Thursday, August 27, 2009


(Photo by YndeCam. 2006 Rookie of the Year Marta Lewinski at Life Tine Fitness Elite.)

Since 1999, 17 triathletes have been the recipients of the Minnesota Rookie of the Year award. Most of these folks have gone on to enjoy successful multisport careers, and those who haven't, certainly could have if "life" had not intervened.

Who are they? And where are they now?

* 2008 - KORTNEY HAAG - Now in her 2nd season, Kortney has already achieved stardom. Winner of three races to date, she has also emerged as one of America's premier 70.3 racers. She will likely be nominated for three MMAs - Triathlete of the Year, Most Improved and Performance of the Year (for her amazing win at Pigman Half).

* 2007 - JEANNE FLECK - Winner of the Master of the Year and Most Improved awards in 2008, the 44-year-old from Proctor has already amassed five career wins. A shoo-in for another Master of the Year nomination, don't be surprised if Fleck medals at Duathlon Worlds in September.

* 2006 - MARTA LEWINSKI - Health issues (asthma) have prevented Lewinski from fulfilling her national level potential. Let's hope these issues are resolved soon so that Marta can experience the success she appeared destined to enjoy.

* 2005 - JEREMY SARTAIN and SARAH KOLPIN - Jeremy and Sarah have gone on to stellar multisport careers. Despite an accident that kept him out of the Winner's Circle for almost two full seasons, Jeremy has nevertheless recorded 11 career victories and seven course records. In 2007 he won the Most Improved award. In 2008 he won the Thorpe Running Inspiration Award. Kolpin has won 12 races in her career, including the 2006 World Duathlon Championship. Sarah is now serving her medical residency in Pittsburgh, PA.

* 2004 - JOHN KEANE and KRISTIN RYGG - Despite their initial successes, neither Keane, a former distance runner at Notre Dame, nor Rygg, who swam at The U, have pursued the multisport lifestyle.

* 2003 - CHUCK SMITH and KRISTEN WEAVER - Smith is the only Minnesota athlete to have been nominated for Rookie of the Year and Triathlete of the Year in the same season. He raced seriously and successfully through 2006 then focused on other pursuits. He still dabbles in the sport, albeit infrequently. Today he is a swim coach and directs the Lake Marion Triathlon. Kristen enjoyed a brilliant first season, but by 2005 had turned her attention to family and professional pursuits.

* 2002 - MIKE GRUBA and JOYCE BOURASSA - Gruba put his multisport career on hold after the 2004 season to focus on med school. He still races occasionally. A decorated distance runner, Bourassa had great aptitude for multisports, but lacked the appetite. After receiving her ROY, she retired from the sport.

* 2001 - NATHAN KORTEUM and EMILY DEPPE - Nate and Emily went on to pro careers. Deppe, now Finanger, lives in Bloulder, Colorado and is still racing. Today, Korteum's focus is not on his own racing, but rather the management of his wife's tri career. His wife is Olympian Sarah Haskins.

* 2000 - DAN COHEN and MORGAN LUZIER - While Dan, who won the Most Improved award in 2006, remains one of Minnesota's premier multisportsmen, Morgan left the sport in 2001 to concentrate on running and coaching.

* 1999 - JONATHAN "JONO" MCLEOD and ALLIE LAWLER - McLoed and Lawler have long since left Minnesota. Jono returned to his native Canada and Allie had relocated to Connecticut, where she is still a successful triathlete.