Monday, June 30, 2008

Olympic Trials Links -- Monday

As we await Monday night's action, here are some links to enjoy.

DtB contributor Sean Hartnett has put together a slideshow of the women's 10,000 meters HERE. (The Kara Goucher photo at left is part of the show.)

The Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates wrote THIS story ahead of Goucher's 5000m prelim tonight.

The Star-Tribune's Rachel Blount wrote THIS story about Shani Marks' triple jump victory yesterday.

Tonight's heat sheet are HERE.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

the track town diaries: june 29

We spent some time exploring Eugene on Sunday. Did a little hike in Hendricks Park and made our way over to Pre's Rock. We ran into Mounds View coach Dick Riter and talked about all of the Minnesotans at The Trials.

At the track: It was great to see Shani Marks do so well. She just seems like a genuinely nice person.

We ran into Dennis Barker and Chris Lundstrom on our way out of Hayward Field. They agreed to join us at Track Town Pizza. Dennis was doing business all night. At one point he took a call from Alberto Salazar, which was a little surreal.

Liz Roehrig and Hassan Mead came by to pick up a pizza. Jim Docherty joined us later in the evening. It was a fun night.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marks Wins Trials Triple Jump with 47-2 1/4;
Amanda Thieschafer 5th with PR-Tying 45-5

Shani Marks is an Olympian.

The Apple Valley High School and University of Minnesota alum jumped 47-2 1/4 to beat rival Shakeema Welsch the runner-up at 46-10. Reigning NCAA champion Erica McLain was third with 45-9 3/4.

“I couldn’t feel any better now,” the three time USA Outdoor champion said. “It’s been a long, four year process."

Marks, who finished 4th at the 2004 Olympic Trials, will be half of a two-woman squad in Beijing, since only she and McLain posses Olympic A qualifying marks in the event. Welsch’s runner-up mark today bettered the A standard, but was wind-assisted.

Former Melrose High School and North Dakota State University star Amanda Thieschafer, who trains with Marks, finished 5th in the competition with a PR-tying 45-5. Thieschafer’s best jump matched that of 4th place finisher Yvette Lewis at 45-5, but Lewis was placed 4th due to her superior secondary mark.

Shaky Start, Big Mark ... Marks got her triumphant day off to a shaky start, fouling her opening jump. She rallied with a 45-1 ¾ second jump that put her into third position.

“Probably my heart beating out of my chest might have been my biggest issue,” Marks said about the wobbly opening. “I was really, really nervous for my first couple, so it took me a while to just kind of relax and go after it. I knew I would pull it together; it was just a matter of when.

On her final jump of the preliminaries, Marks did pull it together and landed her Trials-winning, PR-setting, Olympic-team-making jump.

Welsch landed her longest jump in the fifth round, but it was still more than four inches shy of Marks. McClain couldn't improve upon her mark from the prelims.

“The heat took it’s toll, so it was a little bit exhausting,” Marks admitted. “But I got what I needed to get done, that was the goal, so I’m happy with that. It’s very overwhelming, I’m not sure it’s sunk all the way in. It’s been my goal for five years, since 2003 really, so to actually accomplish that, I’m just so thankful and excited."

Marks seemed more motivated by her American Record near-miss than disappointed.

“It’s not over!” she said. “I was thinking I’d save that for, maybe, this little event in August. I think I have more in me, so we’ll keep going after it."

Thieschafer Strong in the Heat … Tying her PR in the Eugene’s heat – competition temperatures were in the mid-80s but likely felt hotter on the field – and in the pressure-cooker of the Trials left Thieschafer largely pleased.

“Every jump I took, I was expecting it to be further than it was,” she said. “I couldn’t get that extra gear on. I just couldn’t turn it on to the next level. I feel good because I threw it all out there. I tied my personal best, so I can’t complain."

Thieschafer’s opening jump of 44-11 advanced her to the final eight jumpers in 6th place. She landed the 45-5 that gained 5th place with her final attempt.

On the runway for Thieschafer’s third jump, Marks offered her training partner and good friend some terse advice.

“She said, ‘Quit playing,’ Thieschafer revealed.

Seeing her teammate gain the Olympics was powerful for Thieschafer.

“It makes me want to cry, it really does,” she said. “You know, we always joke to each other that we’re the same person. Through the fall, when it’s really, really hard, we’ll joke that we’re sore today."

"Part of me feels that I’m there right with her, I couldn’t be any more happy for her. It’s the best feeling in the world."

Full results from the competition are HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Olympic Trials Links -- Sunday

Awaiting today's triple jump final featuring Minnesotans Shani Marks and Amanda Thieschafer, here are some links we thought you might enjoy ...

More From the Duluth News-Tribune on Goucher

A Portland Oregonian Story on the Worst Spot in the Meet -- 4th Place ... featuring Katie McGregor

A Eugene Register-Guard story on the Women's 800m ... which will be a crowded, 12-runner affair.

Heather Dorniden's Entry on the U of M Trials Blog

Today's heat sheets are HERE.

Gustavus' Lisa Brown: "It's Unreal Here."

By Mackenzie Lobby

Located twelve miles southwest of Mankato, right off Minnesota State Highway 60, sits the town of Lake Crystal. On the banks of Crystal Lake, roughly 2,500 people reside. Recently, a Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial High School graduate Lisa Brown put the small Minnesota town on the map by qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in the javelin.

In high school, Brown threw the shot and discus and ran hurdles. When she arrived at Gustavus Adolphus College three years ago, she thought she’d embark on a new athletic endeavor.

“I always knew the javelin was out there and wanted to try it,” she explained.

With no other athletes devoted to the javelin at Gustavus, training is a somewhat solitary endeavor. Coached by Tom Thorkelson, she’s seen a tremendous amount of success at the collegiate level, despite her lack of training partners.

A college junior, Brown has now won the NCAA Division III javelin title twice -- in 2006 and 2008 -- and came in second once, in 2007. The three-time all-American holds both the school and conference record with a throw of 174 feet, 5 inches. It was that throw that propelled Brown to be the first track and field student-athlete from Gustavus to ever qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

With a long list of accolades and achievements, Brown’s Trials appearance on Saturday, started off with a throw of 157-8 , which proved to be her best throw of the day. Her second attempt was 157-2 and her third attempt was 157 feet 9 inches. Brown finished 8th in her flight and 13th overall, but missed qualifying for finals by less than a foot and a half.

Although she didn’t throw as well as she hoped, she spoke of the experience participating in such a monumental event in the track and field mecca, of Eugene, Oregon.

“It’s unreal here,” she said. “I didn’t even expect to make it."

In preparation for the Trials, she says, she extended her training regimen to mimic her schedule between her collegiate conference and national meets.

“I lifted twice a week and threw twice a week,” Brown said. “On the other days I tried to keep workouts lower intensity."

