Top Minnesota Distance Runners of All Time
This is my compiled list of the top Minnesota Distance Runners of All-Time. I admit there is a bias towards more current athletes but then again, those athletes are very good too. Enjoy reading and make sure to leave any comments if you disagree with my order or think I forgot somebody! Remember to click an add to support my blog!
1. Rob Finnerty (’08) Burnsville- 9th at FLN and ran a then 7th best all-time High School mile of 4:01.09 at the Midwest Distance Gala. Rob finished 2nd, 4th and 1st in Cross Country while sitting out his sophomore year with a femoral stress fracture. Rob was the 1600m and 3200m state champion his Freshman and Senior seasons and placed 2nd 3 times and 3rd once in between. HS PRs of 4:01.09 (mile), 8:47, 1:54.5
2. Elliott Heath (’07) Winona- Elliott’s greatest high school achievement was winning the US Junior Cross Country Championships. He also had great success on the local stage. Elliott placed in the top-10 three times in the state cross country meet highlighted by a win in his junior year of 2005. During his senior year he placed a respectable third behind Hassan Mead and Jon Stublaski, Mead holds the Course record at the St. Olaf state course. After suffering from heat exhaustion at the state qualifying meet his sophomore year, Elliott went on to great success on the track as well. He is the AA state meet record holder in the 3200m with a time of 9:02.65 having won the event twice. HS PRs of 4:10.29, 8:46.09 (2-Mile), and 14:34 (5k track)
3. Garrett Heath (’04) Winona- Elliott’s older brother Garrett also had success on the national cross country stage with two top-ten finishes at FLN. Garrett also had four All-State performances in Cross Country including two wins. His time as a senior ranks second all-time on the state course. On the track, Garrett finished 6th and 2nd in the distance events in his sophomore year at the state meet before winning them both the next two years. He also made his range known during a conference battle in the 800, narrowly losing to the future state champion while running 1:52.4. HS PRs of 1:52.4 800, 4:09, 9:06
4. Hassan Mead (’07) Minneapolis South- The only reason Hassan Mead is not higher on this list is that he only competed for one season of Cross Country and two seasons of track. That cross country season may be the best one ever in the state of Minnesota. Hassan went undefeated and his exploits include running 14:58 at the Faribault Invitational, 15:10 to win the state meet in the fastest time ever on the course, a victory at FLMW, and a 4th place finish at FLN. Hassan never won a state title on the track, being beaten by either the first or second people on this list. HS PRs of 4:14.2, 8:51.23 (2-Mile)
5. Nick Schneider (’01) Benilde-St. Margaret’s- Nick was in a league of his own in the early 21st century. He breezed to victory in the 1600 and 3200 meters during his junior and senior seasons. At the state meet his junior year he set the state meet record in the 1600m with a 4:08.51. After his junior year he ran 8:53.18 in the 3200m to set the all-time state record that had stood for nearly thirty years. On the Cross Country course Nick was unstoppable. He won twice and was four-tenths of a second away from being the only individual to win three titles. He was also 4th overall as a freshman. HS PRs: 1:54.7, 4:06.7, 8:53.18
6. Mike Torchia (’06) Rochester Lourdes- Mike finished 4th his sophomore year in the class A cross country meet and proceeded to win the next two years. His senior year victory was by almost 40 seconds. On the track Torchia won three titles including running sub 9 minutes in the 3200m in 2006 and winning by 38 seconds in a time of 8:59. In post season competition he lowered his PR to 8:47. HS PRs: 4:15.6, 8:47.5.
7. Nic Matack (’97) Duluth East- Nic was well known as a cross country specialist. He defeated the formidable opponent of Luke Watson by 37 seconds at state cross country and even more impressively ran 15:12 for 5k on the prestigious Griak course. Later in the year Nic placed 14th at FLN. Due to a variety of reasons Nic didn’t excel on the track. The highlight of his track career was a 9:18.9 3200m as a sophomore.
8. Garry Bjorklund (’69) Proctor- Broke the state 1600m record by nearly ten seconds and set a mark that stood for 39 years until Rob Finnerty broke it. Bjorklund won one state meet in cross country and placed 6th two other times. He also is not recorded to have run faster than 1:54.85 or 9:19.57.
9. Zach Mellon (’09) Buffalo- Zach is the honorary Middle-distance runner out of the group. Aside from running 1:48.6 to place second at US Jr Nationals he was a solid cross country runner. Zach was ranked among the favorites to win the state meet after his 3rd place finish at the Griak. His state performance didn’t live up to standards but who cares when you run 1:48? He also had a 4:16 1600m to his name from one of the few times he ran the event.
10. Dennis Fee (’72) White Bear Lake- Fee, like Bjorklund, crushed a state record. Fee’s 8:59.3 was more than 15 seconds faster than Bob Wagner’s previous state record. Fee’s record also stood the test of time. His record wasn’t broken until 2000 when Nick Schneider ran faster. Fee’s 4:14.6 might not seem that fast either, but he was 5th best all-time in MN at the time.