Sunday, August 31, 2014

News: MIAC XC Results; St. Olaf Showcase; Marshfield Invite; Ferlic/Burke

Augsburg women's dual meet with Bethel results are HERE.

Augsburg men's triangular meet results are HERE.
 Gustie Invitational results are HERE.

St. Ben's /St. Kate's dual meet results are HERE

Hamline Alumni Meet results are HERE(men) and HERE(women).

Summit Cup results with summaries from Macalester HERE and St. Thomas HERE.

St. Olaf/Macalester Women's Time Trial results are HERE.

St. Olaf Showcase results are HERE. Video of the race is HERE.

Wayzata's Connor Olson wades through the water on his way to a win
in the boy's race at the aptly named Marshfield Invitational.
Photo by Kraig Lungstrom
Marshfield Columbus Catholic Invitational results are HERE.  Video is HERE.

Mounds Park Academy grad Mason Ferlic ran 15:20.6 at the Michigan Open on Friday finishing second overall, first Wolverine.  Edina grad Will Burke placed fourteenth in 15:34.7.  Story and results are HERE.

Gene Niemi's Brit's Pub Vault Photo Album

Leslie Brost after a successful vault.
Photo by Gene Niemi

Brost in the runway with the Gopher's Sam Sonnenberg
passing the pile of poles.
Photo by Gene Niemi

Flying through the air without a trapeze, women's winner
Kalya Caldwell. Photo by Gene Niemi

Mitch Valli clears the bar.
Photo by Gene Niemi

Becky Holliday on the runway. Photo by Gene Niemi

Holliday in the pit after a successful vault.
Photo by Gene Niemi

Spectators on the lawn at Brits. Photo by Gene Niemi

A "bird's eye view" of the crowd. Photo by Gene Niemi

Men's vault winner Jeff Coover up
and over. Photo by Gene

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vaulters Bring a Crowd to Brit's: Updated with Results

Kayla Caldwell finishes the winning vault. Photo by Mike McCarthy
Kayla Caldwell won the women's title and Jeff Coover the men's in the elite division of the Brit's Pub Vault Saturday night in downtown Minneapolis.  A capacity crowd spilled over onto the grass of the lawn bowling field transformed into a pole vault arena.  They clapped.  They cheered.  They rejoiced on the vaulter's clearances and moaned for misses.

Jeff Coover sets up for a vault. Photo by Mike McCarthy
While the majority of the crowd was track and field fans,  many spectators were watching a live vaulting event for the first time.  "I didn't know there were professional pole vaulters," said one spectator when it was explained to her that the vaulters she was watching warm up were pros.

Rich Krieger, father of Grant Krieger, who finished third to Mitch Valli in the Group B men's vault, renewing their high school rivalry, said the vault competition was a great event and that he hoped it would be held again next year.  He noted that he had gone to 20 street/beach/other special venue vaults and the Brit's event topped his list.
Mitch Valli wins men's group B. Photo by
Mike McCarthy

Caldwell said she had only done six events this year and was also impressed by Brit's.  "If they do it again next year, I'll be back," she said.  When asked if she had vaulted in competition after sundown, she said she had done a few.  She added that she was doing one more event this year, a cave vault in St. Louis.  "That'll be in the dark too, so this was good practice."

Zach Johnson won the men's Class C title.  Anna Posbergh won the women's Class C.  Alexis Kiefer won the women's Class B. Order of finish in the different categories are below(Still waiting on height info for the pro events-heights are in meters, when we get them all we'll convert to feet and inches.):

Pro Men

1-Jeff Coover
2-Mick Vicken
3-Jeremy Scott
4-Jordan Scott
5-Peter Geraghty
6-Shawn Francis

Pro Women
1-Kayla Caldwell
2-Becky Holliday
3-Leslie Brost
4-Sam Sonnenburg
5-Katie Murgic

