Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gophers in Wisconsin for Big Tens

The University of Minnesota cross country teams are in Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championships hosted by the Badgers at their new course in Verona, Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Gopher squads will look to build upon 3rd-place finishes at the meet last year.

The Gopher women, ranked #19 nationally, are expected to tussle with #16 Michigan State and #21 Michigan for the conference title. Indiana and Iowa are also nationally ranked.

Gopher junior Stephanie Price, a two-time Big Ten cross country Athlete of the Week this year, expects to be racing in the lead pack on Sunday.

Find the U of M sports media preview of the meet HERE.

Watch head coach Gary Wilson talk about the meet HERE.

There's also a video profile of Price HERE.

In the men's Big Ten race, #6 Wisconsin and #7 Indiana are the favorites on paper. The un-ranked Gopher men are likely to battle #24 Penn State and un-ranked Michigan State for third place in the meet.

Both Michigan State and the Gophers were ranked earlier in the season.

Find the U of M sports media preview of the meet HERE.

Watch head coach Steve Plasencia talk about the meet HERE.

Article on Ben Blankenship on Big Ten site HERE.

Look for results of the meet HERE.
Women's Update: Gopher women third in very tight team race, Stephanie Price finishes second. Recap of the women's race is HERE.
Men's Update: Minnesota third in team competition. Ben Blankenship third in individual race as top three runners finish within a second of one another. The top five were within two seconds of each other. A story on the men's race is HERE and HERE.

Friday, October 29, 2010

FLASH: 2003 TCM Champ Admits to Doping

In an exclusive Runners World story by John Brant, 2003 Twin Cities Marathon champion Eddy Hellebuyck admits he used EPO to prepare for that race and others late in his career.

The Belgian-born naturalized American citizen tested positive for EPO in 2004 at age 43, but denied using the drug at the time, going as far as appealing his case to the Court for Arbitration in Sports.

Read the full, interesting story HERE.

Photo of Hellebuyck by Paul Phillips, Competitive Image.

Hamline, Carleton Aim to Defend in MIAC

Hamline and Carleton will look to defend their 2009 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles when the conference hosts its 2010 championship at Como Golf Course in St. Paul on Saturday afternoon.

The Hamline men, ranked #20 in NCAA Division III, are the Central region's top-ranked team. They won last year's MIAC title with a narrow 61-66 win over St. Olaf.

Going into this year's contest, St. John's, ranked #34 in D3 and the #3 team in the Central Region, appears the Pipers' strongest challenger. St. Olaf is ranked #7 regionally, while St. Thomas, third in 2009, is ranked #9.

The Tommies Ben Sathre, second individually in 2009, is the top returnee in the meet. He's expected to be challenged for this year's title by Concordia's Tom Sederquist and Hamline's Devin Monson.

There's a complete preview of the men's competition HERE.

If the Carleton women are to defend their 2009 title, they'll need to fight back a strong challenge from cross-Northfield rivals St. Olaf.

The Ole women the top-ranked MIAC heading into the conference -- they're ranked #12 nationally and #2 in the Central Region. Carleton is #25 in D3 and the #5-ranked team in the Central.

In addition, St. Thomas, third last year, is ranked #6 regionally, while Bethel and Gustavus are the Central Region's #7 and #8 teams, respectively.

Simone Childs-Walker, the runner-up in 2009, is the favorite to win the individual title won the last two years by Bethel's Marie Borner.

There's a complete preview of the women's competition HERE.

MIAC Championship competition gets underway at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday with the men's race, followed at 3:15 by the women.

Look for results of the meet HERE.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pick 10: Big Ten and MIAC Championships

The cross country season is winding down. With it, the DtB fantasy contests are nearing their yearly conclusion as well. This week will mark the end of the big contest - Pick Ten - in 2010. There will be another month of Yes/No questions with some bonus questions thrown in just to make it interesting.

This weekend will crown conference champions in both the Big Ten and the MIAC. The Gophers will travel to Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship on Sunday. The MIAC is held annually at Como Park Golf Course and will be run Saturday afternoon.

Pick Ten has a simple concept: predict the finish place for each of 10 Minnesota athletes/teams at their conference meets. You will score points for each athlete who scores at or above the finish place you predict for them, following the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system.

For example: If you pick Ben Blankenship to place first in the Big Ten, and he places first, you get 10 points. If you pick Blankenship to place first and he finishes second, you get zero points. If you pick Blankenship to finish third in the race and he places first, second or third, you get 6 points, since you that's the place you picked him for.

To play Pick Ten, cut and paste the list of names/events below into an e-mail and add your place predictions -- 1st or 2nd or 3rd...10th. Send your predictions by 2:15 P.M. CST on Saturday, October 30th to DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com. Make sure your full name is in the e-mail. We'll announce the winner of this Pick Ten contest next week as well as crown a grand champion for the year. As with our Yes/No contests, we don't offer any prizes, so no one needs to fear running afoul of NCAA or other anti-gambling regulations.

