Varsity Women’s Hockey at CSS

     St. Scholastica, which has had women’s hockey on a club level since 2001, will elevate the program to varsity status for 2010-11, joining the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association at that time. 

    Also, from USA Hockey, former WCHA forwards David Backes (Minneapolis) and T.J. Oshie (Warroad, Minn.) of the St. Louis Blues have been added to the 2009 U.S. team team for the World Championships beginning Friday in Switzerland.
    Here’s a press release from St. Scholastica, a Duluth private college:

“Women’s hockey is a natural fit for the college, based on our geographic location, the strength of regional high school programs, the visibility of our men’s hockey program and the success of the college’s women’s ACHA, Division II team,” CSS Athletics Director Don Olson said. “The addition of a women’s hockey program to the school’s roster of intercollegiate athletics programs allows us to create an increased balance between men’s and women’s programs.”

The Saints will join the NCHA, the same conference as the CSS men’s team. The league added Adrian College (Mich.), Marian University (Wis.), and St. Norbert College in the past four months. St. Scholastica will be the 11th school in the NCHA Women’s Division.

“We are excited to be part of the rapid growth of women’s hockey in the NCHA,” Olson said. “It is a logical decision for the College of St. Scholastica to join the league with our women’s hockey program given our long history of Saints men’s hockey in the conference.”

Adrian and Marian will begin play next season, while the Saints and St. Norbert will hit the NCHA ice at the start of the 2010-11 season.

"We are most happy to welcome the College of St Scholastica to our Women’s Division as we continue the growth of women’s hockey in our conference,” said NCHA Commissioner Bill Kronschnabel.

This will be the fourth year of expansion for the conference. Previous league expansions included Finlandia (Mich.) in 2003 and Concordia-Wisconsin in 2007. The original members of the Women’s Division, opening play in 2000, were Lake Forest, Eau Claire, River Falls, Stevens Point and Superior.

The women’s team will practice and play its games at Mars Lakeview Arena, the same facility that the CSS men’s team uses.

St. Scholastica will conduct a national search for a head coach immediately with the timeline of having someone in place by the start of the 2009-10 school year.

UMD, Bemidji State Updates

     Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said Tuesday he and assistants Steve Rohlik and Brett Larson are still finalizing the team’s freshman class for 2009-10 and will release a list within the next two weeks.

     UMD’s coaches headed to Marco Island, Fla., on Tuesday for WCHA meetings. Representatives of Bemidji State will make a presentation to league officials Monday regarding membership in the 10-team WCHA. It’s unsure whether the league will vote on adding Bemidji State at that time, or table the discussion to give the subject more consideration. Each school receives one vote and Bemidji State (the only school to make application) needs a minimum of eight votes.

    Also, below is a story from the Bemidji Pioneer about the loss of Bemidji State sophomore goalie Matt Dalton to the Boston Bruins.

Bemidji Pioneer

Just days after completing an historic run to the 2009 Frozen Four, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team experienced another first – losing an underclassmen to the professional ranks.

Sophomore goaltender Matt Dalton of Clinton, Ontario, signed a National Hockey League entry level contract with the Boston Bruins organization Thursday. He becomes the first Bemidji State player during the program’s NCAA Division I era to sign a professional contract while still having eligibility remaining.

Dalton, 22, said he knew NHL teams were watching him during the regular season, but didn’t know many details at the time.

“A day after the Frozen Four my advisor called and told me the teams that were interested,” Dalton reported. “After some lengthy discussion we decided Boston was the best fit – because of the way the organization treats its players and also their goalie depth. No matter where you go at the professional level, there are going to be good goalies, but I believe Boston afforded me the best opportunity.”

Dalton said he would be assigned to Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island at the start of the next season. His immediate plans are to finish out the school year at Bemidji State, then return to his home in Ontario for a few weeks. He’ll return to Bemidji after a brief break where he’ll concentrate on training for his first professional season.

Making the decision to leave the Bemidji State program was not easy, Dalton reported, especially considering the dream season the team just completed. “It was an unbelievable roller coaster-type year,” he said, “kind of like my career at BSU. After sitting on the bench most of my freshman year I was given the opportunity this season and ran with it.

“Winning the Midwest Regional and advancing to the Frozen Four; it’s going to be tough to top that. It was the best season I’ve ever experienced – who knows, it could be the best time I ever experience in hockey. I felt I had a really good year and as a result received an offer I just couldn’t turn down.”

