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

Musings on This Week in Track and Field

Apr 18th, 2013
7:34 am PST

Me for Blog picI was preparing to comment on the weekend that just passed, when tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon. As most people did, I took pause to reflect on the fact that once again sport, politics, and the real world intersected in a rather heinous manner.

The Hitler lead Games of 1936. Olympic boycotts in 1980 & 1984.   The hostage crisis in 1972. The bombing in Atlanta in 1996. All examples of the negativity and tragedy that can occur when politics rears it’s ugly head into the world of sport.

I’m not going to dwell on Boston and the obvious. Clearly the act of violence was senseless. These were not soldiers involved in war. Nor politicians involved in the legislative process that often leads to war and conflict. These were athletes and fans. Regular people, looking to enjoy one of the world’s great sporting events. People used as pawns to gain attention and attempt to create fear in others.

My prayers go out to the families of those that died, and for the swift recovery of the injured. I hope to see Boston run again next year bigger and better. May the rest of this year’s events, both on the roads and the track, go off without a hitch. And the joy of the world’s greatest sport show those who would do evil that we are used to fight and struggle – after all we fight for attention daily! We survived Hitler, the Iron Curtain, and terrorist bombs before, and this too shall pass.

So, as we’ve taken a day or two to gather and reflect in the past, it is once again time to move forward. With that,I want to take a quick look at the good I saw this past week and where things seem to be headed.

One of the big stories so far has been the sprinting of Doc Patton – with much buzz generated by his 9.75w a couple weeks ago. Personally I’m as impressed with this past weekend 10.09 as it came AGAINST a -2.0 headwind. Clearly Doc is in sub 10 shape and looks ready to drop his PR (9.89) this year. The question in my mind is if he can do this when it matters, because we can always use another sprinter in the battle against Jamaica.

On that note, we got an unexpected world leader from Alabama sprinter Diondre Batson as he sped 10.06 (+1.9) to win in Athens Georgia. This time last year Batson was running against junior college competition and looking for a qualifier to get into the Trials. Now he’s looking like a major contender for the NCAA sprints – we’ll see after that.

Speaking of Jamaican sprinters, Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir went 20.33 into a -1.5 headwind in Kingston. Expect him to be under 20.00 soon. Kirani James is already sub 45 as the Olympic champion ran 44.72 in Nassau, to equal last years opener that lead to his first sub 44 and Olympic gold.

James has set the bar early, in an event that I think is going to be a very competitive event this year. Youngsters like Josh Mance, Bryshon Nellum, Najee Glass, David Verburg, and Arman Hall are all running well early. Even decathlete Ashton Eaton has gotten into the act with  a PR 45.64 – I’m sensing a potential increase in his WR this year. Something tells me this could be the years hot event – and with it the 4×4! Keep an eye on this year’s NCAA 4×4, it should be a barn burner.

Actually let me say the 400 will be one of the years hot events, as the Pre Classic announced a lineup for the 800 that mirrors the London Olympic final – and that group produced the greatest half mile race in history! This race should set the tone for a stellar season in the 800, and that event alone could make Pre the preeminent meet of the year (yes there’s a pun in there).

Of course THE preeminent meet every four years is the Olympic Trials and word out this week is that once again Eugene will be host to the Trials in 2016. Saying anything about Eugene is always a touchy subject as it’s the designated pet of Nike, however I have to agree with Kevin Mangan of Running Network when he says that this actually hurts the sport. I will give my own feelings later in greater detail, but I’m against the move we’ve seen in the last couple of decades of creating "permanent" hosts for major track meets at all levels from high school state meets to the Trials. We are a sport that needs exposure and this doesn’t accomplish that.

The Trials are an Olympic cycle away however, so that’s putting the cart before the horse. More relevant we  have a pretty good weekend on tap in just a few days as this weekend starts with MtSAC and includes meets in Eugene, Austin, Gainesville, Waco, Baton Rouge and Pullman. I still have to check lineups and heat sheets, but there’s got to be some serious times/marks in there somewhere. See you in a few days.

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