Track guru Paul Merca boning up for Spokane as 12-hour-a-day meet announcer

Paul Merca is humble about his masters knowledge but is world-class on elite level track and field.Paul Merca is humble about his masters knowledge but is a world-class expert on elite level track and field.

M55 track writer Paul Merca of Seattle is one gracious guy. He let me win the inaugural TAFWA blogging award in 2009 before swooping in for the honor in 2010 via his site. Now he’s onto another task – announcing Spokane masters nationals (actually Cheney, but whatever). Over the past few days, we’ve chatted about the challenge.

He’s well aware he’s filling the superstar shoes of Peter Taylor (rehabbing from a near-stroke experience). But Paul aims to do justice to our niche, cramming daily with the help of Pete, spreadsheets of entries and reviewing this blog.

On Facebook this week, Paul asked for resource sites and said: “I’m all ears. I’ve only got nine days to learn about masters track and field!” He’ll be fine. He’s already an accomplished announcer from doing University of Washington meets.

He’s traveled the world as a track publicist and photographer as well. Although he’s covered a slew of IAAF world meets, this appears to be his virgin masters nationals. He’ll lack the encyclopedic memory of Pete, but he’ll still excel at introducing and calling races. He’ll also make an effort to highlight field events.

He tweets here.

Here’s how Paul called the NCAA men’s 800 record in April:

Meanwhile, the latest pre-nationals meet release is out, again highlighting our M100 superstar Orville Rogers.

SPOKANE, Wash., July 17, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — From Thursday to Sunday, July 26-29, The USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships in Spokane (Cheney), WA at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field, will showcase over 900 of America and the world’s best track and field athletes in over 2400 events.

Competing are 18 USATF Masters Track and Field Hall of Famers, 26 Indoor and Outdoor World Record holders, and 62 Indoor and Outdoor American Record holders. The 19 World Outdoor Record holders hold 46 world records among them. There will also be 112 Washington State athletes and 19 from the Spokane area. Spokane area athletes are listed below.

Among the competitors: last year’s 2017 USATF Masters Athlete of the year Sabra Harvey, 69, of Houston, TX. World Masters Association (WMA) Outstanding Male Athlete of the year in 2017 and 2012, Bob Lida, 81, of Wichita, KS, who set world M80 records in both the 200 and 400M at the WMA Indoor Championships in 2017. Also present will be former WMA Athletes of the Year; Irene Obera, (2016), 84, from Fremont, CA, Rita Hanscom (2009), 64, San Diego, CA; Charles Allie (2013), 70, Pittsburgh, PA, also a champion race car driver; and Canadian Citizen Christa Bortignon (2013), 81, West Vancouver, BC. Also attending are last year’s WMA Event Group Athletes of the Year, Bill Harvey, 72, Glenbrook, NV, and Jeferson Souza, 44, Miami, FL (combined events).

Also participating: the meet’s two oldest competitors, 100 year-old Orville Rogers of Dallas, TX who set two centenarian (M 100-104) indoor world records last year, and Roy Engbert, Springfield, VA, 95, who was set world marks in his 95-99 age group indoors in the 800M, 1500M, and 3000M at the 2018 USATF Masters Indoor National Championship.

Other notables: NFL great Willie Gault, 57, Encino CA, an American and World outdoor record sprinter. 3-time Olympian Michelle Rohl, 53, a 22 time U.S. Racewalking Champion, American Record holder, and Pan Am Games medal winner, is doing an exhibition 800 and 1500 meter.

Rex Harvey, USA Masters Track & Field Chair, said: “Many of the athletes here in Spokane are doing their final tuneup before going to Malaga, Spain September 4-16 to compete in the World Masters Championships. I couldn’t be more proud of our US Team; Athletes, Officials, and Administrators. We are working together to become the world’s number one masters team.”

SPOKANE AREA ATHLETES: Among the 112 Washington State athletes, 18 are from the Spokane area. In the throws: Kyle Unland, 51 Ryan Weidman, 46 and Marty Swager, 58. Taking on the sprints: USATF Sprint Coach and Athlete Gail Kuhnly, 56; 71 year old Caroline Cooney; Keera Payne, 35; Daniel Mendenhall, 62 and 70 year-old Jon Heimbigner in 80M hurdles. Samantha Cooney Starr, 39, will also do jumps and pent. Chris Morlan, 51, will run 5000M, along with Lou Karl, 62, Heath Robertson, 35, Heather LeFriec, 46, Anja Goetzinger, 31, Carl Combs, 52, and Kyle McNaught-Davis, 40. Jon Neill, 44 and John Statham, 68 will run 1500M. Roger Vergin, 80, of Poulsbo, WA, who won seven medals at the 2017 Albuquerque USA Indoor Masters, is in eleven events. George Mathews of Edmonds, outside Seattle, former national MTF Chair, is in the hammer and weight throws.

All athletes are subject to drug testing at the meet.

The meet runs all four days, 8AM to late afternoon. Spectators are free. Media welcome.

More information:—Calendar/2018/USATF-Masters-Outdoor-Championships.aspx
Event Schedule:
Athletes competing, awards, hometown, events:

19 Masters World Outdoor Record Holders Competing:

USATF Masters:

Visit USATF website for information at,,
Thanks to: Mary Trotto, Rachel Guest, and Jay Wind for helping Sandy, Bob, and MTF in compiling this material.

Contacts: Bob Weiner, USA Masters Track Championships Media Director 301-283-0821, cell 202 -306-1200

Sandy Lee Triolo, USA Masters Communications Chair 240-258-8226

SOURCE USATF Masters Communications Committee and Robert Weiner Associates

Contribute to support independent track and field journalism:

About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at or Story tips always welcome!

1 Comment on "Track guru Paul Merca boning up for Spokane as 12-hour-a-day meet announcer"

  1. I am sure that Paul will do a wonderful job. Just to clarify, I am not rehabbing from a near-stroke experience. Instead, I underwent urologic surgery under general anesthesia just 8 days ago, and I am still dealing with the sequelae of that “wonderful” experience. Going to Cheney to announce would have been foolhardy at best. In fact, I do believe I will venture no more than 8 miles from home during the next 2 weeks.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.