WCHA Women Add Shootout

    The WCHA will use a shootout in the coming women’s season, following a five-minute overtime. Here’s the league release:

  ­ The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has become the
first NCAA Division 1 women’s conference to officially re-introduce the
shootout to college hockey, after the option was installed recently by the
rules committee, Associate Commissioner Sara R. Martin announced today
(August 28). The Central Collegiate Hockey Association also recently
announced plans to use the shootout in men’s games. The Hockey East
Association previously had installed a shootout in the mid-1990s, and is
among the conferences considering re-instituting it, but has not yet.

A National Hockey League-style three-player shootout will be used to
determine a winner for all WCHA regular season games still tied after
regulation and the standard five-minute overtime.

The NCAA Rules and Ice Hockey Committees have allowed conferences the
ability to implement this tie-breaking protocol so that every regular-season
league game will have a winner while preserving the integrity of the
national rankings. Regular season games decided by a shootout will still be
considered ties for NCAA purposes so there will be no effect on NCAA records
for the purposes of the Pairwise and determining the national tournament
field. Bonus points awarded will impact conference standings only.

"As a group, our head coaches were unanimous in adopting this exciting
tie-breaking procedure to determine a winner for our regular season games,"
said Martin. "Over our first nine seasons as a Division 1 league, the
Western Collegiate Hockey Association has continued to bring an impressive
brand of women’s hockey to the ice and collectively we think the adoption of
the shootout will add an extra element of drama to our games for
student-athletes, coaches, fans and media."

The WCHA has also approved the following point system for regular-season
play; two (2) points for a win in regulation or overtime, one (1) point for
each team if the game is still tied at the conclusion of the five-minute
(5:00) overtime period, and one (1) additional point being awarded to the
team who wins the shootout. Overtime will continue to be played similar to
regulation time with five skaters and one goaltender for each team
(penalties excepted).

The WCHA has no plans to use the shootout in men’s games.

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Polson Leads Standings

     This from Down the Backstretch.com about current Minnesota Runner of the Year standings, including defending men’s champion Jeremy Polson of Duluth, who is in first and Duluthian Eric Hartmark in third:

As the Minnesota road racing season prepares for its autumn schedule of events, Kim Magee of Mounds View and Jeremy Polson of Duluth lead the 2008 USATF-Minnesota Runner of the Year standings compiled by the Minnesota Running Date Center.

Magee leads the women’s standings with 50 points, ahead of Lithuanian Olympian Rasa Troup who has 40 and Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier Melissa Gacek who has 31. Magee has the fastest times for a Minnesotan at the 10K and 10 mile distances. She ran 36:50 for 10K at Get in Gear in April and 59:37 at the Lumderjack Days 10 Mile in July.

Runner of the Year standings are based on an athlete’s annual rank against fellow Minnesotan in up to five standard road racing distances.

Polson, who tied with Team USA Minnesota’s Chris Lundstrom for Runner of the Year honors in 2007, has 66 points to his credit. He leads Richard Kandie who has 51 and fellow Duluth native Eric Hartmark who has 50. Polson sports Minnesota’s fastest road 5K and 8K of 2008, running 14:47 at the Brian Kraft Memorial 5K in May and 24:06 at the Human Race 8K in March.

Complete Runner of the Year standings — including those in eleven separate age-groups for men and women — can be found, HERE, on the new Runner of the Year web-site maintained by Mike Setter.

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More Marathon Talk

While Kara Goucher’s first Summer Olympics
has finished, she’s already looking ahead to the 2012 Summer Games in London. She hopes to make
a second U.S.
track and field team, but is expecting to move from the track distance races of 5,000
and 10,000 meters to the 26.2-mile marathon on the roads.

Her likely move was noted in Saturday’s News
Tribune and confirmed by other reports from Beijing.


From the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard:


Next up for Goucher according to Nike Oregon Project coach
Alberto Salazar: the marathon.

"I think she can be a real force there,"
Salazar said. "She could be the class of the marathon that way (Meseret) Defar
and [Tirunesh] Dibaba are in the 5 and the 10."

Salazar said Goucher’s experiences in the
10,000 and 5,000 meters in Beijing — she finished 10th in the 10,000, a minute behind
Dibaba — were "a necessary step forward for her" after a bronze medal in the
10,000 in the 2007 World Championships.

"This had to happen for her because of the
bronze," he said. "It would take a lot of luck for her to medal (in the 5,000
and 10,000), where in the marathon, it won’t be luck. She’ll be contending not
just for a medal but for a win."


From the Oregonian in Portland, Ore.

      Coach Alberto Salazar said
it was time for [Goucher] to move to the marathon.

