Monday, March 31, 2008

DtB's World Cross Photo Gallery ...

Senior Women's action.
(Photo by Mike Scott courtesy of Team USA Mn.)

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor.

Edina grad and Stanford frosh Alex Gits.

Hopkins grad and Duke frosh Emily Schwitzer.

Photos by Sean Hartnett, except where indicated otherwise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Minnesota Women Lead USA Teams at World Cross Country Championships

Minnesota athletes led the USA Junior and Open Women's teams to strong finishes at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, today.

In the Junior division, Stanford freshman Alex Gits of Edina finished in 13th place to lead the USA squad to sixth place in the team standings. Gits was followed by Duke freshman Emily Schwitzer of Minnetonka in 28th place.

Gits and Schwitzer took different routes to their high finishes.

"I knew I was going to get nice and muddy. I didn't want that front pack to gain so much distance, so I just took a few quick steps and got right back up there," Gits said.

"I made sure that I went out slower, as I tend to get intimidated," Schwitzer explained. "I tried to gain confidence by picking people off. I learned to run in the pack and keep my arms out, look up, and take the turns wide."

Former Gopher Emily Brown (pictured) continued her fantastic season with a 18th place finish to lead the Women's Open team to fourth place. Her Team USA Minnesota training partner Katie McGregor was close behind in 22nd. Molly Huddle and Kathy Newberry finished in 23rd and 24th to put the squad within 3 points of the medal stand.

"It felt really good that it was such a team effort out there," Brown told USATF. "I think we had different race strategies today, but we ended up together, and that made us stronger as a team."

Brown's success at the extended distance has given her renewed confidence in her racing range.

"I am trying to decide what my track distance will be this spring. I may end up running the 5k, but it gives me confidence knowing that I can move up to 10k."

"Overall, I thought we did a great job," McGregor said of her team's effort. "I sort of got lost for a bit there, but when the other girls started moving up, it helped. It's great when all of your teammates come together."

The Senior Men's squad – coached by Stillwater's Scott Christensen – finished in seventh place.

USATF has posted a recap of all the action.

There's a decent photo gallery here, with a good shot of McGregor.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gits Named Junior Women's Team Captain

Alex Gits, a Stanford University freshman from Edina, was named captain of the United States' junior women's cross country team ahead of this weekend's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, USA Track and Field announced.

Gits, the 2006 MSHSL Class AA cross country champion and 2007 3200 meter champion, earned the right to represent the United States in Edinburgh by virtue of her runner-up finish at the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego in February. Gits is joined on the junior squad by fellow Minnesota Emily Schwitzer of Duke University.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor and Emily Brown will compete on the senior women's team. Stillwater High School coach Scott Christensen is the team leader of the USA senior men's team at the event.

World Cross competition takes place Sunday. You will find results from the events posted HERE.


Gits was quoted by USATF after she and the USA sqauds inspected the World Cross course on Saturday ...

"It's going to be really cool to see athletes from other nations running Sunday. Overall, the terrain is going to be good, and it's supposed to be windy Sunday, but I think that having a lot of spectators on the course is going to help block the wind.

"Because of the narrowness of the hill and the bumpy terrain, the hill won't be a place to do a lot of passing, but it can be a point where you can make up ground.

From talking to other team members, I've heard that this race will be like the NCAA Championships; every runner will have to be in their own moment. In this race, you don't know who is going to be on or not. It's going to be a bit of a free-for-all."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Riter Featured on USATF-Minn. Web-Site

In the first installment of its "The Road to Beijing" series, the USA Track and Field Minnesota web-site, HERE, has published a interview with Olympic 800 meter hopeful Trent Riter.

Riter (pictured), a Mounds View High School and University of Minnesota graduate, sports a 1:46.62 PR in the event. Last year, Riter made the 800m finals at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

In the interview (conducted by yours truly), Riter talks about training at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego and the racing he's done recently.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Podominick, Hoplin Named Big Ten Athletes of the Week

Golden Gopher throwers Liz Podominick and Paul Hoplin were named Big Ten Field Event Athletes of the Week after opening their respective outdoor seasons with nice throws last weekend.

Podominick, a senior from Lakeville, won the shot and discus competitions at the Texas Southern Relays last weekend. Podominick topped the discus results with a throw of 165-1 and won the shot with a put of 47-8. Both marks qualified her for NCAA Regional competition.

Hoplin, a freshman from Grand Forks, North Dakota, launched his Minnesota career in style with a 214-9 javelin throw at the Clemson Relays last weekend. The Regional-qualifying throw is the third-best javelin mark in Gopher history.

Both Podominick and Hoplin are first-time winners of the Big Ten award.

Also ... The Minnesota Daily ran a nice story today, HERE, on Heather Dorniden and the Gopher track teams.

Bjorklund Auction to Support Ngetich Family

Grandma's Marathon will conduct an on-line auction for starting-line spots in this year's Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon as a benefit for the family of fallen Grandma's Marathon champion Wesly Ngetich.

Ngetich (shown winning the 2007 Grandma's Marathon) was killed by an arrow in post-election, tribal violence in his home country of Kenya in January.

The event will open three packages, each of which will include entry into this year's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, for bid in the charity auction. Bidding opens on the Grandma's web-site, HERE, on Monday. The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is otherwise closed to entry.

“Wesly was a great champion for our event, so assisting his family is the very least we can do. Our donations can’t bring him back, but hopefully they can bring some financial relief to his family members as they struggle through this difficult time,” Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon, said in a media release.

Ngetich died January 21 while reportedly attempting to mediate conflict between two disputing tribes near his home Trans Mara, Kenya . He was 30 years old. The 2005 and 2007 men’s champion of Grandma’s Marathon, Ngetich was expected to return to Duluth in June to defend his title in an attempt to become the first ever three-time men’s winner of the event.

The event marks the second fundraising effort Grandma’s Marathon has conducted to assist Ngetich’s family. Earlier this month, Grandma's raised $6,000 by opening an additional 100 spots in the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon to those runners not selected through the lottery.

Photo courtesy of Grandma's Marathon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dana Coons Interviewed

Former Team USA Minnesota runner, Dana Coons, qualified for the US Olympic Marathon Trials at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. She talks about her preparation for the trials on the Boston Marathon Olympic Trials section of their website. To read the interview, click here.

Gopher Women Ranked #23 for Outdoor Season

The University of Minnesota's women's track and field team is ranked #23 in the first U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll for the outdoor season. LSU tops the poll, followed by two-time defending NCAA indoor and defending NCAA outdoor champions Arizona State at #2.

The Gopher women, who finished 15th at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this month, were ranked as high as #7 in the USTFCCA indoor poll.

Penn State, coached by Minnesota native Beth Alford-Sullivan, is the top-ranked Big Ten school outdoors at #8. Michigan is ranked #10. The complete women's poll and USTFCCA media release is available HERE.

No Big Ten men's teams cracked the USTFCCA top-25, available HERE.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pieter Gagnon's Advice: " ... stay outside, and don't spoil yourself by overdressing."