Even though Dalton has two years of eligibility remaining, he will have completed three years of university schooling when the current semester is over in a few weeks. “With only one year left for me to graduate, it won’t be that hard to come back and complete my degree,” he said. “If I would have had two years of school left, my decision probably would have been different.

“I just felt it was time.”

Dalton reported the toughest thing about moving on will be leaving behind the relationships he has developed. “The hardest part will be backing away from the relationships and friendships that have been made here,” he said.

“I’ll never forget my time at Bemidji State or the people I’ve come to know here.”

Dalton was the anchor in the Beavers’ incredible run through the postseason this year. In five games, including the College Hockey America tournament and the NCAA tournament, Dalton posted a record of 4-1 with a topnotch 1.60 goals against average and incredible .948 save percentage.

In the NCAA Midwest Regional, Dalton bested the statistically top goalie in the nation Notre Dame’s Jordan Pearce and another premier goaltender in Cornell’s Ben Scrivens.

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said while it will be difficult to see Dalton leave the program he understands the situation. “It’s always tough to lose a great player,” Serratore reported. “Teams are typically only as good as their top players. At the same time Dalton’s signing an NHL contract shows recruits that if they have the ability they can get noticed by NHL scouts while playing for Bemidji State.

“Having our last two goalies (Dalton and 2008 BSU grad Matt Climie) sign NHL contracts tells recruits we have the ability to develop players to the highest professional level.”

Dalton finishes his BSU career with a 2.27 goals against average which is tops all-time at BSU for goaltenders with at least 1,500 minutes played, surpassing BSU great Blane Comstock (1967-71) after allowing just two goals in the Midwest Regional. The mark is also a standard among all Division I-era goaltenders at BSU.

In 2008-09 Dalton paced the CHA in goals against average (1.94), minutes played (1,018:38) and backstopped a BSU team that was tops in the league in defensive scoring (2.11) and penalty-kill (86.2) before being named as the league’s Second Team All-CHA goalie.

In over 50 years of hockey at BSU, only 10 goaltenders have recorded seasons of 15 or more wins. Dalton ended the 2008-09 season with a record of 17-11-1 to become part of that elite group and is the first of the Beavers’ Division I-era. The last BSU player to net at least 15 victories in a season was Robin Cook (1992-96) who posted 20 wins in 1994-95.

NEW: Boston Cheers Goucher





Kara Goucher showed initiative near the end of Monday’s 113th Boston Marathon, taking the lead when no one else would. She moved ahead with five miles to go and hoped the fervent crowds at the finish would push her to victory.

It nearly happened, but in the closing meters along Commonwealth Avenue, two others used the inspiration to pull away. Kenya’s Salina Kosgei, 32, earned the women’s title by one second over defending champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia, winning in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 16 seconds for 26.2 miles to earn $150,000. Tune, 23, was runner up in 2:32:17 and made $75,000. It was the closest women’s finish in race history.

Goucher, 30, who was raised in Duluth and lives in Portland, Ore., finished third in her Boston debut in 2:32:17, nine seconds back, for $40,000. It was the best finish by an American woman since Kim Jones was second in 1993.

“I felt great and started to press and thought I had another gear, and they had more,” Goucher said at a post-race press conference. “I wasn’t going to give up. I usually have a good kick. It thought it was going to there.”

The world’s oldest marathon, with estimated crowds of more than two million on Patriot’s Day in New England, was the classic road racing experience Goucher anticipated. Her mother, Patty Wheeler, and older sister, Kelly Grgas-Wheeler, both of Duluth, and younger sister, Kendall Schoolmeester of Portland were at the finish line to soak in the atmosphere of the sprint to the finish.

A much slower than anticipated pace for the first 20 miles on a 40-degree morning led to the slowest winning women’s time since 1980, but the final miles were dramatic. The elite women raced alone, starting 28 minutes ahead of the men.

“We knew that nothing but winning would make Kara happy. She wanted that so badly, to have an American win here, and that was driving her,” said Grgas-Wheeler, a Minnesota Duluth assistant soccer coach and women’s hockey sports information director. “She told us afterward that she didn’t run a marathon, she raced five miles. She wasn’t that tried at all and just wishes she could run that last mile again.”

There were 17 women in a lead pack halfway through the race and still eight together with five miles remaining, heading downhill after Heartbreak Hill. It was time to push, push, push and Goucher gained an advantage, but never more than a few yards.

In Goucher’s only other race at the distance, she was third in the 2008 New York City Marathon in 2:25:53. Kosgei has run 2:23:22 and Tune 2:24:40.

