Here’s this month’s collection of generally off-track activities that have gone a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed
Young Ready For his WR To Go
You’d think that after decades of owning the World Record in the 400H that Kevin Young, now 52, would expect to hold onto it a bit longer, but the ’92 Olympic gold medalist told Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports, “My World Record should have been broken years ago by Angelo Taylor, and then it should have been broken by Kerron Clement. They’re supposed to be able to with their talent level.”
He continued, “Edwin’s the GOAT [greatest of all time]. I’m the FOAT [fastest of all time].” But he expects to lose that title soon, what with Abderrahmane Samba & Rai Benjamin embarking on a set of high-powered duels. “I’m OK with that,” said Young. “I’ve got a lot of firsts. First one under 47 seconds. First one to win an ESPY in track and field. No one saw me coming but me.” But he thinks his youthful challengers “should just concentrate on racing and put the record thing in the back of their mind; don’t even think about it. If they focus on competing and run fast, the record will go down.”
Georgia Sprinter Godwin Has Javelin Run-In
Promising long sprinter Elija Godwin is lost to the Georgia team for the rest of the year. A week-plus after lowering his 200 PR to 20.59, the Bulldog frosh had a gruesome training injury. While jogging backwards, he ran into a javelin stuck in the ground, the tail end of the spear impaling him in the upper chest. As he told Atlanta’s WSB-TV, “The initial thought was, ‘Oh it just poked me.’ Then I hit the ground. I feel the weight and I’m like ‘OK, this is more serious. Luckily, I couldn’t reach it because I would have probably tried to take the pole out.” Emergency personnel eventually sawed the main part of the spear off before transporting him to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a collapsed lung.
After an hour-long surgery he had a week-long hospital stay. A 2-time T&FN prep All-America in the 400, he says he should be ready for rehab in late May with a goal of getting on the indoor track this fall for his soph year.
The Latest NCAA Formchart
The Formcharts link on our home page, of course, is a far better tool than relying on the monthly edition of the magazine for your data. Having said that, just for the record here’s what our resident prognosticators, John Auka (men) & Jack Pfeifer (women) projected for the NCAA Championships in the days leading up to the Regionals. On the men’s team side, LSU is seen as a 62–52 winner over Texas Tech, while the women’s projects as a barnburner between Arkansas (68) and USC (67). The individual winners:
Men’s Individual Winners
100—Cravon Gillespie (Oregon); 200—Divine Oduduru (Texas Tech); 400—Trevor Stewart (North Carolina A&T); 800—Marco Arop (Mississippi State); 1500—Oliver Hoare (Wisconsin); Steeple—Obsa Ali (Minnesota); 5000—Grant Fisher (Stanford); 10,000—Tyler Day (Northern Arizona); 110H—Grant Holloway (Florida); 400H—Quincy Hall (South Carolina); 4×1—Florida; 4×4—Texas A&M; HJ—Tejaswin Shankar (Kansas State); PV—Mondo Duplantis (LSU); LJ—JuVaughn Harrison (LSU); Jordan Scott (Virginia); SP—Payton Otterdahl (North Dakota State); DT—Greg Thompson (Maryland); HT—Denzel Comenentia (Georgia); JT—Anderson Peters (Mississippi State); Dec—Harrison Williams (Stanford).
Women’s Individual Winners
100—Twanisha Terry (USC); 200—Anavia Battle (Ohio State); 400—Kethlin Campbell (Arkansas); 800—Danae Rivers (Penn State); 1500—Jessica Hull (Oregon); Steeple—Allie Ostrander (Boise State); 5000—Fiona O’Keeffe (Stanford); 10,000—Weini Kelati (New Mexico); 100H—Janeek Brown (Arkansas); 400H—Anna Cockrell (USC); 4 x 100—USC; 4 x 400—USC; HJ—Zarriea Willis (Texas Tech); PV—Bonnie Draxler (San Diego State); LJ—Taishia Pryce (Kansas State); TJ—Yanis David (Florida); SP—Portious Warren (Alabama); DT—Shadae Lawrence (Colorado State); HT—Camryn Rogers (Cal); JT—Mackenzie Little (Stanford); Hept—Ashtin Zamzow (Texas).
