Monday, March 31, 2014

News Bits: April 1 Update: Canine Relay, Facebook, Mpls Running

 Sun Sailor Preview of the Wayzata boys team for 2104 HERE  Minnetonka girls track team 2014 Preview HERE. Minnetonka boys preview is HERE.

Will Leer given March 2014 Beard of the Month Award HERE. "American middle distance runner recently wowed the crowds at the Indoor Athletics World Championships with this magnificent display of beardsmanship." (No this is not an April Fools joke)

Shakopee Valley News  final year of the Missota Conference the Shakopee girls HERE and boys HERE Previews.

Perham Focus report on the Paul Bunyan Classic is HERE.

Worthington Daily Globe area HS outdoor track preview is HERE.

MIAC feature on St. Olaf's Elise Raney, a two-sport All Conference athlete is HERE.

NSIC Outdoor Track summary HERE.

Feature on Gophers Erin Hawkins is HERE.

USTFCCCA NCAA Outdoor Track NCAA DII rankings are HERE.  DIII rankings are HERE.

USATF announces "groundbreaking new event" HERE.

Bring Back the Mile rejects Facebook offer HERE.

Minneapolis Running shutdown is HERE.

TC Running's new customized golf apparel and shift to TC Golf Co is HERE.

T&F News April Fool listings are HERE.

Oiselle introduces new scent, Swassy HERE.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

TCTC Teams Take Second in Shamrock Shuffle, USA 8K Team Championships; Grunewald Ninth in Carlsbad 5K

The Twin Cities Track Club's men's and women's team finished second in the Shamrock Shuffle 8K on Sunday in Chicago.  2014 Irish Run winner Chris Erichsen finished nineth in and Mike Reneau tenth with the same time of 23:55 to lead the men's team.  Top area finisher was Run N Fun's Dan Greeno in seventh in 23:53.  Two Elizabeths, Herndon and Yetzer, finished sixth(27:59) and eleventh(28:12), respectively, to lead the woman's team.
Jordan Hasay and Gabe Grunewald at Carlsbad.  PhotoRun

The race is also the USA 8K Team Championships. Full Results are HERE. Team results are HERE.

In the Carlsbad 5K Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald finished ninth in 16:08. A group of seven broke off early in the race with Grunewald in the chase group that wasn't able to close the gap. "Tough but fun run today today... Time to start the training grind back in MN!" Grunewald tweeted after the race. Top ten in men's and women's races are HERE.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

News Clips: Updated with USATF rules, Falcon Indoor Invite

Runnerspace Interview with Annie Bersagel, who is a member of the US women's team at the IAAF Half Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen this weekend is  HERE

Runner's World story on the impact of Kara Goucher's new sponsorship deal with Oiselle is HERE.

RW's Peter Gambaccini talks with Gabe Grunewald HERE.

Pole vaulter Zach Ziegmeier named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week HERE.

Were USATF rules followed at Indoor Nationals?  Appears not HERE.

USATF on the new evidence used in the women's 3K at US Indoor nationals HERE.

TFAA letter to sponsors is HERE.

Gustavus drops XC ski program HERE.

Roger Bannister documentary seeks post production funding HERE.

Athletics Weekly report on the World Masters is HERE

NSIC pre-season outdoor track coaches poll is HERE.

Raleigh Relays women's 5K, Maria Hauger ninth in 16:14.18 is HERE.

Falcon Indoor Invitational results are HERE(boys) and HERE(girls).

Saturday Results

Annie Bersagel photo by Jim Estes
2013 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champ Annie Bersagel top US woman at the IAAF World Championships in Copenhagen in a PR of 1:10:09 to help the team finish fifth.  USATF summary of the US participants HERE. Full results are HERE.

University of Minnesota Early Bird Indoor Time Trials results are HERE

Results from Annual Viking Olympic meet are HERE

MDRA 7-Mile results are HERE, Photos HERE.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Most Fun Event in Track

Dr. David Lindenberg says that he competes in "the most fun event in track," the pole vault.  The five-time USA Masters Champion  likes it so much he coaches younger athletes and expects to continue competing "as long as my body allows me."

Last  weekend he vaulted  4.45m/14'7.2" to win the USA Masters indoor M35 title in Boston. Ultimately he'd like to get back to vaulting in "the 16' range(his personal best being 16' 4")," says Lindenberg.  That's in addition to his "day job," a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at the University of Minnesota, practicing "pain medicine," he says.  In his free time he coaches vaulters at Fuzion Athletics.  He got hooked on vaulting in high school where he first played baseball and soccer before he began "flying through the air" on a pole.

The combination of skills, from speed along the runway to the technique and gymnastics of planting the pole and riding it to clear the bar and jackknife over it is his challenge.  He had an instant attraction to the event, but not instant success.  In fact it took him three years to get onto his college track team in the vault.  There he demonstrated other skills, such as patience, self motivation,  and perseverance.  He kept vaulting in his spare time during medical school where the exercise helped maintain his fitness and was a form of pressure relief from the intense training to be a doctor.

Today vaulting remains a passion, "a great way to stay in shape and have fun," he says.  I'm  "constantly trying to achieve my own personal goals," he adds. Lindenberg views his relationship with other Masters vaulters as "more like friends" than competition, partners in expanding their individual talents.  As he's aged, he says he's "learned the importance of rest days."  In his youth he adds, "I tried to do too much, too fast," and injuries hampered his progress.  He continued to improve after college, and he knows that to get back to those heights he has to be "able to be smarter" in his training.

His medical studies have given him a "a better, a deeper understanding" of his body.  He uses that to attempt to go higher, and tries to pass along what he's learned to the young vaulters he coaches.  He doesn't coach many or often because of his schedule, about two sessions a week, and he's selective in who he chooses, wanting only those who are "very motivated, committed" to improve.  Remembering how his teammates helped him develop in college this is his time to "pay it forward," to give back to a sport that has given much to him.

Lindenberg doesn't just help athletes, however, he is currently working with engineers and other medical personnel at the Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis  in a project to redesign wheelchairs to be more ergonomically designed to minimize arm stress.  They are experimenting with adjustable push rims that would not only ease the stress when the person in the chair in attempting to move it, but also when that person has to get in and out of the chair, and are doing pilot testing on the prototype they've created.

As a pole vaulter, Lindenberg knows the value of having the proper equipment.  Of all the disciplines within track and field, his is the most dependent on his equipment.  Length of the pole, stiffness are key factors in being able to clear a desired height.  The environment is also a factor.  Lindenberg likes to train indoors because of its consistent conditions, primarily no wind.  But also knows that outdoors a tailwind can be your friend by allowing you to use a longer, stiffer pole to go for a bigger jump, as the speed you have down the runway can increase the force you exert on the pole, and using a stiffer pole gives the vaulter a bigger thrust upward as it recoils as the vaulter leaves the ground and rides the pole upward.

When done properly it allows the vaulter to ride this fiberglass and/or carbon fiber stick to the sky in a ballet of body gyrations that seemingly happen in fractions of a second.  There is nothing else quite like it in sports.  Therein lies the fun, the thrill of vaulting, says Lindenberg.  A thrill that he wants to enjoy for as long as he can.

