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April 2, 2018

Lane 9: Sydney McLaughlin Had Quite The Excellent Weekend

We’re always experimenting on CITIUS MAG dot com on ways to recap all the weekend’s action before the news gets stale so we’ve decided to come up with a weekly running commentary post between the two stats nerds on this site to crown the weekend’s two most impressive winners and losers of the weekend. The outdoor season is underway and the first installment of this new series did very well with readership and received some positive feedback!

Welcome to Lane 9: Opinions you didn’t know you wanted to have (from Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding)

Chris: For this year’s outdoor track and field action, I’ll be unveiling little rankings of how to process some of these great highlights and moments that we see. When I was in college, my roommate (Matt Barbato) had these fantastic exclamatory remarks that I’ve since picked up. If it was a touchdown? Hit ‘em with the “Heavens!” If it was a Hail Mary to end the game? You bet it was a “Mother Magoo!” They caught on. So I’m bringing them my expressions in track and field and you’ll see me reference them, if you follow me on Twitter.

Mother Goose! This one will be used for things like world records or something extraordinary.

Heavens! This will be used when something is very, very impressive but not quite record-setting.

Golly! I’ll reserve this for ‘Well, that was fast!’ moments. It’s a fun substitute for “Wow!” which tends to be overused in epic sports moments.

Neat! This one is saved for interesting and quirky moments that maybe don’t happen too often.

If you’ve got your own moment that you think is worthy of one of these rankings, tag me in a tweet.

Now this weekend, I let out a “Heavens!” with Sydney McLaughlin’s runs at the Florida Relays.

I’ll go ahead and tab her as one of my winners of the week. On Thursday, she hit us with the 22.39 (wind-legal) for the 200 meters. 24 hours later, she ran a 50.07 for the 400 on a wet track. She also ran in the 4×400 and split 49.45. Incredible weekend overall.

She still hasn’t even competed in the 400m hurdles, which is the event that she made the 2016 Olympic team for. There’s a chance that we might not see her compete in the event as coach Edrick Floreal had previously said that her focus was going to be the 100m hurdles. She did tell the IAAF that this race was prep for the 400m hurdles so there’s a chance we see her in her specialty event.

Jon Mulkeen of the IAAF shared one of the coolest stats after her 400. 50.07 puts her at No. 6 on the U20 400m all-time list. She’s just one spot ahead of Marita Koch’s 50.19 from 1976. Koch went on to run the world record of 47.60 just nine years later.

Not to be overlooked, Salwa Eid Naser of Burundi ran 49.88 at 19 years old in 2017. She turns 20 years old next month. Last week, we wrote a little bit about the Jamaicans youngins running fast, teens in general are flying.

Scott: One question regarding Sydney McLaughlin. How many national titles will she need to win and how many NCAA records will she need to break before she goes pro? Surely there is a pretty substantial deal out there for her. She also seems ahead of her years from a racing/competition standpoint. If you can make teams and run world-ranking times, why not get paid to do it?

Chris: Isn’t it strange to think that she walked away from the indoor season without any NCAA titles? I think she’s in a great spot right now. Surely, there’s money that’s talking but I think she could be taking the Katie Ledecky approach. Be a college student for a year. Enjoy it. Be normal. Then, you can enjoy the money that your talent brings. I wouldn’t blame her at all if she turned pro tomorrow.

Scott: I get that. If she wants to be in college and experience that, I totally get it. She just seems ready to be pro versus some other 19-year-olds.

Chris: Certainly. She’s competed at the Olympics at 17. If you can handle that, you can certainly handle the professional life. Think about it though, while class might not be fun. You’re learning something new. You’re making a ton of friends. You get to meet other athletes. If you turned pro right away, you lose that natural component to those things.

Scott: Sure. Fine.

Chris: Who do you have as a winner from this weekend?

Scott: Hot take: the San Francisco Distance Carnival is closing the gap on the Stanford Invite. Some folks ran really fast there. I think the 10K was won in 28:13 or something like that. I’ll stick with Stanford for a second.

Chris: I feel like there wasn’t one “Wow” moment from Stanford this year. We’ll probably get something at Payton Jordan. It’s early but nothing too eyebrow-raising.

