Joey, Jessica Win Again in St. Paul
Photo: Stephen Kenny
Luigino's Joey Mantia proved his preeminence among North American distance skaters today with a commanding victory in the Saint Paul Inline Marathon.
Mantia's win in the continent's second largest marathon came a half day after he dominated the 20-lap "Miss and Out" criterium in Saint Paul.
The 20-year-old from Ocala, Fla., controlled the pace of today's 26.2-mile marathon, but he wasn't always the leader. Several times, groups of skaters pulled away and built small leads. But each time, Mantia picked up the pace and reeled them back in.
"He would get into a crouch and just start hammering," said Bont's Glenn Koshi. "The other guys (in the pack) would be 'tongues out' trying to keep up with him."
Not far from the finish line at Mears Park, another group got away from Mantia. The group included Tru-Rev's Julian Rivera, Hyper's Sebastian Cano and one of the Bont North America team members.
"They got out of sight a couple of times," Mantia said, "so I picked up the pace."
He caught them well before the finish line and sprinted to a comfortable lead. About 50 meters before the line, he stood up and raised his arms in victory.
His time was 1 hour, 8 minutes and 15.46 seconds.
Winning the field sprint for second place was Hyper's Dane Lewis, who also finished second in last year's race.
Rivera was third. Bont North America's Anthony Lobello, a member of the U.S. Olympic short track ice team, was fourth.
Jessica By a Hawk
Hyper's Jessica Smith used one of her trademark hawks to win the women's marathon for the second year in a row.
The 22-year-old from Melvindale, Mich., skated at or near the lead of the sluggish women's pack for much of the race.
But on the final uphill section, the Bont North America women pulled ahead to position themselves for the sprint.
Smith attached herself to the back of the Bont paceline. But Bont's Helen Havam took a lead in the sprint.
Havam was striding toward the finish line when Smith caught her and thrust her right foot forward to win by inches.
"I didn't start (sprinting) soon enough, so I had to hawk at the end for the win," Smith said.
Havam finished in second place with an identical time as Smith's: 1 hour, 23 minutes and 24.6 seconds.
Bont's Jilleanne Rookard finished a second back in third place.
Remarkably, several of the pro master women (over 30) caught up to the elite women even though they started a minute behind them.
Six of the master women (Mechele Busby, Debbie Rice, Kara Peterson, Tracy Ide, Conny Strub and Marcia Woodfield) posted times as much as a minute faster than Smith's.
Skating in her first large marathon (although still wearing fitness, rather than racing, skates), surprising newcomer Rebecca George finished ninth, 19 seconds behind the leaders.
Just over 1600 skaters participated in this year's Saint Paul Marathon (official numbers were not yet available). The event is in its third year.