Friday, March 27, 2015

Year of the Pole Vault: Mark Volker

Weather: Neither Snow, Nor Wind, Nor...

...Nothing keeps them from practice

Youth Running: Keep it Fun

Some opinions on youth running HERE.

Stats: ARRS Database

For all those who can't get enough running statistics, the ARRS Database is now online HERE

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Luca Wieland: the Path to the Championship

Luca Wieland and Garrett Scantling approach the finish of the 1000
Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota
The journey to the NCAA Indoor Track men's heptathlon title began two years ago in an unlikely place, Berlin, Germany.  It was then and there that a promising young athlete named Luca Wieland was making plans for his future when opportunity presented itself in the form of a University of Wisconsin Madison coach who came to Germany to entice talented German athletes to give the US collegiate system a try.

Unbenownst to Luca the coaching staff at the University of Minnesota was also searching for a specific talent to recruit. Steve Plasencia, the Gopher's head track and cross country coach, notes that the coaches divide up the recruiting according to their event responsibilities.  "We all recruit our own areas," said Plasencia. That meant that Paul Thornton, an assistant coach for the Gophers who works with the sprinters, hurdlers, and multi-event athletes was charged with finding some multi eventers who would be interested in Minnesota.

Each "recruiting class," student athletes with the talents the Gopher's want that year, has specific goals.  In 2013 one of those goals was to find multi event athletes.  The search for prospects begins "in our back yard," said Thornton, looking at athletes from around the State and surrounding areas.  They also get inquiries from recruiting services. In 2013 one of those the service provided was Luca.  After sorting through all the prospects "we were looking at three guys," said Thornton, "and one of those was Luca."

A soccer player until he was 14, Luca's parents urged him to try track.  Without practicing specifically for track "I won" my events, said Wieland.  "You always like what you're good at," he said, and from that point on he was a track athlete.

His success in track got him thinking about the future.  Luca wanted to "go pro," become proficient enough in track to make an Olympic team, to rise to the top of the sport.  "I'm a really ambitious person," Wieland said, meaning that he didn't want to be just good.  He wanted to be the best he could be.  In Germany the opportunity to mix being the best he could be academically and athletically wasn't possible, he said.  You had to choose one or the other.

In the US he saw the opportunity to get a first class education while training to reach his equally lofty goals in athletics. Thornton got in touch via email, followed up with Facebook messaging and then talking the phone. Talking a "couple of times a week" during the recruiting process, said Thornton.  Wieland was not only a potentially top athlete, he was a top student as well, said Thornton.  Wieland wanted a school that could satisfy his academic as well as his athletic needs.

The Gopher program offered Wieland both, said Thornton.  "He was attracted by the big city(Minneapolis)," Thornton said.  "He was impressed with the quality of education he could get, the history of multi event talent we've had here at the University...The decathlon is such a demanding event that it is important to have training partners. It's not the sort of event you train for alone."  The coaches wanted a decathlete who could also score points in an individual event.  Luca fit that description as he "has a lot of speed" and was a good long jumper with a PR of 24'3".

Wieland had interest from other schools as well, but decided on Minnesota early, and began to put a plan in place.  "He had a plan on how to develop," said Thornton.  In athletics and academics, you need to have a plan to succeed, he added.  Life is always throwing you curves, but it helps to have a foundation to build on or switch to and from if you want to be successful.

Academically, Wieland decided to enroll in the business program at the U of M with the ultimate goal to go back to Germany after his collegiate career was over and attempt to get into medical school. The main advantage being that medical school in Germany is "free," no cost for the tuition, which is a major burden for medical students in the US.  The challenge in Germany is to get into medical school, not how to pay for it.

It's an intense, six year program, after which you start practicing medicine.  Depending on how things go in 2016 and beyond, Wieland may have to shift his academic/career goals until his athletic career has run its course. Luca will have his first shot at making the German team for Rio in 2016.  With his win at this year's NCAA Indoor championships and breaking the 6000 point barrier,  Luca believes he has the potential to achieve that goal. "I am really ambitious person," he repeated, but not unrealistic.

