramirez (47.4) are all Americans, and their time of 3:04.69 is the fastest in 2011 by an all-US foursome.

This has never been done before.  And it must be the fastest B-team ever put together.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Who Did What

On Thursday I posted a listing of the scheduled weekend action of the top collegians in each event.  Now it's time for a roundup of how it turned out.

100 meters
1. Jeff Demps (Fla) - Won 100m (10.07w), ran on 3rd place (2nd collegiate) 4x100 (38.91) at Florida Relays
2. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - Won 200m (20.36), ran on 2nd place (1st collegiate) 4x100 (38.87) at Florida Relays
3. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - idle
4. Michael Granger (Miss) - Won 100m heat (10.50) at Florida Relays (100m, 200m & relays)
5. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Ran on winning 4x100 (39.11) at LSU Invitational
6. Marcus Rowland (Aub) - idle
7. Luther Ambrose (ULM) - idle
8. Reggie Dixon (Hamp) - 4th in 100m heat (10.39w), ran on SMR at Florida Relays
9. Woodrow Randall (Bay) - 4th (3rd collegian) in 100m heat (10.34w), ran on 2nd-place 4x100 (39.91) at Bobby Lane Invitational
10. Terrell Wilks (Fla) - 2nd in 100m heat (10.35w), won 200m heat (20.69), ran on 3rd place (2nd collegiate) 4x100 (38.91) at Florida Relays

1. Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) - Won 200m (20.36), ran on 2nd place (1st collegiate) 4x100 (38.87) at Florida Relays
2. Mookie Salaam (Okla) - idle
3. Brandon Byram (FlSt) - Won 200m heat (20.56), ran on 2nd place (1st collegiate) 4x100 (38.87) at Florida Relays
4. Horatio Williams (LSU) - 3rd in 100m (10.25), won 200m (20.67) at LSU Invitational
5. Marvin Bonde (ORU) - idle
6. Demetrius Pinder (TAMU) - 2nd in 400m (44.83), split 44.7 at LSU Invitational
7. Gerald Phiri (TAMU) - Ran on winning 4x100 (39.11) at LSU Invitational
8. Tony McQuay (Fla) - idle
9. Charles Clark (FlSt) - 5th (3rd collegian) in 200m heat (21.30) at Florida Relays
10. Zye Boey (EnIl) - Won Big Blue Classic 100m(10.15w) and 200m (20.67)

Monday Morning Decathlete

The weekly column, my version of "Monday morning quarterbacking", is making a permanent move to Mondays.

What did we learn this week?

Alan Webb has left the Oregon Project. It was first announced as a tweet by David Monti, then quickly followed up on by Flotrack and Let’s Run.

Officially, Webb moved on to find a more middle-distance oriented group and there was no bad blood. I don’t for a minute think that Salazar told him to take a hike, because athletes fire coaches, not the other way around, and coaches especially don’t fire guys with Webb’s talent. It may have been Webb’s decision.

I say “may” because it may have been someone else’s decision. Let’s Run and others are citing an off-the-record tip that Webb’s contract with Nike has not been renewed. Salazar told Ken Goe of The Oregonian that Webb drifted towards this decision over “a period of five to six weeks”, so it doesn’t appear that he was forced out due to his non-contract status. But it probably added to his reasons to find another home.

In any case, Webb has always been a bit like track’s version of the character Nuke Laloosh from Bull Durham. (Laloosh was based on a real young and wild star, named Steve Dalkowski, who burned out early in the minors. He once had 24 strikeouts, 18 walks, 6 wild pitches and four hit batsmen in a single game.) Webb had his trip to the big leagues, most notably in 2007 when he broke records and made the US team for the Worlds.

Since 2007, though, he’s most definitely been in the minor leagues. He hasn’t been relevant on the national stage, let alone the world stage. He’s gotten more attention for his post-race tantrum in Boston in February, the track equivalent of beating the hell out of the water cooler, than for any actual race result.

I feel for the guy. He’d once been on Letterman and SportsCenter did a live cut-in to the USATF Championships to see him run. Now he doesn’t have a steady paycheck. His impatience and instability has contributed to all of this, no doubt. But it’s been a rough several years.

Oregon is going all-out to win the Pepsi Team Invitational. That's their home four-way scored meet next weekend against Nebraska, Washington and Stanford. Vin Lananna told The Oregonian that he'll bring out every big gun the Ducks have in order to try to win the meet.

Which begs the question: why would you hold back and not try to win a meet? The answer is that if your season is going long and there's nothing at stake in the short term, you always look at the long picture. This is what happened last year, when Andrew Wheating didn't start his outdoor season until after the Pepsi quad-meet.

