Monday, December 29, 2008

Grossinger, Ward Take Prospect Park Hill Climb Titles

Despite frigid, icy conditions, Chris Grossinger and Erin Ward turned in impressive times in winning the open division titles at the 5th annual Prospect Park Hill Climb in Minneapolis on Sunday. Grossinger completed the 2.055 mile uphill course in 13:05, just 15 seconds in front of Derek Phillips. Erin Ward ran 14:30 to set a new women's course record. Ward was using the event as a final tune-up for the Rock 'n Roll Arizona Marathon on January 18th.

Full results and statistics are available on the race website. A photo gallery has been posted on the USATF Minnesota site.

Photo by Pete Miller. Derek Phillips (left) challenges Chris Grossinger in the early going.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays and Thanks from DtB!

Happy Holidays everyone!

As I look out my office window at flurries in the air and a rich blanket of snow on the ground, I certainly feel the holiday mood. Like many of you. I'm sure, I'm ready to take a little break to focus on family and to enjoy some time in the wintry outdoors.

With this post, Down the Backstretch will punctuate its coverage of running and track in Minnesota for 2008. Sure, we'll make time to cut in if a big story breaks, but we're guessing the sports' news-makers will be taking some down-time too. It's Christmas after all!

In the spirit of the season, let me extend my thanks to all of you who have made DtB a regular stop in your day. Your readership sustains our efforts. We're honored to bring the news of our sport to each and every of you. Thanks!

Let me also thank the TC Running Company and owner Adam Lindahl and USA Track and Field - Minnesota and its Board of Directors for their generous support of DtB in 2008. We're proud that they see the merits and value of our little enterprise and have supported it with their hard-earned resources.

Finally, let me thank my regular contributors: co-founder Pete Miller; columnist Chris Lundstrom; correspondents Chad Austin and Chris Marshall; pinch-hitter-while-I-was-away-in-Antarctica Jim Ferstle; photographers Gene Niemi, Sean Hartnett, and Victor Sailer; and Miles' List mavens Bill and Tim Miles. DtB is better because of each and every one of them.

So, again, best wishes during the holiday season everybody. Thanks again for your visits to our corner of the Internet. We hope the spirit of the season smiles upon each and every one of you.

And, we hope to see you again starting on January 5.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keenan Wins USATF's Steinfeld Award

Grandma's Marathon executive director Scott Keenan earned USA Track and Field's Allan Steinfield Award at the group's annual meeting recently.

The award, conferred by the Men's Long Distance Running Committee, recognizes "outstanding contributions to men’s long distance running within a road race organization." The honor is named after long-time New York City Marathon director Allan Steinfeld.

Keenan is the founder of Grandma's Marathon and the director of the event for its entire 33-year history.

"I was extremely honored to be selected as a recipient of this award," Keenan told DtB. "Allan Steinfeld has been instrumental in the development and success of long distance running, so to receive any recognition associated with his name is a great honor. Allan’s leadership, vision and friendship have been so important to my career that I eagerly accepted the opportunity to be presented with the award."

In Other Grandma's News ... Race organizers announced that registration for next spring's Fitger's 5K will be conducted on-line exclusively. The sign-up period for the race will open Thursday, January 8, 2009 on the Grandma's web-site. Officials said that in an effort to become more environmentally-friendly, paper entry forms for the 3.1-mile race will no longer be printed.

In Other Duluth News ... Two Duluth natives made Running USA's "10 Best Moments for U.S. Distance Running in 2008."

Ranked #9 is Scott Jurek's third straight win at the Spartathlon endurance race in Greece. The Seattle resident traversed the grueling 152.8 mile course from Athens to Sparta in 22 hours, 20 minutes, 1 second, his fastest time there and the 5th-fastest ever.

Ranked #6 is Kara Goucher's third place, 2:25:53 marathon debut at the ING New York City Marathon. Goucher broke Deena Kastor's U.S. marathon debut record of 2:26:58 from New York in 2001. Goucher is the third fastest U.S. woman marathoner ever behind Kastor and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

The full Running USA listing can be found HERE.