His score at NCAAs ranks second among German multi eventers this year.  He accomplished despite some significant obstacles.  When he arrived in Minnesota last year, he was hobbled by a persistent hamstring injury.  Much of his first year was dealing with that injury, getting healthy.  At points along the way he wondered if his lofty athletic goals were possible.  He believed he has the talent.  The question remained would he be able to develop that talent despite his seemingly fragile hamstrings.

One answer to that question may have come via this year's Big Ten indoor championships.  Prior to the event, Luca was not sure he would get to or through the meet.  The hamstring troubles had flared up again and resulted in treatment from the Gopher trainers.  "They did a great job getting me through it," said Wieland,.who whe won the Big Ten title and gained confidence in time for NCAA's two weeks later.

In Arkansas for the ultimate collegiate test, Luca's talent blossomed.  While he didn't come into it with his eye on the national title, he said he knew he had the talent to win if things went right.  They did as he scored personal bests in nearly every event and came into the last event having only one obstacle separating him from the NCAA heptathlon crown, the pre-meet favorite for the title, Georgia's Garrett Scantling.

"What an outstanding competition," said Thornton of the battle between Luca and Garrett.  "(Scantling) did everything he could to win it."  While Scantling came up two points short he and Luca may have begun a rivalry with this being Act One.  Luca used his speed and jumping ability to take the lead early on, open a 100 point gap after day one, and continued to produce clutch performances on the second day to come away with the win.

For Luca it was a confidence boost and a relief that the injuries may be behind him and the athletic goals that he has are more than just an ambition.  Plasencia was impressed with Luca's ability to focus on the challenge and execute under pressure.  "He never showed any kind of chink (in his armor)," said Plasencia.  When it came time for the last event, the 1000 meters, not a strong suit for Weiland, he and the coaches talked over the strategy, the race plan.

It was a simple plan, but the execution was not.  Luca had to be Scantling's shadow, stay close and hope that Garrett couldn't break him.  "I wanted to beat him(Scantling),"  said Wieland.  He didn't want to feel like he was "backing into" the title.  His plan was to follow Scantling through to the final straight and launch his kick off that final curve.

He was in position, but also in "traffic" as several other runners became obstacles and Scantling was able to navigate the congestion better than Luca.  As a result the final straight kick was not a triumphant charge toward the finish, but a mad dash to maintain his lead.  Luca kept the two point gap and learned a lot about himself.

"I didn't think could push myself that hard," said Wieland, but he discovered that he had what it took when the pressure was on and the title was up for grabs. The path to the title was not easy, but that only made it more rewarding.

Science: Exercise "Sweat Spot"

How much exercise is enough, too much?  The debate continues HERE

News: Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher talks about the past year and her plans for 2015-16 HERE

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

News: More Drake Relays entries; Recruiting; Running Shoe Advice

Rankings: DIII

NCAA DIII Outdoor Track rankings HERE.

Awards: Big 10 AOW; Summit League Indoor AOY

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rankings: NCAA DI, DII

NCAA DI Outdoor rankings HERE.

NCAA DII rankings are HERE.

News: Need for Speed; Scissor kicking 1.95m; Gopher Indoor Stats; Rethwisch/Fulbright Scholar; Rio; Ferretti; Sometimes a Hurdle is just an Opportunity in Disguise; Importance of Kids Being Active: Edwin Moses

Must be outdoor track season, Sun Sailor profiles Wayzata sprinters  HERE.

Kids, don't try this at home
2015 Gopher men's indoor performance list is HERE.

You may be able to figure it out, but loosely translated it says: 500 days until the Olympics in Rio

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle preview of Alexi Pappas, filmmaker, writer, actress, and she runs pretty quick too HERE.

Gopher hammer thrower Gian Ferretti gets a mention and short bio in Long Throws HERE.

Edwin Moses on the importance of helping kids stay active HERE.

Monday, March 23, 2015

News: NCAA Indoors DIII outstanding performers ;Hamline to Host US Paralympics Championships; Gophers, Marathon March Madness

USTFCCCA NCAA DIII Outstanding Performers HERE

As announced last week, Hamline will host US Paralympics T&F Championships June 19-21, 2015 HERE.

