June and July Athletes of the Month

8/9/2017
 
MENDOTA HEIGHTS – Minneapolis native and former Gopher Track & Field/Cross Country star Hassan Mead won the U.S. title in the men’s 10,000 meters at June’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento California, earning him the honor of USATF Minnesota’s June Athlete of the Month. Mead, an 8x All-American and 9x Big Ten Champion for the Gophers, won the race with a time of 29:01.44 breaking Galen Rupp’s streak of eight consecutive USA 10,000 meter titles and in the process earned his ticket to represent the United States at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London this summer.
 
A 2007 graduate of Minneapolis South High School, Mead was the 2006 Minnesota State Cross Country Champion, as well as the 2006 Foot Locker Midwest Regional Champion, eventually going on to finish 4th at the Foot Locker National meet only 8 seconds behind the winner.
 
Gabriele Grunewald, a native of Perham, Minnesota and another University of Minnesota alumna, has had an inspiring and eventful summer. In March, only seven months after she had surgery to remove half of her liver, she was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time in eight years. Choosing to put the cancer on hold and continue with her racing schedule this summer, Grunewald has garnered national attention and provided inspiration to thousands of runners across the U.S— and for that, she is USATF Minnesota’s June Athlete of the Month. Despite her recent diagnosis, Gabe qualified for and competed at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento in the 1500 meters in June.
 
While at the University of Minnesota, Grunewald got 2nd place in the 1500 meters at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, earning her All-American status. During her time at Perham High School, Grunewald was a four time All-State performer in cross country and was the 2004 Minnesota State Champion in the 800 meters.
 
Ben Blankenship, from Stillwater, Minnesota, has had a series of great performances in the month of July, making him our July Athlete of the Month. During the TrackTown Summer Series, Blankenship placed 1st in the 1500 meters at the Portland meet and 3rd in the New York City Championship meet in the 1500 meters in a time of 3:35.29. Blankenship was also 10th in the London Diamond League 1500 meters and more recently won the 2017 GNC Live Well Liberty Mile Championship for the second year in a row.
 
While in college at the University of Minnesota, Blankenship was the first Golden Gopher to break the 4-minute-mile barrier when he ran 3:57.83 at the University of Washington’s in 2010. Blankenship was also a 2x Big Ten Indoor Champion in the Mile and 1x Champion in the Distance Medley Relay, as well as the 2011 NCAA Indoor Runner-Up in the 3,000 meters and a 3x All-American during his collegiate career. Additionally, Blankenship was a 2x Minnesota State Champion at 1600 meters for Stillwater High School and led the Ponies to a 2nd place finish at the 2006 Minnesota State Cross Country Championships as well.
 
Heather Kampf, a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota, was injured and unable to compete in the early stages of the 2017 track & field season, but since then has been on quite the upswing with several notable performances in the month of July, making her the USATF Minnesota July Athlete of the Month. Kampf was 1st at the Ryan Shay Women’s Mile in a time of 4:30.83 on July 22nd, and later went on to place 4th in the 2017 GNC Live Well Liberty Mile on July 28th in a very deep field.
 
Kampf graduated from the University of Minnesota as the most decorated women’s track athlete in Gopher history as she was a 9x All-American. She is also the only Gopher to compete at every NCAA Championship meet in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track during their time at the University. Additionally, she was the 2006 NCAA Indoor Champion over 800 meters and holds nine Gopher school records. Originally from Inver Grove Heights, Kampf was a Minnesota State Champion in both the 800 meters and 400 meters while attending Rosemount High School.
 
We welcome your nominations!
To nominate an athlete for USATF Minnesota’s Athlete of the Month award, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to mskuzara@csbsju.edu with the subject line “Athlete of the Month Nomination”.

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Maxwell Kuzara
Athlete of the Month Committee Chair
USA Track & Field Minnesota
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