Cross-Country and Distance Running

Cross-Country          Distance Running

Cross-Country:

For the 1st Time in NCAA History, Both 2009 Cross-Country Champions Successfully Defend Their National Titles

Emily MacLeod and Michigan State Win the 2010 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross-Country Championships

Emily MacLeod and Michigan State Win the 2010 Big Ten Cross-Country Championships

Washington Women Discover It Is Easier to Win a National Title Than to Defend It - 2009 NCAA X-Country Championships

There is a new sign on I-5 running north to south through Western Washington and by the Montlake Campus at University of Washington, and it tells a truth that many national champions have had to come to terms with—that it is easier to win a national title than to defend it. Just ask Wshington's women cross-country team.

Michigan State's Emily MacLeod Wins NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross-Country Meet - Spartan Team Finishes 5th

Michigan State's Emily MacLeod ran the best race of her college career at the 2009 NCAA Great Lakes Regional qualifying meet for the national championship. The junior left no doubt about who was the fastest among the 218 runners on the course, winning the 6,000-meter race (3.72 miles) in 20:42.70, more than 9 seconds ahead of runner-up Kaitlyn Peale of the University of Michigan. Get the full results.

Washington's Women Win Both 2009 Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional X-Country Championships - Kendra Schaaf Leads the Way

The University of Washington's women cross-country runners are the defending national champions, and they looked every bit the part while sweeping both the 2009 Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA West Regional titles. Read all the details.

Washington's 2 Freshmen Lead Women to the 2008 National Cross-Country Title

Imagine for a moment that you are the head coach at a major university and you recruit two freshmen to run on your cross-country team. You do not redshirt them because they are good enough to run on your varsity. A few months later they finish 5th and 9th to lead your team to its first NCAA National Championship. Get the full story.

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Wins the 2008 Great Lakes Regional, Michigan Wins Title

Michigan State brought the best runner to the 2008 Great Lakes Regional, but Michigan brought the best team and took home the trophy, winning the meet with 72 points to Wisconsin's 80 and Michigan State's 83 for 3rd place. Senior Nicole Bush beat 227 runners to claim the individual title in 20:48.5 over the 6,000-meter (3.72 mile) course at Purdue University in Lafayette (IN).

NCAA Cross-Country - Washington Women Win West Regional Meet With a Stunning 3-4-5-6-7 Finish

After winning the Pac 10 Cross-Country Championship with an unprecedented 1-2-3-4-5 perfect score of 15, the University of Washington's women runners ran away with the 2008 NCAA West Regional Championship with a 3-4-5-6-7 finish at Stanford University's course, scoring only 25 points to runner-up Oregon's 62. Find out why the Washington women are ranked No. 1 in the country.

Wisconsin Men Win 10th Straight Title, Minnesota Women Repeat as Champs, Nicole Bush of Michigan State Wins Race

Wisconsin's men won their 10th straight title, Minnesota's women repeated as champs but Nicole Bush of Michigan State won the individual title Sunday (11-1-08) at the Big Ten Cross-Country Championship Meet in Ann Arbor (MI). Nicole Bush toured the 6,000-meter course (3.72 miles) in 20:15.8 to win by 12 seconds over runner-up Gwen Jorgensen of Wisconsin. Michigan State finished 3rd in the women's competition.

Northwest Christian in Lacey Becomes a State Powerhouse in Cross-Country

The Northwest Christian High School Navigators arrive at the starting line ready to not only compete but to win, and win they did Saturday (11-8-08) during Washington State's 2008 Prep Cross-Country Championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, taking home championship trophies in both the girls and boys B (small school) races.

Washington's Gig Harbor Girls Just Miss Another State Title and Chance at History

Washington State's 2008 Prep Cross-Country Championships taught the Gig Harbor High School girls' team a really disappointing lesson in knowing just how close is not close enough. After winning 3 consecutive state titles in the 4A state championship competition, Gig Harbor fell 1 point short in the team competition Saturday (11-8-08) at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, settling for the runner-up spot. Learn what happened.

Washington Women Win Pac 10 Title, Set Record With First-Ever Perfect Score

It was show time on Halloween at the Springfield (OR) Country Club for the 2008 Pac 10 Conference Cross-Country Championships and the University of Washington women runners showed why the Huskies are the No. 1-ranked team in the country, winning with an unprecedented perfect score of 15. Learn why the Washington women are so good.

Michigan State Hires Kim McGreevy, Former Big Ten Champion, as New Assistant Coach

Kim McGreevy, a former Big Ten Conference cross-country champion and Academic All-American, has been named as the new assistant track & field and cross-country coach at Michigan State University. McGreevy had spent the last 4 years in the same position at the University of Connecticut. Find out why her arrival at Michigan State is so important to the program's continued success.

Michigan State Women Finish 1-2-3 to Win the Colonial Inter-Regional Championship

Both of Michigan State's women and men cross country runners announced themselves big time Saturday (9-27-08) as the women used a 1-2-3 finish to capture the Colonial Inter-Regional women's title at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg (VA), and the men were runner-up in their contest. Find out why MSU's cross-country program is on the rise.

Legendary High School Coach Pat Tyson Becomes New Coach at Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University Athletic Director Mike Roth made the most astute move since the hiring of Mark Few as his basketball coach by recently hiring legendary high school coach Pat Tyson as his first full-time running coach. Pat Tyson does not only eat, sleep and live running 24 hours a day, he is not only a high school coach with no peer, he is a coaching legend before he starts. Gonzaga is about to make an impact in running like it did in basketball.

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Finishes 5th at NCAA Nationals, Best Spartan Run Ever - 2007 Cross-Country Recap - Part 1

Senior Nicole Bush put the finishing touch on an outstanding cross-country season by finishing 5th in the NCAA National Championship meet, leading the Michigan State women to a 5th place team finish, the second best showing ever for the Spartans, topped only by the 4th place finish in 1981 at the first-ever NCAA women's championships. Learn why Michigan State's women middle distance runners are among the rising stars nationally. This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Article.

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Finishes 5th at NCAA Nationals, Best Spartan Run Ever - 2007 Cross-Country Recap - Part 2

Senior Nicole Bush put the finishing touch on an outstanding cross-country season by finishing 5th in the NCAA National Championship meet, leading the Michigan State women to a 5th place team finish, the second best showing ever for the Spartans, topped only by the 4th place finish in 1981 at the first-ever NCAA women's championships. Learn why Michigan State's women middle distance runners are among the rising stars nationally. This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Article.

Meet Michigan State's Newest Dynamo: Associate Head Coach Rita Arndt-Molis - The Spartans Hired a Winner

During the changing of the guard for Michigan State University's cross-country and track & field programs, Rita Arndt-Molis was named Associate Head Coach following Walt Drenth's appointment as director of the programs. Arndt-Molis will coach both men and women middle-distance and distance runners in both cross-country and track. Her impact was immediate. Learn why the Spartans will benefit every day she is coaching.

Walt Drenth Becomes Director of MSU's Cross-Country and Track & Field Programs - Spartans Go With a Winner

Michigan State University's Cross-County and Track & Field programs have taken a really positive step forward with the appointment of Walt Drenth as the director. Just as Tom Izzo has led the Spartan basketball program back to national prominence, and new first-year coach Mark Dantonio has already dramatically improved Michigan State's football fortunes with a bowl appearance, Walt Drenth will create a winning tradition among Spartan runners.

2007 WA State Cross-Country Meet: 2 Girls Teams Win Consecutive Championships: No. 3 for Gig Harbor and No. 2 Northwest Christian

Two girls teams from Western Washington—Gig Harbor and Northwest Christian—won consecutive titles at the 2007 Washington State Cross-Country Championships. The Gig Harbor Tides picked up their 3rd consecutive title and the Northwest Christian Navigators won their 2nd title. Northwest Christian's Joscelyn Minton also won the state individual championship. Get full results in this article.

Mead Mania: The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington - Part 1

When you live through a time in history when an athletic event arguably becomes one of the greatest in history, it is easy to remember. So it was with the Golden Era of prep distance running in Washington State. Mead High School in Eastern Washington won 9 straight state cross-country titles and 12 in a 15-year run from 1988 to 2002. Learn the legacy of Mead.

Mead Mania: Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive State Titles - Part 2

Things began to really heat up with the arrival of Pat Tyson as Mead's distance running coach. He provided the leadership that led to Mead's first of 9 straight titles in 1988. Tyson may be best known nationally as a University of Oregon runner under coach Bill Bowerman and the one-time roommate of Steve "Pre" Prefontaine. What Tyson learned living and running with Steve Prefontaine and from coach Bowerman was brought to Mead and superbly implemented.

Mead Mania: How About a State Cross-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners - Part 3

Key to Pat Tyson's practice routine as well as Steve Prefontaine's and the University of Oregon's was to train twice a day, a steady run the morning and a specific training workout in the afternoon. The spillover effect of Tyson's personality, accessibility and passion for running positively influenced Mead runners and brought students into the program that may otherwise have never been involved in athletics.

Mead Mania: 2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championship - Part 4

Another example of Mead's dominance came the following year in the 1994 state track championship meet, when it won the title with 73 points to runner-up Clover Park's 36. Four outstanding runners from the 1993 team returned to accomplish these results:  In the 1600 meter Greg James won in 4:10.06, Rob Aubrey was runner-up in 4:11.19 and Micah Davis was 4th in 4:14.81. In the 3200 meter, Aubrey won in 9:07.85, Davis was runner-up in 9:07.90 and Skiy De Tray was 3rd in 9:11.56.

Distance Running:

The Tired 2010 Boston Marathon - Another Magnificent Display of African Runners with Difficult Names - A Marketing Nightmare

The Boston Marathon is a perpetual nightmare for marketing track and field and distance running in America. Find out why the African domination is killing corporate support, and sponsors are running away as fast as they can.

2009 Boston Marathon - At Last, American-Born Runners Click It Up a Notch Against African Winners

The American marketing nightmare that is the Boston Marathon is not going away, but at least two American-born athletes have now offered us a glimmer of hope that we might at sometime in the 21st Century win the race that we own. Learn more about the rise of Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall, and why it even matters.

Meet "Pre" -  America's Greatest Running Legend and Greatest Middle Distance Hero

It has now been 33 years since the untimely, tragic death of America's greatest running legend and its greatest middle distance runner, Steve Prefontaine, and his legacy continues to grow as the void he filled remains open. It is rare but true to say that his legacy may never be matched again. Find out why.

Is There a More Winning NCAA Coach Than UCLA's John Wooden? Well, Yes

Any discussion of the NCAA's winningest coach naturally begins with UCLA's legendary basketball guru John Wooden, who won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years and 7 straight titles from 1967 to 1973. No other basketball coach is even close to Wooden. However, Arkansas's John McDonnell, who coaches the Razorbacks' cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track teams, has won 42 NCAA championships and 12 consecutive indoor track titles from 1984 to 1995. Learn more in the full article.

Ryan Hall, America's Great Young Runner, Is Our Fastest U. S.-Born Marathoner Ever

After posting a story titled "America's Marketing Nightmare – The Foreign Runners Who Dominate the Boston Marathon", wherein I complained about the lack of U. S. marathoners challenging foreign runners, Patrice Carlisle in Sugarloaf, CA took some time and effort to email me her reaction. Get the full story.

Some Testy Social Commentary: America's Marketing Nightmare - The Foreign Runners Who Dominate the Boston Marathon

They ran the 112th Boston Marathon Monday (4-21-08). The triumph was that Robert Cheruiyot (try to say something close to Cherry-ott) of Kenya won his 4th Boston Marathon. The tragedy was that America hardly noticed. It is flat out difficult, nay impossible, to market world-class foreign athletes on American soil, no matter how much they win or how many records they set. Nobody in America seems to care.

Running: How Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the "Kiss of Death" When Trying to Lose Weight - Part 1

As a high school, college, master’s and senior competitive runner, I used to often wonder why it was so difficult to lose extra pounds as I grew older. Now I know why. That is why I feel so blessed to have read Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s book Eat Right for Your Type which chronicles the four basic blood types, and why each thrives on a different diet, stress/exercise profile and personality type.

Running: How Lectins (Proteins in Food) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types - Part 2

Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s findings are critical to understanding why Americans have become some of the most unhealthy and overweight people in the world. An inordinate amount of our children are walking about today as examples of obesity before they are even teenagers. When you know that there are more O blood types than any other type, you can then better appreciate the extent of our problem.

Running: Gluten in Wheat and Other Grains Bind to the Lining of the Small Intestine and Turn to Fat - Part 3

Gluten, the most common lectin found in wheat and other grains, binds to the lining of the small intestine, causing substantial inflammation and painful irritation in some blood types—especially Type O. This is serious business for all O positive blood types and especially runners because what is binding to the small intestines eventually turns to fat.

Running: How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice - Part 4

Running magazines are great for recommending one-type-fits-all diets for runners, but they are dead wrong and their O blood type readers who follow their advice will not benefit from their recommendations. I used to swear by the advice of running magazines, and now I at swear at their diet advice, especially regarding diets for runners. Learn why in this article.

Running: There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Your Weight and Your Cardiovascular Efficiency - Part 5

Lifelong runners like myself who have been training and competing forever (47 years plus) know that there is an inescapable correlation between your weight and your cardiovascular efficiency. Essentially, when you lose 10% of your body weight, you increase your cardiovascular efficiency 10%. Learn why in this article.

Arthur Lydiard, the World's Greatest Middle Distance Coach, on How to Train Effectively

As a lifelong runner, master's and senior competitor in track, I have read hundreds of stories on techniques addressing specific aspects of training. It was not until I bought and read Running, The Lydiard Way that training philosophy became more important than individual workouts to achieve specific results. Lydiard's work is a textbook not only on his philosophy of running but also on the physiology of exercise.

An Unforgettable Gift: What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running

Running gives you peace of mind that settles your soul. I have my high school cross-country coach to thank for introducing me to the pure joy of running. Like many of us who have become successful in life, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to a certain teacher or coach who influenced us in a way that we will never forget. This is my story about such a man, a tremendous influence for good in my life.

Why American Designers Simply Cannot Get It Right When Creating Running Suits

Imagine a man who wants to buy a running suit with zippers on the pockets and can find none. He soon discovers that people who design running suits today could not possibly be athletes or people who are interested in safeguarding their valuables. Pockets without zippers allow wallets, money and keys to fly out when running or even sitting in a chair. Even Nike does not put zippers on running suit pockets anymore. The designers apparently went out to lunch and never returned.

Cross-Country:

November 26, 2010

Oklahoma State Men & Villanova Women Win Again

For the 1st Time in NCAA History, Both 2009 Cross-Country Champions Successfully Defend Their National Titles

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

For the first time in NCAA history, both the men and women national cross-country champions successfully defended their titles at the 2010 National Championship Meet.

Both Oklahoma State and Villanova ran impressively to capture repeat titles. The Oklahoma State Cowboys dominated among the men, winning with 73 points as Florida State ran a distant second with 193.

The Villanova Wildcats, led by junior Sheila Reid, who won the individual title, won the team title with 120 points to Florida State's 154. Florida State's men and women Seminole runners could at least find some satisfaction in becoming national runner-up in both races, a rare achievement as well.

Senior Samuel Chelanga of Liberty University also successfully defended his individual title by out kicking runner-up Stephen Sambu of Arizona down the stretch to the finish line, winning the 10-kilometer run (6.2 miles) in 29:22.

For much of the race, Luke Puskedra of Oregon stayed with Chelanga and Sambu but had to settle for 3rd place, about 12 seconds behind Sambu. Both Chelanga and Sambu qualified for the nationals, but their teams did not, so Puskedra was 3rd overall but 1st in the team race.

After that, it was all Oklahoma State as three juniors wearing bright orange jerseys made their presence felt. Girma Mecheso was 5th in 29:48, German Fernandez was 6th in 29:50 and Colby Lowe 7th in 29:58. That is called running in a pack and, at that point, Oklahoma State was 63 points up on Florida State's first 3 finishers.

When freshman Tom Farrell raced across the finish in 30:22 to take 25th place, and junior Johnathan Stublaski followed in 30:37 for 30th place, it was all over but the counting.

So how dominant was Oklahoma State? This dominant: The Cowboys had 3 of their runners in the top 7, 4 in the top 25 and 5 in the top 30. No other team had more than 3 runners among the top 40.

All 7 runners for Oklahoma State can return next year as there are 4 juniors, 1 sophomore and 2 freshman. Only Indiana, which finished 7th, can return all of its runners next year.

The back-to-back national championships were the first in Oklahoma State's history and their 3rd title overall; the Cowboys first national title came in 1954. The Cowboys are coached by Dave Smith, who knew he had 4 stallions who could run out front but wondered who among his 5th, 6th and 7th runners would rise to the occasion and seal the victory – Johnathan Stublaski did just that.

For the record, Wisconsin was 3rd with 223 points, Stanford 4th with 237, Oklahoma 5th with 281 and Oregon 6th with 289 (low total score of a 7-member team's first 5 finishers wins in cross-country). Thirty-one teams and 246 runners competed in the meet.

The two men teams I follow most closely – Michigan State and Washington – did not even qualify for the finals. More than 300 teams compete in Division I-A cross-country; it is a sport where the smallest schools can run against the biggest.

Sheila Reid of Villanova covered the 6-kilometer course (3.72 miles) in 20:07 to win the individual title. She was followed in by senior Amanda Marino in 8th place (20:27), senior Alison Smith in 20th (20:40), junior Bogdana Mimic in 22nd (20:41), and freshman Emily Lipari in 69th (21:19). Last year, Reid was 13th in the national meet.

Coach Gina Procaccio also knew she had 4 outstanding runners, the question was, did she have a 5th? Villanova's 6th and 7th runners – Sarah Morrison (201) and Callie Hogan (205) finished way back – but young Emily Lipari played a key role in helping the Wildcats repeat as national champions.

After Reid, Marino and Smith finished 1, 8 and 20, Villanova had a 9-point advantage on Florida State's first 3 finishers. It was Mimic who put down the hammer to capture 22nd place and push Villanova's margin over Florida State out to 20. By finishing 69th, Emily Lapari pushed the margin out to 34 points.

Following Florida State in 2nd place was Texas Tech in 3rd (165 points), Georgetown in 4th (167), New Mexico 5th (227) and Colorado 6th (314).

For Villanova, a school with a storied running history, this year's repeat title was its 9th. The Wildcats won 6 straight from 1989 through 1994, then added another title in 1998 before completing their back-to-back sweep the last two years. Stanford has won 5 titles, BYU 4 and four other teams – Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado – have claimed 2 titles.

Sheila Reid, junior Emily Infield of Georgetown (who finished 2nd in 20:10) and sophomore Jordan Hasay of Oregon (who finished 3rd in 20:13), were all running together right up to the finishing straight. It was Reid's superior strength and speed that separated her from Infeld and Hasay to capture the title.

The times for the race were slower this year as the runners had to deal with a gray, gloomy, very windy day on the championship course at Terre Haute, Indiana. Thirty-one teams and 215 runners competed in the women's race.

Reid's win was really also a triumph of her will. She suffered a critical injury during her freshman year, tripping on a root during a training session and suffering a torn labrum (the cartilage lining the hip socket). Following surgery, she missed her sophomore season during the long recovery process.

She did not give up hope, and neither did Gina Procaccio, her coach. Procaccio went the extra mile to get Reid the best surgeon in the country by convincing her athletic director that Reid could someday be a national champion.

"To see it all come to fruition is amazing," said Procaccio after the race. "We both hugged and were crying. It was a tough road. I knew working with the kid when I first got her (that) she could be an NCAA champion, and this (the national title) is the big one."

In other results from the women's race, Oregon finished 12th, Washington 16th, and Michigan State 23rd. None of these three teams ran well.

November 21, 2010

Senior Successfully Defends Title

Emily MacLeod and Michigan State Win the 2010 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross-Country Championships

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

For the Michigan State women's cross-country team, the time to win is now. And believe you me, the Spartans have made that decision really clear recently.

Fresh off winning the Big Ten Conference title, Michigan State's women showed the same great talent and resilience in once again running to victory with the individual and team titles at the 2010 NCAA Great Lakes Regional championship meet.

Senior Emily MacLeod again led the Spartans by winning the 6-kilometer race in 20:18.76, successfully defending her individual title that she first won in last year's race.

MacLeod was followed in by junior Carlie Green (a sensational 6th-place finish in 20:41.98), junior Rebekah Smeltzer (an outstanding 11th-place finish in 20:53.17), sophomore Kristen Smith (30th in 21:32.19) and freshman Julia Otwell (32nd in 21:38.27). Their overall average time was 21:00.88, a hair from under 21 flat.

The Spartans were the only team to place 3 runners in the top 15 – MacLeod (1st), Green (6th) and Smeltzer (11th).

Michigan State's winning score of 80 was 16 points better than arch-rival Michigan's 96, as the Wolverines had to settle for 2nd place once again (they finished as runner-up to Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference championships).