"In the marathon, she could be the best
in the world," Salazar said. "To be the best she has to move up . It’s

In the 5,000 and 10,000, she is playing
catch-up. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia
won the 5,000 in 15:41.40, or 7.99 seconds ahead of Goucher.

Last week,
Dibaba won the 10,000. Goucher was 10th, more than a minute off the pace.

Ethiopian-born women swept the medals in the
5,000. Elvan Abeylegesse, a native of Ethiopia
now running for Turkey, was
second and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Meseret Defar of Ethiopia was

If Goucher were to stay at the 5,000-10,000
level, Salazar said, "she would always be shooting for third place. Dibaba
and Defar are in another world."

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Next: Goucher to Marathon

Running with the leaders was Kara Goucher’s
primary goal entering her first Summer Olympics and she held true to that plan
Friday night in the women’s 5,000-meter track final before more than 90,000
fans at National Stadium in Beijing.

five laps remaining in the 3.1-mile race the Duluth native was second in a field of 15 before
ultimately being overtaken by an East African brigade. Goucher, 30, from Portland, Ore.,
placed ninth in 15 minutes, 49.39 seconds, less than one second out of seventh.

Tirunesh Dibaba, 23, became the first woman to win the 5,000 and 10,000 in the
same Olympics, with a victory in 15:41.40. She was the defending champion from Athens in 2004.

Ethiopian born Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey
was second in 15:42.74 and Ethiopia‘s
Meseret Defar was third in 15:44.12. Abeylegesse was also second in the 10,000.

"I couldn’t believe the [early slow] pace. I
thought, ‘What good luck, since my strength is my kick.’ But I’m at least a
year away from being able to kick with them. Dibaba was obviously born to run,
and she’s a fierce competitor in her heart and soul. They have to fight so hard
to get here,," Goucher told Runner’s World and Running Times. [The Ethiopian]
national championships are like a Grand Prix final. Who would have thought a
few years ago – I know the pace was slow – that I would be in a race where I
could see the Olympic champion all the way? I was shocked by how slow it was.

"I thought we might start out at 15:30 pace
and then speed up. With a lap to go I tried to kick, but it wasn’t there. I
tried to maintain my composure to the end. I know everyone might think I’m
crazy but I really believe I could have won this race on the right night. I’m
going to go back and train hard, and be a better, more prepared athlete at the
next Olympics."

Goucher said that a week earlier, in the
10,000-meter final, she didn’t have the mental toughness needed to keep pace
with the frontrunners as she placed 10th. But she was up to the task in her
third Olympic race and second final, as the only Duluth-raised woman to compete
in a Summer Games and the only Duluthian to race in two track finals.

She was the top American among three
qualifiers in the 5,000. U.S.
record holder Shalane Flanagan, 27, of Pittsboro,
N.C., was 10th, less than two seconds behind
Goucher in 15:50.80 and Jennifer Rhines, 34, of Mammoth L:akes, Calif., was 14th in

Wheeler of Duluth, Goucher’s mother who was in Beijing for the two earlier
races, was back home Friday and talked with Goucher by phone after the 5,000
final. Despite having to run with a sinus infection, diagnosed earlier in the
week, Goucher felt she had given a good account of herself.

"Kara really thought she had a chance to
medal and she wasn’t disappointed with her race," said Wheeler. "It was different
from the 10,000 when, after that race, she thought she had a lot left in her.
She said [Friday] she gave it everything she had. She said she was just outkicked
by a fast group of women.

"Overall she’s looking at the last two weeks
as a really positive experience, a great experience that is only going to make
her a better runner."

Flanagan, the 10,000-meter bronze medalist,
said she wasn’t particularly surprised by a slow pace on a night which began
with 79 degrees and 74 percent humidity. The top five finishers were born in Ethiopia or Kenya,
although Tirunesh’s time was 90 seconds off her world-record best of 14:11.15,
set June 6 in Oslo, Norway.

"The Ethiopians and Kenyans like to play
games in championship races," Flanagan told Runner’s World and Running Times.
"My legs were tired. It was hard to change gears. I tried to ease into every
move, but with three laps to go I couldn’t get back into it.

"I’m a huge Defar fan. She came over to me
before the race and gave me a big hug. I think Dibaba just has a lot of innate
ability and she knows her body so well. She’s a great sprinter, beautiful to
watch. I aspire to have that kind of form."

While Goucher is already looking toward the
2012 Summer Games in London,
it’s likely she’ll be on the roads in the marathon and may have little track
racing in her future.

It’s likely she will make her marathon
debut Nov. 2 in the New York City Marathon, where there is more than $600,000
in prize money. A month earlier, on Oct. 5, it’s also possible that Goucher may
enter the Great North Run Half-Marathon in Newcastle,
England (as defending
champion) or the Twin Cities 10-Miler from Minneapolis to St. Paul (held on the same day
as the Twin Cities Marathon).