You can watch videos of Lindenberg and the other Fuzion vaulters HERE.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Statement of USATF Regarding forming Working Group to Address Issues

Statement from USATF regarding formation of a Working Group to examine "Field of Play" and other issues is HERE.

USATF Minnesota List of State Records

Want to know the outdoor track age group records in Minnesota.  The official USATF Minnesota list is HERE.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nick Willis to Defend Medtronic TC Mile Title

Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis will return to Minneapolis on May 8 to defend his Medtronic TC Mile title.Willis, a New Zealand native who ran for the University of Michigan and was runner-up at 1500-meters at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, will target the course record of 3:56.1 he set last year and the $10,000 bonus that comes with bettering it.

Willis(51) makes his break in last year's race. Photo by Gene Niemi
After last year's race Willis was asked why he let up as he approached the finish and he responded that he knew he had the record and he didn't want to break it by too much and make it too difficult to break again if he returned next year.  US high jumper Dwight Stones and Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka were famous for taking a similar approach to setting world records in their events.  Instead of trying higher heights, they would stop jumping once they set a new record so they could collect a bonus from their sponsors for setting a new record the next time they had the opportunity.

The 10th annual Medtronic TC Mile, will be held just two days after the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s breaking of four-minute barrier in the mile. In honor of Sir Roger's feat, London is hosting their first road mile, the Westminster Mile, which, like the Twin Cities race will be made up of many races done in the center of the city, near Buckingham Palace.  Both the Westminster Mile and the TC Mile are expected to draw large crowds to the downtown areas to watch the events and cheer on the runners of all ages and ability levels.

“I'm excited to be returning to the Twin Cities to defend my title in the Medtronic TC Mile,” Willis told race organizers. “I was blown away by the size of the fields that went before our elite race, and it really pumped me up to run fast despite the cold temperatures last year.  It is a fun event with one of the best prize purses available in our sport, so I hope to continue making it part of my yearly schedule.”

A men’s and women’s combined prize purse of $25,000 awaits the professional fields at this year’s race.  Race winners who top the existing course records, will earn $10,000 in addition to the winner’s prize of $5,000.

Last year, Willis outran runner-up Garrett Heath, the reigning USA Mile Road champion, and the surprising Macklin Chaffee to win the event.  In women’s competition last year, former NCAA champion Sarah Brown edged Canadian Olympian Nicole Sifuentes, who won a bronze medal in this year's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland,  in the race’s final strides to win her first Medtronic TC Mile title.

“We’re pleased that Nick will be running with us again this year,” Twin Cities In Motion executive director Virginia Brophy Achman said. “It’s always special welcoming our champions – and record holders – back to our races.  Nick’s a great ambassador to the sport and the mile distance.  We can’t wait to see what he has in store this year!”

The Medtronic TC 1 Mile is the second stop on the 2014 Bring Back the Mile Tour, a nationwide Grand Prix with more than $90,000 in total prize money and a $7500 grand prize purse. The Medtronic TC Mile, organized by Twin Cities In Motion, features an evening of races for runners of all ages and abilities. Races begin at 6:53 p.m and culminates with the professional races at 7:51 p.m. (women) and 8:03 p.m. (men). Start times subject to slight change.

In the coming weeks, Twin Cities In Motion will note additions to the field and make other announcements about the professional races via its Twitter feed, @tcmarathon, or with additional media releases. You can follow news about the event at #TC1Mile.

Article on Willis' plans for the upcoming season is HERE.

Monday, March 24, 2014

News Bits: Updated

Outside article on Kara Goucher's move to Oiselle is HERE

Former Team USA Minnesota member Jamie Cheever in the field for the Prefontaine Classic steeple HERE.

Hamline Summary from the Ross and Sharon Irwin Invitational are  HERE(men) and HERE(women)
Augsburg summary for men is HERE, women HERE.

Gopher men's summary from ASU is HERE.  Gopher women ranked 17th in USTFCCCA Track & Field and Cross Country team  rankings of NCAA DI schools. Press release is HERE. St. Olaf ranked seventh in DIII, Top 15 list is HERE.
Athletes still awaiting answers, contact from USATF regarding DQs, protests at US Indoor Champs HERE.

USTFCCCA NCAA indoor team rankings for DI HERE, DII is HERE, DIII is HERE.

TFAA statement on the lack of action or dialog on the incidents at the US Indoor championships is HERE.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Erichsen, Paulsen Win Men's and Women's Races at Irish Run 8K

The Twin Cities Track Club swept the individual titles on a cold, windy day for the Irish Run 8K in St. Paul on Sunday.  Chris Erichsen ran 24:18, Lauren Paulsen 28:00.  Temperatures hovered around 20 F with a brisk West wind hitting the runners as they came back on the out-and-back route along Summit Avenue.

Team USA Minnesota's Jonathan Peterson won the 5K in 15:11.  Nicole Klein won the women's title in 23:02.  Full results for both races can be found HERE.

Perhaps the best news was that, in all likelihood, this will not be the last Irish Run.  Race director Chris Fuller said he'll be relinquishing that role as he no longer has the time to allot to such an effort, but the race is not "going away."  Fuller said he wants to see races designed to give an opportunity for top level competition, such as the Irish Run 8K has been for decades, thrive.  He's committed to seeing that that legacy is continued.

Whether that means partnering with others to accomplish that or some other form of race administrative structure, Fuller is optimistic that the event will still be a big part of the Twin Cities racing scene in the future.  He said there was big support this year from the teams, from USATF Minnesota and MDRA, which both have the event on their road running circuits.

Gene Niemi's Irish Run 8K Photo Album

Lance Elliott(orange hat) follows Melissa Agnew(5), Elizabeth Yetzer(1746)
and Stephanie Price(1523). Photo by Gene Niemi

Lead men's pack.  Race winner Chris Erichsen(162), Mike
Reneau(1745), Dan Greeno(25), Trent Lusignan(1374)
Photo by Gene Niemi

Women's race winner Laura Paulsen(1497)
Photo by Gene Niemi

What if They had a Meet and....Update: Results posted

The technology for timing and scoring meets has advanced light years in the digital age, but it often seems that the groups that put on meets don't get it.  One rather egregious example is yesterday's meet in California where Hamline, Augsburg, and MSU: Moorhead are listed as teams entered.  Then there is this item on their meet information page for the teams: "RUNNING/TIMING & FIELD RESULTS: All running events will be handled professionally by Finished Results. This will include a LED scoreboard display showing results as quickly as possible following each event. The timing area is located on the outside of the track (THIS AREA WILL BE OFF LIMITS TO ALL ATHLETES AND COACHES)! All requests should come through me and I will deal with the timing officials for you. We will also have the South side of the infield of the track flagged off to keep athletes, spectators and coaches away from the finish line and the track. All measurements will be done in the metric system as per NCAA rules."

To top it off the "professional" timing company listed as the provider of results has a list of eight meets they were performing this service for, seven of them have results posted, but the Pt. Loma Nazarene--Ross and Sharon Irwin Invitational doesn't.  The site is HERE. People in the sport often complain about the lack of publicity the sport receives.  It's kind of hard to get publicity when you don't publish the results in a timely manner. It's now 1 p.m. CST, still no results.  Hopefully they'll get them up soon...

