February 2018 Athletes of the Month


MENDOTA HEIGHTS - The Big Ten Championships and the MIAC Championships, two meets that involve a large portion of track & field athletes in Minnesota and two meets that give athletes a chance to have their best performances of the season. This past month, two of those performances stuck out in each of those meets. On the women’s side, the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher women’s track & field team, ranked No. 10 at the time, captured the Big Ten Conference Track & Field Championship team title on February 24th, earning them the honor of USATF Minnesota’s Women’s Athletes of the Month. For the men, Lucas Mueller, a freshman at Carleton College, put on one of best performances in the history of the MIAC Championships by scoring 28 individual points plus a team victory in the distance medley relay - giving him USATF Minnesota’s Men’s February Athlete of the Month award.

The Golden Gopher Women’s Team won the program’s fourth indoor and sixth overall Big Ten Conference Track & Field Championship on February 24th in Geneva, Ohio. Led by Kaitlyn Long’s weight throw, as well as runner-up finishes in the 600m by Titania Markland, the mile by Madeline Strandemo, and the pole vault by Karlie Place, the Golden Gophers scored 91.50 points in the team race for a convincing team victory, defeating team runner-up Purdue by 11.50 points.

This year’s title was the program’s first indoors since their three consecutive victories from 2007-09, and their first Big Ten title overall (including outdoors) since they tied for 1st with the University of Michigan Wolverines in 2016.

Carleton College freshman Lucas Mueller, originally from Saint Paul and a graduate of Nova Classical Academy, had a very successful first MIAC Indoor Track & Field Championship meet starting with a strong 2nd place finish in the 5,000m race in 14:58.37 as well as a team victory in the Distance Medley Relay race, with Mueller taking the 1600m leg, on Friday night, followed by individual championships in the 1,000m (2:29.73) and 3,000m (8:35.65) on Saturday. Mueller contributed a whopping 38 points to his team’s point total and racked up four All-MIAC awards, as well as the Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet award.

This past fall in the cross-country season, Mueller was also 3rd in the MIAC Championships, 19th in the NCAA Central Region Championships, and 120th at the NCAA DIII National Championships. As a multiple time All-State honoree in high school, Mueller has certainly made a smooth transition to the collegiate ranks thus far.

Congratulations to Lucas and the Golden Gopher Women, and good luck the rest of the season!

Honorable Mention Worthy Performances in February
·         Ryan Lockard, a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher from Apple Valley, Minnesota, finished as the runner-up in the high jump at the 2018 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships on February 23-24 with a clearance of 2.16 meters (7-01.00 ft.).
·         Obsa Ali, another University of Minnesota Golden Gopher from Richfield, finished 6th in the 3,000m at the Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships with a time of 8:16.91.
·         Gophers 4x400m Relay Team, which consisted of Jackson Wellenstein, Jonathan Webb, Matthew Baker, and Ben Psicihulis, finished in 4th place with a time of 3:05.52 at the Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships, making them the second fastest 4x400 team of all-time at the University of Minnesota.
·         Matt Welch, current University of Portland Pilot and Proctor, Minnesota native, finished 3rd in the 5,000m in 13:59.76 and 13th in the 3,000m in 8:05.49 at the MPSF Indoor Conference Championships on February 23-24.
·         Bethany Hasz, current University of Minnesota Golden Gopher from Alexandria, Minnesota, broke the Gophers Women’s indoor 3,000m school record with her 9:13.95 Performance at the Iowa State Classic on February 9-10.
·         Madeline Strandemo, another current University of Minnesota Golden Gopher, finished 2nd in the mile with a time of 4:46.77 at the Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships.
·         Maggie Ewen, current Arizona State University Sun Devil, won both the shot put and the weight throw at the MPSF Indoor Track & Field Championships with throws of 18.98m and 21.72m respectively. At the end of the month of February, Ewen was also #1 in the world in the shot put (she is currently 3rd). 
We welcome your nominations!
To nominate an athlete for USATF Minnesota’s Athlete of the Month award, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to maxwellkuzara@gmail.com with the subject line “Athlete of the Month Nomination”.

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Maxwell Kuzara
Athlete of the Month Committee Chair
Communications & Media Director
USA Track & Field Minnesota