Pick 10 ... Big Ten and MIAC Championships:

University of Minnesota Women:
University of Minnesota Men:
Ben Blankenship (University of Minnesota):
Stephanie Price (University of Minnesota):
Missa Varpness (University of Minnesota):
St. Olaf Men:
Carleton Women:
Devin Monson (Hamline):
Tom Sederquist (Concordia):
Taylor Berg (St. Thomas):

To Help You Make Your Picks ...

The Gopher men finished third at Big Tens last year. Currently, there are three nationally ranked teams from the Big Ten - Wisconsin, Indiana and Penn State. The Gophers were ranked at various times during the season but are not in the top thirty at present. The Gopher women also placed third at Big Tens last year. They are currently ranked nineteenth in the nation after a strong showing at Pre-Nationals. Other ranked teams in the conference include Michigan State - sixteenth, Michigan - twenty-first, Indiana - twenty-ninth and Iowa - thirtieth.

Ben Blankenship has finished twenty sixth (2008) and eighteenth (2009) in his two Big Ten Cross Country meets. Blankenship finished tenth at the Griak invitational and was the 2010 Big Ten Mile Champion on the track. Stephanie Price had a solid cross country season in 2009 but has really taken a major leap this year. She was second at the Griak Invitational and sixth at Pre-Nationals. Price was eighteenth at Big Tens in 2009. Missa Varpness is a redshirt freshman from Montevideo and is competing in her first Big Ten Championship. She was twenty eighth at the Griak Invitational and thirtieth at Pre-Nationals.

St. Olaf men finished second at MIAC in 2009. They are ranked seventh in the region behind Hamline (first), St. Johns (third) and ahead of St. Thomas (ninth). Carleton women are the defending MIAC champs. There are six MIAC women's teams ranked in the top ten in the regional poll. They include St. Olaf (second), Carleton (fifth), St. Thomas (sixth), Bethel (seventh), Gustavus (eighth) and St. Benedict (tenth).

Devin Monson finished sixth at MIAC last year as a sophomore and was second among the non-seniors. Tom Sederquist has never finished in the top thirty at the MIAC championship but figures to change that in a big way this year. He has won three meets this year including the Griak Invitational and was second at Pre-Nationals. Taylor Berg finished nineteenth as a freshman at MIAC in 2009. Berg has won three meets this year and was the third MIAC finisher at Griak.

Good luck!

The fantasy contest question from last week was: "Yes/No: Will Michelle Frey run faster than 2:40:00 at the Casablanca International Marathon?" The answer was no. Frey ran 2:42:31 and placed fifth. Gregg Robertson answered correctly and is now tied with Lori Anne Peterson for first place with twenty six points.

The 2010 Pick Ten standings are as follows: Mike Henderson leads with 163 points, followed closely by Jesse Schoen with 160. Mitch VanBruggen is third with 150 points.

For full standings of both contests, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RNF Tops USATF Minnesota Team Circuit

In the better late than never department ...

USA Track and Field Minnesota recently announced the final standing in its 2010 Team Circuit competition -- a team grand prix of nine road races from March through October where club teams earn points toward a year-end title.

Run N Fun, the St. Paul running specialty store, won two of three titles in both the men's and women's divisions of the competition.

The Run N Fun open men's team topped 2009 champions TC Running Company 78-73. RNF beat TCRC in seven of the nine Team Circuit races.

The Collegeville Track Club was the third-place open men's team.

TCRC won the men's masters title 54-48 over RNF; RNF won the grand master titles 40-36 over TCRC.

In open women's competition, RNF won its fifth-straight Team Circuit title, topping Foley & Mansfield 53-57. The RNF open women were unbeaten in 2010 Team Circuit competition.

TCRC was third in the competition with 49 points.

In masters competition, RNF topped F & M 47-42. In grand master competition, the Prairie Striders edged RNF 24-22.

Find Team Circuit standings and results HERE, on the USA Track and Field Minnesota web-site.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HS Cross Polls: Let the Winnowing Begin

With Minnesota State High School League Section competition set to begin later this week, pollsters have released the latest rankings of the state's top team and individuals.

Section competition begins on Thursday -- see a schedule HERE -- with the State Meet contested on Saturday, November 6.

The first takeaway from the latest polls is that the teams and individuals that topped the polls last week do so again this week. In Class AA, the Eden Prairie girls and Edina boys still rule the team ranks, while Maria Hauger of Shakopee and Aaron Bartnik of Eden Prairie top the Class AA individual polls.

In Class A, the Adrian girls and Perham boys continue top the team ranks, while Elena Danielson of St. Cloud Cathedral and Murbarik Musa of Worthington pace the Class AA individual polls.

The second takeaway is that for the second time in three seasons, a team ranked in the top-3 in the state going into Sections will not qualify for State Meet.

Thursday's Section 6AA meet will feature the top three teams in Class AA -- #1 Edina, #2 Wayzata, and #3 Eden Prairie -- with only two berths to the State Meet on offer. Edina, Wayzata, and Eden Priarie, in fact, have all been ranked #1 at some point during the 2010 season.

Find compete rankings, HERE, at Raceberryjam.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Minnesota Hall of Fame to Induct Six More

The Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame will add six new members at induction ceremonies on Friday, November 5.

