Salazar has Goucher Ready

     From Doug Binder of the Oregonian on New York City Marathon preparations by Kara Goucher of Portland and coach Alberto Salazar, who set a men’s world best in New York in 1981:

Kara Goucher: She’ll be a part of it … New York

Alberto Salazar recalls one other time when he witnessed marathon training go as smoothly as it has for Kara Goucher this fall.

That was in 1981, when Salazar, then 23, was at the top of his game and won the second of his three consecutive New York City marathons in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 13 seconds.

"Every single workout with her is faster than expected," said Salazar, Goucher’s coach. "She’s aggressive with her workouts and exceeds the goal pace by 10 seconds per mile. It’s like she can’t slow down."

On Sunday, Goucher will put her intense post-Olympics road training on the line at the New York City Marathon, her first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance.

Goucher and Salazar say they haven’t set a target finishing time. But the U.S. women’s debut marathon record of 2:26:58 set by Deena Kastor in 2001 appears within Goucher’s reach.

She is brimming with confidence as she embarks upon her first marathon, a distance where she hopes to compete with the best women in the world after eight weeks of focused preparation.

"The first couple of weeks were not welcoming at all," Goucher said. "I felt like I had pebbles in my legs. It was really hard. But the last few weeks have been so awesome, I’ve loved it."

Love wasn’t the first emotion. On one of Goucher’s first 20-mile runs, which took her through Forest Park and then south toward Council Crest, Salazar surprised her with 2 1/2 uphill miles remaining. He pulled a weighted vest from a backpack and asked her to put it on.

"I was so tired I didn’t even question it. It wasn’t fun," she said.

Yet for the past five weeks, she’s been doing the workout two or three times a week, with heavier vests.

Over the past three track seasons, Goucher, 30, has risen to prominence as one of the best 5,000-and 10,000-meter runners in the United States. She earned a bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships in the 10,000 and competed in both events at the Beijing Games.

Training for the marathon this fall has turned her focus to uncharted territory. Her husband, Adam Goucher, a national class runner, has taken a break from competition and has been available to support Kara and assist with her workouts.

"Adam has taken up all the slack around the house," Kara Goucher said. "All I do is run, eat and sleep. It’s really rewarding to see what I’ve been able to get from my body."

But Salazar has studied her biomechanics long enough to believe that Goucher’s best chance of winning an Olympic medal at the 2012 London Games is in the marathon.

Goucher’s low, compact stride and strong upper body give her an advantage in bracing against the physical pounding of the marathon distance, Salazar said.

After two difficult weeks getting used to the pavement, Goucher’s legs recovered, and her ability to exceed Salazar’s workout plan took over.

"It happened to me like that in ’81," Salazar said. "The same way it’s been for her the last six weeks."

Salazar devised drills to deal with every aspect of the marathon, including how to gather water bottles and tubes of carbohydrate gel off tables without losing stride, something Goucher has never done.

"Two months ago I was intimidated by the distance, by the workload," Goucher said. "Now that I’ve adjusted to it, I hope the race goes well because I’ve loved training for it so much."

The race also will be a chance for Goucher to experience high-level competition in the city where she was born. Goucher lived in New York until she was 4, when her father was killed in a traffic accident in Manhattan. She moved with her mother and siblings to Duluth, Minn., where she was raised with the help of her grandparents.

"I just want to compete well, not give in at any moment, and get the most out of my body that I can," Goucher said. "And I’d like to finish as high as possible."

Star Tribune on Showcase

      Here’s Roman Augustoviz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Saturday’s WCHA event:

The Gophers and Minnesota State Mankato made hockey history in March, playing three overtime games in their first-round WCHA playoff series. That has happened only once before, 16 years ago.

This weekend those two teams will resume their rivalry and be part of another history-making event.

Tonight they meet at Mariucci Arena. But on Saturday, instead of playing in Mankato as originally scheduled, the Gophers and Mavericks will play in the inaugural WCHA Minnesota Hockey Showcase at the Xcel Energy Center.

What’s that? It’s an event that’s been discussed for years and years in WCHA circles. It is loosely based on the Beanpot, a revered Boston college tournament that started in 1952. The same four teams from that city played in it every year.

On Saturday, the four WCHA teams located in Minnesota will play in back-to-back games at one site, too. St. Cloud State will face Minnesota Duluth at 4:07 p.m at Xcel Energy Center, followed by the Gophers and Mavericks at 7:37 p.m.