One More Duluth Thing ... Former Duluth resident Brandy Erholtz was named USA Track and Field's female Mountain Runner of the Year. Erholtz currently resides in Bailey, Colorado.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Borner, Gleason Named Athletes of the Month

USATF-Minnesota announced yesterday that Marie Borner and Brandon Gleason are the organization's Athletes of the Month for December.

Borner, a Bethel University junior, was honored for winning the women’s individual title at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships held in Hanover, Indiana last month. Borner, the two-time Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference cross country champion won the 6K event in 20 minutes, 43 seconds.

Gleason, a senior at Hamline University, was recognized for his 13th place finish in men’s competition at the meet. Gleason, who suffered serious injuries while on a training run in February of 2007 when he was struck by a motor vehicle, earned all-American honors for the first time in his career with a 24:47 performance over the 8K course.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kara Goucher to Run Boston

Olympian and World Championships' bronze-medalist Kara Goucher will compete in the Boston Marathon next April, race organizers have announced.

Goucher, who finished third in the ING New York City Marathon in November in a debut 2:25:53, will continue her marathoning career on American pavement.

"I could not be more excited to participate in the 2009 Boston Marathon on the John Hancock Elite Team," Goucher said in a media release. (John Hancock is the primary sponsor of the Boston Marathon. )

"As an American, Boston is an incredible opportunity to run a Major Marathon," the Duluth native continued. "The race has a history like no other and it's legacy spans generations. I am so thankful to continue my journey toward my goal of becoming the best runner in the world here in the United States."

Read the full media release HERE.

Also ... The Duluth News Tribune's Kevin Pates has a story, HERE, about the Boston announcement. It includes interviews with Goucher and coach Alberto Salazar.

TCM: USA Championship Central

In the next four years, Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. will host twelve USA Road Racing Championships at distances from the mile to the marathon, the organization announced last week.

In addition, the long-time hosts of the USA Masters Marathon Championship will continue in that role until at least 2015. USA Track and Field awarded the championships to TCM at its recent annual meeting.

TCM will host the USA Men's and Women's Road Mile Championships at the Medtronic TC 1 Mile from 2009 to 2012. The 2009 event is scheduled for Thursday night, May 7 on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.

The event will mark the inaugural running of a USA Road Mile Championship. The 2009 event will offer a $20,000 prize purse.

In the next two years, TCM will host USA championships at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and the Medtronic TC 10 Mile. In 2009, TCM will host the USA Women's Marathon Championship and the USA Men's 10 Mile Championship.

In 2010, the event will host the men's marathon championship and the women's 10 Mile championship.

The 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and Medtronic TC 10 Mile are scheduled for Sunday, October 4. Athletes will compete for a USA Women’s Marathon Championship prize purse of $72,500 and a USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship prize purse of $25,000.

"USATF is delighted to work with Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. in presenting these championship events," Fred Finke, the organization's Interim High Performance Division Chairman and Long Distance Running Chairman said in a TCM media release.

"Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. has a long history of support for American athletes and the development of distance running in this country," he added. "Their quality events and attention to the athletes reflects the mission of USATF and makes the Twin Cities a natural choice for hosting national championships."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Carlson 2nd, Zivec 5th, Streich 6th, RNF 15th

In each of the culminating events of the 2008 cross country season, Minnesota representatives have something to celebrate heading into the holiday season.

Carlson 2nd at Club Cross ... Golden Gopher alum Andrew Carlson finished 2nd at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane, Washington on Saturday. Carlson finished just two seconds behind NCAA Division II champ Scott Bauhs who won the 10K event, held in blustery conditions with temperatures in the high 20s, in 30:47.

Carlson clocked 30:49.

Led by Carlson, the Flagstaff, Arizona-based McMillan Elite, the former Team USA Minnesota runner's new squad, won the men's team competition with 47 points, tipping Eugene, Oregon's Bowerman Athletic Club which scored 64.

