Friday, April 30, 2010

Y/N: Three Minnesotans Sub-3:45 at Stanford?

If the Peyton Jordan meet in Palo Alto had a tagline it might be "Where the stars comes to P.R." Many of the nation's top distance runners will show up Saturday at the Stanford meet ready to be towed along to fast times. Names such as Galen Rupp, Abdi Abdirahman and Shalene Flanagan are featured in the heat sheets.

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Hassan Mead used this meet last year to take his running to another level with a 13:28 heat-winner, taking down Evan Jager, Chris Derrick and German Fernandez. The 2010 edition of the meet has many Minnesota angles, especially on the men's side. We will focus on the 1500 with this question ...

Y/N: Will three or more Minnesota high school graduates break 3:45.00 in the 1500 at the Peyton Jordan meet on Saturday?

Donny Wasinger is scheduled for section five of the 1500. The Kansas Jayhawk competed for Winona Cotter in high school, where he won five individual state championships. Wasinger has a collegiate best of 3:49.03 in the 1500. The U of M's Andy Richardson, competing in section three, ran 4:10 and 1:51 at Irondale in high school and has run 3:46 as a Gopher. Rob Finnerty graduated from Burnsville in 2008 as the 7th fastest miler in history (nationally) with a 4:01 clocking. Finnerty recently ran 3:45 at the Drake Relays and will compete in section two at Peyton Jordan.

Section one of the 1500 is loaded up with many of the best collegiate milers. Among them are Minnesota's Ben Blankenship and Stanford's Elliot Heath. Blankenship won two consecutive 1600 state titles at Stillwater and ran a Gopher school record indoors with a 3:57 clocking in the mile. Blankenship's 1500 best in college is 3:42. Heath specializes in distances a bit longer than 1500, but he is no slouch at the shorter stuff either. When he competed at Winona in high school, Heath ran the all-time state record in the 2 mile - 8:46. Heath ran 3:43 in the 1500 at the 2009 version of Peyton Jordan and already has a 13:29 5k to his name in 2010.

Check out perhaps the apex of Minnesota high school distance running: The top four runners at the 2007 Minnesota state high school meet in the 1600 will all compete at Peyton Jordan. Blankenship held off Finnerty for the win while Richardson and Heath were third and fourth. Behind them were a few runners you may have heard of: Gopher great Hassan Mead in sixth and 13:41 5k runner Justin Tyner 15th.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 7:30 P.M. CST, Saturday, May 1st. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: Yes

The question from last week was: Will seven or more records be tied or broken at the Hamline Elite Meet on Friday night? The answer was yes - nine meet records were set at the meet. Thirteen contestants answered correctly last week. The April Y/N winners with 3 points for the month were Chad Austin, Benjamin Melby, Rich Cowles, Lori Anne Peterson, Chris Marshall and Gregg Robertson. No one answered all four April questions correctly.

For all the results, please visit DtBFantasy Corner.

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drake Champ McGinnis Earns Big Ten Honor

The University of Minnesota's R.J.McGinnis earned Co-Big Ten Field Event Athlete of the Week honors after capturing the Drake Relays decathlon title over the weekend. The honor is the second Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honor of his career.

McGinnis shared the honor with Indiana high jumper Derek Drouin.

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McGinnis totaled 7319 points in his Drake victory. He is the first Gopher to win the Drake Relays decathlon after finishing second in the event a year ago. McGinnis was in fifth place after five events, but moved to the top of the standings following the pole vault and held the lead until the end.

Gopher teammate Jack Szmanda was runner-up with 7284.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Winona State Women Ranked #11 in D2

The Winona State women moved up one position to rank #11 in the latest NCAA Division II track and field rankings. The thrower-powered squad is currently the top-ranked Minnesota program across all three NCAA divisions.

Minnesota State, Mankato is ranked #25 in the latest D2 women's poll, while St. Cloud State ranks #27.

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In the men's NCAA Division II rankings, Minnesota State, Mankato ranks #37 with Bemidji State at #40

Find full D2 rankings HERE.

In NCAA Division I, the University of Minnesota men are ranked #54 and the Gopher women are ranked #69, in rankings released yesterday.

Find the full D1 rankings HERE.

New NCAA Division III rankings will appear HERE later today. In last week's rankings, the University of St. Thomas men lead Minnesota colleges in the rankings at #32, two places ahead of rivals Hamline.

The St. Thomas women lead the D3 women's rankings for the state, occupying the #45 spot. St. Olaf ranks #53.

Find complete D3 rankings HERE.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bill Rodgers to Appear in Duluth Tomorrow

For runners of a certain age, Bill Rodgers, the winner of four Boston Marathons and four-straight New York City Marathons, was once the face of long distance running.

If you're, say, a 47-and-a-half-year-old who was growing up as an eager young runner in the mid-late 1970s, "Boston Billy" was synonymous with the sport itself.

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In his prime, Rodgers twice set American records in the marathon, running 2:09:55 at Boston in 1975 and 2:09:27 there in 1979. He was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team and the runner of his era.

If, back then, you had convinced your mom to buy you a subscription to Runner's World during the fall of eighth-grade, the first issue to arrive in the mail might well have been the red-bordered one with Rodgers, wearing his red-and-white Greater Boston kit, on the cover racing to his first NYC win.

As your high school career rolled on, Rodgers would only rack up more big wins and more cover photos --including some on Sports Illustrated -- and as an impressionable young runner you might have tacked one or two of these up in your school locker for inspiration, and to define yourself to the world that passed by in the hallways.

I am a runner ... just like Bill Rodgers.

By the time Rodgers' age, his penchant for running in lots of races, and Alberto Salazar had moved him off the magazine covers, you might have moved on too. Trading Rodgers' pure, happy inspiration for the edgier role-modeling provided by Steve Ovett -- the scruffy embodiment of everything Sebastian Coe and your preppier high school classmates were not.

But, no matter, Rodgers would still be your first -- and a lasting -- hero.

Still a Motivator ...
Middle-aged men and their old idols notwithstanding, Rodgers is still motivating young runners, even if he's a 62-years-old these days.

The face of the sport in the late-1970s will be in Duluth tomorrow as the
featured speaker at this week’s Duluth Children’s Fit-n-Fun Middle School Assemblies, sponsored by Grandma’s Marathon. Rodgers will give presentations to students at Duluth ’s Woodland Middle School at 8 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.

Grandma’s Marathon and its Young Athletes Foundation has partnered with Duluth Public School Systems and Duluth Children’s, an affiliate of SMDC Health System, to create the Duluth Children’s Fit-n-Fun Middle School Assemblies and Fit-n-Fun Run. These two initiatives are aimed at motivating children to lead healthier lifestyles.

And, there's no better person to do that than Bill Rodgers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Drake Relays Photo Gallery -- by Gene Niemi

As is the annual tradition, the bulk of the state's top track and field athletes traveled south over the weekend to compete in the Drake Relays. The Gopher women won two relays -- the 4 x 800m and 4 x 1600m -- while the Gopher men took home winners' hardware in the decathlon and triple jump thanks to R.J. McGinnis and Oladipo Fagbemi, respectively.

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DtB contributor Gene Niemi was in Des Moines for the meet and offers these photos.

Gabriele Anderson anchors the Gophers' champion 4 x 1600m relay.

Rikita Butler hands off to Alena Brooks on the Gophers' 3rd-place DMR.

Heather Dorniden leads the pack in the Special 1500m. Laura Januszewski (in back) would finish 2nd in 4:15.62, Doniden was 9th in 4:22.84.

Megan Duwell takes the baton from Elizabeth Yetzer in the Gophers' Drake Relays record-setting 4 x 1600m effort, while former Eastview standout McKenzie Melander hands off for Iowa.

