June 15-16, 2001 at North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC

AOC Saturday morning distance action

Michigan teams rule the long relays

by Stephen (steveu) Underwood


Novi boys (below): Tim Moore, Chris Toloff, Mark Avenius, and Eric Walle. Rockford girls (right): Linsey Blaisdell, Nikki Bohnsack, Kalin Toedebusch, and Kelsey Toedebusch.

RALEIGH, June 16, 2001 --While Rockford (MI) didn't sweep the 4 x mile relays like last year, it was still an all-Michigan show at the top of the medal stand at the Saturday morning session of the adidas Outdoor Championships.

Lady Rams Repeat; Prepare for Tonight

Rockford's distance girls are relay pros - whether it's going after national records or, in the words of infamous Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, trying to "just win, baby."

Saturday morning, after a tough loss Friday night in the 4 x 800 meters to Boys and Girls, it was the latter. In the adidas Outdoor 4 x mile relay, in which they are the national record holders, the Michigan school had a clear chance to lower that mark. But as is sometimes his wont, coach Brad Prins called off the horses. With the victory in the bag, anchor Linsey Blaisdell cruised in almost 20 seconds off her PR.

Still, the Lady Rams won by 39 seconds. Their time of 20:24.34 broke their "record" 4 x mile from this meet last year, but is inferior to their 4 x 1600 mark set at Dayton in May. Carmel (IN) was second in 21:03.38, while Saratoga Springs (NY) nipped Southern Reg (NJ), 21:12.77 to 21:12.95, for third.

Rockford's splits (from Jeff Hollobaugh): Kelsey Toedebusch, 5:09.3; Kalin Toedebusch, 4:59.7; Nikki Bohnsack, 5:05.9; Linsey Blaisdell, 5:09.5.

"A couple of us had pretty good times, but then we had a couple average times," said Blaisdell. "We didn't even really talk about the record. Now we're going to get mentally prepared for tonight."

"Tonight" would be the distance medley showdown with Boys and Girls, which comes near the end of tonight's program - Round Two, if you will.

Kalin Toedebusch, like Blaisdell a senior, may not be quite as fresh. It was her leg where the Lady Rams really made their break. "We were going pretty hard the first couple of legs," she said. "But I've just got three laps (the 1200 leg) tonight."

Novi Affirms Its Depth; Gets First National Title

Chris Toloff (1075) hands off to Novi anchor Tim Moore (1073) after 4:14 split gave Novi an insurmountable lead.
It is 22 seconds later before Ritzenhein gets the baton from teammate Kyle Fujimoto.

Novi HS, outside of the Detroit area, has frequently played second fiddle in Michigan (and beyond) to their cross-state rivals from Rockford - despite numerous state CC titles before last fall. But on Saturday morning, they made their biggest splash yet on the national track stage.

With Chris Toloff giving them a firm lead on the third leg, and Tim Moore maintaining most of it on the anchor, Novi claimed the 4 x mile boys' national title. Their time of 17:20.92 beat Rockford by over 16 seconds, while also lowering the defending champs' meet record by 0.65.

Holding just a slight lead after two legs, Novi rode Toloff's 4:14.2 to extend it's margin to over 20 seconds going into the anchor. Moore's 4:18.4 was then more than enough to hold off Rockford's multi-national champ megastar Dathan Ritzenhein's 4:13.5. Eric Walle had led off in 4:22.8, followed by a 4:25.5 from Mark Avenius (splits from Jeff Hollobaugh).

"It's a great feeling having our guys dominate, especially against Rockford," said Toloff, who missed much of the season with a strained abductor muscle. It was just the second 1600/mile race of the year for the senior, who ran 4:10 last year. "The state meet hadn't gone as well as we wanted."

Toloff also noted Moore's improved speed this year as being a key. The junior, in turn, was similarly complimentary. "Chris is an excellent runner," he said. "I was hoping he would open it up. We've always been ranked up there, but we really had a chance to prove ourselves today."

Rockford (second, 17:37.39) was gracious in defeat. Noting that his leg was symbolic of what happened with the whole team, leadoff runner Brian Smith (who led the pack in 4:20.6) said felt good through the first 800, "but I didn't have the turnover. We were ready, but it just wasn't our day."

Carmel (IN) was third in 17:54.68, while Evanston Township - which led after two legs - ran 17:58.13 to win a tight battle for fourth.


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