Joining the Hall, which recognizes outstanding performances and/or contributions by individuals to the sports of track & field, long distance running, cross country, and race walking in Minnesota, are elite athletes Tom Heinonen and Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, veteran athlete Harry Nash, and coach/administrators Merrill Fischbein, Bill Huyck, and Larry Russ.

The induction ceremony is organized by the Hall of Fame Committee of USA Track and Field Minneosta. The public is invited to the ceremony.

Find details HERE.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yes/No: Frey Sub-2:40 in Casablanca?

The Yes/No Contest will continue its international theme with this week's question. Last week we followed a race in Nanning, China and now it's on to Morocco and the Casablanca Marathon. The race is in its third year and features a flat course and generally good running weather.

Team USA-Minnesota's Michelle Frey is heading all the way to North Africa to chase an 'A' qualifier of 2:38 to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Let us know how fast you think she will run...

Y/N: Will Michelle Frey run faster than 2:40:00 at the Casablanca International Marathon on Sunday?

Michelle Frey has been active in 2010. She competed in the USA Championships for 15k, 10 Mile and Half Marathon this year. She also won the Cowtown Half Marathon and ran 2:42 at the Boston Marathon. Locally this fall, the Iowa City native won the City of Lakes 25k in 1:31:16 and ran 57:36 at the TC 10 Mile - USA Championship.

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 11:00 P.M. CST, Saturday, October 23nd. 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 fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Antonio Vega or Andrew Carlson finish in the top twenty of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships? The answer was no. Vega missed the top twenty by three places and eleven seconds. Carlson finished in 39th place. Nine contestants answered correctly this week and eight of the top nine in the overall standings were wrong this week. Toby Hatlevig moved into a tie for third with his correct answer.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strong Women: UMD #7, St. Olaf #12 in Polls

The University of Minnesota Duluth women's cross country team retained its #7 ranking in the latest NCAA Division II cross country poll, released yesterday.

The Bulldogs, who compete at Eau Claire this weekend and will compete for the NSIC title on November 6, are the #3-ranked team in the loaded Central Region of D2

Find the complete D2 national rankings HERE ... and D2 regional rankings HERE.

In NCAA Division III, the St. Olaf women are the top-ranked Minnesota team, polling as #12 in the country. Crosstown rival Carleton is ranked #25. The Oles are ranked #2 in the Central Region (Luther is #1); Carleton is ranked #5 regionally.

In men's D3 ranks, Hamline tops the local scene coming in at #20. St. John's is ranked #34. Hamline is the #1-ranked men's team in the Central Region; St. John's is #3.

Find the complete D3 national rankings HERE ... and D3 regional rankings HERE.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gopher Women Rise to #19 in NCAA Poll

Thanks to its strong performance at the NCAA Pre-National meet on Saturday, the University of Minnesota women's cross country team finds itself in the top-20 of the latest NCAA Division I cross country poll, released yesterday.

The Gophers, moving up seven spots in the rankings from last week, are ranked #19 in the nation.

The Gopher women trail only #16 Michigan State among Big Ten schools in the rankings. Michigan is ranked #21. In the Midwest Regional rankings released earlier in the week, the Gopher women are ranked #2 behind Iowa State.

Find complete national rankings HERE. Find regional rankings HERE.

The University of Minnesota men fell out of the NCAA top-30 this week. The team had been ranked #25 going into Pre-Nats.

The Gopher men remain the #4-ranked men's team in the Midwest Region.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Antonio Vega Drops Out of NYCM with Hip Injury

Race Results Weekly reported that Antonio Vega will not compete in the ING New York City Marathon on November 7. A hip injury was the reason for his withdrawal.

Also out of the race, 2003 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champion Blake Russell.

Read the Universal Sports story HERE.

Edina Back Atop Class AA Boys Rankings

Edina is back on top of the Class AA boys high school cross country rankings this week, thanks to its victory at Thursday's Lake Conference Championships at Gale Woods Farm.

The Hornets return to the #1 spot after falling to #3 last week when conference and section rivals Wayzata and Eden Prairie bettered them at the Victoria Lions Invite.

Last week's #1 Wayzata fell to #2 in the rankings. Defending Class AA champions and early-season #1 Eden Prairie is currently #3.

In the rest of the Minnesota high school rankings, the top spots remain the same: Eden Prairie retains its season-long stranglehold in girls' Class AA, while Adam Bartnik of Eden Prairie and Maria Hauger of Chaska remain the top individuals in Class AA.

In Class A, Perham and Mubarik Musa of Worthington leads the boys' rankings. Adrian and Elena Danielson of St. Cloud Cathedral lead the girls' polls.

Find complete rankings below ...

