Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cindy Brochman Passes Away After Year Long Battle With Cancer

The Minnesota running community lost one of it's most active and enthusiastic members this week as Cindy Brochman passed away after fighting cancer over the past year. Cindy died at her home on Sunday morning, surrounded by her husband Kevin, family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 10th, at Eagle Brook Church in White Bear Lake. Visitation will take place from 2:00 to 3:00.

For more information on Cindy's athletic career and her battle with cancer, read Chad Austin's interview at Running Minnesota, or visit Cindy's CaringBridge site, which Kevin continues to update.

Our thoughts go out to Kevin Brochman and all of Cindy's family and friends.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays and Thanks from DtB

Happy Holidays everyone!

On behalf of the humble little operation known as Down the Backstretch, let me wish all of you a happy, healthy, and relaxing holiday season. As much as we all love cross country, track & field, and road racing, it's now time to focus on family and friends rather than results and performances.

As we've done in the past, DtB is going to enjoy a holiday vacation in the next few weeks. We'll be back after the New Year, of course, getting you back on top of the sport and the budding indoor season.

Before we go, let me take a moment to thank some of the folks that made 2009 another fine year for DtB. First off, special, heart-felt thanks go to Adam Lindahl of TC Running Company and the Board of Directors at USA Track and Field - Minnesota for their support of DtB as its presenting sponsors. Without their generous support, DtB would likely not still exist. We'd also like to thank everyone who has advertised with us during the year -- your support is truly appreciated!

I'd also like to thank anyone and everyone who has contributed to DtB. Special thanks go to co-founder Pete Miller, fantasy maven Doug Cowles, photographer Gene Niemi, reporters and commentators Jim Ferstle, Chad Austin, Chris Marshall, Chris Lundstrom, Kevin Holubar, Sean Hartnett, and Bill and Tim Miles. Without the generous contributions of those folks and others, DtB wouldn't have been all that it was.

Finally, allow me to thank you, our readers, for making DtB an important part of your enjoyment of the greatest sport on earth. Your continued loyalty to DtB makes the job of covering all the track, road, and cross country action fun and rewarding.

So Happy Holidays everyone ... and see you next year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

USATF Wraps-Up Championship Action

USA Track & Field held its final two national championships of 2009 last weekend-- the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships and the National Club Cross Country Championships.

Here's the Minnesota news ...

JOs ... At Junior Olympics in snowy Reno, Nevada, ten Minnesotans competed in the championships, according to USATF - Minnesota youth chair Chris Dallager. The meet was delayed for an hour due to snowy conditions.

Shaelyn Sorensen of Lake Elmo, running in the 4000m Youth Division (13-14-year-old) girls' race, finished 28th in 16:25. There's a photo of Sorenson racing in the snow in THIS photo gallery -- she is wearing bib #804.

Results from all the JO races can be found HERE.

Club Cross ... Minnesota was represented by the Collegeville Track Club at the National Club Cross Championships in Lexinton, Kentucky. The squad finished 40th overall with 1171 points. Zap Fitness won the meet with 60.

Collegeville's Aaron Beaber led Minnesotans at the Open Men's race, finishing 240th in 34:16 on the 10K course. Nikki Borner of White Bear Lake was the lone Minnesotan in the Open Women's race, finishing 128th in 22:59 on the 6K course.

Thom Weddle, 71, of Minneapolis finished 260th in the Masters race and, as the lone runner in the M70 division, won his age-group in 46:21 for 10K.

Complete Club Cross Country results can be found HERE.

Photo: Collegeville at Club Cross Country Championships, courtesy of Joe Papin.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

USATF - Minnesota Honors Athletes

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field announced its Athletes of the Month for November and December yesterday: Maria Hauger and Aaron Bartnik earned the organization's November honors, while Hassan Mead and Marie Borner were the December honorees.

Hauger, a freshman at Shakopee High School, was recognized for her win in the Class AA girls’ race at the Minnesota State High School League State Cross Country Meet on November 7 in Northfield. Hauger ran the 4-kilometer course in 14:41 to earn a one-second victory over Elk River’s Emma Bates.

Bartnik, a junior at Eden Prairie High School, was honored for his victory in the boys’ Class AA race at the MSHSL State Meet. Bartnik clocked 15:56 in the 5K race for a two-second win over Woodbury’s Marty Joyce, which led Eden Prairie to its first-ever boys' state cross country title.

Mead, a junior on the University of Minnesota men’s cross country team, was honored for finishing 16th at last month’s NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mead, the Big Ten champion earlier in the season, earned All-American honors for the third time in his career and led the Gophers to a 24th-place team finish.

