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1998 indoor

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John Molvar
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March 14-15, 1998 at Reggie Lewis Track Center, Boston MA

National Scholastic Indoor Championships

Highlights by John Molvar
About Casey Combest, Andy Powell, Mohamud, and 4x800

From: "John Molvar" <[email protected]>
Subject: t-and-f: HS Nationals (long)
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 08:39:22 PST

The HS Nationals was another great show with great races, times and
performances. I also saw three things I have never seen in the 25 years
I have been following the sport. I have never seen a high caliber meet
in which the 2 mile champion outweighed the dash champion by 25 pounds.
Casey Combest from Kentucky stands 5’7” and weights 125 pounds and he destroyed the field in the dash final. He had a blazing start and pulled away. One coach from
Kentucky said they tried to recruit him for football as a receiver and
kick returner but so far he has declined. Don’t laugh, the “Ice Cube”
was a Pro bowl kick returner for the Browns in the 1980s and he was 5’7”
and 145 pounds. Another coach from Kentucky told me he worked on his
starts all fall and developed an innovative technique in which he places
both feet completely off the ground and as high as possible in the
blocks. Maybe someone who knows something about sprint technique can
comment on this. After Casey blew out the field and jogged off
celebrating defending champ Mike Newell and the rest of the field walked
off in a state of shock looking at each other and shaking their heads in
disbelief. They are going to have to believe because Casey is only a jr
and will be back next year.

The second big surprise was that a 5’8” guy
from California won the shot. How many previous National Champs were
5’8” or shorter? I don’t know but my guess is that there were none.

The third surprise for me was the record breaking Colombia girls 4x8
team. I am sure Ed Grant will give you the details later. The lead off
runner for Columbia is a Muslim and she ran complete with sweats and
head covered and put her team near the front with about a 2.16 leg.
Does anyone remember when Algeria’s Bulmerka was accused by some of her
countrymen of running “with naked legs in front of 80,000 men”?

star of the meet was Andy Powell. In the mile NJs Steve Slattery went
out in a suicidal 27.0 first lap with Powell jostled into the midst of
the pack. Powell quickly worked his way to the lead and opened up a 10
yard gap on Mohamed. He passed the half in 2.01.9 and the rest of the
field was already out of the race. Mohamed tried valiantly to close the
gap but Powell kept pressing all the way to a 4.07.34. He broke Mike
Stember’s jr class record and passed some greats on the all time list
including multiple NCAA champ Ruben Reina and Olympian John Trautmann.
He missed Jon Riley’s meet record by 0.2. Mohamed was second in a PR

The 800 lived up to the pre race billing as a battle between
Foxboro MA runner Bill Spierdowis and Mohammed. Mohamed and his coach
Tony Darocha worked out a race strategy that could be used for a
training film on how to race. Mohamed, who was weakened by the mile
bolted to the lead then slowed the pace way down. The rest of the field
bought it hook, line and sinker. They passed 400 in 57.5. By the time
Spierdowis realized he had been duped, it turned out to be too late.
Bill made a big move to pass Mohamed, but Mohamed was ready like tiger
ready to pounce on his prey. Mohamed sprinted the whole straight and
forced Bill wide not once, but 3 times. By the time they came off the
final turn, it was too late and Mohamed had won his 4th National title
by 6 inches.

In the 2 mile Powell copied Riley’s strategy from last
year and the field also played into his hand. The leaders passed 1200
in about 3.30 with Powell near the back of the pack. Finally a Canadian
runner realized what was going to happen and he took off and hit the
mile in 4.36. Powell was back in the pack at about 4.41. Powell, who
didn’t look good (warning: don’t go by looks), started working his way
up through the pack and soon he was right on the Canadian’s shoulder but
he didn’t pass him. The Canadian was slowing and 4 or 5 runner were
catching up to the first 2 with just 2 laps to go and it looked like the
normally kickless Powell was in trouble. Then, bang! Powell exploded
on the next lap. I got him in 28.3 for that lap. Needless to say the
race was over and Powell had doubled. His last quarter was 59. His
4.07/9.09 double compares well with Riley’s 4.07/9.04 double the year
before. Riley as you all now know placed 4th in the NCAA mile which was
only his 3rd track meet as a collegian. Expect Powell to join his buddy
Riley at Stanford in 2 years as the Stanford distance juggernaught
continues to grow. Some very knowledgeable fans were debating whether
Powell or Riley will go further and their conclusion was it is unknown.
Powell may not have Riley’s kick but he may have a little more raw speed
than Riley, but Riley has more stamina. It should be interesting as the
story unfolds.

The 4x800 was the greatest Indoor HS 4x8 ever. I stated
that Utah’s Bingham would run under the National Record. They did, but
unfortunately for them Boys and Girls (NYC) beat them with West
Springfield, VA also under the old record.

The night before West broke
the National record in the DMR. Karie is gone but the team is even

Great meet.


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