Kipchoge Is Thinking Bannisteresque
He already owns the marathon World Record, has an Olympic gold medal in the 26-miler and won a track 5000 gold in the World Championships. So what’s left for Eliud Kipchoge? In the wake of his latest London Marathon win he’s back talking about the holy grail of 26-miling, the 2-hour barrier.
Fittingly, to announce the challenge in early May he visited the famous Iffley Road track in Oxford where Roger Bannister ran the mile’s first sub-4:00. Said Kipchoge, “I want to run under 2 hours. It’ll surpass everything because it will be history for the human family. I’ve read a book about Roger Bannister and I’ve watched videos. I really want to leave a big legacy. I feel I have a big relationship with him. I normally challenge myself every now and then. I really want to leave a big legacy. When a great team and great minds meet they discuss positive ideas. My mind is that I’m going to do it. So my heart and mind is on 1:59.”
The record attempt’s precise site/date haven’t yet been released, but it will be held on a closed course somewhere in greater London in October, so no World Marathon Major for the Kenyan star this fall. The “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” will be funded by one of the richest men in England, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, but while big money will undoubtedly be involved, that’s not the prime goal, says Kipchoge: “My team doesn’t put money in front and for sure it’s not about business and money involved.”
Farah Chooses Marathon Over Track
Although he hinted earlier in the year that he would rescind his decision to stay retired from track racing and run in the World Championships this fall, legendary Mo Farah now says he’ll be running the Chicago Marathon in October. “Having discussed with my team and to ensure I have the best possible chance of achieving this goal, my focus for 2019 will solely be on the roads,” he said in early May. “Winning the Chicago Marathon last year was very special for me. It was my first time to win a World Marathon Major and my time was a European and British Record. I am looking forward to returning in 2019 to defend my title on the streets of Chicago. It is a fast course with good organization. I expect they will recruit a strong field to make it a great race.”
He’ll have former training mate Galen Rupp as a high-level opponent. Said Rupp in confirming he’ll also be in the Windy City, “After undergoing surgery following last year’s race, I have been pouring all of my energy into my recovery and returning strong in 2019. I look forward to being at my best again and giving it all I have in October.” Another former Oregon star, Jordan Hasay, will run in the women’s race. “I love the fast course and exciting atmosphere, which I believe can lead to an attempt at the American Record,” she said.
Eastern Track League Founded
More opportunities for professional middle distance runners are on the way with the creation of the Eastern Track League. Five major East Coast training groups have joined to cobble together a 6-meet series—mostly from existing events—aimed at generating fan interest, as well as World Champs qualifying times. The meets (2 of which are already in the books):
May 13—Swarthmore Last Chance, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; May 17—Georgia Meet Of Champions, Marietta, Georgia; May 31—Music City Distance Carnival, Nashville, Tennessee; June 13—Adrian Martinez Classic, Concord, Massachusetts; June 30—Princeton Qualifier, Princeton, New Jersey; July 13—DCRR Championships (series final), Washington, DC.
The 5 training groups are the Atlanta TC, District TC, Furman Elite, Hoka One One New Jersey/New York TC and the Nashville TC, Says Hoka head Frank Gagliano, “This Series allows the post-collegiate men and women in our club to compete in high-quality, no-frills competitions without the rigors of transatlantic or transcontinental travel during a key training time for us.” Nashville’s Dave Milner says, “I believe that one of the keys to generating excitement around the sport is creating and fostering team rivalries. This is a start.” For his part Tom Brumlik, of the District TC says, “All of our clubs also have a focus on giving back to the running community,” said. “If we really care about that, then it’s imperative that we make a strong push to build better track meets in our respective cities.”
A Raw Deal For Pregnant Athletes?
A New York Times opinion piece by Alysia Montaño has focused a bright light on the major shoe companies and the practice of cutting top women off from support when they are pregnant. In Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted A Baby, Montaño noted that Nike’s ads highlighting women are “just advertising.”
In addition to Montaño’s experiences with Nike, Phoebe Wright and Kara Goucher also shared their stories in the article. Allyson Felix stepped forward a few days later in another Times article. Her Nike contract expired in December ’17 and she was faced with a 70% cut to her base compensation.