Minneapolis Washburn senior Pieter Gagnon turned heads Saturday with his meet-record-setting, personal-record-establishing 9:26.49 win in the 3200m run at the University of Minnesota/ROTC Indoor meet.

Gagnon (pictured) had sported a 9:30.10 PR for the distance, run at the MSHSL State Meet last June. At Minnesota/ROTC, Gagnon also doubled back to finish a close second in the 1600, in 4:30.99, to Class AA 800 meter champion Zach Mellon who won in 4:30.93.

Down the Backstretch asked the University of Minnesota-bound Gagnon, who finished third in the Class AA State cross country meet last fall, about his fast early-season running.

DtB: You ran a PR in the first meet of the season. How does that happen?

Gagnon: I had hoped to beat my old state time at this meet, and I trained very hard to make sure that would happen. I love to continue to challenge myself in the off-season, and when I wasn't out around the lakes near my house I was nearby doing stair climbs or in the weight room with the ski team. Running through a Minnesota winter will help improve anyone, because after trying to set a 5-mile PR through snow on a 20 degree day in shorts and a T-shirt, 2 miles around a track just doesn't seem that bad.

DtB: What kind of training have you been doing over the winter?

Gagnon: Once cross-country is over, most of my training takes place around the chain of lakes here in Minneapolis. This winter I spent nearly 1000 miles around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun alone, maintaining the progress I had made in CC and building a base for track. The runs themselves were usually not anything complicated, just being out there every day. My personal opinion is that the key to winter training is to stay outside, and don't spoil yourself by overdressing.

DtB: What are your goals for the season ... and were they changed by the run on Saturday?

Gagnon: My first goal was to beat my old state time, preferably in the first meet of the season. From here on out my goal is simply to try and cross the finish line with a new PR as many times as I can, even if I am just racing the clock with no competition. That will keep me busy until state, when I hope to be able to walk away from the track with a 1st place medal.

Photo courtesy of James Gagnon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Emily Brown Chats with RW

Team USA Minnesota's Emily Brown will be running in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Scotland this weekend. Today she chats with Runner's World about her hectic schedule, the USATF XC Championships and her trip to Worlds. Read the chat here.

Photo Courtesy of Team USA MN.

Mounds View: Winning Despite Losses

The Mounds View High School’s boy track team is picking up where it left off last year. At the University of Minnesota/ROTC meet on Saturday, the two-time defending MSHSL Class AA and True Team Class AAA champions won their season-opening meet 50 to 41 over Coon Rapids.

A few days before that, the Minnesota State Track and Field Coaches’ Association ranked the Mustangs #1 in the Class AAA True Team poll, HERE.

But if Mounds Views top-of-the-table position feels familiar, many of the names synonymous with the Mustangs success in recent years are now absent due to graduation. Quinn Evans, the fastest quarter-miler in Minnesota prep history, is attending the University of Wisconsin these days, while hurdler Sean Duling, horizontal jumper Tommy McNamara, and middle distance runner Mike Shelendich are competing for the University of Minnesota.

If the 2008 Mustangs are to replicate the program’s MSHSL three-peat from 1999-2001 – something only it, Stillwater (1996-1998), Minneapolis Washburn (1940-1942) and Minneapolis West (1937-1939) have ever done among large schools -- new feet will need to fill the big shoes of graduated stars.

Ross Fleming's Mustangs do return three individuals from their MSHSL title-winning squad. Quarter-miler Kevin Bradley – who won at Minnesota/ROTC in 50.71 – finished third in the Class AA 400m final last year. Andrew Balzar, the tenth-fastest prep 400m runner in Minnesota in 2007 and the fifth-fastest non-senior, also returns for the Mustangs. It’s not surprising the Mustangs won the 4 x 400 meter relay at Minnesota/ROTC.

State Meet shot putter Joe Johnson returns as well. He enters 2008 as the eight-longest putter in the state with his season-best 51-6 ½ from 2007. He finished 6th at Minnesota/ROTC with 46-5 1/2, a place behind teammate Jon Rux’s 47-4 ¾.

In 2007, Mounds View won the MSHSL Class AA meet with a whopping 97 points – more than double Hopkins runner-up total of 44 – but no single team, including the Mustangs, appear a prohibitive favorite in 2008. If anything, the field seems wide-open with Mounds View one a dozen or more programs with realistic hopes for a glorious June.

Unfamiliar names and faces, it seems likely, will prove critical to the crowning of the 2008 State champions, whether they’re new names associated with an old dynasty in Mounds View or those attached to a new chapter in Minnesota high school track and field history.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Carrie Tollefson Interviewed

Team USA Minnesota's Carrie Tollefson talks about her injuries, her comeback, and quest to make the 2008 Olympic team. You can read the interview HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer Tollefson racing at the Central Park Challenge earlier this month.

Andrew Carlson Podcast Available

Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson is off to a fast start in 2008. He won the USA 15K title at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida and, a week later, finished a narrow second to Jorge Torres as the USA 8K in New York City.

You can listen to Carlson (pictured) talk about his breakthrough season on a new podcast from the folks at The Final Sprint, HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Laura Hermanson: the Forgotten 800m Star

Quick, name the top female collegiate 800 meter runners from Minnesota.

If you named Minnesota Gophers Heather Dorniden, Julie Schwengler, and Gabriele Anderson you've done pretty well, but are at least one name short of earning full credit. The Gophers haven't completely cornered the women's middle-distance market, you see. Obscured by all the success the Gopher middle distance crew has enjoyed is one Laura Hermanson, a 2004 graduate of Burnsville High School who competes for North Dakota State University.

Hermanson (pictured) clocked a PR 2:06:34 800 meters this indoor season, a mark bettered this year only by Dorniden among "local" half-milers. Now a junior, Hermanson has evolved from a high school 200m-400m runner -- she finished third in the MSHSL Class AA 400 twice and placed 6th in the 200 as an 11th-grader -- into top-notch collegiate half-miler.

The former soccer player has flourished in the shadows, however, because NDSU, still making its transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, is not yet able to send athletes to the NCAA Championships. Hermanson's mark this season would have put her in the NCAA Indoor Championship field, but for the restrictions which will expire at the end of this school year.

Down the Backstretch caught up with the speedy NDSU Bison recently ...

DtB: Were you surprised to find yourself knocking off another two seconds from your indoor 800m PR this season?

Hermanson: This indoor season went really well for me, and I am really happy with my indoor PR, as it is an overall PR as well. I was able to gain more confidence and experience with each weekend, and things feel into place quite nicely.

DtB: When you first arrived at NDSU did you know you were going to end up being an 800m person?

Hermanson: I really didn't know what to expect when I came to NDSU. I mostly trained and ran the 400 in my first year of competition. (I tested out the 800 in a couple of outdoor race). It was quite apparent to me that if I wanted to be competitive in Division I Track and Field that I would have to move up in distance.

DtB: What do you attribute your success throughout your NDSU career to?

