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

USATF Champs (The Guard is Changing)

Feb 28th, 2014
7:25 pm PDT

CainWe’re getting close to the debut of the outdoor season. As entertaining as indoors has been so far, it’s merely the prelims for the real show outdoors. That said we still have a few weeks of indoor action left – what should be the most exciting part of all, championships.

Last weekend’s USATF meet, set the stage for  collegiate conferences, the NCAA’s themselves, and the World Indoor Championships. All of which promise exciting competition. The USATF champs was exciting for a couple reasons.  The first because the competition was hot! The other because that hot competition was between mostly new names and faces. Something we need desperately here in the US because we’re getting a bit long in the tooth in many areas.

The competition in Albuquerque turned out to be a showcase for a lot of young and emerging  talent. Names that most fans of the sport are familiar with, though they’ve been overshadowed by others in the past. As well as some athletes that haven’t been on anyone’s radar. 

They say when the cat’s away the mice will play.  Well with many of America’s top athletes not participating indoors a lot of talent got to shine. For example, three emerging youngsters that are challenging to be the best right now took center stage on the track, as May Cain, Ajee Wilson, and Marvin Bracy won titles. 

Mary Cain – 1500

I’ve talked about Mary for over a year now and this kid only gets better. She continued her winning ways by making the "women" look like little girls as once again she controlled the race as if she were a high school runner  competing against middle schoolers! She’s race savvy beyond her years.  She ran 4.07 in the altitude of Albuquerque, and I wouldn’t bet against her being a finalist in Poland.

Ajee Wilson – 800

If it weren’t for Cain, Wilson would be the most talked about young middle distance runner in America. As fast as Cain has run, I think many forget that it was Wilson that smashed Cain’s 800 AJR in Moscow with her sterling 1:58.21  6th place finish at Worlds. Like Cain, Wilson won in Albuquerque. Wilson however waited until the last moment took win with a blistering kick. Wilson currently leads the world and I expect that she too will play a big role in Poland.

Marvin Bracy – 60

I have some serious concerns about American sprinting. Chief among them the fact that our best are aging. With no major championship this is a good year to develop new talent – and since his junior year in high school Bracy has looked like a potential part of the future of US sprinting. This winter that "potential" has been on display as he had consistently won and improved his PR. Bracy won yet again in New Mexico showing beautiful sprint technique in his 6.48 victory.  I’ve felt for some times that Bracy could be the US version of Yohan Blake. He certainly looked like it here. I’m dying to see his performance at Worlds.

Cain & Wilson are at the heart of a middle distance renaissance that’s been underway for several years now. Their youth will carry us well into the future. The sprints on the other hand have been getting a bit long in the tooth. Our sprint leadership of Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Wallace Spearmon, Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards Ross are aged 30 or close to it. With Jamaica asserting itself both with its stars and having a young group that is rapidly emerging, we need our young talent to emerge as well.    

Bracy was at the fore front of what I’m hoping is a new tidal wave of young talent that began to show itself in Albuquerque. In addition to Bracy, emerging male talent included Joe Morris, Deangelo Taylor, Keith Ricks and Sean McLean. On the women’s side Lekeisha Lawson and Kya Brookins really stepped up on the performance ladder. We’ll get a look at more youngsters this weekend as the collegiate conferences take center stage with their various championships.

There should be many more names to add to the emerging athletes list after Super Conference Weekend as programs such as Oregon, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M and others take to the track. See you at the end of the weekend. Things are about to heat up.

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