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Friday, 18 March 2016 00:39

2016 World Indoors: Quick Previews

Written by

Short Previews of Portland
Here are our favorite quick previews from Alfons Juck and EME News, our long time partner and a keen observer of the sport.

 

Event by Event 

Men

60 m: Experienced generation Powell, Collins, Rodgers against young ones Bromell, Bracy.

 

400 m: Maslak defending against US duo, Caribbeans, but the dark horse is young Haroun.

 

800 m: Berian on home soil, what is the shape of Aman? Be ready for surprise.

 

1500 m: Iguider, Centrowitz, Souleiman - all three in great shape. What will be the tactics.

 

3000 m: This is open, the usual fight Ethiopia vs Kenya will be added by home duo Hill-Chelimo, and what about Iguider and his double?

 

60m Hurdles: French connection says the movie, Martinot-Lagarde, Bascou. McLeod is the man to watch.

 

High Jump: Barshim has the credentials and potential, but Tamberi is also unbeaten in 2016 and hugely improving.

 

Pole Vault: Lavillenie in shape is tough to beat. But do not forget Barber is the World Champion. Meet record 601 is possible.

 

Long Jump: Who can beat Dendy? Other medals very open.

 

Triple Jump: Big guns injured, time for China gold (so far only one male by Liu Xiang at World Indoors) ?

 

Shot Put: Nedow won the Tour, Stanek beat him in last meet, Haratyk was early excellent and Roberts won US title.

 

Heptathlon: Eaton is unbeatable in normal situation. The rest on the podium could be anybody.

 

4x400 m: No doubt about the winners, Belgium will be ready for silver and possibly attacking their own European record?

 

Women
60 m: Pierre is a fast starter, but Schippers can catch her. Will we see sub seven?

 

400 m: Despite not beeing the fastest this year McPherson should be the pick. US duo not that experienced, Adekoya is ready.

 

800 m: Another open one. Who has top indoor experience? Possibly US duo will use home advantage.

 

1500 m: Fast or slow. Seyaum vs Hassan.

 

3000 m: It should be Dibaba, then little space, then Defar, then lot of space, then rest. Anyway, we count with meet record.

 

60mH: If not full US podium, then surprise. Only Tiffany can spoil the party.

 

High Jump: 19 years between Beitia and Cunningham, but the bet goes to Licwinko. Finally two meters?

 

Pole Vault: Real World record chance for Suhr, how many medals for Greeks? Meet record should be for sure (so far 486)

 

Long Jump: Is Stratton ready to cope withe favorite role? Reese, Spanovic far more experienced. Not to forget British duo and German newcomer Wester.

 

Triple Jump: First ever gold (also medal) for Venezuela? Surprise from Papahristou?

 

Shot Put: All points to Carter win. Valerie never gives up.

 

Pentathlon: This will be interesting. Brianne is ready, but Ukrainians have big scores, Williams fresh enough from last weekend? Surprise from Lake.

 

4x400 m: Can USA come close to World Indoor record?

By Larry Eder
 
The marathon is one of the most complicated events to race at the elite level. Experience is key for many, but if one does not have experience, then being around experienced coaching and support is key. With Galen Rupp, you have a guy who trains like a marathoner and is coached by a former WR holder in the marathon (Alberto Salazar). With Meb, you have a guy who has finished 23 of his 24 starts in marathons, and has spent 20 years with the same, fine coach (Bob Larsen). With Jared, you have a thoughtful marathoner with some strong experience, advised and supported by a great coach (Ed Eyestone), wonderful family and supportive team members.
 
In the first half, runners from Meb to Tyler McCandless, to Fernando Cabada to Sam Chelanga. Nick Arciniaga was up front several times, as he tried to build a bit of a rythym.
 
Pace was conservative, as the 5k was hit in 15:48, 10k in 31:34, 15k in 47:12, and 20k in 63:02. In the building heat, even that pace caused discomfort and the lead pack dropped to 30, then, to 20, then, to twelve.
 