Hermanson: With each year, my confidence in myself to compete has increased, and I think that has had a big impact on my times, but I think the most important factors to my success has been my training and the things I do outside of practice and competition time. I make a really conscious effort to eat the right foods and get enough sleep. My training has changed dramatically, even from last year to this year. I started running40 miles/week this summer and many of my workouts this season have been longer distances with shorter rest.

DtB: We couldn't help but notice your 2:06.34 this winter would have put you in the NCAA Indoor meet. How frustrating was it to miss out on the meet and have to wait until next year to compete at NCAAs??

Hermanson: It's a little frustrating to know that I would have been competing at nationals this year, but I think it would be even more frustrating if I didn't have another year of eligibility. When I first came here, nationals was a distant thought, and it is just really exciting to know that I am able to compete at that level now. I had an opportunity to run at U.S. Indoor Nationals [she ran 2:06.99 to miss finals by two places] and that was an awesome experience (not the same as nationals), and I am really looking forward to hopefully running at the Trials this summer.

DtB: What are your goals for the outdoor season?

Hermanson: I am aiming to make the [Olympic] Trials this summer in the 800. With that in mind, I am looking to run 2:04 before the outdoor season is over. We have an awesome 800 crew this year as well, and we are looking to put together some competitive 4 x 800 and 4 x Mile teams at the Drake Relays this year. That should be a fun meet! I am really excited to see what the outdoor season will bring, as I didn't think I would already be running this fast.

Photo courtesy of NDSU.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Michelle Lilienthal Profiled on Flotrack

Team USA Minnesota's Michelle Lilienthal is the subject in a story on Flotrack. In it she talks about her introduction to the sport and her preparations for the upcoming US Women's Marathon Olympic Trials. To read the article, click here.

Photo Courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Radocaj, Gophers Open Outdoor Season

Gopher all-American and 2006 Big Ten javelin champion Ruby Radocaj will open her 2008 season as the Gopher women begin the transition to outdoor competition at the Texas Southern Relays in Houston this weekend.

Radocaj (pictured), a senior who placed 3rd at Big Tens and 9th at the NCAA Championships last year, competes today at noon. The Gopher women arrived in Texas earlier in the week to enjoy some warm-weather training during the U of M's spring break, according to a Gopher media release.

None of the Gopher competitors at last weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships will compete in Texas.

Results from the meet are posted HERE.

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brandon Gleason Featured on KARE 11

Hamline's Brandon Gleason was featured on the 10 PM newscast of NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities, KARE 11. For a link on the feature, click here.

Photo courtesy of Hamline University

Local Runner Writes Book for Young Athletes

Minneapolis runner Jessica Deutsch, a former Carleton College track and cross country team member, recently authored a book for young runners called Running for Fun! The book, published by Mankato's Compass Point Books, is a basic how-to book for young runners, written at their reading skill level. (Full disclosure: I served as the content advisor for the book.) It is one of a series of "for Fun" titles Compass Point sells.

Down the Backstretch asked Deutsch a few questions about the book and her own youthful running.

DtB: How did it come about that you wrote a book on running for youngsters?

Deutsch: During the years following college graduation, I had more jobs than I can remember. But the memorable jobs--assistant distance coach for the Eden Prairie track team, bookseller at the children's bookstore Wild Rumpus Books in Linden Hills, a couple of freelance writing projects, interning at the Loft Literary Center and Coffee House Press, and my current job at Milkweed Editions--indirectly led me to writing the book. I met the editorial director at Compass Point Books, Nick Healy, while I was interning at the Loft, and we kept in touch. He approached me about writing Running for Fun.

DtB: Were there experiences from your own days as a young runner that helped inform what you wrote?

Deutsch: Two reasons why I continue to advocate for running: 1) it's a democratic sport (so little needed to practice!), and 2) the mental determination cultivated by racing.

I grew up six miles outside of Finlayson, a small town about an hour north of the Twin Cities. Growing up, I was more interested in gymnastic -- not running. But living in a remote area, I didn't have regular access to a gym or a coach -- just the occasional community education tumbling class. I realized early on how detrimental it was to my "promising" gymnastics career that I lived so far away from everything. By the time I entered junior high, I was ready to look for a sport that was less dependent on equipment. And I think my mom was too -- I had done a great deal of flipping and jumping around in our living room.

In the fall of seventh grade, my PE teacher announced that we would be doing the mile run. For one week, every day after school, I ran one mile--from the end of my gravel driveway where the bus dropped me off, past the stop sign, to the spot where the gravel and the pavement met. We ran the mile on a Friday, and Mr. Payton, the junior high cross-country coach, ran with us. It was the first time I ran so hard my lungs felt like they were going to burst at the seams -- and in my head, I contemplated whether I would be able to finish. But Mr. Payton joined me at the halfway point, and he became my private cheerleader, reminding me that I was doing a good job and would happy with myself if I finished. I kept saying to him, between gasps for air, "But it hurts. This really [gasp] hurts." And he kept saying, "Just keep running, Jessica. You're almost there." Of course, the euphoria washed over me once I was able to breath again -- and I was hooked. (I stuck to sprinting and jumping for most of junior high and high school.) Every runner discovers at one point or another that there is little more satisfying than accomplishing something new.

For me, running was one of the most concrete ways I learned how to set goals and accomplish them. Its a mentality that transfers into everything I do. And I think that if young people have someone who encourages them and guides them -- even a little, much like Mr. Payton, running can be a wonderful experience.

DtB: If you could offer one piece of advice for young runners -- or their parents -- what would it be?

Deutsch: Running is a tough sport because you train yourself to quiet the alarms going off in your head ("This hurts!"). I don't know many runners who have gone through life without at least one injury. Learning how to read these alarms with proper caution is perhaps the most important -- and hardest -- lessons to be learned by all runners. Having parents and coaches who can garner support and offer guidance is crucial.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

William Irvin 5K Registration Now Open

Online registration for the William Irvin 5K, one of the Grandma's Marathon weekend events in Duluth, is now underway. Runners hoping to secure one of the event’s 1,200 starting line spots can register HERE.

“This race typically fills rather quickly and with this year’s transition to online registration we expect the 2008 field to reach its capacity faster than ever,” Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon said in a media release.

The $25 race entry fee includes an official event T-shirt and commemorative pin.

The 3.1-mile run begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 20, near the permanently docked William A. Irvin ore boat on Duluth ’s waterfront and is the first of three running events during Grandma's Marathon weekend.

The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is closed to entry after rapidly meeting its capacity.

According to the Grandma's Marathon web-site, 260 spots still remain unclaimed for Grandma's Marathon.

Grandma's Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon take place on Saturday, June 21.

Team Circuit Standings and More Photos

Preliminary results from the first race of the 2008 USATF Minnesota Team Circuit have been posted at Circuit standings are available here, men's team results here and women's team results here.

Photo galleries by Craig Yotter and Gene Niemi have also been posted.