In preparation for her senior season at Gustavus, the Health Fitness major says she’ll “hit the training hard when I get home."

She was no doubt the talk of the town in Lake Crystal on Saturday.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Roehrig 5th in Olympic Trials Heptathlon;
Hermanson, Radocaj Advance to Finals

Gopher Golden Multi-Event Star Liz Roehrig finished 5th in the Olympic Trials heptathlon, scoring 5819 points in the two-day competition.

Hyleas Fountain won the competition with 6667 points; Jacquelyn Johnson, who defeated Roehrig at the NCAA meet earlier this month, was 2nd with 6347; Diana Pickler was 3rd with 6257.

Roehrig got her second day of competition off on the right foot with a wind-aided, 19-9, 6th place mark in the long jump. She followed the strong jump with a 122-3 javelin throw, taking 6th place in that event as well.

Roehrig culminated two hot, sticky days of competition with a 2:25.51, 11th place run in the 800m.

The 5819 mark is the second-best of her career, bettered only by her 5855 Big Ten title-winning performance earlier this year.

(Yesterday we incorrectly said her 5811 at NCAAs was her career-best.)

"I was happy with my long jump, but it took me until my third jump to jump it,” Roehrig said. “Javelin throw was the last throw. My 800 should have been faster, but I felt like I stiffened up."

Despite her complaints about the day, she moved up a place from her first day position and exceeded her goal coming into the meet.

“I came in ranked 8th and coach and I hoped for a top-10, top-8 finish,” Roehrig said. “It’s exciting. It’s just something to look forward to as the years go on, which I’m definitely going to do."

Roehrig will return for a final outdoor season with the Gophers next year.

Heptathlon results are HERE.

Pile-Up Puts Hermanson in Final ... Burnsville High School grad Laura Hermanson avoided a wipe-out in the first 800m semi-final and now finds herself an Olympic Trials finalist. The North Dakota State University junior finished in the 4th and final qualifying spot in her heat in 2:05.78.

Just past the 200m mark, four athletes crashed to the Hayward Field track, including 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter and NCAA indoor champion Latavia Thomas of LSU. Hermanson, running in the back of the field at the time, barely avoided the pile-up.

“I just actually heard everybody hit the ground,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, they just fell.’ So I had to jump over them. I got out and I realized I was third. I just tried to hold on."

It was a surreal final 600 meters. Eventual heat-winner Alice Schmidt ran alone in the lead. Hermanson and two others left on their feet cruised in a tight pack. The challenge from the fallen never came.

“I wasn’t sure how long people were down for,” Hermanson said. “I kind of looked at the [stadium video] screen the last 100, but I couldn’t tell even. It was just holding on for dear life."

“It’s crazy. I don’t know what to say,” the unlikely finalist said. “It was definitely lucky – good lucky. It’s a dream come true."

The Gopher’s Heather Dorniden, running in the second semi-final, wasn’t so lucky. The former NCAA indoor champion finished 7th in 2:05.76. The Rosemount High School alum was losing contact with the field going into the final turn and looked as if her season had lasted at one race too long.

“Maybe three or four too many,” Dorniden allowed afterward. “It’s time. In four years, hopefully I’ll come back here with different pre-Olympic Trials training, and the experience."

800m results are HERE.

Javelin Throwers Qualify, and Just Miss … Ruby Radocaj, the University of Minnesota record-holder in the javelin, qualified for Monday’s final with a 175-9 throw in Saturday’s prelims. After a distracted opening throw, the 2006 Big Ten champion marked a strong second toss that advanced her as the #5 qualifier from the prelim.

“The first throw, the camera was right in front of us and I kind of watched myself throw and it wasn’t very good,” Radocaj admitted. “It threw me off. The second one I looked above it and that worked out well for me."

Radocaj, who is no stranger to USA Championship competition – she’s been a finalist three years in a row now -- has a clear idea of what she needs to do to succeed in the finals.

“I just have to stay focused; get rid of external distractions,” she said, “that are my main priority … and don’t look at the camera."

Two-time NCAA Division III champion Lisa Brown of Gustavus Adolphus College missed qualifying for the finals by one place. Her 13th place throw of 157-9 landed 16 inches short of qualifying territory.

Javelin results are HERE.

Photo of Liz Roehrig by Sean Hartnett.

the track town diaries: pre's trail

For our first run in Eugene, Kris and I both headed straight for the Willamette River. Kris chose the 12-mile "bridge to bridge" loop. I'm nursing a sore achilles, so I settled for a 5-miler on the wood chips of Pre's Trail.

Lots of runners on the trail this morning. To honor the legend, I ran down each and every one of them, including a number of senior citizens and little kids. My only complaint: Pre's Trail could use a few more directional signs. Pre didn't need any signs. The fire in his belly told him which way to go!

People I saw on the run this morning: Perry and Kari Bach, Ritchie and Magdalena Lewy Boulet (she was looking surprisingly good after a tough 10,000 last night) and David Krummenacker (who was walking). But Kris topped me, as she crossed paths with one of her heroes, the legendary Joan Samuelson.

Olympic Trials Links -- Saturday

As Saturday competition commences, here are some links you might enjoy ...

The Duluth News-Tribune on Kara Goucher

The Eugene Register-Guard on the Women's 10,000m

The Portland Oregonian on the Women's 10,000m

Women's 10,000m Splits

The Star-Tribune on Shani Marks

The Golden Gopher Olympic Trials Blog

Also ... We failed to mention earlier that University of Minnesota alum Tye Harvey competed in the pole vault prelims last night. He cleared 17-8 1/2 but needed to make 18-0 1/2 to advance to finals.

Startlists for today are HERE.

Photo of Liz Roehrig by Sean Hartnett.

the track town diaries: june 28

So far, this is one of those trips where everything is turning out exactly as I imagined. Eugene is just as beautiful as everyone has told me. The crowds at the track are as big and enthusiastic as expected. The entire town is behind the event. It's like Boston or Duluth on marathon weekend. Every diner and taco stand has a poster in the window and a greeting on the sign out front.

Kris and I lucked into a hotel close to the track. Everyone keeps asking how I got it. I have no idea. Just online at the right time. We're right next door to Track Town Pizza. We're told it's not the best pizza in town, but I'm going to eat there anyway. If you've made the effort to name your establishment after my sport, you get my business.

At the track last night: Our neighbors in section U are locals. They agreed to cheer for Minnesotans, if we would cheer for anyone who has ever attended the University of Oregon. Including the kid driving the Gatorade cart (he apparently has some potential in the 400). On the other side of us was the father of Allison Grace, the former Kentucky standout, now running for ZAP Fitness. Allison was running the fourth 10,000 of her life last night. Her dad was beaming.

