Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grandma's Registration Opens Friday

Sticking with the entry process that saw it increase its field by more than 900 runners from the previous year, Grandma's Marathon will open registration tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. CDT.

The event's pricing structure for 2012 will be identical to that used in 2011, with no increase in fees for any of the weekend’s three races, organizers announced yesterday.

Registration takes place on-line at

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An initial marathon entry fee of $80 will remain through September 30. On October 1, the fee will increase to $85 with further price increases taking effect as the June 16, 2012 race draws nearer. (See the complete fee structure below.)

Grandma's Marathon, currently the 17th-largest marathon in the United States, is limited to 10,000 runners total. The event set its entry record in 2008 with 9888 participants. In 2009, 8377 runners ran the race; in 2010 the race had 7387 entrants. In 2011, 8319 runners chose to race from Two Harbors to Duluth.

Grandma's Marathon weekend also features the 22nd annual Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the 19th annual William A. Irvin 5K. Registration for those two events begins next February and March, respectively.

2012 Grandma’s Marathon Entry Fee Structure:

$80 - July 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011
$85 - October 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012
$90 - February 1, 2012 to March 31, 2012
$100 - April 1, 2012 to May 31, 2012

Ewen Fourth in World Youth Trials Shot

St. Francis High School's Maggie Ewen placed fourth in yesterdays' shot put competition at the World Youth Track and Field Trials in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Ewen put the shot 44-11 3/4. Torie Owers of Georgia won the event with a mark of 49-6 1/4.

On the first day of the meet, Ewen finished third in discus competition.

Find complete meet results HERE.

Burns Wins USA Youth Heptathlon ... Shaina Burns of Prior Lake won the Intermediate Girls' heptathlon at the USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships also being held in Myrtle Beach.

Burns scored 3874 points in the two-day competition.

Burns' brother Brittan finished eighth in the Midget Boys Pentathlon with 965 points.

Find complete meet results HERE.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ewen Third in USA Youth Trials Discus

Maggie Ewen, Minnesota's top female high school discus thrower of all time, finished third yesterday in the discus competition at the World Youth Track and Field Trials held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The St. Francis High School sophomore who won MSHSL Class AA titles in the discus and shot put this spring threw 154-1 in the competition which was won by Texas star Chamaya Turner at 162-1.

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Find complete results of Ewen's event HERE.

The top two athletes in each event at the two-day meet, which concludes today, earn the right to be considered for inclusion on the 40-member team that will represent the USA at the World Youth Championships in Lille, France next month.

Ewen is scheduled to compete in today's shot put competition where, as she was in the discus, she enters the competition as the #2-seed.

In Other Events ... The Blake School's Brandon Clark and Rochester Mayo's Riley Macon finished 6th and 7th, respectively, in the boys' 3000m run. Clark clocked 9:17.30, while Macon ran 9:33.36.

Grant Kreiger, the MSHSL Class A pole vault champ from the Blake School, had three misses at his opening height of 14-5 1/4.

Find complete results from the meet HERE.

Find results of the USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships, also being held in Myrtle Beach, HERE.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Round-Up: Unpacking Our Bags from Eugene

Since DtB is in the process of getting itself reorganized after the return trip from Eugene for the USA Championships -- we got home at 1:15 a.m.! -- allow us to quickly post a few interesting items we've noticed since returning from the meet.

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-- The New York Times featured Duluth native Kara Goucher in THIS story on elite athletes starting families while still in the middle of the their competitive careers. Goucher finished runner-up in the 10,000-meters in Eugene, earning a spot on the USA's World Championships team for the meet in Daegu, South Korea in August.

Goucher's son Colt turned 9-months-old during the meet.

-- Will Leer, who missed a spot on the Daegu sqaud team by just 1/100th of a second, was frustrated by the slow pace his men's 1500m final. Initially, HERE, Leer put the blame mainly on runner-up Bernard Lagat who, he thought, slowed the pace unnecessarily.

A day later, HERE, the Minnetonka High School alumnus apologized to Lagat. Leer, who was 5th at Eugene, is the alternate for the squad after Lagat said he would not run the 1500m at Worlds.

--Finally, we wanted to make sure we noted that USATF-Minnesota recently posted a large gallery of MSHSL State Meet photos taken by Dennis Hahn. You can find the photos HERE.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Former Champion Dilling 6th in USA High Jump

Jim Dilling, the 2007 USA high jump champion, finished 6th in his event on Sunday at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The Minnesota State, Mankato graduate cleared 7-5 3/4.

Dilling’s training partner, the Oregon Track Club’s Jesse Williams, won the event with a leap of 7-9 ¼, a new championship and Hayward Field record. Dustin Jonas was second at 7-7 and Erik Kynard was third, at Dilling’s height of 7-5 3/4.

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Dilling’s result marked the best finish at a USA Outdoor Championship since his shock victory three years ago.

“It was pretty good,” the four-time NCAA Division II high jump champion said of effort. “I sat out last year – I had two surgeries, I was out for 19 months. So, to come back here, finish 6th, jump 2.20 [meters], it’s actually a centimeter higher than I won nationals with. I’ve just got to go up another three [places] next year.”

Dilling negotiated the first three heights of the competition -- 7-0 ½, 7-2 ½, and 7-4 ¼ -- without a miss before making his final height on the third attempt. The late misses proved costly, however.

“Erik Kynard, who I train with down at Kansas State, he jumped clean to 2.28,” Dilling noted. “He made the world team. I jumped the same height – third attempt – I finished 6th. It’s huge at this level.”

Still, after suffering from a bone spur in his heal that was causing micro tears to his Achilles tendon, Dilling saw positives in the day. He attained the Olympic "B" standard for 2012 and hopes to jump again this year at the "A" qualifier of 7-7.

The Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native who made his high jumping name in Mankato is currently based in Manhattan, Kansas where he trains with a group led by Cliff Rovelto, the Kansas State coach. Dilling joined Revelto’s group after he met the jumps guru as a member of the USA’s World Championships team in 2007.

Dilling hopes to find a spot on the USA’s Pan American Games team later this season. His next competition is the Harry Jerome Classic in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 1.

Other Minnesota Action … Dilling’s fellow MSU-Mankato alumnus Katelin Rains finished in a tie for 8th-place in the women’s pole vault competition. Rains, the NCAA Division II record-holder in the event, cleared the opening height of 13-9 ¼. She had three misses at the next height, 14-1 ¼.

Samantha Sonnenberg, the University of Minnesota co-school record-holder in the pole vault, was unable to clear the opening height today.

Sonnenberg’s former University of Minnesota teammate Liz Roehrig had a difficult second day in the heptathlon, finishing 11th after starting the day in 8th place.

Roehrig opened Day 2 with a 19-0 ¾ long jump, threw 118-1 in the javelin, and ran 2:32.35 in the 800m for a total of 5497 points, well off her personal best of 5990.

In the exhibition masters 1500m race run at the meet, Minnesota middle-distance star Lance Elliott finished runner-up in 4:02.72. Originally listed as the event’s 3rd-place finisher, Elliott moved up a spot when the apparent winner was disqualified.

Find complete results of the meet HERE.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Leer Can’t Beat Rush-Hour in USA 1500

Like an aggressive driver with someplace important to go, Minnetonka High School alumnus Will Leer weaved and motored his way through the drive-time traffic that clogged the homestretch of the men’s 1500-meter final at Saturday’s USA Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Arriving at his destination, however, Leer found himself only in 5th-place, four-100ths of a second from a spot on the awards' podium and a chance to compete in the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

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Leer, who was able to run relatively unmolested on the rail in the race’s slow-and-go early laps, entered the Hayward Field homestretch with his route to the finish line clogged with traffic. The former Pomona-Pitzer star who now runs for Nike, initially looked for running room to the outside, only to see gridlock. He spotted a lane inside and gunned for it, finding he still had the finishing speed to put the opportunity to use.

Unfortunately for Leer, who finished 3rd in this meet a year ago, by the time had was at full throttle he was fast running out of road. Despite running the fastest final 400m of the field with a 51.85, Leer needed more track in the end.

Matt Centrowitz of Oregon won the race in 3:47.63, Bernard Lagat was runner-up in 3:47.96, Leonel Manzano was 3rd in 3:48.16, and a diving Andrew Wheating was 4th in 3:48.19.

Watch the men's 1500m race in full above.

Leer’s men’s 1500m, with its slow start and frantic finish, was the opposite of Gabriele Anderson’s women’s 1500m contested just minutes before.

There, Christin Wurth – who ran the first half of her 1500 faster than the men would – forced the field to chase. The pursuing pace proved too strong for Team USA Minnesota’s Anderson, who lost contact with the main pack in the third lap and finished 11th in 4:17.17.

Steeplechaser Justin Tyner, the Brainerd alumnus who competes for Air Force, also saw the field leave him adrift. Fighting a knee still swollen from hitting the final barrier in the semifinals on Thursday, Tyner finished 14th in 8:57.94.

Roehrig in 8th After Day 1 … Former University of Minnesota All-American Liz Roehrig ended Day 1 of the heptathlon in 8th-place with 3450 points.

Roehrig opened her day with a 14.24 clocking in the 100m hurdles, worth 945 points. She followed up the race with a 5-7 ¾ clearance in the high jump, good for another 879. She put the shot 43-10 ¾, for 753, and capped her day with a 25.15 clocking for 200m, worth 873 points.

Roehrig competing in the high jump.

“The only thing I was really happy with was my shot put,” Roehrig told DtB. “I’ve been throwing really well in practice and everything. Finally, it showed up in a meet. Everything else is still kind of coming along after being hurt last year and everything.”

Roehrig, who is now based in Columbia, Missouri where she is pursuing a masters degree, is coming back from a partial tear in a tibiofibular ligament in late 2009. She ran through the injury until February of last year, before being forced to take more than nine months off to heal.

“Everything’s come along a lot since indoors and coming back,” Roehrig said. “But, it’s all starting to feel a lot better, I just need more time.”

Roehrig looked ahead to Day 2 of her event with some trepidation.

“Tomorrow is where I usually struggle, or have been struggling, this year,” she noted. “I’m really hoping my long jump comes together, and javelin is going good, and then just gut it out in the 800.”

Roehrig will be back in action tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. CDT.

Find complete results of the USA Championships HERE.

Juniors Still in Action … As we put today’s USA Championships wrap-up to bed, record-setting high school triple jumper Michael Sandle of Eden Prairie and Hopkins High School quarter-miler Bridget Sweeney are still to compete in this evening’s USA Junior Championships.

Find their results HERE (Sandle) and HERE (Sweeney) around 8:00 p.m. CDT.

Update: Sandle finished 6th with 49-7 3/4 in the triple jump; Sweeney was 7th in the 400m at 55.35.

Nike Track Nationals … Also tonight, the Eden Prairie High School boys and Hopkins High School girls will compete in Nike Track Nationals, also hosted at Hayward Field. The unique contest pits twelve of the country’s top high school boys’ and girls’ track teams against one-another in a meet scored decathlon style.

Follow the meet live HERE.

Update: The Hopkins girls' finished 8th and the Eden Prairie boys' finished 11th in the team scoring at Nike Track Nationals.

Find results HERE.

Photo by Becky Miller.

Smock: Small Town Gal, Big Time Victory

A young woman from little Melrose, Minnesota is the triple jump champion of the United States of America.

Amanda Smock, a native of the Stearns County town (population 3598), won her first USA title on Friday by landing a personal-best 46-2 on her second attempt of the competition at the USA Outdoor Track and championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Smock’s mark withstood a final round scare from Crystal Manning who leaped 45-9 for second.