UMD and MSU gave up home games to make the showcase happen. As tournament co-hosts, they will split any proceeds from the doubleheader.

The showcase came together by chance at the NCAA convention in January. The athletic directors at Minnesota Duluth and Mankato approached Bruce McLeod, commissioner of the WCHA, to ask him about each of them moving a home game.

He agreed to help.

"It was pretty much an accident the four teams were all playing each other this weekend," McLeod said.

That does not happen in the schedule next season, but, "We do have a way of working it out; we do have a plan," McLeod said.

That plan won’t become reality, though, until school officials from the four Minnesota teams and McLeod meet again at the next NCAA convention. They will review how the first showcase went and decide if and when to hold the next one.

Turnout will be one factor.

"We’ll probably land around 10,000 in attendance," said Kathy O’Connor, public and media relations director for the Xcel. "That’s a total equal to what [UMD and MSU] would have at their arenas. We hope to grow it from there."

Told of the Xcel’s projections, McLeod said, "Hopefully, they will get a little more than that. This is a real opportunity to showcase the WCHA and the caliber of teams in Minnesota."

Mavericks coach Troy Jutting also hopes the showcase is a success.

"The whole day is good for Minnesota hockey," Jutting said. "If I am a PeeWee or Bantam, to have the chance to go watch all four Division I teams, there is something to be said for that."

For possible increased revenue, too.

"When you get right down to it," Jutting said, "you have to support programs. We have 23 athletic programs and 600-some athletes."

Gophers coach Don Lucia said his team never would give up a home game to play in a future showcase, but it makes sense for MSU and UMD to do so this year.

"They have a large number of alums in the Cities," Lucia said. "We’ll see how many people turn out. If there is 18,000 people, it is a great thing. If there is 12,000, that’s not as great."

Lucia said his team will treat Saturday’s game as if it were a home game, which means a morning skate at Mariucci and no watching the first game.

"We’re there for business; we are not fans," Lucia said. "It is a great event as far as the fans go. They get to see two games and they are pick ‘em games. You have no idea who will win either game."

Players seem genuinely excited about Saturday’s game.

"A lot of family and friends are coming," said Mavericks forward Jerad Stewart of Hastings. "I’ve never played there before, so I am looking forward to it."

Tickets, sold for both games only, range from $32 to $42. All three non-metro teams have pregame events planned for their fans and alumni. St. Cloud State has the biggest, a social at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel at 1 p.m. Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth have smaller receptions set at the Xcel.

There were plans for a contest to name the showcase — how about the Hockey Hot Dish? — but they were scraped because of its uncertain fate for next year.

 

St. Cloud Times on Event

      Kevin Allenspach of the St. Cloud Times weighs in on Saturday’s two-game event in St. Paul with a Friday column:

The spotlight will be on the four WCHA teams in the state on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The question is whether the bulb will light up or burn out before the event gains much momentum.

Seemingly for decades, college hockey fans and officials in Minnesota have advocated replicating Boston’s Beanpot Tournament. Now, the Minnesota College Hockey Showcase will become a reality when St. Cloud State faces off against Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday afternoon, followed by Minnesota against Minnesota State-Mankato.

“I can’t even tell you how long we’ve been talking about this,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said. “The general idea has always been there to celebrate college hockey in Minnesota. But there have been so many complications, scheduling and otherwise, that it hasn’t been practical until now.”

The WCHA schedules its league games as much as three years in the future. When the 2008-09 calendar became clear, UMD athletic director Bob Nielson and MSU AD Kevin Buisman noticed their schools were playing host to SCSU and Minnesota at the same time. They each sought permission to move a home game, launching the project.

UMD and MSU will split Saturday’s proceeds, after the Xcel Center takes a cut of less than 20 percent. Just how much profit there will be depends on attendance. McLeod said about 8,000 tickets had been sold by the beginning of the week. During a teleconference of the participating teams on Tuesday, the possibility was floated of cordoning off the upper level of the 18,064-seat building.

Admission for the two games ranges from $32-42, similar to what combined tickets from UMD and MSU home games would cost. And, considering UMD averaged 4,597 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center last season, and MSU averaged 4,269 at the Alltel Center, Saturday’s attendance probably has to reach at least 12,000 to be worthwhile.

“There’s a PR aspect you have to consider,” McLeod said, referring to the potential duplication of an atmosphere already reserved for the WCHA Final Five each March. “We don’t want to overplay ourselves in that market. But I think it will be financially worthwhile (for UMD and MSU).”