On the four loop course (six miles, then a two mile run to finish), Galen Rupp and Meb Kefelzighi stayed in the pack until the half at 1:06:32.
 
Galen Rupp stayed out of trouble, early on. Galen sat off the right arm of Luke Puskedra. Meb floated around, as is his want. Rupp's coach, Alberto Salazar, had told Galen to stay out of the lead as long as he could. He darts up front, and then, in row two, and really is just getting himself into a groove. This time, not much of a groove, as some things were hurting. At 40, Meb has hurts guys ten years younger do not, but he knows how to minimize them. Keflezighi's attention to detail is key in all he does. His confidence in his Coach, Bob Larsen is also quite important.
 
Luke Puskedra, ranked third in the field looked good, as did many others. Matt Llano was looking good, as did Nick Arciniaga, who lead much of the early race. Patrick Smythe, Sean Quigley, Tim Ritchie were among the marathoners up in the lead pack.
 
But those things began to change. That 2:12 pace, in hot weather, took its toll. That there was little or no shade on the sunny, hot day was damaging to all of the field. Everyone felt the pain, some just delt with it better.
 
Tyler Pennel, he of sub four minute mile speed, decided to break open the race, and break it open he did. His quick mile dropped all of the pretenders. Even some of the non-pretenders, like Jared Ward, knew that they had to keep themselves in control. " It was hot and it was hard. That's it." was how Jared Ward described it. Tyler made his move at 25k.
 
At just before sixteen miles, Tyler Pennel dropped a 4:47 mile and they were off, with Meb, Galen and Tyler breaking the pack. Pennel looked good running very fast. Galen went after him, as did Meb, as did Jared Ward, who had come up through the pack.
 
"When Tyler made that move, and Meb and Rupp went with him, I thought that's a hard move. if they can make it, I am not going to catch them. So, I went as fast as I could, and I ran a 4:50 mile, and I am sure that was my fastest mile." noted Jared Web, as the race started to get away from him.
 
From mile 16 to mile 18, Tyler Pennel, Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi ran together. Then, Galen took the lead at the water stop, with Meb in tow and Tyler Pennel went back fast. By nineteen miles, Jared Ward was stalking third place...it was only a matter of time. Tyler Pennel, in only his second marathon, had made a brave move, and would hold onto take fifth.
 
But it was to be Meb who broke Tyler Pennel, with Galen floating right there. Just after mile 18, with Tyler Pennel falling back, Galen Rupp floated to the front, with no additional percieved effort.
 
Galen and Meb ran together miles, 19-21. Galen, a couple of times, looked to be in some discomfort. I could not figure out if he dropped his hat on purpose or by mistake. The pace was getting faster, as Meb and Galen tested each other. Now, was the time of reckoning.
 
Meb was pushing, and Galen was running real close. In Meb's mind, Galen was riding him pretty close. " I told him this was not a track, but a road."
 
In tough, tight races, there are opposing race plans. Bob Larsen and Meb spoke about getting Meb on the team, and when the time came to test, use his experience. Galen Rupp and Alberto Salazar were much more cautious; stay behind the leaders as long as you could. Obviously those plans clashed, and there are words, but athletes get over it.
 
In races, there are times when the competition gets hot and heated, and words can be exchanged, and they are. I recall the 1980 Olympic Trials where Craig Virgin road Herb Lindsay for about six laps. Meb and Galen had a disagreement, but that is the confluence of tactics and competition. It happens.
 
Meb Keflezighi got Galen and Meb away from their competitors, like putting about a minute and three seconds between 18 miles and 21 miles.
 
Around 22 miles, Galen Rupp, floating along, just did the natural thing and took the lead. As he slightly increased the pace, Galen looked more relaxed and he broke Meb quickly. In Meb's head, Meb was trying to make sure he made the team and that Jared and perhaps others were not going to catch him. That increase was to 4:47, and Meb had to make a decision: take Galen on, or make the team. Meb chose to make the team, and Galen Rupp floated away.
 
