Golden Spikes at GMU
by George Banker © 2000 The Journal Newspapers

    You heard about "Y2K." Now it's time for "GST2K."

    The 2000 Golden Spike Tour kicked off last Saturday at George Mason University Field House, as a crowd of 2,200 had an opportunity to view the fireworks of the area's top high school, collegiate and open track athletes.  Field events were contested simultaneously with races on the oval, as the 6-hour event kept the spectators on the edge of their seats.

    "We are seeing a success this year and a good turnout of athletes and the public," said Craig Masback, CEO of USA Track and Field.

    In the women's 1,500-meter run, Sascha Scott of Washington pulled from mid-pack with three laps remaining to open a 15-meter lead and never looked back. Scott easily won her heat with 4 minutes, 58.80 seconds and took second place overall. The winner was Martha Henlen of Richmond with 4:57.75.

    The second heat of the men's 1,500 was the one to watch with Chago Navarro of Washington, the winner of the 1,500 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center two weeks ago (4:35). Chago started out in fifth place, taking the lead going into the fifth lap on a push to the outside lane as Sean O'Brien of American University gave chase. O'Brien edged Navarro, 3:58.78-3:59.40.

    In the high school girls mile, Erin Swain of Lake Braddock blew away the field. The lead was taken from the gun, as Swain opened a lead and captured a win with 5:05.84. Last year, Swain was fourth with 5:10.57.

    In the long awaited master's mile (eight laps to the mile), Marty Horan of Gaithersburg, Md., took the pack through the first lap in 35 seconds, as Jim Clelland of Catonsville, Md., Paul Ryan of Arlington and Chuck Moeser of Sterling were trailing.  Moeser took first with 4:35.59. Clelland was second with 4:36.41, and Ken Umbarger of Gaithersburg was third with 4:40.02.

    The Age vs. Beauty men and women's mile pitted women age 40 and over against men 50 and over. A field of 13 took to the track as Jay Wind of Arlington went to the inside lane to take the lead after the gun with Gretchen Triantos of Rockville, Md., and Patrick Sullivan of Oakton a couple of strides back.  Going into the seventh lap, Sullivan began to fade as Charles Desenberg of Occoquan made his way up to second and Triantos was holding in third.  Wind took first, 5:20.43-5:22.91. Sullivan was third with 5:26.83. Triantos was the first woman with 5:23.91, and Simsonick was second with 5:38.69 and McCann with 5:39.55.

    The men's 60-meter hurdles was dominated by Lake Braddock graduate Allen Johnson, 1996 Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion (1995 and '97) in the 110 hurdles. Johnson edged out Mark Crear of Los Angeles, 7.59 seconds to 7.65.  "I feel good and I'm healthy," said Johnson. "I feel more pressure to win here because there are people who I grew up with. If they have the Olympics here in 2012, I'll run. I'm happy with the technical part of the race and with the start and the first three hurdles.

    "The most talented person does not always win; it's the most prepared. I would tell students to work smart and believe in themselves. Education is always first, you need a strong mind to have a strong body."

    Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) graduate Suziann Reid easily won the women's 400-meter in 52.58 seconds.

    In the women's 800 Meters, Joetta Clark-Diggs lead through the first 200 meters in 31 seconds with Regina Jacobs - a three-time Olympian who is nationally ranked in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters - in second. Into the bell lap with 1:31, Jacobs turned up the heat, took the lead and pressed the last 200 meters to take the win with 2:01.71; Hazel Clark was second with 2:02.43.

    The men's 800 meters included Reebok Enclave runners, Bryan Woodward and Elliot Gaskins, and Arlington's Rich Kenah. Al Royster of Santa Monica, Calif., took the seven runners through the first 200 meters in 26 seconds. In mid-pack was favorite Johnny Gray, 39, also of Santa Monica. The second lap was passed in 54.04 with Gray holding back.  Into the last lap, down the final stretch Gray threw in a powerful kick to pull out a win in the last 10 meters with 1:49.38. Woodward was second with 1:49.43, Royster was third with 1:49.77, in fourth was Kenah with 1:49.91 and Gaskins was seventh with 1:54.52.

George Banker of Fort Washington, Md., has been running competitively since 1982 and has completed 44 marathons. His column appears Wednesdays.

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