Friday, February 29, 2008

Erickson, Clementson, Rains, Scott, and Fick Earn NCC Athlete of Week Honors

Emma Erickson of South Dakota and Jared Clementson of Minnesota Duluth have been named the North Central Conference Indoor Track Athletes of the Week while Kaitlin Rains of Minnesota State, Preston Scott of South Dakota and Matt Fick of North Dakota have been named the North Central Conference Indoor Field Athletes of the Week.

Erickson, a freshman from Gayville, SD, set state collegiate, DakotaDome and school records in the 1000-meter run with a winning time of 2:52.95 at the South Dakota Qualifier.

Clementson, a senior from , won the 800 meter run and surpassed the NCAA provisional mark for the second week in a row with a personal-best and winnng time of 1:53.91 at the St. John's Quadrangular.

Rains, a junior from Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, continued on her torrid pace this season by setting a new school record in the triple jump with a winning and provisional-qualifying leap of 38-8 3/4 at the Parents Day Open. She also won the pole vault with an automatic-qualifying vault of 13-5 1/4.

Scott, a junior from Parker, SD, had personal bests in winning the weight throw and finishing third in the shot put at the South Dakota qualifier. Scott had a mark of 55-02 in the weight throw and 46-8 3/4 in the shot put.

Fick, a senior from Grand Forks, ND, took first place in the weight throw at the St. John's Quadrangular with a toss of 55-11 1/2.

Others nominated: Track Male: Scott Hargens, South Dakota; Mike Elliott, Minnesota State; Corey Hehling, North Dakota. Track Female: Brittany Henderson, Minnesota State; Alyssa Wendt, Minnesota Duluth. Field Male: Blake Ridgeway, Augustana; Josh Robertson, Minnesota State. Field Female: Bobbi Jo Buyck, Augustana; Cassie Corrigan, Minnesota Duluth.

Support For Carter From the Masters Community

The Masters blog picked up the DtB stories on Carter Holmes. They did have a link, but copied the stories in full without asking permission. Naughty, naughty, we'll have to send the copyright lawyers after you. The articles did solicit some nice responses from the Masters community. You can read them here.

Carter Holmes Faces New Challenge

Carter Holmes, a Universitry of Minnesota and Washburn High grad, is facing a new challenge. On February 13 while working out at the University of Minnesota field house, Holmes(shown in this photo taken at the US Masters Championships in Eugene, Oregon by fellow Masters runner, Thom Weddle) had a heart attack.

Holmes was discovered collapsed on the floor of the lobby of the University of Minnesota Field House by triple jumpers Shani Marks and Amanda Thieschafer, who immediately called 911. "Carter was lucky that it happened where it did," said his brother, Tom Holmes. "If he'd been doing a run to or around the Lakes, like he's probably done thousands of times before, who knows how long it would have taken for somebody to find him."

According to Tom Holmes, Carter had told others at the track that he wasn't feeling good. Some recall Carter sitting down next to the track. The next anyone knew, he had collapsed in the lobby. As Marks recalled, Carter was on his back, eyes wide open, and face turned purple. The ambulance arrived within minutes of the 911 call, Tom Holmes was told, and Marks recalls that the medical personnel that loaded Carter into the ambulance had been able to detect a "faint pulse." Carter was transported to the University of Minnesota Hospital and treated with drugs and ice to lower his body temperature, Tom Holmes said.

In a coma for four and a half days, Carter can now talk and has some movement, but is facing a potentially lengthy rehab. When he's ready, Carter will be transfered to nearby Fairview Hospital or another rehab facility, said Tom Holmes. Tom said that doctors told him that one of the blood vessels to Carter's heart was 100 percent blocked. Another had undergone angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. Apparently Carter's body was attempting to compensate for the blockage, but couldn't do it.

Mike Moser, a lifelong friend and training partner of Carter's, said that about a year and a half ago Carter had a medical check up that revealed high cholesterol. He was advised to make lifestyle changes, but since he was already exercising more than average with his training and job as a sports referee, that left modifications in diet and/or medication. The high price of the medication and the fact that the doctors told him once he started taking it, he would be taking it for the rest of his life, seemed to sour Carter on the idea, said Moser.

Heart disease also was a family trait, as his father had had two heart attacks, one when he was about Carter's age(58) and the second that ended his life after he had turned 80, said Tom Holmes. Other family members had also died from heart disease, Tom Holmes said. What works in Carter's favor is the fact that he has been very active, is otherwise healthy, and has the discipline and determination of a successful athlete. Though the slurred speech, short term memory loss, and lack of full use of his limbs do indicate that the recovery process will be challenging.

Carter is used to challenges, Moser says. For several years Carter has wanted to run in France. He developed a love affair of sorts with the country, has a model of the Eiffel Tower in his home, and taught himself French. "He would drive other people crazy by talking to them in French," said Moser. "He was practicing, but we couldn't understand a word he said. When I visited him in the hospital, his speech was slurred, so I had some trouble understanding, but I swear he was talking to me in French."

After trying for several years to arrange a trip to France, Carter had booked his flight for March to compete in the indoor pentathlon at the Masters World Indoor Championships in Paris. "He felt he'd done what he could in the hurdles, long jump, shot put, and high jump," said Moser. "The event he thought he could improve on was the 1,000 meter run. That's what he was training for, to improve his chances in the 1,000."

As he booked his tickets with frequent flyer miles, Moser said, Carter couldn't choose his travel dates, he had to work with what was available. So a short trip became a planned several week visit to France. Carter, Moser said, was at his best finding historical spots, scouting the country, finding things others would miss. "He probably knew the city of Paris as well as he knew Minneapolis, if not better," said Moser.

Carter, as Moser's comments illustrate, is a man of many passions, a unique character. Another illustration of this being what can be found in the front yard of his house in South Minneapolis, the steeplechase water jump barrier from the Bierman Field track at the University of Minnesota. "He just happened to be there when they were ripping apart the old track," said Moser. "He asked if he could take it(the steeple barrier), and they let him have it."

Wood work is another passion of Carter's, as described by Jay Morgan in a 2003 article in Minnesota Running & Track. Though he lost part of his middle finger in his right hand in a lumbar yard accident, he turned his back yard into something of a display case for his own unique art. Carvings of baseball teams, cartoon characters, and a homage to his parents are all there to be enjoyed by neighborhood kids, family, and visitors.

All this despite the damaged finger and having a 75 per cent hearing loss since childhood. Carter, it is evident, has handled many challenges. Now he has another one.

Three Honored as MIAC Athletes of Week

St. Thomas middle distance runner Katie Theisen was named the MIAC Women's Track Athlete of the Week for her school record 2:14.42 800 meter run. Teammate Carol Comp was Co-Women's Field Event Athlete of the Week as the senior from Edina won the weight throw competition at the Parents Day Open last Saturday with a toss of 54' 1 1/4". Last week's Women's Field Event Athlete of the week, Amie Fillmore of St. Olaf shared the honor with Comp this week after she improved her school record in the pole vault by 3 3/4" to 11' 11 3/4".

Theisen, a junior from New Prague, was second in the 800 at the Parents Day meet. Filmore, a sophomore from White Bear Lake, finished sixth in the pole vault. The MIAC Championships are March 7-8 at St. John's and this weekend teams will be competing in Friday's Pre-MIAC Meet at Carelton or the St. Olaf Invite, both begin at 5:30 PM Friday. For a full summary of the week in the MIAC, click here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hassan Mead Interview

The University of Minnesota Track and Field Blog has an interview with Hassan Mead by Sean Olson that can be viewed here.

Gopher Men Ready to Compte at Big Tens

University of Minnesota men's track coach Phil Lundin leads a young team into the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Madison, WI this weekend. The Gophers are one of five teams with a shot at the team title. Lundin answered a few questions from DtB about the challenge

DtB: What are the team's strengths?

We are young and talented. Our strength lies in the pole vault, heptathlon, and distance events along with All-American sprinter Ibrahim Kabia.

DtB: Who has a shot at individual titles?

PL: We have three to four guys who could win individual titles.

