Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Team USA Minn. Adds Notre Dame's Smyth

Team USA Minnesota has added seven-time Notre Dame all-American Patrick Smyth to its training group, organization president Pat Goodwin announced today.

Smyth (pictured), a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, finished 7th in the 10,000 meters at last weekend's USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Smyth concluded his college career earlier in June, placing 4th in the 10,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He has a best in the distance of 28:25.85.

He also has PRs of 3:47.15 in the 1500m, 7:55.41 in the 3000m, and 13:39.50 in the 5000m. The history major finished 11th at last fall's NCAA Cross Country Championships.

"We're very excited to have Patrick join Team USA Minnesota," coach Dennis Barker said. "He is one of the top U.S. distance runners coming out of college this year. He has great potential at a variety of distances and I'm looking forward to working with him."

Find Smyth's full Team USA biography HERE, at the Team USA Minnesota web-site.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Carter Holmes Returns to the Track

Carter Holmes, the masters track and field star who suffered a massive heart attack in 2008, spending four-and-a-half days in a coma, returned to the sport he loves last weekend, participating in the Star of the North Games in Sauk Rapids on Saturday.

Competing in track events using a walker, Holmes contested the 100, 200, and 400 meter events. He also threw the shot, discus, and javelin at the meet. Holmes won the javelin event, in which he had no opponents.

Jim Schoffman, who won the 100, 200, and 400m events, told DtB that Holmes was "delighted" to be competing again.

Results of the meet can be found HERE.

Prior to the competition, the St. Cloud Times published THIS nice feature on Holmes.

Shortly after Holmes' heart attack, Jim Ferstle wrote THIS story about the incident and Holmes for DtB.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekend Update: USA Championships Sunday Recap

A number of Minnesota athletes played prominent roles in the final day of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene Oregon.

Laura Hermanson recorded a personal best time of 2:01.28 to finish fifth in a very competitive women's 800 final. The Burnsville native who just completed her senior season at North Dakota State University had run 2:01.37 at the NCAA championships where she finished second.

Minnetonka grad Will Leer also finished in fifth place, running 3:44.28 in a tactical men's 1500 final.

Gopher star Liz Roehrig amassed 5802 points to finish sixth in the women's heptathlon.

In the women's pole vault, the Gopher's Alicia Rue cleared a PR and school record-tying 14 feet, 3 and a quarter inches to finish in seventh, while Mankato's Katelin Rains cleared 13 feet, 9 and a quarter inches to finish in a tie for 12th.

Former Gopher Karl Erickson finished 8th in the discus throw with a toss of 193-9. The University of Minnesota's Aaron Studt recorded three fouls and did not place in the men's shot put.

In Juniors Competition... Buffalo's Zach Mellon made a big move with 250 meters remaining to take the lead in the men's 800 meter final, only to be passed just before the finish by Joe Abbott of Washington State. Mellon ran 1:51.7, less than two tenths of a second behind Abbott. Watch video of the race here.

In other juniors events, former Wayzata star Jordan Helgren leaped 42 feet, one and a half inches to finish third in the women's triple jump. Travis Beniak ran 9:33.72 to finish ninth in the men's steeplechase and Donny Wasinger ran 15:12.79 to finish 11th in the men's 5000 meters.

Complete results are available here.

Videos of most track events are available here.

Will Leer (top, green singlet) and Zach Mellon (bottom, BISON singlet) photos courtesy of trackandfieldphoto.com.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend Update: USA Championships Saturday Recap

The third day of competition at the 2009 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships was a tough one for many athletes with Minnesota ties.

Liz Roehrig sits in seventh place after the first day of heptathlon competition with 3546 points. The Gophers senior performed well in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump and 200 meters, but struggled in the shot put. You can read the University of Minnesota Athletics recap of the event here.

Minnetonka High School alumnus Molly Lehman finished eighth in the women's 1500 meter final, running 4:12.13.

Luke Watson, the former Stillwater star, ran 8:57.98 to finish 14th in the men's 3000 meter steeplechase.

In the field, 2009 Gustavus Adolphus College grad Lisa Brown finished 14th in the javelin with throw of 151-3 Bryan Tolcser, a assistant coach at Macalester College, finished 26th in the hammer throw with a mark of 206-6.

In Juniors Competition ... Minnesota state high school record holder Zach Mellon of Buffalo competed in the junior men's 800 prelims, running 1:49.8 to qualify for Sunday's final. Former Winona Cotter star Donny Wasinger ran 4:00.51 in the junior men's 1500 prelims and did not advance to the final. Wasinger will also compete in the junior men's 5000 meters on Sunday afternoon.

Former Zumbrota-Mazeppa star Travis Beniak will compete in the junior steeplechase today as well.

Photos by Becky Miller. Molly Lehman battles Georgetown's Margaret Infeld in the women's 1500 final. Luke Watson competes in the men's steeplechase final.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Late Show: USA Championships Friday Recap

Day two of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships concluded with mixed results for Minnesota athletes.

Goucher Wins 5000m Title... Duluth native Kara Goucher turned in another stellar performance by running away from the field to win a second consecutive USA Championship at 5,000 meters in a time of 15:20.94. Goucher, who is planning to run the marathon at the World Championships in Berlin, earned a spot on the U.S. team in 5000,with the win.

"I finally executed my plan," Goucher told USA told USA Track & Field after the race. "I got a lot of inspiration from my training partners who raced effortlessly yesterday.”

You can watch Goucher's race HERE.

Team USA Minnesota had a trio of athletes in the event. Emily Brown ran 16:07 for 13th place while Meghan Armstrong finished 16th in 16:42. 2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson did not finish.

"[Carrie] has had a stress reaction in her foot since May and has been training totally on the underwater treadmill for a few weeks," Team USA Minnesota president Pat Goodwin told DtB. "She was hoping her foot would hold up during the race. She was, however, limping a bit during her warmup and after a mile in the race she knew she needed to drop out without risking further injury. Her foot was pretty sore after the race."

In semi-final heats of the women's 800 meters, Laura Hermanson kept the dream alive by running 2:02.44 to qualify for Sunday's final. Her collegiate rival, Heather Dorniden finished in 2:06 and did not advance.

In the women's triple jump final, Amanda Thieschafer leaped 44 feet, 9 inches to finish in sixth place. Her training partner, 2008 Olympian Shani Marks recorded only one legal jump of 43 feet, one and a half inches to finish in 11th.

St. Louis Park native Laishema Hampton finished in seventh place in the junior women's shot put with a throw of 47 feet, 7 and three quarters inches.

Former Gopher Karl Erickson threw 193 feet, 9 inches on his first attempt in the men's discus final, then struggled with fouls to finish in eighth place.

Complete results from the meet are available HERE.

There's video of all the action on the track HERE, thanks to Flotrack.

Photos by Becky Miller.
The best runners (and jumpers and throwers) in the United States will converge on Track Town, USA, this weekend. The U.S. squad for the World Championships will be decided in Eugene, Oregon this weekend with many Minnesotans sure to be in the mix.

