Coach Frank Schweizer and the boys 1974 Dowling State Champions

Our Saturday Segment For the Central Iowa Sports Network Featuring Frank Schweizer

Frank Schweizer by the tent of his alma mater "White Bear Lake in Minnesota

Frank Schweizer by the tent of his alma mater “White Bear Lake in Minnesota

We normally don’t post our segments for the Central Iowa Sports Network which air Saturday Mornings between 8am-9am on AM1350 ESPN Radio, bit we felt this show deserved an exception.

Feature Photo: Frank Schweizer and his 1974 Dowling Boys State Champion Cross Country Team

Frank Schweizer was the long time track and cross country coach at Dowling Catholic, he was an All-American for Mankato State as well as a member of the Hall of Fame both at Dowling and Mankato State.

But what makes Frank Schweizer even prouder these days is watching his champion grand kids Karissa Schweizer-Dowling Catholic-Mizzou, Ryan Schweizer-Dowling Catholic-Notre Dame and Kelsey Schweizer-Dowling Catholic.

We talked with Frank as he prepared to watch Ryan run the Adidas Dream Mile in Boston. (see link below)

Check out the show Saturday morning 8am-9am on AM1350 ESPN  For the Central Iowa Sports Network web site, Click Here!

Khanishah Williams-Burlington-Iowa
©Darren Miller

Hawks Williams Jumping Off Opposite Leg and Doing Just Fine

Khanishah Williams-Burlington-Iowa ©Darren Miller

Khanishah Williams-Burlington-Iowa
©Darren Miller

Khanishah Williams-Burlington-Iowa had every reason to walk away last summer.

She has a degree from the University of Iowa. She has a Big Ten title. And she has a bad knee.

Many have walked away with less, but Williams wanted more.

The summer after winning the 2014 Big Ten high jump championship, Williams had surgery to repair her left knee. It was her dominant leg; the one that won her both Iowa high school and Big Ten Conference championships. But after years of service it needed medical attention.

By Chris Brewer, Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics Click Here!

The surgery cost Williams her senior season. She could have called it a career, but instead she saw an opportunity: If she could not jump from the left leg, she would learn to jump from the right.
“I could have walked away,” Williams said. “It was either give it all up and rest my knee, or keep going and practice the other side and see what I can do.”

For seven years Williams had attacked the high jump with a right-side approach and exploded with her left leg, but that changed when Iowa assistant coach Molly Jones joined the staff in 2013.

Jones implemented a training regimen that included jumps from each leg. It was an uncomfortable move then, but it looks prophetic today.

“When Molly first came here we would practice both sides,” Williams said. “I think testing it out and seeing that helped a little bit because I actually got to practice the other side.”

Last season, while Williams redshirted and rehabbed her left knee, she continued training on her right. She did not compete at all during the indoor season, and entered three outdoor events, winning the Kip Janvrin Open with a season-best mark of 5-6 ½ (1.69m).

It was a solid mark considering the circumstances, and to Jones’ delight, the experience reaffirmed Williams’ commitment to the new approach.

“We met at the beginning of this year and I thought I may have to convince her, but she had already made up her mind that she wanted to stick with the right,” Jones said. “She saw progress and potential.”

It took Williams some getting used to, and there was a time she thought about returning to her dominant leg, but today she doesn’t consider it a possibility.

“I feel good every time I jump. I’ve seen video and I’m over the bar higher each time,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m going to get higher every time I go to each meet.”

In her first official competition since the surgery, Williams placed second at the Border Battle with a mark of 1.60 meters. She followed that performance with a pair of first place finishes at the Iowa Duals (1.73 meters) and Big 4 Duals (1.75 meters), improving her season-best each time.

“I set goals every time I go to a meet,” Williams said. “Either set a new PR or hit something a little higher than I’ve already jumped. Each PR makes you feel good.”

Williams’ career-best 5-11 1/4 (1.81 meters) ranks third in school history. She hit that mark with her left leg in 2013. Her personal best this year, jumping from her right leg, would rank fifth on Iowa’s all-time top performers list. Today her mark ranks 12th in the Big Ten, but if she hits her final goal, she could contend for another conference title.

“I want to keep pushing out what I can do,” Williams said. “I want to get over that six-foot mark. I jumped 5-11 in high school and college. I’ve always been right there. The six-foot mark is personal. That’s the goal.”