Minnesota State Mankato's Brittany Henderson (center) sprints to 4th in 11.87 in the University/College 100m.

Gopher Matt Fisher jumping to a 4th-place finish in the University/College high jump.

Augsburg's Shanek Telphia anchors the team's 4 x 100m relay.

Find complete Drake Relays results HERE.

Find Flotrack video coverage of the meet HERE.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Short-Cut: Results' Links for April 23-25

The Hamline Elite Meet isn't the only thing going on this weekend. (But, if that's what you're interested in, find the record of our live coverage and results' links one post down.) You can follow the Gophers -- and others -- at Drake or the Team USA Minnesota contingent at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational with us.

Our short-cuts to all of the weekend's action are below ...

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Drake Relays: Live Results
Update: Gopher women win, men second in 4 x 800.
Brutus Hamilton Invitational: Live Results * Video
Update: Moen runs 13:57.49.

Drake Relays: Live Results
Gustavus Drake Alternative Meet: Results
St. Mary's Open: Results
Get in Gear: Results

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hamline Elite Meet Live Coverage ...

That completes our Hamline Elite Meet coverage on Down the Backstretch. Unlike previous years, we were not able to produce our own comprehensive running event video this year. But, if you know of video from the meet posted on YouTube or other video-sharing sites, let us know -- e-mail cmahler22 [AT] yahoo [DOT] com. We'll compile links to all the action.

Good night ... and thanks for following the Elite Meet on DtB!

ELITE MEET THROWS VIDEOS: Watch the winning throw in the girls' discus (Maggie Ewen) HERE and the winning boys shot put and discus throws (Luke Johnson) HERE and HERE.

Video by DtB contributor Kevin Holubar.

Complete Elite Meet Results are now available HERE.

Girls' Pole Vault: Katie Murgic of Rosemount wins with 11-1 ... 2nd Chelsey Pflipsen of Foley 10-9 ... 3rd Alex Miller 10-6

Girls' 4 x 400m Relay:

@400 -- Hopkins

@800 -- Hopkins just ahead of Prior Lake

@1200 -- Prior Lake ahead of Hopkins

Hopkins in the lead with 200m to go ...

Hopkins wins their third relay of the night in 3:57.92 ... 2nd Prior Lake 4:00.85 ... 3rd Mounds View 4:01.86

Boys' 4 x 400m Relay:

@400 -- Austin leads ...

@800 -- Austin over Armstong

@1200 -- Austin over Armstong ... Buffalo

400m champ Henry Darling anchoring for Austin ...

Austin wins in 3:23.19 ... 2nd Armstrong 3:24.40 ... 3rd Hopkins 3:25.70

Boys' High Jump: Joe Carpenter of STMA wins at 6-6 ... 2nd Darik Schaaf or Coon Rapids 6-5 ... 3rd Trevor Yedoni of Benidle St. Margaret's 6-4

It's starting to rain ...

Girls' 3200m:

@200 --35 seconds ... Willems leads

@400 -- 74 ... Willems at the fore ...

@800 -- 2:35 ... Piepenburg pulling away from a pack of five ...

@1200 -- 3:56 ...Piepenburg 15m up on Peterson, Willems, McClellan, and Hauger

@1600 -- 5:20 ... Piepenburg ... 15m ... Peterson and a line of runners

@2000 -- 6:46 ... Piepenburg up by 10m over Peterson and Hauger

@2400 -- 8:10 ... Piepenburg ... then Hauger and Peterson

@2800 -- 9:34 ... it's a group of three ... Piepenburg, Huager, Peterson

Hauger to the lead with 200m to go ...

Hauger outruns Piepenburg in the homestretch!

Maria Hauger of Shakopee wins in a meet record 10:50.45 ... 2nd Jamie Peipenburg of Alexandria 10:51.05 ... 3rd Heidi Peterson of Sartell-St.Stephen 10:52.79 ... all three bettered Danielle Berndt's 2006 meet record of 10:54.95

We'd like to thank our presenting sponsors TC Running Company and USA Track and Field Minnesota for making live coverage of the Hamline Elite Meet possible.

Boys' 3200m:

@200 -- 33 ... Brown

@400 -- 68 ... Brown

@800 -- 2:21 ...Brown still leads a big, in-tact field.

@1200 -- 3:35 ... Thorson in the lead ...

@1600 -- 4:45 ... Thorson leading Brandt

@2000 -- 5:57 ... Brandt then Thorson then Koullick then Ciesielski

@2400 -- 7:09 ... Brandt twithThorson and Koullick ... then Zutz

@2800 -- 8:20 ... Thorson at the front ...

Thorson strong on the backstretch ...

Josh Thorson of Wayzata wins in 9:25.03 ... 2nd Paul Koullick of Blake 9:25.47 ... 3rd Adam Zutz of St. Francis 9:31.35

Yes/No Meet Record Count: Nine!

Girls' Shot Put: Maggie Ewen wins in a meet record 155-4 ... 2nd Kim Hovey of Red Wing (the SP winner) 131-3 ... 3rd Katey Granstra of Southwestern United 124-1

Girls' 200m: Analisa Huschle will attempt to win an unprecidented individual event triple ... she has already won the LJ and TJ tonight ... Huschle completes the triple!

Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston wins in 25.43 ... 2nd Taylor Anderson of Hopkins 25.98 ... 3rd Rosey Erickson of Alexandria 26.08

Boys' 200m: Richard Wilhite of Cooper wins in 22.49 ... 2nd Anthony Gustafson of Faribault 22.67 ... 3rd Devonte Diamond of Henry Sibley 22.85

Girls' Triple Jump: Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosstonwins her second event of the evening with at 37-2 3/4 ... 2nd Amanda Pratt of St. Francis 35-7 ... 3rd Kelsi Ring of Brainerd 35-5 1/2

Girls' 800m:

@200 -- 31.1 Zenner leads ...

@400 -- 64 still Zenner

@600 -- Zenner up by 15m on the backstretch

Haylie Zenner of Fergus Falls wins big in a new meet record of 2:13.89 ... 2nd Maggie Carruth of Minnetonka 2:16.01 ... 3rd Erin Krause of Wayzata 2:16.08

Boys' High Jump: Tervor Yedoni of Benilde-St. Margaret's wins with 21-7 ... 2nd Kenneth McChristian of Jefferson 21-5 1/2 .. 3rd Derrick Mora 21-4 1/4

Boys' 800m:

@200 -- Miner leads in 26.0

@400 -- Miner leads in 56.9 over Gooley ...

@600 -- still Miner ...

Sam Miner of Winona wins wire-to-wire in a new meet record of 1:55.10 ... 2nd Brian Gooley of Osseo 1:56.95 ... 3rd Jacob Sandy of Jefferson(the 1600 champ) 1:57.97

Yes/No Update ... there are now six new meet records so far tonight!

Girls' 300m Hurdles: Jenna Gillson of Grand Rapids wins in 45.62 ... 2nd Madison Smith of Brainerd 46.06 ... 3rd Alyssa Parco of Farmington 46.26

Boys' Shot Put: Luke Johnson of Red Wing wins a second title tonight with 58-5 3/4 ... took the lead with his final throw of the competition! ... 2nd Logan Hussung of Farmington 58-2 1/2 ... 3rd Joacob Fenske of Owatonna 56-2 3/4

Boys' 300m Hurdles: Jerome Begin of Buffalo wins in meet record 38.94 ... 2nd Will Darnling of Austin 39.72 ... 3rd Dustin Britten of Grand Rapids (the 110H champ) 39.89

Boys' Pole Vault: Macauley Spandl of Moorhead wins with 15-6 ... 2nd Cameron Clausen of Mankato East 14-6 ... 3rd Anthony Puckett of Mayer Lutheran 14-0

Girls' 400m: Dombro wins in 56.71, a new meet record! ... 2nd Bridget Sweeney of Hopkins 57.02 ... 3rd Lindsay Mattson of Grand Rapids 57.16 ... all three runners bettered the old record of 57.37 by Kristie Buerkle

Girls' Triple Jump: Analisa Huschle leads with 36-6 1/2

Boys' 400m: Henry Darling of Austin wins in 49.23 .. 2nd Zach Gearman of Burnsville 49.69 ... 3rd James Moore of Mankato East 49.75

Yes/No Update ... Four new Elite Meet records have been set so far ...