“It’s a great feeling,” Smock said. “The bigger goal as a triple jumper is that you’re always trying to get that mark and reach that distance. But, the win is huge and it’s a great feeling, so I’m thrilled with that as well.”

“It’s like a little icing on the cake of a PR,” she added.

With the win, Smock earns the right to represent the USA at the World Track & Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea, if she can jump World Championships “B” standard of 46-3 1/4 prior to the event.

Smock did lament missing the standard by just an inch-and-a-quarter and wondered if she didn’t leave the missing units behind on the takeoff board.

“I got three centimeters shy of that stinking “B,” Smock regretted, “but, obviously, I’d like to get the “A,” so there’s still some work to be done.”

USA Champion Amanda Smock.

Smock plans to travel to Europe – possibly in Belgium, Spain, and Finland -- in search of the Daegu qualifier. The “A” standard for the meet is 46-11.

With the win, Smock also stepped alone into the spotlight that shined mainly on her former training partner and close friend Shani Marks, an Olympian in 2008. Smock has been training on her own recently and continues to work long-distance with coach Michael Eskind of the University of Virginia.

Smock also weathered some important life changes off the track en route to the top step of the podium in Eugene.

“I lost my father about two weeks before the national meet in ’08,” Smock said. “So, that was a little rough. I just kind of had to keep persevering. I got my Ph.D. in there and got married. And this year, it felt like, okay, now I can focus on training. And, it’s all coming together.”

Remarkably, Minnesotans have won four of the last six USA Outdoor women’s triple jump titles. Marks won three-straight titles in the event in 2006, 2007, 2008 in addition to Smock’s on Friday.

Team USA Minnesota’s Meghan Armstrong was the only other Minnesotan competing in a final on Friday. The Oregon native finished 15th in 16.12.79.

Kara Gocuher, who was entered in the event, did not start the race. She finished second in the 10,000m last night.

Qualifying Races … Neither Team USA Minnesota’s Heather Kampf nor Laura Januszewski advanced to Sunday’s women’s 800m final. Januszewski, a Burnsville High School alumnus, finished 7th in the first semifinal of the event in 2:04.88. Kampf finished 5th in the second semi in 2:03.54.

Kampf’s Team USA Minnseota teammate Jamie Cheever was likewise unable to advance to the 3000m steeplechase final, running 10:08.44 for 10th in her prelim.

Jamie Cheever in action.

USA Junior Championships Action … Two Minnesota high school athletes placed seventh at the USA Junior Championships, also being contested in Eugene.

Trevor Yedoni, the two-time MSHSL Class AA state high jump champion from Benilde-St. Margaret’s, finished 7th in the event with a leap of 6-8 ¾. Yedoni cleared the height – the event’s opening height -- on his third try and then had misses at 6-9 ¾.

Andover High School junior Tom Anderson, the MSHSL Class AA shot put state champion, finished 7th in the event with 59-9 ¾. His 58-5 ¾ opening throw put him into the finals.

Hopkins senior Bridget Sweeney, the MSHSL Class AA runner-up, advanced to the finals with a 55.46, third-place clocking in her heat of the 400m. Sweeney advanced as the 7th qualifier to Saturday’s final.

Sweeney's teammate Hannah Borowsky finished 5th in her heat in the junior 800m, running 2:11.78t. She finished a non-advancing 11th overall.

Buffalo High School hurdler Jerome Begin finished a non-advancing 4th in his preliminary heat of the 110 hurdles in 14.39. It took 13.90 to advance in the event.

Find complete Friday USA Championships results HERE.

Photos by Becky Miller.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Back to Worlds: Goucher 2nd in 10,000m

Kara Goucher is set to run another World Championships 10,000-meter. The last time she did that, you’ll remember, some good things happened.

Goucher earned a spot on the USA 10,000m team for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this summer with a 31:16.65, runner-up finish in Thursday night’s USA Championships.

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Goucher, who still needed a qualifying mark for the event, let eventual winner Shalane Flanagan run away from the field in the early-going, rather than risk a blow-up. The Duluth East graduate bided her time behind Jen Rhines, who finished third, before moving ahead of the three-time Olympian and claiming the silver medal spot.

“I was here to come and run hard and make the team,” Goucher said. “I’m really excited. I missed the track a lot. I’m actually going to go race this summer. I’m just happy."

Goucher ran the 2007 World Championships 10,000m and earned a shock bronze medal in the event.

Goucher was the fastest of four Minnesota competitors in the race. Team USA Minnesota’s Emily Brown finished 11th in 33:00.74 and Mankato Loyola alumnus Dani Stack, competing for Iowa State, was 12th in 33:04.17. Team USA Minnesota’s Megan Hogan, who followed Goucher and Rhines in the early going dropped out around the 5000-meter mark.

After Goucher moved ahead of Rhines, the nine-second lead Flanagan had on the University of Colorado alumnus seemed surmountable. But Flanagan never faltered and Goucher couldn’t reel in the margin.

“I thought maybe she was coming back with six laps to go,” Goucher allowed. “But, I was never getting any closer. I knew I wasn’t going to get her today -- and maybe never -- but it wasn’t going to happen tonight.”

Earlier this year, Goucher accepted a place on the USA marathon squad for Daegu, but said she would give up the spot, if she made the 10,000 team. On Friday, she confirmed that she’d run only the 10,000 at the World Championships.

Podominick Takes Sixth ... In the night’s only other final involving Minnesotans, four-time Big Ten champion Liz Podominick finished 6th in the women’s discus by marking a 188-4 on her opening throw of the competition. The Lakeville North alumnus topped the first flight of the completion, entered finals in 6th-place, and held her position to the end. Podominick’s longest throw of the finals was a 180-9.

Liz Podominick, 6th in the discus.