“The plan Kara and [coach] Alberto [Salazar] had was to wait until the end and kick, but with eight runners still together, she felt she didn’t have any other choice,” said Wheeler. “They needed to drop some of those runners.

“The support you heard for Kara at the finish line was amazing. The people there cheer for everyone, but there was such a fever for an American to win here.”

Goucher, a 2008 track Olympian, had sprained her right wrist before the race and wore football gloves so that she’d be able to grip water bottles at aid stations along the route. With 800 meters remaining, she threw the gloves off as Kosgei moved ahead. Kosgei, 10th in the 2008 Summer Olympics marathon, and Tune exchanged the lead a couple of times before a deciding surge.

Goucher family members shouted at the finish wearing sweatshirts which read “Go Kara.” Goucher’s husband, Adam, a former U.S. track Olympian, put a blanket around her after the race and offered encouragement.

“There was a lot of buildup for Kara coming into the race and she legitimized the talk because she was right there at the end racing for the win,” said Schoolmeester. “Everyone was pulling so hard for her and she had nothing left at the end. It was heartbreaking. Third place is bittersweet for someone who wanted so badly to win.”

American Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was also third in the men’s race in 2:09:40, marking the first time in 24 years at Boston that Americans were in the top three in the women’s and men’s competition. Both received standing ovations at the afternoon awards ceremony at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel’s Grand Ballroom.

Goucher said before the race that she’ll now take time to start a family, yet plans to return to racing in time to compete for a spot on the U.S. women’s marathon team for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

“It was a great race, and she ran a great race,” former Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson told the Boston Globe about Goucher. “And she made the race. She really pushed it when it needed to be pushed. She got them back on pace.”

“What she proved today was that she has the wheels,” long-time Boston running coach Bill Squires told the Globe. “I was very impressed. She is still a marathon rookie. You need experience to run Boston, with its rolling terrain. This is the toughest course in the world, no doubt.”

UPDATED: Boston Wrap; Goucher 3rd

     Americans finished third among women and men in Monday’s 113th Boston Marathon, the best U.S. performance since 1985. Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore., led the last five miles before being overtaken in the last mile. Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., led a blazing start for the men, dropped back, and then rallied in the latter stages on a 40-degree morning

     Kenya’s Salina Kosgei, 32, won a sprint to the finish to take the women’s title in 2 hours 32 minutes, 16 seconds for 26.2 miles, followed by defending champion Dire Tune, 23, of Ethiopia a stride back in 2:32:17 and America’s Kara Goucher, 30, who had led the last five miles, was third in 2:32:25. Goucher of Portland, Ore., is the first American woman to finish in the top three in 14 years. Kosgei was 10th in the 2008 Summer Olympics marathon. Tune lost by one second while last year she won by two seconds.

     Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, 28, wins the men’s race in 2:08:42. Daniel Rono of Kenya was second in 2:09:32 and American Ryan Hall was third in 2:09:40.

     Some press conference video from Flotrack is here.

     It was the slowest winning women’s time at Boston since 1980. Headwinds and strategy would’ve been contributing factors.

     "I’m proud of what I did," said Goucher, who held back tears as she described the amazing support received from family, friends, her coach and Nike. "I wanted it so much for them. I’m proud of how I did, and I raced the best I could. I just wanted to be the one who won for everybody."

     Goucher was the first American woman to place in the top three since Kim Jones was second in 1993, while Hall matched 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi’s third place from 2006.
 
     In 1985, a total of five Americans finished in the men’s and women’s top three in much less international and significantly slower races.  Gary Tuttle (2:19:11) and Mark Helgeston (2:21:15) went 2-3 in the men’s race and American women swept the top 10 places, led by Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach (2:34:06), Lynne Huntington (2:42:15) and Karen Dunn (2:42:27). American men occupied eight of the top 10 spots in that year.

     Hall was pleased with his third-place finish . "I definitely felt like a rookie out there," he said. "I was learning as I went. I’ve been on the course before and got to jog the last 20 miles, but jogging it and racing it are two different things. I was in a lot of pain the last 10k. I’ve got some work to do but I’m young and I’ll be back. I learned a lot."
      "My plan was to run my own race from the get-go. I like to run fast, and I was like, I’m going to use these downhills and I’m going to find my right effort level. It was a tough day out there for everyone. The wind was in your face the whole way."
 