"I would love to run a marathon this year,
but in order to do that, I would have to be satisfied with the end of my track
season at the Olympics," Goucher told the News Tribune last month. "To do a
fall marathon, I would have to come home and train, no more racing. I’ve had by
eyes set on New York
for a long time and would love to run there this year or next."

But first she planned to remain in Beijing with her husband, Adam Goucher, and do some
sightseeing before returning to Portland
on Monday. The Summer Olympics end Sunday with the men’s marathon and closing

Kelly Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth,
Kara’s older sister, watched a tape-delayed Finnish television broadcast of the
5,000-meter final at a Montague Hall lecture hall on Minnesota Duluth’s campus
Friday morning, about an hour after the actual race which began at 7:40 a.m.
CDT and 8:40 p.m. in Beijing.
About 50 friends and relatives also viewed the race there.

"I thought [Kara] looked fantastic. The
leaders never put a big gap on her until the end. She proved that she belonged
there with the best runners in the world, said Grgas-Wheeler, a UMD assistant
women’s soccer coach. "The Olympics were probably overwhelming for her at
first, but [in Tuesday’s 5,000-meter preliminaries] she settled in and [Friday]
she proved she belonged and for so long American distance runners haven’t
belonged there."

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Goucher ninth in 5,000

   Duluth native Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore., was ninth in the women’s 5,000-meter race Friday night at National Stadium in Beijing at the Summer Olympics to lead America’s three entries.
   She finished in 15 minutes, 49.39 seconds, while teammate Shalane Flanagan ran 10th in 15:50.80 and Jennifer Rhines was 14th in 16:34.
     Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba became the first woman to win the 5,000 and 10,000 in the same Olympics, with a victory in 15:41.40. She was the defending champion from Athens in 2004.
     Ethiopian born Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey was second in 15:42.74 and Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar was third in 15:44.12. Abeylegesse was second in the 5,000 and 10,000.
     Goucher, 30, in her first Summer Olympics, was 10th at 10,000 meters Aug. 15.

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One Race Remains

     The latest Kara Goucher e-mail following Tuesday’s 5,000-meter preliminaries and heading into Friday’s track final in Beijing:

I wanted to give you an update after [Tuesday’s]
5,000-meter preliminary race. It was so great to get back on the track again. I
felt better than I did last Friday [placing 10th in the 10,000-meter final] and
it was good to get out and run hard. I am so happy to be heading to the final
and, although I knew I deserved to be there, if feels good to have it be

This has been an incredible learning
experience for me. I feel like I have come so far as an athlete between the 10K
and Tuesday night. I have learned to deal with emotions and nerves over the
past few years, but I let the "Olympics" get to me a bit last Friday.

It was the biggest race I had ever run, and I
let my mind wander a bit and let it get the best of me. Tuesday night was different.
I was no longer an Olympic rookie, but a seasoned veteran. I was in the second
heat and it was excellent because I knew how fast I had to run to make the
final. The top six from each heat and the next three-fastest times would

As I walked into the stadium I saw my coach
[Alberto Salazar] who told me that if I was in the top nine and faster than 15
minutes, 16 seconds, that I would get through to the final. I was confident
that I could run that fast.

As soon as the race started I knew that I was
OK. My legs felt better than they did last week, we were running plenty fast,
and I felt like I still had some energy in the tank. I zoned out, followed the
leaders, and watched the laps tick by. With two laps to go, we had separated to
a pack of seven and we were clearly under 15:16 pace. At that point I relaxed
and tried to get through the next two laps as easy as possible. I closed hard
to make sure that I stayed on the pace [finishing seventh in 15:00.98], but I
saved a bit in the final lap. No need to show all of my cards until Friday. It
felt really good to run a strong race and one that I felt in control of.

 I honestly feel like I am getting better and better as the races progress here.  I can’t predict anything for Friday, but I know that I am ready to run a big PR and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to run in the Olympic 5K final.

I had to say goodbye to my mom [Patty
Wheeler] last night as she headed back to Duluth
on Wednesday morning. She was sad to go, and I was sad to see her go, but I am
so thankful that she was here for the 10K and the days following that. I needed
her and [Kara’s husband, Adam Goucher] here during that time. They helped me to
turn the corner, get over my nerves, and get ready for the 5K. Even though I
know that she is sad to miss the final, she was here when I needed her most.

So, now it’s on to the final. Wednesday was a
good day. I slept in [nearly 12 hours Tuesday night], did a little shake out at
the track, laid low, and then got to meet my childhood track hero. Back in my
room growing up in Duluth,
I had pictures of Carl Lewis, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee
and Lynn Jennings all over my bedroom walls. Although I have seen him over the
past few years, I officially met Carl Lewis and got my picture taken with him.
I tried to play it cool, but was I star-struck.

