May and June Athletes of the Month

May 2018
Eric Holst of St. Thomas University, originally from Lanesboro, Minnesota, won a NCAA Division III national championship in the hammer throw May 24-25 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin with a throw of 211-4, which is now the ninth best throw in Division III history, giving him the title of USATF Minnesota’s May Men’s Athlete of the Month. Holst never qualified for the Minnesota state track meet in high school and has ironically never won an MIAC Conference title, finishing 2nd in the hammer throw to Eric Dols of Hamline this past spring, but he didn’t let that stop him as he finished as the only competitor in the 20-man field at Nationals to cross the 200 feet barrier in competition. To put his performance in perspective, Holst’s 211-4 throw also ranks him in the top 40 this year among all three NCAA Divisions and would rank as the fifth best throw in the Big Ten Conference this season. 
Macalester College’s Phoebe Aguiar had a stellar finish to her season by claiming 2nd at the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships with a time of 2:07.22, a Macalester school record and the now 10th fastest time ever run at the NCAA Division III level in the 800 meters, giving her the honor of USATF Minnesota’s May Women’s Athlete of the Month. Chasing DIII superstar Emily Richards of Ohio Northern, Aguiar passed Annalise Wagner of Washington University on the final homestretch to secure her runner-up finish. Aguiar also won the MIAC Conference 800m title earlier in the month of May with a time of 2:12.46.

June 2018
Minnesotan track & field and Golden Gophers fans rejoiced when on June 8th, Obsa Ali, originally from Richfield, Minnesota, won the national title in the 3000m Steeplechase at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, the last meet held at the Historic Hayward Field before the stadium began the start of a total overhaul and re-design.  Ali became just the 14th national champion in the history of the Golden Gopher’s Men’s Track & Field program with a time of 8:32.23, after only beginning to run the steeplechase event a little over a year ago, earning him the title of USATF Minnesota’s June Men’s Athlete of the Month. Earlier this season, Ali broke Don Timm’s 47-year-old steeplechase school record, which he reset with this performance in Eugene. 
Grace and Lauren Ping, sisters two-years apart (Grace in 9th grade and Lauren in 7th grade this Spring) from Winona Cotter High School, dominated the Class A distance races at this spring’s Minnesota State Track & Field meet from June 8th-9th, earning them both the shared title of USATF Minnesota’s June Women’s Athlete of the Month. On Friday night (June 8th), Lauren captured the 3200m state title, with Grace finishing in 3rd place close behind her, in times of 10:29.77 and 10:38.96 respectively, and then on Saturday, Grace claimed the state title in the 1600m with Lauren finishing less than a second behind her in 2nd place, with times of 4:57.86 and 4:58.25. The Ping sisters are definitely making a name for themselves in Minnesota and nationwide, and it will be exciting to see what they do this fall in cross country and the rest of their high school careers.

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 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