Editor's Note: Results are now up and you can find them HERE.  Top finishers were Hamline's Jessica Putland, first in the shot with a toss of 13.40m; Makayla Hubbard of Augsburg, second in the shot at 13.44m; and Hamline's Mark Volker, who tied for first in the pole vault clearing 4.50m.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Results: Gophers, Maggie Ewen, Shawn Francis

The Gopher women competed at the TSU Relays in Houston, TX.  Summary is HERE.  Full results are HERE. The Gopher men were at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, AZ.  They had firsts from pole vaulter Zach Siegmeier at 17' 8.5"/5.40m and triple jumper Charles Jordan(51' 2,25"/15.60m).

The U of M men also had three second place finishes:  hammer thrower Jon Lehman(211' 11"/64.56m), Alex Brend(1:51.28) in the 800 meters, and the 4 by 400 relay(3:11:70).   St. Francis grad Maggie Ewen, redshirting at ASU, competed in the shot, discus, and hammer.  She had the longest throw in the shot(50' 6"/15.39m), the fifth longest throw in the disc(175' 6"/53.49), and 15th longest in the hammer(157'7"/64.56).  Full results are HERE

NDSU and Hastings grad Shawn Francis also opened his outdoor season at the meet clearing 16'6.75"/5.05m  He described his day on Instagram:  "I always jump down here at ASU after a few good weeks of training. Honestly, I never feel very good since I hammer on training right after the champs. So I decided to jump from six lefts and I never seemed to get rid of the flat feeling but ended up jumping 5.05m on the biggest pole I've been on from that run---a 4.90 (16 foot)16.8 flex ucs!

"At 5.20m  I thought I'd give the old full approach run a try...dumb Haha. I didn't have a full approach, warm up, or anything and the winds were a changing. So three head winds later and trying to find my step annnnnd the meet was over. 

"So I'm taking the positives, 1. Biggest pole from six lefts and smoked 5.05. 2. Feeling like garbage but jumped pretty well and even went out of my comfort zone trying a full approach under bad circumstances! 3. I'm looking at the positives since I'm as competitive as anyone and hate losing Haha. 4. Reminding myself of the process! I'd rather feel like crap at ASU than at the USA champs in three months" Instagram photo is HERE.

Friday, March 21, 2014

UMD Results from the FSU Relays

University of Minnesota Duluth's Samatha Rivard finished second in the women's University 1500 Friday at the FSU Relays in 4:31.64.  Her teammate Hannah Olson was ninth in 4:39.54.  In the men's 1500 Joey Erickson was 21st in 4:06.26. Hannah  Joecyln was second in the University steeplechase in 12:20.91.   Drew Johnson(10:00.74), Mitch Fisher(10:02.19), and Tyler Stevens((10:09.28)finished second, third, and fourth in the University men's steeple. In the University men's 5K Cole Toepfer was ninth in 15:11.30, Bennett Maki was 42nd in 16:24.78, and Cooper Reff was 49th in 16:44.96. Full results are HERE.

Lance Does A Lot

Lance Elliott's "handle" on Twitter is LanceRunsALot.  He may have to change that to a more inclusive description of his lifestyle, LanceDoesALot.  Last weekend he won the USA Masters Championship in the M40 3K in Boston, then finished second in the M40 mile and fifth in the M40 800.

That was despite the fact that a leg injury limited his training leading up to the race.  In fact, this year Elliott has found that less is more in terms of running training as it seems he's spent more time in the swimming pool and other "cross training" activities than on the track.  All of this and his past history paints a picture of a guy with a Ferrari engine stuck in a Volkswagen body.

He was a high school star in Iowa, winning several State titles and setting records in the process.  But before he got to Iowa State, his body began to let him down.  Elliott thought that to prepare for the longer distances in college he should run the Dam to Dam 20K road race that summer.  Whether it was the longer distance or if it was just then that his knee reached a breaking point, after the race there was pain.  And the pain did not go away.

Though he was still successful at Iowa State, winning conference titles, the knee injury had him spend more time in the training room and less training.  Despite the best efforts of the doctors, trainers, and physical therapists the knee injury kept recurring.  Even knee surgery did not cure the condition, which was a nagging pain below the patella similar to chondromalacia, said Elliott.

"I did leg exercises," he said.  "They followed me around on a golf cart video taping the knee trying to determine if something in my stride was causing the problem."  Nothing worked resulting in no consistency in his training.  That didn't stop him from trying.  He wanted to qualify for NCAAs in the 1500.  He would pay his own way to fly to "last chance" qualifier meets to get that one last shot at a spot.  Closest he came was .3 of a second. He wanted to break four in the mile, but the closest he could come was 3:45 for 1500 meters and 4:04 in the mile.

Tired of having his body letting him down, Elliott retired from competitive sport and spent his time raising a family and working to provide for them.  He and his wife now have five children, which would be enough to keep most parents busy all the time.  But Elliott had a dream that kept Elliott's return to running possible.  Growing up in Iowa, running at the Drake Relays was akin to the Olympics.  Elliott had not only run there in high school, he'd won there.  Thus his hope was that when he became a Masters runner he could return to Des Moines and win again at the Drake Relays.

At age 39 Elliott realized while throwing around the football with his kids that he was out of shape and if that didn't change: "I don't think I'm ever going to be able to run with the boys," or win the Drake Relays. If  he wanted to have any chance at achieving that goal he'd better "get up off the couch" and start shedding his "retirement" weight and hope his knee would allow him to pursue his dream.  Fortunately, the 15 year hiatus from running seemed to relieve him of the knee problem.  He was able to train again and place second in the Masters 800 at Drake his first year back.  The next year he won it.
Lance Elliott(L) and Kelly Mortenson(R) with their USATF MN Masters Awards
"When I got done, that was it," said Elliott, he'd done what he set out to do.  "Everything after that was a bonus."  He had to set new goals, find new challenges.  The knee, knock on wood, has not been a problem.  Elliott discovered that what they thought was the issue in college, an imbalance in his quads and hamstrings, may in fact be an alignment issue starting in the hips.  He's worked on strengthening his gluts, and that has kept him pain free in the knee. 

More importantly, however, he has developed something of a "side business" of being a training partner for Team USA Minnesota women.  Heather Kampf trained a lot with Elliott this winter on her path to making the US team for the World Indoor Championships.  Last Fall Elliott ran with Meghan Peyton, helping her prepare for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  In the process, Elliott also ran the marathon. One of his new goals had been to try longer distances and, ultimately do a marathon.

The pairing with Peyton just accelerated achieving that goal.  He discovered that not only could his body handle the increased mileage--up to 100 miles a week for six weeks--but he felt good doing it.  Starting out he had tentatively planned on running the Medtronic TC 10 Mile, but he felt so good, he decided to take it a step further and do the marathon. He finished in 2:36:35.

After the race, he may have returned to training too soon and he developed a pain in his shin.  Not wanting to do more damage, he linked up with Heidi Keller Miler, the MDRA office manager,  and became a swimmer. "I never swam before," said Elliott.  I had to learn the stroke...I'm still horrible."  But in typical Lance Elliott fashion, he was all in.  "It is the hardest cardio work I've ever done in my life," he says.

