Kathy Jager of Phoenix cleared the bar at 8 feet yesterday during the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Hawaii.

Running never
gets old

More than 800 entrants are
here for the USA Masters
Track Championships

Last week, they got married on their balcony in Waikiki. Yesterday, the Youngs became national champions together.

In a little over an hour, Craig and Jeannie Young both won titles in the 10,000-meter runs at the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Cooke Field. The Youngs were two of the 46 local entrants in the four-day meet that started Thursday and ends today.

With more than 800 entrants, the masters meet is the national championships for track and field athletes over age 30. Athletes include former Olympians to current and former national and world record holders to those who decided to take up something new at age 70.

"I was really excited because of Jeannie," said Craig, who watched his wife win the women's 40 age division in a time of 41:43.69. "I got to watch her win. I was beginning to feel the pressure on me."

Craig, who still holds the U.S. 10,000-meter record for the men's 40 division, then took to the track for his race. He was in a pack with three other runners from different age divisions, before one dropped back after the third lap of the 25-lap race. The pack began to thin out until it was only him and Southern California Track Club's Brian Pope. With about 4 miles (6,400 meters) left, Pope picked up the pace and Young "just kind of cruised it and held my position."

He finished in 33:26.17, winning the men's 45 division. Pope won the men's 40 in 32:50.00.

"I was really happy," said Jeannie, formerly known in local running circles as Jeannie Wokasch and for cart wheeling into the finish line at races. "He said to just go out there and do it."

Competitors in the Men's 65 200-meter dash took off out of the blocks during the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Hawaii yesterday. The meet continues today.

Hawaii submitted a bid to host the annual event three years ago at the USA Track & Field National Convention in Kansas City, Mo., and won it behind a unique marketing plan.

"We did a video of this facility at its dedication in 2001 and we featured (University of Hawaii athletic director) Herman Frazier, who is a gold-medal athlete and also on the USA Track & Field committee, so he's very well-known," said Richard Sutton, president of the USATF Hawaii division. "Having him invite people here was really good. And then we did a montage of Honolulu.

"It was 20 degrees in Kansas City at the time and the other place that was competing, Charlotte (N.C.), gave out coffee cups and we gave out macadamia nuts and shell leis. We won hands down."

Coming out of retirement to win the 100 dash in the women's 70 division was Irene Obera of Fremont, Calif. A world champion in the 100, 200 and 400 since she was 50, Obera retired in 1999 because of knee problems. Her doctor said there was no cartilage left in her knee and that she'd need an operation. She told him to forget about it.

She nearly forgot about running until she beat out a ground ball to third base during her coed softball game. She realized she still had it in her and has been training since May for yesterday's meet and the World Masters Athletics Championships in two weeks in Spain.

"Today I felt really good because I started feeling like my old self," said Obera, who was a member of the inaugural class of the Masters Hall of Fame in 1996. "So I have another two weeks to go when I get home and train hard."

Also going to the world championships is Bruce McBarnette, an attorney at law from Sterling, Va., who set the meet record in the men's 45 high jump at 1.96 meters. Competitive in track since 1977, McBarnette also has the current world indoor track record in the event.

"It feels nice to, over the years, work out the kinks, ways of doing things better and getting inside tips and knowledge from other great high-jumpers," said McBarnette, who high-jumped at Princeton University. "This is the kind of event that takes a lot of technique, a lot of effort into making sure your body is moving in the exact same fashion, speed, centrifugal force and at the right angles. To get all of that right is a tremendously thrilling experience. It makes it well worth the hard work, to get it all right."

While McBarnette got into track when he was a teen, Frederic Tompkins of Grand Junction, Colo., did not start until he was 69. He's now 88 and placed second in the 100 dash for the men's 85 division with a time of 20.40.

"I got started with my barber," Tompkins said. "He said I'm running in the Senior Olympics. I'd never run (before). I'd jog. I went to the Senior Olympics and I asked, 'What do I do now?'

"He said, 'Run like hell' and I've been going at it since."

Oscar Peyton won a preliminary heat yesterday in the men's 50 200-meter dash at the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field.

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