Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hauger, Schuldt Honored by USATF-Minnesota

A pair high school cross country champions have been named USA Track and Field-Minnesota Athletes of the Month for November, the organization recently announced.

Maria Hauger, a junior at Shakopee High School, was honored for winning her third-straight Minnesota State High School League Class AA girls' cross country title last month. Hauger ran 14:05 over the 4-kilometer St. Olaf College course for a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg.

Byron Schuldt, a senior at Nevis High School, was recognized for winning the MSHSL Class A boys' title. Schuldt, who was ranked only seventh in Class A entering the meet outran the field for his first state title. He clocked 15:56 on the boys' 5-kilometer course.

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

A listing of USATF-Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for 2011 can be found HERE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unpacking Team USA Minnesota's Weekend

As Team USA runners finish unpacking from recent travels, let's sort out how they did ...

Eleven Team USA Minnesota distance runners competed over the Thanksgiving holiday in events ranging from the local Life Time Fitness Turkey Day 5K in Minneapolis to the Manchester Road Race in Connecticut and the International Chiba Ekiden in Japan.

At the Turkey Day 5K, Jon Grey was first across the finish line followed by teammate Jason Lehmkuhle in unofficial times of 14:18 and 14:22, respectively. (No official times were kept at the event.).

Also running were Jamie Cheever who finished third and Katie McGregor who was fourth in the women’s field -- behind former Team USA Minnesotan Carrie Tollefson and former Gopher Elizabeth Yetzer. Heather Kampf participated in the event for fun.

At the 75th running of the Manchester Road Race, Meghan Peyton finished second in the women’s field on the 4.748-mile course with a time of 25:03. Kenyan Sally Kipyego won the women's race in 24:22.

In the men’s competition, Andrew Carlson was third with a time of 21:41, Matt Gabrielson was fourth in 21:43, and Matt Llano was 12th in 22:29. Ohio's Brian Olinger won the race in 21:33.

Peyton was making her first appearance at the historic race along with Llano, who was also running his first race as a professional runner. Carlson improved upon his fourth place finish from 2008, while Gabrielson also had his best placing at the event.

In Chiba, Japan, Emily Brown was a member of the USA team that competed at the International Chiba Ekiden. Brown posted 16:25 on a 5K leg of the relay, the sixth fastest runner for the leg. The USA team finished 5th overall in the marathon distance event in 2:09:06. Kenya won the event at 2:04:40.

As an Ekiden alternate, Josh Moen competed in a separate 5K race with a time of 14:12 to finish third in the field.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hauger Qualifies for Footlocker Nationals

Three-time MSHSL Class AA cross country champion Maria Hauger earned a trip to the Footlocker National Championships with a fifth-place finish at the Footlocker Midwest Championships in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Shakopee High School junior clocked 17:40 for 5K on the challenging UW-Parkside course. Molly Seidel, a senior from Hartland, Wisconsin, won the race in 17:04.

The top ten individual runners in the seeded girls' and boys' races advance to the Footlocker National Championships in San Diego, California on December 10.

Hauger (pictured), who qualified as an individual to compete at Nike Cross National on December 3, was the only Minnesota qualifier to Footlocker Nationals.

Jamie Piepenburg, the Alexandria High School senior who nearly won the Class AA girls' title earlier this fall, finished, finished 13th in Kenosha running 18:02. Eagen High School junior Danielle Anderson finished 31st in 18:34.

In boys' competition, the top Minnesotan in the seeded race was Foley High School junior Charlie Lawrence who finished 41st in 15:53.

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

File photo by Gene Niemi.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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 5th 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), Mashed Potatoes (2009), and Pumpkin Pie (the defending champ) have won our coveted Thanksgiving Championship. And, while Turkey, the holiday's signature dish, has historically made strong showings in the contest, cranberries and gravy have had little to be thankful for when it comes to late November.

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. Voting in the poll is open until the end of the day Sunday, November 27.

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

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Team USA Runners to Join Turkey Day 5K

Five Team USA Minnesota runners – Jason Lehmkuhle, Jon Grey, Katie McGregor, Jamie Cheever, and Heather Kampf – will participate in the Life Time Fitness Turkey Day 5K on November 24.

The Thanksgiving Day event, which was first held in 1989, is expected to attract over 10,000 runners and walkers.

The run in downtown Minneapolis starts at 8 a.m. near the Target Center and finishes on 1st Avenue. The event is a fun run so no official results will be kept, although there will be awards for the top three male runners and top three females. The Turkey Day 5K partners with Second Harvest Heartland to collect food for the less fortunate in the community with over 10,000 pounds of food donated in 2010.

Lehmkuhle and McGregor are preparing for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials that will be held on January 14 in Houston. Lehmkuhle has a best in the marathon of 2:12:24 and McGregor has run 2:31:01. During 2011, Lehmkuhle was fifth at the USA Half Marathon Championships, won the Ohme 30k in Japan, posted 2:13:40 at the London Marathon, and was second at the USA 20k Championships.