The next 8 teams in were Toledo (3rd with 130), Ohio State (4th with 139), Indiana (5th with 167), Notre Dame (6th with 207), Miami-Ohio (7th with 220), Central Michigan (8th with 232), Dayton (9th with 248), and Wisconsin (10th with 266).

The Great Lakes Regional at Oakland (MI) University featured 33 teams and 231 runners on the 3.72-mile course.

Spartan sophomore Katie Haines was 74th and freshman Sara Kroll was 88th.

MacLeod ran a strong and smart race. "I was just really trying to stay relaxed and calm," said MacLeod, "I knew the Toledo girl was going to go out fast. I just stayed back, stuck to my strategy and everything worked out."

"Emily came out today not really wanting to lead after knowing the strategy of several of the other runners," said Walt Drenth, Michigan State's Director of Cross-Country.

"She kept her poise throughout the whole race. Prior to the race we talked about minimizing both her mental and physical efforts in preparation of the NCAA Championships," continued Drenth.

"After staying back for some of the race, (she) caught up with the leaders with about 400 meters to go, and then took off to win the race. When you come into a race as the defending champion, you really have a lot of people looking to take a run at you. She handled the expectations well and it showed the type of person she is, as well as the type of team Michigan State is. It is about the team, not the individual."

By winning, Michigan State automatically qualified for the 2010 NCAA championship meet. By winning the individual title, Emily MacLeod became the first Spartan ever to win back-to-back championships. Her win was also the 3rd straight by Michigan State as Nicole Bush won the individual title in 2008, running 20:48.5.

Michigan State also won back-to-back Great Lakes titles in 2006 and 2007. Last year the Spartan women finished 5th in the team competition.

Emily MacLeod was subsequently named 2010 Great Lakes Region Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year, and Director Walt Drenth was named Great Lakes Women's Coach of the Year.

The Wisconsin men again dominated this year's Great Lakes Regional meet, putting together a dream 2-6-7-8-9 finish to win with 32 points to runner-up Indiana's 76 points.

This time the Badgers were led by sophomore Reed Conner (2nd in 30:28.70), sophomore Maverick Darling (6th in 30:31.61), junior Elliot Krause (7th in 30:31.79), sophomore Mohammed Ahmed (8th in 30:31.85), and senior Landon Peacock (9th in 30:32.02). Their average winning time was 30:31.20 over the 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) course.

Do you think that Wisconsin has a chance of repeating again next year? Are you serious, mate? They appear to have a lock on the men's competition for some years to come.

Wisconsin's 6th finisher, junior Phil Thomas, was 23rd in 30:51.93. If you think that was not fast enough, consider this thought: his time would have had him finishing 3rd in scoring on 28 of the 31 teams in the competition.

The message: do not mess with the men Badgers when they are running, or cornered with no way out – you will likely be watching their backsides throughout the race.

Cincinnati's Eric Finan won the individual title in 30:25.34, a 4:53.8 average per mile.

Michigan State's men were 5th with senior Patrick Grosskopf finishing 13th in 30:39.06. He earned all-region honors for the second consecutive year, and qualified for the NCAA finals as an individual.

November 20, 2010

Senior Sets Personal Record

Emily MacLeod and Michigan State Win the 2010 Big Ten Cross-Country Championships

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

To say that Emily MacLeod knows her role on the Michigan State University women's cross-country team would be to vastly underestimate not only her ability, but her leadership and desire.

MacLeod, the only senior runner for the Spartans, did what a real winner and leader would in the 2010 Big Ten cross-country championship meet -- she won the 6-kilometer race and led her teammates to the conference title.

MacLeod's 19:54 time over the 3.72-mile course was her career best by 21 seconds, and the second best time ever recorded in the Big Ten Conference championship meet.

MacLeod had great support from her teammates. Junior Carlie Green finished 7th in 20:25, sophomore Katie Haines was 17th in 20:51, sophomore Kristen Smith was 22nd in 20:58, and freshman Julia Otwell was 27th in 21:03 to complete Michigan State's scoring.

Taken together, the Spartans 74 points were 14 points better than arch-rival Michigan's 88, forcing the Wolverines to settle for 2nd (low total score of a 7-member team's first 5 finishers wins in cross-country).

Even Michigan State's last two runners beat Michigan's last two runners. Spartan junior Rebekah Smeltzer finished 30th in 21:07 and freshman Sara Kroll 42nd in 21:24. Michigan's last two runners finished 43d and 59th. Smeltzer was only 2 places behind Michigan's 5th scoring runner.

The conference team title was Michigan State's 3rd overall and its first since 2001. Both Emily MacLeod and Carlie Green made the All-Big Ten First Team with their 1st and 7th-place finishes.

Last year Michigan State was 5th in the meet as MacLeod was 6th in 20:41 and Green was 15th in 21:14. MacLeod's winning time this year was 47 seconds faster, and Green's 7th place time was 49 seconds faster, showing great improvement and much more success.

The Spartan cross-country program, under the tutelage of Director Walt Drenth and Assistant Coaches Kim McGreevy and Lisa Senakiewich, has been steadily improving, as witnessed by the Big Ten conference meet results.

Among the men, the Spartan team finished 5th with sophomore Ben Miller 16th in 24:09 and senior Patrick Grosskopf 23rd in 24:19 over the 8-kilometer (4.96-mile course).

The Wisconsin men won the Big Ten championship hands down with an astounding 1-4-5-6-12 finish for 28 points. Runner-up Indiana was second with 75 points, and the rest were a lot worse.

Senior Landon Peacock won for the Badgers in 23:41, Mohammed Ahmed was 4th in 23:43, Elliot Krause 5th in 23:43, Maverick Darling 6th in 23:51, and Reed Conner 12th in 24:02. Their average time was 23:48.

Peacock was 2nd with 30 meters to go but outkicked Indiana's Andrew Bayer to win by a fraction of a second (both were officially timed in 23:41). Both Landon Peacock and Maverick Darling were Michigan high school runners recruited by Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's men own the Big Ten meet. This year's title was their 12th straight, tying the record for the 4th-longest championship streak in conference history among all sports. It was also the Wisconsin cross-county program's 44th team title, including 29 of the last 34 championship races.

Wisconsin's men roster has only 17 runners.

Michigan State's women roster has 40 runners – 19 of them are freshmen and 10 are sophomores. Here is a note of caution for Michigan State's Big Ten women competitors: you had better be looking in your rearview mirror because the women Spartans are serious and on the move.

February 19, 2010

2009 NCAA X-Country Championships

Washington Women Discover It Is Easier to Win a National Title Than to Defend It

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

There is a new sign on I-5 running north to south through Western Washington and by the Montlake Campus at University of Washington, and it tells a truth that many national champions have had to come to terms with—that it is easier to win a national title than to defend it.

The continuing dominance of the Huskies' women cross-country team came to a screeching halt at the 2009 NCAA National Championship Meet. Some runners from Villanova and Florida State found their way across the finish line ahead of them as Washington, the defending national champions, found themselves in 3rd place with a score of 188.

Last year they won the title with 79 points. Villanova won this year's title with 86 points, followed by Florida State with 133, Texas Tech was 4th with 191, and Princeton 5th with 251.

Having analyzed the data from the last year's and this year's meet, it is pretty easy to understand—even with Washington's apparent continuing dominance—how the Huskies could come up a dollar short and a day late at this year's national meet.

In its simplest form, Villanova's runners finished 6-12-20-22-26. Washington finished 2-21-27-29-109. Last year's national championship team finished 5-9-19-20-26. If there is a glaring number in these 3 sets of figures, it is 109—Washington's 5th scoring runner this year.

Just how important is the 5th scoring runner on a team? It can be the difference between winning a national championship and losing a national championship.

The Huskies' 5th scorer this year was Allison Linnell, a freshman who does not have the same talent, experience and maturity as a runner as does her teammates Christine Babcock and Kendra Schaaf, who last year finished 5th and 9th in the national meet as freshmen. Linnell did not run in the West Regional Meet, and her effort in the national meet was her first at the highest level of competition.

Last year Washington's women ran 5-9-19-20-26 with a spread between their first and last scorer of 35 seconds. Their 6th runner was 32nd (sophomore Lauren Saylor) and their 7th runner was 41st (senior Anita Campbell). The spread between Washington's 1st and 7th runners last year was only 49 seconds, which is rarer than winter sunshine in a rainy state.

Last year's team was living the dream. Two newly recruited freshmen, Christine Babcock and Kendra Schaaf, became superstars overnight because of their talent, desire and maturity. This was an anomaly of gigantic proportions.

The absence of graduating seniors Amanda Miller, who finished 26th last year in 20:37, and Anita Campbell, who finished 41st in 20:51 (the 7th runner and out of the scoring), was huge. Without their influence in helping to give stability to the team and being role models for the younger runners, Washington would not have gotten the job done last year.

Remember, Amanda Miller was 26th last year and the Huskies' last scoring runner; Allison Linnell was 109th this year and the Huskies' last scoring runner.

Another huge factor was Lauren Saylor, who finished 32nd in the national meet last year in 20:44. Saylor was the 6th Husky to finish last year and did not figure in the scoring, but she did not even run in the West Regional and the National Championship meets this year. Any way you cut it, Saylor's 20:44 last year was much faster than Linnell's 21:35 time this year.  The question is:  What happened to Saylor? I am not close enough to the program to know.  Her absence could have made a huge difference in the Husky team confidence level.

All 4 of Washington's first scorers this year ran faster than they did in the West Regional Meet that the Huskies won, but Babcock ran 41 seconds slower this year (finishing 29th rather than 5th), and Lawrence ran 6 seconds slower (finishing 27th rather than 19th). The 6,000-meter distance (3.72 miles) was the same.

Washington's best this year was Kendra Schaaf, who was the individual runner-up with a time of 19:52, only 5 seconds slower than national champion Angela Bizzarri of Illinois (19:47). Schaaf was 9th last year in 20:18. Illinois was 12th in the team standings. Oregon was 9th, led by freshman Jordan Hasay, who finished 16th in 20:24.

Husky junior Kailey Campbell, who did not compete in last year's nationals, finished 148th (7th among her teammates) at 21:54. In the West Regional Meet, Campbell was 4th in 21:00. It was not her day.

To put it all into perspective, even if Allison Linnell or Kailey Campbell had finished right behind Christine Babcock, who was 29th in 20:43, Washington still would have been way short of Villanova in its title run.

Washington coach Greg Metcalf had to have known that, despite the Huskies' runaway success until the national meet, he had a problem finding a 5th scoring runner who could duplicate the success of Babcock and Schaaf as freshmen.

As talented and young as the Washington team is, they did not get as good performances from 3 of their 4 top finishers this year as they did last year, and they lacked the depth in the 5th scoring position to repeat as national champions.

Michigan State was 26th in team competition, led by Emily MacLeod's 42nd place finish in 20:57. MacLeod won the Great Lakes Regional Meet, but the Spartans had no one to run with MacLeod, and could do no better.

In the men's run, Oklahoma State finished 7-8-11-24-77 to win the 2009 national championship with 127 points. Oregon, with sophomore Luke Puskedra's 17th-place finish in 30:02, was second at 143. Alabama was 3rd with 173.

David McNeill won the individual title in 29:07, and teammate Jordan Chipangama was 3rd, to lead Northern Arizona to a 4th place team finish. William & Mary was 5th (226), Colorado 6th (315), Wisconsin 7th (321), New Mexico and Iona tied for 8th (350), and Stanford 10th (354). Stanford's Chris Derrick was the individual runner-up in 29:15. The men's course was 10,000 meters (6.2 miles).

Washington's men were 18th, led by senior Kelly Spady's 55th-place finish in 30:36. The Michigan State men were 31st and dead last, led by Isaiah VanDoorne's 108th-place finish in 31:17. The Spartans had a terrible day.

February 18, 2010

Spartan Team Finishes 5th

Michigan State's Emily MacLeod Wins NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross-Country Meet

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

Michigan State's Emily MacLeod ran the best race of her college career at the 2009 NCAA Great Lakes Regional qualifying meet for the national championship. The junior left no doubt about who was the fastest among the 218 runners on the course, winning the 6,000-meter race (3.72 miles) in 20:42.70, more than 9 seconds ahead of runner-up Kaitlyn Peale of the University of Michigan.

MacLeod's first-place finish earned her selection as the Great Lakes Regional Woman Athlete of the Year, and propelled the Spartans to a 5th-place finish in the team competition with 121 points. Notre Dame won the team title with 94 points (low score among a team's first 5 finishers wins in cross-country).

Ohio State was 2nd with 102, Michigan was 3rd with 104 and Indiana was 4th with 105.

MacLeod was followed across the line by junior Carlie Green (11th in 21:26.06), sophomore Rebekah Smeltzer (23rd in 21:42.78), sophomore Tiffany Abrahamian (31st in 21:58.34), and freshman Kristen Smith (55th in 22:24.55). All 5 scorers for Michigan State could return next year since there were 2 juniors, 2 sophomores and 1 freshman.

The Michigan State men did better as a team, racing home as runner-ups with 128 points to Wisconsin's 62-point winning score with a 2-3-15-18-24 finish. The 2nd-place finish put Michigan State into the national championship meet.

The Spartans were led by the 5th–place finish of junior Patrick Grosskopf in 31:12.98 (5:02 pace), about 9 seconds behind the individual winner, Jeff See of Ohio State (31:03.16). Two hundred and six runners competed in the 10,000-meter race (6.2 miles).

Following Grosskopf in for MSU were junior Spencer Beatty (19th in 31:31.98), sophomore Josh McAlary (20th in 31:34.13), sophomore Isaiah VanDoorne (37th in 32:07.43) and freshman Ben Miller (47th in 32:23.74).

As with the women's team, all of Michigan State's men scorers could return next year since there were 2 juniors, 2 sophomores and 1 freshman.

Coach Walt Drenth and his assistant coach Kim McGreevy are continuing to build depth on the team, and are also assisted by Michigan State's most recent star runner, Nicole Bush, who barely missed making the 2008 U. S. Olympic team as a steeplechase runner. Bush finished 5th as a senior in her last NCAA National Championship Meet, and won the Big Ten meet individual title prior to that.

February 17, 2010

Kendra Schaaf Leads the Way

Washington's Women Win Both 2009 Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional X-Country Championships

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

The University of Washington's women cross-country runners are the defending national champions, and they looked every bit the part while sweeping both the 2009 Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA West Regional titles.

The Huskies number one rival—the Oregon Ducks—had to settle for runner-up spots in both of these key competitions leading the 2009 NCAA National Championship Meet.

Washington warmed up for the huge West Regional qualifying meet by racing to a 2-4-5-8-16 finish among 87 runners and 10 teams at the Pac-10 final hosted by Southern California at Skylinks Golf Course. Washington's low-winning score of 35 kept Oregon's 42-point effort easily at bay. Arizona State was 3rd with 100, and Washington State was last with 251. Each team enters 7 runners but only the first 5 figure in the scoring.

The Huskies were led by sophomore Kendra Schaaf's 2nd place finish in 19:46.17 over the 6-kilometer course (3.72 miles). Junior Marie Lawrence was 4th in 19:49.02, sophomore Christine Babcock 5th in 19:58.82, senior Katie Follett 8th in 20:08.04 and junior Kailey Campbell 16th in 20:31.67.

Washington's 6th runner, freshman Allison Linnell, was 19th in 20:35.36, and its 7th runner, junior Lauren Saylor, was 25th in 20:40.99. Imagine finishing 19th and 25th and they are too far back to figure in their team's score. Is Washington loaded? Yeah, like an automated weapon, they move like rifle fire across the course to victory.

Oregon did have two bright spots—senior Nicole Blood won the meet in 19:41.71, 4.46 seconds faster than individual runner-up Kendra Schaaf, the former Canadian Junior National Cross-Country Champion from Craven, Saskatchewan. Babcock, who finished 5th, ran a 4:35.41 mile in high school, the second fastest high school time ever.

And the Ducks' second bright spot was Jordan Hasay, who finished 3rd in 19:48.97. Hasay is arguably the best freshman runner in the country. She clocked the best nation's best mile (4:37.34) last year, and set the American high school record of 4:14.50 while running in a 1500-meter semifinal heat as a 16-year-old junior at the 2008 U. S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon's storied Hayward Field in Eugene.

Washington's men finished well out of it at 4th in the team competition and were led by senior Kelly Spady's 10th-place finish in 23:25.62 over the 8K course (4.96 miles).

After polishing off the Pac-10 trophy, Washington's women ran 1-3-4-7-10 in the NCAA West Regional to win their second consecutive title with 25 points, leaving Oregon to finish 2nd again, this time with 66 points, and the rest of the competition was left on the other side of the planet. Pepperdine finished 25th and last with 742 points.

So how dominate was it? Well, Kendra Schaaf was 1st (20.41.70), Marie Lawrence 3rd (20:58.87), Kailey Campbell 4th (21:00.31), Katie Follett 7th (21:02.93), Christine Babcock 10th (21:12.90), Lindsay Flanagan 27th (21:41.86) and Kayla Evans 30th (21:52.78).

I know, you are asking, "Where did freshman Lindsay Flanagan and redshirt freshman Kayla Evans come from?" Hey, Washington is loaded with talented, young runners.

There were 184 women competing in the West Regional meet hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield.

Stanford won the men's 10K West Regional title with a 1-2-3 finish and 27 total points. Chris Derrick was 1st in 30:38.84 and Elliott Heath was 2nd in 30:38.96, only 12-one-hundreds-of-a-second separated them.

The Washington men finished 4th in the team competition, led by Colton Tully-Doyle's 17th-place finish in 31:12.52. There were 182 men competitors.

December 6, 2008

NCAA Cross-Country

Washington's 2 Freshmen Lead Women to the 2008 National Cross-Country Title

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Imagine for a moment that you are the head coach at a major university and you recruit two freshmen to run on your cross-country team. You do not redshirt them because they are good enough to run on your varsity. A few months later they finish 5th and 9th to lead your team to its first NCAA National Championship.

University of Washington coach Greg Metcalf had to be smiling all the way back home to Seattle from the Indiana State University campus in Terre Haute.

His good fortune was to find and sign Christine Babcock, the best prep senior middle distance runner in America last year from Woodbridge High School in Irvine (CA), and Kendra Schaaf, the Canadian Junior National Cross-Country Champion from Lumsden High School in Craven, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Babcock ran 4:33.82 last year to set the new national high school record for the 1600-meter run and clocked 4:35.41 in the mile, the 2nd best high school time ever (the national record is 4:35.24).

Babcock finished 5th in 20:02 in team competition at the 2008 National Championship meet and Schaaf finished 9th in 20:18 to lead the Washington women to their first ever national title with 79 points to Oregon's 131.

Washington's win broke a string of 3-straight NCAA titles for Stanford. Particularly sweet was also the fact that the Huskies victory was their 3rd straight over Oregon, having bested the Ducks for the Pac 10 title, the West Regional title and now the National Championship.

The men have had a National Championship Meet since 1938 but the women have only competed in their National Championship Meet since 1981, so Washington becomes only the 11th school in 28 years of competition to win a national championship. Villanova has won 7 titles, Stanford 5 and Brigham Young 4; no other school has more than 2 titles.

Babcock and Schaaf had a lot of great support from their Husky teammates. Sophomore Marie (Mel) Lawrence was 19th in 20:33, junior Katie Follett was 20th in 20:33, senior Amanda Miller was 26th in 20:37, sophomore Lauren Saylor was 32nd in 20:44 and senior Anita Campbell was 41st in 20:51. The Husky scorers were 5-9-19-20-26 for an average time of 20:25 with a spread between their first and last scorer of 35 seconds. Now we're talkin'. All 5 of Washington's scorers earned All-American honors.

So just how special are Washington's 2 freshmen cross-country phenoms? Special enough to get a big head, but not nearly special enough to win a national team title or any other team title without their teammates. For the record, the next freshman to cross the finish line was 47th (Emily Infeld of Georgetown).

The Oregon women ran 6-8-31-38-48 for an average time of 20:32 and a spread of 50 seconds. Florida State was 3rd, West Virginia 4th, Princeton 5th, Villanova 6th, Texas Tech 7th, Stanford 8th, Georgetown 9th and Illinois 10th.

Michigan State senior Nicole Bush finished 7th in 20:08 followed by Spartan teammates Lisa Senakiewich (21st), Emily MacLeod (72nd), Emily Langenberg (98th) and Sarah Price (138th). Michigan State finished 11th.

Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech won the individual title in 19:28.1, a 6,000-meter (3.72 mile) course record despite cold, windy, rainy conditions for everyone. The win was Kipyego's 3rd straight national title. Senior Brie Felnagle of North Carolina, a product of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma (WA), finished 4th in 19:53.3.

In the men's competition, defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Oregon won its second straight National Championship, and senior Galen Rupp, a member of the U. S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won the individual title and set a 10,000-meter (6.2 mile) course record in 29:04.