The 1500 features former Minnetonka runner Will Leer as a top contender, and he is the focus of Yes/No this week:

Yes/No: Will William Leer finish in the top three in the 1500 at the USA Championships in Eugene on Sunday?

While Will Leer had a great running career at Minnetonka H.S., few would have predicted the national success he has achieved as of late. Leer ran 4:16 and 1:54 in High School and moved on to Division III school, Pomona College in California. He won 4 NCAA Division III titles at Pomona and graduated with a 3:41 best in the 1500. In 2008, running for the Oregon Track Club, Leer finished 4th at the Olympic Trials and ran a new 1500 P.R. of 3:37 in Europe.

Will Leer trains in Eugene, Oregon and will compete on his home track in the 2009 U.S. Championships. Leer won his heat on Friday evening and will compete on Sunday afternoon as one of the favorites to earn a World Championship berth.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 2:30 P.M. CDT, Sunday, June 28th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My Answer: No

Yes/No Results from last week: Mary Akor defied the odds and won her third consecutive Grandma’s Marathon, thereby rewarding three Yes/No contestants who answered “Yes” to the question “Will Mary Akor win the women's title at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday?”

You can find the all the results and leaderboards at DtB Fantasy Corner.

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Late Show: USA Championships Thursday Recap

The opening day of the 2009 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships was a successful one for many of the Minnesota athletes competing at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

In women's competition, Burnsville native Laura Hermanson and the Gophers' Heather Dorniden both achieved "Big Q" qualifiers for Friday's 800 meter semi-final. Hermanson ran 2:04.68 while Dorniden ran 2:05.97 to move on to the next round on place. Former Minnetonka star Molly Lehman grabbed the last qualifying spot in Saturday's 1500 meter final with her 4:16.54 in prelims.

McGregor Makes World Team ... In one of the evening's only finals, Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor (pictured, follwoing Shalane Flanagn, above) ran 32:08 for third place in the 10,000 meters, behind Amy Begley and Shalane Flanagan. Begley's winning time of 31:22 established a new Hayward Field record for the event and is the ninth fastest time ever run by an American. By finishing in the top-3, McGregor earned the right to represent the USA at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

You can watch McGregor's race HERE.

McGregor's post-race interview is HERE.

There's video of all the action on the track HERE, thanks to Flotrack.

On the men's side, Andrew Rock ran 47.10 in his 400 meter prelim, but failed to qualify for the next round. Continuing the solid day for 1500 runners formerly from Minnetonka, Will Leer picked up a "Big Q" qualifier, running 3:42.18 to win his heat and move on to Sunday's final. Former Winona star Garrett Heath ran 3:41.83 in a faster heat of the 1500, yet missed qualifying for the final by two tenths of a second.

Another former Minnesota high school star, Stillwater's Luke Watson ran 8:45.23 to grab the last qualifying spot for Saturday's steeplechase final. Team USA Minnesota's Josh Moen finished 13th in the 10,000 meter final with his time of 28:57, while Hopkins alum Mike Kirsch was a DNF in the event.

Complete results of all of Thursday's action can be found HERE.

Photo by Becky Miller.

USA Championships Open Today in Eugene

Athletes from across the United States are converging on Eugene, Oregon once again for the USA Track and Field Championships.

The meet, which opens later today, will also serve as the USA Junior Championships.

The USA Championships will select athletes for this summer's IAAF World Track and Field Championship in Berlin, Germany held August 15-23. Already, Minnesotans Kara Goucher and Matt Gabrielson are set to compete in the marathon in the meet.

The USA Junior Championships will select athletes for the Pan American Junior Championships to be contested in Port of Spain, Trinidad from July 31st through August 2nd.

Minnesota athletes competing in the USA Championships include, among men, former World Championships 400 meter silver medalist Andrew Rock, 1500m up-and-comers Garrett Heath and Will Leer, Team USA Minnesota 10,000m runner Josh Moen, former Stillwater and Notre Dame steeplechaser Luke Watson, 2007 USA high jump champion Jim Dilling. Gopher shot put all-American Aaron Studt, and former Gopher discus ace Karl Erickson.

In open women's competition, 2009 NCAA Outdoor runner-up Laura Hermanson and 2006 NCAA Indoor champ Heather Dorniden will compete in the 800m, Minnetonka alum Molly Lehman will race 1500m, Goucher and Team USA Minnesota's Carrie Tollefson, Emily Brown, and Meghan Armstrong will race 5000m, 2005 USA 10,000m champion Katie McGregor will race the 25-lap event, Mankato's Katelin Rains and the Gopher's Alicia Rue will pole vault, Olympian Shani Marks and Olympic Trials 5th place finisher Amanda Thieschafer will compete in the triple jump, and former Gopher star Liz Roehrig will compete in the heptathlon.

Minnesota junior athletes enter in the meet include: Minnesota's fastest high school 800m runner ever, Zach Mellon, former Winona Cotter state champion Donny Wasinger in the 1500m and 5000m, MSHSL all-time State Meet record-holder and former Wayzata stat Jordan Helgren in the triple jump, and former St. Louis Park star LaiShema Hampton in the shot put.

Competition at the championships begins today at 11:00 a.m. Minnesota time, with the Junior decathlon. Open competition begins at 1:00 p.m. CDT, also with the decathlon.

The meet schedule (and in the future, results) can be found HERE.

Heat sheets are available HERE (juniors) and HERE (open).

There's live streaming video from the meet HERE.

Flotrack will provide extensive video coverage of the meet HERE.

Look to DtB for regular updates on the competition and exclusive photos from Eugene.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remembering Burnsville's 1978 Sprint Medley

When we heard the news that Buffalo High School had broken Burnsville's venerable state-best sprint medley relay mark at Nike Outdoor Nationals over the weekend, we knew we wanted to track down Dave Griffith.

We figured the long-time Burnsville coach could help us remember his 1978 squad's accomplishment. The affable Griffith (pictured) was happy to oblige us: "I cannot remember what happened yesterday, but 1978 is a bit clearer," he quipped.

Griffith's team had run 3:28.5 for a mile sprint medley, which converts to 3:27.2 for the 1600m version of the race run nowadays. Buffalo, powered by Zach Mellon's 1:49.49 anchor leg, ran 3;25.60 at NON.

Indeed, "Griff"s" memory of the 1978 State Meet in St. Cloud, where his team ran a time that would not be bettered by another Minnesota squad for more than 30 years, was quite detailed.

"The medley was run in two sections against time," Griffith remembered. "Standards were hard to achieve back then, but there were more than eight teams that qualified. We must have been in the first section. As I remember the event, we were in lane four and lane one was open."

The race went anything but smoothly.

"The race started and an inspector at the first exchange quickly moved the second 220 runners in one lane each," Griffith said. "That meant, of course, that the entire group of incoming runners was facing an exchange with outgoing runners in the 'wrong' lane. That exchange was a debacle."

"The outgoing runners remained in this 'wrong' lane," Griffith continued, "until they reached the second exchange where, you guessed it, their exchange was made with runners who were in the appropriate lane--one lane 'out' from where they were running. That exchange was even worse than the first because stagger distances had been 'made up,' and the runners were closer together."