We ran into Bruce Mortenson outside the stadium. He and Tom Heinonen were waiting in a very long line for food. I kind of figured that there would be some kind of special buffet set up for former Oregon NCAA champions and hall of fame coaches. Turns out that they have to wait for their burrito like everyone else. Bruce was full of tips on things to do in Eugene. I was waiting for him to invite us to go out for a beer with he and Kenny Moore. Didn't happen.

It was great to see so many of the MN athletes do well. Charlie already did the recap, so I'll avoid duplicating his post. Every field seems so deep. Was that the best U.S. women's 10,000 field ever assembled? And Deena wasn't even running. There were former Olympians in the race (Rudolph, Dryer) who weren't even a factor.

Amy Begley's race was unbelievable. She knew that she needed the A standard and pushed the pace in the hardest part of the race. But I still didn't think she'd get it. I thought they'd run too slow in the first 3k. Someone asked me if she had a shot with a mile to go. I did the math and said, "no way she can finish that fast." Obviously, I was wrong.

But someone just reminded me that McGregor is still the alternate. Goucher and Flanagan are entered in the 5,000. Our girl still has a shot.

Kara Goucher Makes Olympic Team;
Katie McGregor Odd Runner Out Again

Kara Goucher achieved a childhood dream last night.

The Duluth East graduate finished second in last night's 10,000 meter final earning her first Olympic team berth.

American record-holder Shalane Flanagan won the race in 31:34.81; Goucher ran 31:37.72. Goucher's Portland, Oregon-based training partner Amy Begley snatched the final Olympic spot kicking to the Olympic A standard time she needed in 31:43.60 for 3rd place.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 4th in 32:29.82. The Team USA Minnesota runner had an A qualifier which would have put her on the team even with her place, had Begley not achieved the mark herself with a furious kick.

Stanford freshman Alex Gits of Edina did not start the race.

"Of course I wanted to win tonight," an elated Goucher said at the post race media conference. "I'm thrilled with the race. I act like I win -- I've never, ever won. I just live in the moment and I feel amazing right now, I'm psyched."

Goucher was content to follow early leader Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and mid-race leader Begley before launching her own attack with three laps to go. The 2007 World Championships bronze medalist looked strong but didn't have an answer for Flanagan's finish.

"I have wanted to be an Olympian for so long," Goucher said. "This is a childhood dream."

McGregor, finishing in the heartbreak position, might wish the race was only a dream. She's now felt the Trials' snakebite two Olympiads in a row. Still, the 2005 USA 10,000 meter champion tried to keep the result in perspective.

"Coming in, I figured I'd probably make it or just miss it once again," McGregor said. "In 2004, I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot. But I'm not going to do it this time. I'm just going to go into the next one. I came back with a great year in 2005, so hopefully 2009 will be a good one for me."

McGregor let Flanagan, Goucher, and Begley break away mid-race, a decision she reexamined afterward.

"I didn't think I wanted to go with them when they took it initially," she said. "I wanted to be a little conservative and it just didn't work in my favor tonight. I'm not disappinted in myself. Amy Begley ran a great race, you have to hand it to her, she ran an unbelievable race."

Roehrig in 6th After Day 1 … After the first day of heptathlon competition, the University of Minnesota’s Liz Roehrig rests in 6th place with 3598 points. Hyleas Fountain leads the competition with 3989 points. Roehrig is 119 points out of 3rd place.

Roehrig got her day off to a fast start. Assisted by a heptathlon-legal 3.5 meter/second tailwind, the Chilton, Wisconsin native ran a personal-best 14.12, in the 100 meter hurdles, which opened the competition. The mark was worth 961 points.

She survived an early scare in the high jump and weathered some rough jumping overall, to score another 953 points with her 5-10 final clearance. Roehrig needed all three attempts to clear the opening height of 5-5 1/4 and cleared only one of her five successful heights on the first attempt.

“I didn’t get nervous or anything,” the two-time Big Ten Champion said about her make-or-break attempt at the opening height. “High jump was a real struggle today for whatever reason. That’s okay, because [the competition] just goes into the next event."

In the shot put, Roehrig rebounded with a near-PR 43-2 ¼ to finish second in the event and earn 738 points. In the 200m that closed first-day competition, she clocked 24.36 to win her section and finish 4th overall in the event.

Roehrig’s 3598 point total puts her 17 points ahead of the first day score she tallied when she set her PR at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines two weeks ago. There, see scored 5811 points to finish as the runner-up.

Heptathlon Day 1 results are HERE.

Competition concludes tomorrow with the long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run.

Marks, Thieschafer Qualify … Shani Marks jumped a wind-aided 47-0 3/4 to advance to Sunday’s triple jump final as the event’s top qualifier. The four-time USA champion landed the mark, an automatic qualifier for finals, on her first jump and then passed her remaining attempts.

Training partner Amanda Thieschafer jumped a wind-legal 45-1 ¾ on her one-and-only attempt to automatically advance as the #6 jumper. Jumpers need a mark of 44-7 ¼ to advance automatically.

Results for the event are available HERE.

Dorniden, Hermanson Through to Semis … Minnesota collegians Heather Dorniden (U of M) and Laura Hermanson (NDSU) qualified for tomorrow’s 800m semifinal. Running together in the first prelim heat, won by Hazel Clark, Dorniden finished 6th in 2:04.66, with Hermanson a place behind in 2:04.89. Both runners advanced on time.

Dorniden came out of the final turn in position to gain places in the homestretch, but the Gopher all-American couldn’t find a passing gear.

“I didn’t want to play the same game that I tried at nationals, where I tried to take it away early,” she explained. “It all turned out the way it was supposed to up until [the final 200], except you can’t underestimate a field this amazing."

Hermanson was tucked at the back of the field trough the early-going, the field passed the 400, in 62.1, but then found herself in heavy traffic.

“I was hoping to be a little faster, I guess, through the 400,” the Burnesville native said. “I got myself a little boxed in with 350 to go, so I tried to whip out to the side. I think I just waited a little too long to really start try to kick in."

Women’s 800m results are HERE.

Other Minnesotans in the Prelims … Gopher alum Trent Riter did not advance from the 800m prelims. Riter, a finalist in the USA Championships last year but hectored by injuries this year, ran 1:49.13 for 7th in his heat.

Team USA Minnesota’s Matt Gabrielson sneaked into the 5000m final with a 14:00.92, 8th place finish in the first heat of the event.

“The last thousand was tough; I was dying the last 300, Gabrielson said before he knew he had advanced. “I’m sure [the final] will be fast. Just hang on for dear life, if I make that final. I just pray to the good Lord that I make that final."

Teammate Andrew Carlson, and Gopher freshman Hassan Mead didn’t advance from the same heat -- Mead ran 14:07.44, Carlson ran 14:13.78 ....

Bemidji State Joe Remitz finished a non-advancing 24th in the shot put prelims with 59-0.

Photo of Liz Roehrig by Sean Hartnett.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Olympic Trials Link Round-Up ....