Also during the year, McGregor was fourth at the USA Half Marathon Championships, sixth at the USA 15K Championships, won the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, was third at the USA 20K Championships and fourth at the USA 10 Mile Championships. In addition, she finished second in the women’s division of the USA Running Circuit.

Grey and Cheever both joined Team USA Minnesota in 2011. Grey made his professional debut at the USA 10 Mile Championships in October in a time of 47:59 followed by selection to compete at the Izumo Ekiden Relay in Japan. He has run 28:44 in the 10,000 meters.

During the year Cheever ran in the USA Cross Country Championships and the USA 1 Mile Road Championships, and posted an ‘A’ qualifying time in the steeplechase to run in the event at the USA Outdoor Championships.

Kampf competed on the track and the roads during the year, beginning with a third place finish in the 800 meters at the USA Indoor Championships, second place at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships, competed at the USA Outdoor Championships in the 800 meters, and set a personal best in the 800m of 2:00.41 over the summer in Europe.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NCAA Cross Country Championships Wrap-Up

Here's a little more from the NCAA Championships at Terre Haute ...

A Minnesota Champion ... For the second year in a row, a Minnesotan has played a key role on an NCAA title-winning team.

Georgetown's Claire Richardson, a Blake graduate, was the #2 runner for the women's titlists. Georgetown, with 162 points, won a close-fought victory over 2008 NCAA champions Washington (170) and two-time defending champions Villanova (181).

DtB had a semi-chaotic walk-and-talk interview with Richardson which you can listen to here ...

Johnathan Stublaski, a Sibley graduate, was a key to Oklahoma State men's title last year. This year, Stublaski finished 85th as the #5 runner for the runner-up Cowboys.

Plasencia on Mead ... Gopher men's coach Steve Plasencia had the following to say about All-American Hassan Mead:

“I am very happy for Hassan with being named an All-American. Even though he would have liked to have finished higher up, he is a four time All-American and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Plasencia also complemented his 16th-place team ...

“Coming into the season we had a few question marks looking down the line with a couple injuries that hurt our depth a little bit. We had about six guys really step in and helped pull that wagon to help get this program back to the NCAA’s. It was a good finish for us.”

Wilson on the Gopher Women ...
Gopher women's coach Gary Wilson had praise for the 27th-place Gopher women

“I have said it the last couple weeks and I will say it again, we have overcome lots of obstacles near the end and I am proud of how the girls battled. We finished were I thought we were going to, but on a good day I think we could have been in the low 20’s. Maggie Bollig bounced back after sitting out last week and ran a great race. I told them hundreds of teams are sitting at home and you weren’t one of them. I am very proud of this group.”

Life on the Roads

Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson writes on his blog about the realities of life as road race circuit HERE.

NCAA Championships in a Nutshell

Here's a quick update on the Minnesota news from the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana ...

-- University of Minnesota senior Hassan Mead capped his harrier career with a 34th-place finish in 30:03.

-- The Gopher men finished 16th in team competition.

-- Mankato Loyola alum Dani Stack finished 30th in 20:22 for Iowa State.

-- Blake alum Claire Richardson finished 50th ... as women's team champion Georgetown's #2 runner.

-- Gopher Stephanie Price finished 61st in 20:44.

-- Gopher women finish 27th with 577 points.

Find complete results HERE (men) and HERE (women).

We'll have additional coverage on DtB later in the day ... including a post-race conversation with Richardson.

NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships Today

The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships take place today in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The men's and women's teams from the University of Minnesota will compete as will a handful of Minnesotans who race for colleges elsewhere in the country -- including Mankato Loyola grad Dani Stack (Iowa State), Blake alum Claire Richardson (Georgetown), Grand Rapids exchange student Jakub Zivec (Florida State), and Edina alum T.C. Lumbar (Georgetown).

The race will be webcast live at 11:00 a.m. CDT on, HERE.

Find meet previews and video interviews from HERE (men) and HERE (women).

DtB is on-site in Terre Haute. Keep an eye on our Twitter sidebar for updates from the course. We'll post a wrap-up of the action later in the day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

St. Thomas' Sathre Wins D3 Harrier Title

Putting the final, flourishing touches on an undefeated season, University of St. Thomas senior Ben Sathre won the NCAA Division III men's cross cross title yesterday in Winneconne, Wisconsin.

The Chaska High School alumnus, who was runner-up at the meet last year, clocked 23:45 in victory, out-pacing Lee Berube of SUNY-Geneseo, who clocked 23:50.

Sathre (pictured) earned MIAC and NCAA Division III Central Regional titles this season as well.

Sathre is only the third Minnesota collegian to win the NCAA D3 men's title, joining Carleton College's Dale Kramer, who won crowns in 1976 and 1977, and fellow Tommie Nic Manciu, the 1982 champ. (Team USA Minnesota star Josh Moen was a two-time D3 champ for Iowa's Wartburg College in 2003 and 2004.)

