The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

A Month From the Trials

May 23rd, 2016
7:03 am PDT

Me for Blog picWe’re about a month away from the Trials and the crystal ball is still pretty murky! Usually I have a pretty good idea how the Trials are going to go by now, but so many elites have been quiet – especially the distance crowd. This may be one of the most surprising Trials in awhile.

The colleges have yet to have their Regionals and Nationals – those will take place in the next two weeks. Though I’m not seeing a lot of collegiate athletes making this team. Mainly because a lot of top talent has already gone pro. We’ve had three Diamond League meetings with this weekends competition in Rabat, but the oomph has been missing. Right now it’s sort of like the end of school – right around the corner but it doesn’t feel like it!

Here’s a few observations on athletes from what I’ve seen thus far:

LaShawn Merritt – Top American right now. Blazing fast over 200 (19.78), and right where he should be in the 400 (44.22). In a position to make the team and contend for a medal in Rio. As a matter of fact, I’d consider anchoring him on the 4×1! That’s what I said. No blocks on anchor and he’s strong, fast, and a competitor! He’s ready for Rio.

Carmelita Jeter – I’m scared for Carmelita. She’s been a medalist for so long, and as had been stated by announcers lately, she’s the fastest woman walking right now. Except that is her PR, in Rabat she looked like the struggle is getting real. With the young talent stepping up, this could be the end of the road, as Boys to Men once sung.

David Oliver – Oliver showed signs of life in Rabat running 13.12. He looked like a veteran running a solid race as opposed to an explosive one – but he got the win in a competitive time. With a month to go I’m feeling pretty good about his chances right about now.

Hannah Cunliffe – 10.99 at Mt SAC, a pair of 11.08s at PAC 12s, and 22.49 say she’s going to be competitive at the Trials. What I really like however, is how she blazes the turn on that Oregon 4×1! I want to see her make the team for that alone. Give me a lead off, Felix on the backstretch, Hannah on the turn, and Tori Bowie on anchor – GOLD. I’m just sayin.

Justin Gatlin – A windy 9.90 and a pair of 9.94s he’ll be hard to beat at Trials and should lead our sprint Corp to Rio. And I’m tired of hearing he served a ban and shouldn’t be allowed to compete. When Lord Coe says the same about Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown, Yohan Blake, and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce – all of whom have served bans – I’ll be willing to have that discussion. Until then Coe, announcers, and everyone else needs to drop it – and the head of USATF should be saying the same thing instead of sitting in silence!

Tori Bowie – At 10.80, 10.91, and 22.26 she’s America’s best right now. I suspect that unless someone steps up big time she’ll be our best in Rio as well. As a matter of fact, I believe she’ll be sub 22 in Rio,adding to the group of Felix, Schippers, and Thompson. Oh, she should be bringing the stick home on the 4×1!

Tyson Gay – I’m worried about Tyson. Hasn’t looked sharp,and he’s a power sprinter, not a finesse guy. He’s probably still our best turn runner – and he and Gatlin have synergy on second and third legs. So I’m hoping he comes through at Trials. But that mountain man beard look – it needs to go.

Sandi Morris – We have a new pole vaulter! And at 15’10th she’s very good. We’ve always had one of the world’s best.. First Stacy Dragila, then Jenn Suhr. For the first time however, we’ve actually got a one, two punch in the pole vault with Morris & Suhr which I find pretty awesome.

What about the competition? Who’s ready internationally?

Omar McLeod – McLeod has been dominating the hurdles the way Merritt did in 2012. Merritt did it with awesome technique. Mc Leod is doing it with 9.99 speed. The world has yet to catch up.

Dafne Schippers – Schippers is running like a sub 22 sprinter, having opened up at 22.25, before blitzing 22.02 this past weekend in horrible conditions! Oh, she also opened at 10.83 running Bowie to the line. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Asbel Kiprop – He makes running the mile look WAY too easy! His 3:32.15 looked like a stroll in the park, as he dominated many of the world’s best. I can’t wait to see him in action in Rio.

Elaine Thompson – Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce is the defending Olympic champion, but Thompson is looking like Jamaica’s best. Her 10.71 was windy, but was dominant just the same. Jamaica Trials 100 will be interesting.

