“We’re happy to add two great Minnesota runners to our group,” said Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker. “A lot of people here have followed the careers of these two throughout high school and college and are excited to see them continue on to the next level.”
Albertson-Junkans is from Stillwater, Minn., where she was a prep standout in cross country and track. She was the Minnesota State High School Cross Country champion as a sophomore and competed all four years at the state meet. She also participated in a range of events at the State Track & Field Championships throughout high school including the 4x800, 1600 and 3200.
At the University of Minnesota, where she received a bachelor’s degree in child development and a masters in public health, she was a member of three track and field teams that went on to win Big Ten titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009. She was also a two-time cross country All-American and helped lead the squad to its first Big Ten championship in 2007. In addition to finishing 19th at the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships, she holds the U women’s second best time in cross country at both the Big Ten and NCAA championships. She was also the 2009 Big Ten candidate for NCAA Woman of the Year.
After her collegiate running career, Albertson-Junkans stepped away from training and racing to focus on her academic and career interests and now works in child development research. During the past two years, she returned to competition and in 2012 won the Fargo Half Marathon, placed third at the Cow Harbor 10k with a time of 33:19, and was eighth at the USA 10 Mile Championships earlier this month with a personal best of 55:44.
Melander, who is from Apple Valley, Minn., went to Eastview High School where she placed as high as third at the Minnesota State Cross Country meet. In track, she finished second in the 1600 and 3200 meters as a junior and senior, ran on the third-place 3200-meter relay at the state meet and helped her team win the Minnesota State title. Melander holds school records at Eastview in the 1600m (4:59.25), 3200m (10:52.32) and cross country 4000m (14:28). She also was the recipient of the 2008 Twin Cities In Motion College Scholarship.
At the University of Iowa in 2012, she was the Big Ten 5000m champion and the runner-up in the Big Ten 10,000m. She also qualified for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5000m. Melander was a three-time academic all-Big Ten honoree, recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, and holds the school record for the indoor mile (4:39.78). Since graduation, she has competed on the roads placing fourth at the 5th Season 8k and 10th at the Bix 7 Mile. Melander has a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from Iowa and is currently working on her master’s in speech pathology at the University of Minnesota.
Des Moines Half Marathon – Oct. 21
Antonio Vega was second at the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon on Oct. 21 with a time of 1:03:41. The event was Vega’s second race this fall – having placed ninth at the USA 10 Mile Championships on Oct. 7 – as he continues his return from a long-term injury. Next up for Vega will be the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day.
About Team USA Minnesota
Team USA Minnesota is based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Formed in 2001, the purpose of the training center is to improve the competitiveness of post-collegiate American distance running and to develop Olympians. The athletes are coached by Dennis Barker, head cross country and track coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Team USA Minnesota’s major sponsor is Life Time Run (www.lifetimerun.com) and its silver sponsor is Twin Cities In Motion (www.tcmevents.org). It is also supported by the New York Road Runners and the USA Distance Project. For more information, visit the team’s web site atwww.teamusaminnesota.org.