Kathy and I enjoyed watching the US Olympic Track and Field Trials the past week as the “cream of the crop” vied to make the US team and compete in next month’s Olympic Games. Versailles’ own Sam Prakel fell just short of his dream after qualifying for the 1,500 meter finals. The former Tiger and later Oregon Duck was a five-time All-American and PAC 12 champion during his collegiate years and now runs for professionally for Adidas. The 2013 VHS graduate has represented himself and Darke County admirably, both nationally and internationally!
Speaking of the Olympic Trials, specifically the men’s 1,500 and all events in general, anyone expecting to compete in Tokyo had to meet a minimum standard to qualify. In six events at least one of the top three finishers won’t be going to Japan, including no Americans in race walking and the men’s javelin throw.
Especially egregious was the fate of 1,500 meter winner Cole Hocker who edged 2016 Olympic gold medalist Matt Centrowitz Sunday night. Hocker’s time of 3:35.28 failed to meet the standard so he’ll stay at home while Centrowitz and the third place finisher go, based on previous times. Nothing about weather conditions, race pace, etc. figured into the equation evidently!
What a spectacular venue for the Trials! The new Hayward Stadium on the campus of the University of Oregon is beyond state-of-the-art, providing amenities for both athletes and fans that make other places pale by comparison. The seating arrangement and sight lines in the 12,500 seat facility are outstanding. Oregon has truly established itself as the track and field capital of the U.S.; having alumnus and Nike co-founder Phil Knight as your chief benefactor has definitely paid off! Hats off to Duck Nation!!
The NBA playoffs are at the conference finals stage with the Suns holding a solid three games to one advantage over the Clippers in the West, while the Bucks are up two to one over the upstart Hawks in the East. Milwaukee plays solid defense, has a strong supporting cast, and two stars in Khris Middleton and the nearly unstoppable Giannis Antetkounmpo (easy for you to say!). Look for the Bucks and Phoenix to meet in the best-of-seven championship series.
Man, has it been hot early this summer! The south end of the Treaty City got a brief reprieve from the heat Sunday evening with a ten minute downpour. Fortunately the weekend’s motorcycle races at the Darke County Fairgrounds finished just before the deluge!
Finally, let’s talk Chucks, as in Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star basketball shoes! How many of you wore Chucks in the high-top whites during your days of hoop glory? The Converse Shoe Company initially developed the prototype in 1917, with very few alterations after a redesign in the early ‘20s at the request of Charles (Chuck) Taylor, an American basketball player of some renown, who became a salesman and product marketer for the company.
Tirelessly traveling the country, putting on clinics and meeting with customers at local sporting goods stores, the shoe he promoted came to bear his name and the distinctive star-shaped logo on the patch that protected the ankle, hence the Chuck Taylor All-Stars! At one time, by the ‘60s, All-Stars had captured 70 to 80 percent of the basketball shoe market with the traditional white high-tops, black high-tops, and black low-cuts (remember the Boston Celtics of the ‘60s?) leading the way.
I know I went through at least two pairs of Chucks yearly during that decade! By the ‘70s competition led to a decline in their popularity and the eventual purchase of Converse by Nike in 2003. However, Chucks have once again become fashionable as retro-style casual footwear that comes in many colors nowadays! Nothing beat opening a box with a new pair of Chucks; the smell and feel of the All-Stars remains unforgettable! Until next time stay healthy and active; lace up those Chucks!!
Dr. Alex Warner is a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate