Thursday, December 23, 2010

Barney Kleceker Inducted into Ultrarunning Hall of Fame

By Dan Brannen, AUA

Barney Klecker's ultra career spanned the decade of the 1980s. His greatest ultra performance was his first one. Never before or since has an American come out of the proverbial nowhere to rock the global ultra scene as Barney Klecker did in his inaugural ultra. It happened in the US National 50-Mile Championship at the Chicago Lakefront Ultra on October 5, 1980, where the Minnesotan took off at an unprecedented race pace right from the starting gun. Until that day, no man had ever broken 5 hours (6 minute per mile pace) for a road 50 miler, although American Allan Kirik (2009 AUA Hall of fame inductee) had come within half a minute of 5 hours the previous year. Only Brits Cavin Woodward and Don Ritchie had done it on the track, and Ritchie's track world record from 1978 stood at 4 hours, 53 minutes, 28 seconds.

In Chicago, Klecker, 29 at the time, averaged under 5:40 per mile for the first 30 miles (including a marathon split of 2:27:30), faded slightly approaching 40 miles (which he still reached in 3:46), then crashed and burned through his last agonizing 10 miles. But the early pace had given him enough of a cushion to bring him safely home in 4:51:25 and the new owner of the absolute 50 mile world record.

Klecker had twice broken 2:17 for the marathon, and for the next three years he focused his attention on breaking the US record for the shorter 50K distance. In 1981, he set the still-standing US track 50K record of 2:52:48 in Tucson, which he ran barely a month after defending his 50 mile title at Chicago in 5:05:04. The following year he moved up to try his first 100K, the longest distance he would ever attempt. In October, he won The Edmund Fitzgerald 100K in 6:50:43, putting himself in the #2 spot on the all-time US 100K list. Two months later, he bettered the U.S. 50K road record with a sterling 2:51:53 to win the Tallahassee Ultra 50K. In 1983, he returned to the Tallahassee race and won the 50K in 2:53:45, as his wife (and 1992 Olympic marathoner) Janis ran 3:13:51 to break the women's world record by almost 8 minutes in the same race.

In October 1984, South African Bruce Fordyce broke Klecker's 50 mile world record on the very same Chicago lakefront course on which Barney had set it. The American made a valiant attempt to regain the record in January 1986 in Dallas, but fell short, fading in the last half of the race to a 5:10:47.

In October 1988, Klecker tried something different: back-to-back 50K races on successive weekends. He won the Mid-America 50K in Muncie, IN, with a 3:01:48, then despite running 30 seconds faster the following weekend, he lost the Edmund Fitzgerald 50K by less than 2 minutes to Bruce Mortenson. It was the only time he ever lost an ultra that he finished.

Two years later, Klecker returned to the Mid-America 50K, which this time hosted the USA Championship. There he closed out his decade-long ultra career by winning his second national ultra title with 3:07:40.

During those 10 years, Barney Klecker had run almost a dozen 50K races with an average time under 3 hours, and three 50 mile races with an average time barely over 5 hours. From that perspective, Barney Klecker holds a place in American ultra history that no other man has ever come close to matching.

To visit the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame, go to:

Note on AUA Hall of Fame policy: to be considered for the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame, candidates must be either retired from serious competition for 10 years, or have reached the age of 60.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays and Thanks from DtB

Happy Holidays everyone!

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

In the past, we've pretty much shut down DtB over the holidays. This year, we'll take some down time to be sure, but we'll also use the season to post profiles of this year's Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame class. Likewise, if big news happens to break during our "vacation," you can bet we'll at least note it on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

We'll be back in full force 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 2010 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 investments in our site, DtB would likely not still exist. We'd also like to thank everyone who has advertised with us during the year -- your business 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 contest director Doug Cowles, photographer Gene Niemi, commentator and designated hitter Jim Ferstle, 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 this year.

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.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Minnesotans Shine at Club Cross Nationals

A handful of Minnesota teams and individuals ran with distinction at last Saturday's USA Track and Field Club Cross Country Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Former University of Minnesota All-American Megan Duwell finished 15th in the 6K women's open race in 20:26 and was instrumental in leading the Flagstaff, Arizona-based McMillan Elite team to its first-ever women's title at the meet.

In the men's open race, also won by McMillan Elite, Run N Fun's team (pictured above) finished 16th in the team standings. Justin Grunewald led the effort with a 22nd-place, 30:11 clocking over the 10K course.

Run N Fun's 72-year-old masters star Thom Weddle finished 3rd in M70 division of the 10K masters race in 46:57.

TC Running Company's grand masters team (pictured below) finished 11th in 50+ team category. Doug Keller led the squad with an 11th-place finish in the age division in 35:27.

Results from all the Club Cross races can be found HERE.

Keller on Club Cross ... We chatted briefly with TCRC's Keller this week to get his take on the event.

DtB: When did you and the team decide to travel to Charlotte for the race?

Keller: Bill Langhout started talking it up in September and with Rob Class, Paul Giannobile and I all having a good fall, we decided it would be a good year to give it a try. To fill out the team, Bill convinced Chip Cheney and Pat Richards it would be fun to see how we stacked up against the rest of the country even before we knew it was a great excuse to shirk our snow removal duties for the weekend.

DtB: Did you have any sense of where you might fit into the mix at Club Cross?

Keller: We had hoped for a top 5 finish but our prospects were hurt with a hip injury limiting Rob's training and Paul pulling out because of a work commitment.

: How did you guys feel about the race afterward?

Keller: We were concerned going into the race because we only had 5 runners and we need all 5 to score a complete team. Post race, we were satisfied with our middle of the pack finish considering our conditioning but we walked away from the meet with the knowledge that Minnesota can compete on the national level. The guys are already talking about how to improve on that finish next year.

DtB: How did you feel about your own individual race, Doug?

Keller: With my normal racing season usually ending in October, it was hard to stay motivated for a December race so my conditioning and race readiness weren't at the level I would have liked. As a result, I went into the race without clear goals and was satisfied with my time and place. As you know, being satisfied doesn't lead to great race results but it was encouraging to see that the front runners weren't that far ahead and I want another shot at them next year.

