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Track & Field

Track & Field (207)

By David Hunter, 12/15/16
 
When older followers of track & field first think of Dwight Stones, they often recall “the rookie” - the brash young high jumper who embraced the revolutionary Fosbury Flop, was the youngest member the 1972 USA Olympic track & field squad, captured the bronze medal in Munich, and went on to author a truly outstanding high jump career. Yet younger fans see Stones in a different way: as a passionate, informed track & field commentator who does his homework and has earned respect as a true professional from all corners of the sport. Both assessments are right on target.
 
Raised in Southern California, Stones was at the vanguard of the first wave of athletes to tackle the vertical jump as it was undergoing an event-changing transition. “I pretty much showed up when the event was at the very early transitioning point in the high jump with Dick's [’68 gold medalist Fosbury] success in Mexico City,” offers the two-time Olympic bronze medalist. “A lot of athletes who had no business were trying to switch to the flop. They weren’t built for it. They tried to switch to it without much success. There were other guys who probably should have, but didn’t.” 
Thursday, 22 December 2016 17:03

Vin Lananna Takes Reins at USATF

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By Elliott Denman
 
ORLANDO, FL – Vin Lananna, incoming president-elect of USA Track and Field, promises that “my action will match my words.”
 
At a moment in the sport’s history when optimism is often in short supply, Lananna’s emergence as the sport’s number one guy in the nation that continues to boast its national team is the number one in the world – Exhibit A, those 32 Rio medals - is very welcome news. He’s the right man in the right spot at the right time.
 
When the great Jackie Joyner-Kersee withdrew from the presidential race to succeed Stephanie Hightower, whose term limits were up, the position became Lananna’s by default. There would be no further need to continue the electioneering process taking place at the USATF Annual Meeting going on in the Orlando Hilton Hotel. The scheduled “Vote For Vin” reception instead became a victory celebration. Its reason no longer apropos, some of the would-be voting delegates simply wandered off to a nearby North Carolina Association promoting its candicacy to host the National Junior Olympics.
Back in the late-70s when Lance Harter began his collegiate coaching career, he was wise enough to observe and listen to older, more experienced track & field coaches knowing he could pick up valuable pointers from them.  “When I was getting started, I was the young buck at the Cal Poly SLO. And everybody would call me “kid’ or ‘son’”, laughs Harter.  ”I’m very blessed that I’ve had the opportunities that I’ve had.  And I attribute a lot of it to the mentors that I’ve had. I was very fortunate to have mentors that said, ‘You’re the young buck. But let’s do it the right way.’ And I’m very appreciative of that.” Now the roles are reversed as Harter – one of the most respected and decorated college track& field coaches in the game – is the one from whom advice is sought.  
 
After a several year stint as a successful high school coach in Colorado, Harter grabbed the opportunity to move up to the collegiate coaching level when he was appointed as the women’s cross country and track & field coach at Cal Poly SLO. During his 11 years at San Luis Obispo, Harter wore many hats: coaching, teaching, and honing his fundraising skills for the under-funded program. Through it all, he thrived. “I loved it there. I loved the program. I loved the whole idea of Division II, developing kids,” adds Harter with enthusiasm. “After 14 national championships, I wondered if I could do it again at the next level.” 
By Dave Hunter (www.trackandfieldhunter.com)
 
Having earlier stepped up with my evaluation of the elite women and unveiled my selection of the 2016 Track & Field Female Athlete of the Year [Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk], it is high time I followed up with my analysis of this past season’s exceptional track & field men and declare my pick for this year’s Track & Field Male Athlete of the Year. Using the subjective metrics of progression of marks, head-to-head competition, and honors won, here is how I see the top track and field men for 2016:
BY DAVE HUNTER 
 
