Masters Exhibition Debuts New Leadership In Sacramento
Photos by Mark Connolly
BY: LISA ROSBOROUGH, Masters Organizational Advancement and Promotions Chair
Masters track and field multi-national and world champion Joy Upshaw made her first appearance in her leadership role as Chair of the Masters Invitational/Exhibition Event Program during the USATF Outdoor National Championships, June 25, in Sacramento, California.
Under Upshaw's distinct coordination, the exhibition event showcased seven of the top-ranked male and eight top-ranked female athletes between 41 and 60 years old competing in one section each of the 400-meter dash on the campus of Sacramento State University. Also a IAAF Level 5 Coach, Upshaw ensured each athlete received their own credential, Registered Coach Credential, stadium pass, warm-up pass, and one complimentary pass for easy access to necessary areas throughout the meet. However, prior to the actual meet itself, it was the constant contact that Upshaw had with each athlete through numerous emails that set the tone of what was to become one of the key highlights at the elite level outdoor championship for the athletes and 7,820 spectators who rose to their feet to cheer in excitement inside Hornet Stadium. This professional line of communication included all things required for a smooth transition and introduction of the MIP/EE program for several of the athletes who were competing in the exhibition for the first time. Scenarios such as a pre-race meeting, a link to the USATF Championship Manual, and a request for each athlete to send a brief bio of their athletic and professional achievements to be announced as they took their place in their respective lanes were key in making sure logistics were set and executed.
In regards to the athlete bios, announcing the professional and athletic achievements of the athletes was imperative to not only demonstrate superior health and fitness over 40 but to also let the track and field community know that the competitors were not just showing up that day to try to run for the first time - they've been running and achieving national and world rankings for several years, while maintaining a family and a full-time job. This is all impressive when one considers professions ranging from a school teacher to an astrophysicist at NASA on display.
"Thanks to all athletes for representing masters track. It was fun to coordinate the event and work with our super USATF National Office liaisons Zack Raubuck and Karl Eagleman. Great team!," Upshaw said.
We are now a committee. Robert Thomas, Mark Williams, Amanda Scotti and myself are working toward maintaining the existing program and adding things to make this a great representation of our masters track and field program. With continued help and support from the USATF National Office, we will do some more great events, including age-graded races, bring in other different events and always make sure to highlight each athlete during the races."
As chair of this committee, Upshaw will continue working to organize masters invitational events to provide important opportunities to recognize and reward top masters athletes for their accomplishments. Masters exhibition events are special competitions held at premier open track and field meets in the United States which showcase top men and women athletes aged 40 and up. Meet directors who are willing to devote a small segment of their schedule to these events are truly appreciated by the participants as well as the broader masters track and field community. For more information about the Masters Invitational Program and all exhibition events,
Quotes featured on www.usatf.org include the two first place finishers from the 400M masters races in Sacramento:
Masters women's 400 meters - Angee Henry (W40-44)
"I'll like to see more Masters opportunities. So hopefully me running here with these ladies will help to open up those doors for others to be encouraged but also for us to have more opportunities. I have been competing since I was four, competing in USATF ...or AAU since I was little. What else was there to do?"
Why do you compete?
"This is new for me - my first Masters. I still run collegiate races and place in the top three. So this is a transition but a good one. They have been so welcoming and have done a good job. I am encouraged to follow this path."
Masters men's 400m - Antwon Dussett (M40-44)
"I was a good race. I ran just how I wanted, not quite as fast as I wanted but that's okay. The crowd had a ton of energy. Track's a solo sport so any time the crowd can get behind you that's a huge boost and gives a ton to run for."
Other post race quotes:
Andrea Collier (W50-54): "Hopefully these races will get bigger and bigger. There are just so many people that don't know about this amazing world of masters track and field. This was really a great opportunity for exposure for our sport."
Jeff Rhodes (M45-49): "I'm just happy to be here. At our age, it's great to be able to come out and compete. We had great weather, and these guys led me to a fast time, so I had a lot of fun. It's great to run for a large crowd like this. They know what's going on now, and it's exciting for everyone to see the professionals and the masters athletes compete on the same track."
Lee Bridges (M50-54): "The weather was perfect, and my race was almost perfect. The great thing about it was being able to run with athletes like Antwon and Jason. The nicest part about this is that I represent the 50 age group, Jason represents the 45 age group and Antwon represents the 40 age group. It couldn't be any better."
WOMEN (Not pictured in order of results.
1. Angee Henry 57.11 (Age 41)
2. LaTisha Staten 59.65 (Age 42)
3. Erika Pierce 1:00.79 (Age 46)
4. Cynthia McNamee 1:00.82 (Age 41)
5. Andrea Collier 1:04.35 (Age 50)
6. Evelyn Konrad 1:05.00 (Age 49)
7. Christine Gentile 1:05.43 (Age 47)
8. Jenniffer Patenge 1:08.97 (Age 44)
MEN (Not pictured in order of results)
1. Antwon Dussett 49.01 (Age 41)
2. Lee Bridges 51.81 (Age 50)
3. Jason Rhodes 53.56 (Age 45)
4. Peter Haack 53.67 (Age 42)
5. David Cahill 54.07 (Age 40)
6. Terry Parks 56.40 (Age 53)
7. Brent Cottong 59.80 (Age 60)