Photos by Thom Weddle. Top, from left, Ben Kampf, Kelly Mortenson, Eric Hartmark, Jeremy Polson, Cory Hayden, Patrick Parish, Timothy Branigan, Phil Richert, and Justin Grunewald. Bottom, from left, Pat Richard, Doug Keller, Rob Class, Bill Langhout, and Chip Cheney.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Athletes of the Month: Sathre, Hauger

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field anounced today that Ben Sathre and Maria Hauger are its Athletes of the Month for December 2010.

Sathre, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, was recognized for his runner-up finish at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Waverly, Iowa last month. Sathre, a Chaska High School graduate, ran the 8-kilometer course in 24:24, finishing just one second behind winner Anders Hulleberg of Haverford College.

Hauger, a sophomore at Shakopee High School, was honored for defending her Minnesota State High School League Class AA cross country title last month in Northfield. Hauger ran 14:14 over the 4K St. Olaf College course to win the second large schools' harrier crown of her youthful career.

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.

Find details on all of USATF-Minnesota's 2010 Athletes of the Month HERE.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Goucher to Run 2011 Boston Marathon

Kara Goucher will race in April's Boston Marathon, event organizers announced this morning.

The Duluth native, who finished third in the 2009 edition of the race in 2:32:25, will be joined by fellow American Desiree Davila in the elite women's field.

Goucher (pictured) said in a recent blog post, HERE, that she plans to return to racing at January's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon on January 18, 2011. The competition will be her first since she gave birth to her first child, Colton Mirko Goucher, in September.

The Boston Globe's story on the announcement is HERE.

The 115th Boston Marathon takes place on April 18, 2011.

Photo by Victor Sailer/Photo Run.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Minnesotans Runners-Up at Junior Olympics

Jesse Delgado and Connor Olson came oh-so-close to winning USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic cross country titles on Saturday in Hoover, Alabama.

Delgado (pictured above, #1140) of Waseca led during much of the 3K Midget Boys (11 and 12-year-olds) race before being edged by Jacob Ogden of Oregon. Both Ogden and Delgado were timed at 10:17 for the distance.

Results of the Midget Boys race are HERE.

Olson (pictured below, #1144) of Maple Grove led late in the 4K Youth Boys (13 and 14-year-olds) race before Miguel Bautista pulled away for a seven-second win.

Olson was clocked in 13:02.

Fellow Minnesotan Shane Streich of Waseca, who, with Olson, was a member of the Real Track Field team which finished 5th in the race, placed 8th individually in 13:11. Streich led for much of the race.

Team and individual results of the Youth boys race are HERE.

Find complete results of all the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships HERE.

Photos courtesy of Chris Dallager.

Friday, December 10, 2010

USATF Club Cross Country Tomorrow

USA Track and Field's National Club Cross Country Championships take place tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina. The race pits an interesting mix of national class and regional elite athletes against one another.

A handful of runners with Minnesota ties will compete in the 12th-annual event. In the men's race, former University of Minnesota star Chad Johnson will represent the Hansons-Brooks Distance project, while former Team USA Minnesota miler Ryan Kleimenhagen will race for the Wisconsin Runner Race Team.

In women's competition, Megan Duwell, a cross country All-American for the University of Minnesota last fall, will compete for the Flagstaff, Arizona-based McMillan Elite team.

2010 USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit open men's champions Run N Fun will compete in the event. Two years ago, the RNF-ers placed 15th in the meet.

Find complete startlists and additional information on the event HERE.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Frey, Greeno Poised for Runner of Year Awards

With the Minnesota road racing season all but over, Team USA Minnesota's Michelle Frey and recent Bethel University graduate Dan Greeno are poised to win their first Minnesota Runner of the Year Awards.

The Minnesota Runner of the Year Award recognizes the exploits of Minnesota runners racing in Minnesota races over a variety of road distances ranging from the mile to the marathon. Athletes earn points based on their rank order in up to five separate race distances.

Frey (pictured, above) leads 2007 women's Runner of the Year (and 2009 ROY runner-up) Jenna Boren 89 points to 78 points. Kim Magee, who was the ROY runner-up in 2008, is third with 65 points.

Full open women's standings can be found HERE.

Greeno (pictured, right) leads University of Minnesota alum Justin Grunewald 91 to 89 in the open men's division. Eric Hartmark, who was fourth in the competition last year, stands third with 83 points.

Full open men's standings can be found HERE.

Minnesota Runner of the Year awards are conferred for age-group runners as well. Find all the Runner of the Year details, HERE, on the official web-site ably managed by Mike Setter.

Photos by Victor Sailer/Photo Run (Frey) and courtesy of Bethel University (Greeno).

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Design the Official TCM Poster, Win $750

It's time to dig out your paint set and remember just where it was you stored your easel ...

Twin Cities In Motion, the organizers of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, is again hosting a competition to create an original work of art to be featured as the official 2011 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Poster.

Artists 18-years-old or older who submit their work to Twin Cities In Motion by December 17, 2010 will be considered. The winning artist will receive $750.

Now in its 30th year, the marathon poster features new artwork every year to commemorate “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America®.” Posters are displayed throughout the year at TCM events and are sold at the Health & Fitness Expo on marathon weekend and at the TCM online merchandise store.

Rules and information about the contest can be found HERE.

The official entry form can be found HERE.

Pictured: The 2010 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon poster created by Tom Foty.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

USATF Awards Abound for Minnesotans

Minnesota athletes and sport officials earned their fair share of awards at last week's USA Track and Field Annual Meeting held in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Antonio Vega earned the Robert E. DeCelle Jr. Award as USATF's male long distance runner of the year. The Tartan High School and University of Minnesota alum who trains in the Team USA Minnesota program won the men's USA Running Circuit title this year.

"This truly is a great honor to be recognized as the long distance runner of the year," Vega said in a Team USA Minnesota media release. "Starting off the year winning the USA Half Marathon Championship is always a good way to start the year. To be as consistent as I was throughout the entire year was really a big surprise. Without the support of Team USA Minnesota, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of the results that I had this year."

