NCAA Track and Field Championships: Final Thoughts and More

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2010

It was a feast.

In spite of a few random swallows of broccoli and orange peel, it was a four-day feast.

And after the sumptuous banquet, which was the 2010 NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field, it's time for Rojo to engage in one of his favorite post-meal pastimes: front porch philosophy.

In hindsight, the best teams won. Coach Pat Henry's Texas A&M Aggies marched into Eugene on a mission and returned with what they came for: the men's and women's championship trophies. Mission accomplished.

And they epitomized what every head track coach envisions as true teamwork: both men and women working in unison as a single team.

The University of Oregon, with all its Hayward heritage and supreme individual talent, is not quite at national championship level as a team in that respect...yet.

For me, the disappointment of the Oregon men and women missing their golden opportunity was tempered by that 1-2-3 sweep in the men's 1500 and the gutsy women's 4x400 victory. Multi-athletes Ashton Eaton and  Brianne Theissen were a soothing balm as well.

I became a hammer fan. Sheepishly, I admit this was the first time I actually got caught up in studying the exquisite footwork, balance, and timing of these athletes. Considering the tremendous G-forces generated by that ball and chain, I'm amazed there are so few shoulder injuries.

Virginia Tech is a powerhouse in the men's hammer. Until LSU's Walter Henning won the event on his last throw (238-10), Tech throwers had the top two marks and finished with three throwers in the top ten.

Arizona State's shot putter Ryan Whiting launched a monster on his final throw as well. He missed John Godina's collegiate record by three centimeters with a heave of 72-01. Whiting consistently threw over 70 feet and is more than ready to compete with the big boys.


Other musings

Sam Crouser had been saying he was on the verge of extending his USA high school javelin record another ten feet. We'll have to find it in our hearts to forgive him then, as his final throw Saturday at Portland's Rose Festival meet was actually an 11-foot improvement (255-4).

Knowing the kid is committed to Oregon next year takes some of the sting out of recent shortcomings in Oregon's throws department.

I'm thinking it might be wise to recruit Sam's dad, coach, and former Duck thrower, Dean (all the same person), as well. Whatever he's done with Sam is working just fine.

Maybe it's just the skeptic in me, but something has not smelled right about the Zaragoza Outdoor Classic track meet cancellation. You know the one where Caster Semenya was to have made her controversial return to competition on June 20 ?

The reason given for the cancellation was the hard economic situation and the lack of financial support.

Excuse me, but wouldn't an appearance by Semenya have virtually guaranteed a sold out meet and live television coverage?

Or did Zaragoza somehow have prior knowledge that Semenya would not be competing?

Sorry. It's just the way my mind works.

Meanwhile, Semenya is booked at her own Sports Academy for three weeks while she continues to wait for her gender issue to be resolved.

British multi-events icon Jessica Ennis is seeking advice from three-time heptathlon world champion and long jumper Carolina Kluft of Sweden. It seems the pressure of being the favorite on one's home turf (2012 Olympics) is a bit vaunting.

Back in the day, those conditions were considered advantages.

A guy can take only so much philosophizing.

A pleasant June breeze is blowing through the porch. I've had a nice meal, some time to just think, and the comfort of an old rocker.

Now its time for a nap.


photo by Bryan Wayne