Track Shorts 2017: Lap 5

Photo from Gwendolyn Berry on Facebook

The months of April and May have a comforting familiarity about them.  Patriot’s Day (third Monday in April) brings the Boston Marathon; the last weekend in April has the Penn Relays and Drake Relays.  By the way, the Boston Marathon and Penn Relays are two of just five major events that have been held consecutively for over 100 years, uninterrupted by world wars or labor strife; the Kentucky Derby, the Rose Parade, and the Westminster Kennel Dog Show are the other three.  I’ll just note that two of these are not like the others.

Other traditional early spring events include the Mt. SAC Relays (Jordin Andrade poster boy), the Payton Jordan Invitational and the World Relay Championships.  Okay, stretching a little on that last one but it is gaining popularity fast.  So we have much to talk about.

Gracefully Bowing Out

The 121st Boston Marathon was Meb’s final race.  I saw an interview with him in which he said he just wanted to be remembered as a nice guy.  Show of hands – think that’s how we’ll remember him?  Unanimous as I thought.  He ran a fine 2:17:00 for 13th place.

Esther Atkins just keeps churning out results as she ran 2:36:11 for 9thJared Ward has spoiled us to the point that a 2:15:28 result in the men’s race feels like a bad day.

800 Meters

Some really crazy stuff going down in this event.  Erik Sowinski blisters a 1:45.95 at Mt. SAC but can only get third behind Clayton Murphy’s ridiculous 1:43.60 and Eliud Rutto’s 1:45.70.  In the women’s race, ABers Chanelle Price (2:00.38), Kendra Chambers (2:01.10) and Dana Mecke (2:02.26) ran excellent early season times yet came home in 3rd, 5th and 6th respectively because Raevyn Rogers and Laura Roesler both went sub-2:00; Amanda Eccleston turned a nifty 2:05 as well.  We should note that at Mt SAC, Eccleston, Mecke and Price were all doubling back after the 1500 the day before.  Amanda was a winner with a 4:12 while Mecke and Price checked in at 3rd and 6th clocking sub 4:14s.

Casmir Loxsom had a similar experience at Penn; we don’t have an exact time but we’re pretty sure he went sub 1:46 anchoring one of the US Sprint Medley teams but had to settle for second behind Donovan Brazier and his low 1:44 split.  Come on people, don’t you realize it’s only April…

And I almost forgot about the 4 x 800s at the World Relays, where both US teams brought home gold with the help of AB athletes.  Chanelle Price turned a 2:01.73 lead off leg, handing off in first place.  On the men’s side Erik Sowinski and Casmir Loxsom kept the US in contention with solid 2nd and 3rd legs.

The Weight

(musical accompaniment from The Band)

All kinds of great stuff from the AB weight staff.  Biggest news is Gwen Berry’s absolute bomb of an American Record – 76.77 (251-10); besides the AR, she’s now #11 world all-time.  That effort in no way diminishes her win at Mt SAC hammer (74.62 for a world leader at the time); ABers Amanda Bingson and Amber Campbell took 2nd and 3rd there.  Sean Donnelly won the hammer at the Beach Invite.  Dani Bunch got two wins, launching a huge 19.12 (62-8.75) toss at the Rankin/Poehlein Invitational (Lafayette, IN) for #3 in world and coming back a week later at Drake with an 18.55 (60-10.5); fellow ABer Brittany Smith was second at Drake with an 18.10 throw.  Sam Mattis keeps throwing further each week; he went 63.14 (207-02) at Mt SAC.  Javelin throwers Kara Winger (64.80 for #4 in the world at the Texas Invitational in Austin) and Riley Dolezal (Beach Invite) also got early wins.

Third Times a Charm

A post shared by Gwen Berry (@mzberrythrows_) on


Lots of good news here too.  Kori Carter had a 55.79 win at Mt SAC and 54.72 for second at Drake.  Somehow she also squeezed in a 12.78 100 hurdles in her travels.  Cassandra Tate ran 56.77 for 5th behind Carter at Drake.  Christina Manning scorched a personal best and world leading 12.62 at the War Eagle Invitational (Auburn).  And at Drake, Jasmin Stowers (12.76) and Queen Harrison (12.86) were 2nd and 4th.  So let me get this straight, Queen Harrison sits fourth on the AB yearly list at 12.86?  That’s nuts.

