Jeff Jirele. A native of Austin, Minnesota, Jirele attended Golden Valley Lutheran Junior College where he won the National Junior College Cross Country Championship in 1974, and the One Mile Track Championship in 1974 and 1975. He went on to the University of Illinois where he continued to excel at the NCAA Division I level including a 2nd place finish in the Big 10 Outdoor 1500 meter in 1976 and a 3rd place in the same event the following year. Jirele achieved All-American status three times, including a National Indoor Championship as a member of the winning 2-Mile relay team. Jirele competed in the 1500 meter in the 1976 US Olympic Trials and enjoyed two summer track tours of Europe he put an exclamation point on an outstanding career with a sub-four minute mile performance of 3:58.3 in a meet in Stockholm, Sweden in 1978. Jirele currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona.
Scott Keenan. Kennan, a native of Duluth (graduate of Central High School ) was the president of the North Shore Striders, a running group in Duluth , when he and a few others founded Grandma’s Marathon in 1977. Keenan has been at the helm of Grandma’s Marathon since its inception. Now celebrating its 30th year, Grandma’s Marathon has grown from a small regional race with 150 starters to an international weekend destination event. In 2005 over 16,000 runners participated in Grandma’s Marathon , the Garry Bjorklund ½ marathon, and the William A. Irvin 5K. In addition to the race itself, Keenan’s vision for the marathon also involves giving back to the community. The Young Athletes Foundation (YAF) is a Grandma’s Marathon organization. YAF was developed in 1990 to assist in the promotion and growth of youth athletics in the Twin Ports and surrounding areas. Since its inception, the YAF has provided hundreds of athletic shoes to area high schools and has contributed over $150,000 to non profit athletic and recreational organizations. Keenan was also behind the Minnesota Elite Athlete Development Program (MEADP), which provides grants to post-collegiate athletes. MEADP was created by the Minnesota distance running community to provide financial assistance to elite Minnesota distance runners who have completed their academic running career. The program provides grants to assist qualified runners in reaching their fullest potential.
Michael J. Manders. Manders, of Park Center High School, placed 4th in the discus in the 1978 Minnesota State High School Meet and attended Hamline University. Manders was a seven time conference champion in the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) where he first won the shot put in 1979, then both the shot put and discus in 1980, ‘82, and ‘83, in addition to setting conference records in those years. His conference records remain standing. In the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Manders racked up four national championships in the shot put indoors and outdoors, plus achieved All-American status in shot or discuss a total of nine times. In NCAA Division III competition, Manders set national records in the shot put or discus six times; his all-time records still stand. He climbed to All-American status ten times and won the championship medal in the shot put and discuss in 1980, ‘82, and ‘83. His total of six NCAA Division III championships has never been equaled or surpassed by another NCAA athlete to this day. Manders qualified for NCAA Division I national championship meets nine times in the years 1980, ‘82 and ‘83 including indoors and outdoors shot put plus the discuss. In 1983, he placed 4th indoors and 8th outdoors in the shot put. Manders competed in the USA National Championship meet in the shot and discus in 1982 and ‘83. His best throws indoors in the shot put in 1983 were ranked 4th overall in the world at that time. Manders’s performance in the discus remains the best ever by a Minnesota athlete, including that of Olympic and World record holder, and Hall of Famer Fortune Gordien. His shot put performance ranks him between Minnesota Olympians and Hall of Fame members Colin Anderson and Ron Backes. Manders resides in Apple Valley.
Dick Kilty. In the Veteran Athlete category, one must have a significant performance in track and field or distance running that extends back a minimum of fifty years prior to the current date. Dick Kilty competed for the University of Minnesota in the years 1945 though 1948. He placed 3rd in the 10,000 meter in the 1948 NCAA Championship Track Meet, held in Minnesota that year, when the University of Minnesota won the Championship team title. Other highlights of Kilty’s career include a victory in the mile race at the Florida Relays, a 2nd place Big 10 finish in the mile, and a Big 10 Championship in the 2 Mile.
Alex Boies. Alex Boies began running in 1969 – before Title IX, before varsity sports for girls, and during a time when women were barred from many road races. She became the first woman from Minnesota to run a marathon, the Las Vegas Marathon, which she ran in 4 hours 29 minutes. Boies won the City of Lakes marathon in 3 hours 18 minutes. At age 30, Boies competed on the first University of Minnesota varsity women’s cross country team. Boies was the first female president of the Minnesota Distance Running Association and became one of the prime leaders in developing running in Minnesota. In 1977, Boies organized a social run and meeting for women interested in a running club. It developed into the extremely successful Northern Lights Running Club. Boies founded and directed many popular races and runs including the Mother’s Day Race, the Artist’s Run, and the Mudball Run. She assisted in the development of the extremely popular Sytendde Mai Race. As the Minnesota representative to the AAU in 1977, Boies was one of those responsible for bringing the first US all-women marathon championships to the Twin Cities. Eighty-eight women finished the event. The publicity and excitement generated by the race was contagious. It was a significant stepping stone in the inclusion of long distance races for women in the Olympic Games.
Severt Legred. A native of Bricelyn, Minnesota, Legred competed in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field in high school. He graduated from St. Olaf, earned a Master’s Degree and went on to teach economics at Gustavus where he was the head coach for the cross country team and distance coach for the track team from 1967 to 1969. He moved to Golden Valley Lutheran College, a two-year junior college in the fall of 1969. There, Legred founded the men’s cross country program and the track program the following spring of 1970. Under Coach Legred’s guidance from 1969 through 1985, Golden Valley remained a powerful force in cross country and track in National Junior College competition. The men’s team placed 3rd in the National Cross Country Championship in 1973 and moved up to 2nd place in 1974. Highlights included two National Men’s Marathon Team Championships in 1980 and 1981. Coach Legred also assisted with the founding of the women’s teams in 1974 at Golden Valley. Legred’s Golden Valley women won the National Cross Country Championship in 1981, plus twice finished 2nd in 1980 and 1984. In total, Coach Legred’s teams won 28 Men’s State Championships, 10 Women’s State Championships, 25 Men’s Five-State Regional Championships, and 8 Women’s Regional Championships. As Individuals, his athletes accumulated 37 Men’s All-American and 30 Women’s All-American honors, and 11 National Championship Gold Medals. Five of his athletes qualified to compete in the US Olympic Trials. Legred resides in Golden Valley during more moderate Minnesota weather and in Mesa, Arizona the remainder of the year.