Primarily off of swimming training six days a week with a few workouts with Kampf, Elliott ran 4:25 for the mile at the Meet of Miles.  Meanwhile he jumped into swimming competitions and has consistently improved his times.  It's not only kept him fit, it seems to have cured a chronic ankle problem and has Elliott thinking about doing a triathlon in the future.  Prior to that, though, is a duathlon.  Elliott discovered that the National Duathlon Championships will be held in St. Paul this summer and has penciled that into his schedule, along with the traditional stops on the running circuit, the Medtronic Twin Cities Mile, Torchlight Run, Drake Relays, and another first, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth.

This weekend, body permitting(he picked up some aches and pains from his triple in Boston), he'll do the Irish Run St Paul, not competitively, but as a training run. Like many Masters runners he's used age, not as a handicap, but as an opportunity to explore new frontiers.  You can stay fit, have fun, meet interesting people, and win some championships along the way, Elliott says, and as long as his body will let him he'll continue to find new challenges, new opportunities, new friends and acquaintances.

Postscript:  "My wife actually does more. It is only for her that I can do what I do"--Lance Elliott

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Samatha Rivard: From Walk On to Champion

Samatha Rivard runs to the finish at Nationals
University of Minnesota Duluth's 21-year-old freshman Samatha Rivard has gone from being a walk on to winning the NCAA DII Indoor mile championship. When she graduated from St. Francis High School, a future as a distance runner was not high on the to do list.

She played sports because her parents wanted her to participate.  She wrestled, played hockey, and ran.  "In high school I never thought I'd end up being a runner," Rivard said.  "I quit cross country one year and played soccer," Rivard said.  "I don't think my (cross country)coach was too happy with me."  She found the practices uninspiring, even tedious.  So, when it came time to look for a college, athletics was not high on her criteria of what to look for in a school

"I really didn't put  much thought into it," she said of her choice of Bemidji State.  "It was a smaller school.  I'd heard good things about it." After a year in Bemidji and running as a "walk on" there, Rivard's goals shifted.  She wanted something more.  In the same conference, Rivard caught the attention of Joanna Warmington, the UMD coach.  "Duluth's team is way bigger," Rivard said.  "She(Warmington) gave me a shot."

Because of NCAA eligibility rules, Rivard had to sit out a year before she could run for UMD. She could work out with the team, but had to drive herself to meets, and couldn't have a team uniform or equipment.  Cross country season in 2013 was Rivard's first chance to run for the team and she made the most of it, helping the team qualify for nationals and earning All American honors once she got there.

"Coach told me that I surprised her(by making All American)," Rivard said.  She added that she went into the race confident that she would finish in the top 25, possibly the top ten even though this was her first chance at a major meet(she finished 8th).  After cross country Rivard went to Warmington's office to talk about plans for the indoor season.  Warmington asked her what she wanted to do indoors: the  mile, the 3K, 5K?  "I don't know, let's try them all," Rivard said.  "I just want to win something."

Win something she did.  Entered in both the mile and the 3K, Rivard got a call on day one of the meet, when the mile prelims were scheduled,  from her father, who wished her well.  Then, as Rivard was going to the line for the start of the mile prelims, she heard a familiar voice yelling encouragement to her.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up," she said.  She looked around and there with two fists thrust up in the air was her dad, who along with her mother and brother had made a surprise trip to North Carolina to watch her run. "Now the pressure is really on," she thought to herself.

In the final the next day, Rivard hung back in third most of the race recalling how her dad had given her advice in high school for the State Meet to "sprint" the first lap and get out in front.  She did and eventually faded as the race went on.  She hadn't made that mistake since.  With two laps to go she picked off eventual runner-up Maura O'Brien of Adams State, and with a lap to go went after the leader Breanna Hemming of Metro State, who had finished just in front of her at cross country nationals.

Coming off the final turn, Rivard was picking up speed as Hemming was slowing down.  Hemming began to drift out of lane one as Rivard went by, then fell to the track as Rivard covered the final meters to take the win.  Rivard's brother came up to give his sister a congratulatory hug and said: "Did you push her?"

"I didn't even touch her," said Rivard.  Two hours and 15 minutes later she returned to the track to finish third in the 3K, only four seconds out of first.  Then she went with her family to TGI Fridays for a steak dinner. After that it was down to Florida for a brief Spring break in 75 degree temperatures.  On Friday outdoor track season will begin at the Florida State Relays in Tallahassee, Florida.

Then it's the long trip back to Minnesota.  From the sunlight, sand, and surf in Florida to eight feet of snow "in our back yard at home."  Back to the usual challenges and looking ahead to the rest of the outdoor season.

"I'm disciplined," says Rivard.  "I always want to push limits.  I want to challenge myself.  I'm not afraid to push myself."  Running legend Steve Prefontaine is her "hero," she says.  Outdoors she'll sample different distances from the 1,500 to the 10K, even the steeple.  Figure out what event or events suit her best.  And if the opportunity presents itself, try and "win something" again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

News Clips: Update: Goucher; Amelia Campbell DIII Athlete of Year

Kara Goucher signs with Oiselle is HERE  HERE, and HERE.

Amelia Campbell USTFCCCA D III Female Field Athlete of Year is HERE.

USTFCCCA Outdoor NCAA DII rankings are  HERE.

Duluth News Tribune article on Samatha Rivard is HERE.

MIAC podcast with Augsburg runner Lauren Rice is HERE.

Ultra podcast host coming to Superior in September, info HERE.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Marla Runyan: Overcoming Obstacles

Marla Runyan has spent most of her life overcoming obstacles. Perhaps her biggest one appeared suddenly on the first day of school when she was in the fourth grade, she told those gathered for the100th anniversary of Vision Loss Resources, a Twin Cities based non-profit that offers assistance to visually impaired individuals.

"The teacher started writing on the board," she said.  "I couldn't make out what she was writing. I thought: 'What's wrong with her chalk?' I didn't know what was wrong.  I started crying.  The teacher took me outside.  I told her: 'I can't see the board.'"

That started a two year journey, Runyan said, in an attempt to find out why she suddenly went from a child with perfect vision to someone who was now legally blind.  "I grew up in Southern California," noted Runyan.  Life until then had been "normal," some would say privileged.  The family took trips to Lake Mead in the summer to water ski. She played soccer, did gymnastics, they had a swimming pool at their house.  Life was good.

But at nine years old, her vision deteriorated from 20/20 to 2200.  The ophthalmologist they went to said she needed glasses.  No change.  They went to a doctor who did a series of tests that revealed she was "losing my central vision."  The doctor told her parents: "I think your daughter is making this up."
Marla Runyan talking at the Vision Loss Resources 100th Anniversary luncheon

They went to another doctor, a retina specialist, who did more tests.  When he was done he asked Marla to leave the room so he could talk to her parents alone.  When her parents came out of the room after talking with the doctor, "I could feel that something very serious had been discussed," Marla recalls.  Her parents did not tell her exactly what the doctor had said.  Later she would learn that this doctor told her parents that Marla had "butterfly dystrophy," and that she would be completely blind in three months.

Her parents wanted a second opinion.  Life went on as normal for the next two weeks. "I was going to soccer practice, to school," Marla said, "faking it," not letting on to her schoolmates that something was wrong. She went through further testing.  When the results came in, the doctor told her parents that Marla had Stargardt disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration.

