June 9, 2007
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Complete recaps of all events including Washington track and field athletes will be posted here upon the event's conclusion. This page will NOT automatically refresh. See below for a complete schedule of today's events featuring UW athletes. The most recent blog post appears at the bottom of the page.
Today's Schedule - Saturday, June 9
10:19 a.m. -- Men's 800m Run, Final (Ryan Brown)
Daily Preview (9:01 a.m.) -- Sure does seem early to be out at the track, but that's the nature of a live-telvised broadcast ... we're all at the mercy of the CBS programmers. The network decided that unlike last year, where it broadcast a portion of the final day's events on Saturday afternoon, it instead wanted the entire final day condensed into a two-hour blitz on Saturday morning. So, here we are just after 9 a.m., about an hour before the start of the meet. This won't be too unusual for UW's athletes at least, who are used to getting up early for the all-day affairs at Dempsey Indoor in the winter, but I imagine there might be some athletes for whom running the most important race of their life at an hour before many probably haven't even risen out of bed on a typical Saturday could be a little difficult to prep for. But these are the best amateur athletes in the world, so I expect an outstanding day of competition, regardless of the time of day.
If there was any doubt that CBS is in town today, they're running a continuous loop of their NCAA Championship promos -- including championship highlights from just about every sport over the past few years, set to a rock-'n-roll soundtrack -- on the stadium big screen, at a deafening volume. There's a train track that runs just outside the stadium -- much like SAFECO Field in Seattle -- and the volume on the TV is so loud, I can't even hear the train that is rolling by right now, literally about 75 yards from where I'm sitting.
At least Husky fans can be hopeful that one of their own will play a big part in the broadcast, as senior Ryan Brown goes for a third-straight NCAA 800-meter title at 10:19 a.m. It's certainly not going to be an easy task, and Ryan hasn't felt completely 100 percent all week. But he's the defending champ for a reason -- he doesn't believe anyone can beat him coming off the last turn, and at least for the last year, he's been right. Today's final features most of the best half-milers in the nation, including NCAA indoor runner-up Andrew Ellerton of Michigan, Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional runner-up Duane Solomon of USC and many of the runners who finished just behind Ryan at last year's NCAA outdoor meet. You can be certain they're all going to be aware of where Ryan is in the field, know exactly what he's going to try and do, and will do their best to prevent it from happening. Ryan comes into this race with as big a target on his back as he's ever had, and if he can find his way to the front at the finish line again under those conditions, he'll truly be deserving of any accolades he earns.
About 45 minutes now until the gun fires on the 400-meter hurdles, the first race of the day. The big airshow that I mentioned the other day -- the one the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are in town for -- also begins at 10, so between the racing, the ridiculously loud CBS promos, the train noise and the deafening roar of jet engines over the stadium, it should be a pretty wild -- but pretty fun -- morning.
Did I mention that the music is loud?
9:48 a.m. -- Just ran into Carl Moe and had a chance to talk to him about the steeplechase prelim the other night. He said that as he and two other runners came out of the water pit and headed into the final turn, he moved into a position between the two -- without any contact. As the runners accelerated, the runner outside Carl attempted to cut back inside to resume his position on the rail. When he did so, he collided with Carl, who was then pushed into the runner on his other side. There was naturally a bit of pushing as the three fell into each other and tried to keep their balance, the end result of which was each separating and sprinting to the finish line. Presumably, all the official saw was the pushing after the contact and not the initial incident, and interpreted what she saw as Carl aggressively trying to gain position, as opposed to simply maintaining his position after the contact. There's pictures of the event on the web on one of the track websites -- I'll try and dig them up and post a link here.
10:16 a.m. -- Got busy talking to Ryan, writing the recap and pulling off photos and just now realized I never updated the blog after Ryan's race. Well, hopefully if you care enough to read this blog you were watching on TV and know what happened for yourself. I talked to Ryan afterward and he said it was pretty much as it looked -- he didn't get off to a great start and was stuck inside on the rail, with lots of traffic outside of him blocking his pass to the front. The result was that he had to let himself drop all the way back to eighth -- last -- in order to get out of traffic and find a clear lane to run, which he did at about the 400-meter mark. With so many runners to pass -- and about 15 meters to make up on the leader, at that time Golden Coachman of Mississippi State -- Ryan made his usual kick with 300 meters to go, about 100 meters earlier than usual. He managed to get shoulder-to-shoulder with the leaders -- now Andrew Ellerton of Michigan and Elias Koech of UTEP with about 100 left, but just didn't have enough left in the tank to keep that same pace up for the last 100, ultimately crossing the line just three tenths behind Ellerton, in 1:47.77, and less than a tenth behind Koech.
Ryan admits he might have psyched himself out a bit this week after tweaking his knee at Regionals. He says he doesn't usually use ice on his legs but did this week to try and help his knee -- unfortunately, the ice affected a nerve in his knee that has left his lower left leg numb or close to numb for much of the week, a condition he said has been extremely distracting for him all week, and one that he has just tried to fight through each round.
He spent a good 5-10 minutes bent over a trash can in the media tent afterward -- sort of a symbolic release of all the pressure he's felt to win in the last year. Afterward, though, he was all smiles, saying that he feels like he's certainly done enough in his career -- with two NCAA titles, two Pac-10 titles, three West Regional titles and nine All-America honors -- to make him extremely happy, and that he didn't mind not winning for a third time. He went out of his way to compliment Ellerton of Michigan, saying that he was glad Ellerton had the chance to experience being a national champion before his career was done. Ryan said his plans for the future include running at U.S. nationals in two weeks -- assuming his knee doesn't worsen -- then "seeing if I' cut out for this level," in reference to the professional and European circuit.
That's the typical self-deprecating fare for Ryan, who doesn't like to brag about his accomplishments and has said many times that winning doesn't really mean a lot to him personally -- he just does it because he's good at it, and it's fun to be good at something. He's always approached the sport with a very healthy, low-key attitude, and that's certainly evident in his quotes today.
Regardless of how he feels, though, he'll certainly go down as one of the finest male athletes ever to compete at UW, with his total of NCAA titles (2) and All-America honors (9) each ranking second in UW history.
We'll have to see where the Huskies finish in the team standings. They're going to wrap up the meet with 16 points, their highest total at an NCAA Outdoor Championship since 1983. Last year that would have placed them 15th, which would be the team's highest finish outdoors since 1985, and would cap a terrific year including an MPSF team title, a third-place West Regional finish and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog. I've enjoyed tried to add some color and context to the list of results that you can pull off the NCAA website. USA Championships will begin in a couple of weeks, then it's a quiet two months before the start of the cross country season in the fall. Thanks to all who came out and supported the team at Dempsey Indoor and Husky Stadium this year -- we all look forward to another great season together in 2008.