College corner: Marathon men

Juneau's Dierking helps found Western Washington University's Marathon Club

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2004

When Phil Dierking entered Western Washington University this past fall, he faced the same quandary faced by most former high school athletes when they go to college.

Dierking, a 2003 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who competed in cross-country running and track, wanted to stay physically active. But he didn't feel he had the time to devote to being on a school team.

Once he arrived at the Bellingham, Wash., school, Dierking found other former athletes in the same predicament. So they started running together. Those group runs eventually became more organized, and a couple of the runners decided they'd like to train for their first marathon this spring. That led to the founding of the WWU Marathon Club.

"Our club served two functions - training for our first marathons and a place to run so we were getting in shape," said Dierking, who just finished his freshman year as a journalism major with a public relations emphasis. "It was a way to be part of a team without having your whole day shot."

Dierking and two other members of the WWU Marathon Club - David Koenig and Phil Silves, both from Washington - ran together in the Capital City Marathon held May 16 in Olympia, Wash., with all three finishing with official times of 3 hours, 59 minutes, 13 seconds and chip times of 3:58:54. (In larger races, runners have magnetic chips on their clothes that trigger a clock when they actually cross the starting line since it usually takes awhile to reach it once the gun goes off.) Three other WWU Marathon Club members competed in the half-marathon.

"It felt like we trained perfectly," Dierking said in a phone interview. "We obviously were drained, but it was from the type of exertion where you put everything into it."

For the trio doing the full 26.2-mile marathon, this was their first race at that distance. Dierking said the club members used a lot of trial-and-error self-coaching, and he tapped Juneau marathoners Shawn Miller (a JDHS and WWU grad) and Merry Ellefson for help. Dierking said he and Miller kept up a regular e-mail correspondence during the school year.

"We started training in the beginning of January and after the first month we had a lot of interest in running," Dierking said. "It's pretty cool. We got school sponsored as an activity. We also got sponsors from running stores, and that helped pay for our entry fees, uniforms, shoes and other equipment."

In order to receive school sponsorship, the club hosted several organized runs that were open to the other students. Dierking said there was a core group of about 12-13 runners who were at just about every function, while other students - including JDHS grad Axel Thibodeau - came to some, but not all, of the events.

For those training to run the marathon, the club would hold a long run each weekend, a day of speedwork on the track and about four days of shorter runs each week. Dierking said the long weekend run became longer each week, going from about 8-10 miles in January to about 18 miles in April.

"Our whole training was trial and error," Dierking said. "We made sure to get new shoes about two months before the race, so they'd be broken in. On the long runs we'd pay attention to what hurt, so we could try and avoid it the next time. We learned about having water stops, and we'd set water along the course. On race day, we worried we'd be hurting. But by the time the race started we felt pretty comfortable."

Before the race, the three club members running the full marathon planned to stay together through the first 18 miles or so, then split up if they needed to. But they ended up staying together through the entire race. Dierking - who was 18 during the race and turns 19 this week - took second place among junior racers (age 18-younger) and the three WWU club members were second, third and fourth in the age 19-younger age group (Dierking was listed as fourth). The trio finished 116th, 117th and 118th overall out of 468 finishers.

"Having three of us together, we all ran faster," Dierking said. "We pretty much all had the same ability. Nearing the end, when someone tired, the others were there to encourage him."

Dierking said his experience in his first marathon has whetted his appetite for another one. The club plans to train for another marathon next spring. This summer, Dierking said he plans to run in the Douglas Island Half-Marathon in August.

"Maybe I'll do a triathlon, too," Dierking said. "I'd like to try one."


• University of Washington junior Michael Kohan (Juneau-Douglas) rowed in the bow seat of the Huskies' varsity eight boat that won the petite final (consolation final) Sunday in the NCAA Division I Women's Rowing Championships in Rancho Cordova, Calif. This was Kohan's first season in the varsity eight boat after she rowed in the junior varsity eight boat that won last year's national championship. In Saturday's semifinal races, the Huskies took fourth place in their heat, missing a spot in the national title race by just a couple of feet as only the top three teams from each heat advanced. In Sunday's petite final (for places 7-12), Washington led from wire to wire and its time of 6 minutes, 37.8 seconds would have been good enough for fourth place in the grand final (top six places).