     Prize money for the top three finishers: 1. $150,000, 2. $75,000 and 3. $40,000. Of the top five women and men finishers, all were from Ethiopia or Kenya, except for Goucher and Hall. Goucher, 30, had placed third in the 2008 New York City Marathon in 2:25:53, while Hall, 26, has a marathon best of 2:06:17.

     More race play-by-play is on a previous post.

     Here’s a summary of the races, courtesy of the RUNNER’S WORLD-RUNNING TIMES BLOG, live from the race site. Other Runner’s World-Running Times race details are on their Web site here.

   Two races that looked to be developing in totally different ways – funerally slow for the women, blazingly fast for the men – but they kind of converged so that both turned into 10-12 runner packs. Then in the men, the decisive move came from Ethiopian Merga at the tactically precise point as they went into the first of the Newton hills, while the women waited for the long run-in from Boston College with Kara Goucher trying everything to burn off the competition and ultimately falling 2 places short.

      The final times in both races will not raise many eyebrows in Paris, Rotterdam or London. Both were fascinating tactically and thrilling for American followers of the sport. You have to go back to 1985 when Gary Tuttle was 2nd and Lisa Larsen Wiedenbach won to find Americans in the top 3 of both Boston races, so some consolation and sign of improvement. But when it came to the crunch Ethiopia and Kenya still delivered.

     THE ASSOCIATED PRESS EARLY STORY

Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga overcame the disappointment of his Olympic fade to win the Boston Marathon, and Kenya’s Salina Kosgei won the women’s race today while Americans took third in both races for the best U.S. finish since 1985.

Merga wilted in the Beijing heat and finished fourth after getting passed in the last quarter-mile. But in Boston he pulled away right before Heartbreak Hill and won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 42 seconds — almost a full minute ahead of Kenya’s Daniel Rono and American Ryan Hall.

Kosgei won a sprint with defending champion Dire Tune, trading the lead several times in the final blocks of Boylston Street before hitting the tape less than a stride ahead of the Ethiopian in 2:32:16. American Kara Goucher led the three as they crossed the MassPike into Kenmore Square with one mile to go, but she was outkicked down the stretch and finished nine seconds back.

Kosgei said the conditions Monday morning made for a difficult finish.

"I decided I must try. So, I tried," she said in a television interview. "The wind was a bit stronger. … So, it was very hard."

No American has won in Boston since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985, when the U.S. women swept the top three and the men came in second and third.

BELOW, in the early stages of the race, Kara Goucher is at far right. 

Kara Goucher (right) runs with the group of elite women's runners at the start of the 113th Boston Marathon on Monday in Hopkington, Mass. (Stephan Savoia / Associated Press)

1. Kosgei, 2. Tune, 3. Goucher

    Kenya’s Salina Kosgei, 32, won a sprint to the finish in Monday’s 113th Boston Marathon to take the women’s title in 2:32:16, followed by defending champion Dire Tune, 23, of Ethiopia a stride back in 2:32:17 and America’s Kara Goucher, 30, who had led the last five miles, was third in 2:32:25. Goucher of Portland, Ore., is the first American woman to finish in the top three in 14 years. Kosgei was 10th in the 2008 Summer Olympics marathon. Tune lost by one second while last year she won by two seconds.

     Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, 28, wins the men’s race in 2:08:42. Daniel Rono of Kenya was second in 2:09:32 and American Ryan Hall was third in 2:09:40.

      It was the slowest winning women’s time at Boston since 1980. Headwinds and strategy would’ve been contributing factors.

     Prize money for the top three finishers is: 1. $150,000, 2. $75,000 and 3. $40,000. Of the top 10 women and men finishers, all were from Ethiopia or Kenya, except for Goucher and Hall. Goucher had placed third in the 2008 New York City Marathon in 2:25:53, while Hall, 26, has a marathon best of 2:06:17.

     The women’s pack has thinned to three runners past the 25-mile mark as they’ve crested Heartbreak Hill and Kara Goucher and defending champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia have pushed the pace lately as the real race has started. They are now 2:24 in with less than 1 mile left on a 2:34 finish pace. It is Tune and Kenya’s Salina Kosegi in the race 

      Ethiopian Deriba Merga has broken away in the men’s race up Heartbreak as he closes on the women leaders. It is 51 degrees in Boston. The race is 26.2 miles.

     Tune won last year by 2 seconds in a sprint to the finish.

      Goucher continues to take fluids and stay hydrated as holds the lead wearing arm warmers and gloves. And she has consistently held a brief lead now for about 3 miles. Tune and Bezunesh of Ethiopia and Helena Kiprop of Kenya, Salina Kosgei of Kenya. are also there.