DtB: Do you do anything special to inspire the team for this meet or do you just let the status of the event take care of that?

PL: There is no need for motivational speeches or slogans.

DtB: Do you approach this like any other meet or does it have special significance?

PL: The Big Ten Championships are very special and represent the apex of competitive effort for most of our kids. I look forward to the competition.

DtB: The athletes have an physical outlet to deal with the stress of a big event. As a coach, how do you deal with it?

We do nothing special. I really have nothing to say about the stress of the championships. It is a reality and you deal with it. Younger kids need more support and assurance than people who have been there (generally). My answer would only be couched in clich├ęs and truisms. We just go to compete hard.

Photo Courtesy of University of Minnesota

McGregor, Deatherage Talk About USATF Indoors

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor(3K) finished fourth and Jenelle Deatherage(1,500) was second in their respective events at the USATF Indoor Championships in Boston last weekend. Deatherage earned a spot on the US team that will compete in the IAAF World Championships in Spain March 7-9. They answered some questions from DtB.

DtB: Any travel problems getting to and from Boston?

KM: I didn't have any trouble getting to Boston. Jenelle and I were on an early flight on Friday.

DtB: How did your race go?

KM: The race served its purpose. I would have liked to place in the top three or run a sub nine minute race, but I can live with the outcome. Indoor nationals is more about tactics than personal records. It was nice to have a shorter race since I won't have another one for a really long time.

JD: I am very excited to have made the world indoor team. This is my first time making a world team out-right. I ran world indoors in 2004 when I was 4th at nationals and a few women ahead of me chose not to compete.

DtB: What's your goal at World Indoors?

JD: My goal over there is to compete well and to make the final!

DtB: Katie, you are running World Cross, what's your schedule like?

KM: Next up Gate River 15K(March 8), New York 8K(March 17), World Cross Country(March 30).

Prize Money Doubled for Garry Bjorklund Half

Grandma's Marathon doubled the prize money that will be awarded to the top finishers of the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. A total purse of $14,000 will be distributed to the top eight finishers, male and female, in the open division. The top three finishers, male and female, in the 40 & Over Masters Divisions also win cash.

Top prize for the open finishers is $1,500, $500 more than last year, which was the first year for prize money for the Half. 40 & Over winners get $700, $500 for second, and $300 for third. The Open Division prize money breakdown is: first $1,500; second $1,000; third $800; fourth $700; fifth $600; sixth $500; seventh $250; eighth $150. Registration for the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is being conducted through an online lottery format. Those interested in participating can register for the lottery through Sunday, March 2 at On Monday, March 3, 4,500 lottery participants will be randomly selected and notified via e-mail.

Only 900 spots remain for the 32nd annual Grandma’s Marathon. A total of 8,600 marathoners have signed up for the 26.2-mile event which, like the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, will be held Saturday, June 21.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Marks Earns Spot on US Team for World Indoors, Helps Save a Life

University of Minnesota grad, Shani Marks earned a spot on the US team for the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain March 7-9. The triple jumper was second in her event. More impressive, however, was her role in helping save the life of another former U of M athlete, Carter Holmes.

Nearly two weeks ago, Holmes was training at the Gopher's indoor facility when he told others that he felt ill. He left the track and, apparently, collapsed in the lobby. That's where Marks found him: "Amanda Thieschafer, my training partner, and I were working out in the field house that day. We had parked at the meters in the back, and Amanda was rushing out the back door in front of me to try to get to her car before her meter expired. All of a sudden she turned back to me and frantically starts saying 'Shani, there's a man here! A man is lying here!' I had no idea what she was talking about but I came out into the lobby to see Carter laying on his back, not moving, eyes staring wide open, and his face was purple.

"Amanda and I were really scared and panicky, but Amanda dialed 911, and I ran back into the field house to find Mark (the facilities guy). Mark recognized Carter because had been working out in the field house about ten minutes before, but he obviously had no identification on him so no one knew what his name was. Mark ran and got the AED(defibrillator) machine from the opposite end of the field house and, thank God, the ambulance was there within minutes. They started working on him immediately. By the time they took him off in the ambulance he had a faint pulse, so we were so thankful for that."

Holmes is recovering in University Hospital, where he was taken after the incident, and his brother, Tom Holmes, says that Carter is responding to treatment and will probably be transfered to another hospital soon to begin rehab. Holmes had been training, and learning French, to prepare for the World Masters meet in Paris in March. The quick work by Amanda and Shani could very well have saved his life as , Tom says, one of the blood vessels to Carter's heart was discovered to have a 100 per cent blockage. There is a family history of heart disease, Tom said, and Carter's lifelong friend and training partner, Mike Moser, added that Carter had had a physical about a year and a half ago that revealed a high cholesterol level.

DtB will have more on Holmes later.

Regarding the USATF Indoor Championships, Marks noted that she had some problems getting to Boston because of the weather. "
My travel started at about 9:30 AM on Friday. I was delayed four hours in Minneapolis and then four hours in Philadelphia. We spent an hour waiting to take off in Philadelphia, and then had to fly circles outside of Boston for about 30 minutes because there was so much traffic coming into Boston. I eventually got into Boston right around midnight. Very long and exhausting days."

As for the meet, Marks said: "
Shakeema (Welsch, who won the event) did pop off her big jump in the first round. I inched towards her every jump, but was not able to quite catch her. It was a good competition though. She made me work, so that was good for me. Although I wasn't able to catch her, I did have an indoor PR and the most important thing I needed to get out of this meet was to make the World Championship team, so I was really excited about that. I will be leaving for World Champs this Sunday, and the first round of triple jump is Friday March 7. Going into the meet, I want to just have fun and keep things fairly simple and hopefully increase my Indoor PR."

Photo Courtesy of USATF

Two Minnesotans on US World Indoor Team, Flu hits the Gouchers

Triple jumper Shani Marks and 1,500 meter runner Jenelle Deatherage will be traveling to Valencia, Spain to compete in the IAAF World Indoor Championships March 7-9. For information on the meet, visit the IAAF website here or on the US team at the USATF site here. Marks will be keeping a journal and sharing her thoughts on the experience with the readers of DtB.

Flu has hit the Goucher household in Portland, Oregon. To read all about it click here.

Rombough Talks About Snowshoe Mile, Big Tens

Gopher All American Chris Rombough won the mile at the Snowshoe Open on Friday in preparation for this weekend's Big Ten Championships in Madison. These are his thoughts on the race and the Championships: "The goal for the (Snowshoe)race was to post a top twelve time in the mile in the Big Ten rankings. I did not have a (top twelve)time for the 5K, and my 3K time ranks 15th in the Big Ten. To be able to run in the (fast heat of the)5K, I would have had to run a top 12 time in either the mile or the 3K, so that's why I had to run the mile.

"I was very pleased with my race. I probably wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammate Sean Olson. Originally we were going to have Matt Gabrieleson of Team USA Minnesota rabbit for me through 1200 meters, but he was sick. Sean was willing enough to rabbit for me through 1K, and he did a great job. He was right on with the pacing.

"At Big Tens I will be running two events, with the 3K and 5K, or the DMR(distance medley relay) and 5K. We'll have to decide between the 3K and DMR, but we are going to choose whichever event that we can maximize our points in. Individually, my goal is to get as many points for the team as I can, because the entire goal is to win the Big Ten Championship as a team, which I think is very possible."

Photo Courtesy of University of Minnesota

Coach Bingle Talks About the Big Ten Championships

University of Minnesota Women's Head Coach Matt Bingle answered a few questions about the upcoming Women's Big Ten Championships this weekend at the University of Minnesota.

DtB: Is there one or several elements that you can point to that allowed the team to win last year's Big Ten Championships? If so what were they?

MB: The 2007 team really did well at the meet with just competing and enjoying the moment. We had great efforts by our middle distance, throws, and pole vault at the meet last year that led the way.

DtB: This year's meet could well be a three team dual, what has to happen for Minnesota to defend the title?

MB: The number one thing that we have to do is just to have fun in those competitive moments. The next thing is take care of the process and let the results happen. Then we just need a little lady luck!

