Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dennis Kimetto breaks 2:03 barrier and world record in Berlin; Shalane Flanagan runs second fastest time by American...

BERLIN, Germany--On a perfect day for marathoning, Kenya's Dennis Kimetto (left/photo by Paul Merca) became the first man to break 2:03 in the marathon, stopping the watches at 2:02:57 to set yet another world record on the fast and flat BMW Berlin Marathon course through the streets of the German capital Sunday morning.

With a group of pacesetters brought in by the race organizers to ensure a fast pace, the lead group clicked through kilometers of 14:42, 29:24, 44:09, and 58:35 at the 5, 10, 15, and 20 k marks, before crossing the half-marathon mark at 1:01:45, a pace that equated to 2:03:30.

When the pacers dropped out at the 30k mark, crossed in 1:27:37, the race between Kimetto, Emmanuel Mutai, Geoffrey Kamworor, and Ethiopia's Abera Kuma was on., with a 5 k of 14:10 run between 30 and 35 k (1:41:47) proving to be the decisive stretch, as Kuma was dropped, and Kamworor, the reigning world half marathon champ, was losing ground.

To get a bit of perspective on the decisive 5k stretch, Sean Hartnett, an American from Wisconsin who was riding in the lead car and who is considered by many in the sport as one of the true experts of the marathon, told paulmerca.blogspot.com afterwards that while the results will show the 30-35k stretch as the fastest, in reality, it was the 29th to the 34th kilometer as the fastest, as he had them in 14:08.  

For what it's worth, 14:08 is a pretty good 5k time for a college dual meet!

In the stretch between 35 and 40k, Kimetto ran a split of 14:42, dropping Mutai and opening up a seven-second lead, and extended it to 16 seconds over the last 2+ kilometers to cross the line in 2:02:57, with Mutai running 2:03:13, also under the previous world record of 2:03:23, set on this course last year by Wilson Kipsang.

Kuma finished third in 2:05:56.

Fernando Cabada was the first American across the line, finishing in 2:11:36.

A side note:  Mutai's 1:27:37 was a world record for the 30k road distance, according to organizers of the BMW Berlin Marathon.

In the women's race, Portland's Shalane Flanagan (above/photo by Paul Merca) went to the front immediately with pacers Ryan Vail and Rob Watson, set to attack the American record of 2:19:36 set by Deena Kastor at the 2006 London Marathon.

For the first 25 kilometers, Flanagan was unchallenged, as she had as much as a 22 second lead on the field at that point, crossing the mark in 1:22:36.

In that stretch between 25 and 30k, the group of three Ethiopians--Tirfi Tsegaye, Takelech Bekele, and Feyse Tadese--cut Flanagan's lead down to two seconds, eventually passing her shortly around the 31k mark.  By the time Tsegaye reached 35 k, she had an 11-second lead over Tadese, while Flanagan was 20 seconds down in fourth.

Tsegaye won the race in a time of 2:20:18, with Tadese second, nine seconds back, while Flanagan made a late rally to finish third in 2:21:14, the second fastest time by an American, and a significant personal best, beating her previous PR of 2:22:02, set in Boston in April.

Afterwards, Flanagan expressed no regrets about going for the American record instead of the victory.

"I think it's all about perspective.  I've dropped over four minutes from my marathon time this year, but I also found out what my limits are today.  I did not run a good last 2k.  The race doesn't end at 40k."

When asked if there was a specific thing that led to her problems between 30 and 35k she said, "I can't see why I fatigued.  I'll look back at my training and see if there's something I need to do to change it.  Maybe I can work on being a bit tougher or being faster over the last few miles.  Progress is progress.  Getting third at a major marathon with a PR is not a bad day."

Asked if there was a sense of panic after the Ethiopian trio made the pass, she said that it was hard to watch them go past her, but she was still close to her goal, so she didn't want to waste any energy on a counter attack or a surge.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

LIVE BLOG--BMW BERLIN MARATHON...

8:05 am--Hello from the press center at the Intercontinental Hotel in Berlin, which is the base for our coverage of the BMW Berlin Marathon.  The race gets underway at 8:45 am local time (11:45pm in Seattle), with live streaming coverage on UniversalSports.com.

It's my hope that I can fill in the gaps from what the feed is showing those of you who are brave enough to stay up late (hey, for all I know, some of you could be watching this from a local watering hole--party on!).

From a Pacific Northwest perspective, and for that matter, from an American perspective, all eyes are on Shalane Flanagan of the Bowerman Track Club, as she's stated that she's going for the American record of 2:19:36 set by Deena Kastor in London in 2006.

The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10000 will have Portland's Ryan Vail, who has a PR of 2:10:57, along with Canada's Rob Watson (2:13:29) working with her.

As I've entered the press room this morning, I've been told that Yacob Jarso of Ethiopia, a 2:0617 marathoner who won in Seoul in March, will be the pacer for Tirfi Tsegaye, the Ethiopian who is seen as the primary challenger to Flanagan.   Tsegaye has a PR of 2:21:19

Feyse Tadese, Tsegaye's training partner and winner of the Paris Marathon, is also seen as one of the challengers, along with Kayoko Fukushi of Japan, who has a PR of 2:24:21.

The plan here at the press center is to watch the first half of the race here, then make my way onto the course to get photos of the leaders.