OK, off to bed for my epic sleep sessions. I
am in a much better place mentally than I was a week ago. I feel good, happy,
and ready to keep running fast. Thank you all so much for the positive vibes
this past week, it has really helped. Thanks again and I’ll do my best Friday.

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Goucher Rebounds

Kara Goucher was back on track Tuesday night
at National Stadium in Beijing.

The Duluth
native qualified for the finals of the women’s 5,000-meter run by placing
seventh in a preliminary heat in 15 minutes, 0.98 seconds at the Summer Games.
The top six runners in each of two heats, plus the next three-fastest advanced
to the 7:40 a.m. Central Daylight Time final Friday.

The race came four days after Goucher’s
Olympic debut, a 10th place at 10,000 meters, which she rated as an off day. In
the fastest of two 5,000 heats, she stayed with the leaders, even taking the
lead briefly in the early stages of the 3.1-mile race, and then cruised to the

All three American entrants advanced —
American record holder Shalane Flanagan, 27, of Pittsboro, N.C., was
sixth, just ahead of Goucher, in 14:59.69, while Jennifer Rhines, 34, of
Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was sixth in the opening heat in 15:15.12.

"That’s amazing — three [U.S.] runners
in the final. It’s going to make the final a little bit less nerve-wracking to
see friends everywhere on the track. I’m just so proud of us. I think we are
making a statement, and I’m so happy to be a part of it," Goucher told USA
Track and Field

Goucher, 30,
from Portland, Ore.,
becomes the first athlete from Northeastern Minnesota
to qualify for two Olympic track finals. Garry Bjorklund from Twig was 13th in
the men’s 10,000 meters at the 1976 Summer Games.

Wheeler of Duluth,
Goucher’s mother, was just three rows up from the track Tuesday and said she saw
a marked change in the way her daughter ran her second Olympic race.

"Kara thinks she paid a price leading up
to the 10,000 meters with all of the activity, and her legs were frazzled,"
said Wheeler by phone. "She probably wouldn’t change a lot, but this is all new
to her, and after going through the Opening Ceremonies, and flying back and
forth from the U.S. track training site [in Dalian, China] and getting
settled in the Olympic Village, she wasn’t feeling as sharp as she has been.
That’s something you learn in your first Olympics.

"She looked much more relaxed [Tuesday].
She led for a short time and just stayed up there. Seven runners pulled
away and she was in there the whole way and took a few elbows in the pack, but
didn’t get bothered. I know she’s going to feel happy about this."

Defending Olympic champion Meseret Defar,
24, of Ethiopia won the
second heat in 14:56.32 (she’s No. 2 all-time in 14:12.88) and Kenya‘s Vivian Cheruiyot was second in 14:57.27,
followed by Russia’s
Lilia Shobukhova in 14:57.77. Flanagan, 27, passed Goucher in the final 200
meters, while the eighth-place runner, Canada‘s Megan Metcalfe, was nearly
11 seconds behind Goucher.

"No one was going to pull away from me until
I knew I was safely in and then I might conserve a tad," said Goucher. "On that
last lap, I didn’t dig all the way, but this time it was planned. Save that for

Goucher’s time would’ve won the opening heat
as 10,000-meter gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia
was first in 15:09.89 with Kenya’s
Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet second in 15:10.37. There were 16 runners in each
heat. Dibaba holds the world record of 14:11.15, set in June.

"Kara did exactly what she said she was
going to do and needed to do," said Kelly Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth, Goucher’s older
sister. "She hung in there, in the fastest heat, and ran fast enough to
get to the finals. She said she was going to be a different runner [after the
10,000 race] and she was."

Said Flanagan: "[The pace] was hard. Everything
was saying, ‘You don’t want to go this fast, you don’t want to go this fast.’
But, when you’re in the race, you can’t get into those mind games, so I just
gave it everything I had."

Grgas-Wheeler, a Minnesota Duluth assistant
women’s soccer coach, followed the event on-line and talked by phone with
her mother, who has been able to visit and have dinner with Goucher the past
few days.

Goucher won the U.S. Olympic Trials
5,000-meter race on July 4 in Eugene,
, for her first national
title. Her 5,000-meter best is 14:55.02.

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Dibaba wins 5,000 Heat

    Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, winner of the women’s 10,000-meter final last Friday, won the first heat of the women’s 5,000 meters Tuesday night at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. She ran 15 minutes, 9.89 seconds to lead a field of 16. American Jennifer Rhines was the last of six automatic qualifiers in 15:15.12.
     The second heat with Americans Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan is to be underway at 7:05 a.m. CDT. The top six in each heat plus the next three-fastest runners advance to Friday’s 5,000 final.

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