DtB: What are the advantages/disadvantages of hosting the event?

MB: The best thing about being at home is that we have a some great fans and parents that get to see our team compete in the Big Ten meet. The disadvantage is that we are not traveling together to create that team environment. When we travel the unity is fun!

DtB: What are the team's strengths this year?

MB: We are strong this year in the jumps and middle distance, and feel good about where we are at at this point of the season.

DtB: Weaknesses?

MB: I feel like we have people in all areas that can get it done. We just need to step up!

DtB: Any special plans for the weekend to celebrate hosting the meet?

MB: No, not really. We had an alumni function this fall, so we do not have any alumni functions going on.

DtB: Any specific events that could be the key to the team championship race?

MB: We just have to take care of the first day and get people to the finals, then let Sunday play out, just compete hard, and have fun.

DtB: How do you go about preparing the team for this occasion?

MB: We keep it light and fun. Do girly things and just enjoy each other. You have to make it fun. The hay is in the barn at this point!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A "Face In The Crowd" Speaks

Hamline's Brandon Gleason has made a lot of news off the track in the past year. On Friday night he made some on the track, taking third in the Snowshoe Open Mile. So, DtB sent Gleason a few questions on the recent happenings.

DtB: How did the Faces in the Crowd item unfold? Did you know it was coming?

BG: To be honest, I had no idea that the face in the crowd piece was being done. I was hanging out with a friend on Thursday night, and I got a call from one of my friends who works at Mayo. He told me that while he was eating dinner he was flipping through SI weekly, he turned the page, and there was my face smiling back at him. I will never forget that conversation because I thought he was just joking around.

I later found out from Stephanie Harris (our Sports Info Director) that SI contacted her and asked for a picture, and my coach gave consent. They (my coaches) didn’t want to tell me and get my hopes up, so I was totally out of the loop on the whole thing.

DtB: In Charlie's (Mahler) article, you predict it by saying that you'll be in SI some day for your comeback. Did the Hamline SID send stuff to SI or did they contact you or Hamline? What has been the response to it?

BG: When I originally told Charlie that I was going to be in SI one day, I never thought it would’ve come true. That is everyone’s dream, I think, to be in SI, and I see it as an incredible honor that I will share with everyone who has had a helping hand in my recovery and comeback because, without them, I wouldn’t be running. I do not know exactly if someone random submitted my story to SI or if Hamline did.

The response has been overwhelming and has brought more attention then I ever wanted (this is because I feel that there are people out there with better stories and greater comebacks then mine). I remember going to Barnes and Noble to buy several copies to send to my family and friends, and when I went to check out the cashier said I was buying the wrong cover issue (he was referring to the swimsuit edition), and I just left.

The Snowshoe Open was my first “public” race since the article came out, and I remember walking past the crowd to go say hi to my mom before the meet started, and someone from the crowd (he was from River Falls) stood up and yelled: “Hey, are you in Faces in the Crowd?” I was so caught off guard and nervous that all I could do was just turn my head and nod at him.

DtB: I assume the accident and operation has left scars. Does that draw attention from other runners at meets? From spectators? Do people say things to you directly or do you hear them talking about it? How have you dealt with the situation?

BG: When I am doing striders on the track before my races or walking past team tents, I do notice people looking at my leg and it doesn’t bother me, it is just something I have to live with. From spectators, I do not know if they can really see it as the scars are more on the inside of my right leg. No one has yet directly come up to me and asked about my leg or the scars.

Dealing with the situation of a couple of scars on my leg doesn’t even compare to the events I have been through this past year and more so these past weeks. This is because on February 3, I also stopped running for the indoor season. This is because on February 3, I received a phone call from my brother telling me that my father has passed away. My dad had been suffering a heart condition for the past four years. As a result, I spent the following week up north attending to family issues, and I think I only ran like 50 miles that week. I just felt lifeless doing them.

But, after much thought, I knew in my heart that my dad would want me to continue with school for the year and, most importantly, to continue to run. Therefore, I decided to run the 5K at Iowa State. I ran a decent time, but I was just emotionally drained, and I think it caught up to me at the race (I was at 8:47 through the 3K mark and then the wheels just came off). But when I was running the mile at the U, I know I was not alone.

DtB: You have the tenth fastest time in the mile on the NCAA Division III list. I gather that was a PR for you, at least for indoors. What was your goal going into the race?

BG: This was the first time since indoor conference that I ran a timed mile (except for our Burning Spear mile that we run in XC), and I had a seven second PR. My plans going into the race was just not to worry about time but, more importantly, to just race. I remember Schmed(Hamline assistant coach Paul Schmaedeke) telling me to just have fun and just remember all this is a bonus. The results were great. I ran the race evenly split and just enjoyed myself for the first time since the passing of my dad.

DtB: What are your plans for the rest of the indoor season? The outdoor season?

BG: My plans for the rest of indoor are not to race again until conference(March 7-8 at St. John's). I do not know what events yet but obviously either the mile, 3K, or 5K, and I will probably double at conference. I am just excited to be a part of the MIAC this year as the distance events are on the verge of being something really special.

As for outdoors, my plans are to make it to Oshkosh(NCAA Division III Nationals on May 22-24) in either the 5K or 10K.

Photo Courtesy of Hamline University

Masters Are Younger These Days

An e-mail from Chad Austin, who does the Running Minnesota website, inquired about Masters age categories. Had the Masters category of age groups dropped to all runners aged 35 and up, a five year fall from the generally recognized 40 and up age designation? There has always been a "sub Masters" category, starting at age 35 for women, but men had to wait until they were 40 to compete as Masters. Not any more.

Thomas Langenfeld, the USATF Masters Chairman, responded to Austin's question: "Masters T&F competition now starts at 35 for both men and women. Used to be 35 for women, 40 for men. Not sure how that was determined in the first place, but the Masters T&F leadership eventually decided that it was inequitable (and it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t). So what to do? Raise women to 40 or cut men to 35? The decision was to drop the men’s threshold to 35. World Masters Athletics competitions and national USATF masters competitions now start at 35 for both men and women. I think the change went into effect a couple of years ago, but is not necessarily observed in all US Masters meets."

So now, it would appear, Masters are younger than they used to be.

Wisconsin Hosts Men's Big Ten Champs

Defending NCAA Indoor Track Champions Wisconsin play host to the Men's Big Ten Indoor Track Championships this weekend in Madison. Badger head coach, Ed Nuttycombe, said at a Monday news conference that five teams, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, had legtimate shots at winning the team title this weekend. Wisconsin women's coach Jim Stinzi also talked about the upcoming women's Big Ten Meet at the University of Minnesota. Archived videos of those interviews are available here. Stinzi said that Penn State, Michigan, and Minnesota will probably vie for the team title. Those three teams, he said, were stronger than the rest, but if any of them slipped up Wisconsin could have a chance to move into the top three.

For information on the meet and to order tickets, click here.

Gleason, Derek Peterson MIAC Athletes of the Week

Hamline swept the MIAC honors this week as junior Brandon Gleason was named the Indoor Track Athlete of the Week and sophomore Derek Peterson is Field Athlete of the Week. Gleason finished third in the mile at the Snowshoe Open at the University of Minnesota on Friday. Peterson(pictured here) had personal best throws on five of his six attempts at the Snowshoe meet with his furthest toss, 51' 5", placing him sixth.

Both Gleason and Peterson gained provisional NCAA Division III qualifying marks. Gleason's time in the mile of 4:14.30 ranks him tenth among Division III runners and is the fastest mile run by an MIAC runner since the NCAA switched from the 1,500 meters to the mile run. Peterson's throw ranks him 15th in NCAA Division III.

Photo Courtesy of Hamline University

Monday, February 25, 2008

Single Session Tickets for Women's Big Ten Indoors On Sale

Single-session tickets for both Saturday and Sunday are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors per day and may be purchased online through, in person at the athletics ticket office in Mariucci Arena or by calling 1-800-U-GOPHER or 612-624-8080.

Approximately 900 all-session tickets were sold during the advance-purchase period and about 600 tickets remain for each session of the two-day championship.