Jasmine Stabler-Clayton Ridge-ISU
©Luke Lu

New Comers Shine For the Cyclones

Jasmine Stabler-Clayton Ridge-ISU ©Luke Lu

Jasmine Stabler-Clayton Ridge-ISU
©Luke Lu

The Iowa State track and field team put up some impressive performances Friday at the Holiday Inn Invitational, hosted by Nebraska. The day saw the Cyclones pick up their first event win of 2016, and saw some great performances by both the ISU women and men.

The first event win of the Iowa State indoor track and field season came from freshman Jasmine Stabler-Clayton Ridge. The Guttenberg, Iowa native led a 1-2-4 effort by the Cyclones in the 1,000-meter run, crossing the line in 2:52.67. She was not far from breaking into ISU’s all-time top-10 for the event, with the cutoff being 2:52.05. Right behind her were fellow freshmen Erinn Stenman-Fahey (second, 2:45.25) and Grace Gibbons-Gilbert (fourth, 2:58.88).

The Cyclones’ women’s distance runners were at it again in the mile, as the Cyclones racked up a 2-3-4-5 finish. Leading that was Maryn Lowry, with the junior taking second in 5:01.13, and she had fellow ISUers Maddie Nagle (third, 5:01.36) and Anne Frisbie (fourth, 5:01.70) with her at the finish line. Freshman Kelly Naumann was not too far back, taking fifth in 5:04.44.

On the men’s side, Taylor Sanderson-Bondurant-Farrar competed in the long jump, and put up a performance that will certainly help his efforts in the heptathlon later in the indoor season. Sanderson took third, recording an indoor personal best in the long jump of 23-4 1/2.

Elijah Young-DSM Lincoln put up a nice season-opening showing in the men’s 60-meter hurdles qualifying round, taking sixth place in 8.34 to advance to tomorrow’s prelims. Freshman Davis Eldridge also made it out of the 60-meter dash qualifiers, taking 23rd in 8.83.

Up Next
Iowa State returns to the track tomorrow at noon for the second and final day of the Holiday Inn Invitational. Events begin at noon in Lincoln.

Iowa State Results
60-meter hurdles qualifying (W): 1. Sharika Nelvis, Axis Athletics – 8.39; 30. Emma Whigham-Pleasent Valley- Iowa State – 9.90.
60-meter hurdles qualifying (M): 1. Antoine Lloyd, Nebraska – 7.95; 6. Elijah Young, Iowa State – 8.34; 23. Davis Eldridge, Iowa State – 8.83; 25. Trey Achterhoff-Orange City-Iowa State – 8.96.
60-meter dash qualifying (W): 1. Schillonie Calvert, Axis Athletics – 7.30; 30. Lucy Schneekloth-Cedar Rapids Jefferson-Iowa State – 8.23.
800-meter run (W): 1. Cammy Sargent, Northern Colorado – 2:13.55; 5. Jackie Feist, Iowa State – 2:17.19.
1,000-meter run (W): 1. Jasmine Staebler, Iowa State – 2:52.67; 2. Erinn Stenman-Fahey, Iowa State – 2:54.25; 4. Grace Gibbons, Iowa State – 2:58.88.
Mile run (W): 1. Emma Huston-DM Roosevelt-Drake – 4:55.69; 2. Maryn Lowry, Iowa State – 5:01.13; 3. Maddie Nagle, Iowa State – 5:01.36; 4. Anne Frisbie, Iowa State – 5:01.70; 5. Kelly Naumann, Iowa State – 5:04.44.
Long Jump (M): 1. Nikita Pankins, Nebraska – 24-0 1/4; 3. Taylor Sanderson-Bondurant-Farrar-Iowa State – 23-4 1/2.


New Years Resolutions of Iowa’s Athletes, Coaches and Friends



Shayla Houlihan-SC East/UNI -Brooks-Asst coach at Cal Berkley: I have a few of them but one that I will say out loud is: to stop and take in as many sunsets as I can. There are many days I drive home from work at sunset and I don’t stop to soak it all up.

Alex Gochenour. Logan Magnolia HS and U of Arkansas: I hadn’t out much thought into one… I guess if I had to have one it’d be to, enjoy and have fun every time I compete. Not over think every detail and let the season flow. And of course do my best to avoid yet another injury.

Thomas Pollard-Gilbert-Iowa St.: I’m working on going to bed earlier.