Erhard, Minnesota native Rachel Longfors, the University of Florida alumnus who now coaches at North Dakota State, finished 13th in the event with 174-10. Longfors, who finished 11th at the Olympic Trials in 2008, fouled her first two throws of the prelims.

Preliminary Round Action ... Former NCAA indoor champion Heather Kampf and Laura Januszewski, the NCAA outdoor runner up in 2009, each advanced to Friday’s semifinals in the women’s 800m. Kampf, the former Rosemount and University of Minnesota star, finished 3rd in Heat 2 in 2:03.76. She avoided a bell-lap, backstretch crash in her heat that was reminiscent of the one that knocked her out of the running in last year’s meet.

Januszewski, the former Burnsville and North Dakota State standout, finished 3rd in Heat 4 in 2:04.17.

Heather Kampf, advancing to the 800m semifinals.

Team USA Minnesota’s Gabriele Anderson advanced to Saturday’s final of the women’s 1500m with a runner-up 4:14.25 finish in the first semifinal of the event. Thanks to a slow pace, Anderson found herself in heavy traffic on the penultimate backstretch, but put herself in position at the bell – taking the lead briefly – and then ran up the rail in the homestretch to assure advancement.

“I realized at 800, it’s going to be slow, you really need to get in the top-four,” Anderson said. “There was not a lot of room to get out before when I did. I said, you need to get towards the front, it’s going to get ugly at the end."

Gabriele Anderson, advancing to the 1500m finals.

In the men’s 1500m, Minnetonka High School grad Will Leer used a hard kick to grab second place in a slow third semifinal heat in 3:44.13. The University of Minnesota’s Ben Blankenship finished 5th in the same race, but was left on the outside looking in when it came to advancing to the final.

The top four finishers in each semi advanced , plus the three fastest times. Burnsville High School alumnus Rob Finnerty finished 11th in this semi in 3:42.81.

Justin Tyner, the Air Force Academy senior from Brainerd advanced to the 3000m steeplechase final with an 8:46.43, 7th-place semifinal finish.

Complete results of Day 1 action in the meet can be found HERE.

Results from the opening day of USA Junior competition are HERE.

Photos by Becky Miller.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yes/No: How Many Team USA Women in Top- 8?

Team USA Minnesota will send six women to Eugene this week for the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. There will be at least one participant in each distance race ranging from 800 meters to 10,000 meters. This meet serves as the outdoor track National Championship as well as the selection event for the World Championships in South Korea later this fall.

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The meet begins on Thursday and concludes Sunday. For all the Minnesota-centric results, follow along as Down the Backstretch covers it live. Other familiar names in the women's distance events include Burnsville High School grad Laura Januszewski in the 800, Duluth native Kara Goucher in the 5,000 and 10,000 and Dani Stack from Mankato in the 10,000.

But we will focus on the Team USA MN women with this question...

Yes/No: Will more than two Team USA MN women place in the top eight in the finals of the USA Outdoor Championships?

Heather Dorniden will run the 800 meters and has the eighth-fastest seed time at 2:01.08. Gabriele Anderson posted a personal record 4:12:02 this year and is seeded eleventh in the 1500. Meghan Peyton is ranked twentieth and has run 15:43.81. In the 3,000 meter Steeplechase, Jamie Cheever has the fifteenth best seed time at 10:02.00. The 10,000 meter race will feature two Team USA MN runners - Emily Brown and Megan Hogan. Hogan is ranked sixth at 32:34.95 and Brown is fourteenth at 33:16.44

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. CDT, Thursday, June 23rd. Please put your answers in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will offer our usual bonus for participants making their 2011 debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for anyone who has not played yet this year.

My answer: Yes.

Last week's question was: Will Matt Gabrielson and Jennifer Houck both finish in the top twelve in their respective races at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday? It was an easy yes this week as both runners not only finished in the top twelve but in the top six. Twenty nine players answer correctly this week.

Lori Anne Peterson continues to lead and now has sixteen points. Rachel Karel and Chris Rivers both ran well at Grandma's and answered correctly and share second place with fifteen points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner, HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Matt Gabrielson Breaks Through at Grandma's

Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson had a breakthrough performance in Saturday's Grandma's Marathon. Below, the Drake University alumnus answers Jim Ferstle's questions about what his 2:13 marathon has done for his career, and, of course, where he and his wife are heading for their honeymoon.

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Down the Backstretch: As you noted after the race (HERE), you had a very clear goal (run between 2:12 -2:14) in mind going into Grandma’s, which was a bit of a risk in that the weather in Duluth for the last few years for the race would not have been as conducive to running fast. When the rain cleared and you could feel you had a tailwind, what was going through your mind?

Matt Gabrielson: Luckily my friend and training mate Lundo, aka Chris Lundstrom, was running the marathon, and I was able to warm up with him. With how I felt on the warm up jog, I had a feeling that it was going to be a good day and Lundo assured me it would be. He calms the nerves tremendously.

I had been paying attention (too much in fact) to the weather predictions all week long and knew it might be favorable. I also knew I was fit, but I really didn't know how fit. Plus, sometimes it's about having luck on your side on the day and hoping the body and mind are both willing to cooperate. Everything was there for the taking it was just a matter of executing the plan, and hoping I came out on top.

DtB: Now that you’re a 2:13 marathoner, how much room for improvement is there? If you had risked it and tried to go with the leaders at the end of the race, was there enough left to give you clues that your 2:12 pre-race range might be at the upper end of possibilities next time?

MG: I had one single goal and that was to run under 2:15 (Olympic A Standard), but I really believed deep in my heart a race in the 2:12-2:13 range was possible. That was it. That was my goal. If I was going to be 100th place doing so that was perfectly fine as long as I hit the time. I wanted that time for respect - you get a lot more of it being a 2:13 marathoner than a 2:17 marathoner.

