Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Final Thoughts Before the Gun Goes Off


Roughly 48 hours until it all begins – the selection process for our World Championships team. I’ve tried to cover as many events as possible over the last week, but there are still more stories to tell. Here are a few other events that I plan to keep an eye on this weekend.


Men’s Triple Jump

This is an event that we once dominated with jumpers like Willie Banks, Mike Conley, Charles Simpkins and Kenny Harrison. Since 1996, however, only Walter Davis has been able to have any kind of impact internationally – gold in ‘05, bronze in ‘07. But suddenly the future looks bright as Christian Taylor and Will Claye just seem to have a penchant for the vent. Both set PR’s at the recent NCAA Championships – Taylor 57’ 1”, Claye 56’ 11.25” and had windy jumps of 58’ 4.75” and 57’ 9.75” respectively. They should give us another great dual, and put us back in the conversation in Daegu.


Women’s 5000 Meters

If everyone that has declared lines up at the starting line, this event will be LOADED with talent. Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan are the two fastest Americans ever over the distance with Jen Rhines and Kara Goucher #’s 5 & 6 all time. Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury are two of our best over 1500 meters,  and there are bright young up and coming stars in Lauren Fleshman, Jordan Hasay and Katie Follett. Of course they will be running in Eugene, which means that the weather and the crowd should be just right for a great distance race.


Men’s  5000 & 10000

At the recent Pre Classic, held on the same track, there was some HOT distance running from the Africans. At that time most of the Americans were looking ahead to this meet. Well it’s here now. And so are some of the best distance runners the U.S has yet to produce. Bernard Lagat will be headlining the 5000 and is the man to beat, as he is any time he takes to the track. Headlining the 10000 will be AR holder Chris Solinsky (also listed in the 5000). Challenging will be a Who’s Who of current U.S. talent including: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Tim Nelson and Bobbie Curtis. Only two meets really matter this year and this in one of them! So expect some great distance running in the home of Steve Prefontaine.


Women’s Javelin

Yes the javelin – because I’m convinced that Kara Patterson can win a medal in Daegu. And because this is the venue where she beat Spotakova last year after setting the AR at last year’s National Championships! She’s been over 200 feet (205’ 11”) already this year and seems to be working towards a later peak than last year. She is one of our rare women that can win a medal in the field and she bears watching and support.


Men’s Shot Put

The big men always bring it! Cause if you don’t with this group you are certain to stay home. The field includes defending World champion Christian Cantwell; ‘07 World champion Reese Hoffa; and ‘05 World champion Adam Nelson. There are 72 foot putters in Ryan Whiting and Cory Nelson.That’s five men and four spots (Cantwell has an automatic bid to Worlds as defending champion). The battle here is to make sure you’re NOT the odd man out! This is another one of those events that makes me want to change the whole concept of the World Championships.


Women’s High Jump & Pole Vault

I’ve combined these two “jumps” because we have two women capable of gaining medals in Daegu that we haven’t seen much of this year – high jumper Chaunte Lowe, and vaulter Jenn Suhr. Both have gold medal capabilities when they are on, but first both have to make the team. So these two events are very important to our potential medal tally later this summer. I’m hoping both women are ready for the challenge.


As usual this should be one exciting meet. I love the team aspect of the NCAA championships, and of course the relays, but nothing matches the U.S Championships for it’s sheer drama! If you want a shot at being a World champion, you have to get past this trial by fire. The head to head match ups that we want to see against the world’s best start here. This should close out June with a bang, and give us an idea of just how exciting Daegu will be.

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