This weekend was a reminder that this support is not always as predictable as we like top think it is. For example, the hot meet was supposed to be in Ostrava. After all that was the meet with all the "names" – Bolt, VCB, Spearmon, Merritt, and Semenya among others .But as the sun is beginning to set, things got hot after Ostrava – mostly by what appears to be a budding youth movement this season.
From collegiate athletes at the two Division I Regionals; to the first major high school post season invitational; to a pair of "lesser" meets on the European Circuit; a slew of young up and coming starts blended inn with some "old hands" to turn the heat back up on the season – with some looking ready to stake claim to Olympic berths.
I have to say that I am NOT a fan of the current regional system. Two meets with no finals, no champions, and no team scoring. The only thing this meet produced for certain is losers. Twelve people move on, everyone else goes home. It’s a system that’s designed to promote a compete to "qualify" mentality, because that’s all you do as these meets are nothing more than the "heats" & quarterfinals of the NCAA championships. Only in track and field.
That said, there was a trio of performers that ran more like they were in Olympic qualifying rounds than collegiate qualifying rounds – and I expect all to be in the hunt for Olympic team slots. The best of the bunch was Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) who ran a WL 22.22 (0.1) in the deuce. The more I watch Duncan, the more I see Gwen Torrence – and all Gwen did was make teams; win medals; and run fast. Kimberlyn’s running style is nearly identical, and I’m betting she has similar results.
The deuce was the hottest event on both coasts as Maurice Mitchell (FlSt) tan a CL 20.13 (0.1) in the East Regional, while Ameer Webb (TxAM) had two sizzling, though slightly windy runs of 20.20 (2.4) & 20.29 (2.4). With only Spearmon and Dix head and shoulders above the rest, this pair could definitely be in the hunt in Eugene. I would put Mike Berry (OR) in the same category with his CL 44.86 in the quarter. Berry was our best relayer in Daegu, and is looking ready to perhaps move up into open contention this time around.
Ostrava got the pre meet headlines going into the weekend, but it’s the Netherlands that turned in the top performances. Let’s start with Adam Kszczot (POL) who knocked the rust off in Ostrava, then went to Hengelo: and turned in a 1:43.83 to take the #2 spot on the yearly list behind Master Rudisha. Right on his tail was Timothy Kitum (KEN) at 1:44.00 with 6 under 1:45 in the top 800 race do fat this year. This was a nice follow up for Kszczot who on the heels of his indoor season is certainly looking like a major player in this event.
The women’s half was also hot as Janeth Jepkosgei (KEN) ran 1:57.79 to move to #2 on the year behind Jelimo, as the two Kenyans are both having a serious resurgence this year.In second place was Yuneysi Santiusti (CUB) in 1:58.53 - perhaps we will have our first Cuban contender in this event since Ana Quirot.
In the 1500 we had another Kenyan under 3:30 as Nixon Chepseba ran 3:29.90 ahead of Ayanleh Souleiman (DJI) 3:30.31 – as the metric mile continues to get deeper. Speaking of getting deeper, that’s what the 10000 meters did today as Ethiopia used this race add party of the selection process for its Olympic team. The result was a WL win for Tariku Bekele (ETH) 27:11.70 as he edged out Leleisa Desisa Benti (ETH) 27:11.98, leading 6 others under 27:20 with Haile Gebrselassie at 27:20.39 in 7th – failing to make the Ethiopian team.
The distances dominated inn Hengelo, but there were some other outstanding performances. Luguelin Santos (DOM) won the 400 in 44.45 over Martyn Rooney (GBR, 44.97). Coming after his 44.88 behind Merritt in Doha, this signals that we definitely have a new player in the quarter – and this event is starting to load up! Phillips Idowu (GBR) lept 17.31m / 56′ 9.5" to signal he’s going to be a force in London. And Robert Harting (GER) tossed the platter 68.13m / 223′ 6.25" to win over Virgilius Alekna (LIT) 65.62m / 215′ 3.5" in what could be round 1 of the discus wars.
Then there was …
This small Moroccan meet was big in two events – the 5000 and 800. In the 5000, Vincent Chepkok (KEN) 12:59.28 WL led 5 under 13:10 with Daniel Komen (KEN) at 13:10.6& in 6th. Between Hengelo and Rabat the Kenyans and Ethiopians really turned the heat up on the distance races this weekend. They did the same in theed middle distances as young Mohamed Aman (ETH) 1:43.58 out leaned Leonard Kosencha (KEN) 1:43.60 – moving Kszczot from #2 back to #4 on the yearly list. I already felt that Aman and Kszczot could be the top two challengers to David Rudisha in London – and then we get Kosencha stepping onto the picture! London is going to be fun.
Golden South Classic
Finally I have to mention this meet because of the out of no where emergence of Tyreek Hill and another solid run from Aldrich Bailey. Tyreek became #2 all time in the deuce in this meet as he just missed the national record, but his overall meet was pretty stunning.Consider the following: 10.19 (1.8), 20.14 (1.8) moves to =6 all time in the 100 and co leader with Abraham Hall, moves to #2 all time in the deuce just missing Roy Martin’s record by .01, also becomes the #2 sprint doubler ever behind Martin (10.18/20.13), fastest ever single meet double. Now that’s a successful weekend.
Keeping up his high standard of quartermiling, Aldrich Bailey ran 45.58 for another screaming 400 meters. More importantly Tyreek Hill, Abraham Hall, Marvin Bracy, Levonte Whitfield, and Aldrich Bailey form one of the greatest group of high school sprinters ever – maybe the best. And I’m really looking forward to how they all compete through the summer, as they could be the base of our next group of World and Olympic sprinters.
So not a bad weekend considering how it started. Next it’s on to Rome and what I expect will be a group of "make up" performances for several athletes.