Masters Men
1-Steve White 4.25
2-Trevor Richards 4.10
3-Jim Moeller 3.65
4-Joe Lohmann 3.65
5-Mike Harudke 3.50
6-Marty Proops 3.05

Masters Women
1-Laura Blackledge 3.50
2-Amie Chamberlain 3.05
3-Caroline White 2.90

Men's C
1-Zach Johnson 4.55
2-Jason Beutz 4.25
3-Blade Westaby 4.25
4-Michael Roth 4.25
5-Jake Dickmann 4.25
6-Windsor Molnar 4.25
7-Jonathan Heinz 4.25
8-Tony Marcinek 4.10
T-9-Reed McLevis 4.10
T-9-Jamie Steffen 4.10
11-Parker Nolden 3.95
12-AJ Walsh-Brenzie 3.65
13-Jon Hammerschmidt 2.75

Womens C
1-Anna Posbergh 3.28
2-Amanda Sonnenburg 3.05
3-Kendall Novak 2.90
T-4-Olivia Khauv 2.90
T-4-Brittany Tuberg 2.90
6-Maggie Harris 2.75

Mens B
1-Mitchell Valli 5.00
2-Joe Brehdal 4.85
3-Grant Krieger 4.85
4-Connor O’Neill 4.70
5-Matthew Fleigle 4.70
6-David Lindenberg 4.55
7-Garrett Riggs 4.55
8-Bryan Klister 4.40

Womens B
1-Alexis Kiefer 4.00
T-2-Esther Jandrich 3.65
T-2-Hannah Wallace 3.65
4-Abby Baier 3.35
5-Hannah Linder 3.35
6-Riley Claude 3.05

Leer and Grunewald Help Team USA Win DecaNation Championship in France

Will Leer and Gabe Grunewald helped the US team eek out a two point win in the team competition over host France on Saturday.  Leer was second in the 1500 in 4:10.68.  Team USA Minnesota's Grunewald finished fourth in the 800 in 2:07.8.  Full results are HERE. Team scores HERE.

Photo Essay: Brit's Pub Vault Underway

The pit is in. The hair is ready.  The sun is out.  The vaulters are flying at the Brit's Pub Vault.

Photos courtesy of TCTC and Mike McCarthy

Friday, August 29, 2014

News: Irish Invite; MIAC XC Preview

Boy's pack at the Irish Invite. Photo by Lance Elliott
Irish Invite boy's results are HERE.  Girl's are HERE.

MIAC XC preview is HERE.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kids City Cross League: Learning to Love Running

Coach Ilse Renner running a warm up with the Como team.
Photo by Tyler Morey
Twin Cities Track Cub’s Mike Reneau is not only an accomplished athlete, he’s a person with big ideas.  This weekend’s Brit’s Pub Vault is one of those ideas, another is the Kids City Cross League.that is designed to provide resources for developing both athletic talent and, hopefully, the beginning of a life-long love for running among grade school children in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

In addition to being elite runners, Reneau and Gopher grad Stephanie Price, who is the program’s volunteer coordinator, also coach high school athletes.  They observed that there is a disparity of resources within the inner cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul compared to the suburbs.  While suburban schools often have “feeder programs” that provide the opportunity for young athletes to get a head start on learning the skills necessary for success in their sport.  

The inner city kids don't get started in running until later, if at all.  "It's not that there is a lack of talent, it's a lack of opportunity." says Price

Soccer, football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, to name a few, all have youth programs, but there weren’t development/teaching programs for distance runners, said Reneau. Until now.  Thanks to a grant from Pepsico, TCTC has been able to launch the Kids City Cross League this summer. Running has the advantage of not needing lots of equipment to play, says Reneau. All you need is a park. 