So why the change in strategy? There could be multiple reasons. One is that Lananna doesn't see any of his top athletes stretching their track seasons past June. The three athletes specifically mentioned were A.J. Acosta, Matt Centrowitz, and Jordan Hasay. Unlike Wheating, none have even the slightest chance of making Team USA for the worlds, nor of having an impact on the European summer circuit.

Another possible reason is pretty obvious to anyone who saw the NCAA Indoor Championships: as a team: the Duck men will not make an impact on the outdoor nationals this year. They're going to have a fight on their hands for the Pac-10 title. And the dual with UCLA is in Westwood this year. So the Pepsi meet is the only scored meet at Hayward Field this year, and as such the only chance for the Ducks to get a W in front of the home crowd. And on the men's side, at least, that's going to take a full effort (especially considering frosh throws star Crouser is out with a back injury).

I hope another reason is in play here. Coaches of other prominent programs, like Texas A&M's Pat Henry and Arkansas' Chris Bucknam, have spoken publicly about how college track desperately needs a re-emphasis on scored meets. UCLA coach Mike Maynard has talked about how winning is a skill separate from chasing personal records, and that it must be practiced in order to be learned. If Lananna, one of the most influential people in the domestic track scene, is starting to sign on to these ideas, then it's not just talk. It's a movement.

The Tennessee men's program has fallen far. UCLA's men's team broke a four-meet dual losing streak by trashing the Volunteers 111-50. Ouch. The Vols have four national championships to their credit, but these days they are nothing like what they once were.

It's funny how you select college teams you cheer for when they're in a totally different part of the country from you. I'm a Vols fan, especially when it comes to track, but Knoxville is an 8-hour drive away from me.

I've always like Neyland Stadium and its checkerboard end zones. That, coupled with Rocky Top, makes football at Tennessee a unique experience. My brother spent several years in Knoxville and came away from the university with a Ph.D. and a wife. And the Great Smoky Mountains is one of my favorite places on the earth. None of these are why I like Volunteer track, though.

The spiritual leader of my high school track team the year we won the Ohio championship was Jeremy Lincoln, a two-sport star. He chose Tennessee over all the other schools pursuing him because the Vols would let him both run track and play football. He was good enough in both, as he ran on a 4x100 relay that scored at the NCAA Championships and played in the NFL for ten years.

At the time, Tennessee was known as the place of Willie Gault ant Sam Graddy, the speed city of college football. They hosted USA and NCAA Championships. They had the Dogwood Relays. Track was a big deal there. I found this out because my high school team started going all the way to Knoxville from Toledo for the Volunteer Track Classic. I thought Tom Black Track was the coolest place ever. I’ve been a Vol track fan ever since.

The men’s program has fallen on hard times. Ten years ago, the Vols won an NCAA championship. Last year they were ninth out of eleven at the SEC Outdoor Championships and dead last indoors. This year they were seventh at the SEC indoor, a small step up, but they’re still weak compared to the Tennessee tradition.

Other Tennessee traditions have dropped off as well. It’s been 16 years since Knoxville has hosted a major championship, the longest drought since Tom Black Track was opened. The Dogwood Relays, now known as the Sea Ray Relays, no longer draws much in the way of spectators or top teams. The Volunteer Classic, a high school meet, used to feature the Vols against other collegiate teams in a few relays, but that’s been canned too.

J.J. Clark is now the coach for both the men's and women's programs at Tennessee. He guided the women to an indoor NCAA Championship just two years ago, and is committed to bringing the men's program back to prominence. I’ll still wear my UT Orange and white regardless, but I hope it's for pride in the present rather than in the past.

Robbie Andrews is likely back for the college outdoor season. The Virginia 800 star had a couple of big victories during his 2010 freshman campaign, running down Andrew Wheating at the NCAA Indoors and the Penn Relays 4x800. Apparently due to injury, he redshirted the indoor season, and his only appearance on the track was as a pacemaker for Bernard Lagat's 2-mile record attempt (Virginia was competing in the concurrent collegiate meet).

On Friday he opened up his season at the Colonial Relays in Williamsburg VA, and won with 1:49.58 while running unattached. Coach Jason Vigilante probably took no chance of his star using a year of eligibility until he knew the kid was ready for the season.

1:49.58 doesn't sound all that great, but the conditions were reportedly something like 50 degrees and 20 mph winds. Here's how you really know the conditions were bad and Andrews ran well: of the 79 athletes in the men's 800 meters, he was the only one who beat his seed time.

Jeff Demps is progessing nicely. He won the Florida Relays 100 meters in 10.07. It was wind-aided (+2.2), but in terms of pure numbers it's still one of the best races of his life. Never has he run this well this early.

