Track Shorts 2016: Lap 3

Photo by Harry Morris on Facebook

For 10 days Portland borrowed the mantle of “Tracktown USA” from neighboring Eugene as it hosted first the US Indoor Nationals, then the World Indoor Championships. All reports suggest it was a success. And while those events naturally captured much of our attention, there was still plenty of action on the roads and trails.

Some Days You Eat the Bear

And some days your teammate eats the bear. Sandi Morris vaulted 16-2¾ to take the US Championships, edging out Jenn Suhr at 16-¾. A week later, Suhr equaled her mark and won the world title while Morris managed 15-11, which was good enough for second. So a US title and a World silver for Morris and she’s been a pro for less than a year. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Yeah But I Woulda Won the 3,005 meter Run

Ryan Hill, who measured the 3k field perfectly to win the national title, came up just .18 second short at the Worlds. He finished fast with his signature kick but ran out of real estate at the end. Probably only needed a few more meters and he would have overtaken Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha. Looking forward to seeing Hill on the roomier 400 meter tracks this outdoor season.

When Opportunity Knocks, It’s Good to Be There to Answer

Much of our attention in the men’s 800 was drawn to the break neck pace (sub 50 opening 400) of Boris Berian and whether he would crash and burn (he didn’t and got the gold) but there was plenty of action going on behind him. There were several in contention in for the bronze entering the final turn, including AB’s Erik Sowinski. Musaeb Balla clipped the leg of Antoine Gakeme, with Balla losing stride. Sowinski (who was 2nd in the US nationals) pressed hard for the finish and took home the bronze. Did he benefit from Balla’s stumble? Maybe, but if he wasn’t right where he needed to be with 75 meters to go, he’s doesn’t get the bronze, regardless of what Balla does.

It Takes a Team to Win a Relay

Patrick Feeney was not on the track when the US took first in the 4 x 4. But he still gets a gold medal because he ran in the prelims to get the US to the final, keeping a teammate fresh for the final. Sounds right to me. You might not play in Game 7 of the World Series but if you made a contribution to get the team to that point, you get a ring.

A Little Bit of the “Agony of Defeat”

Curtis Beach entered the final event of the heptathlon 67 points behind third place Mathias Brugger. The scoring tables tell you he had to beat Brugger by 18 seconds. By far the fastest 1000 runner in the field, Beach had to do it by himself. He led wire-to-wire, clipping through sub-30 second 200 meters and posted a brilliant 2:29.04. Alas, it was just not quite enough and Beach missed the medal stand by a mere 8 points. Gutsy run regardless of the outcome. Maybe not in the agony of defeat category, but Brenda Martinez had looked solid winning the US title and in the heats of the WC. Come the final, she didn’t quite have it, placing a solid 5th.

One Week Earlier

The AthleteBiz contingent did quite well at the US nationals, thank you very much. At this point, maybe AB should sponsor the women’s 1500; you know, like the Wanamaker Mile, the AthleteBiz 1500? Brenda Martinez led the charge with a 4:08.37. Following in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th respectively were Amanda Eccleston, Heather Kampf, Katie Mackey, and Rachel Schneider. Another event ripe for AB sponsorship is the weight throw; ABers Gwen Berry, Amber Campbell, and Amanda Bingson went 1-2-5. Ho hum, Maria Michta-Coffey won her 7th(!) straight 3k walk national title, with Miranda Melville taking second. The pair then set out to rack up some frequent flyer miles, heading to Nomi, Japan, where Maria got 5th and tied her American record and Miranda took 7th in the Asian 20k Championships.

Other medal winning performances in Portland including Tori Bowie with a 2nd in the 60 meter dash, Queen Harrison with a 3rd in the 60 meter HH and a PR, and Jeff Porter with a third in the 60 meter HH. Notable performances were also put up by beardless Garrett Heath (5th in 3k on Friday, 4th in a tactical 1500 on Saturday), Brittany Smith (4th in the shot put) and Patrick Feeney/Je’von Hutchison (6th and 7th in the 400); Feeney’s performance got him on the 4 x4 relay team.

Indoor Races Are Just Too Short for Some People

Tara Welling continues to impress with a dominating win at the US 15k Road Championships – Gate River Run. Craig Lutz blitzed the last mile of the men’s race and finished 4th with Abbabiya Simbassa in 5th.


Donnie Cowart demonstrated the power of wearing the Team USA kit…for the first time. He ran away with the Pan Am cross country race in Venezuela.

Susanna Sullivan went to the beach. Virginia Beach that is, and she won the Shamrock 8k. Polina Carlson finished 6th. Tyler Andrews managed a 3rd place in the half marathon.

Maria Dalzot delivered her usual gutsy effort and finished 2nd (and 11th overall!) in the La Sportiva Marin Ultra Challenge 25k.

Home Cooking?

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fine overall performance of Team USA in Portland. In all US athletes captured 23 medals (breaking the record of 19) and 13 golds (breaking the record of 10). We saw memorable races from Centrowitz, Pierre, and Bromell, great field event performances from Carter, Cunningham and Dendy, and the multi-event prowess of Ashton Eaton. More detail on each event can be had here. It was an exciting end to the indoor season and a positive sign for the Olympic season to come.

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