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

Team USA v.2017

Jun 26th, 2017
5:31 pm PDT

Me for Blog picTeam USA, the athletes that will be attending the World Championships in London, was selected this past weekend. After nearly a week of some of the toughest competition on the planet, how does the squad that emerged from Sacramento look?

Well, going in it looked like we were headed for a transition, with several old stars looking vulnerable. Coming out it looks like a partial transition took place – some oldies hanging on for that last shot at a global medal, some having to say goodbye. The resulting mix of old and new looking to be potentially one of the strongest teams we’ve had in recent years.

In the middle and long distances, veterans held court pretty well with standard bearers like Jenny Simpson, Matthew Centrowitz, Evan Jager, Emma Coburn, Shannon Rowbury, and Molly Huddle booking passage to London. Ditto in the field as stalwarts Tianna Bartoletta, Trey Hardee, Will Claye, Brittney Reese, Erik Kynard, and Ryan Crouser leading the way back to Worlds. The biggest insurgents of youth coming in the speed events – actually a good thing as we were beginning to get a bit long in the tooth.

Overall as I look at this team I actually like what I see. Our vets are solid, our "kids" very talented. We should do well in London, even as we are in a transitional mode. My thoughts on some of the events and results over the week.

I must say that my biggest disappointment was the DNS of Noah Lyles in the men’s 200. I was looking forward to both a potential coronation if Mr Lyles as well as a stirring race. Lyles apparently had hamstring tightness – and Justin Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt also failed to start. Taking the wind out of the deuce. Gatlin made the 100 team, and Merritt has a bye into London in the 4, so it was only Lyles missing his shot at the team. Big disappointment.

In their absence, it appeared that Christian Coleman would have a cake walk in the event. But Mr Coleman’s long season (and upper arm movement) began to show. First in the 100 where the showdown between he and Gatlin was exciting as it was supposed to be, though the outcome had a twist. The twist being Gatlin overcoming Coleman’s start to take victory in the final 10/15 meters. Gatlin holding form better, Coleman’s upper body betraying him. The same thing happened in the deuce as Coleman took the lead around the turn, only to give it up late to Ameer Webb. Some expressed concern about his losses. I see nothing to be concerned about. He’s got to be tired – as most collegiate athletes should be right now. He only lost by hundredth -.03 in the 100, only.01 in the deuce. He’s fine. Needs a break before prepping for Worlds. Though I would work on relaxing those shoulders during this time.

I must say that I saw encouragement in the 100 with Chris Belcher and Jaylen Bacon in third and fourth. They performed well at NCAA’s and continued here. With Lyles a non starter in the deuce, I would go with the top four in the 100 as my 4×1 squad. It’s time for new blood, and I liked what I saw from both in Eugene.. They could become the core of the future, Gatlin being the only vet. Similar for the women. Tori Bowie showed domination in the 100, fatigue in the deuce (looked like the heat got to her) though she qualified in third. Deajah Stevens made both squads as well placing second in the 100 and winning the 200. Collegiate teammate Arianna Washington getting the third spot in the 100. I think the three from the hundred plus Allyson Felix is gold in London.

I also like the young 400 squads we’re sending to Worlds. On the men’s side, Fred Kerley continued his winning ways – this time in 44.02. I’m totally looking forward to what should be ahead to head with Wayde van Niekerk in London. Potentially THE head to head off the year! Runner up Gil Roberts will have to show he can repeat, which he hasn’t done in the past. The interesting one is Will London – young and steadily improving. He could surprise. I also like women’s winner Quanera Hayes. Fast early in the year, she showed that form again at 49.72. I also like seeing Kendall Ellis in third at 50.00. Overall a lot of youth in the 400 that I think it’s going to do well.

While I’m on the subject of youth and the 400, let’s throw in hurdles, because both long hurdle groups are young and talented! All three women (Delilah Muhammad, Shamier Little and Kori Carter) ran under 53 seconds in one of the fastest race finishes in history. The men are lead by a pair of Florida Gators – they’re young. but Eric Futch has twice won the college title and just won The US title. I think I trust him to do well when it matters.

