Friday, September 4, 2015

Kara Winger finishes ninth in Zurich Diamond League finals...

ZURICH, Switzerland—Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca), finished ninth in the javelin at the Zurich Weltklasse Diamond League finals meeting Thursday night at Letzigrund Stadium.

Winger, who finished eighth in the world championships in Beijing on Sunday, only threw a best of 188-11 (57.58m), as Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková of the Czech Republic , who Winger bumped out of the finals in Beijing, won with a throw of 211-0 (64.31m).

Špotáková won the season long Diamond Race in the javelin, scoring 19 points over the course of the 14-city IAAF Diamond League tour that began in May in Doha.  Winger finished the season in a tie for seventh with world champion Katharina Molitor of Germany with 2 Diamond Race points.

In Fairbanks, Alaska, Seattle Pacific’s Anna Patti won the 6-kilometer race at the season-opening Alaska Invitational, running 22:12 to help lead the Falcons to the team title in the triangular meet involving Montana State/Billings and host Alaska-Fairbanks at the West Ridge Ski Trails.

SPU had a team low score of 21 points, while Alaska Fairbanks was second with 43 points, and Montana State Billings wound up with 65. The top four Falcons finished ahead of everyone from MSUB and all but one runner from Fairbanks.

This was the third straight year the Falcons won the Alaska Invite long-course title.

Following Patti was Sarah Macdonald in second (23:12), followed by Hannah Calvert (23:52) in fourth, Jessica Rawlins (24:04) in fifth, and Lynelle Decker (24:40) in ninth.

The Falcon men finished third in the long-course meet, scoring 80 points.  Montana State Billings, led by individual winner Robert Peterson (26:19 for 8k) edged Alaska Fairbanks for first, 24-32 over the 8k course.

Sophomore Ben Halladay placed 14th overall, his first time at the front of the Seattle Pacific pack, clocking 28:02 for 8k.

The Falcons return to action Saturday for the short course race at the Alaska Invitational against the same two teams, with both men and women racing 5k.  SPU has won the last two women’s short-course titles.

NOTE:  The sports information office at Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Linton leads Cougs in season-opening Clash of the Inland Northwest...

COLFAX—Washington State’s CharLee Linton (#10, above/photo courtesy WSU Athletics) finished third in the women’s race, while Gonzaga’s Troy Fraley was second in the season-opening Clash of the Inland Northwest cross country meet at the Colfax Golf Club, involving Gonzaga and Eastern Washington, along with Idaho, Whitworth and Lewis-Clark State.

This meet, traditionally held in Spokane, was moved to Colfax, in order to give host Washington State an opportunity to test out the Colfax Golf Course, which will host the Pac-12 cross country championships at the end of October.

Idaho’s Kinsey Gomez won the women’s 4k race in 13:41, with Sierra Speiker of Idaho, competing unattached second in 13:46, followed by the Cougars’ Linton (13:49) and Devon Bortfeld (13:57).  Gonzaga’s Julie Henling was fifth in 13:59.

On the men’s side, Sam Adkin of Lewis-Clark State won the 6k race in 17:36, followed by Gonzaga’s Troy Fraley (17:43), then WSU’s John Whelan in 17:48.  Forrest Shaffer, competing unattached, was fourth in 18:01, followed by Gonzaga’s Matthew Critchlow in 18:01.

Eastern Washington’s top finishers were Catie Arrigoni (14:10) in eighth in the women’s race, and Isaac Kitzan (18:53) in 26th in the men’s race.

”This was a little bit of a rust buster (competition) to see where we’re at this time of year and not get too aggressive,” WSU Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Wayne Phipps said. “Last year we had some great early season success but I think we got a little too aggressive a little too early. We’re a little more conservative this time and we executed pretty well. I thought the course was awesome. A ton of work has gone into this and the Colfax Golf Club guys have been fantastic along with Ben Clarke and the WSU facilities guys.”