St. Paul-based Run N Fun finished 15th in the men's competition with 488 points, improving on their 23rd-place finish a year ago.

You can read a race re-cap HERE. Individual results are HERE. Team results are HERE.

Injured Zivec 5th at Footlocker ... Despite a heavily taped right ankle, Jacub Zivec finished 5th in Saturday's Footlocker Finals. The Grand Rapids High School exchange student from the Czech Republic ran 15:29 over the 5K course in San Diego, California.

Solomon Haile of Maryland won in 15:15.

Zivec (pictured right) ran with the leaders through first mile, according to race reports, but like the rest of the elite 40-runner field, had no answer when Haile made his move in the second mile. Prior to the race, reports suggested Zivc would either be unable to compete or significantly slowed by his injury.

With the finish, Zivec has two wins (Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regionals and Footlocker Midwest Regional) a runner-up finish (NXN Nationals), and the Footlocker Finals 5th place to celebrate from his abbreviated American harrier season. Zivec was only allowed compete as a junior varsity athlete in Minnesota State High School League competitions this fall.

You can read a race re-cap and see results from Dyestat HERE.

Flotrack has a post-race interview with Zivec HERE.

Streich 6th at Junior Olympics ... Janesville's Shane Streich finished 6th in the Midget Boys' division of the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships held in Mechanicsville, Virginia on Saturday.

Streich, racing against other eleven and twelve-year-olds finished just nine seconds behind race winner Samuel Blake. Streich clocked 10:27 over the 3K course.

Find results of all the Junior Olympic races HERE.

Photo by Randy Miyazaki/Track and Field Photo.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Report: Zivec Hobbled by Ankle Injury

Grand Rapids exchange student Jakub Zivec has an injury that may keep him from running in the Footlocker Finals today in San Diego, the high school cross country and track web-site Dyestat is reporting.

In THIS preview of the boys race, Dyestat's Steve Underwood reports that an ankle injury Zivec suffered at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon has worsened enough that it may cause him to withdraw from the race and would seriously affect his performance, if he races.

Live web-stream video of the Footlocker Finals will be available HERE beginning at 11:00 a.m. CST.

FLASH: Zivec 5th at Footlocker Finals. (We should all be so injured!)

Find results HERE.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The End is Near ... for the Cross Country Season

The 2008 cross country season comes to a climactic close tomorrow at the Footlocker Finals, the USA Club Cross Country Championships, and the USA National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships.

Minnesotans will be racing to the finish line in each of those events.

Zivec Eyes Title ... At Footlocker Finals in San Diego, Grand Rapids exchange student Jacub Zivec (pictured) will be one of the favorites for the boys' individual title. Zivec finished second last weekend at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, but Reid Connor of Texas, who out-kicked Zivec and the rest of the final contenders at NXN, isn't competing at Footlocker.

Joseph Manilafasha of Colorado, whom Zivec topped in his Footlocker Midwest Regional victory two weeks ago, is a prime challenger as are Trevor Dunbar of Alaska and Solomon Haile of Maryland.

Dyestat, as usual, has impressive wall-to-wall coverage of the Footlocker Finals HERE.

Run N Fun, Individuals Race ... 2008 Team Circuit champions Run N Fun will compete at the USA Club Cross Country Championships taking place in Spokane. Last year, RNF finished 23rd in the event which saw 50 teams compete.

Among the Minnesotans also toeing the line in Spokane are former Golden Gopher and Team USA Minnesotan Andrews Carlson, competing for McMillan Elite, and Minnetonka High School alum Will Leer, competing for the Oregon Track Club Elite.

The info page for the meet is HERE.

Five Minnesota J.O. Champs Competing ... When the USA National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships get underway in Mechanicsville, Virginia, five Minnesota Junior Olympic champions will race. Grace Foster and Shane Streich will compete in the Midget Girls' and Boys' competition, respectively. Kaila Urick of Chaska will compete in the Intermediate Girl's race. Finally, Briana Berthiaume of Harris and Joel Johnson of Chisholm will compete in the Young Women's and Men's races, respectively.