Class AA

Boys' Teams:
1 Edina,
2 Wayzata
3 Eden Prairie,
4 Rosemount,
5 Moorhead,
6 Stillwater,
7 Burnsville,
8 Andover
9 Minnetonka,
10 White Bear Lake,
11 Owatonna
12 Roseville

Boys' Individuals:
1 Aaron Bartnik, Eden Prairie
2 Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
3 Josh Thorson, Wayzata
4 Adam Zutz, St. Francis
5 Kyle Bratrud, EP
6 Lukas Gemar, Moorhead
7 Steve Dado, Totino Grace
8 Aldis Inde, Edina
9 Bryant Blahnik, Redwing
10 Christian Skaret, Minnetonka
11 Mohamed Mohamed, Eden Prairie
12 Trent Lusignan, Shakopee

Girls' Teams:
1 Eden Prairie
2 Monticello
3 Andover
4 Lakeville South
5 Eagan
6 Prior Lake
7 Wayzata
8 Hopkins
9 Lakeville North
10 Chanhassen
11 Rosemount
12 Roseville

Girls' Individuals:
1 Maria Hauger, 10, Shakopee
2 Jamie Piepenburg, 11, Alexandria
3 Kayla Urick, 12, Chaska
4 Erica Seidenkranz, 11, Monticello
5 Megan Platner, 12, Eden Prairie
6 Meghan Bailey, 12, Minnetonka
7 Amber Seidenkranz, 9, Monticello
8 Taylor Scholl, 11, Prior Lake
9 Nicole Heitzman, 10, Andover
10 Emily Knapczyk, 11, Robbinsdale Armstrong
11 Cassidy Soli, 10, Champlin Park
12 Steph Murray, 10, Rochester

Class A

Boys' Teams:
1 Perham
2 St. Cloud Cathedral
3 Plainview-Elgin-Millville
4 Minnehaha Academy
5 Glencoe-Silver Lake
6 Waseca
7 Holy Family Catholic
8 Fairmont
9 Mora
10 Byron
11 Esko
12 LaCrescent

Boys' Individuals:
1 Mubarik Musa, Worthington
2 Mason Ferlic, Mounds Park Academy
3 Matt Jergensen, Caledonia
4 Grant Wintheiser, St. Cloud Cathedral
5 Brandon Clark, Blake
6 Bryon Schultz, Nevis
7 Aaron Haley, Plainview-E-M
8 Shane Streich, Waseca
9 Grant Timm, Plainview-E-M
10 Brendan Skrimes, Thief River Falls
11 Justin Cook, Jackson County Central
12 Charlie Lawrence, Foley

Girls' Teams:
1 Adrian
2 St. Cloud Cathedral
3 LaCrescent
4 Holy Family Catholic
5 Blake
6 Dover-Eyota/St. Charles
7 Waseca
8 Fairmont
9 Perham
10 Albany
11 Esko
12 Trinity River Ridge

Girls' Individuals:
1 Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Cathedral
2 Lauren Friese, Fairmont
3 Victoria Alexander , Lake of the Woods
4 Leah Jessen, Canby-Minneota/LinHi
5 Cheyanne Bowers, St.James
6 Whitney Wilgenburg, Hills-Beaver Cr/E
7 Gabi Swoboda , Redwood Falls Area
8 Emi Trost, Cannon Falls
9 Jordan Chancellor, Blake
10 Molly Eastman, Holy Family Cathedral
11 Jordin Kopplow, Adrian
12 Clare Flanagan, Blake

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gopher Women Pleased with Pre-Nationals

A 5th-place team finish paced by Stephanie Price's 6th-place individual effort at the NCAA Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Indiana left the University of Minnesota women confident about a return trip the Queen City of the Wabash in November for the NCAA Championships.

Although they finished behind Pre-Nationals White Race winners #5 Georgetown, runners-up #9 Colorado, 3rd-place #17 Stanford, and #12 SUNY Stony Brook, the Gopher team was pleased with its results.

The unlucky Gopher men finished 12th in their Pre-Nationals race.

The Gopher Women ... “I’m very happy with our performance today,” Gopher head coach Gary Wilson said in a media release. “Steph ran a great race, but really all 12 kids we brought to this meet ran well. They gave everything they had out there today.”

The #26-ranked Gopher women topped three ranked teams with their 241 point effort -- #19 Michigan, #23 North Carolina State, and #27 Florida.

“Beating Michigan was huge,” Wilson explained. “The Wolverines will be among the top teams in the Great Lakes Region. Florida is another team is was important for us to finish ahead of as they will do well in the South Region.”

Victories against strong teams from other regions could be important if the the Gophers need to qualify for nationals as an at-large team.

Price ran 20:25 over the 6K Terre Haute course for her top-10 finish.

Find race results HERE (individual) and HERE (team).

You can watch video of the race HERE.

The Gopher Men ... Untimely cramping for Gopher senior Mike Torchia foiled the University of Minnesota men's team's hopes the White Race at Pre-Nats. The Rochester Lourdes alumnus was leading the Gopher pack at 6K, before cramping dropped him to #7 on the team and 169th place overall.

Nine ranked team finished ahead of the Gophers, who tallied 391 points in their 12th-place run.

“Having Torch struggle late hurt our team score obviously,” Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia said. “I did think our young guys ran pretty well today, especially Andrew Larsen. We just need more from our guys up front.”