Between miles 22 and 24, Galen Rupp won his marathon.
 
Checking his position three or four times, anbd obviously hot, Galen Rupp ran 9:43 for two miles between 22-24 miles. Galen looked uncomfortable in the 18-21 miles, but looked fantastic as he ran over the last two miles. I recall Frank Shorter noting in the 1972 Olympic Games marathon, that he felt poorly in the early slogging of the marathon, and better when he broke it open.
 
I noted last night that Galen would not be here if Coach Alberto Salazar did not think he was ready. But it was hot, and the sun was unrelenting.
 
Galen Rupp ran hard, yet stayed within himself. Did he face discomfort? Of course. His last mile was just getting through with a uncomfortable experience, but Rupp was winning and feeling uncomfortable is part of the game at this level.
 
Meb Keflezighi kept his cool, and protected his margin. Jared Ward swept past Tyler Pennel, put some real estate between himself and kept a safe margin of 1:12 over the surging Luke Puskedra.
 
Rupp won the race in 2:11:12, in his debut. In that debut win, he followed the path of his coach, Alberto Salazar, who won his first marathon only three decades ago. His time was sixth fastest time in Olympic Trials history. Galen was quite ebullent, yet tired, speaking on his victory:
 
"I am very excited with the way it went. Tremendous honor to represent the United States. It is the greatest honor on earth. I am so hapy to be able to make my devut here and to be able to win was unbelievable. I am so honored to be going to the Olympics."
 
Meb Keflezighi, making his fourth Olympic team, ran 2:12:20 to take the second position. A tremendous race for the 40 year old super star. Meb noted, " I was cramping a bit early in the race but delft better a little after halfway."
 
In third, Jared Ward, coached by Ed Eyestone, ran 2:13:00 for the all important third place on the Olympic team. Ed Eyestone, Ward's coach, made two Olympic teams and was quite pleased with Ward's buildup. Jared noted, of his first Olympic team: "With 600 meters to go, I started singing that song and changing the words. I said, "do it for your momma, do it for your wife, do it for your kids, and do it for your life. It was just enough of it and that was the end of it."
 
Luke Puskedra ran a smart race, finishing fourth place! Tyler Pennel, the man Meb and Galen credit with breaking open the race, took fifth. And Matt Llano, HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite, took sixth, in 2:15:16.
 
The team for Rio is strong. That Meb and Galen battled it out is no surprise. Jared Ward and Luke Puskedra is the new generation of marathoners showing their presence and Matt Llano joins that group. Some tought DNFs, with Dathan Ritzenhein and Tyler McCandless, but, that again, is part of a race or competition of this level.
 
Did the heat play a role in today's race? A huge role, but how does one think the weather will be in RIO?
 
Huge dnf rates today, with 166 men starting and 105 men finishing today.
 
In taking a day to consider the race once again, I am not surprised by the outcome. Galen did his job, with precision, and should be congratulated. Meb Keflezighi is the most experienced championship marathoner we have in the U.S., and his drive is like few others: he was going to make that team if there was any chance. Jared Ward used the support of his coach, family and friends to encourage his training and focus: coming down from the road of Utah, Jared Ward ran the race of his life to make the U.S. team.
 
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon, Men, 1. Galen Rupp, Nike Oregon Track Club, 2:11:12, 2. Meb Keflezighi, Skechers, 3. Jared Ward, Saucony, 2:13:00, 4. Luke Puskedra, Nike, 2:14:12, 5. Tyler Pennel, Reebok ZAP Fitness, 2:14:57, 6. Matthew Llano, HOKA One One NAZ, 2:15:16, 7. Shadrack Biwott, Mammoth TC, 2:15:23, 8. Patrick Smythe, NIKE, 2:15:26, 9. Sean Quigley, Saucony, 2:15:52, 10. Nick Arciniaga, Under Armour, 2:16:25, #‎la2016
By Larry Eder
 
The marathon is one of the most complicated events to race at the elite level. Experience is key for many, but if one does not have experience, then being around experienced coaching and support is key. With Galen Rupp, you have a guy who trains like a marathoner and is coached by a former WR holder in the marathon (Alberto Salazar). With Meb, you have a guy who has finished 23 of his 24 starts in marathons, and has spent 20 years with the same, fine coach (Bob Larsen). With Jared, you have a thoughtful marathoner with some strong experience, advised and supported by a great coach (Ed Eyestone), wonderful family and supportive team members.
 