In men's team competition, Hamline University finished 17th in the meet with 422 points, paced by Jack Deichert who finished 20th individually. St. Olaf College placed 23rd in the meet with 505 points.

North Central College of Illinois won the men's team title with 110 points.

Find complete men's results HERE.

Top-10 for Carleton, St. Olaf ... In women's competition, the MIAC placed two teams in the Division III top-20. Carleton College finished 8th in the meet 341 points. St. Olaf finished 10th with 368 points.

Washington University of Missouri won the meet with 70 points.

Linda Keller of Minnesota - Morris was the top individual from the state, finishing 7th in 21:08.

Find complete women's results HERE.

Minnesota-Duluth 21st in D2 ... The University of Minnesota - Duluth women's team placed 21st at the NCAA Division II Championships in Spokane, Washington. Senior Morgan Place, a three-time All-American in cross country, led the Bulldogs with a 50th-place finish.

Augustana of South Dakota won the team title with 75 points. Moorhead High School alumnus Leah Hansen paced the Vikings with a 12th-place finish in 21:40. Cannon Falls High School graduate Kyle Blakeslee was the fourth runner for the tightly packed champions, finishing 18th in 21:54.

Find D2 results HERE (women's team) and HERE (women's individual), and HERE (men's team) and HERE (men's individual).

Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yes/No: NCAA Cross Country ... Times Three!

The final week of collegiate cross country in 2012 is also the final week of Yes/No for the year. We will celebrate these conclusions with three different Yes/No questions -- all worth one point apiece. The NCAA Division II and Division III National meets will be held on Saturday, while the Division I race will be held on Monday.

The Yes/No standings going into the final week remain tight. Eight contestants are still in the running for at least a piece of the overall title. Here are the current front runners:

Mike Henderson - 26
Rachel Karel - 26
Pat Foley - 24
Patrick Eastman - 24
Jesse Schoen - 24
Dan Vogel - 24
Jim Glazer - 24
Daniel Gerber - 23

On to the contest...

Yes/No: Will Hassan Mead finish in the top fifteen at the D1 National Meet on Monday?

Yes/No: Will Morgan Place finish in the top ten at the D2 National Meet on Saturday?

Yes/No: Will Ben Sathre finish in the top two at the D3 National Meet on Saturday?

Hassan Mead is shooting for his fourth All-American award in cross country. Mead did not run cross country last fall but has returned with a vengeance in 2011. He recently won the Midwest Regional meet besting the top individuals from defending National Champ Oklahoma State. Mead finished in sixteenth place in his last National Cross Country meet in 2009.

Logic would dictate a fourth place finish for Morgan Place in the 2011 National Meet. She finished seventh as a freshman, sixth as a sophomore and fifth last year as a junior. In 2011, Place has won three of her seven meets and has finished in the top thirteen in every race. However, Place had a sub-par (for her) regional meet where she placed thirteenth leading up the National Meet.

Ben Sathre finished second at the 2010 National Meet and is the highest returnee in 2011. Sathre has had a dominating, undefeated 2011 season thus far and enters the National Meet as a two-time Central Regional champ.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject lines of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 11:00 A.M. CDT, Saturday, November 19th. Please put your answers in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail.

My answers: No, No, and No.

Last week's contest was Pick Ten for the Regional Cross Country Meets. This weekly winner was Mike Henderson with forty-one points.

This was the final Pick Ten contest of the year and therefore a new champion is to be crowned. This year's winner is Bryan Tolcser with a ten point cushion over the runner-up Henderson. Henderson has now finished in the top two of each final Pick Ten results over three years.

We try to include all events and event groups in our Pick Ten and Yes/No contests. However, they tend to skew towards distance running, especially during cross country season. So it is fairly impressive that the 2011 Pick Ten champion does not count running as his main area of expertise. Bryan Tolcser is a thrower and collegiate throws coach of some renown. But in 2011, he was able to show up his scrawny peers and ace the running portion of the test as well.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner, HERE.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving in Connecticut for Team USA

Four Team USA Minnesota distance runners will spend their Thanksgivings in Connecticut.

Meghan Peyton, Matt Gabrielson, Andrew Carlson, and Matt Llano (pictured) will compete in the 4.748 mile Manchester Road Race in Connecticut, on Thanksgiving Day.

Peyton will be making her first appearance at the 75th annual race. She placed fifth at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K in New York City earlier this month. Peyton also finished fifth at the USA 5K Championships and sixth at the USA 10 Mile Championships this fall.

Gabrielson will return to Manchester for the third time, having previously run the race in 2007 and 2009. He has a best in the 8K distance of 23:08. In June, Gabrielson posted a personal best in the marathon of 2:13:28.

Carlson will make his second trip to the Thanksgiving Day race, having finished fourth in 2008 with a time of 21:59. Carlson is a two-time national champion (15K and 25K) and this year was a member of the USA World Cross Country team.

