February 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Join hosts Jay Hicks and John W. Davis on this special edition USA Indoor Track & Field Championships Preview show. Read more
-USA Track & Field Press Release
BOSTON - The reigning Royal Highness of the women’s pole vault, Jenn Stuczynski won her first career national title at the 2005 USA Indoor Championships at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center. In Boston this weekend at the 2009 edition of the meet, she’s looking for her fourth indoor national title, seventh national title overall and possibly another American record at what has proven to be one of her favorite venues.
She’s also looking for an Indoor Visa Championship to go along with the outdoor overall Visa Championship she won in 2008. She likely will enter the meet atop the Visa Championship Series point standings, with 1,197 points.
When Stucyznski won the women’s vault at the 2005 USA Indoor Championships with a clearance of 4.35m/14-3.25, her coach had to tell announcers who she was and how to pronounce her name. (It’s Stuh-ZINN-ski). A basketball player at tiny Roberts Wesleyan college in Rochester, N.Y., the nearly 6-foot-tall Stuczynski was discovered by vaulting coach Rick Suhr, whose enclave of vaulters in upstate New York was famous for practicing in an unheated Quonset hut.
Since then, she has become a household name not just in women’s vaulting, but in all of track and field. Now 27 years old, Stuczynski rose quickly through the ranks of her event, winning the 2006 USA Outdoor title and the 2007 USA Indoor and Outdoor crowns. She broke out from the shadow of pioneering women’s pole vault icon Stacy Dragila when she broke Dragila’s American record outdoors in 2007, topping out at 4.88 meters, which converts to 16 feet even.
In 2008, Stuczynski got her season off to a great start by winning the silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. She continued to make American records outdoors a way of life, breaking her own record at the adidas Track Classic in Carson, California (4.90m/16-0.75) and improving it to 4.92m/16-01.75 at the Olympic Trials.
It was at the Olympic Trials that Stuczynski’s Olympic dreams stood on the precipice. By the time she took her first jump of the competition, at 4.60m/15-1.25, only two other athletes remained. Stuczynski missed her first two attempts at the height, and if she missed her third, there would be no Beijing. She not only cleared it, but went on to break her American record. Her clearance made her the #2 vaulter of all time, behind only world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, and gave her the women’s outdoor Visa Championship.
In Beijing, she cemented her status by taking the silver medal with a clearance of 4.80m/15-9, behind Isinbayeva’s gold-medal, world-record jump of 5.05m/16-6.75, continuing an exciting rivalry in women’s track and field and introducing Stuczynski to a new level of stress-management.
“You have to go through the Trials and you have to qualify, first, in the U.S., and that’s stressful,” Stuczynski recalled earlier this year. “As you know, I was on my third attempt at the opening height (at the Olympic Trials). I almost had a chance of not going. Then you go to the Olympics and the whole experience is mind-blowing. Until you’ve been in it, you really don’t understand it.”
Stuczynski understands winning, and her 2009 indoor season is off to a great start, winning all three Visa Championship Series meets - the 102nd Millrose Games, Reebok Boston Indoor Games and Tyson Invitational. She has taken attempts at American-record heights at all three meets, and at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games at “The Reggie,” she finally took the indoor AR from Dragila by clearing 4.82m/15-9.75.
Yet even the most dominant American of the last three seasons has to overcome doubts on the runway. “I didn’t know if I was going to do well,” she said after her indoor American record. “I didn’t have a feeling about it going into this meet. It was a big question mark. I think it was a relief. It’s a mental game you play with yourself. I’ve tried this so many times (to break the record) and I wanted to make it today.”
At the USA Indoor Championships, Stuczynski will face a field that includes the resurgent Dragila, who at age 37 is competing in her final season. Dragila has been second to Stuczynski at each Visa championship Series meet in 2009, including a jump of 4.61m/15-1.5 at Millrose.
But if Stuczynski is on form, there is no American who can catch her.
Now the question is: how high can she go?
For more information about the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships or to purchase tickets, log onto www.visachampionshipseries.com or www.usatf.org. For questions regarding tickets, please call (317) 713-4680. USATF welcomes you to purchase tickets with your Visa Card. Visa is the only credit card accepted by USATF.
