Saturday, July 19

Final Trials Installment - And Another World Record

Saturday, July 5

There were two major (in my mind) happenings on this last Saturday of the Trials. The first was our last high jump event - the men's final. It had the promise to be a wide open event with several of the athletes having jumped over 7'6" this year. But when it came down to the competition, only one cleared 7'6 1/2" on this day - Jesse Williams. Jesse was a four-time NCAA champion at USC. Andra Manson and Jamie Nieto tied for second with jumps of 7'5 1/4". But, of course, it wasn't quite as simple as that.

As I've mentioned earlier, an athlete has to have the Olympic "A" standard (since Jan. 1, 2007) to make the team - not just finish in the top three. There were six athletes in the competition that had the "A" mark - 2.30 meters, or 7'6 1/2". And though Nieto had won the 2004 Olympic Trials and finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Athens, he wasn't one of them. When the competition ended, the six who had the mark had finished first, tied for second, tied for sixth, ninth, and eleventh. So we began to do a jump-off to determine the last spot on the Olympic Team. The jump-offs were purely administrative and didn't effect the placing. First, we had Manson and Nieto jump-off their tie for second in hopes that Nieto would get his "A" standard (which was where their jump-off started). Unfortunately, he didn't make the height and, in retrospect, it probably wouldn't have counted if he had since it was not part of the competition per se and just administrative. The next two athletes with the "A" standard were tied for sixth (Dusty Jonas and Scott Sellers), so they had a jump-off for the final Olympic spot. Dusty won the position. He has had a great season, with the world's leading jump at 7'8 3/4".

The other major happening of the day was Tyson Gay's crash in the 200 meter quarterfinals. You have probably seen it on TV. He had a leg cramp and went down hard. You could hear the entire stadium groan. Fortunately, he should be healthy in time for the Olympic Games and he has his spot secured in the 100 meters. But he won't be able to run the 200 (where he is the defending world champion and has the second fastest time in history) since he didn't finish in the top three at the Trials.

Sunday, July 6

Those of us on the high jump crew got to spend the last day of the 2008 Olympic Trials in the stands. It was a great final day of competition - and a good day for those with Razorback ties as three more made the Olympic Team.

The first was Christin Wurth Thomas in the 1500 meters. When I watched Christin run during her first two or three years at Arkansas, I had no idea that she would ever reached this point. But she has worked extremely hard and has improved so much as an athlete.

The second was Wallace Spearmon in the 200 meters. Man, I wish he would learn to run the first half of that race! He had to come from way behind to finish third and make the team.

The third was April Steiner Bennett in the pole vault. Before this, she was often more well-known for winning Fear Factor. But now she is an Olympian. Check out her website. There is a great clip from a Little Rock TV station on her and her job as a middle school PE teacher. You can also contribute to the fund to help her parents and husband make the trip to China.

In my last post, I mentioned that my home town of Ft. Scott, KS had recently set a couple of world records in the area of putting down rows of pennies - one for the fastest time to lay down one mile of pennies and another for the longest row of pennies (over 40 miles). I've had a couple of responses to that. Trevor, being Trevor, was motivated to get out is calculator and figure out how many pennies were needed for those efforts. John, however, was amused that I would brag about such things or a town that did them. But then, John lives in Cane Hill, AR - a town that makes Ft. Scott look like a metropolis!

It has also come to my attention that another record was set in Ft. Scott that weekend. A young man names Sean Durnal, age 17, ate five McDonald's quarter-pounders with cheese in less than three minutes.

What a town.

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