Kara Goucher Advances

      EUGENE, Ore.
 Kara Goucher enjoyed the moment Monday, sitting in the middle of the pack of
the womens 5,000-meter semifinals at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials,
and then easing her way to victory to gain a spot in Friday’s final.
      The Duluth native had the
fastest time of the night in 15 minutes, 32.22 seconds and was one of 16 to
advance from two heats. Shalane Flanagan of Pittsboro, N.C.,
who won Friday’s 10,000-meter final, won her heat in 15:35.86.
      "I took it easy
and soaked it all in tonight because I know it’s going to be much more serious
Friday," said Goucher. "The last two laps I just strided out and got the
rust out of my legs from the 10K. It was fun."
      Things didn’t go
as well for Adam Goucher, Kara’s husband, in the men’s 5,000-meter final. He
led for a portion of the race early, needing to run the Olympic A standard of
13:21.50 or faster, and he needed to be in the top three. But when he realized
he could not run fast enough, his Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar
asked him to do something he’d never done before, drop out of a race. Reigning
world champion Bernard Lagat won in 13:27.47.
      By stopping with
two laps remaining, Goucher hopes to have saved enough strength to earn an
Olympic berth in Friday’s 10,000-meter final.
      "I wanted to
push, I wanted to run hard, but there was no reason coming in the top three and
running 13:22 or 13:26," said Adam Goucher, a 2000 Olympian at 5,000 meters. "I
despise doing what I did tonight, it was a heartbreaking decision, but now I’ll
just focus on the 10K.
      "It’s the most
important thing for both Kara and I to get to the Olympics. She’s on the team
and now I have to pick it up."
      The Gouchers’
goal to go to Beijing for the Summer Games in August would be a
first  Olympic team experience for the couple. The joy only teammates know was on the faces of
Amy Yoder Begley and Kara Goucher in realizing both had become 2008 Olympians.
      The training
partners from Portland, Ore., finished in the top three of the
women’s 10,000-meter final. Goucher was second and immediately knew her status,
while Yoder had to see her finishing time on the Hayward Field video screen to
confirm that her third-place finish was fast enough to match the Olympic qualifying
standard.
      Their moment of
discovery can be described as outright delight and that pleasure was caught in
prominent photos in Eugene and Portland newspapers. They jumped, they
hugged, they cried.
      Kristine (Hartmark)
Browers, a cross country and track runner at Duluth East
High School
with Goucher,
understands team strength.
      "When I was in
ninth grade and got hurt, I couldn’t run in the state cross country meet. But
Kara [a junior] came over and made sure I felt like I was still part of the
team," said Browers, a 1998 East graduate. "Thats what I found so impressive
about her, she was a great runner, but her interest was always about how the
team was doing. It wasn’t about her individually.
      "The older
runners always looked out for the younger runners and that laid the foundation
for a very successful program at East."
      The
Greyhounds won a state-record seven straight Minnesota Class AA high school
girls cross country championships, starting in 1992, when Goucher was a ninth
grader, through 1998. Browers was in on four of those and then ran cross
country and track at the University
of Minnesota
.
     She’s now 28, married,
lives in Brooklyn Park, Minn.,
is a science teacher at Robbinsdale Cooper High School,
keeps in contact with Goucher and has a photo in her classroom of Goucher racing
in the 2007 World Championships in Osaka,
Japan
. The
photo isn’t related to the course studies, but she’s happy to talk about her
friend when students ask.
      "She was
definitely a role model for me and taught me about being a good teammate," said
Browers.
      Eric Hartmark,
Kristine’s older brother who was in Goucher’s East graduating class of 1996,
also attests to the Olympians humility. He points to the city junior high
cross country championships when they were Woodland students racing at Ordean Middle
School
.
      "Kara went the
wrong way and was off the course for about a block-and-a-half, then turned
around and still won," said Hartmark, 30, one of Duluth’s top road racers. "I told her after
that it was phenomenal what she did, but all she was interested in was asking
me about my race.
      "She was very
talented, worked very hard in school and running, and never acted like she
thought she was important."
      Begley’s
connection with Goucher also goes back to high school  both ran in the Foot
Locker prep cross country championships in San Diego in 1993 and 1994. Both were
Midwestern girls born in 1978 (Begley is from Kendallville,
Ind.) and both moved to Portland to train under Alberto Salazar with
the Nike Oregon Project. The teammates enjoyed their team experience Friday.

