Saturday, July 4, 2009


(Photos of Pam Neilsen and Patrick Parish courtesy of

(Oak Grove, MN - July 5) Patrick Parish was Minnesota's premier male rookie in 2008. To date he has recorded four victories. Interestingly, none of those wins were as sweet or as career-altering as his 3rd place finish at Minneman yesterday.

Pam Nielsen narrowly missed making the list of Rookie of the Year nominees in 2008. Like Patrick, she turned in the best performance of her budding career at Minneman, finishing a close third behind established stars Heidi Keller-Miler and Darcy Franklin.

Parish has worked hard to narrow the gap between himself and our region's brightest stars. Coming into Minneman, he had missed the podium by one place in three straight events--Buffalo Olympic, Manitou and Lake Waconia. Placing 3rd at Minneman behind course record setters David Thompson (pro record) and Kevin O'Connor (amateur record) was certainly the breakthrough he needed. Additionally, his time was five seconds faster than the old amateur mark.

The gap between O'Connor and Parish was only 15 seconds. Likewise, the gap between Nielsen and runner-up Darcy Franklin was slim, only 14 ticks. She was only 44 seconds behind Keller-Miler, who posted her 3rd Minneman victory on Saturday.

On July 19, Parish and Nielsen will take their renewed confidence to Annandale, where they'll take on one of the two or three deepest fields of the season at Heart of the Lakes. It is reasonable to expect that both these athletes will finish higher than in 2008, when Patrick placed 7th and Pam 13th.