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Spratling_BrycenQ-USind17.jpgBrycen Spratling, photo by PhotoRun.net

Brycen Spratling To Experiment With 800 Meters

March 16th , 2017

Back in the late '60's, Martin McGrady - a terrific middle distance racer - dominated the indoor scene. His specialty was the frenetic 600 yard run - an event upon which he was virtually untouchable on those creaky 160 yard banked wooden tracks. Dominating the likes of Olympic 400m champion and world record holder Lee Evans and every other middle distance great, McGrady was a 3-time indoor national champion and 3-time Millrose Games winner. In 1970, he set the indoor 600 yard world record of 1:07.6 - a global best that endured for 22 years. With all due respect to my friend Eamonn Coughlan, McGrady was the original, the authentic "Chairman of the Boards." Superior at the indoor Imperial distance, McGrady could never find his groove in an outdoor, metric Olympic distance event. Unable to transform his indoor success to the big outdoor oval, McGrady has been relegated to the footnotes of track & field.

Memories of McGrady are evoked by watching the speed, the grace, the talent, and the indoor superiority of middle distance performer Brycen Spratling. Two years ago, Spratling flashed around the Armory's 200 meter oval to win the Millrose Games 500 meter race in a world best time of 1:00.06. Several months later - as part of a USA quartet - the long sprinter ran the 400m leg on a world-record setting distance medley relay team. Yet like McGrady a generation ago, the two-time world record holder is still searching to find the outdoor event that is right for him.

Harrison_KendraQ-USind17.jpGKendra Harrison wins 60m hurdles, photo by PhotoRun.net

Houlihan_ShelbyFH-USind17.jpGA busy weekend double for Shelby Houlihan, photo by PhotoRun.net

Sowinski_ErikFH-USind17.jpGEric Sowinski wins a big 600 meters! photo by PhotoRun.net

Morris_Sandi1-USind17.jpGSandi Morris wins pole vault, photo by PhotoRun.net

Day Three of USATF Indoors Showcases New And Old Stars

Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 5th, 2017

Day Three of these championships had a tough act to follow. With two world records - Gwen Berry's terrific 84 foot heave in the weight throw and Noah Lyles' stunning 31.87 in the 300 meter dash - a national high school record of 2:43.18 in the women's 1000 meter run by Samantha Watson in the preliminary rounds, and pentathlon winner Erica Bougard's last-jump win in the women's long jump adding spice to Day Two, Day Three athletes would need exceptional performances to top Saturday's show. Sunday produced no additional world records, but the depth and breadth of the final edition of this national gathering was stunning as the 2017 indoor championships concluded with 8 meet records either tied or broken.


Berry_Gwen-USind17.jpGGwen Berry, Weight throw WR, 25.60m/84'00"


Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 4th, 2017

The pursuit of national indoor track & field indoor championships here in the high plains began in earnest with a full slate of Day Two events on the track and in the field. While impressive performances were expected, the day became special very quickly.

Early in the afternoon, in the women's weight throw, Gwen Berry electrified the crowd when her first attempt - only the second throw of the competition - sailed 25.22m/82'9", a throw that set a new indoor national championship and Albuquerque Convention Center record, a new world leader, and ranked #3 on the all-time world list. But Berry - coming off an injury and undecided about her championship participation as recently as Monday - was far from done. Not letting her monster opener break her concentration, Berry went on a tear, throwing 24.45m/80'2¾ and 25.21m/82'8½ on her second and third attempts. After two successive fouls, the Olympian saved her best for last. On her final attempt, Berry let it all go with a tremendous, arcing throw that measured 25.60m/84'0" to set a new world record and take down the previous global best of 25.56m/83'10¼ set in 2007 by American Brittany Riley. "I honestly didn't know what I had in store for me today," admits the new champion. "I was injured four weeks ago. I worked my butt off. I didn't think I had world record potential in me. I thought I could win with a good 80 foot throw, but a world record was not in my sights." With no fair throws less than 80 feet, Berry - now a three-time national weight throw champion - completed a sensational series that in addition to her world record throw also included the 4th and 5th best weight throws of all time.

IMG_0829.JPGLeft to right: Ajee Wilson (new AR holder and #13 on the all-time world list at indoor 800m); Noah Lyles (USA HS record holder in the indoor and outdoor 200m); Sam Kendricks (reigning Oly pole vault bronze medalist); and Keni Harrison (WR holder, 100H). Photo and description courtesy of David Hunter.


Ben Blankenship, Chris Sorratos, Garret Heath, Even Jager all battle in the mile, photo by PhotoRun.net

Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 4th, 2017

As has frequently been the case over the years, this weekend Albuquerque, New Mexico will once again host the USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships. Many elite American athletes have made the pilgrimage to the Land Of Enchantment to test their fitness, to race against their most challenging domestic foes, and to pursue the glory of capturing a national championship. Yet others have elected to bypass this championship gathering for a variety of reasons that include: nursing injuries; avoiding the high plains' altitude challenge; and acknowledging that this championship meet does not fit into their build up for what they consider to be more challenging and important contests during the upcoming outdoor season.

Many of the athletes here to compete have taken time to explain why they are here and what they hope draw from this championship competition. Here are the thoughts of some:

Bougard_Erica800-USind17.jpGErica Bougard, March 3, 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 3rd, 2017

As the 2017 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships got underway, the nation's top multi athletes found that on Day One they had the resurfaced Mondo track and field at the Albuquerque Convention Center all to themselves. It was a special opportunity they didn't squander.