Fans interested in purchasing all-session tickets may continue to do so. All-session packages are priced at just $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors and include admission to both days of the championship.

Competition at the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Track & Field Championships is slated to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, and at noon on Sunday, March 2. The Minnesota women’s track & field team captured the 2007 Big Ten Indoor team championship and have three consecutive top-three team finishes at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Photo Courtesy of University of Minnesota

Mandi Zemba Enjoys Ekiden Experience

Team USA Minnesota's Mandy Zemba made the most of her trip to Yokohama Japan for the Ekiden Marathon Relay. Here's what she has to say about the experience: "The Ekiden experience is an amazing one. It is great to go to a new country and see the different culture and how they do things competition wise. We made fools of ourselves many times when it comes to their culture, but we had shirts that said: 'I am a stupid American, please forgive me.'

"Japan is a great place, and the people are extremely nice and respectful. All of the athletes in the Ekiden were treated very well, and the Japanese runners are looked at as stars. The event is run very smooth, and it is one of the best run events I have been to. We had a great interpreter and whatever we needed, they made sure we got it. A lot of people get excited about the Ekiden and the whole race is even broadcast on the local television station as well as coverage before the event. It is crazy to see how excited they get about their runners because you don't really see that kind of enthusiasm about running in the US. You can definitely tell they take great pride in how they do in the Ekiden.

"This is my second international experience and it is great to get to interact with other runners from the other countries. It is a friendly competition and it is nice to get to connect with other runners from around the world.

"I was lucky enough to get the first leg of the race, which is a fast 5K. I was able to have people around me the whole time to push me. It was so much fun to be competitive and race hard while wearing the USA jersey. I was a little worried when I was warming up because the start is right by the water and it was an extremely windy day (over 30mph winds), but I tried to draft (though I was taller than most of my competition), and once we got in the city I didn't really notice the wind. A few of my teammates had quite a strong headwind pretty much for their whole leg. I was just focued on staying relaxed and being competitive, and my race was over before I knew it. I was hoping to run under 16:00, so I was happy when I got to the exchange zone in 15:40. That put me in eighth place which is crazy to think a time I was happy with put me in eighth, but I am learning there are a lot of fast runners around the world.

"Instead of using a baton like other relays, we had to pass a sash that we wore around our torso, to our next teammate. I was lucky enough to get to start with it so I only had to worry about taking it off and handing it off before I dropped it. We all had anxiety about the sash passing, but luckily we had one to practice with. It's not too convenient while you are trying to put your kick into gear to figure out how you are going to get the sash off your body. Then, when you are completely exhausted and the end of your leg, you have to hold the sash tight in front of you with both hands so you can hand it off to your teammate. They then have to try to set a good pace while trying to get the sash on their body.

"Another thing we found quite interesting was the 'presentation coats' they gave us. They were these huge, fluffy coats that came down past our knees that they wanted us to wear when we were waiting to run to keep us warm. To us, they look quite funny, but they are extremely warm and cozy. Luckily we get to keep them because they might come in handy in the Minnesota winter.

"As for Delilah, there were a couple of Japanese girls at the opening ceremony that wanted to get a picture with her, but we don't really know why. It could be they know the song story, but we're not sure. That was the only incident though, no one else made a big deal about it and we never heard the song while we were here. It was a great experience, and I would love to do it again if I get the opportunity. I got to meet some new friends in the running world as well as experience a new culture."

Photo by Victor Sailer

Emily Brown Talks about her PR in the Mile

Team USA Minnesota's Emily Brown won the mile at the Parents Day Open on Saturday with a personal best for the distance of 4:37.58. Her previous best in an open mile indoors had been 4:44.14, but she had split 4:37 for 1,600 meters at last year's Drake Relays. The following are her thoughts on the race and the lead up to the IAAF World XC Championships in Scotland on March 30: "I was feeling a little sick and still a little tired from last weekend. I didn't want to go through the first 200 as fast as I did, but I needed to get out of the pack early. I think the first 200-400 just threw off the race for me.

"I definetely went in hoping for a PR. I knew that I would probably run a PR, I was just hoping it would be a little bit faster. This race wasn't really part of any training plan, I just wanted to see where I was at in the mile before the indoor season came to a close. -There will be no more races prior to the World meet. I have the feeling it is going to come up faster than I think."

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Marks Second in USA Indoor Championships

Former Apple Valley High School and University of Minnesota star Shani Marks finished second in the triple jump at the USA Indoor Championships on Sunday. Marks, who won USA Indoor titles in 2005 and 2007, jumped 45-6.25 (13.87m) while Shakeema Welsch hit 45-9 (13.94m).

Marks won USA Outdoor Championships titles in 2006 and 2007. Her personal best jump of 46-2.5 (14.08m) from last summer surpasses the IAAF World Indoor Championships standard, so Marks should have the opportunity to represent Team USA in Valencia, Spain, next month.

Amanda Thieschafer, who competed for Melrose High School and North Dakota State University, finished third at the Indoor Championships with a jump of 44-4 (13.51m).

Medtronic TC Kids Marathon Training Program Begins February 25

A 12 week training program for kids in Elementary and Junior High begins February 25 as part of the Medtronic TC Kids Marathon program. The goal of the program is to help kids get and stay fit. It culminates with mile and half-mile runs on May 17th at Como Park. Fee for each event is $12 and lunch will be provided to all participants. Scholarships are available on a limited first come, first serve basis to those children who might be unable to participate due to a financial challenge or restriction. Buses are also available to metro-area programs who may request them to transport kids to the event.

To download the training program and event information, to to and click on Medtronic TC Kids Marathon. On-line registration is available for all participants.

USA Team 12th at Yokohama Ekiden Relay

Ethiopia defeated defending champion Russia at the Yokohama Ekiden Marathon Relay on Sunday. The US team, led off on the opening 5K leg by Team USA Minnesota's Mandy Zemba, finished 12th. Ethiopia's time was 2:14:47. Japan finished second in 2:16:41, followed by Russia in 2:20:47. The US team's time was 2:25:53. Japan's Yuriko Kobayashi ran the fastest time for the opening 5K leg of 15:04. The Ethiopians broke the race open on the third leg and maintained their lead over the remaining three legs.

Zemba ran 15:40 for her leg, two seconds off her best run on the track last spring. She handed off the sash to teammate Stephanie Rothstein with the USA team in eighth place. After her 10K leg, Rothstein passed the sash to Delilah DiCrescenzo(pictured above) running her 6K leg.

Photo Courtesy of USATF

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Deatherage second, McGregor fourth at USATF Indoor Championships

Jenelle Deatherage and Christin Wurth-Thomas continued their indoor rivalry at the AT&T USATF Indoor Championships in Boston on Saturday with Wurth winning again at 1,500 meters with a time of 4:14.21. Deatherage was second in 4:17.38. Wurth-Thomas had also defeated Deatherage in the mile at last week's Tyson Invitational in Arkansas.

"I feel fantastic but I still have a ways to go," said Wurth-Thomas. "I knew coming here I was strong. Last year I struggled with my confidence. It was a building year. My plan was to just sit and with 1000 to go I wanted to go for it. I had a real good game plan coming into the race." Wurth-Thomas ran the last 800 in 2:08. Her time was the fastest by an American this year.

In the 3K, Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor was fourth in 9:03.34, more than eight seconds back from winner Shannon Rowbury, who ran 8:55.19. Duke grad Rowbury was the 2007 NCAA Indoor Mile Champion. In the men's high jump, Minnesota State Mankato grad, Jim Dilling finished fourth, clearing 7' 3.25". 2002 IAAF World Junior Champion Andra Manson won the event with a clearance of 7' 6.5".

Weather problems on the East coast played havoc with the schedule and athlete's travel. Former U of M pole vaulter Tye Harvey did not make it to Boston for the meet. It wasn't known if this was due to the weather or not. Harvey now lives in Arkansas. For full meet results, click here.