Bryn Mawr team photo with coaches Ben Merchant(far left in white hat)
and Karl Heinzerling(on the far right in black shirt).
 Reneau had originally planned to start with the league with eight teams, but they got a late start.   and decided to begin with three teams instead--Como Park, Bryn Mawr, and Kingfield. Each team is supplied with the basics, said Price. Starting with a measuring wheel, a simple tool that shows the kids how courses are created and that they are a set distance. You can create short, medium, or long distances.  All you need are flags and cones to keep the runners on that newly measured course.  The cones have dual functionality in that they can also be used to mark an agility course for use doing drills that build strength in the legs and feet.

Each team has batons for relay events, emphasizing team building and having some fun.  Having fun being an important element for young kids.  Sometimes, Reneau says,  sometimes you have to trick the kids to get them started, introduce an element of play or a game, making the association  between running and fun.

For example, Elizabeth Yetzer, who is one of the coaches for the Como team, gets the kids going by playing a game.  "Gallop like the horses" being one of the fun drills taking advantage of the fact that they are based at Como Park where there is a zoo.

They are learning.  It's not all fun and games.  Each of the young runners gets a notebook and pen to record their workouts, and the times achieved in periodic time trials and/or races.  Each team also has first aid kits, stop watches, a water cooler,  flags, and all the runners get special Kids Cross League T-Shirts.

Coaches Missa Morey (green shirt) and Elizabeth Yetzer
(purple pants) under the rainbow. Photo by Tyler  Morey
The program goes through October 9 when the teams will compete against one another on Como Golf Course. "We hope the kids develop a love for running," says Price. A love they can experience for the rest of their life.

News: Mead Ends Season in Zurich; Top Returnees in NCAA DII;

Hassan Mead finishes seventeenth in 13:41.80 at the Weltklasse Meet in Zurich. "Ugly way to end the season. Not the way I wanted to end it but I had some good once along the ride." Mead wrote on Twitter.

USTFCCCA preview of the NCAA DII top female returnees HERE. Men

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

News: Canby/Minneota; Waseca; Eden Prairie girls; Luverne/HLO/Martin County West/Worthington, etc.; UNC; St Olaf Men Picked to Repeat as DIII Champs; NCAA DI National Rankings; Grand Canyon Run

Marshall Independent on the Canby/Minneota win at the Lakeview Invite HERE

Waseca County News rates Waseca boy's team "by the numbers" HERE and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva HERE

Sun Current previews the upcoming season for the  the Eden Prairie girls XC team HERE

Worthington Globe pre season article on Luverne, Heron Lake-Okabena, Mountain County West and other area teams   HERE and HERE. Worthngton HS preview HERE.

Park Rapids Enterprise preview for the  United North Central  boy's and girl's teams HERE and the Park Rapids boy's and girl's teams HERE

St Olaf men's defending NCAA DIII champs are ranked number one in the USTFCCCA pre-season poll HERE.  Carleton and St. Thomas also ranked in the top 35.  Women's DIII national rankings are HERE.  Three MIAC teams are in the top 35.

NCAA DI pre-season national rankings for women HERE, men HERE. Gopher women ranked 25th.

Thinking of running the Grand Canyon?  New rules in force including applying for a special use permit. Info HERE.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

News: NXN Predictions for HS Girl's and Boy's Team Races; Perham; Springfield/Cedar Mtn Inv; USTFCCCA NCAA DIII Regional Rankings; Peyton; NSIC XC Coaches Rankings; Sprinters

Wayzata girl's picked by MileSplit to finish third at NXN after winng the title last year HERE.  Wayzata boys are named for fourth HERE.

Perham Focus coverage of the Perham girl's and boy's teams win season openers HERE.

Worthington Daily Globe summary of Springfield/Cedar Mountain  Invitational HERE.

USTFCCCA NCAA DIII Regional rankings are HERE. Four MIAC teams led by defending national champs St. Olaf are in the top ten for men.  Five MIAC teams led by Carleton plus UMAC's St. Scholastica in top ten for the women.

New Haven Register article on Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Peyton, the defending USATF women's 20K champ at the New Haven 20K, which is run on Labor Day HERE

NSIC coaches pre-season XC rankings HERE.

Some of the physical gifts and adaptations of the top sprinters is discovered HERE

Monday, August 25, 2014

News: Strib HS XC Preview; Heart Risks for Marathoners; USTFCCCA Pre-season NCAA DI Region Rankings; Top Women Returnees for DIII;

HS XC Preview HERE, top ten to watch in boy's and girl's HS XC HERE.

Dr. Paul Thompson is an internationally renowned cardiologist who is also a talented marathoner.  He talks about the issues raised recently about the potential risks of marathoning HERE.

St. Olaf's  Noelle Olson leads the women returnees
USTFCCCA pre-season NCAA DI regional rankings has Minnesota women ranked third in the Midwest Region, men are eighth HERE. For DIII the top returning women are listed HERE.  St. Olaf's Noelle Olson, who finished second last season is the top[ returnee.  Macalster's Kimber Meyer is also among the top 15.  DIII men's preview is HERE. St. Ola's Grant Wintheiser is the top returnee for the defending DIII team champions.  Bethel's Matt Berens; St. Olaf's Jake Brown and Jake Campbell are among the top 15.
Grant Wintheiser, Matt Berens, and Jake Brown are the top five

First Brit's Pub Vault Offers $5000 Purse for the Pros, Plus Fund Raising for Olympic Hopefuls

The Twin Cities Track Club will be offering a $5000 total cash prize purse for the First Annual Brit’s Pub Vault at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis on August 30. The prize money is available to vaulters competing in the professional competition at the end of the evening. 

“We have some of the best pole vaulters in the country coming to compete in Minneapolis,” said event director Jack Szmanda. “These are competitors and great athletes, and I have no doubt they will put on a show for the spectators at Brit’s. Hopefully this money will help these athletes as they continue to train and pursue their Olympic aspirations.”

Brit’s Pub will also donate $1.00 for every pint of Summit Beer served during the competition to support the athletes in their journey towards Rio in 2016. The money will be added to a general fund to be distributed evenly to the vaulters in the professional competition. 

For more information about the Brit’s Pub Vault and individual athlete bios, visit the official website at

The Twin Cities Track Club Foundation is incorporated as a non-profit with the state of Minnesota with the mission of promoting health & wellness in the community through running, road-racing, and track & field. For more information about the Twin Cities Track Club Foundation and the programs it supports, please visit

Sunday, August 24, 2014

News: Milk Run; East Ridge HS Girl's XC;

State Fari Milk Run royalty. Guess which one won the women's race.
State Fair Milk Run results for men HERE, women HERE.

Strib story on the East Ridge girl's HS XC team HERE.

Špotáková 2nd, Grunewald 11th in Birmingham IAAF Diamond League Meet

Gopher grads Barbora Špotáková and Gabe Grunewald finished second, and eleventh, respectively, in their events at the Sainsberry's Birmingham Grand Prix meet on Sunday.  Špotáková threw the javelin 62.89m/206' 3.98".  Team USA Minnesota's Grunewald ran 9:41.76 for two miles. Javelin results are HERE.  Two mile is HERE.  "Not what I was hoping for in my 1st race over for the 2nd half, but know that there is more to come. Excited for some cool races coming up!" Grunewald wrote on Twitter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

News: Stillwater Twi-Light Meet; Ely Track Club; Earlybird Invite XC; Red Wing HS; Gopher PVer Katie Murgic

Stillwater Gazette reports on Stillwater HS Twi-light Meet as top two finishers break the meet record  HERE.

Duluth News Tribune mention of Ely Track Club Fundraiser Trail Run and Walk on September 6 HERE.

Worthington Globe report on the Earlybird Invitational XC meet HERE.

Red Wing Republican Eagle on Red Wing HS's boys and girls XC teams HERE

U of M interview with Gopher Pole Vaulter Katie HERE.