Apparently really crummy, uncomfortable weather does not seem to bother champions who set course records as much as those who follow them to the finish line. Thirty-one teams and 252 runners competed in both races.

The national title was Oregon's 5th in the school's history and also the 5th for coach Vin Lananna in his career, his 2nd at Oregon after winning 3 more at Stanford.

Rupp was followed by Duck teammates Luke Puskedra (4th), Shadrac Kiptoo-Biwott (8th), Matthew Centrowitz (36th) and Diego Mercado (44th). Puskedra is a freshman.

The race was a gut-buster between Rupp and sophomore Samuel Chelanga of Liberty, whose team did not qualify but Chelanga did qualify as an individual. They ran stride-for-stride for most of the race until Rupp found another gear in the last 1,000 meters to win by 5 seconds.

Iona was runner-up, Stanford was 3rd, Wisconsin 4th, Auburn 5th, Northern Arizona 6th, Portland 7th, Oklahoma State 8th, Brigham Young 9th and Georgetown 10th. The Washington men finished 18th.

When the final NCAA women rankings came out, Washington was 1st, Oregon 2nd, Florida State 3rd, Princeton 4th and West Virginia 5th. Michigan State was 13th. Among the men, Oregon was 1st, Oklahoma State 2nd, Stanford 3rd, Wisconsin 4th, Alabama 5th and Portland 6th.

The University of Portland is quite accomplished in its own backyard. Pilot Senior David Kinsella placed 4th at the National Championship Meet and the Pilot team was 7th.

Prior to the National meet, the Portland men won their 30th consecutive (you read it right) West Coast Conference title and the Portland women won their 7th consecutive title. Thirty years is a very long time, and the streak is a record for any sport in the WCC. There are pockets of really interesting information everywhere but you have to ferret it out.

Read my other cross-country articles this season, including:

"Washington Women Win West Regional Meet With a Stunning 3-4-5-6-7 Finish"

"Michigan State's Nicole Bush Wins the 2008 Great Lakes Regional, Michigan Wins Title"

"Washington Women Win Pac 10 Title, Set Record With First-Ever Perfect Score"

"2008 Big Ten Cross-Country Finals – Wisconsin Men, Minnesota Women and Nicole Bush Win Their Races"

"Prep Runners – Washington's Gig Harbor Girls Just Miss Another State Title and Chance at History"

"Washington Prep Runners – Northwest Christian in Lacey Becomes a State Powerhouse in Cross-Country"

December 5, 2008

NCAA Cross-Country

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Wins the 2008 Great Lakes Regional, Michigan Wins Title

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Michigan State brought the best runner to the 2008 Great Lakes Regional, but Michigan brought the best team and took home the trophy, winning the meet with 72 points to Wisconsin's 80 and Michigan State's 83 for 3rd place.

Senior Nicole Bush beat 227 runners to claim the individual title in 20:48.5 over the 6,000-meter (3.72 mile) course at Purdue University in Lafayette (IN), winning easily over senior runner-up Nicole Edwards of Michigan (her namesake) by 9 seconds.

Bush won the Big Ten Championship individual title prior to the Great Lakes Regional. She is among the emerging top middle distance runners in America and a candidate for the 2012 U. S. Olympic team.

Following Bush for Michigan State were senior Lisa Senakiewich at 6th place in 21:21.0, sophomore Emily Langenberg at 15th in 21:42.4, sophomore Carlie Green at 26th in 22:00.7, junior Emily MacLeod at 35th in 22:07.5, senior Sarah Price at 38th in 22:15.9 and junior Becky McCormack at 71st in 22:48.6.

The Spartan scorers were 1-6-15-26-35 for an average time of 21:26.02 with a spread between their first and last scorer of 79 seconds.

Following runner-up Edwards for Michigan were Jennifer Morgan (11th), Danielle Tauro (16th), Geena Gall (21st) and Kelly Sampson (22nd). The Wolverines were 2-11-16-21-22 for an average time of 21:34.24 with a spread of 60 seconds.

Notice the importance of spread between runners. Michigan State's 5 runners had a spread of 79 seconds to Michigan's 60 seconds.

So how could have Michigan State beaten Michigan? Glad you asked. Here is one way: Michigan State's 5th scorer—Emily MacLeod, who finished 35th in 22:07.5—runs the 3.72-mile course exactly 14 seconds faster, finishing 22nd in 21:53.5, ahead of Kelly Sampson of Michigan (the Wolverines' 5th scorer), whose 21:54.3 now places her in 23th place rather than 22nd, and moves Carlie Green of Michigan State from 26th to 27th place.

Now Michigan State's 5 scorers finish 1-6-15-22-27 which equals 72 points and a Great Lakes Regional title for the Spartans. Michigan now finishes 2nd with a 2-11-16-21-23 finish for 73 points.

What could cause a 5th place finisher on a team to think that she is less important than her teammate who wins the race? Nicole Bush cannot win the team title for Michigan State, Emily MacLeod can.

This is not to single out junior Emily MacLeod or any other Michigan State runner other than Nicole Bush. It is to point out the importance of all runners on a team. Had senior Sarah Price run 22 seconds faster she would have finished 22nd in 21:53.9 and accomplished the same result, a Great Lakes Regional title.

Wisconsin's women made their presence known by running 3-9-17-19-32 to finish as the runner-up. Interestingly enough, Wisconsin's average time was 21:38.38—more than either Michigan or Michigan State—but their spread was 63 seconds, 16 seconds faster than Michigan State.

The Michigan State men were 6th in their race with a 26-29-35-38-50 finish led by junior Patrick Grosskopf's 26th place finish in 32:06.5. Following Grosskopf was Spencer Beatty, Adam Sprangel, Joseph Dimambro and Dustin Voss.

Patrick Smyth of Notre Dame won the 10,000-meter (6.2 mile) run in 31:06.4. He and his Fighting Irish teammates were 3rd overall.

Wisconsin's men won the team title with 39 points, running 4-5-6-7-17, and Michigan was runner-up with 62 points, running 8-9-10-11-24. Both were examples of some great team running that produced excellent results among the 28 competing teams.

Next up is the NCAA National Championship Meet on Nov. 24 hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

Read my other cross-country articles this season, including:

"Washington Women Win West Regional Meet With a Stunning 3-4-5-6-7 Finish"

"Washington Women Win Pac 10 Title, Set Record With First-Ever Perfect Score"

"2008 Big Ten Cross-Country Finals – Wisconsin Men, Minnesota Women and Nicole Bush Win Their Races"

"Prep Runners – Washington's Gig Harbor Girls Just Miss Another State Title and Chance at History"

"Washington Prep Runners – Northwest Christian in Lacey Becomes a State Powerhouse in Cross-Country"

December 4, 2008

NCAA Cross-Country

Washington Women Win West Regional Meet With a Stunning 3-4-5-6-7 Finish

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

After winning the Pac 10 Cross-Country Championship with an unprecedented 1-2-3-4-5 perfect score of 15, the University of Washington's women runners ran away with the 2008 NCAA West Regional Championship with a 3-4-5-6-7 finish at Stanford University's course.

Washington's final score of 25 beat Oregon's runner-up score of 62. Finishing last was Hawaii with a score of 934. Making the victory even more impressive is the fact that their Pac 10 title came against 10 teams while the West Regional title came against 30 teams and 206 runners.

The Huskies 3-4-5-6-7 finish in the prestigious West Regional meet is one of the finest examples of team running ever at the NCAA level. The Pac 10 and West Regional double victories by the Washington women in championship competition is evidence of why they are ranked No. 1 in the country among 327 teams.

Leading the way for the Huskies was freshman Christine Babcock, who finished 3rd in 20:02.25. Sophomore Mel Lawrence was 4th in 20:03.21, junior Katie Follett was 5th in 20:07.90, senior Anita Campbell was 6th in 20:12.08, and senior Amanda Miller was 7th in 20:13.04.

The spread between Washington's first and last scoring runner was less than 11 seconds over the 6,000-meter course (3.72 miles), and the average time among the 5 scorers was 20:07.70. The Huskies' last two non-scoring runners also finished up front. Senior Michelle Turner was 15th in 20:23.58 and Sophomore Kenna Patrick was 37th in 21:12.44. Remember that there were 206 runners in the competition.

Washington's women are beyond scary good. Consider for a moment that coach Greg Metcalf rested both freshman Kendra Schaff—the Pac 10 individual champion and course record-setter when the Huskies won with a perfect score of 15—and sophomore Lauren Saylor, who finished 12th at the Pac 10 Meet.

So just how good are the Washington women? This good: Their West Regional win snapped Stanford's streak of 9-straight West Regional titles, and their Pac 10 win broke Stanford's run of 12-straight Pac 10 championships.

Oregon's Alex Kosinski won the race in 19:59.01 and teammate Nicole Blood was runner-up in 20:01.23; but it was not good enough as the Ducks' next three scoring runners finished 13th, 19th and 27th, making them a distant second to the Huskies.

U. S. Olympian Galen Rupp of Oregon ran away with the men's race in 27:41.24 for the 10,000-meter run (6.2 miles), and his teammate Shadrack Kiptto-Biwott was runner-up in 28:32.31.

The Oregon men won the title with 38 points to Stanford's 72 and Portland's 85. Every other team among the 25 was into 3 digits and way beyond. There were 172 runners.

Washington's men finished 5th with 122 points, led by senior Jeremy Mineau's 8th place finish in 29:06.29. It was Mineau's first 10K competition in 2 years. Junior Kelly Spady was 24th in 29:48.09, junior Jake Schmitt was 26th in 29:52.99, senior Jon Harding was 28th in 29:55.99, and junior Jordan Swarthout was 36th in 30:14.86.

Next up for both the Washington women and men will be the NCAA National Championship Meet on Nov. 24 hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute. If you think the Washington women can win the national championship, you are right. Now we will see if they will.

Read my other cross-country articles this season, including:

"Washington Women Win Pac 10 Title, Set Record With First-Ever Perfect Score"

"2008 Big Ten Cross-Country Finals – Wisconsin Men, Minnesota Women and Nicole Bush Win Their Races"

"Prep Runners – Washington's Gig Harbor Girls Just Miss Another State Title and Chance at History"

"Washington Prep Runners – Northwest Christian in Lacey Becomes a State Powerhouse in Cross-Country"

November 15, 2008

2008 Big Ten Cross-Country Finals

Wisconsin Men Win 10th Straight Title, Minnesota Women Repeat as Champs, Nicole Bush of Michigan State Wins Race

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Wisconsin's men won their 10th straight title, Minnesota's women repeated as champs but Nicole Bush of Michigan State won the individual title Sunday (11-1-08) at the Big Ten Cross-Country Championship Meet in Ann Arbor (MI).

Nicole Bush toured the 6,000-meter course (3.72 miles) in 20:15.8 to win by 12 seconds over runner-up Gwen Jorgensen of Wisconsin. Michigan State finished 3rd in the womens' competition.

Bush was subsequently named the Big Ten Cross Country Athlete of the Year 4 days later. Last season Bush placed 5th at the NCAA Championship Meet and hopes to do better this year.

Following Bush were senior Lisa Senakiewich in 5th, junior Becky McCormack 20th, sophomore Emily Langenberg 28th, junior Emily MacLeod 29th, sophomore Carlie Green 30th and senior Sarah Price 37th. The Spartans, who hoped to compete for the title, did not have their best day.

The Minnesota women edged Wisconsin, 63 to 67 points, to successfully defend the title they won last year. Led by junior Megan Duwell's 4th place finish in 20:29.7, the Golden Gophers next four scorers were 10th, 14th, 17th and 18th, a great example of team running in a major meet. Wisconsin's women ran 2nd, 11th, 12th, 15th and 27th.

Key to Minnesota's victory was their 10th place finisher—senior Gabriele Anderson who did a major gut check and passed 3 Wisconsin runners in a 300-meter finishing kick, clocking 21:07.2 and sealing the deal for the Golden Gophers.

Minnesota knows how important every scoring runner is in influencing the outcome of a race. It was just a year ago that the Golden Gophers captured their championship over Michigan State by a single point.

Wisconsin's men have had a stranglehold on the conference championship, winning their 10th consecutive title with 40 points to Michigan's 57 and Minnesota's 60. Every other team was far enough back they could have been in another race in a different city. Michigan State, for example, finished 6th with 138 points. Purdue finished last with 296 points.

Hassan Mead of Minnesota won the individual title, covering the 8,000-meter course (4.96 miles) in 24:26.4, but Wisconsin took home the team trophy with a 2-4-7-13-14 finish. Michigan ran 6-10-11-12-18 and Minnesota was 1-3-15-16-25.

Sophomore Landon Peacock was 2nd for Wisconsin in 24:35.9, senior Christian Wagner was 4th in 24:46.7 and sophomore Jack Bolas was 7th in 24:50.5.

The Wisconsin runners do not mind practicing a lot and it shows. Ten straight titles is an incredible feat and means the other Big Ten teams are doing a lot more wishing than working in the off-season. Talent certainly helps but 8,000 meters is not a 100-meter dash. Lots of runners without really great leg speed could run fast enough to finish much better at 8,000 meters.

The difference between the winning time and Michigan State's first finisher—junior Spencer Beatty at 25:07.7—is 41 seconds and change. When you compute the winner's time divided by 20, you end up with an approximate 400-meter pace of 73 as opposed to Beatty's pace of 75 for the same distance—call it a quarter mile at a 2-second faster pace. It isn't like the winner's pace was some kind of land speed record.

All of this suggests that the reason Wisconsin has been winning the conference championship for 10 straight years is a lot more mental than physical. The biggest distance talented runners have to compete with at this level is really the distance between their ears.

Sure it takes some talent to run at this level, but let's get serious here. Middle of the pack runners do not get college scholarships to run, winners do. Running really is 75% physical (you do have to train), 20% mental (you do have to believe you can win) and 5% inspiration (you have to see yourself winning BEFORE the race).

I confess and do not apologize for being a total homer. I graduated from Michigan State in 1966, and cannot stand to see this nonsense of Wisconsin dominating the Big Ten as a birthright.

Michigan State's men and women runners need to get with it. Rather than have the coach sit around and try to identify who might be a leader among the Spartan runners, the runners need to realize that leaders do not wait to be labeled a leader, they announce themselves by what they say and do.

Michigan State needs more runners to become leaders. Don't just go to practice, go through the motions and wait for the coach to decide if you are ready to run. Discover a burn deep inside of you that causes you to not just want to run but to NEED to run. Develop a white heat passion for competing and winning.

Never deny anyone the right to finish second, third or fourth, but understand that is not for you. Make up your mind to win and then pay the price to do so. If you cannot win as an individual, then you win as a team, but win because it is important to become the runner you need (not want) to be.

Do not give your coach a choice about whether he will have you run or not. Put your coach in a position where he or she would be a fool not to run you. When the gun sounds to start the race, take your place at the front of the pack and never look back.

Do not allow someone else to determine how successful you will become, they have not earned that right. If no one is stepping up on your team, you step up, set the pace and they will follow. There is no vacuum for followers, the vacuum is for leaders.

When enough runners improve and become leaders, they help motivate each other. Two or three leaders will pull other runners along and make everyone around them better.

When someone beats you, make sure it is the worst day of their life, that they are so sick and exhausted at the end that they will think twice about ever challenging you again. Make them hurt like they have never hurt before and never want to hurt that bad again.

Remember that everyone wants to win but there is a 1,000 miles of difference between wanting to win and having the will to prepare to win. Don't ever cheat yourself out of the opportunity to become a champion. Life is short and memories are long.

Settle for nothing less than the person you were meant to be, a winner from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. Believe you can do it and then get about business of making it so.

It doesn't take any talent to quit on yourself, it takes a lot of effort to become the person you were meant to be. Think like a champion. Believe like a champion. Run like a champion.

Read some of my other running articles, including:

"Updated USA Prep Track & Field Records and the New Best 2008 Top Performances"

"Meet 'Pre' – America's Greatest Running Legend and Greatest Middle Distance Runner"

"Arthur Lydiard, the World's Greatest Middle Distance Coach, on How to Train Effectively"

"What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running"

November 14, 2008

Washington Prep Cross-Country Championship

Northwest Christian in Lacey Becomes a State Powerhouse in Cross-Country

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Northwest Christian High School is tucked between the evergreens in Lacey in an idyllic setting, but do not mistake this pleasant atmosphere for a lack of competitiveness in its cross-country runners. The Navigators arrive at the starting line ready to not only compete but to win.

And win they did Saturday (11-8-08) during Washington State's 2008 Prep Cross-Country Championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, taking home championship trophies in both the girls and boys B (small school) races.

The girl Navigators topped Asotin by scoring 60 points to Asotin's 68. The low score of each team's top 5 finishers wins in cross-country. Northwest Christian was led by freshman Elizabeth Weber's 3rd place finish in 20:27.

Weber was followed by junior Ashlee Giesman in 4th place at 21:04, senior Jessica Zimmerman's in 12th at 22:03, junior Taylor Bodine in 15th at 22:17, freshman Janna Salo in 26th at 23:42, junior Chelsea Dick in 44th and senior Lacey McConnell in 48th.

The spread between their first scoring runner and last scoring runner was 3:15.

Northwest Christian's 3-4-12-15-26 finish beat Asotin's 5-10-13-19-21 finish.

The Navigators entered the final as the two-time defending state champions so the victory was their 3rd consecutive title. There is no question that the girls rule the roost at Northwest Christian.

For the record, the girl Navigators won the state Track and Field Championship in 2007 and were runners-up this year.

The Navigator boys' team has been moving up for three straight years, having finished 3rd in the team competition in 2006, as the runner-up in 2007 and winning their first state title this year by beating Reardan, 52 t o 77.

They dominated and almost crushed the competition as sophomore Justin Holden was the individual runner-up at 17:01, senior Micah Cushman was 3rd at 17:01, senior Alex Feero was 6th at 17:27, freshman Lucas Graham was 7th at 17:29, senior Bohlig Nathan was 34th at 18:25, junior Johnny Motte was 47th and senior Michael Schmidt was 48th.

Their 2-3-6-7-34 finish topped Reardan's 4-9-19-20-25 finish. The Navigator boys spread was 1:25. It was good that Northwest Christian had a lot of front runners and high finishers because Reardan's spread was 1:07.

Coach Bill Kehoe has made Northwest Christian High School into a state powerhouse in cross-country. While he loses 1 senior—Jessica Zimmerman—among his top 5 girl runners, and 3 seniors—Micah Cushman, Alex Feero and Bohlig Nathan—among his top 5 boy runners, Kehoe still has some good runners left and a tradition of winning to defend both titles next year.

Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania in Cross-Country at Mead (WA) High School in Spokane:

"The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington - Part 1"

"Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles - Part 2"

"How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners - Part 3"

"2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships - Part 4"

November 13, 2008

State Prep Cross-Country Championship

Washington's Gig Harbor Girls Just Miss Another State Title and Chance at History

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Washington State's 2008 Prep Cross-Country Championships taught the Gig Harbor High School girls' team a really disappointing lesson in knowing just how close is not close enough.

After winning 3 consecutive state titles in the 4A state championship competition, Gig Harbor fell 1 point short in the team competition Saturday (11-8-08) at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, settling for the runner-up spot.

Had they won, the girls would have set the Washington State record with 4 consecutive titles. Only two other 4A teams in state history have won 3 consecutive titles. Bellarmine Prep accomplished the feat in 1977, 1978 and 1979, and Issaquah matched the feat in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

So close and yet so far. Eastlake High School of Sammamish nipped the Tide runners 97 to 96. Eastlake's runners finished 14th, 15th, 18th, 24th, 25th, 40th and 72nd. Gig Harbor's runners finished 1st, 16th, 17th, 30th, 33rd, 44th and 48th. Each team has 7 runners but only the first 5 runners finishing figure in the team scoring.

Since Eastlake's 5th scoring runner was 25th, it did not matter that Gig Harbor's last two runners finished 44th (sophomore Kelly Williams in 20:05) and 72nd (senior Ashley Horton in 20:42).

Senior Alyssa Andrews of Gig Harbor won the 5000 meter run (3.1 miles) in 18:00 flat to become the state 4A champion. She could not have done any more for her team. Sophomore Brittany Kealy was 16th and junior Erin Hull was 17th, they both finished in 19:21 and did their job. Sophomore Danie Moon was 30th in 19:47 and senior Claire Betterbed was 33rd in 19:50.

Gig Harbor could have won its 4th consecutive title and set a new record if either Danie Moon had run 2 seconds faster and finished 28th rather than 30th, or Claire Betterbed had run 3 seconds faster over the 3.1 miles and finished 31st rather than 33rd. Two seconds faster or 3 seconds faster does not seem like that much unless your are running the 3.1 mile race in the highest level of competition.

Saturday's result for the Gig Harbor girls underscores the importance of the 4th and 5th scoring runners during competition. When they are running behind it seems as if the value of their effort is diminished when in fact their importance becomes more valuable with each stride they take. Reaching down deep and passing just a couple of runners near the finish can make the difference between winning a state title and losing a state title.

