Monday, August 3, 2009


(Friendly rivals, Cathy Yndestad and Julie Hull. Photo by

Turtleman historically boasts incredibly field depth. The 2009 version of "Minnesota's Oldest Triathlon" certainly upholds this legacy. Only Life Time Fitness, which attracts talent from all over the U.S., drew a deeper women's--and men's, too--field than the one that will assemble in Shoreview on Saturday.

On paper, the top 8 spots appear to be earmarked for the following girls, though not necessarily in this order: Cathy Yndestad, Brook Mutzenberger, Susan Williams, Julie Hull, Kate McCann, Mary Beth Tuttle, Jan Guenther and Thea Fleming.

Here's why.

* Cathy Yndestad is the defending champion and perhaps the top female amateur triathlete in America. She has not been beaten in a triathlon by a fellow Minnesotan since August of 2006.

* Brook Mutzenberger was a member of what can be called the "Chase Pack" in 2008. This year she's caught the leaders, as her win at Lake Waconia clearly demonstrates, and has no intention of being dropped. She was 15th at Turtleman in '08. She could reach the podium this year.

* Susan Williams is simply a better triathlete today than she was in 2007, when she finished 5th at Turtleman. Her recent win at Chisago Sprint has to be good for her confidence.

* Julie Hull has cracked the top five in her last two T-Man efforts. There's no reason to believe that trend won't continue on Saturday.

* Kate McCann has podiumed in her last two Turtleman appearances. Doing so again on Saturday could insure her place on Team Minnesota '09.

* Mary Beth Tuttle won this race in 2007. Even with the shortened swim, M.B. should place in the top 5 this weekend.

* Jan Guenther may be 50, but she is still wicked fast. And she's won this race four times.

* Thea Fleming finished 2nd here in 2007 and she is enjoying a great 2009 season.

If these are the girls who will fight over the top 8 spots, who will finish in the 9th and 10th positions?

Diane Hankee appears ready to crack the top 10. So does Becky Burdick, Wendy Bengston and April Morgan, though one of these places could go to one of our state's top juniors, either Sarah Daniels, a two-time Junior of the Year nominee or Lauren Rantala, 19, who is eligible for a Rookie of the Year nomination this season. It's possible that the winner of the Daniels/Rantala duel will move into the frontrunner position for JOY. The last time these girls faced each other--Big Creek in Des Moines last weekend--Rantala came out on top.

Whatever happens in Shoreview on Saturday, it is going to be both exciting and revealing.

Who are the AG Favorites?

Here's our predictions:

* 00-19 - Shelby Woodworth, 17, Hutchinson (Sarah Daniels, 18, Savage (Sarah will have the fastest junior time, but will be ineligible for the AG award because she's racing in the Elite Wave.)
* 40-44 - Wendy Bengston, 43, Chippewa Falls
* 45-49 - Suzanne Mouw, 45, White Bear Lake (Suzann should win the division, though Mary Beth Tuttle, 46, Pine Springs, who is in the Elite Wave, will have a faster time.)
*50-54 - Carolyn Milbrath, 52, Hudson (Elite Waver Jan Guenther, 50, of Mound will have a faster time.)
* 55-59 - Pam Stevens, 57, Sartell (Lots of talent in this division! Iowa's Deb Hankens could win it.)
* 60-64 - The girl that wins this division will NOT be from Minnesota.
* 65-69 - Marsha Soucheray, 69, Shoreview (Of course!)