Thursday, May 17, 2018

March and April Athletes of the Month


MENDOTA HEIGHTS - The Spring track & field season yielded a slew of great performances from Minnesota athletes all over the country. As we approach the Championship season, athletes are rounding into form and throwing down - representing Minnesota well. Highlighting the March and April Athlete of the Month awards is NCAA Champion and U of MN school record holder in the weight throw Kaitlyn Long, top U.S. Masters athlete Patrick Billig, collegiate record holder and star U.S. thrower Maggie Ewen of Arizona State, and the B1G Ten 5k leader and 3k steeplechase national qualifier of the University of Minnesota, Obsa Ali.

Kaitlyn Long, a senior for the Golden Gophers, won the NCAA Division I Indoor title in the weight throw to become the University of Minnesota’s second track & field national champion ever on March 10th, earning her the honor of USATF Minnesota’s March Athlete of the Month for women. Long recorded a winning mark of 23.30m (76-05.5 feet) on her sixth and final throw after being in fifth place after her penultimate attempt. A previous two-time NCAA Division II national champion at Winona State, Long joined Heather Dorniden (Kampf) as a Gophers National Champion.

Patrick Billig, long-time Minnesota resident and one of the top Masters athletes in Minnesota as well as the United States, finished 2nd in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:43.43 as well as 2nd in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:58.89 in the 55-59 age group at the USATF Masters Indoor National Championships in Landover, Maryland from March 16-19 - earning him the title of USATF Minnesota’s March Athlete of the Month for men. Billig was also USATF Minnesota’s 2017 Runner of the Year for men 55-59.

Maggie Ewen, senior at Arizona State University and one of the top athletes in the NCAA this year, re-set the collegiate record in the hammer throw at the Sun Angel Classic on April 6th with a throw of 74.53m earning her the honor of USATF Minnesota’s April Athlete of the Month for women. Ewen already held the NCAA record before the meet, but it was more than a meter shy of her personal best as she threw 74.56m last summer at the USATF Outdoor Championships (which is outside of the official NCAA season). A few weeks later on April 28th, Ewen proceeded to also break the NCAA collegiate record in the shot put at the Desert Heat Classic with a throw of 19.46m (63-10.25 feet) to top Raven Saunders’ record from two years ago. Ewen is only the second woman to currently hold two NCAA outdoor records in two different events, joining Jenny Simpson (neĆ© Barringer) from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Obsa Ali, a senior at the University of Minnesota and Richfield native, ran the B1G Ten’s top 5,000m time of the year at Stanford’s Cardinal Classic on April 20th, giving him the title of USATF Minnesota’s April Athlete of the Month for men. Ali clocked a time of 13:43.13, Minnesota’s fastest time in the event since 2014, which is the top time in the B1G Ten and 12th in the NCAA. Ali’s performance moves him up to third all-time at the University of Minnesota behind Gopher All-Americans Hassan Mead and John Simons. A few weeks later on April 28th, Ali also clocked the B1G Ten’s second fastest (at the time) 3,000m steeplechase performance with an 8:51.25 to finish first at the National Relays hosted by Arkansas.

Honorable Mention Worthy Performances in March and April

  • Teddy Frid of Minnesota earned second team All-American honors after finishing 10th in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships on March 9th and 10th.
  • Ryan Lockard of Minnesota also earned second team All-American honors by finishing 12th in the high jump at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships.
  • Karl Olsen of Bethel University finished 2nd at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships on March 9th and 10th in the 400m with a time of 47.88.
  • Donson Cook-Gallardo of Carleton University finished 3rd in the mile with a time of 4:11.76 at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships.
  • Keylan Jackson of St. Paul Johnson High School claimed both the 100m and 200m titles at the Hamline Elite Meet on April 27th with times of 10.84 and 22.68 respectively.
  • Calvin Ciganik of Mounds View High School captured both the meet and facility record, as well as the 1stplace title, in the pole vault at the Hamline Elite Meet with a vault of 15 feet 8.00 inches.
  • The Bethel University 4x400m Relay Team ran the number one time in NCAA DIII at the Drake Relays on April 28-29 with a 3:12.18 finish. Their time is now number two in Division III.
  • Eric Dols of Hamline University threw the number hammer throw in NCAA Division III at the Cobber Open on April 21-22 with a toss of 60.99 meters. Dols now ranks No. 3 in Division III.

