by Graeme Shirley
In January, I described the special group of people that comprise San Diego USATF's Officers and Directors. As valuable as they are, our sport is about the athletes.
On January 9, over 120 members attended the Association's 20th annual awards dinner and recognized San Diego's finest group of athletes in the history of those awards.
Five open award winners ranked in the top ten in the world in their events for 2004. Three others ranked in the top ten in the U.S.
Tyree Washington and Miesha McKelvy took Athlete of the Year honors. Washington ranked Number 1 in the world at 400 meters, winning the Indoor World Championship (45.34) and placing second in the World Outdoor Championship (44.77). He ran legs on both the Indoor and Outdoor World Champion 4x400 Relay Teams and won five Grand Prix Finals. McKelvy ranked Number 4 in the world in the 100 meter Hurdles, and number 2 in U.S. She was second in the U.S. Championships (12.62) to Gail Devers by 0.01 second, and third at the World Championships (12.67). Her seasonal best was 12.51.
The Arnie Robinson Award recognizes the top male field event performance of the year. It was shared by three athletes who won National Championships with their best performances of the year. Kenta Bell won the Triple Jump (17.59 meters, 57' 8½"), ranking seventh in the world and second in the U.S. Carl Brown took the Discus Throw (66.66 meters, 218' 8") for eighth in the world and first in the U.S. Jamie Nieto captured the High Jump (2.30 meters, 7' 6½"), and ranked fifth in World and first in the U.S.
The Ramona Pagel Award recognizes the top female field event performance of the year. Tracy O'Hara won for the fourth time in six years with her seventh place in the National Championships Pole Vault (4.35 meters, 14' 3¼") and seasonal best mark of 4.40 meters (14' 5"), ranking seventh in the U.S.
Long Distance Running Awards went to Nazario Romero and Ursula Kremer for winning the Dirt Dogs cross country series. Mebrahtom Keflezighi earned recognition for a season where he excelled on the track, the roads and cross country. He was runner-up at 10,000m (27:57.59) at the U.S. Outdoors, and 16th at the World Championships (28:35.08). He won Road National Championships at 20 km (Championship Record 58:57), 8 km (22:28) and 15 km (43:31), was runner-up in the USA Running Circuit, and had the fastest 2003 American marathon (2:10:03) by over 2½ minutes. In cross country he was second in the 12 km National Championships and 11th at the World Championships. He ranked first in the marathon, and second at both 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in the U.S.
The Race Walking Award went to Curt Clausen who won six of the eight National Championships (10 km, 15 km, 2 hour, 30 km, 40 km, and 50 km), and placed second at 5 km and fourth at 20 km. He ranked fourth in the U.S. at 20 km, and second in the U.S. at 50 km.
Monique Henderson Awards for Juniors went to four State High School Champions (Brandon Bornes, Jared Bray, Derrell Hutsona, and Claire Rethmeier), and two National Junior Olympics Champions (Brett Campfield and Tyson Gray).
Of the 12 Masters (age 40+) who won National Championships in 2003, awards went to Kettrell Berry, Terry Cannon, Bud Held, George Mathews, Jim Selby, Harold Tolson, and Nadine O'Connor.
Special awards went to Felix Sanchez and the Southern California Roadrunners (San Diego). Sanchez was international Men's Track and Field Athlete of the Year. A product of San Diego, competing for the Dominican Republic, he ranked number one in the world in the 400 meter Hurdles, and won the World Championship with a 47.25 personal record. He now has 28 consecutive 400 meter hurdle victories over the last three seasons. The Roadrunners won the National Junior Olympics Midget Girls Cross Country Championships.
President's Awards went to Curt Clausen, Susan Loveall, and Tony Salerno. The Bob Gilmore Award, in recognition of lifetime achievement, went to former President Ken Bernard.