DtB is on the ground in Eugene!

Until we wrap-up today's action in the wee hours of the Central Time Zone, here are some links we've found that you might enjoy ...

MinnPost's Preview of the Olympic Trials

The Eugene Register-Guard's Preview of Tonight's Women's 10,000m

The Portland Oregonian's Profile of Kara Goucher

The Duluth News-Tribune's Profile of Kara Goucher

Heat sheets are HERE.

Let the Trials begin!

the track town diaries: june 27

Charlie asked me to post some impressions of the Olympic Trials experience from the perspective of the average fan. So here it is: the track town diaries.

I'll be traveling to Eugene with my wife Kris. This will be our third trip to the Olympic Trials. We were in Sacramento in 2000 and 2004. We'd decided that if the Trials were held in Sacramento again, we probably wouldn't go back. Nothing against Sacramento. It's just that we felt like we'd covered that scene.

Then the Trials were awarded to Eugene. We couldn't resist the opportunity: Track Town, U.S.A.

Things are a bit different this time around. We have two young sons, which makes it a little more difficult to get away. So we're only going for the first four days of competition.

We're very excited about tonight's action. There will be a number of Minnesotans competing, some of whom have a legitimate shot at making the team. The line up includes our neighbor Katie McGregor. Should be a great introduction to historic Hayward Field.

Probably won't have time to post again until early Saturday. More then.

Opening Night 10,000 Big for Minnesotans

For Minnesota track and field fans, the 10-day-long U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials will open with a bang today in the meet's very first session. When the gun fires for the women's 10,000 meter final tonight, a pair of Minnesota athletes will be prime contenders, for victory in the race and one of the golden top-three finishing places that earn selection to the U.S. Olympic team.

IAAF World Championships bronze medalist Kara Goucher, a Duluth native, and Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor will step to the starting line tonight with clear Olympic objectives. Despite successful careers that include NCAA titles and international experience, both seek their first U.S. Olympic team selection.

Goucher, who trains in Oregon with former marathon great Alberto Salazar, looks to return to the international stage that saw her earn a surprise medal at Worlds in Osaka last summer. After a collegiate and professional career riddled by injury, the University of Colorado alum seems to have found her stride with Salazar. Goucher, seeded #2 for the Trials, notched an Olympic A qualifying mark last month in Portland, running 31:26.48, and last week scored a 4:05 1500m win in her final tune-up race.

McGregor, the 2005 USA 10,000m champion and the 13th place finisher in Osaka, seeks the Olympic spot she narrowly missed in 2004. McGregor finished 4th in 2004 and, for lack of a qualifying time, was later unable to claim an available Olympic berth after Trials 10,000m champ Deena Kastor declined her spot in favor of the marathon. This Olympiad, McGregor, seeded #4, has her Olympic qualifier -- a 31:37.82 she ran last year -- firmly in hand.

The competition Goucher and McGregor will face is strong. American record-breaker Shalane Flanagan is the top seed with the 30:34.49 she ran to break Kastor's American Record in April in Palo Alto, California. Notre Dame graduate Molly Huddle, the third-fastest U.S. 10,000m runner this season with her 31:27.12 from the same race is the #3 seed in the race as well.

Other runners who figure to be in the Olympic 10,000m hunt until the race's bitter end include: 2006 USA 10,000m champ Amy Rudolph, collegiate record-setter Lisa Koll of Iowa State, Goucher's training-mate Amy Begley, 2003 Twin Cities Marathon champ Blake Russell, and 2006 USA Championship 10,000m runner-up Sara Slattery.

Although not yet in that league, 2007 Edina High School alum Alex Gits, coming off her impressive freshman season at Stanford, looks to gain some valuable Trials experience for what she hopes will be her own long, well-decorated career at the top of the sport. Gits finished third in the 10,000 at the NCAA Outdoor Championship in Des Moines two weeks ago. She's seeded #22 in the Trials field.

Action in the women's 10,000m commences tonight at 11:20 CDT.

Following the Action ... Down the Backstretch will feature daily coverage of the Trials. We plan to post a complete wrap-up of each day's Minnesota action for reading first thing the following morning and offer bonus posts here and there during the meet. We'll have quotes, photos, details, and "local color" from the event so big they only hold it once every four years!

If you want results even quicker than we'll be able to provide, click HERE.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The List: Minnesotans at the Olympic Trials

With the US Olympic Team Trials set to begin on Friday, we scanned the list of entrants, searching for athletes who began their careers in Minnesota, or currently reside in the state. This list reflects the breadth and depth of athletic talent that exists right in our own backyard. Minnesota is represented in nearly every discipline.

Notes: (p) = Pending. Athlete has declared intent to compete, but entry is in provisional status, has an updated mark that must be verified, or requires additional information. This list does not include athletes who have qualified for an event, but have not declared their intent to compete.


400 Meters
(p) Mitch Potter, Otsego (former Gopher)

800 Meters
Trent Riter, Minneapolis (former Gopher)

1,500 Meters
Will Leer, Eugene, OR (Minnetonka HS)
Garrett Heath, Winona (Stanford)

5,000 Meters
Matt Gabrielson, Minneapolis (Team USA MN)
Andrew Carlson, Bloomington (Team USA MN)
Hassan Mead, Minneapolis (Gophers)

3,000 Meter Steeplechase
(p) Luke Watson, South Bend, IN (Stillwater HS)

Pole Vault
Tye Harvey, Isleton, CA (former Gopher)

High Jump
Jim Dilling, Fond du Lac, WI (formerly MSU-Mankato)
(p) Julian Morris, St. Paul (Iowa State, formerly Osseo HS)

Shot Put
Joe Remitz, Bemidji (Bemidji State)
(p) Nate Englin, Columbia, MO (formerly Mounds View HS)

Discus Throw
(p) Karl Erickson, Minneapolis (former Gopher)

Hammer Throw
(p) Kevin Becker, Rochester (formerly UW-LaCrosse)


800 Meters
Heather Dorniden, Inver Grove Heights/Rosemount HS (Gophers)
Laura Hermanson, Fargo, ND (formerly Burnsville HS)

1,500 Meters
Jenelle Deatherage, St. Louis Park (formerly U of Wisconsin)
(p) Carrie Tollefson, St. Paul (Team USA MN)

5,000 Meters
Kara Goucher, Portland, OR (formerly Duluth East)
Emily Brown, Minneapolis (Team USA MN)
Cack Ferrell, Eugene, OR (formerly SPA and Summit School)

10,000 Meters
Kara Goucher, Portland, OR (formerly Duluth East)
Katie McGregor, St. Louis Park (Team USA Minnesota)
Alex Gits, Edina (Stanford)

3,000 Meter Steeplechase
(p) Jamie Cheever, Minneapolis (Gophers)

Pole Vault
(p) Katelin Rains, Coon Rapids (MSU-Mankato)

Triple Jump
Shani Marks, Brooklyn Park (former Gopher)
Amanda Thieschafer, Minneapolis (formerly Melrose HS and NDSU)

Hammer Throw
(p) Elizabeth Alabi, Brookly Park (Gophers)

Javelin Throw
Ruby Radocaj, Minneapolis (Gophers)
Lisa Brown, Lake Crystal (Gustavus Adolphus)

Liz Roehrig, Chilton, WI (Gophers)

We've attempted this type of comprehensive list in the past, with mixed results. Please let us know of any omissions, either via email or in the comments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Recruiting: Gopher Women Add Sprint Talent

In the future, will we talk about the Gopher's women sprinters the way we talk about their middle distance runners now?

