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.

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