Edina boys' Mile Time Trial results are HERE. Alumni meet results HERE. Edina girls' alumni meet results are HERE.

Wayzata boys' Alumni Meet Age Group Winners: L to R:
Manny Day, Kirt Goetzke, Kurt Almquist,
Jacob Hallen, Josh Thorson, and Connor Olson
Results HERE.

Peyton 14th in Crim 10 Mile

Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Peyton finished 14th in the Crim 10 Mile women's field on Saturday. "In the midst of heavy marathon training, toughed out the 10 miler this 58:19." was the message from Team USA Minnesota on Twitter. Searchable results are HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2014

News: NCAA DI Women's XC Preview; Maria Hauger; Young Athletes "Cashing in" on Fame

USTFCCCA look at the top female NCAA DI runners returning from 2014
USTFCCCA DI preview for NCAA DI women.  Emma Bates top finisher among those returning from the 2014 Championships HERE.

In Virginia the University of Virginia women's team has their athletes on posters on lamp poles, including Shakopee grad Maria Hauger
University of Virginia /Hauger
Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis. She's 13. She's in the national spotlight.  NYT asks: Should she "cash in" on her fame?  Lose her amateur status?  Interesting debate in the shadow of the NCAA legal cases regarding renumeration for college athletes.  Will it extend down to junior high school? HERE

Kampf Second in Michigan Women's Pro Mile, Finnerty Third in Men's Race

Nicole Sifuentes sprints past Heather Kampf at the finish of the
Michigan Mile
Team USA Minnesota's Heather Kampf finished second to Canada's Nicole Sifuentes in the Michigan Mile Friday night. Sifuentes time was 4:44.13. Kampf finished in 4:44.24. Results are HERE.

"Tough to lose one at the line but props to on a perfectly executed race!" wrote Kampf on Twitter.
"Very happy with my 1st win of the season at tonight" Sifuentes wrote on Twitter.
Rob Finnerty finished third in the men's pro race in 4:12.46. Results are HERE.
They're off at the start of the Michigan Mile. Sifuentes(far right), Kampf(15)
Pictures and story HERE.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mead 6th in 13:07 in Stockholm; Waseca; Goucher "Trending;" Rochester Races; Eagan's LaChance & Van Wyk; Maple Grove's Dickerson; Drug Test Data

Hassan Mead runs 13:07.81 for sixth in the Stockholm DN Galan Meet. Result is HERE.

Waseca County News article on the Waseca HS XC teams and their current "streak" HERE.

Third Kara Goucher article this week.  She must be "trending." HERE.  And then there's Kara's blog HERE.

Rochester Post-Bulletin on the Mayo Clinic, Rochester Track Club, and the City of Rochester combining  for the Mayo Clinic Human Race weekend running events and clinics HERE.

Strib on Eagan HS XC runners Anna Van Wyk HERE, Bailey LaChance HERE. Maple Grove's Mitchell Dickerson HERE.

Drug testing stats for all sports HERE. Comparison between 2012-13, number of blood tests done per sport.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

News: Northfield AC Track Meet; Goucher, TJ Hand clapping; HS Pay to Play Fees; Rercruiting/Social Media; Robinson Sisters; Youth Running?;Pettit

Northfield News on community supported All Comers Track Meet on August 29, 2014 HERE.

Fall marathon for Kara Goucher, but which one HERE.

Willie Banks talks about the origin of the hand clapping fans for the jumps in Spikes HERE.

Duluth News Tribune summary of the "pay to play" fees in various areas of the state of Minnesota for high school sports HERE.

Allen American article on the impact of social media content on athlete recruiting of high school athletes HERE.

Sun Sailor article on the Robinson sisters from St. Louis Park and their experience in the AAU JO Meet HERE.

Sun newspapers sports columnist John Sherman on youth running "craze" HERE.

Gopher Q&A with Chelsea Pettit HERE.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

News: Hollis/Olympics; Road Running-Local or Corporate; Goucher; Barriers of Disbelief; Emily Gordon

Knoxville TV story on Olympic aspirant pole vaulter Mark Hollis, one of the athletes scheduled to compete at the Brits Pub Vault August 30 is HERE.

What can happen when a major race comes to town. Local vs Corporate? HERE.

Kara Goucher talks about her return to racing at the Philly Half HERE

"Barriers of disbelief." A long article, but well worth the time HERE.

Emiily Gordon blogs about her decision to become a member of Team USA Minnesota HERE.

Monday, August 18, 2014

News: National Girl's XC Team Rankings; Shawn Francis; Mead/Abda Challenge; Kampf Takes a Bath; USATF MN Bronze

Wayzata listed in top ten of MileSplit pre-season girls XC national rankings HERE.

Wayzata boys featured on MileSplit HERE.

Shawn Francis Q & A with Alex Kurt is HERE.

Hassan Mead "calls out" teammate Harun Abda for the ALS Challenge HERE. Heather Kampf takes a bath HERE.

USATF Minnesota gets bronze award for Associations HERE.

Shawn Francis: Shawn Danger Hoot, Minnesota's Rocket Man, or Both?

Into the air with the greatest of ease, Shawn Francis, the daring
young man without a trapeze.  
Pole vaulters are optimists, says Shawn Francis, Hastings High grad, MSHSL champion in the pole vault, and an avid promoter of his event.  "I'm trying to pump up our sport," he says of his whirlwind Summer of vaulting.  From a runner-up slot at the USATF indoor championships to a seemingly endless tour of traditional meet vaults to street vaults, mall vaults, beach vaults, and finally a pub vault at Brits Pub in Minneapolis on August 30, Francis has deliberately used this year as a time to jump and learn.

He's immersed himself into all sorts of different environments and competitions.  He's done it with a certain flair, a showman/promoter's approach that serves the dual purpose of exposing sports fans to the event while giving him the chance to compete in varying conditions.

"I'm just telling my story," says Francis, who accidentally created a character, a persona that somehow fits the spirit of vaulting--Shawn Danger Hoot.  "Pole vault people are a different breed," Francis says.  They're risk takers, not afraid of exploring boundaries.

In high school at Hastings, Francis was a vaulter and ran the 110 high hurdles.  He was also a swimmer and diver.  He holds the Hastings High record in the vault, having cleared 15' as a senior in 2004. In his "spare time" he mountain bikes and sky dives, appropriate adventure activities for a vaulter.

Less risky, but equally adventuresome, Francis also produces a regular vlog, a video blog, about the sport, his exploits, and an education on the world of pole vaulting.  It fits his undergraduate degree at NDSU in education with an advanced degree in exercise science where, Francis says, he tries to keep thing simple.

To survive financially Francis moved back home in his parents' home in Hastings. He takes on coaching assignments, provides long distance coaching for others and this year began selling merchandise to help finance his travels.  Prize money from competitions "bonus dollars," says Francis because you can't always count on performance driven cash as his event is in a sport where the only significant revenue stream remains endorsement contracts.

A steady paycheck that few in the sport of track and field get, let alone field event athletes who are dwarfed in earning potential by sprinters and other event marque performers.  Enter Danger Hoot.  "By accident me and my brother had these really ugly owl shirts," Francis says.  The shirts, as well as horse head masks and other performance art devices Francis trots out at events, caught the attention of his vlog viewers, and Shawn Hoot and Team Hoot were born.

Believing that those monikers needed a little something extra, Shawn Danger Hoot became his official online persona.  Francis had shirts made up to sell at the vault events.  His vlog has provided a steady stream of questions about vaulting, training, and achieving.  Like many elite athletes Francis coached once he got his undergraduate degree from North  Dakota State. Now he coaches athletes online.  "Vaulters ask me to send them my workouts," he says. "I say no...It took me ten years to get where I am so what I'm doing now isn't going to work for them."

