Matt's Picks...


(Re-Post from October 2022) - Matt and Damon have been busy discussing nominees and winners for this year's unofficial Minnesota Multisport Honors. To do this, they have evaluated the resumes of dozens of Minnesota's top multisport athletes. Athletes are considered on the basis of their overall race resume, not who is perceived to be better than who. By doing this, MTN aims to applaud well-deserving nominees and winners, and to show that Minnesota multisport athletes have some of the highest standards in the entire country. 

Earlier this week, Damon posted his unofficial picks for Minnesota Athletes of the Year. Here are Matt's picks for the winners in each category:

Triathlete of the Year
Preston Youngdahl and Heather Lendway - To Matt, these two are the clear favorites for this honor, although Preston did face a significant challenge from AJ Manning who, like Youngdahl, posted incredible results and times this season.

Performance of the Year
AJ Manning's Course Record at Green Lake Olympic and Heather Lendway's Course Record at Maple Grove Olympic - Like Damon noted, Heather's Maple Grove effort was perhaps the best amateur female Olympic distance performance to ever take...

place in Minnesota. Green Lake's Olympic course features a short swim, 22 mile bike, and 6 mile run. Nonetheless, AJ's bike-run combo of 26+ mph into 5:30 miles earned him this honor in Matt's mind. M & D may have to debate this result and Preston Youngdahl's course record at Clearwater Olympic further.

Most Improved
Stuart Gildea and Elena Hengel - Matt favored Stuart for this honor, and the rationale was posted on MTN when Matt and Damon made their cases for Gildea vs Andrew Kershaw.  When debating the resumes of Cami Eckhoff and Elena Hangel, Matt originally favored Cami, but now gives a very slight edge to Elena because Cami was more established after her 2021 Rookie of the Year runner-up season, whereas Elena was not competitive last year but truly was in 2022. 


Master of the Year
Andy Zabel (photo R) and Elaine Nelson - Matt agrees with Damon that these two will most likely be slam-dunk winners if official winners are posted.

Grand Master of the Year
Jeffrey Warshaw and Jan Guenther - Matt mirrors Damon's opinion that Jeffrey is the clear frontrunner in this category, and that the race between Jan and Cheryl Zitur is close. Jan's versatility from sprint to half-iron distances gives her an edge in Matt's mind.

Junior of the Year
Noah Billings (top photo) and Grace Busch - Noah had little competition this year, but still produced historically fast junior results. The female Junior of the Year is probably the most closely contested category for this year's MMHs. Matt initially, and still, favors Grace Busch over Bella Buenting, whereas Damon initially favored Bella and now favors Grace. However, don't be surprised if debate between Matt and Damon ensues and Bella ends up winning if official honors are revealed. As of now, Matt's opinion is that Bella has a higher ceiling of potential than Grace, but Grace showcased her speed and strength against established Minnesota athletes across a variety of distances more than Bella did. Remember, the MMHs are awarded based on overall season resume, not who is perceived to be better.