Last year, Meb Keflezighi won the award for the fourth time in his career. Previous Minnesota recipients of the award include Dick Beardsley (1982), Mark Nenow (1986), and Bob Kempainen (1994 & 1996).

Not to be outdone by a teammate, Katie McGregor won the women's Runner of the Year Award. She, too, earned the USA Running Circuit title and won three USA titles during the course of the 2010 season.

"I am so proud of this award," McGregor said. "The depth of talented American female distance runners just keeps growing and to be recognized out of this group is amazing. It turned out to be a great year overall. I gave my best efforts just like I do every year."

McGregor became the first Minnesota recipient of the award in its 30-year history.

Former Team USA Minnesota athlete Patrick Smyth earned the male Cross Country Athlete of the Year Award. Smyth was the runner-up at the 2010 USA Cross Country Championships and led the USA squad at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, finishing 36th overall.

Masters athlete Ralph Maxwell, a part-time resident of Richville, Minnesota, shared the male Masters Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award for his exploits in the M90 division.

Volunteers Also Shine ... Minnesota's star athletes weren't the only North Star Staters bringing hardware through airport baggage screening.

Twin Cities In Motion executive director Virginia Brophy Achman won the H. Browning Ross Merit Award from USATF's Men's Long Distance Running Committee. LeeAnn Meyer earned the Otto Essig Contributor Award from the Masters Long Distance Running Committee.

won one of the Mike Riban Contributor Awards from USATF's Racewalking Committee. Bruce Leasure chairs Minnesota's racewalking committee.

Monday, December 06, 2010

NXN: Wayzata Boys 9th, Eden Prairie Girls 12th

Minnesota teams exceeded expectations at Saturday's Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.

MSHSL Class AA boys' champions Wayzata, ranked #15 going into high school cross country's unofficial national championship, placed 9th in the 22-team meet. Edina, runners-up to the Trojans at the NXN Heartland Regional, finished 18th.

Eden Prairie, the Class AA and Heartland Region girls' champions, placed 12th in the competition, after being ranked #19 before the meet.

Individually, Adam Zutz of St. Francis, the Class AA individual champ, led Minnesota runners with a 23rd-place finish in the boys' race.

Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria, the Class AA girls' runner-up, led Minnesotans with a 36th-place finish. Class AA girls' champ Maria Hauger finished 64th.

Find complete results HERE (boys) and HERE (girls).

A video web-cast replay of the event is HERE.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

UMD's Morgan Place 5th at NCAA D2

University of Minnesota - Duluth junior Morgan Place finished 5th in the women's race of the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships held in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday.

Running in Duluth-like conditions -- sleet, snow, and temperatures in the low 30s -- the Ellsworth, Wisconsin native ran 21:14 over the 6K course. The finish now means Place has three top-10 D2 finishes to her credit -- she was 7th in the meet as freshman and 6th last year.

Place told the Duluth News-Tribune, HERE, that when she saw the race's wintry conditions, she knew it would be to her advantage.

Full results of the NCAA D2 Championships can be found HERE (women) and HERE (men).

Friday, December 03, 2010

Your Favorite Races? MDRA Wants to Know

The Minnesota Distance Running Association wants to know your favorite races of 2010.

In an on-line survey, HERE, the state's largest runner's organization is asking race participants to name their favorite events by distance and type -- from 5K's to ultra-marathons.

The results will be put to use in a feature story in the January issue of MDRA's RunMinnesota magazine.

Subscriptions to the magazine come as a perk of membership in MDRA. You can join MDRA HERE.

Wahman, Sons win MDRA Grand Prix ... Longtime fixtures on the Minnesota road racing scene, Duluth's Jarrow Wahman and Shorewood's Bonnie Sons, won the open division titles in the recently completed 2010 MDRA Grand Prix Series.

Wahman, 48, topped 49-year-old Kirt Goetzke for the title in the year-long, 14-race circuit. Wahman tallied 9653 points to Goetzke's 9456. Eric Porte finished third in the competition.

The 44-year-old Sons won the women's open title with 5295 points, topping Andriette Wickstrom, 55, who tallied 4816. Willie Tibbetts was third.

Complete Grand Prix standings, including those in age-group competition can be found HERE.

Registration for the 2011 MDRA Grand Prix is underway, HERE. The series kicks off with the Meet of Miles on January 10 at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gregg Robertson Wins 2010 Yes/No Title

After 40 weeks of Yes/No questions in 2010, DtB's weekly prediction contest has reached its conclusion for the year. Our final weekend featured a triple-header of questions as well as the final lead change of the year.

Gregg Robertson and Lori Anne Peterson have been among the front-runners all year long and Robertson leap-frogged Peterson on the last weekend by answering two of the three questions correctly.

Bill Miles won the "Mr. November" award by answering five of the month's six questions correctly. He was also the only one to answer all three questions correctly in the final weekend, in fact. November was a good month for Miles all around, as he led his Wayzata Trojans to the state cross country title early in the month before receiving the equally prestigious Yes/No "Mr. November" award.

The top ten
(actually eleven) 2010 Yes/No finishers were as follows:

Gregg Robertson - 29
Lori Anne Peterson - 28
Rachel Karel - 26
Gloria Jansen - 26
Toby Hatelvig - 25
Chris Marshall - 24
Benjamin Melby - 24
Mike Henderson - 23
Bill Miles - 23
Jesse Schoen - 22
Dylan Dragswiek - 22

At some point during the Yes/No off-season, I hope to post the "percentage" leaders showing which competitors answered correctly at the highest rate. As always, this information as well as the final Yes/No standings are posted at DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thanks for playing Yes/No on DtB!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Team USA Minn. Returns to Reindeer Run

In one of the Minnesota running scene's Christmas traditions, a large group of Team USA Minnesota athletes will once again celebrate the holiday season by participating in the 23rd annual Life Time Fitness Reindeer Run 5K this Saturday.

The fun run starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Lake Harriet bandshell in southwest Minneapolis. Team USA Minnesota athletes have appeared at the Reindeer Run in each of the last nine years.