Such a money grab isn’t unprecedented. Minnesota-Duluth last sold a home game on Feb. 19, 1995, a 6-3 loss to Wisconsin at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. St. Cloud State tried it March 7, 1993, against Minnesota at the Target Center, resulting in a 2-2 tie. Attendance was 12,232.

Of more pertinence, MSU moved a Jan. 14, 2004, “home” game against the Gophers to St. Paul. Attendance was 17,019, netting about $130,000 for the MSU athletic department.

There was a cost, however, as the crowd was naturally dominated by Minnesota fans, who cheered their team to a 9-6 win. The concept also became a hot-button topic in Mankato, where hotel and restaurant owners — among other businesses — protested a loss of income.

Those concerns are still in place, McLeod said, and the future of the Showcase won’t be certain until the participating schools conduct a re-evaluation of the event in a couple of months.

“Minnesota and St. Cloud State are going to have to decide if they want to go forward with having this again, and we’d have to make some schedule adjustments to make it happen,” McLeod said. “There’s a domino effect once you start doing that and we’d need some cooperation from other schools. It’s not easy from Minnesota’s standpoint, either, because they have a lot of club seats and suites that they sell for their games and they wouldn’t be able to get that income. It’s an inconvenience to some of their core people. We’ll talk about it at the NCAA meetings in January and decide whether we’re going to get after it again or not.”

There’s a difference between this and the Beanpot, which includes Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and Harvard playing nonconference games on consecutive Monday nights in February. The Minnesota Showcase includes two league games and doesn’t allow for a tournament-style championship. What’s worse for many SCSU fans, only the MSU-Minnesota game will be televised — and that only because of the Gophers’ contract with FSN.

That leaves the Huskies and Bulldogs in the dark. But, barring a huge walk-up sale, don’t be surprised if this whole idea goes back to the drawing board for awhile.

Experiment at the Xcel

There’s been talk of finding a snappier title for Saturday’s gathering at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. But it might be better to see if there’s some longevity to the WCHA State of Minnesota College Hockey Showcase.

The inaugural event has Minnesota’s four men’s teams from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association pairing off — Minnesota Duluth facing St. Cloud State at 4:07 p.m. and Minnesota meeting Minnesota State-Mankato at 7:37 p.m.

However there’s no contract beyond 2008, said UMD athletic director Bob Nielson.

“It worked out that the four teams were scheduled to play each other on the same weekend, so UMD and Mankato took the leadership in making plans,” Nielson said. “It’s an opportunity to do something unique, but whether it continues will depend a lot on the feedback we get from Saturday.”

The arrangement requires UMD and Mankato to give up home games to play in St. Paul. In return, the two schools will split the revenue from the Xcel Energy Center games and likely gain regional exposure.

Nielson estimates a game at the DECC drawing about 5,000 fans nets UMD about $65,000. He said the school could double that figure Saturday with the hopes of a two-game combined crowd of about 10,000 people. UMD and Mankato are paying the Xcel Energy Center a rental cost and will earn a percentage of the gate receipts.

Two-game ticket packages at $32-42 are available at www.ticketmaster.com and (651) 989-5151.

“Would I like to play both games with St. Cloud at home? Yes. But this will be a good experience for our team,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.

Because UMD and St. Cloud State originally had open dates for the weekend following Thanksgiving, they chose to finish the series with a single game Nov. 29 at the DECC.

The Mankato versus Minnesota game Saturday will be on FSN North, but the league couldn’t arrange to get the UMD and St. Cloud State game televised, said Nielson.

Bulldogs stay on road

UMD (3-1-1) is in the midst of playing seven of nine games on the road, including a loss and tie at Alaska Anchorage last weekend to open the WCHA season.

“We played three good periods and three average ones,” Sandelin said. “It’s always been a tough trip to earn points there.”

In all games, the Bulldogs rank fourth among WCHA teams in offense (3.67 goals a game) and defense (2.33), while senior center MacGregor Sharp and sophomore winger Justin Fontaine are tied for first in goal-scoring with five.

St. Cloud State (3-3), ranked No. 19 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, had 12 freshmen and sophomores among 18 skaters in Saturday’s 5-3 win at nonconference Bemidji State. Former UMD forward Mitch Ryan of Cloquet made his St. Cloud State debut in Bemidji and had two goals and an assist in two games. He transferred after playing 10 games with the Bulldogs in 2006-07.

