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Kurgat’s Win Helps New Mexico Grab 2nd NCAA XC Crown In 3 Years

November 18th, 2017
Louisville, Kentucky

At the pre-race press conference, New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin stressed happiness, relaxation, and fun as essential ingredients for his team’s success. The following day his happy, relaxed women’s squad had fun as the Lady Lobos captured their 2nd NCAA cross country title in the last 3 years, posting 90 points to better hard-charging runner-up University of San Francisco by 15 points.

Shortly after the Churchill Downs bugler – in full equestrian regalia – trumpeted the national anthem and the call to the post, 255 of the nation’s top collegiate women runners bolted from the starting gate to attack the rolling 6K loop course in Louisville’s E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park. Under chilly, dry, and blustery conditions, the competitors scrambled for early position with the leaders hitting 1 kilometer in 3:04 on the way to a 5:02 opening mile. At the 2K mark [6:20] the Missouri’s ’16 champion Karissa Schweizer and New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat led a bunched pack. Flying by 2 miles in 10:12, the co-leaders were quickly joined by Boise State sophomore and West Regional runner-up Allie Ostrander.

After the 3K mark [9:41], Kurgat went to whip early, unleashing an uphill surge that that neither Schweizer nor Ostrander could cover. The acceleration pushed the Mountain Regional champion into the lead as she led the charge through the pine straw and into the forested climb to the course’s zenith. The Lobo leader never let up – steadily expanding her advantage to over 40 meters as she raced by 5K [16:04]. While Kurgat sailed to victory in a course record clocking of 19:19.42, the battle raged on among the top ten athletes. Washington senior Amy-Eloise Neale [19:26] closed the best to grab 2nd followed by San Francisco’s reigning NCAA 10,000 titlist Charlotte Taylor [19:28] and Ostrander [19:31] After surrendering her 2nd place position to Ostrander in the final kilo, the defending champion [19:47] simply unraveled, ceding 9 places over the final downhill rush to the line to ultimately finish 11th.

In a frenzied mixed zone, varied emotions prevailed. “It just wasn’t my day. Everyone has those days,” offered a disconsolate Schweizer, who just couldn’t get comfortable with the spirited early tempo. “I wanted to stop. But I kept pushing through and I’m really proud of myself for making it through.” Ebullient Neale – who mowed down a half dozen opponents over the final 400 meters – savored her unexpected runner-up performance. “After regionals, I definitely knew there was more in there,” said Neale who finished 3rd in the West Regional. “I just tried to catch as many people as I could. I wanted to put myself in a position to be in the top 10 with a mile to go, to have a shot be in the top 5.” And a poised Ednah Kurgat explained her winning race strategy. “I went to the lead in the beginning due to a lot of pressure behind me. But it wasn’t my plan to do that.” The Kenyan sophomore, whose win here capped off her undefeated season, focused on her crucial mid-race breakaway. “Breaking away from the group was so hard. I knew if I went all the way to the end, anything can happen. I don’t take anything for granted.” Only as she neared the line did she know she had the win. “I looked back just before the finish line to see how far they were. I knew the victory was mine.” And her national champion teammates? “They all helped me to run my fastest today.”

Later, Coach Franklin confirmed that the national championship was never specifically identified as a team goal. “We never talked about it as a team,” the Lobos leader explained. “I think they knew. So we didn’t have to tell them.” Before heading off to celebrate with his team, Franklin confided that he knew his athletes were chill and ready to roll when, during the team’s final shake out run on the course, Kurgat evoked teammate laughter as she spontaneously scampered off to chase a gaggle of geese. As it turned out, the next day she would be the one being chased.



Emma Coburn, Courtney Frerichs go 1,2, photo by PhotoRun.net

September 10th, 2017

London, England

Although the IAAF World Championships in Athletics concluded almost a month ago, it will always be enjoyable to look back and savor those special moments. While your favorites may well differ, here are my top ten moments - in ascending order, of course!


hassan vs kipyegon .pngFaith Kipyegon vs. Sifan Hassan, 2015 Brussels, same battles, different year, photo by PhotoRun.net


IMG_0939.JPGDavid Hunter and Margaret Hunter Selfie From Brussels Media Tribune,

photo courtesy of Margaret Hunter, Brussels DL, pre outage


Athletes Overcome Rain, Cold, Power Failure 

September 1st, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

Predicting how athletes will compete in the Diamond League finals is a difficult task indeed. World class track and field competitors plan their championship and Olympic years very carefully with an eye to cultivating their pinnacle performance at those global championships. And when important post-championship gatherings arrive at the end of a very long and hard-fought season, it is difficult for many to summon the physical and emotional energy to once again perform at their highest level.

Because of the calendar placement of AG Memorial Van Damme, the expectations for high quality performances at Brussels' were guarded. The forecast for world list revising times and marks were further diminished when an early evening storm front moved through, forcing a temperature drop and bringing a steady rain that promoted pooling on areas of the track, jump runways and aprons, and throw rings. Conditions were further challenged when, just before the commencement of the Diamond League events, a massive power outage struck King Baudouin Stadium and its surrounding neighborhood. Not remedied until well after the meet's conclusion, the electrical problem forced Brussel's top brass to resort to meager emergency lighting. And while meet management handled this kerfuffle with skill and poise, the hearty near-capacity crowd remained festive, and the athletes took it all in stride, the backup illumination bathed the venue with only an inadequate, eerie, partial eclipse-like gloaming.


August 13th, 2017
London, England

While the 3-round battle for the championship crown in the women’s 800 meters would feature the 3 Olympic medalists, others – including USA’s Ajée Wilson – were seen as medal possibilities.

In the 1st round, defending champion Marina Arzamasova of Belarus was the major casualty. In the first semi, front-running Wilson glided to a stress-free wire-to-wire win in 1:59.21. In the second semi, Caster Semenya’s strength over the final furlong gave her the win in the fastest second round time of 1:58.90 as early-leader Charlene Lipsey was a time qualifier. In the last semi, Rio medalists Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui kicked off an easy pace to snare the Big Q’s with the slower tempo denying 3rd-placer Brenda Martinez an opportunity to advance on time.

In the final, the quick-starting Wilson was denied the pole as Francine Niyonsaba muscled her way to the front. The Olympic silver medalist hit 200 meters in 27.08 with Ajée tucked in behind. The Burundi athlete took the bell in 57.98, followed by Wilson [58.12], and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui [58.36]. World leader Caster Semenya [58.53] lingered in 6th. On the backstretch, Wilson – who just weeks earlier had set the new American 800 meter record of 1:55.61 – made a spirited move for the lead which Niyonsaba repelled. Passing 600 meters in 1:27.07, Niyonsaba maintained a slim margin over Wilson, but Semenya was quickly closing on the pair.

Off the final turn, the South African Olympic champion unleashed an unmatched, powerful drive, crossing first in a world-leading 1:55.16. In a stunning display of strength, Semenya – who had scored bronze in the women’s 1500 meter final earlier in the meet – posted negative splits, running the final circuit in 56.63 in this her 6th race of these championships. As she did in Rio, Niyonsaba [1:55.92] closed effectively to snatch the silver, while Wilson [1:56.65] took the bronze. Wambui [1:57.54] and Lipsey [1:58.73] finished 4th and 6th as all 8 finalists dipped under 1:59.
“Another world title is a fantastic honor for me,” said the victor. “I have the Olympic, World and Commonwealth titles now so maybe it is time to target the world record. I know it will be difficult but I will have to attempt soon, maybe." Runner-up Niyonsaba was pleased to once again make the podium. "I am very, very happy,” declared the silver medalist who also paid tribute to the strong field. “In this final, everybody was looking good; all competitors are strong.”
Wilson savored her first senior global outdoor medal. “I did not expect the podium, I was ready to fight, attack the top three, and see what happens. Against this strong field, I tried to focus on my own race,” explained the 23-year-old American. “I tried to speed it up in the last 100 meters. I did my best, pushed it 100 percent.” While just shy of her new American record, her 1:56.65 clocking is nonetheless the #3 all-time American performance. "I feel super-happy. The crowds were electrifying, loud and so supportive. For this, I have to thank God, my coach, my teammates and all the people who were uplifting and supported me.”



Semenya_CasterFV-London17.jpGCaster Semenya wins the 800 meters, Francine Niyonsaba, silver and Ajée Wilson, photo by PhotoRun.net

USA's Ajée Wilson Grabs Bronze

 August 13th, 2017

London, England

Prior the final of the women's 800 meters, a good number of track & field aficionados reflected on the near-perfect form-chart progression from the initial field of 45 to the 8 finalists still standing. True, Belarus's defending champion Marina Arzamasova failed to advance beyond the first round. But an analysis of the 37 who failed to make it this far revealed very few other unexpected casualties. For many, the final field had shaped up just as they had hoped: the 3 polished Rio finalists versus the rapidly-improving American training partners: Ajée Wilson and Charlene Lipsey.



 The race is on! Chelimo, Farah, Edris, Kejelcha, photo by PhotoRun.net


Ethiopian Out Kicks Briton for 5000m Crown

August 12th, 2017

London, England

Even with the 66,000+ fans who packed London's Olympic Stadium setting new decibel records in exhorting on their beloved countryman, Muktar Edris was not to be denied as the Ethiopian did something no man has been able to do in 6 years: unleash a finishing kick strong enough to defeat the incomparable Mohammed Farah in a global championship track final. The capacity crowd - which came in droves to witness what Farah has repeatedly stated will be his final big track competition - roared during Farah's introduction and then settled back to watch what they hoped who be yet another global championship for the Brit they call Sir Mo.

