Catch PreRaceJitters’ Live blogging of weekend results via Twitter.
Records fell at Michael Johnson Classic.
In a day the included rain, lightening and cold weather the 2009 Michael Johnson Classic will be most likely be remembered as the Trey Hart show.
Breaking Michael Johnson’s stadium record 20.41, set in 1987 goes a long way at earning that unofficial title.
A star-studded 200 meter field lined up on the track that included Jeremy Wariner, Michael Rodgers, Reggie Witherspoon, and NCAA 200 meter Indoor Champion Trey Harts.
Harts clocked a new Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex record time of 20.29 seconds in the 200-meter dash Saturday evening. Harts shot out of the blocks, crossing the lined in 20.29 seconds, establishing a four meter lead that he maintained over Wariner (20.56). Witherspoon did not finish the race, pulling up at around the 100 meter mark.
Running in just the preliminary heat was enough work for Darvis “Doc” Patton. Michael Rodgers was the first sprinter out of the blocks, before Patton took over at the 45 meters marks and crossed the line in 10.19 after shutting down four meters before the finish line.
Baylor’s Erin Bedell took a rest from her normal duties of running the 5,000 meters to compete in the 1,500 meters. Bedell marked the occasion by running a new Hart-Patterson stadium record time of 4:16.03.
Tiffany Townsend proved a viable day winning the 100 in 11.28, 200 in 23.03, and assisted the Bears 4×100 meter relay to victory in 44.08.
South Plain’s Bryce won the 400 meter hurdles in a regional qualifying time of 50.31. Not to be out down on a day of record performances, Baylor’s Chris Gowell ran a season’s best time of 1:47.42 in the 800 meters.
Andrae’s Williams of the Bahamas clocked 45.13, winning a stacked 400 meter Invitational in 45.13, ahead of Renny Quow (45.23), and Darold Williamson (45.75).
The SMU women set a school record in the 4×400 meter relay and recorded a NCAA Regional qualifying time of 3:42.59 in their second place finish behind Baylor in 3:40.70.
Despite a scare from Texas Tech, the 39 race winning streak against collegians for Baylor remained in tact in the 4×400 meter relay. A professional relay team comprised of Olympians Witherspoon, Wariner, Wallace Spearmon and Darold Williamson ran away with the race.
Baylor and Texas Tech handed off the their respective anchor legs. Baylor’s Iglehart-Summers went out easily before pouring on a kick down the homestretch to win the race in 3:05.47.
There was one sub-21 second 200 meters at the UTA Invitational on Saturday, Jeremy Wariner fired off 20.83 seconds in a race including runner up Sanjay Ayres of Jamaica. Wrapped in long tights, Reggie Witherspoon made an appearance in the 400 meters, taking the cold weather conditions to get in a day of work. After running the 800 meter last week, pro runner Angel Perkins opened up her women’s 400 m hurdle meter season at UTA by winning in a wide margin of victory.
The cold and windy condition dampened the performance marks of athletes at the UTA Invitational. Professional runners Darvis “Doc” Patton, Marshevet Hooker, Aries Merritt and Darold Williamson cancelled their race appearances for Saturday at the University of Texas at Arlington.
What kind of shape is one of America’s top options to rival Usain Bolt? At a recent adidas promotional event – Gay revealed that he suffered a knee injury and plans on returning for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
Weather affected other meets – the second day of the Yellow Jacket Invitational and FSU Relays were cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.
You could probably say that the LSU Relays came out the winner. Despite cold and windy race conditions – I can only assume that with warmer weather that even faster times would have been produced.
The LSU men’s defense of their 4×100 meter relay NCAA title began this weekend by barely holding off the Baylor Bears in the narrowest of victories. Trindon Holiday edged Trey Harts in a photo finish by one one-thousandth of a second, 39.696 to 39.697. The Baylor 4×400 meter relay streak extends to 37 races at the LSU Relay running 3:04.93 – winning by over four seconds ahead of TCU in 3:08.63.
Watch out for St. Augustie’s Josh Scott, running at 46.13 this past weekend at the Raleigh Relays while also leading his mile relay to victory in 3:05.95 seconds.
