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11th annual Minnesota Multisport Awards

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Here are the winners of the 11th annual MINNESOTA MULTISPORT AWARDS, which were presented Academy Awards-style last evening at TriNight '09 at St. Paul College. St. Paul's Devon Palmer was the night's brightest star, hauling in three Emmas. Mound's Jan Guenther was the other multiple winner, her two trophies lifting her career total to an unprecedented 13.

TRIATHLETE OF THE YEAR
DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul & CATHY YNDSETAD, 31, Apple Valley
Cathy, a three-time nominee for USAT Athlete of the Year, was the obvious choice here, though Kortney Haag had a brilliant season. Devon's big-time victories at Life Time and HOLT, and his 3rd place overall finish at AG Nationals, gave him the nod over Kevin O'Connor, who beat DP twice last season.

DUATHLETE OF THE YEAR
KEVIN O'CONNOR, 38, Medina
Undefeated on the local du scene, Kevin was able to wrestle this award away from three-time DOY Marlo McGaver, who did suffer one local loss. Speed comparisons also gave a slight edge to O'Connor. Kevin was measured against elite amateur performance standards, whereas Marlo was measured against professional standards. (FYI, McGaver did get a pro license this season.)

JUNIOR OF THE YEAR (Coed)
NICK MADRINICH, 19, Chaska
Nick had a great season, one featuring an outright victory at Chaska, a 4th behind Dennis Dane, Brett Lovaas and Jon Balabuck and a Top 10 at Manitou (junior males are simply not supposed to be able to do that). He was also helped by the fact that three-time JOY nominee Sarah Daniels did not race up to her 2008 standards.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (Coed)
SUZIE FINGER, 26, St. Louis Park
No surprise here. Suzie was the cream of a very solid crop.

GRAND MASTER OF THE YEAR (Coed)
BEN EWERS, 63, North Oaks
A great group of nominees here but Ben was the only one who truly redefined the performance standards in his AG.

MASTER OF THE YEAR
BRIAN BICH, 43, Duluth & JAN GUENTHER, 50, Mound

This was the most controversial category. On the men's side, strong arguments were made for Rhett Bonner and Greg Taylor. The fact that Rhett is only two years older than Brian hurt his (Rhett's) bid for the award. Age Grading, which almost put the award in Taylor's hands, could not be applied in Rhett's case. After hours of debate, Brian came out on top. Anyone who is fast enough to have beaten Devon (Pigman Sprint) and Kevin (Lake Waconia) and placed 7th in the deepest head-to-head field of the year at Best of the US has demonstrated that he is in a class of his own.

On the women's side, Guenther's position was strengthened by the fact that she excelled in both long and short distance events. Heidi and Jeanne raced only in short races, and Marnie needed at least one more elite effort to be truly competitive in this category. Though Jeanne beat Jan in each of their three confrontations, the six-year age differential plus the fact that Jeanne was unable to match any of Jan's existing course records in those races softened the argument. Finally, Jan's effort at Ironman Wisconsin was perceived to be the Performance of the Year.

This was the most talented group of female masters in the history of the MMAs.

MOST IMPROVED
DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul & KORTNEY HAAG, 30, New Hope
These athletes had to muscle there way through our state's most decorated athletes to get to their places on the upper rungs of the Team Minnesota ladder.

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Devon Palmer's Win @ Life Time Fitness Elite
Devon beat one of the 2-3 strongest amateur fields of the year at LTF. His win at HOLT and Kevin's CR at "Little Pig" were also given serious consideration.

Jan Guenther's Amateur Win @ Ironman Wisconsin
Age Grading was not part of the decision here. Jan WON a major Ironman race by a huge margin. Cathy Yndestad received staunch support for two of the five committee members.

TRIATHLETES CHOICE FAVORITE RACE OF THE YEAR
Winner - Lake Minnetonka Triathlon
2nd - MinneMan Triathlon
|3rd - YWCA Women's Triathlon
4th - Lake Marion Triathlon
5th - Trinona

TEAM MINNESOTA: Men
1. David Thompson, 31, St. Paul
2. Kevin O'Connor, 38, Medina
3. Devon Palmer, 22, St. Paul
4. Brian Bich, 43, Duluth
5. Sam Hauck, 25, Shoreview / Omaha, NE
6. Jonathan Balabuck, 29, Thunder Bay, ONT
7. Matthew Payne, 32, Columbia Heights
8. Patrick Parish, 24, Circle Pines
9. Dennis Dane, 29, Golden Valley
10.Dan Cohen, 35, Eden Prairie

Also receiving consideration: Brett Lovaas, Curt Wood, Mark Carey, Steve Sander and Brooks Grossinger.

TEAM MINNESOTA: Women
1. Cathy Yndestad, 31, Apple Valley
2. Kortney Haag, 30, New Hope
3. Marlo McGaver, 39, Duluth
4. Jeanne Fleck, 44, Proctor
5. Jan Guenther, 50, Mound
6. Julie Hull, 37, Farmington
7. Heidi Keller-Miler, 44, Chaska
8. Brook Mutzenberger, 29, Eden Prairie
9. Marnie Walth, 40, Bismarck, ND
10.Susan Williams, 37, Minneapolis

Also receiving consideration: Thea Fleming, Mary Beth Tuttle, Catherine Lee, Shelley Nelson, Diane Hankee and Suzie Finger.

NOTE: The athlete's entire resume is taken into account and Age Grading was not employed.

 **Information in this post courtesty of the MN Tri News Blog: http://minnesotatrinews.blogspot.com

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