Athlete of the Month

November 2005
The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field is proud to announce that Hailey Harren and Mike Torchia were selected USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for November, 2005.

Hailey Harren, a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, won the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championship on November 19.  Harren covered the six kilometer distance at the Methodist Theological School and Dornoch Golf Course in Delaware, OH in a winning time of 21:51.9, more than seven seconds ahead of the runner-up.  A graduate of Rocori High School in Cold Spring, MN, Harren had some early success in her high school career, receiving All-State honors in cross country during her freshman and sophomore seasons and in track and field as a freshman.  However, her performance this season was not easily anticipated two years ago.  As a freshman at Gustavus, Harren managed to place 90th in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).  But last Spring, Harren’s 11th place showing in the 10,000 meter race at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships foreshadowed her performance this cross country season.  This year, she won both the MIAC and Central Region titles on her way to winning the national title. 

Mike Torchia, a senior at Rochester Lourdes, broke the Class A state meet record on his way to winning his second consecutive MSHSL cross country title.  He covered the rolling hills and 5000 meters at St. Olaf in a time of 15:28.8 seconds, nearly 40 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.  His finish helped his team to a second place finish at the state meet.  Torchia was the heavy favorite to win the championship, having won the 3200 meter title at the 2005 state track and field meet to go along with his cross country championship last year. Torchia has been a force in Class A distance running since his sophomore year, placing 4th in cross country and 3rd in the 3200 meter race on the track at the state meet.

June 2005
The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field is proud to announce that the Minnetonka HS Girls 4x800 meter relay and Rob Finnerty of Burnsville HS are USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for June, 2005 for their performances at the Minnesota State High School League Track and Field Championships.

The Minnetonka girls winning relay time of 9:03.80 is an all-time Minnesota best and is ranked second nationally on DyeStat high school track and field rankings. The 4x800 squad consisted of Alison Liewen, Katie Hollimon, and sisters Molly and Alice Lehman. Minnetonka started its attack on the state meet record two years ago, and has set the state meet best time for the 4x800 meter relay at each of the past three state meets.

Finnerty was honored for his pair of victories at the MSHSL Championships. Finnerty, a freshman, claimed the state title in the 3200 meter run with a time of 9:06.80. He came back the next day to win the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:16.95, outracing five others within two seconds of him at the finish.

May 2005
The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field is proud to announce that Kristal Grigsby and Danny Ripka are USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for May, 2005.

Grigsby, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, placed first in the Long, Triple, and High Jumps at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Macalester College on May 13 and 14. Her Triple Jump mark of 38 feet, 0 and 1/4 inch set a meet record. In the Long Jump, Grigsby broke a 20-year old stadium record with a leap of 19 feet, 5 and 1/4 inches. In order to win the High Jump, Grigsby had to beat out Ashley Dingels of St. Mary's in a jump-off, finishing with a best of 5 feet, 5 and 3/4 inches. Grigsby, a Breck HS graduate, also anchored the St. Thomas 4x400 meter relay team to a first place finish with a time of 3:57.36. All four of the first place marks for Grigsby and the relay results were NCAA Provisional qualifying marks. Grigsby also added a sixth place finish in the 200 meter dash and an eighth place in the 100 meter dash.

Ripka was honored for setting a new world record for his 45-49 year-old age group in the 6-day run. During early May, running day and night with very limited rest and food breaks, Ripka amassed an astounding 478 miles running on a one-mile loop in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. The 47 year-old Melrose, Minnesota native had to cut holes in his shoes to relieve the swelling in his feet in the final days of his endurance test. A newcomer to the 6-day race, Ripka was the 2004 U.S. Champion in the 24-hour race.

April 2005
The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field is proud to announce that Katie McGregor and Michael Lawrence are USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for April, 2005.

McGregor, a member of Team USA Minnesota, completed a series of outstanding performances in a short time span. She finished 20th at the World Cross Country Championships at St. Etienne, France on March 12 and was the second U.S. woman to finish. She then set a personal best time of 26:03 and finished 4th at the U.S. 8k Championships in New York. The following week, she improved her time to 25:36 and finished 3rd at the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago. McGregor is not a newcomer to success. she was a two-time high school state champion for Willoughby, Ohio. She was a three-time NCAA champion and nine-time All-American in cross country and track and field for the University of Michigan. She placed 4th in the Olympic Trials at 10,000 meters.

Lawrence, of Minnesota State University Mankato, was honored for his first place finish in the 200 meter dash at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston on March 12. Lawrence, a senior from Jacksonville, Florida, ran 21:25. He is the school record holder, having run 20:84 for fourth place at the NCAA Division II outdoor national championships in 2004. Lawrence is also a wide out on the MSU Mankato football team.

March 2005
The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field is proud to announce that Travis Brandstatter and Shani Marks are USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for March, 2005.

Brandstatter, a senior at the University of Minnesota, placed fourth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on March 11 and 12. Bandstatter compiled 5,657 points, just three shy of a personal best set in winning the Big Ten title. The indoor Heptathlon consists of the 60 meter dash, long jump, high jump and shot put on the first day, followed by the 60 meter hurdles, pole vault, and 1,000 meter run on the second day. A Ladysmith, Wisconsin native, Brandstatter holds the University of Minnesota school record in the decathlon, earning All-American honors in 2004.

Marks was honored for her national championship in the triple jump at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston on February 25-27. Her winning distance was 44 feet 9 and 1/4 inches. Marks, a graduate of Apple Valley HS, recently completed a stellar career at the University of Minnesota where she holds several records. She narrowly missed qualifying for the 2004 Olympics, finishing 4th at the Olympic Trials.