A little nostalgic, and a little, dare I say, disappointed.
This weekend is the USA Club T&F National Championships in New York City.
Team Nebraska first competed in the Club Champs back in 2008 (Olathe, KS). Jenni Steiner (Shot, Discus), Angee Henry (400, 800), and Sarah Glatt (10,000) were the first women to represent. Levi Ashley (10,000), Tom Nichols (10,000), Matt Pohren (Steeplechase), Aaron Bozarth (Hammer), Chris Hadden (Shot Put), Shannon Stenger (800) and Dustin Llewellyn (Relays) were our first men’s contingent. Men’s Team finished 10th, Women’s Team 6th.
The meet moved to NYC in 2009 and Team Nebraska began establishing itself as one of the top Elite Development Clubs in the United States. From the dozen athletes sent to compete Angee Henry pulled an amazing double winning both the 400 (53.30) and 800 (2:07.05). Matt Schneider would win his first Club Champs Steeplechase title. Shannon Stenger, Nick Suing, Evan Knight and Schneider took the Men’s DMR title. Team Leader in 2009 was Gary Bredehoft. Men’s Team 7th, Women’s Team 12th.
In 2010 the meet was held in San Francisco. Team Nebraska took close to 15 athletes to the left coast and really shined. Our men wound up 4th overall team, our women 5th. Angee Henry would repeat her 400/800 double and also finish 3rd o/a in the 200. Her time of 53.18 in the 400 earned her the Performance of the Meet. Michaela van der Westhuizen made her Clubs debut with a nice 4:37/17:22 1500/5000 double. Aubrey Baxter would win the Shot Put and Discus and finish 2nd in the Hammer. The club’s first bona fide sprinter LeRon Williams competed in the 100 and the Long Jump. Randal Carter won the National Champion title in the High Jump with a leap of 6-09.75. Paul Wilson won an uncontested championship in the Race Walk. Our Men’s Distance Medley Relay team of Shannon Stenger, Michael Saalfeld, Nick Suing and Matt Schneider set a Championships Record in 10:14.46. Luka Thor made his club debut taking 3rd in both the 5000 (14:53) and 10,000 (30:28). Matt Schneider won his second consecutive Steeplechase National Championship. Men’s Team 4th, Women’s Team 5th.
2011 found the competition back at Icahn Stadium in New York City. Aubrey Baxter was named Female Athlete of the Meet by virtue of winning the Shot Put, 2nd in the Hammer, 3rd in the Discus and 4th in the Javelin. Whew! Virgil Mitchell won the 110 High Hurdles and was 4th in the 400M Hurdles. Men’s Team 5th, Women’s Team 7th.
And now it it is almost 1 year ago exactly that I brought the 2012 USA Club Championships to Omaha. My very first effort at directing a track meet and it went flawless if I may say so. Great staff and great volunteers receive all the credit. As expected, Team Nebraska’s highest turnout ever and best results with our Men finishing 2nd and our Women finishing 4th. Highlights included a 1-2-3 sweep in the Steeplechase (Pohren, Schneider, Logsdon). Aubrey Baxter continued to show her dominance with the weights taking 1st in the Hammer, 2nd in the Discus, 3rd in the Shot Put, and 4th in the Javelin. The Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team made their Championships debut a good one as well. LaLonde Gordon of Zenith Velocity Track Club set a new Champs record of 20.63 in the 200 and parlayed that into a Bronze Medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
2013 and the meet again moves back to Icahn Stadium. Only two athletes from the Great State of Nebraska will be competing. Matt Pohren (5000 and Steeplechase) and Eric Lund (400M Hurdles), both representing Team Nebraska are the sole entrants.
As one of the architects of the USA Club Championships, and Father of both Nebraska’s LDR Program and Team Nebraska, I will sit back quietly this weekend and reminisce.
That is Why I Am.