Photo by Gene Niemi

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

With Tibet, Politics Returns to Olympic Games

While a wide-spread boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games over host China's reaction to protests in Tibet appears unlikely, this year's Games are already attended with more political controversy than any Games in recent memory. Here is a collection of stories on the issue ...

MinnPost's Jay Weiner, the long-time Olympic writer for the Star-Tribune, takes a close look at the politics surrounding Beijing 2008 in THIS story.

The New York Times, today, published THIS piece which offers a nice overview of the issues surrounding the Tibetan protests and crackdown.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has spoken out against a boycott -- "Other than unnecessarily and unfairly punishing athletes, Olympic boycotts accomplish absolutely nothing," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel told the Los Angeles Times -- as have the European Union, Germany, Australia, and the Dalai Lama himself.

Actor Richard Gere, a Buddhist and the chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, has called for a boycott, HERE, if China mishandles Tibetan protests.

Finally, there's a CNN piece on the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Games HERE and USA Today's Christine Brennan wrote THIS column for the 25th anniversary of the 1980 boycott.

Triumph and Heartbreak in the D2 Shot Put

It pays to remember that, in the zero-sum world of wins and losses, one person's triumph is another person's heartbreaking defeat.

Ask Bemidji State's Sheena Devine (pictured) ... or better yet her NCAA Championship rival Jessica Selby-Tallman of Missouri Southern University.

At last weekend's NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in Mankato, for the second straight year, Selby-Tallman led the women's shot put going into the final round of competition. Just as she did at the 2007 championships in Boston, she even improved upon her competition-leading mark on her final throw.

And, remarkably, in both cases, Selby-Tallman finished the competition in second place. In both cases she was defeated by a even bigger final-round throw from Bemidji State's Devine.

In 2007, Devine launched a 51-0 1/4 throw to better Selby-Tallman's 50-6 3/4 . Last Saturday, Devine, a North Branch native, sent the shot 52-2 1/2 from the toe-board to beat Selby-Tallman's 50-9 1/2 throw. With the throw, Devine capped an undefeated season with what is her third consecutive NCAA indoor title.


Devine told the Bemidji Pioneer, HERE: “This championship feels good, I had my doubts at first but it feels very good. Coming into my last throw I was thinking that this is my last indoor throw ever and I want to keep my title of being undefeated so I went in and gave it all I had."

And, heartbreak ...

Selby-Tallman's coach Patty Vavra told the Joplin Globe, HERE: “Jessica is disappointed, but she competed well. She got beat by a better thrower who is obviously very good in the clutch. ... It was evident those two were the best throwers in the meet.”

Photo courtesy of Bemidji State University.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Video: Central Park Challenge, Garrett Heath

Flotrack shot video of Saturday's Central Park Challenge as well as a batch of interviews.

Men's USA 8K Championship race video is HERE.

An interview with the always-entertaining Andrew Carlson is HERE.

Women's Invitational 8K coverage is HERE.

An interview with Katie McGregor (pictured) is HERE.

The New York Road Runners also have event video HERE.

Flotrack was also shooting at NCAAs. See an interview with Garrett Heath HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Weekend Road Race Slideshows

Photographer Wayne Kryduba was shooting photos on both sides of the river this weekend and has some great shots from both the 100% Irish for a Day and Human Race events.

Polson, Troup Win at Human Race 8K

Not unlike groundhogs in Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota alums Jeremy Polson and Rasa Troup announced the official start of Minnesota's spring road racing season with wins at the Human Race 8K in St. Paul yesterday.

Polson (pictured, #8) edged fellow Duluth native and resident Erik Hartmark (#20) for victory in the men's race. Polson clocked 24:06; Hartmark ran 24:10. Pete Gilman of Rochester was third in 24:59.

Troup beat Melissa Gacek for the women's title 28:07 to 28:47. Nicole Cueno was third in 28:53.

Full Human Race 8K results can be found HERE.

DtB will report Team Circuit scores from the event in this space as soon as they are available.

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More NCAA Indoor Headlines ...

From Division III in Ohio ...

Bethel's Marie Borner wins mile ... see story HERE.
Eric Buss of St. John’s takes 3rd in triple jump.

St. Thomas women finish 7th.

Full D3 results are HERE.

From Division II in Mankato ...

Sheena Devine of Bemidji State wins women's shot put

Bemidi State Joe Remitz runner-up in men's shot put.

Pole vault champ Katelin Rains of Mankato second in triple jump.

Ashley Roemer of Moorhead second in women's high jump.

Denise Mokaya of Mankato takes 3rd in mile, 2nd in 800m.

Mankato men 7th overall; Maverick women 8th.

Full D2 results are HERE.

From Division I in Arkansas ...

Gopher Heather Dorniden second in 800 meters ... see story HERE.

Alicia Rue 4th in pole vault; Liz Roehrig 6th in pentathlon.

Stanford's Garrett Heath 4th in mile, Notre Dame's jake Watson 6th.

Gopher women finish 15th overall.

Full D1 results are HERE.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jorge Torres Nips Carlson for NYC Win;
McGregor 2nd to Flanagan, Tollefson 14th

Jorge Torres nipped Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson at the finish line to win this morning's Central Park Challenge/USA 8K Championship in New York City.

Carlson (pictured) said of the race: "I had my chances to try and lead during the race and tucked in from time to time. I liked pushing up the hills and felt good going down hill as well. Jorge made a break at 800 meters to go and got ahead of me but I was closing on him as we got to the finish line. After the 15k I felt terrible all week and on my warmup too, but when the gun went off today I felt good."

Carlson's teammate Brad Lowery was 15th; Matt Gabrielson was a DNF at 4 miles.

A finish line photo can be found HERE.

A race re-cap can be found HERE.

Men's results can be found HERE.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished second to Shalane Flanagan in the women's invitational race there.

McGregor said of the race: "I wish I would have been more aggressive today but overall I had a good race. I had a bad mile between miles three and four on the long uphill where I lost some ground. I feel like I can handle a faster pace. I just mentally need to focus through the entire distance. I'm looking forward to World Cross Country in a couple of weeks and would like to be in the top 20 there at the very least. Everything I am doing now and during the next couple of months is in preparation for the [U.S. Olympic Track]Trials this summer."

Cack Ferrell finished 13th, Carrie Tollefson was 14th.

Said Tollefson: "My training and workouts are going well. I just need to race more to get back in the game."

Women's results can be found HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Jenelle Deatherage Interviewed

This is an old interview with Jenelle Deatherage that we missed back before the USATF Indoors. In it she talks about her coaching switch, her goals for the year, and her crisis of confidence. It's from the Boston Globe. To read it, click here.

Photo by Victor Sailer

A Team Circuit Preview ...

The USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit opens tomorrow with the Human Race 8K in St. Paul. As a means of previewing the 2008 open men's competition on the Circuit, we offer you the Slab City Running Company's philosophical take, HERE.

I used to think the best description of the Team Circuit was that it was running's answer to league bowling, but perhaps Tom Church at SCLC has a better angle on Minnesota's popular little team running series ...

