TRACK SHORTS — May

“A lot of people think our job is to get as big as possible, but that’s not true for everyone,” explains putter Darrell Hill. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

PREP SPRINT STAR Matthew Boling says he will concentrate on age-group competition this summer, running the USATF Juniors rather than the Seniors. And if he makes the national U20 team he’ll then go to the Pan-Am Juniors. Coach Chad Collier explained to NBC Sports, “That’s a place where he can go and be successful, not be thrown to the wolves. He has an opportunity to get on the stand in several events, then get a chance to go to the University of Georgia, be a freshman, be a college student.”

Ted Ginn was the nation’s top-rated prep hurdler back in ’03 (and No. 2 the next year), but subsequently concentrated on football and never made any collegiate impact in track. Now 34, and known as one of the NFL’s faster players, in mid-May he said he’d “race anyone” for $10K. Confident Texan Matthew Boling tweeted, “Bet.”

Speaking of confident sprinters, Christian Coleman didn’t spare any snark after losing to Noah Lyles in Shanghai by all of 0.006. He tweeted, “Some of y’all got the game messed up. The name of the game is World medals. But PRin’ in May is cool for social media doe.”

Shot ace Ryan Crouser has revealed that he was offered a tryout with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts prior to the ’16 Olympic Trials. “They have a special scout. He looks for athletes outside of the traditional football realm to come in and maybe play a more specific role, mostly probably on defense or offensive lineman. I said, we’ll see how the Trials go. Then the Olympics went pretty much perfect, so I ended up postponing it.”

Crouser is known for struggling to keep his weight up and rival Darrell Hill opened up to “Spikes” about one of the challenges of the shot: “A lot of people think our job is to get as big as possible, but that’s not true for everyone. Some throwers are trying to maintain mass, others are already heavy and feel they need to lose weight. I had a lot of success at a heavier weight but I wanted to maximize my potential. “It was tough to lose weight—I do love eating—but in our event you just can’t afford to not maximize your ability. “Other guys have the opposite problem. I see Ryan Crouser on a daily basis and it’s funny to watch him at meals; he struggles to eat enough just to maintain weight. But just being around guys like him shows me what is required to be at the very top.”

Speaking of large putters, there’s 6-5/397 (1.96/180) Eldred Henry, who has been dominating NCAA Div. II. The Findlay junior’s season best of 67-5½ (20.56) is just 3 inches off his lifetime best. An Olympian from the British Virgin Islands, he only started throwing as a senior in high school. Now 24, Henry plans to stay in the sport for some time. “Right now I’m exactly where I wanted to be,” he says. I’m ahead of schedule but it’s working out in good favor.”

Sifan Hassan wasn’t distraught about finishing 5th in the Shanghai 1500 in 4:01.91. “In my entire career I have honestly never lacked as much speed. My aim was not to finish last. I have been in heavy endurance training, so I’m really lacking speed. I would have preferred a quicker pace to have used my strength, so I’m reasonably happy with 5th.”

Florida coach Mike Holloway took the blame for Grant Holloway’s SEC hurdle loss to Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts: “I’ve got to coach Grant better. I’m going to put that on my shoulders. I’ve got to do some things to get him locked in better the last part of the race. That’s my job, and I’ll get it done.”

Ukrainian high jumper Bogdan Bondarenko, who won WC gold in ‘13, missed last year due to a serious knee injury. He was disappointed with his first meet back, a 10th in Shanghai, saying, “The preparation went almost according to plan, but small problems arose at the final stage. Taking into account that I have been preparing for this season for two years, I would like to have a better shape. The injury still does not allow me to do all the exercises, but we’ve adapted and found a replacement for them.” He’ll be 30 when Doha rolls around.

Explaining, “My time on the track is almost over so it is important to start thinking of the road races, reigning world 5000 champ Hellen Obiri is planning her transition to longer distances, up to and including the marathon. Now 29, she says, “I have not done the 10,000m on the track so I’m going to do it at the Kenyan Trials. It’s very hard to even make the Kenyan team but of course I want to make it and then from there you can see me doubling in Doha. “I want to transition just like my friend Vivian Cheruiyot from track to marathon. Maybe from next year after the Olympics. I will do 10km and the half-marathon from there and then maybe move up to the marathon.”

Sprinter Lynna Irby has clarified her decision to leave Georgia and turn pro. She told David Woods of the Indianapolis Star, “These next three years are very crucial, especially with my career and my development. I don’t want to have to live with any regrets.” She has relocated to Clermont, Florida, and will be working with coach Lance Brauman and his impressive speed group.

