Last Sunday, while I watched the excellent Nike Men's 2 Mile on NBC, I could not help but cheer for Matt Tegankamp. Matt was a good runner in high school, from Lee's Summit, Missouri, and then went to the University of Wisconsin, where he has stayed after his B.S. degree was finished, to train with Jerry Schumacher.
I met Jerry Schumacher in 1999, when we sponsored the late Arthur Lydiards' tour of 20 cities across the U.S. to speak on distance running. That night, after Arthur spoke to about 50 people in Madison, Wisconsin, Jerry, Coach Joe Hanson from Edgewood, Arthur and myself headed over to the Essen Haus, a very popular German style brewery. Also there were Arthur's wife, my partner, Christine, and our son, Adam.
We spent several hours asking Arthur questions, he was full of energy after speaking to the athletes and coaches. I remember Pascal Dobert, the steeplechaser from UW, asking Arthur questions that night as well.
I just remember Jerry's enthusiasm and interest in the sport. I would see Jerry at away meets each year, mostly the Cardinal Invite or Payton Jordon Invite each year and we would say hello. I always noted that Jerry was developing a superb group of young distance runners.
Matt Tegankamp was on of his first successes, and last year, Matt exploded. First he took on Bernard Lagat at the USA 5k and made his work for the title, just holding off Tegankamp who ran sub 60 for the last lap to run his 13:16 for second. Weeks later, Matt ran 13:04 for 5,000 in Europe, and at the end of the summer, he ran a masterful, tactical 5,000 meters in Athens, Greece at the IAAF World Cup!
This spring, after his Indoor 3k USA title win, Matt kept quiet. He trained in Madison (www.kimbia.net), raced sparingly, preparing for the elite season. It is a long season this summer, Indy to Osaka, Japan, and Matt has alot on the line. Matt's blog tells it all, the racing, the training, and the focus it takes to be a great athlete.
On June 10, 2007, Matt Tegankamp ran HIS race. He stayed behind the pace, which hit 4:01.9 for the mile. Matt was in the 4:04-4:06 range. He was still behind Dathan Ritzenhein until 600 meters, when he took off. Suddenly, Teegs was flying, and with 300 to go, this observer thought he could win the race. But Mottram wanted this one and took off, flying past Taruki Bekele and the race was on. Matt stopped gaining on them, but he was running away from Ritzenheim, and into American record territory. As Mottram crossed the finish line in 8:03.51, then cam Bekele a second later, Matt came through as third, in 8:07.07. Our photographer, Victah Sailer, the man of the hour, got Matt to stand next to the Timing board with his American Record noted.
Matt earned this record over thousands of miles of training, and racing. He earned this record from listening to the suggestions of his coach, Jerry Schumacher, who has developed a culture in Madison that works for his athletes. Matt earned this record from running smart, running hard and challenging himself.
I for one, can not wait to see him in Indy next week! To see the video of his AR race and read a post race interview, check this link.