USA Triathlon completed its list of Elite Triathlons of the Year for 2017 recently and several Iowans or athletes with ties to Iowa were honored.
Z3 Triathlon’s Tamara Gorman of Rapid City, S.D., was chosen as the organization’s Women’s U23 Triathlete of the Year. Gorman won the International Triathlon Union’s U23 World Championships in Rotterdam, as well as runner-up finishes at the USA Triathlon U23 National Championships and at the Salinas ITU Triathlon World Cup.
Former Z3 athlete Tony Smoragiewicz, also of Rapid City, was named the Men’s Rookie of the Year. The former University of Michigan runner was the silver medalist at both the USA Triathlon U23 National Championships, held in West Des Moines, and the USA Triathlon Elite National Championships. Smoragiewicz was also the top American at the ITU U23 World Championships in Rotterdam with a 13th-place finish.
Z3’s Darr Smith was chosen as USA Triathlon’s Junior Elite triathlete of the year. Smith finished fourth in the Junior European Cup event in Lausanne, Switzerland, in August.
Several others earned USA Triathlon Age-Group Triathlon of the Year honors. Evan Culbert of Johnston was an honorable mention selection for Men’s Triathlete of the Year. Culbert was topped for the honor by only Nick Noone of Boulder, Colo.
Maeghan Easler of Des Moines was honorable mention in the category of Women’s Age-Group Triathlete of the Year. Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, Tenn., took the honor.
The Men’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year honorable mention selections included two Cedar Rapids men, Ron Gierut and Ron Ottaway. The winner was Greg Taylor of Yankton, S.D.
NCAA SELECTIONS: Two distance runners from Iowa will vie for national championships at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championship at the Gilliam Indoor Track on the campus of Texas A&M this weekend.
Reigning NCAA indoor 5,000 champion Karissa Schweizer will try to repeat her title in this event on Friday at 8:25 p.m. The former Dowling Catholic standout and current University of Missouri senior has posted the best time of 15:17.31, but will get a tough challenge from New Mexico junior Ednah Kurgat. Kurgat owns a time of 15:19.03.
The Urbandale native also is among 16 participants in the 3,000 final on Saturday at 6:25 p.m. Schweizer, an NCAA champion outdoors for 5,000 last year as well as the 2016 NCAA cross country champion, owns the fastest time for this event, 8:41.60. Kurgat and New Hampshire senior Elinor Purrier figure to be her main challengers in this event.
Schweizer also was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Regional Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, as announced Monday. Schweizer has swept the Midwest Regional Athlete of the Year honors over the last two athletic seasons, since taking the 2016 cross country award. The other Midwest Regional honors came in the 2017 indoor season, the 2017 outdoor season and the 2017 cross country season.
Also qualifying is Iowa State junior Jasmine Staebler in the 800. Staebler finished sixth in the NCAA Indoors 800 a year ago to earn First Team All-America honors. The Guttenberg native comes in with the ninth-best qualifying time of 2:03.59. She runs in the semifinals at 7:25 p.m. Friday. The final is 5:40 p.m. Saturday.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Sioux City’s Shelby Houlihan fared about as well as one could without winning a medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, last weekend. The Nike Bowerman Track Club athlete, one of two representatives from the United States, ran to a fifth-place final in the 3,000 final last Thursday in 8:50.38. Genzebe Dibaba (8:45.05) of Ethiopia, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands (8:45.68) and Laura Muir (8:45.78) of England took home the medals.
Then, after qualifying on time for the 1,500 final with a personal-best time of 4:06.21 on Friday, Houlihan was back on the blue track for a third race in three days. Houlihan made a late charge to fourth place in 4:11.93. Dibaba (4:05.27), Muir (4:06.23) and Hassan (4:07.26) again sped away from the pack to corral the medals.
“Happy with a 5th place finish in the 3k and 4th place in the 1500,” Houlihan wrote on Twitter. “Wasn’t quite what I was hoping for but still excited and hungry for more!”
The NJCAA Championships were held at the new Sports Performance Center in Lubbock, Texas, on Friday and Saturday and freshman Adva Cohen continued her remarkable season for Iowa Central Community College. The freshman from Jerusalem won four national titles and was credited with 25 of the Tritons’ 89 points to help the women finish third overall nationally.
Cohen won the 1,000 title in 2:55.32 and edged New Mexico’s Esther Gitahi for .06 of a second in the 3,000 final after running 9:30.89.
Cohen then anchored the 4×800 relay that included sophomore Aaliyah Regg Wajid, freshman Abeba Sullivan and sophomore Agnes Mansaray to an easy win in 9:15.49.
Cohen who holds the Israeli record for the indoor mile of 4:42.44 and the 3,000 of 9:29.04 and the outdoor 3,000 steeplechase of 10:07.82, also anchored the distance medley relay to a title in 11:51.32, just .42 ahead of New Mexico. Relay members were sophomore Sierra Stucky, freshman Marjanae Coley and Mansaray.
Mansaray won three titles herself, also picking up a championship in the 800 final in 2:21.98.
Iowa Central’s other scorer among its female distance crew came from freshman Winrose Chesang, who was runner-up in the 5,000 run in 18:13.28.
The Tritons men’s team scored 45 points and scored a fourth in the 4×800 relay and a fifth in the distance medley. The fourth-place relay that ran 7:48.27 included sophomore Isaiah Nicholas, freshman Mel Obadiah, freshman Chris Wignall and sophomore Alex Sanford. The distance medley relay ran 10:17.41 and included Sanford, sophomore Kane Virtue, Nicholas and freshman Innocent Murwanashyaka.
On to the NAIA Indoor National Championships, where St. Ambrose’s Anthony Peters made some history on Friday. The senior became just the 24th male to claim three consecutive NAIA Indoor titles when he took the 3,000 race walk in 12:09.58 at Pittsburg, Kan. His teammate, junior Emilio Mancha, was fourth in 12:40.65.
Northwestern College posted a number of high finishes on the women’s side. Senior Katie Landhuis finished runner-up in the 800-meter final in 2:14.21. Her teammate, senior Katie Bosch, also took second in the 1,000 final in 2:52.18 while Red Raiders sophomore Breanna Harthoorn was fourth in the 1,000 in 2:54.86 and Morningside College senior Michelle Mumm was fifth in 2:55.55.
Those three, along with Rebekah Muilenburg, paired up to finish second in the 4×800 relay final in 9:01.67. They were just .45 behind champion Wayland Baptist. Muilenburg, a junior, was also fourth in the 600 final in 1:34.03.
The high distance finishes didn’t stop there for Iowa colleges. Dordt senior Audrey Brooks took runner-up honors in the women’s 5,000 in 17:38.26.
St. Ambrose garnered a top-three finish from junior Katharine Newhoff in the 3,000 race walk in 14:20.37 and a fifth from senior Jenny Lopez in 14:42.87.
Morningside also took a fifth from Payton Boer, Eleka Joseph, Emalee Fundermann and Michelle Mumm in the distance medley final in 12:09.22.
Several Iowa college men also gained top-5 national finishes in distance events. Dordt senior Caleb Drake was third in the 5,000 final in 14:49.39. Northwestern senior Tim Rose took fourth in the men’s mile in 4:11.12. Morningside senior Jason Kenny was fourth in the 1,000 in 2:28.55 and was followed by St. Ambrose sophomore Josh Pestka in 2:28.86. Morningside senior Jacob Green also placed fifth in the 800 final in 1:53.32.