Sam Crouser upstages cousin Ryan in early-season discus throwing; Ducks take the week off

By Lev Rourke

Just when you thought Ryan Crouser (blue shirt) was a shoo-in to win some more state championships this season – only his junior year, after all – he finds competition from, of all people, his older cousin, Sam (white shirt).
Sam, the nation’s leading high school javelin thrower (239-0) and until now considered a javelin specialist who dabbled in the shot and disc, opened his senior season at Gresham HS throwing the disc a lifetime-best 188-0, in a dual meet March 17. Then earlier this week in a dual meet at Gresham, he raised that to 196-9, the leading throw in the country. He hasn’t thrown the jav yet.
Ryan, who set the Oregon state all-time DT record last year, as a sophomore, throwing 202-6 – a national sophomore-year record – competed on Saturday at his home track in the Barlow Relays and did 65-5 in the shot and a mortal 191-10 in the disc, so he trails his cousin thus far on the state and national lists. He won the discus competition by 82 feet.
In the same meet, Courtney Tripp of Sandy took the state lead in the girls’ disc, throwing 135-0, just ahead of her sophomore teammate McKenzie Warren, who threw 125-11.
Earlier in the week, Sam’s younger sister, Haley, now a freshman at Gresham, opened the season winning the hurdles (16.78), high jump (5-2) and long jump (17-3). Last year as an 8th-grader, she threw the javelin 139-0.
Ducks get ready for Texas A&M
It was a slow week on the college scene locally, but not nationally. The chilly, wet weather didn’t help, but it was a warm and dry at the Texas and Florida Relays, two of the traditional season openers for the college outdoor season.
At the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas A&M had a big day, winning nine events, counting relay races and individual relays, as the national-champion Aggies got ready for their big showdown against the Oregon Ducks next Saturday at Hayward Field in the annual Pepsi meet. Washington and Illinois will also compete in Eugene, meaning a showdown in the women’s distances because the UW has, among others, Kendra Schaaf, Katie Follett, Kailey and Anita Campbell and Mel Lawrence, and Illinois has Angela Bizzarri, the reigning NCAA champion in the 5,000 meters.
In Texas, A&M was spectacular, winning almost everything in sight, although they did drop the baton on the final exchange of the men’s 4x1. In the women’s race, their team of Jeneba Tarmoh, Porscha Lucas, Dominique Duncan and Gabby Mayo ran 42.56, the fastest time in the world this year and just two-tenths from their own collegiate record. That sets up an intriguing match-up with the Lady Ducks, who opened their season in March with a casual 44.30. Mayo also won the University 100 in a lifetime-best 11.13.  See the race video on Flotrack.
A&M hurdler Natasha Ruddock won the 100 hurdles in a life-best 12.97, just ahead of teammate Vashti Thomas, now a sophomore and finally showing some of the form that made her a phenom in high school in California, at 13.08. Thomas and the Ducks’ Jamesha Youngblood were HS rivals in the hurdles and jumps.
A&M swept the 4x2s, 1:20.61 for the men, 1:31.41 for the women. Other leading individual performances for the Aggies included 57.12 in the 400 hurdles for 2nd place by Andrea Sutherland and a surprising 245-9 in the javelin by freshman Sam Humphreys, setting up an intriguing matchup in Eugene, where the Ducks rarely lose that event.
Willamette Invitational
There were a few worthwhile performances of note at the Willamette Invitational, held under difficult conditions on Friday and Saturday.
Jared Bassett of U Portland won the steeplechase in 9:19.06, and Concordia’s Alice Taylor won the 10k in 35:40.35. (Bassett is shown middle right at the 2009 Dellinger XC Invitational).
Open athletes won several of the women’s events. Kelly Jaske won the 5k in a solid 16:22.62 and Lauren Johnson won the 800 (2:09.81) and 1,500 (4:29.86).
Adrienne Davis of Portland State took the women’s shot at 44-2.
Several athletes from the Northwest did well at the Texas Relays.
Liz Gleadle, a senior at UBC in Vancouver, won the women’s javelin with a throw of 189-9, 2 feet short of her lifetime best, while Marissa Tschida of Washington State was 2nd with a lifetime best of 186-1, the leading throw by an NCAA athlete this spring. Anna Wessman of UTEP was close behind, at 184-4. (Gleadle is shown left, competing at the 2009 NAIA Championships. Photo courtesy the University of British Columbia.)