Joining in the festivities along with more than 3,000 people of all ages will be:

Emily Brown - 2009 USA Cross Country Champion and three-time qualifier for World Cross Country Championships;

Michelle Frey - winner of the 2010 City of Lakes 25K and a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier;

Meghan Armstrong - fourth place finisher at both the 2010 USA Women's 10 Mile and 5K Championships;

Kristen Nicolini - third place finisher at the 2009 USA Women's Marathon Championships with a debut time of 2:35;

Josh Moen - winner of the 2010 City of Lakes 25K; runner-up at the 2009 USA Men's 10 Mile Championship with the fifth fastest time ever in the U.S.;

Chris Rombough - a six-time All-American in cross country and track at the University of Minnesota;

Gabriele Anderson - new member of Team USA Minnesota, second place finisher at the 2010 NCAA 1500-meter championship and ran personal best of 4:31.05 at the 2010 Fifth Avenue Mile.

The Reindeer Run supports the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves "Toys for Tots" program with participants asked to bring a contribution of an unwrapped toy. In addition to the 5K at 9:30 a.m., a Kids 1K Run will be held at 9:10 a.m. Official results are not kept for the Reindeer Run as the event is a fun run.

Armstrong's Ekiden Squad Fifth ... The Team USA squad racing at the Chiba International Ekiden in Japan last week finished fifth in the twelve team, six leg, co-ed, marathon distance relay.

Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Armstrong anchored the squad running the 7.195K final leg in 24:46, which brought the team home in 2:10:54.

The Japan Collegiate team won the event in 2:07:52 in an upset over Kenya (2:08:06) and the Japanese national team (2:08:12).

Find in-depth coverage of the event HERE.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wayzata Ranked #15 in Computer Ratings

The Wayzata boys cross country team is tabbed as the country's 15th-best team in computer rankings released today by XCNation. The Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Region champions and MSHSL Class AA titlists lead the three Minnesota schools listed in the rankings.

Eden Prairie, the Heartland and Class AA girls' champion, is ranked #19 in its ratings. The Edina boys team, runner-up at Heartland, is ranked #24.

All three teams will compete in this weekend's Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.

Find complete rankings HERE. Find additional national high school polls and rankings HERE.

Joining the Minnesota teams in the race are individuals Adam Zutz of St. Francis, the Class AA boys individual champ, Maria Hauger of Shakopee, the Class AA girls' champ, and Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria, the Class AA girls' runner-up.

Find additional NXN details HERE.

Pumpkin Pie Smashing in Holiday Poll

Pumpkin Pie out-polled defending champion Mashed Potatoes and two-time victor Stuffing in the 4th Annual Down the Backstretch Thanksgiving poll conducted over the holiday weekend.

Pumpkin Pie garnered 33% of the votes to out-pace Stuffing, the 2007 and 2008 champion, which gathered 22% of voters. Turkey, the Thanksgiving centerpiece which has never won the holiday poll, finished 3rd with 18% of the vote.

Mashed Potatoes were a disappointing 4th with 13% of the votes only one year after its victory in the contest. Cranberries, 8%, and Gravy, 4%, finished well back of the leaders.

Pumpkin Pie coach Billy Corgan, when informed of the desert's victory, said, "Today is the greatest day I've ever known. Can't live for tomorrow, tomorrow's much too long."

Find complete results of the Thanksgiving Poll on the right sidebar below the advertisements.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lusignan Leads State's Footlocker Effort

Shakopee High School senior Trent Lusignan was the top Minnesota finisher in Footlocker Midwest Regional competition in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Saturday.

Lusignan, the 4th-placer in the MSHSL Class AA State Meet this season, finished 14th in 15:24.1 in the seeded boys' race over the 5K UW-Parkside course. Totino Grace senior Adam Braun finished 17th in 15:24.6.

Defending Footlocker Midwest Regional and Finals champion Lukas Verzbicas won the race in 14:44.2.

Two-time MSHSL Class AA girls' champion Maria Hauger, a sophomore from Shakopee, was the top Minnesota girls' finisher at Footlocker Midwest, finishing 30th in 18:37.3.

Allison Woodward of DePere, Wisconsin won the race in 17:18.6.

This year marked the second year in a row that no Minnesotans qualified for the Footlocker Finals to be held in San Diego, California next month.

The top ten finisher in the seeded boys' and girls' races advance to the Footlocker Finals.

Find full Footlocker Midwest results HERE (boys) and HERE (girls).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Down the Backstretch!

Gobble, gobble Minnesota running and track fans!

It’s once again time for the storied athletic tradition that is the Down the Backstretch Thanksgiving poll – our annual contest to determine DtB readers’ preferred holiday food.

We each have our favorite portion on the plate, and over the years Stuffing (2007, 2008) and Mashed Potatoes (2009) have won the coveted Thanksgiving Championship, while Turkey and Pumpkin Pie have historically made strong showings.

(Cranberries and gravy, on the other hand … )

There’s no clear favorite this year ... some sage observers are picking stuffing, other think Turkey will be a real animal, there are even a handful that think Gravy might pour it on this year. In the end, of course, it will be you, the DtB readers, who will decide!

So, while DtB takes a little holiday down time, please take a moment from your own holiday festivities to vote in our poll, found on the right sidebar just below the ads. Voting in the poll is open until the end of the day Sunday, November 28.

We’ll be back on Monday with the results, and, of course, the latest on the sport from Minnesota.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wilson: "... one of the ugliest national races ..."

University of Minnesota women's coach Gary Wilson called yesterday's warm, wind-swept NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana "one of the ugliest national races I've ever seen."

His comments came on the heels of his team's 27th-place finish in the meet and the late-race DNF of the team's #2-runner Missa Varpness.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Wilson said in a U of M media release. “That was one of the ugliest national races I’ve ever seen. No team was ever really able to find a rhythm."

As footage in THIS Flotrack video highlight reel shows, many runners succumbed to the distance, conditions, and magnitude of the meet. Varpness, a redshirt freshman from Montivideo, fell roughly 200 meters from the finish line and did not finish.

"Maybe it was the wind or maybe that it was warmer than normal," Wilson speculated. "Obviously it unfortunate that we lost Missa and that probably cost us five or six spots in the team standings. Still, these young women accomplished so much this season. It was a great year.”

The Gopher men also placed 27th in the meet.