Emily Brown Wins Mile, Anderson Gets Provisional Qualifer

Team USA's Emily Brown won the mile at the Parents Day Open hosted by the University of Minnesota women's team on Saturday with at time of 4:37.58. She finished nearly half a minute up on runner-up Becca Jordahl of Wisconsin River Falls. University of Minnesota junior Gabriele Anderson also dominated her event, the 800 meters, winning in 2:08.97 seconds, a time that is a provisional qualifier for the NCAA meet.

The time was a personal best for Brown, who had run a 4:37 split for the mile at last year's Drake Relays. Her best open time had been 4:44.14.

For full meet results, click here.

Photo Courtesy of Team USA MN

Rombough Runs Fast Mile, Two Gophers Get Provisional Qualifiers at Snowshoe Open

University of Minnesota All American Chris Rombough demonstrated that he's ready for next week's Big Ten Championships by winning the mile at the Snowshoe Open Friday night. Rombough was timed in 4:06.83, defeating teammate Eddie Kibira(4:09.36) and Hamline's Brandon Gleason, ran 4:14.30 to take third.

Gleason, who is returning to competition just over a year after being run over by a car during a training run last February, took over the top spot in the MIAC in the mile over St. Thomas runner, Matt Boumeester, who was entered in the Snowshoe meet but scratched along with several other top local runners. Gleason's time was a provisional qualifying time for the NCAA Division III Championships.

Another Gopher All American, sprinter, Ibrahim Kabia, also got a provisional qualifying mark in winning the 60 meter dash in 6.73. Kabia had been hampered much of this season with injuries, but he also seems to be rounding into form in time for the Big Ten Meet. Teammate Ben Peterson cleared 17' 3/4" to also provisionally qualify for the NCAA Division I meet in the pole vault.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Minnesota

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mile is Featured Event at Snowshoe Open

The mile could well be the featured event at tonight's Snowshoe Open at the University of Minnesota. Several well known names are entered as the U of M men's team plays host to many of the MIAC schools in their last meet before next weekend's Big Ten Championships in Madison, WI. Sean Hartnett is scheduled to be there for DtB providing photos.

U of M All American Chris Rombough, Hamline's Brandon Gleason, the U of M's Eddie Kibira, and Dan Greeno of Bethel are all in the first heat of the mile, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. A full schedule and results of the meet are available on Apple Raceberry JaM's site here. Other meet highlights could be the men's 60 meters featuring U of M junior All American Ibrahim Kabia, who was third in last year's Big Ten meet. The 60 heats are right before the mile at 5:42 p.m. Kabia is in heat number three. The final is set for 6:30 p.m..

Tickets for the Big Ten meet are available at or by calling 1-800-GO BADGERS.

Parents Day Open at The Barn

Team USA's Emily Brown, fresh off a third place finish at the USATF XC Championships last weekend in San Diego, will be one of the featured competitors as the University of Minnesota's women's team hosts the final tune-up meet before the upcoming Big Ten Women's Indoor Championships that will be held here March 1-2. The women Gophers are currently ranked seventh in the USTFCCCA poll among Division I teams.

Michigan is ranked ahead of them at number 5 and Penn State is right behind at number eight, forshadowing an interesting tussle for the team title next weekend at The Barn. Tickets for the meet are available online at of via phone at 612 624-8080 or 1-800-GOPHER.

Because of the upcoming Big Ten meet, the U's middle distance and distance runners will skip the meet, avoiding a chance for Jamie Cheever, who has set U of M records three times this season, to meet Brown in the women's mile. Brown's best for the distance is 4:37, while Cheever set the school record February 10 at the Meyo Invitational running 4:39.54.

Field events get underway at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the first running event at 10:45 a.m. The mile will be run in seven sections, starting at 12:10 p.m. . Brown will be running in the first section. The meet will also be a showcase for the MIAC schools, whose athletes make up the majority of the fields.

Lorraine Moller Inducted into New Zealand Hall of Fame

New Zealand's Lorraine Moller, who for a time called Minneapolis home, was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame this week. Moller, who won the bronze medal at age 37 in the 1992 Olympic marathon in Barcelona, occasionally gets back to the Twin Cities to give a talk, but spends most of her time at home in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and now seven-year-old daughter.

She, along with Nobby Hashizume, formed the Lydiard Foundation in an effort to continue to spread the message of the late coach Arthur Lydiard, who she believes to have been the most influential coach of her time. Proper coaching, she told The Press of New Zealand, is vital to athletes. Mentors and coaches help guide the athlete down the proper path, she said. Athletes today are barraged with a lot of information, much of it damaging.

The key, she emphasized is being able to cut through all that and have a belief in yourself and your abilities. Athletes today are told that "everyone else is on drugs and that somehow we (who don't take drugs) are at a disadvantage," she said. "If I had bought into any of that, I would never have got what I got. People were saying the same thing 15 years ago."

Moller, like her former husband, the late Ron Daws, did things her way. As was Daws, Moller is generous with her time and knowledge. When I moved to the Twin Cities in 1972 Daws and Steve Hoag were kind enough to take a young runner under their wings. They shared information, ran together with me in workouts, and selflessly shared what they knew about the sport. The concept wasn't that we were competitors fighting over places in meets, but rather that we could learn from one another and make each other better.

Through the Lydiard Foundation, Moller aims to carry on that tradition. For the rest of what she has to say, the Press article can be linked to by clicking here. Another article and video done by New Zealand television can be read and viewed here.

Storm, Athletes Hit the East Coast

The AT&T USATF Indoor Championships are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Boston, but a winter storm is making things rough for everyone. USATF is making schedule changes on Saturday to account for the fact that athletes are having a tough time getting to Boston.

Events involving Minnesotans are scheduled for Saturday night, so it shouldn't be a big issue. The women's 3K featuring Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor is given a 7:25 p.m. starting time. The women's 1,500 with Jenelle Deatherage is set to go off at 7:55 p.m. McGregor was third in the 3K in 2006. Her personal best is 8:59.64. Deatherage has a win and a runner-up finish already this season in the mile. She set a personal best last weekend at the Tyson Invitational and will be facing the woman who defeated her there, Christin Wurth-Thomas in Boston.

Kara Goucher will not be running in Boston. After a sub-par sixth place finish in Birmingham last weekend, Goucher said in an e-mail yesterday that she was feeling better, but had decided against making the trip to Boston. "I have started to feel a little better and actually had a decent workout yesterday," she said, "There will be plenty of 1500m races this spring where I can work on waiting until the end and then unleashing my kick! Today is the first day of my two week break, after this training will be very serious and LONG, so I am trying to enjoy this as much as possible. I am eating frosted flakes as I write this." Kara and husband, Adam, will take this time to visit family before they have to get back into hard training for the outdoor season.

In the pole vault, Tye Harvey, 2001 World Indoor silver medalist and 1998 grad of the University of Minnesota, is in the competition scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday. Harvey was the top ranked high school pole vaulter in the US in 1993 with a height of 17' 1" at Sonora HS in California. He came back from a broken wrist sustained in an auto accident in 1997 to take second in the US Indoor championships in 2000. He was also second in US Indoor Nationals in 2001 before taking the same spot in the World meet. He's remembered for his battles with Laurence Johnson, who won the gold at the 2001 World meet and a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics. Harvey has the sixth best height among those entered in this year's competition.

University of Minnesota grad Shani Marks, a two-time indoor and outdoor champ in the triple jump, will be attempting to add a third indoor title.

A side note here on the late posting of these items today. For some unexplained reason--computer glitch, site problems at Google--I couldn't get into the site until now to put up new posts. So while weather played havoc with the schedule in Boston, cyberspace disturbances did the same here. Apologies for the problems.

The USATF meet will be on ESPN2 on Sunday, scheduled air time is from 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

St. Olaf Men's Coach to Retire

St. Olaf men's cross country and track coach Bill Thornton will retire from coaching after this season, the school's athletic director Matt McDonald announced Wednesday morning. Thornton has been at St. Olaf for three and a half decades, coaching track and field for the entirety and cross country from 1970 through 1984 and 1997 to the present.

During his tenure he has coached over a hundred Midwest Conference and Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Champions and nearly thirty All-Americans.