Girls' 4 x 100m Relay: Hopkins wins its second relay of the night in 49.41 ... 2nd Osseo 49.67 ... 3rd Elk River 49.81

Girls' High Jump: Katie Guse of Waseca wins with meet record-5-6 1/2 ... 2nd Andrea Whitney of Sartell-St. Stephen 5-2 ... 3rd Laura Neilson of Sartell-St. Stephen 5-2

Boys 4 x 100m Relay: Henry Sibley wins in 44.00 ... 2nd Brainerd 44.09 ... 3rd Sartell-St. Stephen 44.19

Boys' Pole Vault: Macauley Spandl has broken his brother Brock's Elite Meet record by vaulting 15-6 ... he will now attempt to better his own Minnesota all-time best of 15-8 by attempting 16-0!

Boys' 4 x 200m Relay: Forest Lake of Section I wins in 1:30.83 ... 2nd Sartell-St. Stephen 1:31.52 ... 3rd Buffalo 1:32.43

Girls' Long Jump: Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston wins with 17-11 ... 2nd Nicole Murphey of Blaine (a two-time Elite Meet champ in the event) 17-7 1/2 ... 3rd Jessica January of Richfield at 17-1 1/4.

Boys' Pole Vault: Macauley Spandl has won the event with a clearance of 14-9 ... he then cleared 15-0 ... he's now jumping at 15-6 ... and attempting to break his brother Brock's meet record of 15-3

Girls' 1600m:

@200 -- 35 seconds ... Hauger leads

@400 -- 76 seconds ... still Hauger

@800 -- 2:43 ... Hauger leads Dyson ... then Bates

-- 3:51 Hauger leads a pack of five ...

Still unsettled on the backstretch ...

Unsettled on the homestretch ...

Becca Dyson of Roseville wins in 5:03.49 ... 2nd Emma Bates of Elk River ... 3rd Mara Olson of St. Louis Park 5:04.61

We'd like to thank our presenting sponsors TC Running Company and USA Track and Field Minnesota for making live coverage of the Hamline Elite Meet possible.

Boys' 1600m:

@200 -- 31 seconds

@400 -- 67 ...

@800 -- 2:17 ... Zutz from St. Francis takes the lead.

@1200 -- 3:22 ... Doop leads Sandry and Zutz

Sandry with a huge backstretch move ... Jacob Sandry of Jefferson wins in 4:21.56 ... 2nd Jake Autio of STMA in 4:24.01 ... 3rd Adam Moline of Wayzata 4:25.50

Girls' 4 x 800m Relay: Hopkins wins in 1:43.55 ... 2nd Mounds View 1:44. 27 ... 3rd Roseville 1:45.34

Boys' Triple Jump: Chris Kroeten of Wayzata wins with 43-1 ... 2nd Tim Halvorson of Concordia Academy 42-11 ... 3rd Erik Oines of Foley 42-9 3/4.

Boys 4 x 200m Relay Section I: Looks like North Branch ...

Boys 4 x 200m Relay Section I: Forest Lake wins ...

Boys' Discus: Luke Johonson wins with 172-2 ... 2nd Eric Stark of Pipestone Area 167-10 ... 3rd Shawn Johnson of Eveleth-Gilbert 164-0.

Girls' 100m Final: Rosey Erickson of Alexandria wins in 12.58 ... 2nd Dominique Thompson of Armstorng 12.59 ... 3rd Elise Anderson of Hopkins 12.89.

Boys' 100m Final: False Start DQ for Fort-Baker ... Myint Maung of Highland Park wins in 11.18 ...2nd Richard Wilhite of Cooper 11.19 ... 3rd Victor Oseko of Hopkins 11.20.

Girls' Long Jump: Analisa Huschle wins in 17-11 1/2

Girls 100m Hurdles: Jessica January of Richfield wins in 15.05 ... 2nd Kelsi Ring of Brainerd 15.27 ... 3rd Kristie Townley 15.86

Girls' Shot Put: Kim Hovey of Red Wing wins with an Elite Meet record 44-7 1/4 ... 2nd Becci Osterdyk of Mora 42-2 1/4 ... 3rd Brittany Erdmann of Mayer Lutheran 39-9.

Boys' 110m Hurdles: Dustin Britten of Grand Rapids wins in 15.19 ... 2nd Jerome Begin 15.33 ... 3rd Brian Grand of North Branch 15.58.

Girls' Shot Put: Kim Hovey of Red Wing leads in a meet record 44-7 1/4

Boys' Discus: Luke Johnson of Red Wing leads at 172-2

Girls' 4 x 800m Relay:

@400 -- Sartell leads ...

@800 -- Hopkins leads in 2:19

@1200 -- Still Hopkins .... then Sartell and Prior Lake

@1600 -- Hopkins in 4:40 ... then Brainerd and Sartell

@2000 -- Brainerd and Hopkins side-by-side ...

@2400 -- Hopkins leading by 25m at the 3rd exchange ...

@2800 -- Hopkins still leading large ... then Prior Lake and Sartell

Prior Lake wins in Elite Meet record 9:27.72 ... 2nd Hopkins 9:29.33 ... 3rd Minnetonka 9:30.20

Girls'100m Finalists: Thompson, Tanoe, Erickson, Severson, Anderson, Trentor, Lewis, Pierce, and Schommer.

Boys 100m Finalists: Oseko, Maung, Wilhite, Griffin, Fort-Baker, Gustafson, Lecy, Scapanski, and McChristion.

Boys 4 x 800m Relay:

@ 400 Brainerd leads at 63 seconds ...

@ 800 Buffalo leads at 2:01+ ...

@ 1200 Austin leads ...

@ 1600m Austin leads at exchange with Buffalo close ...

@ 2000m Buffalo takes the lead ... Austin & St. Thomas Acad.

@2400 Buffalo leads with 6:05 ... then Austin ...

Buffalo wins in 8:03 ... over Austin and Osseo.

@ 2800 Buffalo looking strong ...

Girls 100m Heat 2: Tanoe of Hopkins wins in 13.14

Girls 100m Heat 1: Thompson of Robbinsdale wins in 12.72

Boys 100m Heat 2: Victor Oseko of Hopkins wins in 11.37.

Boys 100m Heat 1: Myint Maung of Highland Park wins in 11.43

They've played the national anthem ... and the boys' 100m runners are setting their blocks.

Hamline Elite Meet: LIVE Coverage

Welcome to Down the Backstretch's live, on-site coverage of the 5th Hamline Elite-Meet. We're reporting live from Klas Field at Hamline University in St. Paul.

To enjoy the meet as it happens, just refresh your browser window regularly for event-by-event coverage. The latest results will appear at the top of this page, older news will be collected beneath.

Running and field events will commence at 5:30 p.m.

Weather Conditions ... At 5:00, thirty minutes before the start of the meet, the temperature is 67 degrees. Winds are from the southeast at 16 miles per hours and gusting to 28 mph. There's a 40% chance of rain in tonight's forecast.

Find the order of events for the meet HERE.

Find heat sheets

Reviewing and Previewing the Elite Meet

The good folks at Hamline University asked me if I'd provide some copy for the Elite Meet event program. I'll cross-publish it here as well, to put Elite Meet "virtual spectators" in the mood for track and field as well ...

