Hall of Famer Tom Patsalis dies at 92; jumper set 26 world records

Tom danced with W65 walker Jolene Steigerwalt at 2009 Lahti worlds.

Hall of Famer Tom Patsalis died Wednesday night — two months after a stroke, reports coach Mark Cleary, his friend and SoCal Track Club teammate. Tom, who set more than than two dozen world records in jumps and hurdles between age 52 and 70, was 92. “He had a stroke about 2 months ago and survived it,” Mark writes, “but was receiving hospice care for the last several weeks.His M60-64 world record still stands in the long jump. I will share the details of his memorial service once I have them. It’s interesting I took a side trip with Tom to St. Petersburg, Russia, on our way to Laiti, Finland for WMA Champs. He told me: ‘I think I will live to 103′ as well as he was doing. Then I really thought he would. I am especially sad because Nolan [Shaheed] and Carl Flowers and myself were planning to visit him at the end of this week and now he’s gone.” Tom ran for USC in the late 1940s, where one of his teammates was a skinny guy named Mel Patton. He entered masters in the 1970s and competed as recently as 2010. I, too, revered Tom. But my most vivid memories are watching him dance with younger women at various athletes banquets. You’ll be missed for your love of fun, Tom, as well as the track.

July 31, 2014  2 Comments

M90s stole thunder of Southwest Sprinters TC 4×4 world record

Antwon Dussett won the M35 deuce before helping set 4×400 world record.

In my hyperventilated excitement over witnessing gents in their 90s handling a baton at nonwarp speed, I overlooked a stunning WR at North Carolina nationals. The Southwest Sprinters TC team of Leon Bullard, 40; Blair DeSio, 43; Edward Winslow Jr., 45; and Antwon Dussett, 38, clocked a 3:19.45 to nip the listed M35 world record of 3:19.90 in the 4×400 set at 2005 San Sebastian worlds in 2005. Southwest Sprinters’ Robert Thomas was on that team. (Notice that only one under-40 dashman was on the latest record? Amazing.) USATF reported the record (and several others I overlooked) 10 days ago. (My stoopid excuse: I had to leave the meet to catch a plane in Charlotte.) However, I’d love to hear the splits. Congrats, guys!

Ed Winslow shared this shot of himself and teammates in the M35 WR.  Not sure who is who, except for Antwon (at far right).

Ed Winslow shared this shot of himself and teammates in the M35 WR. Not sure who is who, except for Antwon (at far right). Post IDs in the comments, please.

July 30, 2014  9 Comments

Call for sites: Who might host 2015 decathlon/heptathlon nats?

Jeff Watry and Bill Murray — decathletes and meet organizers — are taking over for the ill Rex Harvey in handling USATF combined-event meets (aka decathlon, heptathlon, indoor multis, etc.) Bill will handle the decathlon and Jeff will continue running the indoor heptathlon. Now they need your help: “We are looking for a site willing to host the decathlon/heptathlon near the end of June or the first weekend in July [2015],” Bill writes. “We could use other weekends, but we are trying not to conflict with NCAAs, USATF [masters nationals] in Jacksonville, Senior Olympics and WMAs in Lyon. This leaves us a very small window.” Would anyone in Masters Land be interested in hosting the dec/hep nationals? Write Bill at wkmrealest@aol.com or Jeff at jpwatry@hotmail.com if you can help identify interested venues.

Bill Murray checked and rechecked shuttle hurdle relay placements and heights at nationals. He filled in for Rex Harvey on the Games Committee.

July 29, 2014  One Comment

Pete Magill’s magnum opus: ‘Build Your (Masters) Running Body’

Padilla graces cover — one of Pete’s pals.

Published today, “Build Your Running Body” is Pete Magill’s greatest contribution to masters track. And that’s saying a lot. Mr. 5K-Record-Holder-Running-Times-Columnist-Cross-Country-Champ-Who-Blogs-And-Coaches is already a legend. His tome is subtitled “A total-body fitness plan for all distance runners from milers to ultramarathoners,” but I would add — “and even for the wrinkled, spotted and balding.” It features masters champ Grace Padilla on the cover, and Pete’s name among three co-authors. But trust me: Pete’s snarky but sympathetic voice dominates the 448-page masterpiece. My favorite part was his authoritative takedown of fads such as barefoot running. (He has the science to back it up.) Petemagill.com serves as the official site for the book, redirecting from buildyourrunningbody.com. You can buy it anywhere, but I spotted copies for $12.62 on Amazon and $13.38 on B&N. (Normal is $21.95.)

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July 29, 2014  One Comment

6-foot jumpers after 50 are rare; how about 2 in a few minutes?

I remember looking up to 6-foot high jumpers when I was high school freshman. Soon I lost the awe and cleared 6-1 eventually (in hurdler spikes). But the amazement returns in masters track, especially for guys over 50. Matt McCubbins shares my appreciation for the species. He’s shared a link to a YouTube video he shot at North Carolina nationals of 53-year-old Greg Vidos and 56-year-old Bruce McBarnette clearing 1.84 meters, or 6-0 1/4. (with Bruce claiming an M55 American record). And great slo-mo, Matt!