Eastlake ran a great race and its spread was only 29 seconds between its first and last scoring finisher. Gig Harbor's spread was 1:40, 71 seconds more. This is one reason why team running is emphasized in cross-country. Your best runner does not have to finish among the top 10 or 13 runners to win a state championship.

Coach Patty Ley and her girls were pretty disappointed to say the least. However, Gig Harbor did amazingly well considering that only one runner—eventual state champion Alyssa Andrews—returned from last year's state championship team. Their finish was a testimony to Ley's coaching and the tremendous winning tradition the Gig Harbor girls have built.

The Tide girls preceded their state meet finish by winning their 4th consecutive West Central District III championship at the American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood. Alyssa Andrews won the individual title in 17:45 to lead Gig Harbor to the title.

The Gig Harbor boys had a tougher go of it in the state 4A run, finishing 7th overall with 192 points. Mead High School of Spokane won the title with 98 points, racking up its 14th state championship in cross-country. Mead's runners finished 8-9-24-27-30 with a 30-second spread.

Mead is legendary in Washington State, producing more top distance runners than any other prep school. Mead won 9 consecutive state titles from 1988 through 1996, and added 3 more titles from 2000 to 2002, making it 12 titles in 15 years. That is dominance by any standard.

Gig Harbor's top boy finisher—junior Conner Peloquin—was 10th in 15:55. He was followed by sophomore Robby Ubben in 37th at 16:31, senior Chris Adgar-Beal in 43rd at 16:35, junior Spencer Payne in 49th at 16:40, senior Alex Sundell in 53rd at 16:44, senior Nate Funkhouser in 88th at 17:29 and sophomore Casey Kalbrener in 89th at 17:30.

Clearly, the girls rule at Gig Harbor at the moment.

Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania in Cross-Country at Mead (WA) High School in Spokane:

"The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington - Part 1"

"Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles - Part 2"

"How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners - Part 3"

"2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships - Part 4"

November 5, 2008

College Cross-Country

Washington Women Win Pac 10 Title, Set Record With First-Ever Perfect Score

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

In was show time on Halloween at the Springfield (OR) Country Club for the 2008 Pac 10 Conference Cross-Country Championships and the University of Washington women runners showed why the Huskies are the No. 1-ranked team in the country, winning with an unprecedented perfect score of 15.

Freshman Kendra Schaaf broke the course record by 33 seconds and was followed by sophomore Mel Lawrence, freshman Christine Babcock, senior Anita Campbell, junior Katie Follett and senior Amada Miller. The perfect 1-2-3-4-5 finish for 15 points had never before been accomplished in women's or men's Pac 10 championships.

Schaaf, a Canadian from Regina, Saskatchewan who led from start to finish, ran a blistering 19:34 over the 6,000-meter course (3.72 miles) to break the record of 19:57. Four of Washington's top 5 finishers—Mel Lawrence (19:53), Christine Babcock (19:54) and Anita Campbell (19:57)—all beat or tied the old record. Katie Follett was 8 seconds later at 20:05.Washington's total team time was 1:39:12.24 for an average individual time of 19:50 for the Huskies' first 5 finishers.

Amanda Miller's strong 6th place finish did not even count as only the first 5 finishers figure in the scoring. Sophomore Lauren Saylor finished 12th. Schaaf was Washington's first individual winner since Regina Joyce in 1982.

All 7 women runners earned All-Pac 10 honors for their unprecedented top 6 finish that gave the Huskies their second Pac 10 title in school history, the first coming in 1989. In the women's team competition, Oregon was runner-up (55 points), Stanford 3rd (99), Arizona State 4th (105) and Washington State 5th (188).

The previous record low score in Pac 10 Championship history was 19 by the 2002 Stanford men's team and 22 by the 2006 Stanford women's team. Both teams went on to win NCAA championships. The win by the Washington women snapped Stanford's streak of 12 straight championship titles.

Many pundits thought Oregon may have had an advantage in the meet since it was run on their home course, and the Oregon men did prevail in their competition, easily winning the team title with 28 points. Stanford was runner-up with 47 and California and Washington were tied for 3rd with 169.

Oregon was led by senior Galen Rupp's course-record 22:55 clocking for 8,000 meters (4.96 miles). It was the first race of the season for Rupp, a 2008 Olympic competitor for the United States in the 10,000 meters.

Washington's top runner in the competition was Jeremy Mineau's 10-place finish. The 3rd place finish by the Washington men was their best showing since 2003. The Huskies are coached by Greg Metcalf.

Next up for the Husky runners will be the NCAA West Regional Championships on Nov. 15 at Stanford University, and then the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 24 at Indiana State University.

Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania in Cross-Country at Mead (WA) High School:

"The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington - Part 1"

"Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles - Part 2"

"How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners - Part 3"

"2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships - Part 4"

October 15, 2008

Cross-Country:

Michigan State Hires Kim McGreevy, Former Big Ten Champion, as New Assistant Coach

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Kim McGreevy, a former Big Ten Conference cross-country champion and Academic All-American, has been named as the new assistant track & field and cross-country coach at Michigan State University. McGreevy had spent the last 4 years in the same position at the University of Connecticut.

McGreevy replaces the successful and popular Rita Arndt-Molis, who accepted a position in early August as the head coach for track and cross-country at Miami University of Ohio in the Mid-American Conference. Arndt-Molis was an outstanding addition to Michigan State's staff and should really help Miami of Ohio's running program.

Walt Drenth, director of track & field and cross-country at Michigan State, wasted no time in hiring McGreevy.

"We are excited to add someone with Kim's experience and success to our program," said Drenth. "She has had both coaching and competitive success at the highest levels of competition . . . (she) brings enthusiasm to everything that she does and is extremely well-respected (nationally). We are ecstatic to have her as part of our staff."

While at Connecticut, McGreevy's primary responsibilities were the women's cross-country program, and the middle distance and distance events in track. McGreevy was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Connecticut women's program, which won its first Big East Indoor Championship in 2008.

McGreevy also helped mold Jillian Sullivan from a walk-on into the program's first All-American cross-country runner. Sullivan also won the Big East Conference steeplechase title and qualified for the NCAA championship meet.

McGreevy spent two years at the U.S. Naval Academy before transferring to Penn State for her final two years of eligibility. She was a 5-time All-American in cross-country and track, and was selected as both the Penn State Female Athlete of the Year and the Big Ten Cross-Country Athlete of the Year. She later became a professional runner sponsored by the New York Athletic Club.

This year's 2008 Big Ten Cross-County Championship Meet will be held Nov. 2 in Ann Arbor (MI), the Great Lakes Regional Championship (to qualify for the national meet) will be Nov. 15 in West Lafayette (IN), and the NCAA Championship Meet will be Nov. 24 in Terre Haute (IN).

Read some of my other running articles, including:

"Updated USA Prep Track & Field Records and the New Best 2008 Top Performances"

"Meet 'Pre' – America's Greatest Running Legend and Greatest Middle Distance Runner"

"Arthur Lydiard, the World's Greatest Middle Distance Coach, on How to Train Effectively"

"Legendary High School Coach Pat Tyson Becomes New Coach at Gonzaga University"

"A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan"

"Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event"

September 29, 2008

College Cross-Country

Michigan State Women Finish 1-2-3 to Win the Colonial Inter-Regional Championship

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Both of Michigan State's women and men cross country runners announced themselves big time Saturday (9-27-08) as the women used a 1-2-3 finish to capture the Colonial Inter-Regional women's title at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg (VA), and the men were runner-up in their contest.

Lisa Senakiewich was 1st, Nicole Bush was 2nd and Sarah Price was 3rd, all are seniors and were also the only 3 runners to crack 22 minutes in the 6K race (3.72 miles). Senakiewich clocked 21:03.1 followed by Bush in 21:08.2 and Price 21:31.8. For Senakiewich, winning was double sweet as the victory represented her first career cross-country title.

The win was triple sweet as the Spartans last two scorers were both freshmen—Carlie Green was 5th in 22:06 and Tiffany Abrahamian was 8th in 22:20. The 1-2-3-5-8 finish gave MSU 19 points to host William & Mary's second place finish with 42 points. In cross-country, the low team score wins.

To highlight Michigan State's depth on the women's side, sophomore Emily MacLeod was 9th in 22:22.4 and senior Laura Portis was 10th in 22:22.7.

The Spartans emphasize team running rather than individual success, and it shows. Freshman Rebekah Smeltzer was 11th, junior Ashley Casavant 15th, junior Leah Elenbaas 16th, and sophomore Becky McCormack 28th.

If Michigan State's second 5 women runners were a team they would have finished 9-10-11-15-16 with 61, good for a 3rd place team finish ahead of John Hopkins University (102 points), LaSalle University (114), Saint Joseph's (120), Hampton University (217), Norfolk State (221), Howard University (223) and Longwood (227). That is impressive!

There is a reason why the Michigan State women are ranked No. 8 nationally in the pre-season poll by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. Now you know.

Sophomore Spencer Beatty led the Spartan men by finishing 5th in 25:10.7 for the 8K race (4.96 miles).

Like the team-running of the women, MSU took 8th through 12th places with freshman Joe Dimambro 8th (25:18.0), junior Max Goldak 9th (25:18.8), junior Shane Knoll 10th (25:24.4), senior Adam Sprangel 11th (25:25.8) and sophomore Pat Grosskopf 12th (25:28.9). The 5-7-8-9-10 finish was good for 39 points to William & Mary's 32.

The depth on the men's side included junior Dan Lewis 18th, sophomore Mike Quick 19th, freshman Aaron Simoneau 24th and freshman Isaiah Van Doorne 32nd.

If Michigan State's second 5 men runners were a team they would have finished 11-12-18-19-24 with 84, good for a 4th place team finish behind Tennessee at 3rd (71) and ahead of LaSalle University (99), John Hopkins University (151), Longwood (194), Howard University (231) & Hampton University (230).

Joe Dimambro's 8th place finish was his third top-10 finish in as many races to begin his collegiate career as a freshman. Junior Shane Knoll's 10th place marked his second straight top-10 finish.

Michigan State's cross-country program under the tutelage of Walt Drenth, Director of Cross-Country and Track & Field, is committed to win a national championship.

In an additional sad note, Rita Arndt-Molis, former MSU Associate Head Cross-Country Coach for the men's and women's program and the Assistant Track and Field Coach for the past two years, has accepted a position as the Miami (OH) University Head Women's Cross-Country and Track and Field Coach.

Read my other detailed, knowledgeable, interesting articles on track and field, including:

"Updated USA Prep Track & Field Records and the New Best 2008 Top Performances"

"Legendary High School Coach Pat Tyson Becomes New Coach at Gonzaga University"

"Walt Drenth Becomes Director of MSU's Cross-Country and Track & Field Programs"

"A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan"

"Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event".

June 4, 2008

Great News for NW Prep Runners

Legendary High School Coach Pat Tyson Becomes New Coach at Gonzaga University

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Gonzaga University Athletic Director Mike Roth made the most astute move since the hiring of Mark Few as the basketball coach by recently hiring legendary high school coach Pat Tyson as Gonzaga's first full-time running coach.

Roth could not have found a better choice than Tyson, who has not yet had a full-time opportunity to run a complete college cross-country and track and field program.

Tyson just completed the spring season as the track coach for South Eugene High School in Oregon. He spent last season coaching the cross-country teams and distance runners at the University of Kentucky.

Apparently his coaching methods did not go over as well in the south as in the Pacific Northwest, where he built a sterling reputation for success in Eastern Washington at Mead High School. In 19 years—from 1986 through 2004—Tyson's Panthers produced 12 state cross-country titles, 9 individual cross-country champions, and 17 individual track middle distance champions at 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

To show how dominate Mead was, I was near the finish line at the 1993 state cross-country meet in Pasco (WA) when the Panthers made a statement in the 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) like nothing I have ever seen in state competition.

First across the line was Matt Davis in 14:09.3 , followed by his brother Micah Davis in 14:46, followed by Rob Aubrey in third at 14:48, then Greg James finished 8th in 15:13.9 and Skiy De Tray finished 28th in 15:43. Matt Davis set a course record and won this third consecutive state cross-country title.

Mead runners in blue and gold streamed past in a 1-2-3-8-28 finish and won with 31 points. Mead's slowest scoring runner was 15:43! It was the year that Mead won its 6th straight title under Pat Tyson's reign. Kennewick finished as runner-up with 102 points.

Mead's all-time record holder for the 1,600 and 3,200 is Chris Lewis, who set the marks in 1989 by running 4:04.6 and 8:50.65. Not many schools have runners who could keep up with the likes of Chris Lewis or Matt Davis.

Tyson's harrier squads posted an amazing dual meet record of 145-6 in cross-country competition. No slouch himself, Tyson competed with Steve "Pre" Prefontaine at the University of Oregon and clocked a 13:37 in the 3-mile and a 28:34 in the 6-mile. He was a walk-on after graduating from Lincoln High School in Tacoma (WA).

Tyson was Pre's roommate at Oregon, but far more important, he was a member of the 1971 Duck cross-country team that won the NCAA national championship.

The spillover effect of Tyson's personality, accessibility and passion for running positively influenced Mead runners and brought students into the program that may otherwise have never been involved in athletics. Students who also might have played other sports only to ride the bench came into Tyson's program because they could compete rather than watch their teammates win.

Tyson's philosophy and system became infectious in the Greater Spokane League. A league that had done well spawned other teams that won state titles when Mead did not. Beginning in 1988 with the first of Tyson's 12 Mead cross-country championships, the Greater Spokane League has won EVERY 4A championship since then.

The fact that Pat Tyson is returning to the Great Pacific Northwest to coach at Gonzaga University is great news for prep runners in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Great high school runners will follow Tyson to Gonzaga like bees to honey.

Pat Tyson does not only eat, sleep and live running 24 hours a day, he is not only a high school coach with no peer, he is a coaching legend before he starts. Gonzaga is about to make an impact in running like it did in basketball.

Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania: "The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington – Part 1", "Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles – Part 2", "How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners – Part 3" and "2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships – Part 4". Find these articles in my Sports link.

Read my 5-Part series on Running: "Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the 'Kiss of Death' When Trying to Lose Weight – Part 1", "How Lectins (Proteins in Foods) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types – Part 2", Gluten in Wheat Products Bind to the Small Intestine Lining and Turn to Fat – Part 3", "How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice – Part 4" and "There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Weight and Cardiovascular Efficiency – Part 5". Find these articles in my Sports link.

December 27, 2007

2007 Cross-Country Recap

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Finishes 5th at NCAA Nationals, Best Spartan Run Ever – Part 1

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Senior Nicole Bush put the finishing touch on an outstanding cross-country season by finishing 5th in the NCAA National Championship meet, earning All-American status with a 6000-meter time of 20:13.4, missing the school-record for the meet by a scant 3-10ths of a second. The 6K is roughly 3.84 miles and Bush's mile pace was roughly 5:16.

Her 5th place individual finish led the Michigan State women to a 5th place team finish, the second best showing ever for the Spartans, topped only by the 4th place finish in 1981 at the first-ever NCAA women's championships.

The improvement by Bush from last year to this year's All-American run was dramatic. She finished 3rd among the Spartan runners last year in 78th place with a time of 22:09, only 4 seconds shy of a full two minutes slower.

Bush was followed by junior Alissa McKaig (50th in 21:22), junior Sarah Price (82nd in 21:37), senior Lisa Senakiewich (90th in 21:44) and sophomore Emily MacLeod (94th in 21:45). Not scoring this year were two more sophomores—Becky McCormack (115th in 21:54) and Ashley Casavant (199th in 23:12).

It is important to note that the difference between the finish of McKaig and Price amounted to 32 places but only 15 seconds. Missing from the race was the Spartans' strong 5th runner, senior Katie Kelly, who was out with a back injury. Had Kelly been available, the Spartans could have done even better.

Things are getting better and better for Michigan State's running fortunes, especially when you know all of the women team members will be returning next year.

Anita Arndt-Molis continues to impress as Michigan State's Associate Head Coach in charge of all middle distance and distance runners. Last year the Spartan women were 12th in the NCAA Championship run.

Can the Spartan women improve even more? You decide with just the knowledge of these three facts:

1) Last year Alissa McKaig finished 9th overall in 21:07; this year was not her day as she was 50th in 21:22.

2) Sarah Price was 137th last year and 82nd this year.

3) Nicole Bush was only 3 seconds behind the eventual winner—Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech—at the 2K mark, only 20 seconds behind her at the 4K mark and 43 seconds behind her at the end.
More strength training, increased confidence from this year's showing, and increased experience and maturity can close the gap to an individual national championship considerably.

Clearly, Nicole Bush must now be considered among the emerging elite middle distance runners nationally, and a prospect for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

For the record, Stanford won the 2007 NCAA women's title followed by Oregon, Florida State and Arizona State. With their 5th place finish, Michigan State's women left Big Ten champion Minnesota (12th) and Great Lakes Regional runner-up Michigan (21st) in the dust.

The Spartan men's team, which finished 17th at last year's NCAA Championships, did not quality for this year's final run. Their season ended with the Great Lakes Regional Championships and a 6th place finish behind Michigan and Wisconsin (which tied for 1st), Notre Dame, Indiana and Ohio State. Sophomore Max Goldak led Michigan State with a 23rd place finish.

The Spartan men ran well as a pack (about a 64 second spread between the 1st and 5th runners) but not fast enough to push their way to NCAA qualification.

The Spartan women refused to run behind by successfully defending their Great Lakes Regional title, besting Michigan by 3 points led by Nicole Bush's runner-up finish. All five Spartan scorers were among the top 25 finishes, a precursor to their outstanding NCAA performance.

For the record, Michigan State's women were 2nd at the 2007 Big Ten Conference finals, barely nipped by Minnesota by a single point. This kind of finish underscores the importance of all 7 runners on the team, not just the first 5 finishers who figure in the team scoring. When a team's 6th and 7th place runners finish ahead of another team's 5th scorer, the impact is more than significant.

The men placed well out of the money at the Big Ten finals, finishing 7th. They run well in a pack but either the entire pack has to get faster or someone needs to separate from the pack and become the leader, pulling the others along faster. The speed of the group benefits from the speed of the leader.

The Wisconsin Badgers won the men's 2007 Big Ten title for the 9th consecutive year by placing their first 5 finishers among the top 15. You read it right, 9 consecutive titles; Wisconsin did it by recruiting winners. They have created a winning environment that attracts successful prep runners. Period, end of story.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Article.)

Editor's Note: Read my other articles on Michigan State University runners, including "Walt Drenth Becomes Director of MSU's Cross-Country and Track & field Programs", "Meet Michigan State's Newest Dynamo: Associate Head Coach Rita Arndt-Molis" and "What Makes a Person Want to Run and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running".

December 28, 2007

2007 Cross-Country Recap

Michigan State's Nicole Bush Finishes 5th at NCAA Nationals, Best Spartan Run Ever – Part 2

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

It is important to understand that there is no need for any coach to announce a leader, leaders announce themselves by moving on instinctively. They will not tolerate running with the pack, nor should they.

Steve Prefontaine is the perfect example. Pre never allowed ANYONE at ANYTIME—in practice or competition—to best him. If you wanted to race him in practice two days before an important meet, he would run you into the ground and then do it again on race day, only by a bigger margin.

Pre made it clear who the leader was and why he was the leader. He was not the fastest runner, but he was almost always the best runner. No one had his heart and guts, and if they did, they could not tolerate his work ethic.

Did you know that Pre never missed a single practice or competition during his entire athletic career at Oregon? Did he ever have a cold? Did he ever have the flu? Did he ever run injured? Of course he did; he just never bothered to tell anyone and would not allow himself to show any obvious stress. Pre was, and is, one of a kind.

Probably at least half if not three-quarters of all running coaches in America will tell you that leaders are made and not born. Imagine taking a runner who has never run faster than 13 seconds for 100 meters and trying to make him into a world class sprinter. I never believed this nonsense 45 years ago and I do not believe it today. I believe, and always have believed, that leaders are born and not made.

A lot of runners who appear not to be leaders (and a few very select Michigan State men may be among this group) actually are leaders. They just do not know it. They are not leading today because they have not been required to lead.

Their instinct will click in when faced with a life and death situation in a foxhole during wartime. Or maybe they are 16 and the oldest of 7 siblings, their father and mother are killed instantly in an accident, and they are left with nothing and the responsibility to raise 7 children or the family will be separated by a state agency with the children in 7 different homes.

When it really counts in life, people in danger do not want to know what you think, they want to know what you know because their life may depend upon your experience, courage and wisdom. That is why with every fiber in my body, my life experience tells me leaders are born, not made.

I know from personal experience that it is much easier to find a winner than to try and develop a winner. Trust me when I say that eagles fly, not chickens. You can coach a chicken for 100 years and if they have no talent and no leadership ability, the result will be the same.