Kyle Nielsen of Washington was 6th in the men’s jav (220-3) while WSU’s Jeshua Anderson, the reigning NCAA champion, won the men’s IH in 49.77 in a close win over Bryce Brown of Texas Tech (49.83). Anderson recently announced that he was giving up football to focus on track. Andrea Geubelle, a prep star last year in Washington state who now attends the University of Kansas, went 42-8 ¾ for 5th place in the triple jump.
At the Florida Relays in Gainesville, the hometown Gators showed some awesome power in the sprints, winning the men’s 4x1 in 38.93, the 4x2 in 1:20.38 and the 4x4 in 3:00.31, setting up some titanic head-to-head meetings against A&M and other sprint powers three weeks from now at the Penn Relays. No college team has ever broken 3:00 in the 4x4 outside of the NCAA final. A&M ran 3:01.55 at the Texas Relays, defeating in-state rival Baylor, 2nd at 3:02.70.
In the women’s 4x4, A&M was 3rd in 3:32.94, losing to Arkansas and LSU. Next week in Eugene, the Aggies will tangle with the Lady Ducks, who surprised the track world by winning the NCAA indoor championship in that event.
Westbury, Southridge trade U.S. lead
There was plenty of great high school competition at Texas and Florida. In Austin, the Westbury HS girls from Houston took the national leads in the 4x2 (1:35.75) and 4x4 (3:44.13), but the latter didn’t last long, as Southridge of Miami, anchored by the great Ebony Eutsey, won at Florida in 3:42.45.
Fellow Miami school Northwestern pulled a switch, flying all the way to the Lone Star state and winning the prestigious HSB 4x4 there, running 3:14.32.
Killeen Ellison won the boys 4x2 in a meet-record 1:24.47, but they were upset in the 4x1 by unheralded DeSoto 41.21-41.37, and later their star, Prezel Hardy, finished last in the 100.
Phenom A’Lexus Brannon, senior girl at Ozen of Beaumont, won her third event of the meet on Saturday, taking the hurdles in 13.73 after earlier winning both horizontal jumps.
Timberview of Mansfield won the girls’ 4x1 in a thriller (46.23) over Thurgood Marshall (46.34) and Westbury (46.48). Chelsey Sveinsson completed her 1600-3200 double, winning the shorter race in 4:51.33. She is expected to defend her Penn Relays girls’ mile title later this month.
In other college news, Blessing Okagbare of UTEP won the invitational women’s 100 in 11.10w; Ronnie Ash of Oklahoma won the men’s highs in 13.50w; Angela Cooper of Texas won the women’s IH 56.52; Texas Tech won the women’s DMR in 11:14.64; Baylor nipped TCU in the men’s 4x1 39.18-39.20 after A&M misfired on its last exchange, and Texas won the men’s DMR in 9:40.62, far ahead of a disappointing Arkansas, 10th in 9:56.
In open events, Texas alum Andra Manson cleared 7-7 in the high jump, and Ivory Williams won the men’s 100 in a wind-aided 9.88 (+3.7 wind).
The big HS news came from Kentrell Sanders, a senior at South Dade, who triple-jumped a windy 52-4 ¼ and legal 50-10 ¼. Destinee Romain of Northwestern won the girls’ shot at 47-11 ¼, while Charlotte (N.C.) edged Gonzaga in an excellent boys 4x8, 7:46-7:47.
In college news, South Carolina was the top-finishing team in the women’s 4x1 (44.23, 2nd to a club team) but the Lady Gamecocks were surprised by Clemson in the 4x2. Clemson, using three freshmen, ran 1:33.37 to SC’s 1:33.55. The Virginia Tech women had the fastest collegiate 4x4, 3:33.15. Tennessee, warming up for Penn, won the DMR with a B team in 11:10.48, while the Wisconsin men won their DMR in a pedestrian 9:46.40. The college SMRs went to the Ole Miss women (3:49.75) and, in a surprise, the Delaware State men, who upset Florida. The Penn State powerhouse men’s 4x8 of Foster, Dawson, Loxsom and Williams, sporting 4 sub-1:50 runners from this winter, won easily in 7:18.72.  
In the field events, Mississippi freshman Ricky Robertson high-jumped 7-5 ¾ and Florida’s Shara Proctor long-jumped 21-9. In the men’s pole vault, Virginia Tech graduate Brian Mondschein, representing Israel internationally for the first time, was 1st at 17-10 ¾. Mondschein’s father was born in Tel Aviv, making the younger Mondschein eligible to represent his father’s homeland. Mondschein’s grandfather, Irv Mondschein, a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team, was the Israeli national coach at the time.