He told her parents that she was legally blind and that Marla would probably be no better than a C student.  When her parents told her what the doctor had said, they got a response that they probably didn't expect.  "I remember jumping off the kitchen counter and running to my bedroom," Runyan said, but it wasn't despair or hopelessness she was feeling.  "I was so mad," she said.  "I was going to spend every day proving (the doctor) was wrong."

She didn't let the anger control her.  She used the anger as motivation.  "In high school and college I had a lot of anger," she said.  "I didn't want to fail in school.  I was a good faker."  She hid her condition, tried to fit in, cope as best she could.  At first, Marla said, "My parents didn't know what to expect from me.  I felt the expectations fall.  People would say: 'Do the best you can,' and I thought: 'What if my best is pretty damn good!' I was probably already pretty competitive.  I said: 'I can do this.  I just had to do it differently.

"My school district didn't know what to do for me."  Her mother accepted Marla's approach.  She began to "look and search for any resource.  She was relentless advocate," said Runyan.  "She was modelling for me. 'You can do this!' She was going to find a way."  They would find a way together.

From her experience, Runyan says, she recommends the "top three things" people facing this sort of obstacle should do.  First is a positive attitude.  You are going to be able to figure this out.  You will succeed, and that power of positive thinking approach becomes a "self fulfilling prophecy,"  says Runyan.

Second is finding the right "tools" to allow you to succeed.  Foremost among those tools for Runyan have been a group of Apple products, her iPhone and her Mac computer.  The iPhone because of its Siri voice recognition software and her Mac with its VoiceOver screen reader became like a "personal assistant," she said.  "I would not have my Masters degree without my Mac."

"I stopped reading for a long time," Runyan said, until the software caught up.  Something as seemingly simple  as grocery shopping used to be akin to running a race.  "Going to the store is a workout," Runyan said.  Things that sighted people can do easily became mental gymnastics for her. She had to memorize where things were and hope that the store did not change those locations.  Then came grocery delivery services.

Through them, she didn't have to navigate the store, just pick out the items she needed, order them, and "for a $7 fee they'll deliver it to you," Marla said, "How cool is that!"

The final thing is developing your own "community," Runyan said.  "You need the support of your community.  It's not enough to say to somebody: 'You can do it.' You have to show them.  People in the 'community' have to provide the support.  'You're going to do this, and I'm going to show you how.'"

"That's what I believe has kept (Vision Resources) in business for 100 years...I've had 35 years to adapt.  You have to be able to adapt.  As soon as you've changed your environment, you have to start all over again...I was very fortunate.  I had an incredible mom who was my advocate."

Her parents, her "community," and her own determination helped Runyan overcome obstacles that would have defeated others.  She used the anger that she felt when others told her she couldn't do something to drive her to prove them wrong.  She developed coping skills to "fit in" to a society that often sees individuals with seemingly debilitating conditions as "handicapped."

She didn't allow her "handicap" to define who she was.  She set her own goals and discovered ways to achieve them.  She was a Paralympic champion, then one of the top "able bodied" Olympians in the world.  Now she is taking those lessons and using them to help others.  She is teaching at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, where Helen Keller was taught.  Runyan is attempting to help them succeed, to overcome life's obstacles.

Marla's Last Race

Marla Runyan remembers her visit to Minnesota in 2006.  It was the last race of her competitive career and she went out in style.   She won the women's title at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Marla winning the 2006 TCM
"It was 13 months to the day from the birth of my daughter," said Runyan.  "I was still nursing.  I hadn't slept through the night.  I was hoping I could fit into my uniform."

While her personal best for the marathon was 2:27:10, a 5:37 per mile pace, she calculated that being able to run 5:45 per mile(2:30:39 pace) would be great.  That was what she hoped to do.  Her vision deficit, however, posed certain unique problems/obstacles.  "I can't see the clocks," she said of the large electronic LED devices set up at the mile marks along the 26.2 mile route that displayed the approximate race time, so they could figure out what pace they were running.

She told the race officials she was worried about being able to get mile splits.  They told her that they would have volunteers at each clock who would be yelling out the time as the runners went past.  Buoyed by this information, Marla came upon the first mile check point and there was indeed a volunteer stationed there.  Instead of the time, however, the volunteer shouted: "Way to go!  Keep it up!"

OK, Marla thought, I'll get what I need at the next mile.  She got there.  Another volunteer shouted: "Way to go!  Keep it up!"  "I never got my time," said Runyan.  OK, she thought, they also told her that there would be a lead cyclist in front of the lead men and women in the race who could also relay time information.  "We'll go with that," she said to herself.  "I have to lead the race."  Miles two, three, and four passed, no bike.

But then she heard a couple of people talking behind her.  There was someone on a bike.  She turned and asked: "Excuse me, are you the lead bike, can you come up and lead."  He couldn't  because of issues with pacing, assistance rules, the bikes can't go in front of the runners.  No times.  Then, just before the ten mile mark, she was passing a man and thought, "Great, I can ask him what the time is."  "No Eng laze, no English," was his response.

Frustrated, she told herself: "You know, I am just going to win this race."  But at the halfway point of the race "somehow my husband had made it there," and he told her the time: 1:14:35.  It was the only split she got in the race.  Undaunted, she kept going, pushing through the pain and discomfort of the final miles, down the hill from the St. Paul Cathedral toward the finish.  As they approached the finish, however, the lead bike went by and peeled off to the side. Thinking she had to follow the bike and not being able to recognize the finish, she followed the bike, which was heading off the course before the finish as instructed.

People began yelling: "No, Marla. No Marla!" guiding her back toward the finish line.  There she raised her hands, broke the tape. Despite all the obstacles, she finished in 2:32:17, winning by over a minute.  As she came through the chute and into the elite finish tent, the caregiver who was taking care of her daughter came up to Marla and said her daughter was hungry.  Sorry, Marla told her: "I'm closed.  I'm not available."

On this occasion, her daughter would have to make due with bottled milk. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Run St. Paul Faces Uncertain Future

The Irish Run St. Paul has had a long and storied history.  For more than four decades the race, which takes place on Sunday, March 23, has been a fixture on the Minnesota running calendar.  Despite what it looks like outside right now, it is a harbinger of Spring, but because of the variability of Minnesota weather, race day can feature rain or snow, cold or hot temperatures. The race is also the first in the USATF Team Circuit series and part of the MDRA Grand Prix events..

This year marks the passing of another landmark, as current race director Chris Fuller has said it will be his final year as race director.  With no replacement yet, the possibility exists that it could be the last of the St. Patrick's runs that began in 1973.  It's survived all forms of weather, course changes, name changes, distance changes(5-mile to 8K, not much difference).  It features runners from all segments of the running community from the elites to some for whom it may be the only race in which they participate, those in standard running gear to those in the costume of their choice.

Not just top Minnesota runners have competed, but it also featured Olympic medalists, such as Patrick Sang of Kenya and his then Iowa State University teammate Yobes Ondieki, who would later become the first man to run under 27 minutes for 10K at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway in 1993.

Yobes Ondieki being interviewed after setting the World Record at 10,000 

I met Yobes at the St. Patrick's Day race, later visited him in Eldoret, Kenya, and was covering the Bislett Games that evening in Oslo.  Distance races have always been a fixture there, with the fans stomping and pounding on the signboards separating the stands from the track.  The Bislett Stadium has been the site of many world records and is one of the premiere events on the IAAF schedule in Europe.  The Irish Run has had a similar memorable history, but its future remains uncertain.

