Track and Field News year-end awards

posted by The Track & Field Superblog
Monday, December 31, 2012 at 3:41pm EST

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Last week Track and Field News announced its year-end awards: Athletes of the Year for men and women and World Rankings in each of the standard (Olympic) events.

As always, there is argument about these various awards–as there should be. The men’s Athlete of the Year award was most contentious; my pick for #1 finished fourth. It was an unusual year for elite men, with remarkable World Records set in three different events (800 meters, 110m hurdles, and decathlon). Five different men ended up getting #1 votes in the balloting, a highly unusual occurrence (possibly a first, but I don’t have the resources to determine if it is).

The World Rankings are a different beast. While the Athlete of the Year awards are determined by a voting process thrown open to a large group of observers (including such know-nothings as yours truly), the Rankings are determined by a small committee arriving at a discussion-based consensus. The time-honored criteria are, in order:

A) Honors Won, meaning placing high with an emphasis on actually winning in major competition. What constitutes a “major” competition is a rather fluid thing and basically means the competitions that had the most top athletes show up.

b) Win-Loss Record, meaning just that as compared to an athlete’s peers.

c) Sequence of Marks, meaning times/heights/places. Rarely is one good mark considered by itself, but several.

Every year, people look at the World Rankings in one or more event and get quite upset. Sometimes there are accusations of pro-American bias. Sometimes there are accusations of anti-American bias. (Sometimes both are leveled at the same set of rankings.) Sometimes the Olympics or World Championships results are thought to be considered too important, and sometimes not important enough.

The one that seems to have raised the biggest kerfuffle this year is the men’s 1500 meters. They are:
1. Silas Kiplagat (Kenya)
2. Asbel Kiprop (Kenya)
3. Mekonnen Gebremedhin (Ethiopia)
4. Taoufik Makhloufi (Algeria)
5. Matthew Centrowitz (USA)
6. Nixon Chepseba (Kenya)
7. Bethwel Birgen (Kenya)
8. Caleb Ndiku (Kenya)
9. Leo Manzano (USA)
10. Abdelaati Iguider (Morocco)

Note that Olympic champion Makhloufi is only #4, Olympic silver medalist Manzano is only #9, and bronze medalist Iguider is #10. What gives?

I’ll tell you what. The Olympic final was very unlike the rest of the elite season. None of those three above scored a single top-three finish at any Diamond League race. Not one. (Makhloufi won at the Bislett Games in Oslo, a Diamond League meet, but this was a promotional race that didn’t count in the points standings).

The complaints have mostly come from Let’s Run, initiated by co-founder Robert Johnson. My response is very simple: we cannot complain that the general public only pays attention to the Olympics while ignoring the rest of the professional season and yet exhibit the same behavior ourselves. Yes, the Olympics are the pinnacle of professional track and field. But they’re not the entire mountain.

Breadth of US distance running

The U.S. men scored a top-ten ranking in every track distance event (800, 1500, steeplechase, 5k and 10k). This is unusual, but not unprecedented. It has happened seven times in the past: 1964, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1986. Meb Keflezighi’s Olympic Trials win and Olympic Games 4th-place finish did not get him in the top ten of the marathon; in three of those other six years, the USA also had a top-ten ranking in the marathon (1964, 1981, 1982).

What is slightly more unusual this year, however, is that those five different event rankings were achieved by seven different athletes (and Meb nearly made it eight athletes in six events), with only one earning ranking in multiple events. 2012 also comes on the heels of a very successful year for the U.S. women, earning five rankings spread across three events.

College track

Which athletes honored by TFN are returning to the college scene this year?

World Athlete of the Year:
none (either men or women)

U.S. Athlete of the Year:
Brigetta Barrett (Arizona/high jump), Women’s #8

World Rankings:
Erik Kynard (USA/Kansas State), men’s high jump #6
Derek Drouin (Canada/Indiana), men’s high jump #7
Kimberlyn Duncan (USA/LSU), women’s 200 meters #6
Georgeanne Moline (USA/Arizona), women’s 400m hurdles #7
Brigetta Barrett (USA/Arizona), women’s high jump #4

U.S. Rankings:

100 meters
#9 -Harry Adams (Auburn) 200 meters
#4 – Isiah Young (Ole Miss)
#7 – Ameer Webb (Texas A&M)
400 meters
#7 Josh Mance (transfer from USC to FSU)
#9 – David Verberg (George Mason)
#10 – Mike Berry (Oregon) 800 meters
1500 meters
#6 – Andy Bayer (Indiana) Steeplechase
5000 meters
#8 – Ryan Hill (NC State) 10,000 meters
110m Hurdles
none 400m Hurdles
#6 – Reggie Wyatt (USC)
#8 – Michael Stigler (Kansas)
High Jump
#2 – Erik Kynard (Kansas State)
#4 – Nick Ross (Arizona)
#7 – Dwight Barbiasz (Florida)
#8 – Marcus Jackson (Mississippi St)
#9 – James White (Nebraska)
#10 – Ricky Robertson (Ole Miss) Pole Vault
#6 – Jack Whitt (Oral Roberts)
#9 – Mike Woepse (UCLA)
Long Jump
#8 – Mike Hartfield (Ohio State) Triple Jump
#4 – Omar Craddock (Florida)
Shot Put
#8 – Jordan Clarke (Arizona State) Discus Throw
Hammer Throw
none Javelin Throw
#1 – Sam Humphreys (Texas A&M)
#6 – Sam Crouser (Oregon)
#8 – Kevin Lazas (Arkansas)
#9 – Isaac Murphy (Texas)
#10 – Gunnar Nixon


100 meters
#6 – English Gardner (Oregon)
#8 – Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) 200 meters
#4 – Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU)
#9 – Aurieyall Scott (UCF)
400 meters
#4 – Ashley Spencer (Illinois)
#5 – Diamond Dixon (Kansas) 800 meters
#10 – Nachelle Mackie (BYU)
1500 meters
none Steeplechase
#1 – Emma Coburn (Colorado)
#3 – Shalaya Kipp (Colorado)
5000 meters
#5 – Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth)
10,000 meters
#2 – Natosha Rogers (Texas A&M)
#10 – Deborah Maier (California)
100m Hurdles
#8 – Brianna Rollins (Clemson) 400m Hurdles
#2 – Georganne Moline (Arizona)
#6 – Turquoise Thompson (UCLA)
High Jump
#2 – Brigetta Barrett (Arizona)
#4 – Shanay Briscoe (Texas)
#7 – Tynita Butts (East Carolina)
#9 – Krystle Schade (Alabama) Pole Vault
#10 – Morgann LeLeux (Georgia)
Long Jump
none Triple Jump
#3 – Andrea Geubelle (Kansas)

Shot Put
#3 – Tia Brooks (Oklahoma)
#7 – Alyssa Hasslen (Arizona) Discus Throw
#5 – Shelbi Vaughan (Texas A&M)
#7 – Anna Jelmini (Arizona St)
Hammer Throw
none Javelin Throw

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