“He practiced with us the second half of last season and I told him that after the first four games this season we’d give him a look,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said of Ryan. “He deserved a chance to play.”

Freshman center Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown has a goal and an assist for the Huskies.

Northland Connection








                                                                    NORTHLAND CONNECTION

 

Professional players with connections to Minnesota Duluth or Northeastern Minnesota. If we’re missing anyone, please e-mail kpates@duluthnews.com:

 

NHL

Alex Goligoski, Pittsburgh, 9 GP, 2-1-3

Jamie Langenbrunner, New Jersey, 8 GP, 2-2-4

Matt Niskanen, Dallas, 10 GP, 1-1-2

Mason Raymond, Vancouver, 9 GP, 3-3-6

Steve Wagner, St. Louis, 8 GP, 1-1-2

Craig Weller, Minnesota, 6 GP, 0-1-1

 

AHL

Zach FitzGerald, Manitoba, 6 GP, 0-2-2

Jason Garrison, Rochester (N.Y.), 7 GP, 1-4-5, Florida 1 GP, 0-0-0

Tim Hambly   Rockford (Ill.), 8 GP, 0-2-2

Junior Lessard, Chicago, 8 GP, 3-1-4

Jay Rosehill,  Norfolk (Va.), 6 GP, 0-1-1

Tim Stapleton, Toronto, 7 GP, 1-4-5

Clay Wilson, Syracuse, 7 GP, 4-3-7

          

ECHL

Mike Curry, Alaska,   2 GP, 1-0-1

Jon Francisco, Ontario (Calif.), 5 GP, 3-4-7

Travis Gawryletz, Elmira (N.Y.), 6 GP, 0-3-3

Gino Guyer, Phoenix, 5 GP, 0-2-2

Dan Knapp, Ontario (Calif.), 5 GP, 1-1-2

Bryan McGregor, Idaho, 1 GP, 0-1-1, Johnstown (Pa.), 1 GP, 0-1-1

Matt McKnight, Las Vegas, 3 GP, 0-0-0

Neil Petruic, Stockton (Calif.), 5 GP, 1-1-2

Andy Sertich, Utah, 3 GP, 0-1-1

Aaron Slattengren, Augusta (Ga.), 6 GP, 5-4-9

 

IHL

Rod Aldoff, Kalamazoo (Mich.), 3 GP, 0-3-3

Luke Stauffacher, Muskegon (Mich.),   3 GP, 3-2-5

 

CHL

Brett Hammond, Colorado, 6 GP, 1-2-3

Jay Hardwick, Rio Grande Valley, 3 GP, 0-1-1

 

International

 

Nick Anderson, Fischtown, Germany, 10 GP, 6-4-10

Sean Hill, Biel, Switzerland,

Evan Schwabe, Aalbork, Denmark,

          

Goalies

 

ECHL

Josh Johnson, South Carolina, 2 GP, 3.00, .882

                                                          

IHL

Issac Reichmuth, Muskegon (Mich.),    3 GP, 3.69, .866

 

International

Adam Hauser, Kassel, Germany,

 

Raymond Gains Praise

     Vancouver winger Mason Raymond receives some praise on the Canucks Web site this week as the team looks to improve its scoring. Raymond has six points (3-3) in nine games, but the Canucks have lost four of the last five, scoring no more than two goals in the four losses.

      From the Vancouver Web site:

LINE SHUFFLING

Head coach Alain Vigneault promoted speedy forward Mason Raymond to the Sedin line during practice today (Wednesday) and had Steve Bernier playing with Kyle Wellwood and Taylor Pyatt in an attempt to find the offence that they all believe is within the team’s capabilities.

“Obviously we need to find a way here to get both Daniel and Henrik to contribute offensively and right now one of our best offensive personnel has been Mason,” said Vigneault. “He’s been getting a lot of chances, with his skating he’s been getting to open ice, so we’ll try that and see what we can come up with during the games.

“A lot of their chances lately have been coming off the rush. Last night their two best chances were Daniel on a breakaway and then a two on one after that. A lot of their chances do come on the rush and maybe they will be able to create more and then from there because of that rush chance instead of getting into a cycle mode right away, maybe with Mason’s speed they’ll be able to go to the net a little bit quicker.”

Vigneault does not think that Bernier has been holding the Sedins back from accumulating more points. Rather he feels that Bernier has been playing well and done exactly what they expect from him, going to the net and playing physically.

