MTN's 2019 Wish List...Part I


Photo - Gaby Bunten working out with Leanda Cave.


By Warren Peece

Over the next several weeks we will be posting items from our 2019 “Wish List.” Here is our first of these stories.


We were disappointed when Gaby was not named AOY Honorable Mention in 2017. In our opinion, she was a slam dunk selection, but USAT opted to include Masters and Grand Masters among their overall AOY HMs, something they hadn't done since 2000. As a result, several deserving open class athletes—Gaby, Clay Emge, Jacqueline Godbe--were overlooked.

We certainly hope that USAT returns to their original format to determine this year's AOYs and HMs.

It probably seems odd that we want Bunten to win the national AOY award despite her being ranked a close 2nd for Minnesota's Triathlete of the Year. What needs to be understood is that our (MMA Committee) criteria differs from the Federation's. We concluded that Hannah Grinaker's total resume suggested that she was arguably the most talented amateur female triathlete in the US last year. She was brilliant in EVERY performance, turning in world class efforts at sprint, Olympic and half IM distances, plus posting what may have been the premier IM debut by an amateur American woman last year....


Gaby's wonderful 2018 scorecard fulfilled USAT's criteria, which focuses on “Big Stage” events (Nationals and Worlds especially), most if not all of which are sanctioned by the Federation or ITU. We respect and endorse this format.

If Gaby does in fact win the AOY award, it will be the second time USAT honors a Minnesota athlete who did not win a similar honor at home. In 2013, Jenn Scudiero fulfilled the criteria necessary for winning the National Duathlete of the Year award despite finishing behind Suzie Fox for our state's DOY. Jenn's resume featured great volume and “Big Stage” success. Suzie and Jenn faced each other three times that year, though only once on a Big Stage (Apple). Fox won all of those races.

Still, we respect USAT's selection and were very happy for Jenn. She fulfilled their criteria admirably.

So, our fingers are crossed for Gaby. We're hoping that she becomes the third amateur female triathlete from Minnesota—with Cathy Yndestad (2009), and Heather Lendway (2014)--to take home the prestigious AOY.

Our next “Wish List” post will deal with rescuing cancelled races.

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