Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Track and Field Review: Armory Invitational

Congrats... I guess.
Since it’s already 2015, that means there’s about a year and a half until the Rio Summer Olympics. This means it’s a very important warm-up year for hopeful athletes. The indoor track season really got underway on Saturday at the Armory Invitational in New York City. I’m planning on reviewing track meets throughout the season, but I’m not going to look at the collegians unless they’re part of the “invitational” fields or it’s the summer season. Or, you know, they break a record or something.

And that’s exactly what the U.S. Distance Medley relay team did with Oregon’s Mike Berry running the 400 meters on Saturday. The DMR is one of those curious track events that doesn’t feel like a “natural” race. It’s hard to explain. I get the 100-meter hurdles, I don’t get the 400-meter hurdles. Why stop there? Why aren’t there 800-meter hurdles or 1200-meter hurdles or 1600-meter hurdles? Because it just gets weirder and weirder.

The DMR consists of somebody running 1200 meters, somebody else running 400 meters, a third person running 800 meters and a fourth running 1600 meters. Why not start with the 400 and work your way up? Or the 1600 and go down? It’s not an equal-distance relay, why bother staggering the distances?

I also don’t like the DMR because nobody specializes in it. A real event requires some degree of specialization. For the DMR you can grab any 400 meter runner, an 800-meter guy and two 1500-meter guys and say “Go for it, by the way one of you 1500-meter guys has to drop down 300 meters, and for the other one don’t forget to run an extra 100.” That’s not specialization. And if you’re a 1200-meter specialist just for the DMR and you don’t run anything else then that’s your fault, not mine.

Anyway, Berry ran the 400 after Oregon alum Matt Centrowitz ran the 1200 (Centro is a 1500 specialist), then University of Iowa alum Erik Sowinski did the 800 and Pat Casey (not the 55-year old Oregon State baseball coach) ran the 1600. They set an indoor world record by six seconds, running it in 9:19:93. So they have that going for them, which is nice. I just don’t get it.

In other events, having covered Jordan Hasay during her career at the University of Oregon it was quite unfortunate that she never won an individual national title in college. She just didn’t quite have the stamina to finish at the right pace, and if she went any slower at the beginning then she would have been hopelessly left behind. As a professional she went through some interesting times, especially the controversy over a bump and initial disqualification that almost got her to World Indoor championships last winter.

Well, it seems like Hasay is on the right path to not needing somebody else to get DQ’d to make the Worlds. At the Armory, Hasay took the lead just before the bell and then outkicked for the win in the women’s two mile. Good for her.

Hooray, Hasay!
The men’s two mile was headlined by another former Oregon runner and Alberto Salazar runner, Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp. He already holds the American record in the indoor two mile and was ten seconds off that pace, finishing in 8:17.24, while Oregon Project teammate Cam Levins- the first ever Canadian winner of the Bowerman Award for best college male athlete- won it.

In the field portion for the men, the most notable performance there was by London triple jump silver medalist Will Claye, who also took long jump bronze that year. He won the triple jump crown, going 55 and a half feet, a yard behind the world record and his personal best so that’s a decent start to his season.

In the other notable women’s event, the 800, former high school phenom Mary Cain, still just 18, finished 5th in a bunched up field, 1.1 seconds behind the winner Ajee Wilson, who is just 20 and also turned pro straight out of high school.

Early in the season and already a world record down, even if it’s the kind of world record that makes people go, “wait, how do you do that?” instead of “that’s awesome!” but that’s indoor track and field for you. It’s all a warm-up for outdoors, and this year, a real early warm-up for an event a year and a half away.

Pictures courtesy: USATF.org, cloud259.com