By Jerry Boyd
What happens when you combine a grass roots track & field community with a great track facility, near perfect weather and some of the premier athletes in the world? You get the 2009 Mt. Sac Relays at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut California. The meet organizers have put together three days of wonderful competition for all levels including youth, masters, Special Olympics, Paralympics, college and professional runners.
Perhaps the biggest race on Saturday was the men’s invitational 200m where Lionel Larry of Adidas ran an early season personal bests of 20.37 ahead of Dwain Chambers, who ran 20.51. Hailing from California and training in Carson, Lionel considers Mt. Sac Relays a home meet and the crowd responded loudly when he competed. The next time he will be in action is May 2nd in Jamaica. Just after the fans settled down from the men’s 200m, the women came back with a close 200m of their own featuring Arizona State’s Charonda Williams running 22.84 to claim victory.
In the women’s invitational 100m, Carmelita Jeter set a world leading time of 10.96. The mark is also a personal best time for Jeter and is the first time in that she has run under 11-seconds in her career.
Geena Gall of Michigan won the women’s invitational 800m just missing a PR with 2:02.69. It was Galls’s first time to run at Mt. SAC and even though a light wind gave her a little trouble she was able to finish over a second and a half ahead of the closest competitor. Gall and the Michigan team will be competing next at the Penn Relays next week.
The men’s 400m hurdles featured National Champion and World Jr. Champion Jeshua Anderson of Washington State. Anderson was been running well but crashed on hurdle 8 and opened the door for Justin Boyd, competing for the G&G Track Cub, to take the win at 50.32. Justin said, “I saw Anderson fall but had to concentrate on his steps to finish strong.” This is Boyd’s first appearance at Mt. SAC and will travel to Des Moines next week for the Drake Relays.
Allison Felix ran the anchor leg for the winning 4X100m relay with a 43.98. The same group consisting of Allyson Felix, Ginnie Powell, Michelle Perry and Natasha Hastings also won the sprint medley relay at 1:38.77.
The men’s pole vault had an impressive field including Olympic silver medalist Todd Stevenson but the Japanese national record holder Diachi Sawano owned the day. Sawano put on an impressive demonstration clearing 5.70m – 18’08. 25”.
Olympian Suzy Powell of Asics won the women’s discus with a throw of 5.67m – 195’09”.
On Friday night, Julia Howard won the women’s invitational 1500m with a time of 4:13.72. After the race, I spoke with Lauren Hagans who placed third with a PR of 4:14.94. She was excited after a tough race where she was blocked in and had to make a bold move to get in the open. Hagans is a former Baylor All-American now running unattached and will take next weekend off before returning to run at Stanford the following week.
At the end of the day there were smiles all around. The Mt. SAC Relays organizers, officials and volunteers do a remarkable job with this big meet. It was a pleasure to see a mix of athletes from the determined high school competitors to the talented and gracious professionals.