Track notebook: Bofa catches eye of legend
Emmanuel Bofa’s a national champion, but his season isn’t over.
The Whitworth University junior plans to run an 800-meter race Saturday in Eugene, Ore., in a meet that’s a prelude to Sunday’s Prefontaine Classic. And after a trip east to attend his twin sisters’ graduation from Dartmouth, Bofa has an invitation from someone who knows a little about the two-lapper.
Fellow named Johnny Gray, the Olympic bronze medalist who 24 years ago set an American record in the event of 1 minute, 42.60 seconds – which still stands.
“I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he wanted me to come down and work with him,” said Bofa, who recently won his second straight NCAA Division III title in a school-record 1:48.77. “He told me, ‘I can get you down to 1:46 by the end of the summer.’ ”
It may not be a stretch. For his win at nationals, Bofa had to reel in Messiah’s Patrick Roach, who burned a 49.6 opening lap.
“I have to give some props to my dad,” said Bofa, whose father James ran in the 1976 Olympics for Ghana. “He’s taught me how to run the bend and I started eating him up like Pacman on that last curve.”
Gray, inducted last year into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame, won seven national titles at 800 meters, and among others coaches four-time U.S. champ Khadevis Robinson. He also helps a mutual friend of Bofa’s father at Agoura High School not far from the Pepperdine campus in Malibu.
“It’s such a great opportunity – the guy is a legend,” Bofa said. “I’d just like to make a good impression on him and pursue the relationship, because it could really open some doors.”
Three athletes – one from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Washington State – have been added to the field as at-large entries for next week’s NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Ark., based on their high rankings on the seasonal performance lists.
EWU got its lone competitor when freshman Michelle Coombs was added in the javelin for her throw of 163 feet, 1 inch that won the Big Sky title. WSU’s Lorraine King became the 11th Cougar entry with her 57.51 clocking in the 400 hurdles at Pac-10s. And Idaho’s Paul Dittmer, who just missed automatic qualifying with a sixth-place regional finish, joins the field in the high hurdles with a 13.85 time.
Getting the point
The only downside of throwing far? Worrying about doing it again.
WSU’s Marissa Tschida fell into that trap after rewriting the Cougar javelin record with throws of 175-11 and 181-8 in successive meets. But in both the Pac-10 and NCAA regionals, she managed just 159 footers, and eked into nationals with a fifth-place finish.
“Those throws (earlier in the season) came out of the blue,” said Tschida, a sophomore from Missoula.” I think since then I’ve tried a little too hard to duplicate them and that leads to my technique falling apart. I throw a lot better when I’m relaxed.”
Tschida still has the nation’s No. 3 throw of the season, behind Vancouver product and 2008 Olympian Kara Patterson of Purdue and Oregon’s Rachel Yurkovich, who are both over 190 feet.
It’s an early count, but athletes who have signed or committed to the area’s Division I programs had a hand in 13 titles at last weekend’s state high school meets, with WSU-bound sprinter Brett Blanshan and EWU-bound thrower Marlyn Anderson winning a pair of 4A titles apiece. Anderson’s father, Bruce, put the shot for the Eagles in the 1980s, before transferring to WSU. … Community Colleges of Spokane alum Jake Shanklin, now at Wyoming, is in the NCAA meet thanks to a second-place javelin finish in the Midwest regional and a 219-11 season best. … Former WSU pole vaulter TiffanyMaskulinski qualified for her first nationals since transferring to the University of Buffalo two years ago.