New Zealand Chooses Hunter-Galvan

    This update on New Zealand’s Liza Hunter-Galvan, winner of the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon women’s title:
 
    Former Olympian Liza Hunter-Galvan, the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon women’s champion, won an appeal and was named Monday to New Zealand’s marathon team for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing in August.
     Hunter-Galvan, 39, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, bettered the country’s Olympic qualifying standard by almost three minutes last year in Amsterdam in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds, but wasn’t named to the 2008 Olympic team by the New Zealand governing body, Athletics New Zealand, which cited a lack of consistency in her international results.
     Hunter-Galvan appealed the decision to the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand and last week won her appeal.
     On Monday, after reviewing the appeal information, Athletics New Zealand nominated Hunter-Galvan and her selection was approved by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
     "What we might do in the future is be more specific and give athletes a range of races where they can run the qualifying times," said Scott Newman, chief executive of the New Zealand governing body.
      He said the selectors had acquired new information on Hunter-Galvan that satisfied them she was worthy of nomination but he did not know what that was.
     "We acknowledge that this particular selection has, for a number of reasons, been a complex one." he said. "However, we are satisfied that the nomination process has been thorough and that she has met the New Zealand Olympic selection criteria, said Barry Maister, head of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
     Hunter-Galvan, who trains in San Antonio, Texas, appealed the ruling, and on June 20 the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand released a 36-page decision recommending that she be reconsidered for an Olympic berth. Initially, Athletics New Zealand withheld her name from the Olympic team, citing it didn’t think she could finish in the top 16 in Beijing.
    "It’s against the whole Olympic charter what [Athletics New Zealand] is doing, saying that if you don’t have a chance at making the top 16 then you shouldn’t go," she told the News Tribune on June 21. "It’s absolutely ridiculous because that’s not what the Olympics is founded on. It’s founded on bringing the best people from around the world, not the best people in the world. Otherwise you’d have 10 people competing.
     "Hopefully, theyll do the right thing."
     She finished 51st in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The 2008 women’s marathon will be Aug. 17 through the streets of Beijing.

Another Minnesota Olympian

     
Former University of Minnesota and Apple Valley (Minn.) High School athlete Shani Marks became the second woman with Minnesota ties to join the 2008 U.S. Olympic track and field team Sunday.
      Marks, 27, won the triple jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a jump of 47 feet, 2.25 inches at Hayward Field. It was a personal best and America’s No. 3 all-time mark. Marks won the USA Outdoor title in 2006 and 2007 and had a previous personal best of 45-7.
     Duluth native Kara Goucher gained an Olympic berth Friday by placing second in the women’s 10,000 meters.
     In the triple jump, veteran Shakeema
Welsch was second with 46-10 and 2005 USA champion
Erica McClain was third with 45-9.75. Marks and
McClain entered the U.S. Trials already with the Olympic "A"
standard of 14.20m, necessary to compete in Beijing. Although Welsch
exceeded 14.20m in Eugene, her mark was wind-aided so will not be
accepted as an A standard. Marks and McClain will represent Team USA at the Olympics.

Fargo Flash

     If you haven’t heard of 800-meter track prodigy Laura Roesler of Fargo, N.D., then read this story from our sister paper, the Fargo Forum, on how the 16-year-old did Friday in her U.S. Olympic Trials debut. The New York Times also did a piece on her here:

By Chris Hansen
Special to The Forum – 06/28/2008

     
EUGENE, Ore. 
Wearing a pink tank top purchased at Target amid a field of Nike and
Reebok clad competitors, Fargo South sophomore Laura Roesler looked out
of place and overmatched as she toed the starting line alongside former
Olympians and current All-Americans.
      Then the race started.
     The
16-year-old prodigy finished fourth in her heat of the womens
800-meter quarterfinals on Friday during the opening night at the U.S.
Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field in front of a
sold-out crowd of 16,500.
      "I’ve never ran in front of that many people. It was crazy, Roesler said. "It was really different."
      Roesler
finished in a time of 2 minutes, 4.03 seconds to earn a trip to Saturday’s semifinals. (She ran 2:06.82 Saturday and did not advance to Monday’s final.)
      "That was my goal," Roesler said of getting to the semifinals.
      She was joined in Saturday’s round by North Dakota State junior Laura Hermanson of Burnsville, Minn., who advanced to the finals with a 2:05.78.
      "I
was really hoping to make it to the second night," said Hermanson, who
finished seventh in her heat. "I did not want to be one-and-done."
      Both
runners competed in Friday’s first heat that went 10 deep and included
two-time Olympian Hazel Clark, 2008 NCAA runner-up Latavia Thomas from
LSU and seven-time All-American Heather Dorniden from the University of
Minnesota.
      Clark
won the heat in 2:03.65, Thomas was second at 2:03.9 and Morgan Uceny,
who finished fourth at the U.S. championships last season, was third at
2:03.91. Alice Schmidt, who posted the fastest time in the U.S. last
season, had the fastest time of the night at 2:03.58.
      "It’s
amazing. It’s exciting for the sport to have kids like that," Clark
said of Roesler. "It’s kind of exciting when you’re young because you
feel like you have nothing to lose, as opposed to someone like me who
is trying to make their third team.   That’s a little more pressure."
     Roesler dominated the North Dakota prep scene again this past spring,
winning state titles in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 for a third
straight season.
      She
initially qualified for the Olympic Trials when she made the B
standard with a time of 2:05.68 in early May. She then bettered that in June with a 2:03.08.
     Though her time was slower on Friday than her PR, Roesler more than held her own against an experienced, professional field.
      Roesler
and Hermanson both stayed in the back of the pack for much of the race
before Roesler made a move to the outside and closed quickly for her
top-four finish.
      "I didn’t really have a strategy I guess because everyone is trying to make it to the next round," Roesler said.
"She’s
so awesome with how mature she is and she can handle the pressure,"
Hermanson said of Roesler. "I’m really impressed with her."
     Hermanson
only recently qualified for the Trials, when she posted a 2:03.76 earlier this month at the Jim Bush Championships in Los Angeles.
     "Tonight
[Friday] was the fastest race I’ve ever run in," said Hermanson, the North Dakota State school
record-holder in the 800. "It was all a big blur."

Kara Goucher Makes Olympics

     EUGENE, Ore. 
Smiles had long since replaced tears Friday night as Kara Goucher, her mother
and two sisters posed for an impromptu team picture inside Hayward Field.
     About an hour
earlier, Goucher had stamped herself as an American Olympian by placing second
in the women’s 10,000-meter race on the opening day of the U.S. Track and Field
Trials before an announced record crowd of 20,964.
     The former Duluth
East High School star and Portland, Ore., resident needed to finish in the top
three to earn a berth in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing which begin in
August. It’s her first Olympic team and just the second by a Northeastern
Minnesota runner, following Garry Bjorklund, who also qualified at 10,000 meters
on the same track on the way to the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, Quebec.
     "I feel amazing," said
Goucher, the former Kara Grgas-Wheeler. "I’ve wanted to be an Olympian for
so long. This is the dream I’ve always had."
     U.S.
record holder Shalane Flanagan took over in the final meters to win in 31
minutes, 34.81 seconds, a Hayward Field record. Goucher was second in 31:37.72,
while Goucher’s training partner, Amy Yoder Begley, gained the third spot in
31:43.60, gaining an Olympic qualifying time by less than two seconds.
      Goucher, 29, and
her husband, Adam (who qualified Friday for the Monday’s 5,000-meter men’s
final), moved from Boulder, Colo.,
to Portland in
2004 to train under Alberto Salazar. The Olympic berth is one of the payoffs in
their coach-runner relationship.
     "There was always a little hope
in me, that there was a fast girl in there," said Kara Goucher. "That’s why we
moved across the country and sought out other coaches."
     Salazar, a former
University of Oregon star and Hayward Field hero, also had a wide smile
afterward with two of his Nike Oregon Project members gaining Olympic status in
Friday’s only final.
      Patty Wheeler of
Duluth, along with daughters, Kelly
Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth and Kendall
Schoolmeester of Portland,
had some typical anxious moments at trackside before the start of the 8:20 p.m.
race. Yet this was a race of a lifetime, even more notable than a third-place
finish in the 2007 World Championships last August in Osaka, Japan.
      "When Kara came
out onto the track for the start, she looked relaxed. I started screaming my
head off and she looked over and waved. She was ready," said Kelly, a Minnesota
Duluth womens assistant soccer coach. "We cried after Adam’s race, because we
were happy for him, and then on the last lap of Kara’s race I was crying even
more. That’s when we realized ‘She’s going to do it, she’s going to be an
Olympian.’ We couldn’t be prouder."
        It was about
73 degrees with 60 percent humidity for the race, under clear skies and the
early pace was slow and the field of 24 was bunched. Finally, Flanagan, 26,
pulled ahead out and Goucher was in pursuit as they went 1-2 with 14 laps
remaining. Begley was third.
      Katie McGregor of St. Louis
Park, Minn., who has an Olympic qualifying time and would’ve been eligible to
advance even if not in the top three, stayed behind the leaders (she finished
fourth, for a second straight Olympic year, in 32:29.82).
      Begley took off with seven laps left to chase a
faster time, then with three laps remaining, Goucher and Flanagan moved ahead
with Goucher taking a slight lead, her first of the race. With 500 meters to go
Flanagan made a comeback to win.
    "I knew there would be a Kara Goucher Fan Club here
tonight because she lives in Oregon
and I had to go out there ready for war. I wanted to prove to myself that I
could run fast in a championship-style race," said Flanagan, who has run
just two 10,000-meter races and won them both, including a record 30:34.49 on
May 4 in Stanford, Calif.
        The former
University of North Carolina runner holds U.S. records at
3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and was an Olympian in 2004. She and Goucher
will run in Monday’s 5,000 meter semifinals.
      The Wheeler
girls, including Kendall’s 13-week daughter, Sophie, will be there for that and the men’s 5,000 final with Adam Goucher
entered.
      "I’ve now
watched Kara three times in the Olympic Trials, but this is the one she really
had a shot in. That’s what we all knew and believed, but I didn’t want to think
about it too much," said Patty Wheeler. "I was just so glad when they [the top
three] pulled away from the rest of the runners, because then you knew, unless
something strange happened, that Kara would make it."
      Kara Goucher and
Flanagan were expected to make the 10,000-meter team, while Begley, who joined
Salazar about 18 months ago, wrote a great story during the race. She sat at
one pace until Salazar gave her the OK to pick it up and then set a personal
best.
     "It came down to
the last lap and I said ‘You have 70 seconds to hit this last lap’ and I knew
Kara has pulled me through [similar laps in training] and taught me how to
finish. Having my butt kicked by a [World Championships] bronze medalist the
last six months has really helped. I gave it everything I had the last 400 meters.
I said ‘I can do this. I can do this,’ " said Begley, a 16-time All-American at
Arkansas.