For more info on coach Thornton, you can click here for a site created by one of the student athletes he taught.

Photo Courtesy of St. Olaf

Daymont Honored

St. Olaf women's track and XC coach Chris Daymont(center) was honored along with volleyball coach Cindy Book(right), and basketball coach Tammy Metcalf-Filzen(left) Wednesday at halftime of the men's basketball game against Carleton for their contribution to women's sport as a part of the MIAC's 25 Years of Women's Athletics celebration.

Daymont has coached at St. Olaf for 27 years. She has mentored over 1,000 student-athletes, 30 of whom have earned nearly 80 All-America awards. In cross country, Daymont has led St. Olaf to eight conference championships, the second-most of any MIAC school. The Oles captured five straight from 1998-2002, and had their best NCAA finish in that stretch, fourth-place in 1999. Daymont's cross country teams have qualified for 16 NCAA Championships, the eighth-most in Division III. She also led three teams to the AIAW Championships from 1979-1981.

In track and field, Daymont was named NCAA III Central Region Coach of the Year three times, most recently in 1995. During the fall of 2002, Daymont was selected Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Coach of the Year for a second time.

Daymont says her best honor, however, has been the opportunity to coach her children - Sara Daymont Schwartz '01, an All-MIAC honoree, and Megan Daymont Thomas '03, a six-time All-America track and cross country runner.

Photo Courtesy of St. Olaf College

St. Olaf Sweep for MIAC Athletes of the Week; St. Thomas DMR honored and Team Jumps to Third in Division III Power Rankings.

White Bear Lake pole vaulter Amie Filmore, a sophomore at St. Olaf College, won her second MIAC Field Athlete of the Week honor this year by winning the event at Saturday's Lake Superior Challenge. She vaulted 11' 8", a new personal best and school record. The mark is also a provisional qualifier for the NCAA Division III national championships to be held March 14-15 at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

Fillmore's mark ranks on top of the MIAC vaulting stats this week and ranks her seventh nationally. St. Olaf men's team middle distance runner, Doboul Ruon won the MIAC Men's Indoor Track Athlete of the Week.

The St. Thomas women's Distance Medley Relay took the MIAC honors for Women's Athlete of the Week. They finished third in Iowa, running a NCAA automatic qualifying time of 11:44. 20. DMR Team members are: Kelly Russ(Wayzata, MN), Nikki Arola(Chisholm, MN), Erin Sprangers(Hill Murray HS), and Katie Theisen(Elko, MN). Three of the team members are sophomores, Theisen is a junior. The St. Thomas men's team jumped from number six to number three in the USTFCCCA(US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) Power Rankings behind team leaders Wisconsin-LaCrosse and North Central(IL).

For a summary of the awards and this year's MIAC schedule, click here.

Photo Courtesy of St. Olaf

Gleason Update

SI Faces in the Crowd member Brandon Gleason of Hamline finished 23rd in the 5K at Iowa State last Friday. His time was 14:56.92. It was his first race at the distance since coming back from being run over by a car during a training run over a year ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Garrett Heath Describes A "Stanford Sandwich"

Garrett Heath was the middle of a Stanford sandwich finish in the mile at the Husky Invitational last Saturday. A red-shirt junior at Stanford, Heath was outleaned by Stanford grad, Russell Brown, and a fraction of a second ahead of another Stanford grad, Olympian Gabe Jennings. Right behind the trio was Oregon freshman, Matt Centrowitz. It was an exciting race. After getting through his accounting midterm, Heath answered a few questions for DtB.

DtB: The Husky Invitational seems to be your lucky meet. You ran your first sub-four minute mile there last year. This year you went faster. Any reason things seem to come together for you in Seattle or is it just where the event falls in the indoor season?

GH: I think that it's mostly just where the meet falls in the indoor schedule and the number of fast guys that always show up for this race. There are only a couple of meets that we go to indoors, other than our conference, so it's really one of the only chances at running well to make nationals. Washington also does a great job at having a rabbit that will take out the pace for at least the first 800 or so, which really helps keep things honest. Other than that, I guess its just coincidence.

DtB: You joked last year that you had said that if you ever broke four for the mile, you'd stop running. Why was sub-four such a lofty goal?

GH: Sub four is just one of those barriers that I always dreamed of breaking when I was younger, but never really imagined I would ever do. I was always more of a long distance guy and liked cross country much better than track when I was in high school. I remember always getting out-kicked by Tom Schmidt almost every race my 10th grade year, and never really had the speed that I thought was necessary to run fast in the shorter races. It wasn't really until two years ago that I thought breaking four minutes was a possibility.

DtB: How did the race unfold this year? Looks like you had at least three Stanford guys leaning for the line at the end.

GH: The race itself started out pretty similar to last year, in that we had a rabbit that took us through the quarter mile in 57 and then slowed down and brought us through the half in about 2:00-2:01. I got off the line well and settled into about fifth through the first two or three laps. Once the pace started to slow down though, everyone started moving up, and I ended up getting pushed to the back. At the time I thought I was in last, but I think Matt Centrowitz was also back there with me. We ended up coming through the three-quarter mark in about 3:01. I didn't really have room to start kicking until the last 250 meters of the race, but I got lucky down the backstretch and found a place to move up. From there, the three of us from Stanford were pretty much stride for stride for the last 100 meters or so with Matt right behind us.

DtB: What's the plan for the rest of the indoor season? Outdoors? You said last year that you now consider yourself a miler. Is that still your view or do you think 5K will be better for you?

GH: I'm planning on running the DMR at our next meet to try and help qualify our team for nationals. We have a good squad of guys for it again, so it would be nice to get the qualifier out of the way and avoid going to a last chance meet. Other than that, I'm going to focus on getting ready for the indoor mile and maybe take another shot at the 3K after the DMR at our next meet. In terms of outdoors, I still do consider myself a miler rather than a 5K runner, but will probably do a little of both as the season goes on.

Photo courtesy of Stanford University.

Mandi Zemba Will Run Ekiden Relay

Team USA Minnesota's Mandi Zemba will run a 5K leg for the US team at the 26th annual Yokohama International Women's Ekiden Marathon Relay in Japan on February 24. Hers is the first leg of the 42K marathon relay. Last year defending champion Russia won the team title at the event with a combined time of 2:14:48 with a strong US team led by Athens Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor taking second in 2:16:04, just in front of Japan(2:16:07). Last year's time was the fastest ever in the event for the US team. Team USA's Katie McGregor was on the team in 2007. She ran one of the two 10K legs, recording a time of 32:59, the fastest for the 5th leg of the relay. This year she will be running the 3K indoors at the USATF Indoor National Championships in Boston this weekend.

US team members are:
Leg 1 (5 km): Zemba
Leg 2 (10 km): Stephanie Rothstein
Leg 3 (6 km): Delilah DiCrescenzo
Leg 4 (6 km): Allison Grace
Leg 5 (10 km): Alvina Begay
Leg 6 (5.195 km): Stephanie Bylander

For music fans, leg three runner, Delialah DiCrescenzo, is the Delialah sung about in the Plain White T's song "Hey There Delialah."

Zemba finished 19th at last Saturday's USATF XC Championships in San Diego, running 24:28.03 for 8K.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ruon is MIAC Athlete of the Week; Multiple Athletes Get NCC Honors

St. Olaf freshman, Doboul Ruon, was named the MIAC Athlete of the Week after running a personal best of 4:17.84 for the mile at the Tostrud Classic. His time was close to the NCAA Divison III provisional standard for the event of 4:16. A graduate of Northfield High School, Ruon won the event at the Tostrud meet by a little more than a second over teammate David Green. The Division III NCAA Meet is March 14-15 at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. Ruon's time is the fifth fastest in the MIAC this indoor season with St. Thomas junior Matt Boumeester leading the list with a 4:15.56 at the MSU Open on February 2, according to the list compiled by Apple Raceberry Jam. For the entire list, click here.

Ramsey Kavan and Terry Liggins of South Dakota and Denise Mokaya of Minnesota State have been named the North Central Conference Indoor Track Athletes of the Week while Shana Brown of Nebraska-Omaha, Amanda Kunkel of St. Cloud State and Jason Beutz of Minnesota Duluth have been named the North Central Conference Indoor Field Athletes of the Week.