Somehow, though, the Burnsville team of Dave Dyson, Jim Rassmussen, Eric Kristensen, and Rob Carney got the baton twice around the track in record fashion. Kristensen split 49.7 for his 440y leg; Carney, the State mile champ in '77 and '78, split 1:51.1 for 880y.

But was the mark a record, what with official's mistake?

"I heard the dreaded: 'Would the coach from Burnsville please report to the finish line,' but we were not disqualified," Griffith said. "We were told that we would not be credited with the record. We broke the all-time state record, but it wasn't allowed because we ran shorter than one mile. We lost in the botched exchanges more time than we gained by running short, but the ruling was, in my mind, the correct one."

Independent statisticians, however, considered the mark legitimate ... and Minnesota's best until last weekend when Buffalo clocked its 3:25.60.

Griffith, who now serves as an assistant coach at St. Olaf College, says he's lost track of the whereabouts of Jim Rasmussen and Eric Kristensen over the years. Dave Dyson, who won the long jump at the '78 State Meet and placed in the 100y, graduated from St. Olaf and now lives in Eden Prairie. Carney, who graduated from North Dakota State University, now lives in Lakeville.

Photo courtesy of St. Olaf College.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Milers to Raise Funds for Cindy Brochman

An evening of mile races on the Macalester College track one week from today will raise funds for Twin Cities runner Cindy Brochman who is battling cancer.

Brochman, a former St. Olaf College runner who has been a long-time fixture on the local road running scene as a member of the Run N Fun team, was diagnosed with myo fibroblastic sarcoma in December.

There's a fine interview with Brochman, HERE, on the Chad Austin's Running Minnesota web-site about her condition and her varied athletic career -- which also includes volleyball and snowshoeing.

You can also follow Brochman via her Caring Bridge pages, HERE.

The "Rock for Broch!" races begin at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30. There are separate mile races for kids, masters, and open runners of various abilities. Runner's are asked to make a $10 minimum donation to register for the event.

All proceeds from the event will help Brochman pay the medical expenses she is incurring. Silcone "Rock for Broch" bracelets and buttons will be sold at the event. There will also be a fund-raising raffle.

Today is the final day for mail-in pre-registration; entries must be postmarked by June 23. In-person pre-registration will continue through Friday, June 26 at the Run N Fun store in St. Paul. Race-day registration begins at 5:15 p.m. on June 30.

You can find the entry form for the race HERE.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buffalo, Lakeville North Top All-Time Bests

The Buffalo High School sprint medley squad and Lakeville North's 4 x 100m relay team clocked all-time Minnesota High School bests at the Nike Outdoor National meet in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend.

Buffalo finished runner-up in Friday night's sprint medley competition, clocking 3:25.60. Running for Buffalo were senior Kaleb Stevens, sophomore Timothy Ernster, and seniors Taylor Vick, and Zachary Mellon.

Track Eastern Carolina won the race with 3:24.54.

Mellon split 1:49.49 for the 800m anchor leg, according to reports. (Mellon did not compete in the open 800m at NON, but is declared for this week's USA Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. )

Buffalo's time for the 1600 meter event eclipsed the previous Minnesota all-time best mark of 3:27.2, set by Burnsville 1978. Burnsville's mark is converted from a mile sprint medley they ran in 3:28.5.

Buffalo closed succesful 2009 season with a Class AA relay title in the 4 x 400, the Class AA team title, and, now, the all-time mark in the sprint medley, an event no longer contested in MSHSL competition.

You can watch video of Buffalo's race, HERE.

You can find the all-time Minnesota performance list for the sprint medley, prior to this season, HERE.

Lakeville Scares, Tops 4 x 100m Mark ... Lakeville North's 4 x 100m team gave Eastview's all-time Minnesota 4 x 100 meter relay mark of 41.82 a scare in the NON prelims on Friday, clocking a finals-qualifying 41.91.

In the finals on Saturday, the all-senior team of Trevor Jellum, Jonathan Anyaogu, Nathan Sayler, and Nick Nelson clocked a record-breaking 41.67 to finish 4th in the event and surpass Eastview's mark.

Ben Davis High School of Indianapolis won the event with 41.09.

The new state-topping mark for Lakeville North was sweet redemption -- the Panther 4 x 100m relay was disqualified at the Section 1AA meet.

You can watch Lakeville North NON prelim race HERE.

Their final at NON is HERE.

The all-time Minnesota performance list for the 4 x 100m, prior to this season, is HERE.

Full results from the Nike Outdoor National meet are here ... BOYS * GIRLS

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Minnesotan Wins Grandma's Marathon!

Sauk Rapids native Christopher Raabe won today's Grandma's Marathon, becoming the first Minnesota man to win the race since Dick Beardsley's win in 1982.

Raabe's win is the first by an American since Mark Curp won Grandma's in 1995.

Listen to Raabe's post-race interview here ...

Find our full coverage of the race BELOW.

Akor Wins Third-Straight Grandma's

Mary Akor joined Olympic bronze-medallist Lorraine Moller as a three-time Grandma's Marathon champion.

Akor, a Nigerian-born American, won a six-second victory over Russian Alina Ivanova in 2:36:51.

Listen to Akor's post-race interview here ...

Find our full coverage of the race BELOW.

Live Coverage: 33rd Grandma's Marathon

Find our live Grandma's Marathon coverage archived below.

Complete results will be posted HERE.

-- Official Women's Results: 1. Mary Akor 2:36:52 ... 2. Alina Ivanova 2:36:58 ... 3. Robyn Friedman 2:38:03 ... 4. Serekalem Abrha 2:41:06 ... 5. Albina Gallyamova .... 7 Jenna Boren 2:47:49

-- Official Men's Results: 1. Christopher Raabe 2:15:13 ... 2. Charles Kanyao 2:18:36 ... 3. David Tuwei 2:19:49 ... 4. Rueben Chesang 2:19:54 ... 5. Tesfaye Girma 2:20:40 .... 10 Chris Lundstrom 2:24:11

-- Mary Akor wins a record-tying third-straight Grandma's Marathon in 2:36:51 ... Alina Ivanova runner-up in 2:36:57, unofficially!

-- Alina Ivanova is still in contention behind Mary Akor, says the lead vehicle ... it's now a 10 -second lead for Akor.

-- Mary Akor is in downtown Duluth ... and in the lead by 15 seconds!

-- Sauk Rapids native Christopher Raabe wins Grandma's Marathon in 2:15:13!

-- At 25M, Christopher Raabe still leads!

-- Reports from the course say the crowds are going wild for Raabe!

-- Chris Raabe's 24th mile was 5:12.

-- Heading to the 24M mark ... Christopher Raabe is up by 2:00!

-- At the top of Lemondrop Hill, past 22M ... Chris Raabe leads by 1:30! Dick Beardsley --the last Minnesota man to win Grandma's and a radio man today -- says Raabe still looks strong.

-- Joshua George wins the men's wheeler division of the marathon in 1:32:01

-- At 18M in the women's race ... Mary Akor and Janet Cherobon have dropped Alina Ivanova.

-- At 19M ... Chris Raabe is up by a full minute in the men's race ... 5:02 and 5:01 for the last two miles.