Ashley Miller-Tipton-Nebraska: My resolution is learn how to manage my new schedule to find time to train and continue to be a competitive road racer. I would love to break my half-marathon and road 5k PRs!

Alana Enabnit-Clear Lake-Warburg-California Baptist: I would like to continue to develop confidence through working on my weaknesses (i.e. speed, power and running mechanics). I also want to be a teammate that helps bring others to new levels.

Rebekah Topham-Griswald-Wichita St.: to PR in the mile (under 4:48),  to be all-conference again and also all-region in XC maybe making nationals?

Mike Jay-Next Level Iowa-Voice of the Drake Relays: I want to be more relevant to those I know and love, and those I have not met yet. I feel I touched many lives in 26 years of coaching. I miss that. I want people to know that I am there for them and will help in any way I can.

Chase Madison-Iowa St., Kentucky-Pro Thrower: I strive to say “thank you” on a more frequent basis, most especially by writing actual thank you notes. I would also like to continue my efforts to read more.

Crystal Nelson- Iowa St.:  I’m not able to run until March due to a heart condition so I want to do whatever I can in the meantime to help my team. That means being patient while my heart heals, staying positive, and motivating my teammates on the sidelines through workouts, races, etc.

Dave Paulsen-UNI Head Coach:  My New Years resolution is to be less distracted. It’s easy in today’s world of constantly being accessible to get caught up in always being “on.” You need to find balance and make sure you don’t miss what’s going on right in front of you.

Tyler Mulder-Unity ChristianUNI-NCAA Champion at UNI. Sub 4:00 miler, one of USA’s top 800M runners:  It would be to do the small things right from stretching to core, and making sure I leave everything on the table to make the Olympic team!

Zach Baker-Eddyville Blacksburg-Iowa, one of Iowa’s road racer, now training in Kenya: I hope to spend more time with family in 2016. I’m also going to strive for lots of PRs!

Layne Anderson-Head Coach Iowa: I resolve to explore new and creative ways to maximize each and every athlete in my programs training and competitive opportunities….

Betsy Saina-Iowa St.-Nike:Bowerman Track Club:  Stay consistent in my races and to trust my coach!

Chandler Austin-Boone-Boise St.:  I just want to be consistent and stay away from injuries.

Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake: – Top 25 at Marathon Olympic Trials; Sub 28:30 10k; Compete in road races over the summer;find a new hobby that doesn’t hurt as much.

Jim Kirby-Next Level Iowa: To help make our efforts at the Next Level Iowa give our awesome athletes and coaches the coverage and credit they deserve.


MonTaya Holder- Iowa-Bettendorf
©Darren Miller

Mallet and Holder Set to Lead Hawks in 2016

Hawkeyes 2016 track and Field Outlook

By JORDAN BUCHER (original post Click Here!, feature image ©Darren Miller)

Aaron Mallett-Iowa ©Jim Kirby

Aaron Mallett-Iowa
©Jim Kirby


The indoor track and field season serves a dual purpose for the University of Iowa hurdles group in 2016.

The men return two-time All-American and Big Ten Outdoor champion Aaron Mallett in the 60- (indoor) and 110-meter hurdles (outdoor), along with All-American Mitch Wolff (400-meter hurdles).

Sophomore Jahisha Thomas (60-meter hurdles) and senior MonTayla Holder (400-meter hurdles) headline the women’s group.
Both sides have the talent to win today, but they train indoors with one eye on tomorrow. And that means building endurance for the outdoor season.

“I’ve learned over the years that a lot of (outdoor) 400-meter hurdlers train at longer distances like the 600 and 800,” Holder said. “I like to over-train because the 800 is one of the hardest races in track and it prepares you for the 400-meter hurdles, which is a hard and technical race. The transition goes hand-in-hand.”

Holder is no stranger to indoor success — she ranks among the school’s all-time leaders in the 600 and 800 meters. However, the Indianapolis native still identifies as a 400-meter hurdler, having finished fourth at last year’s Big Ten Championships.

Wolff closed the 2015 campaign with second-team All-America honors and a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, and he’s opening his final season surrounded by resources he believes will push him to the next level.

“We are starting this season in better shape than we ever have,” Wolff said. “I have a strong group of teammates — including some talented freshmen — that push me harder than I’ve ever been pushed before. The competition is right here in my own group.”