The tiff between Mo Farah & Haile Gebrselassie (Last Lap, April) got a little more interesting, as the Ethiopian great says things started getting testy two years ago, when he refused to let coach Jama Aden stay at his hotel.
Aden has been controversial since several of his athletes were suspended in ’15 because of doping violations. The next year, Aden was arrested by Spanish police after performance-enhancing drugs turned up in a raid on his training center. Following Gebrselassie’s revelation, UK Athletics announced that it was going to question Farah about his relationship to Aden.

After the London Marathon, where she PRed at 2:26:33, Molly Huddle said, “I’m going to try to run Worlds on the track,” so will be aiming at the 10K at USATF. She’s also planning a half-marathon in the fall but doesn’t intend to race the 26-miler again until the Olympic Trials in February.

In winning the ACC crown, the Virginia Tech men relied heavily on youth, bringing only 1 senior out of 29 contestants. An impressive 17 were frosh. “Those kids really came through for us,” says coach Dave Cianelli. “We’ve never had a freshman class of this size but also of the talent level. If they can maintain their composure and stay humble… these next 3–4 years could be the best in our program’s history.”

The discus title Gabi Jacobs won at the SEC was the third for the Missouri senior. “It feels bittersweet,” she said. “I can’t believe 4 years went by that quickly, but I’m really glad that I came out here and was able to win a third time. I’m proud to be able to produce for my team over these past 3 years. “I think how I build on this is to be more consistent. Just having fun and staying in the zone and just keep doing what I have to do.”

Emma Bates scored an extra $2500 at the USATF 25K championships by winning the “race within a race.” The elite women got an 11-minute head start over the men; first to the line gets the bonus. Said Bates, “The other women push me so much so I don’t really think about the guys until the later stages of the race, then I try to pick up as much as I can, but I’m just fighting with the women up there and they’re so strong.” Her 1:23:50 topped the American Record effort of 1:13:48 by Parker Stinson. She explained, “I ran the half-marathon championships in Pittsburgh last weekend and I didn’t feel myself so I had a lot of fire under me. I wanted to go out today and just run my hardest. I didn’t care about the time. I wanted to race hard and finish hard, and I guess that’s what I did.”

Saucony’s Parker Stinson crushed the American Record in the 25K with his 1:13:48. The old mark of 1:14:18 was set by Christo Landry in ’14. (MIKE SCOTT)

Ole Miss soph Waleed Suliman won a tactical SEC 1500: “It felt pretty good. I felt a little bit weird on the first lap, but I had to be tough mentally. I was just telling myself that it is nothing and not to worry about it because the last lap is coming really soon.” Suliman, who closed in 53.21 in continuing his school’s streak in the event—now at 4 years with 3 different runners—added, “Very important to keep the tradition rolling, same as indoors. I’m proud that our team is continuing that tradition and I promise you it will continue for many years.”

Oregon’s Jessica Hull is still a committed 1500 runner, despite her 15:34.93 in the 5000 putting her at No. 5 in the NCAA. “It’s a lot of fun to try it over different distances,” the Aussie senior says. “And at the end of the day if I can do something similar to the 1500 at different distances, when I do come down and run a 1500 hopefully I’ll have a skill set and a lot of experience, and the legs will just be muscle memory.”

Gleb Dudarev managed to win his third Big 12 hammer title despite fighting off a stomach bug. “I was sick this week, but I did well,” the Belorussian junior said. “I don’t know why. It’s really exciting. I don’t understand how I threw really big meters.”

Named: Kenya’s marathon team for the World Championships, noting that the picks—which at this point don’t clarify which runner will be the alternate—were based “on availability after many of our top athletes decided not to honor the invite.” The men’s team will be 5-deep (4 to compete) because Geoffrey Kirui has the defending champion Wild Card: Amos Kipruto, Kirui, Laban Korir, Paul Lonyangata, Ernest Ngeno. The women: Ruth Chepngetich, Sally Chepyego, Visiline Jepkesho, Edna Kiplagat.

Callie Jones of Southern Mississippi won the Conference USA heptathlon, but will be competing at NCAA Regionals in the javelin, where she has a 179-11 (54.85) best. “Javelin is like a stress reliever for me,” she says. “I really don’t think about it because I know I’m good at it and I know I can be good at it. It’s just me going out and performing.”

Still just 17, Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh won the DL high jump in Doha in a PR of 6-5 (1.96). “I was so surprised that I won because I am the youngest competitor here,” she said. “So I am extremely happy to take the win and to jump a personal best. It is my first time here and I would love to come back for the IAAF World Championships but I can’t get carried away.”

Nijel Amos was not happy that Botswana didn’t compete in the World Relays “due to lack of planning and execution between offices responsible for that,” he posted, adding, “To fellow athletes, heads up, we will not be broken by this. Only making us strong.” ◻︎

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