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Entering only its 5th year, the Hamline Elite Meet has already created an album full of memories for the athletes, coaches, parents, and fans who have witnessed this unique track and field event. On the nine-lane Klas Field track and on the fields in and around the red oval, Minnesota’s top high school tracksters have waged homestretch battles, set records, and confirmed their status as “elite.”

Tonight, another annual crop of Minnesota’s best is sure to etch new athletic memories for themselves and for anyone fortunate enough to witness their exploits. With talent, perseverance, and a dash of good fortune, we’ll witness feats tonight like those that stay with us from previous Hamline Elite Meets.

Like, the double victory Alicia Rue earned in the inaugural 2006 Elite Meet. The Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcon became the meet’s first double winner, winning the 100-meter hurdles and setting the current meet record in the pole vault at 12-3.

And who can forget Mike Torchia and his win in the 2006 Elite Meet 3200m? The Rochester Lourdes star ran a solo 8:59.19, a mark that remains the meet record despite challenges to it by the strongest crop of high school runners in state history over the years that followed.

Fans at the 2007 meet saw Forest Lake’s Kristie Buerkle establish meet records in the 200m (24.96) and 400m (57.37). In boys’ action, Irondale’s Andy Richardson established himself as an Elite Meet fan favorite winning the first of two consecutive 1600m crowns with his patented kamikaze start and furious finish.

Despite the rain at the 2008 meet, Wayzata’s Jordan Helgren, Minnesota’s most decorated female triple-jumper, won her signature event in a meet record 37-11 ¾. Likewise, Kasson-Mantorville’s Micah Hegerle found enough footing in the discus circle to mark a meet record 179-11.

Last year on a chilly April night, fans left Klas Field buzzing about Buffalo’s Zach Mellon and his “double triple” – Mellon won an unprecedented third straight Elite Meet 800m crown and was a triple winner at the meet, anchoring the Bison’s champion 4x 400 and 4 x 800 meter relay teams. In the field, Blaine’s Nicole Murphey, who will compete in her final Elite Meet tonight, defended her long jump title with a record-setting leap of 18-1 ¾.

Murphey is likely to feature in one of the more compelling stories of tonight’s Elite Meet. She’ll face Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston in her attempt to win an unprecedented third-straight long jump crown. Huschle should provide quite a challenge; she set the Minnesota all-time record in the event with her State Class A winning 19-2 ¼ jump as a sophomore last spring. In addition to the long jump, where she’s seeded ahead of Murphey by one narrow inch, Huschle will also seek Elite Meet titles in the triple jump and the 200m.

Other girls’ events to pay close attention to tonight include the shot put and discus, where Red Wing’s Kim Hovey will try to be the meet’s first girls’ throws double-winner. She’s the #1-seed in the shot put, where she’s the defending Class AA state champ, and the #2-seed in the discus. In the 400m, sophomore sensation Erica Dombro of Highland Park, the Class AA State champ last year, will no doubt eye Buerkle’s record while she battles a field that includes five girls who made the Class AA podium in 2009.

The girls' pole vault is the venue for a heartwarming story: Alex Miller of Mankato East was the top seed in the event last year, but broke her foot during the competition. After being unable to walk until July, Miller is back tonight, hoping for a top-three finish.

On the boys side, Macauley Spandl, the defending Elite Meet pole vault champion, headlines the show. One week ago tonight, Spandl established himself as Minnesota’s top prep pole vaulter of all-time with his record-breaking 15-8 clearance.

Other boys' stars to watch include Red Wing’s Luke Johnson, the #1-seed in both the shot and discus, Jerome Begin, the #1-seed in both boys' hurdle events, and Benilde-St. Margaret’s high jumper Trevor Yedoni, the top seed at 6-10.

But, expect surprises! In competition like the Hamline Elite Meet, it’s impossible to predict who might emerge unexpectedly victorious. Perhaps some unheralded athlete will make the Elite Meet stage his or her own, and add to the history of the meet in one smashing effort.

And, etch new memories into the annals of this unique athletic event.

Gophers' McGinnis Wins Drake Decathlon

Gopher senior all-American R.J. McGinnis won the Drake Relays decathlon on Thursday, redeeming a sub-par opening day with a powerful second-day effort.

McGinnis won the contest with 7319 points. Teammate Jack Szmanda, a red-shirt freshman, was runner up with 7284 points.

The Gophers' Joey Schwecke finished sixth with 7169 points.

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With the win, McGinnis became the first Gopher in history to win the Drake Relays decathlon. Minnsota has now won a total of 49 men's Drake Relays titles in the 101-year history of the meet. McGinnis was runner-up in the event last year.

Read the full story on the Gopher decathlon effort HERE.

Find Drake Relays results HERE.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yes/No: Seven New Records at the Elite Meet?

The Hamline Elite Meet kicks off tomorrow and its Friday night session will pit Minnesota's best track and field athletes against one-another. The format is simple: any high school athlete can be entered in the meet but only the very best are accepted -- setting the stage for a fast-paced, highly-competitive meet.

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It should be no surprise that many of the best high school athletes from the last four years are on the Elite Meet record board, including Alicia Rue, Jordan Helgren, Zach Mellon and Brock Spandl.

We would like to know how many records will be broken this year...

Y/N: Will seven or more records be tied or broken at the Hamline Elite Meet on Friday night?

There are eight athletes who have eight seed times/distances that are faster/further than meet records. They include Analisa Huschle in the long jump, Erica Dombro in the 400, Hannah Schonhardt in the high jump, Kim Hovey in the shot put, Maggie Ewen in the discus, Jerome Begin in the 300 hurdles, Macauley Spandl in the pole vault and Trevor Yedoni in the high jump.

In 2009, there were seven meet records tied or broken.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 5:30 P.M. CST, Friday, April 23rd. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: Yes

The question from last week was: Will Jason Lehmkuhle or Antonio Vega run faster than 2:14:00 at the Boston Marathon on Monday? The answer was an emphatic yes - both athletes ran personal bests and broke 2:14. Twenty three contestants answered correctly and there is now a seven-way tie for second place behind leader Toby Hatlevig.

For all the results, please visit DtBFantasy Corner.

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Maxwell, McGregor Earn Monthly Honors

The USA Track & Field - Minnesota announced recently that Ralph Maxwell and Katie McGregor were its Athletes of the Month for April 2010.

Maxwell, a 90-year-old masters athlete who lives in Richville, was recognized for setting an M90 age-group world record in the indoor heptathlon at the USA Masters Indoor Championships in Boston last month. Maxwell scored 4594 points in the five-event effort. Maxwell's time of 15.84 seconds in the 60 meter hurdle race of the pentathlon set a world age-group record as well.

McGregor, a member of Team USA Minnesota, was honored for winning the USA 15K Championship held in conjunction with the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida in March. McGregor clocked 49 minutes, 51 seconds to win her first-ever USA title at the distance. McGregor, has now won national titles at 10,000 meters on the track and at 10K (twice), 15K, and 25K on the roads.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stillwater Marathon Ready for 2010 Race

The Stillwater Marathon is paid up and ready to go for its second annual running.

Mary Divine of the Pioneer Press reports HERE, that the event's organizers, St. Croix Events, have not only made good on the more than $30,000 owed for traffic control and emergency services from last year's event, but have also paid in advance for such charges in 2010.
The event, scheduled for Sunday, May 30, includes 12K, half marathon, and 20 mile races along with the marathon.

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The Stillwater Marathon is one of ten events nationally chosen to be part of retailer Dick's Sporting Goods National Runners' Month program, a sports-marketing initiative to promote running and highlight the retailer's commitment to serving runners throughout the United States.

Find more information on the race, HERE.

Find more information on the National Runner's Month promotion HERE.