If you want to see a winner, go watch Nicole Bush run. When it counts the most, the leaders will surface. If you want to see another winner, go watch Rita Arndt-Molis coach.

Anyone who runs for the Spartans should understand who they represent and Michigan State's running tradition. There is exactly one school among the 299 NCAA Division 1 Men's Cross-Country programs that has won more national championships than Michigan State, and that is Arkansas with 11 titles in 17 years between 1984 and 2000.

Michigan State has won 8 national titles—the first in 1939, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958 and the last in 1959, 47 years ago. That is too long ago. From 1948 to 1959, Michigan State won 7 titles in 12 years before anyone ever heard of Oregon, Bill Bowerman or Steve Prefontaine. That is dominance.

For the record, UTEP (yes, THAT University of Texas at El Paso) has also won 8 titles while no other school, including Oregon and Stanford, has won more than 4.

On the women's side of the ledger, Villanova has won 7 national titles and 6 consecutively from 1989 to 1994. Stanford is the current power, winning the last 3 national championships. It is axiomatic that Stanford can be beaten, just as surely as night follows day.

Those almost silent footfalls that the Stanford runners hear behind them are the Michigan State Spartan women getting closer and closer.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Article.)

Read my other articles on Michigan State University runners, including "Walt Drenth Becomes Director of MSU's Cross-Country and Track & field Programs", "Meet Michigan State's Newest Dynamo: Associate Head Coach Rita Arndt-Molis" and "What Makes a Person Want to Run and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running".

December 22, 2007

The Spartans Hired a Winner

Meet Michigan State's Newest Dynamo: Associate Head Coach Rita Arndt-Molis

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

During the changing of the guard for Michigan State University's cross-country and track & field programs, Rita Arndt-Molis was named Associate Head Coach following Walt Drenth's appointment as director of the programs.

Arndt-Molis will coach both men and women middle-distance and distance runners in both cross-country and track. She spent her first two years as head coach of the women's cross-country team and as an assistant coach in track and field.

Her impact was immediate. The 2004 cross-country team was 14th at the NCAA National Championships, led by All-American Danette Doetzel's 12th place finish. The women were also 3rd at the Great Lakes Regional Championships and tied with Illinois as runners-up in the Big Ten Championships.

Arndt-Molis provided the leadership, encouragement and motivation to lead her runners to success in both competition and in the classroom. Her 2004 cross-country team recorded a team GPA of 3.52 to earn Academic All-American recognition.

The 2005 track team set a school-record 11:29.69 in the distance medley relay and was runner-up at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Arndt-Molis guided the 2005 cross-country team to its 5th consecutive trip to the NCAA National Championships where the Spartans were 30th. Before qualifying for the nationals, the team finished 5th at the Great Lakes Regional Championships. The team's overall 3.61 GPA earned them Academic All-American recognition.

The 2006 track team finished 4th at the Great Lakes Regional Championships with 4 runners—Nicole Bush, Emily Adams, Michelle Rafferty and Aimee Keenan—qualifying for the NCAA National Championships. Bush was 5th in the 3000-meter run at the nationals in a school-record 10:01.04, and she became an All-American with the 5th fastest 3000-meter time in the nation.

Prior to Michigan State, Arndt-Molis spent two seasons as an assistant coach for cross-country and track with the University of South Florida Bulls, where she helped develop 43 all-conference athletes, 10 all-regional performers and 3 NCAA qualifiers.

The personable and energetic Arndt-Molis coached up Christa Benton, South Florida's first-ever All-American in cross-country, and Andrew Smith, the Bulls' first conference men's cross-county champion. In track, the men's 4x800 relay team set a school record. Arndt-Molis became part of the 2003 Conference USA Coaching Staff of the Year.

Like Walt Drenth, Rita Arndt-Molis had tremendous coaching success prior to ever arriving on the Michigan State University campus.

Arndt-Molis ran for the Spartans' cross-country and track teams for 2 years before finishing her collegiate career at South Florida, where she became a 6-time NCAA qualifier, 3-time Academic All-American and helped the Bulls' to their first-ever Conference USA Championship, and first-ever berth to the NCAA Championships in 1998.

In her 5-year cross-country and track & field coaching career, Rita Arndt-Molis has directly helped create:

Sixty All-Conference athletes, 4 individual Conference champions, 1 Conference championship team, 24 All-Regional athletes, 4 Academic All-American teams, 2 Academic All-American individuals, 2 NCAA Cross-Country Championship team qualifiers, 11 NCAA Regional qualifiers, and 3 All-Americans.

You could call Rita Arndt-Molis personable, spunky, energetic, positive or upbeat, but the best name to call her is winner. She is a winner first, last and always, and Michigan State University and its athletes benefit from it every day she is coaching the green and white.

Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania: "The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington – Part 1", "Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles – Part 2", "How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners – Part 3" and "2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships – Part 4".

December 21, 2007

Spartans Go With a Winner

Walt Drenth Becomes Director of MSU's Cross-Country and Track & Field Programs

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Michigan State University's Cross-County and Track & Field programs have taken a really positive step forward with the appointment of Walt Drenth as the director.

Just as Tom Izzo has led the Spartan basketball program back to national prominence, and new first-year coach Mark Dantonio has already dramatically improved Michigan State's football fortunes with a bowl appearance, Walt Drenth will create a winning tradition among Spartan runners.

Drenth arrived on campus as a proven winner about to become a more successful winner at Michigan State. He had spent 7 years as Arizona State's head cross-country coach, turning a failing team into one of the premier performers in the West.

When he arrived at Arizona State, neither of the men or women cross-country runners had ever made a team appearance at the nationals nor earned a national ranking. The women had never even produced one All-American runner.

Under Drenth's leadership, encouragement and motivation, the Arizona State women have been to the NCAA Championships 5 years in a row, including a school-record 6th place finish. They have also been two-time regional runners-up, 3-time Pac 10 runners-up, posted a program-best No. 3 national ranking, and produced a woman All American 4 years in a row.

The Arizona State men made their first appearance at the nationals, were nationally ranked, and logged a school-record 3rd place finish at the regionals. Drenth also made a difference by coaching the distance runners in track as they produced 12 school records in distance events and 14 became All-Americans.

Not too shabby considering that there are 299 Division 1 Men's Cross-Country programs at last count.

None of this was new to Walt Drenth, who led the College of William & Mary to 5 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) cross-country titles and 2 track and field titles in 6 years, and was named CAA Cross-Country Coach of the Year 5 times.
William & Mary was also a District II champion in cross-country and Drenth was District II Coach of the Year twice. His William & Mary track teams won 2 CAA titles and he tutored 5 All-American runners.

Prior to coaching at William & Mary, Drenth was the head cross-country and assistant track and field coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan University. He won a District IV title there and was named District IV Coach of the Year. Drenth also won 2 Mid-American Conference titles and was named MAC Coach of the Year twice.

In short, Drenth has won team titles and produced individual champions at every coaching stop in his 20-plus-year career. He will not be stepping up at Michigan State as much as stepping up Michigan State's running programs because winners win and losers don't.

In examining Michigan State's 2007 roster of men and women runners, I find that 35 of the 45 runners (77%) are from Michigan. Rule 1 is to dominate recruiting in your state. Do not let good runners get away to other schools and beat you.

An insider has told me that Drenth does not play psychologist with his athletes. In other words, his program is performance-based. I really like Drenth's approach. Apparently he does not hand out scholarships like candy. Talking a good game will not nowhere; you must perform to reap any rewards for your effort.

It does not automatically follow that a state champion distance runner in high school will enjoy the same success level at college. College races are longer, the competition is much better, and the academic and social adjustments at college level are more difficult.

You must have some talent to succeed at a higher level. You must be willing to work hard by training consistently and effectively. You must have personal growth emotionally to withstand the ups and downs of performance and improvement. You must also develop a mental toughness to separate yourself from the pack.

A runner or athlete who wants to be a champion must announce himself or herself by separating from the lead pack. There is a reason why Steve Prefontaine was a front runner. Trust me when I say it was not because he planned on losing the race.

Getting to the top is not so much about having the will to win—everyone wants to win—but having the will to prepare to win. Preparation is everything that will is not. Having the will to win is a want, but preparing to win is a need. What is opportunity without preparedness? Nothing but an opportunity wasted.

It is only when preparedness meets opportunity head on that an explosion happens and something exciting takes place. Look for an explosion of running success at Michigan State University as Walt Drenth is prepared to make it happen.

Editor's Note: Read my 5-Part series on Running: "Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the 'Kiss of Death' When Trying to Lose Weight – Part 1", "How Lectins (Proteins in Foods) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types – Part 2", Gluten in Wheat Products Bind to the Small Intestine Lining and Turn to Fat – Part 3", "How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice – Part 4" and "There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Weight and Cardiovascular Efficiency – Part 5".

November 7, 2007

WA State Cross-Country Meet:

2 Girls Teams Win Consecutive Championships: No. 3 for Gig Harbor and No. 2 for NW Christian

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Gig Harbor Coach Patty Ley came close to winning both the girls and boys state titles in 4A competition at the Washington State Cross-Country Meet Saturday (11-3-07) at Sun Willows golf Course in Paso (WA).

Ley's girls team ran away from Eastlake to capture its 3rd consecutive state championship with 97 points, finishing 5-14-16-25-37. The Gig Harbor boys fell 4 points short of the title, won by Mead 108-112. The Tides finished 1-12-16-31-52.

Gig Harbor Senior Miles Unterreiner ran 15:39 over the 5K course to win the state individual championship and lead the Tides to their runner-up finish.

The Tides were led by Junior Alyssa Andrews' 5th place finish in 19:02 followed by Senior Kate Stuart (14th in 19:25), Senior Anna Kalbrener (16th in 19:36), Senior Hannah Dewalt (25th in 20:08), Senior Rachel Greco (37th in 20:30), Junior Rachel Seibert (48th in 20:43) and Senior Amber Williams (53rd in 20:47).

Ley loses 5 seniors following this year's 3rd straight girls state title but Juniors Alyssa Andrews and Rachel Seibert should return for their final season.

The Gig Harbor Tides are the first big-school team to win 3 titles in a row since Issaquah won every 3A title from 1985 to 1987. Gig Harbor is a Western Washington school.

Gig Harbor's boys came close to winning as Miles Unterreiner became the first individual state winner for the Tides since Geoff Perry won the 2A title in 1995.

Had the Gig Harbor boys won, it would have been the first time in 20 years a Western Washington team won the 4A title—and the first time since Ferris in 1980—that a school swept both big-school titles.

Patty Ley, who coaches both the girls and boys at Gig Harbor, has built the Tide program into a state powerhouse.

Among the boys teams, Mead has been a powerhouse from Eastern Washington for years, building a national reputation in prep distance running. When Pat Tyson came on board as Mead's distance coach, Mead won 9 consecutive state titles (1988 through 1996) and 12 titles in 15 years (winning in 2000 through 2002).

When Mead was not winning, Ferris—from Eastern Washington and the same Greater Spokane League as Mead—was winning, capturing 4 straight titles from 2003 to 2006. Talk about dominance.

Two of Mead's greatest teams were in 1992 and 1993. In 1992 Mead won the state title with 20 points, finishing 1-2-3-5-9, with Matt Davis winning his 2nd consecutive individual state title in 14:39.5 and Mead's 5th and final scoring runner clocking in at 15:34.

In 1993, Mead won the state title with 31 points, finishing 1-2-3-6-19, with Matt Davis winning his 3rd consecutive individual state title in a course record 14:09.3 and Mead's 5th and final scoring runner clocking in at 15:43.

Standing near the finish line in 1993 I saw the Mead Panthers with their blue and gold jerseys make a statement like nothing I had ever seen in state competition.

Northwest Christian of Lacey became the second Western Washington girls team to repeat as champions, winning its 2nd consecutive B title in the closest girls team race of the day, beating Saint George's 34 to 37.

Senior Joscelyn Minton of Northwest Christian ran 19:14 to win the state individual championship and lead her Navigator teammates to the team title. Minton was followed by Senior Lindsey Wagner (4th in 20:34), Sophomore Ashlee Giesman (8th in 22:07), Freshman Joanna Sowers (10th in 22:13), Junior Jessica Zimmerman (11th in 22:14), Sophomore Britny Biles (15th in 22:39) and Senior Jessica Flores (22nd in 23:17.

The Navigators 1-4-8-10-11 finish was a great example of team running that nosed out Saint George's 3-5-7-9-13 finish.

Minton's victory was huge as she bested Lisa Vandenberg of Northwest Christian of Colbert, not to be confused with Northwest Christian of Lacey. Last year Lisa Vandenberg won the 2006 B individual state title in 19:20 as Joscelyn Minton was the individual state runner-up in 19:45. Vandenberg's team did not qualify for the team competition either year, she ran as an individual.

Minton's victory was double sweet because of Northwest Christian's second straight team title. Since Minton's winning time was the 14th best among all girls in all classifications, she earned All-State recognition.

Senior Lindsey Wagner set a personal best with her 4th place team competition finish in 20:34, and Freshman Joanna Sowers set a new freshman record with her 22:13 time and 10th place team competition finish. Even more important, Wager's 4th place finish split up Saint George's top two runners.

Lost in the shuffle was Jessica Zimmerman's 11th place team competition finish. Had Zimmerman finished 15th rather than 11th, Saint George's would have won the team title, emphasizing the importance of the Navigator's 5th and final scoring runner.

Navigator Coach Bill Kehoe is really making it happen for Northwest Christian of Lacey. In addition to the girls 2 consecutive state team titles, and Minton's individual championship, his boys have now moved up from a 3rd place team finish last year to the runner-up spot this year.

The Navigator's boys team runner-up finish was led by Junior Micah Cushman's 3rd place finish in 17:45 followed by Freshman Justin Holden (10th in 18:13), Senior Clinton Barr (17th in 18:45), Junior Alex Feero (18th in 18:49), Junior Nathan Bohlig (25th in 19:13), Freshman Tyson Heo (45th in 21:13) and Freshman Steven Goff (50th in 21:36).

All could return next year except Senior Clinton Barr. Of particular note are the 3 returning freshmen—Holden, Heo and Goff. To be a money runner in a big meet, you need experience and that is one thing the Navigators are getting big time.

Kehoe's 9-year program is beginning to generate champions and trophies faster than the school can build a bigger case for proper display. With no more room in the trophy case, trophies now line the hallway beneath the display case.

In 2006, Kehoe's girls were Pacific League Champions and District Champions as well as State Champions. Kehoe's boys were also 2006 League and District Champions and 3rd in the State Meet.

In 2005, Kehoe's girls finished as Pacific League Champions, 2nd in the District and 5th in the State Meet. The boys finished as League Runner-ups, District Champions and 8th in the State Meet.

Coach Kehoe will lose Seniors Joscelyn Minton, Lindsey Wagner and Jessica Flores, but should be very competitive with the return of Junior Jessica Zimmerman, Sophomores Ashlee Giesman and Britny Biles and Freshman Joanna Sowers.

Northwest Christian of Lacey could be on its way to becoming an athletic as well as an academic powerhouse in the State of Washington. Even Principal Al Lynch gets into the act as the JV basketball coach for the Navigators. Practice time? Try 6 a.m. in the morning because of current space limitations.

Northwest Christian is building a solid, winning cross-country program with a very bright future.

Teams that qualify in the district run-offs for the state meet finals run together with individuals who qualify based on the fastest times at the district meets, but the individual finishers do not figure in the team scoring for the championship. It is possible for an individual from a non-qualifying team to win the race and not be listed in the team results.

In cross-country events, the team with the lowest combined score for its first 5 finishers wins. Seven runners from each team can figure in the scoring. A perfect score of 15 would result when a team's first 5 runners finish 1-2-3-4-5, which would be unheard of at the state meet level with 16 teams and 112 runners vying for the title.

2007 Washington State Cross-County Championships – 5K Distance (3.1 Miles)

Girls 4A – Gig Harbor won its 3rd straight team title with 97 points, finishing 5-14-16-25-37. Eastlake was 2nd with 117. Sophomore Andrea Nelson of Shadle Park ran 18:26 to win the state individual championship. Nelson ran as an individual as her team did not qualify.

Girls 3A – Newport of Bellevue won the team title with 66, finishing 3-10-14-18-21. Lakeside of Seattle was 2nd with 75. Senior Bronwyn Crossman of Squalicum ran 18:46 to win the state individual championship. Squalicum finished 3rd in the team competition.

Girls 2A – Sehome won the team title with 79, finishing 2-6-19-21-31. Bellingham was 2nd with 91. Sophomore Ruby Roberts of Kingston ran 18:39 to win the state individual championship. Kingston was 15th in the team competition.

Girls 1A – King's won the team title with 70, finishing 1-9-19-20-21. LaCenter was 2nd with 89. Junior Olivia Thomas of King's ran 19:16 to win the state individual championship and lead her team to the championship. The 19-20-21 finish of King's 3rd, 4th and 5th runners was a great example of team running. King's 6th and 7th runners finished 26 and 33, ahead of LaCenter's 5th place finisher at 35, allowing King's to literally run away from LaCenter in what should have been a closer finish.

Girls 1B/2B – Northwest Christian of Lacey won the team title with 34, finishing 1-4-8-10-11. Saint George's was 2nd with 37, finishing 3-5-7-9-13, and White Pass was a very distant 3rd with 93. Senior Joscelyn Minton of Northwest Christian ran 19:14 to win the state individual championship and lead her teammates to the team title. This was by far the closest girls team race of the day. Had Northwest Christian's 5th runner finished 15th rather than 11th, Saint George's would have won the team title, emphasizing the importance of a team's 5th scoring runner.

Boys 4A – Mead won the team title with 108, finishing 6-15-20-28-39. Gig Harbor was 2nd with 112, finishing 1-12-16-31-52. Senior Miles Unterreiner ran 15:39 to win the state individual championship and lead his team to a runner-up finish. This is another great example of the value of a team's 5th runner. Had Gig Harbor's 5th runner finished 47th rather than 52nd, Gig Harbor would have won the team championship. The difference in time between the 47th finisher and the 52nd finisher was exactly 3 seconds, 17:18 to 17:21.

Boys 3A – North Central won the team title with 36, finishing 1-5-6-8-16 to obliterate the 2nd place team—Seattle Prep with 110—and every other team in the competition. Senior Ryan Prentice of Mt. Rainier ran 16:01 to win the state individual championship. Prentice ran as an individual as his team did not qualify.

Boys 2A – Burlington-Edison and Sehome tied for the team finish with 63. Burlington-Edison's runners finished 5-11-12-14-21, and Sehome's runners finished 6-7-13-18-19. Both schools are great examples of team running. This race could not have been more exciting for the two teams, their coaches and supporters involved. Burlington-Edison was declared the champion because of the 6th-place tiebreaker. Burlington-Edison's 6th place finisher was 22nd and Sehome's 25th. Here is an excellent example of a team's 6th place finisher, who was not even involved in the team scoring, but won a state title for his teammates. A tip of the hat to Burlington-Edison's Conner Whan, a sophomore who got the job done by running 17:35. Sehome's 25th place finisher was 6 seconds behind. Senior Justin Rose of Colville ran 16:02 to win the state individual championship. Colville finished 3rd in the team competition.

Boys 1A – Royal won the team title with 70, finishing 1-2-9-28-30. Lakeside of Nine Mile was 2nd with 74, finishing 3-4-16-20-31. Senior Humberto Jimenez of Royal ran 16:18 to win the state individual championship. Senior Rigoberto Jimenez of Royal ran 16:18 also to finish as runner-up. Both Humberto and Rigoberto Jimenez might be twins or at least related. It would be fair to say that they both led their Royal teammates to the team title. Not to be outdone with a duel, Lakeside Senior Kyle Johnson ran 16:38 to finish 3rd and Lakeside Senior Tim Welch ran 16:56 to finish 4th.

Boys 1B/2B – Saint George's won the team title with 31, finishing 1-4-5-9-12, the lowest score of any team winner at the 2007 State Championship Meet. Northwest Christian of Lacey was 2nd with 73. Senior Matt Cronrath of Odessa ran 16:40 to win the state individual championship. Cronrath ran as an individual as his team did not qualify.

Note: Read my 5-part series on Running, including "Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the 'Kiss of Death' When Trying to Lose Weight" – Part 1", "Gluten in Wheat Products Bind to the Small Intestine Lining and Turn to Fat – Part 3" and "There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Weight and Cardiovascular Efficiency – Part 5".

July 31, 2007

When Greatness Reigned

Mead Mania: The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington – Part 1

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

When you live through a time in history when an athletic event arguably becomes one of the greatest in history, it is easy to remember.

In that moment, time stands still. An etching takes place in my mind and spirit that can never be erased.

So it was with the Golden Era of prep distance running in Washington State.

Mead High School in Eastern Washington won 9 straight state cross-country titles and 12 in a 15-year run from 1988 to 2002. In the three years after its first 9 titles, Mead was state runner-up twice, finished 3rd in 1999, and then won 3 more consecutive state titles.