The University of Minnesota women's track program, which yesterday announced the addition of ten recruits to the team, adds five talented sprinters to the program known in recent years for its half-milers.

Donning the maroon and gold in 2009 and the future are sprinters Brianna Fernholz of Willmar, Nyoka Giles of Diego Martin, Trinidad, Chim Okoroji of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Kylie Peterson of Apple Valley, and Adrienne Thomas of Adams, North Dakota.

Also new to the team in 2009 will be middle distance runner Heather Brunn of Rogers, thrower DeAnne Hahn of Lakewood, New Jersey, pole vaulter Becca Pikerton of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and distance runner Claire Rindo of Berlin, Wisconsin, and jumper Todea-Kaye Willis of St. Andrew, Jamaica.

In all, five states and three countries are represented in the recruiting class.

“We are very excited about this class of incoming freshmen,” Gopher women's head track coach Matt Bingle said in a media release. “This class includes some great talent that we can't wait to get on campus. We hope these talented athletes will help continue the success that the women have enjoyed over the last few years!"

Fernholz, a Willmar High School graduate, captured all-state honors in the 200-meter dash at the 2008 Minnesota Class AA State Meet. She has also been a member of two all-state relays, the 4x200-meter relay in 2008 and the 4x100-meter relay in 2006. Fernholz is also the reigning Junior Miss Minnesota.

Giles joins the Gophers from the Tranquility Government School in Diego Martin, Trinidad. She is a member of the Trinidad World Junior Team and the Trinidad and Tobago Junior National Team. Giles owns personal bests of 11.75 seconds in the 100 meters, 23.99 in the 200 meters and 54.64 in the 400 meters.

Okoroji is a two-time all-state sprinter from Eau Claire Memorial High School. She placed third in the 100-meter dash as a junior and senior at the Wisconsin Division I State Meet. Her top 100-meters time is 12.09 seconds. She also competed in the 200 meters at state this season.

Peterson helped Apple Valley to a third-place finish as a team at the Minnesota State Meet by winning state titles in the 100 and 200 meters, and running a leg of the champion 4x100-meter relay. Her time of 11.79 seconds in the 100-meter title race was wind-aided, but her prelim time of 11.88 seconds stands as a Minnesota all-class high school record. She ran a time of 24.70 to win the 200 meters. Peterson also won the 100-meter state title in 2007.

Thomas is a state champion sprinter and long jumper from Park River Area High School. Thomas is a two-time North Dakota Division B state titlist in the 400 meters, winning the 2008 title in 57.17 seconds. She added the state title in the 100 meters (12.12) and a runner-up showing in the long jump (18-9 3/4) in her senior season. Thomas owns personal bests of 56.05 in the 400 meters and 19-3 in the long jump.

Brunn comes to the Gophers as a three-time place-winner in the Minnesota Class AA State Meet in the 800 meters, including a third-place finish this spring. Brunn was also a two-time all-conference performer in soccer and played in two state basketball tournaments.

Hahn is a three-time New Jersey state champion shot putter from Brick Township High School. She also captured state runner-up honors in the discus in each of the past two seasons. DeAnne is the younger sister of two-time NCAA wrestling champion and former Gopher, Damion Hahn (1999-04). She owns career-best marks of 47-6 in the shot put and 155-6 in the discus.

Pikerton, a graduate of Dexter High School, is the 2008 Michigan Division 2 champion in the pole vault. She finished 13th in the event at the 2007 Nike Outdoor National and owns a career-best of 12-2.

Rindo is a five-time all-state cross country and track performer from Berlin High School. Rindo posted Wisconsin Division 2 runner-up finishes in both the state cross country meet (14:35.8) and the 1,600-meter run (5:02.28). She was third in the 3,200-meter run as both a junior and senior as well, running a personal-best of 10:48.11 at state this year.

Willis, a graduate of St. Andrews High School for Girls, comes to Minnesota as Jamaica’s top high school long jumper. She owns personal bests of 20-2 in the long jump and 41-7 in the triple jump.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Olympian Kate Smyth Needs Your Help ...

Want to train with an Olympian?

Kate Smyth, the Australian marathoner who finished 3rd at Saturday's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth in 1:16:32, is looking for training partners.

The Australian Olympic team nominee will be training in the Twin Cities through mid-July and is interested in finding athletes who could help pace her through some tempo workouts during that time. Smyth said athletes would can run 1:10 to 1:12 for the half marathon would be ideal partners for her.

Smyth, who earned nomination to the Australian team after her 2:28:51 runner-up finish at Japan's Nagano Marathon in April, has been training in the United States for two weeks already. She flew from Boulder, Colorado to race in Duluth last weekend and plans to stay in Minnesota through July 10th. After that, her preparations for the Beijing marathon will take her to Long Island, New York and Hong Kong.

Smyth was "nominated" to the Australian Olympic team after her Nagano performance and expects to be officially named to her country's Olympic team later this summer as long as she remains fit and uninjured. Smith finished 7th in the 2006 Commonwealth Games marathon.

If an elite runner from "Down Under" training in Minnesota reminds you of three-time Grandma's Marathon champ Lorraine Moller, it's no accident.

"Lorraine, I know, loved coming up here," Smyth told DtB. "We're quite similar. I'm almost mimicking her progress. I knew that she loved this area, I thought there's a good chance that I'm really going to love it too."

Workout Helpers ... If you're interested in helping Smyth train for the Beijing Games, contact DtB editor/publisher Charlie Mahler are cmahler22 [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.

FLASH: Brown to Race 5000m, Not Steeple

Team USA Minnesota has announced that Emily Brown will compete in the 5000 meters, and not the 3000m steeplechase, at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials which open on Friday in Eugene, Oregon.

Brown's 15:19.57 mark in the 5000m positions her as the #8-seed in the event. Her 9:45.38 mark would have made her the #7-seed in the steeplechase.

Marks, Thieschafer in PR Form for Trials

With women's triple jump prelims set to get underway on Friday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trails in Eugene, Oregon, Minnesotans Shani Marks and Amanda Thieschafer find themselves in good position to contend for the Olympic team.