"We had five guys in the top 10 in an early season 6K tempo workout," Director of Gonzaga Cross Country and Track Pat Tyson said. "I'm pleased with the Men of Gonzaga. Troy ran tough up front and Matt Crichlow led a wave of Blue and White Zag jerseys. It all followed a hard week of training in challenging conditions caused by the horrific fires. This is a good team that beat a very good young Washington State team!"

"Great to get a meet in today," GU women's Head Coach Patty Ley said. "We are platooning our top ladies a bit, and with some having classes today, we left a number at home. That gave some ladies a chance to step up and compete.”

Complete results of the Clash of the Inland Northwest are available below.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Gonzaga University and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Emily Hamlin and Andrew Gardner win annual UW/SeattleU non-scoring meet...

SEATTLE—Appropriately enough, it drizzled before the annual non-scoring meet kicking off the cross country season between Seattle University and the University of Washington Tuesday at Warren G. Magnuson Park after a summer filled with near record high temperatures.

Those few people who were at Magnuson Park got a small preview of what to expect from both Husky teams, which are ranked in the top 20 (men #18, women #17) by in their pre-season polls.

In the women’s 3 mile race (2 laps), a trio of true freshmen went 1-2-3, holding hands together as they crossed the line, with Emily Hamlin (#13, above/photo by Paul Merca) from Boise declared the winner in 16:43, followed by junior Pan Am steeple champ Charlotte Prouse (#16) from London, Ontario, and Lindsey Bradley from West Richland, with all given the same time, and all competing unattached.

Behind the three frosh, sophomore Katie Knight was the first Husky across the line wearing a team uniform in 16:46, followed by Anna Maxwell competing unattached, then Eleanor Fulton & Kelly Lawson, and Maddie Meyers competing unattached in 16:47.

Senior Jenna Sanders was ninth in 16:50, and unattached runner Kaylee Flanagan rounded out the top ten in 16:53.

SeattleU’s top finisher was Lila Rice in 11th in a time of 16:57.

In the men’s 4.5 mile race (3 laps), Spokane native Andrew Gardner took command past the halfway mark, and took the win in 22:10.

Following Gardner was freshman Andrew Snyder from Kennewick competing unattached in 22:12, then it was SeattleU’s Gus Arroyo in third at 22:15 and Nathan McLaughlin fourth in 22:17.

The Huskies’ Colby Gilbert was fifth in 22:19, followed by unattached runner Fred Huxham, then Johnathan Stevens and Mahmoud Moussa of the Dawgs, and NCAA 1500m qualifier Izaic Yorks, running unattached, with all credited with a time of 22:19.

Baxter Arguinchona of the Redhawks was tenth in 22:20.

After the race, which for all intents and purpose was a glorified tempo run through the trails and bicycle paths of Magnuson Park for the Huskies, both UW squads ran a series of hill repeats up the park’s signature Kite Hill.

The Huskies will then head off to their annual pre-season training camp before their traditional season opener on September 19th at Lincoln Park where they host the annual Sundodger Invitational, with most of the state’s Division I & II schools expected to compete.

Complete results are available here:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Winger finishes eighth in first major championship final in Beijing...

BEIJING, China—Competing in a final for the first time in her career in either a world championship or Olympics, Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished eighth in the javelin Sunday night as the IAAF World Track & Field Championships concluded its nine day run at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in the Chinese capital.

Winger finished with a best of 199-9 (60.88m), as Kathrina Molitor of Germany won the competition with a last attempt throw of 222-1 (67.69m) to snatch victory from China’s Huihui Lyu, who took the lead in the penultimate round with a national and Asian area record toss of 216-11 (66.13m).

South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen of South Africa was third with a best of 215-10 (65.79m).

Winger started the day with a first round throw of 192-1 (58.55m), then improved to 198-11 (60.63m). 