The head of the class belongs to Mallett, who was Big Ten runner-up in the indoor 60-meter hurdles in February, and Big Ten champion in the outdoor 110-meter hurdles in May, downing the school record with a collegiate-best 13.40.

“His goal is to win the national championship,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “Right there you have an athlete who’s leading the program. You can see that burning desire to win in his eyes. He’s putting the work in and setting himself up for a big success.”

For the women, Thomas returns as the team’s top 60-meter hurdler, owning a collegiate-best 8.60, which ties for seventh all-time at Iowa.

“This is the first season I’m coaching Jahisha and MonTayla in the hurdles,” Woody said. “Jahisha has been to the first round of nationals in the long jump so our goal is to get to the national meet in the hurdles as well.

“For MonTayla, we want to send her out on a high note. Her training is going fantastic right now.”

The new coaching system will take some getting used to for Holder, who trained under coach Clive Roberts for three years.

“It was a scary switch, especially going from something you knew so well,” Holder said. “I could read coach Roberts like the back of my hand. I didn’t know how my body would react to Woody’s training, but he has all the knowledge in the world about this event; he did it professionally for 10 years. We’re both learning together, but now I’m in a good place and I’m excited for where this season will go.”

To be continued….

The Hawkeyes open the regular season Jan. 9 at the Border Battle in Champaign, Illinois.

Gary Wilson-Minnesota
©Golden Gophers 2018

Coach Gary Wilson Inducted Into Hall of Fame

Coach Gary Wilson-Minnesota ©Jim Kirby

Coach Gary Wilson-Minnesota
©Jim Kirby

Our long time friend, Gary Wilson recently received a well deserved honor. 

Long-time Gopher women’s cross country head coach and current Roy Griak Invitational executive director Gary Wilson is among six coaches who have been selected for induction to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Coaches Hall of Fame.

Wilson, who retired from coaching in the spring of 2013 after 28 years as Minnesota’s head coach, joins Jim Bibbs, Barbara Crousen, Bob Lewis, Billy Maxwell and Don Strametz to make up the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame Class of 2015. They will be honored for not only their incredible and historic accomplishments as track & field and cross country coaches, but also the long-lasting impact their contributions have had and will continue to have on the sport.

These six will be honored at the 2015 USTFCCCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Tuesday, December 15, at the USTFCCCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Started in 1995, the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame exists to recognize coaches who have brought great distinction to themselves, to their institutions and to the sports of cross country & track & field. Each of the honorees exemplifies the qualities of dedication to the sport, leadership and passion for their profession that serve as an inspiration to coaches everywhere in the sport.

About Wilson’s Coaching Career

For nearly four decades, Gary Wilson was a fixture on the Midwest track & field and cross country scene and a nationally successful coach at both the NCAA Division I and Division III levels, whose influence on the sport remains visible long beyond his 2013 retirement.

Four times a national champion while coaching at UW-La Crosse from 1977 through 1985, Wilson spent nearly three decades building a perennial national contending program at Minnesota until retiring in 2013. It was there he co-founded the Roy Griak Invitational, which has become one of the premier cross country invitationals in the country at both the high school and college levels.

While at UW-La Crosse, he guided both the women’s cross country and men’s track & field programs throughout his entire tenure, in addition to taking over the women’s track & field squad in the early 80s. Once under his tutelage, the women’s track & field squad went on to win three consecutive national titles. They claimed the final AIAW Division III title, followed by a pair of NCAA Division III titles in 1983 and 1984.
His women’s cross country teams in La Crosse reached similar heights, including a stretch from 1982 through 1984 during which the Eagles were runners-up, national champions, and runners-up.

By the time his run in La Crosse came to an end in 1985, Wilson had coached the Eagles to a combined 21 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference titles, and would 12 years later be inducted into the school’s athletics Hall of Fame.

His tenure at Minnesota would begin that same year and last all the way through 2013. Wilson helmed the women’s cross country program for the duration of his career as a Gopher, and guided the women’s track & field program through 2006, after which he took on an assistant coaching role.

His Golden Gophers made 15 appearances at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships as a team, highlighted by a program-best ninth-place finish in 2005. That showing kickstarted a five-year streak of top-12 national team finishes, which included three consecutive Midwest Region titles from 2007-09 and a pair of Big Ten crowns in 2007 and 2008.