So I was going to run as evenly in my splits as possible, which I did, and I was going to start out conservative, which I also did. My first mile was 5:15 and then I started clicking off 5:00-5:07 the majority of the remaining 25.2 miles. I had a 4:53 a bit after half-way, but I made a calculated decision to back off because I did not want to risk, in any way, blowing up. So I went back to 5:05s. I had a 4:57 right before 20 and a couple 5:00 miles in there. At mile 21 I came to a complete stop at a messy water bottle station trying to search for my fluids.

I resumed and ran a 5:12 mile. I ran a 5:16 last mile turning into that wind coming around the DECC. So subtract a few seconds from the 3 miles run over 5:10 and you have a marathon in the 2:12 range. I believe 100% I can run at least that fast.

So, looking back at it, I came away believing three main things: 1. Now that I have what I consider a respectable time, I can take huge risks because I don't care if I blow up. Even at the Olympic Trials.

2. If I would have had the time I now have as a PR, I would have ran harder to chase down the lead pack, and I know I could have caught them. I felt fantastic the last four miles. Lemon Drop Hill was not hard going up.

3. I even feel I can run in the 2:11 range with a little luck on another marathon day.

DtB: Did you prepare differently for Grandma’s than your past three marathons? What gave you the confidence that you could run in the 2:12-2:14 range?

MG: I ran less miles, took more recovery, and raced more. Pretty simple stuff if you wake up and smell the coffee and have the guts to back off. Luckily I listened to Dennis (Barker) more than I may have done in the past. I am a unique runner with a sub-4 mile equivalent 1500 and a 13:30 5K PR. I fully believe the typical training you see for marathons is not right for me. We have found what really, truly works for me, and that is a beautiful thing.

DtB: Jeff Eggleston (first American male finisher at Grandma’s) talked after the race about believing he could win. He took the pace around 18 to 20 miles and talked about how the horizon for American marathoners is changing. You have Ryan Hall running 2:04 at Boston. Eggleston won Pittsburgh . It’s shaping up as a much deeper event at the Trials in January. Before Grandma’s, I suspect your focus was more on the track, now you have the marathon and the track. How are you going to treat that juggling act? You’ll definitely be a “darkhorse” for both, but do you believe your chances are better at one or the other?

MG: First of all, this most recent run on Old Hwy 61 has revitalized my entire career. It's like I've been given a fresh shot.

My focus has not been on the track racing for a year now. I will get back to the track in the spring.

Running is running. The best runners in the world excel at a variety of distances from 10K to the marathon. I will run the marathon trials, and then give the track trials a shot.

I have always been a darkhorse. Nobody picked me to finish eighth in (the Olympic Trials 5K) in 2008; I was even in the hunt with 1K to go (in that race) with some of the best runners on planet Earth. Nobody will pick me to finish third in the marathon or on the track. But if I didn't believe deep inside that there was even a small probability of myself making either team, then I would not be doing this.

I am 33 years old in a week for goodness sake. But, there's always been that slight chance. Particularly in the marathon, where the variables are so much greater. I fully believe outside of Ryan Hall that the 2nd and 3rd spots are wide open. Somebody will have the day of their life where everything simply clicks. This someone will not be on anybody's radar. This is my prediction.

I hope that someone is me.

DtB: You gave your wife and Dennis most of the credit for contributing to your success. Any specific things they have done that helped? Any others that played a big role in this breakthrough?

MG: More like what HAVEN'T they done.

I could list a million things that my wife, Julie, has done for me since she came into my life. Perhaps most important - she has helped me become a happier person. She is so, so supportive of my running, and she is the hardest working, most organized human being I know.

She has influenced me to not be so hard on myself, and take results for what they are. I am so lucky that she is my wife and that we see eye to eye on nearly everything. Except spending money on casual shoes. We do not see eye to eye on that.

Dennis has always let me be me. Never forcing anything on me and always suggesting rather than dictating. I thrive on that. He has one of the greatest sense of humors around, and I just laugh when I am around him.

He was adamant about what I did the last five weeks of training before Grandma's, and while I may have adjusted things here and there slightly, he was spot on with what I needed to do. I owe him a lot for always sticking by my side and making me feel like I could run through a brick wall if I had to.

I owe a lot to many people, and it would be an injustice trying to list them all because I would definitely forget somebody. But I do want to give a big thank you to my friend Jason Lehmkuhle. He has always had a major impact on building my level of confidence with the sport, and it was very much the case before Grandma's.

DtB: You seemed to be racing a lot more in the build up to Grandma’s. Was that in the plan or did it just work out that way?

MG: Last year I was injured all summer, and I had to take a good, hard look at what I wanted to get out of myself as I come into the twilight years. I needed to make decisions as to what I needed to do in order to meet my potential with the time I have left.

After analyzing (perhaps over-analyzing is a better word) many different variables, the one very important thing I realized is that I run better when I race more often. That is an old-school mentality that I will not get away from the rest of my racing career.

DtB: Now that we have all the running trivia taken care of, what everybody really wants to know is where are you taking Julie for the honeymoon?

MG: We are heading to Seattle and Vancouver for a week in mid-July. We're flying by the seat of our pants. We have a huge list of things we want to do including catching a Mariners game, hiking the Cascades, eating wonderful sushi, drinking fantastic coffee, and spending a night at a resort of treehouses among other things. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and so is Seattle. Should be the trip of a lifetime.

Minnesotans Prepare for USA Outdoors

The 2011 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships commence tomorrow in Eugene, Oregon, and Minnesota will be well represented in the meet.

By our count, twenty athletes with Minnesota tie will compete in historic Hayward Field for national titles and the chance to represent their country at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this summer.

The USA Junior Championships will also be contested in Eugene. The juniors open tomorrow as well and conclude on Saturday. The "senior" meet ends on Sunday.