July 28, 2014  No Comments

Peter Taylor announces own grade at North Carolina nationals

Peter Taylor shares his masters nationals experience in his latest diary (see an earlier one) of a meet announcer. He writes: “I took almost no notes, but I do remember some things about the nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s fourth-largest city. I didn’t compete in any events, however, and thus I’m hoping that some athletes will supply their own recollections.” Near the end, Peter the Perfectionist says: “Overall I had a very poor meet, partly my fault. I was so bothered by the inadequate sound that I changed my announcing style, uncertain whether people could hear me adequately.” Yes, his voice didn’t carry as far as it should have. But those on the track and in the stands beneath him got full Taylor effect. And we are always grateful for introductions that go far beyond name and lane.

Peter Taylor an I pose for National Masters News publisher Amanda Scotti after I presented him Al Sheahen's monogrammed USA Masters windbreaker.

Peter Taylor and I pose for National Masters News publisher Amanda Scotti after I presented him Al Sheahen’s monogrammed USA Masters windbreaker.


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July 27, 2014  13 Comments

N.C. nationals meet director invites critiques — pro and con

Noel Ruebel, an experienced masters multi-eventer, learned at North Carolina nationals that being a meet director requires similar skills. Gotta be a multi-tasker. When he spoke at the Athletes Banquet last Saturday night (see video) at the site of 2015 indoor nationals, he told of how he leaned against doing the onerous job again. But by the end of the meet, he said he’d “absolutely” give it another go. In an open note to entrants, he shows his courage by inviting input. “Your comments, both negative and positive, will be included in [a meet management] notebook to make for better and better meets in the coming years,” he writes. Further proof of his courage? Watch him sing “Chantilly Lace” to open the karaoke portion of the banquet, which ran until about 10 p.m. (Actually, Noel is pretty dang good!)

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July 26, 2014  15 Comments

An M55 800 WR for Anselm LeBourne? What about earlier one?

Anselm signals No. 1 in photo posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

Anselm signals No. 1 in photo posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

Now I’m really confused. In mid-June Anselm LeBourne posted to Facebook that he had run 2:01.63 for 800 at a New York Road Runners Speed Series meet. This week, he posted that he’d set a “new official world record in the men’s 800 meters for 55-59 years old at long island USATF track meet. Ran a time of 2:03.42, breaking old world record of 2:03.70,” Stan Immelman’s mark from 2001. The NYRR series is not USATF-sanctioned, according to the USATF calendar. But in a posted comment, Rob Lemke said: “Last night Anselm ran 2:03.42 at a USATF-LI Summer Series meet in Hauppauge, NY. He notified us beforehand of his attempt to better the listed world record and our meet director helped him obtain all the necessary paperwork. Congratulations, Anselm!” Too bad the 2:01 won’t fly.

July 25, 2014  7 Comments

Meiler by a mile: Flo is USATF Athlete of the Week for nationals

Flo the TJ'er.

Flo the triple jumper.

It’s always hard to pick out the star of a meet as high-powered as nationals, but USATF on Wednesday made a solid selection in W80 Flo Meiler. Following tradition, the standout American at outdoor nats is Athlete of the Week. How did Flo-Go rate the honor? How’s this for starters: 8 gold medals, 6 silver medals, 1 world record (pentathlon), 4 American records (hammer throw, weight throw, discus, high jump). She’s now in the running for IAAF Best Masters honors at the end of the year. Here’s how USATF intern Tyler Stevenson began his report: “Eighty-year-old Masters athlete Florence Meiler has been named USATF’s Athlete of the Week after her impressive 14-event weekend as she had broke several records at USATF Masters Outdoor Championships at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”

Flo the high jumper. (All photos here are by Rob Jerome.)

Flo the high jumper. (All photos here graciously provided by Rob Jerome.)

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July 24, 2014  8 Comments

M90 relay WRs were years in the making, changed members

Champion Goldy Sr. reaches for Orville Rogers in first handoff of historic first M90 4×100.

By now, the world knows about B-Day at North Carolina nationals, when five members of the Greatest Generation united to handle batons in the first-ever world records in the M90 outdoor relays — 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800. ESPN’s SportsCenter featured Sunday’s events (and video). (Look for me in white backward ballcap taking pictures at finish line of 4×100.) But there’s way more to know. Lydia Woods, retired professor at Morehouse College and a prolific competitor at nationals, shares … the rest of the story. In an essay called “History in the Making: 4×90,” she tells how the WR bids were years in the making. Original members had to be replaced. Gotta love the mission and its execution. Something like D-Day. I covered it like Ed Murrow, and posted dozens of photos.

Men completing the 4×100 at nationals totaled 376 in age. Average leg: 35.6 seconds and 94 years old. Mission accomplished, gentlemen!

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July 23, 2014  3 Comments