Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gophers Keep Winning

Just when the Gophers got done rearranging their trophy case to make room for the women's Big Ten Indoor trophy they earned last weekend, three Minnesota individuals delivered more hardware to the University.

Jumper Derek Gearman, thrower Liz Alabi, and women's coach Matt Bingle were honored by the Big Ten for their performances.

Gearman was named Big Ten Men's Field Athlete of the Championships. He helped the Gophers to a second-place team finish by scoring in three events. Gearman was second in the high jump at 7-1 3/4, third in the long jump at 24-7 1/4, and fifth in the triple jump with 50-6 1/4. He has provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in all three events.

Alabi was named Women's Field Athlete of the Year. At Big Tens she was crowned champion in both the shot put and the weight throw. Alabi threw 52-10 3/4 in the shot and 69-0 3/4 in the weight, setting career bests in both events. She has provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in both events.

Bingle, in his first year as the women's head coach, was named Coach of the Year for guiding his squad to its first-ever Big Ten Indoor Championship. Minnesota scored 121.5 total points, soundly defeating second-place Michigan with 108.5 points.

Another Minnesotan Makes World Cross Team

USA Track and Field officially announced the members of the USA team competing at the IAAF World Championships Cross Country Championships later this month ... and another Minnesotan is on the squad!

Former Minnesota State - Mankato star Marty Rosendahl (pictured), who is currently based in Michigan with the Hansons-Brooks program, made the senior men's 12K team. Rosendahl finished 16th at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder in February and earned a place on the 8-runner senior men's squad after other athletes declined spots.

Minnesotan's joining Rosendahl include senior men's teammates Andrew Carlson and Matt Gabrielson, both of Team USA Minnesota, senior women's 8kers Katie McGregor, also of Team USA Minnesota, and Cack Ferrell, and USA junior men's 8k champion Elliott Heath.

World Cross will be contested March 24 in Mombasa, Kenya.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

Leading up to its indoor championship this weekend at St. Olaf, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named their Athletes of the Week.

In the field, Macalester's Susan Brown earend her second weekly honor. She tripled jumped 38-4 at the Pre-MIAC meet at Carleton. Brown is currently the third best triple jumper in Division III. She also won the high jump at Pre-MIAC with a 5-4 1/4 mark. For men, St. John's Erik Diley earned honors for winning both the long jump (21-11 1/2) and triple jump in (45-3 3/4) at The Qualifier meet at St. Olaf. Both were season-best performances for Diley.

On the track, Concordia-Moorhead's Heather Schuster (pictured) earned conference props for running 2:16.51 in the 800 at the Dakota Duals, an NCAA Division III provisional mark. Schuster's time ranks first in the MIAC by nearly 5 seconds. Also noted for performance on the oval -- or the straightaway, at least -- was Gustavus Adolphus College's Tyler Geyen who won the the 55 hurdles at the Pre-MIAC meet. Geyen's time if 7.85 ranks him first in the MIAC.

Photo courtesy of Concordia College.

Goucher's DNS, Heath's DNF Explained

We were curious about two out-of-the-results performances this weekend by some Minnesota natives who had been running very well of late. And, now we have the answers.

Kara Gocuher was a surprise DNS -- did not start -- in the 3000 meters at the USA Indoor Championships. Her agent Dan Lilot informed us yesterday that Goucher became ill just before leaving for the meet in Boston and was unable to make the trip. Shalane Flanagan, who finished one place ahead of Goucher at the USA Cross Country Championships earlier this month won the USA 3000 in 8:56.74.

At the Mountain Pacific Indoor Championships in Seattle, Stanford's Garrett Heath was a DNF -- did not finish -- in the 3000 meters. After his sub-4 mile on February 10 he told us he hoped to run a fast 3000 in Seattle. Instead, it appears, things got a little chaotic.

"I didn’t end up finishing the MPSF 3k," Heath explained via e-mail. "I felt good for most of it, but had to make a bit of a move to go to the lead in the middle of it to keep the pace honest so that our other guys had a chance of qualifying for NCAAs. Originally, I had planned on finishing and trying to run fast, but it turned into more of a rabbit effort in the end."

Oregon's Galen Rupp won the event in 7:54.19.

Stanford's DMR team, where Heath is the 1200 meter leg, is currently ranked #1 on the NCAA performance list at 9:33.16. The Winona native's 3:59.60 mile ranks him #4 in that event, while a 8:01.96 3000 mark from early in the season ranks him #29.

The NCAA Indoor Meet gets under way in less than two weeks, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Monday, February 26, 2007

National Champion Shani Marks: "Winning is a nice bonus at the end."

Not to be lost amidst all the weekend's Big Ten hoopla is Shani Marks victory in the triple jump at the USA Indoor Championships. The University of Minnesota and Apple Valley High School grad jumped 44-6 earn a companion win to her 2006 USA Outdoor title.

Marks, who competes unattached, edged defending champ Tiombe Hurd who hopped, stepped, and jumped 43-11 1/4. Marks' winning leap was just short of her indoor PR of 44-9 1/2 set at the USA Indoor meet in 2005.

"I felt relaxed and I had fun," Marks said. "The jump was good for where I am at right now in my training. My goal is never to win, it's just to jump better every time. Winning is a nice bonus at the end."

Photo courtesy of the U of M.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gopher Big Ten Link-O-Rama

Our gathering of stories about the Big Ten Indoor Championships and Minnesota's champion women and runner-up men ...

-- coverage of women's victory.

-- The Big Ten's wrap-up of the women's championships.

-- coverage of the Gopher men.

-- The Big Ten's wrap-up of the men's meet.

The Goph-O-Meter ... Minnesota at Big Tens

As Big Ten results roll in, we'll keep you posted on the Gophers' progress ...

Women's 4 x 400: Gophers 5th ... Final Women's Team Scores: Minnesota 121.5, Michigan 108.5, Illinois 107

Women's 5000: Yetzer 8th, Michigan 1st ... Minn 117.5, Mich 103.5, Ill 99 ... Gopher Women 2007 Big Ten Indoor Champions!

Men's 4 x 4: Gophers win! ... Final Men's Team Score: Wisconsin 120, Minnesota 93, Michigan 89

Men's 5000: Vega 7th ...

Women's HJ: Gophers 3rd(t), 6th ... Minn 116.5, Ill 99, Mich 93.5

Men's 200: Buzard 4th ...