Instead Francis keeps it simple.  The emphasis being on the other athlete, not on Francis, his needs, his accomplishments.  Francis knows the value of good coaching and praises his own coaches, the husband and wife team of Steve and Caroline White, who coach at the University of Minnesota.  He's due for a sit down conference with them soon that will focus on future goals and how to achieve them.  There are "top secret" marks that the trio believe they can achieve based on Francis's talents and progression.

In a sort of "good cop, bad cop" style Steve pushes Francis while Caroline makes sure he stays healthy, avoids injury.  She says when he's in danger of overdoing it, as most elites are seemingly hardwired to do, she "puts me in the hospital," not literally, but figuratively inactive for his own athletic heath.

The White's believe Francis has the ability to go "much higher" than his current PR of 5.5m/18'2.5".  None of the trio is after instant success.  It has been a process, incremental changes, polishing technique.  The result of all this work being the ability to soar higher when it counts.

Ultimately, Francis says, he would like to make the Olympic team, possibly a second Olympic team if all goes well, before hanging up his pole and spikes.  Like other things, he's doing it his way.  Unlike other vaulters who either grew up in or have moved to climates more conducive to an outdoor field event, such as the pole vault, Francis believes Minnesota has its advantages.  "Minnesota's awesome because you can do about anything," he says.  Because of the weather here "we have some of the best indoor facilities in the US."

That, coaching, and "a good community  of vaulters" and those who assist the athletes to reach their goals makes the area conducive to success.  Bell Athletics, based in Arkansas, has served as the model by being probably the most prolific vaulting "factory" in the US in recent years.  "Grandpa" Bell still vaults at age 92, while his son Earl, once a world recordholder and an Olympic bronze medallist in 1984, founded Bell Athletics in 1991.

Minnesota has Flight Deck Athletics and Fuzion Athletics that, like Bell Athletics, cater to vaulters of all ages and abilities. The tight knit community that these groups have generated helps everyone, says  Francis.  It allows the athletes a camaraderie and like minded individuals who can compete together, bounce ideas off of one another, and encourage one another to achieve great things, he says.

So if you see a guy laying in the infield with a horse head on or his New York Yankees hat(Francis' father was drafted by the New York Yankees, but never made it to the "Big Show." A fact which, Francis believes, is a reason his dad supports his son's efforts to follow his athletic dreams), laying on the grass on top of Brits August 30, you'll know he's looking up at the sky and plotting how to launch himself up into the stratosphere and over the bar.  Or he's thinking of quotes from Einstein, who he frequently quotes on social media, or other people who thought big and went on to make those dreams a reality.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

News: Leer; Como Park XC Relays; Triplets; Relative Age Effect

Will Leer finished tenth in the Falmouth men's race in 34:20.  Results are HERE.

MDRA Como XC Relays results are HERE.

Triplets run the Euro Championship women's marathon HERE.

Impact of Relative Age Effect on youth sports HERE.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Heath 3rd, Leer 11th in Men's Falmouth Mile, Grunewald 7th in Women's Race

Garrett Heath finished third and Will Leer eleventh in the Falmouth Mile Saturday night.  Heath ran 3:57.20, Leer 4:09.81. Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald finished seventh in the women's mile in 4:36.32.   Full results are HERE. "Not my night tonight at but always love coming out to the Cape. :) Training has gone well- excited for Euro races coming up!" Grunewald wrote on Twitter.

News: Abda 4th in PA Festival, Podominick 6th

Harun Abda finished fourth in the 800 in 1:50.26 at the Pan American Festival in Mexico City .  Result is HERE. Liz Podominick finished sixth in the discus throwing 56.13m/184'1.8". Result is HERE.

Friday, August 15, 2014

News: Minnesota Senior Games; Emmans; Gabe Grunewald; Špotáková; Team USA Minnesota; Bad Behavior

Very tardy on these results.  Minnesota Senior Games track results from August 2 are HERE. From the road races August 8-9 are HERE. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for all the 10K and 5K results.)

Another late item.  Wayzata's girls XC coach Dave Emmans was named XC girl's coach of year by the National High School Coaches Association HERE  Emmans is the third Minnesota HS coach to win the award since it began in 2000.  Perham's Jeff Morris won the boy's team award in 2013 and Willmar's Jerry Popp won the girl's award in 2008.

Gabe Grunewald talks about cancer, the past year, and the future HERE.

Gopher grad Barbora Špotáková completes her javelin medal set with a win at the European Championships HERE.

Strib feature on Team USA Minnesota HERE.

Is the DQ of the winner of the Euro men's steeplechase a fair punishment for bad behavior? HERE and HERE.

Even a "Cow" Can Do It

Of all the events in track and field at the Olympics, sometimes called the Five Ring Circus, the pole vault is one that most closely resembles the events under the big top.  A combination of speed, strength, and gymnastic skills, the pole vault  has captured the attention of track fans and non track folks as well.

In recent years it's moved away from stadiums to downtowns, beaches, and shopping malls as promoters of the event attempt to expose it to a larger audience. At the end of the month at Brits Pub in Minneapolis the pole vault circus is coming to town to perform in what Minnesota Masters vaulter Dr. David Lindberg calls "the most fun event in track."

 Like the "daring young men(women) on the flying trapeze,"  pole vaulters entertain the audience by how high they launch themselves into the air.  How they make a combination of various difficult skills look easy.  And then there's the element of danger.
Cooly, the 2014 European Athletics Championships mascot demonstrates
how to pole vault in a cow suit.
2012 Olympic women's pole vault champion Jenn Suhr of the US recently became the victim of a broken pole at the most inopportune time.  In training, Suhr was hanging upside down in the air, feet aimed toward the sky when her pole shattered, split and dropped her into the "box," the U shaped metal housing in the front of the landing pit.  

If the pole had broken later, when Suhr was twisting her body to gyrate over the cross bar, she wouldn't have dropped straight down, but the break happened early and she fell on metal, instead of being able to maneuver into a soft landing in the pit.  Accidents like Suhr's are rare and the daredevil risk element merely adds to allure of the event and demonstrates the skills necessary from the participants.  

Pole vaulters are risk takers.  But, as illustrated by the photo above, even somebody in a cow suit can do it if they're well trained.  And the audience loves it.  While advances in technology have influenced everything in modern sport, the event that has perhaps been transformed the most is the pole vault.  Not that long ago vaulters used to use bamboo then metal poles.  The world record for men was just beyond 15 feet.  There was no pole vault competition for women.  

The early vaulters landed in a sawdust pit, but the ability to go higher made a softer landing necessary.  So the pit was transformed to foam or giant air bags that make landing far more comfortable.  Instead of one or two poles, vaulters now travel to competitions with a half dozen or more.  The poles vary in length and stiffness to allow the athletes to pick the right one for the conditions.  Instead of being the  province of men with a strong upper body and lots of fast twitch fibers in their legs, todays vaulters come in all shapes and sizes, of all ages and both genders.

Minnesota, despite it's less than hospitable weather conditions for outdoor vaulting, is fortunate to have  top vaulters from high school to Masters competitors.  There are training centers where the athletes can go in all weather conditions, and the ability to get the poles needed to perform.  From high school to elite, Minnesota's and other top vaulters will be on display at Brits on August 30. 

 This is the first of a series of articles on the event.  The event web site is HERE.

Recent  DtB articles/photos on the vault: Andrianna Jacobs clears 13' at the 2013 MSHSL Championships HERE. Photos HERE. Q & A with Gopher grad Jack Szmanda HERE. Story on Masters pole vault champion Dr. David Lindberg HERE