Minnesota Daily story on Gopher men and women's first outdoor meets HERE.

Marathon "March Madness." HERE.

US Masters Indoor Championships

A Summary of Minnesota results from the USATF Indoor Masters Championships this past weekend in North Carolina.

Kathy Haubrich was part of the champion Athena team that won the 4 by 200 W55 relay in 2:09.47. Haubrich was ninth in the 200 meter prelims in 35.47.

Brian Lundberg won the M45 3K in 9:48.21.
Pat Billig was second in the M50  3K in 9:38

Susan Loyd finished third in the W55 60 meters in 9.74.  She was eighth in the W55 400 meters in 1:18.98, and was also eighth in the W200 meter prelims in 33.79. Loyd was also a member of the winning 4 by 400 team in the non-club division(team was made up of "unattached" runners who were members of different teams). They were timed in 5:41.78.

Jim Schoffman finished third in the M60 60 meters in 8.69.  He was seventh in the 400 meters in 1:03.08, and was a member of the runner-up Mass Velocity M60 4 by 200 relay that was timed in 2:01.32.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gene Niemi's Irish Run Photo Album

They're off and running. Leaders following eventual winner, Ben Sathre(190), Masters men's champ
Pat Billig on the right side of the photo(#343, black singlet and shorts with a blue long sleeve shirt underneath)
Photo by Gene Niemi

A Leprechaun looking for his pot of gold. Photo by Gene Niemi

Ben Sathre crossing the finish. Photo by Gene Niemi

The chase pack.  Eric Loeffler(353), Dan Greeno(171),
Matt Boumeester(behind Greeno's right shoulder), Patrick Richie(263),
Marty Mitchell(185) and Scott Behlin(61)Photo by Gene Niemi

The battle is on in the women's race between Laura Paulsen(642) and
Katie McGregor(223).  Photo by Gene Niemi

Katie McGregor pulls away for the win. Photo by Gene Niemi

Bethel Women Second, Men Fourth in California

Bethel's women finished second and the men were fourth in their first outdoor meet of the season at the Ross and Sharon Irvine Invitational.

Bethel summary is HERE(within the Bethel SID daily listing of how Bethel athletes are spending their Spring Break.)

Full meet results are HERE.

Irish Run: USATF 8K Championships

Men's and women's top ten are HERE.  Full results(overall/male/female/age groups) are HERE.

Of interest in the Masters race, two medallists in the 3K at the USATF Masters Indoor T&F Championships in North Carolina this weekend made it back to the Twin Cities in time to run the Irish Run.  Pat Billig, 52, was the top male Masters finisher(37th overall) in 27:02.  Brian Lundberg, 49, was tenth Masters finisher(65th overall) in 28:29.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lundberg, Billig, Loyd, Schoffman, and Mistor at USATF Masters Indoor Championships

Brian Lundberg won the M45 Masters 3K in 9:48.21 at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships in North Carolina.  Pat Billig was runner up in the M50 age group in the 3K in 9:38.34.  Susan Loyd finished third in the W55 60 Meter dash in 9.74 and eighth in the 400 Meters  in 1:18.98. Jim Schoffman was seventh in the M60 400 in 1:03.08, 11th in the prelims of the M60 60 Meters in 8.69

Masters Live Results are HERE.

Gopher Men Third at Baldy Castillo Invite, Bradley Johnson Wins 800; Maggie Ewen and Shaina Burns Busy in Women's Competition

The University of Minnesota  men's team finished third at the Baldy Castillo Invitational on Saturday in Tempe, AZ. Texas A&M won and host Arizona State was second. Sophomore Bradley Johnson  won the 800 in 1:50.35 for the Gopher's only individual title

Two Minnesota high school standouts had busy days in the women's competition.  St. Francis grad Maggie Ewen took third in the shot(15m/49'2.5") and discus(51.86/170'2").  Lakeville South grad Shaina Burns, who now competes for Texas A&M,  was 8th in the shot(14.15m/46'5.25"), 9th in the 100-meter hurdles(15.25) and 10th in the high jump(1.61m/5'3.25").

Full results are HERE. Gopher men's summary is HERE.

Results: HS Early Bird; Wayzata TT

Results are  HERE.

Update on Wayzata TT: full results from the meet are HERE.

Tyler Germann and Mckenzie Holt Win O'Gara's Irish Day 8K

Iowa's Tyler Germann and St. Cloud's Mckenzie Holt won the O'Gara's Irish Run 8K Saturday in St. Paul.  On a new course that had the runners going down Selby Avenue in St. Paul instead of Summit Avenue, Germann was timed in 25:19 and Holt 29:57.  Top ten finishers for men and women are HERE.
All 196 8K finishers are HERE.

Carrie Tollefson went after it in the 5K winning overall in a time of 18:46.  Maplewood's Brian Skelly was first male in second in 23:07.Full results for the 145 finishers are HERE.  Top 10 for men and women is HERE.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Results: Eden Prairie TT Indoor;Wayzata TT Indoor

Gopher Men Start Off with School Record in Tempe

The University of Minnesota men started with a new school record by Gianlo Ferretti in the hammer throw(68.94m/226'3") in the first outdoor competition of the 2015 season at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, AZ.  Two more events were scheduled for the first day of the meet, the men's and women's 1500.  Live results are HERE.  Link to the Video of the throw is HERE.

Gopher summary is HERE.
Our friends North and South of Minnesota fared well in the 1500s:
Canadian Olympian Nicole Sifuentes won the women's 1500 in 4:15.06.

Gopher Women Dominate Jaguar Challenge

The University of Minnesota women's team won 13 titles in their outdoor track opener at the Jaguar Challenge against South Alabama on Friday.
Gopher summary is HERE.
Results are HERE.

News: An Unusual Running Club

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Outdoor Dual Meet Rankings, Week 1: Gophers Start Outdoor Season

National and Regional NCAA DI Men's Outdoor Dual meet rankings are HERE. Minnesota men ranked fifth in the Midwest Region. Women's National and Regional rankings HERE. Gopher women seventh in the National rankings, second in the Midwest Region.

Gopher men are in Arizona prepping for the Baldy Castillo Invitational.  Preview HERE. Gopher women are ranked 20th in the USTFCCCA team rankings that include both cross country and track season HERE  The women's outdoor season begins in Alabama on Friday. Preview HERE.


Two additions to the Minnesotans competing at the USATF Masters Indoors this weekend in North Carolina: Brian Lundberg and Pat Billig will be running the mile and the 3K--From Jim Schoffman

Science/Medicine: Foot Core

If you have foot injuries, look to your "foot core" for solutions HERE.

News: Wisconsin Coaches Sweep DIII Awards; USATF Championships Qualfying Standards

Wisconsin coaches swept the USTFCCCA NCAA DIII Indoor Track Coach of the Year awards HERE.

USATF Outdoor Championship qualifying standards are HERE.

Emily Gordon on her Gate River Run 15K experience HERE.

Medtronic TCM 2014 champion Tyler Pennel's blog on training and racing HERE.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Results: Wayzata Intrasquad Meet

Results from the Wayzata intrasquad meet run outdoors on Friday the 13th HERE. Video of fast heat in the 1600 is HERE.

News: Finish Line; Masters Indoor Championships

What not to do when you're job is to hold the finish tape HERE.

Three Minnesotans: Susan Loyd of Edina, Kathy Haubrich of Shakopee and Jim Schoffman of Fridley are entered in this weekend's USATF Masters Indoor Championships. 
Susan is entered in the W55 60m, 200m and 400m.  She’s coming off knee surgery, so I don’t know if she’ll actually attempt all three.  Kathy is entered in the W55 200m and 400m. Jim is entered in the 60m, 200m, 400m and 800m.  The early entry deadline sometimes forces people to enter before they’re sure of which events they’re going to be ready for.  But for Jim, the 60-200-400-800 combination is not unusual.--from Tom Langenfeld.
USATF Masters preview is HERE.