Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

The weekend's big meet on the elite side was the Adidas Classic in Carson. Great competition but the times were hampered by negative winds all day. In spite of the conditions, some athletes still distinguished themselves, and showed that they will play a factor on the road to Berlin.

The best on the day for my money was Lashawn Merritt who improved on his own world leading time in the 200 with a 20.07 win into a slight headwind (-0.5). Merritt dominated all phases of the race and won going away, with second place Xavier Carter a well back 20.71. Merritt chose to run the 200 here to work on his speed but got a close up look at his competition in the 400 as Jeremy Wariner competed here and won in 44.66. Like Merritt in the 200, Wariner dominated all phases of the race and he too won going away as Chris Brown was well back in 45.06.

Perhaps bigger than Wariner's victory was his announcement afterwards that he is going back to coach Clyde Hart after having left him last year. Wariner found the road a bit harder last year with Merritt's rise and his own performances slightly off from previous years. Its unusual to see an athlete leave a coach and return, but this is not your usual situation. And while last year's rift was reportedly over money, it would appear that Wariner may be prepared to pay to try and return to the top. Of course Merritt will have a lot to say about that.

Back to the meet, strong performances were the order of the day. Allyson Felix opened her season in the 200 with a decisive victory running away from the field in 22..66 (-1.9). In the women's 100 meters Carmelita Jeter surged mid race to run away from everyone in 11.09 (-0.9) after the race was marred by several false starts. While on the men's side Darvis Patton exploded late to get the win in 10.12 (-0.7).

One of the weird events of the day was the men's 400 hurdles where there were problems with the spacing of the hurdles between hurdles seven and eight. Winner of this race was Kerron Clement in a world leading 48.38 over an upset Angelo Taylor who was thrown off his pace by the mishap. Other outstanding efforts included Bernard Lagat running easy to a 3:3638 win in the 1500 meters; Jenn Stuczynski easily winning the pole vault at 15' 7.25" (4.76m) before taking some strong attempts at a new American Record; and Dwight Phillips winning the long jump at 27' 5.5" (8.37m) another strong effort in consecutive weeks.

The most hyped event of the weekend was the street 150 in Manchester England featuring Usain Bolt. And Bolt didn't disappoint running an all time world best of 14.35. In the rush to call it a world record however, it seems that most have forgotten that this race was run on a straight while others have been run around a curve. For those of you that remember the 180 low hurdles race that high schools ran before instituting the 300 hurdles in the late 70's, the 180 races that were run on the straight were approximately a second faster than those run around the turn - as turn running is more difficult. In fairness to Bolt his race is more comparable to all time great Tommie Smith and his WR 19.5 for 200 meters on the straight. At the time Smith's record around a turn was 20.0 - .5 slower than his straight time. Making a similar adjustment for Bolt's Manchester run puts this run around 14.85, still faster than the previous record of 14.93, but slightly inferior to the 14.75 run by Tyson Gay en route to his 19.62 200 meter time. Regardless, this shows that Bolt has no ill effects from his accident last month and that he is on course for superlative times once again this season.

As if Carson and Manchester weren't enough, we were also treated to several major collegiate conference meets Among the highlights:

Trindon Holliday (LSU) ran a national leading 10.01 (+1.1) at the SEC Championships in Tallahassee. Joining him under the 10.10 mark was Jeremy Hall (Florida) second in 10.08. Hall joined third place finisher Terrell Wilks (Florida, 10.15) to speed a nation leading 38.74 in the 4x1 to turn back an LSU team (38.86) anchored by Holliday. Hall then came back later in the meet to win the 200 at 20.51 into a stiff (-1.1) wind while another teammate on the 4x1, Calvin Smith, took a very close 400 in 44.96 over Dwight Mullings (Miss St, 44.98).

Those were the best 400 meter times in the country until the final of the Big12 400 where Gil Roberts (Texas Tech) blitzed a 44.86 for the win and the national lead. Also at the Big 12 meet, frosh distance phenom German Fernandez (Oklahoma St) took a 1500/5000 double in 3:42.80/14.21.05.

Not to be outdone, the Pac10 turned in some nice performances of its own. Among them was Charonda Williams (Ariz St) as she blazed an 11.14 (+1.4) to put herself in the NCAA Championships picture. And Oregon took both the men's and women's titles as they began to sharpen up for showdowns with their Midwest and Southeastern rivals come NCAA time. For full results of these conferences click below.




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