Sports Brief: Houston Marathon
By Rad Rich
After a holiday break I am back with the sports brief.
Its marathon weekend in Houston as it is the 42 running of the Houston Marathon on Sunday. Over 250,000 will be on the streets of Houston Sunday morning either participating, spectating or volunteering. This is Houston’s largest one day sporting event of the year. In the elite field the Ethiopia will be well represented in the men and women’s field. Defending champion Bazu Worku of Ethiopia is back again after setting a personal record at the Paris Marathon with a 2.05.25. He will have more of his countrymen to keep him company as Debebe Tolossa, Dadi Yami, and Gebretsadik Adhana, who have run sub 2:06 and 2:07. Dominic Ondoro of Kenya along with the two Americans Patrick Rizzo and Scott Wietecha will have their hands full keeping the Ethiopians from setting up there game plan and setting the pace. In the women’s race it still looks like a Ethiopian dominance as 6 of the top 10 runners are from Ethiopia. 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon third-place finisher Meskerem Assefa of Ethiopia returns to Houston hoping to improve upon her personal best 2:25:17 that she set here last year. She is followed by countrymen Abebech Afework Bekele who is the fastest in the field as she set a personal best at the 2013 Rotterdam Marathon with a time of 2.23.59. Other outside favorites are Sarah Kiptoo of Kenya who has run her best in the last season in the half and full marathon. Also outside chance but watch for Tatyana Aryasova of Russia. This is also the United States Half Marathon Championships and will bring some of the top runners representing the United States in the distance running. Meb Keflezighi returns to Houston looking to win his second national half marathon title. The 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, Keflezighi first won in Houston in 2009 and finished as the runner-up in 2013. Also look for Shadrack Biwott and Josphat Boit, both newly minted American citizens who finished third and fifth respectively, in the field. On the women’s side look for 2013 USA Half Marathon champion Adriana Nelson leads the women’s field and will be challenged by Serena Burla, who will be looking to improve on her two runner-up finishes at these Championships in Houston in 2010 and 2011. Steeplechaser Sara Hall, who debuted at the half marathon distance in October with a win at the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon, should be in the mix. 2012 Olympic 10,000m runner Lisa Uhl, who set her personal best 1:13:28 with her sixth-place finish at the 2013 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and Renee Baillie, who last ran a half marathon when she finished fourth at the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston, are also entered. The USA Half Marathon starts on Sunday at 6:55. The wheelchair race starts at 6:45 and the Marathon and half marathon for the non-elite starts at7:00. The start line is on Avenidas de las Americas in downtown Houston by the George R Brown Convention center. The Houston Marathon Expo will open today Friday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday 8:30 am to 6:00 pm. The expo is free to the public and will have plenty of free goodies as well as tips from athletics. Remember the roads will closed in downtown and around the Heights, Montrose, Uptown, and Washington. To find out what areas will be effected and for a map of the race, click here.
In football (soccer) news the Houston Dynamo selected defender AJ Cochran and forward Mark Sherrod in the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. The 20 year old 6-foot 3 center back Cochran played 3 seasons at the University of Wisconsin where he was named Big Ten Defensive player of the year for 2013. “AJ was a player we had on our list.” Said Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear,” He is a very good center back and is going to provide some good competition. Sherrod is a 20 year old coming from the University of Memphis where he scored 42 career goals in four seasons.
On the women’s side. The Houston DASH announced that they will have a open tryout for the new team on February 15 at the Houston Sports Park. Any female soccer player born in 1996 and older will be able to try out which consist of a fitness test, small sided games and a game against a premier local women’s team. From the initial tryout 20 will be invited the following day for a game against an opponent to be determined. From there Head coach Randy Waldrum and managing director Brian Ching will evaluate and pick 10 players who will be given an invitation to participate with the team during the pre-season which starts March 10. Registration for the tryout is $50 which includes a shirt and a ticket voucher to the first ever home game. Register online @ http:/www.houstondashsoccer.
In Rugby news, The International Rugby Board announced the pools and match schedule for the second stop of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series. Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University will host Atlanta 7s Feb. 15-16, where the Women’s Eagles Sevens will hope to best a second-place finish at last year’s U.S. leg of the Women’s Sevens World Series.“We are very excited to hold the premier women’s sevens rugby event in North America at a fantastic facility like Fifth Third Bank Stadium,” Atlanta 7s Tournament Director and USA Rugby Events Director Jen Gray said. “The United States has proven to be a hotbed for women’s rugby in the past and we are set to prove it once again next month.” The Eagles are in Pool A with Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens-winner Australia, Canada and China. They have not faced any of their pool opponents this season nor at the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens last June, where they placed third.
Atlanta 7s | Pool A
Women’s Eagles Sevens
Atlanta 7s | Pool B
Atlanta 7s | Pool C
USA Rugby also released details Tuesday for the updated American Rugby Model (ARM), a long-term player development program providing an integrated framework through which rugby players can be developed at all levels of participation and experience. The ARM is player-centered in that specific characteristics to each development stage are based on the particular capacities of players at each stage of their development. That’s it for now.