Saturday, June 27, 2015

Green Cards, Qualifying, and Jesse Williams

The semi-final round of the women’s 800m highlighted the dangers of the top-four-to-finals qualifying system.

Molly Ludlow won the first semi-final in 2:00.22, with Dana Mecke qualifying 4th in 2:00.76.

Heat 2 was even faster, with only .09 separating 1st from 4th.  Chanelle Price won in 2:00.05 with Ajee’ Wilson 4th in 2:00.14 – a true blanket finish.

This left Lauren Wallace on the outside looking in. Her 2:00.48 would have placed her a qualifying third in the first semi, but as it got her 5th in the faster second heat, she did not advance.

The point of track and field is to run faster, throw farther, and jump higher than your competitors. When you do, you should be rewarded.

It boggles the mind - as well as any sense of fairness - when you run faster and don’t advance.

At the very least, it should be top 3 in each semi-final with the next two fastest to finals.


Remember false starts?

The sprints used to be a mind game of multiple and intentional false starts. To end the gamesmanship that had infected so many events, the IAAF instituted the one-and-you’re-out rule in 2010 (and modified in 2012).

So far, at least three false starts at this year’s USATF championships have been called on the field.

Green cards abound.

While I’m well aware of the pitfalls of the one-and-done approach (see: Usain bolted, 2011 Worlds), it’s a mystery to me what the basis is for calling false starts here on the field instead of on individuals.

Did they change the rule and nobody told us?


Think of the cachet the term “Olympic Trials” has in Eugene.

Our national championships are called that, often followed by ‘which also serve as the World Championships qualifier.’

How about “World Championships Trials”?

OK, that’s a bit of a mouthful, too, but it does sound like a meet with greater importance – an importance it already has to the Hayward faithful.

Greater clarity about the purpose and importance of this meet to the fans Vin Lananna hopes to attract to our sport from beyond these cozy confines can only help to further and accomplish his compelling goals.


Evan Jager looked supremely fit and fluid in his steeple qualifier, which he won in a modest 8:40.13. Perhaps his evident confidence comes from his 3:32.97 1500m run at the end of May. He is showing a remarkable range that leaves many hoping he’ll run an open mile before Beijing.

Will an even moderately cooler Sunday see him take on the 8:00 minute barrier?


The 100m finals interrupted a perfectly good men’s high jump final.

A scintillating competition saw Erik Kynard win at 7’ 9 ¼”; he then came oh-so-close on two of his three attempts at a new US record of 7’ 10 ¾”.

JaCorian Duffield followed at 7’8”, while ’11 World Champion Jesse Williams (Oregon Track Club) joined the Beijing squad at 7’7”.

“I got excited again,” said Williams, Eugene’s crowd favorite. “I haven’t been excited on the track in a while… I’m just so grateful. I’ve been working really hard the last few years.”

“The first team I made was 10 years ago,” noted the super vet. “Everybody’s calling me ‘old man’ out there! I don’t feel old - I’m 31 - but for a high jumper it is old. But I’m as physically fit as I’ve ever been, and my technique is much better.”

Williams, who did a masterful job of calling the NCAA high jumps on Hayward Field’s internal radio broadcasting system, reflected on that experience.

“I enjoyed it - time flew by and it was fun,” he said of speaking into a microphone for three hours.

“I definitely did a little research,” he understated of his voluminous knowledge of each of the collegiate jumpers.

I was surprised to learn that he called the meet from press row in the West Grandstand, as he gave his commentary the feel of being right next to the high jump apron.

“I got some binoculars and made it happen."


Eugene’s weather on Friday was in some ways surprising. It wasn’t the heat so much, as 97F degrees - while uncomfortable - is not entirely unusual for Eugene.

It was the humidity that made the conditions so challenging for the athletes and enervating for the fans. 

Simple tasks such as climbing the stairs in the grandstands would result in people being drenched in sweat. Hayward’s faithful were there, but their enthusiasm was tempered by the conditions.

Perhaps we’re lucky that the meet wasn’t scheduled a week later, as the forecast for next Thursday through Saturday is for highs in the 102-103F range.

Meanwhile, Eugene’s forecast for today is for 99F with 69% humidity.

In our take your pick department, in Beijing today it’s 88F with 79% humidity.

1 comment:

  1. Time isn't always a great judge because conditions can change in an instant. Competition is always a great judge.