"The Minnesota Team Circuit is a collection of undeclared rivalries; individual, collective and existential. For six months each year our private hopes and fears spill into the streets. We train and fret, plot and scheme and measure our happiness and self-esteem against arbitrary targets, usually unaware they have been selected for such a role."

Go teams!

NCAA Indoor Headlines ...

From Division II in Mankato ...

Katelin Rains wins D2 pole vault with record 14-1 3/4 ... read Mankato Free Press coverage HERE ...

Rains' teammate Lauren Stelten finishes 2nd at 12-9 for 1-2 MSU-Mankato sweep ...

Mankato women second in team race ...

MSU-Moorhead's Jennifer Hensel tied for third in PV competition at 12-9 ...

Mankato's Kelvin Rodgers 3rd in long jump ...

Find complete D2 results HERE.

From Division III in Ohio ...

#2-ranked St. Thomas women lead #1 Wisconsin -La Crosse after Day 1 ... see team scores HERE ...

Tommie senior Carol Comp wins weight throw ... see story HERE ...

Tommie women's DMR second ...

Tommie's Brian Sames fastest qualifier for 800m final ...

Find complete D3 results HERE.

From Division I in Arkansas ...

Gophers' Dorniden advances to 800m final ...

Cheever, Schwengler, Kabia eliminated in prelims ...

Gopher women's DMR finishes 10th.

Find complete D1 results HERE.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An NCAA Trophy for the Gopher Women?

Might the University of Minnesota women bring home a trophy from this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships?

While the question doesn’t seem to be one the Gophers themselves are spending time asking – their latest media release, HERE, says they’re hoping simply to better their program-best 12th place finish from 2006 with a top-10 result this weekend – it’s one followers of the program wouldn’t be wasting time by asking.

While by no means favorites for a top-4 finish, the #8-ranked Gophers appear within striking distance of top-4, trophy-earning territory at the Fayetteville, Arkansas meet. For the repeat Big Ten Indoor Champions to add NCAA hardware to the program’s burgeoning trophy case, though, they’ll likely require a strong meet from each and every woman on the squad, need at least one of the more favored teams to falter, and hope that in the end a team score in the low 30s can steal 4th place.

Defending champs Arizona State, ranked #2 in the country, perennial power and #1-ranked LSU, and Big Ten runners-up #3 Michigan are all vying for the NCAA's gold trophy and are unlikely to leave Arkansas without NCAA hardware of one color or another. Texas A&M’s sprint-powered, #5-ranked squad, with a hot meet, could shut the top-4 door tightly and leave the Gophers on the outside looking in even with a strong team performance.

On the other hand, if any of those favorites prove unlucky, the Gophers aren’t in a bad position to achieve a trophy-worthy finish. Minnesota stands to score 23 points, if their five individuals and distance medley relay team finish as they are seeded. Realistic improvements on some of those seedings – easier to describe on a web-site than accomplish on a track, we’ll readily admit – could push the team tally into the 30s.

And that could, could, be enough for a program-first NCAA trophy. A 28 point score clinched the 4th place trophy last year; 29 points took it home in 2006. This year, while Track and Field News, HERE, projects 4th place for Texas A&M’s with 40 points, Trackshark.Com’s prognostication, HERE, thinks the 4th place team spot could go to a team with as few as 31 points – #7-ranked Stanford by their calculations.

If there’s going to be trophy magic for the Gophers in Fayetteville, we'll go out on a limb to say it will happen something like this ...

This afternoon: Heather Dorniden and Julie Schwengler advance to the 800m finals. Schwengler, seeded #15, is an underdog for the finals, but the point she’d earn by advancing could prove vital.

This evening: Jamie Cheever advances to the Mile final … and doesn’t knock herself out doing so. The #7 seeded Cheever’s points in the Mile will be key to a high team finish, as will her freshness for the DMR later today.

Later this evening: The Gopher DMR of Gabriele Anderson, Rikita Butler, Dorniden, and Cheever finishes third. Michigan’s squad looks unbeatable, but the rest of the competition seems within reach. Bettering Stanford’s and #3 Tennessee’s DMRs in the process would help the team cause too.

Gopher Day 1 team score: 6 points.

Saturday afternoon: Liz Roehrig matches her #2 seed in the pentathlon. The four-time Big Ten champ in the event didn’t get a mark in pentathlon long jump last year, so she’s sure to be hungry for a big meet.

Gopher team score: 14 points.

Saturday over the supper-hour: Alicia Rue matches her seed in the pole vault to finish 4th. Bettering #2-ranked Kate Sultanova of #6-ranked Kansas could help in the team race against the Jayhawks.

Gopher team score: 19 points.

Saturday evening: Cheever, racing for the third time in 24 hours, places 5th in the Mile.

Gopher team score: 23 points.

Later Saturday evening: Dorniden wins the 800 meters, Schwengler earns an additional point in the event by finishing 8th. It’s a lot to ask of Dorniden, but not something the 2006 NCAA Indoor champ hasn’t already done. Geena Gall of Michigan and Alysia Johnson of California are strong runners, but Dorniden has defeated both in NCAA Championships.

Final Gopher team score: 34 points.

Again, even a hats-off team performance like the one projected above could still fall short of a trophy. Who really knows, of course, how the rich pageant that is the NCAA Championship will play out in the next two days.

With our eyes on the Gopher women, though, we’ll be eagerly watching.

NCAA Links ...

You can follow NCAA Division I action via a live web-cast HERE.

Live results will be posted HERE.

The USTFCCCA has compiled a great list of links for the D1 meet and this weekend's other NCAA Championships HERE.

Tollefson Undecided on Olympic Trials Event

2004 Olympic 1500 meter semi-finalist Carrie Tollefson, in New York City for tomorrow's Central Park Challenge: USA Men’s 8K Championship, Women’s Invitational 8K, said yesterday she's still deciding which event to contest at the Olympic Track and Field Trials this summer.

"I’m keeping the options open — 1500 and 5000," she told the media yesterday in the Big Apple. "You can’t double this year, you know — the Olympic schedule doesn’t permit it. I’m going to race a lot now — a couple more road races, and then I’ll start running 5000s, then shift down to the 1500."

Tollefson, who spent the better part of 2007 recovering from a long-standing abdominal injury, returned to competition in February at the Tyson Invitational where she finished 6th in the Mile in 4:42.85.

"The 5000’s got a lot of good Americans now," she noted. "Jen Rhines is racing it again, Marla [Runyan] might come back, and there are the younger women now, too, like Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman. The Olympic standard won’t get us far any more — when Shalane [Flanagan] is running 14:44, well, we’ve got to run fast."

Tollefson is one of five Team USA Minnesota runners competing in the Central Park Challenge 8K tomorrow, the USA 8k Championship for men and an impressive, non-championship gathering of U.S. women. Also competing for Team USA Minnesota are newly crowned USA 15K champ Andrew Carlson, Matt Gabrielson, and Brad Lowery in the men's race, and former USA 10K champ Katie McGregor in the women's event.