Pieter Gagnon led the Gopher effort finishing 51st in 24:35. Ben Blankenship was a few strides behind in 60th in 24:40. Larson was 76th in 24:49.

In the men's Blue Race, Winona High School alumnus Elliott Heath, running for #1-ranked Stanford, was runner-up in 23:16.

Find White Race results HERE (individual) and HERE (team).

You can watch video of the White Race HERE.

Watch the Blue Race HERE.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Short-Cut: Results' Links for October 15-17

Find this weekend's bottom line in our results' links ...

IAAF World Half Marathon: Results
Update: Vega 23rd in 1:03:37, Carlson 39th in 1:05:38.

NCAA Division I Pre-Nationals: Results
Update: Gopher women 5th, Price 6th; Gopher men 12th.

Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational: Results
Update: Hamline men 5th; St. Olaf women 4th. Westby runner-up.

UW-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational: Results
Update: UMD women win, Morgan Place wins.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gopher Harriers Headed to Pre-Nationals

The University of Minnesota cross country teams are set to compete in tomorrow's NCAA Division I Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Indiana, the site of the NCAA Championships in November.

The #25 Gopher men and #26 Gopher women will each compete in the meet's "White" races. (The event splits its fields into two separate races -- White and Blue.)

The Gopher men will face nine ranked teams in their race, including #4 Colorado and #8 Portland State. The Gophers avoid #1-ranked Stanford, which is running in the Blue race. Remarkably, Minnesota is the only Big Ten school in the men's White race.

The Gopher women will see #5 Georgetown and #9 Colorado in their race. They'll also tangle with four other Big Ten teams: Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.

Find complete team entries HERE.

The meet could prove important for both Minnesota squads, if they're forced to qualify for the NCAA Championships as at-large selections. Both teams are currently ranked #4 in the Midwest Regional. The top two teams from each NCAA D1 regional qualify for nationals automatically; 13 additional teams from across the nation qualify at-large.

Pre-Nationals will be covered live by Flotrack HERE. Coverage starts at 9:30 a.m. CDT.

Read the U of M previews for the meet HERE (men) and HERE (women).

Yes/No: Vega or Carlson Top-20 at World Half?

This week, the USA Half Marathon squad will head to China to compete in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. The city of Nanning will host athletes from all over the world trying to take home a piece of the $245,000 purse. The favorite on the men's side has to be Zersenay Tadese from Eritrea. Tadese has won four consecutive IAAF Half Marathon Championships and is the world record holder in 58:23. In case you don't want to do the math, that is 4:27 per mile for 13.1 miles!

Two of the five members of the USA men's team are former University of Minnesota runners. Antonio Vega will run as the reigning USA Half Marathon champ while Andrew Carlson will compete in the World Championships for the second consecutive year.

How will they run? Let us know what you think with this question...

Y/N: Will Antonio Vega or Andrew Carlson finish in the top twenty of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships?

Antonio Vega has made some huge strides in 2010. He won the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championship in January. Vega was second at the USA 10 Mile Championship and ran 2:13:47 at the Boston Marathon. Vega is also the 2010 USA Running Circuit overall champion.

Andrew Carlson is the USA 25k champion and has earned his way onto his second consecutive Worlds Half Marathon team. Carlson finished in 20th place in 2009 at the World Half Marathon Championships.

You can see Carlson as the second U.S. finisher in the 2009 results. The 2008 results show Team USA-MN runner Jason Lehmkuhle leading the American squad.

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 10:00 P.M. CST, Friday, October 15th. 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 fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Meghan Armstrong finish in the top five at the USA 10k Championship in Boston on Monday? The answer was no. Armstrong finished fourteenth in 34:43. Seventeen contestants answered correctly this week. Lori Anne Peterson gave the right answer for the fourth straight week to stay one-up on Gregg Robertson in first place.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Place, Sederquist are Athletes of the Month

Morgan Place and Tom Sederquist were named USA Track and Field Minnesota Athletes of the Month for October, the organization announced today.

Place, a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was honored for winning the Maroon II race at last month’s Roy Griak Invitational. Place won the race, consisting of NCAA Division II schools, with a time of 21:49 over the hilly 6K University of Minnesota course.

Sederquist, a junior at Concordia College in Moorhead, was recognized for winning the Maroon III race at the Griak meet. In the race involving NCAA Division III teams, Sederquist won with a time of 25:39.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota. USA Track & Field is the governing body of the sport in the United States and the Minnesota Association of USATF sanctions and sponsors track and field, cross country, road racing, and racewalking events for athletes of all ages in the state.

Find of complete listing of USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cross Country Rankings Updated

Here's a quick review of where the top Minnesota teams stand in this week's rankings ...

Wayzata Back on Top ... The Wayzata boys team return to the summit of the state Class AA polls on the merits of its win at last week's Victoria Lions Invitational. The Trojans scorched then-#1 Edina and then-#3 Eden Prairie at the meet.

The rest of the top-ranked teams and individuals remained unchanged this week. Find all the Minnesota high school rankings HERE.

St. Olaf Women Drop ..
. The St. Olaf women, ranked #1 in the NCAA Division III Central Region last week dropped to #2 this week after losing 65-99 to host Wartburg at the D3 Pre-National meet on Saturday.