Borner, a senior at Bethel University, was recognized for her runner-up finish at the NCAA Division III Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. Borner, who won the Division III title in 2008, clocked 21:46 over the 6K course. Wendy Pavlus of St. Lawrence University (NY) won the race in 21:28.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dorniden In, Tollefson Out at Team USA Minn.

As one Minnesota superstar arrives, another has departed.

Team USA Minnesota has added the most decorated Minnesota collegiate middle distance runner this decade to its roster, just as the organization has said good-bye -- for now at least -- to the state's top collegiate runner of the 1990s.

Heather Dorniden, an NCAA champion and a nine-time all-American at the University of Minnesota, has joined the Twin Cities-based post-collegiate training center, the organization announced last night.

Carrie Tollefson, a five-time NCAA individual champion in the 1990s and a 2004 Olympian during her time with Team USA, however, is no longer part of the program. Tollefson, who is expecting a child in April, recently left the program she was an original member of.

Arrival ... Dorniden joins former Gopher teammate Emily Brown as well as Katie McGregor, Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle, Meghan Armstrong, and Michelle Lilienthal Frey on the women's side of the Team USA Minnesota program.

Dorniden brings an impressive resume to her professional career and to Team USA Minnesota. She sports PRs of 2:01.05, 4:17.68, and 4:38.80 in the 800m, 1500m, and mile, respectively. She won the NCAA Indoor title at 800m her freshman year, and was an all-American in every other NCAA track meet -- indoors and outdoors -- in the following years.

Along with her NCAA accolades, Dorniden is a two-time USA Championship semi-finalist.

"Heather is a great competitor," Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker said in the media release announcing Dorniden. "Minnesota track fans have enjoyed watching and supporting her throughout high school and college. I'm looking forward to working with her. She has a good range of speed, strength and endurance and will be a great addition to our group."

Dorniden completed her eligibility for the Gophers during this fall's cross country and will graduate later this month with a degree in kinesiology and psychology. She is currently pointing to the USA Indoor Championships in late February.

The Team USA Minnesota media release about Dorniden is HERE; her Team USA Minnesota bio is HERE.

Departure ... Tollefson's departure came as a surprise to many local distance running fans. The thirteen-time MSHSL champion from Dawson was no longer listed on the Team USA Minnesota web-site in recent weeks, due to what organization president Pat Goodwin characterized has a "leave" from the program.

"Carrie decided to take a leave from the team during her pregnancy and asked to be removed from the web site as well." Goodwin told DtB. "She has not 'retired' but is waiting until after the baby comes to decide what she will do."

When Tollefson announced her pregnancy in October, she vowed to return to competitive running afterward with a return trip to the Olympic Games as her goal. Recent events haven't changed that desire.

" ... I have every hope and intention on coming back and doing better then ever," Tollefson told DtB. "With the injuries and setbacks I have had over the past couple of years I feel like I have so much more to achieve and now it will be even more fun as a mom."

"As far as the team," Tollefson continued, "I am officially off Team USA Minnesota, but it has been a great supporter of my career as have all of the sponsors of Team USA Minnesota. But as of now, my post baby training plans are still a work in progress."

Even during her pregnancy, Tollefson has been taking steps to improve her health and strength as a runner:

"Kristi Hermann at Accua is training me on the underwater treadmill 2-3 times a week along with strength training and I have also been connected with Bill Welle, who works with many high profile athletes to develop their speed and agility. Bill and I have been working hard on that since this summer and I have seen a huge improvement already."

Tollefson says she continued to run with Team USA Minnesota's McGregor and former Team USA-er Jenelle Deatherage until recently, when she moved all of her running training to treadmills.

There's a recent "Life to the Max" video segment on Tollefson's training HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Big Ten Indoor Championships Tickets on Sale

Tickets for the 2010 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships to be held at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse on February 27-28, will go on sale to the general public today, Gopher athletics department officials announced.

All-session tickets are priced at $12 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and may be purchased online at http://www.gophersports.com/, in person at the athletics ticket office in Mariucci Arena, or by calling 1-800-U-GOPHER or 612-624-8080.

"With just 1,500 all-session tickets available, we fully expect that the championship will be a complete sellout," Minnesota associate athletics director and championship manager Marc Ryan said. "As a result, we are encouraging fans interested in attending what we believe will be one of the nation's finest indoor track & field competitions of the 2010 season to purchase their tickets as soon as possible."

The all-session ticket includes admission to both days of the championship. Competition is slated to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, and at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Single-session tickets, if available, will not go on sale until the week of the championship on Monday, Feb. 22.

The Minnesota men's track & field team will be out to defend its Big Ten Indoor title. The Gophers ran away with the 2009 Big Ten Indoor team championship with 135 points.