February 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Listen to PreRaceJitters’ Track & Field Radio Show - Episode 7. Read more
One of the great strengths and attractions of the Visa Championship Series is the variety of the venues. There is nothing wrong with the boys and girls having fun. Great events are more about great competition rather than numbers. Read more
The Visa Championship Series runs to University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville for the final stop on the indoor season before the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships.
Dates: February 13, 2009
Where: Randal Tyson Track, University of Arkansas
Television: ESPN, Sunday, February 15 from 5 to 7 pm, EST
Event Site: Tyson Invitational
What difference a year can make.
This time a year ago, the talk was about Jennifer Stuczynski challenging the American indoor record and how the “Big Three” shot putters were dominating the scene.
This year Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa, and Christian Cantwell may not be “slumping” as they have posted three out of the four top marks in the world, but we haven’t seen the outer orbit throws such as Adam Nelson cranking out 72 feet 5 inches to win the 2008 Millrose Games. And Stuczynski has something that she did not have last year - the American indoor record.
Jennifer Stuczynski’s hot streak.
She is the freshly crowned American indoor record holder in the pole vault at the Boston Indoor Games and undefeated so far this season after two outings. At 26, Stuczynski has a major upside in track and field, on January 30 she handily won the Millrose Games competition. Last year the Olympian won this event at the Tyson Invitational with 15 feet 2.75 feet. Competing against her will be Olympians Stacy Dragila and April Steiner.
Men’s Shot Put
Last year, Adam Nelson rewrote the meet record book, throwing 73-6 to win the competition. With Reese Hoffa and Dan Taylor in the mix, this contest is nearly guaranteed to be an exciting event.
How fast will they go?
In a change of events, Kerron Clement is switching the 400 meter hurdles for the 200 meters, in a field including J-Mee Samuels and former NCAA all-american Lionel Larry.
Tyson Invitational Track
The 200 meter banked mondo track with a 60-meter straightaway is fast. Very fast. Don’t be surprised to see several ridiculously fast times emerge from the Tyson Invitational meet on Saturday.
In 2006, Wallace Spearmon shattered the 300 meter world indoor record on this track, and the 4×400 meter relay comprised of Kerron Clement, Wallace Spearmon Jr., Darold Williamson and Jeremy Wariner ran 3:01.96, shattering the previous world indoor record of 3:02.83.
Brianca Knight - attempting the world record
The 2008 NCAA 200 meter indoor champion and second year professional sprinter announced at the Millrose Games that she will be attempting to break the long standing indoor 200 world record at this meet. Knight will have her work cut out for her but the NCAA record holder boasts a personal best time of 22.40 seconds.
Set back in 1993, the current record is 21.87 seconds held by Merlene Ottey of Jamaica. Knight will be competing against Olympian Natasha Hastings, who won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the women’s 4×400 meter relay.
Galen Rupp vs. Sam Chalenga
The men’s college 5,000 meters is a replay of the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships in which Galen Rupp won his first individual cross country title against none other than Liberty’s Sam Chalenga. It may come down in the end to who has the biggest kick.
John McDonnell Mile
This race is loaded with Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand. Last week, he won the Boston Indoor Games in 3:53.54 and narrowly placed second to Bernard Lagat at the Millrose Games.
Entered in the race is Alan Webb, who is coming off running 3:57.64 in his fourth place finish in Boston. Christian Smith and Chris Lukezic make this arguably one of the hottest races at the Tyson Invitational.
Xavier Carter - Year of Redemption?
After running 19.63 in 2006, Xavier Carter has something to prove in 2009. No one is more happy than Xavier Carter to return to the Tyson Invitational, as all eyes will be watching to see if Xavier Carter returns to top form this season.
In 2009, Carter will be competing in his first meet this year on the Visa Championship Series after finishing eighth in the 100 meter final at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials and missing the opportunity to run on the Beijing Olympic team. He suffered a knee injury in 2007 at the 2008 AT&T USA Championships, and he did not fully recover until the beginning of 2008.
Is it possible she may be able to parlay last weeks performance into another strong race? Kipyego is now among greats, as she ran into the history books last week setting a new collegiate record of 8:48.77 at 3,000 meters in the Reebook Indoor Games. She placed second in the race behind Kara Goucher.
You won’t want to miss how she stacks up in the women’s mile that includes: Sarah Bowman, Alice Schmidt, Marina Munica, Brie Felnagle, and even more runners at the starting line.