Women's 200: Illinois 2nd, 8th .... Minn 108, Mich 92, Illinois 91

Women's TJ: Michigan 4th, Illinois 1st, 6th ... Minn 108, Mich 92, Ill 82

Women's 600m: Dorniden 2nd, Michigan 1-6-8 ... Minn 108, Mich 87

Women's 60m Hurdles: Michigan wins ... Minn 100, Mich 73

Women's 800: Gophers 2-3-4! Michigan 1st ... Minn 100, Mich 63

Women's 60m: Douglas 8th, Michigan 4th, Illinois 2nd, 3rd, 5th ... Minn 81, Mich 52, Ill 51, PSU 48

Women's 400: Michigan 8th, Penn State 2nd & 4th ... Minn 80, Mich 47, Penn State 43

Women's Mile: Brown 2nd, Dorniden 6th, Michigan 1st ... Minn 80, Michigan 46

Men's 600: Langkau 2nd, Badgers 3rd, 5th ... Wisc 105, Minn 71, Ohio State 55

Men's 60H: Gopher & Badger & OSU-free event

Men's 800: Storvick 2nd

Men's 60: Kabia 3rd, Badger 2nd ... Gophers in second place.

Men's 400: Buzard wins in 46.64!

Men's Teams: Wisc 82, Ohio State 51, Minnesota 39

Men's Heptathlon: Badgers 1st, 4th, 7th

Men's Mile: Rombough 6th ... Badgers 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th

Men's High Jump: Gearman 2nd, Badgers 3rd, 6th ...

Men's Weight Throw: Studt 3rd ... Teams: Wisc 35, OSU 32, Indiana 31, Minn 28.

Women's Weight Throw: Alabi wins ... Gophers lead Michigan and Purdue 59-36.

Find live women's results here; find men's here.

Ekiden Squad Second at Yokohama

USA Track and Field reports that the USA team finished second at the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden today. Defending champions Russia won the marathon-length event in 2:14:48 with the USA clocking 2:16:04. The host Japanese were a fast-closing third in 2:16:07.

The runner-up finish is the best-ever for the USA at Yokohama.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor and Carrie Tollefson were members of the all-star USA team which also included Deena Kastor, Jen Rhines, Amy Rudolph, and Elva Dryer. Tollefson ran her 6K leg, the third of the event, in 19:30. McGregor clocked 32:59 for the fifth-leg 10K, defeating 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya in the process.

Results from the race web-site are here, though a reading knowledge of Japanese is helpful.

Update: Story and results from the IAAF.

And More: Story from Running USA Wire.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota. From left: Kastor, Tollefson, McGregor, Rudolph, Rhines, alternate Jenny Crain and Dryer.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Big Ten Indoor: Women Lead, Men a Close 6th

The Gopher women lead the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Champaign, Illinois with 59 first-day points. Favorite Michigan is second with 36 points. Victories by Liz Alabi (shot) and Liz Roehrig (heptathlon) paced Minnesota.

Two names to watch closely as results get posted on Sunday are Gopher star Heather Dorniden in the mile and 600 meters and Michigan speedster Tiffany Ofili in the 60 dash and 60 hurdles. Two events to scrutinize are the 600 and 800 where Gophers and Wolverines pack both fields. Overall, the Gophers have seven remaining finalists ranked in the top-4 on the seasonal performance lists and seven more ranked 5th-8th; the Wolverines have eight and six, respectively.

At the men's meet in Bloomington, Indiana, the Gophers sit 6th, but are only 13 points behind defending champs Wisconsin. The Badgers have eleven second-day athletes seeded in the top-4 and another six ranked 5th-8th ; the Gopher's will need to close the gap -- and hold all the other bunched contenders off -- with only seven top-4 seeds and four 5th-8th guys.

“We got solid performances from our veterans, guys who we knew would perform well,” coach Phil Lundin said. “We needed a few more pleasant surprises from guy stepping up. It was an okay day for us. Tomorrow we’ll try to make up some ground.”

It should be a wild day of track and field!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results Feb. 23-25

Enough going on for ya? Our links to the weekend's important results ...

Ole Open: Women
Update: April Phillips 63-1 1/2, Tami Klenke 7.51, Mary Schletty 36-8 1/2

Pre-MIAC Meet (Carleton): Men / Women
Update: Josh Otto 22.97, Tyler Geyen 7.85, Josh Sorenson 15-9 3/4 Alex Wise 15-3 3/4

Update: Kaela Schramm 7.43 & 8.50, Susan Brown 38-4 & 5-4 1/4, Ashley Luehmann 43-8, Amanda Weinmann 43-0 1/4 & 51-6 1/2, Janna Castellano 11-7 3/4, Shanna Dawson 11-1 3/4

North Central Conference Championships: Men & Women
Update: Kali Erlandson 5-8, Jim Dilling 23-7, Katelin Rains 18-5 3/4; Short Day 1 Story

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference: Men & Women
Update: Bemidji's Joe Remitz and Moorhead's Jennifer Hensel Feild Athletes of the Year.

The Qualifier (St. Olaf): Men
Update: Lynden Reder 65-8 1/4, Matt Schroeder 15-11, Brian Sames 2:30.52, Erik Diley 45-3 3/4

North Central Conference Championships: Men & Women
Update: Men: 4 x 4 --USD 3:21.36, Mankato 3:22.25 ... Teams: USD 223.5, Mankato 222!
Update: Women: Mankato runners-up to USD, Rains sets NCC standard at 13-5 3/4

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference: Men & Women
Big Ten Indoor Championships: Men Performance Lists
Update: Schnaible 2nd, Gearman 3rd; Gopher men a close 6th after Day 1.

Big Ten Indoor Championships: Women Startlists
Update: Roehrig wins Multi, Alabi, Podomonick 1-2 in shot; Gopher women lead.

USA Indoor Championships: Men & Women
Update: Graham 3rd, Watson 5th; Goucher DNS.

Big Ten Indoor Championships: Men
Update: Gopher men second, Buzard, 4 x 400 winners.

Big Ten Indoor Championships: Women
Update: Gophers are Big Ten Champs! Alabi wins weight throw too!

USA Indoor Championships: Men & Women
Update: Shani Marks wins TJ at 44-6; Ryan Kleimenhagen 8th in 4:13.56

Two Good Reads: Scott Jurek Q/A, Beth Alford-Sullivan Story

I found the two links below via Alison Wade's fine Elite Running blog. I enjoyed them, so I thought you all might too ....

-- A feature story on Beth Alford-Sullivan, the Hopkins High and U of M graduate who leads Penn State's men's and women's track and field programs. She'll be travleing between the Big Ten men's and women's meets this weekend in Indiana and Illinois to watch her teams compete.

-- An interview with Scott Jurek, arguably the world's top ultra-marathoner. (The media's fascination with Dean Karnazes notwithstanding.) Jurek, a Duluth native, is the seven-time winner of the Western States 100 mile.

Jurek's got an interesting web-site of his own, here.

USA Indoor: "He doesn't get a 13 second head start"

The good news for former Stillwater star Sean Graham is that he's the #2 seed in the 3000 meters at the USA Indoor Championships this weekend. The bad news? #1 seed Matt Tegenkamp's 7:40 is quite a bit faster than Graham's 7:53.

"Yeah, 7:40 is no joke," Graham admitted to DtB via e-mail. "A thirteen second deficit in any race is a hell of a lot. But that's what makes track exciting, you never know what can happen on any day, and as far as I have been told, he doesn't get a 13 second head start."