Mead competes in the Greater Spokane League (GSL) which has compiled an incredible record competing in the Washington State 4-A (large school) championships.

Four of the first 5 titles—and 6 of the first 10—were won by Greater Spokane League schools when the state meet began as an invitational in 1959. Since 1959, 7 of the 11 league teams have won state titles and 2 more have been runner-up.

Mead was the biggest diamond in a cluster of precious stones, having won 13 state titles and been runner-up 7 times in 29 years. Ferris High School has won 6 titles and been runner-up 4 times. University High School has claimed 3 titles and 3 runner-up finishes.

Shadle Park has 3 titles, Rogers of Spokane has 2 and North Central and Lewis & Clark have 1 each.

Greater Spokane League teams have dominated cross-country in Washington State by winning 29 titles (60%) and recording 25 runner-up finishes (52%) in the last 29 years.

A GSL team has won the state title for the last 19 consecutive seasons. Ferris has won the last 4 consecutive titles but has more running to do to match Mead's record of 9 straight titles and a total of 12 in 15 years.

The accomplishment becomes more significant when you realize that Washington is the 14th most populous state in the nation with 6.5 million residents. It is not like Wyoming with a total of 500,000 residents.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a 4-Part Series on Mead High School's running success.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Blog Archive.

August 1, 2007

When Greatness Reigned

Mead Mania: Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive State Titles – Part 2

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Things began to really heat up with the arrival of Pat Tyson as Mead's distance running coach. He provided the leadership that led to Mead's first of 9 straight titles in 1988.

Tyson's Shorecrest High School team had won consecutive 3-A cross-country titles in 1984 and 1985 before he moved on to Mead.

Tyson may be best known nationally as a University of Oregon runner under coach Bill Bowerman and the one-time roommate of Steve "Pre" Prefontaine.

Pre was not only Oregon's superstar champion but also America's greatest middle distance runner ever, and America's greatest running legend.

At the time of his tragic death in an automobile accident at the young age of 24, Pre held 14 American track and field records from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. For 5 years no American runner could beat Pre at any distance over a mile.

Bowerman, one of the greatest middle distance coaches, had phenomenal success and Oregon became a national powerhouse.

What Tyson learned living and running with Steve Prefontaine and from coach Bowerman was brought to Mead and superbly implemented.

Mead runners were asked to do nothing more or less than buy into being part of Tyson's "extended family" system. He wanted a bunch of guys who loved to run, were willing to train consistently (year around), and who liked to hang out together.

The Mead Panthers became a team of young men who were inseparable and all but unbeatable year after year. Rival coaches from other leagues and smaller schools were envious of Mead's 80-plus member cross-country teams and middle distance track teams.

While most schools were lucky to have a half dozen runners who could break 5 minutes in the mile, Mead apparently had 30+ kids who could do it in every training session. Being a starting runner for Mead was a big deal, and an even bigger deal in an important meet.

In cross-country only 7 runners represent the team in a meet and only their first 5 runners figure in the scoring, but all 80-plus team members might run in the meet.
One great thing about cross-country is that it is an inclusion sport, no one needs to sit on the bench while the starters on a team play.

Cross-country, like track and field, swimming and wrestling are also individual as well as team sports. Your team might not qualify for the state meet, but you could qualify as an individual based upon your finish in district or regional meets.

Unlike most sports contests, in cross-country the low score wins. A team whose runners finish 1-2-3-4-5 would score a perfect 15 points. Its opponent could, at best, finish 6-7-8-9-10 with 40 points.

Should a team finish 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 the winning score would still be 15, but its opponent could do no better than an 8-9-10-11-12 finish with 50 points. While the 6th and 7th place runners do not figure in their team's score, they can determine which team wins by finishing ahead of the other team's first 5 runners.

Mead runners became champions because when the stakes were the highest, they performed their best. Runners outside the GSL who lined up against Mead had to feel that they were going to an excruciating trial.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a 4-Part Series on Mead High School's running success.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Blog Archive.

August 2, 2007

When Greatness Reigned

Mead Mania: How About a State Cross-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners – Part 3

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Key to Pat Tyson's practice routine as well as Steve Prefontaine's and the University of Oregon's was to train twice a day, a steady run the morning and a specific training workout in the afternoon.

The spillover effect of Tyson's personality, accessibility and passion for running positively influenced Mead runners and brought students into the program that may otherwise have never been involved in athletics.

Students who also might have played other sports only to ride the bench came into Tyson's program because they could compete rather than watch their teammates win.

Tyson's philosophy and system became infectious in the Greater Spokane League. A league that had done well spawned other teams that won state titles when Mead did not.

To show how dominate Mead was, I want to share with you what I saw at the 1993 state cross-country meet in Pasco (WA). It was the year that Mead won its 6th straight title under Pat Tyson's reign.

The distance was 5000 meters (3.1 miles) and the only question in my mind was would Matt Davis (Mead's top runner) break 14 minutes to win the title. He would not, winning in 14:09.3 (a 4:34 mile pace), but he set a course record in the process and won his third consecutive state cross-country title.

Standing near the finish line I saw the Mead Panthers with their blue and gold jerseys make a statement like nothing I had ever seen in state competition.

First across the line was Matt Davis, followed by his brother Micah Davis in 14:46, followed by Rob Aubrey in third at 14:48, then Greg James finished 8th in 15:13.9 and Skiy De Tray finished 28th in 15:43.

Mead runners in blue and gold streamed past in a 1-2-3-8-28 finish and won with 31 points. Mead's slowest scoring runner was 15:43! Kennewick finished as runner-up with 102 points.

In actual numbers, Mead scored 42 points but was awarded 31 in the final results as runners whose teams did not qualify ran together with runners whose teams did qualify, so those runners finishing ahead of qualifying team runners were taken out for scoring purposes.

I have no idea to this day what the actual finish was, but it had to have been 11 points less than the 1-2-3-8-28 finish Mead recorded.

Matt Davis was one of the best middle distance runners ever produced in Washington State. For the record, Davis won the state cross-country title as a sophomore in 14:48.7, as a junior in 14:39.5 and as a senior in 14:09.3.

In the state track championships as a senior, Matt Davis would successfully defend his state 3200 meter title in 9:04.37, a day after defending his state 1600 meter title in 4:10.77, giving him 4 state titles in track.

For the record, Matt Davis as a junior won the 3200 in 9:12.57 and the 1600 in 4:15.42.

In the 1993 state track meet, I clocked the splits for Matt Davis in the 3200. His 400-meter lap times were 64, 68, 70, 70, 71, 69, 67 and 65. His 800 splits were 2:12, 2:20, 2:20 and 2:12.

I could visibly see him picking up the pace after the 71 split. He punished his competitors with a strong, controlled 69, 67, 65 finish.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of a 4-Part Series on Mead High School's running success.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Blog Archive.

August 3, 2007

When Greatness Reigned

Mead Mania: 2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes At the State 3200 Meter Championship – Part 4

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Another example of Mead High School's dominance came the following year in the 1994 state track championship meet, when it won the title with 73 points to runner-up Clover Park's 36.

Four outstanding runners from the 1993 team returned to accomplish these results:  In the 1600 meter Greg James won in 4:10.06, Rob Aubrey was runner-up in 4:11.19 and Micah Davis was 4th in 4:14.81. In the 3200 meter, Aubrey won in 9:07.85, Davis was runner-up in 9:07.90 and Skiy De Tray was 3rd in 9:11.56.

In the 1995 state track meet something even more incredible happened: two Mead runners broke 9 minutes in the 3200. Micah Davis won the event in 8:58.34 and Skiy DeTray was runner-up in 8:58.35. This was the greatest high school middle distance race I have ever witnessed.

In the 1600 meter title race that year, Skiy DeTray won in 4:08.51 and Micah Davis was runner-up in 4:09.15. Another awesome effort.

Do you get the idea that Mead's great runners pushed each other in practice to become even greater? If you think so, then you get it. Success breeds success. Excellence breeds excellence.

In Mead's Golden Era of high school middle distance running, a legacy was created that may never be equaled or surpassed.

As a high school, college, master's and senior competitor myself, I have come to appreciate and respect great champions wherever I find them.

Trust me when I say that Pat Tyson's Mead running program and Matt Davis, Micah Davis, Rob Aubrey, Skiy DeTray and Greg James are champions of the first order. I would put them up against anyone in their day at the high school level.

All of this greatness may or may not continue in future years as Pay Tyson has since been hired by the University of Kentucky as its Assistant Coach in charge of cross-country in the fall and the distance runners for track in the spring.

Pat Tyson has proven he is a great coach at the high school level with 14 state championships for two different schools.

I have a feeling that the University of Kentucky's running fortunes may be on the rise. Too bad they do not sell stock, I think I would buy some.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 4 of a 4-Part Series on Mead High School's running success.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Blog Archive.

Distance Running:

May 19, 2010

A Marketing Nightmare

The Tired 2010 Boston Marathon – Another Magnificent Display of African Runners with Difficult Names

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

There is no great resurgence of interest in distance running as the recent 114th Boston Marathon proved once again. The national press did not fall asleep watching the event, they virtually failed to tune in at all.

Broadcasters could have been shaking with their microphones as the last names of these 13 African athletes were among the Top 25 male finishers—Cheruiyot, Kebede, Merga, Asfaw, Komen, Kipkosgei, Nyasango, Keitany, Kiogora, Dechase, Koskei, Yegon and Chesang. That's 8 Kenyans, 4 Ethiopians and 1 Zimbabwean.

Talk about a list of household names that Madison Avenue marketers could use to sell products and services to the American public. It's enough to leave you shaking your head. Major corporations are not going to sponsor track and field or distance running.

Track and field in America, and distance running in particular, is dead until some aspiring, native-born Americans decide to become the lead sled dog in the pack.

The only American in the Top 25 that you could hope to promote would be Ryan Hall, who finished 4th (in 2:08.41) to the winner, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, who set the course record with a time of 2:05.52. Meb Keflezighi, a naturalized citizen who came to America when he was 12 in 1987, finished 5th behind Hall in 2:09.26.

The winner was the second Robert K. Cheruiyot to win the Boston Marathon. His namesake, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (no relation), won 4 times in recent years—2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The Boston Marathon started in 1897 and it would be 92 years before the first African, Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya, would win in 1988. In the last 23 years, Kenyans have won 18 of 23 years with one 10-year consecutive stretch; Ethiopians have won 3 of 23 years; and both an Italian and a South Korean won once.

Imagine, Africans have won 21 of the last 23 Boston Marathons (91%). Kenya is a country with 40 million people; the United States currently has 309 million people. In other words, the United States has more than 7 times the population of Kenya and cannot win one stinking race while Kenyans have won 18 of 23 times.

This should give you some clue to the lack of expertise in American coaching.

The last American to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer in 1983, 27 years ago.

And it is no better with the women. An African woman did not win until Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia in 1997. In the last 14 years, Kenyans have won 7 times, Ethiopians 5 times and Russians twice. So African women have won 12 of the last 14 years (85%).

The last American woman to win was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985, 25 years ago.

Between the men and women during this survey period (23 years for the men and 14 for the women), Africans have won 33 of 37 races (89%).

Please understand that this has nothing to do with African runners being physically superior to runners from any other country in the world. It has everything to do with African runners being better prepared to win.

Ryan Hall is an excellent example. Hall has been America's hope for a natural-born native to win the Boston Marathon. He is arguably our most consistent marathon competitor. He holds the U. S. record for the half-marathon (13+ miles) in 59:43, the only American to ever break an hour for the distance.

Hall won the 2008 Olympic trials, and finished 10th in Beijing in 2:12.33. He was 3rd in the 2009 Boston Marathon and 4th this year. He ran his fastest marathon (2:06.17) in London, finishing 5th.

Here is the real issue for Hall and virtually every other American runner who hopes to one day win the Boston Marathon. When you examine Hall's times against the winner's times at the same checkpoints, this is what you find:

At the 5K mark, Hall was 1 second behind Cheruiyot (try something close to Cherry-ott). At 10K, Hall was 1 second ahead. At 15K, Hall was 11 seconds behind. At 20K, Hall was 1 second behind (he ran 12 seconds faster during his fourth 5K). At the halfway point, they were both dead even at 1:03.27.

At the 25K, Hall was 16 seconds behind. At the 30K, Hall was 57 seconds behind. At 35K, Hall was 51 seconds behind. At 40K, Hall was 2 minutes and 37 seconds behind and out of contention. On his 8th 5K, Hall began to tire and could not match Cheruiyot's pace. Cheruiyot would end the race at a 4:48 mile pace; Hall averaged 4:55 a mile, which is excellent, but not excellent enough to win.

To win in the future, Hall needs to increase his base training intensity enough to raise his aerobic threshold level to equal and exceed Cheruiyot's level. Here is some good news: Cheruiyot's best half-marathon is 1:02.22; Hall's is 59:43.

To wit: Robert Cheruiyot is simply still stronger later in the marathon. Ryan Hall could be even stronger if he will stay the course and train to raise his aerobic threshold level even higher.

For the record, 23,127 runners started this year's Boston Marathon and 22,672 finished (98%). That's an outstanding statistic, but happens because the Boston race has a qualifying time—runners who are not in shape are not allowed to run.

Trust me when I say this: Every one of those 23,127 starters had the will to win, but less than 5 of them had the will to prepare to win. Preparation is everything that will is not. Having the will to win is a want, but preparing to win is a need. Robert Cheruiyot needed to win, and did.

April 30, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon

At Last, American-Born Runners Click It Up a Notch Against African Winners

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

The American marketing nightmare that is the Boston Marathon is not going away, but at least two American-born athletes have now offered us a glimmer of hope that we might at sometime in the 21st Century win the race that we own.

Two world-class African athletes—a male Ethiopian and a female Kenyan—again swept the titles at the 2009 Boston Marathon on Monday (4-20-09). Their names—Deriba Merga (male) and Salina Kosgei—and their ethnicity do not help their popularity or marketability in America despite their world-class performances.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve market potential with world-class foreign athletes on American soil. It does not matter how much they win or how many records they set. Nobody in America seems to care.

Imagine a Nike ad that says, "Just Do It. Like Kebede, Cheruiyot, Asfaw, Kiogora and Cherigat." Not exactly household names recognizable by millions of Americans. Now say, "Just Do It, like Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter". A world of difference, and that is the point.

Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter literally jump-started the running boom in America in the early 1970s. Shorter won the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics and was runner-up at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Bill Rodgers won both the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon 4 times each between 1975 and 1980. Joan Benoit Samuelson won the marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The marketability of Rodgers and Benoit fueled America's running boom and generated billions in revenue while creating new markets and products along the way. Rodgers was born in Connecticut, Benoit in Maine.

The demise of American distance runners that can win signature world events has been horrific in recent years. You would not even know that we took a distance running team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We had only 1 athlete—Shalane Flanagan—who thought she could win and came home with a Bronze Medal. America won exactly 1 of 32 possible medals in events from the 800-meter run to the marathon.

The rise of the African dominance in the Boston Marathon has been nothing short of meteoric, especially among the men. Kenyans have won the Boston Marathon 16 times in last 19 years; throw in 2 Ethiopian winners and Africans have won the Boston Marathon 18 times in the last 19 years. And the other lone, non-African winner in the last 19 years? He was South Korean.

If you do not think this is a sorry mess for America, you know nothing about running or the history of running in America. It would seem that the great running boom in America was slowed down by too much success and money, in other words, we have gone soft.

We once dominated the Boston Marathon. From its inception in 1897 to 1945, American-born runners won the race 34 of 49 times (69%). During that stretch, Clarence DeMar won 7 times while breaking the course record 4 times, and Americans won 10 years straight from 1916 to 1925.

The African runners who came to America to run road races in the last two decades were poverty-stricken and hungry. They returned home as heroes and "millionaires". They still appear hungry and show no signs of slowing down, which means American runners had better click it up or spend every race looking at their rear ends. There is a reason why every Husky in the Iditarod dog sled race wants to be the lead dog in the pack.

And now, American-born runners Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall have finally begun to believe that they can win the Boston Marathon. We know this because Goucher finished 3rd among women in this year's 113th Boston Marathon, clocking 2:32.25, a scant 9 seconds behind the winner. If she could have found 10 seconds more during 26+ miles, she would have won this year's Boston Marathon.

Goucher ran 5:09 in her 24th mile and had led the race for a half-hour, but was just nipped at the end of a great dream. It was only her second marathon. She has arrived; and now she must train harder and finish stronger at Boston to win. Goucher is coached by Alberto Salazar, who won the 1982 Boston Marathon in a course-record 2:08.52. God bless Kara Goucher, we are not making many winners in America recently.

Hall also finished 3rd in his race. He clocked 2:09.40, almost a minute (58 seconds) behind the winner, but keeps improving and definitely stuck around long enough to be worrisome to some other runners.

Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot (say something close to Cherry-ott), who had won the race the last 3 years, finished 5th behind Hall, so there is some hope for the Americans.

Perhaps 3 Boston victories and pockets stuffed with money affected Cheruiyot, who would be considered beyond wealthy in Kenya. There may be a lot more Kenyans with more money than Cheruiyot, but not many could match his fame and popularity.

In a footnote, 45-year-old masters runner Colleen De Reuck finished 8th among the women. It was an incredible run for De Reuck. The bad news is that her world-class competitors were young enough to be her daughters; the good news is that they were not young enough to be her granddaughters. A salute from the heart to Colleen De Reuck.

While things are looking up in Boston for American-born runners, we will not arrive until Americans again win both races. The last American—man or woman—to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985, and it was her debut run at Boston. I believe it was in 1991 that the prize money started. This year's winner took home a check for 150,000 American dollars.

The last Boston Marathon that saw Americans win both races was 1983, when Greg Meyer won in 2:09.00 and Joan Benoit (sound familiar) won in 2:22.43, setting not only a course record but a world marathon record. It was Benoit's 2nd Boston victory after first winning in 1979.

As they say in Africa's Sahara, which covers 3.5 million square miles and ranks as the world's largest desert, it is a long time across the desert and it has been a long time between rains.

May 27, 2008

My Generation's Inspiration

Meet "Pre" – America's Greatest Running Legend and Greatest Middle Distance Hero

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

It has now been 33 years since the untimely, tragic death of America's greatest running legend and its greatest middle distance runner, Steve Prefontaine, and his legacy continues to grow as the void he filled remains open. It is rare but true to say that his legacy may never be matched again.

"Pre"—as he would become known to the world beyond Coos Bay, Oregon—was not only unbeatable on American soil but he captured the hearts of runners and spectators. Fans still swear upon pain of death that many times when Pre would step onto the Hayward Field track at the University of Oregon, the sun would burst through the overcast skies, as if announcing that something great was about to happen.

And happen it did because Steve Prefontaine was there to not just win a competitive race, he was there to entertain his faithful, who could expect a superlative effort as well as a victory.

Pre never thought of himself as the fastest runner in the race, but there is no record of a runner who ever faced him that doubted that he was the toughest, most courageous runner ever. That list included some world-record holders and his most intense rivals.

Like a lot of 5-foot, 100-pound athletes who were 8th grade benchwarmers in the more popular sports like football, Pre turned out for the cross-country team as a freshman and discovered his place in the world.

By the time to graduated from Marshfield High School, he had won 2 state cross-country titles, won state track titles in the mile and 2 mile twice, run a 4:06.0 mile in the Golden West Invitational, and set the national high school record in the 2 mile with a sensational 8:41.5 time.

As an 18 year old he qualified to represent the United States on an international tour and finished 3rd in the 5000-meter run in Europe. His 13:52.8 time was faster than any ever run by the legend of the previous generation, the great Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia. He held his own against the world's best, and had yet to begin his collegiate career at the University of Oregon.

In his first 3-mile race against Washington State in a dual meet at Eugene, Pre won in 13:12.8, the 7th-fastest time ever by an American and the fastest time by a U. S. runner in two years. After 21 straight collegiate meets without a loss, he was the hot-shot prodigy, on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a freshman. No one could have known that he was just getting started.

"A strange camaraderie grew up at the time among those of us who lost continually to Pre," said Don Kardong of Stanford. "We were united in our belief that no one should have the success coupled with pride that Pre had. We really wanted, I think, to see the big tree fall." But for Pre, his competitors seemed to not even be on his radar screen.

After his freshman year, Pre never lost a cross-country race, winning 3 individual NCAA championship titles. He would win 4 NCAA 3-mile titles in track, becoming the first runner to ever win 4 consecutive NCAA titles in the same event.

After his junior year at Oregon, he qualified for the U. S. Olympic team in the 5,000 meters and would finish 4th in 13:28.3 as Lasse Viren of Finland won in 13:26.4. The field literally plodded through the first two miles and sprinted the last mile. Pre would take the lead at one point but could not hold it in the end.