Penn and Drake

Could there have been more contrasting weather for the two signature relay carnivals of the season?  Penn was 80+ and a touch humid for April.  Drake was cold, windy and rainy (again).

At Penn, Kala Funderburk, Turquoise Thompson, and Je’von Hutchison all ran excellent legs on the US 4 x 400 teams.  Good third leg carries by Thompson and Hutchison put their teams in contention for the win but both teams ended up second to Jamaica.  Maria Michta-Coffey gets a Penn Relays watch after winning the 5k walk barely a week after an auto accident.  No watches but solid miles for Dana Mecke, Shannon Osika, and Stephanie Schappert as they go 5-6-7.

At  Drake, Sandi Morris took first while Mary Saxer was 4th in pole vault at Capitol Square.

Saxer appears to like these non-traditional venues as she also took second in the street vault at the Kansas Relays.  AB 1500 meter types braved the temperatures to put in some decent efforts; Johnny Gregorek and Chad Noelle were 2nd and 5th in the men’s race while Brenda Martinez, Amanda Eccleston, and Sara Vaughn went 2-9-12.

USATF Road Championships

Two more – the mile and half marathon – are in the books.  The women’s road mile results read like an AB roster.  Start with a big win for Katie Mackey with a 4:37 flat.  Right behind Katie was Amanda Eccleston, clocking a 4:37.36 to edge out Shannon Rowbury.  Fourth and fifth were ABers – Shannon Osika and Dana Mecke (who seems to be popping up in a lot of places so far).  We’ll round things out with Meghan Peyton and Jamie Cheever stepping down from the longer stuff for 9th and 13th.  On the men’s side ABer Riley Masters looked very fit, finishing second only to a guy who recently ran 1:43.  Garrett Heath (4th) was in the mix as usual and Chad Noelle came in 11th.

Neely Gracey just keeps hammering away and her 1:10:54 was good for second at the half marathon championships.  Tara Welling ran a solid 1:14.42 for 8th and Susanna Sullivan was 13th.

The list of ABers with notable results in other road action is long.  Craig Lutz scored a nice win at the Newport 10k – an event sponsored by Ashley Higginson’s law firm. Under difficult conditions (humidty and winds) he ran 29:47. Abbabiya Simbassa got a 15k win in Martinique.  Devon Yanko had a good result at the 2Oceans Marathon (actually 56k) and followed it up with a solid 2:54 at the London Marathon.  Tyler Andrews was also a winner on a hilly half marathon course in Nashville and followed it up with a 9th place at Philadelphia’s windy Broad St Run.  On the shorter side, Kaitlin Goodman was ninth at the BAA 5k and Will Leer, Shannon Osika, and Lauren Johnson were top ten in the BAA Road mile.

Less Traditional Venues

Greg Ahlswede, AB’s orienteering dude, came in 4th at the Spanish Orienteering event, the only American in the top 35.  Maria Dalzot took the Yakima 25k (the equivalent of a sprint for her).  And we’re intrigued by Chelsea Sodaro’s venture into the triathlon world. She’s obviously serious – winning on her first “try”.

We Didn’t Miss or Forget It

With the huge list of events to follow, I’m sure we missed some things.  Here are some we didn’t:

  • Donald Scott’s 17.01 triple jump, 6th in the world at the time
  • Jamie Cheever‘s 9:53.14 steeple at Mt. SAC
  • Jess Tonn’s great return to the track after a long injury layoff, recording a 15:38 5k at Mt. SAC
  • Joseph Gray’s 10k win at Vancouver Sun Run

At the (Artificial) Deadline

The Payton Jordan Invitational featured its usual deep fields at the middle and long distances.  Biggest news there may be Kaitlin Goodman’s huge 10k PR at 31:55.46.  Abbabiya Simbassa’s breakout season continues as he clocked a sweet PR of 27:45.78 finishing 5th.  Versatile Riley Masters returned to the 5k and ran 13:29.85 for 5th.  Shout outs also to a pair of Laurens – Paquette (15:20.48 5k) and Johnson (4:11.67 1500).

And Sandi Morris got her Diamond League campaign under way with a 2nd at Doha.  Looks like she and Stefanidi will continue their great rivalry again this year.

Stay Tuned

Coming up in the next few weeks are numerous meets offering the opportunity to record World Champs and USA Champs qualifying times, plus big time events like the Prefontaine Classic. We also have the USATF 25k Championships and 15k Race Walk Championships.  We can’t wait!

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