Track Shorts: Two Days at Pre and the Best of May

Riley Masters receiving a plaque as the 500th sub-4 mile at Hayward Field during the Prefontaine Classic, presented by Alan Webb. Photo by @john_doenut_foto on Instagram

Just returning from a week in Oregon, which included taking in both days of the Pre Classic.  I am left with several conclusions.  Even the best TV producer in the world has no hope of capturing the atmosphere of a quality meet like this.  Fans at home may have seen Christian Taylor’s last jump heroics but may not have seen the show Will Claye was putting on as he took the lead on the first jump, recaptured it with his fourth jump, and extended it with his fifth leap, all the while engaging in a great back and forth with the crowd.  Or how about when the crowd roared with each 70+ throw in the shot?  What if you want to follow aspects the TV producer might have no interest in?  For example, in the Bowerman Mile, Jack focused on the “kid” – Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen – from start to finish to see how he approached the race with a big-time field.  There’s just too much there for TV to take in.

Which leads me to a second point.  Watching track and field live is not easy for the novice.  You have to know when to glance over at the pole vault pit to make sure you don’t miss Sandi Morris vaulting while keeping track of the men’s international mile, then remembering to also look over at the triple jump action because Will Claye is on the runway.  Maybe we shouldn’t do it this way but going one event at a time would lead to six hour meets.  So, we probably just need to learn how to multi-view.

Which takes me to my final thought.  The fans at Hayward Field know how to watch track and field.  On Friday night, about 7,500 people stopped by for a 6-event, 90-minute program, with the first hour devoted solely to the women’s pole vault and the men’s javelin.  Okay, maybe there weren’t 7,500 until the racing started at 7:30 but still, there were a lot of people in the stands.  And on Saturday, they didn’t miss a thing, knowing what was up at all times.

There were many ABers in action in Eugene.  Maybe not all had memorable performances but they were part of the last pro event in the soon-to-be upgraded Hayward Field.  Let’s take a look at some of the “highlights” that you may have missed.

Don’t Bring a Knife Spiked Shoe to a Gun Fight 1500

So maybe the field for the women’s 1500 meter USATF High Performance was a little too large – 14 plus pacesetter Hannah FieldsSara Vaughn got stepped on, shoved and spiked before dropping out with a bloody heel.  Emily Lipari was also a DNF.  Ce’Aira Brown showed reporters a bloodied left Achilles heel.  And Dana Mecke’s coach, Rose Monday confirmed that Dana finished with multiple spike marks on her legs.  Hmm, maybe Hannah had the right idea for this one.

Red shirting collegian Dani Jones took the pro field by surprise with 4:07.74 win but ABers also showed well, capturing 4th through 7th with Rachel Schneider (season best), Shannon Osika, Stephanie Garcia, and Lauren Johnson (season best).  Dana Mecke was 9th despite the cuts and Katie Mackey was 11th.

Sixth Gets You A Plaque

Stat geeks had not only figured out that the winner of the Men’s International Mile would record the 400th sub 4-minute mile in Prefontaine Classic history but that 6th place would clock the 500th in Hayward Field history.  Quick math says that means that 80% of the sub-fours at Hayward have come in the Pre meet, which at first seemed really high until you remember that they run the 1500, not the mile, at the Olympic Trials.

Aussie Luke Mathews ran a cagey race to capture the first honor.  ABer Riley Masters had made a decent move in the last lap and look threatening for time.  But he couldn’t quite match some of the other kicks. Some consolation for him though in that he finished 6th so there he was with Luke Mathews getting a plaque from Alan Webb marking the achievements.  We are left with a question – when Riley realized first was out of reach did he contrive to finish 6th?  Just askin’.

