By Lev Rourke
Ryan Bailey, the Salem sprinter who has bounced around the last few years trying to break through, has had a quietly spectacular summer in Europe.
This past Sunday, Aug. 22, at a small meet in Dubicna nad Vahom, Slovakia, he had the biggest win of his career. The time wasn’t so fast – 10.13, thanks to a 1.5 mps headwind – but Bailey defeated two star sprinters, Michael Frater (10.19) of Jamaica and Michael Rodgers (10.31) of the U.S. Both have PRs below 10.00 (9.97 for Frater, 9.94 for Rodgers). Frater was an Olympic finalist in the 100 in Beijing and won a gold medal in the 4x1. Rodgers was national indoor champion this March in the 60.
For Bailey, this came just three days after finishing third in the 200 in the prestigious Weltklasse meet in Zurich, Switzerland, where he was beaten only by Wallace Spearmon of the U.S., this year’s national outdoor champion at that distance, and the young Jamaican star Yohan Blake. Bailey ran a lifetime-best 20.10, surpassing the 20.17 he ran a month earlier at Prefontaine in Eugene.
His lane assignments are gradually getting better, too, and this helps a lot in the sprints. At the Diamond League meet in New York in June, he was given Lane 1 in the 100. At Prefontaine, he got Lane 2. At Zurich, Lane 4 – still the inside half of the track, but an improvement. At 6-foot-5, Bailey benefits from the broader curve.
Bailey got a victory over Spearmon in July, finishing 2nd in the 100 in a meet in Italy July 14. The race was won by Nesta Carter of Jamaica in 10.08, just ahead of Bailey (10.10) and Spearmon (10.15). Bailey came back to win the 200 in that meet in 20.31, a huge .68 ahead of 2nd place.
Tom Pappas, the oft-injured but supremely talented native Oregonian, has stepped aside as a paid assistant coach at Kansas State University, apparently to focus on training. Pappas is 33 years old and has scored 8,784 points in the decathlon. He has made three Olympic teams but only finished the Olympic decathlon once, in 2000 when he finished 5th. He failed to finish, because of ailments, in ’04 and ’08. He won the world championship in 2003. At the time of the 2012 Games in London, he would, of course, be 35. He was replaced on the K-State staff by Bettie Wade, a recent Michigan grad and heptathlete. It is believed that Pappas plans to stay in Manhattan, Kan., to train and stay on as a volunteer assistant.
The University of Oregon also made a recent change in its multi-events coaching staff. Harry Marra, the eminent veteran coach who came to Eugene a year ago from Southern California when Dan Steele left the program, is being replaced as the Ducks’ multis coach by Jamie Cook, a young man from the East. Cook was a decathlete at Penn State and has been an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania for the last 10 years. The official university announcement did not give a reason for the change. Earlier in the summer, Marra said he was unsure of his plans because he had spent the previous year apart from his wife, who had stayed behind in California. However, the news release said that Marra would be remaining in Eugene to coach the recent Oregon graduate Ashton Eaton, the NCAA decathlon champion, and it indicated that his wife would be joining him in the Willamette Valley. It was not clear, under those conditions, why Marra would not have remained on the Oregon staff.
That was the second coaching change of the summer in Duckland. Earlier, the resignation of Lance Deal, the throws coach for eight seasons at Oregon, was announced. Again, the official university statement said that Deal was stepping aside of his own volition, and at the time no replacement was announced. Several weeks later, the university announced that Deal would be replaced by Robert Weir, a 49-year-old British citizen who formerly coached the throwers at Stanford University. Vin Lananna, the current Oregon head coach, was the head coach at Stanford at the time. Weir was recently let go as the elite throws coach for the British national team. He was also released by Stanford, after Lananna left there. Oregon’s production in the throwing events has dropped off in recent years. The most scoring has come in the javelin, an event no longer coached by Deal or, it is believed, Weir, because Christina Scherwin, a volunteer coach, has been focusing on that event. It was reported by the university that Deal hoped to land a new position within the athletic department, as Facilities director, but that job was not open at the time of Deal’s resignation.
The latest from Crouserland is that, as they often do, they’ve gone fishing, somewhere in Central Oregon. Last summer, it was Nevada. While they were relaxing, one of their records appeared to be threatened, far away in Singapore, where a young man from Texas threw the javelin just 2 feet short of Sam Crouser’s national high school record, set at the Wilkins Throw Center in June.
The thrower is Devin Bogert, a high school junior from Tomball, Texas, a state that does not even contest the event in high school. Bogert won the silver medal at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, throwing 252-3 on his final attempt. Sam’s record is 254-4. However, the Youth implement weighs 700 grams, 100 less than the regular implement, so his mark goes into a different category. Bogert has a high school best of 221-8.
Sam’s cousin Ryan continues to recuperate from his broken foot, suffered in May. Ryan has a year remaining at Barlow H.S. in Gresham and no doubt would like to become the first Oregon prep to put the shot 70 feet. He also lost his all-time state discus record this spring to cousin Sam.
Sam will be starting at Oregon in the fall. Ryan, highly recruited, has not announced his college decision yet. At last report, he had visited campuses on the west coast, east coast and in the Rocky Mountains.
That’s one thing not yet on the mind of the other Crouser thrower, Haley, Sam’s younger sister and a sophomore-to-be at Gresham High. Haley threw 161-6 to win the state championship in May. That event promises to be very competitive the next few years. She was one of five high school girl underclassmen to throw 160 or better this spring. Haley, a budding multi-eventer, also did the 200, high jump, long jump, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and ran the 4x4 for Gresham this year.