Event to Offer Beginning Runner Options ... The Stillwater Marathon also announced that it will offer a 400 meter, mile, and a 2.62 mile "mini-marathon" at part of its "Get Fit Minnesota" initiative open to students and the general public.

The shorter races feature "beginning runner" distances in support of physical fitness and to address rising obesity especially among youth. The program includes a comprehensive training curriculum for schools willing to provide a coach who will run and train with the students in preparation for the races.

Find more information on the Get Fit Minnesota program, HERE.

Dick Beardsley to be inducted into Distance Running Hall of Fame

A story about Dick Beardsley's induction into the distance running Hall of Fame in HERE.

Tyner Breaks Through at NCAA Indoors

Justin Tyner is what you might call a "late bloomer." The Baxter native and graduate of Brainerd High School, surprised himself at this year's NCAA Indoor Championships by finishing third in the 5000 meters as a junior at the Air Force Academy. A 4:24 miler in high school, Tyner's highest finish was tenth in the MSHSL State Cross Country Meet. One clue to his potential, however, was the fact that he made the US team in the biathlon in 2007.

contributor Jim Ferstle asked Tyner (pictured) about his recent successes.

Down the Backstretch: You’ve been improving every year and this year you’ve entered the elite level with your third place finish at NCAA indoors and 13:41 time. Tell us a bit about NCAA Indoors. Did you have any clue that things were going to go that well? What were your goals going into the race? How did the race unfold? What were your thoughts afterward?

Justin Tyner: The big jumps that I experienced this season are really the product of the work I have been putting in the last two years. Doing well at the Division I level is something that talent alone can’t give anyone. My whole collegiate career has been a steady progression, being more and more successful every passing season.

The first signs of a big jump were in the cross country season last fall when I came in fifth at the Mountain Region Championships. I had a great couple weeks of training over Christmas break which set me up well for the indoor season that unfolded. I remember that right before break my coach Juli Benson told me that I would be ready to run in the 13:30’s, that just sounded ridiculous to me at the time given that my fastest 5k at that point was a 14:11. But I felt good and was crushing workouts left and right.

I opened up my season with an 800 at our home track which ended up being a 1:56. Next I did a 1K/mile double at the University of Nebraska a couple of weeks later with times of 1:27 and 4:07. My first 5K was at the Husky invite, I laid down a 14:00. Then at the Mountain West Conference championships is where I got my qualifying mark that got me into NCAA’s with an altitude converted time of 13:52.

Going into the national meet I wanted to do well; All-American was my main goal. My coach told me that a good race would be top eight, great would be top five, and I was capable of top three. In my mind that was fairly bold, but I wasn’t going to limit myself. I started in the back of the pack from the gun, in about twelfth place. We came through the first lap in 32 seconds, and it felt fast, so I told myself that it would be fine. Every lap I would look at my coach who was standing at the start of the home stretch, and every lap she would signal that I was in perfect position, and to be patient.

Ten laps in I remember being very uncomfortable, and fighting back thoughts of giving up. But fortunately I suppressed those thoughts like I had so many times before in workouts. The leaders kept surging so the field, which was single file for the most part, would stretch out, then come back together as the chase pack would fight to stay connected. Since the race had gone out so fast, people started fading around lap 19, just like I had counted on, which is when my coach finally told me to start going around people.

I finally was in fourth with three laps to go behind New Mexico’s Chris Barnicle. By that point I was so excited, all I wanted to do was finish as well as I could. I went around Chris with a lap to go and finished third a few seconds behind the favorites Sam Chelanga, and David McNeill. I was honestly astonished, and super excited. My time blew me away, I believed that I was capable of running such a time, but to actually realize that goal, was truly amazing.

DtB: Being in the service and in pilot training, I imagine that sports take a back seat to your school work and military prep. Do you run year round? How much time do you get to devote to athletics?

JT: To answer this I should explain what exactly it is that I am doing. I am a junior at the U.S. Air Force Academy, which is a four year college program, fully funded by the U.S. Air Force, every student has a full academic scholarship. Every graduate has a minimum commitment of five years of active duty service after graduation. Upon graduation every student is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. Pilot training is something that comes after that. So right now I am just a student, going through a rigorous academic and military curriculum. All student athletes have classes only in the morning, so after lunch we have an hour of military training then we go to practice. So with the scheduled practice time, it is just a matter of getting things done in the time that I have outside of practice. I do run year round, with a two week break at the end of the outdoor season, and a week break after cross country in the fall. I get several hours to devote to running every day, so a fairly normal amount compared to most Division I programs.

DtB: You were on the world junior biathlon team in 2007. I would gather that means you did cross county skiing as well in high school. Can you tell us a bit about that and your biathlon experiences? Do you still do any of that in the military competitions?

JT: I did cross country ski in high school, in fact skiing is what got me into running. I started in seventh grade and many of my friends on the team also did cross country running, so I started that in eighth grade. Essentially what I did in high school was train for running in the fall and spring, and biathlon and skiing in the winter and summer, though I did get my miles in during the summer as well.

I loved skiing, it is definitely very different from running. My sophomore year I started working with Bill Meyer, who is a biathlon coach who lives in Nisswa, he helped me tremendously with my ability to ski, and really train at a whole new level. I trained hard for all three years that I competed in biathlon, and I love the sport.

My career culminated in my making the U.S. youth world team, which competed at the Junior World Biathlon Championships in January of 2007. It was a fantastic experience, and it was foundational in that it helped me learn to deal with performing under pressure, and in adverse conditions against extremely stiff competition. We had to deal with a time change, altitude, dynamic snow conditions, different food, as well as a fast paced race schedule.

I don’t recall exactly how I placed at the races, not high enough to remember at any rate. I have not competed in either cross country skiing, or biathlon since high school. At the college level you really have to be committed to one sport, and track is what I have chosen.

DtB: You have two younger teammates-Jim Walmsley and Jon Rock—who seem to be close to you in ability. Has their presence on the team helped to push you to a new level? How much have they contributed to your recent success?

JT: Jim and Jon are both very talented runners. I have learned a lot from both of them. There is definitely something to be said for having guys that I can train with contributing to my recent success. All three of us do almost the exact same training, I would probably go crazy if I had to do everything by myself.

It would not surprise me at all if/when those guys both break any/all of the records that I set. The Air Force distance running program is entering a new era, it is really exciting to see how good this team is getting, and Jim and Jon are a huge part of that.

DtB: Your media guide bio has an entry that notes your nickname is “Snuggles.” Can we get you to tell us a bit about that?

JT: Ha ha, yes, I am very commonly known around campus as “Snuggles.” This is because the men’s Cross Country team has a tradition of handing out nicknames to the incoming freshmen. My second week of practice, a guy, who was a junior at the time, known as “Seabass” turned to me and said “you look like the Snuggle’s bear, I’m calling you Snuggles,” and it stuck.

DtB: Your progress through the pilot training would suggest that your future is there. Any thoughts on continuing running or will your competitive career end with your eligibility for the Air Force team?

JT: I am not at pilot training yet, my class actually finds out pretty soon what our jobs are going to be in the Air Force. I put in for pilot, but if I find out that is what they assigned me to, I may give it up so I can enter a program called WCAP. WCAP (World Class Athlete Program) is something that offers elite athletes in the Air Force the opportunity to train for the Olympics. It is a very selective program, and they don’t like to give it to people that are slotted to be pilots. I will be out of NCAA eligibility when I graduate, so I will not be able to run for the Air Force Academy, though I am hoping to compete post-collegiately for the U.S. Air Force.

DtB: What motivated you to go into the military? To train to be a pilot?

