Track and field: Cal Olympian to run Millrose

Cal grad and London Olympic finalist Alysia Montano will run the 600 meters at the 106th Millrose Games indoor track and field meet Feb. 16 at the Armory in New York City.

Montano, who ran as Alysia Johnson while at Cal, is an 800-meter specialist. She ran the fastest time in the world in 2010 and last season was ranked No. 7 in the world, No. 1 in the USA, according to Track and Field News after a fifth-place finish at the London Olympics.

The 600 is an event held primarily indoors and meet director Ray Flynn believes Montano and the field could threaten Delisa Walton-Floyd’s 32-year-old American record of 1:26.56.

Others expected to join Montano in the race include former U.S. indoor champion Phoebe Wright, world indoor bronze medalist Erica Moore and world junior champion and former Neptune High School (N.J.) sensation Ajee Wilson.

“I have been looking forward to racing at Millrose for some time now, but could never fit it in the training schedule,” said Montano, a four-time national champion (2007, 2010-2012) in the 800 meters and bronze medalist in 2010 world indoor championships.

“This year is the perfect opportunity. The 600-meter run at Millrose is a wonderful opportunity to run fast, have fun and gauge my potential 800-meter time at this point in the season.”


Olympics: Alysia Montano earns spot in 800m final

Ex-Cal star Alysia Montano grabbed the final qualifying spot for the Olympic 800-meter final on Saturday, running 1:58.42 in her semifinal heat today.

Montano ran in the fastest of the three semifinals, so her fourth-place finish got her a spot in the final based on time.

“My coach talked to me about relaxing, and I think I relaxed too much,” Montano said. “When they made a move on the backstretch it took me a second to respond, and when I did it wasn’t the energy to respond it was the fact that I was boxed and had to jump out.

“That energy was a total error and I had to make it up in the last 200 meters. I’m really thankful I get an opportunity to redeem myself.”

Saturday will be plenty competitive.

Defending Olympic champ Pamela Jelimo of Kenya won a slow first heat in 1:59.42 and Ekaterina Poistogova of Russia securing the second automatic qualifier at 1:59.45.

South African Caster Semenya won the second heat in a season-best of 1:57.67, with Russia’s Elena Arzhakova (1:58.13), Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei (1:58.26) and Montano going 2-3-4.

Russia’s Mariya Savinova, the defending IAAF world champion, stormed from behind to win the third heat in 1:58.58, with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba second in a national-record time of 1:58.67.

The U.S. has produced just two medal winners ever in the women’s 800 — Madeline Manning with a gold in 1968 and Kim Gallagher with a silver in 1984 and a bronze in ’88.


Olympics: Ex-Cal star Alysia Montano wins first-round 800m heat; she goes in semifinals Thursday

Cal grad Alysia (Johnson) Montano went out fast — as she usually does — and held on to win her first-round heat in the 800 meters at the London Olympics.

Montano will run in the semifinal round Thursday, where her heat includes eight runners who have broken 2 minutes and two — Janeth Jepkosgei of  Kenya and Caster Semenya of South Africa — who boast faster personal bests than Montano. On the other hand, Montano beat Semenya in Wednesday’s opening round.

Her race goes off at 11:30 a.m. PDT.


Track and field: Cal’s Deborah Maier honored

Cal’s Deborah Maier, the NCAA runnerup in indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters, was named the 2012 National Scholar-Athlete of the Year for indoor track and field by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Maier, a political science major, sports a 3.82 grade-point average. She also placed 11th at the NCAA cross country championships as a junior last fall, the best showing by a Cal runner in 24 years.


Olympics: In ’48, a remarkable Cal man won the pole vault at the London Olympics

He had completed his education at Cal six years earlier, was married, had a child and had flown cargo missions from India into China over the “Hump” of the Himalayas during World War II.

But Guinn Smith still had the skill and toughness necessary to win an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault in a rain storm at the 1948 London Games.

Here’s his story.


Track: Ex-Bear Montano 3rd at Monaco meet

Alysia Montano, in her final tuneup before the London Olympics, ran third today in the 800 meters at the Herculis Diamond League meet in Monaco.

The former Cal star ran 1:59.05, well off her season and personal bests.

Russian Yelena Kofanova won the race in 1:58.41 and Burundi’s Franchine Niyonsaba was second with a national record of 1:58.68. South Africa’s Caster Semenya, projected as an Olympic silver medalist by Track and Field News, placed ninth in 2:01.67.


Track and field: Ex-Cal star Montano on Oly team

Former Cal star Alysia (Johnson) Montano earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic track team with a victory in the 800 meters at the trials in Eugene, Ore.

Montano took the lead from the start and won wire-to-wire in a time of 1:59.08. Gina Gall was second at 1:59.24 and Alice Schmidt third at 1:59.48.

Montano, a 2008 Cal grad, earned her fourth national title in the event — and her most important one. She’s going to London.

Montano made the team four years after suffering a foot injury at the trials.

“I’m super-duper elated,” Montano said. “Four years ago I was lying on this track after the first round. My whole mentality is to be brave and have heart. When I’m out there giving it my everything, I’m prepared to run a really, really fast time.”

Meanwhile, ex-Cal star Ed Wright gave the favorites a scare in the high jump before finishing fifth at 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches.

Cal senior Deborah Maier and 38-year-old Cal grad Magdalena Lewy Boulet, a 2008 Olympic marathoner, both advanced to the final of the women’s 5,000. Maier was fifth in her semifinal heat in 1n a school-record time of 15:43.43 and Lewy Boulet was seventh in the second heat at 15:51.73.

Cal alum Tracey Stewart wound up sixth in the triple jump final with a best mark of  43-2 1/2.



Track and field: Maier third at NCAA meet

Cal junior Deborah Maier placed third in the 10,000 meter-run at the NCAA track and field championships at Des Moines, Iowa.

Maier, who earlier this year recorded the No. 3 all-time collegiate mark in the event, crossed in 32 minutes, 47.20 seconds. Her finishing spot matches the highest by a Cal woman in the 10,000 at the NCAA meet.

Meanwhile, freshman Harrison Steed finished eighth in the high jump with a Cal career high clearance of 7 feet, 2 1/2 inches. Theh highest-placing freshman in the event, Steed moved to No. 9 on Cal’s all-time high jump list.




Track and field: Ex-Bear David Torrence races to USA-leading mile at Prefontaine Classic

David Torrence, who five years ago broke a 50-year-old Cal record in the mile, ran a personal-best time of 3 minutes, 52.01 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., climbing to the top of the 2012 U.S. leaders list.

Torrence finished just ninth in the super-quick field, topped by Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop in 3:49.40. How fast was the race? The first 10 finishers now rank 1 through 10 on the world season list.

Torrence’s time also moves him to No. 18 on the all-time U.S. list.

More importantly, he beat all of the top American runners he will face in three weeks at Eugene in the U.S. Olympic trials. Leonel Manzano finished 12th, Bernard Lagat 14th, Lopez Lomong 15th and Andrew Wheating 16th.

A top-3 finish at the trials will earn Torrence a spot at the London Olympics.