The info page for the JO meet is HERE.

Photo by Randy Miyazaki/Track and Field Photo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lehmkuhle, Carlson to Return to USA Half

Two of Minnesota top long distance runners will compete for the USA Half Marathon Championship early next year.

Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle and former teammate Andrew Carlson, a U of M graduate now based in Flagstaff, Arizona, are slated to compete at the 2009 USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston, Texas on January 13. Men's race headliners include defending champion James Carney, U.S. Olympic marathoner Dathan Ritzenhein, and former Twin Cities Marathon champion Dan Browne.

Lehmkuhle was the runner-up in last year's race, held in conjunction with the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, finishing just 11 seconds behind Carney in 1:02:32. You can read DtB's report on the 2008 race HERE. In 2008, Lehmkuhle was coming off his 5th place finish at the Olympic Trials Marathon held the previous November.

In 2007, Carlson ran 1:02:44 on the streets of Houston to finish 4th in the championship. You can read about his reaction to that performance HERE. On Thanksgiving Day, Carlson finished 4th at the 72nd Manchester Road Race, running the hilly 4.748 mile course in 21:58.2.

Read the full media release for the USA Half Marathon HERE.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

USATF-Minn's Whethem Talks Team Circuit

USA Track and Field - Minnesota recently announced its 2009 Team Circuit schedule. The nine-event road racing series kicks off on March 22 with the Human Race 8K in St. Paul and culminates with the City of Lakes 25K in Minneapolis on September 13. Our news story on the 2009 circuit is HERE.

Recently, we talked to USATF-Minnesota Long Distance Running Competition Chairman Ed Whetham about his take on the 2009 Circuit, including some tweaks made to the scoring system.

DtB: How do you feel about the make-up of the 2009 Team Circuit?

Whetham: I have mixed feelings about the Team Circuit for 2009. I like the races that were chosen for the team circuit this year, and I like that we had great participation at the selection meeting. In my opinion a good Team Circuit is comprised of races that you can see yourself competing, and I can see myself running all of these races. My thoughts of the circuit are mixed because I had a mental plan of how a meeting would unfold and what races would get selected, and none of the meetings I have conducted have turned out the way they did in my preparation. I was surprised by some of the points brought up, but that is what is great about having everyone in the same room to decide the circuit, feedback.

DtB: I see a marathon is back in the mix but the 5000 meter track event is out. What kinds of discussions took place around which races to include or not for 2009?

Whetham: There was little discussion about the track 5k. I enjoyed the event last year, but it was voted down by a significant majority. The only discussion that occurred with the marathon was in regards to the half-marathon. If Grandma’s was selected as the marathon, then we could not have Garry Bjorklund as the half-marathon. When Grandma’s Marathon applied to be the marathon championship, there was little to discuss, and the marathon was approved easily.

DtB: It seems like there are a lot of USATF-Minnesota Championship races this year. What do the races get from USATF-Minnesota for being a championship? And, what does USATF-Minnesota get from the races?

Whetham: We decided to offer eight USATF-MN Championship distances this year, with distances ranging from 1 mile to the marathon. When your raced is named a USATF-MN Championship race, the race is automatically placed on the Team Circuit. Based on past numbers, a race that is a championship race or on the team circuit, will experience an increase in participant numbers. USATF-MN receives a dollar amount from each championship race, which is matched by USATF-MN, and then awarded to the racing teams based on their performance at that race.

DtB: Is the number of events bidding for championships growing? What are the basics of the bid process?

Whetham: The number of races or events bidding this year as compared to last year was relatively the same. We are fortunate that we have a race or event bidding at each distance. There were only three distances that had competition for the bid.

The bidding process includes USATF-MN sending out a bid application to race directors in early November, and having interested race directors complete the bid and return it to USATF-MN before the team circuit selection meeting. Each bid application has to submit a dollar amount, and registration information, along with other information important to becoming a championship event. The application process is pretty simple, receive the application, complete the application and send it back to USATF-MN. We then include your race in voting for a USATF-MN Championship at the team circuit selection meeting.