“If that’s what they think I’m worth now, I accept that,” wrote Felix. “What I’m not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity. I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could? “Nike declined. We’ve been at a standstill ever since.”
The backlash has been huge. Several other shoe and women’s apparel companies have announced that they will not penalize women athletes and entertainers during pregnancy and recovery.
For its part, Nike released a statement saying, “Last year we standardized our approach across all sports to support our female athletes during pregnancy, but we recognize we can go even further. Moving forward, our contracts for female athletes will include written terms that reinforce our policy.”
Collegiate Dual Meet Titles To Texas Tech Men, Texas A&M Women
The Lone Star State dominated our ’19 Collegiate Dual Meet Rankings, compiled once again by Jesse Squire. Wes Kittley’s Texas Tech squad repeated on the men’s side. The Red Raiders—very strong in the marks department—moved from No. 3 to the top spot in the final calculation of the season. The top 5: 1. Texas Tech; 2. UCLA; 3. Nebraska; 4. Texas A&M; 5. BYU. Complete men’s results can be found here.
After 3 times in the runner-up position, Texas A&M finally won its first women’s crown even though Pat Henry’s Aggies competed in but a single dual. USC was a very close runner-up, moving to that position all the way from No. 6 after a season-closing win over UCLA. The top 5: 1. Texas A&M; 2. USC; 3. Texas Tech; 4. Nebraska; 5. Duke. Complete women’s results can be found here.
The year saw one all-time Dual Meet Record established when Stanford’s Mackenzie Little threw the javelin 195-1 (59.47) in The Big Meet against Cal to break the standard set by Texas A&M’s Maggie Malone in ’16.
When A 26-Footer Probably Isn’t
Late in April we posted a story to our home page that began “Sometimes the unbelievable happens. Such was the case in Saginaw, Michigan, on Thursday afternoon when a Saginaw High senior named Tony Martin soared 26-6 in the long jump at a dual meet with a crosstown rival. Could the No. 5 long jumper in prep history have come seemingly out of nowhere?” On first blush our answer was yes, as our due diligence turned up the fact that a wind gauge was present (and read a legal 1.8), that there was sufficient sand in the pit and reliable observers vouched for it.
Subsequently, though, he reverted to his 22- and 23-foot self and while we at first gave him the benefit of the doubt based on nasty Michigan weather, it eventually became apparent that his improvement from a no-gauge 24-¼ to a legal 26-6 (which would make him No. 5 on the all-time list) just wasn’t an example of the unbelievable happening. We hasten to add that we don’t think anybody cheated; it appears simply to be just the latest case of somebody badly misreading the measuring tape. So until Martin comes up with a jump that somehow validates the 26-6, you’ll find it on our lists under the category of Questionable Measurement.
Meanwhile, On The Russian Front
It took months, but in late April WADA finally confirmed that it had retrieved all the relevant samples still held by Russia’s discredited Moscow laboratory. The 2262 samples were sent to be tested at a WADA facility outside of Russia. WADA officials also said that a separate authentication process for data from the Moscow lab is near completion. What remains is the fallout that might come if testers discover traces of performance-enhancing drugs in any of the samples.
Other developments on the Russian front:
•Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian Olympic Committee to get the IAAF ban lifted by the end of the year so that the nation’s athletes can compete in the Tokyo Olympics under their own flag next year. To date, the ban has been extended by the IAAF Council 10 times as the Russians have failed to meet the criteria. Now that the Moscow lab samples are being processed, that leaves just one hurdle: the IAAF has demanded that Russia reimburse its costs related to the doping scandal.
•The head of RUSADA, Yuriy Ganus, has asked the Russian Olympic Committee to fire the leadership and key coaches at the Russian track federation in order to clean up the sport and expedite readmission to the IAAF.
•WADA head Craig Reedie fired back at critics who say the organization has not been hard enough on Russia. “The alternative to some… seemed to be to keep Russia non-compliant forever. “The alternative is rebuild and produce a robust [anti-doping] organization in Russia. Failure to do that, in my view, runs the risk of them going back to the bad old days and starting to do what they did before.” □