In the first half, runners from Meb to Tyler McCandless, to Fernando Cabada to Sam Chelanga. Nick Arciniaga was up front several times, as he tried to build a bit of a rythym.
 
Pace was conservative, as the 5k was hit in 15:48, 10k in 31:34, 15k in 47:12, and 20k in 63:02. In the building heat, even that pace caused discomfort and the lead pack dropped to 30, then, to 20, then, to twelve.
 
On the four loop course (six miles, then a two mile run to finish), Galen Rupp and Meb Kefelzighi stayed in the pack until the half at 1:06:32.
 
Galen Rupp stayed out of trouble, early on. Galen sat off the right arm of Luke Puskedra. Meb floated around, as is his want. Rupp's coach, Alberto Salazar, had told Galen to stay out of the lead as long as he could. He darts up front, and then, in row two, and really is just getting himself into a groove. This time, not much of a groove, as some things were hurting. At 40, Meb has hurts guys ten years younger do not, but he knows how to minimize them. Keflezighi's attention to detail is key in all he does. His confidence in his Coach, Bob Larsen is also quite important.
 
Luke Puskedra, ranked third in the field looked good, as did many others. Matt Llano was looking good, as did Nick Arciniaga, who lead much of the early race. Patrick Smythe, Sean Quigley, Tim Ritchie were among the marathoners up in the lead pack.
 
But those things began to change. That 2:12 pace, in hot weather, took its toll. That there was little or no shade on the sunny, hot day was damaging to all of the field. Everyone felt the pain, some just delt with it better.
 
Tyler Pennel, he of sub four minute mile speed, decided to break open the race, and break it open he did. His quick mile dropped all of the pretenders. Even some of the non-pretenders, like Jared Ward, knew that they had to keep themselves in control. " It was hot and it was hard. That's it." was how Jared Ward described it. Tyler made his move at 25k.
 
At just before sixteen miles, Tyler Pennel dropped a 4:47 mile and they were off, with Meb, Galen and Tyler breaking the pack. Pennel looked good running very fast. Galen went after him, as did Meb, as did Jared Ward, who had come up through the pack.
 
"When Tyler made that move, and Meb and Rupp went with him, I thought that's a hard move. if they can make it, I am not going to catch them. So, I went as fast as I could, and I ran a 4:50 mile, and I am sure that was my fastest mile." noted Jared Web, as the race started to get away from him.
 
From mile 16 to mile 18, Tyler Pennel, Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi ran together. Then, Galen took the lead at the water stop, with Meb in tow and Tyler Pennel went back fast. By nineteen miles, Jared Ward was stalking third place...it was only a matter of time. Tyler Pennel, in only his second marathon, had made a brave move, and would hold onto take fifth.
 
But it was to be Meb who broke Tyler Pennel, with Galen floating right there. Just after mile 18, with Tyler Pennel falling back, Galen Rupp floated to the front, with no additional percieved effort.
 
Galen and Meb ran together miles, 19-21. Galen, a couple of times, looked to be in some discomfort. I could not figure out if he dropped his hat on purpose or by mistake. The pace was getting faster, as Meb and Galen tested each other. Now, was the time of reckoning.
 
Meb was pushing, and Galen was running real close. In Meb's mind, Galen was riding him pretty close. " I told him this was not a track, but a road."
 
In tough, tight races, there are opposing race plans. Bob Larsen and Meb spoke about getting Meb on the team, and when the time came to test, use his experience. Galen Rupp and Alberto Salazar were much more cautious; stay behind the leaders as long as you could. Obviously those plans clashed, and there are words, but athletes get over it.
 