The Minnesotans we've identified in the USA Championships are:

Will Leer (1500m)
Rob Finnerty (1500m)
Ben Blankenship (1500m)
Justin Tyner (3000m SC)
Jim Dilling (High Jump)

Heather Kampf (800m)
Laura Januszewski (800m)
Gabriele Anderson (1500m)
Kara Goucher (5000m and 10,000m)
Meghan Armstrong (5000m)
Megan Hogan (10,000m)
Danielle Stack (10,000m)
Emily Brown (10,000m)
Jamie Cheever (3000m SC)
Samantha Sonnenberg (Pole Vault)
Katelin Rains (Pole Vault)
Amanda Smock (Triple Jump)
Liz Podominick (Discus Throw)
Rachel Longfors (Discus Throw)
Liz Roehrig (Heptathlon)

Find complete entry lists for the USA Championships HERE. (If we've missed anyone, please let us know in the comment section!)

In the USA Junior Championships, Jerome Begin of Buffalo High School will compete in the 110 hurdles, Trevor Yedoni of Benilde-St. Margaret's will compete in the high jump, Michael Sandle of Eden Prairie will contest the triple jump, and Hopkins Hannah Borowsky will compete in the 800m.

Find full USA Junior entry lists HERE.

Down the Backstretch will be on the scene in Eugene all weekend!

We'll tweet Minnesota results during the meet -- find those updates on the DtB sidebar, if you don't have a Twitter account -- and we'll have full recaps of each day's action posted for reading the next morning.

If you're not making a Tracktown, USA pilgrimage yourself, join us for all the action!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Helland, Beutz Win USATF-Minn. Honors

Janey Helland and Jason Beutz were named USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for June, the organization anounced this morning.

Helland, a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College, was honored for winning the heptathlon title at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Delaware, Ohio in May. Helland, a Mapleton native, scored 5,061 points in the seven event contest which she won in the final event.

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Beutz, a senior at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, was recognized for his runner-up finish in the pole vault at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Turlock, California last month. Beutz, a native of Foley, cleared 16 feet, 10-inches, which matched his personal best and the UMD school record in the event.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota. 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 complete listing of this year's Athletes of the Month HERE.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gabrielson Happy with 6th-Place Finish

Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson was pleased with his 6th-place finish at Saturday's 35th Grandma' Marathon in Duluth.

Gabrielson's run from Two Harbors to Canal Park in 2:13:30 was a personal best and qualified him for January's Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston. The Drake University alumnus was the top finisher from Minnesota in men's competition and the second American across the finish line.

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Kenya's Chris Kipyego edged Ethiopian Teklu Deneke at the finish line for the race victory, despite misjudging the finish line. Both were clocked in 2:12:16.

“My number one goal for Grandma’s was to run a respectable time that would seed me high for the Olympic Trials,” Gabrielson said in a Team USA Minnesota media release. “I did not care what anyone else in the race was planning or doing so I let the lead pack do their own thing believing deep down that I would be able to catch them in the late miles if I just ran my race. With the tailwind that was present and the confidence I had gained from running the [USA Championship] 25K solo, I knew I would be able to run by myself if I had to."

Conditions on the North Shore of Lake Superior were ideal for long distance running. Temperatures were in the low 50s and an easterly breeze pushed runners down the course.
“Tyler [McCandless who finished 11th], Jeff [Eggleston, fifth] and I were together for maybe 8 to 10 miles and then it was Jeff and I through about halfway," Gabrielson added. "Jeff took off to catch the lead pack so from mile 15 on, I was pretty much by myself concentrating on picking off the stragglers. I am pretty sure I was anywhere from 10th to 15th place for awhile but my splits were even and I felt confident that I could maintain the pace I was running and get in the top eight or so."

Saturday's race was only Gabrielson's fourth career marathon. His previous high-water mark in the event came at the 2008 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, where he was the runner-up.

“I pretty much felt good the entire way," the charter member of Team USA Minnesota said. "There were some spots where I felt a little blah but I just told myself that I would come out of it and feel good. My sole purpose was to run a time of 2:12-2:14 and I wasn’t going to risk blowing up by trying to chase down the pack.

"It was just a blast running from mile 22 to the finish with the awesome crowds. It was like a parade and I even gave some high fives. This is such a huge relief to run 2:13. I was indeed a 2:17 marathoner but that was after three marathons, one of which I ran in the best shape of my life but the weather conditions were not cooperative."

Gabrielson offer special thanks to his newly-wed wife and long-time coach for the performance.
“I owe so much to my wife and my coach. Julie did everything and anything that needed to be done leading up to this race. My coach, Dennis Barker, has stuck by my side through thick and thin and has always believed in me. There are only a handful of times that I have seen that man as excited as I did at the 24.5 mile mark. He is a great coach and I thrive under him because he is so flexible and caring.”

Next up for Gabrielson is his honeymoon, which he had delayed after getting married over the Memorial Day weekend. He then plans to compete in some late summer and fall races including the USA 20K Championships at New Haven and the USA 10 Mile Championships at Twin Cities.

Additionally, Gabrielson has just been named the head coach for girls cross country at Edina High School after being an assistant coach for the Edina boys cross country team for five years.

More Grandma's Coverage ... Here's our collection of reporting from the 35th Grandma's Marathon:

The Star Tribune's Marathon Race Story.

The Duluth News-Tribune's Men's Marathon Story

The DNT's Women's Marathon Story

The DNT's Jen Houck Story, the top Minnesota women's finisher.

The DNT's Half Marathon Story.

Chris Kipyego edges Teklu Deneke for the 2011 Grandma's Marathon title.

Photo by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma's Marathon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Closest-Ever Finish Highlights Grandma's

Quoting the Grandma's media release ...

The closest finish in Grandma’s Marathon history highlighted today’s 35th running of Grandma’s Marathon. Kenya’s Chris Kipyego edged Ethiopian Teklu Deneke by two-tenths of a second to claim the title.