Graham, his former Stillwater teammate Luke Watson, also in the 3000, Duluth native Kara Goucher in the women's 3000, Team USA Minnesota miler Ryan Kleimenhagen, and USA Outdoor triple jump champion Shani Marks all compete in this weekend's championship in Boston.

Graham, who trains with the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, is confident that he can improve on the 7:53 he clocked two weeks ago at the University of Washington and make a race of the 3000.

"The 7:53 is an indoor PR for me, I ran 7:46 last Summer outdoors," he noted. "I definitely feel I have room to run faster considering how I felt in Seattle. I am really looking forward to this weekend to not have to think about pacing and pressing alone at the end, but just racing hard and fast."

Graham also looks forward to racing with Watson, his old teammate with the Ponies.

"It is pretty cool to bump into each other at different races throughout the season," Graham said. "It does make things a little easier, though, to see a familiar face that you have known for so long."

"Would I have guessed back in high school that Luke and I would be competing against each other, him for Adidas me for Nike, in 10 years, probably not," the William and Mary alum said. "But with the coaching that I have had -- I'd say the best in the US in their respective fields, Scott Christensen high school, Andrew Gerard collegiate, Frank Gagliano post-collegiate, and Luke would most likely same the same about his coaching -- I am not surprised that we will be lining up again this weekend. Its awesome, who else in the country gets to do that?"

USA Indoor competition gets underway Saturday morning and concludes Sunday afternoon. ESPN2 will cover the meet from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

NCC Indoor Championships this Weekend

The University of South Dakota is hosting the NCC Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. The event will serve as one of the final indoor championships for the Division II conference which will cease to exist following the 2007-08 season.

Despite the departure of North Dakota State University, Northern Colorado and South Dakota State University, the remaining NCC member schools feature some of the top track and field talent in Division II. It will all be on display this weekend. A live video webcast is available on the USD website.

2006 Minnesota Runners of the Year

For years Jack Moran compiled the best road race performances in Minnesota and published the results on his website, as well as in an annual yearbook. When Jack retired as state record keeper following the 2005 season, it was unclear if anyone would continue the annual rankings.

Due to popular demand, masters runner Mike Setter stepped up to the plate and worked with new state record keeper Barb Leininger to compile the 2006 results. One added feature is the ability to view all of the qualifying performances for a particular age group.

Leininger reports that she and Setter plan to continue the process this year and provide updates on the standings during the 2007 season. You can send questions and comments you might have to Leininger at

Yokohama Ekiden Preview

Victah Sailer has posted an in-depth preview of this Sunday's Yokohama Women's Ekiden at The all-star U.S. team, featuring Katie McGregor and Carrie Tollefson faces serious competition from the Russian and Kenyan squads.

McGregor acknowledges the strong field in a press release from Team USA Minnesota, but notes that the U.S. women have fancy plans for their trip to Japan. "Other countries are also forming great teams because they know we have a good one," said McGregor. "We have a goal of getting the American record and the course record too."

McGregor is slated for a 10K leg, while Tollefson will cover 6K.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Gopher Teams Ready for Big Ten Meets

I have a non-track, non-running friend who asked me the other day, "So when does track start?" Were I a less patient fellow, I might have replied, "Dude, are you kidding, it's Big Ten Indoor weekend already! The season's half-over."

Indeed, the Gopher's are sending two strong squads to Champaign, Illinois (women) and Bloomington, Indiana (men) for the conference championships this weekend. The #13-ranked Gopher women, Big Ten champs outdoors last year and third under-cover, hope to top #2-ranked Michigan for the indoor title this year. The Gopher men, runners-up in in 2006 and in three of the last four seasons, hope to break #2-ranked Wisconsin's 6-year hold on the Big Ten Indoor title.

Women's coach Matt Bingle, who described his team Big Ten readiness "85% there" after the Notre Dame meet in early February, is pleased with the status of the team he takes to Illinois this weekend.

"I think we are close to being a 100%," Bingle said via e-mail, "but we do have a little bit sickness going through the team. So it will be interesting to see if that affects us."

Despite the high stakes, Bingle added that keeping the team loose is a priority this week.

"I think that the team needs to have fun and be loose, I think we all perform better when we are that way," he said. "They need to have fun competing!! This week we are resting and trying to enjoy being in the week! It is the easiest week of practice! As coaches we are taking a laid back approach to it and just going with the flow of the team! We are all just trying to enjoy the whole Big Ten Meet!"

Key events for the Gopher women are the 600, 800, pole vault, throws, and pentathlon. Liz Roehrig is the two-time defending champ in the pentathlon. Heather Dorniden is the defending champ at 800, but faces nemesis Geena Gall of Michigan in a duel with important team implications.

The Gopher SIDs, have produced a nice tip-sheet for the meet that you can find here. The Big Ten performance lists are found here.

At the men's meet, the key to success will be having the Gopher's balanced team score well across the events and, perhaps, to have the team's young distance stars take a bite out of Wisconsin's regular dominance of the sweaty events. Since we looked at the Gopher men last week, the team has improved its standing on the conference performance lists -- Aaron Buzard now leads the 200 and 400 meter lists, Adam Schnaible now leads the 20-pound weight list, and Ibrahim Kabia is now the #2 ranked 60 meter man.

Minnesota's men's tip sheet can be found here.

Competition at both venues begins Saturday morning and concludes Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

In our weekly round-up of Minnesota's small college Athletes of the Week, some familiar names have again risen to the top ...

In the the North Central Conference MSU-Mankato's Katelin Rains and Jim Dilling earned Athlete of the Week distinction for the 4th and 6th time this season, respectively. Rains (pictured) vaulted 13-6 1/2 last weekend, to set the U of M fieldhouse record and the NCAA Division II all-time record. Also honored were half-milers Liz Palkie of the University of Minnesota - Duluth and Pat Lehmann of Mankato.

In the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, St. Mary's thrower Amanda Weinmann earned her conference's weekly notice for the 4th time. Macalester jumper Kaela Schramm earned mention for the 3rd time, while St. John's distance runner Chris Erichsen was honored for the first time this season.

Erichsen clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 5000 meters over the weekend. I'm compelled to quote the last sentence of the MIAC blurb describing Erichsen's effort: "The time of 14:31.32 currently ranks him fourth in NCAA Division III and surpasses the previous Saint John's record of 14:39.1 set by Charlie Mahler in 1985."

In the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, Winona State hurdler Jessica Devine was the lone Minnesotan named Athlete of the Week. Devine clocked a school record 8.28 in the 55m hurdles at the UW-L Dual in her hometown of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Photo courtesy of MSU - Mankato.

Brandon Gleason Update

The condition of Brandon Gleason, the Hamline University distance star who was struck by an SUV while on a training run last week, is improving according to his coach Paul Schmaedeke.

"He had a skin graft Wednesday of last week over the compound fracture site on the tibia," Schmaedeke told DtB. "They checked progress of the graft [Monday] and were very pleased with what they saw. They said the graft has taken a 100%. I am guessing this is big in helping prevent infection."