In races, there are times when the competition gets hot and heated, and words can be exchanged, and they are. I recall the 1980 Olympic Trials where Craig Virgin road Herb Lindsay for about six laps. Meb and Galen had a disagreement, but that is the confluence of tactics and competition. It happens.
 
Meb Keflezighi got Galen and Meb away from their competitors, like putting about a minute and three seconds between 18 miles and 21 miles.
 
Around 22 miles, Galen Rupp, floating along, just did the natural thing and took the lead. As he slightly increased the pace, Galen looked more relaxed and he broke Meb quickly. In Meb's head, Meb was trying to make sure he made the team and that Jared and perhaps others were not going to catch him. That increase was to 4:47, and Meb had to make a decision: take Galen on, or make the team. Meb chose to make the team, and Galen Rupp floated away.
 
Between miles 22 and 24, Galen Rupp won his marathon.
 
Checking his position three or four times, anbd obviously hot, Galen Rupp ran 9:43 for two miles between 22-24 miles. Galen looked uncomfortable in the 18-21 miles, but looked fantastic as he ran over the last two miles. I recall Frank Shorter noting in the 1972 Olympic Games marathon, that he felt poorly in the early slogging of the marathon, and better when he broke it open.
 
I noted last night that Galen would not be here if Coach Alberto Salazar did not think he was ready. But it was hot, and the sun was unrelenting.
 
Galen Rupp ran hard, yet stayed within himself. Did he face discomfort? Of course. His last mile was just getting through with a uncomfortable experience, but Rupp was winning and feeling uncomfortable is part of the game at this level.
 
Meb Keflezighi kept his cool, and protected his margin. Jared Ward swept past Tyler Pennel, put some real estate between himself and kept a safe margin of 1:12 over the surging Luke Puskedra.
 
Rupp won the race in 2:11:12, in his debut. In that debut win, he followed the path of his coach, Alberto Salazar, who won his first marathon only three decades ago. His time was sixth fastest time in Olympic Trials history. Galen was quite ebullent, yet tired, speaking on his victory:
 
"I am very excited with the way it went. Tremendous honor to represent the United States. It is the greatest honor on earth. I am so hapy to be able to make my devut here and to be able to win was unbelievable. I am so honored to be going to the Olympics."
 
Meb Keflezighi, making his fourth Olympic team, ran 2:12:20 to take the second position. A tremendous race for the 40 year old super star. Meb noted, " I was cramping a bit early in the race but delft better a little after halfway."
 
In third, Jared Ward, coached by Ed Eyestone, ran 2:13:00 for the all important third place on the Olympic team. Ed Eyestone, Ward's coach, made two Olympic teams and was quite pleased with Ward's buildup. Jared noted, of his first Olympic team: "With 600 meters to go, I started singing that song and changing the words. I said, "do it for your momma, do it for your wife, do it for your kids, and do it for your life. It was just enough of it and that was the end of it."
 
Luke Puskedra ran a smart race, finishing fourth place! Tyler Pennel, the man Meb and Galen credit with breaking open the race, took fifth. And Matt Llano, HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite, took sixth, in 2:15:16.
 
The team for Rio is strong. That Meb and Galen battled it out is no surprise. Jared Ward and Luke Puskedra is the new generation of marathoners showing their presence and Matt Llano joins that group. Some tought DNFs, with Dathan Ritzenhein and Tyler McCandless, but, that again, is part of a race or competition of this level.
 
Did the heat play a role in today's race? A huge role, but how does one think the weather will be in RIO?
 
Huge dnf rates today, with 166 men starting and 105 men finishing today.
 
In taking a day to consider the race once again, I am not surprised by the outcome. Galen did his job, with precision, and should be congratulated. Meb Keflezighi is the most experienced championship marathoner we have in the U.S., and his drive is like few others: he was going to make that team if there was any chance. Jared Ward used the support of his coach, family and friends to encourage his training and focus: coming down from the road of Utah, Jared Ward ran the race of his life to make the U.S. team.
 
