Our 22nd annual Jim Bush Southern California USATF Championships was a stellar meet, producing 66 qualifying performances for the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships. Held at Occidental College on Sunday, June 3, our Championships also served as the USATF West Region Championships and drew athletes from 11 other Western States. These Championships present “traveling cups” in 15 of its 36 men’s and women’s events. In these events, the winners receive a 16-inch silver cup they must return the following year. If he or she does not defend their title, the Cup is awarded to that year’s winner… and so on. Cup donors have named them after individuals or organizations they wish to memorialize. The cups are perpetual and have a one-time cost of $250. Pictures of our 2007 cup winners are posted on the SCA website at www.scausatf.org.
Our 10 men’s and women’s distance races at Oxy produced 39 national qualifying marks. Six days later, on Thursday evening, June 7, we conducted a USATF High Performance Distance Meet at Mt. SAC in cooperation with the USATF National HP Committee. Unfortunately, while the weather conditions for the June 3 was ideal, June 7 was a cold and windy day—very unusual conditions for that time of the year. While we had some very competitive races with runners who traveled from around the country, they did not produce the times we had hoped for.
On July 13-14 at spectacular Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York City, Southern California’s VS Athletics Track Club placed third in the men’s team competition at the 2007 USATF National Club Track & Field Championships. In just its second year of existence, the VSA men scored in 17 events amassing 110 points. Led by wins by Nick Garcia (Shot Put) and Jeff Ryan (Pole Vault), the VS Athletics men scored in every event in which they were entered and Nick was one of only 5 athletes who were able to defend their 2006 titles in the meet’s 38 individual events. In addition to Nick and Jeff’s gold medals, the VSA men had 8 silver and 5 bronze medal winners.
In the Women’s team competition, the VS Athletics women scored in 10 events and placed 7th led by Roseline Agboke’s gold and bronze medal performances in the 1500 meters and 800 meters, Katie Kraychir’s silver in the Hammer, and Genevieve Graff-Ermeling’s bronze in the 5000 meters. Katie, just an 8th grader, became the youngest athlete ever to score in the National Club Track & Field Championships. Southern California’s Cheetahs International Track Club placed 10th in the team standings led by Mireya Beltran’s high jump gold, a bronze medal 100m finish by Angela Daigle-Bowen, and a long jump bronze and 4th place in the 110m Hurdles by Tameisha King.
The New Jersey’s Shore AC won the Men’s and Women’s team titles with New York’s mega-club, the Executive Track Club, placing 2nd in both divisions. The meet featured 618 athletes from athletes representing 62 clubs and 27 States.
Our 3rd annual Southern California USATF Grand Prix Summer Series concluded on August 1. Beginning June 27, the 6-week series was held in conjunction with the LAUSD All-Comers Meets at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys on 5 consecutive Wednesday evenings. (There was no meet on July 4.) In 30 men’s and women’s events, athletes scored points by placing 1st through 8th towards $5000 in prize money at the end of the Series. Participation was up by more than 20% over last year to almost 500 athletes—all of whom had to be USATF members to score GP points in their events. That said, we are looking at doing something very different in 2008 to support Southern California’s Olympic hopefuls.
2007 Open Athletics Year in Review—continued
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OPEN CROSS COUNTRY
On Saturday, November 10, our 2007 Cross Country Series concluded with the Southern California USATF Cross Country Championships at Kenneth Hahn Park in Baldwin Hills. The meet featured a stellar field in the Open Men’s 8K race and 3 new SCA clubs, one of which—the Pacers Running Club—won the Open Men’s team title. In the Open Women’s 6K race, the team title was won by See Jane Run for the 3rd consecutive year. In Masters team competition, the defending champion So Cal Fleet Feet was upset in the Men’s 6K race by Team Runners High and in the Women’s 6K race by Track Club LA. Eight (8) traveling gold cups are awarded to the men’s and women’s open and masters team and individual champions at the annual SCA Cross Country Championships.
Previously, on October 6 at the Vanguard Invitational at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa, and on Saturday, October 20 at the Cougar Invitational at Cal State San Marcos, we took part in a 2-meet San Diego vs. Southern California USATF Cross Country Challenge. In these 2 meets, the cumulative times for the top-5 unattached or club runners from the San Diego and Southern California Associations in the Men’s 8K and Women’s 5K races were tallied. The Association with fastest cumulative time from both meets was awarded the Challenge Cup. Unfortunately, the San Diego Association sent no open runners to the Vanguard meet…which compromised the integrity of the series for Southern California runners and our representation at the Series Final at San Marcos. This resulted in San Diego overcoming a 4:43 deficit to win the Cup. It might have been prophetic when, a day later, wildfires burned right to the edge of campus, because the message was clear. In 2008, we need to conduct a series that will advance Open and Masters Cross Country in Southern California in a far more effective manner than did the “San Diego Challenge.”
LONG DISTANCE RUNNING
At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday, November 3 in New York City, Justin Patananan and Aaron Sharp of Nike Team Run LA were part of a 7-man Southern California contingent in the field of 132 competitors. 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi was 8th overall in 2:15:09 while Aaron finshed 64th in 2:24:15. The other Southland runners in the field were James Lander (40th in 2:20:09), Antonio Arce, Steve Frisone, and Josh Cox. To qualify for the Trials, all had run a marathon in 2:22:00 or better in the previous 12-months. The race was marred by the tragic death of Ryan Shay who collapsed and died after just 5 ½ miles. Ryan won the 5000 meters at our 2007 Jim Bush Southern California USATF Track & Field Championships last June at Occidental College
OPEN MUT (Mountain/Ultra-Distance/Trail Running)
The 2007 Southern California Ultra Series was a great success with 82 members participating in its 18 races. In his latest Leaderboard newsletter, Series Director Gary Hilliard congratulated to all series participants for making the 2007 series one of the best in recent memory.
