Tracktown Summer Series 2016 season

What is the TrackTown Summer Series?

What happens when innovation and aspiration intersect with the sport of track and field?

It’s called the TrackTown Summer Series.

The new U.S. circuit of professional track and field meets made its debut at Hayward Field last July with 140 athletes - representing teams from Portland, San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia - competing for prize money and additional benefits in excess of a half-million dollars.

Televised live on ESPN, the inaugural meet was ranked 26th in the world (out of 645 meets) in 2016 for one-day competitions. The TrackTown Summer Series featured 19 events, capped by a title-clinching coed 4x400-meter relay with spectators invited down on the track to watch this exciting finale. In addition, hundreds of boys and girls sat on the infield grass with a front-row seat to watch and interact with the athletes competing in the triple jump, pole vault and shot put.

In all, 25 Rio Olympians competed in the meet which was designed to provide top American athletes with an opportunity to compete on U.S. soil during the summer months, thus avoiding costly and often tiring trips overseas to compete in Europe. A historic athlete draft helped fill the team rosters. Here’s is how each team performed:

Team Philadelphia

Stats:

  • Finished in 4th place with 155.5 points
  • Won 2 events
  • Best individual performance: Trinidad & Tobago Olympian Michelle-Lee Ahye wins 100m in 10.98w; she would place 6th in 100m final at Rio Olympics
  • The foursome of James Harris, Claudia Francis, Kyle Clemons and Phyllis Francis won the exciting and crowd-pleasing mixed 4x400m relay finale in 3:13.20. UO alum Phyllis Francis and Clemons both won a gold medal in Rio in the same event

“Yes, I think (the TrackTown Summer Series) sets me up really well. I only had to travel a few miles, I got to race on my home track, and now I can get three weeks of really good training in before I go to Rio.” - Ben Blankenship

TEAM PORTland

Stats:

  • Finished in 3rd place with 166 points
  • Won 3 individual events
  • Best individual performance: Olympic silver medalist Will Claye won men’s triple jump at 57-5 ¾, a mark exceeded by only two other jumpers in 2016: Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor and bronze medalist Bin Dong of China. Omar Craddock and Chris Carter also exceeded 17m in the best field event of the meet
  • Best event: Olympian Kate Grace holds off strong field to win 1,500m; top five finishers separated by 63-hundredths of a second

“This was a cool concept and we need it. In track and field, we need to be seen as professionals and not amateurs. This is great for us … it’s always good to have the kids out there. They were just amazed to be that close and see the finesse and power. It’s awesome for them, and for us to be able to interact with them was fun, too.” - Will Claye

TEAM NEW YORK

Stats:

  • Finished in 2nd place with 173.5 points
  • Won 6 individual events
  • Swept 4-mile road races and 3,000m steeplechase races
  • Best individual performance: Olympian Donn Cabral wins tight 3,000m steeplechase race with a season-best 8:20.72

“The whole point of the meet was to come and have fun. I felt like it was worth it. Hopefully, this series can trigger something that gets people interested in track and field and road racing. I would love for this to take off.” - Sam Chelanga

TEAm san francisco

Stats:

  • Won team title (worth $36,000) with 179 points
  • Won 8 individual events
  • Swept 800m titles (Melissa Bishop & Erik Sowinski) in two of the meet’s best races
  • Best individual performance: Colby Alexander’s winning time of 3:34.88 in men’s 1,500m ranked #3 in U.S. in 2016; 4 of the top 8 times in the U.S. this year came at the TTSS

“It was fun. When you think about competing for yourself, or for a brand, there’s not much on the line outside of selfish interests. So, it’s more interesting to rally around something, whether it’s America or San Francisco in a team setting.” - Erik Kynard

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