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon, Men, 1. Galen Rupp, Nike Oregon Track Club, 2:11:12, 2. Meb Keflezighi, Skechers, 3. Jared Ward, Saucony, 2:13:00, 4. Luke Puskedra, Nike, 2:14:12, 5. Tyler Pennel, Reebok ZAP Fitness, 2:14:57, 6. Matthew Llano, HOKA One One NAZ, 2:15:16, 7. Shadrack Biwott, Mammoth TC, 2:15:23, 8. Patrick Smythe, NIKE, 2:15:26, 9. Sean Quigley, Saucony, 2:15:52, 10. Nick Arciniaga, Under Armour, 2:16:25, #‎la2016
Thursday, 17 March 2016 22:41

US Athletes at the World Indoors: Who's Medal-Ready?

Written by
By Dave Hunter
 
(Portland, Ore., March 13, 2016) In the afterglow of the 2016 Indoor Track & Field Championships which saw many experienced veterans perform well, several promising young athletes come of age, and a goodly number of world-leading marks produced, what can Team USA realistically anticipate when Portland hosts next weekend's IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships?
 
Encouraging USATF performances combined with USA's "home track advantage" should give the Red, White & Blue an extra edge. Nobody's crystal ball is perfect, but here is how I read the tea leaves:
 
60 METERS. The Men: The dashes - especially the shortest one - are always tough to call where the margin of error is so thin. The 60m is Marvin Bracy's specialty. And Trayvon Bromell's Beijing medal performance has proved he can shine on the big stages. Mike Rodgers knows what it takes to capture an indoor global sprint medal. Look for a medal here. The Women: The depth here makes prognostication here most difficult. Pierre's and Bowie's experience is a needed plus against top flight foreign competition [Schippers, et. al.] Pierre's #2 WL mark suggests a strong medal possibility.
 
400 METERS. The Men: Vernon Norwood looked poised and strong last weekend winning the 400m in 45.80 - showing he can win even if he doesn't get the all-important pole on the break. If he runs like that next weekend, he's on the podium. The Women: Untested Quanera Hayes is the world leader [51.09], but the USA's reigning 400m world champion elected to pass on this global championship. Can the inexperienced Hayes step up?
 
800 METERS. The Men: Boris Berian has 1:43 wheels, but his front-running style seldom prevails in high-quality global competitions. And he's had past challenges in the past producing in pressure packed situations. More experiended global athletes may just be too tough. The Women: The normally soft-spoken Ajeé Wilson has proclaimed her desire to perform well in these championships. She's the 800m world-leader competing on her national turf. What better stage to claim her first senior global medal?
 
1500 METERS. The Men: Both Matthew Centrowitz and Robby Andrews have the electrifying finishes that could place either of them on the medal stand. And Centro has the global medals to prove he can get the job done. But against such a deep foreign field, the missing ingredient is a brilliant race strategy. If the coaching brain trust can map out a plan for success, one of these two just might be able to crack the East African juggernaut. The Women: Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson - the two best American milers who have both won global medals - bypassed this event. And while Brenda Martinez has an 800m bronze from the '13 World Outdoor Championships, her lack of 1500m racing experience places her at a real disadvantage against the daunting foreign competition in this event.
 
3000 METERS. The Men: Ryan Hill - a 5000m finalist in the last two outdoor world championships - has the seasoning for this indoor championship. Possessor of a potent finishing kick, he also has an Infeld-like courage to stick his nose in there, to get in the mix. Again, the field is loaded and rounds are involved, but stranger things have happened. If the final gets tactical - as it often does - this 3-time national champion has a shot. The Women: Shannon Rowbury is at the top of her game. But a fast-paced final snuffs her chances. Yet even in a tactical final in the 8:50 range, could she match the blazing finish of her foreign competitors?
 