The 37-year-old Kipyego’s winning time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 16.36 seconds was narrowly better than Deneke’s 2:12:16.56. Sammy Malakwen placed third in 2:12:39. Kipyego earned $10,000 for the victory plus a $1,500 bonus for finishing in under 2:13:00.

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The previous closest finish was in 1999 when Kenya’s Andrew Musuva beat Tesfaye Bekele by four seconds.

James Derick, 45, of Big Flats, N.Y., claimed the men’s masters title in 2:27:47.

In the women’s division, Ethiopia’s Yihunlish Delelecha took the crown in 2:30:39, the sixth fastest in race history. Delelecha, 29, topped Kenya’s Everlyne Lagat’s 2:31:32.

Delelecha, making her Grandma’s Marathon debut, claimed the $10,000 winner’s check plus a $2,500 bonus for running sub-2:31:00.

Svetlana Ponomarenko, 41, placed 11th in 2:38:03 to earn the women’s masters crown.

Saul Mendoza won his seventh Grandma’s Marathon men’s wheelchair division title in 1:28:53. Amanda McGrory broke her own course record in the female wheelchair division with a time of 1:39:30.

The 2011 Grandma’s Marathon had 8,319 registrants and of those, 6,444 runners started the race and 6,333 finished. The annual Two Harbors-to-Duluth 26.2-mile race had entrants from 42 countries, 49 states and the District of Columbia.

In the 21st Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, Ethiopian Derese Deniboba, 28, set a new course record, breaking Ryan Meissen’s 2002 mark by two minutes. Deniboba’s time of 1:02:19 was one of eight faster than Meissen’s 1:04:19.

American Katie McGregor, 33, claimed the women’s title in 1:13:18.

A record number of 7,223 people registered for the 2011 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon with 6,004 runners starting the race and 5,990 finishing.

For complete results, log on to All results are unofficial.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yes/No: Gabrielson and Houck in Top-12?

Grandma's Marathon celebrates its 35th anniversary this weekend. The usual running races will occur including the William A. Irvin 5k tonight followed by the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon early Saturday morning and concluding with the main event, Grndma's Marathon - 26.2 miles along Lake Superior.

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Although Minnesota native Chris Raabe won the race in 2009, a Minnesota resident has not won Grandma's Marathon since 1991. There are a number of top contenders from Minnesota hoping to change that this year.

For our questions, we will look at a veteran on the men's side and a relative newcomer on the women's side this week...

Yes/No: Will Matt Gabrielson and Jennifer Houck both finish in the top twelve in their respective races at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday?

Matt Gabrielson has run his three previous marathons in times between 2:17:30 and 2:20. Gabrielson ran 2:17:38 for second place in the USA Marathon Championships in 2008. In the 2009 World Championships, he ran 2:18:41 in Germany and placed thirty-six.

In 2011, Gabrielson has won some local road races as well as finishing 5th at the USA 25K Championships. Gabrielson's half marathon best is from 2010 when he ran 1:03:44 at the USA Champs.

Jennifer Houck has run faster in each of her marathoners. She debuted with a 2:47 effort and since then has run 2:39, 2:37 and 2:34. Her last marathon was run this April at the Boston Marathon. Houck finished 18th at Boston and was the fourth American woman.

In 2011, Jennifer Houck has made her name as a top competitor in USA Championships. She finished 11th at the USA 1/2 Marathon Championship, 9th at the USA 15K Champs and 5th at the USA 25K Championship.

The field is filled with Kenyan, Russian and American elites and especially heavy with top masters runners. Houck was given number #13 for the race and Gabrielson #20.

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 A.M. CDT, Saturday, June 18th. Please put your answers in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will offer our usual bonus for participants making their 2011 debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for anyone who has not played yet this year.

My answer: Yes.

Last week's question was: Yes/No: Will three or more University of Minnesota individuals or relay teams finish in the top eight and earn All-American honors at the National Meet this week? The Gophers had a great year but a rough National Meet. No U of M athlete finished in the top eight in 2011.

It was a tough question for Yes/No players as well. Only eight people answered correctly this week. Lori Anne Peterson answered correctly and has seven points in the last six weeks. She is the overall leader with fifteen points. Chris Rivers continues of streak of correct answers this year and is tied with two others for second with fourteen points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner, HERE.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Time to Think Cross Country ... Clinic

The transition between the end of the high school track season and the start of preparations for cross country comes quickly for a high school coaches. Exhibit A: the recent annoucement that the Minnesota Cross Country Coaches' Clinic is scheduled for July 19 at Champlin Park High School.

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Former University of Minnesota assistant coach Kirk Elias and the UW -Eau Claire coaching team of Dan and Marcie Schwamberger headline the event. The day also includes a coaches' round-table discussion moderated by Minnesota High School Coaches' Association president Chris Frye and the induction presentation for the Association's Hall of Fame.

Find details on the clinic HERE and HERE.

Read more about Elias, who is currently the cross country coach at the University of Nevada, HERE.

Learn more about Dan Schwamberger, a former Mankato Loyola star, HERE.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Remembering Grandma's Marathon's Legends

In honor of Grandma's Marathon's 35th anniversary, the Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates took time to remember some of the legends of the event -- two-time men's champions Garry Bjorklund, Dick Beardsley and three-time women's winner Lorriane Moller.

Find Pates' story HERE.

In the piece we learn that Bjorklund changed shoes during his win at the first-ever Grandma's Marathon in 1977, that Beardsley had premonitions his record-setting 2:09:37 in 1981, and that Moller's record-setting 2:29:36 win in 1981 was the race that prompted her to "embrace her destiny" as world class marathoner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Borowsky, Bartnik Earn TCM Scholariships

Hannah Borowsky of Hopkins High School and Aaron Bartnik of Eden Prairie High School have won Twin Cities In Motion's 2011 College Scholarships, the organization has announced.

