What if they held a party and a track meet broke out? To be honest, the first hour or so of the TrackTown Summer Series (TTSS) finale in New York was more about the music and the great weather than the competition. The crowd was in a good mood, dancing along to the tunes but not really paying attention to some fine work on the track. Some of the athletes realized that maybe the fans needed a little help in how to watch a track meet. Knowing who was up next in the high jump/triple jump/long jump, how to rhythmically clap to spur the jumpers on, etc.
But somewhere along the way, around the women’s 800 or the 3000, things started to click. From then on, right to final event – the mixed 4 x 4 relay – the place was hopping and not just for the music. We’ll review the highlights and the things that struck us about the TTSS as a whole, from our usual AB biased perspective.
– Men’s 800 NYC– ABer Chris Giesting made sure this was a barn burner by taking the field out in under 50 seconds and adding another 100+ meters of pacing before stepping off the track. Erik Sowinski looked like the win might be his but Drew Windle pulled off another astounding kick to snatch the victory. Fast times all around, with four guys under 1:45. Erik got his #2 all-time at 1:44.66, but was .03 behind Windle.
– Men’s 1500 NYC – The pre-meet story was about Robby Andrews’ pursuit of the World Championship qualifier. It was a big post-meet story too because he ran 3:35.25 to get the standard. But there was a twist – he didn’t win the event. That honor went to ABer Johnny Gregorek, who again used a stinging kick to catch Andrews in the closing strides. He got another PR, 3:35.00 this time.
– Tie Breaker Suggestion NYC – AB staff were standing trackside with TTSS investor Bob Greifeld before the final event when Vin Lananna came up to say that it was possible the meet could end in a tie. But there were no tiebreaker provisions. I suggested using most first place finishes from the NY meet. Both Bob and Vin liked it and the plan was communicated to ESPN, who was televising the meet. That it was not needed is irrelevant; it will always be a highlight for me.
No event was contested more than twice in the three meet TTSS, some only once. There were several multiple winners, garnering the maximum points for their respective teams. ABers Queen Harrison (100H), Gwen Berry (HT), and Stephanie Garcia (3000) were among the double winners; Harrison for NY and Berry for Portland were among the better trash talkers of the series. Other doublers included Quanesha Burks (LJ), Omar Craddock (TJ), Michael Rodgers (100), Drew Windle (800), Sanne Verstegen (800), Inika McPherson (HJ), and Paul Chelimo (3000).
Best Mixed Event
– Combined Hammer Throw – Because of the differences in the weights, the men and women throw the hammer roughly the same distances, making it a perfect event to combine the distances to determine a team winner. Gwen Berry and Colin Dunbar-Hatton took the event both times.
– Concurrent 3000 – The women started first with the men waiting until the women hit the 340 meter mark. So you had both races going on at the same time. The 340 meters was chosen to create the possibility that the men’s winner could catch the women’s winner. The way he’s running they should have had Paul Chelimo start on Friday. But Stephanie Garcia was somehow undaunted by the fact that Chelimo would be chasing her throughout the race and delivered a solid PR at 8:52 which proved to be plenty fast enough to prevent getting caught. The overall winner bonus of $1,000 for charity was hers.
One of the perks of winning the #ttsummerseries mixed 3k (besides beating Paul Chelimo ) is receiving an extra $1,000 to donate to charity! Looking for suggestions-- if you know a worthy charity or organization, leave it in the comments for me to consider! . . . @nataliaiii || #alwaysup #teamnb #furmanelite #alwaysinbeta #givingback #charity #tracknation #trackremixed #runspiration #runlikeagirl #painface #fitness #strongnotskinny #striveforgreatness #runningcommunity #dreambig
– Mixed 4 x 4 – Certainly traditional for the final event of a team championships to be the 4 x 4. What is not so traditional is for it to be mixed teams. And not everybody put men and women on the same legs. But the back-and- forth affair still came down to tight stretch run. Portland held off NY but the Empire’s second place finish was good enough to clinch the team title.
There were multiple 1-2 team finishes across the competition. New York certainly benefited from Stephanie Garcia/Nicole Tully and Michael Rodgers/Jeff Demps sweeps of the 3000 and 100. My favorite was Devon Allen and Jarret Eaton going 1-2 in the 110HH. First, it pulled my Philadelphia team out of last place. Second, and more importantly, Allen and Eaton played it up pretty big and it was a key part of bringing the crowd into the meet and the team competition.
Some AB performances we haven’t mentioned yet:
– Amanda Eccleston turned the tables on Hannah Fields and took the NYC 1500
– Donald Scott took 3 rd at Portland and 2 nd in NYC in the triple jump
– Bridgette Owens had a pair of third place finishes in the 100H
– Cecilia Barowski continued to be a model of consistency with 3rd and 4th place finishes in her 800s
It’s the Thought That Counts
Okay, it’s not the Stanley Cup. Probably doesn’t even have a name. But there was the NY team rallying around the trophy after clinching the team championship. They seemed pretty pumped about it.
The post TTSS talk will likely mention that it wasn’t exactly a money-maker. But that was never a realistic goal for this year. I didn’t get to see the finale on TV so I don’t know how the energy in the stadium translated to the viewing audience. But there was real excitement on the track, especially for those final events and a definite post-meet high for those who hung around on the infield afterwards. Hopefully we get to experience it again.
Diamond League Stuff
Need to sneak in a few items here. Charlene Lipsey went 1:57.38 for a monster PR in the Lausanne meet. Beyond the time though was her poise and confidence in a race with many of the big names. Ice water in the veins? Jasmin Stowers and Christina Manning did a nice 2-3 in the hurdles running 12:57 and 12:58.
I was astonished to see so many names from the Thursday TTSS meet in NY toeing the line in the London DL meet on Sunday. Geez, I was still recovering the NY meet at that point and I didn’t even compete (well, except with NJ drivers on the Turnpike). As Jack pointed out, “more proof that these are not normal people…or even normal athletes.” Won’t go into all the names but will point out that ABer Erik Sowinski followed his 1:44.62 on Thursday with a 1:44.82 on Sunday. What jet lag? Also in London, Cassandra Tate got a 2nd in the 400H, running 54.59 and Charlene Lipsey came right back from the PR in Lausanne with a sub 2:00 for the win.
More like Humid ‘Lanta but with starting temps in the mid-70s and humidity near 100%, weather conditions for the storied Peachtree 10K on July 4th were less than hospitable. Impressive showing by AB’ers whatever the weather. Jess Tonn had a great road debut, finishing 4th in a deep field of elites. Neely Gracey was 8th and Susanna Sullivan was 9th . We promised we wouldn’t abandon the roadies.
Back later this month with World Championship preview.