News Bits

MIAC NCAA recap is HERE.

NSIC NCAA Championship recap is HERE.

List of USTFCCCA NCAA DIII All Americans is HERE, DII is HERE, DI is HERE.

Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker on lactate threshold training HERE
Sense of history HERE.

Miscommunication, USATF and TFAA conference call HERE.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Francis and Grunewald USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month

US 3K national champ Gabe Grunewald of Team USA Minnesota and pole vaulter Shawn Francis were selected as USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for February 2014.

Grunewald won her first US title in the USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque and represented the US at the IAAF Indoor Championships in Sopot.  Francis finished second in the pole vault at the US Championships with a PR of 18' 2.5".  Francis won the MSHSL Class AA pole vault title while at Hastings.  In college he vaulted for NDSU, won several conference titles, and was known for his "lucky socks, " striped knee high tube socks during his sophomore year. His younger brother Kyle also vaulted for Hastings and NDSU.

USA Masters, Day Three(Updated)

By Tom Langenfeld
Lance Elliott finished fifth in the M 40 800 in 2:03.68.  Before the race he tweeted: "Trying to warmup for my 800 final in 30 min. Remind me next year not to attempt the 3000, mile, 800 triple." Jim Schoffman finished eighth in the the M60 800 in 2:30.86 and fifth in the 200 in 27.87. Susan Loyd was a member of the W50 4 by 200 relay team(Mass Velocity Track Club) that ran 2:10.34.  Schoffman also ran for the Mass Velocity TC teams that took second in the 4 by 200(1:54.6) and 4 by 400 teams(4:28.88).  Jim Moeller finished fourth in the M50 pole vault clearing 3.75m.

Day Three summary HERE.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

USA Masters Champs Results, Day Two: Dave Lindenberg Wins M35 Pole Vault

At the USA Masters Indoor Track Championships in Boston Dave Lindenberg won the M35 pole vault clearing 4.45m.  Lance Elliott finished second in the M40 mile in 4:42.81.  Susan Loyd finished fifth in the W55 60 meter dash in 9.82, and Jim Schoffman was 13th in the M60 60 meter dash prelims in 8.63.

Full results are HERE.Profile of Dr. David Lindenberg is HERE.  Video of Lindenberg vaulting 15' 6" is HERE.

NBIN Day One

Bigger news will be coming for New Balance Indoor Nationals Day Two with Shaina Burns of Lakeville South in the pentathlon, but she warmed up on Day One by finishing 26th in the high jump clearing 5' 2.5"(1.59m).  Megan Linder of Cretin Derham hall finished eighth in the 200 Emerging Elite race on Friday in 25.55(25.32 in prelims).  Hutchinson's Isaiah Barlow finished 14th in the 5K in 15:41.77.

Full Day One results are HERE.

NCAA Day Two Results

The Gopher's Zach Siegmeier tied for fourth in the pole vault at the DI nationals in Albuquerque on Saturday clearing 17' 4.5"(5.30m).Jesse Herauf finished ninth in the Pentathlon with 4172 points. Alena Brooks finished seventh in the 800 in 2:08.31.  John Simons finished sixth in the 3K in 8:14.40.

Full DI results are HERE

At DII Nationals  UMD's Samatha Rivard won the women's mile in 4:50.31 and was third in the 3K in 9:44.98.  Her teammate Hannah Olson was seventh in the mile in 4:55.59, while their teammate Breanna Colbenson finished fifteenth in the 3K in 10:00.59. MSU Mankato's Chris Reed and Nathan Hancock finished second in their events.  Reed threw of 62' 11.5"(19.19m); Nathan Hancock scored 5449 in the Heptathlon. Their teammate Jerrell Hancock was second in the 200 in 21.03 and fourth in the 60 in 6.78.  St. Cloud State's George Kawalawu placed sixth in the 60 in 6.83. U-Mary's women's 4 by 400 relay team finished third in 3:47.35, Winona State was ninth in 3:51.37, and MSU Mankato twelfth in 3:54.83.  MSU Mankato's Keyvan Rudd was sixth in the high jump, clearing 6' 10.75"(2.10m).  MSU Mankato's Kahlil Jor'dan  placed twelfth in the triple jump leaping 47' 3.5"(14.41m). MSU Mankato's 4 by 400 relay was eighth in 3:16.56 and MSU Moorhead finished twelfth in 3:19.95.  Hancock ran the second leg for MSU Mankato in 48.10(fastest split on the team) to finish a busy day.

In the team competition MSU Mankato finished fourth.  UMD finished tenth in the women's team competition. Full list of men's team scores is HERE, women's HERE.

Full DII Day Two results are HERE. Full video replay HERE.

IN DIII St. Olaf's Grant Wintheiser finished second in 8:11.83. St. Thomas' Mallory Burnham placed second in the 60 Hurdles in 8.60 and third in the 60 meter dash in 7.60.  In the Heptathlon St. Thomas' Maxwell Dunne placed third with 5146 points, Gustavus' Cameron Clause was fourth with 5065. Concordia Moorhead's Cherae Reeves was third in the shot put with 48' 7.25"(14.81m),  Carleton's Kao was fourth with 47' 1.50"(14.36m), St. Scholastica's Becky Huberty was fifth with 46' 5.25"(14.15m), and Gustavus' Sarah Swanson was sixteenth with 42' 8.25"(13.01m). Macalester's Kimber Meyer finished fifth in the 3K in 9:46.31. Bethel's Zach Haskins was seventh in the mile in 4:10.69. Carleton's Colette Celichowski was tenth in the women's mile in 5:07.89. St. Scholastica's Nicole Christiansen placed eighth in the high jump clearing 5'5"(1.65m).  Bethel's Courtney Fregau was eighth in the 400 in 56.63. Concordia Moorhead's Hilary Thompson finished eleventh in the triple jump with a leap of 36' 11.75"(11.27m)

St. Olaf finished 24th in the men's team competition, St. Thomas was 34th, Gustavus 42nd, and Bethel 58th. In the women's team scoring Carleton was 11th, St. Thomas tied for 14th, St. Scholastica 31st, Concordia-Moorhead 32nd, Macalester tied for 40th, Augsburg and Bethel tied for 57th.

Full DIII results are HERE.Full video replay HERE.

Off the track Augsburg's Lauren Rice was given another award the NCAA Elite 89 Award, details HERE.

Grey Seventh, Peyton Eighth at USA 15K Championships

Team USA Minnesota's Jon Grey finished seventh in the men's race 44:37 and Meghan Peyton was eighth in women's in 50:44 in the USA 15K Championships at the Gate River Run on Saturday in Jacksonville, FL. Their teammate Ben Sathre finished 51st in 49:59. Top ten for males and females are HERE. Full and searchable results will eventually be available HERE.

Peyton post-race interview is HERE.Grey interview is HERE.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lance Elliott Wins Masters Indoor 3K Title

Lance Elliott Photo by Gene Niemi
Lance Elliott won the M40 USA Masters 3K title in Boston on Friday with a time of 8:56.47.  Summary of the first day's action is HERE. Full results are available HERE. Results for three age categories for the 3K are HERE.