Borowsky and Bartnik distinguished themselves from 107 qualified candidates based on academic performance shown through a combination of grades and level of difficulty of curriculum; being a proven leader in the candidate’s school or peer group; commitment to community service or helping others; and demonstration that the candidate has maximized their running potential.

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“Both Hannah and Aaron are exceptional examples of student athletes,” Virginia Brophy Achman, Executive Director for TCM, said. “Their passion for running, dedication to their community and strong leadership qualities exemplify why we created the TCM College Scholarship program.. We hope that this scholarship helps offset a portion of their education expenses, allowing them the opportunity to continue to pursue their passion for the sport of running.”

Borowsky is a four-year varsity letter recipient on Hopkins’ track team, as well as a three-year recipient on the cross country team. She was co-captain of the 2011 track team. She was voted “Most Valuable Track Athlete” in 2009 and is a Minnesota All-Time State Record Holder in the 4 x 400 meter relay as well as a school record holder in the 4 x 800 meter relay.

In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Hannah carries a 4.0 GPA, placed second in the national Young Epidemiology Scholars competition for her research regarding adolescent smoker’s perception about the risks of smoking and used her research findings to instigate a new bill that bans smoking in Hopkins parks. While Hannah has not decided on a university, she plans to study Public Health and Cognitive Science.

Bartnik was the captain of the Eden Prairie track team and served as the captain of the cross country team in 2010. In 2009, Bartnik won the MSHSL Class AA state title in cross country, leading his team to the Class AA team title as well.

In addition to running, Bartnik also participated in nordic skiing for four years and was elected Captain of the team in 2010. Academically, Aaron carries a 3.9 GPA while maintaining a challenging course load. He is a member of Destination Imagination and was the recipient of the Distinguished Leader Award. Aaron plans to study Engineering at the University of Minnesota and run for the Golden Gophers.

Twin Cities In Motion organizes the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and other running events.

More MSHSL State Meet Photos -- By Gene Niemi

Analisa Huschle of Bagley-Fosston won four individual Class A titles -- 100m, 200m, long jump, and triple jump.

Another photo of the furious finish in the Class AA 3200m, (l to r) runner-up Aldis Inde of Edina, champion Glen Ellingson of Moorhead, and 3d-placer Adam Zutz of St. Francis

Paige Stratioti of Duluth Central winning the Class AA 400m.

R. J. Alowonle of Park defending his Class AA 300m hurdle crown.

Jessica January of Richfield (5) defending her Class AA 100m hurdle title.

Class AA 1600m champion Christian Skaret of Minnetonka (7) leads Totino-Grace's Steven Dado.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Olympic Medalists to Speak at Grandma's

Olympic marathon gold and silver medalist Frank Shorter and women's Olympic marathon bronze medalist Lorraine Moller headline the speakers appearing at this weekend's Grandma's Marathon in Duluth.

Shorter, who won the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich and was runner-up in the event in Montreal in 1976, and Moller, who earned a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games, will be joined by Grandma's Marathon course record-holder Dick Beardsley and Olympian Keith Brantly on the event's Friday afternoon speaker schedule.

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Brantly speaks at 1:00 p.m. on Friday at the event's expo, Moeller follows at 2:00 p.m., Shorter speaks at 3:00 p.m., and Beardsley speaks at 4:00 p.m.

Brantly enjoyed success in national and international competitions in distances ranging from the mile to the marathon. His accomplishments include being a 1996 U.S. Olympic marathon team member and five-time U.S. Olympic Trials participant in various distances. Currently, alongside a career in medical equipment sales and management, Brantly conducts inspirational and motivational seminars for corporations and special interest groups on topics related to health and fitness.

Moller, a native of New Zealand, is a three-time Grandma's Marathon champion -- 1979, 1980 and 1981 -- and held the women’s course record of 2:29:36 for 18 years. Moller competed in four Olympics marathons for her country. Since retiring from competitive running in 1996, she has stayed active in the running community. Her first book, On the Wings of Mercury: The Lorraine Moller Story, was published in 2007 in New Zealand. Moller is a Special Contributor to Running Times and writes regular training features for the publication.

Shorter, a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame, and U.S. Distance Running Hall of Fame, is a past chairperson of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and is a current board member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy Competition Foundation and Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.

Beardsley is one of the best-known marathon runners in U.S. history. Winner of Grandma’s Marathon in 1981 and 1982, Dick still holds the course record with the 2:09:37 he ran in 1981. His most famous race, however, took place at the 1982 Boston Marathon where he crossed the finish line in a personal-best 2:08:53, just two seconds behind Alberto Salazar. After a series of accidents, injuries and life-altering events, Dick remains a prominent figure in the running community and travels around the world to share his story.

Find more information about Grandma's Marathon HERE.

State Meet Photo Gallery -- By Gene Niemi

Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Trevor Yedoni soared to Class AA high jump and long jump victories.

Glen Ellingson of Moorhead (center) dove to a surprise Class AA 3200m victory over Aldis Inde of Edina (l) and Adam Zutz of St. Francis (r).

Eden Prairie's Michael Sandle, the state's top triple jumper of all time, defended his Class AA title in the event.

Albert Lea's Christina Monson (r) outkicked 3200m champ Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria (4), Rebecca Dyson of Roseville (2), and Mara Olson of St. Louis Park (6) for the Class AA 1600m crown.

Blaine's Ayuk Tambe won the Class AA 100m.

St. Francis' Maggie Ewen, the state's top girls' discus thrower ever, won the Class AA discus and shot.

Mounds Park Academy's Mason Ferlic (1) grabbed Class A 1600m and 3200m titles.

Alexandria's Rosey Erickson took the Class AA long jump title.

St. Paul Humboldt's Calvin Clark (4) won the Class A 100m, 200m, and 400m.

Stillwater set a new All-Time State Meet record and sealed the Class AA team title with a 3:16.69 4 x 400m victory.

Photos by Gene Niemi.