The indoor season got started with records falling week after week. As hot a start to a new year as I can remember. Then like a snowstorm it got very quiet. The World Indoor Championships were missing the electric performers and performances of the early season. And while the team competition at the NCAA meet gave some excitement to the end of the indoor season, January was much more exciting.
That’s ok, the indoor season is merely an opening act for the big show, and with no major championship this year that usually means the competition is hot throughout the year. I’ve been hoping that would be the case anyway, as I actually became a bit bored during most of the indoor season. That boredom, and focusing on coaching my own athletes, saw me post very little over the last several weeks.
One thing was starting to catch my eye however, and that was the performance of a group of young sprinters. As I’ve said several times over the past couple of seasons, the group of sprinters that we’ve had in contention at the last several major championships is aging. Tyson Gay, Wallace Spearmon, Justin Gatlin and Walter Dix are all beginning to approach their shelf life! And as Jamaica has recently had a slew of youngsters step up make the podium to support Usain Bolt, such has not been the case for America’s sprint corps in the shorter distances. The lone surprise recently being the bronze medal performance of Curtis Mitchell over 200 meters in last year’s World Championships.
So it has been with baited breath that I watched the indoor season for signs that the sprints version of a Mary Cain would step up to the plate. As the season progressed the most promising looked to be Marvin Bracy who ran seven times under 6.60 with a best of 6.48 and a silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in Poland. Bracy looked to have promise during his high school career and looks ready to improve on last year’s freshman PB of 10.09 – coming as it did after battling injury a great deal of the year.
Also looking good indoors was Bracy’s Florida State Teammate Dentarius Locke, who came away with an NCAA title in 6.52. As impressive as the time was the manner in which he won was even more so as he dominated a very strong field of sprinters to win running clear of the field from start to finish. Locke ran a world class 9.96 last year and could potentially get into that sub 9.90 range over the course of the season which would make him globally competitive.
Another that made significant improvement indoors was Diondre Batson. Batson is a big, tall sprinter – the kind that is having global success these days. Entering the season with a 60m best of "only" 6.73, Batson has outdoor bests of 10.05/20.50. This indoor season he’s shown significant improvement dropping his 60 to 6.54 and winning the NCAA Indoor 200 title at 20.32! Both bode well for significant improvements to his outdoor PB’s this season.
The most significant performance by a young sprinter to date however, occurred yesterday at the Texas Relays when Baylor frosh Trayvon Bromwell dropped a 10.02 in his qualifying heat before winning the 100 title at 10.01 – tying the WJR in the event. I say this with a bit of reserve as Twitterverse is ready to proclaim him a challenger to Bolt and the rest of the world’s best, but to do so in his first 100 of the year IS a bit promising. And right now I know we Americans are looking for a bit of promise in the sprints.
That said, the youngsters I’ve mentioned above have shown very good early season promise, and with this being an off season they should get plenty of opportunity to compete against the best, hone their skills, and grow. Throw in youngsters like Charles Silmon, Bryshon Nellum (200?), Isaiah Young, Ameer Webb and Curtis Mitchell and US sprint hopes may not be as dismal as they’ve appeared to be on the track in recent seasons.
At any rate, this is the year to see this talent develop. We’ll need a few of these young men come 2014 and beyond. Let’s see what happens as the season develops.