The weather right now is hovering around 50 degrees.  We are expected to approach 60 degrees about the time the elites finish.

In the meantime, here's a link from my friend Aimee Berg on what Flanagan needs to do to get the American record.

8:35 am--To quote my good friend Mark Jones from ESPN, "It's on like Donkey Kong!"

Here's the link to live results from the BMW Berlin Marathon.  We are about 10 minutes away from the start.  On the big screen here in the press room, German TV is showing an interview with figure skater Katerina Witt..

Here's a housekeeping item--given the distance between the press room and certain points on the course, I will have to leave the blog in order to get to the course and shoot photos.

8:51 am--Looks like a group of about 10 or so running with Shalane Flanagan, with Ryan Vail leading the charge in the Flanagan group.  The top women, including Tsegaye & Fukushi are in that pack.

Ryan Vail's bib was misspelled--spelled VALI...oh well!  6:36 through 2k.

9:00 am--Looks like there's five pacesetters up front in the men's race, all wearing identical adidas kits.

9:05 am--In the Flanagan group, Rob Watson is running alongside Shalane, with Vail in the front, checking his watch.  Fukushi is just off to the side of Flanagan.

By the way, I forgot--the men went through 5k at 14:42.  Stats guru Ken Nakamura tweeted that they went though a bit faster last year.

9:14 am--The men go through 10k at 29:23, which projects to 2:03:58.

9:20 am--Shalane goes through 10k at 33:02, surrounded by her pacers.

9:25 am--At 12k, the gang goes through at 39:27, with a 3:12 last k. 2:18:43 is the projected time for Flanagan.

9:30 am--44:09 is the time flashed on the German feed of the race for the lead men at 15k.

9:33 am--Coming up on the 15k mark for Shalane.  She goes through at 49:26, 2:19:03 pace.

9:42 am--In one of the last shots on the feed, looks like Watson's moved up alongside Vail with Flanagan tucked in.

9:48am--Mutai & Kimetto look real relaxed in the men's race as they go thru the half-marathon mark in 1:01:45

9:52 am--Coming up on 20k for Shalane 1:05:59, a 3:17 last k for Flanagan, projecting to 2:19:13.

9:56 am--At the half-way mark, Flanagan crosses in 1:09:38. The three Ethiopians--Tsegaye, Abebech Afework, Feyse Tadese & Takelech Bekele are 19 seconds behind.

10:07 am--The 25 km mark is coming up. 1:22:26 for Flanagan.

That should have been 1:22:36 for Flanagan, which computes to a projected time of 2:19:25.

10:13 am--In the men's race Emmanuel Mutai & Geoffrey Kamwowor are up front in 1:27:37 at 30k, with Dennis Kimetto lurking.

The pace setters have left the top men. The world record chase is on!

10:20 am--There's a better than even chance I may have to leave the blog to play race photographer.


10:53 am--From the time I left to go on the course until now, looks like I've missed a lot. Dennis Kimetto breaks the world record with a time of 2:02:57. Shalane Flanagan dropped to fourth in the women's race.

Here's a (not so good) photo of Flanagan partially obscured by pacer Ryan Vail.

11:02 am--Fernando Cabada is the first American male in 10th in a time of 2:11:36.

11:05 am--Ethiopia's Tirfi Tsegaye will win the women's race in 2:20:19

Flanagan finishes third in a time of 2:21:14, as Feyse Tadese is second in 2:20:27.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts when they are brought here to the press room for the post race press conference. The finish line is about 3k from the Hotel InterContinental.

11:19 am--We will sign off temporarily until the athletes are brought to the Hotel InterContinental for the post-race presser. Please come back!

Vikings easily sweep field at Saint Martin's Invitational...

LACEY--Western Washington's nationally-ranked cross country teams (above/photo courtesy Western Washington University) easily swept the team titles at the Saint Martin's University Cross Country Invitational at the school's new campus cross country course Saturday, scoring a perfect 15 points.

In both team races, the host Saints were second, with Trinity Lutheran third.

Western entered the SMU Invite ranked #19 on the women's side and #20 on the men's side in the latest USTFCCCA national poll.

The Vikings' Nathan Richards took the men's 8-kilometer run in 26:22, followed closely by Andrew Wise in 26:29 and Isaac Griffith in 26:30.  Western put eight runners across the line before Durante Rodriguez of Skagit Valley CC broke up the Viking streak.

Frank Krause was host Saint Martin's top finisher in 12th in 26:49.

WWU's All-American Katelyn Steen, the GNAC athlete of the week for her performance at last week's Sundodger Invite at Lincoln Park in Seattle, was the women's individual champion, finishing the 5-kilometer distance in 18:07. That was nearly a minute faster than teammate Taylor Guenther, who was second in 18:58.

The Vikings put 13 runners across the line before Yadira Lopez of Trinity Lutheran crossed to stop the Viking streak.

Megan Teigen was the Saints' top finisher in 15th in 20:19.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Saint Martin's and Western Washington contributed to this report.

Cougar men win Stanford Invitational, while Abby Regan takes women's individual crown...

STANFORD, California--The Washington State Cougars won their second straight meet in a span of two weeks, as they took top honors at the Stanford Invitational on the Stanford Golf Course Saturday.

