Down the Backstretch comes to you today from Hammond, Indiana -- a city that's a track trivia answer (Do you know the question?) The DtB mobile unit -- my maroon 190,000+ mile Toyota pick-up -- is parked outside a threadbare Super 8 Motel, just a morning's drive north of Indianapolis and the USA Championships.
Yes, the glories of covering track and field in Minnesota sometimes include a late-night drive through Chicagoland, a smoking room in a loud hotel (trains and guests), and posting a quick story over bad coffee before getting the rig back on the road.
The AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the Finish Line USA Junior Track & Field Championships get underway in earnest today. (The USA Junior multi-events began yesterday.) Highlighting the junior competition this afternoon are Hill-Murray long jumper BJ Otto, Gopher shot putter Aaron Studt, Edina's Class AA 3200 m champ Alex Gits in the 3000, and high school half-miling stars Zach Mellon of Buffalo (Class AA champ) and Andy Richardson of Irondale (5th fastest Minnesota prep all-time) racing in the prelims of the 800 meters.
The spotlight event for the Minnesota juniors will be the 5000 meters. Reigning USA Junior Cross Country champ Elliott Heath, fresh off his 8:46 two mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals, will compete, along with Edina's TC Lumbar.
In senior competition, Trent Riter begins his 800 rounds today, Team USA Minnesota's Jenelle Deatherage opens up in the 1500m semis, former Gopher star Mitch Potter begins rounds in the 400m.
Two finals taking place today that could see a Minnesotan crowned champion are the women's triple jump and women's 10,000 meters. Former Gopher and Apple Valley star Shani Marks looks to defend her title in the triple jump where she's the #2 seed. 2005 USA 10,000 champ Katie McGregor of Team USA Minnesota and former Duluth East star Kara Goucher should be in the final pack when places get sorted out in 10,000m late tonight ... unless Deena Kastor is long gone by then!
Look to DtB for a recap of the USA action each morning and occasional quick updates during the competition itself ... if the DtB mobile unit makes it that final 161 miles, that is!
In the meantime, you can find results from the competition HERE.
That Hammond, Indiana trivia answer/question ... A: Rudy Chapa, Carey Pinkowski, and Tim Keogh. Q: Name the three Hammond High runners who were the only three teammates in prep history to break 9:00 in the two mile in the same season.