Kirani James – LaShawn Merritt (19.78) and Wayde van Niekerk (9.98) have been showing their speed in other events, James 44.08 just runs the quarter. The Rio men’s 400 is going to be one of the hottest finals on the track and Kirani will be in the mix.

It’s still early, yet so close. Trials are around the corner. Rio is less than 100 days. Prefontaine is next week. There’s a big 100 field lined up for Pre and Jamaica is putting Bolt, Powell and Blake on the track BEFORE Trials! NCAA has both Regionals and Nationals within about 14 days. This sport is about to Turn Up!

Conference Weekend 2016

May 19th, 2016
6:20 am PDT

Conference weekend is always busy as every major collegiate conference decides it's champions. Add to the mix the Diamond League's Shanghai stop, and the Cayman Invitational with the seasonal debut of Usain Bolt, and you had one exciting weekend of track and field! With the NCAA Championships, Olympic Trials, and multiple national Trials around the corner, did we learn anything of significance? I think so Read More...

Doha and Kingston Heat Up the Season

May 10th, 2016
10:20 am PDT

Penn was the unofficial start to the outdoor season. The "USA v The World" is sort of the kick off to things. That was last weekend. This weekend sh*t got real, as the Diamond League got under way with the first stop in Doha on Friday. And to make sure that things were underway, the Jamaican International Invitational in Kingston made sure that there was plenty of hot action Read More...

Penn – And Another Relay Debacle

May 3rd, 2016
6:58 am PDT

We're within 100 days of the Olympics, which means that the Trials are around the corner. Penn, with its "USA v the World" format, and Drake with its invitational fields, tend to give us a solid preview of where our elite sprinters are in their development. The weather at Drake was horrible – it often is which is why I personally don't like it for National meets - but we did get an awesome men's 400 with Kirani James (44 Read More...

The 400 WILL Be THE Event of 2016

Apr 17th, 2016
3:17 pm PDT

We're only a few weeks into the 2016 outdoor season, and in spite of what's been crazy weather, it's clear that the men's "quarter" is going to be THE premier event of the year! Why do I say this? Look at what we've already seen. At the high school level, the recent Arcadia Invitational saw a 45 Read More...

Wow, I Agree with Carl Lewis

Mar 9th, 2016
12:11 pm PDT

It's been the rare occasion that I've been in agreement with Carl Lewis. He's been "controversial" during much of his association with the sport of track and field going back to the 1980s. But as I read this article I found myself nodding my head in agreement. While I've been trying my best to just enjoy the competition this indoor season, DOPING continues to dominate the headlines Read More...

How to Win the 4×1 in Rio!

Feb 8th, 2016
11:27 am PDT

It's one thing to be dominated in the sprints by an athlete like Usain Bolt, but during the same time span we've seen a comedy of horrors take place in what was also an American staple - the 4x1 relay. The American men haven't won a 4x1 in a major since 2007 - approaching nearly a decade! This is tragic, and the first step to righting this ship in my opinion, is to admit FAILURE and move on Read More...

Can Felix Win the Double?

Jan 26th, 2016
9:49 am PDT

The big news recently is that the Rio schedule has been altered to allow for a 200/400 double for the women. The 1st rounds of the 200 & 400H were flip flopped - the hurdles moving to the evening, the 200 to the morning. Now, instead of the 200 opening rounds being just over an hour before the 400 final, Allyson Felix (or anyone else) will have all day to recover from the 200 before running that 400 final - making this a very doable double now Read More...

World Records and the State of the Sport

Jan 18th, 2016
2:17 pm PDT

British Track and Field has released a manifesto on the status of the sport - changes it feels are necessary to "clean up" the sport of track and field. Among these is the matter of the sports records and what it sees as a full scale revision of track and field's world records. Lord Coe - a Brit and the current head of the IAAF - has stated that he favors the removal of selected world records Read More...

What to Watch in 2016

Jan 12th, 2016
1:24 pm PDT

Olympic years are always exciting for sports fans because that global showcase will take place this summer. That means we will see the best that track and field (among other sports) has to offer - the best athletes competing head to head. Sad that I can't say that in any other year, but unfortunately we don't get this type of competition in any other year with any regularity Read More...