This weekend saw some pretty good performances, but the best of the bunch had to be at Mt SAC as Carmelita Jeter took the world lead and set a new PR of 10.96 (+0.9) in the women's 100 meters. Jeter came out of nowhere in '07 to win the bronze medal in the event in Osaka with a then PR of 11.02. Last year she ran 10.97 at the US Olympic Trials but failed to make the team for Beijing. This year she's been running better and better every week. Starting with a few 400 meter runs early outdoors before taking the world lead in the 200 last weekend at 22.59. This weekend's run shows that Jeter should be a serious contender to repeat her medal winning in Berlin - with a possible step up in medal color.
Another who looked like he is trying to improve his position nationally and internationally is quarter miler Lionel Larry who won the 200 meters here in 20.34. What is most impressive is that Larry won the race running the tight turn of Lane 1! Larry made the squad for the Osaka World Championships in '07, but was injured and unable to compete in the open event. If his improvement in speed is any indication, he will be in the hunt for a spot on this year's team for Berlin.
The man he will be chasing will be last year's #1 ranked quarter miler, Olympic gold medalist Lashawn Merritt. Merritt gave notice that he will be hard to catch as he opened up himself over 200 meters by taking the world lead in a swift 20.17 (+0.7) in his "off" event! Merritt's debut was his best opening ever in the event and a clear indication that he won't be relinquishing his title without a fight.
The man that wants that title the most just might be Jeremy Wariner - the man that won the '04 Olympic title, as well as the '04 and '07 World titles, before losing last year to Merritt in Beijing (and the Trials and in Berlin & Stuttgart). Wariner competed in the 200 himself this weekend at the Michael Johnson Classic in Waco Texas. Unfortunately for Wariner, Baylor Jr., Trey Harts took down MJ's longstanding meet record in the 200 with a nice 20.29 (+0.8) win - in the process he also beat World and Olympic 400 standout Jeremy Wariner (20.56). Harts In a separate heat, indoor 60 meter sprinter Michael Rogers ran a 20.77 of his own, indicating he may be working on his strength to improve his 100 meter PR (10.06) later in the season.
If its MJ's meet then we need to talk about the quarter. In 400 meter action, Latoy Williiams of small South Plains college and the Bahamas took over the world lead with his 45.01 victory in the collegiate race. The Bahamas was well represented in the event as Andrae Williams (BAH) won the invitational section in 45.13. And if it’s a Baylor meet and we're talking about the 400 then we have to talk about the 4x4. In the Invitational Division, a team of Reggie Witherspoon, Jeremy Wariner, Wallace Spearmon and Darold Williamson won easily in 3:04.22. First Wallace Spearmon sighting this spring! In the collegiate race it was Baylor with an easy 3:05.47 win.
Interestingly at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational Florida ran 3:05.92. Interesting because just a couple of weeks ago both schools ran 3:02 and change at separate meets. Anyone else starting to get the feeling that when these two schools hook up in this event that something fast is going to happen? Speaking of Florida and the War Eagle Invitational, for those that have been waiting for a Jeff Demps sighting he ran his first 100 this year (and following his football injury) and was 6th overall in 10.41 (+1.4). Trinidad's Marc Burns was the overall winner in a nice 10.05 (+1.4) - #2 mark on the season so far. While another Florida frosh, multi talented Christian Taylor took a break from the 4x4 (they ran the 3:05 without him) and won the long jump in 25'4" (26' 3.75" indoors this winter). After setting an indoor WJR in the Triple Jump during the indoor season and running 45.34 a couple of weeks ago, I'm starting to think this kid can do anything he wants to do.
The distance events were fairly quiet this weekend, which is why I'm talking about the sprints - but in today's Boston Marathon Kara Goucher (2:32:25) and Ryan Hall (2:09:40) both took 3rd place in the Boston Marathon, giving the US someone on the podium in both the men's and women's races for the first time in nearly a quarter century! Third place usually isn't the spot I get excited about, but when it comes to US distance running it’s a reason to shout! I'll give my ideas on our distance situation in another post soon, but right now I'm excited about these youngsters because both display the kind of heart we need out of our distance runners. And this kind of strenghth should do wonders for Kara in her 5000 and 10000 races on the track.
Not a bad weekend over all. And next up we have Drake and Penn. Penn is always a good meet, but more importantly seems to be the point in the spring where we turn the corner from the Relay meets to the Invitationals (New York Reebok, Carson Adidas, Nike Prefontaine) and we step on the gas on the way to Nationals. So it only gets better from here!