• Washington State University freshman Sarah Lende (a Haines resident who graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts) rowed in one of the Cougars' novice boats this year. The school's Web site didn't list which rowers were in which boats, but WSU's novice eight took fourth place in the Pac-10 Championships on May 16 in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

• Bowdoin College (Maine) junior Eliza Lende (Haines) competed on the women's team again this year. Bowdoin doesn't send its teams to the national championships, instead ending its season with the Dad Vail Regatta held May 7-8 in Philadelphia. Bowdoin didn't list which rowers were in which boats on its Web site, but last year Lende rowed in the women's varsity four boat, which is Bowdoin's top boat. This year the varsity four boat took second place to Dowling College at the Dad Vail Regatta after winning the title last year. The race also featured teams from Grand Valley State (Mich.), Vermont, North Carolina and Middlebury (Vt.).


• Marquette University sophomore distance runner Jodi Jakubek (Ketchikan) took fifth place in the 10,000 meters with a time of 37 minutes, 36.98 seconds and was sixth in the 5,000 meters in 17:30.23 at the Conference USA championships held May 13-15 in Louisville, Ky.

• Central Washington University sophomore distance runner Brandy Anderson (Juneau-Douglas) won the 3,000 meters (10:39.32) and took seventh place in the 1,500 (5:00.50) at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's outdoor track and field championships held May 8 in Monmouth, Ore. When she competed in high school, Anderson's name was Brandy Weston.

• Seattle University freshman distance runner Phoebe Rohrbacher (Juneau-Douglas) finished 10th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event (13:23.68) at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's outdoor track and field championships held May 8 in Monmouth, Ore. Sophomore distance runner Meghan Salveson (Juneau-Douglas) also competes for the Redhawks, but no results were available for her in the latter part of the season.

• Pacific Lutheran University senior distance runner Breea Mearig (Juneau-Douglas) placed sixth in the 5,000 meters (18:59.80) and sixth in the 10,000 meters (38:54.22) at the Northwest Conference Championships held April 24-25 in Tacoma, Wash. When she competed in high school, Mearig's name was Breea DeSloover.

• Seattle Pacific University junior middle-distance runner Breanne Rohm (Juneau-Douglas) was listed as a 400-meter specialist on the Falcons' team roster, but no results were available for her this season.

• University of Alaska Anchorage freshman distance runner Anjuli Haydu (Craig) competed for the Seawolves this season, but no results were available.

• Western Oregon University freshman distance runner Brian Nowlin (Juneau-Douglas) competed for the Wolves this season, but no results were available.

• Gonzaga University freshman distance runner Gabe Hayden (Juneau-Douglas) competed for the Bulldogs this season, but no results were available.

• Mesa Community College (Ariz.) freshman sprinter Tim Kaloostian (Haines) finished sixth in his heat in the 100 meters (11.53) and was seventh in his 200 heat (23.33) at the 2004 Region I Track and Field Championships held at MCC in April. He also was a member of MCC's 4x100-meter relay team that took 13th place (42.24) at the National Junior College Athletics Association's Outdoor track and Field Championships held May 6-8 at South Plains College (Texas).


• Arizona State University redshirt junior catcher Garrett Schoenberger (Juneau-Douglas) saw limited action with the No. 7-ranked Sun Devils this season, going hitless in seven at bats over eight games. Schoenberger, the only walk-on to make the team in 2000 tryouts, served as president of ASU's Student Athlete Advisory Committee and was co-chairperson of the Pac-10 SAAC. The past two summers, Schoenberger has played for the Kenai Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska League and last year finished second on the team with 20 RBIs. But he will be graduating this month and won't play summer baseball this year.

• Stanford University freshman shortstop-second baseman Joe Ayers (Juneau-Douglas) was redshirted this year and didn't see any action for the No. 1-ranked Cardinal. He will play summer baseball for the Anchorage Bucs in the Alaska League.

• Santa Clara University sophomore right-handed pitcher Dylan Hickey (Juneau-Douglas) sat out a redshirt transfer year this season after joining the Broncos following a freshman season at the University of Dayton where he led his team in wins and ERA. Hickey will play summer baseball for the Anchorage Bucs, his second year with the team.