There are a slew of other athletes to keep your eye on at the Tyson Invitational: Nick Symmonds, Khadevis Robinson, Matt Scherer, Lisa Barber, Shalonda Solomon, and Mike Rodgers.
August 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
-Beijing—The women’s pole vault unfolded with an air of predictability at the Birdnest. The venerable Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia jumped and produced yet another world record of 16 feet, 6.75 inches. This is her third time this season to improve on her world record.
If it is any indication, nearly half of the field was out of the competition before Isinbayeva took her first jump.
Jennifer Stucynski (15 feet, 9 inches) of the U.S. did everything she needed in order to earn a well-deserved silver medal. Afterword she said, “I couldn’t ask for anything more than to come to my first Olympics and get a medal, a silver no less. It’s beyond words to have people in there cheering for you. I made a lot of jumps and I’m feeling it right now.”
The clearance by Isinbayeva was so large it leads me to think that will be raise her record again before the end of this outdoor season.
By Jay Hicks.
July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Jon Drummond summed things up best, “It should have been called the ‘fall trials’.” In reference to the athletes who hit the track in their quest to make the Olympic Team.
On Monday night, Christian Smith dove across the finish line in the 800-meters to take third place, and it started a domino effect.
Marshevet Hooker survived bumps, scrapes and a fall to claw her way on the Olympic team in the 200. “All I remember is pushing my chest forward, because I knew it was going to get me in the race,” said Hooker. “They are battle wounds that I’m proud of having,” she said after finishing third in the 200-meters.
“I told her that the 200 is the race you run when you don’t make the 100-meters. Marshevet didn’t want to be breakfast. You know that commercial airing right now about the Olympic Trials. She said that fourth place was toast…I don’t want to be toast,” said Hooker’s coach, Jon Drummond.
Allyson Felix played it cool while pulling out a major win on the last day and the last chance to qualify for Beijing. No worries, no pressures because she knew she could win all along. The field was not up to her world leading time of 21.82.
Unfortunately, Anwar Moore will have to wait another four years to realize his dreams. Moore was in third place with about 12 meters left, but stumbled over the final hurdle in the 110-meter race and found himself spilled all over the track.
Overcome by emotions afterwards Moore said, “Ahhh…this is a major disappointment. I guess that God has something else in store for me.
Terrence Tremmell was confident coming into the meet that he would make his third Olympic Team. He finished second in the 110 hurdles but ran with financial pressure of sorts riding on him. With a big smile on his face, Trammell said, “I was thinking about the airplane tickets I had bought for my family members to Beijing while I was getting in the blocks.”
It was more than good news that he accomplished his goal and added his name to the Team USA roster heading to Beijing.
David Oliver was arguably one of the most focused athletes at the competition. Arriving at the games a few days before the 110 hurdles competition started, he did not watch any of the Olympic Trials on television prior to arriving. Oliver finished with his domination of the hurdles, winning four races with the fastest time each round in his first U.S. Outdoor Championship. “I came here to finish top three, and I did that this weekend,” said Oliver.
The comeback story of the meet is that of Shawn Crawford. He struck 200-meter gold at the 2004 Olympic Games and since has gone through peaks and valleys fighting injuries during the last four years . His story is that of perseverance and redemption.
She did it. Lolo Jones (shown above) won the 100 hurdles final. The race was considered wind-aided (+3.8), if it hadn’t been, she would have broken Gail Devers’ American record of 12.33 that was set in 2000. The trials and tribulations of Lolo Jones after the 2004 Olympic Trials were behind her, or so she thought until suffered a hurdlers worst nightmare by falling in practice.
“It was nerve racking, because I hit a hurdle and crashed badly, but I didn’t have time to figure out why that happened because I was leaving for the trials the next day,” said Jones. She fought past the physical and mental hurdles on Sunday and ran into the record books.
The only athlete to win two events was Bernard Lagat. The Kenyan born and naturalized U.S. citizen is the U.S. Olympic Trials champion at 1,500 and 5,000.
Alan Webb finished fifth in a competitive 1,500-meters.
Another record fell Sunday. This time Jennifer Stucynski jumped 16 feet, 1.75 inches to better her own American record that she set back in May. She was relieved after clearing the opening height. “I think I was more happy to make the opening height. I made progressions in between the jumps — I just went with i,” said Stucynski.
By Jay Hicks.