Making his professional debut at the Manchester Road Race will be Matt Llano, who joined Team USA Minnesota in September. Llano is a 2011 graduate of the University of Richmond, where the All-American posted 28:43.30 in the 10,000 meters and was a four-time NCAA qualifier with two times each in cross country and track.

Find information and results from the race HERE.

Photo by Daniel Petty, courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gophers Ranked #19 and #28 Before NCAA's

The University of Minnesota men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for the NCAA Division I Championships ranked #19 and #28, respectively, according to the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association polls.

The Gopher men, who finished fourth at the NCAA D1 Midwest Regional, fell one spot in the rankings from the last poll. A year ago, the Gopher men finished 27th at the NCAA Championships.

The Gopher women, who finished third at the Midwest Regional, rose two spots in the NCAA pecking order. In 2010, the Gopher women also finished 27th at the NCAA Championships.

Find complete NCAA D1 rankings HERE.

Division III Rankings ...
New rankings in NCAA Division III were also released this week.

The Carleton College women, runners-up at the NCAA Division III Central Regional and automatic qualifiers to nationals, will toe the starting line ranked #16 in D3, down seven places from two weeks ago.

The St. Olaf women, at-large qualifiers after finishing third in the region, are ranked #19.

The St. Olaf men, automatic qualifiers as the Central Region runner-up, are tabbed as the #21 team in D3. Hamline, third-place in the region after winning the MIAC title, is ranked #26.

Find complete D3 rankings HERE.

UMD Women Un-Ranked ... The University of Minnesota-Duluth women, qualifiers to the NCAA Division II Championships, are un-ranked in the final D2 poll, HERE.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stillwater, Monticello Steaming to NXN

Class AA state cross country champions Stillwater and Monticello are driving toward a test on the national stage after wins over the weekend at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

On the heels of the Heartland title, the Stillwater boys are ranked #5 in the nation-wide XCNation poll, while the Monticello girls hold the same position on the distaff side of the rankings.

Stillwater won the Heartland Regional with 96 points, out-distancing runner-up Heartland Arrowhead of Wisconsin which tallied 104, and third-place Bismarck, North Dakota with 136.

Burnsville finished fourth in the meet with 166; Edina was sixth at 202; Rosemount was seventh at 221; and Wayzata was eighth with 229.

The top Minnesota individual finisher in the meet was Class A runner-up Bandon Clark of Blake, who ran the 5K course in 15:36. Tony Smoragiewicz of Rapid City, South Dakota won the race in 15:20.

In girls' competition, Monticello won the Heartland with 104 points. Neenah, Wisconsin was runner-up with 106, while Dowling Catholic of Iowa was third with 123.

Lakeville South finished seventh with 196; Shakopee -- led by individual champion Maria Hauger was eighth with 210; and Eden Prairie was ninth at 220.

Hauger clocked 17:53, winning by nearly 25-seconds.

Find Nike Cross Nationals Heartland results HERE.

Find the latest XCNation Rankings HERE.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Both Gopher Teams Headed to Nationals

The cross country teams from the University of Minnesota can keep their bags packed.

The women's and men's programs learned on Sunday night that they'll be included in the field of the NCAA Division I Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana a week from today.

Both teams earned at-large selections after competing at the NCAA Midwest Regional in DeKalb, Illinois on Saturday.

“We are simply thrilled to make our seventh straight trip to the NCAA Championships and our 12th in 15 years,” Gopher women's coach Gary Wilson said in a media release. “It is a real tribute to the perseverance of these kids. They have overcome so many setbacks this season and ended up on top. We could not be more proud of them.”

The Gopher women finished third at regional, behind automatic qualifiers Iowa State and Oklahoma State. The Gophers prevailed in the duel for third with Iowa, topping the Hawkeyes 136 to 146 for what turned out to be the final qualifying spot from the race.

Senior Stephanie Price led the Gopher women with a sixth-place finish in 21:09 over the 6K.

Find complete women's results HERE.

The #18-ranked Gopher men punched their ticket to nationals despite finishing fourth in the meet. #2-ranked Oklahoma State and #5-ranked Oklahoma dominated the meet, scoring 42 and 45 points, respectively.

#27 Tulsa surprised the Gophers for third-place -- 120 to 129 -- despite Hassan Mead's individual victory in the race. When at-large selections for nationals were made, though, both Tulsa and Minnesota advanced to nationals.

"I'm so happy for our guys and our program," men's coach Stave Plasencia said last night. "I am very happy for Hassan Mead and for his performance yesterday. I am glad we get another chance to run."

Find complete men's results HERE.

A full listing of NCAA Division I qualifiers can be found HERE.

NCAA Division III Qualifiers ... Four Minnesota small school programs will be represented at the NCAA Division III Championships to be hosted by UW - Oshkosh in Winneconne, Wisconsin on Saturday.

