It was a joyous homecoming for Angela Daigle at the Run for the Dream indoor meeting at Fresno State's Save Mart Center on Monday 16 January. Daigle, 29, a Fresno State alumnus won the women's invitational 55m in 6.86 and a $10,000 USD bonus for the top female performance of the inaugural meet.
Josh Norman earned the most valuable men's performance with his 6.12 to 6.19 victory over Jeff Laynes ini the men's 55m. Jeff Hartwig in the men's pole vault (5.60m) and Kristin Heaston (17.92m) highlighted the field events in the competition named in the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.
No Place Like Home
Daigle, the 2005 USA Track & Field national indoor 60m champion, has blossomed after coming to Fresno State as a non-scholarship athlete from a high school without an organised athletics programme. Daigle, who married Terry Bowen, a 1994 Fresno State NCAA All-American in the 100m and running back on the football team, is now a World Championships gold medallist after running the opening leg for the U.S. 400m relay in Helsinki.
On Monday, wearing her customary sweatband on her right wrist for good luck, Daigle blasted out of the blocks to pull away from runner-up and training partner Tameisha King (7.02) and collegian Carol Rodiguez of Southern California (7.05). It was the second victory of the evening for Daigle, who had clearly defeated the field 10 minutes earlier but the performance was nullified when the timing system malfunctioned and forced a rerun.
That was the start of an indoor campaign for Daigle, who trains under 2005 World Indoor Championship team coach Ernie Gregoire at Mt. San Antonio College. Her campaign will include stops at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games (28 Jan.), the Millrose Games (3 Feb.), the Tyson Foods Invitaitonal (19 Feb), the USATF Championships in Boston on 24-26 Feb. and possibly the IAAF World Indoors in Moscow in March.
Two other proteges of Gregoire, Mike Mitchell and Tony Allmond, finished 1-2 in the long jump at 7.58m and 7.57m.
Mathias, Smith and Evans - Legends honoured
There was plenty of history at the inaugural meet that was run on a 160-yard banked wooden oval which was on loan from meet organisers of the Los Angeles Invitational, which had been the longest-running indoor meet in the Western United States before its demise after a 43-year run because of lack of a title sponsor. Bob Mathias, the 1948 and 52 Olympic champion at the Decathlon, and 1968 Olympic sprint champions Tommie Smith (200m) and Lee Evans (400m), were honored during the opening ceremonies.
The 12-hour meeting that featured more than 1,300 competitors was organized without a title sponsor by 26th Fresno State coach Bob Fraley, the meet director of the Pole Vault Summit who gained national notoriety for relinquishing his salary for a year to help save the budget-strapped track programme. Fraley solicited nearly 70 percent of the $119,000 meet budget from private funds and $30,000 in prize money.
Jillan Schwartz won the women's Pole Vault at (4.40m) ahead of Dana Buller, Kellie Suttle and Mary Sauer, all at 4.30m. Other invitational winners included Jonathan Riley in the Mile (4:06.11) and Chris Figures in the Shot Put (18.79). Chris Berrian ran 16.48 for a world best for a 160-yard track.
In the high school competition, Ebony Collins, who won three medals in the IAAF World Youth Championships in Morocco including a meet record in the 400m hurdles, failed to come away with a win in any of three events.
Running in a total of six races with heats, Collins, a junior at Long Beach Wilson High (Calif.), finished second to Myra Hasson of nearby Gardena (1:07.83 to 1:11.10) in the 500 yards, third in the 55m (7.21) and third in the 55m hurdles (8.17). Collins said that she used the competition as a workout after taking four months off of training after competing from January through August last season. The girls' 55m featured California's top three dashers of 2005 with Collins, Kristina Davis and Krystal Carter but it was Jeneba Tarmoh who posted a dominating win in 6.89 with Davis (7.04) and Carter (7.10) in second and third.
Scott Roth, who placed fifth in World Youth Championshps in the Pole Vault, won at 5.13m and had two close attempts at an American high school national record 5.35m. Isaiah Green, the leadoff 100m leg for the victorious U.S. sprint medley in Marakeech, won the 55m in 6.47.
Kirby Lee for the IAAF