As he did at last week's Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Drew Jordan led the charge for the Cougs with his eighth place finish, running 23:51 over the 8k course that will host the NCAA West Regional championships in November.

John Whelan was WSU's second runner across the line in 15th (24:08), followed by freshman Sam Levora in 18th (24:18), Lee George in 26th (24:24), and Richard Shroy in 33rd (24:29), giving the team a 1-5 split of 38 seconds and a final low score of 76 points.

Stanford ran a split team, led by winner Joe Rosa (23:16), edging his teammate Maxin Korolev, who was credited with the same time.

UC Santa Barbara was second with 77 points, with the Cardinal third with 79 points.

In the men's non-Division I section, Seattle Pacific was 19th, led by Turner Wiley's 150th place overall finish in 25:34.

Senior Abby Regan's (left/photo by Paul Merca) front running paid off, as the Australian import won the overall women's title over 6k, running a time of 20:31, to beat UC Riverside's Raquel Hefflin (20:39) and early leader Alexa Efraimson from Camas (20:46), who recently turned pro.

The Cougs, running without Ruby Roberts for the second week in a row, got their scoring from Morgan Willson in 24th (21:39); Devon Bortfeld in 33rd (21:59); CharLee Linton in 46th (22:11); Emily Dwyer in 73rd (22:36); and, Steffie Pavey in 84th (22:46).

Stanford won the meet with 71 points to easily handle UC Davis (94) and Cal Poly SLO (117).

In the non Division I section, Seattle Pacific finished ninth with a score of 249 points, led by Anna Patti' 22:38 to finish 75th overall (16th among non-D-1 scorers).

The University of Victoria won with a score of 71 points, while GNAC rival Simon Fraser was third with 109 points.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Shalane Flanagan's going for the American record in Berlin Sunday...

Runners nearing the finish of the BMW Berlin Marathon
(photo courtesy Berlin Marathon/PhotoRun)
paulmerca.blogspot.com will head to Berlin for Sunday's running of the BMW Berlin Marathon, one of the six races (Tokyo, Virgin Money London, BAA Boston, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York) that comprise the World Marathon Majors circuit.

Sunday's race through the streets of Berlin is expected to attract 40000 runners and about a million spectators.  Runners will pass many of the city's iconic sights, including the Victory Column (Siegessäule) and the Brandenburg Gate, which is near the finish line.

From an American perspective, all eyes will be on Portland's Shalane Flanagan (left/photo by Paul Merca) from the Bowerman Track Club, as she's elected to pass on a bigger payday and shoot for Deena Kastor's American record of 2:19:36 in Berlin, which is perhaps one of the world's fastest marathon courses (eight world records have been set in Berlin over the last 15 years).

She'll have some help in her quest for Kastor's American record set in London in 2006, as Flanagan will be paced by Portland native Ryan Vail, who is prepping for the TCS New York City Marathon, and Canada's Rob Watson, who is training for the Toronto Marathon.


Flanagan, who set a personal best of 2:22:02 in Boston, which is a somewhat slower course than Berlin, will have to contend with Ethiopians Feyse Tadese, the winner of April's Paris Marathon in 2:21:06, and Tirfi Tsegaye, who was second in Berlin last year in 2:21:19.

The North Carolina alum and 2008 Olympic 10000m bronze medalist is focused on stringing together 26 consecutive miles of 5:19 to get Kastor's American record, or to use the analogy of longtime track & field analyst Larry Rawson, running 106 straight laps of 79.7 on your local track.

“Either you’re trying to win the marathon or you’re trying to run the record," Flanagan said to Runner's World's Peter Gambaccini. “If a byproduct of the record is a win, that would be fabulous. But I’m going to do everything I can to get the record. This is purely about about seeing how fast I can run over that distance. I think if I start to try and win, that could compromise the running.”

To get ready for Berlin, she skipped the USA championships in Sacramento, where she was the defending champion in the 10000, opting to train at altitude in Park City, Utah, and Flagstaff, Arizona.

Courtesy of the BMW Berlin Marathon, here's an interview with Shalane, conducted at Thursday's press conference:


The men's race features Kenya's Dennis Kimetto, who won last year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:03:45, along with countrymen Emmanuel Mutai (2:03:52), the 2011 London Marathon winner who chased Kimetto in Chicago, falling seven seconds short; Levy Matebo (2:05:16); Eliud Kiptanui (2:05:39); and Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede, the two-time London winner and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.  Kenya's 21 year old Geoffrey Kamworor (aka Geoffrey Kipsang), the reigning IAAF world half-marathon champ, could also be in the mix.

According to letsrun.com's preview of the men's race, veteran road racer Fernando Cabada (2:11:53) is the lone American in the elite men's field.

Kenya's Wilson Kipsang set the world record of 2:03:23 on the Berlin course last year, and Kimetto has said he wants to go for the record, so the race has hired pacers to run world record pace.

Both Kimetto and Mutai expressed confidence that if the weather holds up (projected as sunny in the mid 60s) and the pace setters do their job, that they have a legitimate shot at 2:03:23.  Kimetto is aiming to run around 61:30 to 61:40 for the half marathon to put him in a position to get the course and world record.