DtB: We see that some of the scoring rules got tweaked for 2009. What were the issues there?

Whetham: I am actually curious to see how the new scoring system unfolds. A majority of the complaints that I received last year, were based on how difficult it was to gain ground on teams in front of your team if you were off to a slow start, or had a poor showing at a race. The concept of the new scoring system is to create opportunity for teams that got off to slow starts, or teams that had a poor showing at one race to gain ground on the teams in front of them. The “throwing” a race out concept should allow for this to happen. It will also benefit teams that have strong showings at all races. It is similar to some college courses, in that you can be a C+ student and get to throw out one test to become a B- student, and at the same time you can be an A- student, and throw out one test to become an A student. Scoring double points at the final race seemed to create some excitement for the final race during the cross-country circuit, so I figured why not apply it to the road racing circuit. I am quite happy with the new scoring system. I hope it creates some exciting team races towards the end of the season.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rocks Now Training in Minnesota

Meet Minnesota's newest track and field power couple: Andrew Rock and Missy Buttry Rock.

The elite tracksters-- Rock won an individual World Championships silver medal at 400 meters in 2005, Buttry Rock has been a member of two USA World Cross Country squads -- have moved to Minnesota where they hope to revive their competitive careers.

Rock (pictured, left) is training at the University of Minnesota with former Golden Gopher quarter-mile stars Mitch Potter and Aaron Buzard under the direction of University of Wisconsin assistant coach Mark Guthrie.

Rock, a Wisconsin native who competed for the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse (where Guthrie was his coach), weathered a disappointing 2008 season that saw him DNF in the opening round of the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Rock sports a 44.35 PR for 400m.

In 2006, Rock was the USA 400m champion. He earned 4 x 400m relay gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics -- where he ran in the prelims -- and at the 2005 World Championship, where he carried the stick in the lead-off leg of the finals.

Guthrie framed Rock's 2009 objectives, where he'll likely race 3-4 times indoors prior to a fuller outdoor campaign as, "getting excited about training again and getting back into the blocks." Rock had been training in Madison, Wisconsin prior to the move to Minnesota. He and Potter trained together in La Crosse in 2005-2006.

Buttry Rock (pictured, right) joins the Team USA Minnesota long distance training group. The Iowa native and Wartburg College alum, has been hobbled by injures of late. While a collegian, she won three NCAA Division III cross country titles and 14 D3 titles total.

She has a PR of 15:37.48 for 5000 meters.

Buttry Rock made two USA World Cross Country teams while at Wartburg, finishing 4th in 2004 and 3rd in 2005 in the USA Cross Country Championships 4K races.

"We're glad Missy has joined our group," Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker said in a media release. "She's had a series of injuries since she got out of college and we hope to help her return to competitive running in the coming year."

Photo of Rock by Randy Miyazaki/Track and Field Photo.

Photo of Buttry Rock courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Brophy Achman Elected Women's LDR Chair

Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. executive director Virginia Brophy Achman was elected chairwoman of the Women's Long Distance Running Committee of USA Track and Field at the organization's annual meeting in Reno, Nevada last week.

Brophy Achman (pictured), who was elected to a four-year term, succeeds Elizabeth Phillips who held the post since 2002.

The Women's LDR Committee has jurisdiction over women's off-track running events longer than 10K. The committee selects and conducts USA road racing championships for women, including the USA Marathon Championship.

"I am honored to be elected to this role and further share my passion for the sport of running and strengthening women’s long distance efforts here in the United States,” Achman said in a TCM media release.. "There is great untapped potential in our sport. It is our job to embrace these opportunities to further develop our future professional athletes, while offering positive associations with fitness. As Chair of USATF Women’s LDR , I will lead with passion, insight, ingenuity and perseverance."