Adam Goucher Advances

     It had been nearly 10 months between
serious races for Adam Goucher, who had been held back recently by ankle
surgery and a sore back. But he was in decent form Friday night placing fourth
in his heat and ninth overall in the men’s 5,000 meters in 13:56.25 to advance.
Matt Tegenkamp of Madison, Wis., had the top qualifying time of
13:54.62.
      The top 16
runners advanced to Mondays 11:40 p.m. (Duluth
time) race, which includes reigning World Championships 1,500 and 5,000-meter
champion Bernard Lagat and Matt Solinsky of Stevens Point, Wis.
      "I felt really
comfortable, like it was a Sunday jog. It’s really what I needed to get the
rust out," said Goucher, who last raced in the 2007 World Championships in
August in Osaka, Japan. "Ive lost some speed
workouts [to injury], but Im in the best overall fitness that I’ve ever been
in."
      He was able to
watch his wife’s race, yet Kara Goucher didn’t find out about the men’s 5,000
until after her final. She said she had headphones on and was focusing during Adam’s race.  

Adam Goucher is Up

     The men’s 5,000 meter semifinals are coming up in about 10 minutes at Hayward Field and former Olympian Adam Goucher will see if he makes it to Monday’s final. A combined 16 runners from two heats will advance — top six from each heat plus the next best four times. Goucher is in the first heat with Minnesotans Andrew Carlson, Hassan Mead and Matt Gabrielson.

Eugene Warmth

     It’s 86 and sunny with clear skies as the first evening session of the U.S. Olympic
Track and Field trials begins Friday in Eugene, Ore. The opening ceremonies with a jet flyover was minutes ago at Hayward Field.
    The feature event is the women’s 10,000-meter final at 9:20 p.m. local time (11:20 p.m. Central). While Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan are the stars, also in the 24-runner field are Katie McGregor, 30, of St. Louis Park, Minn., with Team Minnesota-USA, a former NCAA cross country champion at Michigan, and Alexandra Gits of Edina, Minn., who just completed her freshman year at Stanford. She’s a former Minnesota Class AA high school cross country and 3,200-meter track champion.
     Adam Goucher is in a strong 5,000 meter heat (before the women’s 10,000), running against Bernard Lagat and Matt Tegenkamp. Ten runners advance from the semifinals, including the top six in each event. Adam Goucher was a U.S. Olympian at 5,000 meters in 2000.

