Awesome in Annandale...

HOLT(Photo - HOLT's women's podium - Nicole, Diane and Jan.)

Heart of the Lakes XXVIII Coverage - The Minnesota Multisport Awards Selection Committee has kept close eyes on the unfolding 2013 season. Many of the award categories are coming into focus and last Sunday's wonderful Heart of the Lakes Triathlon, aka The Minnesota State Triathlon Championships, revealed many of the potential nominees and even a few frontrunners.

Though pros are ineligible for nomination, we would be remiss if we glossed over David Thompson's win in Annandale. Leading from horn to mat, albeit with eventual amateur winner Marcus-Freakin'-Stromberg in his rearview during the early going, David managed to dip under the magical 1:30 (1:29:29) mark in the Long Course event, which at .5-21-5.3 falls within the "International Distance"...

parameters. The last time the 90-minue mark was cracked here was in 2009, when DKT set the course record--1:25:26, which could stand for many more years. FYI, this was David's 4th win at HOLT.

As for Marcus-Freakin'-Stromberg, his 1:31:54 was a PR on this course. His "State Champion" amateur win here may have sealed a Triathlete of the Year nomination for the amiable Buffalo-ian.pam

The men's podium was rounded out by five-time HOLT champion Brian Bich (1:34:33), who has eased back on his racing volume over the last two seasons in order to be an even larger presence in his sons' lives. His oldest boy Nate will leave for college in four years and Brian is starting to miss him in advance. Parental love is a sweet, beautiful thing, isn't it? We admire the example he is setting.

FYI, with virtually no prior tri training, Nate Bich, 14 and already 5'11 and looks more like his dad than his mom but you can see some of her in him, too, rocked a 3rd place finish in the 19U AG in the Sprint race. He had an awesome bike split. There might be something to this genetic stuff.

By far the most impressive performance in the men's LC race was turned in by 10-time champ Tony Schiller, who is now 55. He placed 4th overall in 1:36:05! There's no age grading system that can make sense of this. An elite performance for a guy his age should, according to various recommended formulas, put him 12-17% behind the race winner. His time was only 7% slower than David's. Whoa! In races shorter than a half IM, we're convinced that TS is the fastest 55-59er in, dare we say, the World.

Yes, Tony is a veritable shoo-in for a Master of the Year nomination, where he'll likely be considered alongside Kevin O'Connor and Greg Taylor, who have also been brilliant this year. There's still room for 1-2 more nominees to emerge in this category.

On the women's side, Jan Guenther, 54, demonstrated that she may be the premier over-age-50 female triathlete in America. At worst, she would rank a close 2nd to Colorado's Ellen Hart, who, unlike Jan, races in several nationally and internationally prestigious races annually.

On Sunday, Jan, a nine-time HOLT winner, finished 2nd behind Diane Hankee, who may be the current frontrunner for the Most Improved award. Guenther has won more Minnesota MOY awards (10!) than anyone and her nomination for another seems to be, as they say, in the bag.

As for Diane, the win which required her to run down Rookie of the Year candidate Nicole Heininger in the first mile of the run, was her third victory of the season and 18th of her multisport career. Do you know Diane? She's a HOOT!

The remarkable Heininger ultimately finished 3rd, giving her another "major podium" finish. She was 2nd at Lake Waconia, a performance that earned her an automatic invitation to represent Team Minnesota at the 2014 Best of the US National Championship.

While Tony Schiller was axing 10 minutes from the 55-59 CR, Pam Stevens (photo) , who has set AG records in all four of the multis she's entered this season, lopped 16 minutes off the women's 60-64 race best. Pam is the clear frontrunner for 2013 Grand Master of the Year.

In the companion HOLT Sprint, Andy Zabel and Juli Currie collected their first career wins, which we think is totally cool, though it was not totally surprising. Both athletes have been impressive during the last two seasons. For Andy, HOLT was his second race of the weekend. On Saturday he placed 4th at Tri For a Cause.

We were elated to see Marta Lewinski, 2006 Minnesota Rookie of the Year who has since suffered from severe respiratory issues, back and racing hard. She finished third in the sprint with 2012 champ Karen Bebchuk placing 2nd. In 4th was 2012 Junior of the Year runner-up Jane Koch, who hasn't had the best of luck this season. Mechanical problems at Buffalo and an uncharacteristic effort at Minneapolis needed to be avenged. And they were. If Jane can do that voodoo that she do so well for the rest of the season, she just may earn another JOY nomination. We're pulling for her.

As always, HOLT organizers produced a tremendous event. There simply isn't a better multisport experience in our state than Heart of the Lakes. RESULTS

ED. Angie Hop has promised to submit a Paul Bunyan story and Tri For a Cause's Henry Praska is arranging for coverage for his event. Stay tuned for those.

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