Triathlons a 3-in-1 rush

Phil Cleary got aboard the speeding triathlon train four years ago. "Dave Baker suggested I have a go at the Green Lake Triathlon so I signed up and I liked it," said Cleary, a 2007 Willmar graduate who left his mark in Cardinal Nordic skiing wit...

Phil Cleary got aboard the speeding triathlon train four years ago.

"Dave Baker suggested I have a go at the Green Lake Triathlon so I signed up and I liked it," said Cleary, a 2007 Willmar graduate who left his mark in Cardinal Nordic skiing with three MVP awards.

He'll compete in his fourth Green Lake Tri on Aug. 12, sponsored by Baker's Melvin's on the Lake restaurant on the Spicer beach. Last year, he was fourth overall and finished first in the Tri-Minnesota Series 19U division.

On Saturday he's entered in the Lake Minnewaska Triathlon at Glenwood. It's a quarter-mile swim, 10.2-mile bike race and a 2½-mile run.

Opportunities for triathletes are expanding locally. Paynesville hosted an event this summer and so did the YMCA in Willmar. Cleary participated in both.


"It's great when you don't have to drive a long ways," he said.

But mostly he has to hit the road: he was fifth at the Chain of Lakes Triathlon in Alexandria, 13th at the Land Between the Lakes at Albert Lea, seventh at the North Mankato and fifth at the Graniteman in Rockville.

These races are termed sprint triathlons, Cleary explained -- a quarter- to half-mile swim, 15- to 18-mile bike race and a three- to five-mile run.

This year for the first time, Green Lake, which is not part of the Tri-Minnesota series, will offer both a sprint- and Olympic-length course -- three-quarter mile swim, 24-mile bike race (two laps of lake) and a six-mile run.

Another step up is the brutal Half-Ironman and above that the infamous Ironman -- 2.4-mile swim, 26-mile run and 112-mile bike race.

Cleary, who hasn't determined if he's ready for the Olympic length at this point, is quick to salute Mike Pluimer of Prinsburg, who competes in the 8- to 10-hour-plus Ironman races but also locally. He won Green Lake last year.

Cleary's family has a home on Green Lake and Phil's summer job in construction allows him to train in the evening.

This week, he will spend about 14 hours training: 40 miles of running, four days in the pool -- "A huge weakness when I started out racing that I've really had to work hard at," Cleary said -- and the rest of the time on his Trek E11 triathlon bike doing sprint and middle distance rides.


He also roller skis, part of his training for the Gustavus Adolphus Nordic team, which he plans to join when he starts college in about three weeks.

Another indication of the growing interest in triathlons is that for the first time a Kid's Triathlon (ages 3-14) will be held 9 a.m. on Aug. 11 as part of the Green Lake Triathlon ( ).

Summer soccer

The Willmar Under-17 boys soccer team went 10-0-0 in the Southwest League and finished 13-2-2 overall. At the Coon Rapids Open, the team finished second with a 2-1-1 record. The season concluded with a 1-1-1 record at the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association C3 Tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

At state, Willmar tied Centennial of Circle Pines 2-2, beat Austin 4-1 and lost to Inver Grove Heights 4-0.

Coach Richard Courtney, who is also the high school varsity coach, commented that the depth and midfield play made this the best summer team he has had at Willmar.

Top scorers were Ethan Vogel, Bedel Ali, Jerry Rocha and Matt Kroneberger.

The key play at mid-field also included Gerardo Eligio, Jordon Benson and Zac Burton, Courtney said. He added that Jon Juni was in goal and that Carl Fixsen was among the defensive leaders.


"Overall, it was a great season," said Courtney. "We play in the C3 division since we are a newer program but we could opt up to C2 next year."

The summer schedule gives the players a running start into the Cardinal varsity program, which starts Aug. 13.

The Reno Bowl

It was no small feat that Mark London, former Willmar resident and KWLM announcer, finished fourth in all-events at the USBC Open Championships at Reno, Nev.

The 104-year-old event ran for 135 days, ending July 1, at the National Bowling Stadium. There were 62,379 bowlers in the Regular Division (average above 180.) Thousands more were in the Classified (180-below). Four teams from Willmar went out, according to Kandi Bowl manager Jarrett Kopacek, who averaged over 200 and earned enough to cover his entrance fee.

Howard Carlson of Kerkhoven and Meryl Kuelbs of Willmar finished 73rd in the Classified doubles with 1,142 pins to win $318. For Kuelbs, it was his fourth USBC Open and his biggest payday by far, he told me.

Bowlers throw three series or 90 frames over two days. London, 44, now of Palatine, Ill., posted scores of 790 (team), 676 (singles), 682 (doubles) for a 2,148 total, 50 pins out of first. The fourth-place in all-events earned him $6,000. He almost found lasting fame when he rolled 88 clean frames before leaving the 10 pin on his 89th ball. Only one other bowler in tournament history has thrown 90 balls without an open frame.

On the fly


Laura Nielsen, Willmar's all-time scoring and rebound leader in girls basketball, was a freshman forward on the South Dakota State University team that posted the highest GPA (3.69) of any team in the country for the second straight year. The Jackrabbits, a Division I independent, went 25-6 and became the first reclassifying school to play in the WNIT.

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