This weekend I crossed the finish line at Hayward Field as the 500th sub-4 performance in the stadium. While I was not satisfied with my performance, it is an honor to be a small part of Hayward Field history. The iconic grandstand may not be present in the coming years, but that will not change the experience of competing in Eugene. The knowledgable, enthusiastic fans are what makes Hayward so special. I am looking forward to competing in front of that same crowd in the new stadium in years to come. : @john_doenut_foto P.S. A well meaning Hayward volunteer held my plaque for me while we threw T-shirt’s to the crowd. Unfortunately, I never got my plaque back and it is currently MIA. So, if anyone has seen it, let me know!

A post shared by Riley Masters (@riley_masters) on

Last Can Be Fast

Lauren Paquette knew she was in for tough afternoon with an incredibly deep 5000 field.  Fortunately, she was able to find a small group to tuck in with for most of the race.  She ended up last but still clocked a season best 15:15.23, her second sub 15:20 in nine days.

Sort of in the same vein, there were a couple of other really solid AB “non-winning” performances.  Charlene Lipsey has spent much of the spring lowering her 1500 PR but showed she’s still got the speed with a season best 1:58.35 for 4th in an Olympic Final quality 800 field.  Ryan Hill looked to make some noise in the last lap of a competitive if not super-fast two mile; he ended up with an 8:22.36 for 6th and was the 2nd American.

Hum A Few Bars

Sandi Morris is still recovering from an ankle sprain.  So her 3rd place should be viewed in that context.  Afterwards she tweeted:

ABers had a really busy month of May with results too numerous to cover in detail.  However, there are somethings we cannot leave unnoted.

AB Intramural USATF Distance Classic

The Distance Classic is a compact eight-event meet featuring the 800, 1500, steeple and 5000 for men and women.  When the smoke cleared, ABers had won half of the events. Shannon Osika (4:09.38) and Johnny Gregorek (3:36.95) took the 1500s while Lauren Paquette (15:19.17) and Reid Buchanan (13:33.38) were winning the 5K’s.  Dana Mecke continued her 1500 work with a solid 4:11.55 for 3rd and Kyle Merber checked in with a solid 3:39.15.  Brenda Martinez also took a third with a 2:02.03 at 800.

On the Roads

Sarah Crouch continued to impress with a 3rd at the USATF 25K Championships.  No word on whether her sisters also competed somewhere that day.  We do know that ABer Esther Atkins did get 5th in the same race.

Up north, Sara Hall recorded a PR 2:26.20 in the Ottawa Marathon.

The Shot Is Just the Hammer Without the Chain

Gwen Berry and Amanda Bingson already had 2nd and 3rd in HT at the Jamaica International Invitational.  Probably killing time before the flight home, both hopped into the shot and took 7th and 8th.

There were some decent AB results here.  Dani Hill, apparently did not compete in the hammer, but did take 3rd in the shot.  Jasmin Stowers and Kori Carter went 1-2 in the 100H; after taking 4th in a string of Diamond League and other European meets, Jasmin probably enjoyed the win.  Donald Scott took a second in the TJ while Rachel Schneider and Lauren Johnson went 2-4 in the 1500.  Donnie Cowart and Casimir Loxsom scored a pair of 4ths in the deuce and the 800.

Throwers Get in on the Action

Weight events haven’t always been featured in some of the recent meets but they are still out there.  The Tucson Elite Classic is an attempt to balance things out a bit.  It’s a two day event featuring just the hammer, shot, discus and javelin; athletes compete on Thursday, then come back again on Saturday.  ABer Sean Donnelly won the Thursday competition with a bomb of a 6th throw and took 3rd on Saturday.  Sam Mattis was first in the DT on Thursday and came back with a 2nd on Saturday.  Alexander Young showed up for 2nd in the HT on Saturday while Sharon Day-Monroe, honing her javelin skills was finished 3rd and 7th on the two days.

Way over word limit but gotta mention:

We’ll be back in a quick two weeks to preview the US Nationals.  This year they’ll be coming to you from Drake Stadium in Des Moines.  Action runs from 6/21 to 6/24.  No world championships to qualify for this year but still should be a good meet.

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