The 2005-2006 academic year was a good one for Wilson and his Minnesota women. In what would turn out to be his final season as the head track & field coach, he guided the Golden Gophers to their first-ever Big Ten Outdoor Championships team title and coached Heather Dorniden to the NCAA Division I Indoor 800 meters title – the first individual crown in program history. Dorniden’s title propelled Minnesota to a 12th-place national team finish for the best showing in program history.

Following that outdoor Big Ten title, his athletes scored a then school-record 14 points at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for a 19th-place finish – just one spot shy of the program bests to which Wilson guided the team in 1990 and 1991. That marked the 14th season in which Wilson’s teams scored at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

By the end of his run as the cross country coach following the 2012 season his athletes had earned nine All-America honors, won a Big Ten individual crown and finished top-five in the conference 23 times.

He served as the president of the Women’s Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association in 1994 and 1995, and was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 1997. Wilson is also an inductee of the University of Minnesota “M” Club and UW-La Crosse Halls of Fame, as well as a recipient of the U of M President’s Award for Service.

Drake Women's Cross Country 2015
©Doug Wells

Huston Leads Bulldogs at the Oz

Emma Huston-DM Roosevelt-Drake ©Doug Wells

Emma Huston-DM Roosevelt-Drake
©Doug Wells

The Drake University cross country teams recorded three top-five finishes on Friday evening at the annual Oz Memorial hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.

The men’s team finished third in the team standings with junior Reed Fischer (Minnetonka, Minn.) and senior Rob McCann (Mississauga, Ontario) finishing second and third overall, respectively. Fischer recorded a six-kilometer time of 18:50.9 while McCann came in at 19:01.0. South Dakota State’s Trent Lusignan won the race in 18:40.6

Senior Emma Huston (Des Moines, Iowa) led the women’s team to a fourth-place finish in the team standings by finishing second overall in the women’s 6-kilometer race. Huston recorded a time of 21:56.6 in the 62-runner field. Krista Maguire (Wausau, Wis.) was the second Bulldog across the finish line in 22:59.4 while three others finished in the top-30. Minnesota’s Liz Berkholtz won the race in 21:48.6.

The Bulldogs return to Des Moines, Iowa, for their next competition, the Grand View Invite, Friday, Sept. 18.

Iowa Central Tritons
©Triton Athletics

Tritons Have A Good Mix of the “Already” and the “Not Yet”

Tangy Wiseman-Algona-Iowa Central ©Triton Athletics

Tangy Wiseman-Algona-Iowa Central
©Triton Athletics

A youthful but talented Iowa Central cross country team hope to continue their winning ways for the Tritons.

Courtesy Triton Athletics 

Women’s Team
Very young, only one returner from the fall, Angelica Gutierrez. However two big returners for us from the track season are Tangy Wiseman (Algona) and Kamille Kronemann (West Hancock). Tangy and Kamille will be two of our top five runners leading our team this fall. Our top runner will be a new athlete from Australia, Leanne Pompeani. She definitely will make a splash on the national scene and should battle for a top spot at the national championships we are hosting here in Fort Dodge, on Nov 14.

Men’s team.
Young and inexperienced here too. Top returners include Oscar Carmona who ran varsity last year, Denzel Fogg who was injured last year.

Alex Jackson-Fort Dodge-Iowa Central ©Triton Athletics

Alex Jackson-Fort Dodge-Iowa Central
©Triton Athletics

Two guys that stepped up big in track last spring and hope to continue that are Cody Baele and Nic Ganzeveld (Fort Dodge). Andrew Ronoh (Kenya) was a newcomer last spring and the 10k national champ, he will continue to be our top runner.

Other big impact players are Ashenafi Hatte from St. Paul, MN and Alex Jackson of FD senior High. I would be surprised to see Thomas Thompson of FD also fighting for a varsity spot.

This is the biggest group of kids we have ever had from Fort Dodge or the Fort Dodge area.

Diane Nukuri-Iowa
©Boston Herald

Former Hawkeye Diane Nukuri Wins Falmouth

Diane Nukuri-Iowa ©Let's Run

Diane Nukuri-Iowa
©Let’s Run

A dramatic series of events played out here at the 43rd New Balance Falmouth Road Race, leading to a finish that will be talked about for years.

In a nail-biting sprint to the line, Stephen Sambu retained his title in the 7-mile (11.3 km) race over a pack of three, crossing the finish in 32:17. Minutes earlier, Diane Nukuri of Burundi had won the women’s race going away in 36:47, a solo effort for nearly four miles.

