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

NCAA Championships

Jun 17th, 2014
10:46 am PDT

DukesThis was a very busy week of track and field for the true fan of the sport. Oslo, the NCAA Championships, and the New York Grand Prix were all contested within a four day period, with some form of media broadcast available for all four days of action! Finally, technology and track providing fans with serious coverage of the sport.

That said, there’s a LOT to talk about. Too much to deal with in a single post, so I thought I would begin by talking about the youth. After all, they are where the sport is headed – and frankly I can’t help but feel that a "Back to the Future" approach is the way to build this sport.
While I would like to see some changes in the sequence of events that lead to these championships, the NCAA meet is as good as it gets just short of the Olympic and World Championships – and this year’s edition was no exception! For me, there are two draws to this meet – the competition and the competition. That would be the great head to head’s among some of the best individuals on the planet combined with the best team competition available in the sport! Franchises – yes I used the term franchises – like Florida, Oregon, Texas A&M, among others have done an awesome job of putting together squads that are competitive year after year. And watching them battle for team supremacy is a bonus to the head to head battle taking place on the track. Something I wish the broadcasters were more attuned to, as it’s a great opportunity to engage the general public into the sport, since most people identify with"team" sports, and there are definitely "regional" aspects that can be played on.

On that note, the competition in 2014 was outstanding. While the "pros" seem to take every fourth year off, the "kids" and their teams have something to prove all the time as they battle for titles and an opportunity to become pros themselves. I was riveted to my computer the first two days watching the online telecast, then switched to the TV for the final two days off coverage, and have to say there wasn’t a down moment in the action. This was track and field at it’s best. The University of Oregon puts on a great meet – my beef with holding meets here so often has nothing to do with their ability to host. If I have a negative at all with the presentation, it was with the on air announcers who made so many mistakes they were wrong more than they were right. At the end of the day however, it’s about the competition and THAT was awesome. Some of my favorites were:

Trayvon Bromell – The world identifies with the 100 meters and the concept of the World’s Fastest Human. The battle for the best in college shaped up to be between Baylor’s Trayvon Bromell and Florida State’s Dentarius Locke. They didn’t disappoint as freshman Bromell continued his outstanding season by parlaying near perfect race execution into a WJR 9.97 to become the first teen to go under the 10 second barrier. In what may have been the most impressive individual performance of the meet. He’s a bit slightly built and may need some more power to compete with the big boys, but he certainly had the potential to be next big thing in U.S. sprinting.

Dedric Dukes – The men’s 4×1, 200 & 4×4 were exciting and had a common denominator – Florida’s Dedric Dukes. If there was a sprint star in this meet, I would have to say it was Dukes. It’s rare seeing a come from behind victory in a 4×1 at this level. High School yes – I just watched it happen at State. But at the college and elite levels you have to be pretty special to run down the competition from more than a meter down – but that’s just what Dukes did. Against sub 39 competition! He then took to the track for the 200 and peeled off a barely windy 19.91 – truly world class.. He led the world at 19.97 coming in and only a 19.82 turned in by Jamaican Warren Weir earlier in the day in New York is better.. He finished out his day with a sub 45 sec carry on Florida’s 4×4. Stud. Like Bromell could be a big part of U.S. sprinting’s future.

Lawi Lalang & Edward Cheserek –  I list them together because twice they gave us sizzling battles in no less than the 5000 & 10000 meters. Yes I said sizzling because in spite of competing in the longest distances on they track, twice they came down to sub 60 sec final laps – Cheserek winning the 10K, Lalang the 5K." They are definitely two stars of the future ing the distance world and it was fun watching them turn distance races into sprints.

Jenna Prandini – Perhaps the best female performer of the meet in a meet filled with outstanding female performances. Prandini won the long jump. Came back to be a major player in the 100. Then finally returned to take silver in the 200 by just a few THOUSANDTH’s of a second. And if Oregon hadn’t botched an exchange in the semis she would have been a factor in the 4×1 as well! She reminded me a lot of Heike Drecshler, both in terms of technique and competitive drive. I watched her do similar things as a high school competitor here in California. Looks like she’s taking it to the next level.

All four relay events – The relays are always exciting at any level, but perhaps more so at the collegiate level where typically teams contending for overall title often have competitive relays – here was exception. Four times we had competitive relays that had some effect on team scoring. And four times we got exciting races. Something needs to be figured out at the elite level outside of Worlds and the Olympics – and what took place the Bahamas was NOT it.

So that’s my look at the NCAA Championships. One of the best meets we have in the sport annually. We need more meets like this on the docket.

Perhaps the Youth Will Lead

Jun 11th, 2014
10:28 pm PDT

It's early June and the "elite"  track season is about to hit high gear. Pre last week; Oslo today; NCAA Championships started today; and the New York Grand Prix on Saturday. It doesn't get much better than that if you're a track fan - or does it? Well, on the flip side of the coin, the high school athletes here in California are just winding down their season Read More...

Saturday, A Day of Track and Field

Apr 28th, 2014
10:39 am PDT

In the year 2014 we finally got what I've always known TV could give us -  a full day of track & field! The thought of watching track all day on television has been a dream of mine forever.There is an old saying however, be careful what you ask for, you might it. and my day of sitting in the comfort of my home watching track and field had it's moments Read More...

Florida’s Dukes Up at Florida Relays

Apr 12th, 2014
12:26 pm PDT

Two weeks ago, the sprint world got to see young Trayvon Bromwell, come ever so close to the 10 second barrier with sizzling runs of 10.02 and 10.01 at the Texas Relays. In the process becoming the first "breakout" sprinter of the young season. If the question on the table was "Who's next",  it was rapidly answered by the host Gators at last weekend's Florida Relays, as their sprint corps put their "Dukes" up and delivered an answering blow to the early season sprint wars Read More...

Young Sprinters Starting to Step Up

Mar 30th, 2014
10:07 am PDT

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 Read More...

USATF Champs (The Guard is Changing)

Feb 28th, 2014
7:25 pm PDT

We'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 Read More...

You Know It’s an Off Season When …

Feb 17th, 2014
5:28 pm PDT

Track and Field exists in its own alternate universe where semi finals consist of THREE heats, and the focus on promoting the sport is NOT on the competition, but  individual performances! In that same vein, it's the rare sport where its most outstanding performances tend to occur outside of  championship settings and in seasons where there is no major championships at all - the Off Season Read More...

USATF Should Be Split

Jan 15th, 2014
9:32 am PDT

As the year ended I reflected on the sport as I see it. I continue to look at a sport that many say is dying, and continue to see a sport that I feel just needs tweaking.  Not the sport itself. The full slate of events should be contested - and on the track, not down the middle of the street. No, I think the tweaking needs to occur within its administration Read More...

We Need MORE Track Towns, Not Just One

Dec 29th, 2013
9:19 am PDT

In my last post, I mentioned several things that I would like to see happen in 2014 - and I will address all ten of them during the early part of the new year. Reading the news yesterday morning, however, I decided to close out the year with something I don't want to see happen. The establishment of permanent sites for major championship meets in the United States Read More...

Out With the Old, in With Something New?

Dec 15th, 2013
10:12 am PDT

We've got about a week and a half  until Christmas, then another week until the calendar turns to 2014. Somehow it seems like a long way back to Moscow and it feels like it's been a very long year in general. I've not posted in a couple weeks or so because I've been reflecting back on the season, trying to figure out just what I wanted to say, because to be honest it hasn't been my favorite season ever Read More...