Kavan, a sophomore from Yankton, SD, was part of two school record-breaking performances at the Iowa State Open. She smashed the school mark in the 3000-meter run with a time of 9:45.35 (old record: 9:55.97) and was part of the school-record distance medley relay squad that finished second behind Michigan State with a 11:41.51 clocking. Kavan had a 1600-meter split of 4:49.

Liggins, a senior from Omaha, Neb., broke his own DakotaDome record in winning the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 7.98 at the John Dalton meet. The time is an automatic qualifying performance for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Mokaya, a sophomore from Angong, Kenya, motored to a NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 4:07.26 in the mile run at the Iowa State Open. He finished seventh out of 45 competitors.

Brown, a freshman from Carson, Calif., won the long jump with a leap of 5.65 meters at the John Dalton meet. It is the second longest jump in NCC competition this year.

Kunkel, a senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., won both the shot put (45-0 1/2) and weight throw (49-0) at the SCSU Open. The shot put mark is a provisional-qualifying mark.

Beutz, a sophomore from Foley, Minn., won the Lake Superior Challenge with a personal-best height of 15-6 1/4 in the pole vault. The mark is also a provisional-qualifying performance.

Photo Courtesy of St. Olaf College

Garry Bjorklund Half Registration Online Lottery Opens Feb. 20

Registration for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon begins Wednesday, February 20. You can register online ( starting at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through March 2. On March 3, 4,500 runners will be randomly selected from the registrants and will be informed of their acceptance via e-mail.

Entry fee for the race is $60, plus a processing charge. Only those 4,500 selected will have their credit cards charged. The race begins at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 21, 2008 on the second half of the Grandma's Marathon course. 1,200 spots remain for the 32nd annual Grandma's Marathon. Registration for the William A. Irvine 5K, held the day before Grandma's, will open March 19.

Scott Christiansen Leads US Men's Team For WC

Stillwater coach Scott Christensen will lead the US men's team at the IAAF World XC Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 30. He had to go through a bit of red tape to get clearance for the trip from the school district, but will be the men's head coach in Edinburgh. In that capacity he watched the USATF Championships in San Diego last weekend.

He provided the following observations on the performance of some of the Minnesotans: "I did watch my own Sean Graham(Stillwater High grad who now lives in Oregon) fade a bit over the last 4K, which was disappointing, and the Junior Men with Ryan Little in the top nine runners during the whole race, showing just how tough he is. He just could not crack the top six and a place on the team. Elliot Heath looked great early on and then, like Sean, faded. Katie McGregor has been on many teams. She knows how to race and showed it Saturday. She was in second for much of the race hoping for (Shalane) Flannagan to fall back. That never happened and Katie tucked in for a place on the team. "

On the men's team and the challenge facing them in Scotland, Scott adds: "Only Ryan Hall, the fifth place finisher, will not attend the Worlds. So having nine of the top 10 finishers at our National Championships (going to Worlds) is an attractive and strong team. The veterans like Dathan (Ritzenehin, USATF champ), and the Torres brothers are super excited. The course and weather in San Diego was nothing like Edinburgh is going to be. Mission Bay Park is flat and along the ocean. It was sunny and 65 degrees. The World course is ferocious with steep, steep uphills and downhills, many hairpin turns, plus it is the rainy season. The Scots pride themselves in serving up real European cross-country and have the course set to be just that."

A few personal observations to add. I lived in London for a year from September of 1992 to 1993. Three days a week I ran on Hamstead Heath, a wonderful north London park near Camden Town, which was also the site of the UK XC national championships that year. The race started with a 400 meter uphill climb and the rest of the loop course was equally brutal. If you weren't going up or down, you were coping with the shoe sucking mud.

This is no joke. After the race notices were placed in the British running publications about the many shoes recovered from the course. February and March are the rainy season in the UK and Scotland, which means that the ground is often saturated with moisture, making footing alternately slippery and akin to quicksand. Pictures of athletes after races in these conditions resemble photos of mud wrestlers. The Brits boast that it is cross country as it's meant to be. It is certainly different than the manicured golf courses that serve as the sites for US XC meets.

Those running in Edindurgh might get lucky and get a dry spell this year, but don't count on it. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Ritzenhein has run on the course and came away with an injury because of the difficulty of the up and downhill segments, so that will only add to the challenge the runners will face. They won't merely be running against the top runners in the world, they will also be fighting the course. One positive is that the Africans will be no more used to it than the US runners. Their courses tend to be flat, fast, and hard baked. Maybe the cold, mud, and rugged conditions will decrease their motivation, or, frightening thought, make them try and run faster to get out of those conditions and back into a warm shower or bathtub.

Emily Brown Makes Team, Makes Time for Worlds

Emily Brown surprised herself this weekend by finishing third in the USATF XC Championships in San Diego. Now she just has to juggle her responsibilities with internship she has at the U of M grad school nutrition program with her success on the race course.

Here are her thoughts: "The race obviously went better than I expected. I tried to take a pretty nonchalant approach to the race since I had never raced that distance before and really had no expectations of myself going in. I felt really relaxed throughout the greater portion of the race and just kept pushing the limits with each passing lap. The best memory I will take away from the race is the incredible Minnesota fan base that somehow materialized in San Diego.

"Every time we ran past the crowd, I could hear someone cheering for Emily, and I really thought there must have been another Emily. But then I saw some Minnesota hats and t-shirts and I was really proud that Katie (McGregor), Kristen (Nicolini Lehmkuhle), Mandi (Zemba), and I were able to represent the state well. Going into the race I said that I wouldn't go to Worlds even if I made it because I wouldn't be able to get the time off from my internship. But, in all honesty, I said that because I didn't think I would make it. I do plan on going and have offered to work Easter weekend at the hospital in order to do so. I think it will be a great time, and I am really honored to have the opportunity to represent the US on the World level."

Photo Courtesy of Team USA MN

Jason and Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle Named Heroes

Jason Lehmkuhle and Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle are this year's Human Race Heroes. Since 2002, the annual Human Race 8K has honored members of the Twin Cities running community with this award. The Lehmkules will be feted at a pre-race party on February 27 at O'Gara's Pub on the corner of Snelling and Selby Avenues in St. Paul. The party, which will also serve as a fundraiser for the Make It Happen Fund, begins at 7:30 p.m.

The Lehmkuhles selected the Jenny Crain Make It Happen Fund as the featured charity for this year's event to help raise funds for Jenny Crain, a Milwaukee-based elite runner who suffered serious injuries when hit by a car while training last August. The fund helps pay for her medical expenses.

Special wristbands will be available at the party for a $5 donation. Posters designed by Jenny's friend and Oregon Olympian Marla Runyan are also being given for a $15 donation. There is no fee to attend the party. The 36th annual St. Patrick's Day Human Race is scheduled for March 16. For a link to the race site, click here. For more information on the Jenny Craig Make It Happen Fund, click here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Emily Schwitzer Books a Trip to Scotland

Duke freshman Emily Schwitzer, a Hopkins High grad, earned an unexpected trip to Scotland for the World Cross Country championships last weekend with a fifth place finish in the USATF junior national XC race.

Here are Schwitzer's thoughts on the race: "Honestly, I went into this race to have fun. I had never even heard about the USATF XC Championships until my coach told me about it earlier this year. We decided to sign up in order to give me some more experience racing in a competitive field. I really haven't competed in too many big meets so this was quite the experience.

"Luckily, the race went very well. I didn't really know where I would stand among the other runners, but because I kept in contact with some of the leaders through the majority of the race I was able to pull through in the end. I am still shocked that I was able to qualify to race in Scotland, and I am beyond excited to participate in such a unique opportunity. It's unbelievable
that I will get to be part of a team that represents our nation. I'm psyched. As of now, I won't be competing in the meet in Florida in a few weeks because I'll continue to race through the remainder of my indoor track season. Outdoor season hasn't really crossed my mind, and I really don't even know what events I will be focusing on. All I can hope for is to keep improving and being able to do what I love."