The MIAC champion Carleton College women's team and the MIAC runner-up St. Olaf men earned automatic berths to national with runner-up performances at Saturday's NCAA Division III Central Regional in Waverly, Iowa.

Earning at-large selections were the St. Olaf women and Hamline men, both third in their respective races.

University of St. Thomas senior Ben Sathre, the runner-up men's individual at D3 nationals last year, won the individual men's title at the meet.

University of Minnesota - Morris' Linda Keller won the women's crown.

Find complete Central Regional results HERE (women) and HERE (men).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pick Ten: Regional Cross Country Meets

As the Cross Country season winds down, the fantasy contests at Down the Backstretch are also nearing their 2011 finales. This week will mark the final Pick Ten contest and next week will end the Yes/No contest with a three-point triple-header.

The Pick Ten contest will take a look at the NCAA Division I and Division III Regional Cross Country Meets. The Gophers will travel to Northern Illinois to try to earn NCAA Championship berths Saturday. The state's small schools are also claiming NCAA slots this weekend. The D3 schools in Minnesota will head down to Waverly, Iowa for a meet on Saturday.

Pick Ten has a simple concept: predict the finish place for each of 10 Minnesota athletes or teams at the Division I and Division III Regional Meets. You will score points for each athlete/team that scores at or above the finish place you predict for them, following the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system.

For example: If you pick Hassan Mead to place first in the DI Regional men's race, and he places first, you get 10 points. If you pick Mead to place first and he finishes second, you get zero points. If you pick Mead to finish third in the race and he places first, second or third, you get 8 points, since you that's the place you picked him for.

To play Pick Ten, cut and paste the list of names/events below into an e-mail and add your place predictions -- 1st or 2nd or 3rd...10th. Send your predictions by 11:00 A.M. CST on Saturday, November 12th to DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com. Make sure your full name is in the e-mail. As with our Yes/No contests, we don't offer any prizes, so no one needs to fear running afoul of NCAA or other anti-gambling regulations.

We'll announce the winner of this week's contest and compile results of all of the year's Pick Ten contests to name a grand champion for 2011.

Pick 10 ... D1 and D3 Regional Meets:

Hassan Mead - University of Minnesota:
Stephanie Price - University of Minnesota:
University of Minnesota Men's Team:
University of Minnesota Women's Team:
Dani Stack, Iowa State:
St. Olaf Women:
St. Thomas Women:
Rachael Klehm - Carleton:
St. Johns Men, MIAC Meet:
Tom Sederquist - Concordia:

To Help You Make Your Picks ...

Hassan Mead did not compete in cross country last year, but won the Midwest Regional title the last time he ran the race in 2009. Mead is a six-time All American and has finished in the top five in all the meets this year. Stephanie Price won the 2010 Midwest Regional race on her way to finishing the year as an All-American. She has been named the Big Ten Runner of the Week three times in 2011. Dani Stack finished fourteenth in the Midwest Regional in 2010. She had a breakthrough track campaign in 2011 finishing fourth in the NCAA 10k and then twelfth in the USA Championships.

The Gophers finished third last year at the Midwest Regional for both the men and the women. The Gopher men are currently ranked third in the region. The top two teams (Oklahoma State and Oklahoma) are ranked in the top five in the nation. On the women's side, the Gophers are ranked third in the region behind Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

The Division III Regional rankings show St. Olaf women second and St. Thomas women seventh. The St. John's squad is ranked sixth in the region.

Rachael Klehm is coming off a third place finish in the MIAC meet two weeks ago. She finished thirty-ninth in 2010 at the Central Region meet. Tom Sederquist was awarded fifth place at the 2011 MIAC meet and was sixth at the 2010 Regional meet.

Good luck!

Last week's Yes/No question was: Yes/No: Will five or more individuals and teams currently ranked #1 win State in 2011? The answer was yes. This was not a good year for the underdog. Seven of the eight #1 rankers won at the State Meet. Twenty-five contestants answered correctly this week. Mike Henderson and Rachel Karel are tied for first with twenty-six points. The Y/N season will conclude with a triple-question finale next week. There are five players tied for third with twenty-four points hoping for a slip-up by the leaders.

For full standings of both contests, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gopher Teams Eye Midwest Regional

The University of Minnesota cross country teams are eying hopefully Saturday's NCAA Division I Midwest Regional. Both squads enter the contest seeded as the #3 team in the national qualifying meet hosted by Northern Illinois University.

The top two men's and women's teams in the event automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 21. An additional 13 men's and women's teams nation-wide will receive at-large bids, to be announced by Sunday evening.

The Gopher men, ranked #21 nationally, would need to upset either #2-ranked Oklahoma State, the defending NCAA champs, or #5-ranked Oklahoma to earn an automatic birth to nationals. The Gopher men appear to be in good shape for an at-large bid, if they finish in the top-three at the meet.

Find the GopherSports men's preview and watch Gopher men's coach Steve Plasencia discuss his squad's prospects HERE.