The 2010 Big Ten Women's Indoor Championship takes place the same weekend at Penn State.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Twin Cities to Open Registration in February

In a surprising change, registration for the 2010 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon will open on February 2, 2010, race officials announced yesterday afternoon.

Traditionally, registration for the early-October event has kicked off in April.

Twin Cities in Motion executive director Virginia Brophy Achman, the head of the organization that stages the marathon, offered a travel-planning explanation for the change in a brief media release.

"The earlier registration date will give marathoners from around the world the opportunity to include the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon In America in annual travel plans,” Achman said.

The change means registration for Minnesota's two largest marathons -- Grandma's and Twin Cities -- will likely be underway at the same time. Grandma's Marathon opens registration on January 14, 2010.

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon takes place Sunday, October 3, 2010. The race has typically filled within a month. Registration will be conducted online at mtcmarathon.org and will be capped at 11,000 runners on a first-come, first served basis.

Read the full TCM media release on the matter HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

State Awarded USATF Regional Meets

For the second year in a row, Minnesota will host USA Track and Field's North Region Open Outdoor Track & Field Championships as well as the Mid-American Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the organization announced recently on its Facebook page.

The meets will be held in conjunction with USATF-Minnesota's own Open & Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships this coming summer.

Minnesota was awarded the events at the recently concluded USA Track and Field Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

USATF-Minnesota hopes the events will draw athletes from beyond Minnesota's borders. The Mid-America Masters Region includes athletes from USATF's Dakotas, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri Valley, Nebraska, and Ozark associations. The North Open Region comprises Dakotas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Lake Erie, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri Valley, Nebraska, Ohio, Ozark, West Virginia, and Wisconsin associations.

"The potential is there to have a nice influx of athletes if we can get the word out early," USATF-Minnesota managing director Craig Yotter told DtB.

Results of the 2009 editions of the meets can be found, HERE, on RaceberryJam.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Roy Griak ... in Bobblehead Form!

You know you're fairly famous when you have a cross country meet named after you.

You know you're really famous when someone makes a bobblehead doll in your likeness.

Roy Griak's fame, in the Minnesota cross country and track world at least, will rise to that higher level next fall when, for the 25th running of the Roy Griak Invitational, the University of Minnesota will produce bobblehead dolls in Griak's likeness.

Coaches of teams that compete in the September 25, 2010 event will receive the bobbleheads as a gift, the University of Minnesota announced yesterday.

Griak (pictured), a U of M cross country and track letterwinner who graduated in 1949, was the men's country and track and field coach at his alma mater for 33 years from 1963-1996. He continues to work as an administrative assistant for the cross country and track programs.

Photo courtesy of the U of M.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hamline's Ian Bauer Profiled

Hamline University senior all-American Ian Bauer, who led the Pipers to an MIAC team title and trip to the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, was profiled by the College Sporting News recently.

Bauer, who sports a 3.90 GPA as an Economics and Business Management major, earns high praise from coach Paul Schmaedeke in the article by Rich Meis.

"Ian is one of the most thoughtful and dedicated trainers I have worked with,” Schmaedeke said. “He has talent, but he is good because he had made himself good. Ian is a great competitor who always makes sound tactical decisions when he races."

Read the full profile HERE.

Photo courtesy of Hamline University.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eden Prairie Boys Nip Wayzata Again

The close battles between the top two boys' teams in the state -- Class AA champions Eden Prairie and Class AA runners-up Wayzata, the state champs in 2007 and 2008, have been a major storyline of the 2009 Minnesota high school cross country season this year.

Prior to this weekend, the two nationally ranked teams had run against one-another three times in the "post-season," with Eden Prairie winning all three tight contests.

In October, EP topped the Trojans 25-41 at the Section 6AA meet. At State in early November, the Eagles won their first-ever Class AA cross country title with a 47-57 win in Northfield over Wayzata. At the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional a week later, EP won again, 61-74, as both teams qualified for the NXN finals.

Saturday, in far away Portland, the two teams met for a fourth and final time in the late fall. Once again, Eden Prairie prevailed in a close-fought battle against Wayzata at the NXN finals. Eden Prairie scored 297 points to finish 14th at NXN. Wayzata tallied 312 for 16th. Eden Prairie's Aaron Bartnik, the Class AA individual titlist, led his team -- and all Minnesotans -- with a 31st-place finish in 15:47.

Complete NXN boys results can be found HERE.

In girls' competition, Class AA state champions Elk River, the lone Minnesota team in NXN's girls' race, finished 20th with 418 points. Class AA individual champ Maria Hauger of Shakopee led the state's girls at the race with a 48th-place finish in 18:43.

Des Moines Dowling Catholic's Katie Flood, the reigning Griak Invitational champion, won the NXN individual title in 17:48.