If you're feeling adventurous on a Saturday night here on the West Coast, UniversalSports.com will stream the race live starting at 11:30pm (the race starts at 8:45 am local time in Berlin).  paulmerca.blogspot.com will live blog/tweet (follow @paulmerca70601 on Twitter, but if you are a regular reader, you know that already!) as it happens from Berlin!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cougs & Falcons at Stanford; Vikes at Saint Martin's Invite, & Eugene goes for '19 world champs...

Fresh off a surprising victory over arch-rival Washington at the Sundodger Invitational last week, Washington State, led by Drew Jordan (#850, above/photo by Paul Merca) heads to Stanford for Saturday's Stanford Invitational at the Stanford Golf Course, the same course that will host the NCAA West Regional championship meet in November.

The Cougars, along with Division II Seattle Pacific will be two of the 44 collegiate and university teams entered in the meet, which is expected to attract nearly 3300 runners in 14 different races, from high school divisions on up.

The collegiate men will run 8k at 9:50 am, followed by the women at 10:30 am.  While all the collegians will run together, it will be scored as two different meets--one for Division I schools, and one for all non-Division I schools.

The Division I field includes host Stanford, which will not race a full squad (they are splitting their teams between this meet and next weekend's Washington Invitational at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill), along with Cal, Cal Poly, and the Cougs.

On the women's side, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, and Cal are among the top teams entered.

Seattle Pacific will face off against perennial D2 powerhouse Chico State, and GNAC rival Simon Fraser, which beat the Falcon women's squad at last week's Sundodger Invite.



Saturday, the nationally ranked Western Washington Vikings head south to Lacey to compete in the Saint Martin's Invitational on the school campus, with the women's 5k starting at 10 am, and the men's 8k at 10:45 am.

Speaking of the Vikings, senior Katelyn Steen was named GNAC athlete of the week for her performance in the invitational section of the Sundodger meet, where she finished eighth.

Steen was an All-American in cross country last season, and also earned All-America honors in the steeplechase last spring.


As expected, TrackTown USA and USA Track & Field formally submitted a bid to the IAAF to host the 2019 World Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

The IAAF World Championships – a biennial nine-day competition featuring the world’s finest track and field athletes – will be the largest sporting event in the world in 2019, with nearly 2,000 participants representing more than 200 countries. The IAAF’s crown jewel has never been held in the U.S., dating back to the inaugural meet contested in Helsinki, Finland in 1983. The 2015 IAAF World Championships will be held in Beijing, and the 2017 edition is set for London.

TrackTown USA served as local organizing committee (LOC) for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships at Historic Hayward Field last summer, the first time ever on U.S. soil, and will be the LOC for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.

“As one of the most successful federations on the track, USATF considers it a duty and an honor to be active in hosting the IAAF, its competitions, and fellow federations,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “We have worked actively with the IAAF and TrackTown USA for nearly two years to ensure we are able to put forth a bid that will elevate the profile of track & field internationally as well as in the United States. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with TrackTown USA to present this bid.”

Also bidding for the 2019 World Championships are Barcelona, Spain, and Doha, Qatar.  The IAAF Evaluation Commission will make site visits to each city in late October to verify their bid proposals. The final decision on the host city will be made by the IAAF Council in Monaco on November 18, after presentations from each candidate city.

“After the exceptional success of the IAAF World Junior Championships last summer, we believe we are better positioned than ever to make a run for the World Championship,” said TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna. “The state of Oregon’s unrivaled fan base creates a special atmosphere when they fill the grandstands for the great competitions hosted on the beautiful University of Oregon campus. The rich tradition and history of TrackTown USA and Hayward Field make for an ideal and authentic global platform to stage this fantastic event.”


NOTE:  USA Track & Field, along with the sports information offices of Washington State, Stanford, Saint Martin's and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A potpourri of news items to pass along...

Some notes to pass along:

--Sarah Reiter of Eastern Washington (above/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University) was named the Big Sky Conference athlete of the week for her effort in winning the Big Sky Cross Country Triangular meet last Saturday in Portland, where shoe ran 17:42 over the Blue Lake Park course.


--In the USTFCCCA Division II national cross country poll, both Western Washington squads remain in the top 25, as the Vikings are #20 in the men's poll, and #19 in the women's poll.

The top five men's teams in Division II are Adams State, Grand Valley State, Western State, Chico State, and Southern Indiana.

From the GNAC, Alaska Anchorage is ranked #8.

On the women's side, Grand Valley State, Adams State, Western State, Minnesota Duluth, and Chico State are the top five teams.

Besides Western, Simon Fraser is the only GNAC school ranked nationally at #9, jumping seven spots after a strong showing at the Sundodger Invitational.

Central Washington's surprising finish at the Sundodger got them votes, but just miss making the national top 25.  In contrast, Seattle Pacific, which was ranked #13 in the pre-season poll, dropped out of the national rankings.

This weekend, Western Washington will run at the St. Martin's Invitational in Lacey, while Seattle Pacific heads to Palo Alto for the Stanford Invitational.  Washington State will also send their team to the Stanford Invite.


--We missed a couple of results from the previous weekend, as Navy came out west to beat Gonzaga Saturday in a men's dual meet 23-36 at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane Valley.

Stephen Schroeder of the Midshipmen won the race over the 8k course in 25:05, six seconds ahead of the Zags' Robert Walgren and Troy Fraley, who went 2-3.

Navy got their 2-5 runners ahead of Gonzaga's third man Kyle Branch, who was eighth over all in 25:34 to clinch the victory.

