Race Coverage

Damon's Picks...

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The MMH Committee did not convene this season, thus there are no official Minnesota Multisport Honorees. Still, two members of that committee, Matt and Damon, studied the 2022 resumes of Minnesota triathletes and came up with their respective nominees and winners.

Today's post features Damon's picks, which are based on an athlete having at least three impressive performance  last season.  Matt's picks will post on Sunday.

Damon's unofficial Minnesota Athletes of the Year:

- TRIATHLETE OF THE YEAR - PRESTON YOUNGDAHL (photo) and HEATHER LENDWAY

Male Nominees: Aj Manning, Andy Zabel

Female Nominee: Maggie Swanson

COMMENT: Heather was a slam-dunk, of course. What separated Preston, winner of four of the six races he entered in 2022, from AJ for Damon was "race selection." He outraced more recognized regional stars this year than did Manning. Still it was a very tight race for male TOY.

- PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - PRESTON YOUNGDAHL's Course Record at Clearwater Olympic

                                                      HEATHER LENDWAY's Course Record @ Maple Grove Olympic (arguably the best Olympic performance ever on Minnesota soil by an amateur female.)

Male Nominees: AJ Manning's Course Record at Green Lake Olympic; Henry Jesson's 7th place overall finish at Olympic Nationals; Preston Youngdahl's amateur win (1:54:51) at Maple Grove Olympic; David Koppel's amateur win at Tri West Olympic.

Female Nominees: Maggie Swanson's Victory at Ironman Wisconsin;  Heather Lendway's Course Record at Hopkins Royal; Heather Lendway's victory at Timberman Olympic.

COMMENT: Once again, HL's Maple Grove (2:01!) was a slam-dunk selection. And once, again, Preston's POY was seriously challenged by AJ's course record at Green Lake. Both were phenomenal efforts. That Youngdahl outraced Manning, who also beat the prior course record, at Clearwater, gave the advantage to Preston.

- MOST IMPROVED - STUART GILDEA and CAMI ECKHOFF

Male Nominee: Andrew Kershaw

Female Nominees: Elena Hengel, Grace Busch

COMMENT: For Damon, Elena's improvement exceeded expectations, but so did Cami's. Both women showed speed and competitiveness in Sprint races, but Cami demonstrated speed and competitiveness at Olympic and 70.3, as well. Based on demonstrated versatility, Damon believes that Cami best deserves the WMI. As for the Stuart v. Andrew competition, Damon liked Stuart's race selection (He raced more often against deeper fields), and his vastly improved Olympic-distance speed (1:55:19 in 2022; 2:02:06 prior) and that he outraced Kershaw at Maple Grove.

- MASTER OF THE YEAR - ANDY ZABEL and ELAINE NELSON (photo R)

Male Nominees: Brooks Grossinger, Josh Blankenheim

Female Nominee: Catherine Leeelainecorral.jpg

COMMENT:  For Damon, Andy and Elaine were slam-dunk selections. Andy's win at Hopkins was arguably the premier performance by a Minnesota Master in 2022. Elaine's fast win (2:01) at abbreviated Brewhouse Olympic was, for Damon, the female Master POY in 2022.

- GRAND MASTER OF THE YEAR - JEFFREY WARSHAW and JAN GUENTHER

Male Nominee: Luke Harned, Greg Peterson, Daniel Kirk

Female Nominees: Cheryl Zitur, Amy Woolsey, Beth Hassler, Christel Kippenhan

COMMENT:  With FAST divsional victories at Buffalo Olympic, Steelhead 70.3, Tri West Olympic, Chisago 70.3 (AGR) and a divisional bronze at St.George Ironman Worlds, Jeffrey was a slam-dunk. Jan, however, recieved stiff competition in a super-talented category from Cheryl Zitur. Both women rocked socks in '22. In the end, for Damon, the fact that Jan excelled in Sprint, Olympic and half IM, setting two AG records plus a divisional win at Madison 70.3, gave her the slight edge over Zitur, whose resume is Sprint-heavy.

- JUNIOR OF THE YEAR - NOAH BILLINGS and GRACE BUSCH

Female Nominee: Bella Buenting

COMMENT:  Noah had no peers in 2022. Three overall wins; four Junior records. Slam-dunk. On the other hand, the battle for female JOY was the hardest category to determine. Damon favored Bella Buenting one day; the next he favored Grace Busch. That Bella's resume wasn't appreciably superior to her 2021 and 2019 scorecards, and Grace's was, was not enough to convince Damon that she (Grace) deserved the JOY, until he factored her Course Record at Maple Grove Sprint, where she outraced a past champion and at least one Team MInnesota member.

 

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