Both of Gleason's legs were run over by both a front and rear wheel of the SUV. Only his right tibia was broken, however. The extent of ligament damage to the left knee was initially unclear.

"They also checked his knee late last week," Schmaedeke said. "They found a torn MCL but the ACLs were only stretched. Good news again, no additional surgery should be needed.

Schmaedeke expects Gleason (pictured) to be released from the hospital sometime this week and to return to classes by February 26th.

Photo courtesy of Hamline University.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kabia, Schnaible Named Big Ten Athletes of the Week

Gophers Ibrahim Kabia and Adam Schnaible were named Big Ten Track and Field Athletes of the Week for their performances at the Snowshoe Open last Friday.

Kabia, a Brooklyn Center native, broke the school and the fieldhouse records in the 60 meter dash with his 6.66 second performance. The mark provisionally qualified Kabia for the NCAA Indoor Championships and is the second-fastest time run in the Big Ten this season.

Schnaible recorded the best weight throw mark in the Big Ten this year with a distance of 67 feet, 3 1/4 inches, bettering his previous NCAA provisional qualifying distance of 65-4 1/4. The Burnsville native also marked a season-best in the shot put with a 56-10 3/4 throw. Schnaible holds the school record in the weight throw with a toss of 69-8 1/4 from last season.

Meeting to Determine Cross Country Circuit

USATF Minnesota Women's LDR Chair Cindy Brochman recently announced in an e-mail that a meeting will be held to determine the 2007 USATF MN Cross Country Circuit. All interested parties should attend:
Thursday, February 22, 5:30 pm
Joe Sensor's, 494 & France, Bloomington

For more information, contact Brochman at:

Become a Track & Field Official

The Minnesota State High School League will host its Minneapolis-area track and field & cross country rules meeting at Saint Louis Park High School on February 22 at 7:00 p.m.

The first half of the meeting will be devoted to National Federation of High Schools rule changes. The second half will focus on becoming a certified Starter/Referee.

Starting this year, the MSHSL will require the presence of at least one certified official any high school meet. Their goal is to have two certified officials hired at each meet in 2008.

For more information call the MSHSL office at 763-560-2262.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tollefson Joins Loaded Ekiden Squad

We reported earlier that Katie McGregor would be part of what is possibly the strongest U.S. women's Ekiden team ever assembled. With the race coming up on Sunday, we just learned of a last-minute line-up change. McGregor's Team USA Minnesota training partner, Olympian Carrie Tollefson, the pride of Dawson, will be joining the already star-studded team.

In an e-mail to DtB, Tollefson reports that she originally turned down a spot on the Yokohama squad, intending to focus on this weekend's U.S. Indoor Championships. "I was up in the air as to where my fitness level would be, and if I was running indoors I didn't want to miss our national championships," Tollefson wrote. After a training stint in Phoenix, "and some really long hard workouts, my fitness has come around and the opportunity came up again."

According to Tollefson, Sara Slattery had to withdraw from the team due to injury and the opportunity was too good to pass up a second time. "I am so excited to be on the team with all of these ladies. I will be running the 6k as of now, and I just hope I can run hard and smart for this great group of gals and of course the USA!"

Photo courtesy of USA Track & Field.

Another Campfire Girl: Cack Ferrell

We need to hang around the campfire more often ...

Shortly after the USA Cross Country Championships we heard "around the campfire" that Katie McGregor, despite finishing outside the top-6 there, would still make the USA women's team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya. Sure enough, Team USA Minnesota confirmed that fact a few days later.

After another recent evening "roasting weenies and making smores" (not a big fan of the latter, myself) we heard Cack Ferrell (pictured) made the team too. Might we get her to confirm?

"You are correct," Ferrell told DtB via e-mail, "I will be making the trip to Kenya. It is too bad Kara [Goucher] isn't going or we would have THREE Minnesota girls."

World Cross will be Ferrell's first opportunity to represent the USA internationally.

"It is really beyond my wildest dreams that I placed 10th and that I am traveling to Kenya to compete at the World race," she added. "I am still shocked and excited."

Ferrell, a St. Paul Academy & Summit School and Princeton University grad, is currently training in Eugene with the Oregon Track Club along with fellow North Star Staters Sean Graham and Adam Steele.

Don't let her west coast training base (or her east coast alma mater) convince you she's no longer "one of us," however. Ferrell signed off her e-mail to us with some kind words about DtB and ...

"I am a proud Minnesotan and a proud runner of Minnesota!"

Photo courtesy of Princeton University.

Dillling, Alabi Named USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month

Jim Dilling and Liz Alabi were named USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for February, based on their performances in January.

Dilling, a senior at Minnesota State – Mankato, was recognized for his 7 foot, 6 1/2 inch high jump victory at the Wisconsin Elite Invitational on January 27. Dilling is currently the top ranked high jumper in NCAA Division II and the #3 jumper in the entire U.S. this season.

Alabi, a senior at the University of Minnesota and a graduate of Brooklyn Center High School, is recognized for her record-breaking performance in the 20-pound weight throw at the Jack Johnson Minnesota Classic on January 20. There, Alabi tossed the weight 63 feet, 5-1/2 inches to set a new meet record in the event.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota.

(Disclosure: Pete Miller and I serve, along with Kevin Moorhead, on the USATF-Mn Athlete of the Month committee.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results Feb 16-18

Here's your weekly, one-stop location for the weekend's important results ...

Snowshoe Open (U of M): Men
Update: Kabia 6.66, Studt 59-3, Schnaible 67-3 1/4

Bison Classic (NDSU): Men & Women

Parents' Day Open (U of M): Women's Results
Update: Rains 13-6 1/2, Story; Liz Palkie 2:11.63, Elizabeth Yetzer 2:11.81,
Liz Podomonick 50-4 Story

Tostrude Classic (St. Olaf): Men
Update: Josh Otto 49.67, Digger Carlson 15:36.20, Drew Hood 14-10

CSB/SJU Invitiational (St. John's): Men & Women
Update: Chris Erichsen 14:31.32; Devine 47-3 1/2, 50-8 1/4

Jim Dilling: An SI "Face in the Crowd"

When you operate a blog, you get pretty familiar with the photos you have at your disposal. Heck, readers of DtB themselves have probably gotten pretty familiar with some of our recurring head-shots -- Katelin Rains, Liz Alabi, Garrett Heath.

So it was an odd kind of familiarity I felt last night leafing through my new issue of Sports Illustrated -- the one without the swimsuits -- when I saw Jim Dilling's face smiling back at me from the "Faces in the Crowd" section -- the same exact shot, it turns out, that has often graced our pages, including this one.

SI highlighted Dilling for the same reason's we've been doing so -- he's one of the best jumpers in the nation, bar none!

Added Mankato Bonus: There's a really honest, introspective interview with former Mankato State steeplechase national champion and long-time road warrior Joey Keillor on the Running Minnesota web-site.
Photo courtesy of MSU - Mankato.