Demps’ career best races are below, both with raw time and adjusted for wind.
Raw TimeWind(adjusted)SiteDate
10.011.6(10.09) Eugene6/28/08
10.061.3(10.13) Greensboro5/28/10
10.061.3(10.14) Knoxville5/16/10
10.03w2.2(10.14) Clermont6/14/08
9.96w2.5(10.18) Eugene6/11/10
10.07w2.2(10.18) Gainesville4/1/11

Playing around with adjusting for wind can be a tricky business. Wind readings are always a single number representing an average of air movement parallel to the track at a single point in space. That doesn’t always reflect the reality of wind conditions, though, as it can be any direction, can change during the race, and be different at different parts of the straightaway. The wind readings at the Florida Relays changed from one race to the next, often switching from a tailwind to a headwind in consecutive heats, which means it wasn't consistent during races either. So it’s possible to read too much into the time in combination with the wind reading.

Instead, you can look at the fact that Demps beat second place by 0.28 seconds. Second wasn’t chopped liver, either; it was teammate Terrell Wilks, who sports a 10.15 PR and nearly made the NCAA 100 meter finals last year.

Better yet, you can just watch the race:

How good can Demps be? We’ll probably never find out. He plays football for the Gators and he does it well. As track fans, we have to look at each of his seasons as maybe his last. Rumors flew early this year that new Florida football coach Will Muschamp was not going to allow Demps to run, as his predecessor Urban Meyer did. Obviously they turned out to be false, but you never know what next year may bring. Besides what Muschamp might do, there’s simply the nature of football, where it’s always true that your next play may be your last.

Could we be so lucky that Demps picks track over football once college is over? Fat chance. Unless your name is Usain Bolt, a single subpar year in the NFL pays better than a lifetime of track. It probably feeds your ego better, even if your name is Bolt. The last prominent college footballers who were legitimate track stars were Eric Metcalfe and Rod Woodson, and there was no hesitation on their part. I can’t recall any track star who was even a middling college football player who didn’t choose the NFL over track.

The only possible reason why Demps might go against the grain is our ever-increasing knowledge of the deleterious long-term effects of football. Is he going to take that into consideration? Well, how far into the future did you look when you were 22 years old?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Weekend Preview

The relay season kicks off this weekend with the Florida Relays on Friday and Saturday.  Friday is the individual events, Saturday is the relays.

Besides all the hot collegiate action, which I previewed yesterday, some big-name pros are getting started here too.  David Oliver is running his first outdoor race of the year; Francena McCorory and Mary Wineberg are facing off in the 400; and a foursome of Vet Myers, Lauryn Williams, Natasha Hastings, and Bianca Knight are running the 4x100 and 4x200.  (Tyson Gay had considered running on a 4x400 here, but it looks like that's not happening.)

And then there's the brainchild of Florida sprinters Terrell Wilks and Jeff Demps: the fastest mascot challenge.

Flotrack will have coverage and will have a live webcast on both days.  Don't miss it!

Another quality relay meet this weekend is the 46th annual Colonial Relays at William and Mary.  The Missouri Relays also takes place in Columbia.

Scored Meets
If you're like me, and you love meets that keep score, you'll have a lot to keep you happy this weekend.

The inaugural LSU Invitational has the home Tigers plus Texas A&M, Illinois, Iowa, UConn and Army.  On both the men's and the women's side, the team battle should be a war.  In terms of individual events, the men's 110 hurdles lines up the top two in the country, Barret Nugent (LSU) and Andrew Riley (Illinois).

The Jim Click Shootout lines up the home Arizona Wildcats against Ohio State, Minnesota and Washington State.  The two from the Big Ten are deep teams that do very well in this kind of competition.

There's a revival of a once-great dual meet series as Tennessee travels to UCLA.  Nebraska and Northern Iowa go to Wichita State.  BYU and Cal St. Northridge come to USC, and that one should be a close matchup between the Cougars and the Trojans.

High Schools
The best track meet in the entire world, the Jamaican Boys' and Girls' Championships (aka "The Champs") is going on in Kingston. is your one-stop shop for updates, and the live webcast features Ato Boldon.

Road Racing
Here in the USA we have the Cooper River Bridge Run, the Carlsbad 5000, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  Eliud Kipchoge is in Carlsbad and wants the road world record; Runnerspace is at Cherry Blossom and will be running a new three-feed webcast.

Overseas there's the Prague Half Marathon, the Paralleloop, and the Berlin Half Marathon, plus a special Iberic Trophy 10,000 meters in Spain.