LSU’s Samantha Henry set a meet record 11.37 in the 100 meters in the prelims and over teammate Kenyanna Wilson. In the finals, Wilson prevailed in 11.42 over teammates Henry in 11.59.
In a precursor to Texas Relays, the women’s 4×100 saw LSU run 44.07 ahead of TCU in 45.02 seconds.
In the 100 meter hurdles Tenaya Jones of LSU ran 13.89, finishing second in the race after LSU alum Jessica Ohamaja in 13.41. Brandon Byram, Michael Ray Garvin, Charles Clark and Maurice Mitchell of FSU passed the stick around in 39.56 at the FSU Relays to win the 4×100 meter relay. Powered by a +6.0 wind, Terrell Wilks ran 10.23 in the 100 meters at the FSU Relays.
As Oklahoma State University starts the outdoor season the squad will be without German Fernandez for at least some of the season, as he recovers from a foot injury. Saturday, the OSU freshmen finished 11th (24:13) at the World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan. Fernandez produced the top non-African performance in the race.
Photo courtesy of Danny Wariner.
From Pasadena to Marietta to Waco to Beijing and Back.
FOR REGGIE WITHERSPOOON ATHLETICS HAS BEEN BUILT UPON THESE CITIES.
In breaking down the season of his second year pro 400/200-meter career, it is his journey, his life that is as significant as his accomplishments. Sprinter Reggie Witherspoon runs professional track and field not merely for the journey - from the starting blocks to the finish line – but to win races.
This track existence has put the 23-year-old where he is today: among a rare group in track history as an Olympic gold medalist as a part of the 4×400 meter relay in Beijing; 44.99 pr over 400-meters; and 20.30 pr at 200-meters; and a financially successful summer. Witherspoon, or “Spoonlove” as his friends call him, is a success born in finding and knowing himself amidst the sport’s complexities.
REGGIE WITHERSPOON’S JOURNEY WINDS THROUGH AMERICA’S STREETS.
Tough streets, starting in a state that rings synonymous with gang violence, car jackings and the Rodney King beatings, then flies through the Southern city recognized as home of the Civil Rights Movement where Reggie grew up in after the age of 11, dreaming of a much different life.
It plows through a campus mostly known for Florida Gator football, and even while running 45.5 seconds as a college freshmen and racking up All-American relay honors he was still overshadowed by Kerron Clement. It rolls through two years at Baylor University, known as home of legend Michael Johnson and then back to Atlanta, GA.
And today, the journey settles into a lazy-day cruise, comfortable and far from complete in Waco.
Pasadena, California – nestled 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, widely recognized for hosting the Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade – but despite Pasadena’s upscale reputation, the city had and still has an extensive gang problem.
Pasadena is where he grew up until the age of eleven. “Pasadena was tough. Growing up in a single parent home was difficult with six other siblings,” said Witherspoon.
“But it [Pasadena] has made me who I am today. Growing up in those rough times and going without things makes me appreciate things more. I appreciate and thank God for everything that I do that is positive.“
Witherspoon was following his older brother a little too closely and found himself getting in trouble. The final straw was getting caught swimming during after hours at a Pasadena public pool with his brother, his mother - Pearl Grice, knew he was capable of big things. She knew Witherspoon didn’t fit into the gang scene so she sent him to be with his father, Ronald Witherspoon, in Marietta, GA., a suburb of Atlanta.
“She shipped me out to Georgia and told me to not come back until I make something of myself,“ said Witherspoon.
Having his pick of colleges, Reggie went on to the University of Florida, an 8-hour drive away from Marietta. But once there, the former Georgia Athlete of the Year did not completely get along with coach Mike Halloway. As a sophomore Witherspoon led the 4×400 meter relay to All-American honors but he struggled to live up to his own expectations.
So he left.
“I had a lot of people in my ear, as I was trying to do my college selection on my own. I went on college visits by myself and actually committed to Baylor and then a week before signing I backed out and signed with Florida.”
Reggie transferred to Baylor – the school he originally committed to before deciding to head to Gainesville. “I needed a new start to get away and re-dedicate myself to what I was doing. “
His coach Michael Ford said, “I think early on when Reggie first got to Baylor, he was fragile mentality. He didn’t want to get pushed as hard as he needed to be. Now, having a bit of success has made him more hungry.”