  • Agnes Esser of the University of Minnesota placed 11th at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships to earn second team All-American honors in the weight throw with a toss of 20.89 meters.
  • Kaitlin Pace also of the University of Minnesota placed 12th in the pole vault at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships with a vault of 4.12 meters, earning second team All-American honors.
  • Ali Glassbrenner of the University of St. Thomas earned All-American honors with a 4th place finish in the mile at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships in a time of 4:57.72.
  • The Bethel University 4x400m Relay Team placed 4th at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships, earning All-American honors, in a time of 3:51.06.
  • Kara Parker placed 1st in the 45-49 age group’s 3,000m run with a time of 11:06.63, while also placing 3rd in the 800m in 2:41.26 and 3rd in the 1500 in 5:14.18 at the USATF Masters Indoor National Championships.
  • Emily Kompelien of Edina High School won the 800m and mile at the Hamline Elite Meet with times of 2:12.79 and 4:56.57, respectively.
  • Emma Spagnola of the University of Minnesota set the school record in the 100m hurdles with a time of 12.97 at the Lenny Lyles Clark Wood Invitational.
  • Kylie Sabin of the University of Minnesota re-set her own school record in the shot put with a throw of 16.89m, also at the Lenny Lyles Clark Wood Invitational.
  • Bethany and Megan Hasz of the University of Minnesota ran the No. 1 and No. 2 5,000m times in school history at the Mt. SAC Invitational with Bethany running 15:59.46 and Megan running 16:00.22.
  • Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn High School set the meet and facility record in the Hamline Elite Meet 3200m with a time of 10:17.41.
We welcome your nominations!
To nominate an athlete for USATF Minnesota’s Athlete of the Month award, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to with the subject line “Athlete of the Month Nomination”.

Fans can follow along with USATF Minnesota on FacebookTwitter, and online at

Maxwell Kuzara
Athlete of the Month Committee Chair
Communications & Media Director
USA Track & Field Minnesota

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gene Niemi's Medtronic TC 1 Mile Photo Gallery

Starting Young
Photo by Gene Niemi

Sam McEntee
Photo by Gene Niemi

The Women sprint toward the finish
Photo by Gene Niemi

Anna Connor(8), Alicia Nelson(12), and Maddie Van Beek(18)
Photo by Gene Niemi

Craig Nowak(29) and Chad Noelle(23) battle down the homestretch
Photo by Gene Niemi

Lawi Lalang(46)Alec Baldwin(49) and Travis Burkstrand
Photo by Gene Niemi

Emily Lipari celebrates her win
Photo by Gene Niemi

Friday, May 11, 2018

Former Vilanova Collegiate Stars Sweep Men and Women's Pro Athlete TC Mile Titles

It was Villanova day at the Medtronic TC 1 Mile in the shadow of the Guthrie Theater Friday evening.  Defending women's  champion Emily Lapari, who ran for Villanova in college repeated last year's triumph unleashing her kick on the final straightaway
Emily Lapari celebrates defending
her title. Photo by Gene Niemi

Note on her singlet the upside down proclamation: 
"Wonder Woman"
"My coach told me to make my move with a hundred to go, said men's champion Sam McEntee a teammate of Lipari's at Villanova .  "I went earlier at about 200.  I should have waited like my coach told me."
McEntee(40) gets a gap on Daniel Herrera(22), who repeated
 as the runner-up again this year. Photo by Gene Niemi
Though McEntee opened a lead quickly, he said he soon started to tighten up.  McEntee
didn't panic.  He kept his form and held on to finnish first. An Aussie, McEntee recently changed location and his coach.  McEntee said that he needed to make some changes because he often felt  "burned out," fatigued from travel from his home in Perth, Australia so he'll join his new coach, Frank Gagliano, in the States and his base will be New York.

He's also returning to shorter races as he had been racing at 3K and 5K because his former coaches believed McEntee might do better competing in those distances.