Gonzaga's women's team took second in the Erik Anderson Invitational at Plantes Ferry, as Gonzaga redshirt Jessica Mildes, competing unattached, won in 18:34 over 5k.

Catie Arrigoni, Eastern Washington's NCAA steeple qualifier who is redshirting, finished third in 19:07, opting to stay close to home, as she was originally on the start list at the Sundodger Invitational.

Zoe Urcadez was Gonzaga's top scorer in fifth, running 19:25.  

Lewis-Clark State took the team tile with 20 points, outdistancing the Zags, who had 46.


--paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Germany for Sunday's BMW Berlin Marathon!

From an American perspective, all eyes will be on Portland's Shalane Flanagan, as she aims for the American record of 2:19:36 set by Deena Kastor in 2006 in Chicago.

Asked why she would travel to Europe to run Berlin instead of either New York or Chicago and a bigger payday, Flanagan said, "We think Berlin is one of the fastest, if not the fastest courses," Flanagan said. "There were too many variables with Chicago, and you would be gambling with the weather."

We will post a preview of Sunday's race in the next day or so.  In the meantime, courtesy of the BMW Berlin Marathon, here's a video announcing the elite athletes in the field:


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Eastern Washington, and Gonzaga, along with the USTFCCCA and the BMW Berlin Marathon contributed to this report.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Huskies move up one spot in USTFCCCA poll despite Sundodger loss; Cheadle D3 national athlete of the week...

NEW ORLEANS--Despite a surprising loss to in-state rival Washington State at the Sundodger Invitational last Saturday, the University of Washington men's team moved up one spot to #26 as the United States Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association released its national rankings Tuesday.

On the women's side, the Huskies, who won the Sundodger Invite, dropped one spot in the national poll to #15.

The top five men's teams in the national polls were unchanged--Colorado, Northern Arizona, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Stanford.

Other Pac-12 men's teams in the national top 30 include UCLA at 23.

The top five women's squads in the poll also remain unchanged from the one released two weeks ago--Michigan, Oregon, Michigan State, Stanford, and Georgetown.

The only other Pac-12 team in the women's top 30 is Colorado at #7.

This is the final edition ahead of the September 26 date marking the beginning of the "countable season," during which results will count toward at-large consideration into the NCAA Championships.


The national Division II poll releases Wednesday.

On Monday, the USTFCCCA announced that Roosevelt HS/Seattle graduate Lucy Cheadle was the Division III national athlete of the week after winning the Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational last Saturday.

Cheadle, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis,  won the 6k race in 21:03, crushing the field by almost a minute.


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cougs upset nationally ranked Huskies at Sundodger Invite as Nelson & Meyers win individual titles...

SEATTLE--In a bit of a mild upset, the Washington State Cougars won the men's team title at the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, upsetting the #27 ranked Washington Huskies on its 8 kilometer home course.

The Cougars' Lee George took the lead early with a group of Huskies and Cougars lurking, including Washington's defending champion Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), Husky teammates Izaic Yorks and Meron Simon, and Drew Jordan, John Whelan and Richard Shroy of Washington State.

As they headed down the east straightaway for the final lap, Nelson began asserting himself, along with Yorks and Simon, with Jordan, the 2013 MPSF indoor champ at 5000 hanging on.

Nelson pulled away, coasting through the finish in 24:01, with Jordan passing Simon to take second in 24:03, and Simon third in 24:04.

A group of four Cougs--John Whelan, Sam Levora, Richard Shroy, and early leader George, passed Yorks on the final lap to finish 4-5-6-7 and seal the win over the Huskies in times of 24:08 and 24:21 for the latter three.  Yorks was three seconds behind in 24:24.

WSU's Forrest Shaffer was ninth in 24:27, while Fred Huxham, the Huskies' talented freshman competing unattached, rounded out the top 10 in 24:28.

“(The WSU runners) were giving us a pretty good competition throughout the race, pushing the pace in the middle and the beginning,” Nelson said. “I was just focused on keeping my composure and staying relaxed and moving up through the ranks until the end when there started to be a little separation with a couple of their guys. I just felt like I needed to make a strong move between a mile and a K to go, and it was good, it was a good race.”

Washington State scored a team low of 24, edging out the Huskies by 9, followed by Fresno State at 91, and Seattle University with 107.

Gus Arroyo was the Redhawks' top finisher in 21st at 25:24.

Washington's Maddie Meyers and Washington State's Abby Regan
lead early in the women's 6k invitational race
(photo by Paul Merca)
In the invitational women's 6k, Washington's Maddie Meyers, the only one from last year's NCAA championship squad competing Saturday, pulled away from Canadian Sarah Inglis of Trinity Western to win the title in 20:21, after Washington State's Abby Regan did most of the early front running.

Inglis was second at 20:30, with Regan third at 20:34.  

Fourth and fifth went to Alison Jackson (20:44) and Annemarie Schwanz (20:46) of Trinity Western and Fresno State.

The Washington duo of Kaylee Flanagan and Anna Maxwell were sixth and seventh in 20:59 and 21:04, followed by Western Washington's Katelyn Steen at 21:12 in eighth.  Fiona Benson of Trinity Western (21:21) and Washington's Kelly Lawson (21:22) rounded out the top ten.