As she was on the bubble, with, among others, former world and Olympic champ Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic, and Pan Am champ Liz Gleadle of Canada trying to sneak past her for one of the eight spots to get three more throws, the Skyview HS grad came through with her 199-9 toss to keep both Spotakova and Gleadle out of the finals.

In the final three rounds, she threw 194-8 (59.34m) and 194-6 (59.28m) before fouling her last attempt.

In the mixed zone afterwards, she said, “I didn't execute today. However, I know that I did the best I could on the day, and I'm thrilled to be in the top 8. I felt strong. I felt connected to the javelin. I just didn't put that connection in the right direction, but I had a great time and that's what I wanted to do.”

“I'm really thrilled to be a part of this women's group of throwers at this World Championships. It's been really fun. Last summer all four American record holders were on the Continental Cup team, and this year all four were on this team, so it's really cool to not only be a team member with those girls but to be with four other girls who have made the final.”

“I'm excited about the future. The season has been really busy and really successful, but it's also been pretty long.”

In other events, Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia won the women’s marathon in 2:27:35; former Indiana University standout Derek Drouin of Canada won the men’s high jump in a jump at 7-8 (2.34m); Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia led a sweep of the medals in the women’s 5000, winning in a championship meet record 14:26.83; Asbel Kiprop of Kenya won his third world title at 1500 meters in 3:34.40; the Jamaicans won the women’s 4 x 400 relay in 3:19.13; and in the final event of the meet, the United States, with veteran LaShawn Merritt on the anchor, won the 4 x 400 relay in 2:57.82.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Taiwo drops out of second straight world championship decathlon...

BEIJING, China—University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) was forced to withdraw for the second straight IAAF World Track & Field Championship decathlon competition with an injury, dropping out after completing seven events.

He started the day by running 14.81 in the hurdles for 873 points, then threw 134-6 (41.01m) for 685 points in the discus.

But in the warmups before the pole vault, he knew that it was over when his left knee wouldn’t cooperate when he tried to run from both a short approach and a long approach.

He told USA Track & Field afterwards, "Before the hurdles, I couldn't get over one hurdle in the warm up. So I just went out and hoped the adrenaline would get me through. It did. I decided that I needed to take it one event at a time. I needed to finish this. Pole vault warm-ups, I tried to see if I was going to be able to get up to top speed. I couldn't get to the box or off the ground from my long approach or my short approach. That was the final straw where I knew I should bow out. I had been battling it since long jump and I couldn't hold on any longer.”

"It was a tough decision, and one I didn't want to make. It was a battle between my will to finish, and my instinct for what my future may be. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do [indoors]. I would be ecstatic if the USA chose me to represent my country, especially since it's in the Northwest. But if I'm not chosen, it will impact how I work towards making the Olympic team. A million things are running around in my head. But I just need to get home, take time off, feel healthy. And see if I want to start this journey."

Oregon alum Ashton Eaton exerted his will on the field as he broke his own world record in the event, scoring a ten event total of 9045 points, exceeding the 9039 he scored in winning the 2012 US Olympic Trials in Eugene.

Eaton, who led at the break with 4673 points, started off by running 13.69 in the hurdles, followed by a throw of 142-2 in the discus.  He then had a strong showing in the pole vault, clearing 17-0.75 (5.20m), then threw 208-9 (63.63m) to set up the dramatics in the 1500 meters, where he needed to run at least 4:18.25, a time he had only run once, to break his old record of 9039 points.

After being behind pace for the first 400 meters, he gradually picked the pace up, but at the bell, needed a 63 second last lap to get the world record.

The native of Bend, Oregon, crossed the line second overall in 4:17.52, to break the world record, and in the process, potentially collect a world record bonus from the IAAF and partner TDK of $100,000.00.

