Earlier today, The Lap Count published its Best of 2022 newsletter. I’m still new to the CITIUS MAG team but I was glad they asked me for some of my thoughts and picks on some of my favorite moments of the year. Here’s what I came up with…
Best Race of the Year
Aaron Sahlman winning NXN is fresh in my mind, but it’s hard not to point out how incredible that performance is. Imagine the significance of winning your first-ever high school cross-country race. Now make that race the biggest event in the sport for high schoolers. That’s exactly what Aaron Sahlman did. He rose to the occasion and picked up his first victory when it mattered most. He also ran an incredibly well-executed race by making two signature moves when he needed them most to take down the deepest cross-country field in high school history. If you haven’t watched that race yet, I highly encourage you to do so.
Some honorable mentions: Jake Wightman winning the World Championships 1500m final while his dad commentated and Athing Mu outlasting Keely Hodgkinson in the 800m at the World Championships were close runner-ups.
Noah Lyles hawking down Erriyon Knighton in the homestretch and then looking across at him as he crosses the line. You’ve gotta love a good rivalry, right? The build-up to this showdown definitely adds to the celebration for me. And to top it all off, Lyles made sure to work his way over to the camera to remind us that he’s “Always fast!” Noah Lyles, everybody.
Most underrated athlete
Trey Cunningham put together a pretty incredible season but is a bit overshadowed because the other two best athletes in the world for his event are also from the United States. Looking at his season, Cunningham was undefeated in the 110m hurdles up until the U.S. Championships where he took second. He also capped off the year with a silver medal at the World Championships final.
Most improved athlete
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan is my most improved athlete of the year. She rose to the occasion with a huge performance in the World Championships semifinal by running 12.12 over 100mh and lowering her PR by .28 seconds! The previous world record was 12.20 by Team USA’s Kendra Harrison. There was a bit of controversy and chatter after the semifinal run but she proved it wasn’t a fluke by running a wind-aided 12.06 in the final. I may be a distance guy, but even I can see the significance of what Tobi Amusan accomplished this season.
Coach of the Year
I think I have to go with Dathan Ritzenhein of the On Athletics Club. The OAC has a star-studded lineup of elite athletes and they consistently produced some of the best results of the season among the American-based clubs.
We saw Joe Klecker take home an American title in the 10,000m and then a ninth place finish at the World Championships. Alicia Monson ran the third-fastest 5000m in American history with a 14:31.11 at the Oslo Diamond League and placed second at U.S. Championships. Geordie Beamish flashed his incredible kick in a huge 3,000m victory at the Millrose Games. Ollie Hoare threw down multiple impressive miles (including a 3:47!) and won the Commonwealth Games 1500m title to overcome some disappointment at Worlds. Sage Hurta shaved three seconds off her 800m PR en route to eight sub-2:00 performances and a 1:57 personal best. This isn’t even mentioning the rest of OAC’s athletes, many of which had multiple impressive performances on a national and world level. The point is: OAC has a great thing going from 800m up to the marathon and Ritz deserves a ton of credit for how much this team has accomplished this season.
Best Social Media
Scott Fauble on Twitter. Scott has blessed my Twitter feed with countless pictures of quality burritos, as well as thoughtful commentary and ratings of those burritos. For that, I am thankful and look forward to more burrito content and other quality tweets from Scott in 2023.
Favorite Photo of the Year
It has to be Johnny Zhang’s photo of Grant Holloway in the 60mH indoors. It’s an incredible shot that perfectly encapsulates Holloway’s dominance over the distance. And I still don’t understand how someone can build that big of a lead over the best in the world over only 60 meters.
.@Flaamingoo_ tying his own world record during the semifinals of the 60-meter hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. He ran 7.29 seconds.
— Johnny Zhang Photography (@jzsnapz) December 22, 2022
Most Talked About Controversy
I’m not sure if this counts or not, but Devon Allen being DQed at World Champs!!! I’m still mad about you, and I hope you’re still mad about it too. If punishing an athlete for having too good of a reaction time isn’t controversial, then I don’t know what is. Justice for Devon Allen! Go Birds!
What Do You want to See Most in 2023
I would love to see Sydney McLaughlin go after a fast 400 time. She’s already proven her dominance over the 400m hurdles and she’s flashed incredible ability in the 4x400m, so it would be super cool to see what she could run if she focused on the 400m for part of a season. It’s also pretty crazy that Sydney is only 23 and we’re already discussing a switch to another event because she’s conquered her main one so quickly.
2023 Athlete to Watch
I’m really excited to watch Hobbs Kessler. In his first full season as a pro, he ran some really good races but didn’t quite improve on what he ran at the end of his high school career. He’s one of the most talented young distance runners in the sport though and I think he’s due for a big year with some big PRs across multiple distances.
Your Favorite Citius Moment
Kyle’s 60-second rundown of how NCAA qualifying works was the first time I finally understood what KOLA points were.