D3 national rankings will appear HERE later today.

All Steady in D1 and D2 ... No news was generally good news in the D1 and D2 rankings world. The latest NCAA Division I poll was a repeat of last week's, so the Gopher squads eyeing the competition at this weekend's D1 Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Indiana remain the #25 (men's) and #26 (women's) teams in the country.

The Division II national poll released today, HERE, the UMD women are ranked #7, just like last week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

McGregor 3rd at USA 10K Championships

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor, winner of three USA titles in 2010 including recent USA 10 Mile Championship, finished 3rd at Monday's USA W0men's 10K in Boston.

Molly Huddle, the American record-holder for 5000-meters on the track, won the race in 32:00. Three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, rebounding from a tough outing at the USA 10 Mile, was runner-up in 32:16. McGregor ran 32:45

Former University of Minnesota all-American Megan Duwell was 7th in 33:39. McGregor's teammate Meghan Armstrong finished 14th in 34:43

A replay of the video web-cast of the race can be found HERE.

"They made a move but I didn't have that next little gear to go with them," McGregor, who lost contact with the leaders around 4 miles, said. "I fought to stay as close as I could to the lead pack and not let anyone get by me. I can't complain about third place when I'm beat by a three-time Olympian and an American record-holder."

With one USA Women's Championship left to run, McGregor leads the 2010 USA Running Circuit with 55 points. Renee Metivier-Baillie is 2nd with 34 points; Magdalena Lewy-Boulet has 31.

Find the full standings HERE.

Next up for McGregor is the USA Women's Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the ING New York City Marathon on November 7.

Gene Niemi Photo: McGregor winning the USA 10 Mile.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Former HS State Champ Profiled in Afghanistan

A New York Times article that features former state champ, Emily Naslund, daughter of John and Jeannine Naslund is HERE.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jen Houck Runs PR 2:37:16 for 19th at Chicago

Jen Houck, the 2009 Minnesota Runner of the Year, established a new personal best with her 2:37:16 clocking at this morning's Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Houck, who ran 2:39:02 at the Boston Marathon in April, succeeded in the warm temperatures that greeted runners in Chicago today. Houck finished 19th and was the 8th U.S. finisher in the race.

Former University of Minnesota star Chad Johnson finished 18th in the men's competition in 2:19:31.

Listen to a post-race interview with Houck ...

Find complete results HERE.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Yes/No: Armstrong Top-Five at USA 10K?

The work of elite runners is never done. Fresh off the USA 10 Mile Championships in Minnesota last week, many of the same women will travel to Boston for the USA 10k champs at the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women on Monday. Two of the athletes running these back-to-back championships include Team USA-MN runners Katie McGregor and Meghan Armstrong.

McGregor and Armstrong are both on a roll, finishing first and fourth respectively at the TC 10 Mile race last week. McGregor was our subject last week, so this week we will turn our attention to Meghan Armstrong with this question...

Y/N: Will Meghan Armstrong finish in the top five at the USA 10k Championship in Boston on Monday?

As mentioned above, Meghan Armstrong has been running very well lately. In addition to her three-minute PR for fourth place at the USA 10 Mile Champs, she was also fourth at the USA 5k Championships in September. Other top runners in this race include U.S. 5000 meter record-holder Molly Huddle, 31:21 10k runner Katie McGregor, three-time Olympian Jen Rhines and Renee Metivier-Baille - who ran 54:37 to finish second at the USA 10 Mile champs last week.

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 11:00 A.M. CST, Monday, October 11th. 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 fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Katie McGregor win the USA 10 Mile Championship at the TC 10 Mile this Sunday? The answer was yes. McGregor won her sixth TC 10 Miler in a time of 54:21. Twenty two contestants answered correctly this week. There were no changes at the top of the board as the top nine contestants all said yes.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Former Gophers Head World Half Team

Former University of Minnesota stars Antonio Vega and Andrew Carlson lead the five-runner USA men's team for the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China next weekened.

Vega, a Team USA Minnesota athlete who just won the 2010 USA Running Circuit title, earned his spot on the squad with a victory at January's USA Half Marathon championships in Houston.

Carlson, a former Team USA Minnesota member who is now based in Flagstaff, Arizona, won the USA 25K title in May in Michigan. He is making his second-straight appearance at the World Half Marathon. He placed 20th last year in 1:02:50

Joining the pair are Sean Quigley of Philadelphia; Ben Bruce of Eugene, Oregon; and Stephan Shay of Oakland, California.

Last year at the event, the USA team of Dathan Ritzenhein, Carlson, James Carney, Brett Gotcher, and Scott Bauhs placed fourth in the team competition -- just eight seconds behind bronze medalists Ethiopia.

The USA women's squad is composed of Stephanie Rothstein of Flagstaff; Loretta Kilmer of New York City; Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz of Boulder, Colorado; Heidi Westover, Walpole, New Hampshire; and Samia Akbar of Herndon, Virginia.