In other finals Saturday night, Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project, won the 5000 in 13:50.38, using a lethal 3:56 last 1600 and a 27 second last 200 to successfully defend his world title; 

Maria Kuchina of Russia won the women’s high jump with a leap of 6-7 (2.01m); 

In a mild upset, Marina Arzamasova of Belarus won the women’s 800 in 1:58.03; 

Piotr Malachowski of Poland led a 1-3 podium finish, winning the discus with a throw of 221-1 (67.40m), while  teammate Robert Urbanek was third at 213-10 (65.18m); 

Jamaica swept both the women’s (41.07) and men’s (37.36) 4 x 100 meter relay, as the USA women’s squad of English Gardner, Allyson Felix, Jenna Prandini, and Jasmine Todd (all except Felix are either current or former Oregon Ducks) finished second in 41.68, while the USA men’s team of Trayvon Bromell, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay & Mike Rodgers were disqualified.

Earlier in the day, Matej Toth of Slovakia won the 50-kilometer race walk in 3:40:32.

The curtain draws to a close Sunday at the world championships with seven finals, including the women’s javelin featuring Vancouver’s Kara Winger, who is competing in her first world or Olympic final in five career appearances in the sport’s biggest stage.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Kara Winger earns final qualifying spot for javelin finals at world championships...

BEIJING, China—Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) squeezed out the twelfth and final spot to advance to Sunday’s finals in the women’s javelin competition at the National Stadium Friday night at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Competing in the second of two flights, Winger, the reigning US national champion threw 204-1 (62.21m) in the second round after opening with a mark of 202-0 (61.59m).  

In round 3, she threw 194-2 (59.18m), and then watched and waited to see if her second round mark would hold up to move on.

Afterwards, she told USA Track & Field, “I felt good today, but I let the nerves get the best of me. I didn’t get a big Q, but a Q is a Q is a Q. I’m super excited for my first final on Sunday.”

The javelin finals start at 6:45pm in Beijing (3:45 am in Seattle).

University of Washington and Newport HS alum Jeremy Taiwo finished day 1 of the decathlon in twelfth place, with a first day score of 4244 points,  coming back in the final two events after a slow start in the 100 and long jump.

In the high jump, he cleared a height of 6-10.75 (2.10m/896 points), then ran 47.94 for 912 points.

Several sharp-eyed observers in the stands noticed the K-tape he wore in his left hamstring throughout the competition, and afterwards, he told USA Track & Field, “I got through the first day. My knee is bugging me a little bit since getting to Japan. I had to ease back from training and get healthy enough for this meet. It started bugging me in the long jump. I was afraid I wasn’t going to continue. I kept trying to push, I got through the 400 and I’m pretty happy about that.”

Defending world and Olympic champ Ashton Eaton of the Oregon TC Elite leads at the halfway mark of the decathlon with a first day score of 4703 points, highlighted by a world decathlon best 45.00 in the 400 meters, worth 1060 points.  Former world champ Trey Hardee was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury in the long jump.

The decathlon resumes Saturday at 9:00 am local time (6:00 pm Friday in Seattle).

Tianna Bartoletta, who ten years ago, won a world title in the long jump as a teenager in Helsinki, won another title in that event, pulling out a personal best of 23-5.25 (7.14m) on her sixth and final attempt.

Defending Olympic 110 hurdles champ Aries Merritt, who recently announced that he will have one of his kidneys replaced, finished third in 13.04, as Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov won in a national record 12.98.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jeremy Taiwo stands in 19th position after 3 events in decathlon...

BEIJING, China—After three events of day 1 of the men’s decathlon, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) stands in 19th place  at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium Friday with a three-event score of 2436 points.

Taino did not get off to a good start, as he only ran 11.06 (847 points) and followed it up with a sub-par performance in the long jump, jumping only 23-5.5 (7.15m/850 points), nowhere near his 2015 decathlon season event bests of 10.89, and 24-10 (7.57m)

In the long jump, the Newport HS grad appeared not to possess the speed down the runway, as he was wearing kinetic (K) tape on his left hamstring.