Iowa State, the #10-ranked team in D1, is the women's favorite heading to DeKalb. The battle for the second automatic qualifying slot could be scrum between #24 Oklahoma State, #30 Minnesota, and un-ranked Iowa, which finished just nine points behind the Gophers at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago.

Find the GopherSports women's preview HERE.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Brown, Moen Make Chiba Ekiden Team

Team USA Minnesota runners Emily Brown and Josh Moen have been selected for the USA team that will compete at the International Chiba Ekiden on November 23 in Chiba, Japan.

The squad includes three men and three women plus two alternates. The six-member USA team will run a marathon relay against teams from other nations, including host country Japan. The six legs of the relay, which alternate between male and female runners, are 5K and 10K long, with a final leg of 7.195k.

Brown’s selection is her first to the coed team, while Moen will run the event for the fourth time. Selection priority is given to athletes who have significant performances at USA Championship races.

This year, Brown was third at the USA 5K Championships and seventh at the USA 25K Championships, while Moen placed second at the USA 25K Championships and sixth at the USA 8K Championships.

Peyton 5th in NYC ... Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Peyton finished fifth against a deep field of professional athletes at Saturday's Dash to the Finish Line 5K hosted by the New York Road Runners.

Peyton ran 16:05. Defending TC 1 Mile champion Sara Hall won the race in 15:56. Find results of the race HERE.

Next up for Peyton will be the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Olympic Jumps' Coach Headlines Track Clinic

Boo Shexnayder, the USA jumps' coach at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will headline the Minnesota Track Coaches Association's annual Track and Field Clinic to be held January 26-28 at the Double Tree Hilton in Bloomington.

Shexnayder, a former LSU coach and now the director of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Track and Field Academy, is part of stellar line-up of speakers that also includes Don Babbitt, the University of Georgia Throws coach, Dr. Donald Chu, a Stanford University plyometric training expert, and Holly Thompson, a noted high jump specialist.

Cost of the clinic is $90. More information on the clinic can be found HERE.

Registration details are HERE.

Monday, November 07, 2011

MSHSL State Champions Photo Gallery

Shakopee's Maria Hauger (right) catches Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg in the final strides of the Girls' Class AA race to win her 3rd-straight title.

Wayzata senior Josh Thorson was the clear winner in Boys' Class AA.

Byron Schuldt of Nevis was the shock victor in the Boys' Class A race.

Blake's Clare Flanagan (651) outran Cannan Falls' Emi Trost (551) and defending champ Marissa Shady (711) for the Girls' Class A crown.

Photos by Gene Niemi.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Boys' Class A: Cathedral Survives, Schuldt Shocks

#1-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral edged defending champions Perham 72-73 to win the MSHSL Class A boys' cross country title this afternoon.

The result was the closest boys' team finish in Class A since 1985, when Elgin-Millville topped Long Prairie on a tie-breaker after both teams deadlocked with 78 points.

Minnehaha Academy was third with 132 points.

Individually, Byron Schuldt of Nevis out-ran #1-ranked Brandon Clark of Blake for the individual title. Schuldt, ranked only #7 in the latest Class A poll, came from well back in the pack -- the senior estimated he was in 50-60th place at the mile -- for the upset victory.

Schuldt clocked 15:56; Clark ran 16:00. Charlie Lawrence of Foley was third in 16:10.

Listen to a post-race interview with Shuldt here ...

Official meet results are HERE.

Girls' Class A: Cathedral, Flanagan Win Titles

#1-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral, runners-up in the meet last year, won the MSHSL Class A girls' cross country title this afternoon, out-legging runner-up Annanadale.

Cathedral tallied 94 points; Annandale scored 118. Esko was third with 132.

Blake sophomore Clare Flanagan won the individual title. She clocked 14:22 to out run Cannon Falls' sophomore Emi Trost, the runner-up in 14:34. Defending champing Marissa Shady of Esko was third in 14:46

Listen to a post-race interview with Flanagan here ...

Complete results are posted HERE.

Boys' Class AA: Stillwater, Thorson Champs

#1-ranked Stillwater completed a wire-to-wire run atop the Class AA boys' cross country rankings with a victory at today's State Meet.

The Ponies scored 92 points to earn the school its fourth Class AA title, and first since 1997.

Burnsville was runner-up with 115 points; Edina was third with 129.

Wayzata senior Josh Thorson won the Class AA individual title, running 15:30 on the St. Olaf College 5K course. Throson, 6th in 2010, used the same late-race downhill where Jamie Piepenburg made her move to seal his comfortable victory.

Riley Macon of Rochester Mayo was runner-up in 15:40; Troy Koivisto of Dassel-Cokato was third with 15:40 as well.

Listen to an audio interview with Thorson here ...

Official results are posted HERE.

Girls' Class AA: Hauger, Monticello Win

Shakopee's Maria Hauger won an unprecedented third-straight MSHSL Class AA girls' cross country title with a come-from-behind victory over Alexandia's Jamie Piepenburg.