How quickly things began to turn around.
In the winter of 2006, Witherspoon became a hot commodity. He became the first athlete in Big 12 history to win both the indoor conference title in the 200 and 400-meters in route to the highest point earner.
“In 2007, I focused more on the 200 my senior year. I never broken 21 seconds before coming to Baylor, and then I ran 20.3. I never thought Baylor could transform my career. “
He ran 1st leg on 2007 NCAA Outdoor champ 4×400m relay and racked up countless number of individual All-American honors during his stint in Bear country.
Coach Michael Ford said, “Reggie is blessed with speed. He is probably most fluid runner that I have coached with great raw 200-meter speed. The key to his success involves getting stronger from a speed endurance perspective.”
FAST FORWARD TO THE 2008 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS IN EUGENE, OREGON
“After the first round it was my season’s best of 45.9, and coach Ford though that it looked easy. “
Coach Ford told me that if I make the finals then I will go to the Olympics. He told me that all I need to do is run the same race and finish it up strongly.
The 400-meter was supposed to be a warm up for the 200-meters. Going into the U.S. Olympic Trials ranked #22 on the 400-meter, and came out with a fourth place finish (45.01) in the 400 meters, earning Witherspoon a ticket to the Beijing Olympic Games as a member of the 4 x 400 meter relay pool.
Not knowing if he would get the shot to hit the track – Witherspoon was tapped at the last minute to run third leg on the U.S. men’s 4×400 relay team that won its opening round and was awarded a gold medal when Team USA finished first in the final.
The Olympic success allowed Witherspoon to earn a good living running on the IAAF Golden League circuit throughout Europe. Success has not gone to Witherspoon’s head, he still drives the same late model Mitsubishi Eclipse and lives in same apartment with his roommates.
While Reggie Witherspoon wants to assume the mantle as one of the world’s top ranked 400-meter runners, he is content to leave the fame for someone else. “I am not comfortable being noticed, said the former Baylor standout runner. “Now walking to classes at Baylor, people recognize me,” said Witherspoon.
Off the track you can expect Witherspoon to make you laugh. He is capable of holding court with impersonations, funny stories, and practical jokes to his friends and coach.
However, the Olympian is not predictable, but rather sophisticated. His favorite iPod singers are Ne-Yo, Maroon 5, The Commodores, and The O’Jays.
WITHERSPOON’S GOALS FOR 2009?
“My family is in Pasadena and Marietta, but I don’t get back there very often because there is not a lot positive there for me,” he shares. Waco is the place he calls home, training with Jeremy Wariner, Darold Williamson and Sanjay Aryes while finishing up his degree at Baylor.
“The goals for Reggie are 44.3 to 44.5 in the 400 and ranked top 10 in the world,” said Ford.
“My confidence is up. I haven’t felt this confident since high school,” said Witherspoon. “It is going to be a good year, if I stay healthy. I want to run sub 44.5 seconds and sub-20s. A great shot to run under 20 seconds this year.”
Witherspoon’s life has come full circle. Going back home to see his mother, will be easy for him. Witherspoon has more than made something of himself, in fact he is someone any mother in the world can be proud to call their own.
All photographs provided courtesy of Danny Wariner.
This week, Great Britain’s Tasha Danvers joins Jay Hicks and John W. Davis to discuss her unlikely story of earning an Olympic bronze medal in the 400 meter hurdles in Beijing, her six degrees separation in the track & field and the inspiration behind her latest ventures which include the Tasha Danvers internet radio shows.
That and much more on the latest episode of PreRaceJitters’ Track & Field Radio Show.
Special thanks to Tasha Danvers.
“PreRaceJitters Track & Field Radio Show, where the real playas come to hang out.”
Here are a few thoughts from the weekend.
A number of colleges, universities and professional runners got their outdoor seasons started this weekend meets including Oregon, Baylor and the University of Central Florida.
It was all about the deuce on Sunday. 2008 Olympians Jeremy Wariner, Reggie Witherspoon, Darold Williamson and Sanjay Ayres kicked things off right by all running the 200 meters.
Meet officials came up with the idea of putting each of the pro runners in separate heats. The result is that fans were sitting on the edges of their seats to see the times got faster with each passing heat: Darold Williamson (21.42), Sanjay Ayres (21.36), Reggie Witherspoon (20.94) and Jeremy Wariner (20.77).