In event number three, he threw the shot 46-6.25 (14.18m), his second best throw in decathlon competition this season.

The final two events of day 1 will be contested later on Friday evening.

Eugene's Ashton Eaton, the reigning world and Olympic champ, leads after three events with 2830 points.

Also later on this evening, Vancouver native Kara Winger will line up to compete in the women’s javelin qualifying round.

Veterans Christian Taylor and Allyson Felix spark life into Team USA on Day 6 of world champs...

BEIJING, China—Veterans Christian Taylor (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Allyson Felix provided some spark to a Team USA squad that was shut out of the medals two days ago, as they won their events to conclude day six of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

The 2011 World and 2012 Olympic champion, Taylor had a tentative first attempt with his jump of 16.85m/55-3.5. With a tremendous second “step” phase, he was able to produce 17.49m/57-4.75 on his second attempt to move into second overall, and his third jump matched Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba’s then-best of 17.60m/57-9, leaving Taylor in second because the Cuban’s next-best jump was superior to Taylor’s.

Taylor, the University of Florida alum, took the lead in the fourth round with a leap of 58-0.25 (17.68m), then got his American record in the penultimate jump of the evening, despite leaving about 8 centimeters on the take off board to spare.

Inn the women’s 400, Allyson Felix of Los Angeles, who seems to have been around forever despite being only 29 years old, set a personal best of 49.26 to win her first major international title at 400 meters, and in doing so, broke a tie with Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson for the most world championship gold medals won by an American.

Running in lane 6, she made up the stagger on 2008 Olympic gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain in lane 7 before the first curve was over.

Ohuruogu and the field began to close around the 200m mark, but Felix quickly put on a surge and pulled away for the win in 49.26, a 2015 world leader, stadium record and personal best. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas was a well-beaten second in 49.67, with Shericka Jackson of Jamaica third in 49.99.  

Former Oregon Duck Phyllis Francis was seventh overall in 50.51, just 1/100th off of her personal best set in the semis.

In the most anticipated race of the evening, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt defeated the USA’s Justin Gatlin to add the 200 meter title to the 100 championship won Sunday night in a world leading time of  19.59 to Gatlin’s 19.74.

Friday, University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo begins competition in the decathlon, while Vancouver native Kara Winger, the current American holder in her specialty, competes in the qualifying round of the javelin.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Defending 400 champ LaShawn Merritt sets personal best, but loses in Beijing...

BEIJING, China—Day five of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships saw Team USA bounce back from being shut out of the podium Tuesday with medals in the women’s 400 hurdles and men’s 400 Wednesday night at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

In the men’s 400, defending champion LaShawn Merritt (left/photo by Paul Merca) ended up running a personal best of 43.65, but fell short of Wayde van Niekerk from South Africa, who ended up winning with a 43.48, while American trained Kirani James of Grenada ran 43.78 to capture third in the first race in history that three men broke 44 seconds.

To give perspective on van Niekerk’s winning dash, he becomes the fourth best performer all-time behind Michael Johnson’s world record 43.18; Butch Reynolds’ 43,29, and Jeremy Wariner’s 43.45 to win the 2007 world title.

In other finals, Kenya’s Julius Yego won the men’s javelin with a throw of 304-2 (92.72m), the furthest throw in the world this season, and Kenya’s first ever medal of any color in a field event; Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic defended her 400 hurdles title in a time of 53.50, with collegian Shamier Little of Texas A&M second in 53.94, and Cassandra Tate third in 54.02 to get the USA the other spot on the podium; and, Yarisley Silva of Cuba won the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 16-0.75 (4.90m); and Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi won the women’s 3000 steeplechase in 9:19.11.