The Gopher programs added two new All-Americans to their rolls: Stephanie Price earned the distinction with her 31st-place finish as did Ben Blankenship with his 39th-place result.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stublaski Keys Oklahoma State Title Defense;
Gopher Women, Men 27th at NCAAs

Johnathan Stublaski, a Henry Sibley High School alum, headlined the Minnesota news from today's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana today.

Stublaski (pictured), who had to lobby his way onto the Oklahoma State varsity for the meet, sealed the Cowboys' second-straight NCAA crown with a 36th-place, All-American finish in the meet as his team's #5 runner.

Oklahoma State, ranked #2 entering the meet, tallied 73 points to Florida State (193), Wisconsin (223), and #1-ranked Stanford 237.

Hear DtB's exclusive interview with Stublaski here ...

Hear Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith talk about Stublaski and his team here ...

The University of Minnesota cross country teams each finished 27th at today's NCAA Cross Country championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Ben Blankenship paced the Gopher men with an All-American 39th-place finish in 30:29.

Winona High School graduate Elliott Heath finished 42nd for Stanford.

Stephanie Price paced the Gopher women with an All-American 31st-place finish in 20:46. The Gopher effort was hobbled by the DNF of Missa Varpness, the regular #2-runner for the team.

Villanova defended its women's title, led by individual champ Sheila Reid. Samuel Chelanga of Liberty University defended his NCAA men's title.

Find complete results HERE.

Photo by Randy Miyazaka/

Welcome to NCAA Cross Country Monday!

It's one of the compelling little oddities of our sport that the Monday before Thanksgiving is the traditional race-day for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

DtB in on the scene to bring you all the action on a warm (62 degrees), cloudy, and possibly day in Terre Haute, Indiana. We'll have full stories about the meet up as soon as possible post-race.

In the meantime, though, keep an eye on our Twitter feed (HERE or on the left sidebar) for flash news from the course.

You can watch the races live, HERE, beginning at 11:00 CDT.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

St. Thomas' Ben Sathre is D3 Runner-Up

University of St. Thomas junior Ben Sathre finished second at this morning's NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Waverly, Iowa.

Sathre (pictured above, #197) ran the 8K course in 24:23.8, less than two seconds behind champion Anders Hulleberg of Haverford who clocked 24:22.2.

Hulleberg's Haverford team won the meet with 87 points.

Hamline University's Devin Monson, the MIAC champion, earned all-American honors as well with his 23rd-place finish in 24:47.5. Monson's Hamline squad finished 22nd in the team competition with 532 points.

The top 35 runners in both D3 races earn all-American honors.

Complete men's results can be found HERE.

Hear our exclusive interview with the Sathre here ...

Listen to St. Thomas men's coach Pete Wareham talk about Sathre's race and his own D3 runner-up finish back in 1983 ...

St. Olaf sophomore Emma Lee finished 10th in women's competition, leading her team to a 23rd-place finish. Lee (pictured) clocked 21:28.1 for the 6K Wartburg College course.

Middlebury won the meet with 185 points.

Minnesota-Morris' Linda Keller, the two-time MSHSL Class A cross country champ from Paynesville, finished 19th in 21:35.1. Alyssa Sybilrud, a Burnsville alumnus who competes for the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, finished 23rd in 21:39.1.

Complete women's results can be found HERE.

Photos by Charlie Mahler.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Follow the NCAA Cross Country Action Here!

It's Friday night, and your editor is packing up his rental car tonight to head out early tomorrow morning for Waverly, Iowa, site of the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships on Saturday, and then motor on to Terre Haute, Indiana for the NCAA Division I meet on Monday.

Between my Twitter feed, HERE, our Facebook page, HERE, and good ol' Down the Backstretch itself, we'll have all the Minnesota cross country news for you as soon as it is made. ( ... and, perhaps a few self-indulgent tweets about the progress of my road-trip, which will culminate in Ohio with a Turkey Trot 5K and the holiday with my in-laws.)

In the meantime, check out the Gopher sports info staff's previews of the NCAA meet HERE (men) and HERE (women).

If you really want to geek-out on the NCAA Championships, check out Track & Field News' new NCAA Division I Cross Country Archives, HERE. It includes results of every NCAA meet, plus tons of interesting photos and information!

There's a similar D3 archives, HERE.

Until Saturday morning ...

McGregor, Monson are Athletes of the Month

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field announced recently that Katie McGregor and Devin Monson are USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for November.

McGregor, a member of Team USA Minnesota, is recognized for winning the USA 10 Mile Championship last month at the Medtronic TC 10 Mile. McGregor’s win sealed the USA Running Circuit title for the St. Louis Park resident. The USA Running Circuit is a grand prix of the year’s USA Championship road races, of which McGregor won three.

Monson, a junior at Hamline University, is recognized for winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s cross country title last month. Monson ran the 8-kilometer circuit at the Como Golf Course in St. Paul in 25 minutes, 38 seconds, leading Hamline to the team title.

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.

Find a complete listing of USATF-Minnesota Athletes of the Month HERE.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yes/No: The 2010 Grand Finale!

This is the most important week of the year in college cross country. NCAA Division I and III will end their seasons with National Meets while Division II holds their Regional Meets with Nationals following the week after. It is also the final week in the Yes/No contest. It would be difficult to choose a single Yes/No question, so we are going with three -- one for each Division!

The University of Minnesota qualified its men's and women's teams to Nationals this year. The Gophers will compete at Indiana State on Monday. On the Division II side, area squads will be heading back to Nebraska for the Regional Meet on Saturday. Wayne State is hosting with the first race slated for 11:00 A.M. Finally, the Division III schools in Minnesota raced the Regional Meet last weekend at Wartburg and a handful of teams and individuals will return to Waverly, Iowa for the National Meet.

With all this cross country action we have an abundance of possible Yes/No questions. Here are the three we came up with...

Y/N: Will the Gopher cross country teams (men and/or women) finish in the top twenty in the overall team standings?

Y/N: Will the UMD women finish among the top four teams at the Central Regional Meet and auto-qualify for the National Meet?

