Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finishing Off The Year With A Bang

The potential exists for some big performances by past and present Big Sky athletes.

On Saturday in Bend, Oregon will be the USATF Club Championships. 

On the men's side, Gardiner native John Ricardi will be competing as part of the Club Northwest team.  John's an accomplished runner - a grad of Idaho State and having competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the steeple chase.

For the women, there will be 4 women from Missoula taking part as members of the Mountain West Track Club.  In the master's women 6K, a team comprised of Courtney Babcock, Jenny Newton and Janicka Umile will be running to try to get on the podium.

In the open women's race, Megan Brooker will be representing the Big Sky.  This will be Meg's first national caliber event since undergoing treatment earlier this year for a brain tumor.  Hard to believe that she's come this far back since early summer; and, am excited to see how Saturday turns out for her.

The biggest race of the day may very well be the final HS race of the season.  Makena Morley of Bigfork will be competing at the Foot Locker National Championships.  Morley has only had one loss this year - that was at the NXN Northwest Regional meet.  At NXN she was beat by just 9 seconds by Alexa Efraimson - who went on to win NXN nationals last weekend.  Morley had a convincing win at Foot Locker West Regionals, won the MT Cup and had the fastest ever girls time at the MT High School XC championships in October. 

Good luck to all competing this weekend - we'll be watching proudly.

See you on the Roads, Tracks and Trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Fast, Fast, Fast @ CIM

A big performance by one of our own at last weekend's California International Marathon from Folsom to Sacramento, California.

Heather Lieberg of Helena had an incredible race.  Moving up throughout the run, she finished as the 8th woman in 2:39:55.  That's right - a sub-2:40 marathon.  Very, very impressive.  Outside of Debbie Raunig in her heyday (mid-80's) and Julie Brown (late 70's to mid 80's), I'm not sure that any other Montana woman has run a sub-2:40.  This time qualifies her for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon.  Way to go Heather.

Alan King of Billings also went to CIM.  He hit his first half at just under 1:12 (right on 2:24 to 2:25 goal pace).  But, he was hit with some cramping; and, ultimately he was pulled from the course due to hypothermia.  Tough day for Alan; but, he's clearly due to hit that fast marathon that he has inside of him.

The Muddy Buzzard

Late Season Racing Roundup

Some big happenings for Montana runners in late November and early December.

First up were the college cross country nationals:

At the Division 1 level, Heather Demorest led the way.  The MSU Senior and Darby HS alum finished 58th in the women's 6K race @ 20:56.6 - less than 1 minute behind the overall champion.

On the men's side, University of Colorado freshman (and 2013 Kalispell Flathead grad) Zach Perrin was the #6 man for the National Champion Buffalo squad.  Pretty elite company to be a true freshman, run in the national championships and be part of the championship team.

At the DII level, Chris Jessop represented the Big Sky.  A sophomore from Corvallis and a member of the University of Mary Squad (which is coached by Billings Skyview grad Dennis Newell), Jessop finished in 141st place, in 32:41 over the 10K course.

The biggest number of Montana competitors came at the NAIA level.  Alan King's Rocky Mountain men's squad finished 25th our of 32 scoring teams in the men's race.

The only male individual competing was Sancho Ridesatthedoor.  A senior from Carroll College (and Missoula Hellgate alum), he finished 54th overall in 25:31 for the 8K even.

For the women - the big performance of the day came from Leah Esposito.  A Helena High grad and Carroll College freshman, Leah ran 18:05 for 5K - good enough for 7th place out of 319 individual finishers.  Fantastic race for Leah!!!!!!

Also competing at the NAIA race on the women's side were Anna Richer (Senior, Rocky Mountain College, Billings Skyview HS); Nicole Brist (Sophomore, University of Great Falls, Whitefish HS); and, Megan Breeding (Senior, Rocky Mountain College, Idaho HS).

On the weekend of December 7th, the Nike Cross Country Nationals were held in Portland.  The Bozeman Girls team was invited to attend and had a very solid 10th place overall finish.

The only MT individual to qualify was Christina Aragon of Billings (Senior).  The AA XC champ, she had the best performance of all the MT girls, finishing  28th overall against some of the strongest High School XC competition in the country.

All in all, it was some great representation by Montanan's at the college and high school levels.  Doing the Big Sky Proud.

See you on the Roads, Tracks and Trails

The Muddy Buzzard