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2023 Triathlete of the Year...Possible Nominees...

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By Goose

2023 Minnesota Multisport Honors - Today we are in the name-dropping phase to determine the nominations for 2023 Triathlete of the Year, that is, as far as men are concerned. The women, on the other hand have several worthy athletes, but only three women who meet all the criteria, thus they are automatic nominees. They raced often enough and with results that are comparable to the highest performance standards of their female predecessors.

The men are a different story. Below are some of the guys being considered for TOY nominations:

Men:

NOAH BILLINGS, 17, Rochester - A pair of outright wins and one overall course record are what grab our attention. His resume has a downside, though. The 2022 Junior of the Year, who is likely to repeat this year, races typically in sprint races, which rarely draw Team Minnesota-quality athletes, so it's hard to measure where he belongs in the amateur elite hierarchy. Like Kyle Swenson, he'll take his place among our region's best, though not until next year. We encourage him to race at Olympic events like Buffalo and Maple Grove. ...

TIMOTHY BONTRAGER, 31, Minneapolis - Tim didn''t win races and set course records, but he rocked three podiums in VERY competitive events. I believe he has proven in 2023 that he can bark with the big dogs.

SEAN COOLEY, 38, Stillwater - A dedicated and successful cyclist on all tire widths, Sean's post pandemic return to triathlon showed that he is capable of TOY results, though his overall tri resume does not match up with his pre-2019 scorecards. Very understandable. Of his three wins this year, his 1:58 at Trinona Olympic truly shines.

BROOKS GROSSINGER, 46, Mayer - Brooks is so consistent: two wins and two other podiums. Like Billings, though, he favors sprints, and though the competition is limited, his times are very solid.

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AJ MANNING, 35, Fargo, ND - If we declare AJ an honorary Minnesotan, i.e. one who does not have to race a minimum of three times on Minnesota water and soil, then he might be a candidate for a nomination here. His 70.3 results at Tulsa, Des Moines and especially Madison were very solid, and his lone MN race--Buzz Ryan--produced a course record. Gotta help me here, Mav!

SPENCER SYVERTSON, 27, Alexandria - A sweet two win, plus two other podium season, but race selection is the issue. It may be his fast 2nd behind underraced Josh Blankenheim at Lakes Country that was his finest effort of 2002.

PETER WIKMAN, 29, St. Louis Park (top photo) - Pete deserves serious consideration here. His Clearwater win was faster than his prior victory on that course, and his 2nds at Buffalo (behind Eric Engel) and Trinona (Behind Cooley) were noteworthy.

PRESTON YOUNGDAHL, 33, Plymouth - The 2022 TOY was undefeated in four starts in MN races. His record-setting amateur win at Maple Grove Olympic may well be the Performance of the Year by a MN man.

 

Women:

ELENA HENGEL, 27, Wayzata - Slam dunk nominee. Fast win at Buffalo Sprint and three runner-up efforts behind world class Heather Lendway. Enough said.

CARYN HERRICK, 33, St. Louis Park - Highlights are three wins and two seconds, including two POY-worthy  efforts. Love her versatility.

HEATHER LENDWAY, 39, St. Paul (photo) - Five for five in regional competition, like Youngdahl, she simply doesn't lose.

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