Y/N: Will more than six combined men and women from the MIAC finish in the top thirty-five and be named All Americans at the Division III National Meet on Saturday?

Both Gopher squads finished third at the Regional Meet and received at-large bids to the National Meet. The Gopher women finished tenth at the meet last year and are currently ranked twenty-second. The men finished twenty-fourth in 2009 and are now ranked twenty-third in the nation.

The UMD women's cross country team were upset in a closely fought NSIC battle by both Augustana and the University of Mary. This week, they will likely fight it out with those two teams for the remaining automatic qualifying slots behind perennial powers Western State and Adams State. UMD is currently ranked fifth in the Central Region.

The MIAC athletes routinely prove that it is one of the toughest conferences in the nation at the Division III National Meet. Last year, the MIAC finished with eight individual All-Americans and there are a number of top runners coming back this year.

Returning MIAC All-Americans include Simone Childs-Walker (eleventh in 2009) and Ben Sathre (twenty-sixth last year). Dustin Franta just missed the threshold by finishing thirty-seventh. Other top runners include the top two women at MIAC - Maren Westby and Emma Lee, both from St. Olaf, and two runners from St. Thomas - Taylor Berg and Allie Metzler. On the men's side, MIAC champ Devin Monson should certainly finish much higher than his 102nd place finish last year and Griak champ Tom Sederquist will compete as well.

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 11:00 A.M. CST, Saturday, November 20th. Please put your answers 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 answers: D1 - Yes, D2 - Yes, D3 - No

The fantasy contest question from last week was: Will more than two University of Minnesota Gopher individuals (men and/or women) finish in the top ten of their respective races at the Midwest Regional Meet at Bradley University on Saturday? The answer was no. Stephanie Price won the Regional race and Ben Blankenship finished seventh. Mike Torchia was the next highest Gopher finisher in twelfth place.

The Yes/No contest is entering the final weekend and it looks to be a two-horse-race. Lori Anne Peterson enters the final contest with a one-point lead over Gregg Robertson, twenty-eight to twenty-seven. The last contest will offer three questions and so Toby Hatlevig, with twenty-five points, still has a mathematical shot at tying for first place.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NXN: Wayzata's Miles Describes the Meet

Last Sunday, three Minnesota high school teams qualified for Nike Cross Nationals thanks to their stellar performances at the NXN Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Competing as "club teams" -- and without the help of their in-season coaches who can't have contact with them -- the state's top squads earned the right to compete at the NXN final in Portland, Oregon on December 4.

In boys competition, MSHSL Class AA champions Wayzata won the regional with 113 points, while Edina, 5th in Class AA, finished runner-up with 124 points. In girls' competition, Class AA champ Eden Prairie won the region with a scant 57 points.
(We understand the EP girls were coached at the meet by TC Running Company owner Adam Lindahl, who is a generous sponsor of Down the Backstretch.)

To get a sense of what NXN competition is all about, we talked to Wayzata coach Bill Miles about the meet and how it differs from the State Meet and regular season racing.

Bill Miles:
The biggest difference for me is the change in my role. I have not coached them for a week or two (depending on the schedule for that year), so I am there as a spectator. Having said that, I think that I know the kids pretty well and have watched them train and race for four to six years, so I feel comfortable answering your questions.

How did the race play out for your guys?

The race course was tighter than is ideal for us, so it looked like it was more of a struggle to move through the field than at St. Olaf. Our kids seemed to keep their focus and composure and kept moving up throughout the entire race. Looking at the splits that are posted at the meet website, it looks like we didn't take the lead until the last mile.

How is an NXN regional different than a State Meet?

Miles: As a spectator it is significantly different, because you don't know the uniforms. It's even hard to pick out the kids you're cheering on. I'm so used to looking for blue and gold uniforms at meets and then on Sunday I'm looking for all black uniforms. It's confusing for an old man.

Another obvious difference is the mystery. When you're bringing together teams from seven states, you really don't know how you'll stack up. You haven't raced each other as much or have as many common opponents as with your in-state rivals. When you go to the State Meet, you're more familiar with most of your opponents.

Other than that, they are both 5K cross country races in November against really good competition. Our kids love to race and competing for a State Title for yourself, your teammates and your school is incredibly exciting just as competing for a chance for your team to compete together in a national meet is thrilling.

Do you ever worry about a let-down for guys at NXN Regionals, especially after winning a state title?

Miles: Not really. The environment at Sioux Falls is electric. Our kids are fit and not over raced. They've been thinking about the State Meet and the Nike Regional Meets since June. Kraig Lungstrom, our Wayzata XC Club Coach, does a great job with the kids and has them ready to go. Why worry?

Armstrong Set to Return to Chiba Ekiden

Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Armstrong has again been named to the USA squad competing at the International Chiba Ekiden in Chiba, Japan. This year's race is set for November 23.

The six-member squad of three men and three women will run a marathon-distance relay against teams from nine nations, including Kenya, Romania, Russia, China, Australia, Canada, Norway, Italy, and hosts Japan,

The race features coed teams running six alternating legs that cover distances of 5K and 10K and a last leg of 7.195K. In 2009, Armstrong ran a 5k leg in 16:18 with the USA team finishing in fifth place.

Armstrong (pictured) was selected for the Chiba Ekiden squad based on her performances this year, which have included a fourth place finish at the USA 5K Championships, and a fourth place finish at the USA Women's 10 Mile Championship.

Other Team USA Minnesota News ... Matt Gabrielson finished sixth at the Big Sur Half Marathon last Sunday in Monterey Bay. The Drake University alumnus ran 1:05:47. Macdonald Ondara of Kenya won in 1:03:20.

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NCAA-Bound St. Olaf, Hamline #22 and #29

The St. Olaf College women's cross country team will toe the starting line at Saturday's NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championships as the #22-ranked women's team in D3, according the final NCAA rankings released on Monday.

The Hamline University men will race at the Waverly, Iowa meet as the #29-ranked men's team in D3. The two squads are the only Minnesota teams competing at the meet.

Vermont's Middlebury College is the top-ranked women's team in Division III; North Central College of Illinois is the #1-ranked men's squad.