Courtesy Race Results Weekly/Chris Lotsbom

Waiting steps from the finish line, Nukuri watched as the event’s new Countdown Clock ticked down to three seconds when Sambu broke the tape. Since it hadn’t hit zero, the Kenyan earned the inaugural Countdown gender challenge title and its $5000 bonus. On a picture-perfect day, race organizers could not have asked for a better finish.

After roughly a ten-minute delay due to a medical emergency along the course, the elite women took off from Woods Hole bound for Falmouth Heights. Within the first 30 seconds, Nukuri was out front pressing the pace. After being out-kicked for first at the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K two weeks ago, Nukuri didn’t leave anything to chance here, taking with her Americans Amy Cragg and Sara Hall, as well as Ethiopian Sentayehu Ejigu.

By the mile mark adjacent to Nobska Light, an iconic lighthouse, the quartet were roughly 30 meters up on the rest of the field, a margin that would increase to 24 seconds by two miles (10:25). In her own zone, Nukuri looked like a metronome in front: head bobbing ever so slightly, looking a bit like Paula Radcliffe in her prime. Her arms churned methodically; her eyes were focused on the ground ahead.

“I just kept pushing, pushing. It was hard, it was hot,” said Nukuri, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz. “After one mile, the second mile, I felt really good and under control but it was in the shade so it was much easier. Once we got in the open and I was all by myself, I was just like ‘I just need to keep pushing, pushing.’ I needed to use my marathon strength.”

Cragg was the first to fade just shy of two miles. Without having injected too much of a surge, Nukuri found herself out front by two steps at 5-K in 16:08. In the subsequent four minutes, she’d build a 30-meter lead on Ejigu and Hall.

Despite very oppressive heat and humidity, Nukuri pressed on knowing that if she let off the gas even in the slightest, Hall would come back and catch her. The pair had trained a bit in Flagstaff, and knew each other’s fitness well.

“I was believing I could catch her. The crowd was great saying ‘You can get her!’ the whole way,” said Hall, who is in the middle of marathon training. “But I knew she was going to be tough… I knew with that time bonus that she was going to go for it.”

At points during the race, Nukuri looked like she may be hurting under the hot sun. She’d look back frequently and grimace every so often. But drawing energy from the thousands of spectators, she snapped back into form and passed the six mile mark with a very comfortable lead on Hall.

Raising her arms in jubilation, Nukuri broke the tape in 36:47, followed by Hall 23 seconds later in 37:10. Ejigu rounded out the top three in 37:26, with Neely Spence Gracey fourth (37:32) and Cragg fifth (37:53).

Nukuri was very pleased to win this race in her fifth try, as she had previously finished second twice (2011, 2013), fourth once (2014), and a dismal 20th in 2008. She is planning to do a fall marathon, though would not reveal which one.

“It’s really nice. This is one of the best races. You can’t find anything better than this,” she said. “It feels amazing, I’m so excited and can’t wait to come back.”

Before celebrating too much, Nukuri turned around to look back towards the race course. At Friday’s press conference, she told Race Results Weekly she’d do a little dance if she was to win. In the moment, though, her plans changed, well aware that the men’s race was rapidly developing. There would be no early celebration before the Countdown Clock hit zero.

As soon as Nukuri crossed the finish line, a countdown clock began ticking down from 5 minutes and 32 seconds. If the top male came across the finish line before the clock reached zero, he would take home a $5000 bonus. If it hit zero, the bonus would go to Nukuri. (The clock started at 5:32 because the elite women began ten minutes before the elite men and masses, thus they already have a ten minute advantage. Subtract the average time gap of 4:28 [the advantage organizers gave to women based on past results] and you have a 5:32 margin with which to work with.)

While Nukuri was recuperating at the finish, the men’s race was playing out as a battle for the ages. By the five mile mark, a group of six had been established: reigning winner Sambu, two-time champion Micah Kogo, United Airlines NYC Half victor Leonard Korir, newly minted American citizen Sam Chelanga, Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro, and B.A.A. 10-K champ Daniel Salel ran together. American Abdi Abdirahman was with the group, though he pulled out with a muscle cramp minutes earlier.

Familiar with the course’s undulating terrain, Sambu had hoped to make a commanding move at 5-K. But the heat and strength of his competitors made him reconsider. Sambu also was dealing with a debilitating headache from the 80-degree (27C) temperatures, possibly a sign of heat exhaustion.