The List: Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifiers

The 2008 Men's Olympic Marathon Trials will take place in New York City on November 3rd of this year. The Women's Olympic Marathon Trials will be contested in Boston on April 20th, 2008. As always, Minnesota will be well represented in both events. The following are athletes with Minnesota connections who have already qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials:

• Katie McGregor - 2:32:36 - ING New York City Marathon (11/5/06)
• Turena Johnson Lane - 2:36:15 - Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (10/1/06)
• Jenna Boren - 2:42:39 - Chevron Houston Marathon (1/14/07)
• Stephanie Herbst-Lucke - 2:42:53 - LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (10/22/06)
• Johanna Olson - 2:44:09 - Twin Cities Marathon (10/2/05)

• Chad Johnson - 2:15:03 - LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (10/22/06)
• Martin Rosendahl - 2:17:05 - LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (10/22/06)
• Chris Lundstrom - 2:17:34 - Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (10/1/06)
• Michael Reneau - 2:17:46 - Chevron Houston Marathon (1/14/07)
• Ryan Meissen - 2:18:03 - Freescale Austin Marathon (2/19/06)
• Jason Lehmkuhle - 2:19:03 - Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (10/1/06)
• Donovan Fellows - 2:19:23 - LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (10/22/06)
• Matt Gabrielson - 2:19:53 - ING New York City Marathon (11/5/06)
• Matt Hooley - 2:19:58 - Chevron Houston Marathon (1/14/07)
• Zachary Schendel - 2:20:34 - California International Marathon (12/3/06)
• Pete Gilman - 2:20:57 - LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (10/22/06)
• Sean Graham - 13:29.30 (5,000 meters) Heusden KBC Night of Athletics (7/22/06)
• Andrew Carlson - 13:32.71 (5,000 meters) Heusden KBC Night of Athletics (7/22/06)

Graham and Carlson have qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials by virtue of running 5,000 meter times that meet the qualifying standards.

We will continue to provide updates as more Minnesota runners qualify.

Photo by Todd Sheldon: Johanna Olson punching her ticket at the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"I felt I eventually had a chance to make the varsity squad"

The Ivy League is celebrating its 50th anniversary of athletic competition by profiling a different, really smart athlete every weekday through the end of May.

Dr. Robert Kempainen (pictured) recently took a look back at his career in his own humble way. As in most interviews, Bob steers clear of mentioning these numbers.

Photo courtesy of the Ivy League.

Bill Huyck Film, Carleton's 1980 NCAA XC Championship Viewable on YouTube

A short documentary film about long-time Carleton College track and cross country coach Bill Huyck (pictured) as well as ESPN coverage of the 1980 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships -- which Huyck's Carleton team won in an upset -- are available for viewing on YouTube.

(You read that right, by the way: ESPN coverage of cross country!)

Carleton student Meeks Brucker made the biographical film on Huyck as part of a Cinema and Media Studies class at the college. Brucker's initial ideas of how the film might turn out changed in the making of it, however.

"I had ideas about hearing how Carleton has changed over time, cool insides about teams of yonder years, and perhaps the inside scoop on the 1980 championship team," Brucker explained. "However, as you can see in the piece, I used very little of that subject material. I let coach Huyck decide what he wanted to talk about and then in the editing room I just tried to weave a cohesive story. "

The ESPN coverage -- viewable in three segments here, here, and here -- has some wonderful nuggets: Chris Berman uttering the words, "Next, Division III Cross Country Championships," Larry Rawson excitedly covering the event, Macalester's Paul Mausling and St. Thomas' Larry Deeney battling for the individual title, and an interview with 1972 Olympic 800 meter gold-medalist Dave Wottle ... plus everyone's got a lot more hair than they do now.

Results of the 1980 meet can be found on Kirk Reynold's fine Division III Cross Country web-site.

(Full disclosure: I am an assistant track coach at Carleton.)

Photo by Sara Rubinstein, courtesy of Carleton College.

McGregor, Carlson, Gabrielson to World Cross

Katie McGregor, Andrew Carlson, and Matt Gabrielson have all been named to the USA squad for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya on March 24, according to Team USA Minnesota President Patricia Goodwin.

McGregor (pictured, left) finished 7th in the women's 8K race at the USA Cross Country Championships last weekeend in Boulder. Carlson (pictured, below) was a mud-caked 11th in the men's 12K race after a fall in the final lap, Gabrielson was 12th.

Each gained spots on the 6-woman, 9-man teams by virtue of higher finishing runners opting out of World Cross. Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle, who finished an automatically-qualifying ninth in the men's race, declined his spot in order to focus on the Boston Marathon.

McGregor will run on her fifth consecutive World Cross Squad. Her top finish in the event was the 15th place she earned as a member of the bronze medal-winning Team USA squad at Lausanne-LaBroye in 2003.

"I am very excited to compete in Kenya," McGregor, said in the Team USA Minnesota press release. "I think it will be an amazing experience to visit the country and compete against the best runners in the world. This time we will have to prepare ourselves with plenty of vaccinations before the trip but all the extra effort will be well worth it."

Gabrielson will be making his third trip to World Cross; Carlson will be competing in the event for the first time.

USA Cross Note: Lost in our previous coverage of the event was Minnesotan Thom Weddle's victory in the 65-69 year-old division of the Masters 8K race in 38:53.

Photos courtesy of Team USA Minnesota (top) and Sean Hartnett (bottom.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hamline's Brandon Gleason Hit by Car, Badly Hurt

Hamline University junior distance runner Brandon Gleason of Mantorville was badly injured when struck by a car while running in St. Paul on Monday. We'll quote directly from an e-mail we got from Paul Schmaedeke, Gleason's coach, for the details:

Brandon was hit on Monday morning as he was finishing his morning run. A big SUV ran a four-way stop sign. Brandon was in the center of the SUV's cross hairs but managed to jump back enough so that it clipped his hips, knocked his upper body back toward the curb while his legs slid forward in the
path of the wheels.

The SUV actually ran over his legs with both front and back tires. The miracle is that it only fractured his right tibia. The fracture was compound and reset itself. They put a steel rod in his leg the length of the tibia to stabilize the fracture. He may have also torn the ACL in his right knee. However that appears to be the extent of the damage.

Thankfully no head, neck, back or hip injuries. Had a great surgeon who was a college soccer player and now a recreational runner. He told Brandon that he will make the leg like it was and expects Brandon to return to running, with no hindrance from
the fracture. Brandon's spirits are good and he is already planning his comeback.

Adding insult to the injury is that Gleason was doing the best running of his career prior to the accident. He'd clocked an NCAA Division III provisional qualifying 14:35 in the 5000 meters at Iowa State on Friday, for which he had just been named an MIAC Athlete of the Week. He had opened his season with a 8:33 3000m at St. Olaf in January.

Gopher Men Expecting Top-3 Battle at Big Tens

Looking ahead to the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana next weekend, Gopher men's coach Phil Lundin (pictured) expects his team to be part of a battle for one of the top spots in the conference.