-- At 17M ... Chris Raabe is up by 26 seconds.

-- At 16M … Chris Raabe leads by 100m … his last three miles have been 5:08, 5:03, and 4:58.

-- After 14M in the men's race, Chris Raabe, the Sauk Rapids native, is in the lead ... 25m ahead of the pack!

-- At 12M into the women's race, the lead pack is down to three runners -- Alina Ivanova of Russia (a former Olympic raacewalker!), double defending champ Mary Akor, and Kenyan Janet Cherobon.

-- At 10M, the women's lead pack numbered five -- including defending champ Mary Akor ... 58:37

-- Men's 13.1M split 1:07:50

-- At the marathon 12M mark ... the men's pack numbers a dozen runners ... it includes last year's runner-up David Tuwei of Kenya, who trains in Coon Rapids, as well as Minnesota native Chris Raabe and fellow American Peter Gilmore.

The pack has averged 5:04 miles through 11 miles, but has slowed to 'five-teens" miles of late.

-- Belainesh Gebre's post-race interview is here ...

-- Ernest Kebenei's post-race interview is here ...

Assisted? ... According to the interview, Kebenei said he was kept informed about the size of his lead the race's lead cyclists.

-- Official Women's Half Marathon Results: 1. Belainesh Gebre 1:11:57 (course record) ... 2. Hyvon Ngetich 1:12:41 ... 3. Caroline Rotich 1:14:46 ... Alemtsehay Misganaw 1:16:38 ... 5. Frashiah Waithaka 1:16:38 6. Michelle Lilienthal 1:17:51

-- Official Men's Half Marathon Results: 1. Ernest Kebenei 1:05:17 ... 2. Ezkyas Sisay 1:05:26 ... 3. Fernando Cabada 1:05:30 ... 4. Matt Gabrielson 1:05:36 ... 5. Mike Reneau 1:05:57

-- At 5K into the marathon ... a men's pack of 20 runners ... a 4:55 first mile, 15:10 at 3M.

-- Belainesh Gebre wins the women's half in 1:11:57, unofficially.

-- Ernest Kebenei of Kenya wins in 1:05:16, unofficially.

-- The marathon runners are off! Conditions: 64 degrees, 85% humidity, 59 degree dew-point.

-- The wheelers are away in the 33rd Grandma's Marathon.

-- With ten minutes until the start of marathon, HERE's today's Star-Tribune story about two-time women's champ Mary Akor, written by Rachel Blount ... who's sitting next to me in the media center right now.

-- In the women's half marathon, Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia leads Hyvon Ngetich of Kenya and Ethiopian Alemtsehay Misganaw, the 2009 Get in Gear champ.

-- Around the 5 mile mark of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, reports have Kenya' Ernest Kebenei in the lead by 200m over 2008 TCM champ Fernando Cabada, Ethiopia's Ezkyas Sisay, and Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson.

Kebenei has a smoking 1:01:50 PR for the distance.

-- Radio reports from the course all seem to start with a comment about how warm it is already.

-- We're still waiting for our first report on the half marathon. There was an important scratch there as well, defending champion Mathew Chesang scratched due to an ankle injury.

-- There's another late scratch in the marathon, Christopher Toroitich of Kenya, a 28-year-old 2:11:58 runner, got stuck at the Houston airport last night, with no flights to Minnesota in time for the race.

-- Dick Beardsley, the Grandma's Marathon course record-holder (and a radio commentator here today) made his race-winner prediction just now. He thinks American Peter Gilmore will become the first USA winner at Grandma's since Mark Curp won in 1995.

-- Anticipating the marathon start at 7:30 a.m., we can tell you that two more Kenya athletes -- Benson Cheruiyot and Francis Kipketer -- who planned to race the marathon will not be on the start-line today, due to problems obtaining U.S. visas.

-- While we're waiting for an update on the half marathon, we can tell you that John Heitzman and Michelle Oman were the winners at last night's William A. Irwin 5K, the kick-off race of Grandma's weekend. Oman has now won four of the last five Irvins.

The Duluth News-Tribune's coverage of the Irvin 5K is HERE.

-- The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is underway!

Welcome to Down the Backstretch's finish-line coverage of the 33rd Grandma's Marathon!

It's a clear sunny day here at the finish-line at Canal Park in Duluth. At 6:25 a.m., just before the start of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, the Duluth temperature was 63 degrees, the dew-point was 57 degrees, and the relative humidity was 82%.

Reports from up the course report calm conditions at the marathon start-line, but a building head-wind as runners approach Duluth. Conditions in Duluth are breezy. Hour-by-hour temperature predictions forecast finish-time temperatures for the elite runners not much higher than they are now -- in the mid-60s. The high for the day is forecast at 75 degrees.

We'll update you on progress in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the 33rd Grandma's Marathon as the events progress. Just refresh your browser regularly for news on all the action. The latest info will be posted at the top of the page; older info will be collected below.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kara Goucher Working on Her Kick

Kara Goucher tells Universal Sports' Joe Battaglia that she has returned to the track mainly to work on her kick. Read about it here.

Grandma's Past: The 2008 Champions

Concluding our retrospective on Grandma's Marathon champions from the recent past, we give you the champions of 2008:

Mary Akor -- Last year, Akor became only the third woman in history to defend her Grandma's Marathon title, joining three-peater Lorraine Moller and course-record holder Fira Sultanova-Zhdanova. The Nigerian-born American won a wire-to-wire victory in '08, turning a 21-second lead at half-way into a nearly three-minute victory in 2:38:50

Lamech Mokono -- Running with the same race-number -- #6 -- that Wesly Ngetich wore when he won his second Grandma's in 2007, and running with the fallen champion in mind, Mokono won the 2008 Grandma's in his Duluth debut. The Kenyan pulled away near the half-way mark and weathered a late charge from compatriot David Tuwei for a five-second win in 2:13:39.

Results of the 2008 Grandma's Marathon are HERE.

Photos by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon.

TCM Champ Cabada a Bjorklund Favorite

Fernando Cabada, the emotional victor of last year's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, will be a favorite at tomorrow morning's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, held in conjunction with Grandma's Marathon in Duluth.

Cabada finished runner-up to Mathew Chesang in the Bjorklund Half last year, four month's before he'd win a rain-soaked USA Marathon Championships at Twin Cities in October.

(If you haven't heard Cabada's honest, emotional post-race interview before, we recommend it here ... )

Cabada has stuggled a bit in 2009, however. After a 10th-place, 1:03.31 finish at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston in January, he placed only 23rd at the USA 15K Championships in March and 20th at the USA 25K race last month, where he was runner-up in 2008.

Aside from Chesang, who also returns to Duluth, other men's favorites include Ernest Kebenei of Kenya, who has the fastest PR in field with his 1:01:50, Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson, the TCM runner-up who will race the IAAF World Championships Marathon later this summer, Ryan Meissen, the course record-holder at 1:04:19, and Mike Reneau, the third place finisher here in 2008.

The full elite men's startlist for the Bjorklund half is HERE.

The full women's startlist is HERE.

The top contenders in the women's race include Hyvon Ngetich of Kenya who has the fastest PR in the field at 1:09:45, compatriot Caroline Rotich, last year's runner-up, and Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia.

Team USA Minnesota's Michelle Lilienthal is the top local contender.

The Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates wrote about the Bjorklund Half yesterday, HERE.

Can Akor Three-Peat? ... Pates also has a story today about Mary Akor's attempt to match Lorraine Moller's feat of winning three-straight Grandma's Marathon titles. Moller won the race in 1979, 1980, and 1981, setting a course record that stood until 2003.

Read Pates' story HERE.

Pates also wrote a short piece about tonight's William A. Irvin 5K, HERE,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grandma's Past: The 2007 Champions

Continuing our amble down memory lane, Down the Backstretch highlights the recent Grandma's champions and the races they won.

Today, the champions of 2007:

Wesly Ngetich -- Ngetich, the Grandma's winner in 2005, eschewed the break-away front-running that cost him the '06 title, becoming the race's 4th two-time men's champ in 2:15:55 in '07. The Kenyan waited until the 17-mile mark to break from the lead pack. Sadly, seven months later, Ngetich would be slain in Kenya during the tribal clashes that followed the country's disputed presidential election.

Mary Akor -- Third in the race a year before, in 2007 Akor battled New Zealand's Liza Hunter-Galvan for 19 miles before heat and a hamstring injury forced the Kiwi to abandon the race. Akor then cruised to the finish line in 2:35:40. The Nigerian-born Akor became the first American to win the Grandma's women's title in 11 years.

Results of the 2007 Grandma's Marathon are HERE.

Photos by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon.

Mokono Out of Grandma's Marathon

Lamech Mokono, the 2008 Grandma's Marathon champion, has been scratched from this Saturday's edition of the event, Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune reports HERE.

The U.S. visa the Kenyan needed to enter the country was not granted in time for the 28-year-old to defend his title.

Wide-Open Field

Kenyan David Tuwei, last year's runner-up in 2:13:44 returns as one of the favorites in the men's race. He'll be joined by compatriots Benson Cheruiyot, the runner-up at this year's Houston Marathon in 2:11:33, David Cheruiyot, who is unbeaten in his last three marathons and who sports a 2:10:35 PR from 2007, and Francis Kipketer, who clocked 2:10:27 in 2007 and has two top-ten finishes at the Paris Marathon.

Notably, no elite male Russian athletes will compete at Grandma's in 2009. Only Ukrainian Yevgeniy Sirotin, a masters runner with a 2:19:00 PR, hails from eastern Europe, a region that has accounted for four Grandma's men's winners.

Local favorites in the race include Sauk Rapids High School and NDSU alum Christopher Raabe and Team USA Minnesota's Chris Lundstrom. The DNT's Pates has a feature on Lundstrom HERE.

Duluth native Eric Hartmark is entered in the marathon as well.

(See the post below for a brief listing of women's favorites.)

Update: Here are complete elite fields for MEN and WOMEN at Grandma's.

There's also a listing HERE of athletes who have been added to and dropped from the field since the event's media guide was published.

Pete Gilmore, an American with a 2:12:45 PR, and Zinaida Semenova, the 46-year-old 2002 Grandma's champ and three-time TCM winner, are the most notable additions to the race.
Photo of Mokono by Gene Niemi

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Despite lower registration numbers and competition from new local marathons, Grandma's marathon remains Minnesota's race of choice for elite marathoners during the spring/summer season. The international elite field is strong again this year, but perhaps the best story revolves around an American contender; Mary Akor will be attempting the rare feat of winning three consecutive Grandma's Marathons.

We'd like you to predict whether or not she will build on her success:

Yes/No: Will Mary Akor win the women's title at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday?

Not only has Akor won the last two Grandma's but she was 3rd in 2006 and 4th in 2005 at the Duluth classic. Akor has certainly proven herself to be a prolific marathoner with 17 marathon finishes in 2005 and 2006 alone. But her races involve quality as well as quantity - the Nigerian-born star bettered the qualifying standard for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials 11 times. Akor also seems to run her best in Minnesota - her PR is 2:33:50 from the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon.

At Grandma's this year, it appears Akor's most likely challenge will come from one of three women. 40-year-old Alina Ivanova of Russia sports a 2:25:34 PR from 2001 and ran 2:29:20 to win the 2007 Dublin Marathon. Poland's Dorota Gruca, 38, ran 2:33:32 to finish 30th in the Beijing Olympic Marathon last summer. Finally, Robyn Friedman of Lambs Grove, Iowa is an intriguing contender. She has a PR of 2:35:02 from the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, where she placed 9th. The 36-year-old just ran 1:11:12 for 20K

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 7:30 a.m. CDT , Saturday, June 20th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My Answer: No

Results from recent contests ... Two weeks ago, the question "Will there be 2 or more All-Time State Meet Records broken at the Minnesota State High School Meet on Friday and Saturday?" - was likely affected by the inclement weather. There was only one all-time meet record over the weekend and the correct answer was "No." Seven contestants answered correctly.
Last week's Pick 10 contest was won by Charlie Mahler with 29 points. Kyle Serreyn, Ryan Aylesworth and Jesse Schoen all tied for 2nd with 22.

You can find the all the results and leaderboards at DtB Fantasy Corner.

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Grandma's Past: The 2006 Champions

As part of our Grandma's Marathon coverage this week, Down the Backstretch is remembering recent Grandma's champions and the races they won.

Today, the champions of 2006:

Svetlana Nekhorosh -- Although Nekhorosh crossed the Grandma's finish-line as the #2 woman in '06, she was elevated to race champion after apparent winner Halina Karnatsevich was disqualified for a doping violation. The Ukrainian's delayed victory was made possible by a blazing last 10K -- Nekhorosh clocked 36:32 in the final 6.2 miles, more than a minute faster than any of her competitors over that stretch.

Segei Lukin -- 2005 Grandma's champion Wesly Ngetich eschewed his patient winning formula in the '06 race, building more than a minute lead on the field by half-way. Lukin, though, caught the struggling Ngetich at the top of Lemon Drop Hill in the 23rd mile and motored on to victory in 2:14:30. Ngetich would finish only 6th in 2:20:13.

Results of the 2006 Grandma's Marathon are HERE.

Photos by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon.

Grandma's Marathon Round-Up

There's lots of news coming out of Duluth about this weekend's Grandma's Marathon and its related events. Here's a round-up of those stories ...

-- Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune has a fine story HERE about women's half-marathon favorite Belianesh Gebre of Ethiopia.

-- Yesterday Pates had THIS piece about Dick Beardsley in the DNT.

-- Team USA Minnesota announced HERE that three of its athletes will be competing at Grandma's. Chris Lundstrom will race Grandma's Marathon, while Matt Gabrielson and Michelle Lilienthal will compete in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

-- Grandma's Marathon announced this week that John Docter, Steve Greenfield, Kellie Luedloff, and Bill Wenmark have been named to the event's Hall of Fame.

Docter and Greenfield both have been volunteer media vehicle drivers for more than 30 years. Luedloff is a longtime volunteer and has been captain of the seven-mile water station since 1994. Wenmark is a longtime Grandma’s Marathon participant, training program founder and long-distance running ambassador.

-- Grandma's also announced its 2009 Ron Daws Ambassador Award and Award of Excellence recipients.

Jim Kirkham is this year’s Ron Daws Ambassador Award winner. Kirkham, of Minneapolis , is a longtime participant in Grandma’s Marathon ’s and a dedicated supporter of the organization’s races and events.

Sue Bussa is the 2009 recipient of the Award of Excellence, given annually to an individual for his or her dedication, commitment and service to Grandma’s Marathon . Bussa, of Duluth , was the race’s medical tent coordinator for nearly 30 years.

Huschle, Dehn Named Athletes of the Month

Analisa Huschle and Caesy Dehn have been named USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for June 2009.

Huschle, a sophomore on the Bagley/Fosston track and field team, was honored for breaking the Minnesota State High School League all-time State Meet record in the girls’ long jump. Huschle marked a Class A-winning leap of 19-feet, 2 and ¼ inches at the meet on June 5. Huschle, who also won the triple jump and 200 meter dash at State, led her squad to the Class A team title.

Dehn, a senior at Owatonna High School, was recognized for winning the Class AA boys’ shot put and discus competition at the MSHSL State Meet. Dehn put the shot 61-feet, 5-inches and threw the discus 165-4 to defend the titles he won in 2008.

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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grandma's Past: The 2005 Champions

As part of our Grandma's Marathon coverage this week, Down the Backstretch is remembering recent Grandma's champions and the races they won.

Today, the champions of 2005:

Wesly Ngetich -- Like 2004 champion Vladimir Tsiamchyk, Kenya's Ngetich, who was killed in Kenya's tribal, post-election violence in 2008, used patience to win the first of his two Grandma's titles. The 28-year-old didn't catch race leader Pavel Andreev of Russian until after the 23-mile mark, en route to a close 2:13:18 win. Compatriot Simon Sawe finished just 13 seconds behind Ngetich; Andreev was 12 seconds behind Sawe.

Halina Karnatsevich -- Karnatsevich of Belarus won the first of what appeared to be two Grandma's titles in '05 by pushing the pace from the start. She led from the 10K mark on, winning in 2:28:43, the second-fastest women's mark ever on the course. In '06, Karnatsevich would cross the Canal Park finish line first again, but be stripped of her title after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol.

Results of the 2005 Grandma's Marathon are HERE.

Photos by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon.

Twin Cities Marathon Fills Its Field

It took longer than usual, but the field has filled for this fall's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Race organizers announced yesterday that the October 4 event has reached it's 11,000 runner capacity. This year's race took nearly twice as long to fill as last year's -- reaching its limit on the 60th day of registration this year as opposed to the 33rd day in 2008.

In 2006 the race closed in 15 days, in 2007 it filled in 17 days.

“We look forward to a great race on October 4,” Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. executive director, Virginia Brophy Achman said. “Filling the field again this year is a testament to the commitment to healthy lifestyles that runners continue to uphold, regardless of economic fluctuations. Not only is the sport relatively inexpensive and easily accessible, the tremendous community support out there welcoming marathon participants each year really makes this event one we are proud to be part of."

Runners still wishing to run the race, can get a race number via the event's Community Partners Fundraiser Entry Program, which benefits TCM's youth fitness partners, including Bolder Options, Migizi Communications, and the YWCA of Minneapolis.

The fundraiser offers 150 additional online marathon entries with donations used to support these partners. Interested participants can go online to HERE to take part in the program. For the price of registration, plus a $100 tax-deductible donation, the first 150 entries received will gain entry into the 28th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grandma's Past: The 2004 Champions

As part of our Grandma's Marathon coverage this week, Down the Backstretch will remember recent Grandma's champions and the races they won.

Kicking off the series ... the champions of 2004:

Fira Sultanova-Zhdanova -- 2003 Grandma's women's champ Sultanova-Zhdanova returned Grandma's in 2004 as both the defending champ and course record-holder. The remarkable 43-year-old had broken Lorraine Moller's 1981 course record with her 2:27:05 win in '03. Breaking away early in '04, the Russian became the second woman to defend her Grandma's title, winning in 2:35.08.

Vladimir Tsiamchyk -- The pre-race talk in 2004 was about Kenyan marathon debutante Luke Metto. Metto kept people talking for 20 miles, breaking away early and building a lead of more than two minutes at 20 miles. Metto suffered mightily in the late-going, though, and was caught by Tsiamchyk of Belarus., who won won in 217:59.

Results of the 2004 Grandma's Marathon are HERE.

Photos by Jeff Frey & Associates, courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon.

Hermanson and Coach "Shocked" by 2:01.37

The Fargo Forum published THIS story on North Dakota State half-miler Laura Hermanson.

The Burnsville High School alum finished second in the NCAA women's 800 meters on Saturday.

The Takeaway ... Both Hermanson (pictured) and her coach Ryun Godfrey were in "shock" from her 2:01.37 performance.

You can watch video of women's 800m final (and other events) HERE, thanks to the University of Minnesota

Photo courtesy of NDSU.

Getting Ready for Grandma's Marathon

After focusing on track and field in a large way the past few weeks -- the State Meet, the NCAAs -- it's time to return to the roads and the marathon event, for a week anyway, as we anticipate the 33rd running of Grandma's Marathon.

Duluth's signature marathon and its companion Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon take place on Saturday. The William A. Irvin 5K gets the weekend's racing underway on Friday night.

The Duluth News Tribune kicked-off their Grandma's coverage yesterday with Kevin Pates' piece, HERE, about the likelihood of a sub-two-hour marathon world record. Pates talks to DtB friend and contributor Sean Hartnett for the piece.

Today, Pates has a story, HERE, about a locally designed and manufactured shoe pedometer.

Yesterday, the DNT's Andy Greder wrote, HERE, about the economic impact of Grandma's having 1500 fewer entrants than last year. The marathon, of course, failed to sell out for the first time in 15 years.

Fast Talkers ... Grandma's marathon typically gathers a group of interesting -- and fast-running -- speakers for its Friday afternoon "lecture" program.

This year is no different. Offering marathon and distance running advice are Running Times writer Scott Douglas, Minnesota Olympian Carrie Tollefson, Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Sammuelson, and Grandma's course record-holder Dick Beardsley.

Find the presentation schedule and more information on the speakers HERE.

MSHSL Championships Photo Gallery

Longtime running and track photographer Dennis Hahn has contributed an extensive set of images from last week's MSHSL Track and Field Championships. As always, Hahn's photos capture all the drama and emotion of high school athletics at it's best. The MSHSL gallery (as well as many others) can be found on the USATF Minnesota site.

Photo by Dennis Hahn.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hermanson, Heath Are NCAA Runners-Up

Laura Hermanson and Garrett Heath finished second in their respective events at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas this afternoon.

Hermanson, a Burnsville High School grad who represents North Dakota State University, ran PR 2:01.37 to finish runner-up to Michigan's Geena Gall in the women's 800m.

University of Minnesota senior Heather Dorniden finished 8th in 2:04.44.

Heath, a Winona High School alum representing Stanford, ran 3:39.51 to finish second to Oklahoma State true-freshman German Fernandez in the men's 1500m.

In the women's 1500m, Minnetonka High School alum Molly Lehman of Duke finished 7th in 4:15.19.

Results of the meet can be found HERE.

Sunday Additions: There are Flotrack video interviews with Hermanson, HERE, and Heath, HERE.

Roehrig Runner-Up in NCAA Heptathlon

Liz Roehrig ended up where she started out in the NCAA heptathlon.

The Gopher fifth-year senior finished runner-up in the event for the second year in a row, tallying a school record 5892 point the two-day event.

She was also the #2 seed coming ino the event this year and began the second day of competition in second place.

Oregon sophomore Brianne Theisen won the event with 6086 points.

Roehrig actually dropped to 3rd place in the competition after the long jump, Day 2's opening event, where she marked 19-3. Roehrig remained 3rd after the javelin, where she threw 125-8. The Chilton, Wisconsin native, however, grabbed second place on the heels of the 800m, where she ran 2:22.05.

Roehrig ended her Gopher career as easily the most decorated mutli-eventer in U of M women's history -- holding the school record, winning seven Big Ten multi-event titles, and earning all-American honors on five occasions.

Rue Third in Vault ... Gopher Alicia Rue finished in a tie for third in the NCAA pole vault. The Robbinsdale Armstrong alum cleared 14-1 1/4.

Indiana State's Kylie Hutson won the event with 14-5 1/4. Two other athletes cleared 14-1 1/4 along with Rue, but Vera Neuenswander of Indiana did so without a miss, gaining second place. Rue tied with Notre Dame's Mary Saxer.

Rue's lone miss, before three failed attempts at the winning height, came at 13-9 1/2.

Rue becomes in outdoor all-American for he first time after earning the distinction twice indoors.

Heath Edges Mead in 5000 ... Stanford University's Elliott Heath edged the Gophers Hassan Mead for 5th place in the 5000 meter final that wrapped up last night's session.

Heath clocked 14:08.56 for 5th place in the event; Mead was 6th with 14:09.87.

Oregon's Galen Rupp won the dawdling event in 14:04.14, doubling back from the previous night's 10,000 which he also won.

Heath became an all-American for the first time with his performance. Mead matched last year's 6th place, all-American finish from a year ago.

There's a Flotrack interview with Heath (with a cameo by Mead) HERE.

There's a Flotrack interview with Mead HERE.

Hermanson vs. Dorniden ... This afternoon at 12:19 p.m. CST, live on CBS television, Minnesota natives Laura Hermanson and Heather Dorniden will compete in the women's 800m final. Hermanson was a 2008 Olympic Trials finalists; Dorniden was the 2006 NCAA Indoor 800m champion.

You can watch video of Hermanson and Dorniden in Thursday's semi-final race HERE.

Also competing this afternoon are Duke University's Molly Lehman, a finalist in the women's 1500, scheduled for 1:09. p.m., and Stanford's Garrett Heath a finalist in the men's 1500, set for 1:21 p.m.

Live result from the meet can be found HERE.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gophers' Studt Takes 5th in NCAA Shot Put

University of Minnesota shot putter Aaron Studt finished 5th in last night's men's shot put final at the NCAA Divsion I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The junior landed a PR 63-02 3/4 on his second throw of the competition. Arizona State's Ryan Whiting won the competition with a 65-11 3/4 mark.

Studt the Big Ten indoor and outdoor champion in the event was a double all-American this season. The Ripon, Wisconsin native was the runner-up at the NCAA Indoor meet this winter.

Decathlon Agony ... Gopher decathlete R. J. McGinnis, who finished his first day of competition in 11th place, fought his way back to as high as 7th place during yesterday's action, only to have an elbow injury derail his chances in the javelin.

McGinnis, who suffered the injury winning the Big Ten title a month ago, could only muster one painful throw in the event -- a mark of 133-7 -- which dropped him out of the competition for all-American honors. He finished 17th in the two-day event with 7294 points.

Earlier in the day, McGinnis had run 14.77 in the 110-meter high hurdles, thrown of 134-9 in the discus, and cleared 14-1 3/4 in the pole vault. After the fateful javelin event, McGinnis ran 4:52.84 in the 1500m.

Heptathlon Hopes ... Gopher heptathlete Liz Roehrig finds herself in 2nd place with 3653 point after the first day of action in her event.

The 2008 NCAA Outdoor runner-up and the #2-seed in the event this year opened her meet by running 14.13 seconds in the 100m hurdles. She was then was one of only two athletes to clear 5-11 1/4 in the high jump. Roehrig moved into second place in the competition after the shot put, where she threw 43-7 1/4. The fifth-year senior capped her day with a 24.29 200m.

Nia Ali of Southen Cal leads the competion with 3663.

Laskowske 10th ... The Gophers' Amy Laskowske finished 10th in the 10,000m final. The sophomore ran 34:24.11 for the distance. Hanna Grinaker, the Detroit Lakes alum who attends the University of Wisconsin, finished 17th in 35:20.11.

Hermanson and Dorniden Advance ... North Dakota State senior Laura Hermanson, a Burnsville native, and the Gophers Heather Dorniden both advanced to Saturday's 800m final.

Hermanson finished an automatic qualifying 2nd in the second semi-final of the night, running a PR 2:03.19. She'll toe the finals' starting-line with the third-fastest semi-final time.

Dorniden, running in the same semi-final, finished 4th in 2:03.77. She advanced on time as the eighth of nine finalists in the event.

There's a post race interview with Dorniden, HERE, on Flotrack.

Heath, Lehman Advance at 1500 ... Two Minnesotans qualified for the NCAA 1500m finals. Stanford's Garrett Heath, a Winona native, won the second preliminary heat of the event in 3:44.22. He advanced to finals with the third-fastest time from the round.

There's a post-race interview with Heath, HERE, on Flotrack.

Gopher sophomore Ben Blankenship finished 5th in his heat in a PR 3:42.47, but missed qualifying by two places.

Duke University's Molly Lehman, a Minnetonka High School alum, finished an automatic-qualifying 3rd place in her prelim to advance to the women's 1500m finals.

The University of Minnesota's Elizabeth Yetzer missed finals by one place despite running a PR 4:18.11.

Ellis Misses Final by Inches ... Picking up on an item we missed yesterday, Duke's Jade Ellis, a Tontino-Grace alum, missed advancing to the men's long jump final by just two and a half inches on Wednesday.

Ellis jumped 25-3 1/2 to finish 15th in prelims. A mark of 25-6 advanced to finals.

Live results from the meet can be found HERE.

Video of today's action, beginning at 11:00 a.m., will be streamed HERE.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Pioneer Press Interviews Hassan Mead

The Pioneer Press's Marcus Fuller interviews Hassan Mead, who qualified for the 5K final at the NCAA champs in Arkansas in the wee hours of the morning today. Story is here.

Fisher Out of NCAA High Jump with Injury

Matt Fisher, the University of Minnesota high jumper who was tied for the top seed in the event at this week's NCAA Championships, was forced to withdraw from competition with an ankle injury yesterday.

Fisher, the Big Ten Indoor champion this year, cleared 6-8 3/4, the opening height of last night's preliminary round, but slipped on an attempt at 6-10 3/4 and was forced to retire from the meet.

Fisher had cleared 7-4 1/2 earlier this season.

The bulk of the Gophers' stars, however, advanced in the competition yesterday, which was delayed by stormy weather during the evening session.

Mead Advances ... Gopher distance star Hassan Mead advanced to the finals of the 5000 meters with a 14:00.79 victory in his heat of the event. The 5000m was one of those delayed three hours by the weather.

Flotrack has a post-race interview with Mead HERE.

Teammate Chris Rombough did not advance from his heat of the 5000m, finishing 11th in 14:09.79. Winona High School alum Elliott Heath of Stanford finished an advancing 2nd in that heat, in 13:58.43.

Studt to Finals ... Aaron Studt, the runner-up at the NCAA Indoor meet this winter, advanced in the shot put competition. The Ripon, Wisconsin native qualified with the 9th-best throw in the competition, a mark of 60-05.75.

Studt will compete in the shot put finals this evening.

McGinnis in 11th ... Gopher decathlete R. J. McGinnis enters the second and final day of decathlon competition in 11th place with 3972 points. McGinnis set two personal best in yesterday's five events, but was hampered by a sub-par 400m at the end of the session.

McGinnis started the day with a career-best 11.09 100m and then landed a 22-11 1/4 long jump, and marked a 47-8 1/2 shot put. He scored another career-best in the high jump by clearing 6-8 3/4. McGinnis found himself in 4th place after four events.

McGinnis ran only 52.37 seconds in the 400m, however, and fell to 11th in the standings at the end of the day.

Dorniden Wins Heat ... Heather Dorniden, the Gopher women's program's most celebrated athlete, won her preliminary heat of the 800m in what will be her final track meet as a Golden Gopher. The 2006 NCAA Indoor champion ran 2:05.16 for the victory.

“It felt amazing," Dorniden said of her race. "That was the best-feeling race I’ve had all year, so that’s a really good sign going into the rest of the meet."

Burnsville alum Laura Hermanson of NDSU advanced with a second-place, 2:05.54 clocking in her heat. Hermanson's teammate Brittany Gigstead, originally from Perham, did not advance, finishing 6th in her heat in 2:09.38.

Dorniden's teammate Nikki Swenson also failed to advance, winding up 7th in her prelim in 2:10.08.

Dorniden and Hermanson compete in the semi-finals of the 800m this evening.

Rue Advances ... NCAA Indoor runner-up Alicia Rue advanced to the finals of the pole vault with a 13-5 1/4 clearance. After waiting out the rain-delay -- her event didn't begin until 10:15! -- the Robbinsdale Armstrong alum passed the opening height and then made three straight clearances to advance as one of four jumpers with a clean score sheet.

Competition resumes this morning with Day 2 of the decathlon, Day 1 of the heptathlon, as well as a host of prelim and semi-final event on the track and in the field. Liz Roehrig, the runner-up in the event last year, will begin competition in the heptathlon today where she is the #2 seed.

Live results from the meet can be found HERE.

Video of today's action, beginning at 10:30 a.m., will be streamed HERE.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Follow the NCAA Championships with DtB

The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships are underway!

Follow the action of the Gophers and other Minnesota athletes with the help of these links:

-- Heat Sheets for Men and Women

-- Live Results

-- Live Steaming Video of the Meet

-- FloTrack's Coverage

-- The USTFCCCA Links Page

-- University of Minnesota NCAA Previews for Men and Women

-- The Star-Tribune has a feature on Heather Dorniden HERE.

On center stage today, along with preliminary action in a host of field and running events, is first day competition in the decathlon for Gopher R.J. McGinnis, the #6 seed.

We'll have daily coverage of the meet each morning and news flashes as warranted.

Twin Cities Marathon Should Close This Week

Registration for this year's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is on track to close this week, race officials announced yesterday. Less than 500 spots in the race remained as of Tuesday morning.

The race has a field limit of 11,000 runners. Runners from all 50 states and 16 countries have registered for the October 4 event, which will serve as the 2009 USA Women's and Masters Marathon Championships.

TCM was ranked the 9th largest marathon in the country in 2008 according to number of finishers. For more information, visit mtcmarathon.org.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On January 10th, Division I track and field in Minnesota started the 2009 season with an indoor meet at the U of M. Fast forward to this week, and the season is coming to a close with the NCAA Outdoor Championship at the University of Arkansas. As usual, many Minnesotans will be major players on the national stage. We picked 10 of the best to showcase with Pick 10 this week.

A refresher on Pick 10 rules: You're asked to predict the finish place for each of 10 chosen athletes at D1 Outdoor Nationals. You will score points for each athlete that scores at or above the finish place you predict for them, following the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system. If the athlete finishes below your predicted place, however, you receive zero points.

To play Pick Ten, cut and paste the list of names/events below into an e-mail and add your place predictions -- 1st, 2nd, 3rd... or 8th. Send your predictions to DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com by 10:30 A.M. CDT on Wednesday, June 10. Make sure your full name is in the e-mail.

Consult DtB Fantasy Corner for full results.

Pick 10 ... NCAA National Meet:

Garrett Heath in the 1500 Meters:
Aaron Studt in the Shot Put:
Hassan Mead in the 5k:
Matt Fisher in the HJ:
R.J. McGinnis in the Decathalon:
Laura Hermanson in the 800 Meters:
Heather Dorniden in the 800 Meters:
Amy Laskowske in the 10k:
Alicia Rue in the PV:
Liz Roehrig in the Heptathlon:

To help you make your picks ... Here is some information on the athletes we've included in the competition:

Ranked lists of accepted athletes are here for Men and Women.

Garrett Heath is ranked 3rd in the 1500. The Stanford senior has already accrued 8 All-American awards in his career. Aaron Studt was the runner-up in the Indoor National Meet in the Shot Put. Studt is ranked 9th going into the meet this week. Hassan Mead is ranked 2nd in the nation at 5000 meters with his school-record 13:28. Matt Fisher is tied for the highest collegiate jump in the nation going into Nationals. R.J. McGinnis currently holds the 6th best Decathlon score in DI.

McGinnis' former high school teammate, Laura Hermanson, was an All-American indoors at 800 meters and is currently ranked 7th. Heather Dorniden is another 800 meter ace and while ranked 11th going into the meet, not many athletes have more National Meet experience than the former National Champ and 8 time All-American.

Amy Laskowske is ranked 10th going into the 10K with only 5 seconds separating the seed times of #5 - #10. Alicia Rue is ranked #3 entering NCAAs and is currently undefeated outdoors. Liz Roehrig returns for one more crack at the NCAA heptathlon crown - the Gopher senior was 2nd in the event last year and is ranked #2 going into the meet.

Good luck!

Yes/No Update ... Last week’s question - "Will there be 2 or more All-Time State Meet Records broken at the Minnesota State High School Meet on Friday and Saturday?" - was likely affected by the inclement weather. There was only one all-class meet record over the weekend and the correct answer was "No." Seven contestants answered correctly.

Yes/No will return next week. Full results are posted HERE.