60M HURDLES. The Men: After several of America's top hurdles bypassed the USATF competition, Jarret Eaton stepped up to capture the national title. It is difficult to see either Eaton or Spencer Adams challenging the likes of Omar McLeod and Pascal Martinot Lagarde. The Women: It's a different story here. Buoyed by a new coiffure - practically a must for U.S. women hurdlers - a restored technique, and renewed confidence, American Record holder Brianna Rollins claimed the national crown with a world-leading clocking of 7.76. Kendra Harrison was just a tick behind in 7.77. Nia Ali had earlier made the USA team in this event as a wild card entrant. With these U.S. athletes possessing the #1, #2, and #4 world-leading times and no other non-American in the world list's top 10, might a sweep be possible here?
 
LONG JUMP. The Men: After Beijing, Marquis Dendy has some unfinished business to handle on the world stage. With his world-leading mark of 8.41m/27'7¼" and the recent withdrawal of Great Britain's Greg Rutherford, he should be poised to take care of business and win that medal. The Women: Brittney Reese has the #3 jump on the world leader board at 6.89m /22'7¼". With brimming confidence, familiarity with the facility, and a supportive home crowd, look for yet another global medal for Reese here.
 
TRIPLE JUMP. The Men: Chris Carter [#2WL] should compete for a medal, while Omar Craddock [#7WL] could surprise with a good performance. The Women: The U.S. women are outmatched here, but should gain valuable experience competing against athletes who have mastered this difficult event.
 
HIGH JUMP. The Men: Erik Kynard looked good last weekend - winning the HJ title and walking away with plenty of jump left in his legs. The reigning Olympic silver medalist will need that extra spring this weekend. Tied for 11th on the world list, Kynard will need a big break through to compete with the likes of Qatar's Barshim and Italy's Tamberi and Fassinotti. The Women: Are there any chapters left in Vasthi Cunningham's storybook season? The teenager is the world leader [1.99m/6'6¼"] and will certainly have roaring crowd support as she takes on the world's best. A medal of any color for the high schooler would be a sports story of global proportions.
 
SHOT PUT. The Men: Kurt Roberts will be the favorite here. But he must throw better than he did last weekend when he won his first national title. Wily veteran Reese Hoffa can never be counted out. The Women: U.S. veterans Michelle Carter [WL#1] and comebacking Jill Camerena-Williams carry the U.S. hopes. The favored Carter should be on the podium. Camerena-Williams could join her if she has a good day at the office.
 
THE MULTIS. The Men: If healthy, Ashton Eaton should be the prohibitive favorite. His uneven performance in selected events last weekend - including his awkward blast from the blocks in the 60m - has some concerned. Curtis Beach - now back after resolving lingering elbow issues - should perform well indoors where the javelin and the discus are off the agenda. A medal for the likeable Beach would be a terrific feel-good story. The Women: Barbara Nwaba and Kendell Williams are both talented athletes who could be in the hunt if they can string together 5 consecutive top performances.
 
POLE VAULT. The long-awaited St. Patrick's Day Showdown should be a colossal opener for the World Championships. The Men: Could this competition be better? A marquee battle involving, among others, WL#1 Renaud Lavillenie, the reigning Olympic champion; WL#2 Shawn Barber, the reigning world champion; WL#4 Sam Kendricks, who PR'd at 5.90m/19'4¼" to win the USATF title here last week. This field is so tough, Kendricks may have to PR yet again to get on the podium. The Women: Sandi Morris, the #3 all-time indoor vault performer, and Jenn Suhr, the indoor vault world record holder, give the U.S. a formidable 1-2 punch in this competitive event. But top flight foreign competition abounds. Managing the jump count and producing first attempt clearances will be key if the Americans are to be successful in winning a medal.
By Mark Winitz
 
March 11, 2016 - Californians turned in solid performances on the first day of competition at the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships at a newly refurbished Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Berths on the U.S. team heading into next weekend's IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships--in the very same facility--are on the line. The top athletes in each event qualify for a slot on the U.S. team for Worlds provided that they meet the IAAF's qualifying standards for the competition.
 