“It’s another opportunity,” said Bernier. “I’m a team player and I want to win. I’m playing with two good players in Pyatt and Kyle Wellwood right now. So, I’m going to try play a very good game offensively and defensively and hopefully we’re going to win the two points.”

Vigneault compared the Sedins, who have only registered three points between them in the last five games, to the fluctuating stock market, and looks forward to them turning things around. He noted that while they have not been putting the pucks in, they have been generating chances.

“I believe that the twins with everything they’ve brought to the forefront, I believe when we look at the stats at the end of the year, they’re going to have a point or more a game," said Vigneault. "I’m hoping that the turnaround here, when they get on a roll, is a lot sooner than later.”

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Stars, Niskanen Win

      Dallas defenseman Matt Niskanen scored his first goal of the season as the Stars handed Minnesota its first regular-season loss of the season Wednesday night in Dallas. This from the Dallas Morning News:

By MIKE HEIKA / The Dallas Morning News
mheika@dallasnews.com

The Dallas Stars did more than just change goalies Wednesday night.

While Marty Turco was given a night off and backup goalie Tobias Stephan received his first start of the season, Dallas made any goaltending debate moot by playing possibly its most complete game of the young season in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Dallas moved to 4-4-2 and handed Minnesota (6-1-1) its first regulation loss. Captain Brenden Morrow scored 13 seconds into the game, and the Stars held the lead for most of the night against a team that had trailed for only 30 minutes of the previous seven games.

"Quite frankly, that was what we’re used to," said winger Steve Ott, who finished with a goal and five hits. "And defensively, that’s what we want to do on a nightly basis."

Stephan posted his first NHL win after missing out on that milestone by two seconds last November. The 24-year-old Swiss goalie had 38 saves in his only other NHL start last season against Chicago and lost a shutout as regulation was ending. He then lost the game in overtime.

But Stephan said he wasn’t even thinking about that foiled chance.

"I forgot about that a long time ago," he said.

Instead, he was simply trying to do his job and help his team win. After two appearances in relief this season, he said he was nervous about his first start of the year.

"I just tried my best and wanted to help the team," said Stephan, who finished with 19 saves against the Wild. "The team played hard for me tonight, and they gave me very few chances to see."

And while the Stars could have easily been playing a more conservative game to help their rookie goalie, they also were playing a conservative game because that’s what they had practiced this week.

"It’s what we’ve been working on, and I think it showed on the ice," said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who scored his first goal of the season. "We saw what works for us, the effort and the focus that it takes, and now we need to be consistent with it."

In addition to going with Stephan, Stars coach Dave Tippett also went with the unconventional decision of matching Mike Ribeiro’s line against Minnesota’s heralded Mikko Koivu. Ribeiro and linemates Morrow and Loui Eriksson shut down Koivu, Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen so effectively that Minnesota was splitting up its third line by the third period.

The Wild not only suffered its first loss in regulation, but also gave up its first power-play goal of the year. In addition, it stretched its winless streak at American Airlines Center to nine games (0-7-2), the longest such stretch at an opponent’s building in team history.

"It was good to go against a team like that that’s winning," Ott said. "It’s exactly what we needed."

Pick and Drive

     New York Road Runners has created the “Pick & Drive” promotion to introduce the elite athletes of the 2008 New York City Marathon to fans with the chance to win a 2008 Toyota Prius by picking the top three men and women finishers in Sunday’s race. Fans can go to www.pickandrive.com to learn more about the top 10 male and female athletes in the marathon with backgrounds for each. By choosing the top 3 male or female finishers, fans will have the chance to win a car and can cheer on their favorite runners while following the race online.  The race will be streamed live at www.nbcsports.com beginning at 8 a.m. The contest winner will be announced during the official winners press conference Monday.  Two cars will be given away (one for selecting the men and one for the women). Voting closes at midnight Saturday.

Goucher in NYC

     Sunday’s New York City Marathon will be available live through Internet streaming at UniversalSports.com starting at 8 a.m. The professional women’s field starts first, at 8:10 a.m., followed by the top men at 8:40 a.m. NBC also has a one-hour highlight package at 2 p.m. Sunday (NBC6 in Duluth).

New York City is where Kara Goucher was born and lived her first three years.

New York City is also where her father, Mirko Grgas, died in an auto accident on July 2, 1982, the result of a drunken driver losing control of his car on Harlem River Drive.