     This from the Runers World-Running Times blog, from Goucher coach Alberto Salazar, "I didn’t think it would be this slow, but we don’t care about the time. She looks good, real calm and relaxed. I’m happy she hasn’t been leading."

     Other Americans up near the lead earlier, Elva Dryer and Mary Akor, have dropped back. Finish pace is 2:36, which will pick up. The men, starting a half-hour after the women, are on a 2:08 pace with Stephen Kiogora of Kenya leading in 1:16:09 through 25K.

     The lead men (Ethiopian Deriba Merga) have caught the trailing women, who had a half-hour start. 17 miles into the race for the men. American Ryan Hall has fallen off the pace, 18 seconds back. They COULD overtake the lead women.

     Kara Goucher continues to be right in the hunt of the 113th Boston Marathon more than halfway into Monday’s race in 1:18:12. It’s about 43 degrees with a headwind. Ethiopians Elfenesh Alemu, 33, along with Bezunesh Bekele, 26, and defending champion Dire Tune, 23, are up front and Goucher, 30, is right there at 1:29 into the race. Goucher now, for a moment, is in second place. It is 50 degrees with a E14 mph headwind.

     South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyke has won an eighth wheelchair title.

     The men went through 20K (12.4 miles) in 1:00:19 on a 2:07 pace.

     A large lead group of women is being led by Ethiopia’s Bezunesh Bekele, 26, arae now past the half-marathon mark in the Boston Marathon. Just steps behind here are about 15 runners, including Kara Goucher. A number of Americans are near the lead including Elva Dryer, Colleeen De Reuck and Mary Akor. The women are approaching the Newton Hills….the pack includes defending champion Dire Tune, 23, of Ethiopia and Russia’s Lidiya Grigoryeva, 35.

      The men are through 15K in 44:44, on a 2:05 pace, near a course record. Actually making ground on the women, who started a half-hour earlier. Again, three men with last names of Cheruiyot are among the leaders with Robert, 20, and Robert K., 30, the three-time defending champion, and Evans, 26. They are not related. American Ryn Hall, 26, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is also up front.

    The women are through 15K (9.3 miles) in 55:41 for a 2:36 projected finish in the Boston Marathon. Kara Goucher is running third in a large group behind Elva Dryer and Colleen De Reuck (age 45). It is a slow pace to this point. And Grandma’s Marathon champion Mary Akor is up among the leaders with a hat, long-sleeved shirt and short tights.

     Universal Sports announcer Larry Rawson, in talking about Kara Goucher’s upbringing, called Duluth one of the coldest cities in the WORLD.

     The men’s field of the Boston Marathon has gone through the first three miles in 4:48, 4:32 and 4:44 with American Ryan Hall among the leaders through 5K in 14:33 (a course record pace). Thirteen men are in a lead pack going through five miles in 23:37. Three men named Cheruiyot, including three-time defending champion Robert K., is up there through 29 minutes.

     Still a huge pack among the women at 48 minutes in (they started a half-hour earlier than the men). With Elva Dryer, Colleen De Reuck and Kara Goucher part of about 15 women. They went through 10K (6.2 miles) in 37:05….a 2:35 finish pace as things keep picking up. Yet they are still not really pushing. Gloves and arm warmers remain on through the first 54 minutes.

 

     At 38 minutes into the Boston Marathon women’s race Monday, there still looks to be about 18 runners in a lead pack with Colorado runners Elva Dryer and Colleen De Reuck (who has run the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon), and Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore.

      The pace is 5:47 through 6 miles on a 2:36 finish pace. It’s hard to tell, but it looks like Grandma’s winner Mary Akor of California is among the leaders. The men went through the second mile in 4:32….quick.

     The women in the 113th Boston Marathon are through three miles, going 6:25, 6:05 and 5:49 and the pack is starting to string out with Kara Goucher with the leaders. The men’s race has started. The race is the oldest continuing marathon in the world. Ryan Hall is the top American hope in the men’s field. Again, its cool, 42 degrees, but gloves are the only warm clothing. Hall leads the men through the first mile at 4:48.

      The women are on a 2:49 pace…..but the winner will be closer to 2:24….so the pace will continue to pick up. Colleen De Reuck and Elva Dryer are others in the women’s lead with Goucher. The women are 34 minutes into the race.