Hauger clocked 14:04.1 over the 4K course at St. Olaf College. Piepenburg ran 14:04.8. Jenna Truedson of Bemidji was third in 14:23.9.

Peipenburg led Hauger by some 15-meters in the final half-mile of the race after pulling away on the woodsy downhill 3200-meters into the race. The Shakopee junior, however, nipped the Alexandria senior in the final 10-meters of the race.

#1-ranked Monticello, runners-up a year ago, won the Class AA team title with 93 points. Lakeville South was second at 118; Wayzata was third with 140.

Listen to an audio interview with Hauger here ...

Official results can be found HERE.

MSHSL State Cross Country Meet Coverage!

Down the Backstretch is on the scene at the MSHSL State Cross Country Championships! Action gets underway at 10:00 a.m. Join us all day for race updates on the web-site and via Twitter and Facebook.

It's shaping up to be a great day for cross country!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Yes/No: Will Five #1 Rankers Win at State?

Twenty years after the State Meet was moved to Alexandria because of the Halloween Blizzard, the MSHSL State Cross Country Meet will take place this Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. While the weather forecast doesn't promise anything exciting this year, there will almost certainly be a few surprises when the races go down.

The final cross country rankings before the State Meet were released this week, identifying the individuals and teams to beat. There are top-12 rankings in eight categories: Class A and AA, teams and individuals, boys and girls. We would like to know how many of these eight #1 seeds will actually end up being state champions.

The question is...

Yes/No: Will five or more individuals and teams currently ranked #1 win State in 2011?

Five seems to be the magic number as that was the number of top seeds that triumphed at State in both 2010 and 2009. Last year, the list of favorites that ended up winning included: Eden Prairie and Adrian girls, Wayzata and Perham boys and Marie Hauger of Shakopee.

Here are the current rankings through five places:

Class AA

Boys' Teams:
1 Stillwater
2 Edina
3 Eden Prairie
4 Wayzata
5 Rosemount

Boys' Individuals:
1 Josh Thorson, Wayzata
2 Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
3 Jan Ketterson, Jefferson
4 Glen Ellingson, Moorhead
5 Connor Olson, Wayzata

Girls' Teams:
1. Monticello
2. Lakeville South
3. Eagan
4. Shakopee
5. Wayzata

Girls' Individuals:
1. Maria Hauger, 11, Shakopee
2. Jamie Piepenburg, 12, Alexandria
3. Danielle Anderson, 11, Eagan
4. Jenna Truedson, 9, Bemidji
5. Megan Hasz, 8 Alexandria

Class A

Boys' Teams:
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Perham
3. Blake
4. Minnehaha Academy
5. Mesabi East

Boys' Individuals:
1. Brandon Clark, Blake
2. Charlie Lawrence, Foley
3. Shane Streich, Waseca
4. Romeo Benish, Proctor
5. Matt Welch, Proctor

Girls' Teams:
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Blake
3. Esko
4. LaCrescent
5. Waseca

Girls' Individuals:
1. Clare Flanagan, Blake
2. McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud Christian
3. Marissa Shady, Esko
4. Emi Trost, Cannon Falls
5. Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Cathedral

Find complete rankings HERE.

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 10:00 A.M. CDT, Saturday, November 5th. 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 offer our usual bonus for participants making their 2011 debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for anyone who has not played yet this year.

My answer: Yes

Last week's contest was Pick 10 for the Big Ten and MIAC Cross Country Meets. The winner was Andrew Nussbaum with thirty-two points, followed by Laura Roach with thirty. The overall leader remains Bryan Tolcser with 170. With only one more Pick 10 contest in 2011, Tolcser has an eleven point cushion for the overall title.

Over at the Yes/No contest, the leaders are Mike Henderson and Rachel Karel with twenty-five points. The winners of the monthly award in October are four people who were perfect in the month: Rachel Karel, Kurt Decker, Bryan Tolcser and Mike Mason.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner, HERE.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Jen Houck Seeks Another PR at New York City

Cromwell native Jen Houck, who has a knack for setting new personal records in the marathon, will seek another on Sunday at the ING New York City Marathon.

Houck (pictured), whose current PR is the 2:33:01 she ran to finish fifth at Grandma's Marathon in June, plans to follow up her New York City effort in 10 weeks at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston.

Who knows what her PR will be after all that!

The StarTribune's Rachel Blount has a nice profile of Houck, HERE, which outlines the St. Scholastica grad's accomplishments and plans.

Houck has run five marathons in her career -- each one an improvement on the one that preceded it.

Houck is part of a diverse American elite field at New York that also includes three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, two-time USA 5000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman, and former USA 25K champion Molly Pritz, among the women.

Read more about the USA field HERE.

Photo by Gene Niemi.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Team USA's Peyton to Race 5K in New York City

Team USA Minnesota’s Meghan Peyton will be among the professional field at the inaugural New York Road Runners Dash to the Finish Line 5K on Saturday in New York City.