"Wisconsin is the team to beat," Lundin told DtB by e-mail. "I think Illinois and Indiana are strong also. We will be in the fight for top three."

Last year, the Badgers won the conference title with 124.5 points. The Gophers were runners-up with 94, edging Illinois at 93. Michigan was fourth with 76, Indiana tallied 72.

The Gophers currently hold the conference's top seeds in three events: Aaron Buzard leads the conference with his 46.57 400 meter mark, the Buzard-powered 4 x 400 relay leads the league at 3:11.90, as does the DMR at 9:44.33.

Lundin expects the team to score points "everywhere" at Big Ten's. The team has contenders across the event groups including:

-- Ibrahim Kabia, ranked #6 in the 60m at 6.82
-- Hans Storvick, #5 at 800m at 1:50.93
-- Chris Rombough, #7 in the mile at 4:04.95
-- Derek Gearman, #2 in the high jump, tied for #4 in the long jump, and #6 in the triple jump
-- Matt Fisher, #3 in the high jump at 6-11 1/2
-- Ben Peterson, tied for #6 in the pole vault at 16-1 1/4
-- Aaron Studt, 6th in the shot put at 56-5 1/4
-- Adam Schnaible, #3 in the weight throw at 65-4 1/4

Lundin noted that the team's youngsters were the surprise of the season so far.

"I think our freshmen have done a good job," he said. "Aaron Studt in the throws, Matt Fisher and Ben Peterson in the vertical jumps, Mike Torchia in the distances, and Logan Stroman in the 400-600m are all capable of scoring in the Big Ten."

"Chris Rombough, Aaron Buzard, Derek Gearman, Walter Langkau, and Adam Schnaible have all shown the ability to compete at the national level," Lundin added. "Andy Bastian has developed into one of the top throwers in the Big Ten."

The Gopher's have a final home meet Friday, the Snowshoe Open, before Big Tens February 24 and 25.

Photo courtesy of the U of M.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

As always, we note the top small college performances, as recognized by their conferences ...

Albany native Rachel Stangler (pictured) of Augustana College and Jim Dilling of Minnesota State - Mankato were the Minnesotans named North Central Conference Indoor Track and Field Athletes of the Week.

Stangler won the mile at the Ted Nelson Classic at MSU - Mankato with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 5:02.33. She broke the Augustana school-record of 5:04.99 set by Fairmont High School alum Leah DeVries in 1995.

Dilling, a senior from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, who was honored by the NCC for the fifth straight week, finished third in the high jump at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas with a jump of 7-4 1/4. Dilling defeated nine NCAA Division I athletes in the meet and is currently the #3 ranked high jumper in the USA this indoor season.

In the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Bethel distance runner Nikki Umhoefer, and Hamline distance runner Brandon Gleason were named track Athletes of the Week. Macalester jumper Susan Brown and Hamline thrower Drew Jones were honored for field event prowess.

Umhoefer ran 17:48.39 for 5000 meters at Iowa State last weekend; she leads the MIAC in the mile, 3000, and 5000. Gleason notched a strong NCAA provisional qualifying 14:35.66 5000m at the same meet.

Brown jumped to two NCAA provisional marks in Stevens Point -- high jumping 5-5 3/4 and triple jumping 37-5. Jones threw the 35-pound weight 55-8 1/2 at Iowa State last Friday and then won both throws at Carleton's Meet of Hearts on Saturday.

Update: In the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, three Minnesota athletes earned recognition: MSU-Moorhead’s Ashley Roemer for winning the NSIC pentathlon with 3,162 points, Bemidji State’s Zac Preble for setting a new NSIC heptathlon record with 4780 points, and teammate Todd Zeidler who won the 1,000 meters at the Husky Open clocking 2:37.89.

Photo courtesy of Augustana College.

World Cross Country Team:

Now that the USA Cross Country Championships are over, it will be interesting to see what the U.S. team will look like for the World Cross Country Championships. According to the selection procedures, the team is decided based on the order of finish at the USA Championships. Six athletes will be selected for the Junior Women's, Junior Men's and Open Women's teams. Nine athletes will make up the Open Men's team.

Based solely on the results, it looks like Elliot Heath, with his win in the Junior Men's race, and Jason Lehmkuhle, ninth in Open Men's race, will be the only Minnesotans on the team. However, word around the campfire is that many athletes in the open divisions are giving up their spots on the World team. This could open the door for Team USA Minnesota runners Katie McGregor (7th), Andrew Carlson (11th) and Matt Gabrielson (12th).

Athletes must state their intent to participate no later than February 15th. We will post an update as soon as more information becomes available.

Related: great video from the USA Championships.

Photos courtesy of Colleen Keller.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"It still seems a little surreal yet ... "

"Going sub-4 was something that I’ve always wanted to do," Garrett Heath told DtB one day after crossing that singular miling threshold, "and to finally do it on the same day that Elliott ran like he did was amazing. It still seems a little surreal yet, even today, especially to think that Elliott is now going to Kenya."

At roughly the same time on Saturday that Garrett (pictured, top), a junior at Stanford, was trying to turn sub-60-second quarters on the big oval in Seattle, younger brother Elliott, a senior at Winona Senior High, was putting away the Junior Men's field in the mud at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder. Elliott (pictured, bottom) clocked 26:07 over the 8k course to win by 11 seconds and earn a ticket to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya.

"About a minute after I saw up on the scoreboard that I had broken 4 minutes," Garrett said, "one of my teammates came running up to me and said that he thought that Elliott had just won Juniors. I heard it again about a minute later from someone else before finally talking to Elliott on the phone about it. It was a pretty amazing moment and I am extremely happy for him."

In Garrett's sub-4, he hustled himself to the finish in what he estimates was a 57 second final 400 to complete his barrier-breaking 3:59.60. He finished second in the race to teammate Russell Brown.

"The rabbit ran exactly what he said he was going to -- 58-59, 1:58 -- but [three of us] gave him a little gap, so we came through the first 400 around 59 seconds and then preceded to run in that line until 800 where we came through around 2:00," Heath recounted.

"Right around 1200, where we came through in about 3:02, I think, people starting getting anxious and three guys passed me. I made my move with about 250m to go, moved up into second place behind my teammate with 100m to go, and finished in the same position about a half stride back."

In the near future, Heath expects to run the 1200 leg on the Cardinal DMR and then double back in the 3000 meters at the Mountain Pacific meet in two weeks. The Stanford DMR is automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor meet two weeks after that, while Heath himself is provisionally qualified in both the mile and 3000.

In the long-term, we bet Garrett is looking forward to having Elliott join him at Stanford -- Elliott committed to the Cardinal last fall -- if for no other reason than that they can then share each other's finest moments firsthand.

Photos courtesy of Stanford (top) and Sean Hartnett (bottom.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

National Champion Elliott Heath!

Winona Senior High School's Elliott Heath winning the Junior Boys 8K at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, Colorado on Saturday ... the same day his older brother Garrett broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile!

Addition: Read Winona Daily News coveage here.

Photo courtesy of Sean Hartnett

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for February 9-10

DtB has blazed you a trail to this weekend's important results!

Look forward to results from Team USA Minnesota's Jenelle Deatherage (pictured) at Tyson tonight, the Gopher men and women at Iowa State, Sean Graham and Garrett Heath at the Husky Classic, and a passel of Minnesotans in the various USA Cross Country races in Boulder.

Tyson Invitational: Men & Women
Update: Deatherage 9th in 4:42.13

Iowa State Classic Men & Women
Update: Derek Gearman 23-10.75; Gopher DMR 9:44.33, St. Thomas 10:03.77; Gleason 14:35.66, Alabi 67-9 1/2

Valentine's Day 5K Men & Women
USA Cross Country Championships: Men & Women (juniors, open & masters)
Update: Heath wins! Goucher 3rd, McGregor 7th, Ferrell 10th; Lehmkuhle 9th, Carlson 11th, Gabrielson 12th, Rosendahl 16th, Watson 22nd; Wetsch 18th.

Iowa State Classic Men & Women
Update: Buzard 46.57, Rombough 4:04.95, Torchia 8:13.67; Cheever 4:45.10, Anderson 4:48.33, Dorniden 4:49.39, Yetzer 4:51.02

Husky Classic (Seattle) Men & Women
Update: Hanna Grinaker 16:36.06, Garrett Heath 3:59.60, Sean Graham 7:53.14

Husky Open (St. Cloud) Men & Women
Ted Nelson Classic (MSU-Mankato): Men & Women
Minn./Wisc. Border Battle (St. Olaf) Men / Women
Update: Joe DeFrance, St. Thomas, 22.70; Shara Guidry, St. Thomas, 40-4 1/4

Meet of the Hearts (Carleton): Men & Women
Update: Jake Kruger, Hamline, 15-3 3/4; Katherine Wingert, Carleton, 3:00.43

Photo Courtesy of Team USA Minnesota

Renewed Kara Goucher Returns to Old Home

Duluth native Kara Goucher returns to her collegiate stomping ground of Boulder, Colorado tomorrow for the USA Cross Country Championships. Coming off a 2006 campaign that redeemed and redefined her career, Goucher, who trains in Oregon with Alberto Salazar nowadays, seems poised for even bigger and better things.

Goucher, who will be profiled in the March-April issue of Minnesota Running & Track by Kate Davis, has trained more consistently in the past year than in a very long time. (Full disclosure: I edit MnR&T for USATF-Minnesota.)

“My training is going great,” Goucher told Davis. “…It's strange because usually I am cross-training in November through February or March, and then I am rushing to get ready for track. This year I have just been running, no rush. I am totally healthy and have been running the most miles I ever have in my entire career. It's been great.”

“The biggest part of 2006 was just my consistency in training,” Goucher added. “After World Cross Country I never had to take a break. I had no injuries whatsoever. And Alberto was really pushing me in my workouts. I was just training consistently, very hard, and my confidence was growing.”

Additional information on Goucher (and her husband Adam) can be found here, and here

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Adam Steele: New Home, New Event

Two weeks ago, after we posted news about Mitch Potter representing the USA at the Norwich Union meet in Scotland, we wondered about the status and whereabouts of Adam Steele.

Potter and Steele (pictured), you'll remember, were the 1-2 quarter-miling punch that powered the Gophers' 2003 Big Ten outdoor championship season. Potter won the Big Ten 400 title outdoors as did the 4 x400 relay. Steele won the NCAA 400 where Potter finished third and the relay finished second.

Our e-mail to Steele found him in -- take a moment to guess -- Eugene, Oregon where he's training with the newly revitalized Oregon Track Club Elite program under the direction of Frank Gagliano, the long-time Georgetown coach. Fellow Minnesotan's Cack Ferrell and Sean Graham are also in the well-supported Nike program that is part of what seems to be an Oregon-wide, Nike-powered effort to make the 2008 Olympic Track and Field Trails in Eugene the best ever.

Steele competes this weekend in Seattle in his new event, the 800 meters. He opened his season with a 47.5 400m leg on the OTC distance medley team in Seattle two weekends ago.

Here's what we learned from Eden Prairie High School grad about his move to Eugene:

The Decision: "I considered training with the Santa Monica Track Club under Joe Douglas. I made two trips in October to see which would be the best place for me, LA or Eugene. After making both trips it was clear where I would fit in better, LA had a little too much city for me."

The Program: "OTC has one other 400m guy moving up to the 800m, Matt Scherer. Matt graduated from U of O last spring after running a 45.3 in the 400m. He has been hurt with an Achilles problem since I arrived a month ago, but should be ready soon. My other training partners are Marc Sylvester and Joel Legare for the time being. Other guys out here training include, Nick Symmonds, James Hatch, Kevin Elliot, Elliott Blunt, and Brandon Shaw.

The 800: "The 800m is my primary focus and I will have the chance to run a few 400m on relays. I look forward to figuring out my deficiencies and knocking some of the cobwebs out. I guess my expectations are to just see what I have and not worry about too many "what ifs" before the race. I don't have too much of an emphasis on indoors, I just want to get out here get used to the training and the new coach."

Frustrations & Encouragement: "The last couple of years have been frustrating and encouraging at the same time. My first year out was very frustrating because I was trying to get back to my form in 2003. For whatever reason I could not get back. Last year was a little more motivating because I had new things to shoot for and ran a few PR's throughout the year. Now that I have one year under my belt I have a better understanding of what I need to do. When I got out here the image became more clear after I got my butt kicked in practice for a few weeks. After a month I am just starting to adapt to the workouts and have an understanding of the intensity. Hopefully, in the future I'll toughen up and stick with the guys during the longer intervals."

Update: DtB received late word yesterday from Adam Steele that he's withdrawn from the Seattle 800 meter. "I pulled out . . . due to a few bumps and bruises we don't want to flare up on the indoor track. I am not sure when I will race next but I would guess sometime late Feb or early March.

Photo courtesy of TrackShark.

Alabi, Dorniden named Big Ten Athletes of the Week

For the second time this season, Gopher women claimed both Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors. Senior thrower Liz Alabi collected her second "Field Athlete" honor of the season, while sophomore middle distance runner Heather Dorniden (pictured) shared the "Track Athlete" honor with Michigan's Tiffany Ofili.

Alabi, a Brooklyn Park native, recorded a pair of NCAA provisional qualifying marks at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational. She won the weight throw with a toss of 62-6, then finished third in the shot put throwing 50-0 1/2.

The defending NCAA indoor champ at 800 meters, Dorniden made a stunning season debut, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The Inver Grove Heights native won the 800 at Meyo in 2:04.33, the second-fastest time in school history and the fastest clocking in the nation this season.

Alabi and multi-eventer Liz Roehrig were Big Ten Athletes of the Week for the Gophers earlier in the season.