Brophy Achman served as Vice Chair of the Women’s LDR Committee from 2006 through 2008. She is a founding committee member of the USATF Distance Project and currently serves as vice president and Chair of Strategic Planning for Running USA.

When She was a Candidate ... We ran a story about Brophy Achman's run for Women's LDR Chair HERE.

Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Marathon, Inc.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Langenfeld Named to Masters Hall of Fame;
Morse, Young Earn USATF Road Awards

Proving that track and field -- jumping events included -- is indeed a lifetime sport, 73-year-old Tom Langenfeld of Edina, who has won 29 USA Masters titles in the high jump, was named to the USA Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame.

Langenfeld (pictured), who won USA Master titles in the high jump both indoors and outdoors this year, was part of a ten-member group inducted into the 162-member Hall of Fame at the recently completed USATF Annual Meeting held in Reno, Nevada.

The USATF-Minnesota Masters Track and Field Chairman won his first USA Masters title in 1975.

You can find a listing of this year's inductees HERE.

The rest of the members of the Hall are found HERE.

You can find a collection of DtB stories about Langenfield HERE.

Morse, Young Win Awards ... Masters road racing stars Dan Morse and Lloyd Young were named Outstanding Athletes of 2008 in their age-groups by the USATF Masters LDR Committee. Morse earned his accolades in the 55-59 age-group, while Young earned his in the 85-89 division.

DtB contributor Chad Austin recently interviewed Morse, HERE.

Photo by Thom Weddle.

Zivec 2nd At Nike Cross Nationals;
Eagle Girls 11th, Trojan Boys 18th

Jacub Zivec, the Grand Rapids High School exchange student from the Czech Republic, finished 2nd at Saturday's Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.

Zivec (pictured above, #377) clocked 15:18 for the 5K course but was topped by Reed Connor of Texas who ran 15:13. Joash Osoro of North Dakota was third, also in 15:18.

Zivec, who had won the Heartland NXN Regional and Footlocker Midwest Regional in the previous two weekends, couldn't match Connor's finishing kick, according t race reports. Connor jumped the lead pack with 250 meters to go for his win.

MSHSL Class AA boys individual champ Lukas Gemar of Moorhead finished 53rd in 16:05. Class AA team champion Wayzata, the two-time Heartland Region champions, finished 18th 341 points.

A complete re-cap of the NXN boys' race is available, HERE, via Dyestat.

Eden Priaire 11th ... The Class AA girls' champions Eden Prairie, finished 11th in the meet with 262 points. The Eagles tied Dana Point the scoring, but lost to the California team on the tie-breaker.

Class AA individual titlist Cassie Opitz led Eden Prairie with a 35th place finish in 18:33.

A complete wrap-up of girls' competition is available, HERE, via Dyestat.

Photo by Randy Miyazaki/Track and Field Photo.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Zivec Begins Pursuit of Historic Double

Grand Rapids JV phenom Jacub Zivec will begin pursuit of an unprecedented Nike Cross Nationals/Footlocker Finals double on Saturday when he toes the starting line at the NXN meet in Portland Oregon.

Zivec has already won both the NXN Heartland Regional title and the Footlocker Midwest crown.

The Czech exchange student, who was only allowed to compete in JV competition during the MSHSL season, enters the final two weeks of the high school cross country "post-post-season" as the favorite for both national meets after edging Colorado's Joseph Manilafasha at Footlocker Midwest last weekend. Manilafasha was the top-ranked preo harrier in the nation going into last weekend's meet, according to Dyestat.

The Footlocker Finals are December 13, in San Diego.

Last year, Illinois prep Chris Derrick, now a freshman at Stanford, came closest to winning the boys double. He won the Nike meet -- called Nike Team Nationals at the time -- and was the runner-up at Footlocker. South Dakota's Ramsey Kavan did likewise in girls competition in 2004.

Other Minnesota individuals slated to compete at NXN are: MSHSL Class AA champ Lukas Gemar of Moorhead, Alexandria's Drew Paradis, and Willmar's Mahad Hassan for boys and Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg for girls.