Susan Loyd was second in the W55 400 in 1:33.65. Jim Schoffman was fifth in the M60 400 in 1:01.85. M60 400 results are HERE.  Women's M55 400 results are HERE.

NCAA Day One Results; Campbell Wins DIII Pentathlon

U of MN's Alena Brooks qualified for the finals of the 800 with the second fastest time in the prelims of  2:06.25. Gopher weight thrower Jon Lehman finished tenth with a throw of 68' 7"(20.90) at the DI Nationals in Albuquerque.  Emma Bates, Elk River grad who runs for Boise State finished fourth in the women's 5K in 16:25.66

Full DI results are HERE.

In  DII MSU Mankato's Chris Reed finished fourth in the weight throw with a distance of 68'5".  St Cloud State's Reed Johnson was 15th with a 56' 2.5" toss. In the women's pole vault UMD's Kayla Wilthrout finished in a tie for 8th, clearing 12' 1.5"(3.70m).  The UMD men's and women's Distance Medley Relay teams each finished 10th.  Men ran 10:07.30, women 12:03.41. MSU Mankato's Morgan Stampley finished 12th in the weight throw with a mark of 56' 3.25"(17.15m).

In the prelims, SCSU's George Kawalawu was the second fastest qualifier in the men's 60 meter dash in 6.77, while MSU Mankato's Jerrell Hancock qualified with the fourth fastest time in 6.778.  Hancock also had the second fastest time in the men's 200 qualifying of 21.44.   UMD's Hannah Olson and Samatha Rivard qualified with the second and third fastest times in the mile of 4:57.81 and 4:58.06, respectively.  In the men's mile UMD's Cole Toepfer did not qualify running 4:18.94 the 14th fastest time.

MSU Mankato's Myles Hunter and Kathryn Steward of the University of Mary both just missed qualifying, each recording the ninth fastest time in their events. Hunter ran 8.01 in the 60 meter hurdles.  Stewart was timed in 24.67 in the 200. MSU Moorhead's Tia Knight did not qualify in the 60 meter dash(15th in 7.78) and the 60 hurdles(17th in 8.88).

Full DII results are HERE.

In DIII Carleton's Amelia Campbell won the Pentathlon with 3884 points.  St. Ben's Mandy Witschen was 13th with 3230.  St. Scholastica's Chelsea Johnson finished seventh in the 5K in 17:05.54.  Augsburg's Lauren Rice was eighth in 17:07.98. Carleton's women's Distance Medley Relay finished eleventh in 12:08.09, followed by St. Ben's in twelveth in 12:22.17.  St. Scholastica's Becky Huberty finished twelveth in the weight throw with at 53' 5.75"(16.30m).

Bethel's Zach Haskins had the fastest time in the men's mile prelims of 4:12.43.  St. Olaf's Paul Escher finished a non-qualifying eleventh in 4:15.03.  Carleton's Colette Celikowski qualified in the women's mile, running 4:59.04, the tenth fastest in the prelims.   St. Thomas's Maxwell Dunne is sixth(2794)  in Day One of the Heptathlon.  MIAC champ Cameron Clause of Gustavus is fifteenth(2579).  St. Thomas' Mallory Burnham had the fastest time in the women's 60 hurdles prelims of 8.6.  Hamline's Marolyn Saulsberry ran a non-qualifying 9.01, the sixteenth fastest time in the heats.

Bethel's Courtney Fregeau qualified with the seventh fastest time(56.48) in the women's 400 prelims. Carleton's Ellie Wilson failed to qualify with the eleventh fastest prelim time of 57.35.  Bethel's Matt Schafer(1:54.76/thirteenth) and Allison  Kosobud(fourteenth/2:14.40) in the men's and women's heats of the 800
Full DIII results are HERE

In the Circle: Indoor Conference Results/Nationals Previews

The indoor season is coming to a close.  Devin Stanford finished 4th in the women's weight throw with a new personal best of 19.34m.  Jon Lehman finished second with a mark 22.68 (second best mark all time at the facility only behind Big 10 Champion Michael Lihrman).  Both of their marks eclipsed the record previously held by Augustana National Champion, and Olympian AG Kruger.  Lehman will compete today in the weight throw, where he is currently the 3rd seed (link to live results is below)  ESPN3 will also stream the meet and re-air the championships on Saturday March 22nd.
Lehman finished tenth with a throw of 68' 7"(20.90m)

In the NSIC, MSU's Chris Reed is a single meet away from an undefeated season after an 8 foot victory over Duluth Central graduate CJ Hamm, now competing for Augustana.  Reed broke his own NSIC record that he previously shared with Joe Remitz of Bemidji State.  Reed also won the weight throw, with a mark of 65-9 narrowly defeating Ryan Johnson of SCSU with a mark of 64-0.  Reed and Johnson will again square off today at 2:30pm in the men's weight throw.  Reed will have a good shot at breaking the NCAA DII National Championships record on Saturday, the current record is 64-11 1/2 and Reed enters the meet with a season best of 65-10.  (link to live results is below)

Reed finished fourth in the NCAA DII Weight throw with a distance of 68'5", while Johnson was 15th with a 56' 2.5" toss.

Representing Arizona State, Tom Anderson finished his first collegiate indoor season finishing 4th at the MPSF Indoor championships.

Congrats on successful indoor seasons and best of luck to those competing at Nationals this weekend.

MIAC Indoor Track Awards: UMAC All Conference List

The MIAC named the recipients of their 2014 indoor track honors.  Men are HERE.  Women HERE.

MIAC Profile of Excellence: the First Ladies of Bethel T & F is HERE.

Hamline's Mark Volker and Augsburg's Lauren Rice receive the  Elite 22 Award

UMAC All Conference list is HERE.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

NCAA Indoor Championships Previews: New Balance Nationals Indoor(HS)

USTFCCCA previews of this weekend's NCAA DI, DII, and DIII Championships are HERE.

U of M press release on Gopher women's duo competing at DI Nationals is HERE, men's trio HERE

MSU Mankato press release on DII Nationals is HERE.

UMD women's team press release on DII Nationals is HERE, men HERE.

U-Mary women running in DII Nationals HERE.

St. Cloud State athletes going to DII Nationals HERE.

21 MIAC athletes to compete at DIII Nationals HERE.

Three St. Scholastica women prepare for DIII Nationals HERE.

The schedule for New Balance  Nationals Indoor is HERE, entry lists and previews are HERE..

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

News Bits: US Masters Champs, USTFCCCA pre-Nationals NCAA Rankings; MIAC Photo Album, Yetzer Interview; modern Sport

US Masters Championships in Boston this weekend.  Contingent of Minnesota participants include: Lance Elliott in M40 800and mile.  Jim Schoffman will compete in several events in the M60 age group, as will Susan Lloyd in the W45. Schoffman is the male and Lloyd the female USATF Minneosta Masters runners of the year.  Dave Lindenberg M35 and Jim Moeller  will compete in the pole vault. More info is HERE.

USTFCCCA NCAA pre-Nationals rankings for DI HERE, DII HERE, DIII HERE

NCAA DI start list is HERE. DI event-by-event breakdown is HERE.

MIAC Indoor champs photo album is HERE.

Entry list for USA 15K Champs is HERE.

