by Graeme Shirley
After two consecutive years as USATF Race Walk Association of the year, San Diego-Imperial naturally began 2005 by hosting another USA 30 km Race Walk Championship. Philip Dunn's article appears elsewhere in this issue.
On February 13, the Association held its 21st Annual Awards banquet. Unlike previous years, awards were presented on Sunday afternoon rather than a Friday night. Dixon Farmer served as Master of Ceremonies as San Diego honored its outstanding athletes.
Many of San Diego's Awards are named for pioneers and local legends in athletics. The Bill Gookin Award for Long Distance Running went to Nazario Romero who won the Dirt Dogs Cross Country Series as well as the Championship race. Likewise, the Donna Gookin Award went to Emily Selvidio who also won the Dirt Dogs Cross Country Series and the Championship race.
The Arnie Robinson Award for Male Field Event Performance of the Year went to Toby Stevenson, the Olympic Silver Medalist in the Pole Vault (5.90 meters, 19' 4¼"). He ranked second in the world and first in the U.S., and had the second highest vault in the world for 2004 (6.00 meters, 19' 8¼"). The Ramona Pagel Award for Female Field Event Performance of the Year went to Tracy O'Hara for her personal best in the pole vault (4.58 meters, 15' 0¼") which made her the youngest American ever to Vault 15 feet. She placed fifth in the Olympic Trials and ranked seventh in the U.S.
The Race Walk Athlete of the Year was John Nunn, runner-up in the 20 km Olympic Trials and 26th in the Olympics. He ranked fourth in the U.S. at 20 km and was the second fastest American in 2004 with a personal best 1:22:31, 10 seconds off the then-U.S. record.
There were four recipients of the Monique Henderson Award for Juniors Athlete of the Year. Dax Danns was the Junior Olympics National Champion in the Intermediate Boys 100 meters in 10.80, and took second at 200 meters (21.73). Darren Fahy was the JO National Champion in the Bantam Boys 1500 meters with a national record 4:47.62, then was the individual winner in the National JO 3 km Cross Country by 27 seconds. Darius Savage was the JO National Champion in the Intermediate Boys Shot Put (17.04 meters, 55'11") and Discus (53.72 meters, 176'3"). Daniel Schaerer was State CIF discus Champion, setting a Championship meet record and San Diego Section record (62.92 meters, 206' 5").
There were also four Masters Athletes of the Year. Kettrell Berry was National Champion at 100 meters (11.28) and 200 meters (22.77), and runner-up at 400 meters (50.99) for men 40-44. James Chinn won National Championships at 100 meters (11.97), 200 meters (23.57), and 400 meters (51.73) for men 45-49. Rita Hanscom was the National Champion in the Pole Vault (2.75 meters, 9' 0¼") for Women 50-54, and runner-up at 100 meters (13.52) and 200 meters (28.50). Nadine O'Connor had the National Masters Performance of the Year for Women for her World Record Pole Vault (3.05 meters, 10'0") at age 62, set an American record at 200 meters (29.09) for Women 60-64, and was both National Masters Field Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Year for Women 60-64. She was National Champion in the Pole Vault (2.65 meters, 8' 8¼") and 200 meters (29.69), and runner-up at 100 meters (14.47).
Men's Open Athlete of the Year was Meb Keflezighi, silver medalist in the Olympic marathon (2:11:29), winning the first men’s medal since 1976 for the U.S. He ranked fourth in the world and first in the U.S. in the marathon. Later, his personal best 2:09:53 earned second place in the New York City Marathon. He ranked first in the U.S. at 10,000 meters (27:24.10), his fifth consecutive year ranking first or second.
Women's Open Athlete of the Year was Brenda Taylor, runner-up in the Olympic Trials 400 meter hurdles in a personal best 53.36, and seventh in Olympics. She ranked third in the U.S. and ninth in the world.
Special Recognition went to the San Diego Southern California Roadrunners for National JO Cross Country Championships in the Bantam Boys and Midget Boys divisions. Cara Rumble was also recognized for winning the NAIA Marathon in 2:49:30, the first individual national title for Cal State San Marcos in any sport.
There were two President's Awards. The first went to Lillian Mahoney for her nationally recognized diligent and determined documentation of performances, which have helped ensure that the published records of our sport are accurate. The second went to Tracy Sundlun for his contributions to the 50 km Race Walk Olympic Team Trials, which were described by USATF CEO Craig Masback as "the best Olympic Trials ever. Everything about the event was first class…"
Finally, the Bob Gilmore Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Dick Coxe. His forty years of coaching and teaching included team members Olympic Gold and Bronze medalist Arnie Robinson, and 400 meter hurdlers Wes Williams and James King. For ten consecutive years Williams and King each ranked in the Top Ten in the world. Ten of his team members currently coach in San Diego County. Since retiring from coaching, he continues to volunteer as an official at high school, collegiate, and open meets.