In preparing for the Olympic 5,000 meter, Pre had run four 1320s and three 1 milers with decreasing times. His 1320 times were 3:12, 3:09, 3:06 and 3:00, then he came back with the cut-down miles. For sharpening, he ran a solo mile under 4:00; he just walked to the line in practice, got set, then clicked off a 3:59 mile with no competition. He was ready, but he was not as experienced as the world-class runners he was facing.

Because of his relentless front-running, Pre was non-stop, and many of his opponents set personal records in losing against him.

Think about his personal best times: a 1,500 in 3:38.1, a 3,000 in 7:42.6, a 5,000 in 13:21.9, a 10,000 in 27:43.6, a mile in 3:54.6, a 2 mile in 8:18.4, a 3 mile in 12:51.4, and a 6 mile in 26:51.8, all accomplished by 1975. At his best, Pre once held every American record in the middle distance events from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters.

Alberto Salazar, the former American-record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and marathon, had this to say about Pre: "He would not take second effort—it was not acceptable . . . I think it comes down to pride in the end. Not proud, necessarily, that you are better than everyone else, but that you are tougher than anybody else. That if you lose, you are going to make whomever you are running against pay. And that is what Pre did."

John Gillespie, a coach and fan, said "He had charisma. That word—there is something about somebody when you tell people you are going to do something, and then you go out and do it. I know of no single person who could draw people like he did."

Wendy Ray, the Hayward Field announcer for all of Pre's races there, said "He just had whatever that is—I don' t know, actors have it. Singers have it. Some people have it, some people don't. Most people don't. He had a lot of it."

Tom Jordan, a writer for Track &Field News in the early 1970s, said "Pre would fix you with a steady gaze and give the impression that you were the most important person in his life at that instant, and that the things he was telling you were known by few others.

"It was an enormously flattering and appealing trait," said Jordan, "and contributed greatly to what came to be called his charisma."

Pre ran every day of his athletic life. He was up at 6 a.m. and out the door, running again in the afternoon at workouts. Perhaps even more incredible than the records he set and championships he won was the fact that he never missed a single day of practice or a single meet during his 4-year career at the University of Oregon. He was a force that no one wanted to reckon with, or run against.

On May 30, 1975, 24-year-old Steve Prefontaine was killed in a tragic auto accident. A memorial marks the spot of his death in Eugene, Oregon, and attracts runners and admirers to Pre's Rock, the roadside boulder where he died. Like a flame that refuses to be extinguished, Pre lives on.

May 1, 2008

You Can Find Him at Arkansas

Is There a More Winning NCAA Coach Than UCLA's John Wooden? Well, Yes

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Any discussion of the NCAA's winningest coach naturally begins with UCLA's legendary basketball guru John Wooden. Wooden was far more than the best teacher of basketball to ever walk onto a court, he was also revered as an expert on teaching and winning in the game of life.

Known as the "Wizard of Westwood", Wooden won 665 games in 27 seasons at UCLA and 10 NCAA titles during this last 12 years, including 7 straight from 1967 to 1973. He also had an 88-game winning streak and two undefeated, back-to-back national championship teams.

Wooden's UCLA record during his 10 National Championship years was 291-10 (not a misprint); it rounds to a 97% winning percentage and includes no less than 4 perfect 30-0 seasons. In short, there is Wooden and everyone else when it comes to winning basketball games and national titles.

Without really thinking about it, I would say that no one could top Wooden as the winningest coach in NCAA history.

Then a brief notice buried deep inside the sports section of my daily newspaper reminded me of this guy from Arkansas named John McDonnell. I knew McDonnell had won a bunch of NCAA titles as coach of the Arkansas cross-country and track programs.

I had forgotten about McDonnell and Arkansas because running does not get much press in America. I did some research and was surprised to find out that McDonnell's Arkansas teams have:

1) Won 42 (yes, 42!) NCAA championships since 1984, 11 in cross-country, 19 in indoor track and 12 in outdoor track.
Arkansas was so dominate in running that only 24 other NCAA titles in the three sports combined have been won by other schools in the last 24 years. McDonnell's 42 national championships are more than any other coach in any sport in the history of college athletics.

2) Won 5 national triple crowns (titles in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track in the same year), including 3 straight triple crowns from 1991 to 1994.

3) Won at least one national championship in cross-country, indoor track or outdoor track in 21 of the past 22 years.

4) Won 20 SEC triple crowns since 1982, including 8 straight between 1987 and 1995. Imagine winning 24 straight SEC titles during an 8-year period. Won a total of 83 conference championships.

5) Won 12 consecutive NCAA indoor track championships from 1984 to 1995, the longest string of national titles by any school in any sport in collegiate history.

6) Won 33 consecutive league and 16 consecutive SEC cross-country championships from 1974 to 2006.

John McDonnell's track teams are known for their balanced scoring, and McDonnell credits recruiting as very important to his success. "Athletes won't just show up if they aren't contacted and recruited," he says.

McDonnell created an entire pedigree of champions in American running, coaching 179 track All-Americans, 54 individual national champions and 23 Olympians in 6 different Olympic games, including gold, silver and bronze medalists.

McDonnell will step down as Arkansas' coach after 35 seasons when the outdoor track season ends this year. The 69-year-old coach was born in Ireland and became a United States citizen after graduating in 1969 from Louisiana-Lafayette, where he was a 6-time All American scholarship athlete in cross-country and track.

Editor's Note: Read my 4-Part series on Mead Mania: "The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington – Part 1", "Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles – Part 2", "How About a State X-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners – Part 3" and "2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes at the State 3200 Meter Championships – Part 4".<br><br>\

April 29, 2008

A Reader Writes:

Ryan Hall, America's Great Young Runner, Is Our Fastest U. S.-Born Marathoner Ever

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

After posting a story titled "America's Marketing Nightmare – The Foreign Runners Who Dominate the Boston Marathon", wherein I complained about the lack of U. S. marathoners challenging foreign runners, Patrice Carlisle in Sugarloaf, CA took some time and effort to email me her reaction:

"Just read your article about no good United States Marathoners at Boston. There may not have been any great marathoners at Boston because they were recovering from London.

"Have you seen Ryan Hall? He is the fastest U.S.-born marathoner. What a marketing dream—young, blond, perfect teeth and he can run real fast. He is inspiring many with his running skills and his hometown of Big Bear (CA) has started a campaign in his honor called Move a Million Miles for Ryan Hall (Moveamillionmilesforryanhall.com).

"I have preschool children running at my school because they want to grow up to be like Ryan. This young man is what not only marketing companies are looking for, but who America has been waiting to cheer for. No great U.S. Marathoners? Not any more... Run Ryan Run."

Thank you, Patrice (not Ryan's mom), for notifying me of America's next great marathoner.

Ryan Hall does in fact deserve some attention. In April of 2007, he placed 7th in the Flora London Marathon with a time of 2:08:24 (2 hours, 8 minutes and 24 seconds), the fastest marathon debut by any American, and the fastest marathon ever run by an American-born citizen.

In November 2007, Hall won the 2008 U. S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in a Trials-record 2:09:02 in New York City. He will be joined by Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell on the U. S. Olympic marathon team in Beijing, China.

In only his 3rd marathon in April of this year, Hall placed 5th at the Flora London Marathon in 2:06:17, breaking his own record for the fastest ever marathon run by an American-born citizen.

The only American to run faster than Hall is Moroccan-born Khalid Khannouchi, who in 2002 ran 2:05.38 in London and 2:05:56 in Chicago.

Patrice Carlisle's email came at exactly the right time for me after last weekend's Drake Relays in Iowa. America's top miler, Alan Webb, was supposed to headline the mile event. Webb set the American record in July 2007 when he ran 3:46.91.

I was beside myself when Webb, the defending mile champion, scratched before the event. Webb told meet organizers than he had been struggling with his form and feared he would not be able to do himself justice.

I was more than upset. In my original article after the Boston Marathon, I said "There is currently not a runner in America that can handle heavy marketing and promotion because there is no one out there that can deliver when it counts." Webb is a perfect example.

I cut Webb no slack. Where would America be if Webb trained for 4 years for the Olympics and then decided not to compete because he did not feel he was ready? If you do not want to compete, any excuse will do.

Let us hope that Ryan Hall does not let us down when his time comes in Beijing. Sometimes in life you have one shot to get it done, and the worst result is to not even try when your day arrives. You can bet the foreign runners will compete despite their form.

Excuse me while I go to Ryan Hall's web site and buy his T-shirt. He deserves my support.

(Editor's Note: My original article that Patrice Carlisle responded to follows.)

April 23, 2008

Some Testy Social Commentary:

America's Marketing Nightmare - The Foreign Runners Who Dominate the Boston Marathon

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

They ran the 112th Boston Marathon Monday (4-21-08). The triumph was that Robert Cheruiyot (try to say something close to Cherry-ott) of Kenya won his 4th Boston Marathon. The tragedy was that America hardly noticed.

Cheruiyot won the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 45 seconds. He ran alone for the last several miles. Cheruiyot won the Boston Marathon in 2003, set the course record while winning in 2006, and won in 2007, making this year's victory his 3rd straight and 4th in 6 years.

Excuse me while I inhale deeply due to boredom.

Two guys from Morocco finished 2nd and 3rd and two guys from Ethiopia finished 4th and 5th—all of them have unpronounceable names. Imagine a Nike ad saying, "Run to Victory with Nike. Like Bouramdane, Boumlili, Asfaw and Adillo do!" Notice how American it sounds, and appreciate how difficult it can be to market foreign runners with foreign names in America.

No one seems to have the clarity to recognize it or the nerve to say it so let me be the first: national track meets and famous marathons in America have sunk to a new low in interest because America cannot seem to produce American-born runners who can currently win signature events.

This is the short evolution of the oldest continuously running marathon in history:
American Clarence DeMar won his 1st Boston Marathon in 1911 and his 7th in 1930. American Bill Rogers won his 1st in 1975 and his 4th in 1980.

A Kenyan—Ibrahim Hussein—won in 1991and this year Robert Cheruiyot won. In between Hussein and Cheruiyot, Kenyans have won the race 14 times in 16 years and 16 times in 18 years, losing only to a South Korean in 2001 and an Ethiopian in 2005.

This year, when an American finished 10th, it was called a miracle in some running circles. Americans have not done squat in recent years.

Among 32 elite runners previewed as possible winners in this year's competition, not a single American was even mentioned as a possible winner in our wildest imagination. More than 25,000 runners qualified for this year's run and 98% finished.

If you are wondering, an Ethiopian—Dire Tune (I swear I did not make up her name)—won the women's Boston Marathon. The first 5 women finishers were from anywhere but America.

Cheruiyot picked up $150,000 (the most ever) in prize money. Cheruiyot is a super guy and a world class runner. His main concern Monday was running 2 hours, 7 minutes and change because he wants to represent his country—Kenya—in this fall's 2008 Olympic Games.

Just because he won in Boston does not mean he will be part of the 3-man Kenyan team. Four other Kenyans have run UNDER 2:07 this year in major competition. Yikes! This just shows you how dominate the Kenyans are in worldwide marathon competition. Interestingly enough, no Kenyan has yet won gold in the Olympic games even though it is their specialty.

Unfortunately for Cheruiyot and track and field and running in America, the foreign dominance in winning here has created a marketing nightmare. It is flat out difficult, nay impossible, to market world-class foreign athletes on American soil, no matter how much they win or how many records they set. Nobody in America seems to care.

I found the USA Today coverage of the Boston Marathon buried on page 7 in the Sports Section Monday. There were frankly 6 pages of more interesting sports news to read than some foreigner winning the Boston Marathon again.

There are no major track meets on prime time television anymore, only the Olympics gets major coverage. The venues that used to draw thousands of fans now sit empty by comparison. There is little, if any, coverage. Big time sponsors run the other direction when meet directors come calling.

It happens because America cannot seem to produce runners anymore that are worth a crap. They just are not competitive and cannot win events like the Boston Marathon if their life depended upon it.

Do not blame the foreign runners who once were poverty stricken and then found a way to win in America and go back home like a new-found millionaire. The foreign runners were hungry. Making a living in America is easy. We do not seem to have any would be runners left who are hungry enough to train harder and smarter and beat the foreign runners.

We also do not seem to have a coach in America who can motivate our runners to get up off of dead center and do something spectacular. There is currently not a runner in America that can handle heavy marketing and promotion because there is no one out there that can deliver when it counts.

The fact that Americans think they cannot beat Kenyans is rubbish. They once thought that it was impossible to run a mile under 4 minutes too. Kenyans BELIEVE they can win; Americans do not think they can win. I just want to get up and slap some sense into our American runners and coaches.

We did not become the greatest nation in the world because we had our eye on second place, or because we wanted to make a big deal out of finishing in the Top 10 at Boston.

I really think this is not about raw talent. We must have at least a dozen talented runners among 300 million people. I think our lack of world-class American runners is more about a lack of desire and determination. The marketing problem is not going away, and the fans and sponsors are not going to come back big time until America produces American-born runners who can win against the best the world has to offer.

As a lifelong runner and one who enjoys running for running's sake, I am distraught that our runners have become such colossal failures on the world scene.

Editor's Note: Read my running articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event".

Editor's Note: Read my 5-Part series on Running: "Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the 'Kiss of Death' When Trying to Lose Weight – Part 1", "How Lectins (Proteins in Foods) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types – Part 2", Gluten in Wheat Products Bind to the Small Intestine Lining and Turn to Fat – Part 3", "How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice – Part 4" and "There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Weight and Cardiovascular Efficiency – Part 5".

Why O Positive Blood Types Suffer:

Running: How Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the "Kiss of Death" When Trying to Lose Weight – Part 1

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

As a high school, college, master’s and senior competitive runner, I used to often wonder why it was so difficult to lose extra pounds as I grew older. Now I know why.

The scientific facts I am about to share with you are only intended for runners who are trying to shed extra pounds, and who are an O blood type. I know a lot about O positive blood types because I am one.

If your blood type is A, B or AB, then what I am sharing here may be the exact opposite for you, and therefore the knowledge I share should not be implemented by you unless you are an O positive or O negative blood type, and you have first consulted with your personal physician.

Believe it or not, your blood type is a more reliable measure of your identity than race, culture, or geography. It is a genetic blueprint for who you are, and a guide to how you can live most healthfully. Your blood type is older than your race and more fundamental than your ethnicity.

A single drop of blood, too small to see with the naked eye, contains the entire genetic code of a human being. The DNA blueprint is intact and replicated within us endlessly, through our blood. I was impressed to learn this fact.

More than 90% of all factors associated with your blood type are related to your primary type—O, A, B, or AB—and not whether you are positive or negative. Most of the distinctions between our blood types are found in our digestive and immune systems.

Like millions of Americans and especially those who pursue competitive running at any age, I have had trouble losing the "inner tube" around my waist.

Gaining excessive weight is a serious health risk, the details of which I do not need to mention here. Most overweight people know that the basic health risks are life threatening.

I am 5-foot-9 and my running weight in high school was 111 pounds and in college it was 118 pounds, the 7-pound weight gain was added muscle, not fat.

My weight a few months ago was 225 pounds with at least 65 pounds of that in my abdominal area, meaning a more reasonable weight for me at 63 years old would probably be 160 pounds.

That is where I am now headed since using science to develop a lifestyle plan that will shed my excess pounds in a prudent and healthy manner.

The reward for me personally is that not only will I become healthier and live longer, but I will become much more competitive as a middle distance runner in master’s and senior competitions at both the local and national level.

Any serious runner knows that you cannot compete effectively if you are carrying an extra 50 pounds. It is like strapping a 50-pound bag of dog food onto your back and trying to run a race.

Runners know what I am talking about. There is a definite correlation between your weight and your cardiovascular efficiency; the less weight the better the cardiovascular efficiency.

When you have been to the top of the mountain (become a record-setting champion) you never forget, you want to remain on top, and no one ever—and I mean ever—can take away your feeling of winning and being a winner in life.

Becoming a winner again in competition offers me a lot more of an incentive to do what it takes to lose weight than just losing weight for health reasons, even though the latter can shorten my life.

Most of the senior competitions I have been in as a senior runner (50 and older) have found me unable to drop weight quickly and effectively while not injuring my physical condition and general health.

That is why I feel so blessed to have read Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s book Eat Right for Your Type which chronicles the four basic blood types, and why each thrives on a different diet, stress/exercise profile and personality type.

Dr. D’Adamo’s clinical and laboratory results are facts based on science, not theory or speculation.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a 5-Part Article.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Sports Archive.

August 28, 2007

Why O Positive Blood Types Suffer:

Running: How Lectins (Proteins in Foods) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types – Part 2

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Unlike Dr. Robert Atkins and his low-carb diet plan, Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s clinical findings have not yet been validated and popularized on a national level, and this is why so few people are even aware of the connection between your blood type, your diet and your health.

Dr. Atkins’ research and diet plan were denounced nationally by the mainstream medical research community and physicians alike for years.

Only today do the same critics, some 30 years later, reluctantly admit that Dr. Atkins was right about his diet of eating more protein and fats and less carbohydrates.

Dr. D’Adamo’s findings are critical to understanding why Americans have become some of the most unhealthy and overweight people in the world. An inordinate amount of our children are walking about today as examples of obesity before they are even teenagers.

When you know that there are more O blood types than any other type, you can then better appreciate the extent of our problem.

This article cannot address all of the issues involved, but I will focus specifically on runners who are an O positive blood type and why is it so difficult for them to lose weight.

Despite the numerous diet fads available to us today, D'Adamo says we can no more choose the right diet for ourselves than we can choose our hair color or gender. It was already chosen for us many thousands of years ago.

We have been so busy looking at the characteristics of food that we have failed to examine the characteristics of people, says D'Adamo.

D'Adamo separates foods into 16 distinct groups and then divides them into three categories: highly beneficial (acts like a medicine for the specific blood type), neutral (acts like a food), and avoids (acts like a poison for the specific blood type).

In essence, highly beneficial foods increase your metabolism and avoid foods slow it down.

Because D'Adamo's Blood Type Diet is tailored to the cellular composition of your body, specific foods will cause weight gain or weight loss for you, even though they may have a different effect on a person of another blood type.

Here are the two important weight-loss factors involved:

1) As your body makes the dramatic shift of eliminating foods that are poorly digested or toxic, the first thing it does is try to flush out the toxins that are already there. Those toxins are deposited mainly in the fat tissue, so the process of eliminating toxins also means eliminating fat, therefore losing weight in the process.

2) The effect that specific foods have on the bodily systems that control weight.

The effect of lectins on O positive blood types is very negative, for example:

Lectins, which are abundant and diverse proteins found in foods, have agglutinating properties that can affect your blood.

Simply put, when you eat a food containing protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood type antigen, the lectins target an organ or bodily system (kidneys, liver, brain, stomach, intestines, etc.) and begin to agglutinate blood cells in that area.  This is especially true for O positive blood types.

The lectin activity of certain foods on O positive blood types may do the following:

Inflame the digestive tract lining, disrupt the digestive process, slow down the rate of food metabolism, compromise the production of insulin, and upset the hormonal balance.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a 5-Part Article.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Blog Archive.

August 29, 2007

Why O Positive Blood Types Suffer:

Running: Gluten in Wheat and Other Grains Bind to the Lining of the Small Intestine and Turn to Fat – Part 3

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Even creepier is this fact: Gluten, the most common lectin found in wheat and other grains, binds to the lining of the small intestine, causing substantial inflammation and painful irritation in some blood types—especially Type O.

Yikes! This is serious business for all O positive blood types and especially runners because what is binding to the small intestines eventually turns to fat.

Type O blood types thrive on intense physical exercise and animal protein. According to Dr. D'Adamo, the digestive tracts of all Type Os retain the memory of ancient times.

The profile of an O blood type person (know as The Hunter) is a meat eater with a hardy digestive tract who has an overactive immune system, is intolerant to dietary and environmental adaptations, responds best to stress with intense physical exercise, and requires an efficient metabolism to stay lean and energetic. This is a perfect description of me, an O positive blood type.

The high-protein hunter-gatherer diet and the enormous physical demands placed on the systems of early Type Os probably kept most primitive humans in a mild state of ketosis, says D'Adamo, a condition in which the body's metabolism is altered.

Ketosis is the result of a high-protein, high-fat diet that includes very few carbohydrates.

The body metabolizes the proteins and fats into ketones, which are used in place of sugars in an attempt to keep glucose levels steady. The combination of ketosis, calorie deprivation, and constant physical activity make for a lean, mean hunting machine.

The success of the Type O diet depends on the use of lean, chemical-free meats, poultry and fish. Thus, by restricting your consumption of grains, breads, legumes and beans, you will lose weight on the Type O diet.

Your O blood type diet will also restore your natural genetic rhythm, according to Dr. D'Adamo.

I had to learn the hard way that, contrary to what most magazine articles advocate and promote—and this advice is by nutrition experts who apparently know little about the effect of foods on different blood types—the leading factor in weight gain for Type Os is the gluten found in wheat germ and whole wheat products.

