Totally personal, totally opinionated, completely unscientific. The things I will remember fondly in this season…
10. My team being reinstated.
As readers of this blog know, my school district eliminated cross country in 2010. Shockingly, it was reinstated in 2011. When things go away they never come back, but this one did.
9. The Bowerman Award voting panel
In May, I was asked to join the panel that chooses the outstanding collegiate athletes of the year.
8. Changes at my alma mater
I ran for Bowling Green in the early 90s. The university killed off its men’s track program in 2001 and I was bitter about it for years. The men’s cross country program go worse and worse with every passing year, although the women’s track/cross program was OK. While I didn’t realize it until recently, every single person on campus involved in that decision is now gone.
This spring, BG’s head coach did not have her contract renewed. The new hire is Lou Snelling, formerly an assistant Stephen F. Austin. He immediately reached out to alumni, and in his first few weeks on campus he involved us more than his predecessor had in a decade. While short on talent, the men’s cross country team had its best showing in a long time.
7. NCAA Cross Country Championships
I go to this meet every year, and it never fails to be a great time. This year’s women’s race was especially interesting, as both the team and individual races were very close.
6. NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championships
How can I call the regionals more memorable than the nationals? Because they were held in the front yard of my youth, Toledo’s Ottawa Park.
5. USATF Convention Hubbub
I don’t want to sound like I cackle with sadistic glee when I get to observe groups of people go at each others’ throats. But there at this year’s USATF Convention, there was a palpable sense that things were changing and in a good way.
4. Jenny Simpson Shocker
In terms of watching pro-level races on TV or online, I got to do a lot less of that in 2011 than I normally do. The first two Diamond League meets took place during the school year and school day, so I didn’t see them. Ditto for the last two plus about the entirety of the World Championships. The two US stops on the Diamond League happened while I was at other meets (Pre during the Ohio High School Championships, adidas during the NCAA Championships).
This, then, is the best thing I didn’t actually see: the huge upset win by Jenny Simpson at the World Championships 1500 meters.
3. Desi Davila Almost Wins It
While I didn’t see as much of the pro season as I’d like, there’s one thing I never miss: the Boston Marathon. I always play hooky, stay home, and watch it online. This year we got some real thrill rides with two men going 2:03:02 and 2:03:04, battling to the finish and shattering the official world record. Even better was the supposed undercard, the women’s race, as our new Rust Belt hero Desi Davila came that close to pulling off the upset win.
2. NCAA Outdoor Track Championships
This year was my first trip ever to this meet, and it was great. A little warmer and a little less wet would have been nice (we had to evacuate the stadium three times, I think). The team competitions were close and thrilling and both came down to the 4×400, the best thing you can hope for at a track meet. However, nothing topped this doozy, the single-best race I saw all year…
1. Penn Relays
Penn is indescribably awesome. So read my description.