In qualifying events contested Wednesday morning involving athletes from the Pacific Northwest, defending champion Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Beaverton based Nike Oregon Project, qualified for the finals in the men’s 5000 by finishing second in his heat in 13:19.44, while Oregon alum and NOP teammate Galen Rupp was eighth in his heat in 13:20.78.  US national champ Ryan Hill of the Beaverton-based Bowerman TC was sixth in his heat in 13:19.67.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Americans shut out of the podium in Beijing...

BEIJING, China—If you had to look at Tuesday night’s finals results from a strictly American perspective, there would be a better than even chance that one would conclude that it wasn’t a good night for Team USA on the fourth day of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest.

The biggest disaster was in the men’s long jump when no Americans advanced to the finals, as Jeffrey Henderson (26-1, 7.95m), the reigning Pan Am champion and current world leader at 27-11.5 (8.52m), had a miserable series, and saw three athletes pass him in round three to place him ninth and out of the running for three more jumps, while Mike Hartfield failed to even get a mark.

Meanwhile, the Chinese long jumpers, who are now coached by former Bellingham resident Randy Huntington, better known as the man who coached world record holder Mike Powell, fed off the energy of the sellout crowd and finished 3-4-5, led by 18-year old Jianan Wang, the reigning world junior champion, who jumped 26-10 (8.18m).

2012 Olympic champ Greg Rutherford of Great Britain added a world title to his resume, winning with a jump of 27-7.25 (8.41m).

No Americans made the finals of the 800 meters, as world record holder and reigning Olympic champ David Rudisha of Kenya (above/photo by Paul Merca) won in 1:45.84.

2011 world champion Jenny Simpson of Boulder, Colorado lost her shoe with two laps to go in the finals of the women’s 1500 and finished next to last in the 12-woman field in 4:16.28.  Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project was seventh in 4:12.39. as world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia won in 4:08.09.

One of the biggest upsets in the meet happened in the men’s 400 hurdles, as Nicholas Bett of Kenya ran a personal best and world leading time of 47.79 to take the victory.  The top American was veteran Kerron Clement in fourth in 48.18.

The women’s discus was won by Denia Caballero of Cuba with a toss of 227-3 (69.28m), while the top American was Whitney Ashley at 200-3 (61.05m) in ninth.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Emily Infeld of the Beaverton-based Bowerman Track Club takes bronze in 10000m...

BEIJING, China—It was a solid showing for the Beaverton based Bowerman Track Club as Emily Infeld (left/photo by Paul Merca) snuck past American teammate Molly Huddle on the final few steps to secure a bronze medal in the women’s 10000 meters Monday night at the Bird’s Nest Stadium to highlight day 3 of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

After a relatively mild first half of the race that went through in 16:11.99, Kenya’s Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at this distance who trains with the Eugene based Oregon TC Elite, took the lead with Kenyan teammates and Iowa State alum Betsy Saina lurking along with former world champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

Also in that pack of ten were Infeld, teammate and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, Huddle, and former NCAA champ Susan Kukijen of Florida State and the Netherlands.

Cheruiyot shot past Huddle and into the lead with Ethiopian Gelete Burka in tow, but appeared not to have the extra gear needed to pass Cheriuyot, who took the win in 31:41.31 to Burka’s 31:41.77.

With those two medals locked up, it became a battle between Notre Dame grad Huddle and Georgetown grad Infeld for the last podium spot, but Infeld snuck past her with less than five meters to go to take the bronze in a time of 31:43.49 to Huddle’s 31:43.58.  

Kipyego was fifth in 31:44.42, followed by Flanagan in 31:46.23.  Betsy Saina was eighth in 31:51.35, while Susan Kuijken was tenth in 31:54.32.

Infeld said, “I honestly have no idea. I was just to run through the line and give it everything I had. I feel like the last lap I felt really good and I just want to hang with it. I feel like i can medal. I just ran through the line. I feel a little guilty because I feel like Molly let up a little. I don’t think she realized how close I was. I was just trying to run through the line. I’m really thrilled.”