Other Minnesotan's in event include former Carleton College all-American Matt Hooley and St. Paul Academy and Summit School graduate Cack Ferrell.

Full startlists can be found here ... MEN WOMEN

Vault Air Show to Highlight Division II Indoor Championshps in Mankato this Weekend

Can you take off work this afternoon?

Can you get to Mankato by 4:15?

We’ve got a good reason for you to do both … the air show that will be the women’s pole vault competition at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships at Minnesota State University – Mankato today.

Sure, the meet will be loaded with competition as national championships typically are, but the women’s vault features three Minnesota stars, two reigning national champs, and the highest-flying D2 vaulter ever all soaring over the same elevated bar.

Defending D2 indoor champ and #1 seed Katelin Rains of hosts Mankato, holder of D2’s highest vault at 14-0 ½, will compete against 2007 NCAA Division II outdoor champ Jennifer Hensel of Minnesota State – Moorhead, the #5-seeded vaulter in tonight’s event at 12-6, as well as true-freshman Mankato teammate Lauren Stelten, seeded #3 at 13-0 1/4. Stelten was last year’s MSHSL Class AA pole vault champ.

At which height the bar will finally rest and just who will achieve the highest clearance makes the always-exciting pole vault the event of the meet, in our opinion.

Not that there isn’t a lot for the Minnesota track fan to enjoy at the championship. Other events to watch include …

Women’s Shot Put … Where #2-seed Sheena Devine of Bemidji State will attempt to defend her NCAA Division II title.

Women’s 200 meters … Where Mankato’s Brittany Henderson is seeded #2. (She’s also the #5-seed in the 60m.)

Women’s 800 meters … Where Moorhead’s Ashley Roemer is the #4-seed.

Women’s DMR … Where the University of Minnesota – Duluth squad is seeded #4.

Men’s Shot Put … Where Bemidji State’s Joe Remitz is seeded #3.

Men’s 800 meters … Where Mankato’s Denise Mokaya is the #3 seed. (He’s #4 in the Mile as well.)

The meet schedule can be found HERE.

Heat sheets for the meet can be found here … MEN WOMEN

All the other information you’re likely to need can be found HERE

Roehrig, Remitz Earn USATF Minnesota Honors

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field announced that Liz Roehrig and Joe Remitz were named USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for March.

Roehrig, a University of Minnesota senior, set a U of M and Big Ten record in winning the pentathlon at the recent Big Ten Indoor Championships with 4,218 points. The two-time Gopher All-American became the first Minnesota athlete, male or female, to win four consecutive Big Ten individual titles in the same event/sport. Roehrig, a Chilton, Wisconsin native will compete in the pentathlon at this weekend’s NCAA Championships as the #2 seed in the event.

Remitz, a Bemidji State University senior, enters this weekend’s NCAA Division II Championships after taking home first place in the shot put event at all eight meets this indoor season and earning NSIC Male Field Athlete of the Year accolades for the second consecutive year. His throw of 59-07 1/2 successfully defended his NSIC shot put crown while adding over a foot to his previous season-best and school record. He also won the weight throw title with a school- and NSIC-record toss of 60-11 1/4. Remitz will compete this weekend at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships at Minnesota State University – Mankato, where he is seeded #3 in the shot put and #10 in the weight throw.

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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Maverick Athletes, Tommie Coaches win Regional Awards

Minnesota State - Mankato stars Katelin Rains and Denise Mokaya and University of St. Thomas coaches Joe Sweeney and Steve Mathre earned regional awards this week from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Rains, the Division II record holder in the women’s pole vault, was named NCAA Division II North Central Region women's field event Athlete of the Year. This weekend the Spring Lake Park alum will shoot for her second straight NCAA indoor championship in front of her home crowd as MSU-Mankato host the D2 championships. At the North Central Conference Championships two weekends ago, Rains won the pole vault and triple jump.

Mokaya was named the North Central Region's men's track Athlete of the Year after he won the 800 meters and the mile at the NCC meet, leading Minnesota State to its third straight team title there. He is ranked second nationally in the 800 (1:51.41) and the mile (4:07.05). Mokaya, the 14th-place finisher at the 2007 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, is a sophomore from Ngong, Kenya.

Sweeney, who guided the Tommie women to their ninth straight women's title at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference indoor meet, was named NCAA Division III's women's Central Region Coach of the Year. Sweeney has coached at St. Thomas for 27 years, winning National Coach of the Year honors in 1995. His teams have won 21 of the 24 MIAC indoor titles contested.

Mathre, whose Tommies swept the men's and women's titles at the MIAC indoor meet for the 24th year in a row, earned the region's men's Coach of the Year award. The St. Thomas men have never lost at the MIAC indoor Championships.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Andrew Carlson Interviewed

Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson is running in the Central Park Challenge 8K this weekend in New York City. You can read about his recent exploits, winter training and racing, and plans for the rest of the season in this NYRR interview by clicking here.

Human Race Kicks Off 2008 Team Circuit

There are definite signs of spring in Minnesota. The snow is melting, the days are getting longer and the Human Race takes place on Sunday. The 8k event has become the traditional start of both the spring racing season and the USATF Minnesota Team Circuit. If you are part of a racing team, be sure to take a look at the Circuit Rules for 2008. There have been a few changes.

Team USA Minnesota athletes Jason Lehmkuhle and Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle have been named as the event's Human Race Heroes for 2008. The Lehmkuhle's have designated the Jenny Crain Make It Happen Fund as their charity. Crain is an elite runner from Wisconsin who suffered serious head injuries when she was hit by a car during a training run last August. Please consider making a donation through the Human Race or directly to the fund.

Ed Whetham, the chairperson of USATF Minnesota's Long Distance Running committee, has announced that the Human Race will serve as a selection event for a spot at the USA 25k Championships. One male athlete will be selected to take part in the Association Athlete Development Program (AADP). The selected athlete will receive elite status (including lodging and travel assistance) at the Fifth Third River Bank Run on May 10, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information on the selection procedures, contact Whetham at

File photo by Pete Miller.

Bjorklund Half Marathon Fills Fast;
Grandma's Marathon Still Open

Long one of the hottest tickets in Minnesota road racing, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is officially closed to registration after a record 9200 applicants sought slots in the event's 4500 runner field, race officials announced.

The 18th annual Bjorklund Half Marathon, which is run on the second half of the Grandma’s Marathon course, is scheduled for Saturday, June 21, at 6:30 a.m. Recently, Grandma's officials announced that prize money for the event will be doubled for this year's event. Race victors will earn $1500 from a total purse of $14,000.

Marathon still open ... Some 500 starting line spots still remain for Grandma's Marathon, also scheduled for June 21. For the second straight year -- and despite the initiation of on-line registration for this year's event -- the marathon has been slower to fill than usual.

