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In the name of his father

06/09/2011, 11:19am CDT
By David La Vaque, Star Tribune

Wayzata distance running star Adam Moline honors father lost to cancer

Wayzata's Adam Moline ran the anchor leg of the Trojans' winning 4x800-meter relay team at the 2010 Class 2A state meet. Photo courtesy of Kraig Lungstrom

Moline qualified for the Class 2A state meet in the 800 and the 4x400 and 4x800 relays. Photo courtesy of Kraig Lungstrom

Distance running standout Adam Moline graduated from Wayzata High School last week but returned Wednesday to train for the approaching Class 2A state track and field meet and pick up pottery.

On his way to the pottery room, Moline, a two-time state champion as part of Trojans’ relay teams, said his anchor leg of the 4x800-meter relay at state last season was by far his most challenging race to date. Moline took the baton in fifth place and some 40 meters behind the lead pack before surging down the stretch to victory.

His father, David, cheered loudly from his customary spot in the upper corner of the seats at Hamline University. Moline has watched video footage of the race “a few dozen times because he yells and I like to hear his voice again.”

With an assortment of skillfully-made, fragile platters and cups in his arms, Moline navigated hallways packed with students set loose for summer break and got his cargo safely out to Trojans Stadium. The facility sat empty and silent, a contrast to what awaits him Friday and Saturday at the state meet at Hamline. Cheering fans will fill the stands, though Moline’s focus will be on the fan missing and the voice he won’t hear.

David Moline died Jan. 24 after battling kidney cancer, leaving behind wife Cheryl, sons Erik and Adam and daughter Sami. He was 50 years old.

“An hour doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him,” Moline said. “He came to every single meet up to the end.”

Even cancer-related medical procedures last fall could not keep David away. A few days out of surgery to remove a three-pound tumor from one of his kidneys – “He said the doctors would have found it a lot sooner but he had hard abs,” Moline said – David watched his son help Wayzata win the Class 2A state cross country title in November.

Further treatments left David frail but he traveled to Portland, Ore., in December to see Moline and the Trojans place ninth at the Nike Cross Nationals.

The cancer then spread to David’s spine, shortening his life span to a few months but never dulling his optimism. In his last CaringBridge.org journal entry dated Jan. 14, he vowed to keep fighting. Ten days later he was gone.

Moline tried to make the most of the time remaining, spending “countless hours sitting there next to him. It was nice but it was hard to see him like that.” Moline was not alone.

“One of the nurses said he could count on one hand the number of times he saw that many people gather around one person,” Moline said.

It is said of the grieving process that first anniversaries are difficult. Moline experienced such emotions earlier this season at the Hamline Elite Meet. On Moline’s previous trip to Hamline’s track, David was there to cheer. His father’s presence lingered.

“When I raced there again this season, I noticed how much I felt him everywhere,” Moline said. “It kind of makes me nervous but excited to race at Hamline because it reminds me of him.”

Wayzata track and field coach Aaron Berndt said Moline is every bit his father’s son.

“The last time I talked to Dave he was talking about fighting,” Berndt said. “The way he treated his cancer is the same way Adam treats his own life. He does everything possible to reach his goals.”

A busy schedule will test Moline at the state meet. He qualified to compete in the 800 (he placed 8th last season) as well as the 4x800 and 4x400 relays. Moline and the Trojans have won the past two 4x800 relays. And the 4x400 is seeded first.

Where he will finish remains to be seen. But he will start by channeling his father’s advice.

“He left me note before either cross country sections or state last year,” Moline said. “I kept it in my locker and I bring it to races and read it before I run. That’s something that brings me back and reminds me of him. It basically says how much I have and how much God has blessed me with.”

To honor his father, Moline has coordinated a benefit event for CureSearch, an organization intent on finding a cure for cancer. Moline and others will run a 26.2 marathon relay race, hoping they can break Geoffrey Mutai’s record time of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds together. The event takes place on June 14. For more information or to donate, go to www.marathonformoline.com

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