Photo courtesy of Duke University

Katie McGregor Makes Another US Team

Katie McGregor booked her spot on the US team for the IAAF World XC Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 30 this weekend in San Diego. She'll have a short time to enjoy that though, as she's off this weekend to compete in the USATF indoor championships in Boston. She's entered in the women's 3K . Computerless in San Diego, she offered these thoughts when she got back home: "I am excited to compete on another World Championship team and even more excited that Emily Brown will be my teammate. Dennis (Barker, Team USA MN coach) already bought his ticket for the trip, so we had some pressure to get the job done in San Diego!"

On this weekend's race, Katie says: "I am just running indoor track for fun. The 3K isn't my event, but I like to change things up every now and then. I enjoy competing, even if it is not my strongest event. I will not run world indoors if I make the team. "

Michelle Lilienthal's Foot and Travel Woes

Team USA Minnesota's Dennis Barker reports that Michelle Lilienthal's plan to run the AT&T Austin Half Marathon was short circuited by a flare up of plantar fascitis. So, that's why we couldn't find her in the results. The problems didn't end there for Michelle, however, Dennis says, as her flight back, routed through Chicago, was canceled due to weather. Never a dull moment on the international race circuit.

USA Cross Country Championships Photos

We're collecting all the photos we can find from Saturday's USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego. Links will be added as more become available.

A nice gallery of Minnesotans from Paul Giannobile on the USATF Minnesota site. Paul finished 50th in the Masters Men's 8k on Saturday.

Thom Weddle also contributed a nice set of photos to the USATF Minnesota site. Thom was the top runner in the 65-69 age group on Saturday.

A huge set of photos from doesn't have a ton of photos, but they do have some good shots of Gits, Brown and McGregor. does a good job of getting at least one shot of almost every athlete in the race.

Photo by Paul Giannobile

Brief Talk With Alex Gits

Alex Gits is building an impressive running resume in a short period of time. Since she graduated last year from Edina High School, she has finished runner-up in the USATF junior nationals 5K on the track, helped Stanford win the NCAA XC title, and, on Saturday, finished second in the USATF XC Championships junior race, earning a spot on the team that will compete in the IAAF World XC Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 30. So, we asked Alexandra Ann Gits to tell us a little bit about herself via an e-mail Q & A.

DtB: Why Stanford?

AG: Why Stanford?- because the diversity here is incredibly humbling. I have a roomate whose parents are Korean immigrants and another roomate who contends nationally in quiz bowl. I love that we are not restricted to rooming with athletes and after attending a very homogeneous high school it is fantastic to belong to an instiution which grabs hold of differentation and where
everyone wants to succeed and do great things.

DtB: In the Stanford athletic bios your academic major is listed as undeclared. Do you have a particular academic interest?

AG: I'm meddling in premed, looking at becoming a physical therapist in sports medicine. Back home I have worked two summers at a clinic in Sports Medicine and absolutely loved it. I don't want to be a trainer. I want to work in an office where I can see a variety of ages and conditions.

DtB: In an interview after the race you were asked about running the 5 and 10K on the track. You said that you thought you got better as the distance got longer.

AG: Longer races and workouts have never daunted me. I have always reveled in good long
runs and I love the challenge and a hard long race where you are putting your full foot in. It is hard for me also to get the thrill of racing in shorter distances because it is over so quickly- I like
having time to make adjustments on the course and feel the swaying energies of opponents.

DtB: Any thoughts about trying the marathon?

AG: Marathons are a long way off- not until after college and maybe even not until I am much older.

DtB: You're on the team for a trip to Scotland. Have you traveled abroad before?

AG: I have already been to the UK and Scotland for a soccer tour during highschool. Our coach
was from England and he had the connections for us to play club teams and see some pro games. It was fantastic and as we traveled around in a double decker my soccer teamates and I couldn't help but grin at the rolling green hills- I can't wait to go back and experience the culture there again!

Photo Courtesy of Stanford University

Detherage Recounts Race at Tyson

Jenelle Detherage was second this weekend behind Christin Wurth-Thomas's meet record in the 1,500 at the Tyson Invitational.

Detherage had the following to say about her race and next weekend: "I was hoping for more of a race-type situation but the field ended up being really small and the pace up front really quick, so it strung out almost immediately. I decided to go with Christin and her rabbit even though I knew it would be fast. I felt pretty good through 1200 meters but ultimately wasn't able to hang on for the last quarter. It wasn't pretty, but I ended up running an indoor personal best so I can't complain. Next up is indoor nationals on Saturday."

Photo by Victor Sailer

DtB, USATF-Minnesota Inaugurate Partnership

If you've clicked on the USATF-Minnesota logo at the top of the DtB sidebar recently, you've noticed that the local USATF Association has updated it's web-site.

And, for that matter, if you hadn't been to DtB recently, you may have been surprised to see the USATF-Minnesota logo, along with that of the TC Running Company, on the DtB sidebar at all. Just as things are changing throughout the world of media, things are changing close to home and in our sport.

USATF-Minnesota, as it announced last year, is no longer producing an ink-on-paper magazine, but has chosen to move some of the content elements that appeared in its publication Minnesota Running & Track -- features, photos, columns -- to its redesigned web-site. As the season advances, visitors to the new USATF-Minnesota site should expect lots of interesting stuff to see, USATF officials say.

"We have redesigned our own web site to offer our membership USATF-specific content, as well as many of the features that used to appear in Minnesota Running & Track magazine," Pete Miller, the Communications Chair for USATF- Minnesota explained.

USATF-Minnesota has also partnered with Down the Backstretch in an effort to make sure local fans and participants in the sport are up-to-date on all that's going on.

"The USATF Minnesota Board decided that the best way to provide news and information to our members already exists," Miller added. "That is why the organization decided to support Down the Backstrech. The board feels that it is a unique communications tool that doesn't exist in many other markets."

For its own part, Down the Backstretch, begun a hobby, is now trying to make itself a sustainable little business. USATF-Minnesota's financial support -- and that of the TC Running Company -- takes DtB a long way toward that goal. Advertisers, we hope, will also play an important role in our viability.

Down the Backstretch looks forward to covering "Running and Track from Minnesota" for a good, long time. With our partners USATF-Minnesota and the TC Running Company, we're poised to make that a reality.

Keep reading ... we'll keep reporting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cheever, Torchia Set Indoor Marks--Heath and Grinaker Do Well at Husky Meet

University of Minnesota Senior Jamie Cheever continues breaking records. At the Iowa State Classic on Saturday, Cheever ran 9:20:23 to finish second in the 3K. She broke her own school record in the event, set earlier this year, by over four seconds. Half miler Heather Dorniden finished third in the mile in 4:43.58 with teammate Nikki Swenson taking fifth in 4:47.31.

Junior Julie Schwengler was third in the 800 in 2:06.64 with Senior Challie Larson winning the 600 in 1:22.78. Jamie Dittmar was third(1:22.98), Brittni Swanson sixth(1:25.05) and Shannon Dagget eighth(1:26.20). In the field events, Liz Podominick took eighth in the shot put, and Caitlin Roemhildt was sixth in the high jump. For full meet results, click here.

For the men, Sophomore Mike Torchia set a school record in the 5K indoors, running 14:06.64(15th place) at the Husky Invitational in Seattle, Washington. Freshman Hassan Mead ran 8:01.8(12th place) in the 3K, giving him a provisional qualifying time for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Chris Rombough ran 8:14.62(22nd place) in the same event. Mead's time was a frosh record.

A couple of Minnesotans who run for other schools did well at the Husky meet. Stanford's Garrett Heath ran 3:58.71 in the mile to finish second. He was sandwiched between Stanford grads, edged out by Russell Brown, who was timed in 3:58.68, but in front of Olympian Gabe Jennings, who was third in 3:58.83. Super race. Wisconsin's Hanna Grinaker ran 16:36 in the women's 5K, finishing fifth. Heath's performance was an automatic qualifier for NCAA indoors. Grinaker's a provisional qualifier.

For full results from the Husky Classic, click here.