10,000 Form Chart

     Here’s how the Eugene Register-Guard sees Friday’s 10,000-meter women’s final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. A field of 24 is expected to run. The News Tribune will be there live with race coverage as soon as it can be posted (NBC allows no live race blogging). Also results are available from USA Track and Field at this site.

EVENT FINAL: June 27, 11:20 p.m. (Duluth Time, USA Network)

World Record: 29:31.78

Hayward Field Record: 31:35.3

U.S. Record: 30:34.49

Olympic A Standard: 31:45.00

Meet Record: 31:09.65

Olympic B Standard: 32:20.00

ANALYSIS

Shalane Flanagan is the dominant womens
distance runner in the U.S. right now. She set the American record in
the 5,000 last season, and added the 10,000 record of 30:34.49 at the
Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University on May 4.
Flanagan, who turns 27 on July 8, is the favorite at either distance at
the Trials, but shell face a severe test in the 10,000 from Kara
Goucher. The Portland-based runner, who is coached by Alberto Salazar,
was ranked third in the world in the 10,000 last year. She became the
first U.S. woman to medal at the World Championships with a third-place
finish. Goucher placed third in the 5,000 at the Pre Classic on June 8.
With Jennifer Rhines focusing on the 5K, the third spot is up for
grabs, although Molly Huddle looks strong after posting her PR at
Stanford last May.

FORM CHART

Name  Age  Residence  PR

1, Shalane Flanagan  26  Pittsboro, N.C.  30:34.49

Shes the American record-holder in the 5,000 and 10,000.

2, Kara Goucher  29  Portland  31:17.72

WC bronze medalist posted 4:06.17 win in 1,500 at Harry Jerome.

3, Molly Huddle  23  Elmira, N.Y.  31:27.12

Notre Dame graduate made 10,000 debut at 2006 Big East meet.

4, Amy Yoder-Begley  30  Beaverton  31:59.46

Former Arkansas standout was NCAA 10K champion in 2001.

5, Lisa Koll  20  Ames, Iowa  32:11.13

NCAA champ from Iowa State set U.S. collegiate record in April.

6, Blake Russell  32  Pacific Grove, Calif.  31:35.25

Has already secured berth on U.S. womens marathon team.

7, Amy Hastings  24  Flagstaff, Ariz.  32:30.37

Former Pac-10 champ from ASU ran in World cross country meet.

8, Katie McGregor  30  St. Louis Park, Minn.  31:21.20

Consistent performer was fourth in 10,000 at 2004 Trials.

Track Town, USA

     America’s track and field world is in Eugene, Ore., for 10 days starting Friday and going through July 6.
      The U.S. Olympic Trials are at hallowed, and refurbished, Hayward Field…..Bill Bowerman, Bill Dellinger, Steve Prefontaine. The city of 153,000 in central Oregon, which is home to the University of Oregon, is a track-happy, running-happy community which brags about the arts as much as the Prefontaine woodchip trails.
      The only final on opening day Friday is the women’s 10,000-meter run, featuring Duluth East graduate Kara Goucher and American record holder and Marblehead (Mass.) High School graduate Shalane Flanagan.
      That’s at 11:20 p.m. Duluth time.
      Daytime temperatures are predicted to be uncharacteristically hot, low to mid 90s Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with lows in the mid 50s. Daytime highs average in the 70s in late June.
      Goucher and her husband, Adam, are schedule to each compete at 10,000 and 5,000 meters which means each will race Friday and Monday for starters. Information will be available here from Eugene by the News Tribune when races are OVER. Media rights holder NBC TV allows no blogging while the event is in progress.
      And there will be other STUFF during the 10 days, Goucher related, Northeastern Minnesota related, maybe just plain Minnesota related.
      Hayward Field was last home to the Olympic Trials in 1980 (when U.S. President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott of the Moscow Summer Games.) The track has undergone an $8 million renovation and is ready for action. It seats 16,500. There are 1,100 athletes. Stay tuned here, USA Network (live Friday with the women’s 10,000) and NBC.