Now that the 2016 track & field season has concluded and while memories of the many electrifying performances of this Olympic year still linger, it is the perfect time to look back on a terrific year for our sport on the track and in the field and determine who is worthy to be named the Track & Field Female Athlete of the Year.
BY DAVE HUNTER—Throughout his track career, Clayton Murphy has been misjudged, underestimated, and frankly unappreciated. Despite truly remarkable progression in both the 800m and the 1500m/mile during his three years as a collegian, Murphy's sparkling performances have never seemed to stimulate much excitement within our sport. That should all change now that the 21-year old ran a patient and exquisite race in the Olympic 800m final - capturing the bronze medal after a stirring stretch drive and crossing the line in 1:42.93 to become the first American medalist in the Olympic 800m since American record holder Johnny Gray grabbed the bronze in 1992. Murphy's clocking now positions him as the #3 performer [Gray and Duane Solomon] on the USA all-time list and the #31 performer on the all-time world list.
BY LARRY EDER—It's Saturday morning, August 20, and I am sitting on my bed in my little AirBnB, right across the street from the Engenhao Stadium. With my brother, Brian, and Victor Sailer, I have been here for the duration. This morning, I'm catching up.
 
So, this is my piece on the women's 400 meters, one of the finest races of the entire Olympic experience, which was marred, for me, by Americans thinking that somehow, the gold medal was taken from Allyson Felix. Shaunae Miller took the gold, because, this time, she got across the finish line first. That is what it is like in all races. Olympic track & field is not a theatre project, where one knows the outcome and it is the interpretation of the experience. It is not professional wrestling, where the outcome is preordained. These are real athletes, who put their regular lives on hold, so that, for a decade or so of their lives, they, run, jump and throw to see just how far they can go!
Updated 9.15 PM, August 17, 2016. Ezekial Kemboi has been DQed over rule 163.3.
 
BY LARRY EDER—In a brilliant and gutty run, Evan Jager took over the steeple final at three minutes and twenty seconds into the race, broke the race open, stayed calm and collected and caught Ezekial Kemboi on the final straight, to bring the US a silver medal, the highest men's US finish since 1952 and the first men's steeple medal since 1984! Conseslus Kipruto won the steeplechase, with Ezekial Kemboi, Olympic champion from 2004 and 2012, taking the bronze.
 
This race was the work of a team. Under the thoughtful eyes of Coaches Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, the Bowerman AC team were prepared. Schumacher and Dobert honed the skills of Jager over the barriers and the flats.
BY LARRY EDER—Earlene Brown, a USA Track & Field Hall of Famer, who won the last medal by the U.S. in the women's shot put. That was in 1960, and the color of the medal was bronze. I remember writing about Earlene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I wrote about Ramona Pagel and Connie Price-Smith. I was fascinated with Earlene Brown as she competed against the Press sisters of the old Soviet Union. A colorful lady, Earlene was a gifted athlete. But, as a women athlete in her day, Earlene Brown never got the respect she deserved. I love that she competed in roller derby, one of my favorite TV viewing pleasures as a kid in Saint Louis.
 
Well, the ghost of Earlene Brown shone brightly in Rio, watching over Michelle Carter, who just improved nearly all night, starting out at 19.12m, then, 19.82m, then, 19.44m, then, 19.87m, then, bammo! 20.63m.
Thursday, 01 September 2016 15:48

Almaz Ayana Dominates Olympic 10,000m in 29:17.45 WR

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BY LARRY EDER—Almaz Ayana has just destroyed the World Record in the 10,000 meters, running 29:17.45 to take over 14 seconds off the World Record set by Wang Junxia of China nearly 23 years ago! Ayana stayed in the lead pack for 5000 meters, and then, rushed for home, chased by Vivan Cheruiyot. Ayana's style of light running, with a gifted stride took her lead from four seconds to fourteen, as Vivian Cheruiyot guttily held on for the silver medal. Tirunesh Dibaba, the 2008 and 2012 champion, took third from Alice Nawowuna, who lead for the first five kilometers. Here is how I saw the race transpire: