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Luke, Daniel, Craig, Thomas & Jeffrey...

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Today, Matt and Damon are looking at the 2022 resumes of our state's Grand Masters, i.e. men age 60-and-up, women age 55-and-up. They are looking for AG wins and records, understanding of course, that not all records are equal. A divisional record at older and typically more competitive races--Apple, Buffalo, Chisago, Maple Grove, for instance--are more "attention-grabbing" than at a small and/or younger race. Still, the smaller races sometime produce very fast AG times and Matt and Damon do not want to overlook or discount those efforts.

In needs to be mentioned that GM athletes are measured against some very high standards. World class age group athletes like TONY SCHILLER and JAN GUENTHER have garnered most of the GMOY titles recently, doing so on the heels of their talented predecessors --NEIL KING, GREG TAYLOR, BEN EWERS and PAM STEVENS

High standards, indeed.

Here, in alpha order, are some of the men that are currently in the GMOY nomination discussion: ...

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Jan, Beth, Christel, Pam, Amy & Cheryl...

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Who are the most nomination-worthy of Minnesota's female Grand Masters in 2022? Matt and Damon consider Jan, Beth, Christel, Pam, Amy and Cheryl to be the strongest candidates.

Here are their 2022 highlights:

JAN GUENTHER, 63, Long Lake - Winner of more MMHs than any other Minnesota triathlete, it came as no surprise that her 2022 regional resume was stellar. She set AG records at Timberman Olympic, where she placed 3rd overall in the women's race, and Buffalo, where she was the 7th woman to cross the finish line. She also placed 7th (AG win) at Lake Minnetonka, and she won her age group title at Ironman 70.3 Madison.

BETH HASSLER, 66, Andover / Eagle River, WI - Divisional wins at Timberman and Tri West, plus podiums at Olympic Nationals and Ironman 70.3 Madison are the kind of highlights that Matt and Damon are looking for.

CHRISTEL KIPPENHAN, 57, Bemidji - A prolific and successful racer, Christel posted AG records at Timberman Sprint, where she placed 3rd overall in the women's race, Buzz Ryan (4th woman overall) and Maple Grove Olympic (6th woman overall). Her 2nd at Northwoods and 6th at Buffalo Sprint were also fine performances....

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Josh, Brooks, Rod & Andy...

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Here are the Masters men (age 40-59) that Matt and Damon think are likely Master of the Year candidates, if offical nominations are actually announced this fall:

JOSH BLANKENHEIM, 42, Duluth - Blank won both of his Minnesota races --Timberman and Lakes Country--and finished in the bronze medal position in his AG at Olympic Nationals....

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Sara, Nicole, Kort, Catherine, Andrea & Elaine...

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In that there were only 34 adult outdoor tris and dus this season, Matt and Damon favor the "2 competitive performance" format instead of the usual three performance deal. This was especially helpful when trying to determine their nominees for female Master of the Year. Basing their recommendations on this adjusted format made this category much more competitive.

Here, in alpha order, are the women that, according to Matt and Damon, deserve to be considered for 2022 Female MOY nominations:

SARA CARLSON, 43, Brainerd

Sara raced twice (so far) in '22 and won both times. The races--Young LIfe Olympic and Lakes Country--did not feature deep fields, but Sara's times were strong and her margins of victory were wide.

NICOLE CUENO, 42,  Minneapolis (photo L)

Like Sara, Nicole raced twice (Turtleman Olympic and YWCA Women's Tri), winning convincingly in the first one, and placing 2nd behind Christina Roberts in the other. Not bad for someone who was returning to the sport of Triathlon after a six-year absence....

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Cami, Elena & Vanessa...

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If the MMH Committee decides to name nominees and winners this year, Matt and Damon will favor what they consider three slam-dunk candidates for Most Improved female triathlete. After having studied the resumes of at least a dozen athletes, these are the trio, in alpha order, that they recommend most highly:

CAMI ECKHOFF, 35, Detroit Lakes (photo below) - Runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2021, Cami's speed and competitiveness improved dramatically this season. Her course record win at Alexandria, and her victory at Young Life Sprint are good example of those things. She placed 2nd overall at both races. Granted, those are not super competitive events, but she threw down the kind of fast times that established amateur elites would be proud of. At Alex, she lowered the women's course record by 4:23.

But it was her 2nd place performance at Square Lake Half that sealed the deal for her. Arguably the most challenging 70.3 in our region, she posted a 4:54:16, and sub-5s are rare on that course. The time bettered her personal best at the distance by 16-minutes....

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