Speaking of youth, I’m really excited about both winners of the 800. Donovan Brazier looked like the guy that ran 1:43 last year. His move with 200 to go is what it takes at the elite level. He’s a finalist if he runs like that in London. And Ajee Wilson ran fast and with passion throughout. She can clearly run the rounds and is an easy finalist the way she looks right now. Joining with the distance runners i named above and it looks like a repeat of medal winning is in store!

As I began, I like the team that’s emerged this weekend. Veterans where needed, but a lot of exciting potential among the youth. Looking forward to seeing how the summer goes. Then an attempt to handicap London. Europe should be fun.

USATF Match Ups

Jun 21st, 2017
1:18 pm PDT

The NCAA's are in the books, and it was exciting as usual. There's something about the combination of great head to head match ups; team scoring; and relays that makes track and field everything it's supposed to be. At its core; it's why the Olympics are so exciting and well watched. Pay attention USATF and IAAF - especially Sebastian Coe Read More...

NCAA Championships

Jun 13th, 2017
2:18 pm PDT

Championship season is my favorite time of year. The relay circuit is fun. The Diamond League gives us a glimpse of the world's elite athletes. But in today's track and field it's Championships that gives us the head to head competition between the sports best athletes at every level! The NCAA's are always the first of the "elite" championships each year Read More...

Track at the Half

Jun 5th, 2017
3:38 pm PDT

There has been SO much negative happening within the sport this winter and spring. It's been akin to the rain here in California. In track we typically wish for more to be written - just as we here in Cali have wanted more rain. Yet here in California we were deluged with rain this spring to the point of near floods in some areas Read More...

Track and Field Isn’t Broken, Management Is

Jan 12th, 2017
1:04 pm PDT

Reading all the recent headlines about track and field, one has to ask: What's wrong with the sport? I've asked myself that question several times. And after careful review I conclude that there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with the sport of track and field - NOTHING! Track and Field, the sport I fell in love with at the age of ten, is perhaps the most exciting sport in the world Read More...

The Fall and Winter of Negativity

Dec 13th, 2016
12:36 pm PDT

Rio was a letdown - and I LOVE me some track and field. But the Olympics are supposed to be the pinnacle of sport, and this one just didn't have that feel! The men's 400 final aside, the races were good, but lacked that "oomph" factor. It was the first Games I can remember where it was over and, well it was done - as in no one was talking about it anymore Read More...

Where is US Sprinting Headed?

Nov 10th, 2016
12:03 pm PDT

The US scored a huge medal haul in Rio - something always expected, but not always materialized. The expectations are always there because of our purported sprint and hurdle prowess. I say purported because in Rio it was our middle and long distance crew that led the way, as our sprint and hurdle crew has gotten a bit long in the tooth Read More...

USATF Athletes of the Year

Oct 30th, 2016
2:06 pm PDT

Given the recent articles in the news regarding Max Siegel and his elaborate lifestyle while USATF stagnates, I've held off saying anything at all about US track - though I have written a few things that I will begin to post. Today after seeing the choices for male and female athlete of the year, I feel that I should speak my mind, and begin voicing my opinions again Read More...

Does Track and Field Need to Change?

Sep 18th, 2016
3:06 pm PDT

Recently I saw an article asking whether or not we need to delete events from track and field - and if so which ones. The author said that we have to do this to increase the popularity of the sport. Among the reasons given was the attention span of the general public, and that meets are too long. An example that was given was the fact that track and field during the Olympics takes a little over a week to run!  It's not the first article I've seen on the subject - all with similar reasons given Read More...

Nike Customer Service Report 

Sep 12th, 2016
8:16 pm PDT

Normally I don't write about things not track related. But in many ways this is track related, so here goes. Recently I had to product "malfunctions" with two completely different outcomes/experiences. One was with my smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The Note comes with a special stylus that is really the heart of the phone Read More...