With meet organizers and USATF enchiladas spiking their “wear green or red wristbands” edict on vaccination status, USATF Masters nationals opened Thursday at Ames, Iowa — the first major meet since 2019 Ames nationals in 2019. Thankfully, competition supplanted controversy. While waiting (likely in vain) for USATF brass to answer my wristband questions, check out photos by Rob Jerome and highlights of Day 1, graciously provided by Mike Mahon:
Ames, Iowa — Florence Meiler (Sprinticity/Shelburne, Vt.), 87, set two age-group world masters records to highlight the first day of competition at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships Thursday on the campus of Iowa State University.
Masters athletes set three age-group world records and three American records during the first day of competition.
Meiler established a world age group record in the women’s 85-89 women’s pentathlon scoring 4467 points. Meiler started off the grueling five events by setting a world age-group record in the 80 hurdles in 26.69 seconds. Meiler is scheduled to run in the women’s 2,000 steeplechase Saturday.
Oneithea Lewis, 61, (Shore Athletic Club/Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) set a new age group world record in the women’s 60-64 hammer throw at 153 feet 8 inches/46.84 meters. Three hours later she came back and set an American record in the women’s 60-64 weight throw at 58-4.25/17.79.
Tami Graf (Potomac Valley Track Club/Lusby, Md.) set an American record in the women’s 85-89 5,000 meter run of 46:00.64, toppling the previous mark of 49:08.73 set in 2006.
Rick Becker (Club Northwest/Selah Wash.), 66, uniquely went for and achieved an American mark for the men’s 65-69 3,000 meter run of 10:43.05 during the 5,000 race, which he won in 18:11.02.
Neringa Jakstiene (unattached/Memphis Tenn.), 57, defended her title in the women’s 55-59 age group pentathlon with 4,474 points. Jakstiene, who she set five age group world records and won six medals (four gold) at the 2019 World Masters Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, dominated the competition Friday winning all five events – 80m hurdles (13.31), high jump (1.47m/4-9.75), shot put (8.75m/28-8.5), long jump (4.82m/15-9.75) and 800m (3:05.48).
Gunnar Linde (So Cal Track Club/Venice, Calif.) , who holds American records in nine age group running events, defended his title in the men’s 90-94 5,000 posting a time of 45:32.17. Linde is the world record holder in the men’s 90 2,000 steeplechase which he will run on Friday.
After being canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meet returned to Ames, which had hosted the 2019 USATF Masters Championships. Anxious to compete after the long layoff, 1,051 of the world’s and country’s top Masters track and field athletes converged on the Bill and Karen Bergan Track at the Cyclone Sports Complex. It marked the largest participant turnout for the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships since 2014, and 160 more than even the 2019 Ames meet which attracted 891 athletes.
Dr. Richard Watson (Yuma, Ariz.), 68, competed in his 38th consecutive USATF Masters Outdoor Championship pentathlon. He finished seventh in the men’s 65-69 age group with 1,328 points.
Full results can be found at www.live.finishtiming.com
The meet continues through Sunday and is open to the public, while also available live on USATF.TV+
Meanwhile, Colleen Barney — our legal eagle athletes’ rep — shared details on health protocols, posting on Facebook:
Masters Nationals Day 1 in the books! Here is some important information for the next several days:
1. Entering the facility – The first time you come to enter the facility you will need to complete a Covid symptom survey, get your temperature checked, and show a copy of your vaccination card or Covid test. That will get you a wristband to enter the stadium (no different colors, just an entry band). EACH SUBSEQUENT DAY you will need to AGAIN complete a Covid symptom survey and get your temperature checked, but will not need to bring your vaccination/test paperwork IF YOU ARE STILL WEARING A PRIOR WRISTBAND. So, today’s band was yellow, if you come tomorrow, have the yellow band on, complete the survey and temperature check and then they will give you a new different colored band. If you have already taken the wristband off, then you will need to also bring your vaccination/test paperwork again as well.
2. Declarations and Scratches — if you know you are competing or not competing, please go online and declare or scratch (for running events). That will make things run much more smoothly and will help everyone prepare for prelims (or not). If you have already declared online and later you have to scratch and it is too late to do so online, the sooner you can make your way over to the declarations tent and formally scratch, the easier you make it on all of the meet officials. Remember, field events must declare at the event itself, not online.
3. Athlete Meeting — we will be having a short athlete meeting at the end of competition tomorrow (Friday) near the finish line (we may go into the stands, we may do it by the declarations area — there should be a whole bunch of us, so as long as you are in the general vicinity, you should find us). The Athlete Meeting is an opportunity for us to get your feedback on the meet, to give you information regarding the rest of the meet and to give you information about future events. It doesn’t take long and, especially if you are a first timer, it is good to hear what’s going on.
4. Relay forms — The forms will be available at the packet pickup area and need to be returned to the packet pickup area.
5. Hall of Fame Ceremony — We usually recognize our Hall of Fame recipients at the Athlete’s Dinner, but because we couldn’t have the dinner this year (due to Covid protocols), we will be recognizing our amazing recipients at 2:15 on Saturday on the infield of the track. These phenomenal individuals are truly deserving of this honor and I hope you will all join me at the stadium to celebrate them.
6. Stop By — As many of you followed my travel travails the past two days, you might know I was not at the tents at the track today as I originally intended, but I made it!!!! So, I will be there tomorrow for most of the day (at this point I think I will have prelims for my 100m race, so I may be missing for a short time late in the afternoon). The tent is near the start of the 100 and I will be there with Amanda Scotti from National Masters News and Calvin Williams who is the chair of our Inclusion Committee. We would all love to meet you and for you to meet us as well. We are all here to be resources for you — take advantage of us! And, to all of you who were so gracious to reach out to me to offer me rides, etc. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! That’s what’s so great about Masters Track and Field, we are really here for each other!
Good Luck and Enjoy the Experience!
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