It should be also be noted that Reggie “Spoonlove” Witherspoon was all smiles rocking adidas outfit and gear. Last year, “Spoonlove” was on a Nike man.
The Waco training group were not the only ones to get it started this weekend. A number of pro runners took the track at the Cerritos College - California Relays. Carmelita Jeter popped off the season in 53.90 over 400 meters.
Getting this started quickly, Lauryn Williams ran 22.21 at the 200 meters in the Hurricane Invitational.
Is this year picking up where last year left off? After spending eight hours at the track, David Oliver took the 110 meter hurdles at the Disney meet ahead of Joel Brown in 13.36 and 13.47 respectively.
With the NCAA Indoor Championships just a week ago, a lot of elite collegiate athletes took a week off to rest and prepare for the Outdoor NCAA Championships and beyond for some.
This year may see better performances than that of the 2008 season.
Looking back at last year number of U.S. athletes did not have the seasons they felt they were capable of producing. So they want more for this year to make up for last years performances.
This is the recipe for athletes to show produce fast times in 2009.
PreRaceJitters caught up with the Baylor men’s 4×400-meter relay after winning its fifth-straight NCAA title on Saturday night to conclude the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Baylor clocked a season-best time of 3:05.81, edging out Florida State who finished second with a time of 3:05.91. The Bears dropped their world-leading time by nearly a full second, and now own three of the four fastest times in the world this year.
October 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
-Waco, TX-Baylor fell to top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in Waco. The Bears spent most of the game digging themselves out of a 28 to 0 deficit from the first quarter. A hole that proved too big, resulting in a lopsided final score of 49-17 on Saturday.
Don’t let the score fool you, Robert Griffin was a difficult opponent to the Sooners.
Freshmen quarterback and Big 12 400-meter hurdle champion Robert Griffin hit 11 of 26 for 75 yards against the Big 12’s top ranked defense. The elusive quarterback had the most success with his legs, as he rushed for a game high 102 yards on 21 carries. Both touchdowns were scored by Griffin.
Robert Griffin made some believers on Saturday. He showed incredible poise against a fast defensive front and used his legs to open the field.
“I think Robert Griffin is an excellent athlete,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He made some nice plays, and he’s going to do that against everybody.”
Olympians cheer on Baylor at football game.
Baylor honored its two Olympic gold medalists Jeremy Wariner and Reggie Witherspoon during the first quarter of the football game against Oklahoma.
The Baylor 400-meter runners won gold medals as the United States won first place in the 4×400-meter relay at the Beijing Games.
Wariner ran the anchor leg for the Americans, leading the USA to a time of 2:55.09 and a new Olympic record. Witherspoon ran the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay preliminaries.
Witherspoon earned his first Olympic medal, and Wariner claimed his third career gold medal along with a silver medal in the men’s 400-meters.
August 24, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
-Beijing-The Team members were all smiles at the “Bird’s Nest” and why wouldn’t they be?
The winner of the 1,600-meter relay was never in doubt.
LaShawn Merritt (44.35) got the U.S. out to a comfortable lead before handing off to Angelo Taylor who blazed a 43.70 leg. On the third leg, David Neville added to the lead before Jeremy Wariner (43.16), nearly ran a 42 second anchor leg that added an exclamation point to the victory.
The team of LaShawn Merritt, the 400-meter champion, 400-meter hurdles gold medalist Angelo Taylor, David Neville bronze winner and Wariner the 2004 gold medalist and 400 silver medalist recorded a time of 2:55.39 in Saturday’s final.
The time was good enough to establish a new Olympic record, in an event that the U.S have dominated. The previous record of 2:55.74 was set by Americans Andrew Valmon, Quincy Watts, Michael Johnson and Steve Lewis in 1992 at the Seoul Games. The U.S. continues a tradition of owning this event, having now won the 1,600-meter relay at the last seven straight Olympic Games.
Olympian Kerron Clement and former Baylor standout Reggie Witherspoon ran in the qualifying heats and also share in the Olympic gold.
That is not a bad way at all to close out the track and field events at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
By Jay Hicks.