     ALL of the lead runners are together for the first mile at 6:25. Kara Goucher is up there in the top few. It is a slow pace so far. A WBZ Radio Boston sports guy was calling Goucher….Sara Goucher…for much of the morning. The second mile was 6:05 for the women and Goucher is just comfortably hanging with the top five or so. Looks to be about 30 runners in a lead group.

     It’s about 41 degrees and partly cloudy and 77 percent humidity as the Boston Marathon women’s race began at 8:30 a.m. today in Hopkinton, Mass. Details will follow while watching on Universal Sports today. This is not a mixed race, the women have a half-hour earlier start than the men and the rest of the field of 25,000. Kara Goucher is wearing No. 8 but the runners have their names on their bibs; Goucher is wearing a pink top and arm warmers and gloves, it’s cool. The early pace is slow a 6:25 first mile, which is downhill.

Monday is Boston

     The Duluth News Tribune expects to chart the progress of Monday’s 113th Boston Marathon, and Duluthian Kara Goucher, on Rink and Run while viewing the race via computer on Universal Sports. It marks Goucher’s second career marathon and her Boston debut. The women’s race is at 8:30 a.m. CDT:

Women are introduced halfway into Tom Derderian’s book “Boston Marathon, the First Century of the World’s Premier Running Event.”

That’s where Kara Goucher started reading, and became inspired.

“It’s almost overwhelming to think of all the amazing runners who have run along the Boston course,” Goucher said recently. “I’m excited about being part of something that has such a rich history. I’m excited to become part of that history.”

On Monday, the Duluth-raised runner will step to the line of the 113th Boston Marathon at 8:30 a.m. in Hopkinton, Mass., a challenger in the elite women’s field that will start first. It’s her second career marathon and first in Boston. Goucher, 30, says she desperately wants to be the next American woman to win a major marathon in the United States.

The last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Weidenbach in 1985. The last American man to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer in 1983.

The first woman to unofficially complete the Boston Marathon was 23-year-old Roberta Gibb, finishing in 3 hours, 21 minutes, 40 seconds in 1966. Women still weren’t allowed in the race the next year, but Kathrine Switzer registered as K.V. Switzer and officially finished in 4:20 as a 19-year-old journalism student from Syracuse University.

The race, the world’s oldest 26.2-mile run, didn’t recognize an official women’s winner until 1972 when Nina Kuscsik ran 3:10:26.

“The more I read [Derderian’s] book, the more excited I got,” Goucher said. “I’d love to be a chapter in the book.”

The competition will be stiff, including defending champion Dire Tune, 23, of Ethiopia, who has run 2:24:40, and former champion Lidiya Grigoryeva, 35, of Russia, who has run 2:25:10. Goucher debuted at the distance Nov. 2 in the New York City Marathon, placing third in 2:25:53, the fastest first-time finish in U.S. women’s history.

Boston’s prize money for the top three finishers, men and women, is $150,000, $75,000 and $40,000.

Goucher, who lives in Portland, Ore., is viewed as the next great marathon hope among American women. Running Times magazine ranked her No. 1 in the United States for 2008.

“She’s shown what she’s capable of, and a lot of people want an American to win in Boston,” said Patty Wheeler of Duluth, Goucher’s mother, who will be at the Boston finish line. “That’s a lot of pressure, but Kara has really taken to the distance. She likes the hard-core training.”

Performances in the past 10 months have pushed the Nike-sponsored runner toward the top of American distance running, aided by coach Alberto Salazar. Since last June, she claimed her first U.S. title, winning at 5,000 meters on the track in the U.S. Olympic Trials; placed in the top 10 at 5,000 and 10,000 meters in the Summer Games in Beijing in August; set the women’s course record at the U.S. 10-Mile Championship in St. Paul in October; set personal bests indoors winning in the mile (4:33.19) and 3,000 meters (8:46.65) a week apart in January and February in New York and Boston; and won the Lisbon (Portugal) Half-Marathon in 1:08:30 on March 22.

In training for the Boston Marathon, she has had eight weeks of 100-plus miles and five weeks of 90-95.

“To be able to run fast at shorter distances, right in the middle of marathon training, really shows how strong Kara has become,” said Kendall Schoolmeester of Portland, Goucher’s younger sister and a former Duluth East and University of Colorado runner. “There’s a careful balance between confidence and looking too far ahead, but she believes she can win.”

Goucher was particularly focused during two weeks of altitude training in Flagstaff, Ariz., spanning March and April, said Adam Goucher, Kara’s husband and a former U.S. track Olympian at 5,000 meters. He said she got away from the pre-Boston hoopla and was able to tackle some serious sharpening workouts.