Read the full USA Track and Field media release about the October 16 event HERE.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

TCM Champions Pitching Sandwiches

Three-time Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champion Andrew Musuva -- who, like Buzunesh Deba this year, was a Grandma's/TCM winner in 1999 -- and two-time TCM champion Mbarak Hussein, who finished 7th on Sunday, star in this new Subway commercial.

The Latest in the World of XC Rankings

Here's a round-up of the latest cross country rankings from NCAA Division I to the MSHSL:

Gophers Rise ... The University of Minnesota men's and women's squads each moved up a spot in this week's NCAA Division I polls. The Gopher men now sit in the #25 slot, while the Gopher women rose to #26.

Both teams rank #4 in the Midwest Region of Division I.

NCAA Division II ... This week's D2 national poll will be released later today. (Look for it HERE.) The UMD women, ranked #4 in last week's national rankings, are the #3 team this week in the Central Region of Division II.

NCAA Division III ... This week's D3 national poll will be released today as well. (Look for it HERE.) The St. Olaf women were ranked #1 in this week's Central Regional poll; Hamline's and St. John's men were ranked #2 and #3, respectively, in the region.

Minnesota High Schools ... The latest Minnesota high school cross country polls can be found HERE. The Perham boys are back atop Class A, after St. Cloud Cathedral held the spot last week.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Antonio Vega Wins USA Running Circuit Title

Team USA Minnesota's Antonio Vega ended up a big winner at Sunday's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon -- and he didn't run a step.

The Tartan High School and University of Minnesota alumnus was awarded the USA Running Circuit title and its $6000 prize check at the finish line of the race.

You can watch the presentation HERE.

Results of the circuit-culminating USA Men's Marathon Championship, held in conjunction with TCM, did not move Vega from the top spot in the year long grand prix that included all of the USA road racing championships.

Vega won the contest with 44 points. Mo Trafeh, who was announced as part of the USA Marathon field but did not compete, was runner-up with 39 points. Twin Cities and USA Marathon champion Sergio Reyes was third with 36 points.

Full standings can be found HERE.

Vega earned the title with a break-out season that saw him win the USA Half Marathon Championship in January, finish 3rd at the USA 15K Championship in March, take 4th at the USA 7 Mile in July, and finish as the runner-up at the USA 10 Mile in August.

Vega had a good excuse, by the way, for not competing in any of the Twin Cities Marathon events this weekend: he and fellow Golden Gopher alum Jen Hess were married on Friday.

McGregor Leads USARC Women ... Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor, winner of the USA Women's 10 Mile on Sunday at TCM, leads the USA Running Circuit standings for women. The St. Louis Park resident is undefeated in the three circuit races she's entered -- the USA 15K, USA 25K, and USA 10 mile.

The women's circuit still has two more races left to run and McGregor plans to contest both of them -- Monday's USA 10K Championships and the November 7th USA Women's Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the ING New York City Marathon.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon Recaps, Photos & Video

We're still getting ourselves sorted here at the Down the Backstretch office park after a busy Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon weekend.

Here's a collection of stories and visual coverage from the event ...

Kent Youngblood's Star-Tribune recap and photo gallery are HERE.

Richard Chin's Pioneer Press story and another photo gallery are HERE.

My Running USA Wire USA Men's Marathon Championships recap is HERE.

My Running USA Wire USA Women's 10 Mile Championships recap is HERE.

Scott Douglas's Running Times Marathon story is HERE.

Scott Douglas's Running Times USA Women's 10 Mile story is HERE.

Katie Wolpert's Running Times profile of Master's champ, Mbarak Hussein is HERE.

RunnerSpace video coverage of the event is HERE.

Photo by Jacob Gibb
/Competitive Image: Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia becomes the first woman to win Twin Cities and Grandma's Marathons in the same year,

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Reyes, Deba Win Twin Cities Marathon

Sergio Reyes of Duarte, California and Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia are the winnners of the 29th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Reyes (2:14:02) edged runner-up Jeffrey Eggleston (2:14:09) and 2008 TCM champ Fernanda Cabada (2:15:25), who was third.

Deba, who won in 2:27:24, became the first woman to win Grandma's Marathon and the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in the same year. 2007 TCM champion Svetlana Ponomarenko was second in 2:35:23.

Find results HERE.

Photo by Jacob Gibb/Competitive Image: Sergio Reyes winning the USA Marathon title at the Twin Cities Marathon.

Katie McGregor Wins USA 10 Mile Title

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor won this morning's USA 10 Mile Championship held in conjunction with the Medtronic TC 10 Mile.

The St. Louis Park resident outlasted Renee Metivier-Baillie to win in 54:21.

The victory is McGregor's third USA title of 2010 and the seventh of her career. It is also McGregor's sixth Medtronic TC 10 Mile victory.

Find results HERE.

Photo by Jacob Gibb/
Competitive Image: Katie McGregor winning her record 6th TC 10 Mile title.

Short-Cut: Twin Cities Marathon Events

Until your editor is done with his various non-DtB duties at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, here are some handy links to the results of this weekend's races.

Look for news and information from the finish line on Sunday afternoon ... and a full report on the the 29th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and its associated events on Monday morning.