Flanagan, who won the bronze medal in this event at the 2008 Olympics at this venue said, “It was a pretty modest pace, I knew it would be fast at the end. With two laps to go, I literally got chills thinking there’s three Americans right here that could medal. I just thought this is a phenomenal position to be in. I don’t think I believed as much in myself and my ability to close. I wish I had a little bit more faith in myself. I think I was just feeling sorry for myself. I’m proud of sixth tonight. Most importantly, three Americans in the top six tonight is a phenomenal performance. My coach told us that we were capable of things like that tonight.”

True to Flanagan’s words, the 3-4-6 by Team USA in the 10000 is the best finish by an American squad at the world championships.

In other finals Monday night, American record holder Evan Jager of the Bowerman TC, who was one of the favorites to break up the Kenyan stranglehold in the 3000 steeple, was sixth in 8:15.47, while his club teammate Dan Huling, who stayed back of the pack in the early going, was one spot ahead of him in 8:14.39.

Former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral was tenth in 8:24.94.

Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya won his third straight world title at this distance, running 8:11.28 to lead a 1-2-3-4 Kenyan sweep.

Akron’s Shawn Barber of Canada was an upset winner of the pole vault, clearing 19-4.25 (5.90m), as reigning world and Olympic champ Renaud Lavillenie of France ended up in a three-way tie for third at 19-0.5 (5.80m).

Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia successfully defended her world title in the triple jump with a leap of 48-10.75 (14.90m), and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica won the women’s 100 in 10.76, as American Tori Bowie took third in 10.86.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Usain Bolt repeats as world 100 meter champion at scene of his Olympic triumph...

BEIJING, China—Usain Bolt (above, on the right/photo by Paul Merca) was everything advertised and more, as the Jamaican successfully defended his world title, coming from behind to defeat current world leader Justin Gatlin of the USA in the featured men’s 100 meters at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

Gatlin got out early and appeared to be in command to add a world title to the Olympic title he won way back in 2004 in Athens.

However towards the last few strides of the race, Gatlin appeared to time his dip to the finish line a bit early, and the taller Bolt, who won Olympic gold in the 100 and 200 at this venue in 2008, took advantage of Gatlin’s gaffe to win in a season best 9.79, far off his world record of 9.58, but nonetheless a victory when it mattered.

Gatlin finished second in 9.80, while Baylor University’s Trayvon Bromell of the USA and USC’s Andre DeGrasse of Canada tied for third in 9.92, after running a long collegiate season.  Both appear as the future of the short dash on the international scene.

In the semis, Gatlin appeared invincible after running 9.77 in the semis a few hours earlier, while Bolt ran 9.96 pressed by USC standout Andre DeGrasse of Canada.

Such was the depth of the field that it featured the first nine-man final, as it took 9.99 to get in with Bingtian Su of China getting the last spot when the Seiko timing device could not separate him and Jimmy Vicaut of France for the last spot even though they ran in separate heats.

Su tied his Chinese national record of 9.99 in finishing fourth in the first heat, which he set in Eugene at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, and which got most of the 50000 spectators in a tizzy.

In finals contested this evening, Pawel Fajdek of Poland won the hammer with a toss of 265-4 (80.88m); Jessica Ennis-Hill won the heptathlon with a final score of 6669 points, while Oregon grad Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada and the Oregon TC Elite was second with 6554.

Penn State alum Joe Kovacs, who formerly was coached by new Arizona throws coach and former University of Washington assistant TJ Crater, won the shot put with a toss of 71-11.5 (21.93m).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Husky alum Brad Walker falls short of qualifying for pole vault finals in Beijing...

BEIJING, China—University of Washington alum and 2007 world champion Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) did not advance to the finals of the men’s pole vault Saturday night at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

The University/Spokane HS graduate opened the evening with a first attempt clearance at 17-8.5 (5.40m), then followed up with a first attempt make at 18-2.5 (5.55m).