Find complete NXN girls' results HERE.

Find NXN photos, video, and other interesting stuff HERE.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Minnesotans Take the Nike Nationals Stage

The Minnesota high school cross country season ends tomorrow morning in Portland, Oregon.

There, on the Portland Meadows cross country course, the last home-state harriers still donning spikes, will compete in the sixth running of Nike Cross Nationals.

Class AA state champions Eden Prairie and runners-ups Wayzata will compete in the boys' race at NXN. Elk River, the Class AA girls' champs, with run against the best girls' team in the country in Portland.

Eden Prairie is ranked #15 nationally in the latest Dyestat Elite/ESPN Rise Fab 50 polls. Wayzata is ranked #20; Elk River is ranked #39 in the girls' poll.

Three Minnesota individuals will compete at NXN as well: Bloomington Jefferson's Jacob Sandry, Shakopee Class AA girls' champ Maria Hauger, and Class A girls' winner Maddie McClellan.

Last year, the Eden Prairie girls placed 10th at NXN. The Wayzata boys finished 18th. Grand Rapids exchange student Jakub Zivec was the boy's runner-up.

Last year's NXN results are HERE (boys) and HERE (girls).

The official Nike Cross Nationals web-site is HERE.

Dyestat has a thorough NXN preview HERE.

The complete Dyestat Elite/ESPN Rise Fab 50 poll is HERE.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Winding Down 2009 ... Winding Up 2010

While it might seem as though the 2009 running season is winding down, there's also ample evidence that the 2010 season is winding up ... Twin Cities in Motion (the former Twin Cities Marathon, Inc.) and Grandma's Marathon are both opening registration for two of their 2010 events.

At noon today, TCM will open registration for its inaugural Red, White, and Boom TC Half Marathon set for July 4, 2010. The race will take place at Boom Island in Minneapolis.

Find registration information HERE.

Grandma's Marathon has just opened registration for the 2010 Fitger' 5K, set for April 17 in Duluth. Grandma's is also getting set to open registration for the 2010 edition of its marathon, starting in mid-January.

Find registration information HERE.

And, There's More! ... Twin Cities in Motion annouced late this morning that it has added the Valentine’s Day TC 5K and the Irish for a Day TC 5K & TC 10 Mile to its grwing line-up of races. The organization, formerly known as Twin Cities Marathon, Inc., acquired the events from Marathon Sports in its effort to "bring greater opportunities to runners throughout the calendar year."

You can fnd TCM's media release about the races HERE.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Team USA Minnesota is Reindeer Running

Just as Santa has eight reindeer powering his sleigh each Christmas Eve -- foggy nights and Rudolph notwithstanding -- so too will Team USA Minnesota feature eight of its prancing runners at Saturday's 22nd Annual Lifetime Fitness Reindeer Run.

Representing Team USA Minnesota, for which Lifetime Fitness is a major sponsor, are:

-- Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle, the third-placer at the 2009 USA Women's Marathon Championship

-- Emily Brown, the 2009 USA Cross Country Champion

-- Michelle Lilienthal Frey, the fourth placer at the 2009 USA 25k Championships

-- Meghan Armstrong, a member of the 2009 U.S. Chiba Ekiden team

-- Jason Lehmkuhle, the third placer at the USA 20k Championships and sixth at the 2009 USA Men's Marathon Championship

-- Josh Moen, the second placer at the 2009 USA 10 Mile Championship with the fifth fastest U.S. time ever at the distance

-- Antonio Vega, the fifth placer at the 2009 USA 7 Mile Championships and eighth at the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

-- Matt Gabrielson, member of the U.S. marathon team at the 2009 IAAF World Outdoor Championships.

The event, which expects to draw some 3000 runners, stars at 9:00 a.m. with a kids run.

You can find details HERE.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hauger 15th at Footlocker Midwest

MSHSL Class AA girls' individual champion Maria Hauger was the top Minnesota finisher in the seeded races of last weekend's Footlocker Midwest Regional cross country race in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Shakopee sophomore (pictured racing at the State Meet) finished 15th in 18:47 in the 5K race. Megan Goethals of Rochester, Michigan won the contest in 17:24.

The top ten finishers in the seeded events at the Footlocker regionals advance to the Footlocker Finals in San Diego later this month.

Katie Flood and Ashley Decker of Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines, Iowa, the 1-2 finishers at the Griak Invitational this year, finished 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Full results of the girls' seeded race can be found HERE.

In the seeded boys' race, Shakopee junior Trent Lusignan was the top Minnesota finisher in 36th place with 16:21. Sophomore Lukas Verzbicas of Oakland Hills, Illinois won the race in 15:34.

Full boys' results are HERE.

Photo by Gene Niemi.