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Push competitions feature summer Olympic athletes

October 15, 2012
From staff and wire reports , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Elana Meyers, Nick Cunningham and rookie Aja Evans won titles Friday, Oct. 5 in the U.S. bobsled push-start championships.

Meyers' combined time of 9.51 seconds topped the women's pilot event, and Cunningham (8.99) took the men's pilot title contested on the wheeled push track.

Evans (9.65) prevailed in the women's push-athlete competition.

Article Photos

U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones competes in the U.S. bobsled push-start championships Friday at the North Elba Show Grounds in Lake Placid.
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News

"I was so anxious and nervous about doing everything right," Evans said. "I'm still trying to understand what right is, but I know I'll be a better judge of that once I keep practicing and learning. This is different than anything I'm used to, so I'm trying not to rush anything while still going out there and pushing hard every time."

Evans burst off the block for push times of 4.84 and 4.81 seconds to earn the title by 0.13 seconds with a total of 9.65. Evans is a five-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion track and field athlete from the University of Illinois, and will get her first ride in a bobsled when the track opens in Lake Placid next week.

Katie Eberling of Palos Hills, Ill. pushed times of 4.88 and 4.94 seconds for a combined time of 9.78 to earn second place.

Also competing in the women's push event: Three veterans of U.S. women's Olympic track teams, with Hyleas Fountain fourth (10.01), Tianna Madison tied for fifth (10.04), and Lolo Jones tied for seventh place (10.11).

Women's bobsled head coach Todd Hays invited Fountain, Madison and Jones to Lake Placid to participate in the drills and tests with the women's team. Madison helped the U.S. win the first Olympic gold medal since 1996 in the women's 4x100-meter relay after the team posted a world-record time of 40.82 seconds in London. Jones, a two-time World Indoor champion and American record holder, finished fourth in London's 100-meter hurdles event, while Fountain is the Beijing Olympic silver medalist in heptathlon.

"I invited these ladies to attend this week's events as special guests so they could share their Olympic experiences with our athletes and to help boost team morale before heading into our competitive season," Hays said. "It's great to see talented athletes like this give back to their USA teammates. And it's of course a great opportunity for a coach like me to test his recruitment skills by trying to get these athletes to commit to our sports. I'm not successful yet, but we'll see if we can entice them to give it a try."

Jones said she enjoyed the change of pace that bobsledding offered after competing in the summer Olympics.

"I've been doing the same workouts for 13 years, and not that they weren't working, but you can get kind of fatigued of the same atmosphere, same cycle, so I thought (I'd) just come out here it'd be cool to hang out with some super strong, powerful bobsleders and see if I can pick up any strength techiques," Jones said. "We're just out here having a good time.'

Jones said it was too early to know if the sport is something she'll pursue in the future.

"It's so early for us to know specifically ... if this is a good match but we're training hard," she said "We're putting our all into it and just waiting to see if its a good fit."

Fountain was on the cusp of a top three finish with a total time of 10.01 seconds for fourth place. Madison tied veteran Emily Azevedo for fifth with a two-push combined time of 10.04, and Jones finished seventh with a total time of 10.11.



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