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

NCAA Championships – All About the Format

Jun 14th, 2015
8:19 pm PDT

Sprinter ShadowThis year there were two things to talk about when looking at the NCAA Championships. One was the competition – and this year’s competition was as stellar as ever! The other was the format as the powers that be thought it was a good idea to split the meet into TWO separate meets – a men’s meet and a woman’s meet. Personally I would prefer to focus on the competition, but spending the week attempting to enjoy the meet I have to give my two cents on the format.

For my money the format sucked. The announcers kept making reference to the fact that the athletes got a full day of rest – and yes that’s true. But you could’ve simply inserted a "rest" day in ANY format and accomplished that! As a matter of fact, the Olympics and World Championships do just that and it IS great for the athletes – no new revelation there.

Funny, however, that I didn’t hear any other comments about how great the format was – probably because there weren’t any. First off the meet felt "segregated" splitting up the men and women. And it missed that excitement of having the men do something awesome, then having the women come right back with their own sterling performance. Can you imagine the men’s 4×1, with the women coming back minutes later with their performance? Double excitement! Or how about those two 100’s back to back, or the 200’s? That would have created excitement that would have rocked the stands themselves!

No, it was like the meet had a damper put on it in that regard. A wait and see quality – wait til tomorrow to see what the women would do. Kind of like how books are made into movies but split into TWO movies viewed a year apart. Just as you get into the story you have to wait a year to get the conclusion! Really? Why can’t we just get the whole story at once?

Then there was the pacing of the meet for the athletes – why is it everyone wants to try to please TV, but no one ever seems to think about the athletes? Yes they got a day of rest (we could’ve given then that anyway), but then they had to compete with almost no rest once the competition started! If you were a sprinter or hurdler and involved in relays your day was: warm up, compete, cool down, warm up, compete, cool down, warm up, compete, cool down, warm up, compete, cool down – all within a window of roughly 90 minutes! As a former athlete and coach I can tell you that’s hell! And both 400’s and 4x4s showed the strain and were subpar. Recovery time for sprinters and hurdles was half of what it should’ve been. A disadvantage to teams like Florida, Texas A&M, USC. An advantage to teams like Oregon who already gets home field advantage – another days conversation.

So, yes I thought the format sucked. Can you imagine segregating the Olympics or World Championships like that? A segregated Games? Anyway. There was the competition. And as I say repeatedly it’s the competition that makes track and field marketable. Not street races, or segregated meets. The competition! When you get the best together and have them compete great things happen – period! You don’t need studies, metrics, polls or gimmicks. Just get the best to compete – and that happened in this meet in spite of the format.

Stars of the meet? How about Marquis Dandy 27′ 8"w/58′ 1"w jump double – winning both! Jenna Prandini 22’4 "/10.96w/22.18 jump sprint triple – gold in the 100, silver in the other two! Andre Degrasse 9.75w/19.58w winning sprint double! The 4×1’s were HOT – fast and deep. This was arguably the best assemblage of sprint talent ever in this meet – and they were divided up into two days instead of being put on display together!

My favorite sprint? Tough call. I think the women’s 200. Great race, lots of moves within the race, and an exciting finish! But my favorite race overall was the women’s 800. Natoya Gould set a HOT pace but the field didn’t panic. It was super talented foolish Raevyn Rogers who methodically tracked her down and ran away with an awesome 1:59.71 victory. I’m dying to see what edited at Nationals in two weeks.

And in spite of the format, that’s how I leave this meet, wondering how all this talent does heading into Worlds and just which ones will get that opportunity to perform on the biggest stage. I’ll be looking at several of these athletes over the next couple of weeks.

NCAA Regionals?

Jun 2nd, 2015
6:54 am PDT

The NCAA Regional "meets" were held this past weekend in Austin TX (West) and Jacksonville FL (East). Did anyone notice? They were overshadowed by what was an AWESOME Prefontaine Classic. Hard to gain attention when there's a mini world championships going on! But I have to feel that they also suffered from their own format Read More...

Prefontaine was HOT!

Jun 1st, 2015
6:34 am PDT

Once again Pre was as good a meet as any on the planet. Which begs the question, why can't we do this more often? It's a rhetorical question of course, because the simple answer is MONEY! It takes a boat load of money to put on a quality meet these days, and who has that kind of money laying around? Yes, Eugene touts itself as "Track Town USA", but let's be real - it's in Nike's back yard! Nuff said Read More...

Better Track Reporting

May 24th, 2015
10:04 pm PDT

2014 was an off season in the world of track and field. There was no major championship of any kind at the elite level, and that translated into rest and time off for many of the sports major stars. It also translated into time off from writing for me, as I focused more on coaching my high school athletes (state runner up in the 300H); watching the sport and keeping my opinions to myself; and dealing with a major health issue (had an aneurysm in January) Read More...

US Sprint Future on Display in Eugene

Jul 29th, 2014
1:04 pm PDT

The World Junior Championships closed out a near week long run Sunday in oft rainy Eugene - yes rain struck yet another big meet here. And while I continue to have my own thoughts about making this remote northwest corner of the country the focus of the sport here in the US, one thing that did become clear is that US sprint fortunes look better than they have for a couple of decades! First my two biggest beefs of the meet Read More...

Events I’ll Be Watching at US Nationals

Jun 25th, 2014
7:41 pm PDT

Typically Nationals is one of the two hottest meets of the year behind only the World Championships or Olympics. This is an "off season" however, that once every four years non championship season. So the full complement of elites looking to make a global team is a bit lighter than usual. My biggest disappointment in this regards is the Men's 100 which is missing Justin Gatlin and the new kid on the block Trayvon Bromell,  as neither of the year's two fastest Americans is entered in the competition Read More...

My Thoughts on the World Relay Championships

Jun 21st, 2014
4:21 pm PDT

Focusing on coaching my high school kids, I missed discussing the early season to date, primarily the Diamond League and the World Relays Championship. That's a lot of action/discussion, so will tackle one then the other and will start with the World Relays Championships since the subject has already come up Read More...

NCAA Championships

Jun 17th, 2014
10:46 am PDT

This was a very busy week of track and field for the true fan of the sport. Oslo, the NCAA Championships, and the New York Grand Prix were all contested within a four day period, with some form of media broadcast available for all four days of action! Finally, technology and track providing fans with serious coverage of the sport Read More...

Perhaps the Youth Will Lead

Jun 11th, 2014
10:28 pm PDT

It's early June and the "elite"  track season is about to hit high gear. Pre last week; Oslo today; NCAA Championships started today; and the New York Grand Prix on Saturday. It doesn't get much better than that if you're a track fan - or does it? Well, on the flip side of the coin, the high school athletes here in California are just winding down their season Read More...

Saturday, A Day of Track and Field

Apr 28th, 2014
10:39 am PDT

In the year 2014 we finally got what I've always known TV could give us -  a full day of track & field! The thought of watching track all day on television has been a dream of mine forever.There is an old saying however, be careful what you ask for, you might it. and my day of sitting in the comfort of my home watching track and field had it's moments Read More...