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.

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