Irvin 5K ... Registration for the final Grandma's weekend event, the William A. Irvin 5K, begins on Wednesday, March 19. Runners hoping to nab one of the 1,200 available spots for that event should register online at The 15th annual William A. Irvin 5K is Friday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

USATF Minnesota Indoor Championships Photos

Eric Pierce was trackside at Bethel University during the USATF Minnesota Indoor Championships on Sunday and submitted a gallery of photos. As always, the meet attracted athletes in virtually every age group from around the region.

Complete results are available here.

Photo by Eric Pierce.

Former Gopher Harrigan Featured by IAAF

The University of Minnesota women's school record-holder in the indoor 60 and 200 meter events was recently featured HERE on the IAAF web-site.

Tahesia Harrigan, representing the British Virgin Islands, won a surprise bronze medal in the 60m dash at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain last weekend.

Harrigan, who is still coached by former U of M assistant Sidney Cartwright, credits her young son with her renewed sprinting prowess, accoring to the IAAF story. Harrigan, who also holds the Minnesota outdoor 100m record, left the Gopher program early to follow Cartwright to the University of Alabama where she finished her collegiate career.

Harrigan's recent breakthrough comes at a convenient time, this being an Olympic year. Of her Beijing aspirations, she told the IAAF's Steve Landells:

“I want to be a finalist or a medallist. I have big hopes."

Thanks to Rick Recker for alerting DtB to the story.

Heath, Gopher Coaches Nab Regional Awards

Stanford University's star miler Garrett Heath and Golden Gopher women's head coach Matt Bingle and his assistant Gary Wilson earned regional awards from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Heath, a Winona Senior High School alum, was named the West Region's top men's track athlete of the indoor season. Heath won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in the mile and anchors the Stanford distance medley that has the nation’s third-fastest time behind Texas and Arkansas. Heath enters the NCAA Indoor Championships with the nation’s third-fastest time in the mile at 3:58.17.

Bingle earned the Midwest Region's top head coach honor after the U of M women defended their Big Ten Indoor title at the Minnesota Fieldhouse two weekends ago. Bingle has never lost at the Big Ten Indoor Championship in his two seasons as head coach.

Wilson was named the Midwest Region's top assistant coach. Wilson served for 21 years as Minnesota’s head women's coach before handing the reins over to Bingle in 2007. Wilson has stayed on as an assistant in charge of the distance events, and his runners played instrumental roles in the Gophers’ back-to-back titles.

On to Nationals ... Fields are set for this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The #7-ranked Gopher women will send five individual competitors and a relay squad to the event. Big Ten champ Liz Roehrig will compete in the heptathlon as the #2 seed, middle distance heroine Heather Dorniden will contest the 800 as the #5 athlete in the event.

Dorniden will be joined by teammate Julie Schwengler in the event. Alicia Rue will compete in the pole vault as the #4 seed and Jamie Cheever will race the mile. The distance medley relay team of Gabriele Anderson, Rikita Butler, Dorniden and Cheever is seeded #6 in the meet.

The Gopher men will send Ibrahim Kabia to the championships in the 60 meter dash. Kabia, the 5th place finisher and an All-American a year ago in the event, is seeded 15th with a time of 6.67 seconds.

You can find solid coverage of the run-up to the NCAA meet HERE, at Trackshark.Com.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Big Ten Indoors on The Big Ten Network Tonight

If you missed the women's Big Ten Indoor Championships at the University of Minnesota Field House, you can watch it tonight. The Big Ten Network, the cable channel, will air a two-hour show on the meet from 6-8 PM. For night owls, they will rebroadcast the program from 10 PM-12 AM. If you miss those, additional broadcasts will be aired Tuesday night from 9-11 AM and Friday 12-2 PM.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Minnesota

High School Track Season Opens Today

Though undoubtedly most of the state's top preps have been training for the 2008 track season since the last one concluded in June, today marks the first day that high school coaches across Minnesota are allowed to conduct official practices.

We at DtB look forward to bringing you another season of high school track coverage. To kick off the season, here are four questions that only the action on the track and field can answer.

1. How far can Jordan jump?

Last year, Wayzata's Jordan Helgren notched her best marks of the season in both the long and triple on the biggest stage--the state meet. After jumping 18-10 1/4 and 38-10 1/4 a year ago, Helgren enters 2008 not only as a heavy favorite in Minnesota but also as a national contender. Her triple from 2007 exceeded the USATF Junior Nationals qualifier of 38-8 3/4. In addition to defending her state titles, the Trojan senior will have a legitimate shot at all-time state records in both events.

The best long jump in Minnesota history belongs to Cindy Bethany for the time being, who jumped 19-1 3/4 in 1990. Jummy Alowonle's 35-9 1/2 has topped the all-time leaderboard since 2000.

2. Who will claim the boys' 800 crown?

In 2007, we saw Irondale's Andy Richardson and Buffalo's Zach Mellon (pictured racing at State last year) record the fifth and eighth best times in state history over two laps, at 1:51.60 and 1:51.87 respectively. Mellon edged Richardson in the final of the state meet in a mild upset. Both will be back this year, along with 2006 champion Issac Veldkamp of Eden Prairie (who ran a respectable 1:53.67 in '07) and cross country runner-up Jordan Carlson of Rosemount (1:53.88 last year). With a total of nine returners owning personal bests under 1:56, this may be the deepest field Minnesota has ever seen in the 800 meters.

Jason Owen's state record of 1:49.13 has stood since 1996, but may be in jeopardy. He and Trent Riter are the only two Minnesota preps to break 1:50. Richardson's mark from last year was the fastest time ever run by a junior; Mellon's mark is second only to Owen's 1:51.41 among sophomores.

3. Can anyone stop Sade Pollard in the sprints?

Last year, the St. Paul Harding girls finished 6th at the Class AA State meet, amassing 34 points. Sade Pollard was their only representative. As a junior, Pollard won the 200 and 400 meter dashes, and placed 2nd in the 100 meters. With PRs of 12.21, 25.36 and 56.99, she will receive plenty of attention from Division I coaches as a senior.

Despite her dominance, Pollard is far from the only female sprinter with state titles on her mind as the season begins. Apple Valley's Kylie Peterson, who won the 100-meter-dash in 2007, will be back as well. So will all of the top five finishers in the 200, including runner-up Antoinette Goodman of Burnsville, who ran 25.40 at the state meet, just four hundredths behind Pollard.

4. How 'bout that Finnerty guy?

Most years, Rob Finnerty would have won two events at the state meet, but last year wasn't like most years. Winona's Elliott Heath set a meet record in the 3200 meter run in 9:02.65, then went on to run an all-time state record and 8:43.09 equivalent at Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Though Finnerty may have blended into an historically fast lead pack a year ago, he will be hard to miss on the track in 2008. After earning an elusive state cross country title in the fall and following it up with a 9th-place finish at Foot Locker Nationals, the Blaze star will look to add two more state championships this spring, likely in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. After an 8:59.15 full two-mile at NON last year, he will also figure into the national picture in the distance races.

Looking for answers to these questions? Stay tuned to DtB this track season.

