Team USA Minnesota News

Six Team USA Minnesota Athletes Are Coaching Cross Country Teams in the Twin Cities this Fall

Minneapolis/St. Paul - Oct. 27, 2010 - Six Team USA Minnesota distance runners are serving as assistant cross country coaches this fall for various high school and college programs in the Twin Cities.  The athletes include Jason Lehmkuhle, Matt Gabrielson, Antonio Vega, Chris Rombough, Meghan Armstrong and Heather Dorniden Kampf.


Lehmkuhle, Gabrielson, Vega and Dorniden Kampf are coaching high school teams.  The Minnesota High School Cross Country season began in late August and concludes on Nov. 6 with the state meet.  Rombough and Armstrong are working with Division I and Division III college teams respectively.


At Edina High School, Lehmkuhle and Gabrielson are assistant coaches for the boys cross country team, which includes some 130 students from 7th up through 12th grade.  The team has been ranked all season as one of the top three teams in the state AA (large school) bracket.  This is Lehmkuhle's sixth year of coaching at Edina while Gabrielson is in his fifth year.


"I love watching the kids develop as runners from season-to-season and year-to-year," said Lehmkuhle, who is a top-ranked marathoner with a best of 2:12 and also a World Cross Country and World Half Marathon competitor.  "Coaching high school kids and correcting some of the mistakes they make in training and racing helps clarify to me when I may be making some of those same mistakes."


Gabrielson, a three-time World Cross Country and a 2009 World Marathon team member, is constantly reminded that "every day, every race is different and one must always keep putting the best foot forward.  A runner needs a lot of tools in their toolbox to be successful and it's not an easy thing to fill up the toolbox.  Racing and training are very tough things.  Yet the enthusiasm that the boys bring to our program at Edina is contagious.  It keeps me motivated in my own training and racing.  I have had my own struggles in the sport, as do they, and we all realize that if you choose to give it what you have on that day, then things will work out the way they will."


Another assistant coach is Vega, who is in his fourth year at Burnsville High School, with 60 boys on the cross country roster.  "I enjoy working with young athletes," said the 2010 USA Half Marathon Champion and 2010 USA Running Circuit winner.  "Coaching high schoolers helps me keep my own running in perspective.  It is always a good reminder of how much fun running is.  The more fun you have, the better results you get."


Rombough graduated from the University of Minnesota last spring and is in his first year as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, where he works with the men's cross country team of 21 athletes.  While at the U, he was a three-time All American in cross country and the 2006 Big Ten Cross Country champion.  "The thing I like most about coaching is that I can help other runners develop," he said.  "I chose to run for the University of Minnesota because they were continually a top program in the country and I wanted to make the team better.  Although I am no longer a Gopher student-athlete, I still want to help the program succeed and improve."


Armstrong is also coaching in the college ranks, having signed on as an assistant coach of the 10-member women's cross country team at Augsburg College.  This is her first year of coaching.  "I love helping athletes reach their full potential and to help them get to that 'aha' moment, when they realize how strong and fast they really are," said Armstrong, who this fall has finished fourth at both the USA 5k and 10 Mile Championships.  "Coaching others makes me more balanced.  It helps me 'see' how training affects an athlete rather than just how it 'feels' to me.  This in turn heps me to train smarter."


Dorniden Kampf is a first-year coach as well and is assisting the Apple Valley High School girls cross country team which has 25 athletes.  "It definitely gives me a different perpsective to be on the coaching end of things," said the nine-time All American in cross country and track who graduated last December from the University of Minnesota.  "I've learned that as a coach, you can't just look at the way a kid is running and know what they are feeling.  There needs to be a lot of communication.


"I've also learned that athletes can join the cross country team for lots of reasons and as a coach it helps to understand why the kids are out there.  You can't motivate every athlete the same way.  Whether the athlete loves to compete, loves running or just wants to stay in shape for another sport, anyone willing to put in the work and discipline to be a long distance runner is worthy of respect in my book."


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 Fitness ( and its silver sponsor is Twin Cities In Motion (  It is also supported by the New York Road Runners and the USA Distance Project along with a grant from Running USA.  For more information, visit the team's web site at




Pat Goodwin