“That did her a world of good, and she’s as ready as can be. She’s hands-down the strongest I’ve ever seen her,” Adam Goucher said. “If she does everything she’s capable of Monday and gives everything she has, and there’s nothing left, she’ll have done her best. But, in reality, she’s going there to win and that excites her. She wants to be a part of history.”

On the cover of Derderian’s book in 1996, the centennial year of the Boston Marathon, is a smiling Uta Pippig of Germany, the women’s champion in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

DECC Groundbreaking

     Did I mention that the official groundbreaking for the new $80 million DECC expansion took place Monday, April 13? Well, it did. Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin and athletic director Bob Nielson were among the dignitaries wearing hard hats and shoveling dirt in the parking lot of the current DECC. The spot for the hockey rink was drawn out on the parking lot to give folks an idea of location. The first game is still about 18 months away, planned for Dec. 31, 2010. An accompanying new parking ramp is already under construction.


Northland Connection

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      If we’re missing anyone, please e-mail kpates@duluthnews.com 

NHL 

Alex Goligoski, D, Pittsburgh, 45 GP, 6-14-20; Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, 26 GP, 2-16-18

Jamie Langenbrunner, F, New Jersey, 81 GP, 29-40-69

Matt Niskanen, D, Dallas, 80 GP, 6-29-35

Mason Raymond, F, Vancouver, 72 GP, 11-12-23

Steve Wagner, D, St. Louis, 22 GP, 2-2-4; Peoria, 47 GP, 6-16-22

Craig Weller, F, Minnesota, 36 GP, 1-2-3

AHL

Zach FitzGerald, F, Manitoba, 56 GP, 0-8-8

Jason Garrison, D, Rochester (N.Y.), 75 GP, 8-27-35, Florida 1 GP, 0-0-0 

Matt Greer, F, Syracuse (N.Y.), 1 GP, 0-0-0

Tim Hambly, D, Rockford (Ill.), 79 GP, 4-25-29

Junior Lessard, F, Bridgeport, 21 GP, 7-6-13; Chicago, 41 GP, 6-5-11

Jay Rosehill, D,  Toronto, 13 GP, 2-1-3; Norfolk (Va.), 57 GP, 5-7-12

MacGregor Sharp, F,  Iowa, 6 GP, 1-1-2

Aaron Slattengren, F,  Binghamton, 12 GP, 1-1-2, Portland, 52 GP, 9-10-19; Augusta 6 GP, 5-4-9

Tim Stapleton, F, Toronto. 3 GP, 1-0-1; Toronto Marlies, 70 GP, 28-51-79

Clay Wilson, D, Atlanta, 2 GP, 0-0-0; Chicago, 37 GP, 6-18-24; Syracuse, 33 GP, 8-12-20

ECHL

Ross Carlson, F, Florida, 52 GP, 14-22-36

Andrew Carrol, F, Charlotte, 4 GP, 0-2-2 

Mike Curry F, Reading, 13 GP, 1-0-1; South Carolina,  26 GP, 2-9-11; Alaska, 12 GP, 1-2-3

Jon Francisco, F, Ontario (Calif.), 63 GP, 20-28-48

Travis Gawryletz D, Elmira (N.Y.), 56 GP, 2-14-16

Ben Gordon, F, Reading, 12 GP, 6-12-18; Cincinnati, 51 GP, 15-24-39

Gino Guyer, F, Phoenix, 71 GP, 14-24-38

Dan Knapp, D, Ontario (Calif.), 58 GP, 4-15-19

Bryan McGregor, F, Idaho, 66 GP, 38-44-82, Johnstown (Pa.), 1 GP, 0-1-1 

Matt McKnight, F, Idaho, 62 GP, 10-23-33; Las Vegas, 4 GP, 0-1-1

Neil Petruic, F, Stockton (Calif.), 14 GP, 2-2-4

Andy Sertich, D, Utah, 62 GP, 12-24-36

Tom Sawatske, F, Reading, 12 GP, 1-2-3; Cincinnati, 49 GP, 3-4-7; Phoenix, 5 GP, 0-0-0 