Two weekends ago, in their final competition before the Trials, the training partners bounced to PRs at the Olympic Training Center Last Chance Meet in Chula Vista, California. Marks jumped 46-11 to put herself atop the 2008 U.S. List in the event. Thieschafer hopped, stepped, and jumped 45-5 for her new career best. She's currently ranked #4 in the U.S. this year.

If you want to know more about Marks and Thieschafer, you're in luck, The USA Track and Field -- Minnesota web-site has just published a feature story I wrote on the pair HERE. Also, the Star-Tribune's Rachel Blount has written THIS top-of-the-A-Section feature on Marks.

If you read both stories, you'll see that Blount and I were both taken by the same training game Marks and Thieschafer play against one-another.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Preps: Mellon's 1:48.64 Breaks HS Mark;
Finnerty Wins NON Mile Title in 4:05.25

Minnesota's boys' distance running record book has now been thoroughly re-written.

Buffalo High School junior Zach Mellon, finishing as the runner-up at the USA Junior Championships in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, established a new all-time best mark for Minnesota high school boys at 800 meters with his 1:48.64 clocking.

You can watch the race, which Oregon high school junior Elijah Greer wins in 1:47.68, HERE.

Mellon's performance qualifies him for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in July.

Mellon's run eclipses Stewartville's Jason Owen's 1:49.13 clocking from 1996 as the Minnesota standard. Mellon's mark completes the recent rewrite of the state prep boys distance record book. A year ago this weekend, Winona's Elliott Heath ran the fastest 2 mile in Minnesota history with his 8:46.12 at the Nike Outdoor National meet. Last week, Burnsville's Rob Finnerty broke Garry Bjorklund's 39-year-old Minnesota mile record of 4:05.1 with his 4:01.09 at the Midwest Distance Gala.

Finnerty at Nike Outdoor Nationals ... Minnesota's fastest prep miler was in action over the weekend as well, winning Saturday's NON mile in 4:05.25 and taking 4th, the night before, in the NON 2 mile in 8:50.96, the #3 Minnesota prep time at the distance ever. In the 2 mile, German Fernandez of California won in a U.S. High School record of 8:34.40.

In the NON mile, Rosemount's Jordan Carlson finished 3rd in 4:07.56.

You can watch that race HERE.

You can watch the NON 2 mile HERE.

There's an interview with Finnerty HERE.

There's an interview with Carlson HERE.

Photo of Mellon by Gene Niemi.

Grandma's Photos -- by Gene Niemi

The men's chase pack at 16 miles.

Men's champ Lamech Mokono.

Women's champ Mary Akor making it two wins in a row.

Bart Johnson, the top Minnesota men's finisher.

Jenna Boren, the top Minnesota female at Grandma's.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grandma's: Mokono Wins; Akor Defends

Lamech Mokono of Kenya and Nigerian-born American Mary Akor won today's Grandma's Marathon titles.

Mokono (pictured), wearing the same race number -- #6 -- that fallen champion Wesly Ngetich wore for his win last year, ran 2:13:39.

Akor defended her 2007 title in 2:38:50.

Both Mokono and Akor broke away from their competition early in the race and battled bothersome headwinds en route to their victories.

The race was run under sunny skies with a start-time temperature of 63 degrees.

Wearing Ngetich's race number proved inspirational for Mokono, who was a friend of the murdered two-time Grandma's champion.

"At Mile 21 I felt I was the defending champion," he said. "I looked at the chest number and I said, 'This is a winning number.' so I was helped by that."

Akor joins Lorraine Moller and Svetlana Sultanova-Zhdanova as the only women to successfully defend titles at Grandma's. She could match Moller, a Grandma's three-peater, with a win next year.

Christopher Raabe, a Sauk Rapids native, was the top Minnesota native in the men's field in 6th at 2:17:35. Jenna Boren of St. Paul was the top Minnesota woman in 8th at 2:49:01.

Mathew Chesang of Kenya and Liza Hunter-Galvan of New Zealand won the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. Chesang clocked 1:04:48, while Hunter-Galvan ran 1:04:48.

Mike Reneau, a former Minneapolis resident who now competes for the Brooks-Hanson's group in Michigan was the top runner with Minnesota ties in the race in 3rd at 1:05:21. Duluth's own Katie Koski was the top Minnesota woman in the race in 5th at 1:18:29.

Defending Garry Bjorklund champ Chad Johnson, a University of Minnesota alum, was 7th in 1:06:53.

Full results for all the Grandma's events can be found HERE.

Duluth News-Tribune race coverage:
Men's race story
Women's race story
Half marathon story
Photo gallery

Star Tribune race coverage:
Women's race story
Men's race story
Half marathon / wheelers / etc.
Photo gallery

Photo by Charlie Mahler

Friday, June 20, 2008

Finnerty a Favorite in Epic HS Two Mile

Burnsville High School senior Rob Finnerty, who last Saturday ran the country's fastest high school mile of the season at 4:01.09, will step to the starting line tonight in what could be an historic 2 Mile race at the Nike Outdoor National meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Race favorites Finnerty, German Fernandez of California, and Luke Puskedra of Utah are thought by many to have the stuff to challenge the long-standing national high school record in the event of 8:36.3, set by Burbank, California's Jeff Nelson in 1979.

We recommend THIS preview of the race from Dyestat.

Nike Outdoor Nationals is the event where, last year, Winona's Elliott Heath established a new Minnesota all-time best for 2 Miles with his 3rd place, 8:46.12 and Minneapolis South Hassan Mead ran 8:51.23.

Heat sheets for this year's meet can be found HERE. Note: Finnerty is also slated to race the Mile on Saturday.

Results will be posted HERE.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grandma's Adopts New Heat Protocol

Today's Duluth News-Tribune reports, HERE, that Grandma's Marathon has instituted a new protocol for dealing with hot weather. According to the story, the protocol calls for race officials to decide on the Thursday afternoon prior to the Saturday event -- today in this year's case -- whether the race would be shortened to a half marathon distance or cancelled.

The new protocol, the story says, comes in response to last year's second-warmest Grandma's which had "maxed out" the event's abilities to respond to emergencies, according to Grandma's medical director. The change in policy also comes in the wake of tropical conditions at last fall's Medtronic Twin Cities and Chicago Marathons.

The Weather Channel's hour-by-hour forecast, HERE, currently projects a start-time temperature of 59 degrees with a 53 degree dew-pint and 80% humidity for this year's race. A high of 73 degrees is forecast for Saturday in Duluth.

The Hot Weather Issue ... Down the Backstretch, you might remember, discussed the marathon weather issue last fall. We suggested -- and our readers agreed -- that moving the date Grandma's to earlier in the year and pushing TCM later would make for faster and safer racing conditions.

You can read our TCM editorial HERE.

The Grandma's editorial that followed it is HERE.

