When you've been involved in as many great meets as I have, you have a tendency to think of each one as "THE GREATEST." They're not. Some are merely very good. But some stand out not for performances but for personnel. Some are a combination of both. This meet, 2000, is a prime example of the latter. Look at the names mentioned and I think you'll be impressed as to how far almost everyone mentioned went. Olympians, World Championship competitors, gold medal winners at each/both or merely (ha! What a foolish condescension…'merely') a medal winner at the Olympics and /or World Champs. Take a look then send me an email and tell me what YOU think.
THE 2000 OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
We had no big sponsor and I did all the recruiting, both Boys and Girls. When the meet ended Jim and I looked at each other and just grinned, that's all, just grinned. We knew we'd just done something historic. For those of you new to these Musings, a bit of background is in order. In 1991, a group of men in Van Nuys, CA asked Jim and I to fly out to California to talk about a meet they wanted to start. We talked it over and decided to go. We'd turned down several other similar invites due to hesitation as regards financing but this group seemed like the real thing. When we arrived we were met by a great guy who took us to our hotel, Universal City! We were impressed. Our suite wasn't ready and we were quite willing to take another room. Our host would have none of it. He demanded a suite be made available, NOW. We got a suite.
To a couple guys used to far less impressive accommodations, this was impressive. We met the next day and a group of top-notch guys from Birmingham High School sat down with us. They wanted a meet to feature the finest athletes from the western part of the United States. The name, THE BEST OF THE WEST. Catchy but as we quickly pointed out there was already a meet like that, the Golden West. For a time it looked as if the trip had been a waste of time. Then I had a thought, why not emulate another idea of ours that was already a major success, the Pathmark Indoor Championships, and have a national outdoor event. Our friends were somewhat stunned, a NATIONAL event? Why not? We'd already showed it could be done and we were the ones who could do it, we'd already DONE it. By evenings end it was a done deal. The meet was a huge success but not right away. I'd anticipated loads of California kids eager to compete in a national caliber event. Our friend Doug Speck had warned us it wouldn't happen. He was right.
The outdoor season in the Golden State starts in January and goes through early June. It takes several weeks of qualifying meets to achieve the honor of taking part in the state championships. As a result, many fine athletes are dropped and the pool of available kids drops tremendously. Few wanted to hang around for another meet. Despite moving the event to UCLA, it was a bust.
So, we moved the competition back East. Best move we ever made! Each year was better than the one before and we knew we had a winner. But 2000 was nothing the like of which we'd ever dreamed. Here's why:
The Girls 100m Dash featured three young women who would go on to win gold at both the Olympic and World Championships. MUNA LEE, Kansas City, MO took the event, in 11.39 with soph SANYA RICHARDS, Pembrooke Pines, FL, 3rd, 11.62 and LAURYN WILLIAMS, Detroit, Michigan, 4th, 11.70. Now, as any knowledgeable t&f fan knows, all three went on to Olympic and World Championship glory. In the Mile, a great kid out of Orville Hess's Gillette, Wyoming program took the gold over two future GREAT American distance runners, ALICIA CRAIG's 4:46.57 besting runnerup SHALANE FLANAGAN, 4:48.47 and ERIN DONOHUE, 4:53.63. Had incomparable tragedy not struck Craig who knows how far she might have gone? And might still go. If there's anyone out there with 'the right stuff' it's Alicia Craig.
SHEENA JOHNSON showed her awesome potential with a win over TIFFANY ROSS in the 400mH. The times, 57.55 and 58.50 were the two best ever up to that point in our meet.
A UNC Asst Coach entered an early job application at the Tarheel Campus with a victory in the shot throwing 51-11.25 and making a solid impression on her future boss, Dennis Craddock who smartly hired her. She's doing an outstanding job…and we helped.
The Girls Multi saw the emergence of one HYLEAS FOUNTAIN. This Pennsy youngster dominated the heptathlon and won three of the seven offerings, 200 — 24.94; 100mH — 14.50; and HJ — 5.08.75 en route to the win.
THE BOYS — One of our sports finest athletes, DWIGHT THOMAS set a still-standing record in the 100m Dash, 10.14. Thomas, a Jamaican attending high school in Baltimore at the time, beat a pretty good guy in the final, one JUSTIN GATLIN, who sped 10.36 for third. Later, Gatlin would develop into the World's Fastest man only to have his title, and eventually his career, stripped by the actions of the IAAF, an organization that thumbed its nose at the American jurisprudence system and ignored a court order to reinstate Gatlin and to pay him considerable damages. The international organization maintained Gatlin had failed a drug test, he challenged their contention, took it to court, won and then watched in horror as the IAAF simply ignored the court ruling and refused to permit Gatlin to compete. But, as usual, I digress. Sorry
A fabulous 800 saw three under 1:50, 1:49.61 for winner JONATHAN JOHNSON, 1:49.66, ADAM DAVIS and 1:49.69, MARC SYLVESTER.
RYAN HALL came in from California to take mile honors, 4:06.15
So, what do you think? The greatest! THE GREATEST? Well, I thought so until I browsed through another of Jim's result summaries. I had intended to write about that meet right now but I think I'll let you guys get in your 10cents worth and then make my comments. To get a look at all the early meet results, go to www.nationalscholastic.org then to Outdoor Results. See what you think and let me have an earful. 'Til next month (or sooner) see you around the circuit. mb
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