Carleton College's women's team, the only other Minnesota team in the D3 top-35, was ranked #33 in the final rankings, but did not qualify for the 32-team meet national meet.

Find the full rankings HERE.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gopher Teams Earn At-Large NCAA Bids;
Hamline, St. Olaf Advance in Division III

The University of Minnesota men's and women's cross country teams earned at-large bids the NCAA Division I Championships to be held a week from today in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The men's team will make its 12th trip to the NCAA Championships in the last 13 years. For the women, it's the squad's sixth-straight trip to "the big dance."

Both Gopher teams finished in third place at the NCAA Division I Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois on Saturday, missing out on the two automatic bids available for the meet there. When at-large selections were made on Sunday, however, travel arrangements to the Queen City of the Wabash were back on.

For the men, the NCAA bid was a reward for a resilient team that weathered the early-season loss of three-time All-American Hassan Mead to a collapsed lung. Ben Blankenship led the team at regionals on Saturday, finishing 7th overall.

There's a recap of the men's race, HERE, on

“I’m so happy for our guys,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. “They really gave it their all in the last couple of meets and I’m excited that it was enough to reward them with an NCAA bid.”

The Gopher men were the only men's at-large team taken from the Midwest Regional.

Women's coach Gary Wilson had high praise for his squad as well after hearing the good news about nationals.

“What can I say about this team,” Wilson asked. “These young women have worked very hard for this and I’m so excited that they reached their goal of getting to NCAAs. We have such a young team but they have just been getting better and better.”

There's a recap of the women's race HERE.

The Gopher women were one of three at-large teams from the Midwest Regional to make nationals, joining Kansas State and Tulsa.

Junior Stephanie Price was the Midwest Regional champion, winning the 6K race in 20:02

Midwest Regional results can be found HERE (men) and HERE (women).

The complete NCAA Division I Championship field can be found HERE.

Hamline, St. Olaf Advance in D3 ...

The champions of the MIAC will represent the state's D3 teams at the NCAA Division III Championships in Waverly, Iowa on Saturday. The Hamline men and the St. Olaf women earned at-large bids to the meet yesterday.

Hamline finished 3rd at the NCAA Division III Central Regional - held on the national meet course -- behind champion Grinnell and runner-up Luther. St. Olaf was fourth among women's teams, trailing champs Luther, hosts Wartburg, and Nebraska Wesleyan.

Individually, regional champion Ben Sathre of St. Thomas, Dustin Franta of St. John’s, and Tom Sederquist of Concordia-Moorhead will compete in the men's race at NCAAs.

UMAC champion Linda Keller of Minnesota-Morris, Simone Childs-Walker of Carleton, Taylor Berg and Allie Metzler of St. Thomas, Jessica Kociscak of Hamline, and Alison Smyth of Carleton will compete as individuals in the women's race.

Central Regional results can be found HERE (men) and HERE (women).

The complete NCAA Division III Championship field can be found HERE.

Follow the Action ... Down the Backstretch
will be on the scene at the NCAA Division I and Division III Championships this weekend. Follow the web-site as well as our Facebook page and your editor's Twitter feed for all the latest news.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Short-Cut: Results' Links for November 13-14

It's Regionals weekend for NCAA Division I and Division III (today) and Nike Cross Nationals Heartland (tomorrow)!

Find all the results below ...

NCAA Division I Midwest Regional: Results
Update: Both Gopher teams 3rd ... Price wins individual crown.
Other NCAA D1 Regionals: Results Link
Update: Elliott Heath 8th for #2-ranked Stanford.

NCAA Division III Central Regional: Results
Update: Hamline men 3rd, St. Olaf women 4th, Sathre wins men's title.
Other NCAA D3 Regionals: Results Link

All NXN Regionals: Results
Update: Wayzata, Edina boys 1-2 at Heartland, Zutz runner-up.
Update: Eden Prairie wins, Piepenburg 3rd in girls' race.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yes/No: More Than Two Gophers in Top-10?

This weekend marks the penultimate cross country meet on the University of Minnesota squads' schedule. Running in the Midwest Regional race at Bradley University on Saturday, they look to send both squads or as many individuals as possible to the following week's National Meet.

It just so happens that it is also the penultimate Yes/No contest of the year. We will celebrate the end of the year next week with three questions and wrap up with a new grand champion.

Hassan Mead won the Midwest Regional in 2009 while Megan Duwell finished second and Amy Laskowske ninth on the women's side. These three athletes will not compete for the current edition of the Gophers. Who will take their place in the lead pack in 2010?

Y/N: Will more than two University of Minnesota Gopher individuals (men and/or women) finish in the top ten of their respective races at the Midwest Regional Meet at Bradley University on Saturday?

Stephanie Price will be ranked as one of the favorites to win the Midwest Regional. Price is coming off a runner-up performance at the Big Ten Championship and has run with the leaders in every race she has run. Price was nineteenth in the 2009 Midwest Regional.

Ben Blankenship also had a great finish at the Big Ten Championships. Blankenship was third in that meet, less than a second behind the winner. Blankenship finished in twenty-eighth place last year at Regions.

Other top runners for the Gophers include Mike Torchia (fourteenth at Big Tens), Pieter Gagnon (seventeenth at Big Tens, thirty-eighth at 2009 Regions), Nikki Swenson (thirteenth at Big Tens, twenty-first at 2009 Regions) and Missa Varpness (eleventh at Big Tens).

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 11:00 A.M. CST, Saturday, November 13th. Please put your answers 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

The fantasy contest last week included two Yes/No questions:
Will Morgan Place win individually AND will the University of Minnesota-Duluth Women win the team race at the NSIC Championships? Also, will Katie McGregor run a personal best in the marathon (i.e., faster than 2:31:14)? The answer to the first question was no. Place was second and UMD finished third at the NSIC Championship. The correct answer to second question was yes. Katie McGregor finished as the second American and eleventh woman overall. She ran a personal best 2:31:01.