Scott: Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen had a great race in her Bowerman Track Club debut. Karissa Schweizer also got it done and pretty much solidified her case as a force for the NCAA 10,000m. Carrie Dimoff also crushed. It’ll be interesting to see if she runs USAs in the 10K; I assume she is gearing up for a marathon at some point in 2018 as well. All three of the aforementioned women ran under the 2017 IAAF “A” standard, if that means anything to ya. Honestly, over the past few years the American women’s racing is really shining. Payton Jordan will surely be a throwdown in the 10K. There’s always a handful of men and women who show up to that meet thirsty for a 10K PB.

Chris: Just a quick aside, what would you grade Lopez Lomong’s 10,000m debut? He ran 28:21.37 for second place. Alabama’s Vincent Kiprop ran him down in like the final 200m. It was better than what I expected.

Scott: Really! I thought it was good! I’ll give it a B. I imagine when someone who has gone to the Olympics twice gets on the track, those A-standard times pretty much set the bar for success. The first Stanford meet is tough though. the field can be a little thin up front and it requires guys to work a lot harder than they might want to. Not that you asked, but I think Leonard Korir will crush in the 10,000m this year. I think him, Hassan Mead and Mo Ahmed (I know he’s not American) could all take a run for 27-flat at Payton. There could be a serious WCAP train in either the 5,000m or the 10,000m that I assume a lot of guys would want to jump on. Am I going too far with that call?

Chris: You heard it here first, folks. I like that prediction. Just know that you’re putting your reputation as track and field’s Nostradamus on the line.

Scott: Should I be one-and-done there? I feel like I gotta keep the guesses rolling. See if it’s real.

Chris: Save your Boston Marathon prediction for next week so we can keep the readers wanting more.

Scott: On the women’s side of Boston, I’m going to have to go on a spiritual retreat in the woods. Also, this will be the last comment on the man, but once more on Lenny Korir: His half marathon PB is 59:52 and he’s only run 4:43 in the 1500m. I live for that shit.

Chris: Can I hit you with my other winner from the weekend?

Scott: Yes please!

Chris: My other winner for this weekend is Mondo Duplantis. He vaulted to a 5.92m world junior record at the Texas Relays and finished third behind Renaud Lavillenie and Shawn Barber – just a couple of Olympic and world championship medalists. That’s one way to stick it to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Duplantis’ participation in the meet was in question in the days leading up to competition because it believed that he would be violating the association’s independent team rule by competing in the elite division during the high school track and field season. A billboard went up protesting LHSAA and once the controversy started to garner some attention, a one-time waiver of the rule was issued for Duplantis to compete. Billboards are all the range since that movie with Frances McDormand came out. They’re even being used to try and lure LeBron to other cities!

Scott: I love that. And it’s insane that they wouldn’t let Mondo can’t compete in elite fields. I mean, c’mon.

Also, in terms of capital outlay, the billboard must be one of the greatest returns on investment for garnering support for a petty movement. It just instantly legitimizes your cause. “Well, damn, they have a billboard so I suppose we should just let him compete.” It’s like creating an invoice.

Chris: Should we look into getting a billboard for us in Des Moines for USAs? Too late. I already have. Billboards in Des Moines can cost anywhere from $700 to $4,000 for a four-week period.

Scott: That leads me right into my next winner! DES MOINES, BABY! Apparently, they were awarded the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. It was noted at the bottom of the TV broadcast press release. Is there any chance that it isn’t 100F for either year in the distance races?

Chris: I remember how hot it was in 2013 and just hot muggy the mixed zone/media workplace area was. Get ready for it, Scotty. The readers will get to see me review the Drake Stadium walking tacos not just this year but next year as well.

Scott: It will be a real treat. We are all winners in that situation. There’s a lot of room for innovation in journalist cooling technology. I’m going white bucket hat.

Chris: With our logo stitched on?

Scott: Yes. Also, don’t forget…sprinters and jumpers love the heat. Here’s an idea: Do the distance races in Seattle. Sprints and jumps and throws in Austin. Who cares?! Let’s get weird with it!

Chris: I’m NOT with you on that one, Scott. While there are surely fans like you and me, who lean toward the distance events. I enjoy the sprints as well. I was a sprinter. Don’t make me travel to two cities for it! Also think about someone like Track Super Fan Jesse Squire! You’re going to make him travel to four places! The agents have clients across all disciplines! Reporters (the few that there are) find interesting stories across all of them.

Scott: It is a bad idea. I was just trying to make everyone happy.

Chris: No losers this week. There really wasn’t much to get upset about. We’re starting the season off on a nice note but we’ll be critical in the next week weeks and months.

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