The Dash to the Finish Line 5K starts near the United Nations building, goes through the heart of Midtown Manhattan, enters Central Park at the 2 mile mark, and ends at the same finish line as the ING New York City Marathon, which will be held on Sunday.

The marathon setting of the race is fitting for Peyton, who will make her marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston on Jan. 14. Peyton qualified for the marathon trials with a half marathon time of 1:13:56, which she set in 2010.

Peyton has a best in the 5000 meters of 15:41. During 2011 on the roads, she has finished fifth at both the USA 5K Championships and the 15K Championships, sixth at the USA 10 Mile Championships, and seventh at the USA 20K Championships.

Also competing in the event are Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor, U.S. Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet, and three-time NCAA cross country champion Sally Kipyego of Kenya.

Read more about the event HERE. Read Peyton's blog entry that looks ahead to the race HERE.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Final Harrier Rankings Preview State Meet

The final high school cross country rankings of the 2011 season, released yesterday, serve to preview the top teams and individuals heading to Northfield on Saturday for the MSHSL State Cross Country Meet.

The Stillwater boys and Monticello girls continue their season-long lordship over the Class AA polls, while St. Cloud Cathedral tops the Class A rankings for both genders.

Individually, Josh Thorson of Wayzata and two-time Class AA champ Maria Hauger of Shakopee remain the top-ranked individuals in Class AA, while Blake's Brandon Clark and Clare Flanagan topping the Class A rankings.

Find the full final rankings below.

Class AA

Boys' Teams:
1 Stillwater
2 Edina
3 Eden Prairie
4 Wayzata
5 Rosemount
6 Burnsville
7 Andover
8 Moorhead
9 Eastview
10 Hopkins
11 White Bear Lake
12 Owatonna

Others receiving votes: Rochester Mayo

Boys' Individuals:
1 Josh Thorson, Wayzata
2 Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
3 Jan Ketterson, Jefferson
4 Glen Ellingson, Moorhead
5 Connor Olson, Wayzata
6 Riley Macon, Rochester Mayo
7 Joey Duerr, Chaska
8 Jensen Orlow, Holy Family
9 John Klecker, Hopkins
10 Mubarik Musa, Worthington
11 Will Burke, Edina
12 Tom Linner, Stillwater

Others receiving votes: Luke McKenzie, Chisago Lakes Area; Joel Reichow, White Bear Lake; Nick Oelke, Eastview

Girls' Teams:
1. Monticello
2. Lakeville South
3. Eagan
4. Shakopee
5. Wayzata
6. Edina
7. Roseville
8. East Ridge
9. Alexandria
10. Prior Lake
11. Forest Lake
12. Eden Prairie

Girls' Individuals:
1. Maria Hauger, 11, Shakopee
2. Jamie Piepenburg, 12, Alexandria
3. Danielle Anderson, 11, Eagan
4. Jenna Truedson, 9, Bemidji
5. Megan Hasz, 8 Alexandria
6. Kaytlyn Larson, 9, Lakeville South
7. Bethany Hasz, 8, Alexandria
8. Vivian Hett, 10, Burnsville
9. Nicole Heitzman, 11, Andover
10. Anna French, 9, Wayzata
11. Erin Baker, 10, Grand Rapids
12. Taylor Perkins, 11, Lakeville North

Class A

Boys' Teams:
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Perham
3. Blake
4. Minnehaha Academy
5. Mesabi East
6. Waseca
7 Winona Cotter
8. Plainview-Elgin-Millville
9. Crosby Ironton
10. Redwood Valley Area
11. Luverne Area
12 Albany

Boys' Individuals:
1. Brandon Clark, Blake
2. Charlie Lawrence, Foley
3. Shane Streich, Waseca
4. Romeo Benish, Proctor
5. Matt Welch, Proctor
6. Nick Stoks, Canby-Minneota/LinHi
7 Byron Schuldt, Nevis
8. Nick Golebiowski, St. Cloud Cathedral
9. Pat Reinschmidt, Plainview-E-M
10. Mike Destache, St. Paul Academy
11. Jacob Gerhartz, Sauk Centre
12 Dan Borash, Royalton

Girls' Teams:
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Blake
3. Esko
4. LaCrescent
5. Waseca
6. United South Central
7. Annandale
8. Trinity of River Ridge
9. Adrian
10. Park Rapids
11. Rochester Lourdes
12. Perham

Girls' Individuals:
1. Clare Flanagan Blake
2. McKenzie Holt St. Cloud Christian
3. Marissa Shady Esko
4. Emi Trost Cannon Falls
5. Elena Danielson St. Cloud Cathedral
6. Kayla Woltz Chatfield
7. Lydia Lutz Park Rapids
8. Meghan Henriksen Mankato Loyola
9. Jenessa Meuleners Belle Plaine
10. Jordan Chancellor Blake
11. Tierney Winter WEMJWP
12. Austyn Their Adrian