Photo by Gene Niemi; from left Veldkamp, Mellon, Richardson.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Thanks for Sharing

Today marks the end of my three week, three day run as "custodian" here at DtB. I've enjoyed the experience, had fun getting back to my "roots" in the community I've called home since 1972. I moved here in June of 1972, just graduated from Bowling Green State University where I had the privilege of running on the track and cross country teams.

I was welcomed with open arms by the Minnesota running community. I ran in races, did volunteer work for the MDRA and other running groups in the area, and wrote a running column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch a long time ago. I've met a lot of great people, heard and told a lot of stories. I've lived on both coasts in the US, in London, England, and seen a good bit of the world(including a recent trip to the Great Wall in China, pictured here). Minnesota ranks right up there as a running community in all aspects of the sport.

One of the first people I met when I moved here was Ron Daws, an Olympian, an artist, an original. Ron's great talent was to be able to absorb ideas from others and put them to use. The reason people were attracted to him is that he gave as much as he took. Distance running is ultimately a test of energy management, and Ron maintained that for him to succeed he had to manage his limited natural talents better than those who were better athletes. So he sought to find the best training methods, the best equipment, clothing, anything that could give him a better chance.

To perform better in hot weather races, he would run in the sweat suits in the spring and summer. To minimize the weight he had to carry he would rebuild his running shoes, making them lighter, more flexible, whatever worked. He approached the sport like a coach and a scientist, deconstructing everything and building himself as an athlete.

I had to laugh looking at the University of Minnesota Field House where the Big Ten Indoors was held last weekend. The new synthetic track. The modern facility. Back in 1972 we called it the barn for good reason. The "track" surface was dirt so that the baseball team had a place for spring practice. We used to joke that we all would develop "brown lung disease" from working out in there. In fact, rather than run on the dirt and tight turns of the indoor track Daws found refuge in the winter on the Washington Avenue Bridge.

The enclosed walkway on top of the bridge that connects the east and west bank campuses was perfect for interval workouts. We'd run the quarter mile from one end to the other and grab onto the poles at either end, swing ourselves around the corner, and take off back to the opposite end. Great for half mile and mile repeats, as it had just enough heat to prevent frostbite and a surface free of snow and ice. It was a typical Daws low-tech solution to winter training in the frozen tundra.

To simulate running on the hills in Boston for the annual spring marathon, Daws would do workouts up and down the inclines that rise up on either side of Riverside Park on the Mississippi River Boulevard between Franklin and Washington Avenues. He didn't invent specific training, just utilized it as much as he could to bolster his confidence and prepare himself physically for the challenges. He didn't keep any of this secret. He shared his methods with everyone.

That was the Minnesota ethos, not all for one, but rather one for all. That's sort of what DtB is, a collective effort to share information about the Minnesota running community. My time here wasn't spent doing original reporting. I collected information, packaged and distributed it. My thanks to those who contributed. Pete Miller, Sean Hartnett, Gene Neimi, Pat Goodwin, the sports information departments of the MIAC, NCC, NSIC, Big Ten, U of MN, Bob Gustafson of Grandma's Marathon, Kristine Smith of TCM, Bill and Tim Miles, Tim Zbikowski, Tom Langenfeld, and all the athletes and coaches who shared their stories.

We didn't have the Internet back in 1972. Our social networking was done the old fashioned way. Now we can electronically share information, swap stories, and keep people all over the globe informed on what's happening in the Minnesota running and track community. Keep spreading the news and sharing the information. It's a grand Minnesota tradition.

St. Thomas Teams Dominate MIAC Championships

The St. Thomas men won their 24th consecutive indoor MIAC championship while the St. Thomas women captured their 21st team title on Saturday in Collegeville. The men’s scored 235.5 points, followed by Saint John’s (114.5), Hamline (90.0) and Bethel (82.5). The St. Thomas women won with 233 points, followed by Gustavus Adolphus (98.5), Bethel (98), Concordia-Moorhead (87) and Saint Benedict (75).

St. Thomas junior Joe DeFrance won the 200 meters with a time of 22.23 and was also part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team(3:21.96) along with James Ewer, Phil Bastron and P.J. Theisen. Ewer also automatically-qualified for nationals in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.34 and won the long jump on Friday. Bradford(6.45) and DeFrance(6.46) recorded provisional NCAA qualiifiering marks in finishing second and third, while Hamline's Clarence Suttle(6.47) and Andrew Yokum of Macalester(6.54) also had provisional qualifiers in fourth and fifth. Following up a first-place finish in the mile UST senior Neil Atzinger won the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:33.48.

Saint John’s junior Eric Buss won the triple jump with a national-qualifying jump of 48' 1.25"(14.66 meters). UST's Theisen was second in an NCAA provisional qualifier of 46' 7.5"(14.21 meters)Hamline senior Brandon Gleason won the 3,000-meter run with a new Donald McNeely Spectrum record time of 8:35.58, while freshman Derall King won the shot put with a throw of 51' 9"(15.71 meters), a provisional qualifier. Gleason also was second in the 5K on Friday in 14:35.2. Bethel freshman Jay Quick won the high jump with a height of 6' 7.5"(2.02 meters), a provisional qualifier. St. Olaf sophomore John Schentzen was second in the shot with an NCAA provisional qualifying throw of 51' 6.5"(15.71 meters). Carleton junior Tom Ballinger won the 600 yard dash while setting a Spectrum record of 1:12.48.

Carleton (66.5), St. Olaf (61), Gustavus Adolphus (43), Concordia-Moorhead (35), Saint Mary’s (26), Macalester (20) and Augsburg (6) rounded out the final seven in the men’s standings.

St. Thomas sophomore Nikki Arola won her third event of the two-day meet with a new Donald McNeely Spectrum record time of 25.42 in the 200 meters. UST sophomore Erin Sprangers won the 1,000-meter run with a new Spectrum record time of 2:55.45, while seniors Selina Dehn and Carol Comp won the triple jump (37' 0.5"/11.29m) and shot put (42' 2"/12.85m), respectively. Both marks were NCAA provisional qualifiers, as was Bethel senior Jennae Plamer's second place leap in the triple jump of 36' 9.5"(11.21 meters). The Tommie women also swept the 800 and 4x400-meter relays. The 800-meter relay team, consisting of Arola, Dehn, Shionna Evans and Kate Staat recorded a time of 1:45.99, while the 4x400-meter relay team consisting of Arola, Sprangers, Katie Theisen and Raynee DeGrio recorded a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:57.61.

Bethel sophomore Marie Borner won her second individual title on the weekend with a new Spectrum record time of 1:34.68 in the 600 meters. Concordia-Moorhead freshman Hailey Brenden won the 3,000-meter run in a time of 10:36.44, while Gustavus senior Shanna Dawson and St. Olaf sophomore Amie Fillmore tied for the MIAC title in the pole vault with a height of 11' 11.75"(3.65 meters).

Carleton (51.5), St. Catherine (42.5), Hamline (39), St. Olaf (20.5), Macalester (17), Augsburg (14) and Saint Mary’s (4) rounded out the final seven in the women’s standings.

The 2008 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held next Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.