JT: I’m not really sure what made me want to be in the military. Since I was 12 years old I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. I joined Civil Air Patrol, and learned as much as I could about military life and structure, and got my first flying experience. For as long as I can remember I was infatuated with airplanes. My favorite toys when I was a child were airplanes. I would draw airplanes, and design paper airplanes. I would read about them, and study pictures of them. I was pretty obsessed. As I got older and closer to actually coming to the academy. I recognized the magnitude of the challenge that I wanted to overcome. And that is what it became about my last year in high school, and my first year here, was overcoming that challenge.

DtB: What role does running play in your life? Just something you’re good at? Something you enjoy? Stress relief? An outlet for competitive instincts?

JT: Running is all of the above to me and more. Running keeps me busy on top of my jam packed schedule, though while it is stress added, it is also very much a stress reliever. Some days I hate running, others I love it.

Most of the time it is just routine though. I do what I have to for the next race. And racing is really what I love about the sport. In my mind racing is the purest form of athletic competition; it is an innate sense that faster is better, and whoever is fastest is best. As children we all liked to race to the water fountain, or to the car to get the front seat. That sense of competition has never left me, I love the feeling of pushing my body as hard as I can in an effort to finish first. But more than that, running is a gift from God, something that He has blessed me with, that I can do and enjoy with all of my heart and give back to Him.

Photo courtesy of Air Force Academy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moorhead's Spandl Sets All-Time Vault Mark

The bar has now been raised to 15-8.

That's the current height of the best pole vault performance in Minnesota boys high school history after Moorhead's Macauley Spandl cleared the height on Friday at the Moorhead Athletic Association Invitational held at Concordia College.

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Spandl's clearance -- which can be viewed HERE on YouTube -- bettered the previous record of 15-7 set by Anoka's Tim Koupal in 1997 at the MSHSL Class AA State Meet.

The Fargo Forum has a nice story, HERE, about Spandl's record and how his talented siblings spurred him to and congratulated him for his record-setting performance.

Spandl, like sister Jacenta and brother Brock, will attend the University of Minnesota next year.

The record vault on Friday was a redemptive start to Spandl's 2010 season after a disappointing end to his 2009 campaign. Spandl, who won the Hamline Elite Meet last April with a vault of 14-0, no-heighted at the MSHSL Section 8AA meet and did not qualify for State.

Spandl was part of a six-way tie for #6 on the 2009 Minnesota high school list, HERE, and now joins his brother Brock on Minnesota's all-time top-10 list.

Here's how the Minnesota boys' all-time list looks after Spandl's 15-8 ...

15-8 Macauley Spandl, Moorhead 2010
15-7 Tim Koupal, Anoka 1997
15-6 ½ Jed Bergstrom, Buffalo 1997
15-6 Mike Brockwell, Edina 1996
15-4 Jason Beutz, Foley 2003
15-3 ½ Erik Romsdahle, Saint James 2008
15-3 Chip Malmstrom, Mahtomedi 1994
15-3 Jon Anderson, Morris Area 1994
15-3 Brock Spandl, Moorhead 2006
15-3 Dan Sandor, Stillwater Area 2008

Speaking of High School Track ... Down the Backstretch will again offer live coverage of the Friday session of the Hamline Elite Meet. If you can't attend the meet yourself, join us at 5:15 p.m. this Friday for live text coverage of all the action!

Goucher Makes "Boston Appearance" on KFAN

Wrapping up our Boston Marathon coverage, it deserves mention that Kara Goucher, who finished third at America's oldest marathon last year, took to the airways rather than the roads this Patriots' Day.

Goucher was a guest yesterday on KFAN's Power Trip Morning show.

You can listen to her interview with The Fan's morning team -- one of whom is actually a runner! -- HERE.

Thanks to Mike Nawrocki -- he of the revitalized Run Minnesota blog -- for the tip on Goucher's radio appearance.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lehmkuhle and Vega Talk About Boston PRs

Quoting the Team USA Minnesota media release ...

Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle finished in ninth place and Antonio Vega was 12th at the Boston Marathon today, with both running personal best times. Lehmkuhle crossed the finish line in 2:12:24 (his previous best was 2:12:54) and Vega's time was 2:13:47 (previous was 2:15:45). The two were also the third and fourth Americans in the race, respectively.

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Also competing at Boston on a day with sunny skies, cool temperatures in the 50s and a slight breeze, was Michelle Frey who finished 23rd in the women's race with a time of 2:42:38.

The 114th Boston marked Lehmkuhle's second appearance at the storied event, having first run the race from Hopkinton to Boston in 2007 when it was held in freezing rain and steady 15-to-20 mph winds. During that race Lehmkuhle cramped up in his legs, tried to drop out at the 24-mile mark and then did a walk/jog to the finish line for a disappointing time of 2:38:05. Since that time, he placed fifth at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in what was his personal best of 2:12:54, and then 10th at last fall's ING New York City Marathon.

Lehmkuhle shadowed by Vega.

"You couldn't have asked for much more in terms of the weather for today's race," said Lehmkuhle. "My last experience in Boston was totally different so this day was a pleasant departure from that experience. Overall, I am really pleased with my race and how I managed my energy. I felt I was also significantly better prepared than my last go around here in 2007 because we made it a real priority to do a lot of training on hills that closely simulate Boston."

Read the media release in its entirety -- including more quotes from Lehmkuhle and Vega -- HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailor/Photo Run.

BOSTON FLASH: Lehmkuhle 9th in 2:12:24

Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle finished 9th at today's BAA Boston Marathon in a PR 2:12:24.

Teammate Antonio Vega clocked a personal best 2:13:47 for 12th.

Jennifer Houck of Duluth, the 2009 Minnesota Runner of the Year, ran a breakthrough 2:39:02 to finish 17th among women.

Team USA Minnesota's Michelle Frey ran 2:42:38 to finish 23rd in women's competition.

Find results and additional information HERE.

Warming Up for the Boston Marathon ...

As we await the start of the 114th B.A.A. Boston Marathon, we offer links to two recent stories about Antonio Vega and Jason Lehmkuhle. Additionally, we've got a link to video of an interview Michelle Frey gave at Boston.

The Team USA Minnesota trio will be hitting the roads from Hopkinton to Boston shortly.

Antonio Vega's Star-Tribune interview is HERE.

Jason Lehmkuhle's Des Moines Register feature is HERE.

Michelle Frey's interview is HERE.

Follow the Boston action live and, ultimately, find results HERE.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Short-Cut: Results' Links for April 15-19

It's a loooooong weekend of action. Here are the links to its results:

Mt. SAC Relay: Results * Video
Update: Torchia 29:33.54, Gagnon 29:47.21; Laskowske 33:59.70

Mt. SAC Relay: Results * Video
TomCat Twilight: Results

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Fitger's 5K: Results
Update: Polson, Koski win.
BAA Invitational Mile: Results
Update: G. Heath 5th in 4:12.1
Phil Esten Challenge: Results
Carleton Relays: Results
Manitou Classic: Results
Mt. SAC Relay: Results * Video

MDRA Mudball 4 Mile: Results

Boston Marathon: Results

Friday, April 16, 2010

Y/N: Sub-2:14 for Lehmkuhle or Vega at Boston?

The Boston Marathon has assembled it's typical collection of top-notch international talent in Beantown for the Patriot's Day race. In historically one of the most storied road races in the world, two Team USA Minnesota men will be front-and-center. While Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi will get most of the publicity among American athletes, Jason Lehmkuhle and Antonio Vega could do some damage from under the radar.

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Lehmkuhle, the marathon veteran of the two, has indicated he would like to run "in the 2:11 range." Vega, the upstart, reported that he would like to run "in the 2:10 - 2:12 range."

How fast do you think they will run?

Y/N: Will Jason Lehmkuhle or Antonio Vega run faster than 2:14:00 at the Boston Marathon on Monday?