A grand total of zero contestants answered both questions correctly. Nineteen players answered one Yes/No question right. Going into the final two weeks of Yes/No, the top three players are Lori Anne Peterson with 27 points, Gregg Robertson with 26 and Toby Hatlevig at 25 points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Once Unbeaten UMD Women Fall in D2 Poll

The University of Minnesota - Duluth women's cross country team, which has set the national rankings' pace among Minnesota program across all divisions, fell out of the NCAA Division II top-10 in the latest rankings after an upset loss at the NSIC meet last Saturday in Wayne, Nebraska.

The Bulldogs, ranked #7 in the country going into conference, fell to #13 after a third place finish behind Augustana and the University of Mary. The defeat was the team's first of the season.

UMD is the lone Minnesota women's or men's program with a national ranking in D2. Find complete D2 rankings HERE.

UMD will return to Wayne to compete in the NCAA Division II Central Regional Championship next weekend with a berth in the NCAA Division II Championships at stake.

Gopher and D3 Regionals This Weekend ...

The University of Minnesota squads' and the state's Division III programs will be in action this weekend at their respective regional meets.

The Gopher teams -- the #20-ranked Gopher women and the #24 Gopher men -- will compete at Saturday's NCAA Division I Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois. Two men's and women's teams will automatically qualify from the meet for the NCAA Division I Championships.

An additional 13 at-large teams will be selected from non-automatic qualifying teams from the nation's eight regions. In all, 31 teams will compete in the D1 national meet.

The Gopher women are ranked #2 (behind Iowa State) in the Midwest; the Gopher men are ranked #4 in the region, behind national #1 Oklahoma State, #8 Oklahoma, and #27 Tulsa.

Read regional meet previews for the U of M squads HERE (women) and HERE (men).

MIAC Champs Eye Automatic Bids ...

MIAC cross country champions St. Olaf and Hamline are tabbed to earn automatic qualifying spots at Saturday's NCAA Division III Central Regional in Waverly, Iowa, if regional rankings are to be trusted.

The St. Olaf women, ranked #15 in D3, enter the meet as the region's #2 squad, behind Luther College. The University of St. Thomas is ranked #5 in the Central, followed in order by Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Bethel, and St. Benedict.

Two team's automatically qualify for the NCAA Division III National Championships also held in Waverly. Up to three more region teams could race at nationals via at-large selection.

In men's competition, MIAC men's champs Hamline, ranked #22 nationally in D3, paces the Central Region rankings, followed by #3 St. Olaf, #6 St. John's, and #10 St. Thomas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

McGregor Targets Marathon Trials in 2012

At this time next year, Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor, the 2010 USA Running Circuit champion and the 11th-place finisher at Sunday's ING New York City Marathon, will be setting her sights on the USA Olympic Marathon Trials.

The Ohio native, who notched a PR 2:31:01 at NYC, plans to race the Marathon Trials, set for January 2012 in Houston, Texas, as well as the USA Track and Field Trials set for Eugene, Oregon in the summer.

McGregor (pictured) talked about her plans in THIS Team USA Minnesota media release.

McGregor, who has raced the marathon distance three times, has never run the Marathon Trials in her career. She has twice finished fourth at the Track and Field Trials in the 10,000-meters.

McGregor was pleased with her race in New York, where she was part of a large women's lead pack until mile 21.

"It was great to have a big group to run with since there was some wind," she said. "I felt like I ran a smart race overall. I didn't accomplish the main goals I set for myself, but I am still satisfied with the way I ran my race. I know that I am capable of running faster in the future."

McGregor had hoped to break 2:30 and finish in the top-10 in the race.

The New York City Marathon capped a strong year on the roads for the long-time Team USA Minnesota athlete. She dominated the USA Running Circuit by winning three USA titles, -- at 15K, 25K, and 10 Miles -- taking runner-up honors in the USA Marathon Championship held in conjunction with the NYC Marathon, and finishing third at the USA 10K.

McGregor tallied 79 points in the competition, outdistancing runner-up Shalane Flanagan at 45 points and Renee Metivier Baillie at 34.

"I am very excited to be the winner of the 2010 USA Running Circuit," McGregor said. "The circuit showcases a very deep and talented field of runners so this is a special accomplishment."

In 2011, McGregor said she plans a campaign mixing cross country, road racing, and track competition.

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Meet the Minnesota Hall of Fame Class of 2010

The Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame inducted six new members to its august group at a packed banquet on Friday night.

Inducted (pictured from left to right above) were:

Tom Heinonen, a former Robbinsdale High School and University of Minnesota star who was a Big Ten track champion at 3-miles and the long-time women's coach at the University of Oregon ...

Harry Nash, a sprint star at Wheaton High School and the University of Minnesota in the 1950s who ran 9.4 and 21.1 for 100 and 220 yards, respectively, as a collegian ...

Bill Huyck, the long-time Carleton College coach who led the school's cross country team to an NCAA Division III title in 1981 ...

Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, the former Chaska and University of Wisconsin star who won three NCAA Division I titles on the track and once held the collegiate record for 10,000-meters ...

Merrill Fischbein, the dean of Minnesota track and field and cross country officials and a long-time USATF Minnesota Officials Chairman ...

Larry Russ, the long-time University of St. Thomas coach who lead Tommie cross country teams to NCAA Division III titles in 1984 and 1986.

For a complete listing of Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame members, check out USATF Minnesota's Hall of Fame pages HERE.

DtB will profile each inductee separately in the coming weeks.

Photo by Charlie Mahler.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Katie McGregor Runs PR 2:31:01 at NYC

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor ran a personal best 2:31:01 to finish 11th among women in yesterday's ING New York City Marathon.

McGregor (pictured) was the runner-up in the USA Women's Marathon Championship held in conjunction with the race. Shalane Flanagan, the second place finisher overall, won the USA title in 2:28:40.

Kenya's Edna Kiplagat won the women's title in 2:28:20.

McGregor's finish in the USA Championship confirmed her 2010 USA Running Circuit title -- a grand prix comprising all of the year's USA Championship road race. McGregor won USA titles at 15K, 25K, and 10 miles this year.

McGregor topped her 2008 marathon PR of 2:31:14, also set at New York, with a negatively split race through the city's five boroughs. The University of Michigan alum passed the half-way stripe in 1:15:48, after an opening 5K of 18:41 and a first 10K of 36:01.

Find complete NYC Marathon results HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer/Photo Run.