CALIFORNIANS PROMINENT ON INDOOR TRACKS
By Mark Winitz - Although track & field athletes from the Golden State are accustomed to winter sunshine, apparently they have no qualms about stepping onto the indoor oval. Californians were prominent in this past winter’s most important national and international indoor competitions. They walked away with their typical haul of medals, high placings, and records. Here’s a summary of the events.
New York City; Jan. 29, 2010
The 103rd Millrose Games were the first stop on USA Track & Field’s VISA Championship Series Indoor Circuit. Appropriately, a number of top Californians were in attendance, beginning their pursuit of indoor PRs and a portion of the $100,000 VISA series-end prize purse.
Chelsea Johnson (Atascadero), the 2009 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist, kicked off her indoor season by winning the women’s pole vault in 4.51 meters/14 feet, 9.5 inches.
“I felt good, really fast, strong and prepared to jump high, which honestly I’ve never felt indoors,” Johnson said.
In the men’s vault, 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist Tim Mack (Chula Vista) was third (5.50m/18-00.5).
In the women’s mile, two-time NCAA 5000m runner-up (while at Stanford) Sara Hall (Mammoth Lakes) recorded a strong 4:31.50, while placing second in a photo finish with Great Britain’s Hannah England (4:31.48).
“This is my fastest opener of the year, so that’s a good sign,” Hall said.
USC graduate (2008) and 2003 CIF California state champion Duane Soloman (Los Angeles) was runnerup in the men’s 800m in 1:51.14.
Two-time USA outdoor champion Ginnie Powell (Culver City) took third in the women’s 60m hurdles in 8.07 behind 2009 World Outdoor silver medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (Canada) and 2008 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion Tiffany Ofili.
Two-time Olympian and five-time U.S. 20K champion Tim Seaman (Chula Vista) captured the 42nd U.S. race walk national title of his career by winning the men’s 1-mile race walk in 5:52.43, which served as the 2010 USA Mile Race Walk Championships.
HYPERLINK \l "Millrose" Millrose Games
Reebok Boston Indoor Games
Boston; Feb. 7, 2010
California distance runners made a statement at the second event of the USATF VISA Championship series. In the men’s mile, UC–Berkeley grad David Torrence (Berkeley), Stanford grad Garrett Heath (Palo Alto), and Tim Bayley (Great Britain/Lafayette)—all members of the newly formed Bay Area Track Club—placed third, fifth, and sixth, behind winner Nick Willis (New Zealand) and Will Leer (Oregon). All three Californians ran personal bests. Torrence: 3:55.69, Heath: 3:57.34, Bayley: 3:59.76.
In the women’s 3000m, 2009 World Outdoor 1500m bronze medalist Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco) waged a close battle with Ethiopian stars Kalkidan Gezahegn and Genzebe Dibaba and placed third in a PR of 8:47.18—a world-leading mark. Her performance jettisoned her into the women’s lead in the VISA Championship Series. Sara Hall (Mammoth Lakes) was fifth (8:55.17).
Number two world-ranked (in 2009) 800m runner Anna Pierce (formerly Willard) of Mammoth Lakes placed second in the women’s 1000m in 2:38.76.
Chelsea Johnson (Atascadero) won the women’s pole vault for the second straight week with a clearance of 4.55m/14-11 and Tim Mack (Chula Vista) tied for second in the men’s vault (5.40m/17-08.5). Ginnie Powell (Culver City) was third in the women’s 60m hurdles (8.06).
HYPERLINK \l "Boston" Reebok Boston Indoor Games
USA Indoor Combined Event Championships
Indiana University; March 6–7, 2010
Maria Carrillo High School (Santa Rosa) graduate Jake Arnold (Tucson, Arizona) posted a clutch performance in the seventh and final event (1000m) of the indoor heptathlon and defeated 2003 World decathlon champion and three-time Olympian Tom Pappas for the combined events win. Arnold’s two-day performance gave him a seven-event tally of 5,861 points, and his third consecutive USA Indoor combined events title.
Sharon Day (San Luis Obispo) finished third in the women’s indoor pentathlon with 4,467 points, a career best. The 2009 Olympic Games high jumper’s five-event total was just 2 points behind runner-up Bettie Wade (Kansas). Diana Pickler (Kansas) won her third consecutive USA indoor pentathlon crown with 4,544 points.