The 14th ranked Huskies won with a low of 25, with Washington State, running without Ruby Roberts second with 42 points.  Fresno State was third with 80, followed by SeattleU at 89.

Sophie Curatilo was SeattleU's top finisher in 17th at 21:44.

“It feels really good,” Meyers said of the win. “This I guess is technically my first collegiate win, so that’s pretty cool. This is by far my best collegiate 6k, so it’s exciting.”

Commenting on his team's performance, WSU director of Cross Country/Track & Field Wayne Phipps said, “There was a great effort on both sides today. Abby and Drew ran the second-fastest times in WSU history for this course. Both teams executed our race strategy very well by being very controlled in almost tempo effort until 2,000 meters to go. The group was tired from a hard few weeks of training but ran very well and I couldn’t be happier about where our teams are at this point in the season."

Husky coach Greg Metcalf said, “This was the first time we’ve competed, and racing is the only real evaluator what you’re doing."

“I was proud of our women, I thought they did a nice job today. Maddie was fantastic, I thought Kaylee and Anna ran great. I liked what the women did today. The men, the hardest thing that we do is keeping your eye on the prize. The goal is to be ready to run 10,000-meters in November. I think our team is pretty good, but we looked a little flat today. So we’ve got to go fix that, we’ve got a massive meet in two weeks and we need to be much more fired up then.”

SUNDODGER OPEN RECAP

With NCAA Division II nationally ranked Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser in the mix, few gave Central Washington much of a chance in the open women's section.

The race went to form, as Maria Bernard of reigning NAIA champs British Columbia handily took the women's crown in 20:37 over 6k, a time that would have place fourth in the invitational section.

Canadian Lindsey Butterworth was second in 21:32, followed by Rebecca Bassett of Simon Fraser  in 21:36, Amelie de Fenoyl of UBC third in 21:39, and Central Washington's Dani Eggleston fifth in 21:58.

UBC took the women's open team title with 44, followed by Simon Fraser at 58, Club Northwest at 74, and Central Washington fourth with 112 points, substantially ahead of conference rival Seattle Pacific's 172, which should put the Wildcats in the national conversation when the USTFCCCA D2 rankings are released next week.

Central Washington finished fourth despite a sub-par performance by cross country All-American Connie Morgan who was 26th in 22:53.

Anna Patti was Seattle Pacific's top runner in 31st in 23:04.

Jack Williams of the University of British Columbia won the men's open 8k race in 24:34.

UBC took the men's open team title with 36 points, comfortably ahead of Simon Fraser's 63 and Trinity Western's 144.  Division III Whitman was fourth with 178 led by Matt Wotipka's 16th place finish in 25:33.


EAGLES SWEEP PORTLAND STATE AND IDAHO 

In Portland, Led by sophomore Sarah Reiter and junior Vince Hamilton for the second time this season, the Eastern Washington University men's and women's cross country teams competed in the Big Sky Cross Country Triangular Meet Saturday at Pier Park in Portland, Oregon.

Reiter battled and won the 5,000-meter women's race in 17:42, leading the women's team to a victory over PSU.

The Eagle men, picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference this season, had four runners finish in the top ten to beat PSU and Idaho in dual meet scoring. Hamilton led the way with a second-place finish in the 8,000-meter men's race (25:23) just 25 seconds behind the winner.


NOTE:  The University of Washington, Eastern Washington, and Washington State University sports information offices contributed to this story.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Eagles set to race in Portland at Big Sky Triangular Meet...

While most of the state's Division I and II schools are in Seattle for the Sundodger Invitational,  Eastern Washington heads to Portland for the Big Sky Cross Country Triangular meet at Pier Park Saturday hosted by Portland State University, with the women running 3 miles and the men 5 miles, starting at 10 am.

The Eagles will face two Big Sky Conference opponents for the first time this season, including meet host Portland State and Idaho. Portland will also be in attendance.

"It's still really early in the season, so this meet is more about us seeing our own kids than it is about the competition," said head coach Chris Zeller. "It's about learning about ourselves and trying some things."

On the women's side, sophomore Paula Gil-Echevarria (left/photo by Paul Merca) will compete this week after sitting out the last meet.  Gil-Echevarria competed at the IAAF world junior championships for her native Spain in the 3000 steeple, making the finals.  

On the men's side, Zeller expects to send a full squad to the meet, including senior Chris Schroll, who sat out at Eastern's opener. With the first meet behind them, Zeller is looking forward to seeing the gap between his first and fifth runners get smaller, as well as seeing who will step up in the sixth and seventh spots.

Eastern Washington's meet preview is available here.

NOTE:  The sports information office of Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Huskies set to host Sundodger Invitational Saturday at Lincoln Park...

After a low-key non-scoring meet against Seattle University at the end of August and a week-long training camp at Seabrook on the Washington coast, the University of Washington returns to action as they host the annual Sundodger Invitational race at Lincoln Park in West Seattle on Saturday.

Both Washington squads enter the Sundodger meet nationally ranked, with the men's team ranked 27th, and the women's team #14.

In the featured invitational 6k women's race, Washington faces teams from Fresno State, Hawaii, Seattle University, Trinity Western, and Washington State.  The men's 8k features Fresno State, Seattle University, Washington State, and Club Northwest.

Defending men's champion Aaron Nelson (above, # 902/photo by Paul Merca) looks to add a second Sundodger title to his resume as he aims to return to Terre Haute in November, where he finished 20th and earned All-America honors.

Among those who could challenge Nelson are teammates Tyler King, the UW/SU Open winner, and  Tim Cummings.  Washington State's Richard Shroy, Forrest Shaffer, and John Whalan of Washington State could also contend, as could John Ricardi of Club Northwest.

With defending champ Katie Flood out of cross country eligibility, there will be a new champion crowned, with veterans Maddie Meyers, Kaylee Flanagan in the mix along with Washington State's Abby Regan and Ruby Roberts, who went 1-2 at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet in Spokane on August 30th.  Catie Arrigoni, an NCAA qualifier in the steeplechase from Eastern Washington, is entered as an unattached athlete and could be in the hunt assuming she's in the invitational field.

Anna Maxwell, the Huskies' outstanding freshman from California who won the UW/SU Open meet, is on the entry list.  Both Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight are missing from the Huskies' entries.

From a competitive standpoint, the women's open features several NCAA Division II and III squads led by GNAC co-pre season favorites Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser, along with conference member Central Washington and defending NAIA champion University of British Columbia.

The runners to watch include UBC's Maria Bernard, a Canadian internationalist, NCAA D2 All-American Connie Morgan of Central Washington, and her teammate Dani Eggleston; Seattle Pacific's Lynelle Decker and Anna Patti; Annie Wade of Western Oregon, and Emma Chadsey of Simon Fraser.  Western Washington's steeplechase All-American Katelyn Steen is entered as an individual, but it's unknown whether or not she'll run in the open or invitational section.

Many of the same teams are entered in the men's open races, but who might be the individual champion is up for grabs.  Will Cliff of British Columbia, Rudy Spencer of Central Washington, and unattached runners Nathan McLaughlin and Nathan Wadhwani could be in the mix.

Also on the schedule at the Sundodger are both boys and girls varsity and junior varsity races, with the boy's varsity the feature prep race matching up last year's Washington 4A champ and Nike Cross Nationals winner Gig Harbor against Portland's Central Catholic, who is #7 in Flotrack's national boy's high school rankings so far in this young season.

The meet schedule:

9:00 am - Women's 6000m Open
9:40 am - Men's 8000m Open
10:25 am - High School Girls 5000m Varsity
11:00 am - Women's 6000m Invitational 
11:35 am - Men's 8000m Invitational 
12:20 pm - High School Boys 5000m Varsity
12:50 pm - High School Girls 5000m Junior Varsity
1:30 pm - High School Boys 5000m Junior Varsity


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Utah grad Amanda Mergaert and Georgia alum Megan Malasarte newest members of Brooks Beasts...

Amanda Mergaert
In a release sent out to members of the media, the Seattle based Brooks Beasts announced that the team has added former University of Utah standout Amanda Mergaert and University of Georgia alum Megan Malasarte (photos courtesy Brooks Running) to its roster.

“Megan provides incredible poise and a collaborative mindset to the team, and Amanda brings a quiet ferocity and a lot of enthusiasm. They want to be here and are fired up,” said Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey. “I’m thrilled to have them both on the team to help us continue competing at an elite level while inspiring people of all levels to lace up and run.”

Mergaert spent the 2014 season training with Drew Warternburg in Davis, California, and raced under the colors of Seattle-based Oiselle.  She finished 14th in the 1500m finals at the USA Indoor championship, and was ninth in the 1500m semis at the outdoor championships in Sacramento, where she ran a personal best of 4:12.25.

Megan Malasarte
Malasarte finished fourth in the NCAA 800m run, and was third in this year's SEC 800.  She won the 800 at the NCAA East Preliminary round in Jacksonville, Florida in a personal best of 2:02.31 en route to the NCAAs in Eugene.  She also won the 800 at this year's Drake Relays, and was third in the SEC indoor 800 this season.  At this year's USA outdoor championships, she advanced to the semis, where she finished one spot out of a place in the finals.

Both athletes will make the move to Seattle shortly, and begin base training with the Beasts this fall

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lagat's career undefeated streak at Continental Cup ended; Mackey battles food poisoning in Morocco...

MARRAKECH, Morocco--Washington State alum Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport) career undefeated streak at the IAAF Continental and World Cups came to a screeching halt as the 39-year old finished third in the men's 3000 on the final day of competition at Le Grande Stade.

Lagat, the winner of the 1500 at the 2002 World Cup in Madrid, and a double winner of the 3000 and 5000 in Split, Croatia four years ago, fell out of contention on the final lap of the race, as Kenya's Caleb Ndiku, running for Team Africa, pulled away to take the win over Azerbaijan's Hayle Ibrahimov, running for Team Europe, 7:52.64 to 7:53.12.

Lagat, competing for Team Americas, crossed the line in 7:53.95.

Courtesy of the IAAF, here is Lagat speaking to mixed zone interviewer Polly Wright:


In the women's 5000, University of Washington alum Katie Mackey, who according to her father Kevin Follett, suffered from food poisoning, finished a disappointing eighth in 17:06.25.

Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia and Team Africa took the victory in a time of 15:33.32.

In the team combined competition, Europe won with 447.5 points, followed by the Americas with 390, Africa at 339, and Asia-Pacific at 257.5.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jordan McNamara wins Fifth Avenue Mile over Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts...