Photo courtesy of the the Big Ten.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

USA Cross: One Big Race

The best distance runners in the country will gather in Boulder, Colorado, Saturday for the USA Cross Country Championships. The star-studded field will be competing for $40,000 in prize money and spots on the U.S. team for the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kenya. As always, the start lists include a number of current and former Minnesotans.

The Boulder championships feature the return of the one-race format used prior to 1999. The single race puts everyone from milers to marathoners on the same starting line, creating match ups rarely seen on the track or the roads.

Katie McGregor
will attempt to make her fifth consecutive World Cross Country team in the Open Women's 8K race. McGregor will compete against former Minnesota high school stars Heather Anderson (Osseo, University of Montana), Cack Ferrell (St. Paul Academy, Princeton) and Kara Goucher (Duluth East, University of Colorado). Ferrell is currently training with the Oregon Track Club, while Goucher (who qualified for the World Cross Country team in 2006) is coached by Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project. Last we heard, Anderson was affiliated with the Montana-based Big Sky Distance Project.

The Open Men's 12K field features even more Minnesota connections. Team USA Minnesota will send Andrew Carlson, Matt Gabrielson and Jason Lehmkuhle to Boulder. Former Drake University teammates Gabrielson and Lehmkuhle both won spots on the World Cross Country team in 2005, with Gabrielson also making the team in 2006. Read the press release from Team USA Minnesota here.

Former Minnesotans Martin Rosendahl (Fridley, MSU-Mankato) and Luke Watson (Stillwater, Notre Dame) will also compete in the 12K event. Rosendahl currently competes for the Brooks-Hansons Distance Project, while Watson coaches at Notre Dame.

Other Minnesotans competing include Winona senior Elliot Heath in the Junior Men's 8K, University of Oregon freshman Bria Wetsch (Holy Family) in the Junior Women's 6k and masters Heidi Keller Miler (40-44) Thom Weddle (65-69) covering 8K.

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

Minnesota State - Mankato's Jim Dilling (pictured) and Katelin Rains tightened their grips on North Central Conference's Athlete of the Week honors. Dilling, who high jumped 7-4 1/2 this weekend at Mankato's home meet and is currently the second highest jumper in the country with a 7-6 1/2 leap, has been an NCC honoree four straight weeks. Rains earned her third such award this season with a 12-8 3/4 winning pole vault and a 38-0 3/4 second place triple jump, both NCAA qualifying marks, at the same meet.

In the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Macalester's Kaela Schramm earned her second Athlete of the Week honor for lowering her NCAA Division III provisional qualifying time in the 55-meter hurdles with a 8.51 clocking at the Bethel Invitational. Also honored were St. Ben's jumper Mary Schletty, St. Thomas middle distance runner Brian Sames, and Gustavus Adolphus pole vaulter Josh Sorenson.

Update: In the one-day-later NSIC, MSU - Moorhead vaulter Derik Brugger and Bemidji State thrower Sheena Divine were the Minnesota athletes earning Athlete of the Week honors. Brugger vaulted 16-7 at the Concordia Invitational over the weekend, Divine put the shot 49- 3/4 at Northern State, best throw in NCAA Division II this season.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"85% There"

Going into last weekend's meet, Matt Bingle, coach of the Minnesota Gopher women, felt the Meyo Invitational in South
Bend, Indiana would give him a good sense of the progress his team was making for the Big Ten indoor meet.

His judgement afterward?

"Things went pretty well down there!" Bingle told DtB via e-mail. "We feel that we are about 85% there right now! Down at Notre Dame we got some great performances and some good performances. We still have some women that need to continue to improve and step up a little more!"

Among the great performances, we're willing to guess, was Heather Dorniden's 2:04.33 800 meter victory over Big Ten rivals Geena Gall and Nicole Edwards of defending indoor champs Michigan. Dorniden's NCAA automatic qualifying time is the fastest 800m mark in the country this season. Jamie Cheever was sixth in the event for the Gophers clocking 2:06.34, a provisional qualifying time.

The Gopher's had already gotten the meet off to a fine start in Friday competition with Liz Alabi winning the 20-pound weight throw and improving her NCAA provisional standing with her 62-6 toss. Also, the distance medley of Gabriele Anderson, Kadian Douglas, Heather Dorniden and Emily Brown clocked an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 11:14.83 to place second.

Strong Saturday performances included Emily Brown's provisional qualifying, runner-up finish in the mile in 4:46.18; a 3rd-4th-8th finish in the shot from Alabi (50-0 1/2), Liz Podomonick (49-7 1/4), and Kari Schmidt (47-5); and a 2nd-6th-10th placing in the pole vault from Andrea Smith (12-7 ½), Laura Massey (12-1 1/2), and Alicia Rue (11-7 ¾).

The Gopher women look to add to their "Percent There" number this weekend at the Iowa State Classic.

McGregor's Loaded Ekiden Team: The Real Story?

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor (pictured) is slated to be part of what is probably the strongest USA team ever to compete at the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden in Japan, scheduled for February 25th. Joining the 2005 USA 10,000 meter champion is the great Deena Kastor, Olympians Elva Dryer, Jen Rhines, and Amy Rudolph, and 2006 USA 10,000 runner-up Sara Slattery.

Ekidens, for the uninitiated, are Japan's wildly popular long-distance relays where, in this case anyway, six runners race relay legs of 5K to 10K that total the marathon distance. Russia won last year's Yokohama race clocking 2:13:55 to beat China and hosts Japan. The USA was 13th in 2:24:44. The USA, especially on the women's side, has had difficulty fielding top-flight teams for Ekidens, although recently the USA men have fared well in the events, finishing third at Chiba in 2005 and 2006.

Here in the DtB newsroom, we wondered what kind of machinations took place to put the USA's top women on the same plane to race against the best in the world. We had hazy notions of back-room deals, stacks of Japanese yen, and whispered incentives for strong results. The entire DtB investigative team was activated to get the story.

Apparently, though, our imaginations were wilder than the reality.

"It's not a long glamorous answer so let me know if you want me to make something up," USATF Long Distance Running Program Manager Jim Estes joked when I asked him what it might have taken to put the group together. "Basically, the stars -- both figuratively and literally -- lined-up for this one. [Putting together a strong team] has been an ongoing project within the LDR division and has required numerous conversations with the JAAF, athletes and coaches -- and the occasional agent!"

"I don’t really know how best to describe how it happened but it just fell into place right around the [USATF] Annual Meeting," Estes continued. "Obviously, we knew that we needed to line up several ladies who wanted to go win the event so once we got one to say they would go, it was kind of easy to get the rest to commit."

McGregor, herself, confirmed the description in an e-mail to DtB: "For some reason, the race fit into all of our schedules. When I found out that the other girls committed, I decided I wanted to join them. It is such a great opportunity. I usually run indoor track races at this time, but my base training for 2007 was pushed back a few months since I ran the ING New York City Marathon."

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.