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Reneau is top U.S. finisher in Chicago marathon, 7th overall

Mike Reneau's high school and college sports résumé suggests a candidate for some grappling games rather than a rapidly-becoming-elite marathoner.

But he's gotten a little help. The genes passed on by his father, Jeff, who finished 10th in the 1968 Olympic marathon trials and 11th in the 1969 Boston Marathon, have made Reneau more than muscle.

The 30-year-old former wrestler at Hudson High School and the University of Wyoming ran the best race of his whirlwind five-year running career when he was clocked in at 2 hours, 16 minutes, 20 seconds. That was good enough for a seventh-place in the men's division of the Chicago Marathon.

Reneau was the first American male finisher. That replicated his performances in the 2006 Grandma's Marathon, in which he was eighth in 2:20:28, and the 2007 Houston Marathon, in which he again was eighth in 2:17:46.

"Mike and I are the only two father-son pairs who have both competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials," Jeff Reneau said. His son did it in 2007.

When Mike Reneau left Hudson, he was the most successful wrestler in school history, at that time, with a 119-24 record. As a senior he went 41-2 and finished fifth in the 119-pound class in the state tournament. He also ran on Hudson's cross-country team "for a couple of years" but didn't excel.

At Wyoming he used running as a conditioning tool for wrestling and didn't participate in cross-country. He adds that wrestling has training him in the thinking that conditioning is a year-round activity. He soon started working out with two other top runners, Ryan Meissen and Jason Finch, on the back streets of North Hudson. At that time it was Meissen who seemed destined for this kind of marathoning success.

In 2004, after transferring to UW-Madison, Reneau ran in the local marathon to complete a physical education class requirement and his third-place finish earned him an A-minus. He saw that he might be good at another sport.

Reneau then went to Rochester Hills, Mich., and joined the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project team, which has 15 men and three women in training.