TCTC interview with Liz Yetzer is HERE

HERE is an article about hockey, but it gives insights into coaching and the sophistication of modern sport.

Monday, March 10, 2014

NCAA DI, DII & DIII News; Planet Yetzer

Minnesota coaches and athletes well represented in the annual USTFCCCA NCAA DI and DII indoor track athletes and coaches of the year HERE.

List of qualifiers for NCAA DIII National Indoor Championships is HERE.
MIAC press release on athletes qualified for NCAA DIII HERE.
Three St. Scholastica athletes qualified for NCAA DIII Championships HERE.

List of NSIC athletes qualified for NCAA DII Championships is HERE.

Liz Yetzer blogs on Spring and change HERE

Editorial: Talk is Cheap

In one sense this past weekend was an abundance of riches in the sport of "Athletics" as it is called in Europe.  In Sopot, Poland the IAAF held it's World Indoor Championships.  On the west coast of the US, the host of the 2016 US Olympic Marathon trials, conducted its annual LA Marathon.  On the east coast in Landover, Maryland more than 45 age group records were set at the USATF Youth Indoor track & field Championships. At the University of Minnesota, the USATF Minnesota Association Indoor Championships were held.  At Brits Pub in Minneapolis a group of track fans got together to watch the final day of the World Championships.

At the conclusion of the IAAF meet, Alan Abrahamson wrote a column detailing his observations of the commercial health of the sport of track and field in the current sports marketplace(You can read Alan's piece HERE).  Alan's views on the demise of a sport that was once the "crown jewel" of the Olympic Games is shared by many, if not most, in the sports industry.  Yet, how can this be?  A sport with such widespread participation gets scant attention on the US and world sports pages.  It's brightest star, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, is estimated to earn in a year what a professional golfer can win by capturing the title in a season ending series of a few golf tournaments.

The short answer is that as a participatory sport, track and road running are "healthy."  People still pay handsomely to run in everything from miles to marathons on the roads.  High school track and cross country have a similar robust participant profile.  At the college level and beyond, however, the cracks begin to appear.  Colleges and Universities have cut track and/or cross country programs due to "budget issues," they are non-revenue sports in athletic departments that are led by the sports that generate revenue or are portrayed as revenue producers in terms of helping to generate graduate donor contributions.

My alma mater, where I had one teammate who won an Olympic gold medal and another who was the US recordholder in the steeplechase, no longer has a men's track team.  It's not alone.  The schools that do have programs have little money to use to offer scholarships to the top high school talent.  You have to be near Olympic caliber to get a full scholarship, and most of the athletes in that category can now get more money in a deal with a sporting goods company, rather than from a college athletic scholarship.  Thus a professional career for an aspiring track athlete is a risky proposition at best.

Thankfully there are operations, such as Team USA Minnesota, that keep "the dream alive," attempt to provide support for those who want to pursue their athletic ambitions.   But as Abrahamson and others have pointed out the sport as a commercial property, a brand, has fallen far short of the competition in the athletic/entertainment marketplace.  As Stillwater grad, Ben Blankenship, joked when he finally opened his Twitter account, he's an analog man in a digital world.

In the sports world, track has remained an analog sport in a digital world. Abrahamson characterizes the sport as a circus where all the acts from the lion tamers to the trapeze artists are presented simultaneously instead of as part of a professional production aimed at a target audience.  This was graphically illustrated by the handling of the biggest story to come out of the USA Indoor Championships a couple of weeks ago.  No, it wasn't about the strong team being sent to the World Championships, it was about a protest in the women's 3K.

The story was so big largely because it was seemingly handled behind closed doors.  There wasn't then, nor has there been since, complete explanations of the facts in the case. What remain are the competing versions/interpretations of rules that prolonged the matter and created a firestorm of negative reaction and criticism from the athletes.  Athletes who all felt threatened by the way the matter was handled because they feared the same thing could happen to them.

And, sure enough, at the IAAF Championships this weekend at least three athletes were disqualified. Their transgression--they stepped on or inside the pole lane that determines the shortest distance one can run around the track.  Heather Kampf, Nick Willis, and the Polish bronze medal winner in the men's 800 all were DQed for the same offense--R 163.3 (b).   Kampf's offending foot plant came before, but was not the cause of, her fall. Willis appealed that he was forced to make the misstep by another runner cutting in, and I don't know if the Polish runner had an explanation for his mistake.

Why this happened in three distance events or was even considered a disqualifying offense at the meet is something of a mystery.  But when USATF CEO Max Segal intervened to help reach a solution to the US champs 3K protest, he vowed to take a look at the issue of protests within USATF and make changes if necessary.

The TFAA and USATF personnel are scheduled to have a conference call to talk about solutions.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the protest issue, which also includes the DQ in the men's 3K.  And the protest issue is really part of a larger problem of a lack of trust among the athletes of the sports administration to create a climate that is more "athlete friendly."  The fact remains that information as simple as the meet schedule, how many heats there will be, etc. were and have been a sore point among athletes for some time. For example, at last year's outdoor track championships in the men's 5K a large list of entrants was reduced to a tiny field when there were plenty of eligible athletes still at the competition who could have run the race.

Professional American football teams don't go into the Super Bowl without a virtual minute by minute schedule of the events.  Yet, track and field athletes often don't know until the last minute if there will be heats in their events or just finals.  In some ways the US Indoors protest has opened a door for examination of these sorts of issues and possible solutions.

It's an opportunity for Max Siegel to put his stamp onto the organization, to build bridges with the athletes if he sees them as part of the solution.  Build consensus instead of division.  Talk is cheap, as judgment in these situations rests on actions. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

USATF Minnesota Indoor Champs; NCAA DII Qualifer

Live Results from the USATF Minnesota Indoor Championships are HERE.

Final "Qualifer" meet at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  University of Minnesota Morris women in 5K, shot put, weight throw.  St. Scholastica  women in shot put,  weight throw, high jump, 800, 3K, and Distance Medley Relay. UMM men in the 800, Mile, 5K.. St Scholastica men in the 800, 5K, weight throw. Full results HERE.  Minnesota Morris summary is HERE.  St. Scholastica summary is HERE.

Grunewald Tenth in 3K

Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald finished 10th in the women's 3K final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot with a time of 9:11.76. "Was hoping for a lot more here in Sopot, but proud of my effort to make the best of a very difficult indoor season," Grunewald wrote on Twitter. "Super inspired by my teammates though! How about ?!?! (winner of the 800)."

Flotrack interview with Gabe Grunewald is HERE.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

St Thomas Continues Streaks with Sweep of MIAC Team Titles

The University of St. Thomas continued their team title streaks on Saturday winning both the men's and women's titles.  The men scored 186 points, sixty more than runner up St. Olaf and 70.5 ahead of third place Hamline.  The Tommie women accumulated 185 points, 63 more than runner runner up St. Ben's and 75 in front of of third place Carleton.

Concordia Moorhead athletes Hilary Thompson and Cherae Reeves set women's meet records.  Thompson won the triple jump with a hop, step, and jump of 11.75m(38' 6.75").  Reeves won the shot put with a toss of 14.58m(47' 10").  St. Olaf's Grant Wintheiser set his second MIAC meet record while winning the 3K in 8:28.10.

Men's results are HERE.  Women's HERE.Men's summary is HERE, women's is HERE.