Until then ...

TC 5K and TC 10K: Results

Medtronic TC 10 Mile: Results

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon: Results

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Twin Cities to Host 2011, 2012 USA 10 Miles

On the heels of yesterday's news that title sponsor Medtronic had renewed its partnership with Twin Cities In Motion for at least three more years (see our previous post for details), the organizers of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon broke some additional news today.

Twin Cities In Motion and USA Track and Field announced that the Medtronic TC 10 Mile will host the USA Men's and Women's 10 Mile Championships in 2011 and 2012.

The Medtronic TC 10 Mile has hosted USA 10 Mile Championships since 2007, alternating annually between the men's and women's championships. In 2011 and 2012, the Medtronic TC 10 Mile will host both genders concurrently.

”We have a rich history of hosting championships, dating all the way back to the days of The Athletic Congress,” Virginia Brophy Achman, Executive Director of Twin Cities In Motion,said in a media release. “Today, we support post collegiate athletes in many ways and want to provide additional opportunities for our professional athletes to compete and earn a living. It is an honor to host the USA Men’s and Women’s 10 Mile Championships.”

USA Track and Field officials are pleased to renew their relationship with the race as well.

“USA Track & Field is fortunate to have a partner in Twin Cities In Motion”, Jim Estes, USA Track & Field Associate Director of Long Distance Running and Marketing, said. “Their support of our championship events and our athlete development initiatives has been a vital component to professional long distance athletes and been a great compliment to our mission to develop athletes who can compete at the highest levels.”

Abdi Abdirahman has won both USA Men's 10 Mile Championships contested at the Medtronic TC 10 Mile. Two year's ago, Duluth native Kara Goucher won the first USA Women's 10 Mile Championship hosted by the race.

Tomorrow morning, local favorite Katie McGregor, a five-time Medtronic TC 10 Mile champion, will attempt to win the 2010 USA 10 Mile Championship at the TC 10 Mile. She expects strong competition from three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, former Colorado University star Renee Metivier-Baillie, and Chaska native Stephanie Herbst-Lucke.

Medtronic to Continue Marathon Sponsorship

Twin Cities In Motion, the organizers of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and its affiliated events, announced yesterday that its partnership with Medtronic, Inc. will continue for at least three more years.

Medtronic and Twin Cities In Motion have signed a letter of intent to continue their partnership through 2013. In the agreement, Medtronic will remain title sponsor of four important Twin Cities In Motion events: the TC 1 Mile, the TC Family Events, the TC 10 Mile, and the Twin Cities Marathon. Additionally, the Medtronic Foundation will continue to support the Medtronic TC Kids Marathon, a nationally recognized youth running program.

The agreement extends the original five-year partnership the Twin Cities-based medical products company and the marathon made in 2006, which was to expire after this year's event.

“This partnership is a perfect fit, as we share similar values and a strong commitment to make our community a better, healthier place to live and work,” Kirsten Gorsuch, Medtronic vice president, corporate communications said in a media release. “As we look to the future, we are excited to build upon that foundation in an effort to help create a healthier Minnesota , and a healthier world.”

“Since Medtronic became our title sponsor of the four events in 2006, participation has increased more than 40 percent,” Virginia Brophy Achman , Twin Cities In Motion executive director said. “In addition, more than 11,000 children have participated in the Medtronic TC Kids Marathon school-based program, running a collective 233,000 miles. This partnership clearly has enabled us to do more than ever to help promote health and fitness in Minnesota and throughout the world.”

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon events for 2010 kicked-off yesterday with the Health and Fitness Expo. Racing begins today with the

Friday, October 01, 2010

Yes/No: Will McGregor win the USA 10 Mile Title?

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is bolstering its reputation as one of the top road races in the United States with no less than four USA Championship races on tap for this Sunday -- the USA Men's Marathon Championships, USA Masters Men's and Women's Marathon Championships and USA Women's 10 Mile Championships.

Unsurprisingly, many Minnesota athletes will be in the mix, including a triumvirate of Team USA-MN athletes in the 10 Mile Championship - Katie McGregor, Michelle Frey and Meghan Armstrong. We will focus on the queen of the Medtronic TC 10 Miler - five-time champion Katie McGregor- with this question:

Y/N: Will Katie McGregor win the USA 10 Mile Championship at the TC 10 Mile this Sunday?

Katie McGregor is the number one seed in the USA 10 Mile and will likely be challenged by Jen Rhines, Renee Metivier Baillie and Sally Meyerhoff. McGregor has already won USA Championships at 15k and 25k in 2010. Rhines, a three-time Olympian, has been a top runner for many years and is a two-time USA 15k champion. Metivier Baillie won the 2010 USA Indoor 3000m Championship and Meyerhoff is the 2009 USA 25k champ.

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 7:00 A.M. CST, Sunday, October 3rd. 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 winner of the Roy Griak Pick 10 contest last week was Rich Cowles with 47 points over John Leaf and Mary Varney at 44. The overall leader is Mike Henderson with 163, followed by Jesse Schoen with 160 points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.