Eden Prairie, Wayzata Top 10? ... The Eden Prairie girls and Wayzata boys, this year's Class AA state champions, will compete at NXN with a shot at top-10 finishes in the meet.

The Eagles are ranked #12 in the Harrier Super 25 national poll, while Wayzata is ranked #14. The two squads each won the NXN Heartland titles.

The highest finish by a Minnesota girls' team at the Nike meet is Lakeville North's 19th place result in 2005. In the inaugural Nike championship in 2004, the Marshall High School boys placed 8th -- the top Minnesota boys' result all-time.

Last year, the Wayzata boys finished 20th in the meet.

Watch NXN on Saturday ... NXN will be web-cast HERE on Saturday with action in the championship races beginning around 12:30 CST. Find Dyestat's comprehensive preview of the meet HERE, where results will also be available on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

USATF-Mn Announces 2009 Team Circuit

USA Track and Field - Minnesota recently unveiled its 2009 Team Circuit schedule and announced changes to the long-standing team road racing competition.

The 2009 Circuit will consist of nine races contested between March 22 and September 13 and include events as short as one mile and as long as a marathon.

The 2009 USATF Minnesota Team Circuit races are:

March 22 - The Human Race 8K *
April 25 - Get In Gear 10K *
May 7 - TC 1 Mile *
May 25 - Brian Kraft Memorial 5K *
June 20 - Grandma's Marathon *
July 25 - Lumberjack Days 10 Mile
August 2 - Hennepin Lake Classic 5K
August 9 - MDRA Minnesota 15K *
September 13 - City of Lakes 25K *

(Asterisks denote USATF-Minnesota Championships races.)

New Rules ... The meeting of USATF-Minnesota officials and Team Circuit stakeholders which chose the slate of races also modified some of the circuit's scoring rules.

In 2009, points will be awarded based on the number of teams competing at each race -- for example, an event with nine scoring teams would earn the winning team nine points, the runners-up eight points, the third place team seven points, etc. -- but teams will always earn a minimum number of points no matter how few teams participate in a given race. (In open competition, the minimum winner's score will be five points.) In 2008, team scores were based on the number of registered Team Circuit teams, no matter how many participated in a given race.

Also new is a rule that will allow each Team Circuit team to discard the lowest score earned during the circuit. Essentially, the nine-race circuit will be scored on each team's best eight races. Additionally, the City of Lakes 25K, the USATF-Minnesota 25K Championship, will earn doubled points for teams.

Finally, the number of scorers required at various race distances was modified. In 2009, five open runners will be required for a team score in events under 15K; three open runners will score in events 15K and longer.

In 2008, the 15K distance required five scorers.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Holidays with Team USA Minnesota

A snowy morning in Minnesota -- there's a new white blanket on the ground outside the DtB office window this morning, anyway -- seems the perfect day to note that the athletes of Team USA Minnesota will, as is their Christmas tradition, join the festivities at the Life Time Fitness Reindeer Run 5K this Saturday.

Since we need to get outside to shovel the DtB sidewalks, we'll quote the Team USA media release for details on the event ...

"Among participants dressed as reindeers, Santa Claus, elves and a variety of boxed presents, will be 12 Team USA Minnesota runners celebrating the season at the 21st annual Life Time Fitness Reindeer Run 5k on Dec. 6. The fun run starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Lake Harriet bandshell and goes once around the Minneapolis lake. The holiday favorite attracts more than 3,000 runners and walkers.

"Team USA Minnesota athletes who plan to join in the festivities include 2004 Olympian and three-time national champion Carrie Tollefson, four-time national champion Katie McGregor, 2009 World Outdoor marathon qualifier Matt Gabrielson, 2008 World Half Marathon runners Jason Lehmkuhle and Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle, marathoners/half marathoners Chris Lundstrom, Antonio Vega and Michelle Lilienthal, World Cross Country qualifier and steeplechase specialist Emily Brown, and new athletes Josh Moen, Macharia Yuot and Meghan Armstrong.

