Now it feels like track season, as several performances that were turned in this weekend were truly up to par. As usual for this time of year the best of them were in the field – specifically the pole vault.
In Reno, Nevada at the annual pole vault summit, Brad Walker (USA) cleared 5.80m (19’ 0.25”). An excellent mark for January – so good in fact that it would have won last year’s U.S. Outdoor Championships! As a matter of fact, Walker only jumped better (5.84) on one occasion in all of 2011 – so hopefully we are seeing a return of the 2007 vaulter that won the World Championships in Osaka.
Another vaulter regaining form was WR holder Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) who cleared 4.70m (15’ 5.5”) in Volgograd, Russia. “Isi” cleared the bar on first attempt and reportedly had three good tries at 4.80m (15’ 9”), so it looks like she has shaken off the cobwebs from her “sabbatical” in 2010, as her best mark all of last year was 4.76m (15’ 6.25”).
Indications are that she is going to need to be back to her pre sabbatical form, as the competition continues to improve. Last year Isi was 6th in Daegu and had to watch as Fabiana Murer (BRA) won gold while clearing 4.85m (15’ 11”). And though Isi was back to form, she was NOT the highest vaulter on the weekend as Britain’s Holly Bleasdale became the #2 indoor vaulter of all time with a clearance of 4.87m (15’ 11.75”) just missing the 16 foot barrier! Bleasdale cleared every height up through 4.80m on her first attempt before getting over her new PR on her third try. With a little luck we may see Bleasdale and Isinbayeva lock horns in the World Indoor Championships before heading outdoors.
All the weekend highlights weren’t on the infield. In Auburn, Alabama the fastest and deepest indoor sprint of the year was held. Every Olympic season has its break out sprinters, and though it’s WAY too early to start calling names, the 60 in Auburn could hold a future Olympian as Auburn Jr, Harry Adams, just edged out Florida State Sr, Kemar Hyman, 6.55 to 6.56. Adams’ time is easily a current world leader and PR. The race saw 7 men run 6.67 or faster with places 3 thru 5 between 6.63 & 6.64! It was one hot race!
Adams could be one of the year’s stories to watch. He was one of the top HS sprinters in the nation in 2006 as a sophomore, but somewhat disappeared in his final two seasons. He was redshirted at Auburn his freshman year, and has not been spectacular in his two previous collegiate seasons, entering this year with PR’s of 6.65, 10.26, and 21.06. Well the 60 PR just got blown out of the water in his first race of the year. It will be interesting to see where this will lead.
Another sprinter that had two break out races this weekend is Texas A&M’s Ameer Webb. A junior college transfer from California, Webb was not supposed to be the featured sprinter for A&M this weekend – that was supposed to be Prezel Hardy. Apparently Ameer didn’t get the memo as he won both the 60 & 200 in 6.66 & 20.94 – the 200 time the current world leader. So once again it looks like A&M may make a national champion contender out of a California JC transfer, as it did with Curtis Mitchell in 2010. So Webb could be another to watch as the season progresses.
All in all a pretty good weekend of track and field. Next all eyes will be on Madison Square Garden as the U.S. Open track meet will take place this coming weekend. I’ll take a look at the start lists as we get a bit closer to the meet.