HYPERLINK \l "Combined" USA Indoor Combined Events Championships
USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Albuquerque, NM; Feb. 27–28, 2010
The third and final event of the USATF 2010 Indoor VISA Championship Series featured standout performances by Golden Staters, many of whom qualified for Team USA roster spots for the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar. Seven Californians walked away as U.S. Indoor champions.
Two-time World Outdoor 100m bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter (Inglewood) used a familiar strategy (for her) to win the women’s 60 meters. Jeter pushed strongly mid-race and powerfully pulled away from her rivals down the stretch for the victory in 7.02 seconds. Jeter’s time earned her a runnerup finish among women in the VISA Championship Series and she earned $15,000 for her efforts. The #1 world-ranked 100m runner by Track & Field News ran 10.64 (in the 100m) last year. Only Flo Jo has run faster.
Miki Barber (Van Nuys) finished second behind Jeter in 7.15. Miki’s twin sister, Lisa Barber (Georgia, one of the favorites), false-started and was eventually DQ-ed under USATF’s new “no false start” rule after running under protest.
In the women’s 60m hurdles, Ginnie Powell (Culver City) won a tough battle with three-time USA Indoor champion and two-time USA Indoor VISA Championship Series winner Lolo Jones (Louisiana), who pressed Powell all the way to the finish. Powell’s winning time was 7.87 seconds, 3/100ths of a second in front of Jones. Powell’s mark earned her fourth place among women in the final standings of the VISA Championship Series.
“I was really focused and strong and confident,” Powell said. [Coach] Bobby [Kersee] told me to really sprint off the last hurdle and I did.”
Mammoth Track Club’s Anna Pierce (Mammoth Lakes) won the women’s 800m final in 2:00.84, as 2007 USA Outdoor 800m champion and 2008 UC–Berkeley grad Alysia Johnson (Berkeley, Canyon Country) turned in a 2:01.45 to grab second and a spot on the USA World Indoor Champs team with Pierce.
“I was planning to go hard from 250m [out],” said Pierce, who did exactly that. “I’m happy with my race. I’m quicker this year. It’s really exciting. I think I can medal at Doha.”
In the men’s 800m, 2009 World Outdoor Champs finalist Nick Symmonds (Oregon) faced a strong challenge from former University of Southern California standout Duane Solomon (Los Angeles). Solomon’s runner-up finish (1:48.41) just missed eclipsing Symmonds who won in 1:48:10.
In one of the most exciting and closest 3000m contests ever at USA Indoors, Sara Hall (Mammoth Lakes) repeated last year’s runnerup performance by placing second in 9:14.92, just 2/100s of a second behind victor Renee Metivier Baillie (14.90). Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco) was third in 9:15.41—a half second off the winner’s time.
In the women’s 1500m, Cornell graduate Morgan Uceny (Mammoth Lakes) claimed her first U.S. championship title in 4:19.46. Uceny fought off a last lap surge by Shannon Rowbury who doubled back from the 3000m and grabbed second in a razor-close 4:19.48. Uceny placed fourth in the 1500m and sixth in the 800m at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Tim Seaman, looking for his 43rd career national race walk title, answered the gun by winning the men’s 5000m race walk in 20:57.47.
Tim Mack (Chula Vista) won his second U.S. Indoor title in the men’s pole vault with a clearance of 5.70m/18-8.25, his highest jump indoors in 6 years. Derek Miles cleared the same height, but was awarded second place on more misses. In the women’s vault, Chelsea Johnson (Atascadero), coming off an indoor personal best of 4.62m/15-01.74 a little over a week earlier in Flagstaff, took second (4.60m/15-01.00) to Florida’s Lacy Janson (4.65m/15-03.00).
2008 NCAA Outdoor and ’07 NCAA Indoor triple jump champion Erica McLain (Mt. View) recorded her second U.S. championship title in 14.06m/46-01.5, a world-leading mark. McLain was also the 2005 USA Outdoor champion during her freshman year at Stanford.
In the women’s long jump, 2009 USA Outdoor runnerup Brianna Glenn (La Mirada, Chula Vista) recorded a personal best leap of 6.78m/22-03.0. Glenn finished in second place behind 2009 World Outdoor champion Brittney Reese (Mississippi) whose best jump was 6.89m/22-07.25.