In an important Olympic year, a number of top Americans have elected to compete indoors to hone their skills for outdoors while others focus entirely on the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and a ticket to Rio for the Olympic Games.
 
Native San Franciscan Shannon Rowbury has chosen the indoors route and has demonstrated that a memorable year is in the making. The two-time Olympic Games finalist at 1,500m who now trains in Oregon under coach Alberto Salazar defended her title at the Millrose Games Wanamaker Mile last month before grabbing the 3,000m win in Portland. Rowbury ran conservatively, in 6th place through 2,000m behind leaders Emily Infeld, eventual second placer Abbey D'Agostino, and others. With 400 meters to go, Rowbury shot to the lead and proceeded to a convincing 8:55.65 win. She has the qualifying standard for World Indoors so we'll be seeing her next weekend.
 
"It was quicker early on than I expected," Rowbury said. "The plan was to get a good, hard close. With 400 to go I decided enough waiting. By the last 100 meters I felt really great. I'm excited about my fitness. "Now that I've made the team I'll let Coach (Salazar) decide if I compete in the 1,500 tomorrow."
 
Other athletes with California ties: Garrett Heath, a 9-time NCAA All-American while at Stanford University, placed 5th in the men's 3,000m final in 7:41.26, three seconds behind winner Ryan Hill.
 
In the men's 35-pound weight throw, Colin Dunbar (age 27, Long Beach, Calif.) heaved a huge 5th round throw of 23.96 meters/78 feet-7/12 inches, a 3-foot personal best, to win the competition. Wearing a black T-shirt with a slogan "Crush Your Goals," the former All-American for Long Beach State topped three-time Olympic hammer thrower A.G. Kruger who finished in second at 23.24m/76-3. Dunbar's ultimate goal is to represent the U.S. in the hammer throw at this year's Olympic Games.
 
Prior to his win in Portland, Dunbar's best performances were a third place finish at the 2013 U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships in the weight throw and a sixth place finish at the 2013 U.S. Outdoor T&F Championships in the hammer throw. A broken foot in 2014 put him on the sidelines that year. Most recently, Dunbar won a silver medal as a member of Team USA at the 2015 NACAC Senior Area Championships in Costa Rica. He qualified for that competition with a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships.
 
The 35-pound weight throw is not recognized by the IAAF as an official event, so it is not conducted at the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships. It is the winter indoor equivalent of the hammer throw, which can't be held indoors because of space restrictions.
 
Long jumper Jeffrey Henderson, the 2015 Pan American Games gold medalist, grabbed second place in the men's long jump final with a leap of 8.05/26-5 behind winner Marquis Dendy (8.41m/26-7.25).
 
In the men's pole vault final, Adam Bragg (Lake Forest, Calif.) tied for third with three others in 5.50m/18-5. Bragg, 22, who set an Ivy League record (5.42m/17-9.25) for Princeton last year, has a promising future.
 
In the women's triple jump final, April Sinkler (Chula Vista, Calif.) grabbed 5th and top Californian in 13.36m/43-10 behind winner Christina Epps, 14.05m/46-1.25.
 
In the first round of the 60m dash competitions, four Californians advanced to the semi-finals: Men’s 60m: Jeffrey Henderson (Chula Vista) 6.58, Carlin Isles (Chula Vista) 6.68. Women's 60m: Jenna Prandini (Clovis, CA), 2ndplace, 7.24, Women's Heat 3: Lekeisha Lawson (West Covina, CA), 2nd place, 7.30.
 
In the prelims of the women’s 400m, Kendall Baisden (Coronado, Calif.) recorded a fifth-fasted time of 53.20 to advance. Olympic and World Champion Natasha Hastings had the fastest time of the day (51.79) and will be the favored contender in the final.
 
Other Californians who advanced to their finals: Men’s 800m: Boris Berian (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), 1:48.96.