IHL

Rod Aldoff, D, Kalamazoo (Mich.), 57 GP, 7-23-30

Luke Stauffacher, F, Muskegon (Mich.), 70 GP, 39-41-80

CHL

Brett Hammond, F, Colorado, 52 GP, 11-13-24

Jay Hardwick, D, Rio Grande Valley, 70 GP, 2-6-8

International

Nick Anderson, D, Fischtown Germany, 47 GP, 18-20-38

Sean Hill, D, Biel, Switzerland, 47 GP, 3-17-20

Evan Schwabe, D, Aalborg, Denmark, 52 GP, 15-28-43

SPHL

B.J. Radovich, F, Huntsville (Ala.), 60 GP, 23-36-59

Goalies

ECHL

Josh Johnson, Gwinnett, 25 GP, 3.22, .888; South Carolina, 4 GP, 3.20, .894             

IHL

 Isaac Reichmuth, Flint (Mich.), 1 GP; Muskegon (Mich.),  23 GP, 4.05, .882

 SPHL

 Terry Dunbar, Twin City (N.C.),  32 GP, 3.73, .885

International

Adam Hauser, Kassel, Germany, 38 GP, 2.99, .910

Niskanen on 2009 U.S. Team

    Dallas Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen, a former Minnesota Duluth player from Virginia, has been named to the 2009 U.S. men’s team for the World Championships. Here’s a release from USA Hockey and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association:

Seven WCHA Alums Among Nineteen Players Named to 2009 U.S. Men’s National Team
Team to Compete at IIHF Men’s World Championship in Switzerland, April 24-May 10
 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey today named the first 19 players to its U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland, April 24-May 10. The group includes seven former Western Collegiate Hockey Association member-team players in defensemen Keith Ballard (University of Minnesota), Matt Niskanen (University of Minnesota Duluth) and Ryan Suter (University of Wisconsin) and forwards Jason Blake (University of North Dakota), Kyle Okposo (University of Minnesota), Drew Stafford (University of North Dakota) and Colin Stuart (Colorado College).

“This is a skilled group of players who will represent the United States well,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. “It is a nice mix of veterans and newcomers to international competition that our National Team Advisory Group is looking forward to watching.”

Team USA’s roster features nine players who have previously played in the IIHF Men’s World Championship. The group includes defensemen Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn./Florida Panthers/University of Minnesota/2007-08, 2004), Jack Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind./Los Angeles Kings/University of Michigan/2007) and Ryan Suter (Madison, Wis./Nashville Predators/University of Wisconsin/2005-07); forwards Jason Blake (Moorhead, Minn./Toronto Maple Leafs/University of North Dakota/2000), Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings/2008, 2006, 2004), Patrick O’Sullivan (Winston-Salem, N.C./Edmonton Oilers/2008, 2006), Drew Stafford (Milwaukee, Wis./Buffalo Sabres/University of North Dakota/2008, 2006) and Lee Stempniak (West Seneca, N.Y./Toronto Maple Leafs/Dartmouth College/2007-08); and goaltender Robert Esche (Utica, N.Y./SKA St. Petersburg/2008, 2000-01).

In addition, 12 of the 19 players are 25 years old or younger, including defensemen Zach Bogosian (Massena, N.Y./Atlanta Thrashers), Johnson, Matt Niskanen (Virginia, Minn./Dallas Stars/University of Minnesota Duluth) and Suter; forwards Brown, Nick Foligno (Buffalo, N.Y./Ottawa Senators), Peter Harrold (Kirtland Hills, Ohio/Los Angeles Kings/Boston College), Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn./New York Islanders/University of Minnesota), O’Sullivan, Stafford and Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University); and goaltender Al Montoya (Chicago, Ill./Phoenix Coyotes/University of Michigan).

Rounding out the first group of players named to the U.S. roster are defenseman Ron Hainsey (Bolton, Conn./Atlanta Thrashers/University of Massachusetts Lowell) and forwards Ryan Shannon (Darien, Conn./Ottawa Senators/Boston College) and Colin Stuart (Rochester, Minn./Atlanta Thrashers/Colorado College).

Click here for entire roster.

Team USA will face Switzerland on Tuesday (April 21) at 2:15 p.m. EDT in a pre-tournament game before beginning play in the 2009 IIHF Men’s World Championship on Saturday, April 25, at 10:15 a.m. EDT against Latvia. The United States will play two additional preliminary-round games against Austria (April 27) and Sweden (April 29) before the qualification round begins.

Twin Cities Marathon: Registration

      If you haven’t started training for the 33rd Grandma’s Marathon on June 20, it may be too late to get to the starting line prepared, but you could look ahead to the 28th Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 4. Registration opens Friday. Here’s the news:

28th Twin Cities Marathon registration opens Friday

What:              Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Registration (online only)

Who:               Limited to 11,000 

Where:            Online at mtcmarathon.org 

 When:             Beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, April 17 until full