This year's #1 choice is best known in the northwest part of the state (being a Missoula resident); and, her specialty is the marathon distance. But, trust me - she also has some short distance wheels as well - enough to have warranted a #2 ranking for 2011. Newly married in 2012, she started the year as Trisha Miller and finished as Trisha Drobek. But, regardless of the name, she had a top notch season from January through December - more than enough to allow her to move to the top slot as the Open Women's ROY.
She started the year with a big win at the PF Chang's Rock N' Roll Marathon in Phoenix at 2:49:12. She ended the year battling through a torrential downpour to record a 2:51:00 at the California International Marathon (Sacramento). In between she won the Missoula Marathon in a course record 2:49:32. That's 3 marathons in one calendar year with an average time of 2:49:54 and two overall wins. Impressive enough - but, that's not it. She also picked up wins at:
Rattlesnake Resolution Run 10K, 39:34
Run For the Luck Of It 7-Mile, 42:21
Wheat Montana 5K, 19:11
Turkey Day 8K, 29:59
Snow Joke Half-Marathon, 1:25:45
She also had impressive performances at the following races:
River Roots Run 4-Mile, 2nd Woman, 8th Overall, 22:40
San Jose Rock N' Roll Half Marathon, 5th Woman, 1:20:12
Bloomsday 12K, 23rd Woman, 45:08
Governor's Cup 1/2 Marathon, 2nd Woman, 3rd Overall, 1:21:13
University of Montana Cross Country Invitational, 5K, 9th place, 18:15
It's hard to argue with an impressive set of credentials like that; and, clearly supports her top ranking.
Ranked #1 in 2010 and 2011, Sarah Graves of Ballantine (Billings area) drops down one spot to #2. She didn't race as much in 2012 as she has in past years; but, she had one major, major ace in her pocket. She was the one and only Montanan (man or woman) who competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon. Just 5 weeks after setting her 2:44 PR at the California International Marathon (Dec. 2011) (which also secured her a qualifying spot in the trials) she toed the line with America's best in Houston. And, in spite of the short turnaround after CIM, she still hit a stellar 2:50:16. Competing and performing at the national pinnacle of marathoning is, by itself, probably enough to get Sarah a ranking.
But, on top of her trials performance, she also had a few other big races - how about these:
Wulfman CDT 14K Trail Race, 2nd Woman, 68:40
Heart and Sole 10K (Billings) 10K, 1st Woman, 38:49
MT Marathon 10K, 1st Woman, 2nd Overall, 36:44
Women's Run 2-Mile, 1st, 11:37
Let's hope that Sarah returns to some more regular racing and we get to see some more of her on Montana's roads, tracks and trails.
Okay, here's the big surprise on the women's side. At #3 is high school phenom Makena Morley of Bigfork. Normally, you don't see high schooler's being able to be competitive against the post collegiate open runners. But, Makena's no ordinary prepster. First, let's look at her open competition record.
1st @ Whitefish Lake Run 5K in 18:04 (4th overall)
1st @ Boogie to the Bank 5K in 17:12 (5th overall)
1st at Roodell Run 5K in 17:53 (2nd Overall)
1st @ Huffing for Stuffing 5K in 19:27
2nd @ MT Cup (ahead of #1 ranked Trisha Drobek)
3rd Montana Woman and 1st in 13-15 age group at Bloomsday in 45:24.
That in and of itself is a pretty solid resume. But, you also have to consider how impressive here times and performances were in the HS ranks.
State Champion in cross country and undefeated within the state in 2012 (her sophomore season). In her freshman track season, she won state titles at 800 meters, 1600 meters and 3200 meters with season best times of 2:16, 5:01 and 10:44. On top of that, she was 3rd in the West Region at the Foot Locker XC meet and was 24th at Foot Locker XC Nationals.
All total, her season wide performances showed that she could hold her own at any level of competition on the roads, tracks and xc courses - she deserved to be considered at the top of Montana's women.
Although she didn't race a lot, Missoula's Meg Brooker (nee Meg Lerch) showed she's still a force on the Montana scene. Coming back from hip surgery in 2011, Meg's performances were enough to land her at #4 on the Buzzard list. A past national level performer at 5,000 meters on the track, Meg looks to be rounding back into form and should have an exciting 2013. Her top performances for the year include:
1st @ MT Cup in 24:15
1st @ 11 Miles to Paradise in a course record 74:56
3rd @ the UM Cross Country Invitational 5K in 18:12
3rd @ Catch 'Em if you Can 5K, 20:18
4th @ Missoula Marathon 1/2 Marathon in 1:2425
The Montana Cup race is what really made the difference for Meg making the list. She had an impressive win over top ranked Trisha Drobek and 3rd-ranked Makena Morley. With more racing, she would likely have ranked even higher on the list.
#5 takes us to a familiar face in the rankings, Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge- even if she has also moved into the masters ranks at 42. Equally impressive is the fact that she had twin boys in November of 2011, with 4 months of no running before the c-section birth. So, to be able to come back and race at a high level throughout 2012 was impressive indeed. She also raced often; and, that certainly helped her ranking status. How about the performances, in no particular order:
1st woman at Wulfman CDT-14K in 67:58
2nd woman @ Riverbank 5K in 17:38
1st woman @ AOH 3-Mile in 17:17
2nd woman @ Big Butte Challenge in 57:09
4th woman @ Ice Breaker 5-Mile in 32:32
5th woman in MT Cup in 26:03
4th MT woman @ Bloomsday in 45:46
1st woman at Governor's Cup 5K in 19:08
1st woman at Don't Fence Me In 12K Trail in 58:18
2nd woman at 11 Miles To Paradise Trail in 76:13
With a solid year of training behind her again, it will be exciting to see what the baby-momma can do in 2013.
Just misisng the list were Dani Shahan of Bozeman, Holly Orell of Bozeman, Jessica Johnson of Bigfork and Michelle Bazanella of Butte.
Next Up will be the Open Men.