A first attempt miss at 18-6.5 (5.65m) put him in a hole but was able to clear on his second attempt.  With several others ahead of Walker on fewer misses, he needed a make at 18-8.25 (5.70m), which was the automatic qualifying mark to advance to the finals, but he missed on all three tries.

All told, sixteen men made 18-8.25 (5.70m) to advance to the finals on Monday night. led by reigning world and Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France.  The current American champion, Sam Kendricks also made the final, as did NCAA champ Shawn Barber of Akron from Canada.

Two finals were contested at National Stadium, as Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Beaverton based Nike Oregon Project won yet another men’s 10000 title in 27:01.13, with a last kilometer of 2:28.81, while his NOP teammate and Oregon alum Galen Rupp was fifth in a season best 27:08.91.

In the women’s shot put, Christina Schwanitz won with a toss of 66-10 (20.37m), while Michelle Carter of the United States grabbed a bronze medal with a throw of 64-10 (19.76m).

Sunday night will see three finals—the men’s hammer, men’s shot, and the men’s 100 meters.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts fails to advance in first round of 800 meters...

BEIJING, China—Cas Loxsom of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts (left/photo by Paul Merca) failed to advance to the second round of the men’s 800 meters Saturday morning at the opening session of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

Loxsom was near the front of the pack in the first of six heats, and led the field through the first 400 meters in 54.70.

However, he was jostled as the field approached the 600 meter mark, as Ali Al-Deraan of Saudi Arabia squeezed past Loxsom on the rail, causing the Penn State grad to lose his balance momentarily , and that was enough for the field to move past him.

Nijel Amos of Botswana won the heat in 1:47.23, as Loxsom finished sixth in 1:48.97.

In the mixed zone afterwards, a disappointed Loxsom said, “It’s just disappointing. I’m hoping Clayton (Murphy) and Erik (Sowinski) can come out and do something good here. That’s certainly not the shape I’m in. I was pretty ready for this. I don’t really know what happened. It’s just a bummer. I’m a little embarrassed and just frustrated.”

“I wanted to be back hunting a little bit. I think I panicked a little bit when I found myself at the front. No one was going to take it. Usually, I’m pretty good. I tried to stay it outside on lane 2 and kind of let them take it on the inside and no one was going to bite. Honestly I should have just trusted my kick and trusted my strength and the fitness I was  in and just let it be slow. I think I wasted a little too much energy trying to pick up a race that was only going through in 53 anyway.  So I think from 300 to 600 I kind of pressed a little bit. I’m obviously not going to put time on those guys, so I think the rest of the field to get their legs under them and be ready to kick.”

Later on this evening, University of Washington alum Brad Walker, the 2007 world champion, competes in the qualifying round of the men’s pole vault.

Ni Hao--it's just about time to roll here in Beijing!

BEIJING, China—Our coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships is now fully underway here at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, site of the 2008 Olympics.

As is the case at the world championships, I did a walkthrough of the stadium to familiarize myself with the surroundings, including the media mixed zone, the photo areas, and our work station, which is just off the finish line.

I was goofing off on the track—here I am pretending to do a sprinter’s pre-block routine (photo by Jeff Cohen).

On Saturday morning, Cas Loxsom of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts will get things underway for the Washington affiliated athletes, as he has his first round of competition in the men’s 800.  He will run here in Beijing without teammate and reigning national champ Nick Symmonds, who did not sign the contract with USA Track & Field because of a clause requiring him to wear Team USA/Nike products during all official team functions, which he felt violated his contract with Brooks.

Saturday night, former world champ Brad Walker makes his fourth appearance at the world championships when he goes in the pole vault qualifying round.

There are only four athletes with Washington ties competing at the meet (former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral is no longer counted)—besides Loxsom and Walker, Kara Winger and Jeremy Taiwo will compete during the course of this meet.

We have prepared a Scrib document with brief information on the four athletes with Washington ties competing here in Beijing.

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