• University of San Francisco freshman third baseman-shortstop Zach Kohan (Juneau-Douglas) made the team as a walk-on and was redshirted this season and saw no action. Kohan will play summer baseball for the Portland (Ore.) Wildcats in the Portland City League Baseball Collegiate Wood Bat Summer League.

• City College of San Francisco freshman left-handed pitcher Evan Scandling (Juneau-Douglas), who also attends University of San Francisco, saw action in 15 games and had 10 starts this season. Scandling posted a 2-7 record with one save in 54 1/3 innings, with a 5.30 ERA, 73 hits, 26 walks and 25 strikeouts. Like Zach Kohan, Scandling will play summer baseball for the Portland (Ore.) Wildcats.

• Chandler-Gilbert Community College freshman second baseman Nick Wolf (Juneau-Douglas) saw action during the fall season, but was redshirted during the spring season for the Coyotes and didn't see any playing time.

• Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho) junior shortstop-second baseman Justin Fuller, who was born in Juneau but graduated from Lynnwood (Wash.) High School, hit .354 (69-for-195) this season with four homers, 23 doubles, 44 RBIs, 55 runs and 5-for-6 stolen bases as the Wildcats finished tied for fifth place in the NAIA World Series. Fuller will play summer baseball for the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in the Alaska League. He was scheduled to play for the Goldpanners last summer, but an injury kept him off the team.


• University of Bridgeport (Conn.) sophomore catcher Suzanne Parr and sophomore shortstop Kari Parr (both Juneau-Douglas) helped the Purple Knights more than double their victory total of last year with a 24-20 record this season. The twins, who transferred from Shasta College in California, both started in every game this season and both finished with 33 hits in 44 games. Suzanne Parr hit .256 with six doubles, 11 RBIs, 11 runs and 3-for-3 in stolen bases. Kari Parr hit .239 with three doubles, four RBIs, 16 runs and 8-for-8 in stolen bases.

• Peninsula College (Wash.) freshman first baseman-outfielder Danielle Larson (Juneau-Douglas) hit .309 (30-for-97) with one homer, one triple, five doubles, 13 RBIs and 18 runs scored for the Pirates, who posted a 10-26 record this season.


• Texas A&M sophomore Seva Iwinski, a former Juneau-Douglas High School student who graduated from the Walker School in Marietta, Ga., played sparingly for the Aggies this year after being a regular as a freshman. She posted a 9-9 record in singles this year after going 16-22 as a freshman. Playing with three different doubles partners, Iwinski went 5-5.

• Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) freshman Alex Sadighi (Juneau-Douglas) was a member of the men's tennis team this year, but did not see any varsity action.


• Air Force Academy senior Josh Dean (Juneau-Douglas) helped the Zoomies reach the USA Rugby Collegiate National Championships Final Four, where defending champion Air Force was upset 35-32 by Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in the semifinals on April 30. Dean normally plays No. 8, which runs the offense on a rugby team, but switched to scrum-half after missing much of the season because of a hairline fracture of the skull. In October, Dean won the Albert Woodley Award, which is called the Heisman of college rugby and honors the nation's top player.

• Brigham Young University junior David Shepro (Juneau-Douglas) played hooker - the guy in the very middle of the scrum - for the Cougars this year.


• University of Minnesota freshman Jestin Hulegaard, a former Juneau resident who graduated from Anoka (Minn.) High School, redshirted during the 2003-04 season for the Gophers. Hulegaard did compete in nine matches during the season, posting a 5-4 record with one pin and two major decisions at 141 pounds. Hulegaard, a former state champion wrestler at both Juneau-Douglas and Anoka, is visiting Juneau and played in Monday's JDHS alumni baseball game. He said he expects to compete at 133 pounds next season.

• Southwestern Oregon Community College sophomore Gary Reid (Juneau-Douglas) wrestled at 157 pounds for the Lakers this season. A season record wasn't available for Reid, a former state champion wrestler at JDHS.

• The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature runs periodically during the school year and is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from school Web sites and tips from readers, coaches and parents. Fax information to 586-3028, or e-mail it to

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