 On Monday, Jim Estes, the TC in Motion recruiter, got a call from from two time US Olympic team steeplechaser, Anthony Famiglietti(nicknamed Fam).  Fam told Estes that he wanted to run under four minutes in the mile when he turns 40.  To do that, said Fam had to  drop down in distance, work on his speed.  Fam had run a 4:05 in practice demonstrating that breaking four was possible.  Fam wanted to join the small group of men who have accomplished that feat.If he's able to do it, Fam says, that would make four have done it, a unique accomplishment dominated by the number four.

Results are HERE

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Hamline Elite Meet

As the temperature began to fall, so did the records at the Hamline Elite Meet.  A cold, gusty wind helped some or hindered others as the sun filled the horizon with a frigid orange glow as the afternoon mild heat gave way to near freezing temps that didn’t deter the spectators bundled in their warm clothes while they cheered and encouraged the athletes to go faster, jump higher, and throw further. 
                The athletes defied the chill, not dressing in tights and/or long sleeved attire for the upper body.  In his orange singlet and shorts, Stillwater’s middle distance runner Addison Stansbury didn’t attempt to stay in the pack for the 1600.  Instead he took the lead from the beginning, opening a gap from the pack with a 62 second first lap.  Stansbury retained his lead until the last lap of the four lap race.  Bookending the last lap with the first, Stansbury ran the final 400 meters in 62.7  seconds to hold off the charge of those behind him.  None of which were able to catch and/or pass Stansbury in the final straight.
He said he could “feel” them cutting into his lead , but he had  enough speed in that final straight to win by over a second.  For Edina’s Emily Kompelien  the girl’s 1600 was the first of three races she was scheduled to run.  She shadowed the leaders, maintaining contact before turning loose her superior speed to win both the 1600 and the 800.
Hopkins’ sprinter Joe Fahnbulleh anchored both the 4 by 200 and 4 by 100 relays, helping each  team tie the  Elite Meet record.  As an encore, Fahnbulleh  won the open 200 meters. Meanwhile, Mounds View’s Calvin Ciganik won the boy’s vault clearing 15’8”.  Then he took aim at 16 feet.  Up to this point he’d made the lower heights clearances look easy,  Plenty of room as he jack knifed over the bar with room to spare.  
Cignik attempts to clear 16'
His first try at 16 went wrong on the run up as Cignik said that the cross wind threw off his approach.  His steps were off on the second attempt, he said.  His third and last try also didn’t have the confidence and clearance of his previous attempts.
The girl’s vaulters took the stage and   Julia Fixen won the girl’s pole vault to complete the  Mounds View sweep. Fixen was doing double duty,  finishing second in the high jump as four girls cleared 5’ 5”.
Perhaps the most anticipated contest at this year's Hamline Elite Meet was the women's 3200.  It didn't disapoint.  Washburn's Emily Cover attracted the attention because of her early season race indoors where she ran a PR of 10:13.28 in the 3200.  Could she match that time?  Break 10 minutes in the event?  Could anybody run with her? 
That last question was appeared to be answered as Covert ran the first lap in 1:11.423, opening a lead right away as the race became a time trial.  The cold and the wind didn't seem to slow her down.  Covert fought off the weather as she cruised around the track.  Only one other runner in the field that had a number of runners who had already won State Championships.  Cotter's Lauren Ping was in a position to move into first if Covert couldn't handle the pace, but that didn't happen.
Covert finished in 10:17:41, breaking Clare Flanagan's meet and track record in 2013 of 10:23.00 on a night that was warm and the wind was calm.  Asked after the race about the run, Covert said that the pace got difficult at times, but she snowed no signs of major stress or that anyone was going to catch her.  "Do you think you can run under 10 minutes?" Covert was asked.  She nodded her head and said yes, that her goal coming into Friday's race was time, to run as fast as she could.
A junior, Covert will have another year to pursue the 10 minute barrier and if she gets challenged--Ping almost  broke Flanagan's record too, finishing in 10:25.12.  If they stay healthy, the duo will go into the State Meet  with a chance at running sub 10:20 or faster.

Elite Meet Results are HERE

Monday, April 23, 2018

NCAA Women's DI National Team Rankings

                                 NCAA Women's DI 
                       National Team Rankings HERE

Friday, April 20, 2018