DSC_9124-2.jpgKeni Harrison, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

The US hurdle team, USATF Outdoors, photo by Mike Deering, The Shoe Addicts 

  All Four Yankees Gain 100m Hurdle Final

August 11th, 2017

London, England

How outstanding are the American women 100 meter hurdlers? American Briana Rollins - the reigning Olympic champion who is ineligible this season as a consequence of missing several drug testing appointments - is not even here. And the reigning Olympic bronze medalist Kristi Castlin is also missing, unable to make the U.S. World team. But no worries, the US of A, by virtue of the Diamond League bye earned by world record-holder Kendra Harrison, has 4 other women - Harrison, Nia Ali, Dawn Harper Nelson, and Christina Manning - here. And they are doing very well, thank you very much. After they all performed admirably in the first two rounds of the 100H, the American quartet will comprise half the field for Saturday's final.


Ajee Wilson

IMG_8744.jpgAjée Wilson taking USATF title, June 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

Wilson's Monaco AR Suggests She's Ready

August 10th, 2017

London, England

Over the years we have observed 800 meter specialist Ajée Wilson as she has won important races, developed as an athlete, and matured into an accomplished and confident young woman. We've watched her win national titles. We've seen her deliver poised performances on the world's biggest stages. And recently - in Monaco's Diamond League gathering - we witnessed her battle Olympic medalists down to the wire as she clocked 1:55.61 to break Jearl Miles Clark's nearly 18 year old American record. The stars and planets seem to be aligning perfectly. Might this be the moment when Ajée Wilson wins an outdoor world championship medal?

Coburn_EmmaQ-London17.jpGEmma Coburn, photo by PhotoRun.net

August 9th, 2017

London, England

In the development and progression of world class track & field talent, some performers [e.g. an Allyson Felix; perhaps a Christian Coleman] can step right onto the world stage and quickly experience success. For others, that evolution from national winner to influential global athlete occurs - if at all - on a different timetable. Think about it: it is not uncommon for an American athlete [e.g. a Galen Rupp; a Nick Symmonds; and may we now add a Phyllis Francis] to be a dominating performer in his or her own country, yet must further develop, build confidence, and sometimes even learn how to race and compete in the rarefied air of a global championship to achieve success on a worldwide level. It has ever been so.


August 8, 2017
London, England

On a raw London night, 12 finalists in the men’s pole vault got underway with an opening height of 5.50m/18’½”. Major casualties came early as ’13 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe no-heighted on the opening bar. U.S high school phenom Armand Duplantis – competing for Sweden – went 3 and out at the next height of 5.65m/18’6½.

Four perfect jumpers – Sam Kendricks, Renaud Lavillenie, Changrui Xue, and Pawel Wojchiechowski – were knotted at the top as the bar went to 5.75m/18’10¼”. Defending champion Shawn Barber was among those who failed there while the American, French, and Chinese jumpers plus Piotr Lisek – another Pole – made first attempt clearances.

Kendricks and Xue kept their cards clean with first attempt clearances at 5.82m/19’1” But after failing on their initial vaults, Lavillenie – who won his Olympic title in this stadium – and the two Poles all passed to the next height.

Lisek’s pass at the earlier height looked particularly brilliant at the next bar – 5.87m/19’3” – as he moved into second behind Kendricks as those two were the only first attempt successes. Lavillenie cleared on his second attempt while Wojchiecheowski went out. Following 3 misses – his first of the evening – Xue was transformed him from co-leader to spectator.
Only three competitors remained as the officials set the bar at 5.95m/19’6¼. Kendricks, Lisek, and Lavillenie were all guaranteed a medal, but what color? None could clear in their first two attempts. On the 3rd round of jumps – after Lisek missed and went out – the American, technically sound all night, unfurled a majestic clearance as the crowd roared. What would the London Olympic champion do? Lavillenie could take his third attempt which, if cleared, would move him into 2nd place, but still trailing Kendricks. Or he could pass and take one final crack at possible gold at 6.01m/19’8½. Without hesitation, the Frenchman passed.

After a first round miss by Kendrick, Lavillenie fidgeted alone in the darkness before his only jump at 6.01m. His last valiant effort was unsuccessful and set the medals: gold for Kendricks; silver for Lisek; with Lavillenie taking the bronze.
"I am very happy to be able to fight until the end,” offered a relieved Lavillenie, recovering from a string of injuries. Lisek revealed his competitiveness. "When I saw the conditions here, I told myself I must fight for gold. I wanted to beat Sam today but he was stronger and deserves the victory,” said the Pole. And Kendricks – who earlier this season became only the 22nd man to clear 6.00 meters – was gracious and articulate as ever. “It is all part of a mission for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it attainable. I've finally got that world title and I could not be happier. It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold."

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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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