We've also moved the results of two informal polls we took on the matter up on the DtB sidebar.

A response from Grandma's Marathon executive director Scott Keenan is HERE.

As he did in that DtB response last fall, Keenan says in today's News-Tribune story that Grandma's has no intention of moving its race date from its traditional third Saturday in June.

Elite Fields for Grandma's and Garry Bjorklund ... The Grandma's Marathon men's field, HERE, has the makings for a Kenya versus Ethiopia dual meet. (Where have Grandma's Russian men gone?) The women's field, HERE, has a nice mix of Kenyan, East European, and American talent, including defending champ Mary Akor.

We're pleased to see the growing depth of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon fields, thanks to its increased prize money in recent years. The Bjorklund men's field field is posted HERE, the women are HERE.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News & Notes: Catching Up Before Grandma's

Let's use hump-day to catch up on a few items that have stacked up on the DtB news-desk ...

Athletes of the Month ... USA Tack and Field Minnesota recently named Burnsville High School's Rob Finnerty and Moorhead State University's Jennifer Hensel their Athletes of the Month of June.

The awards, based on May performances, recognized Finnerty's 4:06.49 1600m victory at the Section 3AA meet -- then the #2 Minnesota high school mark all-time in the event. Hensel earned her accolades for winning her second straight NCAA Division II pole vault title with a vault of 13-2 1/4.

You can read the official announcement HERE.

Team Circuit Standings ... With two-thirds of the nine-race USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit in the books, Run N Fun holds a comfortable lead in both open divisions. RNF's women's squad leads TC Running Company 72 to 53 with Team Unattached in 3rd with 47 points. On the men's side, RNF leads the open division over TCRC 84 to 78 with Lundgren Ford 3rd at 68.

In age-group divisions, TCRC leads the men's masters division and RNF leads the women's. The Molar Milers lead the men's grand masters while the Prairie Striders lead the women's 50+ division.

Full standing are available HERE.

Cross Country Circuit Input Sought ... USATF-Minnesota is seeking input on this fall's Cross Country Team Circuit. USATF-Minnesota Long Distance Running Chairman Ed Whetham invites interested parties to a planning meeting scheduled for Monday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Majors Sports Cafe in Golden Valley. (Click HERE for directions.)

For more details or for race directors to have their event considered for the circuit, contact Whetham HERE.

The Great Alex Ratelle ... The Duluth News-Tribune published a nice story HERE on masters superstar Alex Retelle. Ratelle, among his many stunning performances, holds the Grandma's Marathon record for 55-59-year-olds at 2:30:40.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting Ready for Grandma's Marathon

While it may still seem like the middle of the track and field season -- Nike Outdoor Nationals is this weekend for the state's top preps and the Olympic Track and Field Trials begin next weekend -- up on the shores of the big lake they call Gitchu Gummi it's marathon time.

Grandma's Marathon and the increasingly competitive Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon are on tap for Saturday in Duluth.

Last year's women's champ Mary Akor of Hawthorne, California is back to defend her marathon title. Bib #1 for the men's race, fittingly, has not been issued in honor of Wesly Ngetich who was killed earlier this year in post-election violence in his Kenya. Gopher alum Chad Johnson returns to defend is title in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, while Michelle Lilienthal of Team USA Minnesota is one of a handful of favorites in the Bjorklund women's race.

The Duluth News-Tribune, not surprisingly, has been covering Duluth's signature event quite thoroughly. Kevin Pates wrote THIS nice remembrance of Ngetich for Sunday's paper. The DNT's special Grandma's section HERE covers the gamut -- including stories about a former North Shore Strider's comeback as well as a homeowner's frustration with race participants urinating on their property.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Roehrig is NCAA Heptathlon Runner-Up

University of Minnesota junior Liz Roehrig highlighted Saturday's final day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a runner-up finish in the heptathlon. The four-time all-American and six-time Big Ten Champion scored 5811 points in the two-day competition.

Arizona State's Jacquelyn Johnson won her fourth straight NCAA heptathlon title with 6053 points.

Roehrig (pictured), who lost the bulk of last year's outdoor season to an ankle injury, was pleased with how things ended up this year.

"I’m excited with my finish," she said in a Gopher media release. "It was something I knew I could do and I didn’t even have an amazing meet. I came in and did what I could and I’m happy with how it turned out."

Roehrig had special praise for her rival Johnson.

“Johnson is such an amazing athlete,” Roehrig said. “I love competing with her and against her. She pushes everything to the max. I look forward to competing against her again at the Trials."

Roehrig's performance was the bright spot for the Gopher women. The team did amass a program-record 15 points at the championship -- good for 13th place -- but had no doubt hoped for more. Half-miler Heather Dorniden had the worst finish of her NCAA career with a fifth-place, 2:05.86 run in the 800m. Javelin thrower Ruby Radocaj, who entered the meet as the #3 seed, finished 6th with a throw of 172-0.

In other action, Winona High School alum Garrett Heath of Stanford finished 6th in the 1500m in 3:43.15. Mounds View alum Nate Englin finished 10th in the shot put with 57-9.

Full meet results can be found HERE.

NCAA Photo Gallery II -- by Gene Niemi

Gopher Heather Dorniden (#8) racing in the 80m final.

Stanford's Garrett Heath in the 1500m final.

Gopher heptathlete Liz Roehrig.

Roehrig racing the heptathlon 200m.

Gopher Andrea Smith.

Gopher Jamie Cheever (#8) in the steeplechase.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finnerty Now Minnesota's Fastest HS Miler

After 39 years, Garry Bjorklund is no longer Minnesota's fastest-ever schoolboy miler.

Burnville's Rob Finnerty (pictured), running in the Midwest Distance Gala last night in Lisle, Illinois, broke Bjorklund's Minnesota all-time best mark in the event with a 4:01.09 victory.

Bjorklund's record was 4:05.1 set at the State Meet in 1969.

You can watch video of Finnerty's run HERE.

Full results, including those of other Minnesotans competing in the meet, are HERE.

Earlier in the season, Finnerty had clocked 4:06.49 for 1600m to become the second-fastest miler/1600m runner in state high school history.

According to Dyestat's coverage of the event, Rosemount's Jordan Carlson -- who would finish second to Finnerty yet again, in 4:07.18 -- led the field through 400m in 59.6. Carlson, with Finnerty right behind him hit 800m in 2:01.3 and 1200m in "3:01-high" before Finnerty stormed home to his record.

Finnerty's mile time equates to a 3:59.70 1600m. It is the fastest mile run by an American high school athlete in 2008, according to Dyestat.

The time also ranks as the 7th-fastest high school mile/1600m in American high school history.

Finnerty is expected to race in the 2 Mile at next weekend's Nike Outdoor National meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Photo by Brandon Gittelman, courtesy of

FLASH: Tollefson Gets Trials Qualifier

Team USA Minnesota's Carrie Tollefson ran the Olympic Trials qualifying mark she sought at last night's American Miler's Club meet in Indianapolis.