I was stunned to learn this scientific fact.

The reason this occurs in O blood types is that the gluten acts on Type O metabolisms to create the exact opposite of ketosis.

Instead of keeping you lean and in a high-energy state, the gluten lectins inhibit your insulin metabolism, interfering with the efficient use of calories for energy.

Dr. D'Adamo says that eating gluten is like putting the wrong kind of octane in your engine. Instead of fueling your engine, it clogs it up.

Ninety-five percent of the lectins we absorb are processed by our body, according to D'Adamo, but at least 5% of the lectins we eat are filtered into our bloodstream, where they react with and destroy red and white blood cells.

Type Os should avoid the most common lectins found in wheat and other grains because they can bind to the lining of the small intestine and turn to fat, causing substantial inflammation and painful irritation in O blood types. These lectins can be beneficial for other blood types but not Os.

Wheat products are a primary culprit in Type O weight gain. The glutens in wheat germ interfere with the Type O metabolic processes. This means all breads, bagels, English muffins, oat bran muffins, wheat bran muffins, sprouted wheat bread and whole wheat bread are all avoids for Type Os.

Other factors can also contribute to O positive blood type weight gain, such as corn (to a lesser degree) and thyroid regulation (Os have low levels of thyroid hormone, which can generate hypothyroidism resulting in weight gain, fluid retention, muscle loss and fatigue).

It is also important to note that food allergies are not digestive problems, but they are immune system reactions to certain foods, according to D'Adamo. Your immune system literally creates an antibody that fights the intrusion of the food into your system.

This research and observation of the effect of digesting certain foods in particular blood types is lost on popular nationally-circulated running magazines.

I have stopped reading these magazines because they always recommend eating carbohydrate rich foods immediately following an intense workout to replace the carbs you have burned. That advice may have been great for other blood types, but it could be the "kiss of death" for O blood types.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of a 5-Part Article.)

Note: Read my sports articles on "What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running", "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these reviews in my Sports Archive.

August 30, 2007

Why O Positive Blood Types Suffer:

Running: How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice – Part 4

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Running magazines are great for recommending one-type-fits-all diets for runners, but they are dead wrong and their O blood type readers who follow their advice will not benefit from their recommendations.

I used to swear by the advice of running magazines, and now I at swear at their diet advice, especially regarding diets for runners.

Editors of popular, nationally known running magazines simply do not understand or acknowledge the correlation between blood types and their food reactions; if they did, they would amend and expand their advice to runners of different blood types about what they should be eating.

I know, I tried and I failed. All I did was gain more weight as I ran more and more miles to lose weight. No wonder I was frustrated and unhappy with my excess weight gain.

I have sworn off all wheat products and simple sugars found in cane or beet sugar (sucrose), and I am dropping weight and feeling much better. Natural complex sugars found in honey and fruits (fructose) are OK.

Because I am a Type O I also learned that Type O stomachs are more acidic than alkaline. Type Os are the only blood type that have the acid to digest and break down lean beef products because of their lower pH factor, the other blood types are alkaline and consequently should not be eating beef.

Just because O blood types have the acidic stomach to break down meat and digest it better than other blood types does not mean you should feast on 16-ounce steaks every night. Eat no more than 6 ounces of beef at any meal.

When I learned that according to Dr. D'Adamo healthy Type Os are meant to reduce stress and relax by doing intense physical exercise, I knew he was on target. I relax by running 6 miles; my wife, who has Type A blood, reduces stress and relaxes by being still and calm, clearing her mind and doing nothing.

Few people realize that it is not the stress itself that bums us out, but our reaction to the stress in our environment that depletes our immune systems and leads to illness.

Unlike our ancestors who faced intermittent acute stresses such as the threat of predators or starvation, we live in a highly pressured, fast-paced world that imposes chronic, prolonged stress. Think of your one-way, one-hour commute in rush hour traffic or the pressures of constantly meeting business deadlines.

Stress-related disorders cause 50% to 80% of all illnesses in modern life, according to D'Adamo.

A regular, intense exercise program helps Os maintain weight control, emotional balance and a strong self-image.

Here is another scary fact: Type Os who do not express their physical natures with appropriate activity in response to stress are eventually overwhelmed during the exhaustion stage of the stress response.

This exhaustion stage is characterized by a variety of psychological manifestations caused by a slower rate of metabolism, such as depression, fatigue or insomnia.

I have gone through periods where I stropped a training program, and while I seldom if ever felt depressed or fatigued, I have not slept nearly as well as when I was younger. It was common for me to wake up 3 or 4 times a night without being able to sleep through as I did in my youth.

For Type Os who are not runners, you should know that to achieve maximum cardiovascular benefits from aerobic exercise, you must elevate your heartbeat to approximately 70% of your maximum heart rate.

One rule of thumb for determining your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220, thus a normal 60 year old would have a maximum heart rate of 160. A runner in good condition could easily have a higher maximum heart rate.

Once that elevated heart rate is achieved during exercise, continue exercising to maintain that rate for 30 minutes. This regimen should be repeated at least three times a week.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 4 of a 5-Part Article.)

August 31, 2007

Why O Positive Blood Types Suffer:

Running: There is an Inescapable Correlation Between Your Weight and Your Cardiovascular Efficiency – Part 5

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Dr. Peter D'Adamo also addresses the personality question by saying that Os carry a genetic memory of strength, endurance, self-reliance, daring, intuition and innate optimism. All of those qualities I possess as well as being a risk taker.

I would be the last person in the world to be happy working as hired help for a major corporation, or as a bureaucrat in a public service position, or in the military as a volunteer soldier. I am a Vietnam Veteran but I would never have been a career military person.

I figured out real quick in life that if you have any intelligence, talent, creativity, productivity and especially integrity, you will find it much harder to progress and prosper if you are not self-employed in your own business.

I answer to myself first, last and always. Type Os like me are stable, reliable, dependable, responsible and accountable for their actions. If I screw up, I admit it, self-correct and get on with being successful. This could be why Type Os are known as loners.

Supplements can also be important. For example, a surprising amount of chronic joint pain (especially in the lower back and knees) in Type O patients (and certainly runners) has been helped with a short period of manganese supplementation, according to Dr. D'Adamo.

Manganese supplementation should only be done under a physician's supervision, even if you can buy the supplement over the counter.

Here are some other facts that are interesting from Dr. D'Adamo about Type Os:

1) Aspirin's blood-thinning properties can be trouble as Type Os already have thin blood.

2) Type Os should avoid penicillin-class antibiotics as their immune systems are more allergically sensitive to this class of drugs. I was given penicillin as a child; when given penicillin as an adult, I developed a severe reaction to penicillin. If I am given a shot of penicillin today, it will kill me within minutes. I am told that if I took penicillin in tablet form and my stomach was pumped immediately, I might have a chance to remain alive. If you think D'Adamo's advice on this did not get my attention, you are dead wrong.

3) Try to avoid macrolide-class antibiotics. Erythromycin and the newer macrolides Biaxin and Zithromax can aggravate bleeding tendencies in Type Os.

The bottom line from Peter D'Adamo, who is a naturopathic physician and ridiculed by some other physicians who think they are God's answer to medicine, is this: Try to avoid over-the-counter medications as there are natural alternatives that work just as well or better.

When I researched the ingredient labels on foods at the supermarket I was amazed at how many food products include wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup and simple sugars.

Do you realize how much money the wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup and simple sugar interests dole out in research grants every year to medical research laboratories to prove the value of their products for consumers? It is in the millions, if not billions.

Is it any wonder why Dr. D'Adamo's clinical and laboratory research is discredited by some major money interests? A lot of what D'Adamo is saying about O blood types runs counter to their vested interests. Dr. Atkins suffered through the same criticism before he was proven correct.

I predict Dr. D'Adamo will eventually prevail as Dr. Atkins did. It just may take a number of years to happen.

I used to drink soda pop like water and now I drink water like I used to drink soda pop. A 20-ounce bottle of soda pop or even Gatorade is loaded with sugar. Most sports drinks are loaded with sugar.

A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic has high fructose corn syrup as well as 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar (thus 39 carbohydrates). A single, 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola Classic has high fructose corn syrup as well as approximately 265 calories and 65 grams of sugar (thus 65 carbohydrates).

I used to down 4 or 5 of these 20-ounce bottles a day and could easily put away a 2-liter bottle of Classic Coke on a weekend day. I have switched to plain water and the 23.7-ounce Grape Propel, which has a total of 30 calories and 6 grams of sugar per bottle.

I suggest that you consider doing the same unless you want to float away like I did. I got to the point where it seemed that if I ingested a grain of simple cane sugar my pancreas would automatically pump out 8 ounces of insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in my blood. I am kidding but you get the point.

My hormonal balance was so screwed up with excess sugar and wheat flour products, both adding fat I did not want, that I was gaining weight faster than putting bricks on a scale.

Now all of that nonsense is over. Coca-Cola will have to find another customer for its products.

In America it seems that we have a lobby for everything and every group. There cannot be two more powerful and effective lobbies in the United States today than the sugar lobby and the wheat flour lobby. They are literally part of many foods we eat.

No wonder we are getting fatter and fatter by the meal. Well, at least most of us. I am getting skinner every time I eat and drink. I will run faster too and will be happy to do so.

Lifelong runners like myself who have been training and competing forever (47 years plus) know that there is an inescapable correlation between your weight and your cardiovascular efficiency.

Essentially, when you lose 10% of your body weight, you increase your cardiovascular efficiency 10%.

When my weight drops 65 pounds from 225 to 160, I will have lost at least 28% of my body weight, meaning my cardiovascular efficiency will increase 28%. Trust me when I say that upon reaching my ideal weight, you will know.

I will be the guy screaming the news on top of my house for everyone to hear.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 5 of a 5-Part Article.)

July 22, 2007

Running to Win:

Arthur Lydiard, the World's Greatest Middle Distance Coach, on How to Train Effectively

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

As a lifelong runner, master's and senior competitor in track and field, I have read hundreds of stories on training techniques.

These same hundreds of stories generally dealt with addressing specific aspects of training.

It was not until I bought and read Running, The Lydiard Way that training philosophy became more important than individual workouts to achieve specific results.

Lydiard was New Zealand's top marathon runner before his runners burst on the scene in the 1960 Rome Olympic Games.

Murray Halberg won the 5000 meters and became a sub-four-minute miler who went on to set a string of world records. Peter Snell won the 800 meters. Snell would win both the 800 and 1500 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and John Davies would earn the Bronze medal in the 1500.

When Lydiard went to Finland to change the fortunes of its running program, the result was that Lasse Viren won the 5000 and 10,000 meter double at both the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games.

It was the influence of Lydiard that led New Zealand to create the first organized jogging group in the world.

Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon's legendary coach, went to New Zealand to see what Lydiard was doing and returned to create the jogging craze in the United States.

Arthur Lydiard's basic theory was that long, even-paced running at a strong speed increases strength and endurance, even when it is continued close to the point of collapse; it is beneficial, not harmful, to regular competition.

It is hardly a stretch to suggest that Lydiard's influence has made him the greatest coach ever. No less of a coach that Bill Bowerman said in his book, Coaching Track and Field, that "there is no better distance coach in the world (than Arthur Lydiard)."

After reading and studying Lydiard's book (written with Garth Gilmour), I condensed the following training philosophy of Lydiard's system and continue to study and use it today:

Arthur Lydiard on Running:

Aerobic exercise is 19 times more economical than
anaerobic exercise.

A daily program of sustained running is essential to achieving
correct respiratory and circulatory development. The longer the periods of running, the better the results of the sustained effort will be.

You should understand that it is the speed of the running that stops you,
not the distance. Running that breaks the even passage of time and distance is anaerobic, not aerobic, and it must be avoided.

All this running must be steady and even, at a pace that leaves you
tired at the end, but knowing you could have run faster if you had wanted to. In other words, you should be pleasantly tired.

Your aim is to find your best aerobic speed over the various courses. If, during any of these runs, you find you have to ease back a little to recover, you will know that you have moved into the anaerobic phase. This is neither economical nor desirable.

Continual creation of large oxygen debts by doing anaerobic training accumulates:

1) lactic acid and other wastes

2) upsets the nutritive system

3) reduces the benefits of vitamins

4) reduces nourishment from food

5) disrupts enzyme functions

6) slows recovery

7) makes further training difficult

8) upsets the nervous system

9) makes you disinterested and irritable

10) induces insomnia and low spirits

11) endangers your general health

12) makes you vulnerable to injuries and
illness.

My most frequent admonition to athletes and coaches is: train, do not strain.

Running is without question the best exercise for runners, and
provided you watch the degree of effort, you can not really do too much of it.

Once you are moving freely over the shorter runs, you should
move into one or two longer runs each week to maintain the improvement and build confidence in yourself.

The anaerobic stage of your preparation should only be tackled
after you have developed your aerobic capacity and maximum steady state to the highest possible levels. Four weeks of hard anaerobic training is usually enough.

Do not let age deter anyone from tackling long mileages,
as long as the individual is happy about it and exercises carefully.

Running, I repeat, is the best exercise for runners, and the more
you do in a balanced aerobic-anaerobic ratio according to this overall system, the better you will be.

If you do not understand the difference between aerobic and anaerobic running and other terms used here, you could buy Lydiard's book and learn the difference.

Lydiard's work is a textbook not only on his philosophy of running but also on the physiology of exercise.

November 9, 2007

An Unforgettable Gift:

What Makes a Person Want to Run, and Why Few Will Ever Know the Joy of Running

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

He stood there by the side of the track, looking sweaty and satisfied but dazed.

My teammates and I had just come back from a leisurely 10-mile run through the woods and along the banks of the Red Cedar River, and I felt compelled to wander over and ask, "Are you OK, man?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, but confused," he answered, looking like he was at a loss for words. "I tried to tell my roommate what it's like to be out here. Do you think he will ever understand?"

"No, don't even try," replied I. "Just be thankful that you are here; leave him where he is."

People just do not get it, unless, of course, you are a middle distance runner, and even more so if you have been a very good middle distance runner.

I remember those fall workouts on the Michigan State University campus when the leaves on the deciduous trees would burst into color along the wooded trail, and the sunshine would filter down through the trees.

Running gives you peace of mind that settles your soul.

You bound along at a pace that would exhaust the average person, but you are trained to run at a brisk pace for a long time and distance. You would run faster in a race, but your goal today is to finish feeling pleasantly tired, knowing that you could have run much faster.

I have my high school cross-country coach to thank for introducing me to the pure joy of running.

Like many of us who have become successful in life, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to a certain teacher or coach who influenced us in a way that we will never forget.

In my case, it was my coach Varnard Gay, a finer person you will never meet on your best day. He would buy shoes for minority kids who could not afford them. He would go and pick up kids who had no way to get to the school meets and no money to ride a bus. He never said a word, he just did it, as naturally as he would breathe while running.

Varnard was arguably one of the greatest high school cross-country and track coaches ever. He just missed qualifying for the 1932 Olympic Games by 2/10ths of a second if memory serves me correctly. In his day he was the only coach in Michigan high school history to win state championships in all four divisions.

He was an incredible coach who guided his cross-country and track teams to many championships and trained many Flint Central High School athletes to win state titles and to set state, regional, local and school records.

Varnard would call me aside and remind me that my success in running was great, but that I should continue running after my high school and college careers. He would have been smiling from above when I checked in to compete in the 1998 Nike World Masters Games at age 54.

Varnard ran his entire life. When running became impossible, he jogged, and when jogging became impossible he walked. He was an inspiration and remains an inspiration in my life.

I can tell you without qualification that running is one of the greatest natural highs you will ever experience. There is absolutely no need to become a drug head in high school when you can run and compete and enjoy success in a much more productive, positive way.

When training and competing under stress your body can and does release natural endorphins, hormones that are secreted within the brain and the nervous system that activate the body's natural opiate (as in opium) receptors, causing an euphoric effect.

You have perhaps heard amazing stories of women weighing 100 pounds who have lifted up the back of an automobile when their child was trapped underneath, so they could be pulled out by their bigger sister. These feats happen because natural endorphins are released when we are under great stress.

In Flint, Michigan in the early 1960s we had racial unrest, but there was no division on our cross-country and track teams. We ran side by side and won race after race against many other integrated teams and perhaps a few segregated teams we did not even recognize as such. We learned respect for each other. Athletics can bring diverse populations together in the spirit of competition and make us all better people and citizens in the process.

But back to running. I still treasure the times when I am running along on a sunny day without a care in the world. Few people know that O Positive blood types generally release tension by vigorous activity; I would know as I am an O Positive.

My wife, an A Positive blood type, releases her tension by sitting on the couch, clearing her mind and doing nothing except for dozing or reading novels.

Few people know and understand another value of running, and that is it increases your self-confidence, self-image and self-worth. This happens because running puts you psychologically in control of your life. You feel as a free spirit, uncontrolled by the troubles of your world.

I suspect it is much the same effect for people who are fond of riding motorcycles on the weekend.

Should I have a heart attack while running or competing I cannot think of a better way to go. It sure beats the debilitating agony of having terminal cancer and hanging on for five years, knowing your battle against death is inevitable.

I shall work out by running, jogging or walking until the day I die, and this should be interesting because I plan to live to be 110.

Note: Read my sports articles on "A St. Patrick's Day Toast to Irish Runners Marcus O'Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan" and "Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track's Most Prestigious Indoor Event". Find these articles in my Sports Archive.

January 3, 2007

They Are Clueless:

Why American Designers Simply Cannot Get It Right When Creating Running Suits

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

It happened to me again the other day and my frustration continues to grow.

Imagine a man who innocently walks in a sporting goods store, or perhaps even in a department store, with the sole intention of replacing his running suit which he has worn to shreds, and his wife threatens to throw out when he is not looking.

It is a given that male pride tells him he can find the exact running suit he needs to fit his particular needs without his wife accompanying him.

He edges up to a row of running suits and first looks at material and color. He needs to know if he wants lining in his running suit for colder winter weather or something lighter for hot summer weather.

Color is also important. Being a Michigan State University graduate I understand that a green and white running suit could make an important statement about me as opposed to a maize and blue number that screams the University of Michigan.

One must also be careful about the color green. A light green simply will not do. A British racing green is perfect. The latter is almost impossible to find so usually I settle for a blue and white, two-tone blue or black running suit.

If I were an amateur and not a lifelong athlete then I would purchase the suit and be on my way. Since I competed for Michigan State and continue to be not only a masters (40 and over) but a seniors (50 and over) runner, there is one more critical test to make before the purchase.

Any running suit I buy must have pockets with zippers in the jacket, front pockets with zippers and a back pocket with a zipper in the pants. The operative word here is zippers in case you missed the point. Some suits have fewer pockets and one pocket with Velcro as an afterthought.

When I find another running suit with the exact combination of zippers I want, it will be a miracle similar to Michigan State winning another national championship in football. The probability of this happening in my lifetime is close to zero.

People who design running suits today could not possibly be athletes or people who are interested in safeguarding their valuables. Pockets without zippers allow wallets, money and keys to fly out when running or even sitting in a chair.

What exactly is wrong with designers that they do not create what any sane, athletic man wants and used to get in a running suit? Are the designers all without half a brain in their head, or do they just not care enough to make what the consumer needs?

I believe that what has happened in the design industry is that the people who design have been told to cater to a younger buyer who is interested in fashion and not utility. We have millions of kids and young adults running around the country today who want to look athletic and cool but are not athletic or cool.

They are the pawns of the fashion industry who are easily led to slaughter by designers with no other intent than putting out a new fashionable fall color to ring the cash register.

The biggest culprit just might be Nike, you know, the company that does not need to use its name because it has the carefully marketed and branded swoosh to announce its presence.

When I competed at Michigan State, Nike was not even a thought in Phil Knight's head. It was some years after I graduated that Nike was born and rose to prominence as a store for athletes, especially runners.

Steve Prefontaine was Nike's only spokesman and symbol. Pre was America's greatest middle distance runner in his prime and is American's greatest running legend.

I cannot tell you how saddened I was when I went to Nike's huge store in Seattle and found only a few pair of actual running shoes, all of the rest were fashion shoes for kids to show off.

Once Nike became serious about manufacturing running apparel things have really gone downhill. I was in Macy's yesterday looking at Nike running suits and found no zippers or Velcro on any pockets. Everything was made in Thailand and accompanied by an expensive price tag. Good grief!

Nike might as well advertise itself as the fashion wear leader since athletes and runners have been pushed aside to make room for more sales and profits. You would think that some enterprising person would figure out the void and fill it with the product I want and need.

I am disgusted with current running suits and the designers who design them.

I am even more disgusted with Nike and Phil Knight. He competed for the University of Oregon as a runner. He has made millions and apparently donated millions to the Ducks' athletic program but cannot now even make running suits for runners that have a single zipper to protect valuables.

Even Pre would not wear the running suits Nike is manufacturing today. That makes two of us.

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