Jason Lehmkuhle has a 2:12:54 marathon best that was run in the 2008 Olympic Trials in New York. He has finished 5th and 9th at the last two Marathon Olympic Trials. Lehmkuhle's most impressive race this spring occurred at the USA 15k championship where he ran 43:58 to place fourth.

Antonio Vega has run two marathons with a best of 2:15:45. Vega has taken his running to a new level this year, highlighted by his 1:01:54 National Championship at half-marathon.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 9:00 A.M. CST, Monday, April 19th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: No

The question from last week was: Will Derall King throw 54 feet or further in the shot put at the Hamline Invite Saturday? Only six players answered correctly with a no response. Some of the correct answers came from Jesse Schoen, who moved into second place, and Gregg Robertson, Chris Marshall and Lori Anne Peterson, who are all now tied for fourth.

For all the results, please visit DtBFantasy Corner.

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Grandma's Seeks Non-Running Talent

It might be time to get the band back together. Or, to break out your old juggling balls.

Grandma's Marathon announced yesterday that it is looking for people who wish to showcase their talent and share their community spirit by performing along the course at this year's Grandma's Marathon, scheduled for June 19.

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According to the Grandma's media release, "High school bands, cheerleading squads, dance teams, soloists, church choirs, jugglers—any individual or group bringing excitement and enthusiasm to the racecourse are welcome."

All entertainers will receive official Grandma's Marathon course entertainment T-shirts, refreshment tickets, and invitations to the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on Sunday, June 27 at Grandma’s Sports Garden.

For more information, contact Linda Hanson at
(218) 727-0947 or linda[AT]grandmasmarathon[DOT]com

Now, where do I have my old clown make-up stored?

Kara Goucher talks Boston

Kara Goucher gives her thoughts on last year's race HERE.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

News and Notes

An interview with Team USA MN's Antonio Vega from Running Times is HERE.
There is a strong line up for the speakers at this year’s Grandma’s Marathon. Olympian Kara Goucher, Dick Beardsley, author Hal Higdon, and coach of the current women’s Olympic marathon champion, Constantina Dita, Valeriu Tomescu, will talk at the race expo on Friday, June 18. Grandma’s weekend starts on Thursday, June 17, and culminates in the race on Saturday, June 19.

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A nice feature on the University of Minnesota’s women’s track team captain, Rikita Butler, is on the U of M site HERE. Chad Austin has an interview with Ed Rousseau HERE that includes a priceless picture of the septuagenarian passing a much younger runner.

With Boston approaching on Monday,it brings back memories for many of us of Ron Daws, who made a name for himself on the US distance scene because of his success in the Beantown classic. The annual Ron Daws 25K was run on April 3 and has a whimsical note on the MDRA site noting a course measurement issue during this year’s race: “A clear April morning greeted the 31st edition of this spring MDRA 25K event. Fastest times were posted by Wynn Davis of River Falls, WI who cruised to a 1:31:16 running with Ben Schneider. Jenna Boren of St. Paul (1:44:50) led the women. A post race check disclosed the course was actually 15.76 miles as cones marking a turn around point were placed incorrectly. We regret the additional two tenths and there will be no extra charge. We hope you can join us next year as now that the road construction is done we go back to the original 25K course!”

In MIAC news, Bethel’s Dan Greeno won the 5K at the Jim Duncan Invitational, hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, last Friday night with a school record setting time of 14:35.55. The time breaks his own school record, set last season, by almost 14 seconds. His time meets NCAA provisional standards and currently places him seventh in the nation. The Augsburg women's 400-meter relay team of Whitney Holman, Chelsey Rice, Ashley Carney and Shanek Telphia set a school record of 49.25 placing third in the eventat the Hamline Invitational on Saturday. In addition to her performance in the relay, Telphia won the 200, equaling her personal-best time of 25.36, and was second in the 100 in 12.63.

A film on Ethiopia's double Olympic champion in the marathon, Abebe Bikila will have showings at the annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival next week. Details about the film, as well as when and where it will be shown are HERE.
Photo courtesy of Photo Run

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lehmkuhle hopes to apply lessons learned

Three years ago Jason Lehmkuhle accepted the challenge of navigating the Boston Marathon course from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. On that day, the course won and Jason learned, finishing in a painful 2:38:04. Faster and wiser, Lehmkuhle , 32, hopes to take the what he learned that day and since, and make his second try at the famed event a better representation of his capabilities.

“I’ve been pretty pleased,” he said. “I’ve made it completely through this (training) cycle healthy.” In past races, he said, there usually have been “niggles,” or minor problems that are not uncommon in marathon preparation, but his current cycle hasn’t been hampered by those setbacks. He’s approaching Monday’s race with a mixture of nervousness and optimism. Nervous because of the bad experience in 2007 and the fact that it is a marathon where anything can happen, but optimistic in that his preparation has gone well and, hopefully, he can transform that into a performance representative of his fitness level.

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With a marathon PR of 2:12:53 and a fifth place finish in the 2008 US Olympic Marathon Trials, Lehmkuhle believes he has not yet reached his peak. “If you would have told me five years ago I was going to run 2:12, I would have said: ‘No way.’” says Lehmkuhle. He believes a 2:10 is within his reach, and, if he continues to improve, a 2:09 or 2:08 is possible. But he doesn’t believe in times as the ultimate measure of potential or success. He’s not going into this year’s race with a specific time or place goal, but rather a plan to get the most out of himself on race day.

What he learned from his initial encounter with the Boston Marathon was what many others before him have, that Boston’s course presents unique challenges that need to be addressed in your preparation. Like other Minnesotans, such as Ron Daws, Steve Hoag, Bob Kempainen, and Dick Beardsley, who have had success at Boston, Lehmkuhle, with the help of coach Dennis Barker, did a lot of training to prepare for the hills. From an undulating two and a half mile loop in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, designed by Barker, to a route with longer hills in Eagan from the Lifetime Fitness health club through the Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Lehmkuhle and Team USA MN teammate Antonio Vega have done their homework on training preparation for the Boston course, which features gradual downhills on the first half, followed by climbing through the famed Newton Hills, Heartbreak Hill, and the final mostly downhill decent into the downtown.

Boston is not a place where runners come to challenge world records; it’s where they come to discover things about themselves as racers, runners who can adapt to weather, pace, and the unique challenges of the event. If the leaders go out in 2:07(course record) pace, don’t expect to see Lehmkuhle in the lead pack, he says. Such a pace would be running’s version of suicide for him, Lehmkuhle says. He considers himself, at this point in his development, to be a “national level” competitor with the possibility of developing into one who can challenge on an international level.

“I think, even in my 30s, I can still improve,” he says. “If I can continue to progress with each training cycle.” His PR puts him in the top 20-25 of those racing on Monday, he says, so, in all likelihood, the key to his success will be going out at a pace he feels he can sustain and picking off runners in front of him who have not managed their energy as wisely.

Lehmkuhle adds that he and Vega have similar goals, so he expects they will be together for much of the race, supporting each other and taking what they have learned about their pace management in training and transforming it into success on race day. While the US’s Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall are expected to challenge at the front of the lead pack, Lehmkuhle and Vega will be hoping to pick off those further back and climb up the ladder of top finishers as far as they can.
Photo courtesy of Photo Run

MIAC Athletes of the Week

Women's Outdoor Co-Track Athletes of the Week
Carleton College sophomore Simone Childs-Walker won the 5K at the Hamline Invitational in 17:07.98. University of St. Thomas senior Kelly Russ won the 800 meters. Childs-Walker’s time is the best in the MIAC and is fifth on the national performance list. Russ’s time of 2:13.34 is a NCAA provisional qualifier that ranks third in Division III.