The 2004 Olympian ran 4:16.56 for 1500m to earn a "B" qualifier for the event.

With last night's mark, Tollefson will still need to wait out the entry process to see if she is accepted into the meet. A field of 30 athletes is intended for the women's 1500m at the Olympic Trials in Eugene in less than two weeks.

Entry lists for the Trials are HERE.

Results from the meet, where Jenelle Deatherage ran 4:07.87 to finish third at 1500m, can be found HERE.

The window for qualifying for the Trials closes today.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

FLASH: Finnerty Runs 4:01.09 Mile

Reports from the Midwest Distance Gala in Lisle, Illinois say Burnsville High School's Rob Finnerty won the event's mile run in 4:01.09, a new Minnesota all-time best for the event.

Full details in the morning ...

Gophers' Hassan Mead 6th in NCAA 5000m

Gopher freshman Hassan Mead placed 6th and earned all-America distinction in last night's NCAA 5000m final running 13:44.30.

Villanova senior Bobby Curtis won the race in 13:33.93.

“It was exactly the type of race I was hoping for,” Mead (pictured #6) said in a Gopher media release. “The pace was fast, not like Thursday’s trial. I was hoping we’d get out there and really run, and we did."

Mead's performance broke Andrew Carlson's U of M record in the event (13:44.64) and makes him the first Golden Gopher all-American at 5000m since 1977 when Steve Plasencia, now Mead’s coach, ran to such honors.

Hassan ran a fantastic race,” Plasencia said. “He is going to be awfully good if he can stay healthy throughout his career.

In Other Gopher Action ... Liz Roehrig finds herself in second place after Day 1 of the heptathlon. Reigning NCAA indoor pentathlon champ Jacquelyn Johnson of Arizona State leads the competition with 3606 points; Roehrig has 3581.

Roehrig ran a season-best 14.32 in the 100m hurdles, high jumped 5-10, put the shot a near-PR 44-6, and clocked a 24.54 200m to cap off the day.

“Liz had a great first day and put herself in a super position for tomorrow,” Gopher head coach Matt Bingle said. “I’m excited to see what the second day brings.”

Gopher Andrea Smith capped her collegiate career with a 9th place finish in the pole vault yesterday. She cleared 13-1 1/2.

Gopher steeplechaser Jamie Cheever finished 11th in 10:15.31.

Action Concludes Today ... In the final day of competition today, Roehrig will conclude competition in the heptathlon, Gopher teammates Heather Dorniden and Ruby Radocaj will compete in the 800m and javelin finals, respectively.

Stanford's Garrett Heath of Winona will run in the 1500m final and Missouri thrower Nate Englin, a Mounds View alum, will throw in the shot put final.

Live results from the NCAA Championships are found HERE.

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tollefson to Seek Trials Qualifier in Indy

2004 U.S. Olympic Team member Carrie Tollefson will race the 1500m in Saturday's American Milers' Club High Performance meet in Indianapolis in a last ditch attempt to secure a qualifying time for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials to be contested in two weeks.

The qualifying window for the Trials closes on Sunday.

The Team USA Minnesota star missed notching a qualifier by less than a second last weekend at the USATF - Minnesota Open and Masters Championships at Hamline University in St. Paul. There, she clocked 4:20.14; the Olympic Trials "B" Standard is 4:19.50.

Sicne she resumed competing in February, Tollefson has been in a race regain top form after dealing with a serious abdominal injury in 2007.

Qualifiers ... Track & Field News recently published these lists of WOMEN'S and MEN'S Olympic Trials qualifiers, as of June 10.

NCAA Photo Gallery -- by Gene Niemi

Heather Dorniden (#2) leads her 800m semifinal.

The Gophers' R. J. McGinnis racing the Decathlon 1500m.

Stanford's Garrett Heath (#2) leading his 1500m semifinal.

Alex Gits (#24) in early 10,000m action.

Gits and 10,000m runner-up Danette Doetzel (#3) of Providence.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Edina Alum Gits 3rd in NCAA 10,000;
Dorniden, Radocaj Advance to Finals

Stanford University's Alex Gits, a 2007 Edina High School graduate, finished 3rd in last night's 10,000 meter final at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships in Des Moines. Gits (pictured) clocked 33:49.73 to finish behind winner Lisa Koll of Iowa State, the collegiate record-holder, who clocked 32:44.95 and runner-up Danette Doetzel of Providence who ran 33:44.23.

Gits' performance helped put Stanford into an early lead in the women's team scoring with 11 points. There's a bit of video footage of Gits, HERE, in the highlight package Flotrack produced for the second day of competition at NCAAs.

Fellow Stanford Cardinal Garrett Heath of Winona qualified for the finals of the 1500m with a 3:42.21, second place finish in his prelim.

Gopher Action ... University of Minnesota sophomore decathlete R. J McGinnis finished 16th in the decathlon. McGinnis scored 7,019 points in the two-day competition with marks of: 11.59 for the 100m, 22-1 1/2. for the long jump, 44-3 1/2 for the shot put, 6-0 1/2 for the high jump, and 51.89 for the 400m on Day 1. On Day 2 McGinnis ran 15.25 for the 110m hurdles, threw 117-1 in the discus, cleared 13-9 1/4 in the pole vault, threw 195-0 in the javelin, and ran 4:45.96 in the event-ending 1500m.

Teammate Aaron Studt, competing in yesterday's shot put prelims, did not land a legal throw in the competition.

Golden Gopher women's stars Ruby Radocaj and Heather Dorniden advanced to finals in their respective events. Radocaj needed only one throw -- a launch of 179-6 -- to automatically qualify for Saturday's javelin final. Radocaj will enter that competition as the #2 qualifier from prelims.

Half-mile star Heather Dorniden advanced to finals in the 800m less dramatically than she did a day ago for the semi-finals. Dorniden finished an automatic-qualifying 3rd in her semi-final in 2:04.32. In the prelims on Wednesday, she finish 4th and had to wait out three more prelims before she eventually advanced on time.

Dorniden's competition for a second NCAA title got a little less difficult with the withdrawal of defending champ Alysia Johnson of California from the semis with an injury. In the final, Dorniden will face Zoe Buckman of Oregon, the fastest semi-finalist at 2:03.64, Geena Gall of Michigan, Becky Horn of Western Michigan, 2008 NCAA indoor champ Latavia Thomas of LSU. Anna Layman of Washington State, Carlee Clark-Platt of Brigham Young, and Phoebe Wright of Tennessee.

Gopher senior Liz Podominick also competed yesterday, but her 48-8 3/4 in the shot put did not advance to her to finals.

Live results for the remaining two days of competition at the NCAA Championship can be found HERE.

Photo by Gene Niemi.