Erica Bougard, March 3, 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

In the opening event of the women's pentathlon - the 60 meters - Erica Bougard took advantage of a great start to rocket down the sprint straight, crossing first in 8.21, and ringing up 1082 points. Defending national champion Barbara Nwaba earned 1037 points claiming 2nd in 8.41. Her Santa Barbara Track Club teammate Chari Hawkins - 3rd in this event a year ago - finished 3rd in 8.44 to garner 1030 points. Multi veteran and American record holder in the pentathlon Sharon Day-Monroe clocked 8.56 to finish the first event in 6th with 1004 points.


Hasay_Jordan-Houston17.JPGJordan Hasay, photo by PhotoRun.net

Has Talented Distance Star Finally Found Her Event?

An essential ingredient for the success of any athlete who aspires to compete at the highest levels of international track & field is talent. Some - a very few - might be able to achieve on talent alone. But for the vast majority, success requires that God-given talent be joined by a thoughtfully-assembled training regimen, an unwavering work ethic, savvy coaching, an ever-present support system - and a pursuit for excellence in a carefully-selected event that is right for the athlete.

No one doubts the natural talent Oregon Project athlete Jordan Hasay brings to her craft as a distance runner. Since her prep days where she first tasted success, through her undergraduate years at the University of Oregon, and now in her post-collegiate career as a professional, Hasay has been a dedicated athlete who has been wisely coached. The California native became a household word throughout the track community at the 2008 Olympic Trials where the high school junior ran 4:14.50 in the semi-finals of the 1500 meters to break the national high school record and advance to the final where the emerging prep star finished 10th.

IMG_0946.JPGHorace Ashenfelter relaxing at his New Jersey home with Max.
(Photo by Tom Ashenfelter 1/21/17)


Today Horace Ashenfelter III celebrates his 94th birthday. You young whippersnappers may ask, "Horace who?" While Ashenfelter has lived a full, robust, and multi-faceted life, he is best known as the upset winner of the 1952 Olympic steeplechase - the Helsinki champion of the longest track event not won by Emil Zatopek.

Back in the day, the Penn State athlete captured 3 NCAA titles and won 15 individual AAU Championships. A frequent competitor at New York's Armory, Ashenfelter was a 5-time winner of the Millrose Games 2-mile run and was ultimately inducted into the Millrose Games Hall of Fame in 2001.

When he wasn't training or racing, Ashenfelter worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he served as a U.S. special agent. His FBI service and his skill as a distance runner prompted apocryphal tales - such as the yarn that Ashenfelter was the first American spy to allow himself to be chased by a Russian.

Hastings_NatashaFV-NBind16.jpgNatasha Hastings, NBIndoorGP2016, photo by PhotoRun.net

Multi-Time Relay Gold Medalist Senses She's Poised For Individual Glory

Every once in a while, you can uncover a world-class United States track & field athlete whose journey to stardom reinforces the hope that our country can still identify future elite performers and steer them to the path that allows them to achieve full potential as an athlete and, more importantly, as a person. Natasha Hastings is one such athlete.

Born and raised in the maelstrom that is New York City, the young Hastings didn't get lost in the shuffle. As a 16 year old, she won the 400 meters [53.41] in the 2003 Youth Girls Division of the USATF Junior Olympics. That achievement did not go unnoticed. With the double barreled benefit of attending A. Philip Randolph Campus High School - a Harlem-based institution known for its blend of top flight academics and athletics - Hastings bloomed as a student and as an athlete. "It was kind of like the best of both worlds," notes Hastings. "There was a good track program at Randolph, but I was also going to a good school." It is no surprise that the nearby Armory would play a role in her development. "On my gosh, the Armory was like home," declares Hastings excitedly. "I'm pretty familiar with the Armory and I sure know my way around that building."


David Hunter interviews Shawn Barber, photo by Margaret Hunter

Barber Survives Close Shave, AL for Nageotte

Akron, Ohio

While arctic temperatures and bone-chilling winds punished most of the country, a select group of elite pole vaulters were heating things up inside the Stiles Athletic Center on the University of Akron campus at the 5th annual Pole Vault Convention.

IMG_0024.JPGJenn Suhr being interviewed by David Hunter, photo by Margaret Hunter

Members of pole vault royalty were in attendance. In the women's competition, the headliner was Jenn Suhr. The 2012 Olympic vault champion and the indoor world record holder had made the trip down from her upstate New York home to take on a worthy field that included former national champion Mary Saxer and emerging young star Katie Nageotte. In the men's event, reigning world champion Shawn Barber and former Zip vault star was looking to make it three Convention wins in a row. Although not competing, retired 2004 Olympic champion and former Olympic record holder Tim Mack was present along with several of his Knoxville vault pupils here to compete and to pick up some technical pointers during the 3-day instructional seminar. Even though she has yet to open her 2017 season, the reigning Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi and her husband Mitchell Krier - new northeastern Ohio residents - were also in the house.

Dennis Mitchell, Akron .jpgDennis Mitchell, courtesy of YouTube.com

Akron Head Coach Transforms Zips Into A Track Power

In the summer of 1995, University of North Carolina field events coordinator Dennis Mitchell had just completed his 4th year as a member of the Tar Heels track & field coaching staff, which had guided its UNC athletes to their 3rd straight Atlantic Coast Conference title. Suddenly, Mitchell was presented with the dream of every assistant coach: an opportunity to take on the head coaching duties at a Division I university. But the new position offered by the University of Akron would not be without its challenges. The programs at Akron were woeful indeed. Earlier that spring, the men's and women's track & field teams had finished dead last in the Mid-American Conference outdoor championships - both by sizeable margins. The Zips' programs were in disarray: with few standout athletes; the absence of cohesive program or vision; no real indoor facility; and a subpar outdoor track shoehorned into a gritty urban neighborhood.

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Demo Reel Video

Please take a moment to view Dave's 3-minute demo-reel for samples of his announcing and interviewing work.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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