by Graeme Shirley
January is named for the Roman god Janus, whose two faces enabled him to look forward and backward simultaneously. As the San Diego Association of USATF enters the new year, we will be looking back on a remarkable 2004, and looking forward to great things in 2005.
On February 13 (new date), the Association Awards brunch will be held at the MCAS Miramar Officers Club. Dixon Farmer will be the emcee as we honor Open, Masters, and Youth in Track and Field, Long Distance Running, and Race Walking.
Among the honorees will be Mebrahtom Keflezighi (with coach Bob Larsen). San Diego has had the pleasure of watching Keflezighi's signature fluid style for more than 15 years, as he has progressed to state high school champion, then NCAA champion, American record holder, and now Olympic silver medalist. In a similar manner, Monique Henderson was a youth athlete of the year for ten consecutive years (an award which is now named for her), and in Athens became a gold medalist in the 1600 meter relay. Which of our current youths might be on a podium in 2012?
For Masters, at the recent National Meeting USATF named six San Diego members Athletes of the Year in their age groups for either track or field: Willie Banks, Gerry Davidson, Beverly Jephcott, Leland McPhie, Nadine O'Connor, and Jim Selby. Jolene Steigerwalt was similarly honored for race walk. With just over one percent of the U.S. population, the San Diego Association has more than ten percent of the masters national award winners. And that's before noting that O'Connor won for both track and field, and that her incredible 10-foot (3.05 meter) pole vault at age 62 was the performance of the year for masters women in the U.S.
In Race Walking, for the second consecutive year San Diego was named the outstanding Association. This was largely due to the efforts of Curt Clausen, who began the year in San Diego, but has moved back to Wisconsin (yikes!). The Race Walk program is now in the able hands of Philip Dunn.
Finally, the Dirt Dogs Cross Country Series featured some exciting finishes. Nazario Romero won the open men's series for the fourth time, but he had to work harder for this title than any of the others. Emily Selvidio won both the championship race and the series coming from behind. Kim Brown had the early series lead, winning the first three races. Selvidio won the next three to tie the score going into the championship. Brown took the early lead in the final race, but Selvidio caught her and pulled away to a 30 second win and the series title.
The Dirt Dogs team championship proved the value of the final scorer. The fourth runner for Mizuno, Okwaro Raura, nipped the fourth runner for adidas/Movin Shoes, Brian Culley, by two seconds to tie the team score at 19. The tiebreak goes to the team with all their scorers across the line first. Mizuno's win in the Championship tied up the series. The tiebreak for the series goes to the higher placing in the Championship. Mizuno won the seven-race series because of a two second difference between the fourth place runners in the final race. JH Cohn took the Open Women's open title, while the San Diego Track Club took both masters team titles.
Looking forward to 2005, the United States 30 kilometer Race Walk Championship will be the morning of January 23 in Chula Vista. Thom Hunt and Paul Greer will have a championship distance carnival (with prize money) at Patrick Henry High School May 7, with open and invitational races from 800 meters through 5000 meters, plus special age-graded masters 1500s for men and women. In June, Rahn Sheffield, Wes Williams, and Jennifer Nanista will build on the 2004 Track and Field Championships which produced five stadium records at San Diego State. And then there's the 2005 Dirt Dogs Series, and the 2006 Awards Dinner ...