Additional Californians included:
Khadevis Robinson (Santa Monica), 800m, 1:49.92 (qualifying), DNS final
David Torrence (Berkeley), 1500m, 3rd, 3:50.08
Garrett Heath (Palo Alto), 1500m, 4th, 3:50.11
Scott Bauhs (Mammoth Lakes), 3000m, 4th, 8:15.76
Greg Nixon (Long Beach), 400m, 3rd, 45.77
LeJerald Betters (Santa Rosa), 400m, 6th, 46.35
Norris Frederick (Chula Vista), long jump, 3rd, 7.89m/25-10.75
Jamie Nieto (Chula Vista), high jump, 4th, 2.28m/7-05.75
Allyson Felix (Los Angeles), 400m, 3rd, 51.37
HYPERLINK \l "USAIndoors" USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics
Doha, Qatar; March 12–14, 2010
Team USA fielded a strong roster of 53 athletes (including 16 Californians, nearly one-third of the squad) for the World Indoor Championships. Almost $2.5 million in prize money, including $40,000 for individual champions, was offered. Californians walked away with three individual medals and three relay medals. They helped the U.S team top the medals table with 17.
Bryan Clay (Glendora) captured his second consecutive World Indoor gold medal in the heptathlon with 6,204 points.
Two-time World Outdoor bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter (Inglewood) won her third career bronze medal in the women’s 60m. Jeter, who competed in lane 7 in the final, finished third in 7.05. Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica) claimed the gold in a personal best 7.00 and LaVerne Jones-Ferrette (U.S. Virgin Islands) was the runner-up in 7.03.
“I needed to be closer [in lane assignment],” said Jeter. I was too far out. I’m happy to be on the podium. I had a great start, transitioned well. I just didn’t have it.”
In the women’s 800m, Alysia Johnson (Berkeley, Canyon Country) took the early lead from the bell and led for the first 500m before being passed by Great Britain’s Jenny Meadows. Johnson worked hard to maintain contact and was able to hold on and finish third with a personal best 1:59.60. Anna Pierce (Mammoth Lakes), one of the pre-race favorites, raced from the back of the pack before surging over the final 150m. It was too late, though, to move into medal contention, and Pierce settled for fourth in an indoor personal best 2:00.53.
Three-time World Outdoor 200m champion Allyson Felix (Los Angeles) helped Team USA’s 4x400m relay team win its first gold medal in the 13-year history of the World Indoor Championships, and set a new American record. Felix held off Russia on the anchor leg, closing in a blistering 50.87 to cross the line in 3:27.34.
Team USA’s men’s 4x400m squad rolled through qualifying assisted by 2007 USA Indoor champion Greg Nixon (Long Beach) and former Baylor 400m runner LeJerald Betters (Santa Rosa). In the final, Nixon helped the U.S. claim its third-consecutive gold medal in the event in 3:03.40.
In the women’s 60m hurdles, 2010 U.S. Indoor champion Ginnie Powell (Culver City) finished fifth in 7.97 (a personal record) behind Lolo Jones’ (Louisiana) gold-medal-winning 7.72 (an American and championship record).
Former Stanford standout Garrett Heath (Palo Alto) finished seventh in the men’s 1500m final in 3:43.81.
“It was awesome to make the final on my first [U.S.] team,” Heath said. “That was the goal, so I accomplished that. I’m a little disappointed with my [finals] race but overall I’m happy.”
2009 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Chelsea Johnson (Atascadero), coming off an indoor personal best of 4.62m/15-01.74 this season, failed to advance in women’s pole vault qualifying with a 4.35m/14-03.25 jump.
“It was hard to go from Albuquerque, one of the best facilities I’ve ever jumped at, to [Doha],” Johnson said. “Something was off, not just for me, for everybody. Warmups were hard with the high jump and triple jump and us all going on at the same time.”
Likewise, Brianna Glenn (Chula Vista) didn’t move past the preliminary in women’s long jump qualifying, after recording a personal best this indoor season. Glenn’s 10th-place mark of 6.40m/21-0 in qualifying didn’t cut the top eight required to advance.
“The runway was super hard,” Glenn commented. “It was a little different; there was no bounce. So different from Albuquerque at Indoor Nationals. I’m disappointed because I know I was there [this season].”
Duane Solomon (Los Angeles), 800m, 1:49.69 (prelim, Q), 1:51.82 (semi, DNQ)
Tim Mack (Chula Vista), pole vault, 5.45m/17-10.5 (qualifying, DNQ)
Miki Barber (Van Nuys), 60m, 7.37 (qualifying, Q), 7.24 (semi, DNQ)
Sara Hall (Mammoth Lakes), 3000m, 9:04.25 (qualifying, DNQ)
Erica McLain (Mt. View), triple jump, 13.54m/44-05.25 (qualifying, DNQ)
HYPERLINK \l "World" 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics