Monday, August 31, 2009

Gopher XC Teams Report to Camp

In yet another sign that autumn is just around the corner, the University of Minnesota cross country teams have reported to their respective pre-season camps.

After swinging by campus for team photos -- shown HERE and HERE -- and, we're guessing, for the dreaded annual rite of filling out all the paperwork demanded by the NCAA and the University, the teams have headed north.

The Gopher women are training in Ely, while the Gopher men are running from the Belle Shore Resort in Nevis.

Both teams enter the season with high hopes. The Gopher women are the two-time defending Big Ten champions. The squad returns five members of its top-seven from last year's squad, which placed 11th at the NCAA Championships.

The Gopher men, third at Big Ten's and 15th at NCAAs, also return five from the the 2008 team's top-seven. Defending Big Ten individual champion Hassan Mead returns, but the squad will need to fill the spikes of graduated all-American and 2006 Big Ten champion Chris Rombough.

The Gopher women open competition this Saturday with an intra-squad meet at Les Bolstad Golf Course.

The Gopher men also get underway on September 5, at St. Olaf.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Staying Healthy, Sport's Great Challenge

At the introduction of Team USA Minnesota many years ago, coach Dennis Barker was asked about how one handled such talented athletes. He replied that his job was "not to ruin them." It was a tongue in cheek response that basically acknowledged that one of the keys to high level performance is to minimize injuries, a fact even Usain Bolt talked about recently, noting that one of his primary goals for each season is to avoid getting hurt.

Anyone who has coached top level talent will tell you that motivating the athletes to train harder is not an issue, it's getting them to train smart, to not overtrain, that produces the best results. A recent example of that is the new American recordholder in the 5K, Dathan Ritzenhein, who has been a top performer since high school, but has seldom been injury free. For US athletes staying healthy has always been a major challenge.

As the world of distance running has become more competitive, the workload for elite athletes has escalated. That, plus the US high school and collegiate system of racing, has combined to short circuit many careers. Oregon's Galen Rupp, for example, had a brilliant collegiate season, helping his team win the cross country, indoor, and almost the outdoor track championships. Rupp had to double and triple to make that happen, and the effort took its toll as Galen was not 100% going into the World Championships.

Much of the success of the African runners comes down to a sort of "natural selection," Darwinian process where the athletes who can tolerate the highest workload rise to the top of a large pool of genetically gifted athletes. If they don't over race and/or keep their motivation for success high, the Kenyan, Ethiopian, and other top Africans stay near the top of their profession for a long time, just look at Haile Gebrselassie, still setting records as he marches toward his 40th birthday.

In the US, we have access to more sophisticated and costly sports medicine programs that are increasingly utilized to rehab and keep healthy athletes who might otherwise quit their sport in frustration. Zero gravity tredmills, underwater tredmills, and the various technologies used to help heal injured tissue have kept athletes, such as Kara Goucher and Ritzenhein, able to train at a high level year round, instead of constantly struggling to deal with injury layoffs.

We've learned from the Africans that running on soft surfaces, instead of city streets or synthetic tracks, appears to help strengthen the body and reduce injury. Some have suggested that Bolt has also been helped by the fact that much of his training was done on grass tracks and soft surfaces as Jamaica does not have the many modern tracks as we have in the US.

Australian coach Percy Cerutty used to have his runners go barefoot on the beach and run up sand dunes to help strengthen the runners' feet and bodies. Oregon's Vin Lananna had his athletes run barefoot regularly because he thought it helped prevent injuries. The strategies for promoting injury free running are many, and there is no magic formula, as every runner is an experiment of one. Goucher's recent experience with the marathon being a cautionary tale of sorts.

Having had what she and her coach, Alberto Salazar, thought was great training going into Berlin, Goucher was confident that she was ready for a great performance. While the rest of her body was ready, Kara's stomach was not with the result being vomiting up her fuel and falling far short of what she believed she was capable of doing in the race. Now the search is on for training a testy stomach, as well as the rest of the body.

As the saying goes, "if it was easy, everybody would be doing it." Staying healthy sounds easy, but doing it while you push your body to its limit is the great challenge of modern sport.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dennis Barker's Berlin Memories

Team USA and Augsburg College coach Dennis Barker gives his impressions of Berlin and the IAAF World Championships.

Dennis Barker: The city of Berlin did an amazing job of promoting and executing the World Championships. Beginning at the airport to the buses, subways and boulevards there were posters welcoming the athletes and spectators and advertising the events. The Berliners were very excited about hosting the world championships!

The area around the Brandenburg Gate was closed to traffic the entire week and was the center of activity away from the stadium. A local television station broadcast their show here, interviewing many of the top athletes while a large crowd looked on. There was an area for kids to try track & field events in miniature (pole vault, javelin, discus, 30 meter sprint).

Of course, there was a beer garden along with wurst and schnitzel to eat. There was an adjacent art museum that had a impressive display of athletic photos. The race walks and marathons started and finished in this area. During these events the spectators were thick along the entire route (yes, even for the race walks), as well as loud in their support of the athletes. It was easy to know when a German athlete was coming as a roar followed them the entire way around the course.

Berlin is very easy to navigate. Biking is easy and there are a lot of people who do it. The biking and running paths are all over the city and there are many places that rent bikes. We rented bikes and easily got around to most of the city's historic sites.

The subway goes right to the Olympic Stadium, which is an impressive mix of the old 1936 stadium and the refurbished track and roof. Event tickets were expensive but the Germans came out in force night after night and brought a lot of enthusiam along with noise makers.

Of course, Usain Bolt was a huge draw but I really enjoyed the performances by the U.S. distance runners, who performed very well in most events.
Photo Courtesy of Augusburg College

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lisa Hunter-Galvan Admits Doping

The New Zealand Sports Tribunal met yesterday to rule on the case of Lisa Hunter-Galvan. Today the panel issued its ruling that Hunter-Galvan was found guilty of a doping violation for use of rHuEPO, a blood boosting drug used mainly by endurance athletes. The ruling states that Hunter-Galvan admitted taking EPO.

Hunter-Galvan won the women's race at the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. The win helped her earn a trip to Beijing to compete in the Olympic Marathon. It was her second time representing New Zealand in the Games, having also competed for the Kiwi's in Athens in 2004. But Hunter-Galvan had been left off the team for Beijing until she was able to convince the New Zealand selectors that she deserved a spot on the team. Her Grandma's win helped in that effort.

She turned 40 in June, but was tested in San Antonio, where she lives, on March 23, 2009. Once the B sample confirmed the positive test, Hunter-Galvan admitted taking the drug three times this year. The Tribunal's decision can be found here. Reaction to the situation from New Zealand can be found here. Hunter-Galvan talks about her decision here.

Berlin Memories, Part II

Writer/photographer/geography prof Sean Hartnett gives us part II of his Berlin memories.

Sean Hartnett: Now to the track and obvious Berlin headliner, Usain Bolt, and the less obvious historic performances of Kenenisa Bekele. Bolt has become the much needed savior of the sport, and in sharp contrast to some of our recent muscle bound sprints champions, he is a true athletic sprinter along the lines of a Carl Lewis , Michael Johnson, Jesse Owens or Tyson Gay. While the Gay rivalry was dampened by his injured groin, it was ultimately a one man show.

To be fair to Gay, Bolt is something of a physical freak at 6’5” with a sleek athletic build more like a 400-800m runner. It is like you took a top sprinter (be it Gay, Lewis, Johnson and Owens) and copied them at 110% of original size – bigger and better. Once a poor starter, Bolt is much improved such five strides into the 100 (five times that 110% stride length) he already had a meter lead, and the rest was history.

Bolt is obviously a gifted athlete with a solid technical grasp of his events (evident in his flawless relay skills such that he ran the two-pass on the turn third leg of the 4x100), but he is also a virtuoso performer who engages the crowd beforehand, rides the emotional stadium roar through a competition, and salutes the gathered masses with a rock-star encore celebration. Bolt certainly deserved 5-10% of the gate any time he was in the stadium. In almost any other professional sport, he would be rewarded at such a level or higher. From my view, this is a pretty shabby way to treat our sport’s savior. Granted, he has many other income streams (such as record and shoe bonuses), but to award Bolt for his double win less than 10% of PGA champion Y. E. Yang’s take – we won’t have much of a sport to save.

The other end of the track spectrum, produced two historic wins. Admittedly the 5’4” Bekele was almost lost in Bolt’s WR shadow. Bekele first withstood Zerhane Tadese’s persistent pace ratcheting of the second half of the race that systematically dispatched the world’s best distance runners. With a lap to go Bekele burst past Tadese, opening 10 meters on the turn then cruised home to finish off a 26:45 10K, the fastest ever run in a championship competition. Bekele’s 10K win is best viewed from a historic perspective: It was Bekele’s sixth straight World Championship or Olympic gold medal. That is wins in Paris ’03, Athens Olympics ’04, Hesinki ’05, Osaka ’07, Beijing Olympics ’08, and Berlin ’09. No other athlete in any event has amassed such a string of victories. Bekele has now won all twelve 10K races that he has contested in his career.

Bekele also won the 5K on the final day, this time with a very different tactic and a very thrilling stretch-run. With everyone keying on the Ethiopian favorite, Bekele took the lead and ran a rather slow pace until he started to crank up the pace leaving almost the whole field bunched together with a lap to go. A 27 second 200 got rid of most of the competition except defending champ Bernard Lagat. It seemed that Bekele played right into the hands of Lagat when the 1500 meter silver medalist pulled ahead at the beginning of the finishing straight, only to have Kenenisa rally for the win in the final 20 meters. The win gave Bekele the first 5K / 10K double in championship history, adding much to his case as the greatest distance runner of all time.

Not all the track races were as exciting. Both 1500s were rather disappointing with slow pace giving away to a lot of shoving. Two races that exceeded expectations were the men’s steeple where the Kenyan crew pushed a hard pace over the final 2K, and the men’s 110 hurdles which had the dubious challenge of being the race that followed Bolt’s 200 meter WR. While not a super fast time, Terrence Trammell, Ryan Brathwaite and David Payne ran down the center of the track matching stride over all ten hurdles and hit the tape in unison with Brathwaite scoring the win with a deep lean.

Most disappointing was the treatment of women’s 800 winner Caster Semenya. While the South African has competed as in IAAF youth and junior championships, and a month earlier won the African junior 800. My lasting impression of this controversy was 300 meters into Semenya’s victory lap with the South African phenom accompanied by Berlino the show stopping mascot. As they headed up the straight, an IAAF official stood squarely in lane 8 and directed Semenya’s into the inner sanctum of the stadium before she made her rounds with the media. Yes, gender questions have been a part of the sport, but 300 meters into a victory lap was surely not the time or place for the IAAF to step in. This clearly was not the IAAF’s best moment.

Not to be overlooked was the role that the historic Olympic stadium played in creating a memorable championships. This is truly a great sports venue constructed primarily of stone and featuring great sightlines throughout the stadium. The stone architecture triggered thoughts of the 1936 Olympics as much of the structure remained intact. Spared by allied bombers who used the landmark for orientation, the stadium was updated with the requisite luxury boxes and a refreshingly different blue track, but remained much as it was in 1936. This was most apparent when I climbed up the West terrace for award ceremonies and saw the names of the ’36 Olympic champions etched in the stone.

A great venue, large enthusiastic crowds, and captivating competitions made for a great nine days of track & field. Yes, early in the week the meet seemed to drag through endless prelims, but as the meet’s excitement picked up night after night, Berlin 09 will always be remembered as a blur. A 9.58 / 19.19 blur.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Will Barbora Špotáková win the Gateshead Grand Prix Javelin?

With the conclusion of the World Championships in Berlin, the biggest track meet of the year is over, but the heart of the season continues. There are three major meets in the next four days in which almost every major (healthy) international star will compete. The best of the bunch is the Weltklasse meet in Zurich on Friday followed by two Monday IAAF Grand Prix competitions in Zagreb and Gateshead.

We will check in with the Gateshead Grand Prix and former University of Minnesota athlete Barbora Špotáková with this question:

Yes/No: Will Barbora Špotáková win the women's javelin competition at the Gateshead Grand Prix meet on 8/31?

Barbora Špotáková attended the University of Minnesota and was an All-American in 2002. Since her time at the U, she has gone on to become the best female javelin thrower in the world. Špotáková won gold at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 and an Olympic gold medal in 2008. She is the world record holder and recently finished second at the World Championships in Berlin. Špotáková's main competition at Gateshead will come from Christina Obergfoll. Obergfoll was 5th in Berlin and currently boasts a slightly better season-best throw in 2009 than Špotáková.

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 11:59 P.M. CDT, Sunday, August 30th. 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: Yes

Last week’s question was: Will Kara Goucher medal in the Marathon at the World Championships in Berlin? The correct answer was “No.” The Duluth native ran into some fluid/digestive issues but was still able to finish 10th, only 2:16 out of a medal spot. This was another week where the vast majority of contestants answered incorrectly: this time, only 3 people answered “No” correctly.

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

Good luck and thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!
Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 17th in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships 10,000 meters in Berlin. Photo by Sean Hartnett

Katie McGregor answers a few questions about her experience in Berlin.

Down the Backstretch: What was most memorable about the events you saw at the meet?

Katie McGregor: Usain Bolt. Dwight Phillips winning the long jump and getting his medal from relatives of Jesse Owens and Lutz Long. Three US women in the top six for the 1500, Desiree Davila running 2:27.53 for 11th in the marathon.

DtB: What was most memorable about the trip?

KM: Being on a national team and representing the United States is such and honor and always memorable. The stadium was the coolest I have ever seen. The roof was incredible.

DtB: What were your goals going in and how did it all play out in your event?

KM: I didn't have the race I wanted, but it has been a rough year for me overall. I need to make sure I can stay with the pack during the next championship event.

Memories From Berlin

We've asked several locals who competed or were in Berlin for the World Championships to share with us their memories of the trip. Starting off is writer/photographer/geography prof Sean Hartnett. You'll recognize Sean from the pictures he takes that are printed on DtB and elsewhere.

Sean Hartnett: Most memories were track related - but not all. Though having gone to Berlin for five previous Berlin Marathons, I was not as 'impressionable' as I have already developed a good appreciation of the city. Yet, as with any world class city you always see something new and fascinating, and for me what was truly fascinating was the best world championships of this century. The weekend sessions were filled to capacity and the mid-week low ebb still had 40-50,000 track & field fans - and that is sight for sore eyes for any veteran of our sport.

For the German home team it was an incredible field championships with a litany of outstanding performances and enthralling competitions, many decided on final throws or jumps. If Berlin was a throwback to some of the great championships of last century it is because Europe still produces the great majority of medalists and contenders in the field events, and in particular the German athletes rose to the occasion with unexpected placings.

I'd like to think these achievements reflected years of focused preparation and crowd inspired performances. Yes, (drug) testing is much improved and field performances were for the most part down across the board - perhaps the most obvious indictment of the sport's tainted past. Yet, I'd like to give a nod to the influence to the electric atmosphere of an historic Olympic stadium filled with knowledgeable fans and a stretched-out nine-day schedule that let the field events to take center stage rather than the fourth ring of a three-ring circus.

Almost all field events have a ballistic element to it with a prelude technique followed by a ballistic explosion as some object or human is propelled into flight, and I'd like to think that the electric atmosphere helped fuel the moments of ballistic release. I'll have a lasting memory of the whole stadium thumping in the prelude rhythm clapping, than erupting into a boisterous explosion of noise at the release or takeoff point, and soaring along with the object or human flying through the air. This roar would spontaneously spike-up another couple of decibels if the effort impacted standings, and if a German athlete was involved the roar would soar further and longer. A German or medal or win cranked up the volume to a Spinal Tap “11,” a true "futbol" goal roar culminating in the sing-song repetition of the athlete’s name. This was the signature sound of Berlin 09, and for me the big surprise given my track orientation.

Geez - I gotta dash for a 9AM department meeting - I'll get back to the track and the city later this morning.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The B's Have It

For Athletics(track & field to us heathens in the US), this has been the year of Bs. After the Olympics in Beijing, everything centered on the World Championships in Berlin where the stars were Usain Bolt and Kenenisha Bekele. The successes and relative notoriety of the pair illustrate the nature of modern sport.

Bolt is everything the media want in a star. He not only performs spectacularly on the track, but he entertains. He has a signature pose. He goes through a mime routine before lowering himself into the starting blocks, then he turns the competition into one of a man against boys, Superman versus mere mortals. Bekele, however, is from a culture that frowns on self promotion and appreciates him for what he is, potentially the greatest distance runner of all time, an executioner who is comfortable crushing his opposition from the gun or with a last lap sprint worthy of a middle distance champion.

Thus, nearly everyone who follows sport and many who don't know who Usain Bolt is. Only the sport's aficionados recognize Bekele. In the entertainment world, self promotion is an essential piece of an athlete's resume, especially if your intent is to maximize the income you earn. Bolt's agent, Ricky Simms, says he hopes to parlay his charge's athletic talents into $10 million in economic rewards. Bekele runs to win championships and the money derived from that success is merely a bonus.

Nike, which has made good use of its endorsed athletes, doesn't use Bekele heavily in its promotions, while Bolt is the poster boy for the Puma brand. Bolt has been everywhere post Beijing to promote himself, his sport, and his sponsor associations. Interestingly enough he has been largely invisible in the US except for assorted television appearances, which speaks to the Eurocentric nature of the sport at present and the relative invisibility of the formerly potent US Athletics circuit.

Once the crown jewel of Olympic sports within the US, track has shrunk to becoming a niche sport followed almost exclusively by the die hard fans of the activity. Attempts are being made to reverse this decline, but just as the fall was gradual, rather than rapid, the recovery will also not happen overnight. While the US team is still the best in the world, the economic clout of the sport in the US is minuscule.

Some blame the stain of drug use, but that argument falls flat with the current revelations about baseball, which have done little or no damage to ticket sales and revenue in that sport. More likely the answer is in another b word, business. While the vast majority of people are attracted to the sport as a sport, an activity, a social network of people involved in the same pursuit, the business end of the sport does not have the success rate of the athletic side.

Sport in today's society is indeed big business. Athletics has yet to fully and effectively embrace that concept. Efforts are being made to correct that. The success of the sport as a business depends on how effective these efforts are at reaching their goals.

Como Relays Bring Summer to a Close

For most Minnesotans, the State Fair marks the end of summer. It's one last chance to get together while the days are still hot, even though it cools off fast when the sun goes down.

But for the Twin Cities running community, summer comes to a close at the other end of Como Avenue. The MDRA Como Relays are an institution that has remained virtually unchanged over the years. Although race director John Cramer does note that everyone has gotten older. You pay a couple of dollars to run hard on the grass and don't expect anything for your efforts. The post-run watermelon and cookies are a bonus.

The Relays are a race for some and a workout for others. But for most, they're an opportunity to gather with kindred spirits to celebrate summer running in Minnesota.

The 2009 series concludes this evening with the 8 x 1 mile relay. Fall must be right around the corner.

Run With the Africans

In case you missed it, a piece from the Wall Street Journal last week that features Kara Goucher and talks about the success of Africans in distance events is here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eden Prairie Tops Pre-Season Class AA Girls Poll

Defending champion Eden Prairie is ranked first in the Class AA Girls' pre-season coaches poll for the 2009 season. Coon Rapids – 7th in the 2008 State Meet – is ranked second.

Alexandria Sophomore Jamie Piepenburg is ranked as the top individual. Piepenburg was third in last year's Cross Country Championships and won the 3200 meters at the MSHSL Track and Field Championships this past spring. Maria Hauger of Shakopee is ranked second.

Class AA Girls' Pre-Season Rankings

1. Eden Prairie
2. Coon Rapids
3. Elk River
4. Grand Rapids
5. Chaska
6. Lakeville North
7. Shakopee
8. Winona
9. Centennial
10. Moorhead
11. Prior Lake
12. Hopkins

1. Jamie Piepenburg, 10, Alexandria
2. Maria Hauger, 9, Shakopee
3. Claire Guidinger, 12, Winona
4. Caitlin Hewes, 11, Stillwater
5. Laura Lawton, 11, Eden Prairie
6. Emma Bates, 12, Elk River
7. Julia Harrison, 11, Mound Westonka
8. Alexandra Rudin, 11, Eden Prairie
9. Erica Seidenkranz, 10, Monticello
10. Megan Platner, 11, Eden Prairie
11. Sharmila Ahmed, 11, Burnsville
12. Slaine Kelly, 12, Academy of Holy Angels

Monday, August 24, 2009

USATF Minnesota Annual Meeting: Elections and Pizza

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field will hold its Annual Meeting on Sunday, September 13th at Broadway Pizza in Minneapolis. All members are encouraged to attend and participate.

The Annual Meeting will feature election of officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) for the upcoming year. Nominations will be accepted from the floor. Members will also be asked to vote on proposed changes to the association's bylaws.

There will be a free pizza buffet for all USATF Minnesota members.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Berlin: Goucher 10th in World Marathon

Duluth native Kara Goucher ran 2:27:48 to finish 10th in this morning's IAAF World Championships marathon in Berlin. She was the top American finisher, one place in front of teammate Desiree Davila.

Goucher's best at the distance was her debut 2:25:53 third place finish at the 2008 New York City Marathon. She won the bronze medal at 10,000 meters at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

Goucher currently lives and trains in Portland, Oregon, where she is coached by Alberto Salazar as part of the Nike Oregon Project.

More on the Goucher's race from the Los Angeles Times, Duluth News Tribune and Universal Sports. Full results are here. Watch the race here.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Berlin: Gabrielson 36th in World Marathon

Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson finished 36th in this morning's IAAF World Championships marathon in Berlin.

The 2008 Twin Cities Marathon runner-up ran 2:18:41. Kenya's Abel Kirui won the event in 2:06:54.

Gabrielson passed the half-way mark of the race in 1:07:03.

Dan Browne, the 2002 Twin Cities Marathon champion finished 24th in 2:16:49.

Full results are HERE.

Goucher Races Tomorrow ... Kara Goucher will take to the Berlin marathon course tomorrow. The Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates just wrote THIS fine feature on the Duluth native.

The startlist for the women's race is HERE.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Before Kara ... Matt Gabrielson Races in Berlin

Before Kara Goucher's much-anticipated World Championships Marathon on Sunday -- see the Yes/No post below -- Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson will take to the streets of Berlin for his own 26.2 miles of world class competition on Saturday.

You can get a feel for Gabrielson's preparations, HERE, via his blog. Also, the Des Moines Register's running blogger Lance Bergeson has posted on Gabrielson a few times HERE.

The startlist for the men's marathon is HERE.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Will Kara Goucher Medal in Berlin?

The IAAF World Championships will wrap up this weekend in Berlin with the women's marathon. The race promises to be intriguing: the field is wide open now that favorites Irina Mikitenko of Germany and British world record holder Paula Radcliffe have scratched.

Although no American women has ever won the World Championships Marathon, Duluth native Kara Goucher is considered one of the favorites and has the credentials and current fitness to back it up. Goucher earned a bronze medal in the 2007 World Championships 10,000 Meters. The distance has changed, but can Goucher do it again? Let us know what you think with the Yes/No question for this week:

Yes/No: Will Kara Goucher medal in the Marathon at the World Championships in Berlin?

Kara Goucher has run 2 marathons, placing third in her debut at NYC in 2008 running 2:25:53. She followed that with another third place finish in a tactical race at Boston running 2:32:25. Goucher recently won the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Chicago in 1:08:05, which is only 31 seconds off the American record. The only medal won by an American woman in the World Championships Marathon was Marianne Dickerson, who won silver in the first World Championships in Helsinki in 1983.

The official startlist for the women's marathon should appear HERE shortly.

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 11:59 P.M. CDT, Saturday, August 22th. 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

Last week’s question was: Will Antonio Vega run faster at the NYC 1/2 Marathon this year than he did last year when he ran 1:04:26? The correct answer was “No.” Vega ran into a tough day to run weather-wise and still came through with 12th place in 1:05:32. Nearly all the contestants were on the Antonio Vega bandwagon last week as only 3 players successfully bet against him.

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

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

Wayzata Tops Pre-Season Class AA Boys Poll

Wayzata, the two-time defending MSHSL Class AA boys' cross country champions, got top billing in the Class AA boys' pre-season coaches poll for the 2009 season.

The Trojans are ranked #1 ahead of 2008 Class AA runners-up Eden Prairie. Individually, Moorhead defending champion Lukas Gemar is the top-ranked individual, followed by Minneapolis Edison's Gemechu Bekelcho.

There's additional information on Class AA boy's cross country, HERE, on Jeff Schmidt's web-site.

Class AA Girls rankings were released earlier this summer and reported HERE. Eden Prairie tops the Class AA girls team rankings.

Class AA Boys' Pre-Season Rankings

1 Wayzata
2 Eden Prairie
3 Moorhead
4 Edina
5 White Bear Lake
6 Alexandria
7 Coon Rapids
8 Lakeville North
9 Owatonna
10 Bloomington Jefferson
11 Stillwater
12 St. Thomas Academy

Also receiving votes: Mankato West, Burnsville, Mounds View,
Osseo, Hopkins, Forest Lake,

1 Lukas Gemar, 11, Moorhead
2 Gemechu Bekelcho, 12, Mpls. Edison
3 Marty Joyce, 12, Woodbury
4 Kemal Jarso, 12, St. Paul Central
5 Jake Autio, 12, St. Michael-Alb.
6 Oliver Haugland, 12, Wayzata
7 Jon-Michael Brandt, 12, Winona
8 Besufekad Shannon-Tamrat, 12, Hopkins
9 Josh Thorson, 10, Wayzata
10 Blayne Dulian, 12, Coon Rapids
11 Alex Johnson, 11, Maple Grove
12 Cole O'Brien, 10, Burnsville

Also receiving votes: Mark Gallagher, 12, Lakeville South; Bryant Blahnik, 11, Redwing; Michael Ellenberger, 12, Edina; Aldis Inde, 11, Edina; Steven Dado, 11, Totino Grace; Brian Anderson, 12, St. Thomas Academy; Andy Fenske, 12, Park Center; Adam Zutz, 11, St. Francis; Aaron Bartnik, 11, Eden Prairie; Landon Lozano, 12, Wayzata; Jake Sandry, 12, Bloomington Jefferson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Deatherage Calls it a Racing Career

We heard via the grapevine recently that middle distance star Jenelle Deatherage had retired from competitive running.

The University of Wisconsin alum, who was affiliated with Team USA Minnesota before leaving the program to be coached by Juli Henner, made the decision to call it a career early this summer.

She leaves the sport with a 4:07.87 PR for 1500m, a Big Ten 3000m title, and a runner-up finish at 1500m at the 2008 USA Indoor Championships, which earned her a spot on the USA team at the World Indoor Championships.

Before Deatherage (pictured) moved on to bigger and better things, we spoke with her about her racing career and her future.

DtB: We understand you’ve retired from competitive track and field. When did you make the decision and what prompted you to make it when you did?

Deatherage: I made the decision at the beginning of June. I just sort of knew that it was the right time, there's no other way to say it. Retirement just sounded good to me I guess. What's not to love? I've already started golf lessons.

DtB: Remind us of what the last few seasons were like for you?

Deatherage: I was very happy with my '08 season. I made the World Indoor team and tied my personal best in the 1500m. The Olympic trials were definitely a struggle for reasons I'll never understand however, I'm not going to let that weekend ruin my good memories of the rest of the year.

DtB: Were there other times over the past few years when you considered retirement?

I considered not coming back after the Trials last summer but I'm glad that I gave it one more go to really make sure that I was ready to be done.

DtB: How long have you been running competitively? Tell us a bit about how you got your start.

Deatherage: I've been running since I was about 10 years old but competitively I would say since college. I got started by going to watch my dad run road races. I remember being fascinated by the metallic blanket he was given after the Chicago Marathon.

He helped me "train" for my first 5k by running a one mile loop near our house. I remember the feeling I had after finishing the race and winning my trophy. I was hooked after that. I was also never really good at anything else, except for school. Ask my sisters, they had to teach me how to shoot a basketball when I was 20.

DtB: When during you collegiate career at Wisconsin did you know you wanted to keep running as a professional?

Deatherage: It wasn't until after my senior indoor season and more so after the outdoor season, that I really considered training beyond college. I had some significant breakthroughs that year.

DtB: What are some of the challenges of professional racing that, say, former high school or collegiate runners or adult recreation runners might not realize?

Deatherage: I think that the challenges are different for everyone. My personal challenge was managing my stress and anxiety during competition and even during training. I could handle the details, sleeping and eating right, taking care of my body. I just struggled with getting control of my head. My one regret is that I didn't start working with a sports psychologist until late in my career.

DtB: Now that you’ve put a punctuation mark to your career, what would are you remembering as the high points of it?

Deatherage: I was really excited to sign my first contract with Reebok. Having a shoe contract and becoming a professional runner were important goals for me. I also have some amazing memories from my collegiate running days. There's nothing better than winning a Big 10 outdoor track title by 1 point! Even some of the low points I now see as high points for what I've learned from them and how they've helped shape me as a person.

DtB: What next for you, career-wise and for your life in general? You’re a physical therapist, right?

Deatherage: Yes, I'm a Physical Therapist. I've worked for the Institute for Athletic Medicine since we came to the Twin Cities in 2004. I'm very excited that I will be moving to our Edina clinic in September on a permanent basis. I love working with runners of all ages and abilities and I'm thrilled that I will be able to finally make this a focus in my career.

The IAM clinic in Edina already has two amazing running therapists, Claudia and Heather. I'm looking forward to learning from them and working together as a team to help keep this TC running community injury free!

DtB: Do you plan to continue running recreationally?

Deatherage: Yes for sure. I'm considering a spring marathon but only if I'm truly motivated by then to get in the training. Right now I'm enjoying running as fast and far as I want to and some days not at all....

Photo by Victor Sailer/Photo Run.

Berlin: Špotáková Takes Javelin Silver

World record-holder Barbora Špotáková now has a silver medal to go with the gold ones she won over the last two years.

The former University of Minnesota heptathlete, who won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing and a World Championships gold in Osaka in 2007, finished second in yesterday's women's javelin competition at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin.

The Czech national threw 217-11 to finish runner-up to Germany's Steffi Nerius who marked a season-best 220-9 for victory.

Results of the event are HERE.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Berlin: Harrigan Eliminated in 100m Semis

Tahesia Harrigan, the University of Minnesota women's 100m record-holder, finished 7th in yesterday's 100 meter semifinals at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin.

Harrigan, who represents the British Virgin Islands, clocked 11.34, which did not advance her to finals.

Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser, the winner of Harrigan's semi in 10.79, won the final yesterday in 10.73.

Results can be found HERE.

Špotáková Competes Today ... Barbora Špotáková, the former Gopher who holds the world record in the javelin, competes in the World Championships javelin final this afternoon.

Competition is scheduled to begin at 12:25 Minnesota time.

Seaman, Michta Win USA 15K Race Walk

Two-time Olympian Tim Seaman and New York's Maria Michta won titles at Sunday's USA 15K Race Walk Championships in Minneapolis.

Seaman (pictured), the reigning USA 20K champion, walked the course is 1:11:17. Christopher Tegtmeier of Jansen, Nebraska was second in 1:13:49.

Michta walked the route in 1:16:07, ahead of Beavercreek, Ohio's Susan Randall who clocked 1:22:45.

The event also served as the USA 15K Junior Race Walking Championships, the USA vs. Canada Race Walk Junior Dual, and the World Master Athletics North America, Central America and Caribbean Region 15K Race Walking Championships.

Complete results can be found, HERE, and the Twin Cities Race Walkers web-site.

Gary Westland has a photo gallery from the event, HERE.

Photo by Gary Westland.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jianna Cager Profiled by the Pioneer Press

Jianna Cager, the 8-year-old St. Paul sprint sensation who won three events at the AAU Junior Olympic Games recently, got star treatment from the St. Paul Pioneer Press today.

The paper ran THIS nice profile -- with photos -- of the soon-to-be third-grader who won Primary Division titles at 100, 200, and 400 meters in the Des Moines, Iowa meet.

Berlin: Špotáková, Harrigan Advance

Former University of Minnesota tracksters Barbora Špotáková and Tahesia Harrigan advanced in preliminary competition at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin on Sunday.

Špotáková, the world record in the event, finished 4th in her javelin qualifying flight with a throw of 207-7 advancing to Tuesday's final. Špotáková, who represents the Czech Republic, has thrown 223-10 this season.

The former Gopher heptathlete's world record is 237-2.

Results of javelin qualifying are HERE; the startlist for the final is HERE.

Harrigan advanced through two rounds of qualifying in the women's 100m on Sunday. She finished an automatic-qualifying 2nd in 11.39 in the opening round, losing only the the USA's Lauryn Williams, who ran 11.36.

In the quarterfinals, Harrigan notched another auto-qualifer, running 11.21 for 3rd place behind Williams and Jamaica's Aleen Bailey.

The 100m semis and finals are later today. Harrigan, who holds U of M women's 100m record at 11.37, has a PR of 11.13 and a season best of 11.15.

Results of the heats and quarters are HERE and HERE; the semi-final startlist is HERE.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Berlin: McGregor 17th in WC 10,000 Meters

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 17th in Saturday's IAAF World Track and Field Championships 10,000 meters in Berlin.

McGregor (pictured leading China's Yingying Zhang) clocked 32:18.49.

Kenya's Linet Chepkwemoi Masai won the event in 30:51.24. Amy Yoder Begley, the USA Champion at the distance, was the top American in the race, finishing 6th in 31:13.78.

"The work is there," McGregor told the media after her effort. "I just have to fine tune some stuff. The amount of work I am putting in and the amount of fitness, it's all there."

McGregor came to Berlin after two sub-par 5000m tune-up races, but got off to a fast start yesterday.

"My first 5K was faster than at open 5Ks," she explained, "and that was a positive. I just needed to hang on to that pace, and I didn't. I lost touch with the end of the pack and that was it. It happens."

The race marked McGregor's third World Championships appearance at 10,000m. The University of Michigan alum finished 14th at the 2005 World championships running a PR 31:21.20. In 2007, she finished 13th.

"I'm glad to be the part of another USA team," she said. "I did my best today, so hopefully I did the country proud."

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Berlin: Marks 14th in Triple Jump Flight

Shani Marks jumped a non-qualifying 44-10 1/4 to finish 14th in the first flight of the women's triple jump prelims at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin today.

Results are HERE.

The mark was a season best for the University of Minnesota alum and 2008 Olympian who finished 11th at the USA Outdoor Championships earlier this summer.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor competes in the women's 10,000m at 12:25 p.m. Minnesota time today.

The startlist for the event is HERE.

Complete information on the meet is available HERE.

USA Track and Field provides THIS TV and web-cast schedule for the championship.

Apology ... We somehow overlooked the fact that Marks was in the meet in our preview of the World Championships yesterday. We regret the error.

Photo of Marks by Sean Hartnett.

Friday, August 14, 2009

McGregor to Run World 10,000 Tomorrow

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor will kick off competition for the five athletes with Minnesota connections competing at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin which open tomorrow.

McGregor competes in Saturday's women's 10,000 meter final.

McGregor, the third place finisher at the USA Championships in the event, will make her third appearance in the World Championships. In 2005, the University of Michigan grad finished 14th in the Worlds 10,000m, running a PR 31:21.20. In 2007, she finished 13th.

McGregor will step onto the hallowed Berlin Olympic Stadium track after two recent sub-par performances over 5000m. In mid-July, McGregor ran 15:52.90 for 8th place at the London Grand Prix. A week later in the Stockholm Grand Prix 5000m she was 10th in 16:11.08.

McGregor is joined on the USA squad for the event by Amy Yoder Begley and Shalane Flanagan.

Also Competing in Berlin ... Minnesota distance runners will bookend the Berlin championships. After McGregor's opening day race, a week will pass until teammate Matt Gabrielson competes in the marathon on August 22, the meet's closing weekend.

One day later, on the closing day of the competition, Duluth native Kara Goucher will race in the women's marathon.

Two international athletes who represented the University of Minnesota are also scheduled to compete. World javelin record-holder Barbora Špotáková of the Czech Republic will throw in the prelims of her event on Sunday.

Former Gopher sprinter Tahesia Harrigan, who represents the British Virgin Islands, opens 100m prelim competition this Sunday as well.

Follow the meet, HERE, via the IAAF web-site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Antonio Vega in NYC: 2008 or 2009?

The World Championships aren't the only major competition going on this weekend. Sunday's NYC Half-Marathon has attracted a star-studded elite field, especially on the American side. The main contenders include Catherine Ndereba, Paula Radcliffe and Deena Kastor for the women, and Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdiraham for the men. Emily Brown and Antonio Vega will represent Team USA MN in the race and should contend for a high place.

While Emily Brown is making her debut at the half-marathon distance, Antonio Vega has already had some success at the distance. Predict how fast Vega will run this year with this question:

Yes/No: Will Antonio Vega run faster at the NYC 1/2 Marathon this year than he did last year when he ran 1:04:26?

Antonio Vega ran 1:04:26 for 11th place at last year's NYC 1/2 Marathon. In January of this year, Vega ran a personal best 1:02:55 to place seventh at the USA Half Marathon Championships. He was an All-State runner at Tartan High School as well as an All-American at the University of Minnesota.

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 6:00 A.M. CDT, Sunday, August 16th. 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: Yes

Last week’s question was: Will Run N Fun finish higher than TC Running Company in Open Men's Team Circuit scoring at the MDRA Minnesota 15K on Sunday? The correct answer was “Yes” – Run N Fun used a 1-2-3 sweep -- led by Y/N contestant Michael Reneau! -- to beat TC Running Company. 8 people answered the question correctly last week.

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

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

Seaman Headlines USA 15K Race Walk in Mpls

Tim Seaman, the reigning USA 20K race walking champion, is the favorite at Sunday's USA 15K race walking championship to be held on the Greenway Trail in Minneapolis.

The event will serve as the USA 15K Junior Race Walking Championships, the USA vs. Canada Race Walk Junior Dual, and the World Master Athletics North America, Central America and Caribbean Region 15K Race Walking Championships.

In addition, elite race walkers who wish to walk an additional 5K can get a mark for 20K.

Information on the event is available HERE.

Seaman, a two-time Olympian, won the 20K title in Eugene in 1:26:14.26. The Chula Vista, California resident is not competing at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in the event because he lacks a qualifying mark.

"There are several Olympic hopefuls registered, with more planning to show up and register later," race director Bruce Leasure told DtB. "Susan Randall and Ray Sharp are two of the old guard, with lots of experience. Up and comers include anyone on the junior teams, and Katie Burnett, Jacob Grunderkline, Katie Malinowski, Maria Michta, Tina Peters, John Randall, Erika Shaver, and Christopher Tegtmeier."

Leasure noted that 81-year-old Jack Starr could set an age-group record at the event.

Action at the USA 15K Race Walk Championships begins at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Mid-Week News and Info Round-Up

Lot's to report this Wednesday morning, so let's get right to it ...

Minnesota Mile Opens ... Registration for the Minnesota Mile, held in Duluth and hosted by Grandma's Marathon, is now open. The Sunday, September 13 race offers 250 randomly selected finishers guaranteed entry into next year's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon as a perk of participation.

Find complete details HERE.

Jeremy Polson Profiled ... 2009 Runner of the Year leader in the men's open division, Jeremy Polson, was profiled, HERE, by Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune. Last weekend, Polson finished third to Mike Renaeu and Eric Hartmark at the MDRA Minnesota 15K.

MDRA has a photo gallery from that race HERE.

Van Norman Leaves Tulane ... Heather Van Norman, the Minnesota high school sprint sensation who single-handedly won a MSHSL Class A team title for Windom in 1987, has left the head track and cross country coaching position at Tulane University in New Orleans to become an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has the story HERE.

An archived Minnesota Running & Track feature story about Van Norman, who guided the Tulane program through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is HERE.

Torchia Crosses State for Orphans ... There's video, HERE, and a blog, HERE, describing University of Minnesota runner Mike Torchia's transverse of the state by kayak, roller-skis, bike, and foot to raise money for a Peruvian orphanage.

Diane Goulett Passes ... Former masters running star Diane Goulett, who won Minnesota Runner of the Year honors in the women's 65-69 age-group in 1999, died last week.

The Star-Tribune has an obituary, HERE, that spotlights Goulett's running career.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jianna Cager: USA's Fastest 8-Year-Old

Jianna Cager can call herself America's fastest 8-year-old.

The St. Paul sprinter swept the Primary Division 100, 200, and 400 meter races at last week's AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa.

Since we reported on her 400m victory, HERE, Cager posted the fastest prelim times in both the 100m and 200m and then swept the finals of both events.

Cager won the 100m in 14.41 and the 200m in 30.65. In the 200m prelims, she ran a windy 29.58 and in the semis she ran a wind-legal 29.91.

Cager won the 400m earlier in the week in 1:07.43.

Cager was the only Minnesotan to win events at the meet. The following Gopher State athletes finished in the top-10:

Benjamin Olson, 9, of Coon Rapids, finished 3rd in the Sub-Bantam 1500m in 5:23.49 and 7th in the Sub-Bantam Boys' 800m in 2:40.64.

Matthew Rosen, 13, of Bloomington, finished 3rd in the Sub-Youth Boys' 800m in 2:08.61.

Laquone Robinson, 18, of Brooklyn Park, finished 4th in the Young Men's 110 hurdles in 14.44.

Elise Anderson, 13, of Minneapolis finished 4th in the Sub-Youth Girls' 200m in 25.87 and 6th in the 100m in 12.57.

Calvin Clark, 16, of St. Paul, finished 5th in the Intermediate Boys' 400m in 48.88.

Shane Streich, 12, of Janesville, finished 6th in the Sub-Youth Boys' 1500m in 4:36.19.

Derrick Mora, 16, of Inver Grove Heights, finished 8th in the Intermediate Boy's long jump with 21-4 3/4.

Niara Hill, 12 of Minneapolis, finished 10th in the Sub-Youth Girls' triple jump with 30-7.

Complete meet results are HERE.

Special thanks to USATF-Minnesota youth chair Chris Dallager for assistance with DtB's Junior Olympics coverage.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Roehrig Wins Jim Thorpe Cup Heptathlon

Former University of Minnesota multi-event superstar Liz Roehrig won the heptathlon competition at the 16th Jim Thorpe Cup held over the weekend in Marburg. Germany.

Roehrig (pictured competing at this year's USA Championships), a five-time all-American for the Gophers, tallied a PR 5990 points to edge Germany's Christine Schmidt who scored 5974.

Full results of the competition are HERE, including men's decathlon scores.

The Thorpe Cup is a heptathlon and decathlon competition between teams from the United States and Germany. The meet is named after 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon champion Jim Thorpe.

Roehrig kicked off the two-day meet with a 14.03 performance in the 100m hurdles, good for 974 points. Next, she cleared a PR 6-0 in the high jump for 1016 points. The seven-time Big Ten multi-event champion then put the shot 42-6 3/4 for 725 points and capped off Day 1 with 24.90 200m, good for 896 points.

Roehrig led the competition at the end of Day 1 with 3611 points.

On Day 2, Roehrig long jumped 20-1 for 887 points, threw the javelin a PR 137-6 for 704 points, and capped of the competition with a 2:22.67 800m for 788 points.

Roehrig told her Facebook following: "thorpe cup champ :) PR 5990 :) sooooooooo close to 6000!!!"

Last year, Roehrig finished 8th in the meet with 5402 points.

There's a Thorpe Cup photo gallery HERE.

Photo by Becky Miller.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Run N Fun Vs. TC Running Company

The season is winding down for the USATF-MN Team Circuit. Two races remain – the MDRA Minnesota 15k this weekend and the double-points City of Lakes 25K that will close out the season in September. Many of the team races will go down to the wire and in most categories it is Run N Fun battling TC Running Company for the top spot.

We will focus on the open men's category this week:

Yes/No: Will Run N Fun finish higher than TC Running Company in Open Men's Team Circuit scoring at the MDRA Minnesota 15K on Sunday?

The USATF-MN Team Circuit began the 2009 campaign with the Human Race in March. The schedule has continued through the year with races ranging in distance from 1 mile all the way to marathon. In each race, the first place team gets as many points as the number of teams in the event. Second place gets one less point, all the way down to the last place team rewarded with a single point.

In the Open Men category, Run N Fun has battled TC Running Company all year and according to our calculations will arrive at MDRA Minnesota 15k in a dead heat with 54 points. RNF and TCRC have finished first and second in every race this year except for the TC 1 mile where RNF was third. Run N Fun has been led by Jeremy Polson, Jason Finch and Brandon Gleason, while TC Running Company has been fronted by Joey Keilor, Pat Russell and Scott Fiksdal.

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, Sunday, August 9th. 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: Yes

Last week’s question was: Will Laishema Hampton medal (finish in the top-3) in the Shot Put at Pan American Junior Champs? The correct answer was “No” – Hampton just missed a medal with a fourth place finish. Only 6 Contestants answered correctly and Chad Bjugan moved into 3rd place by himself with his correct answer.

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

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

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cross Country Clinic: First Sign of Autumn

Even though the track and field season still abides -- 8-year-old Jianna Cager, the fastest finals qualifier in the Primary Girls' 100m yesterday, is still racing at the Junior Olympics in Des Moines, for example -- there's a sure sign the cross country season isn't far off.

The high school coaches are having their annual clinic and coaches meeting next week.

The mentors of the state's young harriers will meet on Tuesday, August 11 at Champlin Park High School, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Featured speakers include Olympian and Lithuanian women's steeplechase record-holder Rasa Troup, who will talk about nutrition, and a panel of Team USA Minnesota athletes -- Emily Brown, Jason Lehmkuhle, and Josh Moen -- who will discuss training.

Details on the clinic can be found HERE.

For more information, contact Kevin Moorhead at: kmoorhead [AT] comcast [DOT] net.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

8-Year-Old Jianna Cager Wins JO 400m

Jianna Cager.

Remember that name.

It's one you might want to file away for future reference. One you could store in an envelope where you keep valuable documents like birth certificates and old report cards.

In a decade or so, when Ms. Cager is, perhaps, capping a stellar high school track career or making her first splash as a collegian, you could pull out the yellowed piece of paper and say: "Jianna Cager, I knew she was something special way back in 2009!"

You see, Cager, an 8-year-old from St. Paul, won the Girls' Primary Division 400 meters at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa yesterday, clocking 1:07.43. She edged Makenzie Chambers of Texas, also age-8, who ran 1:07.56.

Results of the race are HERE.

Cager was a little more than two tenths of a second shy of the Primary Division record in the event of 1:07.21.

It was a good day for young Minnesota quarter-milers in general. Two other North Star Staters placed in the top-10 of their divisions at 400m -- the only other top-10 results for locals at yesterday's competition.

Keylan Jackson, a 9-year-old from Saint Paul, finished 8th in the Bantam Boys event in 1:06.74. Jakobi Jackson, a 12-year-old also from Saint Paul, finished 10th in the Midget Boys' 400m in 58.75.

Two more good names to remember for the future!

Complete AAU Junior Olympic results are HERE.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Junior Olympic Round-Up ... and Preview!?!

The Junior Olympics are over ... so let's get ready for the Junior Olympics!

That's right the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships are in the books. Some 6000 athletes competed in the event in Greensboro, North Carolina, including a handful of Minnesotans.

But, the AAU Junior Olympics have just gotten underway in Des Moines, Iowa, where even more young Minnesotans are testing their budding talents against some of the best youngsters in the nation.

Make sense?

USATF hosts Junior Olympic events in its role as the governing body of track and field in the USA; the Amateur Athletic Union -- once the organization that governed Olympic sport in the country -- hosts JO competition in its role as a promoter of youth sports.

USATF JO Round-Up ... Chris Dallager, USATF-Minnesota's Youth Chair, combed the Greensboro results for DtB and noted the following top-10 finishes by Minnesotans at USATF JOs:

-- Shaina Burns of Prior Lake ... 4th at 5-1 in the Youth Girls' high jump.

-- Charlie Lawrence of Foley ... 6th in 9:52.79 in the Youth Boys' 3000m and 9th in 4:44.97 in the Youth Boys' 1500m.

-- Sean Tyree of the Blake School ... 9th in 6:44.91 in the Young Men's 2000m steeplechase.

Full results from the USATF JO meet can be found HERE.

AAU JOs Underway ... Track and field competition at the AAU Junior Olympic Games began on August 1 and runs through August 8. Dallager expects to see more Minnesotans in the AAU event since it's being held closer to home.

"AAU allows far more qualifiers than does USATF to the national meet," Dallager added, "so there are a far greater number of contestants at AAU."

"Up through the Youth age group," Dallager explained, "AAU runs sub-categories which provides for a single birth year of contestants. As a consequence, the overall quality of contestants in each age group is about 1/2 of that compared to the USATF two year age groups. Winning performances are often comparable but it is easier to place high and medal at AAU as a result of the single year groups."

Minnesota's top-10 placers in the meet so far include:

-- Shaina Burns of Prior Lake ... 2nd with 2998 points in the Sub-Youth Girls pentathlon.

-- Cameron Downey of Minneapolis ... 2nd with 75-8 in the Sub-Midget Girls' discus throw.

-- Johnna Patterson of Cottage Grove ... 5th at 11:52.12 in the Sub-Midget Girls 3000m.

- Paul Akintade of St. Paul ... 6th with 19-8 in the Youth Boys' long jump.

-- Taylor Anderson of Minneapolis ... 6th at 5-0 in the Intermediate Girls high jump.

Find live results as the competition continues through Saturday HERE.

A Brief Chat with Matt Gabrielson

Runner's World Racing News editor Peter Gambaccini interviews Matt Gabrielson here.

Photo by Victor Sailer/Photo Run.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Round-Up: Goucher Tops All in Chicago

Kara Goucher should feel pretty confident for her upcoming marathon at the IAAF World Championships. In her tune-up at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, Goucher was the first runner across the finishing line, topping all the women and all the men in 1:08:05.

The Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates has a story on Goucher's race HERE.

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Hersh talked to Goucher ahead of the race and wrote THIS feature.

Results of the race are HERE.

Goucher is now in Europe -- she flew there shortly after the race -- taking care of final preparations for the August 23 World Championships race in Berlin.

McGregor Endures Another Tough 5000m ... Speaking of Europe, Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor ran her second European 5000 meter race in preparation for the 10,000m she'll run at the World Championships in Berlin.

McGregor, who ran 15:52.90 for 8th place at the London Grand Prix a week ago, finished 10th in 16:11.08 and the DN Galen Grand Prix in Stockholm on Friday.

Results of the race are HERE.

Former Prep Stars Highlight HLC ... You could be forgiven if the finish of the Hennepin Lake 10K reminded you of a high school race from 2007.

Former Edina High School stand-out TC Lumbar, now a student at Georgetown University, won the race in 31:04. Former Rosemount star Jordan Carlson, now at Notre Dame, was runner-up in 31:11. In 4th was Tyler King, formerly of Lakeville North, in 32:44.

Mary Palmer won the women's 10K in 37:25.

In the Hennepin Lake Classic 5K, which was the latest stop on the USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit, former Hamline University star Brandon Gleason won the men's race in 15:05. Jenna Boren won the women's division in 17:00.

Complete Hennepin Lake Classic results can be found HERE.