NEW YORK--Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara (left/photo by Paul Merca) unleashed a furious sprint to the finish to emerge as the surprise winner of the Fifth Avenue Mile on the streets of New York City.

2013 world championships 1500m medalist and McNamara's former Oregon teammate Matthew Centrowitz was the favorite going into the race, but Kenyan veteran Augustine Choge and NCAA champ Lawi Lalang went to the front early, with Lalang in front at the halfway point.

At the 1320 mark, Garrett Heath of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts darted to the lead and almost stole the win, but a mass sprint to the line put everything in doubt, until McNamara nosed to the front with a few strides remaining to take the win in 3:51.0, with Heath second in the same time.

Afterwards, McNamara said "I tried to time it right. Once you get excited, cool things can happen."

In the women's race, Washington alum Ingvill Måkestad Bovin finished fourth in 4:22, while Tacoma's Brie Felnagle was 15th in 4:32.  2011 world 1500m champ Jenny Simpson won in a time of 4:20 (road mile times rounded up to whole second).


In Marrakech, Morocco, Vancouver native Kara Patterson (above/photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport) finished seventh in the javelin with a toss of 171-4 (52.22m) at the IAAF Continental Cup meet at Le Grande Stade.

University of Minnesota alum and world record holder Barbora Spotakova from the Czech Republic, representing Team Europe, won with a throw of 214-11 (65.52m).

Sunday, Washington State alum Bernard Lagat will run the 3000, while Washington alum Katie Mackey will run the 5000.


On the college front, Gonzaga's women's team finished fifth at the WCC Preview meet at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, California, hosted by Santa Clara University.

Junior Amelia Evans led the Bulldogs with her fifth place finish over the 6k course in 21:20, as Danielle Shanahan of Loyola Marymount won in 20:51.

Loyola Marymount won the meet with a low score of 39 points, with Gonzaga scoring 120.


In Ellensburg, Dani Eggleston (14:55) and Connie Morgan (14:58) of Central Washington went 1-2 to lead the Wildcats to the team tile at the Central Washington Invitational at Rotary Park over the 4k course.

The Wildcats scored 19 points to easily outdistance Western Washington, who scored 35 points.

The Vikings were led by Taylon Guenther's third place finish in 15:03, as All-American Katelyn Steen sat out the meet.

On the men's side, the Wildcats squeezed out a 34-37 win over the Vikings.

Unattached runner Issac Derline won the 6k race in 19:36, while Max Romey of Western was the top scorer across the line in second in a time of 19:37.

Rudy Spencer was Central Washington's top runner in fourth in a time of 20:06.



NOTE:  The IAAF, New York Road Runners, and the University of Santa Clara contributed to this report.

Friday, September 12, 2014

WEEKEND PREVIEW: IAAF Continental Cup last big meet of pro season; Zags, WWU & CWU in X-C action...

The professional track & field season winds down this weekend, as a trio of Washington affiliated athletes--Kara Patterson,  Bernard Lagat (left/photo courtesy IAAF), and Katie Mackey--are in Marrakech, Morocco for the IAAF Continental Cup Saturday and Sunday.

All three are part of the Americas squad in this four team meet between the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Europe, which is in its second edition after replacing the old World Cup meet.

The Americas squad is composed of athletes from North, Central & South America, plus the Caribbean.

Patterson will throw the javelin Saturday along with Canada's Liz Gleadle on the Americas team, while defending champion Lagat--who is undefeated in both the Continental and World Cup meets in his previous appearances--will run the 3000.

Sunday, Washington alum Katie Mackey will run the 5000 along with Mexico's Brenda Flores.


Universal Sports will provide television and online coverage of the meet.

In New York, Jordan McNamara and Garrett Heath will run in Saturday's Fifth Avenue Mile through the streets of New York.

They'll go against a field headed by Oregon alum and world championship medalist Matthew Centrowitz along with Kenyan veteran Augustine Choge, and domestic stars Will Leer, David Torrence, and NCAA champs Lawi Lalang and Mac Fieet.

On the women's side, Tacoma's Brie Felnagle and former Husky Ingvill Måkestad Bovim are in the field, with world junior champ Mary Cain, 2011 world champ Jenny Simpson, and Kenya's Sally Kipyego the headliners.


Three of Washington's Division I and II schools are in action Saturday, as Gonzaga travels to Sunnyvale, California for the WCC Preview meet at Baylands Park, hosted by Santa Clara University.

The Zags are sending their women's squad, led by junior Ameiia Evans, the team's top finisher at the season-opening Clash of the Inland Northwest meet two weeks ago in Spokane, as they race over 6km at 9:45 am.

Gonzaga returns to Sunnyvale on November 1st for the WCC championship meet.


In Division II, Central Washington hosts the CWU Invitational meet at Ellensburg Rotary Park Saturday, with the women kicking things off at 4 pm over a 4k course, and the men following at 4:40pm.

Western Washington, who is consistently among the top teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will send both a men's and women's team to Ellensburg for the race.

GNAC teams from Saint Martin's and Seattle Pacific will open their season at next week's Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington.


NOTE:  The IAAF, New York Road Runners, and the sports information offices at Santa Clara University, Gonzaga University, and Central Washington University contributed to this report.

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