"'All of us on the team look forward to this event every year,' said Tollefson. 'It's a chance to run with our friends and families and to join in the camaraderie with thousands of Minnesota runners. One or two of us sometimes race the Reindeer Run but often times it is one of the first frigid weekends in December or there's a light dusting of snow. As a result, we don't usually put our game faces on and instead we just enjoy running with everyone else.'

"This is the seventh straight year the Team Minnesota runners have participated in the Reindeer Run, which supports the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve "Toys for Tots" program. The event also includes the Fisher-Price Kids 1k at 9:00 a.m., a 5k Walk at 9:40 a.m., and a costume contest judged by Santa and his helpers."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

NCAA Photos -- By Sean Hartnett

DtB contributor Sean Hartnett took some fine photos at last Monday's NCAA Division I Championships. We've published his best shots of Minnesotans below, but you can find his full women's and men's galleries HERE and HERE.

Detroit Lakes native Hanna Grinaker, a Wisconsin junior, finished an all-America 44th at NCAAs

Junior Megan Duwell led the Gophers with an all-America 32nd place finish.

Gopher senior Gabriele Anderson finished 49th.

Winona High School alum Garrett Heath of Stanford shown early-on in his 33rd place run at NCAAs.

Minnesota senior Chris Rombough en route to his 17th place finish and Gopher-record third all-America effort.

Gopher sophomore Hassan Mead earned his second all-America award by finishing 31st.

Winona native Elliott Heath finished 112th for Stanford.

Minnesota junior Mike McFarland finished 171st.

Photos by Sean Hartnett.

Thanksgiving Poll a Turkey, Says Critic

Tom Church, the principal contributor to the Slab City Running Club's web-site, has taken issue -- fork in hand, tongue in cheek -- with our Thanksgiving Poll.

Church claims that we at DtB intentionally and maliciously promoted Gravy in our preview of the competition which unfairly allowed Stuffing and Mashed Potatoes (along with Pumpkin Pie) to supplant Turkey as the rightful Thanksgiving food favorite.

Church asserted that, "the poll's many structural and methodological problems reveal it to be, at best, a viral marketing effort to inflate the value of Gravy, possibly with the aim of destroying Turkey."

You can read all of his delicious article HERE.

Results of the poll can be found on the DtB sidebar.

We at DtB stand by our poll and its results. We welcome Mr. Church's scrutiny and expect it to show that DtB was blameless in its actions.

If, on the other hand, mistakes were made, we expect Mr. Church's criticisms to make future polls more fair and accurate for the sport ... and for Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Zivec Wins Footlocker Midwest Crown

Jacub Zivec, the Grand Rapids High School exchange student who was only allowed to compete as a JV runner in Minnesota State High School League sanctioned meets this fall, won Saturday's Footlocker Midwest Regional in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Czech citizen, clocked 15:09 over the sloppy 5K course. He became the second Minnesotan to win Footlocker Midwest in the last three years. Hassan Mead of Minneapolis South won the 2006 title.

Zivec, who was barred from competing in varsity meets by the MSHSL because he was not part of a recognized international exchange program, closed a two-second gap on Joseph Manilafasha of Colorado in the race's final 200 meters for the victory.

Zivec was the only Minnesotan to advance to the Footlocker Finals in San Diego, California on December 13. The top ten finishers in the boys and girls' races advance to Footlocker Finals. Zivec has also qualified as an individual to the Nike Cross Nationals meet this weekend in Portland, Oregon.

Dyestat has a recap of the boys' race HERE, as well as full results.

Class AA individual titlist Lukas Gemar of Moorhead was the state's #2 finisher at Midwest in 28th place at 15:58. He was the race's top sophomore. Senior Drew Paradis of Alexandria was 33rd in 16:00; senior Jakob Lindaas of Moorhead was 50th in 16:10.

Dyestat's girls' recap and results are HERE.

Sophomore Julia Harrison of Mound-Westonka was 34th in 18:50; junior Emma Bates of Elk River was 46th in 19:07.