SCA Open and Masters MUT chairs Lorraine Gersitz and Jay Anderson have been collaborating with Gary for the past 2-years to promote USATF membership among the participants in this very successful series. Still, many participants choose not to become USATF members, even though two of the Series events serve as SCA Association Championships: the Mt. Disappointment 50-Mile Trail Run and the High Desert 50K Trail Run. In 2008, we will be offering ultra-runners an additional incentive to enter the series and to join USATF by offering prize money to the overall and age-group winners of the SCA Grand Prix Series.
The following races were part of the 2007 Southern California Ultra Runners Grand Prix Series:
01/13/07 Avalon Benefit 50-Mile
01/20/08 50K Calico Trail Run
02/04/07 Twin Peaks Ultra 50K/50-Mile
02/17/07 Orange Curtain 100K/50K
03/31/07 Lake Hodges 50K
04/07/07 San Juan Trail 50K
04/21/07 Leona Divide 50-Mile
05/05/07 Wild Wild West 50K
05/12/07 PCT 50-Mile Trail Run
05/19/07 Bishop High Sierra 50M, 50K, 20M
06/02/07 Shadow of the Giants 50K
06/10/07 Holcomb Valley 33-Mile
08/11/07 Mt. Disappointment 50K
08/25/07 Bulldog 50K Ultra Run/25K Run
09/15/07 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run
10/20/07 San Diego 100
11/24/07 Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35-Mile Run
12/02/07 High Desert 50K & 30K
2007 Open Athletics Year in Review—continued
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Last weekend on January 19, the 2007 Southern California Ultra Series Awards/Run/Potluck Lunch was held at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea. The pre-luncheon run, food, and camaraderie were enjoyed by dozens of Series participants. Gary and Lorraine took the opportunity to speak to those in attendance about the benefits of joining USTAF as many beautiful age-group awards and high-mileage plaques were presented. Dean Dobberteen was the 2007 Overall Male Winner and Keira Henninger was the 2007 Overall Female Winner. The 2007 Men’s Mileage Champion was Fred Pollard and the 2007 Women’s Mileage Champion was Michelle Barton. Complete results of the 2007 Ultra Series are available at http://www.socalultraseries.org.
OPEN RACE WALKING
Important news for race walking in 2007 was the appointments of Dawna Brown as SCA Youth Athletics Committee Race Walk Chair and Pedro Santoni to serve as Masters Athletics Committee Race Walk Chair.
Joining our Open Athletics Committee Race Walk Chair Chris Rael, this filled-out our three race walk committee chair positions and created a strong new team to promote the development of Race Walking in our Southern California Association. Dawna Brown is well-connected to our Youth Track & Field movement and has been an outstanding advocate for Race Walking within it. Pedro Santoni is a talented walker and highly-respected member of the Masters Race Walk community. At the Rose Bowl 10-Mile Race Walk–a race in which he was the overall winner–he received an overwhelmingly vote from by the race walkers present to be our Masters Race Walk Chair. With his experience as a veteran Race Walker, and background as a professor at Cal State San Bernardino, he has an understanding of the sport and the ability to work with others.
Other major race walking highlights in 2007 was two of our local NAIA collegiate race walkers, Paul Greive of Concordia University (Irvine, CA) and Lindsey Connolly of Westmont College (Santa Barbara, CA), qualifying for the 2007 National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Tennessee. These two novice walkers participated in the SCA Elite Race Walk Development Initiative launched by Chris Rael. In its first year, the initiative focused on the six NAIA schools in Southern California and recruiting their second-tier men and women distance runners to try competitive race walking (an NAIA championship event) at three coaching clinics that Chris conducted to provide the technical instruction, training methods, and encouragement necessary for them to experience success at the national level.
The athletes who participated in the first year of this flagship program worked very hard, reaped big rewards, and produced numerous break-through races in a short amount of time. In only 4-months of intensive training, Paul Greive of Concordia won his first two collegiate race walk events in times that qualified him for the NAIA National Track & Field Championships. He then won the Southern California USATF 5K Race Walk title with the 5th fastest time recorded by a collegiate walker in the U.S. for 2007 and placed 6th at the NAIA Championships to earn “All-America” recognition. Paul had never race walked before, but once he committed to the program he gave it his best effort under the watchful guidance of Chris Rael.
Lindsey Connolly of Westmont experienced similar success. In her first season of race walking she qualified for, and competed at, the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships, won the Southern California/West Region USATF Championship, and claimed the Santa Barbara Relays race walk title. Her biggest accomplishment, however, occurred at the 2007 NAIA Outdoor National Track & Field Championships in blazing hot conditions in Fresno, CA. With trackside temperature at race time above 100-degrees, Lindsey had a superb race with athletes who had been competing in the walks for years and finished in 6th place to earn “All-America” honors.
Although the initiative focused primarily on the NAIA athletes, an outreach program was also conducted with the SCA Youth Track & Field Committee and its youth coaches and clubs to foster the development of race walking within their ranks. New Youth Race Walk Chair, Dawna Brown, helped to coordinate and conduct mini race walk clinics and urge youth meet directors to include a race walk in their meets. During the 2007 track season, the number of youth race walk participants increased four-fold, as did the quality and depth of competition in those races. In 2008, we will be expanding these race walk clinics and doubling our efforts with youth track clubs to give athletes more exposure and opportunities to participate in race walking.
Skip Stolley, Vice President, Southern California Association
Chairman, SCA Open Athletics Committee