All along the water’s edge, Sambu led step-for-step. While a bit frustrated that his colleagues would not help push the pace, Sambu remained calm and focused on the task at hand.

“I knew everyone was still there and in better shape than last year,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a sprint finish… I knew going to the finish line I was going to go hard a little bit then go down[hill].”

The race would shake up after the six mile mark, passing a gorgeous marina: Salel and Kipsiro were dropped, leaving four to battle for the $8,000 first-place prize, and perhaps the Countdown bonus.

Again using knowledge of the course to his advantage, Sambu injected a surge leading up the final hill with about 400 meters to go. Kogo, Korir, and Chelanga held on for dear life, though couldn’t quite match Sambu’s speed. The University of Arizona alum surged again after cresting the incline, proceeded to sprint downhill under an American flag and through the finish line.

Sambu was so concerned about his competitors that he didn’t bother to look up at the ‘Countdown’ clock next to the finish line. Breaking the tape in 32:17, he finished with three seconds left on the clock, giving him the $5,000 bonus.

“I didn’t know I won until they told me five minutes after. I knew it was going to be tough,” Sambu told the media. After finishing he proceeded to go straight to the medical tent, overcome by the suffocating heat and humidity. “I just came down hard [the final stretch].”

Witnessing how hard Sambu worked in the final meters, Nukuri applauded his efforts and courage in taking home the gender bonus.

“He earned it,” she said. “I just saw him crossing the line, when he came downhill they were flying. I was barely moving it was so hot… They had so many people pushing each other.”

By retaining his title, Sambu now joins an illustrious list of back-to-back men’s winners that includes Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Khalid Khannouchi, and Gilbert Okari, among others. Sambu said being mentioned among that list was extremely meaningful.

“To me, really, it’s very important. It means a lot to me to win twice in a row. Really I am so happy. I know it is not easy, but I am so happy.”

Kogo, second in 32:19, called the race a pure battle. He was followed across the line by Korir (32:20), Chelanga (32:21), Kipsiro (32:30), and Salel (32:51). It was a blur of purple at the finish, as all of the East Africans and Chelanga were wearing a shade of the color.

Feeling the burn in the last mile, Chelanga pushed on with extra motivation knowing today was his first race as an American citizen. On Friday, he took his oath in Tucson, Ariz.

“I felt like I represented America very well, the way I would want someone to fight. I just didn’t have a good kick,” he said. “I tried my best. I’m really happy I’m an American now. This week has been really emotional for me… Overall I think it’s a celebration and I couldn’t be any happier.”

Among the other notable American finishers were Aaron Braun (seventh, 33:15), Chris Derrick (eighth, 33:41), and Meb Keflezighi (tenth, 34:01). Keflezighi suffered a slight hamstring injury a few weeks ago, and ran as a tempo effort to finish as the top masters (40+) athlete. Nike Bowerman Track Club athlete Derrick just had an off day, he said.

“Falmouth was great up until about the third mile,” he said with a laugh. “The whole experience all the way through the weekend was awesome, my host family was great, thanks Judy and Craig. The early pace felt fine but I just never felt quite comfortable.”

Between the memorable battles for the individual wins, and the nail-biting Countdown finish, the day was a grand success according to Scott Ghelfi, President of the Board of Directors of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race.

“How exciting. [The Countdown] added a whole new element to the race,” he told Race Results Weekly. “I don’t think it could have worked out better than it did. Seeing Diane’s emotion on her face at the finish, extremely happy then disappointment to watch Stephen win, but still happy for her good friend. It was just great.”

When asked whether the race would hold a ‘Countdown’ again next year, Ghelfi hopes so.

“I’m not the one with the final say, but I would say absolutely!” he said.

colt feltes aoy

Next Level Iowa AOY: Colt Feltes-Wartburg

colt feltes aoyColt Feltes- The senior from Maquoketa Valley (Delhi) finished as the D3 National Runner-Up in the shot put (18.16m 59-07.00) to earn the final All-American honor of his career. In addition, Feltes, a 4.0 accounting major, becomes the 36th student-athlete from Wartburg to earn a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He will obtain a Master’s degree in finance from the University of Iowa.

Congratulations Colt Feltes, the Next Level Iowa Male Thrower of the Year.

Photo ©Wartburg Athletics