Women's Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week

Concordia College junior Katherine Brott was first in the javelin with a throw of 38.72 meters (127-0 ft) while competing against NCAA DI, DII, and NAIA schools at the NDSU Bison Open. Her performance is currently the top mark in the MIAC.

Men's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week
Bethel University senior Taylor Ferda won both hurdle events at the Falcon Invitational at UW-River Falls on Saturday. He won the 110 hurdles in 14.87 and the 400 hurdles in 53.81. Both times are NCAA provisional marks.

Men's Outdoor Co-Field Athletes of the Week
Saint Mary's University junior Andrew Brueggen won the hammer throw at Gustavus' Lee Krough Invitational on Saturday with a toss of 55.19 meters. Brueggen's school-record throw ranks him eighth in Division III. He also placed 10th in the shot put at 36.35 meters.

St. Olaf College senior John Schantzen won the shot put title at the UW-River Falls' Falcon Invitational on Saturday with a toss of 16.55 meters. The 2010 NCAA Indoor Shot Put Champion, Schantzen now ranks eighth in Division III.

Monday, April 12, 2010

News and Notes from last week

We'll lead with academics as it was announced last week that St. Thomas grad, Katie Theisen is one of six finalists for a $24,000 Walter Byers postgraduate scholarship. Three men and three women have been selected as finalists. Thesen is the only track athlete in the group, all the others are Division I athletes.

A native of Elko, Theisen graduated with a 4.00 gpa in biology from St Thomas. An NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, a Goldwater Scholar, and a two-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, Theisen was also named College Sporting News' Senior Female Student-Athlete of the Year from the MIAC -- a honor also bestowed on her older brother, 2008 UST graduate P.J. Theisen.

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Theisen was a six-time All-American, including an NCAA runner-up placing in the steeplechase last May in a conference record time of 10:27. She anchored UST's distance medley relay to runner-up NCAA indoor finishes in 2008 and 2009. She also anchored that quartet to first place at the 2009 Drake Relays -- the conference's first relays win at Drake in 77 years. In her four NCAA cross country championship races, she improved each year from 71st to 36th to 20th to 13th place.

Theisen, who is headed to medical school at the University of Minnesota, helped the Toms win 11 of a possible 12 MIAC team titles in CC, indoor and outdoor track. She contributed to 263 team points in eight career conference track and field meets, and was a four-time All-MIAC honoree in cross country. She was a nine-time MIAC Athlete of the Week in her three sports. Last summer, Theisen was named one of 10 national semifinalists in Division III for the 2009 NCAA Woman of the Year award.

On the track last weekend: University of Minnesota Junior, Ben Peterson, won the open pole vault title at Arizona State’s Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, AZ, on Saturday. Peterson cleared 17 feet, 3 inches, for his third straight victory of the 2010 outdoor season.

The Gophers Chris Rombough was fourth in the 1,500 meters in 3:44.49. Andy Richardson finished seventh seventh in 3:46.21. Harun Abda placed seventh in the 800-meter run in 1:48.96, then anchored the Gophers’ 4x400-meter relay to a fourth-place finish, season-best time of 3:09.25. On the relay with Abda were John Holton, Logan Stroman, and David Pachuta. Redshirt freshman Micah Hegerle finished fifth in the Sun Angel hammer throw with a toss of 198-8. On Friday, Hegerle won the hammer title at the Mesa Classic with a toss of 197-2. Trey Davis topped the U of M men's performances in the other open events. He was second in the shot put with a throw of 54-10. Travis Burkstrand was fourth (1:50.85) and Pachuta sixth (1:50.99) in the open 800 meters.

In the women's events in Arizone, Senior Megan Duwell broke her own Minnesota school record in the 5,000-meter run, placing second overall, the first collegian, in 16:04.55. Junior Samantha Sonnenberg captured the lone first-place finish for the Gophers at the meet, winning the pole vault with a career-high of 13 feet, 6 1/4 inches, which ranks her No. 2 on the Minnesota all-time list in the event.

Gabriele Anderson placed seventh in the 1,500-meter race with a career-best time of 4:20.56, the fifth-fastest time in Gopher history. Elizabeth Yetzer and Nikki Swenson placed third and fourth, respectively, in another 1,500-meter section. Yetzer posted a time of 4:23.14, while Swenson ran a career-best and all-time No. 9 time of 4:24.34.

The U of M teams split with some team members competing at the Hamline Invitational. The men won six individual titles, led by sophomore Sean King, who won the 100 in a career-best time of 10.62 seconds. Freshman Cameron Boy won the 200in 21.51 seconds after placing third in the 100 meters in 10.98. Another freshman, Oladipo Fagbemi, won the triple jump with a leap of 47-11 1/4, and was second in the 200in 21.61.
Other Gophers winning events were Sean Duling in the 110-meter hurdles (14.78), Matt Clauer in the high jump (6-8) and Paul Hoplin in the javelin (190-10).

For the women, DeAnne Hahn won the hammer throw with a personal-best toss of 192 feet, third best mark in Golden Gopher history.Two other Gopher women also won: Caty Dongoske won the shot put(42-4 1/4). Emily Betz triumphed in the javelin(134-7). Nikki Tzanakis placed second in the discus(160 feet).

Host team Hamline had three athletes who posted NCAA provisional qualifying marks: Ben Johnson (So, Roseville) was second to a Gopher competitor in the triple jump with an NCAA provisional leap of 14.44 meters (47-4 ½). In the throws, Derall King (Jr, Inver Grove Heights) was second to an unattached athlete in the shot put with an NCAA provisional put of 16.03 meters (52-7 ¼). Brennan McKeag (So, Lakeville) was third at 15.23 meters (49-11 ¾). In the sprints, Tyson Molitor (Jr, Belgrade) won the 400in 48.69. Ian Campbell (So, Blooming Prairie) won the 1500 in 3:55.35.

University of St. Thomas junior Matt Griswold won the 400 hurdles in an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 54.05 and was second in the 110 hurdles in 14.97. For the Tommie women, Senior Nikki Arola had a hand in four top-two placings as the team had five NCAA provisional qualifying performances.In all UST had 11 top-two finishes.

In the 800, Kelly Russ was first in 2:13.34,an NCAA provo time, and fellow senior Erin Sprangers was second in 2:14.01 to improve her previous provo qualifying mark. Senior Megan Honan took second in the hammer in 159-8 and improved her previous NCAA provo qualifying mark. UST won both relays in NCAA provo times. In the 4x100, seniors Laura Janas, Arola and Molly Demmer and junior Jenna Ewing clocked 48.61. In the 4x400, Demmer, Sprangers, Russ and Arola clocked 3:54.25. Arola also won the 100 meters in 12.56. She also ran the 400 hurdles for the first time in three seasons and took second in 65.00. Janas won the 100 Hurdles in 15.79, and Demmer took second in the 400 meters in 59.24.

Up north at the North Dakota Open, the wind was blowing as North Dakota State sophomore Kevin Jackson won both the 100 meters and the 200 meters. Jackson won the 200 in a personal best time of 21.34, which is seventh on the NDSU all-time performance charts. His 100 meter time was 10.89. In the 110 meter hurdles, sophomore Weston Leutz claimed the title in a time of 14.44. Jackson was third in 14.77. Redshirt freshman Casey Orgon won the shot put with a personal best throw of 48-10 ¾. In the high jump, sophomore Jeramy Geditz took first with a leap of 6-6. Freshman Moses Heppner won the 800 meters in 1:54.33. Redshirt freshman Dan Merritt was second in 1:56.06. In the pole vault, junior Joe Bredahl finished first with a mark of 15-7. Sophomore Nolan Berg was second with a leap of 15-1. Junior Sam Soholt claimed the discus title with a mark of 152-1. Senior Scott Johnson was second with a throw of 147-6. Johnson was also second in the javelin with a mark of 167-9.