Goucher, 30, has returned to her birthplace this week for Sunday’s 39th New York City Marathon for her 26.2-mile debut. The Duluth-raised professional runner expects to be emotional leading to the 8 a.m. start.

“There is a special, personal side to this race for me. I feel connected there,” Goucher said last week from home in Portland, Ore. “My mother has said that it is a homecoming for me.”

Grgas followed his father to the United States at age 13, emigrating from Zablace, Croatia, to the neighborhood of Flushing in the borough of Queens in New York City. Patty Wheeler of Duluth and Grgas lived in Queens for the first 8½ years of marriage and in Waldwick, N.J., for a year.

Davorka Grgas, Mirko’s sister, who lives in Manhattan, will be part of Goucher’s cheering section. Also watching will be Goucher’s husband, Adam, her mom and sisters, Kelly Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth and Kendall Schoolmeester of Portland (along with her husband, Bret, and their daughter, Sophie).

“I have some fond memories of our time in New York, it was a big part of my life,” said Patty Wheeler, a victim witness coordinator for the Lake County Attorney’s Office. “To know that the marathon goes through all five boroughs, right near where we lived, brings back a lot of feelings.”

Goucher’s father died just before her fourth birthday. Patty Wheeler, a Duluth native, then relocated here with her three daughters.

The New York City Marathon marks one highlight of a highlight year for Goucher. She earned a berth on her first U.S. Olympic track team in June and July, and competed in her first Summer Games in August in Beijing, China, running at 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

In the two months since, Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar put together a demanding training schedule that included 100-110 miles per week, including 75 last week. And although Goucher will continue to race on the track, Salazar says her future is in the marathon.

“There are two basic types of marathoners,” says Salazar, 50, a former world record holder at the distance. “One is the very light marathoner who’s just hardly touching the ground, and there’s one who’s kind of strong and muscular and can take the pounding.

“Even though Kara doesn’t have a stride that causes a lot of pounding, she’s very strong physically. Her legs are muscular, [and] her upper body. She can take the punishment of a marathon.

“Mentally, Kara is maybe the toughest runner that I’ve ever had. She has the best focus of anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

Long-distance training on the roads has been new for Goucher with at least a half-dozen runs of 20 to 23 miles, and she said it was a struggle before she became adjusted. The preparation should allow her to handle a pace of 5 minutes and 20 seconds per mile, said Salazar, which equates to a 2:19:44 marathon. The New York City Marathon women’s course record is 2:22:31, set in 2003 by Kenya’s Margaret Okayo.

Goucher is making no predictions, she said, because the competition will be the best this year outside of the Summer Olympics, with a women’s field including world record holder Paula Radcliffe of England and New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith, also in her first marathon. The prize money purse of $602,000 — with $130,000 to the men’s and women’s winners — is the largest in the world.

“The last 22-mile run I had, I wasn’t a bit sore afterward. Alberto has gotten me ready to run and I feel like a completely different athlete,” said Goucher, who hopes to qualify for the 2009 World Track Championships at 5,000 and 10,000 meters. “My plan is to go out and run with the leaders for as long as possible. I’m prepared to run fast, but I’m not concerned about time.”

With much less training last year, Goucher won her half-marathon debut by defeating Radcliffe in the Great North Run in Newcastle, England, in an American-record 1:06:57. She was then recruited for the 2008 New York City Marathon and was brought to the 2007 race to watch from the lead press vehicle.

Flaherty to UMD








A new team has given forward Keegan Flaherty of Duluth a new start in the U.S. Hockey League this season. After recording four goals in 47 games last year with the Green Bay Gamblers, he was traded to the first-year Fargo (N.D.) Force and has four goals and an assist for five points in eight games.

Flaherty, 18, committed this week to Minnesota Duluth’s program for 2009-10. The former Duluth East winger and football running back is playing this season for Dean Blais, a former University of North Dakota coach and former associate coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

“He’s a heck of a coach, who’s taught me a lot about the game already,” Flaherty said Tuesday of Blais. “Last year was tough being a high school player in the USHL, but it also made me better.

“Growing up, I went to watch UMD games and choosing to go to there just felt right. It seemed like a good fit,” said Flaherty, who is 6-feet and 185 poounds.

He played three seasons at East before skating for Green Bay as a senior.

"He’s a strong skater, a power forward, that’s his asset,” said East coach Mike Randolph.

Flaherty said he talked with a handful of other colleges, including Minnesota State-Mankato.